Wednesday, June 30, 2010

To Remember & Honor

This New York Times article reports on the efforts of the Negro Leagues Grave Marker Project. Over the last six years, the group has provided nineteen headstones for Negro League players with unmarked graves.


When my father died in 1988, he was buried in the same plot with his parents and two brothers, one of whom had died in infancy. Seeing the headstone was painful for me because it was inscribed simply with our family surname and my grandfather’s full name. It frustrated and even angered me that there were no other names and no dates at all, to acknowledge and remember who was buried there.

From a genealogical perspective, the lack of information on the stone was also hard to accept. Many times Chuck and I have gone to a cemetery and been able to add more information to the family tree and even detail to family stories. But it was through my genealogical research, my imagination and my poetry that I was finally able to make peace with my Dad’s headstone and his father’s decision, made nearly a century before.

In Rhode Island, 1910

He was a young man
younger than I am now
Married to a woman
who was not warm and funny
which in courtship
somehow suited him
and suited her
He knew her past
and she his
But back then
self help
was an odd grammatical construction
for what one did to live a life
not what one was told to do
to live it well

So when their first child
a son –
the special pride and blessing
of any man
to have his first born be a son –
when that child died
a babe in arms
a piece of him died too
A piece of her as well
But as the man
he had the job
of going to the bank
and riding to the churchyard
and picking out a plot
and then a stone

He was not a man of means
though he had hope
He chose a smooth flat marker
the color of lead
the weight of his heart
one to lie firmly in the ground
It was all he could afford
but it was sensible as well

And what to put upon the stone?
He stood there
looking at the slab of granite
polished high
with flowers swirling in the corners
in the center
the Sacred Heart strangled with thorns
thorns he felt in his heart
Saw the stone was bigger
than his son had been
thought about how the plot
was fit for four
and of his grieving bride at home
wondered if the next child -
for surely there would be another –
would survive
and said, no dates
just “SMITH - John L. Smith Family” *
and wondering too
how swiftly would the plot be filled
he headed home
to a house thick with mourners
and muffled tears

- LMR/Pink Granite

*Name edited

Tuesday, June 29, 2010


The air changed this evening.
Cool and dry came in steadily on a light breeze.
It was not a moment too soon.
I could feel myself reviving.
Until that feeling of relief washed over me, I hadn’t been fully conscious of how draining the heat and humidity had been.
It’s good to break out of this August-like weather, even if it is only for a few days.
Those few days will be enough.
The next heatwave will bring fireworks in the air.
That’s not a euphemism for a thunderstorm.
On Sunday there will be fireworks over the ocean, shared with family and friends.
That will be more than enough.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Shape Shifter

I was disappointed that Photoshop CS5 came with only a handful of shapes. I don’t use them often, but sometimes they are exactly what I need. I knew my old copy of Photoshop Elements had a ton of shapes. Chuck asked if I could copy them. Hmm... I tried copying them clipboard style, but no luck. Then I decided to wander around in Finder. I went into my Applications folder, found Photoshop Elements > Presets > Custom Shapes. Back in CS5, I clicked the Custom Shape Tool > Shape. Then from that flyout menu I chose Load Shapes and selected the Custom Shapes Folder > All Elements Shapes from Elements. Easy Peasy. Thanks to Chuck asking the right question, I am a happy camper once again.

A few weeks ago I posted a layout I had made in Elements of Kate and Phil’s puppy Murphy. I whipped it up it while I was between Photoshop CS3 & CS5. So once I was up and running on CS5 I tweaked it. As I said to Kate, it’s easy at first glance to think there’s no change. But aesthetically I was more satisfied with the redo. It includes the use of a little pawprint shape. I also made an enhanced background paper. I used a photo of some grass and reeds collapsed in late autumn, with the Blending Mode “Overlay” above the solid yellow layer (playing with the opacity) to create the effect.

