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Friday, December 31, 2010

Goodbye & Hello

Happy New Year!

Wishing you good health, peace, joy and love
in 2011 and beyond!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

This & That Round-Up

: : She’s back and she’s still very funny - “earthy” this time, but very funny.

: : She flew practically from one pole to the other to meet Father Christmas in Rovaniemi, Lapland in Finland.

: : He has spent the last quarter century as a non-smoker. Coincidentally, so have I.

: : I wish I could turn back the clock so you all could go see what was, hands down, the best Revels ever.

: : Isabella weighs 7 lbs, 10.5 oz / 3.47 kgs and is just dandy!

: : This is the same way our relative met & married his new wife - minus the coverage in People Magazine and the chateau in Switzerland.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Blizzard


The wind was and continues to be fierce; the cold bitter and biting. But the snow, well, around here, not too much. Actually, I can’t provide accurate figures for snowfall accumulation because the snow here in the hills of Worcester County was generally light and fluffy. Add in the high winds and that meant both drifting and scouring. The drifts in the dooryard near the barn measured around 18-20 inches / 45-50 centimeters. Yet there were a couple of small, nearly bare spots on the driveway. When Chuck ventured out earlier this evening he found the roads around town in generally good shape. The exceptions were dramatic and all involved rural roads, like ours, where the high winds had swept snow off open fields, onto the road.

Tomorrow promises sunshine, more below freezing temperatures, but lighter winds. Trust me, that will most definitely be an improvement!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Let It Snow!

Oh the weather outside is frightful,
But the fire is so delightful,
And since we've no place to go,
Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow


It doesn't show signs of stopping,

And I've bought some corn for popping,
The lights are turned way down low,

Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow

When we finally kiss goodnight,

How I'll hate going out in the storm.

But if you'll really hold me tight,
All the way home I'll be warm.

The fire is slowly dying,
And, my dear, we're still good-bying,

But as long as you love me so,
Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow

- Written by Sammy Cahn & Jule Styne, 1945


Ah, but we did have someplace to go!

Today was our day for Isabella’s “Rolling Christmas”. That meant we needed to drive from Central Massachusetts to Kent County, Rhode Island. Not a problem - except for the blizzard. Yes, this wasn’t just Isabella’s first Christmas, it was her first blizzard as well! As the week progressed and the meteorologists’ forecasts became more specific, we decided to base our travel plans on the timing of the storm. They were all predicting the snow to begin in Rhode Island about noon, but the heaviest bands weren’t expected until late afternoon and early evening. So after a flurry of phone calls (yes, flurry!) we settled on an earlier arrival time of 11:00 a.m.

As we loaded our sleigh car and drove down our driveway at 8:20 a.m. the first flakes were beginning to fall. We arrived at my mothers home a little after 10:00 and packed up the dinner she had prepared (and her!) and headed over to Carrie and Al’s. We had a lovely time. Al had gotten what, in the lot, looked like a modest tree, but turned out to be room-fillingly plump and quite fragrant. Carrie had decorated it with Izzy’s “assistance” over a few days. Add in the opened holiday gifts from the earlier iterations of the Rolling Christmas and their home was very festive!

After much holding of Isabella, a good dinner, plus conversation and laughter, we left Carrie and Al’s about 20 past 2 and drove my Mom back to her home on the other side of town. The roads had been treated and some had been plowed, but the driving on secondary roads was tense. Once we got up onto Route 295 headed home, it was steady going in light snow on well plowed surfaces. But Route 146 was a challenge. The snow had intensified and the road had a thick accumulation of snow on it. Chuck was driving that difficult leg of the journey. But once we made it to Worcester, we seemed to be ahead of the heavier bands and the traveling was much better. We switched drivers in the Price Chopper lot at Park and Highland - taking the opportunity to re-clear windows and lights on the car. I then began driving up into the hills of Western Worcester County. By 6:00 p.m. we were back in our driveway (which had very little snow on it), safe and sound.

Since then, the wind has picked up and the snow is falling heavily and steadily. By the time the blizzard is over, they say we might get between 12 and 18 inches (30 - 45 centimeters) of snow.

We’re grateful to have been able to share the holiday with family. Very grateful we were able to navigate the roads safely to and fro. And ever so happy to be home again.

Chuck cleaning off the car in Rhode Island, 2:18 p.m.

Friday, December 24, 2010

It’s A Wonderful Life

It’s my favorite movie of all time. It always will be. All the great directors, writers and cinematographers that have ever lived could collaborate to create a film together and it wouldn’t hold a candle to “It’s A Wonderful Life”. I watch it every year, at least once (I own a copy). Every year I discover something new or understand some aspect of it in a new way. It’s perfect. I laugh; I cry; my blood boils at Mr. Potter; my heart melts when George and Mary embrace over the telephone and again when they are reunited on the stairs with their children. The final scene is the best happy ending ever. Ever. Some members of my family don’t understand its magic. They need to watch it, start to finish, without commercials and give themselves over to it - no distractions, save perhaps popcorn or eggnog. I’m certain that’s all it will take. ;o)

Wishing you a very
Merry Christmas!



Image courtesy of Karen’s Whimsy

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Then and Now

One month ago today, Isabella Rose left the NICU to go home for the very first time. When she was discharged she weighed 5 lbs, 13 oz / 2.64 kgs. Now she weighs 7 lbs, 3 oz / 3.26 kgs! She is a wonderful child. I’ve written before that when we first met her back in August, at just four hours old, weighing 1 lb, 6 oz / 620 grams, she struck us as sweet and strong. That is still absolutely true. Her mom and dad, Carrie and Al, are great parents - attentive, loving and increasingly relaxed. Even a call to 911 last Friday, while intense and scary, was taken in stride, and they pronounced Isabella “pink and perfect” by the time the Rescue Squad arrived.

We are all so very grateful; so very happy.
Thank you for your support, encouragement and celebration over the last five months!

Then...


Now!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

My Solstice Wishes For You

May all these be yours...

Thanks to Roo for reminding me about Wordle and to Morgan for introducing me to it in the first place!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Thank You USPS!


Today was expected to be the busiest day of the year for the United States Postal Service. May I say simply that Letter Carriers Rock! In the interest of full disclosure a member of our extended family is employed with the USPS. But I remain amazed that we have such an incredibly efficient postal service and we pay lower prices for those services than many other countries. So remember to thank your letter carriers this holiday season. And don’t forget, you can tip them too! *

* There are a lot of references all over the internet that there is a USPS regulation that letter carriers cannot accept gifts over $20.00. I can’t find that authoritatively on the USPS website. If you can find it, please leave a link in the comments. Otherwise, giving a gift in appreciation for great service from one human being to another, well, that strikes me as an entirely private matter... ;o)

Blue Ribbon!

