Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Last Day, First Night

2008 is going out on a very frigid note. It’s been snowing all day and now the temperature is just 4 F (-15 C), with a wind chill estimated at about 20 below zero F (-29 C)! Brrrr!

I hope you all have/are having/will have happy New Year’s Eve celebrations and that 2009 holds peace, joy and contentment for us all!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Calling All Worcester-ites

When the Bamboo Hut restaurant on lower Main Street in Worcester closed (just for remodeling? permanently???) we began looking forward to its re-opening. As time has ticked by, we’ve noticed a number of other Vietnamese restaurants, including some in the Stafford Street/Webster Square area. My question is this: Do you have any recommendations for a really good Vietnamese restaurant in Worcester?

Just let me know via the comments and thanks in advance!

Monday, December 29, 2008

Pomegranate Sighting!

Well, actually, pomegranates are widely available right now. My excitement is because we found Al Wadi Pomegranate Molasses at the Shaw’s Supermarket near Webster Square in Worcester! Last January I wrote about the challenge of finding a replacement for Trader Joe’s Pomegranate Glaze. We found Al Wadi’s product to be an excellent substitution. But up until now, we’ve only found it at Whole Foods and (not surprisingly) at a dear price. Shaw’s has priced the Pomegranate Molasses much more affordably. You can find it in their international foods aisles - which is a pretty darned interesting section of the store.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

We Love Our Subaru, But...

Remember our new generator?
Turns out, if we owned a Toyota Prius or any other hybrid vehicle, along with an inverter, we could have used the car as a generator to power our home!
Really. A family in Harvard, Massachusetts did just that during the power outage following the big ice storm. You can read about it here and read more and watch a news video here.

Now if Subaru would only hurry up and make a hybrid Outback wagon...

Friday, December 26, 2008

It Was A Furoshiki Kind Of Christmas

A week before Christmas, I discovered Furoshiki via Alabama Chanin’s blog. Furoshiki refers to a traditional Japanese fabric cloth used to wrap and carry things. A sort of highly functional origami, if you will, that can be used carry home items from a store or wrap a gift. I was immediately intrigued and set out to learn more. The more I learned, the more determined I became to wrap the few Christmas gifts we would be bringing to Carrie and Al’s home on Christmas Day, using the Furoshiki techniques.

I began with this downloadable PDF which includes illustrations of 14 different wrapping techniques. I then discovered a site devoted to Furoshiki. From there I watched a few videos including this 30 second(!) one which shows how to wrap a pair of wine bottles.

Furoshiki cloths were traditionally made of silk, but now are made out of a variety of fabrics. Some cloth squares are lined in contrasting colors and patterns to increase the strength of the square, as well as to heighten the visual interest of the final wrap. For this Christmas wrapping foray into Furoshiki, I cut out several different sized squares of holiday themed cotton fabric. I didn’t even bother to hem the fabric. I wrapped pairs of wine bottles using the Bin Tsutsumi “two bottle carry wrap” technique. I also wrapped selections of fruits, cheeses, crackers and other goodies using the Suika Tsutsumi “watermelon carry wrap” technique. One tip I found along the way was when wrapping a collection of disparate sized and shaped items, lay your furoshiki square inside a shallow bowl or basket to corral your things. This worked very well and I didn’t have fruit rolling this way and that as I tried to tie the square!

It was quite successful. The packages were very easy to carry and looked both interesting and attractive. Some recipients gave me the “Lee/Auntie Lee/Lee Ann has come up with another oddball thing to share” look! But nearly everyone absolutely loved the two bottle wrap style and declared it a vast improvement over those little paper bottle bags or sewn fabric bottle sacks. I printed out the PDF to give to folks so that they would have a starting off point to explore Furoshiki on their own. I look forward to sewing some Furoshiki squares, hemming the edges and making some lined ones as well.

Here are a couple of photos:

Suika Tsutsumi “watermelon carry wrap”

Bin Tsutsumi “two bottle carry wrap”

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

It’s A Wonderful Life

It’s not just my favorite movie, it is hands down, bar none, the best movie ever made. Call me sentimental, I’ll claim the title proudly, but dang I love that movie!