Here are the original and revised versions:

Photographs courtesy of KRL. Layout by LMR/Pink Granite. Fonts: Hypatia Sans Pro and Jayne Print. Software: Apple iPhoto ’09, Adobe Photoshop Elements for Mac & Adobe Photoshop CS5 for Mac.

Sunday, June 27, 2010


We’re just home from seeing “The Drowsy Chaperone” at the Ogunquit Playhouse up in Maine. Carson Kressley was terrific. As was a member of our extended family! But we are, well, drowsy.

Night all...

Friday, June 25, 2010

I Said No, No, No

O.K. So it’s not that I need rehab; probably not even an intervention. But I have been digi-scrapping up a storm. I was doing some cleaning and organizing on my computer, which included going through iPhoto and trashing the blurrys and the duplicates. When I took a look through my Layout Folder, I found lots of events had never made it from photos into layouts. Well, clearly that was far more fun important than paying bills or folding laundry. So off I went. And it didn’t help one bit that Kate sent another photo of Murphy either!

Photograph courtesy of KRL. Layout by LMR/Pink Granite. Fonts: Hans Hand. Software: Apple iPhoto ’09 & Adobe Photoshop CS5 for Mac.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Two Degrees of Separation

Prince Albert of Monaco, at age 52, has, at long last, become engaged to a beautiful woman from South Africa: Charlene Wittstock, age 32, a former Olympian.

My Dad wanted me to drop my then boyfriend and marry Prince Albert of Monaco. He told me so back in the late 1970s - right in front of said boyfriend! It was irrelevant that I had never actually met Prince Albert. The fact that a very good friend of mine was not only attending the same college as the Prince, but living in the same building, was all Dad needed to know. He was immediately ready to marry off his youngest daughter into a style to which she could easily become accustomed!

Despite my Dad’s enthusiasm and determination, I never did meet Prince Albert. But because of my hopelessly romantic heart, when I heard the news of his engagement, I felt happy for him and wished them both well. I found my soulmate. Hopefully, the Prince has finally found his.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Neither Mutiny Nor Michael

Over on Advanced Style, they have a pictorial post on stylish folks, of certain age, with canes. In recent years we’ve had some experience with canes and walking sticks. Two of our elderly relatives have needed canes. Neither of them was interested in anything too “loud” or too “flashy”. Believe me, we tried! But the goal for each of them was to be as normal as possible, to not stand out; to not shine a bright, hot light on age related needs. As someone who is inherently shy and has magically worn a cloak of invisibility for years, I absolutely get it. But as someone who also has a penchant for snazzy, eye-catching, often vintage purses; who always has a folding fan with her and is never, ever afraid to use it and who loves wearing bright striped socks - well I really don’t get it.

When Chuck and I recently chose hiking sticks we looked at function, strength, lightness, feel in the hand and yes, appearance. We chose a couple of sassafras ones. They were frankly inexpensive. But we wanted to try them out when we walk on dirt country roads, the carriage trails in Acadia, the rocks at Schoodic - pretty much anywhere that isn’t paved or a high school track. We wanted to learn to use them efficiently and effectively. We wanted to become comfortable with using something for pleasure and additional ease. But we also wanted to be prepared to extend our options and maintain our agility and mobility as the years roll by.

Yes, we’re young - well, we think we are! But our ERs remind us that, if we’re lucky, the road is long and hardly ever gun barrel straight. So we’ll start with a couple of sassafras beauties. However, should circumstances change, we’ve already got our eyes on something like these dazzlers. Fair warning to the generation behind us: Uncle Chuck and Auntie Lee will not be going gently (or dowdily) into that good night!

Monday, June 21, 2010


: : Chuck is definitely feeling better today. Kind man that he is, he is giving me and my chicken soup most of the credit! My money’s on tincture of time and the chicken soup, but it is very nice to feel appreciated!

: : We also got some optimistic news. The cancer treatment for a loved one will be far less invasive and onerous than we had feared. The Radiology Oncologist will be using CyberKnife treatment. Once again medicine collides with science fiction.