Without a doubt, the best blue cheese I have ever eaten is Cashel Blue Irish Farmhouse Cheese made in County Tipperary, Ireland. I remember tasting close to a dozen artisanal blue cheeses out in Seattle a couple of years ago. Many of them were very, very good. But this past October I had some Cashel Blue as part of a salad at McKay’s in Bar Harbor. It was intense but not overpowering; creamy without being mushy. It had an ancient, earthy, yet wonderfully fresh taste. We made a note of the name. Saturday night we found some at Whole Foods near Alewife. Last night I added it to our salads. At this stage of ripeness it can’t really be cut and cubed. So you need to use your fingers to break and roll bits of it off. It was as good as we remembered! The Cashel site has a lot of useful information about the cheese along with some recipes. Although I have trouble imagining incorporating this blue into anything, simply because it is so enjoyable on its own - think very plain crackers, apples, pears or a lightly dressed salad. I look forward to having it with a prosecco or with a moscato. Basically, I look forward to having it again!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

il Casale

We had a great evening last night. Part of what made it so much fun was we went out to dinner with our niece Kate and her husband Phil. (You may remember Kate from this post.) My Dad was an excellent storyteller. Chuck tells a pretty darn good story, as do I. But Kate is the best storyteller in the family. So there was a lot of catching up and a whole lot of laughter. What prompted the get together was actually Isabella Rose. Because our (now 7 pound!) grandniece can’t be around crowds, we’re having a “rolling Christmas” this year. Small groups of family will be visiting Carrie, Al and Isabella on different days. Most of us are bringing a meal so as to keep the impact minimal and maximize the celebration. It’s a good solution, but it means we won’t be seeing the whole fan-damily at one big gathering. Hence, a holiday dinner in Belmont with Phil and Kate.

il Casale is located on Leonard Street in the heart of “downtown” Belmont. It’s housed in a converted firehouse: high ceilings, brick walls, deep toned wood tables. Our waitress was Soledad. She could teach a master class in how to be a great server. Throughout the evening she struck the balance we love of being attentive, without being intrusive. Because none of us had ever been there before, she walked us through the evening specials and the printed menu. After extensive discussion we settled on three Sfizi - little tastes - as appetizers: maiale (pork meatballs), burrata (buttery mozzarella), fegatini (pate). They arrived on individual dishes and Kate divided and served them to us. Each was a delightful burst of flavor; very much like an amuse-bouche. While we enjoyed the Sfizi, we continued to study the menu. Which, when you are talking, laughing and already waxing rhapsodic about the food, can be a challenge!

We finally placed our main order off the Secondi menu: Chuck, the osso-buco lamb shank; Kate, the veal saltimbocca; Phil, the bistecca, which last night was a grilled rib-eye; I chose the brodetto (seafood stew). We also ordered two items from the Contorni menu: the spinach with marscapone and lemon; plus the polenta with gorgonzola. A “small serving” (not really) of the radiatore pasta with the wild boar ragu off the Primi menu rounded out what became almost a family style meal. Soledad also made solid recommendations from the wine list. Chuck’s choice was the most noteworthy: a glass of the Grifalco Aglianico del Vulture.

When our dishes arrived, it was with an efficient, but festive flurry of activity. Multiple servers appeared with all of the items at once. Soledad checked to make sure we had everything and checked back with us shortly thereafter. Every selection was excellent. (O.K. One tiny quibble: the spinaci could have been a little creamier, but no spinach returned to the kitchen uneaten!) We were all very happy with our individual entrees, as well as the tastes we shared with one another.

Then came dessert. Could il Casale keep hitting it out of the park? Oh yes indeedy! Kate and Phil decided to share a tiramisu. Chuck chose the crostata di mele (apple tart) and I ordered the frittelle (Venetian style fried dough with a chocolate fonduta). Once again, tastes were shared liberally and we all agreed they were delicious. Personally, I thought the frittelle were out of this world. Crispy on the outside; tender, almost creamy on the inside; each little beignet-cum-munchkin was scrumptious dipped in the dark chocolate sauce. They should be ordered automatically to share after every meal.

My only problem? il Casale has ruined me for all other restaurants, because all others will pale in comparison!

Note: Reservations are recommended. And it’s important to speak with il Casale directly to request either a low or a high (bar height) table.


: : Update: After I posted this, I checked out the reviews for il Casale over on Open Table, Trip Advisor and Yelp. Wow! Apparently there is a wormhole near the entrance to the restaurant. Most of us are lucky enough to step into the real restaurant and have the spectacular experience we did. Others pass through the time space anomaly and emerge in the cruel impersonator where service is poor and the food is mediocre! All I can tell you is that the four of us ordered thirteen different dishes and enjoyed every single one.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Lights

The world turns; the darkness falls; we’re sliding into winter.
The welcome chill of autumn becomes raw and biting.
Winds of summer brought comfort; winter’s wind causes us to steel ourselves.
The lights keep us steady and sane.
Creamy yellow glow of lamps through frosted windowpanes; twinkle lights dangling from porches; these cheer us.
Evergreens strung round and round with bulbs of green, red, blue, orange; these gladden our hearts.
Crazy, inflatable snowmen, Santas, penguins; tethered to the ground, bob and weave as their light spills onto lawns, dusted with first snow.
Wicker reindeer, draped in white lights, graze in an imaginary forest, adjacent to sidewalks and parking meters.
We squint, the way my Dad taught me to check our Christmas tree decades ago, we squint and the lights steady us; warm our hearts and something deep within us calms, then soars.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

DADT - The Song

We were at The Bull Run in Shirley, Massachusetts last night for a particularly fine concert by David Buskin, Robin Batteau and Marshal Rosenberg. (Here’s my post from last year about Buskin & Batteau.) The Kennedys opened for them, or as the Bull Run’s impresario said “we have two headliners tonight”. Despite The Kennedys having been on the folk music circuit for 15 years or so, we had never heard them live before. They were terrific. Maura’s voice is lovely and Pete worked some sort of musical miracle on his ukelele and produced George Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue” - amazing!

About three quarters of the way through Buskin & Batteau’s excellent performance, David went to the piano and Robin picked up his violin. David introduced the next song by saying he had written it just a few months ago, assuming it would be well out of date by now. It was called “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”. Sadly, it is still all too timely. Here’s the video they shot at Fox Run:




You can find all things Buskin & Batteau here.

An explanation of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.

Join the Human Rights Campaign’s efforts to repeal DADT.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Thank You!


Have you ever looked at your calendar and not seen any blank spaces? That’s what my week has been like. It actually began at the beginning of November when our washer and dryer began their inexorable journey to the recycling facility. Heck, it probably began back in July when I had my surgery. Regardless of the starting point, things got so busy that I missed the anniversary of Pink Granite. It was November 25th, Thanksgiving Day. But there were far more important things happening at the time - like the long awaited homecoming of Isabella Rose!

