Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Ask & Tell - Until DADT Is Overturned

Driving home tonight, listening to the wild and wooly Boston Red Sox game on the radio, I was certain it would become the topic of this post. But when I arrived home I read the disappointing news about First Lieutenant Daniel Choi. As I mentioned the other day, Lt. Choi, an infantry platoon leader in the Iraq War and an Arabic linguist, was facing discharge from the military because he publicly acknowledged he is gay. This statement of truth is in violation of the wrongheaded Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy (DADT). Unfortunately, the panel of New York National Guard officers today recommended Lt. Choi be discharged from the Army because he violated DADT. The recommendation must go up the chain of command, but as of this writing there is no firm deadline for that final decision.

I am asking everyone to contact the White House to urge President Obama to sign an executive order halting all “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT) discharges while the policy is under review.

Here’s how to do it:

Via the Internet: Click here to send an e-mail.

Via Telephone:
Comments: 202-456-1111

Switchboard: 202-456-1414

FAX: 202-456-2461

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)

Thank you.

: : UPDATE: You can click on this link to go to the Courage Campaign website and sign a letter to Speaker of the United States House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi, urging the repeal of DADT.

Monday, June 29, 2009

150 Years

Bernard Madoff, age 71, was sentenced to 150 years in prison today for his elaborate, far reaching and long running Ponzi scheme, which defrauded - robbed - hundreds of people and organizations of enormous sums of money.

Perhaps because of the scale of the monies lost, coupled with the notoriety of some of the investors, there has seemed to be limited sympathy for the victims. (Burt Ross has posted several powerful pieces over on The Daily Beast chronicling his experience as one of Madoff’s victims, including the impact statement he read in court today.) But it is important to note that Madoff was a confidence man of the highest order. He was not some shady fly-by-night guy with an office in a strip mall. He founded his investment company back in 1960; was instrumental in the creation of NASDAQ and served as Chairman of the Board of the National Association of Securities Dealers. He had stature of long standing in the Wall Street community and, even more importantly, in the regulatory end of that industry.

It also must be made clear that investors with Madoff received conservative (albeit impossibly steady) returns on their “investments”. They received detailed, completely fictitious statements from Madoff showing their “holdings” in stocks - many of which were blue chip and widows and orphans stocks. Looking at those statements, I’m sure people felt comforted month in and month out that they were investing their hard earned money wisely, with a talented man shepherding their resources, for their children’s educations and their own retirements.

Beyond Madoff as an unparalleled con man, he also betrayed his investors’ trust in a deeply shameful way by targeting fellow Jews. This tremendous Ponzi scheme was simultaneously an Affinity scheme. Madoff worked his way from individuals to non-profit Jewish organizations, ultimately causing tremendous losses to Yeshiva University, Maimonides School and Holocaust survivor and Nobel Laureate Elie Wiesel’s own Foundation For Humanity, to name a few.

It is not clear how many other individuals who participated in Madoff’s Ponzi/Affinity scheme will be prosecuted. But considering the depth and breadth of the fraudulent activities, I have to believe many, many more criminals will be brought to justice.

I have no sympathy for Madoff. 150 years in a federal penitentiary? The gonnif (thief) should live so long.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Across Time

I stopped by Ilva’s blog today and she mentioned a very interesting photographic artist named Bobby Neel Adams. I went by his website and looked at his “Age-Maps”. As Ilva put it, his Age-Maps “both delight and disturb”. I had a similar reaction - plus an immediate desire to try my hand at the technique. So with all due respect and in the sincere hope that Mr. Adams perceives imitation as the sincerest form of flattery, I made this photo composite. It’s Chuck merged from two photos; one at age 7 and the other at age 64.

And yes, I know what a truly good sport Chuck is!

