Pages

Thursday, December 31, 2009

Moving Along

“Out with the old; in with the new” is the way the saying goes. Spurred on by this recent blog post from Dr. Wayne Dyer and the turning of the year, we rummaged through our closets this afternoon. The result was two bags of clothes destined for donation to charity. The phrase that helps me is: “moving things along in the world”. Of course there’s always more to move along! And I both envy and fear the mantra the uber-organized have adopted of “one thing in, one thing out”. But progress in any degree is good.

May 2010 hold peace, happiness, success, laughter, contentment and good health for us all...

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

H1N1

Chuck and I got our H1N1 influenza shots today. The Commonwealth of Massachusetts, which had been restricting the H1N1 vaccine to high risk groups, opened it to the general public as of December 17th. I had been checking the MassPro Clinic Finder website to find a location near us, which was open to all. Fortunately, I took the advice noted on the website to : “Call any flu clinic listed in the Flu Clinic Finder BEFORE going to get a flu shot to confirm the time and date, and to see if there is any charge.” I called a couple of locations which were listed as “open to all” only to find that they were in fact restricted to town residents. But I finally located one in the North Quabbin town of Orange. The gentleman I spoke with said it was truly open to all, so we decided to drive over.

The Orange flu clinic was well organized. The Clinic Finder site had advised that “Some clinics may bill your health insurance, so please bring your health insurance card with you.” We did and spent a few minutes filling out some paperwork. Then we got in line which shuffled along quickly enough that neither of us got any reading done in the paperback books we had brought along just in case. From arrival to departure it took less than an hour. As we left, the line looked quite short.

According to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health's H1N1 Blog: “The amount of flu in the state continues to decline, however, it is important to remember that flu season typically lasts through the spring in New England. Therefore, we continue to encourage everyone to get the H1N1 vaccine and to keep practicing good health hygiene as we ring in the New Year!”

: : In addition to using the MassPro Clinic Finder you can also utilize the Flu.gov Google Map which includes commercial establishments like pharmacy chains that have the H1N1 vaccine available.

: : If you’d like to learn more about seasonal influenza, as well as the H1N1 virus, check out flu.gov. It’s a very good, user-friendly website with a wealth of information.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

I Turned In My Elf Badge

The hush-hush project which had me working overtime as an elf was a success. I made a photo book for my niece and her husband of their wedding day. When Carrie and Al opened it they were both surprised and happy, which was exactly what we had hoped for. After scads of research (bordering on the obsessive!) which included familiarizing myself with their websites and Googling lots of reviews and testimonials, I settled on Blurb to work with. These days there are a number of self-publishing outfits on the web. Shutterfly seems quite popular, especially in the digital scrapbooking world. But I didn’t want to upload my photographs to their site and then work on-line. Lulu was once almost exclusively text based, but has rapidly expanded their range. MyPublisher struck me as sophisticated as well as full service and was my second choice. But I chose Blurb because their site was welcoming, easy to navigate and intuitive. Plus, I was able to download their “BookSmart” software and work on the book on my computer. They offer templates and pre-made layouts for use. You can also create your own designs and templates. Or use a combination of the two. Blurb’s “BookSmart” software was a little difficult for me to work with initially. But after a couple of false starts and a few trips to their on-line “Help” pages I got it all sorted out. I ended up using some of their templates and creating several of my own. Because the book I made was photo rich, I decided against using any of their decorative layouts.

Once Al and Carrie’s 40 page book was completed I checked and rechecked unto the nth degree. I did follow Blurb’s advice and order just one copy, even though they were running some good pre-Christmas specials. Waiting was difficult! But as soon as it arrived and Chuck and I had a chance to look at it, appreciate the quality and feel the weight of the premium paper we had requested, I went directly to the website and ordered the other copies. Happily, they were offering substantial shipping discounts. Blurb allows you to keep your book “Private” and send folks an invitation link. That flexibility was another selling point for me. Here are some wedding photo books other people have published which will give you an idea of what you can do. I already have lots of ideas for other books I would like to create. And I would definitely use Blurb again.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Snow

It began this morning as light flurries. Soon there were squalls. Then, in stillness, came the big, fluffy flakes, filling the sky and drifting down to rest delicately on every surface.

It was lovely.





Sunday, December 27, 2009

Yiddish Proverb

In freydn iz a yor a tog, in leyden iz a tog a yor.
In happiness a year is like a day,
in suffering a day is like a year.



Translation and transliteration by Marvin Zuckerman and Marion Herbst from “Learning Yiddish In Easy Stages”

Revisionism

I cannot abide Holocaust deniers. I can’t tolerate contemporary revisionist history of a political nature either. Both leave me angry and incredulous. But what tears at my heart is when someone I know personally, turns on a dime and creates an entirely new version of an experience. One day an event is perceived as positive; another day the same event is described in wholly negative terms. I imagine the work involved in reweaving the memories from good to bad is substantial. And I can’t fathom the benefit one would derive from the activity. I only know it saddens me.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Charades

I used to play Charades frequently. When I was in high school and college my friends and I would play it on a regular basis - but in a very competitive manner. (I once drew “Zbigniew Brzezinski” on my turn!) For many years it was a common activity for us to do as a family at holiday get-togethers. But somehow, over the last several years, as our holiday traditions evolved and locations changed, we just stopped playing. Then yesterday, while we were celebrating Christmas at Al and Carrie’s home, Carrie suggested we play Charades after dinner. Our side of the family immediately agreed. While some members of Al’s family had never played before and needed just a wee bit of persuasion. Soon we had all gathered around the tree in the living room, divided into teams which were approximately “boys against the girls” and were jotting down the books, movies, events, people, objects and animals we wanted the opposing team to act out. The slips of paper were folded and tossed into a red bowl for one team and a yellow colander for the other and we were off.

Goodness gracious, sakes alive it was a complete blast! Because the veterans were rusty and there were lots of newbies, we dispensed with timers. No one kept score and members of the opposing team would sometimes make suggestions to the person acting out the phrase (“Hey, try “sounds like” on the first word.”). Could we have laughed any harder? Could we have screamed and clapped any louder? No and no! Sometimes all we had to do was pantomime the category, gesture the number of words and give the first clue, when a teammate would call out the correct answer. Sometimes a person could be completely flummoxed by trying to communicate a simple thing like “stone wall” - a person like me perhaps! There were a few, well, let’s call them graphic concepts acted out, while still maintaining a PG rating! Although I did find myself explaining a couple of things to my 86 year old mother which, when I woke up Christmas morn’, I had not anticipated!

It was a terrific couple of hours of pure fun which left us hoarse and happy. I have a feeling we’ll be doing this again soon!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Did You Hear Santa’s Sleigh Bells?

I just did!
And some reindeer hooves on the roof too!
Listen....

MERRY CHRISTMAS
TO ALL,

AND TO ALL
A GOOD NIGHT!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

A Holiday Tradition

We attended Christmas Revels this afternoon at Harvard’s Sanders Theater in Memorial Hall in Cambridge, Massachusetts. I can’t say it was wonderful, but it was good enough that I’m glad we didn’t miss it. David Coffin was terrific as usual. And Leon Joseph Littlebird and Janice Allen both gave standout performances. Chuck enjoyed it more than I did. But the final number at the end of Part One; “The Lord Of The Dance”, was as exciting and celebratory as ever. So all in all, it was all good.

After the show, we went over to Asmara restaurant on Massachusetts Avenue, also in Cambridge. They continue to serve delicious Ethiopian and Eritrean food. The atmosphere is cozy, the service excellent and the family is always warm and friendly. Over the years we’ve eaten at four (at least) different Ethiopian restaurants in Greater Boston, but Asmara is the only one we keep coming back to. Tonight, the Boneless Chicken in a red pepper sauce was out of this world. Oh, how I wish we lived closer!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

From Post To Layout

If you’re like me, and you blog, you chronicle part of your life on the internet. An easy way to make a Digital Scrapbooking layout is to begin with one of your posts. On Thanksgiving I posted a photograph which I had tweaked and changed to sepia tones. I also wrote a list of all the things that happened that day.

