Friday, February 29, 2008

‘s Wonderful

Chuck and I went snowshoeing again yesterday afternoon. It was very cold (about 22 F, - 5 C) and sunny. As we have done each time, we went out back and chose a slightly different direction to explore. The picture above will give you a sense of what the area looked like. As we went up and down the bumpy terrain, we started to feel as if we had inadvertently signed up for a workout on a StairMaster! But our snowshoes allowed us to navigate it all smoothly.

When we cross country ski or snowshoe without a marked trail, Chuck often takes the lead. He’s very good at picking out a path for us. We’ll stop briefly and consult, choosing a landmark in the distance to aim for and then find the best route to it. Sometimes I take the lead, usually when I’ve spotted an opening that seems interesting, yet not too obstructed.

As we trekked up and down and up and down for the first third of our two hour outing, I was struck by how different our styles are. Chuck takes big strides, partly in keeping with his six foot one inch frame. But also because he feels confident and safe within his body. It’s the same when we are out on the rocks at Schoodic up in Maine, when he makes calculated leaps with ease. While I’m 5’9”, I do not have such a big stride. Nor do I share the same level of confidence in my own body. I approach all of these activities with more caution and more conscious thought. But I still love doing it. Partly because I love overcoming even the tiniest fear and building on every success. Mostly because it's so darn much fun! Thankfully, Chuck is never impatient with a wife who approaches the crossing of a stream or other obstacle with some trepidation. To the contrary, he is always just on the other side, encouraging me, helping me to scout the best path and always ready to lend a hand if I ask for it

It’s just beginning to flurry out. They are predicting another 8 - 12 inches of snow by noon tomorrow. I’m not sure I’ll ever match Chuck’s confidence and physical approach to these activities we both revel in. But once we get the walkways and driveway clear, chances are very good we’ll be snowshoeing out back again tomorrow, each in our own way, together and happy.

Truth, Fear & Politics

In all of the misinformation which has been spread around the internet about Senator Barack Obama’s religious affiliation, there is an underlying message which leaves me uncomfortable. Senator Obama’s opponents, in an attempt to smear his reputation, repeatedly assert that he is Muslim. They also deliberately use his middle name, Hussein, as more “proof” that he is Muslim.

Senator Obama is a Christian and a member of the Trinity United Church of Christ, in Chicago.

First off, a candidate’s religious affiliation shouldn’t matter. But what deeply disturbs me about these tactics, is that many folks believe that to claim a candidate is Muslim is a way to smear them. And what truly alarms me, is that some people believe the lies, have a strong, fearful reaction and then turn against Senator Obama.

When thinking about this issue, it’s not difficult to draw a straight line back to the terrorist attacks of September, 11, 2001. It’s even easy to understand a reflexive twitching of our internal antennae, born of fear, when topics like this are raised. But the actions of terrorists do not excuse United States citizens from seeking out the truth. Nor do the actions of terrorists, who perpetrate evil in the name of Islam, permit us to think that all Muslims are suspect.

Thursday, February 28, 2008


Yesterday afternoon, Chuck had a dental appointment in eastern Massachusetts. The morning had been hectic as we continued to try to sort out the DSL problem, so all we had time for was a quick glass of juice and a yogurt. By the time Chuck got through his dental visit, we were both pretty hungry. Where to go? Inspiration struck when we remembered the “Chronicle” show we had seen the night before. (“Chronicle” is an excellent Boston based half hour television program that focuses on all things interesting in New England.) They had featured new restaurants the night before.

So we made a beeline for Route 1 in Saugus and “Angela’s Coal Fired Pizza & Wings”. We hoped because it was 3:30 we wouldn’t have a problem getting seated and we weren’t disappointed. Kim led us to a booth in the front window, looking out at the cars zipping up Route 1, as the first wave of the evening commute began. The menu is limited but don’t let that dissuade you. “Angela’s” is working with their strengths and those strengths are impressive. Based on the "Chronicle" feature and the name on the sign, we ordered a small portion of chicken wings and a small pizza. We never order chicken wings in a restaurant. But these are marinated in olive oil, lemon juice and rosemary. The trip through the intense heat of the coal fired ovens (the only ones in Massachusetts) leaves the wings nicely charred, very juicy and fall-off-the-bone tender. They are served on top of slices of foccacia and then carmelized onions are draped over the wings.