: : You may remember my disappointment and dissatisfaction with my primary care physician. Well, we took the bull by the horns today and Chuck tried to get me transferred over to his doctor. No such luck, but his doc, who knew my beloved retired doc and knows my current PCP, did make a recommendation for me. It looks like the paperwork transition will go smoothly. Fingers crossed my new PCP and I will be a good fit, ‘cuz heaven knows I would like this settled.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Fathers Day

There are so many different sorts of fathers. Probably as many as there are men. Chuck and I both got really good Dads. Some folks get dealt a very different hand: here’s one and another.

So today, here’s to all the good dads, stepfathers, grandfathers and great-grandfathers. And here’s to all the godfathers, big brothers, uncles and fine men who serve as father figures. Happy Father’s Day to you all - and thank you!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

All Will Be Well

Chuck has been reading, resting, watching a little television, drinking plenty of fluids and generally trying to get better. He is improving, but the fever is still not gone. Once he gets past the acetaminophen window, the symptom returns. Thankfully his temperature has not gotten as high as it was yesterday. I’ve been keeping him company and digi-scrapping on the laptop.

One of the songs that has been going through my mind is “All Will Be Well”. It’s by a group out of Nashville called The Gabe Dixon Band. Soon I found myself taking a sunrise photo of Frenchman Bay up in Maine and including part of the chorus from “All Will Be Well”, because, well, it really will.

Photograph & Layout by LMR/Pink Granite. Lyrics quoted from The Gabe Dixon Band. Font: Hans Hand. Software: Apple iPhoto ’09 & Adobe Photoshop CS5 for Mac.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Where’s The Off Switch?

You know those ball machines that serve tennis balls or pitch baseballs to you at a steady clip? You remember the “Lucy and Ethel work in the chocolate factory” episode when the conveyor belt speeds up and overwhelms them? Life came at us a little like that this week. Some of it was very troubling: a relative with a serious health diagnosis. Some of it was curious: Chuck with a fever and no other specific symptoms. Some of it was frustrating: the domino effect on our family when Chuck’s fever meant we had to cancel a visit to Rhode Island. Some of it was just plain stupidly-small: our e-mail service changed formats and left us feeling like all the easy, useful features had been stripped in the name of “new & improved”.

You get the idea. The sense that every time the phone rang a new challenge was being delivered - major, minor and every size in between. I know that many things will resolve themselves on their own or yield to some attention, effort and maybe a little homemade chicken soup. Worrying won’t really help - but it does occupy one’s time and energy. Tincture of time is frequently effective - but requires patience. Perhaps a good night’s sleep will leave us better prepared for whatever life sends our way tomorrow. Hey, including being able to truly enjoy some good news - - - O.K. Universe?

Need some inspiration? Click here.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010


If you’re ever in Portland, Maine give Flatbread Company a whirl for lunch or dinner. They’re on Commercial Street, right on the water and convenient to a parking garage and the ferry terminal. When we went on our rocking chair adventure to Freeport last month, we stopped there for dinner on our way home. Yum! They have a simple menu: salads, flatbread pizzas and a couple of desserts. Oh but they do it all quite well. Their philosophy is focused on “local organic produce, free range and clean meats. All of our major ingredients are made in house and cooked in a wood fired cauldron or in a hand built wood burning earthen oven.” We were seated near that oven and enjoyed a fascinating, well choreographed floor show as the food traveled from the open kitchen, into the huge oven and off to the diners.

We started with their mesclun salad - mine with goat cheese, Chuck’s with blue. The house vinaigrette was surprisingly mild, but the cheese added some zip, making it all work and play well together. Our flatbread included the homemade pepperoni which was meaty, classically flavored and had a nice spicy kick to it. The crust was thin, well cooked, but with just the right amount of chewiness and yeasty goodness about. We both agreed the pizza had “good bones”.