Here’s a screen shot of the post:
Today I turned it into a Digi-Scrap Layout.
First I created an 11” x 8.5” landscape “paper” in Photoshop CS3. (I believe everything can be done in Elements.)
I named and saved it as a PSD file.
I also created a Text Edit or Rich Text File (RTF) of the same name where I chronicle the steps of a layout or photo manipulation.
I opened the photo of Chuck and Al carving the turkey and dragged it onto the blank paper.
I sampled some browns out of the photo using the Eyedropper Tool, deepened it and, using Paint Bucket, filled the background.
I then clicked on the photo layer and chose Edit > Stroke I adjusted the color to light cream and chose about a 20 pixel width Outside. I repeated the step choosing about a 25 pixel stroke in black, also Outside.
I then copied the text from my blog post, created a new layer and pasted it in.
For the text, I chose the same cream color as the first stroke on the photo.
I broke out the final line of text and placed it on its own layer.
I did the same for the title, caption and Pink Granite credit.
Finally, I added Drop Shadows of varying degrees to the photo and the text.
I switched on View > Show > Grid and using the Move Tool and the keyboard arrow keys, I oonched the various layers of text and the photo into what I felt was a pleasing alignment.
Once I was satisfied, I saved the file - as I had been doing throughout!
I used Image > Duplicate and saved the new file with COPY at the end of the name.
On that copy, I used Layer > Flatten Image and then saved it as a JPG file.
On my computer I created a new folder called “Thanksgiving 2009” and dropped the PSD file, the RTF file and the JPG into it.
Here’s how it turned out:



Original photo, manipulation and layout by LMR/Pink Granite. Fonts: Hypatia Sans Pro from Adobe and Hans Hand from DaFont. Software: Apple iPhoto ’09 & Adobe Photoshop CS3 for Mac.

Monday, December 21, 2009

The Shortest/Longest Day

To everyone in the Northern Hemisphere

Happy Winter Solstice!

And to everyone in the Southern Hemisphere

Happy Summer Solstice!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

What He Said

Thank you Charlie Pierce for writing what had been ricocheting incoherently around in my mind, about Rhode Island Congressman Patrick Kennedy and Bishop Thomas Tobin. It’s pithy and well worth the quick read.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Greetings!

The holiday cards are continuing to be delivered to our mailbox by the fine letter carriers of the United States Postal Service. Some days, if a package is also being delivered, we hear the sound of tires on gravel. Then a quick beep-beep of our letter carrier’s car horn as she zips up the driveway to make the hand off in person. Service - you can’t beat it!

Nor can you beat the holiday cards. (I say “holiday” because it begins with Thanksgiving, continues through Chanukah and into Christmas. We even received a New Year’s card once and the occasional Valentine in February. So “holiday” is an accurate term, not a salvo in the mythical “War on Christmas”!) We love opening the cards from family and friends and folks we do business with. It’s fun to be remembered, to hear from people, see how the kids have grown via photo cards and marvel at all the beauty and creativity that goes into the cards. I’ve been making greeting cards for nearly two decades so I love to see a truly beautiful one.

We even enjoy the holiday letters - well, some of them - some of the time! They seem to fall into three categories:
1. Breezy, brief updates on the family; mostly good news but even handed and not self aggrandizing.
2. We did it all, saw it all, bought it all; we’re fabulous and this letter is designed to make you green with envy.
3. Our lives suck pond water, but we shall soldier on.
Only holiday letter #1 should ever be written and mailed. Just one holiday letter recipient’s opinion...

So buy a card or make a card. Sign it, address it, stick a stamp on it and drop it into the mail. The addressee is sure to be tickled pink!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Brrrrrr...

Last year, in the wake of the ice storm, we layered the winter quilt over the summer quilt in an effort to keep our teeth from chattering in a cold, dark house. This year, an early cold snap had us buttoning up and dropping storm windows. But before we could make the switch to the winter quilt, in came the unseasonably warm weather. That was a treat and a half - especially for hanging laundry on the clothesline. It was also perfect weather for Chuck to string the LED lights up outside. But single digit temperatures over the last few days meant I had to face the reality of winter. So the big winter-weight down quilt is now on the bed. The cats are trying to adjust. When they jump up onto the bed - which was already quite tall - they are not as graceful as they normally are. They come up a bit short, then grab on and scramble up the last couple of inches. They walk gingerly, awkwardly across it, surprised that their paws continue to sink into the plentiful poofiness. Once they regain their footing (and their dignity), they curl up contentedly - and warmly.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

F to G

I need to thank Chuck (BFF/Hero/Wonder Hubby). I finished designing the Christmas cards and managed to get them all printed. But it was not without a few hiccups. Each card has to be run through the printer a total of three times - cover art, inside greeting and credit on the back. I had a few cards that threatened to get hung up in the printer. No accordion-pleating jams, but it was enough to require close attention to the task. By the time I had everything printed I was not looking forward to doing the envelopes. Enter Chuck. He took over, despite my protests. Soon we were humming along with Chuck generating printed envelopes and me signing, sealing and stamping. I went from “Frazzled” to “Gratitude” in short order and the last of the cards are headed to the Post Office tomorrow.

Thank you Chuck!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Trippi’s

We were down in Rhode Island yesterday with my Mom. She had a list of errands (including Christmasy ones) she wanted to accomplish. At age 86 At age 86 (“in my 87th year”) she plum near wore us out! While we were visiting back at her condo, she asked Chuck to take a look at her coat. It is her favorite, warmest, toastiest winter coat. Unfortunately, the zipper had become so balky as to be unusable. Chuck fussed with it for a bit and improved it slightly. But it was clear that Mom would continue to be relying on the overlapping snaps as the only way to fasten it. So we offered to bring it back up to Worcester for repair.

That’s how we came to be at 1025 Main South in Worcester at Trippi’s Zipper Hospital this afternoon. We’ve been availing ourselves of their specialized skills and services for decades, so we were pretty optimistic. Chuck ran the coat in, expecting to drop it off and pick it up another day. When he showed it to the gal at the counter he asked earnestly: “Can this zipper be saved?” She examined it and set to work. Chuck popped back out to where I was waiting curbside and pantomimed that we could wait for the work to be done. Sure enough, the zipper technician was able to bring the zipper back from the dead. (There might have been a small defibrillator and I think I heard someone yell “CLEAR”!) $7.00 later we had Mom’s favorite coat back in working order. Thank you Trippi’s!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Hebrew Cemetery

On Thanksgiving Day, as I was driving down to Rhode Island, Chuck was reading the newspaper headlines to me from the passenger seat. When he read about the terrible vandalism at the Hebrew Cemetery in Worcester we were both appalled. Unfortunately, according to volunteer cemetery director Jordan Robbins, the cemetery has no money to repair the damage. The Jewish Federation of Central Massachusetts is attempting to locate relatives of the people buried there. As reported by the T & G article they include: “former Worcester Mayor Israel Katz; Dr. Herbert S. Grossman; Battle of the Bulge veteran and pharmacist Sydney S. Levine; lawyer Lawrence H. Fisher; benefactor Max Norman; Purple Heart recipient Samuel Lazerowich; Rabbi Morris Reuben Kesner and former Gardner News editor Alfred J. Abbott.”

The final part of the barucha, the blessing, said when lighting the candles for Chanukah is: “who performed wondrous deeds for our ancestors in days of old, at this season”. Perhaps you will feel moved to do a good deed, a mitzvah, for these ancestors, at this season.