Friendship, loyalty, a finely tuned moral compass, folks working in unison to achieve a common goal, well intentioned, warm, funny individuals - It’s A Wonderful Life has it all.

Every single time I watch it I come away with a deep sense of gratitude for things big and small.

So as Chuck and I sip our eggnog with a splash Gosling’s rum from Bermuda, Happy Chanukah, Merry Christmas and here’s to you Frank Capra, Clarence, George Bailey and the citizens of Bedford Falls - miracles all around!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Hold A Good Thought...

Please hold a good thought and send some healing energy the way of a member of our family. Tomorrow, Joe will be undergoing quintuple coronary artery bypass surgery. Many thanks...

: : Update: Joe is out of surgery and in the ICU. I don’t have all the details, but a quintuple bypass was changed to a triple. I can’t even tell you if that is good or bad. All I know is that Joe is off the respirator and coming around.

I do know it was a comfort knowing folks around the globe were sending Joe their good wishes. Thank you so very much.

: : Update Two: Joe is home and continuing to recuperate. This is definitely a tortoise and the hare situation, where slow and steady will win the race. Thanks again for all your care and concern!

Surveying The Damage

When we heard the weather forecast for warmer temperatures and rain over the next few days, we decided we’d best get some snowshoeing in today. It was in the 20s F (-5 C), but because the air was still, it felt quite mild. We didn’t go far, just out to the back part of our property. Even though we shouldn’t have been, we were still surprised by the amount of damage the ice storm wrought. The photos below show several large trees tumbled to the ground with their root balls exposed. What had been comfortable paths to snowshoe along last winter, were interesting obstacle courses today. But the last photo shows a shallow stream turned into abstract ice art; beauty amidst the destruction.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Happy Chanukah!

In addition to today being the Winter Solstice for the Northern Hemisphere (the shortest day or the longest night), it also happens to be the first night of Chanukah. But after three days of snowfall and snow removal, we’re feeling more fatigued than festive. So tonight was limited to candle lighting and singing. The latkes and applesauce will have to wait for another evening...

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Speak For Yourself Honey!

The night before the storm, which knocked out our power for nearly a week, we ran a slew of errands. One stop was at a CVS pharmacy. Chuck had looked in their weekly flyer and noticed some items we use were on sale. Because the discounts were pretty steep, we went in and stocked up. We checked out at the register and headed for the car. My arms were loaded with packages of Scott toilet paper and Chuck had a reusable shopping bag filled to the brim with containers of Sunsweet Bite Size Pitted Prunes. As we walked to the car, I suddenly realized what an unfortunate juxtaposition our purchases made! I told Chuck and he began to laugh as the penny dropped. He then announced that this particular purchase cemented the fact that we are now both a couple of A.K.s (Alter Kakers). I immediately rejected his pronouncement. I may be a lot of things - including 50 years old - but I am most certainly not an A.K.!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Silence Is Golden

The silence of the electricity flowing to our house from the grid is a beautiful thing and very refreshing after the comforting, yet relentless noise of the generator. It’s so much easier not to have to think as hard about what electrical items we want to use and when. But I can’t quite shake the feeling we were somehow “cheating” by using the generator. Having been nearly a week without power, I’m absolutely certain we made the right decision to buy the generator. But much of the creativity and problem solving was lost.

For example, several years ago we did not heed the warnings in advance of a summer thunderstorm. As a consequence, our tub was empty when the power cut out. But the heavens were still pouring sheets of rain down upon us. All that rainwater was going to waste. I looked out at the gutter downspout from the barn. It spills out beyond a stone wall which serves as a retaining wall for the driveway to the barn. I thought about it a bit and then I got a rope and a bucket. I tied one end of the rope to the handle on the bucket and the other end to the handle of one of the barn doors. I placed the bucket under the downspout and swiftly collected a bucket of water. By now I had a somewhat bemused and amused Chuck caught up in my scheme. I hauled up the full bucket and dumped the water into a larger container, which Chuck gallantly ferried up to the bathtub on the second floor. It was a really good solution to a vexing problem. With a working generator at the ready, I have no reason to do that again! Heck, I’m not even sure when or if we need to fill the tub in preparation for a storm. Yes, I am lucky to have such a nice problem, but I still need to wrap my mind around the tectonic shift in reality!

