Wednesday, April 30, 2008


On this, the last day of National Poetry Month here in the United States, I encourage you to read a poem.

Or write a poem.

Or read a poem aloud.

Or do all three.

Or go to the library and run your fingers over the spines of the poetry books until one tugs at your spirit and demands to be taken home, read and savored.

Or invite a child to write a poem.

Or go to a poetry reading and know that the poet is most likely scared and delighted to be sharing their poem with you.

Or do all of the above.

And tomorrow, do it all again...

Here are some places to begin:

Poetry 180, a poem a day (not just) for High School students
Poetry Daily, a new poem every day
Favorite Poem Project, videos of people saying poems they love
The Writer’s Almanac, Garrison Keillor chooses a new poem to share seven days a week

Tuesday, April 29, 2008


This may not be the prettiest photo I’ve ever posted, but at the moment those raindrop ripples in a puddle make me very happy! Yesterday and today brought rain to us here in Central Massachusetts. We needed it after too long a spell without any appreciable precipitation, which left things tinder dry. Now the immediate threat of fire danger is lifted and things are greening up amazingly quickly.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Inside BlogBall

If you have a blog on Blogger, this is great fun, dead easy and I owe it all to DancingMorganMouse. Look up at the address window in your browser screen. Do you see a little pink “PG” to the left of the address? I learned today that it’s called a Favicon as in Fave-Icon. Instead of the little orange square with the white Blogger sideways B, I created the pink “PG”. DMM has her little dancing mouse. She got the inside scoop from H&B, who directed us all to i-Tong’s post about how to insert our own favicon. I first tried using my Pink Granite photo, but it wasn’t clear enough. That’s when I made the “PG” instead.

So follow the trail of breadcrumbs from DMM to H&B to i-Tong. Or, if you’re in a hurry and don’t want to take the more enjoyable and scintilating scenic route, jump directly to i-Tong and follow his clear instructions. I’ll be watching the address window and bookmarks to see what you all come up with!

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Clear Risk

In a lovely moment of serendipity, Chuck discovered a new item for our pantry. He was looking for some olive oil in Trader Joe’s when a woman began filling her cart with bottles. She volunteered that she lived about an hour and a half away from the store, but that she would go almost any distance to find this item. It was White Balsamic Vinegar. Neither of us had ever heard of it, but at just $1.99 for 500 ml, why not give it a whirl?

It tastes almost exactly like traditional Balsamic Vinegar and is from Modena, Italy, yet it is perfectly clear, hence “white”. It’s just right for when you want that rich, sweet, tangy taste of Balsamic Vinegar, but don’t want that deep, dark color. We drizzled a little over our strawberries this morning and it was delicious - very summery and bright on the palate. I know it’s dangerous for me to state publicly we like something from Trader Joe’s (or anywhere else for that matter), but this White Balsamic Vinegar is so good I decided to take the risk!

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Eye Of The Beholder

While we were visiting with Chuck’s family in Washington state, the subject of my blog came up. I had e-mailed our family and friends back in November of 2006 when I started Pink Granite. But only a handful of them made and continue to make, regular visits (bless their loyal hearts!). Early in our stay, our brother-in-law said he had tried to find Pink Granite, but wasn’t sure he was in the right place. He brought us over to their new-to-them laptop and pulled up my blog. I did not recognize it! It looked awful. The entire page was a mostly white background, with badly spaced text. My two columns were visible, but looked as if they had been typed up and mimeographed. We showed them how dramatically different PG looks on our laptop. We all concluded that the difference might have something to do with our using different internet browsers. But the fact that their “new” laptop was previously owned, caused us all to think perhaps the settings were screwed up.

I didn’t think much more about it until yesterday’s audio adventure. When I learned that DancingMorganMouse couldn’t listen to the recording of my poem, I started researching what the problem was and how to fix it. I immediately began reading about tons of problems with embedding audio clips in Blogger. Many of them referenced the significant differences between browsers. So today I did some testing.