Donations may be sent to:

Jewish Federation of Central Massachusetts
633 Salisbury Street
Worcester, MA 01609
Attention: Worcester Hebrew Cemetery

Sunday, December 13, 2009

It Takes Two To Make Latkes!

I’ve had my Cuisinart Food Processor for about 25 years.

Tonight, I forgot how to use it.

There I was, with a pile of potatoes and some onions, all ready to whir and grate and I could not for the life of me assemble the darn thing. For twenty-five years I have been hauling it out for big tasks like coleslaw, latkes, pesto and so on. Tonight, I had to call in Chuck who rescued me. I had the lid on backwards. Even when he got it turned around and working correctly, it still looked backwards to me!

There are some tasks for which my venerable DLC-7 Super Pro (It looks a lot like this one.) is absolutely perfect. Grating the potatoes and onions for latkes is an excellent example. Hand grating would take ages and a couple of knuckles. Using a mandolin or V-slicer would also be time consuming and finger tip endangering. But the Cuisinart makes the job swift and painless.

So with my Cuisinart finished whirring and the The Barry Sisters rocking out “Their Greatest Yiddish Hits” via the iPod, I made the latkes. I still use a mixture of extra virgin olive oil and canola oil to fry them. Once both sides are brown and crispy I transfer them to parchment covered cookie sheets and put them in a 350 degree F oven to let them finish. Chuck pronounced them delish - I could not disagree!

This photo from my 2006 post shows the same pan I used tonight, but on our old stove. And tonight’s latkes were just a teensy bit smaller.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Dad


I miss my Dad.
Sometimes it just hits me out of the blue.
Today was one of those days.
Maybe it’s because Christmas is coming.
Perhaps it’s because some days the idea that I can’t talk and laugh with him seems impossibly unfair.
Or maybe it’s because I feel so lucky to have Chuck at the center of my life, I wish he and Dad could have known each other.
Whatever the reason, I miss you Dad.
Thank you for everything...


Original photo, manipulation and layout by LMR/Pink Granite. Software: Apple iPhoto ’09 & Adobe Photoshop CS3 for Mac.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Happy Chanukah!

This week turned out to be more challenging than I would have wished for. So it was good to head toward Friday knowing that things were settling down and that the weekend held candles and singing and latkes! It was especially nice to walk in through the kitchen door this evening and have all systems humming along properly. You see, one year ago today the ice storm began here in Southern New England. Looking back over the photos I posted I still find the thickness of the ice amazing. And it was so cold those first two days before we found a generator! Today has been bitterly cold (around 20F / -7C) but this L.L. Bean shirt kept me toasty warm. It may not be stylish, but I so don’t care!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

One Voter’s Tweets

: : What to do on a sunny December day in Massachusetts? Head to the polls! Vote in the special US Senate Primary today!


: : Live in Massachusetts? Polls are open until 8 pm for the special US Senate Primary!


: : I voted!


: : We made our decision w/in the last 24 hours, but we feel Mike Capuano @capuano4senate has what it takes to be our next senator! #MAsen


: : Sigh... RT @NECN Coakley has been declared winner of Democratic nomination - she'll face Scott Brown in Jan 19 special election


: : Geez I know we're the kiss of death for products, I didn't realize we could mess up an election too! #MAsen

Monday, December 7, 2009

Senate Primary Tomorrow!

The United States Senate Special Election Primary is tomorrow here in Massachusetts. It may have been one of the most lackluster campaign seasons, but it is still a tremendously important election.

If you need information about the election, including your polling place, you can go to Secretary of the Commonwealth William Galvin’s website. Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Please don’t let the campaign induced ennui keep you away from the voting booth tomorrow!


Live your values.
Love your country.
VOTE!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Two Moments

The Chanukah cards are completed and printed. It all went smoothly until I asked Chuck to pull up our holiday card lists. I needed a count for how many to make. He gave me one number and then quickly corrected himself, reducing it by one. We won’t be sending a card to his Dad this year. Nearly ten months after his passing, it still hit us both with a thud.

A few days ago, a still unfathomable family situation led us to learn much too late about the death of my aunt, the widow of one of my Dad’s brothers. During a conversation with my mother, in the midst of a cascade of emotions, Mom realized that she is now our family’s matriarch. Of four brothers who lived to adulthood and their four wives, only Mom survives and thankfully thrives. Mom is the first born of two in her family, with her younger sister alive, but in serious decline. Learning of the passing of her only remaining sister-in-law and her new uncomfortable status, hit Mom with a thud as well.

The Chanukah cards will go out in tomorrow’s mail, as will a sympathy card to my cousin. We will all continue to adjust and to grieve and to move on. We may wish to think that the holidays are the same every year. But the holidays are new every year. Every year they grow larger with memories. They are a time to celebrate and to remember. In the coming weeks, we will do both.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Elf’s Lament

With all my elf references this week the following Barenaked Ladies song has understandably been running through my mind.
Now it can be running through yours as well!
;o)


Friday, December 4, 2009

One Voter Plus Mike

Hey, I shook hands with Congressman and senate hopeful Mike Capuano today! I did not interview him (bad blogger!), but let’s see what I learned.

He smiled.
He made good eye contact.
He had a firm handshake.
He did not rush off in a rude manner, just a "I’m in a hurry and you don’t seem to be asking me any questions" sort of way.

As I wrote recently I have been wildly underwhelmed by all the candidates in this race. Have I made any progress you ask? Well, a little. As I indicated previously, I couldn’t imagine voting for either of the Republicans (Brown or Robinson). After looking at their websites,Twitter feeds and mailers to the house it’s official: I won’t be asking for a Republican Ballot on Tuesday.

That leaves me with the four Democratic candidates. Steve Pagliuca has some good, well produced ads where he says all the right things. But I just can’t shake the feeling he’s a right wing business mogul (AKA Republican) at heart. I watch the ads and I think “everyman”. But I read his bio and I think “management”. Plus, Steve needs to stop calling the house. The number of recorded calls reminds of a lovesick teenager relentlessly calling the girl he really, really likes and wants to take to the Friday Night Sock Hop.

Alan Khazei, like all the other candidates does not exude charisma. And he got some seriously bad advice about approving the “full diaper” ad. If you haven’t seen it, do not Google it. Trust me on that. But Khazei does have the citizen funded campaign going for him. And he does seem strong on the issues (i.e. willing to spell out his positions clearly - plus positions which I generally agree with).

Martha Coakley. In this very blue, generally Democratic, liberal leaning (in a schizophrenic sort of way) commonwealth that we live in, it is amazing that we have yet to elect a woman to the Senate. So if we finally did that, it would represent progress. But is Coakley the woman we want to send? I know she’s in the lead, which is surprising because she too comes off to me as blah.

As of today, I’ve actually shaken hands with Mike Capuano. In debates, Capuano comes off as a bit of a bulldog. I sensed no whiff of the bulldog today in my nanosecond exchange. Also a friend of ours pointed out that if we elect Capuano to the senate, we lose his considerable seniority in the House. But he sure does seem to have the experience and the oomph to begin to fill Teddy’s shoes.

Hmmm... I think what I really want is a Democratic candidate with the standards of Khazei, the experience of Capuano, the good political advisors of Pagliuca and the chromosomal make up of Coakley. And frankly, that’s about what it would take for anyone to begin to shrug the mantle of the “Lion of the Senate” around their shoulders.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Elf Update

I have no idea.
Seriously.
I have my fingers crossed. But I won’t know for a few weeks whether or not my hush-hush project is a success, a failure or somewhere in between. I’m a single rise yeast bread kind of gal, so waiting is not my strong suit! But wait I must.

I can say that the other two projects are that I still haven’t made our Chanukah cards, nor our Christmas cards. With Chanukah beginning at sundown next Friday night: tick tock, time’s a wastin’. Although, I suppose, that because it lasts for eight days, I have a bit of wiggle room!