Saturday, June 27, 2009


I can’t state exactly how many times I’ve seen the movie “Notorious” (1946), but every single time I watch it I am drawn in immediately. It’s partly the skill of director Alfred Hitchcock and partly the taut writing of Ben Hecht and partly the fine acting of the entire cast - especially the gorgeous Cary Grant and the stunning Ingrid Bergman. More than just technical genius, there is something mesmerizing about the entire film. Each time I watch “Notorious” I hold my breath during the scene in the wine cellar and, of course, the walk down the sweeping staircase at the cusp of the denouement. Six decades past its creation, it remains not notorious but glorious.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Good Men and Women All

I am posting a copy of the letter I received from The Courage Campaign. Lieutenant Dan Choi may be fired from the military for having stated he is gay. This statement of truth is in violation of the wrongheaded Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy (DADT). Please read the letter and then click on the link at the bottom to sign a letter of support.

A Letter From Daniel W. Choi:

Dear Reader,

On Tuesday at 8 a.m., I will stand trial for speaking three truthful words: “I am gay.”

On Tuesday, I will face a panel of colonels who will decide whether or not to fire me -- to discharge me for "moral and professional dereliction" under the military's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy.

On Tuesday, I will try to prove that it's not immoral to tell the truth.

As an infantry officer, an Iraq combat veteran and a West Point graduate with a degree in Arabic, I refuse to lie to my commanders. I refuse to lie to my peers. I refuse to lie to my subordinates.

My case requires that I provide personal testimony from people who can attest to my character. That's why several members of my military unit have written letters of support and offered to testify on my behalf.

Now I need your help. ANYONE who believes the Army should not fire me can take a stand right now. I am bringing a statement of support to Tuesday’s trial and I need you to add your signature to it. Will you support me by signing this statement before Tuesday?

I want to thank the 141,262 people who have signed the "Don't Fire Dan" letter launched a few weeks ago by the Courage Campaign and CREDO Mobile to President Obama, asking him to take leadership to bring this tragic policy to an end.

The momentum is building. This week, 77 members of Congress signed a letter to the President citing my service as an example of why DADT should be repealed. And a Gallup poll was recently released showing that 69 percent of Americans -- including 58 percent of Republicans - favor allowing openly gay men and lesbian women to serve their country .

As I learned at West Point, deception and lies poison a unit and cripple a fighting force. That's why more than 70 of my fellow West Point graduates have also come out of the closet to join Knights Out, the organization I co-founded to build support for the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell".

The only way we will eventually overturn “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” is by speaking up together. You can help me fight back right now by adding your name to my statement of support. On Tuesday morning I will bring your signature -- and thousands of others -- to my trial as a demonstration of your collective support.

National security means many things, but the thing that makes us secure in our nation and homes is love. What makes me a better soldier, leader, Christian and human being is love. And I'm not going to hide my love.

Love is worth it.

Thank you for your support.

Daniel W. Choi
New York Army National Guard

I urge you to take a moment to click here to support Dan. Thank you.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Dining Al Fresco - Sort Of

After the recent town meeting, we stepped out of the steamy auditorium into the misty but mercifully cooler night air. As we walked to the car we realized we were really hungry. Banking on a short meeting, we’d only eaten a late lunch. But at near 11:00 p.m. nothing in our little corner of the world was open. I began listing dinner options available at home. Soon, Chuck began listing off other options. That’s how we found ourselves driving into a nearby town to the “open late” Wendy’s drive through window. We ordered a couple of cups of chili and parked neatly between the lines in the not quite deserted lot. (Yes he does take me to the nicest places!) I unpacked the containers of chili from the bag; then the little pouches of Saltines; then a couple of pre-wrapped napkin-knife-fork packets. I looked in the bag. I shook the bag. No spoons were included. Sigh...