Back in 2006, the artist in me spent a long time choosing which Blogger template to use and then I tweaked the colors and layout until they were exactly what I wanted. When I work on my blog, using my Apple laptop and Safari, it is entirely WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get). This first screen shot is what Pink Granite looks like using my Safari browser:

When I use the FireFox or Camino browsers (both part of the Mozilla family), Pink Granite looks very much the way I intended it to. But if I use Microsoft’s Internet Explorer, this is what I see:

And even this image is much better than what I saw on my in-law’s laptop while out in greater Seattle!

So, my question is this: What do you see when you stop by Pink Granite???
Does it look like the first screen shot or the second or something else entirely?
And which browser are you using?
Thanks in advance for your help!

Friday, April 25, 2008

"Two Days In August"

Between Chuck (who reads directions) and me (who dives in without reading directions), we have managed to record my poem. I hope that you are able to listen to it and that you enjoy it!

Thank you for your kind words of encouragement, your caps-lock congratulations and your enthusiastic support!!!

And today, thanks for listening...

Note: Can’t see the little embedded audio bar above? Just click on this link which will take you to a page outside Blogger, where the audio file is stored. BTW, it should begin playing immediately. Thanks!

Update: Thanks to feedback from DancingMorganMouse, I learned that something is glitchy with both the embedded audio bar and the hot link in the Note above. It may have something to do with different browsers (more on that tomorrow). So, until I can get it more streamlined and reliable, try clicking on this link. It will take you to a page where you need to click on a blue link which says “756.2K” under “Advanced Audio Coding” on the lower right. Good luck and thanks again!

Second Update: I may have identified an additional factor in why some of you have been unable to listen to the audio clip. (where the audio file is presently stored) has been experiencing some “System Slowness”. I don’t know if this is rare or common, but it might be complicating things.

Thursday, April 24, 2008


This evening’s reading went beautifully! Once again, about three dozen people gathered, this time in a library. The main differences between the two events was that more of the contributing poets were in attendance and read tonight. In addition to the poets, many of the photographers whose pastoral images were included in the book were also recognized and their work displayed. The reception from the audience was just as warm and appreciative as last time, the applause for each participant even more vigorous!

I am still smiling.

The small talk/chit chat aspects of these events still leave me flummoxed. But I must confess that the reading is fun! It’s not quite like the terror of a roller coaster ride morphing into exhilaration, such that at the end of the ride you rush to get in line again. But the fact that particular image came to mind speaks volumes. In fact, if someone had said there was another reading tomorrow, I would have said: “Cool! When and where?” As long as there was no requirement of polite social discourse between strangers!

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Four Things

1. For some unknown reason, our internet connection has gone down again. I am currently sitting in a Barnes & Noble Bookstore, checking e-mail and posting this SOS. What are the chances that when we get home I will be able to talk to Carlos in Mexico? Oh how I wish I could have gotten that computer wizard’s direct line! So I may be out of touch for a bit until we can get this all sorted out.

2. Can anyone tell me why Chuck and I should eat at a "Cheesecake Factory Restaurant" ever, ever again? Seriously. We kept hearing good things about the place and after two truly mediocre, over-priced lunches, we’re ready to cross them off our list.

3. We had a great visit today with my favorite ER; my Mom in Rhode Island! She’s feisty and understands that growing older is not for sissies! Go Mom!

4. I have another poetry reading tomorrow night in support of the book, coinciding with Earth Day activities this week. I fear that my first reading last week may have been to an “easy” crowd. I am somewhat less optimistic about the reception tomorrow night, but I am definitely much less nervous. Except about small talk - I’d almost rather go to the dentist than make polite chit chat with total strangers! Wish me luck. I know you will!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Washington Goes Digital

It’s been ages since I posted any of my digi-scrap layouts. I’m happy to report that I continue to make progress with PhotoShop Elements. It is now a tool - actually a very fun tool - and no longer a fierce dragon to be slain!

I like how clean and crisp this layout is of our outing on Lake Washington.

Warning: Tech Speak Ahead!
I used the "Rectangular Marquee Tool” to create the 13 rectangles. I filled each one with light blue and then de-selected. I created all the rectangles on the same layer. Unfortunately, that meant I couldn't move them around individually later to better suit my photo! I then put the photo layer above the rectangles layer. I chose "Group With Previous" from the drop-down layer menu and ta da! I also added a “Noisy Drop Shadow” to make it “pop” a bit more.