By the way, it seems that Santa is technically “Management”. But the President of the “International Union of Toy Makers Extraordinaire” says he is a most beneficent employer and a congenial and accommodating negotiator. In fact, the union has essentially had a permanent contract, with steady cost of living increases, for as long as anyone can remember. Oh, and they have excellent health insurance: medical, dental and mental health. Did I mention the whole village is run on wind power and some sort of reindeer manure to methane gizmo. If the headquarters weren’t so darned close to the home state of a certain shameless ex-governor it would totally be worth relocating - snow and all!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Deputized

I’ve been wrestling with new software. It’s not Apple. It’s not Photoshop. It’s something I’ve never used before. The project is really important. But it’s very hush-hush. I can’t say any more. You see, I’ve been deputized, by Santa. Yes, I suppose that does make me an elf. Unless they’re unionized. I mean, I don’t want to be a scab. But this is just a seasonal gig... I need to talk to Santa; maybe the Head Elf as well. Wait a minute. If there’s a Head Elf, a president of the union, would that make Santa “Management”? Nah! No way!

O.K. I’ve gotta go.
I’ll be back as soon as I can wrap up this project.
And maybe one or two more...
;o)

Monday, November 30, 2009

Public Option

The healthcare and health insurance reform debate has been a long, exhausting and sometimes ugly slog. Now the United States Senate is back in the thick of it. Once again, it is time to contact your senators and the the White House to let them know you want the Public Option. More specifically, tell them you want a strong, robust, wide reaching Public Option. And, let them you know you want it A.S.A.P!

Here’s how to do it:

To Contact The White House:
Via the Internet: Click here to send an e-mail.
Via Telephone:
Comments: 202-456-1111
Switchboard: 202-456-1414
FAX: 202-456-2461
Via TTY/TDD:
Comments: 202-456-6213

Via Postal Service:
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500
Via Twitter: Use the address @BarackObama and @whitehouse (both of these are verified accounts)

To Contact Your Senators:
Do you need to find the contact information for your senators? Follow this link to the U.S. Senate and use the “Find Your Senators” search box in the upper right corner of the page.

If you have questions about health insurance reform (or want to find out if a rumor is true or false) you can check the White House’s webpage called Reality Check.

And FactCheck.org remains an excellent location to parse truth from misinformation on a wide variety of topics, including the current healthcare debate.


psssst...Do Something!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Not A Player

I did not inherit the gambling gene. I’m not complaining, just noting. We met down at Foxwoods Casino today for a second Thanksgiving of sorts; a brunch with my sister Gail up from Georgia as the guest of honor. It was a blast to do the Mimosa Brunch at David Burke’s with seven of us around the table, talking, laughing, inquiring after items on each other’s plates and occasionally eating off each other’s plates as well! But playing the slots? Not so much.

Years ago I won $75.00 at Mohegan Sun and needed Chuck to help me step away from the machine before I gave it back! As he stopped at a nearby machine just to see how it worked, I grabbed him by the elbow and hurried him away. Why? I was afraid I would see someone sit down at “MY winning machine” and win even more! Today I tried the penny, 2 cent and nickel slot machines. I fed a total of $35.00 into a few machines while we were there and was delighted that I left only $14.97 cents in the casino’s coffers. It’s not that I don’t get mesmerized by the bells, whistles and flashing lights of the slots. I do. And it’s not that I wouldn’t love to slip a $5.00 bill into a machine and win so much that the attendant has to come and I need a security escort to my car. I would. Really. But the bottom line is, for me, losing is just too darned stressful.

Now you know why it is highly unlikely I’ll ever visit Las Vegas or Atlantic City!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Following The Trail

It’s not that I’m easily distracted, it’s that I become very focused on a task. Sometimes, said task, causes me to head to Google. That leads me to follow promising leads, backtrack, regroup and follow new leads - bookmarking wildly as I go. Which is how I ended up at the Library of Congress tonight, after I had begun on eBay, entering the search word: “Yiddish”. It was at the LOC where I found this graphically beautiful Works Progress Administration (WPA) poster which struck me as intensely poignant. It was published sometime between 1936 and 1941 in New York City, urging Yiddish speaking adult immigrants to attend: “Free classes in English! Learn to speak, read, & write the language of your children!” It was practical, well intentioned and even generous. But at that same moment in time, across the Atlantic, one out of every two Yiddish speakers in the world were in the process of being eliminated from the planet.

Friday, November 27, 2009

The Day After

Once upon a time, this day would have been spent shopping with my Mom. Before the malls came to Warwick, Rhode Island we would shop in downtown Providence. After the malls began sprawling nearby, we would shop there. (My father always insisted the stores moved from Providence to Warwick because Mom had relocated and the stores had to follow her!) We came prepared with lists, wore comfortable shoes and would say yes to all the fancy, sturdy, handled, shopping bags the stores readily dispensed. Once I became a teenager, Mom would periodically send me out to the car to stow our treasures. I became quite adept at shaking my head to wave off hopeful drivers looking for parking spaces. I would re-lock the car and head back in for the next round. Midday, we would stop for lunch. After ordering, we would pull out our lists, check our progress and plot out our strategy for the afternoon.

I loved every single minute of it.

But I haven’t shopped on the day after Thanksgiving in ages. Nor have I darkened the doorway of a mall on the day after Christmas in years and years. Neither has my Mom. For us it was part of era. A 1950s, ‘60s and ‘70s solidly middle class consumerism, which was emblematic of security, celebration and freedom. It was also all tied up in an odd corruption of the Magi and their gifts; laden with religious overtones and being good for Santa Claus; transmogrified into a pile of brightly wrapped presents under an exquisite, twinkling, artificial tree.

I loved every single minute of it.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Thanksgiving

Chuck and Al carving the turkey

There was hugging, cooking, laughing, uncorking, talking, stirring, pouring, basting, drinking, mashing, explaining, mixing, tasting, checking, photographing, oohing, aahing, discussing, improvising, carving, serving, herding, toasting, remembering, eating, watching, laughing, crying, hugging, goodbyeing.

It was all good.

For all of this, and more, I am thankful.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

For You


It began life as ornamental kale in a garden bed in Bar Harbor, Maine.
But I wanted to turn it into a corsage; a boutonniere, for you.
Thank you for reading and joining in Pink Granite for the last three years!

Layout by LMR/Pink Granite. Software: Apple iPhoto ’09 & Adobe Photoshop CS3 for Mac.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

It Started With A Baseball Cap

Yesterday we drove out to the National Yiddish Book Center in Amherst, Massachusetts. It was a powerful, fascinating, wonderful experience. We have known about the Center and have been meaning to go for a long time. But it was a chance meeting that finally got us off the dime. We had stopped by Wild Willy’s in Worcester for a quick meal last week. I noticed a man in the next booth wearing a Boston Red Sox baseball cap. Here in “Red Sox Nation” that’s anything but unusual. Except in this instance “Red Sox” was written in Yiddish! I pointed it out to Chuck who approached the gentleman and asked where he had gotten the cap. He smiled, said the National Yiddish Book Center and asked if we had been there. When Chuck said no, not yet, the gentleman said “You’ve got to go.” But it wasn’t an off-hand remark. He said it in such a sincere, intense and thoughtful way, it struck as quite remarkable. As soon as we got home we looked up the center, found the hat and spent quite a bit of time exploring the website. The more we read and the more we thought about the gentleman’s advice, we knew we had to go as soon as possible.

The National Yiddish Book Center is located on the campus of Hampshire College. It’s a beautiful wooden building both outside and in. On a less rainy day, the gardens and grounds will deserve exploration. From a visitor standpoint, we had the place pretty much to ourselves. We followed the easily self guided tour of what is a cross between a museum, a library and a cultural inheritance. We watched a brief video which explained how the Center came to exist. It all began around 1980 when Aaron Lansky was studying Yiddish. But he couldn’t find enough books. He posted a few signs around his neighborhood and soon elderly Jews were contacting him, delighted by his interest and relieved to pass the books on to someone who would value them; treasure them as much as they did.