Chuck chivalrously high tailed it on foot to the drive through window to get the spoons. He returned quickly, opened the back door of the car and grabbed our container of traveling supplies. He sat back in the driver’s seat, pulled out a couple of our own plastic spoons and announced that Wendy’s no longer provides spoons. Yes they still sell chili, but they no longer carry spoons! The staff had no explanation, but found it equally odd. Wendy’s chili isn’t an eat it with a fork sort of food. It’s a more liquidy, sloshy sort of chili. As we dined we continued to speculate on the the corporate mindset. As we crumbled our Saltines onto the chili, Chuck wondered if their plan was for us to use the crackers to sop up the liquid and then fork the chili cracker mixture out. I suggested maybe we were supposed to eat all the chunky bits with the fork and then try to drink the liquid at the end. When all was said and done - including the theorizing and the chili - we had no good and logical explanation for Wendy’s no-spoon policy. It struck us as just some corporate pencil pusher’s misguided attempt at cost savings. I did call Wendy’s headquarters and left a message suggesting it wasn’t a good idea to tell customer’s to stick a fork in it - the chili that is!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

The Ayes Have It

Living in a small, rural Massachusetts town means we have a participatory (A.K.A. “open”) annual town meeting. Occasionally they are sparsely attended. But our first town meeting after we moved here 16 years ago was so crowded that the fire chief said we were near capacity. So a slew of us sat up on the stage in bleacher seats, facing the majority of the townspeople. (“Hello new town!”) Our most recent town meeting was not as beastly hot as normal, but significantly longer than usual. In advance of the meeting, there were two schools of thought about it: 1. the town (like the rest of the Commonwealth) has no money so the meeting will be incredibly brief or 2. the town has no money (like the rest of the Commonwealth) so the meeting will be lengthy and contentious. If you chose “2” you are correct!

I have a love/hate relationship with town meeting. Ours is not as quaint and folksy as some of the ones I’ve read about up in Vermont. Town Meeting Day up there is a state holiday in March, which in Vermont is still decidedly winter. In some towns there is a lot of knitting and covered dish lunches. Here in Central Massachusetts there’s no food and hardly any knitting because our town meeting is typically held in June and it’s just too darn hot. What I do love about town meeting is that any registered voter can show up, sit on uncomfortable folding chairs, listen, raise their hand, be called on by the moderator and ask a question or voice an opinion. If you have a good strong voice which you can project throughout the hall (like Chuck and I both have!), you can stand at your seat and be heard. If you have a wee voice you have to go to the microphone or the moderator has to repeat your question. Of course the down side of anyone being allowed to speak is that anyone is allowed to speak! But as the hours go by and the room grows warmer and my arm is starting to ache from overusing my fan, it becomes an exercise in patience and respect to listen quietly to someone who is, in my opinion, talking to hear themselves talk or is voicing a view which is the polar opposite of my own.

What I consider the most important and honorable part of open town meeting is that we vote by voice (by acclamation) or, when a two thirds majority is required we stand to be counted - literally. It’s hard. Especially if the discussion on the article has been heated, long and involves spending more money. You could be sitting next to a neighbor or friend or fellow congregant and one of you is standing on the yea, while the other is standing on the nay. (Sometimes that split decision happens between Chuck and me, which causes us to joke that the voting is “tearing families asunder”!) But this form of voting is the physical manifestation of “standing up to be counted” which impresses the heck out of me every time I do it. Sometimes there is a motion from the floor to have us vote by secret or paper ballots. But that motion requires a floor vote and rarely passes. And as the evening wears on and the temperature rises, it is extremely rare to get a paper ballot through, because it is ponderously slow and inefficient compared to the more public alternatives. For national, statewide and town elections we still have our polling places and our secret ballots. But for working out the details of an amendment to a noisy dog by-law or parsing the dollars and cents of the school budget I wouldn’t trade annual town meeting for all the tea in China.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

For Milton & George

Chuck and I were both fortunate to have great Dads. My Dad passed away an impossibly long twenty-one years ago. Chuck’s Dad passed only a few months ago, back in February. Today we are missing them both. We miss the best of them; when they were each in their prime and in their full powers. And we miss being able to share something funny or a memory or a bit of good news with them.