Anyhoo, about a foot of snow was forecast for our area today. The temperature stayed quite cold and so the snow was very fluffy and drifted easily under light to moderate winds. Chuck thinks we actually received closer to just eight or nine inches. But that was a sufficient quantity to allow him to rev up the new snowblower and take it for a test drive. I’m wearing sunglasses, indoors, at night, right now, because Chuck is grinning from ear to ear and it’s blinding me! That is one happy snowblowing man!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

It’s Baaaack!

We are once again getting power from the grid!!!

I’m not exactly sure when it happened because we were away from the house at the time, but we’re guessing it was about 3:00 p.m. That’s six and a half days or 157 hours. Of which, we ran the generator for just 50.8 hours. It was the perfect amount of time to keep the house comfortable, the refrigerator cold and the water pumping up from the well as needed. But it is an enormous relief to have electricity flowing silently to our home and available with just the flip of a switch.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Tick Tock, Tick Tock...

: : Nearly all the holiday cards are out the door and safely in the mail. There are just a few we need to confirm addresses for.
: : We chose the “Celebrate” stamps.
: : Still no electricity from the grid. Sigh... But the damage assessment teams came by earlier today doing their “bird-dogging”. And later, the tree crews came down one side of the street, but never made it back up the other side as we had been told they would. (But if you’ve been following me on Twitter, you already knew all that!)
: : As of this posting, National Grid is reporting 17,425 households in Worcester County still without power. Today’s snow and ice slowed things down and complicated the repairs. The new estimated restoration for our town has been pushed to just before midnight, Thursday, December 18th.
: : Over the years, we’ve had many different headlamps. They used to be heavy and awkward with enormous battery packs you had to clip to a belt. Now we have Petzl headlamps. They are super light with extremely comfortable headbands. Chuck’s is the Tikka XP. Mine is the older TacTikka Plus. Both have very bright, easily adjustable lights. We recommend them.
: : Our generator continues to plug away and we are getting quite used to the constant thrumming and roar of its engine. But whenever we shut it off, the silence is welcome. We also remain very grateful that we happened upon it and were able to buy it. We’ll tip over the 144 hours without electricity mark overnight at 2:00 a.m. Without the generator, we would have been sunk.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

The Odyssey Continues

Day Five.
Overnight, at 2:00 a.m it will be 120 hours that we have been without electricity from the grid. National Grid’s “Outages by County” webpage still shows 26,362 households in Worcester County alone, still without power. They are targeting tomorrow evening, just before midnight, as the estimated time for restoration to be completed. Having driven through a number of towns, we’ve seen that all of the crews have been doing an amazing job of undoing the damage Mother Nature wrought in just a few hours. Tonight, as we did last night, when we shut down the generator we will switch the main back on. We’d hate to miss the power being restored! (With the main circuit breaker off, there is no possibility that the electricity created by our generator, can flow out over the lines and into the grid, thereby putting utility line workers at risk.) But if all is still quiet in the morning, we will carefully shut off the main and switch the generator back on.

This afternoon I suddenly realized that Christmas is just a week and a day away and Chanukah begins at sundown this Sunday the 21st! Yikes! Between the two week visit to Washington and this most recent adventure, the holidays have been very far from my mind. So this afternoon, with the aid of the generator, we began printing our holiday cards. With any luck at all, the post office will have some bright and cheerful stamps left and we can get the cards on their way. After that, I need to make a list - a long list I fear, of things still to be done!

Monday, December 15, 2008


They say it was the worst storm of its kind in fifty years.
I cannot disagree.
All that dense, lush foliage, thankfully in its dormant winter stage, suddenly encased in dazzling, icy beauty.
But beneath the beauty, there was so much damage and destruction.
Never have I seen such havoc, except in photographs and news footage from places very far away.