While this acknowledgement is belated, it is heartfelt: thank you for reading and joining in Pink Granite for the last four years!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

I Said No, No, No

Back in September, I posted about fewer, less and pled. Yesterday, I Tweeted and had a word display as misspelled. Under “natheless” appeared the dotted red line symbolizing an error. Nunh unh I thought articulately. So I headed to Dictionary.com and typed it into the search box. There it was, properly spelled, a legitimate adverb - - - but wait. In italics was the word “Archaic”. Archaic?! I’m using it. I’ve always used it. It’s a perfectly lovely synonym for nevertheless or nonetheless or notwithstanding. Archaic?! It’s Old English or Middle English and has been in use since before 900 AD/CE. Note that’s in use; not dig it out, dust it off and pronounce it quaint.

Sheesh!

I understand that language is fluid. It adapts and responds as a culture changes and evolves. Fine. But we need natheless. It flows smoothly off the tongue and has an aural lightness which allows it to be employed in less formal sentences. Won’t you join me in keeping it contemporary? Or, as fussbudget lexicographers might insist it be termed, bringing it back?

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Just A Typical Conversation

I speak with my 87 year old mother just about every day. Sometimes it is a brief call; other times the conversation can pinball around for more than an hour.

So I’m on the phone with my mother this afternoon and she’s rattling off various tidbits of news. She’s telling me about her card group and their going away luncheon for Margie - a big success.

Then she tells me of a couple of kindnesses done for her by two neighbors.

Then she says: “Oh and Rosie (name changed to protect the innocent - and others) is getting married!” “Oh my goodness!” I exclaimed because Rosie, a friend of my eldest sister, is in her 60’s and has never been married before.

“Yes,” says my mother, “she’s been sober for quite some time now.” Had I been drinking, I would have done a spit-take!

I laughed and told her I wasn’t quite making the connection between the two statements of apparent fact.

Undaunted, my Mom breezed on to say: “And there was also some news about Rosie’s brother. But I can’t quite remember now if he’s gotten sober as well or if he died.”

I suggested we might need just a few more facts before we broadcast any news updates about Rosie’s brother!

Friday, December 3, 2010

It Works!

My digital camera is a five year old Canon PowerShot S2 IS. Yes, I do dream about digital SLRs, but I like most aspects of my camera. Two things I don’t like are the slow recovery time between shots and the harshness of the pop-up flash. Without upgrading to another camera, I’m stuck with the lag time. But Photojojo provided a solution for the glare of the flash. Ages ago they recommended making a Film Canister Flash Diffuser. I finally did it and it works like a charm!

While Isabella was in the NICU I never used a flash. I didn’t wish to harm those tender eyes of hers. As a result, I became quite adept at adjusting and screening in iPhoto and Photoshop to compensate for low light and the dreaded fluorescent light in her room. Now that she is home, the lighting is still complicated. When we first visited on Thanksgiving, I shot just a few photos without flash. But as the gloaming settled in, I had to flip up the flash. The photos had an unnatural quality which made me think of the strobe lights on the dance floors of the disco era. (Yes, I am that old!) I resolved to make the film canister diffuser and give it a whirl.

We tried it out today and the only tweaking I need to do is to get a tighter fit on the canister. If I tipped the camera down too far or flipped it to the side for a portrait orientation it came close to falling off. But that should be a fairly easy fix and well worth the time to achieve a more natural, true-to-memory photograph.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Happy Chanukah!

The calendar turned another page and suddenly it was Chanukah. So thanks to a tip from Wendy and her mum Fiona, I turned to SmileBox. I have wanted to get into the SmileBox website for ages, but was always turned away because we are Apple computer users. That’s literally, turned away. They had a “Sorry but you’re a Mac user” message! Now SmileBox plays well with Mac and all is forgiven! In very little time, with very, very little reading of directions (hello?) I had a SmileBox Chanukah slideshow card ready to go. One tiny quibble was that the flickering candles on the card numbered only eight for the eight nights, but there really should have been nine to include the Shamash candle. And the eight flickering lights were all at different heights which is also a no-no. I ran it by Chuck who gave me the sweetest look which said something like: I love you very much and only you, the good Irish Catholic girl, are going to zero in on that.

So, I sent it!

Latkes are later in the week! Yay latkes!
But I am so wanting some sufganiyot this year. They’re the small, jelly filled doughnuts.

Enjoy every minute of the eight days and nights of Chanukah!


: : As always, Chabad.org has an a great and exhaustive section of their website devoted to all things Chanukah - from history to how to light the menorah/chanukiah.

: : And the best book to guide you through the Festival of Lights is still “Haneirot and Halalu, These Lights Are Holy” edited by Elyse D. Frishman and illustrated by Leonard Baskin.

Monday, November 29, 2010

All That & A Bag Of Chips

I’ve been under the weather since the wee hours of Saturday morning. It was dismal, chaotic and overpowering until about 8:00 am Saturday. By Sunday morning, I was both relieved and convinced I had turned the corner and promptly went back to normal. Big mistake. Turns out, it was not a swift 24 hour bug. And one should not go from dry toast and watered down apple juice to normal food without a proper transition through the BRAT diet - my doctor’s nurse told me so belatedly today. But since I hate bananas, Chuck reminded me that I was on a RAT diet. (Thank you Sweetie. Cue gag reflex...) Of course, in the spirit of “the tooth stops aching when you arrive at the dentist”, by late this afternoon my fever had abated and my other grimmer symptoms had eased.

But prior to that turn of events Chuck had decided to make me chicken soup. Now, Chuck does know how to cook. He makes a mean pot of chili, a dazzling caviar pie and he taught me how to make hummus and baba ganoush. Unlike a brother-in-law who shall remain nameless, Chuck would not starve if left to his own devices without “The Missus”. But chicken soup has not been part of his repertoire - until today.

Back in 2008 I posted my recipe for chicken soup and my family’s recipe for chicken salad. I subsequently turned that into two digi-scrap layouts. I hesitantly inquired if Chuck would like to see my soup recipe. He readily agreed and headed off to the kitchen, scrapbook page in hand. Unlike my logical, scientific husband, the same man who reads instruction manuals, my recipes are simply lists of ingredients, coupled with guidelines. Despite the limitations of my “recipe” Chuck turned out one heck of a delicious chicken soup! Yes, he did ask me to tweak the final seasoning, but that was all I did. Well, besides slowly consuming a very small bowl of the reputed Jewish penicillin!

Oh! Chuck also multi-tasked and made a pot of Basmati rice for me while he was making the soup. My chicken soup is based on my mother-in-law’s, which was rice and noodle free. But tonight we each added a little of the R in my RAT diet to Chuck’s masterpiece and pronounced it delish.

Yes, I know exactly how fortunate I am!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Farewell

Jeff Barnard died today.

We extend our deepest sympathies to his wife Kathy, who Jeff described as his “angel”.

Jeff was the dean of Central Massachusetts bloggers and Worcester was his special calling.

Two weeks ago Mayor Joe O'Brien and City Councilor Rick Rushton, presented Jeff with the Key to the City.