Our waiter wrapped up our leftover pizza in foil in the shape of a swan, but also told us about the desserts. We had already seen a few of the brownies being warmed in the pizza oven prior to service, so sharing the brownie sundae was an easy sell. It was scrumptious - warm, fudgey on the inside and a teensy bit crunchy on the edges. Topped with vanilla ice cream and resting on a puddle of chocolate sauce - yeah - you wouldn’t have liked it! Nope, not one bit.

For folks here in Massachusetts they have restaurants in Amesbury, Bedford and a new one to open soon in Somerville. Plus there are two locations in New Hampshire, one in Connecticut and one in Hawaii. That last one is a bit of a schlep, but I hear Maui is awfully pretty!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Service & Sweet

This may be slightly premature, but it seems entirely possible that LaCie rocks!

One of the three ways to connect my 2008 LaCie Rugged external hard drive (EHD) to my laptop went kaput. At first I thought it was the cable. But a quick side trip yesterday to an Apple store, determined that it was the “outlet” or something internal to the EHD. Ted said “It’s still in warranty. Call LaCie. They’ll treat you right.” I called. They did - treat me right that is. I’m wrapping it up and shipping it off to them tomorrow. They will either repair it or send me a new one. Sweet!

Now, because many of you just glazed over as soon as you got to “external hard drive” I bring you another photo of another four legged member of our family, Cassie:

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Lust In My Heart

I held and touched an iPad today.

Oh my, my, my! It is an extremely good thing that neither Chuck nor I are early adopters of technology!

And if I need help keeping my lust under control, I will read this - again!

Follow Up

On Friday, I posted about Michael Pakaluk’s Op-Ed piece in The Pilot. Today, Dianne Williamson, of the Worcester Telegram and Gazette, provides additional history and information on the man and his message.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Three Big Things

Our niece Kate is celebrating her birthday tomorrow.
Our niece Emily graduated from college today.
Our friend Philip will become an Eagle Scout tomorrow.

Congratulations all around!!!

Friday, June 11, 2010

Hatred, Hypocrisy & The Company You Keep

My niece Kate sent me a link to a piece in the “The Pilot”, Boston’s Roman Catholic newspaper. The op-ed by Michael Pakaluk was disturbing to Kate and to me. His topic? “Children in the custody of same-sex couples in parochial schools”. Why the odd turn of phrase “in the custody of”? Mr. Pakaluk states that “one cannot say, “children of” same sex couples”. Right off the bat it is clear where he stands. Using a twisted homophobic logic he makes his case that children of same sex couples should not be enrolled in parochial schools, especially at the elementary level. He believes it is too strong an endorsement of the gay “lifestyle” and will inevitably lead to “scandal”. Beyond his self righteous, anti-gay positions he is also a clear opponent of the reforms of Vatican II. Apparently bringing the Roman Catholic Church out of the Dark Ages - literally and figuratively - was beyond the pale for Mr. Pakaluk.

In her e-mail, Kate drew my attention to Mr. Pakaluk’s credentials, including a stint as a Visiting Scholar at Harvard University. But what got me curious was his current employment with the “Institute for the Psychological Sciences” Turns out The Institute is is part of the "Legion of Christ". Ring a bell? Yes, that’s the same Legion of Christ founded by "Father" Marcial Maciel. Yes, that’s the same one who molested children and seminarians and was involved in both homosexual and heterosexual relationships while he was a priest. This past May, the Vatican released a communique condemning Maciel. Pope Benedict XVI also ordered an investigation into the Legionaries and its lay affiliate Regnum Christi.

That is “scandal” in both the religious and secular sense of the word indeed Mr. Pakaluk.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Next News

I mentioned yesterday that we were looking forward to good news this afternoon. Well, the phone call came from Carrie letting us know that she’s expecting a baby girl! As I said to Carrie, we would have been just as happy to hear it was a baby boy. Mostly we just want Carrie, the baby and Al to all be healthy and happy. But it is awfully cool to know the gender ahead of time. Carrie’s also excited to be able to get the pronoun right - no more “he/she/it/the baby”.