As I think back on the chicken wings, I am trying not to drool, trying not to jump in the car and race east to Saugus and trying not to use expletives in my description of the wings! The wings were exceptional. In fact they were freakin’ awesome! They made me think of the best of my parents legendary collaboration with grilled chicken. My Mom would simmer the chicken in broth. Then Dad would brush them with Italian dressing and grill them over hot charcoals before service. But at the risk of disrespecting my Mom and my late father, “Angela’s” wings were even better. And using the foccacia to capture the onions and all those herb infused juices, puts the whole experience over the top.

After the transcendent experience of the wings, the bar had been raised pretty darn high for the pizza. But the pizza did manage to clear the bar. The crust was both crisp and chewy; the tomato sauce sweet, tart, complex and flavorful. We had ordered the “Melanzana” which obviously is topped with roasted eggplant. We decided to add sausage to the mix. The taste of the eggplant was good, but unfortunately it was salty. The sausage was good, but we had expected a little more zing. We would definitely order a pizza again, but we would explore some different toppings. We would also like to figure out a way to make room for one of their abundant family style salads.

The service at "Angela’s" was brisk due to the speed of the coal fired ovens, but Kim kept everything perfectly paced, so we never felt rushed. As we left around 4:30, the place was beginning to fill up with folks of all ages. We bet they all enjoyed the experience as much as we did!

Three Cheers For Carlos!

Hi All -

Sorry I've been out of touch, but we've been without DSL!!!
(It made me crazy to be without the option of accessing the internet!)
We just spent over an hour on the phone with a brilliant tech support person down in Mexico. Carlos fixed everything!
Unfortunately, Carlos was the fourth tech support person we spoke with, but at the moment I so don't care! He worked magic!
After thanking him profusely, I asked to speak with his supervisor. I sang his praises and the supervisor said Carlos is one of their best people. You bet he is!

So, I'll be back tomorrow (actually, later today) to tell you of our other adventures. (I will let you know it involves chicken wings and snow.) Right now I need sleep more than internet access. But it's just so darn nice to have it back again!

Thanks for stopping by!
- Lee

Hip hip hooray!
Hip hip hooray!
Hip hip hooray!
Yay Carlos!

Monday, February 25, 2008

The Most Fun You Can Have...

...with your clothes on, that is! We went snowshoeing again today and it was just as wonderful as yesterday. We headed out in back of our house and decided to travel in the woods behind our neighbors’ homes, toward a hill that rises up to the west. We were surprised yesterday to see so few animal tracks and very little scat. Today however we saw deer tracks. Remember the deer that came through our yard last April? Perhaps it was one of those beautiful creatures.

We continued along to the top of the hill, which is home to a couple of working fields. It was well worth picking our way over fallen trees, tangled brush and prickers to get there, as the view was lovely.

The sun was getting low and we were enjoying the scenery, as well as the evenness of the field. So rather than looping back home through the woods, we continued down the south side of the hill to our road. We slipped off our snowshoes, slung them onto our poles and walked the rest of the way back home.

Tomorrow, we are supposed to get a little snow followed by a lot of rain. After these last two days, I so hope the meteorologists have it backwards. More snow please!

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Winter Sports

I can’t say I began downhill skiing when I was in high school, because that would paint the inaccurate picture that I am actually a downhill skier. If downhill skiing consisted of standing awkwardly, wobbly and ever so briefly on skis followed by long stretches of sliding down a hill on my butt, then by gosh I would be one heck of a downhill skier! No, I started attempting downhill skiing while in high school in the mid 1970s, using a rope tow while wearing knitted acrylic mittens. I can still feel the rope burns on the palms of my hands and the sea of interconnected, multicolored bruises on my derriere and thighs. Almost unbelievably I continued to try to downhill ski.

Around 1987, while standing in line to purchase downhill tickets, I had an epiphany: I was not a downhill skier. I walked away, drove to a ski shop that sold cross country skis, made my purchases and did not look back up that steep hill. I had never even been on cross country skis until I went over to my sister Karen’s home later that afternoon and snapped on my brand new skis. I glided ‘round and ‘round in her backyard. Turned out, I was a cross country skier.