Late Thursday night the storm had picked up in intensity. The temperature hovered in the narrow band around the freezing point, which allowed the incremental build up of ice on every leaf, twig, branch and trunk. By 2:00 o’clock Friday morning, we were beginning to hear cracking sounds as the weakest branches gave way under the icy load. Around the same time we lost the electricity. Throughout the night, ominous sounds woke us, leading to a fitful sleep. Come morning, the sleet and freezing rain had slowed and we emerged to survey the damage.

It did not look like our property. It seemed a cruel imitation; an echo of something lovely, relaxed and natural, contorted into something strange and ugly. And the noise; like gunshots or perhaps the sharp report of a shotgun, as thick branches snapped and crashed to the earth, hurtling through lower growth, multiplying the damage.

We wandered about, trying to take it all in. Calling out the names of trees and shrubs as we recognized them in their new humbled forms: the mock orange, the lilacs, the rhododendron, the birches. Everywhere the white birches were bowed to the ground. Through all four seasons they are bright streaks of white shooting up through the dense growth around them. We hated to lose so many, so suddenly.

Our street was drivable, but only as one long, alternating, zig zag lane. Folks drove by slowly in cars and trucks, many stopping to talk, compare notes, share news of how widespread the storm had been and pass on rumors of when the power might be restored. One group of neighbors had taken on the task of making sure our road was clear enough for emergency vehicles. They went along in a big truck until they spotted a downed tree. Then they would hop out, rev up their chainsaws, make quick work of it and move on to the next impediment.

We went back indoors to collect our thoughts and touch base with family members. (Wonderfully, with the exception of about 15 hours, we have had uninterrupted land line phone service. Cell phone service has also been remarkably reliable, periodic overloaded circuits notwithstanding.) As Chuck and I pooled the information we had gleaned from neighbors and our niece Kate who, via the phone, provided us with online news from the utility companies, we came to terms with the notion that this outage would be of unusually long duration. (It was Kate who left the update in the comments of my last post. Thank you Kate!)

Friday went by in a blur. Family members offered to open up their homes to us, but we were determined to stay put. While we had filled the tub with water to be available for flushing the toilet, we were worried about having enough potable water on hand to last us. So we drove over to the high school which was being transformed into a shelter. The folks there were happy to allow us to fill our five gallon jerry can with water. With that and the gallon jugs we had on hand, we felt ready to get through the next day or so.

While I prepared a meal by candlelight and a head lamp, Chuck got our Aladdin lamp fired up. Its classic late nineteenth century design sends out the light of about a 60 watt bulb and, on a cold winter day, a delightful amount of warmth. Come bedtime (an unusually early bedtime!) we left our three season down quilt on the bed and layered our big, poofy winter down quilt on top of that.

The next morning we headed west out to the Pioneer Valley, which had been left unscathed, to pick up a few supplies. Along the way we discussed our options. The comment we had heard from Massachusetts Governor Patrick in which he said having power restored by Monday was “ambitious”, had given us pause. Our biggest fear was having our pipes freeze. We began discussing generators. But because thousands and thousands of citizens were also without power, we figured our chances of finding one were between slim and none - and Slim just left town! As we drove down Route 9 in Hadley, we suddenly saw a brand spankin’ new Home Depot. We sat in the parking lot while Chuck phoned our neighbor Dave who knows a whole lot about a whole lot of things and asked him about generators.

When we went inside the Home Depot, Arthur at the service desk was on the phone with a customer who could have easily been us. We eavesdropped as Arthur shared that there might be a few generators on a truck, driving up from down south, later that afternoon. Arthur advised us to check back around four. We returned at three! By that point they knew there were 100 generators - of unknown size, brand and price arriving between 4:00 and 4:30. If we wanted one, we should get a number from the manager. We became number 6. Whatever the sixth generator off that truck was, it was ours. As we lined up near the back of the store, employees wheeled flatbed carts out with a generator on each one. Numbers were called out and we cheered each one with : “Congratulations! It’s a bouncing baby generator!”

Chuck placed a call to one of our neighbors who is an electrician. We asked if we could hire him to help us get the generator hooked up properly. He agreed. We also asked him what else we should purchase to facilitate that process. List in hand, we completed our purchase and headed home. By 9:00 p.m. Saturday the gasoline fueled generator began to roar and lights came on around the house. Soon our refrigerator was refrigerating, our well was pumping and our furnace was heating! It took several hours to get the indoor temp of about 39 F (4 C) up to our usual overnight of 54 F (12 C), but it worked. We shut the generator down for the night and headed wearily but happily to bed.