The saying goes that any guy can be a father, but it takes a special man to be a dad. So here’s to all the dads, grandfathers and great-grandfathers. And here’s to all the godfathers, big brothers, uncles and good men who serve as father figures. Happy Father’s Day to you all.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Invention’s Mom

When I serve plain fresh fruit, I often add a little sauce of yogurt and honey, thinned with a splash of orange juice. I just spoon the yogurt sauce on top and let it find its way in and around the fruit. The other day I was in a hurry. In addition to being in a rush, I was out of yogurt. But I did have some sour cream. Yogurt and sour cream are kissin’ cousins so I gave it a whirl. But instead of a sauce, I just layered it all up in two little bowls. Here’s how it went:

Fresh strawberries, sliced in half
Fresh blueberries
a sprinkle of turbinado sugar over the fruit
several tiny dollops of (Breakstone’s Light) sour cream on top of the fruit
a dusting of cinnamon sugar over all

Oh my, yes indeedy! Yogurt and sour cream may well be related but not even my favorite thick Greek yogurt (Fage) would be able to beat this assemblage. Very creamy, very decadent and Chuck and I both agreed that as the ingredients bumped up against one another the sour cream tasted more and more like thick whipped cream.

Thursday, June 18, 2009


The other day we headed out to The Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, Massachusetts. We have been wanting to go for ages. I don’t want to discourage anyone from visiting, but we were a little disappointed. The museum is in an exquisitely beautiful location. Picture Tanglewood but add an artist’s studio and a museum building which echoes the design of a New England church. The interior design of the museum is a lovely intersection between modern and traditional, with touches of slate for flooring which grounds it nicely to the environment. The ceilings are high without being cavernous and are trimmed with simply designed, yet massive crown molding which provide a frame for each gallery space.

Out of what appeared to be eight gallery spaces, only five were open and hung with Norman Rockwell pieces. The remaining ones were roped off and being prepared for a contemporary sculpture exhibition of the works of Rockwell’s youngest son Peter. Complicating matters, the museum has mounted a ten city traveling retrospective of Rockwell’s work. That will be on view in Stockbridge beginning July 4th of this year. These two situations left us feeling as if the Rockwell pieces which remained on display, while wonderful, were slimmer than we had expected. Strolling through the gift shop before departing only emphasized the missing pieces, as we looked at prints of the artist’s most famous works.

Two other occurrences left us puzzled. The first was the illumination. The lighting throughout the gallery spaces was uneven. The center room had an enormous skylight which, on a partly sunny day, left it flooded with bright, diffused light. That allowed each painting in that room to be appreciated with ease. The adjacent octagonal room held the iconic “Four Freedoms”. This space had diffused, natural light spilling in from a window in an adjacent room, which left two of the paintings in some shadow. The other three rooms were all quite dim, one, painted in deep tones, was positively gloomy. Even though each piece of artwork was individually lit, they were not “spotlit”. Had the lighting been consistent throughout, we would have assumed it had something to do with preservation of perhaps unstable materials. But moving from bright to dim as we walked room to room left us squinting.

The second problem was grammatical. Alongside each piece of Rockwell’s art a lengthy, informative description was hung. Beyond the typical year painted and materials used, facts about the development of the painting or the inspiration for the piece and even Rockwell’s personal circumstances at the time were included in these narratives. Unfortunately so were typographical errors - including words transposed and others run together. We enjoyed learning the background for these paintings, but the typos became a distraction.

Both Chuck and I have been lifelong fans of Norman Rockwell’s work. His lighthearted pieces make us smile and his serious pieces never fail to move us. Standing in his last, and what he considered to be his finest, studio gave us a little chill knowing it was the room which had once been filled with his intensity and his creativity. Viewing “The Marriage License”, each of “The Four Freedoms”, “The Golden Rule”, “Home for Thanksgiving”, “Saying Grace” and, perhaps most moving, “New Kids In The Neighborhood” was a memorable experience. We just wish that all aspects of the museum had risen to the same level as the best of Rockwell’s work. And despite the surprising shortcomings of the experience, we might try to get back sometime during July or August for the return of “American Chronicles” in hopes of viewing some of the “missing pieces”.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Watershed Moment

It was a long, painful, drawn out struggle, but on June 17, 1991, the ruling government of South Africa finally repealed the Population Registration Act of 1950. This particular moment was seen as pivotal in the ultimate dismantling of apartheid. It would be three more years before Nelson Mandela would be elected President of South Africa. The last eighteen years have continued to hold tremendous challenges for the citizens of South Africa. But this eighteen year milestone is an important one to acknowledge.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Liberal? Get A Clue!

