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Saturday, December 31, 2011

The Ninth Night

We went to Christmas Revels at Harvard on Wednesday.
If there was such a thing as the “ninth night” of Chanukah, that would have been the night.
But there is no ninth night.

Revels this year had a skeleton figure which moved silently and somberly throughout the show - even dancing in the lobby of Memorial Hall during” Lord Of The Dance”. Ironically, the skeleton was played by a young, lithe woman. To me, the skeleton embodied “death”; the program ascribed “time”. One could make a case for synonymousness.

Both Chuck and I found the skeleton’s presence disturbing. That’s because we are acutely conscious of death, now that Chuck’s aunt is dying.

We are all dying. Trite and cliched but it is natheless true. As we come to terms with Tanta’s cancer and begin to work with hospice, how can we be anything else but aware of death?

So to attend Revels, a celebratory tradition for us going back decades, and be repeatedly confronted with death, when what we wanted was distraction and delight, was painful. It didn’t matter that I spent intermission and one quarter of the second act on my cell phone with caregivers, an agency and an emergency room. When that incident was resolved I wanted to go back to good cheer. No matter how rousing the songs nor how robust the audience participation, there she was, the skeleton in our midst.

Perhaps it was coincidence or perhaps a message from the universe and, most likely, of universal importance. But it was more than we wanted; frankly, more than we needed.

Tanta will turn 89 next week. Her doctor, who says he is always wrong about such monumental predictions, says it will not be a year and it will not be six months.

There will likely be no 90th birthday celebration for Tanta.

Just as there is no ninth night.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Not A Creature Was Stirring

...He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,
And away they all flew, like the down of a thistle.
But I heard him exclaim, as he drove out of sight -
Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night.


Whether it was written by Clement Clarke Moore or Henry Livingston, Jr. “Twas The Night Before Christmas” has a special place in my heart. Less as a poem and more as the beautiful musical arrangement by Harry Simeone and sung by his Chorale. I can still see my Dad standing in our living room in Warwick, Rhode Island. The room was illuminated by electric candles in the four windows, wax tapers on the mantlepiece, the crackling wood fire below, the twinkling lights on the Christmas Tree and the single golden bulb inside the manger. Dad would be singing along with the album, as it was spinning on the stereo. All was calm, bright, safe and right with world.

May we all know such peace and joy again...

Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Happy Chanukah!

Tonight is the first night of Chanukah. We lit the candles, read the story and sang the songs. But I’m afraid the latkes will have to wait another day or so until things slow down around here.

They will slow down, won’t they? ;o)

Here’s some useful information which I posted last year:
: : 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.


A Freilichen Chanukah!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Need Or Scam & Does It Matter?

Back in May of 2010 I posted about my dilemma when it comes to being panhandled. Many of you shared your stories of when you do and don’t and the internal struggles you have. I came away from that discussion feeling that saying no was generally the best strategy and to always say no to giving someone a lift somewhere. However, in the twenty months since I posted “Need Or Scam?” I have witnessed several instances of generosity under comparable circumstances, by folks seemingly far less fortunate than I. I say seemingly because we never can really tell who’s the prince and who’s the pauper just on appearance alone. These have happened in Worcester, Boston, Brookline, Cambridge and so on.

Late one night last winter, there was a young man who was a bit in his cups. He claimed he hadn’t eaten all day and wanted a couple of bucks to get a hamburger at the Burger King across the street from the Hess gasoline station in Webster Square in Worcester. He approached Chuck who was pumping gas. Chuck politely declined. Sitting in the car, I watched as the fellow went up to all the other customers. The only one who reached into his pocket and handed him a couple of bucks was a young man, dressed very casually, driving a beater. If I had been ranking customers socio-economically based on their rides, this guy would have been at the bottom.