Now that city, and beyond, mourns his passing.

Thank you for all you gave us Jeff.

Peace...



Thursday, November 25, 2010

Simply The Best!

Thanksgiving Day.
We are giving thanks.

Isabella Rose came home from the hospital yesterday afternoon! After 112 days in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, Carrie and Al and their beautiful daughter all slept under the same roof for the very first time.

Over the past week, as possibility turned into reality, the discharge date remained somewhat fluid. Therefore the family’s Thanksgiving Day plans continued to evolve. Had Isabella remained in the NICU through turkey day, we would have all gone out to dinner and then Carrie and Al would have headed back to the hospital. But with Izzy’s discharge, that needed to change because she can’t yet be out and about in the world with the general public.

So this afternoon Chuck and I picked up my Mom and went to Legal Sea Foods in Warwick, Rhode Island. Happily, in addition to their wonderful regular menu, they offered a traditional turkey dinner. The chef did a very nice job: moist turkey, classic sausage dressing, mashed potatoes, butternut squash, cranberry sauce and gravy. They also featured an autumn cocktail dubbed The Maple Leaf - bourbon, maple syrup, ginger, lemon and orange juice. It was served in a martini glass and was a terrific accompaniment from the oysters, through the entree, all the way to dessert.

On our last visit to the NICU on Tuesday, Carrie had invited us to stop by their home after our dinner at Legal. The rules at the NICU were pretty simple. Everyone had to scrub up to the elbows upon arrival. Then, during the course of the visit, we would use a hand sanitizer as needed. For example, if I had been using the camera, I would use the hand sanitizer before giving Isabella a finger to squeeze. The discharge nurse and Isabella’s spectacular primary nurse had been very clear about what life at home should be like. Visits to the pediatrician need to be first visit of the morning or afternoon, so as to limit exposure to sick children. No going out in public, no crowds over to the house, no visits with other babies or children and everyone coming into the house needs to wash their hands and “Purell”.

As we walked up the to the house, there was Carrie holding Isabella in her arms, welcoming us through the storm door! Amazing! For the last three and a half months Izzy was always attached to monitors and tethered to the equipment near her incubator and later her crib. Even when her parents or family members held her, it needed to be while sitting in the recliner next to the computer screen which displayed her heart rate, respiration and oxygen levels. Now she was free and her Mom and Dad were obviously delighted! The great surprise was that Isabella seemed extra alert and aware. It was as if she was happily taking in her new surroundings; absorbing the details of “home”.

We had a lovely visit. The overarching feeling was how perfectly normal it all was! None of us would have ever wished for Isabella to be born at just 26 weeks. But the up side of that, is that ever since August 5th, Al and Carrie have had the benefit of hands on training and the advice and guidance of knowledgable nurses and doctors. All of that experience means we saw two very relaxed parents, relishing their newly-home daughter.

Thanksgiving Day.
We are giving thanks.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Lunch At The Palace

Last week Chuck and I went to “Elvis’s Hot Dog Palace” in Leominster. Seriously. We had heard about the place - er - palace when it was still in Lunenburg, but we had never eaten there. “Elvis’s” is now located in a little strip mall on Mechanic Street; nestled between Consumer Auto Parts and Family Dollar. Inside, the restaurant is crisp and bright but surprisingly plain. The place is immaculate and oddly enough it doesn’t smell of hot dogs nor the wide variety of available toppings.

We approached the counter at the rear of the shop and spotted the large chalkboards with all the menu options. As it should be for a joint called “Elvis’s Hot Dog Palace”, hot dogs dominate, but they also sell burgers, wings, salads and ice cream. The staff was very nice, especially when I confessed we were “Elvis Virgins”! We placed our order and sat down at one of the tables lining the long, narrow space.

Soon our dogs arrived. A Reuben Dog and Thai Dog for Chuck while I had ordered a Rachael Dog and an Arnold Ziffle Deluxe Dog - all grilled. They were yummy! We love Flo’s Hot Dogs up in Maine, so the bar has been set pretty high. Elvis’s has very different dogs from Flo’s. Nor do they seem to have a homemade, signature relish like Flo’s. But before you think I am complaining, let me reassure you that these dogs were very good. And unlike some adventures in hot dog dining (yes, even Flo’s) we had no regrets later in the afternoon!

Which dogs did we like best? That’s a problem. They were all very tasty and very different from each other. If pressed, I would have to say that the Rachael edged out the Deluxe. Chuck thought the Thai was tops and totally out of the box. (Due to the peanut component I had to take his word for it.) With most dogs priced at $2.95, not only is Elvis’s a good place to satisfy your craving for hot dogs, it’s also a heck of a bargain. We’ll be back.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Full Moon


Chuck and I were out walking early this evening when we spotted the full moon rising. And, once again, we’re not sure which one of us took this photograph!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

New Combos

This weekend I discovered two new combinations of food and drink which were especially enjoyable.

: : Aunt Nellie’s Onions, creamed in the traditional * way with a butter and flour roux, taste quite fine with the addition of well-drained, chopped spinach. I crushed the onions after creaming. Depending on how you tweak the seasoning and what ingredients you add, it can become the tangy, oniony version of spinach-artichoke dip - minus the artichokes!

: : Wild Turkey Liqueur with Honey tastes even zippier with a splash of Limoncello. Definitely good for what ails you - or whatever you imagine might possibly be ailing you, now or in the future! In the interest of science and medicine, I also tried orange liqueur but Cointreau and Grand Marnier didn’t play as well with the WTL.


* Make the butter and flour roux. Slowly add the liquid from the Aunt Nellie’s jar of onions. (Aunt Nellie’s has a more involved recipe for creamed onions on their website. It looks interesting, but has never graced a holiday table in my family!)


Thanks to Ilva and Morgan for asking all the right questions!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Skeevy

The television advertisement for the 2011 Toyota Highlander gives me the creeps. It’s the one with the little kid dissing his parents’ older minivan, as he climbs into another parent’s Highlander. (While complimenting “Mrs. J.” on her choice of ride, he channels a young Eddie Haskell.) The kid’s tagline is: “Just because you’re a parent doesn’t mean you have to be lame.” Ouch. The base price range for this SUV is $28,200 to $43,755. Freakin’ A! I’ve got no problem with capitalism and free enterprise, but Toyota, is this really the path you want go down to peddle your wares in a recession?

Friday, November 12, 2010

Izzy Update

: : Isabella Rose now weighs Five Pounds, Four Ounces / 2.4 Killograms!
She is still in the NICU, but all the nurses feel she could well be home by the end of the month. The doctors, on the other hand, won’t even commit to a “target” date. We’re trusting the nurses! ;o)

: : So far I’ve made 56 digi-scrap layouts of Isabella with her family and friends. But I have a long list of layouts yet to be created. In the process, I’ve learned a great deal about Photoshop CS5. I also feel that I have sharpened my eye for photography, video and design. Thank you Izzy!