During World War II, one of every two Yiddish speakers in the world was killed. Countless volumes of Yiddish books were destroyed. Hebrew was the language of scholars and religious services, but Yiddish was the language of the home and commerce. Beyond the staggering human toll, to lose half of the speakers of a language was a huge blow to the thousand year old shared culture of Jews in every corner of the globe. It was especially wrenching after the time between the wars when Yiddish literature had flourished. When the State of Israel was established, Hebrew, not Yiddish was made the national language. This hotly contested decision dealt a further blow to the language. So by the time a young student in his twenties was studying Yiddish in the 1970s, nearly all the books were out of print and many thought it a dead or surely dying language.

Aaron Lansky’s book “Outwitting History” (Also available here) chronicles how the collection grew from a few boxes of Yiddish books to over 1.5 million at the center today. Please don’t be intimidated if you don’t read Yiddish in the original or if you don’t speak Yiddish. Because most visitors are in the same situation, the center is full of English language, bilingual and transliterated signs and exhibits. Their goal is to open Yiddish back up to the world. All are made welcome and admission is free.

We all know and use lots of Yiddish words: bagel, goy, schlep, nosh, kvetch, chutzpah, feh!, klutz, oy vey!, shmaltz, latke, lox, shmuck, yente, shtick, maven, dreidel... just to name a few. Visiting the National Yiddish Book Center provides a history, a context and a greater depth of meaning to why Yiddish words, books and music remain vital today. It also sparks a determination not only to protect the past, but to encourage a Yiddish renaissance.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

It’s Not Just Me

Regarding my post from the other day, “One Voter”, turns out I am not the only undecided voter here in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. According to the Boston Globe: “Coakley Leads, But Electorate Unsettled”. Subtitle reads: “In Globe poll, 50 percent remain undecided; Capuano running 2nd, but far behind AG [Attorney General Coakley]” .

On the one hand, I’m glad I’m not alone. But on the other hand, what does it say about this particular crop of candidates, that, as a community, we are so undecided; so uninspired?

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Forgotten - Not Gone!

We’ve been enjoying this season’s new ABC series “The Forgotten” starring Christian Slater. Being the kiss of death, we’ve been worried the powers that be at ABC wouldn’t give it enough time to catch on and establish an audience. Chuck learned today that they have ordered five new episodes. Yes!

The premise is that a group of volunteers work with police on cold cases to try to identify the bodies of Jane and John Doe homicide victims. The show always captures our attention, holds our interest, isn’t excessively grisly and doesn’t telegraph the ending in the first two minutes! Is it perfect? No, but it’s very good. (And whoever is shooting their aerial shots of Chicago deserves applause.) ABC seems to like broadcasting clips from their shows, but, despite banners to the contrary, I couldn’t find full episodes on their site. The next episode of “The Forgotten” is scheduled to be broadcast on Tuesday, December 1, 2009. Mark your calendars...

Friday, November 20, 2009

One Voter

I liked Ted Kennedy. I liked him a lot. I respected the work he did in the Senate. I admired the way he wore the label “Liberal” proudly. I mourned his passing. I was satisfied with the appointment of Paul Kirk as our interim senator. But I cannot get excited about this senatorial special election. Perhaps worse still, I haven’t made up my mind about who to vote for. And the primary is on Tuesday, December 8, 2009!

Here are the candidates webpages:
Scott P. Brown - R
Michael E. Capuano - D
Martha Coakley - D
Alan A. Khazei - D
Stephen G. Pagliuca - D
Jack E. Robinson - R

Here are the candidates Twitter pages:
Scott P. Brown, R
Michael E. Capuano - D
Martha Coakley - D
Alan A. Khazei - D
Stephen G. Pagliuca - D
Jack E. Robinson - R
Some of their Tweets are quite interesting!

Two Boston Globe reports on the candidates federal financial disclosure forms caught my attention:
Senate Candidates Disclose Assets
and the follow up
Coakley Admits To Federal Filing Error

I’ve seen lots of television advertisements for the four Democrats, but so far none for the two Republicans. Truthfully, even though I’m still a lower case “i” registered independent, I am a progressive, so I can’t imagine voting for either of the Republicans. I know tons of money is being spent on this campaign, but so far, for this voter, not only is the steak hard to find, there isn’t even very much sizzle.

I think I’d like a chart that states the six candidates positions on a list of key issues.

Geezalu! Even that sounds boring as sin!

Anyone have any thoughts or recommendations?

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Hellooooo?

A rose hip along the Shore Path in Bar Harbor
Beauty and promise amid the thorns and the fading leaves



How did it get to be Thursday?
Tuesday was spent to and fro and in Rhode Island with my Mom - out to lunch, grocery shopping and other errands with her.
Wednesday was one project after another inside the house - laundry, cleaning, sorting/tossing/recycling, number crunching and spreadsheet making.
Today was one project after another outside the house - yardwork in this unseasonably warm weather. Plus Chuck cleaned the gutters and got half the holiday lights up. (No they are not on yet!)
Apparently that’s how it got to be Thursday.
And next Thursday is Thanksgiving?
Already?

Time to stop and smell the roses - or, at the very least, admire the rose hips...

Monday, November 16, 2009

Happy Birthday Mom!

”Happy Birthday to you,
Happy Birthday to you,
Happy Birthday dear Mom
Happy Birthday to you -
and many more!
Wheeeeeee!!!”


My Mom, Dorothy, is celebrating her 86th birthday today!

The day after her birthday, Mom usually begins saying that she is in her "next year". For example, tomorrow, she will say "I'm in my 87th year now!" Sometimes, she says the number for the "next year" often enough that she begins adding an additional year by mistake. But the other day she said "Well, I'm almost 90 now!" Uh oh... this could get interesting in a hurry!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Gourmet Fried Onion Pieces!

In this instance we were not the kiss of death! The item was just “seasonal” and now it’s back!

I’ve gotten ahead of myself. Let me back up...

Here in the U.S. something called a “Green Bean Casserole” has been a winter holiday classic since the mid 1950s. The key ingredients in the recipe from the Campbell Soup Company are green beans, Cream of Mushroom Soup and French’sⓇ French Fried Onions.

Last winter, we were in Trader Joe’s and on a whim I picked up a can of their “Gourmet Fried Onion Pieces”. I think the first way I experimented with them was to sprinkle a few on the top of individual gratin dishes of macaroni and cheese, made with chunks of tomato. Oh my! It was scrumptious. Before using them, as the cook in the kitchen, I had taken a small taste of the T.J.’s Onion Pieces straight out of the can. In the past, I had done the same thing with the French’s canned onions. I still have the sense memory of a thick, gummy coating left on my tongue after the French’s. But the Trader Joe’s just tasted like, well, crispy, fried, onions - nothing gummy; no unpleasant coating lingering in my mouth. I should note that the Trader Joe’s are accurately labeled as onion “pieces”. You won’t find the pretty little onion rings that you will in the French’s cans. That aesthetic may be important to you, but for me, the taste and texture of the Trader Joe’s Onion Pieces win by a country mile.

So I continued to experiment with this new ingredient. (They were insanely good on baked potatoes.) Based on how this post began, you already know what happened next. Yup. We went back to Trader Joe’s to pick up another can to stash in the pantry and they were gone. Kiss of death that we are, the managers soon saw our familiar, pitiful faces at their counter. That’s when they told us the Onion Pieces were “seasonal”. Immediate gratification was not to be ours, but we still had hope. A few weeks ago, as they geared up for the winter holidays, we began to see displays of “seasonal” items in TJs. Finally, on a recent visit, they were there - same tin, same UPC, same delicious crispy bits inside. Don’t wait until January. Put them on your grocery list and get thee to a TJs!