Another time I was waiting for Chuck to sort out a transaction at the service desk in the Stop and Shop in Lincoln Plaza. It was late. The store was quiet with only one clerk near me ringing up orders. I watched as several customers passed through. I saw a young woman shopping with her pre-teen daughter. They were purchasing basic, no frills items. When the clerk asked if she wanted to donate to a local charity, the woman did not hesitate and said yes immediately. Then a man came through buying value sized bags of rice, cans of Spam and a few other basics. He too readily agreed to donate. None of the three appeared to have the last name of Rockefeller or Trump. But a couple of customers in office attire both declined to contribute - as had we when we were checking out. While not the same as being panhandled I was struck by the difference in responses.

These and several other moments have triggered interesting conversations between Chuck and me on our long rides between home and Rhode Island or home and Brookline. As a result, we ended up shifting our position on panhandlers from no to maybe.

This evening, we were driving back home from a tough visit in Brookline involving a medical appointment for a loved one. We ran a few errands along the way including stopping by the WalMart in Northborough. As we exited our vehicle in the bustling parking lot, a man in his late thirties or early forties approached us. He was holding a cell phone. He said he was driving between Worcester and Framingham and his car was running on fumes. Could we give him two or three bucks just to get a gallon of gas. He expressed embarrassment because of his predicament. He offered to mail the money back to us. (See paragraph one of Need Or Scam?!) Neither one of us fully believed him. Chuck glanced at me. I nodded and Chuck handed the fellow three bucks. The man repeated his offer to mail it back to us. (He had no way of knowing that was the least reassuring part of his story!) We declined and wished him well.

Will we always say yes? Not likely. But as we walked into WalMart we both felt glad that we had once again said yes. This time we understood that we had acted in a gray area, but that we had acted in kindness and with a desire to trust. We also knew the importance of letting go - not just of the three dollars, but of the decision. The money was moving on in the universe. We sent it with our best wishes.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

23 & 1/2 Hours

Wow.
This puts it all in perspective:



Thank you Dr. Mike Evans!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Flash!

I admit I get a kick out of the flashmob phenomenon. This one from Minnesota is a holiday delight!
Enjoy!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

One Sideshow Closes

Herman Cain “suspended” his presidential campaign today.

Jaws did not drop.

There are so many important problems in need of solutions in this country and around the world. It's troubling how much media attention was devoted to Cain and all of his "alleged" affairs. Journalists should know better, but they find the bread and circuses impossible to resist. Before tossing his hat into the race, Cain had to know he was never a viable presidential candidate. He’s been in it just to raise his profile and to profit from it down the road. He owes all of us an apology for wasting our time and serving up adulterous chum to the media.

Not to mention the apology he owes his beleaguered wife Gloria.

Monday, November 28, 2011

My Life, Your Life - It’s All Equal - Or It Should Be



I love this video from the Australian group “GetUp!”. In less than two minutes they take us on a journey we all can recognize and relate to.

Thanks to MoveOn.org for linking to this video which they described as “the best ad for marriage equality we’ve ever seen”. I can’t disagree.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

53 - 18 = 35

You may remember I posted about the incredible moment of serendipity when I met an elementary school classmate from Rhode Island, while visiting in Seattle back in June. That led to a mini-reunion in Rhode Island in late July. On a hot and humid Friday afternoon, ten of us gathered at our Catholic elementary school for a private tour. No teachers, no administrators, just a group of adults touring the school grade by grade, letting all the memories tumble out. We laughed; we hugged; many of us cried; all of us agreed it was a powerful, transformative event. After that cathartic tour we moved on to a friend’s home, where the reminiscing continued, but laughter was the rule.

That chance meeting on the other side of the country and the upcoming mini-reunion on this coast caused me to do something I swore I would never do: join FaceBook. I was convinced that FaceBook consisted of all of the worst parts of high school writ large and splashed across the public square. But almost everyone going to the mini-reunion was on FaceBook and they were all smart and funny and kind. So I did it. I figured I could just join quietly. I would “friend” just that little group, upload a few pics from grade school and later some photos from the reunion itself.