: : Isabella’s grandmother, my sister Gail, now known as “GG”, flew in from Georgia this afternoon. By now she has held Isabella for the first time and is on cloud nine!

: : From the moment they learned “Bambalina” was on the way, Carrie and Al have been very generous in including their auntie and uncle in all of the excitement. When Carrie delivered Isabella prematurely at just 26 weeks, they welcomed us onto the sometimes frightening roller coaster. We have felt every emotion you would expect. But from the beginning there has always been hope. And throughout it all, even in those first few hours after Isabella’s birth, there has always been laughter.
This has been an amazing experience.
Our hearts are full.
We are so very grateful.

Monday, November 8, 2010

In The Palm Of My Hand

The islands that dot Frenchman Bay off of Bar Harbor, Maine are known (left to right) as: Bar, Sheep, Burnt, Long and Bald. They are known collectively as The Porcupines. Here they are as seen from the top of Cadillac Mountain on a wickedly windy day in October.


You may notice another large island, of a sort, in their midst. That was the Queen Mary 2! The morning had been incredibly foggy. But the QM2 made her way into the bay just after dawn and dropped anchor. Until the fog cleared mid-day, it was impossible to know she was there - with the very notable exception of her horn. As sunset drew near and the tide was out, Chuck and I were down on the rocks below the Shore Path. We decided to play around with perspective. We didn’t get it quite right, but we had a lot of fun!

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Green Sea Urchin

Well, it’s really a photograph of the empty test of a Green Sea Urchin (Strongylocentrotus drobachiensis). This one had come to rest at low tide, in a slight eddy which had formed between two examples of Maine granite. We returned home from Maine just one week ago yesterday. It was a great trip. But it feels as if it were at least a month ago.

Quixotic Me - Again

Fall behind.
Sigh.
Yes, I do recognize the likely futility of my quest to put an end to the artificial and arbitrary manipulation of our time. But here’s my post from three and a half years ago.
A girl can dream can’t she, however impossible that dream might be?

Thursday, November 4, 2010

2011 Is Just Around The Corner

If you are looking for a gorgeous 2011 calendar, Ilva Beretta, of the beautiful and delicious food blog Lucullian Delights is selling her calendar over at Red Bubble. A Swedish ex-pat living in Italy, Ilva’s wall calendar features some of her best photographs. Hanging in your kitchen, they are bound to provide you with culinary inspiration - and her recipes are just a few clicks away on her blog.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

We Voted!



Photographs by LMR/Pink Granite & CGR. Layout by LMR/Pink Granite. Font: BlairMdITC TT Software: Apple iPhoto ’09 and Adobe Photoshop CS5 for Mac.

Kicking Up Her Heels

Isabella is now four pounds, nine ounces (2.06 Kgs), off the oxygen, off the nasogastric tube, out of the incubator and in a crib!

Election Day!

We were talking with Isabella Rose the other day about the election. She can’t leave the NICU yet. But next year, on election day, she’ll be all bundled up and in her mother’s arms in the voting booth. Izzy won’t be able to cast her own ballot until 2028. So today, we have to vote on behalf of Isabella Rose. We have to think about what is important and take the time to go to the polls and vote.

We cannot be complacent.
We cannot be apathetic.
We have to vote as if our lives depended on it, because they do.

If you need information about your polling place here in Massachusetts, go the Secretary of the Commonwealth’s website.

Live your values.
Love your country.
VOTE!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Tomorrow Is The Big Day!

VOTE!

Sunday, October 31, 2010

What He Said

Jim Gonyea, of Leicester has a great post on the proliferation of campaign signs on public land and vacant lots. Thanks Jim!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Not George Washington


Back in July, The First Family spent a weekend on Mount Desert Island, enjoying Bar Harbor and Acadia. If memory serves, they were here only about 48 hours. On their first night on the island, the family had dinner at Stewman’s Lobster Pound, on West Street in Bar Harbor. We’ve never eaten there because we visit too early in the spring and too late in the autumn. But because Stewman’s put up a sign, we had our chance at a photo-op!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Wait

The fog began rolling in Tuesday afternoon. This morning it was still thick and gray down at Seal Harbor.


The wind picked up late this afternoon, driving the fog out beyond The Porcupine Islands in Frenchman Bay.


Tonight was unseasonably warm. So warm, that The Thirsty Whale kept its doors open, allowing the autumn leaves to skitter about on the wood floorboards of the long, narrow bar. That would be the bar with the yummy food and the great service!

Monday, October 25, 2010

On The Wing




We were down at Seal Harbor early this morning. It was mostly overcast, with only a light breeze. There were many Herring Gulls (Larus smithsonianus) as well as some Great Black-backed Gulls (Larus marinus) on the beach and in the water. Despite their numbers, it was quite quiet and peaceful. After a few missed starts, I managed to snap two fairly clear photographs of seagulls in flight.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Doe, A Deer

Alongside Park Loop Road in Acadia National Park, not far from Otter Cliffs, we saw this beautiful White Tail Deer. We were driving in the car, late this afternoon, when a slight movement caught Chuck’s eye. I pulled out my camera. But she was moving and the engine was running, so it’s all a bit unfocused and dreamlike. Yeah, that’s what I was going for - a dreamlike quality! Worked like a charm. ;o)




Saturday, October 23, 2010

Schoodic

On the one hand I want to keep it a closely guarded secret. On the other hand I want everyone to be able to enjoy it. I’ll err on the side of inclusiveness. Here are some photos of our trip over to one of the loveliest parts of Acadia National Park, the Schoodic Peninsula.


First of all, we found Fred. Or, more accurately, Fred the Herring Gull found us. Chuck was napping in the car at the time. I believe Fred was so concerned that someone was not actively appreciating the scenery that he flew up onto the hood of the car and stared at Chuck in amazement!


I let Chuck and Fred commune and headed off with my camera and my Sassafras walking stick to find this beautiful sight.


Soon Fred was able to rouse Chuck and he (Chuck, not Fred) joined me as the waves crashed up against the rocks. Fred was totally right about the importance of enjoying the scenery!

Friday, October 22, 2010

It Looks A Lot Like This

...pretty much wherever we go in Acadia National Park. This is the view from Jordan Pond House, looking down toward Jordan Pond and across to The Bubbles.


We were up to an early start thanks to a rumbling sound outside our window at about 6:00 am. I peeked through the drapes drawn across the windows and door to the balcony, to find a cruise ship heading right at us!


It was the Crown Princess. About twelve hours later, it pulled away under a full moon.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Remember This Guy?


Yes, we’re back in Bar Harbor, Maine; staying in the same hotel and we’re hoping to see our winged friend from last spring, tomorrow morning.