Sunday morning we shut off everything except the refrigerator and managed to take showers. Wow! A hot shower and a flushable toilet - bestill my heart! Clean, we then drove down to visit my Mom in Rhode Island and felt as if we were back in college as we walked in with two loads of laundry to wash and dry! Today, with the ice melted by 50 F degree (10 C) temperatures, we spent much of the day pruning and carting off debris. I’m happy to report that a surprising number of trees and shrubs have bounced back up and despite heavy losses, the yard looks a little more like it did before the storm.

We are still without electricity from the grid and still have no date certain for when it might be restored. But we are safe and sound and surprisingly well powered - all of which leaves us grateful. Thank you for your good and very warm wishes. We felt them before we could even read them!

Looking to the woods, over the clothesline

Our road, looking east

Our road, looking west

A birch encased in ice, against Chuck's hand

The damage which lies beneath

Canada Geese on a nearby pond

Sharp contrasts could be seen by the afternoon

Our Aladdin lamp sheds light and warmth

Our own private utility!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

The Weather Outside Is Frightful

When I stepped outside to take some photographs of the ice which had been accreting on all the foliage, it was near 4:00 p.m. and the light was already fading. At that point it all looked very much like the the photos I took last January. But with even the slightest stirring of the air, the sound was startling. A breeze would set off an eerie sort of tinkling as the frozen droplets broke free of twigs and branches, then scattered against the icy foliage below. A slightly stronger gust of wind changed the musical sound of the icy bits falling, into a cascade, punctuated by the sound of small branches breaking and crashing to the ground. All of this was hours before the worst of the storm was expected to peak.

We have electrical power and therefore heat and running water. We’re safe and warm inside our home, which happily has a brand new roof keeping out the elements. So with the temperature still hovering just below the freezing point, all is well.

Umbrella Theory

Meteorologist Matt Noyes of New England Cable News is predicting a serious ice storm for central Massachusetts and heavy snow in northern New England, over the next 24 hours or so. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is in agreement with Mr. Noyes.

Following the logic of “carry an umbrella and it won’t rain” we’ve filled the tub with water and are as prepared as we can be. But the memory of a severe ice storm in Maine back in 1998, with lengthy power outages, leaves me concerned. Perhaps we’ll be lucky enough to have the kind of ice storm I posted photographs of back in January of 2007. That storm was brief, lovely and left no lasting damage.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Catching Up To Ourselves

We began flying home a week ago tonight. I am almost caught up with the laundry! Happily, paying bills during our two week absence was very convenient due to our on-line banking. Enduring thanks to all of you who encouraged us to take the leap into the 21st century last year! Other than purchasing perishables locally, I’ve been cooking out of the pantry and the freezer for the last week. Chuck’s sister and her family welcomed us to their table nearly every night for dinner, but breakfasts were at the hotel breakfast bar and lunch was mostly “to go” soups and salads from grocery stores. So cooking at home has been a pleasure. (Chuck wants me to point out that the pleasure has been his as well!)

Today we made our first major foray to the grocery store and ran several other errands. It felt good to be out and about in our home territory once again. But we were both struck by how incredibly convenient and accessible nearly everything under the sun had been to us out in Washington State. Our commute from the hotel to Chuck’s Dad’s place took us by Safeway, Top, Fred Meyer and Trader Joe’s grocery stores, along with myriad gas stations, drugstores, restaurants and shops. It truly was an embarrassment of riches. Our little town here in central Massachusetts has everything one could need in a pinch. What it doesn’t have is vast variety and super low prices. So while we dine and shop locally, we also schlep for big grocery shopping and other bargains.