Turns out, it’s not easy to join FaceBook “quietly”! My best friend from elementary school went to college with a couple of gals I went to high school with. Within a few hours of my chit-chatting and friending within our little circle, I began to get friend requests from high school pals. Unbeknownst to me I went to high school with the 21st century FaceBook equivalent of Paul Revere! I was suddenly in the thick of catching up with high school kids I hadn’t had contact with in decades. And it was a whole lot of fun! The biggest surprise was that none of the kids who had been miserable to me in high school was on FaceBook. WTH? and Thank Heavens!

Last night was my 35th high school reunion. The folks on FaceBook I had reconnected with all just assumed I would be there. Eventually I took a deep breath and bought our tickets. Chuck and I drove down to Rhode Island and spent about five hours hugging, talking and laughing - with one dance thrown in for good measure. It was terrific. I felt right at home. Most of the folks there I had not seen in 35 years. Others I had stayed in touch with through college and for several years beyond that. But some deep pain in my life caused me to abruptly absent myself for 23 years. My disappearance was so complete that when I did materialize on FaceBook a friend asked: "Well, well, well, just get out of the witness protection program?"! Pretty darn close!

As you might expect I got a bit nervous before the event. So I did what any 53 year old woman with a Twitter account would do, I told a few Tweeps what I was doing and asked: “Am I Crazy?” Some seemed to think I was, in fact, crazy, but they all wished me luck and helped to buck me up. One of them, CookieCrumb, gave me some great advice which became my mantra as we drove to the event and walked through the front door: “You have nothing to prove and nothing to lose”! She was absolutely right.

Oh, and one of the kids who had bedeviled me in the high school halls was there. Mid-way through the evening I had occasion to walk by him. We made eye contact and I said “Hi ____” and kept on walking. He didn’t say a word. Yup. nothing to prove and nothing to lose is a sweet place to be!



Layout by LMR/Pink Granite. Inspiration: CookieCrumb. Font: Helvetica. Software: Apple iPhoto ’09 and Adobe Photoshop CS5 for Mac.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Thankful Times Five


Yesterday was Thanksgiving, the traditional day for gratitude and I can assure you, there was gratitude in abundance. Today is the fifth anniversary of Pink Granite which leaves me thankful for you, the reader. This past year and a half or so found Chuck and I immersed in both worries and joy - and seemingly always on the go. Unfortunately, that has meant my posting on PG has been less predictable and less frequent. Which only serves to heighten my gratitude to you for stopping by, for reading, for commenting and for returning month after month for the last five years!
This heart’s for you...

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Occupy Democracy

In just over two minutes Robert Reich clearly sums up our current political environment. Had I been charged with this task there would have been many expletives and references to Alice down the rabbit hole. Good that we have Professor Reich!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Two Months Along

Occupy Wall Street (OWS) began on September 17, 2011. What impresses and truly humbles me is the tenacity of the OWS folks. They have been working at this for over two months. The movement started rather modestly but it grew and spread across the nation and then on to other parts of the globe. This has happened without an individual leader. The OWS folks embody the 99% which is us. Some have suggested that they need a leader or a spokesperson. If they had an individual leader they would risk the cult of personality and the media focusing only on the one and not the many. They are wedded to their General Assemblies and to consensus which is brilliant when achieved but a freakin' bear to process. Unlike many WTO meetings in the past, they have managed to keep most of the anarchist and disruptive types out of the movement.

In the beginning, many people were puzzled by OWS. Then they misunderstood it. Now more and more people seem to get it; seem to understand its importance. No single post or article responded to that initial misunderstanding better than Max Udargo's letter. I think the longer OWS folks hang in there, the longer the media keeps covering the movement, the longer we keep talking about it, the better the chances are that OWS will lead to positive change for us all. Yes, I still have hope.

And if I had felt my hope waning in the face of the deep pocketed purchasing power of corporations to buy elections, the intractability of right wing ideologues and all of the stupidity, callousness and calumny which presently passes for political discourse in this country - well, my hope would have been buoyed by this little video out of Littleton, New Hampshire.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Jeff Was Right

Jeff was often right. He was also insightful, smart, cynical yet open minded and generous with his thoughts, his blog posts, his knowledge and his links.