We drove up in a mix of sun and rain, arriving just after sunset. The waves sound wonderful. The fact that we are here means that our grandniece Isabella is doing so well that we decided to keep our reservations. Those were the reservations we made last spring, timed so that we would be back home in plenty of time before Carrie and “Bambalina’s” original due date of November 6th! Izzy now weighs three pounds, fifteen ounces (1.79 Kgs) and is off all of her supplemental oxygen - hurray! It will still be a while before she is able to head home with Mom and Dad, but we are all delighted with every milestone she passes.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Yawn

What? You got sick of looking at the photo of the overpass? But it’s pink!

I’m sorry I have neglected my blogging responsibilities. All is well. I have just been busy with happy things and mundane things. While the idea behind a blog is to write about one’s daily activities, I’m afraid it would be a bit, well, repetitive.

Example:
...slept, cooked, ate, drove, took photographs, drove, shopped, iPhoto, Photoshop CS3, e-mail, washed laundry, iMovie, QuickTime, YouTube, hung laundry, fed cats, cooked, ate, scooped litter, folded laundry, slept...

Repeat.


But at least you’re now fully up to date.

Oh! Except for the very important fact that our grandniece Isabella now weighs three pounds, eleven ounces (1.68 Kgs) and is ten weeks and three days old! Preemie Power indeed!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

My Favorite Overpass

I don’t know who the creative geniuses were who thought to paint the overpasses spanning Route 146 in wonderful colors. Nor do I know which state bureaucrats had the good sense to authorize it. But my hat is off to all of them.

This one is located in Worcester at the intersection of Cambridge, Quinsigamond and 290.
It is, for obvious reasons, my favorite.


Monday, October 11, 2010

Autumn In Shadow

It was a warm, sunny Autumn day. I was hanging laundry on the front porch, while also trying not to step on a cat’s tail. In glancing down to avoid said tail, the shadows caught my attention. I thought of Roo who, in his photography, has a wonderful eye for shadows. I stopped and reached for my camera. This is the result.



Speaking of Roo,
Happy Anniversary to Andrew and Peter!

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Preemie Power!

Whenever Isabella Rose raises her fist in the air like this I call it “Preemie Power”!

Isabella was born at just 26 weeks on August 5th, weighing one pound six ounces. We said from the beginning that she struck us as ”sweet and strong”. That continues to be our impression. She began feeding from a bottle on September 26th. Then she also began nursing on September 28th! She now weighs three pounds, five ounces (1.5 Kgs) - give or take a few grams. Wow! Carrie and Al continue to be wonderful parents. And Carrie has been recovering steadily from the Severe Preeclampsia and its attendant complications. Hurray!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Put Your Money Where Your _____...

Mouth Is
Heart Is
Values Are

The right, the far right, the conservatives, the Republicans, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the tea-party-ers, Karl Rove and all the astro-turfers are pouring vast sums of money into political campaigns. After the Supreme Court ruling on Citizens United it has been virtually no holds barred on how much money can flow in from businesses and anonymous donors. The amounts of money are staggering. The right doesn’t want to take us back to something they miss; something they feel we have lost under the present Democratic administration. They want to take this nation in an entirely new and dangerous direction.

So we, the little guys, the average American citizens, have to pony up. We have to put our money where are mouths are. If we want to scream every time the right wingers spew lies, then we have to open up our wallets and support the good guys. If we hate the vision of America the tea-party-ers paint, then we have to put pen to check and support the good guys. If we know that we need more time to haul ourselves out of the recession and keep building on what has been accomplished in the last twenty months, then we have to navigate over to candidates we believe in, click on the donate button and support the good guys.


psssst... Do $omething!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Wicked Cool

There’s a wicked cool Photoshop video tutorial from NAPP Executive Director Larry Becker over on Corey Barker’s Planet Photoshop. It’s called “Abstract Backgrounds”. It is very easy to follow and left me slackjawed with all the nifty permutations and possibilities - think filters, digi-scrap papers and more. Check it out here!

My experiment:
From stones to stripes

Monday, October 4, 2010

Mark Your Calendars

Some of the people running for public office this year are just plain nuts.
Many of them have big money behind them.
We should not assume that because they are nuts, that they couldn’t possibly get elected.
We have to go to the polls and vote.
Vote as if your life depended on it, because it does.
This is a shake-the-snowglobe/Alice-down-the-rabbit-hole moment in our nation’s history.
We cannot be complacent.
We cannot be apathetic.
We have to go to the polls and vote.
Heck, you can even vote by absentee ballot.
But you have to freakin’ vote.

Living in Massachusetts? Need to register to vote? (You have until October 13th.) Need to vote by absentee ballot? The Secretary of the Commonwealth’s website has all the information you’ll need.

Mark Your Calendars.
Election Day Is
Tuesday, November 2, 2010
VOTE!

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Rhino At The Mall

As I Tweeted on Twitter earlier today:

The bad news: I have a cold so we can't go anywhere NEAR the NICU! ;o(
Heck, I won't even breathe in a SouthEasterly direction!

The good news: Isabella now weighs 3 pounds (1.36 kg)!!! Hurray! ;o)


I blame my cold on the Massachusetts court system. I had jury duty in Worcester’s “Mall of Justice” on Main Street and with 100 plus citizens all in one pool room there must have been a bug or two tagging along. That’s my theory and I’m sticking to it.

I have to say that all three judges I either spoke with or listened to impressed the heck out of me. I had not been looking forward to my “one day, one trial” tour of duty. I understand and appreciate civic responsibility, but the timing for this call up was not the best. I really was hoping not to be empaneled and I wasn’t. But as each inspiring judge spoke, I had the powerful urge to hold up my juror badge and say “Pick me!”

So five stars to the judges; four and a half stars to the impressive facility; and five stars to Court Officer Rose who kept us all informed and advocated to get “her jurors” where we needed to be. Oh, and minus five stars to this damn rhinovirus. You’d think that all that scanning and screening at the front door would keep such nasties at bay!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Fewer Or Less & A Word Among The Missing

Here’s a simple, general way to decide when to use the words “less” and “fewer”. If you can count whatever it is you are talking about, use fewer. If you can’t count it, use less. I am no grammarian, but it’s a rule which seems to be frequently broken.

The following sentence is correct:
I should spend less time knitting and buy fewer skeins of yarn.
I could reconstruct it this way:
I should spend fewer hours each day knitting and buy less yarn.
But the following sentence is not correct:
I should spend fewer time knitting and buy less skeins of yarn.

Grammar Girl has a detailed column on the topic. Grammar Monkeys have a brief audio explanation involving zombies.

As long as we’re on the topic of word usage, what the heck ever happened to the word “pled”. As in “She pled not guilty to the charges.” All I seem to hear on the news these days is “She pleaded not guilty.” I understand that pled is an alternative to pleaded. I also learned, after a bit of Googling, that its usage is disputed. But to my ear pled sounds right. And I don’t think it is due to my age, my having been born and raised in Rhode Island or my Scottish heritage.

Thoughts?