This evening, at the end of running around, crossing many things off our to do and to buy lists, we went to Chopsticks in Leominster for dinner. Oh it was nice to look at the menu and know exactly just how yummy something was going to taste before we ordered it. And yummy it all was. And friendly. The staff at Chopsticks is always very cheerful and they greet us warmly whenever we stop in. Tonight we calculated that Chuck and I have been going to Chopsticks for 23 years - Chuck even longer than that. When we walk in the door, it’s not exactly like on “Cheers” to the sound of “Norm!” (well, “Chuck and Lee!”), but it’s close enough to feel like a wonderful welcome home.

Monday, December 8, 2008

It’s Our Money!

The United States Government recently gave vast amounts of money to financial institutions, including Bank of America, in an effort to get the money in the credit markets flowing again.

Under the U.S. Government’s plan, Bank of America took 15 billion dollars.

Republic Windows and Doors, founded in 1965 in Chicago, Illinois, wanted to access their existing line of credit with Bank of America.

Bank of America said no.

Republic Windows and Doors, who once employed 700 workers, but due to economic downturns, now employ 300 workers, ran out of money to pay their employees. Last Tuesday, Republic told their employees they were all going to be laid off. And in violation of Federal law, workers would receive no severance pay and no vacation pay which had been accrued - all this on just three days notice, which is also illegal for a mass layoff.

Republic employees, some of whom have worked there for decades, took over the building. They are keeping vigil around the clock in their shuttered company as they keep an eye on the remaining assets the company possesses.

If you want to lend your support to the employees of Republic Windows and Doors you can go to the website of the union which represents the majority of the workers, The United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America. If you would like to send an e-mail to Bank of America you can go to Jobs With Justice and sign on.

December 10, 2008 - UPDATE:
CNN via the Dow Jones Newswires is reporting some progress in the negotiations between Republic Windows and Doors, the employees, the union, Bank of America and state and federal officials.

Thank you for speaking up for the workers!

Sunday, December 7, 2008

A Date Which Will Live In Infamy

On December 7, 1941 the Empire of Japan attacked the United States of America at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt spoke before the United States Congress and to the nation on December 8th. Within minutes, Congress declared war on Japan, bringing the United States directly into World War II.

Here in the United States we have Memorial Day and Veterans Day, yet December 7th is inextricably linked to World War II. Not simply the attack and our active involvement in the war, but December 7th has become emblematic of the entirety of the wartime experience. Hard on the heels of The Great Depression, the attack on Pearl Harbor roused the United States from its isolationist complacency and rallied it to pull together. The overwhelming cooperation of and enormous sacrifices made by what has come to be called “The Greatest Generation”, both on the battlefields and on the home front, continue to inspire. I have no doubt, they always will.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Eight Random Things

While we were out in Washington State, George tagged me with the meme: “Eight Random Things About Me”. I knew I couldn’t focus on the task well enough until we returned home. Now we’re home, so here goes:

: : I went to Catholic school for grades one through eight. Then I moved on to a public high school. But for college I returned to a Catholic school - all girls on campus, mixed gender in the classroom.

: : I’ve worn glasses since I was two years old. I tried contact lenses in college, but always felt like I had something in my eyes. Ummm, I did! Plus, I felt not enough like myself and somehow under-dressed without my glasses on.

: : As a young child, I loved the Bobbsey Twins series of books by the pseudonymous Laura Lee Hope. I then became hooked on the Trixie Belden series. My preteen romantic favorites were the Janet Lambert series about the Parrish Family, especially Penny Parrish. Swoon and sigh...

: : Truly good bread and butter and other savory delicacies will always trump sweets for me. Although chocolate - really good, dark chocolate - is a major food group. Really.

: : For as long as I can remember, I’ve been afraid of the dark. But as I’ve aged, the fear continues to diminish. However, we do own many flashlights and I do dearly love my salt lamps which burn around the clock.

: : My grandmother, Gagee, hoped I might become a nun. But I never, ever felt the calling - not even a teensy pull - as so many young Catholic girls do. My cousin became a nun, so Gagee had that, for a time. My Cuz left and is now happily married with children. Different callings for different times.

: : “It’s A Wonderful Life” is my favorite movie, ever, bar none. We watch it every year and every year it’s fresh and new and deeply, comfortingly, familiar.