In 1993, Chuck and I moved to this old house, set on four and a half acres. The first few winters we went cross country skiing around our property and in the fields across the road. Because our land is mostly wooded, the skiing was challenging. We often carried small pruning shears with us to trim low hanging branches which otherwise would thwack us in the face. It made for a lot of stop and go skiing. So we tended to ski in the fields instead. But we missed being in the woods.

Chuck had owned a pair of traditional snowshoes for many years. We decided to outfit me with a similar pair, rather than the new high tech kind. As you can see in the last photo, mine are more of an elongated oval, with more contemporary (read significantly easier) bindings. Chuck’s are the rounder ones with the old style (read pain in the neck) bindings. Both are bent wood, lashed with rawhide. They are lightweight, highly functional and easy to maneuver. I had found cross country skiing easy to learn, but snowshoeing was even easier. And the risk of falling was minimal. (As I type that, I remember one fateful trek when my right snowshoe plunged through the layers of snow, into a stream. My right leg was through the snow, up to my crotch, while my left leg and snowshoe were still on top of the snow, bent at a ridiculous angle, with my left knee at chin level!)

This afternoon we realized we had no obligations and a layer of fresh snow on top of a decent snow pack. It was sunny and just above freezing. What in heaven’s name were we doing inside? Out we went. I thought of all of you and brought the camera along in the hope of communicating what it felt like. I don’t know how many of you have ever snowshoed. If you never have, I hope this makes you want to try it!

First things first

The reason we strap on the snowshoes

Remember to look up

The tracks we leave behind

Hey Chuck, wait for me!

Navigating barbed wire and the stone wall

Until next time...

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Sleeping Beauties

These gorgeous daffodils are sleeping right now in the frozen earth, under a layer of dense, icy snow and about eight inches of fresh, fluffy powder. I know it’s only February, but I thought posting this photo might serve as a little beacon of hope during an unusually stormy winter here in Central Massachusetts.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Journey of Man

Our Public Broadcasting Stations (PBS) had a program from 2003 called “Journey of Man” listed tonight from 9:00 to 11:00 p.m.. Here’s how they described it: Geneticist Spencer Wells follows a DNA trail around the world and back some 50,000 years to tell "the story of your family and how they conquered the earth." It sounded like it could be very interesting or deadly dull. Since there was nothing else competing for our attention (thanks in no small measure to the Writer’s Strike), we gave it a whirl. IT WAS AMAZING!!!

I think you know that I’m not a big fan of “caps-lock communication” (too much like screaming), but in this instance I must repeat: IT WAS AMAZING!!!

“Journey of Man” will be rebroadcast here in the U.S. over this weekend and into next week. Here are some useful links: where you can check your local listings.

A thoughtful National Geographic article which discusses the documentary and the attendant conflicts with other scientific theories. Plus you can view a photo gallery there.

One source for the DVD.

One source for the book.

“Journey of Man” was fascinating, thought provoking, inspiring and very moving.

My summary: We are all connected. We are all related. We are all family.

Wild Willy’s Goes Under The Sea

We stopped by Wild Willy’s Burgers in Worcester this afternoon to find a sign on the door which read: "FISH!" Hunh? Beef, yes, but fish? We inquired and found that they now offer a hand battered, fried haddock sandwich. We ordered some of their absolutely amazing Steak Chili (see my previous post) and decided to split one of the new fish sandwiches. The chili was perfect on this cold, blustery day. And the fish sandwich rocked! The bun was grilled, the lettuce crisp, the tomato juicy and the tartar sauce quite tasty. But the star was the haddock. It was perfectly done - crispy and golden on the outside, flaky and moist on the inside. If you are familiar with Kelly’s fish sandwiches, Wild Willy’s is slightly smaller, but both the fish and the batter are far superior! I know that’s heresy around these parts, but I stand by my statement.

Mind you, if you’re in Worcester and it’s a Friday, “Foley & Son Fish and Chips” over on Plantation Street is definitely the go-to place for authentic fish and chips, wrapped in paper. Their scallops and onion rings are excellent, but the deep fried cod will knock your socks off every time. Any other day of the week (except Sundays) if you’re craving a yummy fish sandwich, Wild Willy’s on West Boylston Street should be at the top of your list.