True family story:
Many years ago, my Mom made the Green Bean Casserole for a big family dinner. Everyone was carefully spooning out a serving of the casserole with the decadent layer of crispy onions on top. About halfway around the table, my cousin D got to the dish. He took the serving spoon and, for some still unfathomable reason, vigorously stirred it all up together - effectively drowning the coveted crispy onion crust.

I remember a collective gasp.

I never saw cousin D again...





: : Update: In response to a Thanksgiving Eve request from “speterson”, here is a photo of the recipe off the back of the Trader Joe’s Gourmet Fried Onion Pieces. Enjoy!
Click on the photo to get a better look.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Buskin & Batteau

Until a few years ago I had never heard of a “house concert”. Then we learned that David Buskin would be performing with Modern Man at something called Fox Run. Fox Run turned out to be a house concert venue. A couple named Laurie and Neale have been hosting concerts in their home for twelve years. You make a reservation and buy your ticket in advance, on-line. You arrive at their home, located in a lovely neighborhood in Sudbury, Massachusetts. You slip off your shoes, leave them by the door and check in at the desk in the foyer. You drop off your contribution to the intermission dessert/snack table in the dining room (No red wine please - think of the carpets!) and head into the family room where the concert will be held. You place a reserved sign on the seat of your choosing and get ready for an evening of music.

Last Saturday night found us once again at Fox Run. This time we were there to see Buskin & Batteau. David Buskin and Robin Batteau began performing together back in 1979 after meeting in the band “Pierce Arrow”. For many years they had day jobs as jingle writers at competing advertising houses, each of them repeatedly hitting the jingle equivalent of home runs. They continued to perform together on the folk music circuit until about 13 years ago when, according to their press kit, they took a “hiatus to 1) be dads, and 2) take a nap”. We were delighted when we heard they were writing and performing together again. We bought their latest album “Red Shoes and Golden Hearts” as soon as it became available and have been enjoying it very much.

Saturday’s concert was opened by Linda Sharar. Her music was new to us, but hooked us sufficiently that we purchased both of her CDs during intermission. At the end of Linda’s set she was joined by David, Robin and the dazzling percussionist Marshal Rosenberg for one final song “Arturo's Sons and Jorge's Daughters”. Linda exited to enthusiastic applause. Then David, Robin and Marshal performed music not just from the new album but many of their classics as well.

It was a wonderful concert. Buskin & Batteau are known not only for their musical skills (David on piano and guitar; Robin on violin and guitar), and their clever (never precious) lyrics, but also for their wit and humor. Their albums are great, but seeing them in person, listening to the stories behind the songs, brings added depth and dimension. They have always been great entertainers - polished and professional - as well as self confident and relaxed enough to roll with any hiccups that can occur during a performance. The end of the concert brought a standing ovation, “curtain” calls and an encore (which in this instance meant they left the stage in the family room, headed into the kitchen and returned!). This concert was particularly good, not just because the Fox Run venue was so intimate, but also because the guys seemed especially happy. When I mentioned this to Robin after the show he agreed and referred to one of the songs off the newest album “Choose Joy”.

Saturday, Chuck & David managed to work out that they have known each other for 39 years. I first met David about 21 year ago. Sometime in the next year or two I gave him some bad advice on how to operate the lid on a pitcher of water and he very politely had to ask us all to leave the dressing room so he could change out of his drenched jeans. I’m amazed I wasn’t banned from his concerts for life - amazed and happy!

You can see Buskin and Batteau at The Stone Temple Coffeehouse in Quincy, Massachusetts on Saturday, November 21st. I know it will be a great concert, because they always are.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Remembrance

On the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month...

“On that day let us solemnly remember the sacrifices of all those who fought so valiantly, on the seas, in the air, and on foreign shores, to preserve our heritage of freedom, and let us re-consecrate ourselves to the task of promoting an enduring peace so that their efforts shall not have been in vain.”
- President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s Presidential Proclamation


Honoring all who served
Honoring all who were wounded
Honoring all who gave their lives

You stood in our stead
You stood for our country, for our constitution
You stood for our freedom, for our liberty

You have our gratitude, our respect, our memory
We pledge our service, our advocacy, our work for peace...

Monday, November 9, 2009

If Only I Were Gumby

I’m still here, just pulled in too many directions at the moment. Nearly all good, except for a thankfully extremely rare, near-migraine Chuck had to deal with. In the 24 years we’ve known each other he’s had fewer than a handful which have truly felled him. This one was brief and quickly truncated by rest; hence “near-migraine”.

The next few days will continue to be busy, culminating in what I hope will be the last dental visit needed to finally get my tiara crown. If you follow me on Twitter this is old news, but I realized Tooth #3 is the most expensive thing in my head. Any more work on that tooth and it will be worth more than our car!

The weather has been unseasonably warm and breezy, so the line drying on the porch has been faster than those humid days of summer ever were. And that makes me ridiculously happy! I promise to update you on the concert we attended Saturday night as soon as life allows...

Saturday, November 7, 2009

You’re Welcome!

I found another food blog of note. It was typically serendipitous. Chris Hayes, Washington Editor of The Nation Tweeted: “Making the world's greatest lasagna recipe: butternut squash basil bechamel. http://bit.ly/xIKkc”

O.K. I thought, I’ll bite - pun fully intended - and I clicked over to discover a blog by Jessica Jones called Jonesing For... It’s eclectic, interesting, chatty and some of the recipes are quite unexpected.

Go on, give it a whirl!

Friday, November 6, 2009

Bill Sparkman - Ongoing

I’ve previously written about the late Census Worker Bill Sparkman here and here.Tonight, on The Rachel Maddow Show, it was reported that two unnamed sources told the AP that while the case is still an open investigation, the possibility that Mr. Sparkman committed suicide is being looked at closely.

I’m grateful the investigation is still ongoing. I hope that the Federal Bureau of Investigation continues to work the case along with the Kentucky State Police. But, based on all of the descriptions I have read about the condition of his body when it was discovered, I remain convinced Mr. Sparkman was murdered.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Tooth #3 - The Odyssey Continues

This afternoon I went for what was my second and last visit to the endodontist. Turns out the #3 tooth typically has just three nerves. Well, mine had a fourth. A bonus nerve. Who knew? Unfortunately, it meant an office visit which had more in common activity-wise with the first visit than I (or Dr. V.) had hoped for. But all is well and, with any luck at all, sometime next week the long anticipated, lovely new crown will be gracing my #3 tooth.

I think I should have opted for the Tiara. ;o)

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Transition

Without the brown, fallen oak leaves in the background, it would be easy to mistake this shot for summer.


But a closer look at the milkweed pod sending its fluttering seeds out on the wind is proof of autumn.

Maine: NOT The Way Life Should Be

58% of the registered voters in Maine went to the polls yesterday. (detailed results available by county and town from the Bangor Daily News) Of those voters, 52.77% voted to repeal Maine’s Marriage Equality law. 47.23% voted to let Marriage Equality stand in Maine.

The approval of Question One which means the repeal of Marriage Equality in Maine is disheartening, disappointing, dispiriting. But two towns in particular who voted to strip same sex couples of their ever so recently afforded rights shocked and angered me.

Remember Mr. Spooner, the World War II Veteran, Veterans of Foreign Wars Chaplain, widower and the father of four sons - one of whom is gay? His fellow citizens in the city of Biddeford voted to repeal Marriage Equality in Maine: 53% Yes, 47% No.

And remember Mr. Redicker, the Vietnam War veteran and father of two daughters; one gay, one straight? His fellow citizens in the town of Fort Fairfield also voted to repeal Marriage Equality in Maine: 70% Yes, 30% No.