Two facts caused me to think about Jeff Barnard tonight. The first is that Jeff’s yahrzeit is coming up on November 28th. The second is that Chuck and I ate at Carmella’s Italian Kitchen in Brookfield this evening. It was wonderful. Chuck and I and many, many Worcesterites loved Famous Italian Kitchen on Shrewsbury Street. It hurt when they closed. But back in March of 2009, Jeff posted about his celebratory family dinner at Carmella’s. In many ways Carmella’s is the reincarnation of Famous Italian or more accurately its ongoing legacy. I won’t go into details here. Jeff’s post deserves to be reread. Suffice it to say that the atmosphere was homey and whatever the Italian equivalent of hamishe is, service was perfect and cheerful and the food, well, we’re still talking about it and can’t wait to go back. Oh, and you can get a side of peppers that are even better than Famous Italian. Really.

Thank you Jeff. Thank you for everything.

Friday, November 18, 2011

A History of the Sky

I came across this video over on My Jewish Learning. As I watched it, I first found it interesting, then fascinating and ultimately quite calming. It has a lovely meditative quality about it.

It really is best viewed as large as possible and with the highest resolution.

Enjoy!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Senate Bill 1853

There has been a great deal of misinformation out there about the United States Postal Service (USPS) and about other USPS related legislation. This bill, S. 1853, is the first one which addresses the biggest problem and respects the role of the post office in the everyday lives of rural and low income Americans. 

Senators Bernie Sanders and Patrick Leahy of Vermont, Kirsten Gillibrand of New York and Ron Wyden of Oregon are co-sponsoring this sensible legislation which will lift the onerous requirement of pre-funding future retiree benefits 75 years in advance and on a steeply accelerated schedule. It will also put the United States Postal Service back on a path to financial viability. 

Please take a moment to call your senators now and urge their support of S. 1853!

Need a phone number?
Click here.

Want more information on the bill?
Click here.

My post from back in August about the role of the Post Office in our lives.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Give A Book

Isn’t it wonderful to lose yourself in a book for a little while?

Back in 2009 I posted links to some veterans and armed forces charities. I recently learned of another one called “Books For Soldiers” which is just as simple as the name implies: you send books to soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines.

For more information go to Books For Soldiers.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Honor

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



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




Honoring all who served

Honoring all who were wounded 

Honoring all who gave their lives



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

You stood for our freedom, for our liberty



You have our gratitude, our respect, our memory

We pledge our service, our advocacy, our work for peace...

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

A New Case Of You

Joni Mitchell’s album “Blue” came out in 1971. I damn near played the grooves off it. When CDs came out in the 1980s, “Blue” was one of the first CDs I purchased. When we got our first iPod six years ago, yes, “Blue” was one of the first albums we loaded.

I was chatting recently with a friend and we agreed that many covers of great songs fall flat. Tonight, I heard a brilliant interpretation of one of the songs off “Blue”: “A Case Of You”. It was performed by James Blake on BBC Radio 1. It did not fall flat. It was haunting and beautiful.

Enjoy...

Monday, November 7, 2011

Drive Baby Drive

Starting October 1st, I spent nine days driving.

It began at Logan Airport and Greater Boston here in Massachusetts. Then there was a trip back and forth to Rhode Island for a funeral. Then Brookline, Massachusetts to New Jersey, driving back and forth to New York City, wrapping up at JFK airport.

I’m a mediocre passenger and a middlin’ navigator for another driver - even with a GPS unit to assist. So for nearly 1,000 miles I was at the wheel, Chuck served as navigator and his sister Carol was the passenger. With Carol being from the land of very polite drivers, along with the very well signed and very well marked roads of Greater Seattle, she was sometimes “unsettled” by the driving in Greater Boston. (Yeah, we’ll go with “unsettled”!) But with this being Carol’s first visit east in seventeen years there was much to see and do, along with family to visit and catch up with.