I have to laugh when I hear folks on the right calling President Barack Obama a flaming leftist, bleeding heart liberal. I have to laugh or I’ll cry. I supported then candidate Obama and happily voted for him in the election. Progressive/Liberal that I am, I knew he was a brilliant guy, but I also knew he was a pretty conservative-verging-on-middle-of-the-road politician. Don’t get me wrong, compared to the Bush-Cheney-Rove group who dragged our nation down in the mud for the last eight years, Obama and his administration are more than a breath of fresh air. They are returning us to our moral compass and our core Constitutional values. But President Obama is not the dream come true of progressives and liberals.

Case in point: for some unknown and frankly unfathomable reason, the Justice Department under the current Obama administration, has filed a brief in Federal Court defending the “Defense of Marriage Act” (DOMA). In a nutshell, DOMA says that if a same sex couple is legally married in one state, no other state is obligated to recognize that marriage contract and bars the Federal government from treating any such marriage as a legal marriage. Both candidate and President Obama supported a full repeal of DOMA - that is until the Justice Department filed this inexplicable and deeply offensive brief last week.

President Obama and his administration have a full to overflowing plate of issues to be addressed. I get that the economy and wars and health care and a plethora of issues all need attention. But that’s no reason to do a 180 degree turn on a moral issue. This isn’t a gay rights issue. It’s an equal rights issue. To learn more you can watch the video clip from tonight’s Rachel Maddow Show, where she interviews Howard Dean. Maybe someone in the Obama administration could take a look at it as well and review some of the President’s earlier statements as a “fierce advocate for Gay Rights”...

Here Chip!

After a mysterious three year odyssey, there’s a happy ending for a seven year old dog. Abby, a beagle cross, was found in Denver, Colorado last month, with no visible tags. Luckily, prior to her disappearance in 2006, her human had gotten her microchipped. A scan at a Colorado animal shelter enabled staff to to track down the owner who had moved to Kentucky. You can click to read more about Abby’s story.

Even though all of our cats and dogs have always been indoor pets, ever since the pet microchip technology became available, we have had them all chipped. We know that it only takes a split second for an open door to provide an attractive inducement to the outdoors and “away”. There has been controversy about microchips, not about their safety or efficacy, but about the lack of a consistent universal reader to scan all brands of microchips. You can find some good advice from the Humane Society and I would recommend discussing it with your veterinarian. But that teeny microchip, the size of a grain of rice, really can bring about a welcome reunion.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Global In 140

So much has been happening here in the United States, it is easy to lose sight of some of the big stories unfolding around the globe. I’ve found that most of my political thoughts have turned into Tweets over on Twitter. Despite the goofy sounding name, Twitter has been extremely busy with folks voicing opinions, as well as sharing links to breaking news. They have also been holding the mainstream media’s feet to the fire over insufficient coverage or slanted coverage - from every possible angle!

Here are some of the topics which I’ve been following and what I have been Tweeting about recently - all in no more than 140 characters:

The Iranian Elections:

Iranian elections: 80%+ voter turnout - fraud is suspected & Mousavi may be under house arrest! ( The world is watching!

Hard to get current info on Iranian elections! (Try Huffington Post: ) U.S. not accepting results! The world is watching!

Brief, fascinating article in NY Times on #CNNfail & the role Twitter has in Iranians communicating about elections:

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Sunday Speech:

Is it just me or did Netanyahu's description of a disarmed Palestinian State sound like US 1800s policy putting Native Americans on the Rez?