Who’d have thunk it? ;o)

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Just Past Total

The anticipated storm went out to sea well to our south, so we were able to see the lunar eclipse! The temperature was 15 F (-9 C) - very frosty! I tried taking a photo “free hand” but without success. Chuck grabbed our ancient tripod and we managed to take some better shots that looked much more like a lunar eclipse than a blurry flying saucer! The photo above (untweaked, just cropped) was the best one. We shot it about 11:10 p.m. EST, using our trusty Canon PowerShot S2 IS. You can click on the image to get a better look.

Standing out in the icy cold, fingers freezing, tripod acting wonky, looking up at the night sky together - just one more reason I love my husband!

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Four Charms and Counting

Since the plate spinning began back on January 23rd, Chuck and I have been on the road a great deal. We’ve also been out and about at odd hours, finding ourselves in need of a quick meal. Sometimes dining out is a treat; a change from routine and an opportunity to enjoy food you wouldn’t necessarily prepare at home. Sometimes it’s just fuel for the humans, like gasoline for the automobile. But over these last four weeks, there have been a few times when we have eaten in casual restaurants, at a leisurely pace, near the end of a long day and used the time to decompress. On each of these occasions, we have been fortunate enough to have been taken care of by exceptional waitstaff. Each one of them managed to strike the delicate balance between being attentive, without being intrusive. We began to collect their names. We repeat them as if they are charms on a silver bracelet or charms like spells, to keep the good news flowing for our loved ones. There was Mandy in Leominster, Jay in Warwick, Blake in Cambridge and Kathy in Framingham. All four did exactly what we needed them to do in their jobs as waitstaff. But if it had been just that, they wouldn’t have stood out the way they have. No, all four seemed to truly enjoy their jobs. All four seemed to genuinely care about us as customers and as human beings. All four of them had an easy smile and a ready laugh.

Mandy, Jay, Blake and Kathy - thank you.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Sunset On Birch

This photo isn’t quite as crisp as I would like it to be, but I love the glow of the setting sun on the white bark of the birch tree. I was snapping a series of successive sunset photos, through an open second floor window, when this tree caught my eye. The sun was just about to dip below a western hill, on a frigidly cold February afternoon. The cold air was spilling in on me, while the aroma of corned beef, simmering on a back burner, was wafting up the stairs. I snapped the last of the photos as twilight began to fall and headed downstairs to finish preparing the simple, one-pot meal any one of my ancestors would have cooked, going back many generations. But as I plated the corned beef, cabbage, carrots and potatoes, I knew no others who had gone before me, would have had the luxury of time and technology, allowing them to take photographs at their leisure on a winter’s afternoon.

Thank you for the recipe consultation Gail!

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Winter or Spring?

This beauty caught my eye the other day. In the midst of chipping away at the ice, I glanced up to see what looked like a blossom clinging to a branch. The color was surprising in the winter landscape and it really stood out against a brilliant blue sky. I pointed it out to Chuck and he speculated it was a tree fungus. Does anyone know exactly what kind?

Friday, February 15, 2008

The Electrons Won!

Last December I wrote about our reluctance to leap into the 21st century by paying bills on-line. The response from you folks (including the idea that we were dinosaurs!) was just what I needed to do some more investigating. I started with our area bank where we have had an account for many years. Turns out they wanted to charge us a fee to use their on-line bill paying service! Then I remembered an e-mail I had received from Fidelity. I went on-line to read the FAQs and then called to speak with a real human being. I grilled the poor guy. Question after question - each one asked with a challenge in my voice - and to every single question I got the “right” answer. My challenging voice changed to incredulity when I said O.K., this mySmart Cash Account sounds too good to be true. He laughed and said he understood that, but they really would pay us interest and there were no fees.

So we jumped in with both... - well O.K., actually, we dipped a toe in the water. We set up the account and went through all the usual steps to get debit cards and checks. Then we transferred a little bit of money from our local account and waited. Finally, I screwed up my courage and began entering the names of companies we paid on a regular basis. It all went very smoothly. But I waited a few more days. At long last I clicked “Pay Bills” and began entering amounts and the dates we wanted the bills paid. And then I was done.