In advance of the trip, I had been concerned about finding parking when needed in any of our city destinations and especially about driving in New York City. But it was all perfectly fine. Well, there was a certain amount of swearing, mostly by me (with occasional echoes from my companions) at a a few drivers who had apparently escaped from a NASCAR track or were perhaps fleeing the police. And there was one close call on the Lenny Zakim Bridge in Boston, in a torrential downpour, when a Subaru Forrester spluttered to a crawl right in front of us while in the passing lane. The parking in New York City, specifically in The Bronx, was easy peasy - except for that pesky $115.00 parking ticket we found on the windshield upon our return from visiting a family friend. (I thought “No Standing” meant no loitering. Lesson learned, sigh...)

But I was never worried about the driving. Maybe it was my two season foray into Autocross racing in a previous lifetime, which, while not wheel-to-wheel racing, does sharpens one’s skills on and off the track. Or perhaps it was just that driving was what needed to be done. The nice thing was that while I was enjoying my stint behind the wheel, my traveling cohorts were happy as well. Carol paid me great compliments, repeatedly using the word “guts” - and she assured me that she needed neither dramamine nor tranquilizers.

So at the end of nine days and nearly 1,000 miles I managed to get us and the car home safe and sound. But I have to tell you that the best driving moment of the trip came on day nine. I overshot the turn for the Midtown Tunnel which I needed to take in order to get Carol to her flight out of JFK. I evaluated the relatively quiet Sunday morning traffic conditions, paying no heed to the line of police vehicles parked curbside to my right, and pulled a U-turn on E 34th Street in New York City. It was just a couple of blocks down from the Empire State Building. It wasn’t like a scene out of “Sleepless In Seattle” nor “An Affair To Remember”. It was just ridiculously empowering and a whole lot of fun!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Quixotic Me - Yet Again

Fall behind.
Sigh.
Yes, I do recognize the futility of my quest to put an end to the artificial and arbitrary manipulation of our time. But a girl can dream can’t she, however impossible that dream might be? ;o)

Here’s my post from March 2007:

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

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

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

Saturday, November 5, 2011

As A Doornail

The washing machine died. 364 days after we purchased it, the washer refused to work. Nay, it refused to even turn on! To be precise, it’s actually only been in our house for eleven months and hooked up and operating for about ten and a half.

Our previous machine lasted twenty years.

First available appointment for repair? Friday - this Friday, but Friday natheless.

I am not happy.
Chuck is not happy.
That is not a good combination.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Holiday Flashback

There are a few things in this world that you can only find at the Vermont Country Store. We’ve visited there once and have ordered a variety of items over the years. Today I received an e-mail from them which gave me a holiday flashback.

My maternal grandparents, Gagee and Gramps, had some holiday decorations that I loved. One standout was the cardboard “brick” fireplace with the little lightbulb mimicking the flickering flames of the logs. Another was the tiny Caroler Candles. Yes, they are odd and cheesy and, in 2011, decidedly kitsch. That’s what memories are made of! Gagee had the Thanksgiving Pilgrims with Turkey candles as well. So cute, so silly and so much of another era.

What I wouldn’t give for one more holiday with Gagee and Gramps, back at their home on Taft Street...

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Hurray!

We have power back!
This evening our little corner of the universe was reconnected to the grid. To ice the cake, we even got cable back. We’re happy that we were able to take care of ourselves and be self sufficient. But normal feels very good.

A Related Post: Please bury your power lines.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

October Nor’easter

We drove home from my aunt’s memorial service in Rhode Island to find at least 14 inches of heavy wet snow carpeting our town. Our area also remains without power. Thankfully, we lost only one tree limb and there appears to be no damage to the house or barn. But the bushes, small trees and shrubs are another matter. We will know more as the week moves on and warmer weather moves back in. But at the moment, it appears that the damage for our property may be worse than the ice storm of December 2008.

The neighbors down the road were kind enough to let us park our car in their driveway until we could make a clear path down our own. We had packed shovels in the car so we walked back to our house and commenced the wintry work. Chuck hauled out the snowblower and cleared the driveway of snow. I set out to remove as much snow from the shrubbery as I could. In some places it meant shoveling lots of snow off where the branches were splayed and then digging out the tips from where they were buried near the ground. Each one that sprang back up without snapping was a little victory.