Putting Netanyahu's speech in better perspective & a broader context: - from @NJDC


President Obama & his administration have not overlooked Zimbabwe! Supports Tsvangirai; chides Mugabe:

Of course, I intersperse these political Tweets with comments rooting on the Boston Red Sox or chatting with friends. You can find folks of every possible political stripe, business people marketing their wares, music fans, author groupies and even people who Tweet in haikus. Twitter continues to be a yeasty (yes, occasionally wild and even raunchy - thank heavens for the “block” feature!), fast paced and fascinating global town common.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Family & Fish

Last April, shortly after we returned from Chuck’s father’s memorial service and interment out in Washington state, we recorded a program on the Boston PBS station, WGBH. It was called “The Gefilte Fish Chronicles”. (Perhaps it was the nearness of Dad’s passing, but we just couldn’t watch it until this past week.) It is a very funny, yet deeply moving documentary about one family’s preparations for a Passover Seder. But that sentence doesn’t begin to capture the “behind the scenes” look at three elderly sisters of the Dubroff clan as they clash, kibbitz and kvetch their way through six weeks of food preparation in advance of Pesach.

The Dubroff family is blessedly large and to host a Seder for dozens of people requires enormous quantities of food and many willing hands set to seemingly unending tasks. All of which is done under the leadership of the sisters, who are doing so much more than fulfilling a religious obligation. They are also honoring their parents Abe and Minnie Dubroff in continuing a wonderful family tradition. Their great and enduring gift is the way they have risen to the challenge, year after year and brought the subsequent generations into the mix. Now, they are sharing it with the world.

Chuck put it best when he wrote:
“We laughed.
We cried.
We got hungry.
We ordered the DVD and the cookbook.”

By the way, you don’t have to be Jewish to enjoy “The Gefilte Fish Chronicles”. Dollars to doughnuts, if you come from any ethnic background with strong traditions of family and food - and if the phrase: “That’s how (not how) Mom always did it.” has ever been heard in your kitchen, then you’ll feel right at home with the Dubroffs!

Here’s where you can learn more, watch a brief video clip and order your own copy of “The Gefilte Fish Chronicles” - and the companion cookbook.

Friday, June 12, 2009

High Cheese

I really like Jerry Remy, the color commentator for the NESN television broadcasts of Boston Red Sox games. And I miss Jerry ever since he took a leave of absence to more fully recuperate from lung cancer surgery and some subsequent infections. Selfishly, I was worried about what the broadcasts would be like with a string of substitute co-hosts joining play-by-play guy Don Orsillo in the booth. But it has turned out great. Two former Red Sox players Dave Roberts and Dennis Eckersley, along with a few other broadcast veterans, have filled in for Jerry. Each one has his own style and has managed to be both informative and entertaining. Miraculously, none of them have been annoying; none of them have been cringe inducing or had that fingernails-on-a-blackboard quality about their on-air performance. (All of which puts the miserable baseball broadcasters over at ESPN and Fox Sports into sharp relief!)

My personal favorite has turned out to be Dennis Eckersley. “Eck” is a colorful guy. His grammar and syntax occasionally require a road map, but it’s his creative, inside-baseball lingo which leaves us charmed and chuckling. Eck was a pitcher and has innumerable ways to describe a pitch - my personal favorites: “high cheese” (an excellent fastball) and “salad” (bad pitching)*! He also speaks his mind giving frank opinions about players - both Red Sox and opposing players - but he is never mean spirited. Mind you, Eck doesn’t have much of a governor and has been caught swearing and stumbling through the occasional awkward malapropism. No matter, he’s a breath of fresh air. I wish Jerry Remy all the best, especially a swift and complete recovery. But he can rest assured, the Red Sox color commentary is in good and very interesting hands.

*Here’s a link to a good Eck Glossary.

Party Planning

So we were visiting with my Mom in Rhode Island. She had an appointment with the ophthalmologist and we provided the jitney service, because they needed to put drops in her eyes which makes driving challenging. After the doctor’s visit we stopped for lunch at a place in East Greenwich called T’s Restaurant. The decor was charming and artistic. The service was prompt and friendly. The food was pretty good. Happily, Mom really enjoyed her sandwich and the side of cole slaw. As we were leaving, we were looking at some of the paintings in the lobby. Chuck and Mom stopped at a table which had some information, including take out menus and a catering menu.