And to think that not that long ago, a paragraph like that would make my brain explode!

Layout, photo and paper by LMR/Pink Granite. Software: Apple iPhoto '08 & Adobe Photoshop Elements 4.0 for Mac. Fonts: Blair Md ITC TT and Stone Sans Sem OS ITC CT

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

A Sweet Day!

Happy Second Wedding Anniversary K & P!
Enjoy every minute!

Monday, April 21, 2008

Seasonal Confusion

Technically, we’re not experiencing a drought around here. But we do need rain - sufficient and soon, please. According to The Boston Globe there were 189 reported brush fires across Massachusetts on Saturday alone. The spring bulbs have been continuing to push up. Even the lilac buds are swelling earlier than normal, due to the unusual warmth. It may feel like summer, yet, at first glance, it still looks more like late winter than a month past the equinox.

View from the kitchen door

Lilacs beside the driveway

First daffodils; spring green through winter beige

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Transgression Or Hidden Benefit?

Today the Pope said Mass at Yankee Stadium. Yankee Stadium, as in the home of “The Evil Empire”, arch rivals of our beloved Boston Red Sox!

What does this mean for the 2008 Major League Baseball season and beyond?

Last week, the Yankees dug up the David Ortiz Red Sox jersey a construction worker had buried in the cement, near the visitors clubhouse in the new Yankee Stadium. Apparently, the Yankees were afraid that Big Papi’s shirt would give the Sox an unfair advantage on their trips to the Bronx.

Now the Pope has said Mass in the current and soon to be old Yankee Stadium.

Is this a “No No Nanette” and Babe Ruth redux?

But what might have been burning in the censer at the beginning of Mass today? The Pope was garbed in white and gold, but the cardinals wear red...

I need to find some tarot cards and get a reading.


We live in a fairly rural area, but I’m having trouble readjusting to the vernal noise around here. Yesterday, we raised the storms and dropped the screens on the bedroom windows. It’s been unseasonably warm, with temperatures up in the 70s (21+ C) and even cresting over the 80 degree (27 C) mark. As a result, we’re hearing spring peepers, birds in full seasonal song, cars driving too fast on our country road and diesel tractor engines chugging from one field to another. I don’t have any desire to swap this raucous collection for city noises, including beeping horns and unattended car alarms. But this year’s accelerated transition from snow-muffled, winter silence to spring lollapalooza feels a bit jarring.

Today, we added our own sounds to the mix: scrape of metal shovel and rake against sand, dirt, gravel and rocks. Over the years, the crown down the middle of our unpaved driveway has risen in direct proportion to the settling and lowering of the parallel tire tracks on either side of it. So, we dug up one pile of dirt and spread it around into two flatter piles - sort of. It’s a work in progress, which could will come to a grinding halt at the first swarm of biting black flies. At which point I will move inside behind screened windows and/or a screened porch until the first hard frost next October! O.K. That’s a slight exaggeration. I’ll only stay indoors through the black fly, deer fly, tick and mosquito season. Yeah, well, that’s pretty much first hard frost in October...

Saturday, April 19, 2008


“Question with boldness even the existence of a God; because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason, than that of blindfolded fear.”
- Thomas Jefferson (1734 - 1826)

Friday, April 18, 2008

A Shift

I was not happy when Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger became Pope Benedict XVI back in 2005. Perhaps it was his previous position as Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (formerly the Holy Office of the Inquisition) which left me cold. Maybe it was his reputation and nickname “God’s Rottweiler”. No matter, as a staunch supporter of Blessed Pope John XXIII and the Second Vatican Council of the early 1960s (commonly referred to as Vatican II), I was quite concerned that as Pope, Benedict XVI would unravel the best parts of the Catholic Church. The fact that then Father Joseph Ratzinger was in attendance at Vatican II did nothing to assuage my worry.

As the months turned into years, my opinion had not changed about Pope Benedict XVI. Then he decided to come to the United States. Then he looked so darned open and interested in everything around him. Then he decided to meet with a small group of survivors of sexual abuse by priests from the Archdiocese of Boston. Then the first hand reports of that meeting began to emerge. That’s when I felt something shift inside me.