Done? Bill paying was usually an event around here. But no longer. Now, when the bills come in, I enter them on-line right away, choose the date to pay them and log off. Ta Freakin’ Da! I’m still not completely used to it. Occasionally I feel a wave of anxiety because I can’t remember if I paid a particular bill. But a quick inspection shows it already waiting patiently in the queue to be paid. Ahhhhh....

What really made me a true believer though, was when I entered a bill from a local concern which we pay only annually. Feeling pretty cocky now, I figured what the heck and entered all the information. A few days later the bill was shown under “Recent Payments”. I clicked on “View Detail”. I read the following: “Check # such&such from your account was mailed to so&so on 02/12/2008. Funds for this payment will be withdrawn from your account when the biller cashes the check.” I couldn’t believe my eyes. They wrote a check and mailed it for us! That’s like having people. You know, people who do that sort of thing for you: business managers, accountants, whomever - people! I really like that in a FDIC insured account!

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Happy Day After The Ice Storm Day!

Oh, and Happy Valentine’s Day too!

Why am I showing you a picture of our car tire? Actually, the car tire is not the most important aspect of the photo. It’s the way the car tire is NOT cracking through the ice and snow, but is resting on top of the ice covered snow! Now that’s what I call “rock solid”! I was amazed when I pulled the car out of the barn and I did not feel and hear the crunching sound of the car breaking through the snow. So amazed, that I got out of the car to snap a photo! Once the car got farther down the driveway to where the sun had been shining on the snow for a few hours, it did finally crunch through. Which was good, because the Subaru was the only way we were able to break down the plow ridge at the edge of the road. The snowblower would never have been able to make a dent in it and our shovels and ice spade were useless. But once I had wrangled the car over and through the previously solid ridge many times, we were better able to shovel the icy snow chunks away.

Me in my L.L. Bean boots standing on top of the ice, looking down at one of Chuck’s footsteps “fossilized” during the post-snow, freezing rain part of the storm.

Birch trees on the far side of the front lawn.

Ice on the back walk, after I had chipped at it with the ice spade. I eventually gave in to the reverberations in my arm and sprinkled some clay litter (non-clumping!) to give us a little better footing.

I hope you can get a sense of the shimmering icy glaze on the snow from this photo...

...or perhaps from this one

More snow and ice, melting in the sun and refreezing on the fieldstone wall.

As always, feel free to click on the images to get a better look.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Rock Solid

If you’re familiar with concrete, then you’re familiar with the miserable mess we’re faced with around here! Beginning last evening, about five inches of snow fell. Sometime overnight, it changed to freezing rain which added about a half an inch of ice on top of the snow. By daybreak, every twig, branch and power line was encrusted with ice. Then the freezing rain switched over to a heavy, steady downpour, while the temperature barely edged above the freezing point. Yucckk! The shovels struggle to penetrate the top crust of ice and the saturated snow below is dense and unbelievably heavy.

There’s an old expression which we sometimes ascribe to inefficient public works departments: “The Good Lord brought it. Let the Good Lord take it away.” Thankfully, our little town has a much more effective snow removal policy, but we’re thinking this adage is going to have to be our motto for the next 24 hours or so!

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Thank You Mr. President

“America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves.”
- President Abraham Lincoln

(February 12, 1809 – April 15, 1865)

Monday, February 11, 2008


"Nothing is so much to be feared as fear." is the Thoreau quote at the bottom of this Pink Granite page. Twice in the last few weeks, I have come up against a raw, powerful fear in two different loved ones. Fear really can trump all else: reality, experience, test results, and doctors’ opinions. In both cases I had to fight down my own fears, which were stimulated by what I was listening to and trying to logic and feel my way through.

Fear sucks. I know that dreadful sensation when fear washes over me, making me feel hot and cold and weak all at the same instant. That sinking feel in the pit of my stomach, competing with my racing heart for my attention in a horrible moment frozen in time. Fear is so old, so basic to our fight or flight survival instincts. But it can run roughshod over facts and logic if we let it. Last year, I wrote here about my tendency to worry. I believe I’m making progress on letting go of that reflex to worry. Tonya’s comment on that post where she wrote: “worry will not effect the end result.” helped me a great deal. So does the advice (from Dr. Phil perhaps?) to answer the “What If” questions. What if this or that dreadful thing happens? Well, O.K., answer that question. What will you do, how will you respond and cope if that awful thing occurs?