I don’t have to type anything else do I?

Yup. It was just a split second before Mom suggested we consider having T’s cater her post-funeral get-together - which we have now officially named “Mom’s wing-ding”! We were all laughing and then she asked me to read off some of the catering menu selections. I did. At which point Mom proceeded to either nod approvingly or scrunch up her face in disdain as I listed off the myriad choices. Lord love a duck, she really does enjoy planning the party she will be the guest of honor at, yet never attend!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

“Solemn Remembrance”

President Obama has released a statement on this afternoon’s terrible shooting at the United States Holocaust Museum, in which a security guard was killed.

"I am shocked and saddened by today’s shooting at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum. This outrageous act reminds us that we must remain vigilant against anti-Semitism and prejudice in all its forms. No American institution is more important to this effort than the Holocaust Museum, and no act of violence will diminish our determination to honor those who were lost by building a more peaceful and tolerant world.

Today, we have lost a courageous security guard who stood watch at this place of solemn remembrance. My thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends in this painful time."

We extend our sympathies to the family and friends of Officer Stephen Tyrone Johns, who gave his life in the line of duty.

We must stand up to hate.
We must work toward peace and justice.
Three places which do such good and honorable work are:
The United States Holocaust Museum

The Southern Poverty Law Center

The Simon Wiesenthal Center

Monday, June 8, 2009

To Clarify

Leaving the ballpark before the game has ended just to try to beat traffic is a sin. If your team, specifically the Boston Red Sox, is ahead and you get up to leave, it is a venial sin. However, if you get up to leave the park, for any reason other than a life threatening medical emergency, while the Red Sox are trailing, it is, in fact, a mortal sin.

So behave yourself.
Or plan your Hail Marys, Our Fathers and fiery afterlife accordingly.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Do A Happy Dance With Her!

Happy Birthday Morgan!

Morgan’s’s birthday is Monday. But because this DancingMouse lives in Australia, it already is Monday there and therefore time for good wishes, now!

Saturday, June 6, 2009


June 6, 1944.
Stunning bravery.
Staggering losses.
Ultimate victory.
Enduring gratitude...

The PBS show “American Experience” has a very good website devoted to D-Day.

I’m Honored

Genealogist, photographer and mensch George Geder has awarded me the Janice Brown Puckerbrush Award of Excellence.

The explanation of this award which he shared on his blog is indeed humbling. 

Pink Granite is wide ranging and not a blog devoted exclusively to genealogy. But my relationship to those who came before me informs every aspect of my life, including PG.

Thank you George. Thank you for inspiring me and continuing to raise the bar!

Friday, June 5, 2009

Two Xs

I’ll keep this brief.

On this day, as I have been on so, so many other days, over more decades than I care to count, I am grateful for these.

And, just a few months before my fiftieth birthday last year, I learned that there was no law, no proscription requiring this prescription to be cycled three-one-three-one-three-one ad infinitum. I already was profoundly grateful because, after the dream of children had passed, that prescription and two compassionate doctors saved me from undesirable surgery. But the freedom from that incessant and onerous pattern - however briefly it shall be true for me - has been a Godsend.

I promised I would keep it brief.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

And New Hampshire Makes Six!

The state of New Hampshire became the fifth state out of the six New England states and the sixth state in the United States (including Iowa) to legalize same sex marriage. This leaves Rhode Island as the only state in New England where same sex marriage is still illegal. California had legalized same sex marriage but it was overturned in November via Proposition 8.