That done we were able to back the car up the driveway and into the barn. Then Chuck got the generator chugging away and we now have electricity, heat and running water. The temperature inside the house had fallen only to 49F/9C and the freezer had not gotten above 15F/-9C both of which were pretty darn good.

We know we are lucky and we are grateful.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Smart As A Whip

And cute as a button to boot!
Congratulations to our niece Kate!
She passed the Bar Exam!
For the record, she took the exam while she had wicked morning sickness!
Now that’s a trooper!
<);o)

Ah Ha Moment


When the cruise ships pull into Bar Harbor, the launches fill up with passengers who are then ferried to the dock. The passengers then pour into Bar Harbor. It’s easy to tell the cruise ship passengers from the regular tourists. The cruise ship passengers are the ones walking, standing and wandering into the streets. They ignore crosswalks and have been known to stand in the middle of the road to snap a picture.

This morning, as we navigated the very busy streets, it suddenly occurred to me that the cruise ship passengers must view the charming and picturesque Bar Harbor as a theme park. All the locals are from central casting. And the crosswalks are surely just for show. But where the heck is Mickey?

Monday, October 24, 2011

Hello Hare!


As we were driving back to our hotel very late Saturday afternoon, we spotted this big, beautiful bunny sitting alongside a potholed, mixed surface road. This was just a stone’s throw from (the moderately) bustling main drag of Bar Harbor. I snapped a couple of photos through the windshield. Right after I did, he or she took off at a great pace. That was when we really noticed just how large and how white its feet were. Some research on the internet led us to believe it is a Snowshoe Hare or Varying Hare (Lepus americanus). It is likely beginning its long, slow transition to its white winter coat. And it is beautiful in any season.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Schoodic


With a beautiful day forecast we headed over to the Schoodic Peninsula and more of Acadia National Park. Perhaps because it was a Sunday it was a bit “crowded” - meaning we didn’t have the entire park to ourselves! The National Park Service made some improvements over the summer. The most important of which, from a very practical standpoint, is that they now have a universal access restroom open year round. Why yes it IS the little things that matter most! It’s located on the ride out to Schoodic Point, at the entrance to the former Naval base, now converted to the “Schoodic Education and Research Center”, part of the National Park Service. Because we travel to Maine in the shoulder seasons, all of the restrooms on Schoodic are usually closed. While it’s just a “one-holer”, this state of the art, ecologically sound facility was a pleasure. Now I want one of those nifty instant response water heaters in my house!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Sunrise


This was the sunrise today over Frenchman Bay and Bald Porcupine Island, here in Bar Harbor, Maine. On mornings like this I don’t want to ever go home, because not only is this exquisitely beautiful, it also feels like home.

Every Happiness


I don’t know who Jeff and Kate are.
I do know that yesterday they were at Seal Harbor in Maine and that we wish them every happiness...
;o)

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Lobstah

At long last we have found a good Lobster Roll at a restaurant in Bar Harbor, Maine. Don’t get me wrong. Bar Harbor has lots of great restaurants. But it has been hard to find a decent Lobster Roll on a regular menu - not as a special. Tonight, however, we went to a place called the Side Street Cafe. It’s been open just a few years, but we’ve had a meal there on every trip up here. The Lobster Roll at the Side Street Cafe lets the lobster be the star: just a hint of mayonnaise, nestled into a buttered and griddled New England style, split-top frankfurter roll. They serve it with a wedge of lemon on the side if you want to squeeze a splash of juice on it. And, most surprisingly, they dust it with a bit of Old Bay Seasoning - very, very non-traditional, but it works.

The Side Street Cafe doesn’t have a huge menu, but because everything we’ve had has been very good, it never fails to leave us wresting with what to order. Now the Lobster Rolls have complicated matters even further. Nope. That was soooo not a complaint!