Do we blame ignorance? Fear? Hatred? I don’t know. But this process of state by state referendums on Marriage Equality now stands at zero victories. The comparison to the lengthy and enormous African-American Civil Rights Movement is fraught with differences and controversy. But the three federal legislative landmarks were the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and the Civil Rights Act of 1968. The important part of that last sentence is the word “federal”. But ever since the perversely named Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) became law in 1996, the federal deck has been stacked against Marriage Equality. And the language of DOMA explicitly undermines the impact of the Full Faith and Credit Clause of the United States Constitution on marriage, which says states must respect the “public acts, records, and judicial proceedings” of other states.

Same sex marriage is currently legal in just five states: Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa and Vermont; with New Hampshire’s law to take effect on January 1, 2010. But until the day when the Respect for Marriage Act of 2009 (H.R. 3567) , which repeals DOMA, becomes federal law, each of those states will be standing alone. Same sex couples legally married in those states will not have their marriages recognized in other states. The work for Marriage Equality must continue at the state level - including vigilance that existing rights are not eroded or overturned. But after yesterday’s vote in Maine, I believe the most important work is to get the Respect for Marriage Act of 2009 passed into law.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Election Night 2009

Riding the roller coaster that is election night.
Sometimes the screaming is excitement.
Sometimes it’s terror.
But I always get back on the freakin’ ride!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Hard Cider

I know when it comes to crops, monoculture is generally undesirable. While polyculture and biodiversity are both very good and the ideal. I’m familiar with Seed Savers and heirloom fruits and vegetables. I even know a little about heritage breeds of livestock. But until I watched the lush PBS documentary The Botany of Desire (Based on the book by Michael Pollan) I did not understand how important it was for us to drink hard cider. Yes indeedy. Hard cider is not made from the handful of popular sweet apple varieties to be found in grocery stores. No, hard cider is made from all the myriad tart apple varieties, including the precious antiques. So every time you purchase a bottle of hard cider you are supporting polyculture and biodiversity. Every time you drink a toast with hard cider you are saving the planet!

As soon as my consciousness was raised I went directly to our liquor closet. I chose one of the bottles of cider from West County Cider of Colrain, Massachusetts and popped it into the refrigerator. We enjoyed it that evening with the roast pork and it was a lovely accompaniment. Massachusetts’ own Johnny Appleseed would have been proud.

Going Door To Door

When Chuck and I set the date for our marriage we walked over to our Town Hall and got a marriage license. Easy peasy.

It’s not that easy for everyone:



Vote NO on 1 - Protect Maine Equality

Time’s running out!
You can help protect marriage equality in Maine by clicking here to donate!

Saturday, October 31, 2009

The Observant Wife

While up in Bar Harbor we ate twice at McKay’s Public House. On the first evening we both ordered beef - Chuck the Beef Carbonade and I the Marinated Bistro Steak. On the second, I ordered the Lobster “Mac & Cheese” (Surprise!) and Chuck ordered the Brandy Braised Pork. Now, I may have been oohing and aahing over my chunks of lobster, nestled in among the al dente Cavatappi, all tossed in a delicate cheese sauce, but I was not so absorbed that I failed to notice Chuck had twice ordered slow cooked meat for his entree. Hmmm... I tend to pan sear and quick grill various cuts of meat. When was the last time I had braised some beef or pork? Because no answer sprang to mind, I knew I needed to remedy the situation.

So, last week, on a trip to Trader Joe’s, I spotted a boneless pork loin roast. It was the pork chop size, not the much smaller tenderloin size. I hesitated just a moment before popping it into the cart. Once home I needed to decide how best to prepare it. I broke the rules and didn’t even bother to pan sear it. Instead I chopped up a couple of onions and tossed them into the roasting pan. I then peeled, cored and chopped a large Granny Smith apple and added it along with some crushed garlic. I opened a can of whole berry cranberry sauce and plopped in about half. I also splashed in some sherry. I dusted the pork roast with salt, pepper and Bell’s Seasoning. After stirring up the onions, apples etc. I placed the pork roast on top, covered the roasting pan and put it in a 275-300 (F) degree oven for a few hours. When it was fork tender I carefully removed the roast from the pan and kept it covered. I then transferred all the makings of my sauce to a shallow sauce pan and let it reduce a bit. I tweaked the seasonings and decided to thicken it just a skosh with a corn starch slurry.

I served the pork roast with its chunky sauce/gravy alongside mashed potatoes and oven roasted brussels sprouts. Chuck pronounced it all just dandy!

Here We Go Again

...or

How I Really Am Just A Lone Voice In The Wilderness

Back in the spring of 2007, I posted the following here on Pink Granite:

Tick, Tock, Stop

The U.S. has begun Daylight Saving Time (DST) weeks earlier this year. The stated rationale is an attempt to save more energy. I don’t buy it. I also don’t like it. Considering how long humans have been keeping time, DST, having been implemented for less than a century, is still a relatively new practice.

Unfortunately, once it caught on in Europe it spread pretty quickly. I realize I’m tilting at windmills, but I wish they would just let nature take its course. Over the last couple of months, since the winter solstice, we have been appreciating the gradual, gentle, generosity of the lengthening of the days. We all notice it. We all appreciate it. Come June, and the summer solstice, we will watch the days wind down equally gently, causing us to cherish twilight, fireflies and that startling first chill in a summer night’s air.

I’m no anarchist. I believe in good government, fair taxes and sensible laws. But I really wish the U.S. government would put more attention and resources into alternative, renewable energy sources and leave my clocks, my days alone.


Tomorrow morning, at 2:00 a.m., we are supposed to turn the clocks back one hour.

It still makes absolutely no sense to me.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Pining


I’ve never been a lake gal, even though for many years I lived near to Lake Champlain in Vermont. I love the ocean; the smell, the sound, the rhythm, the power, the ever changing light. I feel both a sense of peace and energized when I am at the tide’s edge. Living so far from the sea is hard. The ocean is a big part of what draws us back up to Mount Desert Island again and again and again.

We haven’t been home a week and already I miss it.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Homarus Americanus

While in Maine we ate a great deal of lobster. Why? (Do I really need to answer why?) It is delicious. It was available and plentiful. It seemed reasonably priced against all other menu options. And, after years of being on the fence, I finally had not just a taste of, but an entire serving’s worth of Lobster Ice Cream. It was very good. But, I doubt I will ever have an entire ice cream cone’s worth again. At Ben & Bill’s Chocolate Emporium they sell their homemade ice cream along with fudge and a wide variety of chocolates. Their Lobster Ice Cream is rather famous and they happily give a sample to those who ask. It’s a simple, buttery ice cream into which buttered bits of lobster are incorporated. It is very rich, but not overpoweringly so. The tiny pieces of lobster are quite perfect. The hiccup comes when you bite into a larger chunk of lobster and you find yourself chewing on - well - frozen lobster. At that moment, it’s a bit disconcerting.