Wisely, Carrie and Al are not throwing the baby’s name out for discussion. It’s too easy to hear a name and say to the expectant parents: “Oh, I knew a Engelbert and he was horrid!” But I attach a name to everyone and everything. So I was trying to think of what to call the baby between now and when she is born. Because both Al and Carrie are of Italian descent, I wanted to choose a girl’s name which was affectionate and sweet, but still be certain there was no way they would consider the name. I found “Bambalina”! It’s a variation or even further diminutive of Bambina which, of course, means little girl in Italian.

So now she has a transitional name from her Auntie Lee and her Uncle Chuck. Which is probably a pretty good introduction to a couple of odd ducks who love her to pieces already!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Ups & Downs

I spent an obscene amount of time on the telephone today; much of it on hold; much of it with technical support. As I said afterwards: “That’s four and a half hours I’ll never get back!” I am crispy, burnt toast, fried.

On the up side:
- A resolution of the tech problem is on the horizon.
- Murphy’s Mom is happy to have her pup making us smile.
- Morgan’s birthday celebration is going swimmingly.
- My Mom’s handyman is wrapping up the latest round of projects.
- The weather has been cooler, sunnier and breezier.
- It was so cool, I made mashed sweet and Yukon Gold potatoes to go with the Haddock and salad tonight.
- The cats did not get into a fur-flying fight today.
- I’ve been working with some photos which are making me smile.
- We are looking forward to good news tomorrow afternoon.

Hope your day was ALL good - and that tomorrow holds more of the same!

Monday, June 7, 2010


Our niece Kate and her husband Phil have welcomed the cutest Soft-Coated Wheaten Terrier into their lives. His name is Murphy and he is our “grand-nephew”! We haven’t met him in person yet, but Kate sent us these photographs. She also generously gave me the green light to post them here. I can’t wait to pet him!!!

Photographs courtesy of KRL. Layout by LMR/Pink Granite. Fonts: Hypatia Sans Pro and Jayne Print. Software: Apple iPhoto ’09 & Adobe Photoshop Elements for Mac.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Change In Strategy

I was working in Photoshop CS3 today and chose a new way to work on transforming a photograph. Normally I open a photo and it automatically becomes my Background Layer. Then I Duplicate the background layer and work on that new second layer. As I go along, I may duplicate that original layer multiple times and change the Blending Mode for various layers. Whatever I am doing I keep track of it all in a Rich Text Format Document (“RTF As Breadcrumbs”).

Today, I wanted to try a variety of Filters. Usually just one filter stands out quite quickly as being the best. But today I found four which intrigued me. After toggling back and forth in the Filter area - a very slow process - I decided to settle on one. Then I went back to my original background layer, duplicated it and went back into the Filter menu, choosing a different filter. In all, I had my original photo plus four additional copies, each copy with its own filter applied (and named accordingly in the Layer Menu). I kept all the blending modes as normal. Then it became a simple process of turning the Layer Visibility on or off for each layer in turn, so that I could make a quick “better or worse” decision about which version I liked best. Normally I would have made separate files for each filter version. This was far more efficient, although it did create a very large file. But I just worked with it housed on my LaCie EHD which kept the file size from becoming an issue.

I do something similar to this when I create a greeting card from a photograph. I may repurpose it from a birthday card to an anniversary or a sympathy and so on. If I am including text on the cover, I create multiple Text Layers and change their visibility to allow the correct one to be visible for printing.

After all that and all that, I still need to make my final decision on today’s project. But it will be tomorrow at the very latest, because someone near and dear to us has a birthday coming up quite soon!

What Was Apple Thinking?

Read Renee Ghert-Zand’s “A Troubling Forecast”.