: : Several years ago, I jumped through a few hoops and now, legally, my name consists of what I consider my real first name: Lee, followed by my maiden name and then my husband Chuck’s last name - no hyphens thank you! My parents named me Lee Ann (which someone in my family still spells incorrectly!); middle name Marie. But when I went to high school, I signed all my registration documents “Lee” because I liked the way it felt. I still do.

Now I’m supposed to tag eight people, but I’d prefer to keep this open ended and ever so slightly loosey-goosey. So you’re all invited to share “Eight (more or less) Random Things About Yourselves”, in the comments or on your own blog, or Twitter one thing at a time!

Thank you George. This was fun!

Friday, December 5, 2008

Tweet, Tweedly-Deet

Lord love a duck, I’m on Twitter!

Thanks to George and Morgan I could no longer resist. So I took the plunge and signed up on Twitter. You may already be twittering(?) or tweeting(?) yourself. But if not, Twitter’s own one sentence explanation of their site is: ”Twitter is a service for friends, family, and co–workers to communicate and stay connected through the exchange of quick, frequent answers to one simple question: What are you doing?”

I’ll still be blogging here at Pink Granite via Blogger, but now you can also find me over on Twitter. Plus I’m now feeding my latest Twitter Updates into my sidebar. With a 140 character limit per update on Twitter I’m forced to keep it short and sweet.

Do you Twitter?
Well then, check it out via my Twitter page...

JetBlue Comes Through Again

We’re home safe and sound!

Our flight began in Seattle Wednesday night after eleven p.m. and we arrived in Boston yesterday morning just after seven. Along the way, the JetBlue crew did another excellent job of taking care of all the passengers with cheerful good humor. The trip was mostly smooth, but punctuated with significant turbulence. However, during each round of bumpy air, the captain calmly explained it and accurately projected when we would travel into less eventful air.

About two thirds of the way into the flight, the captain announced a medical emergency and the need for any doctors, nurses or emergency medical personnel to press their call buttons. Two buttons rang out immediately. Apparently, an older woman, seated just a few rows in front of Chuck and me, had suddenly lost consciousness. The three flight attendants behaved calmly, efficiently and quietly as they worked with the folks with medical training, to assist the passenger who had taken ill. After a flurry of activity, including the administration of oxygen by mask from a tank, the initial fear and tension dissolved as we noticed some smiles begin to emerge from those involved.

Shortly before arrival in Boston, the woman and and the gentleman sitting next to her were moved to the front of the not full to capacity plane. Their carry on luggage was also relocated. Before landing, the captain notified us that we might see emergency vehicles and personnel in evidence around the gate and not to be alarmed. He also informed us the passenger was feeling much better, but that she would be met by an ambulance. The flight attendants asked us to remain seated until she was safely off the plane. Chuck and I were seated near the back of the airplane and as we emerged at the gate several minutes later, we saw EMTs with a gurney, along with police and security officers all quietly in attendance around the passenger. As we walked by, we heard a Massachusetts State Trooper radioing in that the passenger was well enough not to need transport to the hospital.

I commend JetBlue and their wonderful crew for handling it all so beautifully. Heaven forfend I ever find myself as an ailing passenger, high in the skies over North America. But if I did, I would want it to be a JetBlue crew attending to me so warmly and efficiently. We’re writing a letter to that effect today.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

What’s Next

Just a few weeks ago, we thought Chuck’s Dad might be very near the end of his life. That’s what prompted our earlier than scheduled return visit to Greater Seattle. But Dad has continued to rally and have some good days in amongst the increasing number of lower and slower days. We are grateful that we have had these nearly two weeks with him. We are especially thankful that there was that one lovely moment when he knew who we were and was able to communicate that so clearly.

So it is with mixed emotions that we will be heading home later this week. We are looking forward to sleeping in our own bed; cooking our own food; tossing a load of laundry in without checking to see if there is a line in the hotel’s “Guest Laundry”. But our hearts will be heavy knowing this may well be the last time we see Dad before he passes. While no one has a crystal ball, in his final days, we wish Dad peace and comfort and dignity. And perhaps most importantly, the knowledge certain that all his life he acted out of love as he cared for his family and is loved in return.