I remember when I was in the midst of a Roman Catholic annulment of my first marriage. I had not initiated it, but nonetheless I was neck deep in paperwork and pain. Late in the process I spoke with a Monsignor from the Tribunal. It was a long conversation and a frank one on my part. I expressed anger, sadness and frustration. It was in that priest’s voice and words I felt what I had never expected to feel: vindication. I was away from the Church at that time, estranged or lapsed from the weekly ritual of Mass, but still felt very much like the Irish Catholic kid I once was. In that conversation and in the subsequent granting of the annulment, I felt that the Church had supported me in a concrete, proactive way which I had not felt since my childhood and never so powerfully.

My sadness and pain during my divorce and annulment was as nothing compared to the betrayal and abuse inflicted on innocents by evil individuals and compounded by a Church hierarchy running scared and refusing to live up to their own moral code. But as I listened to the voices of the survivors who met with Pope Benedict yesterday, I could begin to imagine their relief and the leading edge of a burden being lifted. I could begin to open my own heart to the possibility that Pope Benedict appreciates what Blessed Pope John XXIII brought to the Church via Vatican II.

Then I read this on
[Boston’s] Cardinal Sean P. O'Malley, who pushed for the meeting after the pope decided not to include Boston in his U.S. itinerary, gave the pope an oversize hand-sewn book made of color-washed paper in which a calligrapher had written the names of nearly 1,500 men and women from the Boston area who have reported being sexually abused by priests over the last six decades.

and I cried.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Well And Truly Spring

This year’s crop of crocuses

Since we returned from our trip, we haven’t needed to turn the heat on for the second floor at all. And we’ve only needed to push the heat on for the first floor very early in the mornings to take the overnight chill off. This afternoon, the outside temperature reached 70 (21 C) degrees! Looking at the forecast, I think our heating days are over until next autumn. That also means we need to remove our lovely IKEA Mysa Sol down quilt/comforter. We purchased it back in January, during their big winter sale (I can’t find it on their website). It’s been wonderful - cozy, toasty and light as, well O.K., a feather - or a whole slew of feathers. It’s been so warm actually, that we started turning the heat down earlier in the evenings so that the bedroom could reach our favorite sleeping temperature: 54 (12 C) degrees. So perhaps we saved a little on heating oil since we first fluffed and poofed the quilt onto the bed four months ago.

On the other hand, Chuck and I can’t stand the heat and humidity that are the hallmarks of southern New England summers. And it won’t be long before we need to slide the little Energy Star air conditioner into our bedroom window! But wait! I’m getting ahead of myself. For now, things are beginning to green up - little clusters of spring flowers, tender shoots and even a few buds on trees. The bugs are still few and far between. The days are mostly sunny, breezy and dry.

No complaints - not yet anyway! ;o)

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Don’t Blink

Just outside the window in the dining room where Chuck’s Dad eats his meals, N. and B. have placed a hummingbird feeder. While we were there, N. tweaked the proportions in the sugar water nectar recipe he places in the feeder and it was suddenly a big hit. Near the end of our trip, Chuck was able to snap this photo through the window on a cloudy day. We think it is most likely an Anna’s Hummingbird, indigenous to the Northwestern United States.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

I Read, Therefore I Am

I’ve been writing poetry since I was a young teen - nearly four decades! Several years ago, I had a poem published in our local paper and most recently, one published in a book. I have read my poems aloud on a couple of occasions to very small groups of folks that I was acquainted with. I have even identified myself as a poet. But it wasn’t until this morning, that I actually felt I truly am a poet.

Today’s poetry reading in support of the book was an unqualified success. My editor coordinated and led the event. The three dozen or so people who gathered in the social hall of a classic New England church were warm, welcoming and appreciative - nary a heckler among them! Chuck literally and figuratively had my back as he sat directly behind me. I was happy that I wasn’t feeling particularly nervous about the reading. I was more nervous about the small talk I needed to make with strangers before things got underway!