Saturday, June 5, 2010


Heat +
Rain +
Humidity +
Dew Point pushing up into the oppressive range

Other than that, it was a perfectly fine day.
It was just the swampy weather that totally sucked!

Friday, June 4, 2010

My Neighbor

Back in 2007 I was Blog Logged by Worcester Magazine. It was a really big deal for me. In that same issue, a fellow named Jeff, from a blog called Wormtown Taxi was also Blog Logged. So I stopped by Jeff’s blog, introduced myself as his “neighbor” from Blog Log and was hooked. The dude is funny, interesting, feisty, honest and one of the most prolific bloggers around. I generally post once a day. Jeff posts once an hour. Well, I exaggerate slightly. But he posts a lot. Jeff (most deservedly) won the 2010 Best Local Blog Award from Worcester Magazine.

Today, Jeff told us he has been diagnosed with stage IV melanoma. He and his wife Kathy have been dealt a ferociously hard blow. Jeff will begin chemotherapy in a few days.

I’d like to echo what the gal behind Sprout Flowers in Worcester said when Jeff wrote about the diagnostic process he was going through:
“Mortality Sucks”

Thanks for holding a good thought for Jeff and Kathy.

Thursday, June 3, 2010


Our car is in the shop for an overnight visit. As a result we’re driving a loaner. The loaner is a 2010 Subaru Outback. Yes, the dealership is openly trying to tempt us. But there are a few problems. One: we love our current 2002 Subaru Outback. Two: our current Outback is a station wagon and the 2010 incarnation is most decidedly an SUV. The 2010 is actually on the steroidal side of the ledger. I’m about 5’9” and when I went to exit the vehicle, my feet did not touch the ground! Three: Subaru is still not offering a hybrid or all electric vehicle. They have concept cars aplenty, but nothing scheduled to hit the U.S. streets until 2012. I appreciate they want to get it right, but tick-tock. Four: The 2010 model is still nimble, peppy and comfortable, but none of the new design features or bells and whistles on the loaner totally knocked our socks off. (Well, the electric lumbar adjustment was pretty nifty!) Admittedly, it is a little (a little) like when Paul Newman was asked why he was faithful to Joanne Woodward he said: “Why fool around with hamburger when you have steak at home?”

So, with any luck at all, we’ll be returning the “hamburger” tomorrow and driving off in a healthy 2002 Outback “steak”!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

This Is Only A Test

I find it frustrating that gasoline stations can charge $75.00 to your debit card, just so they can be sure you have enough money to cover the cost of a tank of gas. The $75.00 disappears within a day or so and it does not remain on the permanent record. But what if I had $30.00 in my checking account and I wanted to put $15.00 worth of gas in the tank. Wouldn’t the $75.00 “test” withdrawal mean I go without gas?

On multiple occasions, we’ve had our bank freeze our checking account because in too short a span of time we have pumped gas twice. The actual gasoline charges show up from two different stations, perhaps one in Rhode Island, another in Massachusetts. But two $75.00 charges also appear. Those look as if we had bought gas in another part of the country, simultaneous with the other purchases. The bank’s computers read all of this data and raise a red flag - which we absolutely appreciate. But without those two “test” charges we wouldn’t be on the phone with the bank trying to sort out legitimate from fraudulent.

I know when the gasoline prices hit the $4.00 a gallon mark back in 2008 or so, there were many “gas and dash” thefts from gas stations. But there ought to be a better way to handle these transactions now.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Country Chorus

It seems like such a brief time ago, we were delighted to hear the first of the Spring Peepers (Pseudacris crucifer). That high pitched harbinger of vernal awakening is always so welcome after long, still winters, with only howling winds as accompaniment.

Now we are being treated to the rolling rumble of the Bullfrogs (Rana catesbeiana). At first the individual sounds are sporadic, seeming almost hesitant; soon it becomes a great cacophonous crescendo; then it tapers off into a brief silence; only to begin the cycle again.

Folks who talk about the peace and quiet of the country, must have never really listened!