As I listened to the anxiety in our loved one’s voices and felt that pulsing, ancient fear racing through the phone lines, I managed to keep my own fear under control. And even after I did what I could to acknowledge their fears and help them find their own way through them, I tried not to worry about it all afterwards. Because, truly, worrying won’t change the outcome.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Two Voices

“We have tried it President Bush’s way: concentrate wealth, hoard power, disregard science, shred The Constitution, smear dissenters, impugn patriots, go it alone in the world wherever you can and cooperate only when you have to.”
- Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton

“The stakes are too high and the challenges are too great to play the same old Washington games, with the same old Washington players and expect a different result. People want to turn the page. They want to write a new chapter in American history.”
- Senator Barack Obama

Transcribed from this week’s “Voices in the News” at NPR’s Weekend Edition.

Saturday, February 9, 2008


More snow...
More driving...
Bone tired...
The Subaru passed 97,000 miles...
Obama won Louisiana, Nebraska & Washington...
No plates crashed...
Double Yay!
Sleep = Good
Night all...

Thursday, February 7, 2008


Grandpa & Grandma;
Alexander & Catherine
circa WW II

My Dad’s mother, Catherine, was not a warm, affectionate woman. Grandma came off as cool, distant and suffered from the sharp contrast with my maternal grandmother, Gagee, who was gentle, loving and quick to laugh. But Grandma came by her personality through harsh experience. Grandma passed away just before my ninth birthday. I wish I could have known then, what I know now.

Catherine was born in Rhode Island in 1887. Her mother Elizabeth was about 20 and her father James just 24, when Catherine was conceived out of wedlock. Her parents married a few months before Catherine’s birth. A son John and another daughter Elizabeth soon followed.

In 1890, when Catherine was just three years old, her father died at the age of 27. Her mother Elizabeth was a widow at age 23, with three small children to provide for. The following year, in 1891, both of Catherine’s younger siblings died within two months of each other. Ever so briefly, they had been a family of five. Now it was just Catherine and her mother Elizabeth. But in less than a year, Elizabeth died as well.

Catherine, not quite five years old, was alone in the world. She was a child not yet old enough to be of service to a family, but a child most in need of love, care and constancy. She was taken in by a family related to her on her mother’s side. It was a family with many children and while Catherine’s basic needs were met, she was lost in the hustle and bustle of the large family. Even though Catherine lived with her de facto foster family for more than a decade, in many respects, she was always treated as an outsider.

I don’t know the story of how Catherine met her future husband Alexander. But they married in 1908 when Catherine was 21 and Alexander was 25. Their first child, a son they named Raymond, was born in 1909. Less than a month after his first birthday, Raymond passed away. I wonder if Catherine thought the swift cycles of birth and death from her own childhood were destined to be repeated. But Alexander and Catherine went on to have four more healthy sons, the youngest was my father. All four sons served in World War II. All four came home, married and raised up eleven children between them.

Around 1950, Grandpa and Grandma moved in with my parents and older sisters Karen and Gail into their tiny house in Providence, Rhode Island. Grandpa died at the age of 76 in 1959. Grandma died in 1967 at the age of 79.

Long after she passed, I learned Grandma had made some mistakes, some bad choices in the course of her life, that seemed at best foolish or at worst selfish. Those things added to the sense of distance I felt from her. It wasn’t until I was much older and the details of her early life were teased out of yellowed, tattered records, that I felt my own heart soften. Through these records I came to know and understand my grandmother better than I ever had during her lifetime. Grandma was a survivor. She may not have been a storybook grandmother, but I had already been blessed with one of the best of those in my Gagee. Grandma was tough and had surmounted incredible obstacles to go on to be a wife, mother, grandmother and great-grandmother. I like to think I got some of my resiliency and strength from Grandma. Thank you Grandma. Thank you for everything.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