Friday, September 24, 2010

Shine On


Chuck and I were finishing our walk early this evening when we caught sight of the Harvest Moon. (Well it was really the Harvest Moon plus a day.) We’re not sure which one of us took this photograph. We had the camera with us, but no tripod. So we tried various settings and leaning on each other to try and steady the shot. We took a lot of pics but this was the only one which began to capture the beauty of the moon, rising up through a stand of trees, in central Massachusetts.


P.S. How old am I? I Googled “Harvest Moon lyrics” and instead of the early 1900s song “Shine On Harvest Moon” by Bayes and Norworth, up popped Neil Young’s “Harvest Moon” from 1992. I have never heard of the latter, but have sung the former my whole life. Apparently I am ancient!

Mike Lowell

Mike “I only know how to hit doubles and home runs” Lowell is still going to retire at the end of this season. The Red Sox will be honoring him before the October 2nd home game. Lowell is one of my favorite players and I hate to see him go. This article by Ian Browne is a great read. It sums up Mike Lowell and his terrific career.

Update: Thankfully, it looks as if Mike was not seriously injured when he was hit in the right temple by the ball, during tonight’s game against the Evil Empire. A game which we won!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

The Tech That Binds

Knock wood, all continues to go well for our grandniece Isabella! After several weeks of taking lots of photographs, I had a slap the palm of my hand to my forehead kind of moment. I suddenly realized that our Canon PowerShot S2 IS digital camera has a video feature. Isabella had been moved to a new room in the NICU and I thought that her family living far away would like to be able to see her new room and, much more importantly, see Isabella in motion. So, I shot less than three minutes of footage, loaded it onto my computer, edited it in iMovie, uploaded it to our private iWeb site and sent the link off to family and friends. Unfortunately, not everyone could access iWeb or view the video.

Cue the abrasive sound of a phonograph needle being scraped off an LP!

I’ll spare you the excruciating details of how I tried to troubleshoot the problem and how many e-mails I sent out. Eventually, I had to take another route and I finally found a winner. Turns out YouTube offers a Private video option. You upload your video to YouTube, tick the box marked private and then send out invitations to whomever you authorize to view the video. You’re limited to a maximum of 25 people and they have to register with YouTube. But for the family members whose non-Apple PCs and internet browsers weren’t compatible with iWeb, it has been a great solution. We’ve uploaded four videos to both locations and have it down to a pretty smooth system.

There was only one family member left out of the unlimited access loop: Nana, Isabella’s great grandmother. She has watched a couple of the videos on our laptop, but unlike everyone else, she doesn’t have nor does she want a computer. So this afternoon I used iDVD and burned all four videos to a disc. If her reaction to Carrie and Al’s wedding DVD is any indication, I should probably bring her a box of tissues along with the DVD!

Notting Hill

Apropos of nothing, the movie “Notting Hill” really holds up. It may have been made in 1999; it may be classified as a “chick flick” but it is still a pleasure to watch. I laughed. I cried. I clapped. Can’t ask for much more than that in film.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Visiting Family


The period of time between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur is known as the Days of Awe. During this time, it is customary to make visits to the cemeteries where your loved ones are buried. Today we picked up Chuck’s 87 year old aunt and drove to the collection of Jewish cemeteries in Woburn. We stopped at the first gate to pick up some pebbles from an open tray and went to our family member’s graves. On each headstone, we each placed one of the pebbles. They are left as a sign of respect and as a visible acknowledgement of the visit. Tante managed to leave her walker behind and, leaning on Chuck, walk to her parents and brother’s gravesite. But as the visiting continued, she stayed on the main paved path and we served as her ambassadors, leaving pebbles for her on the headstones of other relatives. As we walked, Tante would stop, read an inscription on a marker, remember and then tell us so and so was friends with Grandma or so and so worked with your father.

I do not like death or grief or loss. But I do love visiting a cemetery. I also love a good funeral home and a truly fine funeral. Apparently my pleasure today was evident because Chuck told me later that Tante said to him: “Lee’s certainly enjoying herself!” I think she likes that we are comfortable with the tradition of visiting; of reminiscing; of connecting the branches on the family tree. I think she also appreciated that as we walked around the cemeteries today, we began to take note of what Tante would like her headstone to look like. (Her plot is right next to her parents and brother.) Turns out, she likes a very finely grained, pale, pink granite!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Katydid


Well, we call them Katydids, but the scientists say they are part of the Tettigoniidae family.
Yup. Katydids it is!

Oops! I should have put a link in for the Katydid. They look like grasshoppers, but are actually more closely related to crickets.

Monday, September 13, 2010

VOTE!

Tomorrow is Primary Day here in Massachusetts.

The polls will be open from 7:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.

If you need information about your polling place, go the Secretary of the Commonwealth’s website.

Apathy is the enemy.

We cannot afford to sit this one out.

Live your values.
Love your country.
VOTE!

Unique Memorial



We’ve driven by this unusual headstone many, many times and I’ve always wondered about it. But I never went to see what individual or family it represents. Today we went into St. John’s Cemetery off of Cambridge Street in Worcester and learned that it is the Palermo Family.

May all the members of the Palermo, DeMango, Cipro and Pedrone families know peace. And may P.F.C. Vincent G. Palermo’s ultimate sacrifice always be remembered and honored.



You can follow along with The Wormtown Fleet by clicking here and following the “Linky blog hop” links.

Friday, September 10, 2010

That’s Eft Not Elf


An Eastern Newt Salamander (Notophthalmus Viridescens) in its Red Eft stage, as seen in our dooryard this morning. Chuck provided assistance by holding back the greenery and adding a sense of scale. Thanks Chuck!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Paper Deal!

By far, our favorite paper to print photos and digi-scrap layouts out on is Staples Photo Supreme Double Sided Matte Paper. When we stopped in the Staples in Millbury on our way home from visiting Isabella and Carrie today, we found they were running a ridiculously good deal on it. List price is $14.99 for 50 sheets. But you can get a rebate card or check (check please!) for $14.74. That makes your final cost just 25¢. Limit two per household, but it’s a great chance to try out this consistently well reviewed paper (4.5 stars out of 5 on 711 reviews).

Would I prefer they still sold boxes of 100 sheets? Yes please.
But I’ll happily take advantage of this in-store deal - good only through Saturday, September 11th.

The Book Cover


As promised, a photo of my version of the Reversible Journal Cover.
It was well received. ;o)

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Book Cover

I needed to make a book cover out of fabric. I had been thinking about winging it - my usual strategy! And heaven knows that once upon a time I wrapped all my textbooks with brown paper bag covers. (I also used the glossy store bought ones with ivy league college and university logos emblazoned on them. However inspiring they may have been, the brown paper bag ones lasted longer!)