I read third, which was just about perfect. I had the chance to see and hear two other poets first, but I didn’t have to wait so long that I could have grown more anxious. I believe I set my voice to the correct volume and spoke to the folks in the back. I believe I looked up several times throughout my reading. Chuck reports that I did well and that my hands and book did not tremble as I stood before the audience. Chuck also said that there was audible murmuring at the end of my poem, followed by generous applause. I sort of, almost, kind of remember being able to hear the applause and smiling in response as I took my seat! I also was able to really listen to and enjoy all the poems which were read this morning.

Throughout the rest of the day, Chuck turned to me and pretended to speak to an imaginary stranger saying: “Why yes, that is my wife Lee, The Poet! Yes, she is available for readings!” How cute is he? Pretty darn cute, I’ll tell ya!

Saturday, April 12, 2008


I’ve written here before about my shyness. I’ve explained how I’ve learned to mostly overcome it. As a teenager and young adult I served as a lector in my church. Every week, I would stand on the altar before the large congregation and read two passages from the Bible, along with the prayer of the faithful. I was fine. Even the time I went to read the second reading and instead began to read the first reading all over again! After a sentence or two, out of the corner of my eye, I saw the monsignor headed my way. I stopped. He reached over and flipped the page to the correct passage. I said: “Sorry Father. Thanks.” and read the passage as he returned to his seat.

Lightning did not strike. The earth did not open up and swallow me whole. I may have blushed, but I did not collapse. I took it in stride. Tomorrow, I need that same ease, self confidence and poise. Tomorrow I will be reading one of my poems aloud, in front of people I don’t know. It’s the poem which was published last year. I know when you read this you’ll be wishing me luck. I’ll let you know tomorrow how it all went.

Breathing now...

Remembering to throw my arms in the air as well --- but not while I’m reading my poem!


Thursday, April 10, 2008

Settling Back In

Crocuses from spring 2007...

- More catching up today - laundry, getting used to cooking meals again, grocery list (the shopping trip never happened, maybe tomorrow?) e-mails, and all the little things that had to go by the boards while we were away.

- The visit to Washington really worked out beautifully - frankly much better than we had dared to hope. The mostly twice daily visits with Chuck’s Dad gave us the opportunity for moments of communication, observation, patience and service. Having Dad recognize us both and show flashes of his wit and humor are something we treasure. Added to those positives, we were able to spend lots of time, nearly every day, with Chuck’s sister Carol and her family. At one point, Chuck realized this was probably the most time he and Carol had spent together since they were living under the same roof as kids!

- At first glance, nothing looked green around here when we returned home. Perhaps it was the sharp contrast with the abundance of greenery and flowers out west which left us jaded! But in fact there are crocuses beginning to peek out and the first thick shoots of daffodil leaves gliding up through newly thawed, tender earth and last autumn’s crumbling leaves.

Being away was good.

Being home again is very good.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Cruising The Lakes

One glorious afternoon, while we were in greater Seattle, Chuck’s sister and her husband took us out on their new-to-them 60 year old boat. The four hours we cruised around was the best stretch of weather we had during the entire visit. We started out on Lake Union, moved through Portage Bay to Union Bay then out onto Lake Washington. While on Lake Washington we motored down to Seward Park and Mercer Island then turned around, eventually returning to Lake Union. From there, we detoured under the Aurora Bridge heading out toward Salmon Bay, before returning to the slip.

Montlake bridge, between Portage Bay and Union Bay, with the Cascade Mountains in the distance

The University of Washington’s Husky Stadium as seen from Union Bay

The 520 across Lake Washington, near rush hour, with the Cascades and the city of Bellevue beyond

Mount Rainier about 60 miles away - seeming to float in the air as if it was painted on a theater scrim

Sea plane at the ready, parked in front of a home on Lake Washington

Mount Rainier rising above Seward Park

The boat in motion on Lake Washington

Part of Bill & Melinda Gates’ house on Lake Washington

Along the waterfront in Portage Bay

Sailing on Lake Union, with Seattle as the backdrop

Under the Aurora Bridge on Lake Union

Along the water toward Salmon Bay, the “Alaska Titan” and the diminutive “Fearless” are moored

On Lake Union, the houseboat from the movie “Sleepless In Seattle”

As always, feel free to click on any image to get a better look.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Welcome Home

I swear we didn’t plan it.
It just worked out perfectly.