What was the best lobster we had on the trip you ask? That had to be the Lobster Stew and Popovers at Jordan Pond House. Several years ago, our friends Tom & Gale recommended we order it and we have never looked back. When we finished our hike on the Carriage Road last Friday, we made a beeline to the dining room. As logs crackled on the fire in the nearby hearth, we were seated at a window table with a view out to Jordan Pond and The Bubbles. The Stew has lots of lovely lobster in a cream, butter and sherry “broth”. The waitstaff brings out piping hot popovers, which are served with strawberry preserves and butter. I always order a lemonade which is freshly squeezed and accompanied by a tiny pitcher of sugar syrup so you can sweeten it to taste. The relaxed atmosphere in an elegant setting, the good service, the delicious food and that beautiful view make a luncheon or tea at Jordan Pond House a “must do” when traveling to Acadia.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Carriage Roads

It’s been a busy day. I’ve already posted twice, but not yet about our hike on the Carriage Roads in Acadia National Park. There are forty-five miles of Carriage Roads inside the park and several more outside. Along those roads are seventeen beautiful bridges. Chuck began “bagging” those bridges a few years ago. By the end of last Friday afternoon we had been to numbers fifteen and sixteen! This year we went to Cliffside and Amphitheater (via the West Branch bridge which we had been to on a previous walk). They were both lovely, but Cliffside had the added advantage of wonderful vistas. It’s also a comfortable hike. While there are ups and downs along the way, it is not the relentlessly uphill trek we took last year from Jordan Pond to the Deer Brook and Chasm Brook bridges. For Cliffside and Amphitheater you start out at Jordan Pond and head out on the wide crushed stone Carriage Roads to Signpost Number 14 and head toward Signpost 21. (You can download maps and brochures here.)
Here’s a sample of what we saw:

Chuck heading out toward Cliffside


Chuck looking over the edge of Cliffside Bridge


Looking out toward Seal Harbor and the Cranberry Islands


Amphitheater Bridge


Near Signpost 21


Golden foliage framing the ocean beyond


These were uploaded in lower resolution, but they are still “clickable” for a better (and more vivid) view.

Tooth #3

I don’t know how people choose their professions. I imagine some emerge from the womb, daimon in tow (as in James Hillman’s “The Soul’s Code”) and are firmly on their life’s path just past toddlerhood. Some follow in a parent’s footsteps. Others take a circuitous route, trying on one job after another until, like Goldilocks, they find the one which is just right. Some never seem to find their calling.

Happily, our endodontist found his rightful calling. I’ve covered my dental phobias before. I know there are very bad dentists, adequate dentists and exceptional ones. Now I know an exceptionally good endodontist - and that’s not the medication talking! Dr. V. is as Chuck described: intelligent, patient, skilled, compassionate, a natural teacher and he has a sense of humor. Despite Chuck’s reassurance and Chuck being welcomed in the room during my root canal, I was still quite anxious. That anxiety manifested itself as a combination of a deer-in-the-headlights look, nervous laughter, lame jokes and sweaty palms. When Dr. V. sat down after his initial examination to tell me there was a possibility I might lose the tooth entirely, my nervousness ratcheted up several notches. It was during the ensuing discussion about my options that he became aware I was “pre-medicated”. To which he responded: “This is you on Valium?”. “Yes” I said. And then I hit him! Well, it was more like I slugged him gently in the arm amid much laughter and a significant amount of righteous indignation on my part. I mean, I was not curled up in the fetal position in a corner. Nor was I still sitting in the car outside the office. I was in the chair, having signed a consent form to let him do a freakin’ root canal. They give medals for that sort of bravery - don’t they?

Well, the tooth was able to be saved. The root canal was remarkably pain free. Dr. V. is a big proponent of topical anesthetic (Pina Colada flavored no less!) and blessed Novocaine. Truth be told, the procedure was quite interesting. I spelled questions on the palm of my hand to Chuck, who relayed them to Dr. V. He in turn answered each one. Yes, we are a couple of odd ducks and even our personal quirkiness did not phase Dr. V. He just rolled with it - lame jokes, painful puns and all. I told you, the guy is good at his job and we are both very, very grateful.

No On 1 - Protect Maine Equality

A few days ago I posted a video of Philip Spooner of Biddeford, Maine; the World War II Veteran and the father of four sons - one of whom is gay. Today I became aware of another video from the original open testimony hearings on marriage equality. This time it is another father, Paul Redicker (I hope I have spelled that correctly) from Fort Fairfield, Maine. Mr. Redicker fought in Vietnam and is the father of two daughters; one gay, one straight. Once again, a parent makes the case for marriage equality, simply, eloquently and with passion.




Vote NO on 1 - Protect Maine Equality

You can help protect marriage equality in Maine by clicking here.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Looking Back

We arrived home late Saturday night, after the traditional stop at L.L. Bean in Freeport of course. Yesterday was a mix of listening to cranky cats complain about a week in the (perfectly lovely) kitty hotel, unpacking, taking a nap, watching the New England Patriots play football in London, England of all places and running off to the Apple store in Hadley to replace the charger for my laptop. Today, the laundry process began. Framing this in the familiar “If they can send men to the moon...” why haven’t they invented a suitcase which doubles as a washing machine? That way, on the ride/flight home, you could pile all your dirty clothes into the magic washing machine suitcase and then, upon arriving home, just hang everything out on the clothesline. Good idea right?

Anyhoo, I’m a little distracted and frankly nervous today, because tomorrow, the second member of this household has to have a root canal. Yes, that’s me. The tooth that needs the crown requires a couple of trips to the endodontist first. I’ve met the doctor. He’s very nice. Chuck assures me he’s very skilled and gentle. And the good doc was gracious enough when we met, to say he hoped he never had to see me professionally. Obviously that did not work out as desired.

So, an abrupt jump-shift in an effort to get my mind off tomorrow, here are a few more photographs from Maine:

Herring Gulls on the rocks at Schoodic


A photogenic crow who allowed me to take his picture


Maple leaf on pink granite


Mussel shell at Otter Cove


Mist above the pond along Park Loop Road

These were uploaded in lower resolution, but they are still “clickable” for a better (and more vivid) view.


Tomorrow, I’ll take you along on our hike on the Carriage Roads...

Friday, October 23, 2009

Packing Up


Yesterday was gray and drizzly. Today was sunny and beautiful. We hiked more of the Carriage Trails beginning at Jordan Pond, as seen above from Jordan Pond House, with The Bubbles in the distance.


Just before sunset, we walked along the Shore Path in Bar Harbor. This photograph shows Balance Rock in the foreground, an accommodating herring gull standing on a rock in the mid-ground right and the Egg Rock Lighthouse in the distance. I told you Bar Harbor and Acadia Rock!

Tomorrow, we head home. Where, with more time and the technology challenges sorted out, I will be able to post more photographs and details.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

No On 1 - Protect Maine Equality

When we first arrived in Maine I was dismayed by all the negative ads on television and the lawn signs promoting "Yes on 1". It began to feel like last year's presidential campaign or this summer's "tea parties". But as the days have passed, we've seen more pro-marriage equality signs with the slogan "No On 1 - Protect Maine Equality" and noticed more television and radio ads in the same vein.

Today I became aware of this footage of Philip Spooner of Biddeford, Maine. Mr. Spooner is a World War II Veteran, a Veterans of Foreign Wars Chaplain, a widower and the father of four sons - one of whom is gay. The video is very moving and sums up the fight for marriage equality simply and eloquently.




Vote NO on 1 - Protect Maine Equality

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Another Beauty

The weather here on Mount Desert Island has been wonderful. Lots of sun, mild temperatures and even when the clouds have rolled in, the visibility has been super. Today we drove over to the Schoodic Peninsula, which includes another part of Acadia National Park. The description I wrote about our visit back in 2007 will give you a good feel for our day today.

The internet remains a challenge and now my laptop has developed a problem with the charger, so it’s possible that I may not be able to post and upload photos until we return home. Is there a patron saint of technology I should be praying to???

Here’s the view from Cadillac Mountain looking down on Bar Harbor, the Porcupines and a cruise ship. It’s our favorite alfresco/al-automobile picnic spot.

This gray squirrel may not be a moose, but he is “wildlife”.

Chuck snapped this view of the picnic area near the entrance to Acadia on Schoodic.

Herring gulls over Schoodic, with Mount Desert in the distance

Granite and evergreens on Schoodic

Pine cones

From Route 1, looking over to Cadillac Mountain on Mount Desert Island

Sunset with gulls at Seal Harbor

Moonrise in Bar Harbor

These were uploaded in low resolution, but they are still “clickable” for a better (and more vivid) view.