Anyhoo, I Googled to see if I could find a good design. I found several. But if I was not going to wing it, I needed a really good tutorial. By good I mean clear and easy to follow directions, coupled with very good images to follow. I found a nifty one which, by the description, should have been way too complicated: “A Reversible Journal Cover”. It wasn’t! Lara Cameron in Melbourne, Australia posted the directions, complete with illustrations. I’m a visual learner so that was important. You have to look very closely at those illustrations but she really does spell everything out and make it quite simple: basically four rectangles of fabric and six seams.

Full disclosure: I neglected to double a measurement as advised in Step 3. That was my own darn fault for reading too quickly. But it actually worked out just fine. On my next one I will double that measurement as advised to give the “pockets” where the book cover slips in, better coverage.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Following Breadcrumbs - Again!

You know Masterpiece Theater on PBS?
O.K.
You know the Swedish series “Wallander” starring Kenneth Branagh?
O.K.
You know the haunting song they play every time they advertise “Wallander”?

“Tram wires
Across northern skies
Cut my blue heart in two
My knuckles bleed
Down the tattered street
On a door that shouldn't be
In front of me...”


O.K.
It took some Googling but it turns out that it’s called “Nostalgia”. It’s sung by an Australian gal by the name of Emily Barker.
The reason it was a bit of a hunt was because they changed the lyrics from the original song to fit the “Wallander” series.
I found the info thanks to this German blog.

Umm... So, now you know why I’m a little backed up with my laundry!

Monday, September 6, 2010

Two Years!

Happy second wedding anniversary
to Al and Carrie!
May happiness be
your constant companion ~
and may Isabella grow stronger every day!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Nineteen Years!

“Happy Anniversary to us,
Happy Anniversary to us,
Happy Anniversary dear Chuck & Lee
Happy Anniversary to us -
and many more!
Wheeeeeee!!!”


Chuck and I have known each other for 25 years and as of today we have been married for nineteen! The best thing that ever happened to me was meeting Chuck! The smartest decision I ever made was saying yes to this wonderful man!

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Where Am I Standing?


We ran several errands late this afternoon and had dinner in Worcester.
Where was I standing when I snapped this photo?
(You can click on the image to get a better look.)


: : Update: Well that didn’t take long! Mike quickly identified that I was standing outside Wild Willy’s. Karl came by shortly thereafter and concurred.

I’m happy to report that Wild Willy’s still makes an excellent burger and a mean cup of steak chili!


You can follow along with The Wormtown Fleet by clicking here and following the “Linky blog hop” links.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Most Best

I’ve been meaning to write this post for a while now. The working title in my mind was “How To Be An Excellent Hospital Visitor”. The problem is that it really was a story of how our niece Kate was “An Excellent Hospital Visitor”. Before I was hospitalized back in early July, my doctor had prepared me for what could be a stay of just three to five days, but, if the worst of the possible complications developed, it could be up to two weeks. Kate immediately got back to us and invited Uncle Chuck to stay with her and her husband Phil. They live less than half an hour away from the hospital and knew that Chuck was going to stay in a hotel close to the hospital. They also offered meals or just a place to rest and relax whenever he needed it. Once it became clear that the surgery was a success and I would likely be in only a few days, Kate immediately scheduled a visit. Her first instinct was to smuggle her dog Murphy in with her! We suggested that since we had seen him the Sunday before, just two legged visitors would be more appropriate!

That’s how Kate came to visit her Auntie and Uncle the day after my surgery. She appeared in the room with an armload of tropical flowers half as tall as she is, a card signed by her entire branch of the family, some lovely linen spray in case my room smelled a bit too hospital-y for my taste and her cheerful and drop dead funny personality! Talk about a breath of fresh air! She also brought a flash drive with her. She and Phil had traveled to Ireland earlier in the year and she had uploaded a slew of gorgeous photographs from their trip. Chuck had his laptop which he quickly set up on my wheely bed tray. He and Kate pulled up chairs next to my bed and we enjoyed an Irish travelogue!

Now you see why I planned to call this post “How To Be An Excellent Hospital Visitor”. But I really could have titled it: “How To Be An Excellent Niece”!

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Thumbs Up

We’re late to the party, but we finally bought a flash drive. Actually, until now, we couldn’t think of a good reason to justify the purchase. If we need to move files around we just do it wirelessly on our home network. Then we found ourselves bringing our computer down with us on our visits with Al, Carrie and Isabella. We would swap photos and files back and forth with their laptop. But if we just loaded the items we wanted to transfer to their computer onto a flash drive we could leave the laptop at home. And we could still off-load their photos onto the flash drive to ferry back with us.

Decision made, we bought an 8GB SanDisk Cruzer. It’s light as a feather, ridiculously small and easy to use. We just plug it into one of the USB ports on our Macs and it appears in Finder. We drag and drop JPEGS and files and we’re on our way.

If you click on the link you’ll see the color we chose. Yes, it’s pink. In person, it’s really a sort of plummy metallic magenta. And yes, Chuck is a very good sport! Actually, the day I had my surgery I carried a hot pink, madras plaid, patchwork tote from L.L. Bean as my purse. (Here it is in navy.) All my medical paperwork fit in it easily. But when I realized Chuck would have custody of it until I got out of recovery I asked if he wanted me to choose a different bag. He replied that he was sufficiently secure in his masculinity that he would gladly carry my hot pink tote bag. So you see, the plummy metallic magenta flash drive was truly not a problem!

Friday, August 27, 2010

Three Weeks!


Miss Isabella Rose turned three weeks old yesterday!!! She was serenaded by her Mom, her Great Grandma Nana, her Uncle Chuck and Auntie Lee. When Isabella (then "Bambalina") was born she weighed just one pound, six ounces (624 grams) and was 12 inches (30 centimeters) long. As of yesterday, she is now 14 inches (35 centimeters) long and weighs one pound, fifteen ounces (879 grams)!

Isabella has coped amazingly well with her sudden departure from her mother’s womb, into the room filled with the equipment and round the clock medical staff necessary to attempt to replicate that perfect space. We have been amazed by the technology which monitors and supports our grandniece. And we have been humbled by the expertise and compassion of the nurses, doctors and support staff of the NICU.

Our niece Carrie, Isabella’s mom, has been recovering steadily from the Severe Preeclampsia and all the attendant medical challenges. She and her husband Al have been marvelous to one another and loving, attentive parents to their daughter. Being able to watch them has been a lesson in grace.

The Wormtown Fleet #1


Jeff of Wormtown Taxi chronicled it all on his blog; from the razing of the old buildings to the clearing of the land through the plethora of rumors and, finally, the results. Even though we have driven by the new WalMart off of Route 146 a million times (hyperbolically and emotionally speaking) we had never stopped. Last night we did. I snapped this photo of one of the miniature wind turbines which top each parking lot light stanchion, pinwheel style. We then went inside the crowded temple of all things cheap, consumable and disposable.

The wind turbine was the highlight of the trip.


You can follow along with The Wormtown Fleet by clicking here and following the “Linky blog hop” links.