All In A Name

Grandpa & Grandma; Alexander & Catherine, circa WW II

My Dad called his parents Ma and Pa. We kids called them Grandma and Grandpa. They were both tough and stern. I wish I could remember Grandpa. He died just a little over a year after I was born. My folks told me I made him smile and that I was the “apple of his eye”. As a result, I always felt very close to him. When it came time for me to choose a Roman Catholic confirmation name, I threw myself into the decision with all the intensity of a typical adolescent. I pored over what I knew of the family names. I made lists, crossing names out, whittling them down. There was Winifred, Mercedes, Marion, Catherine and Augusta. There was also Edward, Mervyn, James, Alexander, Patrick and Owen. In the end, I chose Alexandra, the feminine diminutive of my father’s father, Grandpa. I liked the name Alexandra. It struck me as both strong and feminine. My given name was Lee Ann, but by the age of sixteen and my confirmation, I had long since dropped the Ann and was known by my friends simply as Lee. Lee being both a man’s and a woman’s name also suited me in the early 1970s, what with social upheaval and the women’s liberation movement. I was far from androgynous, but liked the idea that, on paper at least, I could be anyone, male or female.

Three and a half decades later I started a blog called Pink Granite, with the explanation: “Pink may be a girly-girl color, but granite is strong, solid and durable.” Some things never change...

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Any Problems Voting?

If you went to the polls today here in the U.S., I hope everything went smoothly for you. My sister Karen in Arizona was able to vote, but only after she resolved a significant problem. I recommended she report what happened by calling the People For The American Way’s hotline. Here’s how they describe it:

If you experience, see or hear about voting problems in your state, please call the toll-free, nonpartisan Election Protection Hotline at 1-866-OUR-VOTE. (That’s 1-866-687-8683)

We all need to do everything we can to make sure every registered voter is able to vote and that every vote is counted accurately!


Chuck and I went over to the polls right after lunch. There was a line! We live in a small town and there is rarely a line to vote. Massachusetts Secretary of the Commonwealth Bill Galvin, has predicted a huge turnout for today’s primary - including lots of newly registered voters. It’s great to see folks so excited and stepping up to be counted.

If you’ve already voted today: “Good Job Voting

If you haven’t yet voted today:

Turn HOPE into reality. VOTE!

Sunday, February 3, 2008

19 - 0 Oops. 18 - 1

Jeezum Crow! Even I give a rat’s ass that the New England Patriots lost The Super Bowl to the New York Giants, 17 - 14!
It seems crazy that the first game the Patriots lost all season was this last one - crazy and disappointing.

O.K. C’mon. Shake it off.

What we need to focus on now, is the fact that pitchers and catchers report in 12 days!!!

Go Sox!!!
So good, so good so good!!!

Update: February 5, 2008
To better understand the impact of this loss on one die hard Patriots fan, please read Kate’s response in the comments section...


Spinning, Juggling & Crossing Our Fingers

Our family health situations have calmed down a little. (Man, I hope typing that doesn’t jinx everything!) For the Rhode Island branch; there are still tests and appointments ahead before all questions can be answered. Meanwhile, she continues to adapt, adjust and maintain her independence, while saying “yes” to some assistance! For the Boston branch; recovering from surgery, regaining strength and adjusting to new surroundings are on her agenda. Both women are nearly the same age, have led very different lives and approach life (and the attendant unexpected curve balls) in very different ways. Chuck and I are learning from them both.

Yes We Can

If you are a registered voter in one of the states or entities participating in the February 5th “Super Tuesday” presidential primary or caucus, please vote.

Turn HOPE into reality. VOTE!

Friday, February 1, 2008

Up In The Air

I miss the normal rhythm of my days. I’m embarrassed to even type that. The recent changes in my daily routine are truly nothing as compared to the changes for two elderly relatives. But just as what leaves our loved ones feeling as if their lives as snow globes have been severely shaken, leaves us a little shaken as well.

Today brought a couple of surprises which were dealt with fairly easily. Chuck and I were both pleased, that despite our response being limited by a sleet/ice/freezing rainstorm, both loved ones were doing pretty darn well. That happy state was due to their own independent actions and decisions, coupled with other family members pitching in to lend a hand. That is until the call came in tonight from the Boston branch of the family which required two hours of telephone calls, as we tried to figure out what a possible solution to a crisis might be.

Those balls I mentioned on Wednesday labeled: “health”, “safety”, “happiness”, “well being”, “quality of life”, and “independence” gave us quite a workout this evening. We still don’t have all the answers, but we’re still juggling.