Perhaps the most transformative aspect of living in a state where same sex marriage was legalized May 17, 2004 is that the sky did not fall. None of the dire predictions and specious arguments made by the opponents came to pass - in particular the idea that allowing same sex couples to marry would undermine “traditional” marriage between a man and a woman. It didn’t happen. And that wonderful, ho hum normalcy has been one of the most powerful arguments in favor of marriage equality.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Just For Fun

In Adobe Photoshop CS3 I made an 11 x 8.5 piece of paper. Using the Paint Bucket tool I filled it with yellow. Then I duplicated that yellow layer. On the new top yellow layer I made stripes. (I was going for high contrast not great beauty!) I used the Rectangular Marquee tool and filled each strip using the Paint Bucket tool.

Then on that striped layer I applied Filter > Liquify (Brush size 300, Density 50, Pressure 100). I glided back and forth horizontally with the brush, as if I was dragging my finger through wet paint. When I was done, I clicked OK.

To play a little bit more, I went back in via Filter > Liquify (Brush size 300, Density 50, Pressure 100). This time I glided back and forth vertically with the brush. When I was done I clicked OK.

The reason I duplicated that very first bottom yellow paper is because when you drag the paint around using Liquify, you actually pull it away from the edges. Having the plain yellow paper underneath fills in those gaps in color.

I can imagine creating digital papers which replicate the marbled effect of starch papers used on the endpapers inside the covers of antique books.

Have fun!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009


It’s an Allium, but I have no earthly idea exactly which variety (probably Chives - Allium schoenoprasum). There are a gazillion and one species of Allium. I didn’t plant it. I inherited it or, more precisely, it conveyed with the property almost sixteen years ago. Nestled in at the feet of the Milkweed, neighbored by Celandine, up against the south facing side of the barn, they emerge each spring so suddenly that they always surprise us. Never seeming to be intimidated by stories of their hybridized giganteum cousins, these lilac starbursts throw off their papery shells, confident that they are just as worthy as any hothouse Rose to grace a bouquet or corsage.

Monday, June 1, 2009

I Didn’t Recognize Them

Several summers ago, I was in the living room one morning when, out of the corner of my eye, I saw something pass by the window. I looked quickly but nothing seemed amiss. Then our English Springer Spaniel, Paddy, (of blessed memory) began to bark furiously and raced toward the same window. A herd of Holstein cows was trotting through the garden, up the hill, through the dooryard and down the driveway!

What to do? Well, they were coming from the opposite direction from where a neighbor’s cows often got out. Had they been those cows, I would have known to head outside and begin herding them back home, using a cornstalk or branch to wave them along. But this was a much bigger herd. It’s a small town so I figured I would call the police. I did. As soon as I described my location and the direction the cows had come from, the dispatcher had a pretty good idea who the cows belonged to. This neighbor, who lives on the far side of a hill to our north, had similar problems in the past. But the cows had never before gotten quite this far. This time they went for a pleasant stroll through many acres of woods - up hill and down dale as it were - and then crossed the stone wall on our northern boundary, traipsed through our four and a half acres and were headed up the road - to visit the other oft wandering herd perhaps?

Well, everything was soon sorted out. All the cows were rounded up and none were the worse for wear after their outing. Late that afternoon, Paddy began to bark again as a huge pick up truck drove up the driveway and parked outside the kitchen door. An impressively, nay imposingly, tall, burly man stepped out and introduced himself. He was our town’s Fence Viewer. He was there to see if the visiting cows had done any damage to our property, our land or even the vegetable garden. I reported that all was well. He asked many questions, wanting to be absolutely certain that no disgruntlement would fester into a grudge and cause problems later. I was finally able to reassure him and he stepped back into the enormous truck and drove off.

Just another day in the country...

We Must Continue To Speak Up

In light of yesterday’s assassination of Dr. George Tiller, I felt compelled to re-post my statement on abortion.

- I wish, that from this moment on, no woman would ever have to make the decision to have an abortion.
- I wish contraceptives, including the morning after pill, would always be readily available to all women.
- I wish that all young people would be taught age appropriate sex and health education.
- I wish that all young people would be taught that abstinence is a legitimate choice, at the same time they get clear information about all forms of contraception.
- And I wish that abortion would always be safe and legal and available to all women.