We’re home, safe and sound and tired. The luggage is mostly unpacked. The laundry marathon has begun. (Isn’t that how this whole trip started?) jetBlue did just as good a job on the return flight to Boston as it did on the flight to Seattle. But red eye flights, even non-stop ones, truly suck pond water! The drive from Logan Airport to our home yesterday was long and challenging. A nap recharged our batteries sufficient to drive the next leg to the kennel. The cats are home and after some initial zaniness, acting normally - well, normal for them!

But the perfect timing I’m referring to is that this afternoon was the Boston Red Sox Ring Ceremony and Home Opener at Fenway Park - and we were home to watch it all on NESN. It was just dumb luck. If it had been yesterday, we would have been too exhausted to keep our eyes open through the spectacle and the 5 - 0 win. Today, however, we were rested just enough to enjoy it all. It was wonderful. Once again the Red Sox owners and management struck the right balance of fun and sentiment and history. Inviting Bill Buckner to throw out the ceremonial first pitch is an excellent example of how these folks think. So good, so good, so good...

BTW, I have photos from an afternoon cruise on the lakes of Seattle we took with Chuck’s sister and her husband. I hope to get some of those up tomorrow. In the meantime, here’s another picture Chuck took of how beautiful public architecture in Greater Seattle can be:

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Public Architecture As Art

The first thing that strikes me on every visit out here to Greater Seattle is how lush and green everything is at any time of the year. On one visit we made in January, we were amazed to find “winter pansies” blooming away under a crunchy layer of icy snow!

The second thing that strikes me is the thoughtful, artistic details in functional public features such as bus stops, retaining walls and medians. I hope the photos below give you an idea of what I’m referring to.

One bus stop

Another bus stop

Greenery on a noise barrier wall

Benches and planter on a street corner

Tile detail (So true!)

Flower against a noise barrier wall

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

The Whole Family

The days are running together. I find I have to keep asking Chuck what day it is. We are enjoying our mostly twice daily visits with Chuck’s Dad. On one of the two single visit days, we drove down with Chuck’s sister to the Tahoma National Cemetery where their Mom is buried. Because Dad is a veteran of World War II, Mom and Dad were entitled to be buried there if they wished. I mean no disrespect when I say that, just as we have on previous trips, we wanted to visit the entire family while here in Washington. It was a cold, gray day that brought sleet, rain, hail, and snow. Even on a raw, stormy day, Tahoma is a beautiful, peaceful and well-maintained cemetery. The above is a photo from a few years ago (taken with our old camera) on a sunny day when Mount Rainier was not fully shrouded in clouds.

Just a few days ago, the following was included in an e-mail we received from

This is a Cemetery…
Lives are commemorated,
Deaths are recorded,
Families are reunited,
Memories are made tangible and
Love is undisguised.

This is a Cemetery...

Communities accord respect,
Families bestow reverence,
Historians seek information and
Our Heritage is thereby enriched.

Testimonies of devotion, pride and warmth are carved in stone to pay warm tribute to accomplishments and to the life, not the death, of a loved one.
The cemetery is homeland for memorials that are a sustaining source of comfort to the living.
A cemetery is a history of a people, a perpetual record of yesterday and a sanctuary of peace and quiet today. 

A cemetery exists because every life is worth loving and remembering – always.

--- From the Lutheran All Faiths Cemetery brochure
Middle Village, New York
author unknown

"Beloved Wife and Mother"
"Beloved Husband and Father"
"Forever in Our Hearts"
"Dancing Together In Heaven"
"Everyone Knew Him As Bud"
"He Finally Got His Wings"

Those are just a few of the inscriptions etched on the headstones of Mom’s neighbors.

A cemetery exists
because every life is worth loving and remembering – always.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

The View From Here

This vista captures one of the area lakes with the Cascade Mountains beyond. The photo gives you a taste of the beauty of this region, just east of Seattle. There is so much to photograph - mountains, waterways, public architecture and sculpture, flowering trees, lush greenery - it is an embarrassment of riches. But we have been so focused on Dad, our family and the rhythms of each day, that our camera has been dutifully toted, yet rarely employed. I’m afraid I’ve been off my “photo-blogger” game. Since we have decided to extend our stay, I hope to rectify the problem before the week is out!