P.S. When the Thirsty Whale in Bar Harbor or Chase’s
in Winter Harbor, has a Lobster Roll on the menu, feel free to order it as you won’t be disappointed.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Occupy Wall Street

When Occupy Wall Street began it got off to a slow and somewhat fuzzy start. The media, however, was even slower with its coverage. Now, after one month, Occupy Wall Street has picked up speed, gained participants as well as supporters, spread globally, is being better covered by the media, has raised the hackles of some police chiefs and mayors and has ticked off many of the “1%” and the far right.

Well done Occupy Wall Street!

Inevitably there has been criticism and a backlash. Some people misunderstand and mischaracterize the Occupy Wall Street participants as whiners, complainers or loafers. They miss the fact that the protesters are standing up on behalf of the vast majority of Americans, the “99%”.

Now we have an open letter penned by Max Udargo and posted over at the Daily Kos. In his letter, Udargo brilliantly explains why Occupy Wall Street matters and why it is vital to us, the 99%. It is a long letter. But it is a wonderfully readable letter. Udargo hits all the right notes and manages to put a compassionate, human face on the issues while at the same time providing historical perspective. I urge you to read it.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Good Women Both

Two of our aunts passed away this week. One lived to the age of 95; the other 85. One could write a gracious letter; the other could tell a heck of a good story. They were of different religions, upbringings, socio-economic statuses, educations and careers. At a quick glance they had little in common - save Chuck and me. Yet they were both mothers, grandmothers, sisters, daughters and aunts. And each, in her own way, struggled. One had years of a complicated and disheartening family rift which eventually was healed, but not quite in time for all concerned. The other had a lifetime of a complicated and undiagnosed medical condition which was never healed and identified not quite in time for all concerned.

They struggled. They failed. They succeeded.
As do we all.

May the Lord who frees you from sin save you and raise you up

Zichrona liveracha - Her memory is a blessing

Sunday, September 25, 2011

A Boy!

Kate called to tell us that she and Phil are expecting a baby boy! I squealed with delight, but then added that we would have been just as happy to hear it was a baby girl! Truthfully, we just want Kate, the baby and Phil to all be healthy and happy, now and forever, Amen. Still, the idea of having a boy born into the family is very exciting because right now there are a whole lot of girls.

Unlike when Kate’s sister Carrie was pregnant with “Bambalina” who became Isabella Rose, we all know the name of the baby already. Phil is in the unusual position of being not just a “junior” or a “third”, but a “fourth”! So “Phil the Fifth”, or “P5” is officially on the way! P5 is joining a very interesting, exciting, loving and fun loving family. We can hardly wait to see what he brings to the mix!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

A Liter Of Light

Two minutes of your time will open your eyes to an incredibly clever idea! Originally created by students at MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology), these Solar Bottle Bulbs are now helping people in poor communities in the Philippines.



Find more information at the Isang Litrong Liwanag (A Liter of Light) website.

You can follow the 1LitrongLiwanagTeam on Twitter.

And you can “like” A Liter of Light on FaceBook.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Ben’s A Father

...but not a Dad.

Because he donated to a sperm bank, Ben Seisler is the biological father of at least 75 children. The subtitle on the Boston Globe article by Linda Matchan reads: “As kids conceived with donated sperm grow up, life may get complicated for donors”.
But aren’t the lives of the 75 half-siblings just as complicated - if not more so?

Read the complete, thought provoking article here.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

They’ll Do Anything

There was an extremely disturbing article in Mother Jones today.
It outlines the Republican strategy to gerrymander the Electoral College.
The piece by Nick Baumann is entitled: “The GOP's Genius Plan to Beat Obama in 2012”.
Be warned, the word “genius” in the title is not sarcastic.


: : Update: Nate Silver, the statistical (and political) genius behind “FiveThirtyEight” which now lives at The New York Times, has a new post up: “Pennsylvania Electoral College Plan Could Backfire on G.O.P. ”.
We can only hope.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

September 11th

Because this is the tenth anniversary of September 11, 2001, there has been an intense focus on the tragedy of that day.

It changed us.
It changed us all.

But today, on this solemn anniversary, I want to remember the kindness. Citizens and leaders of countries all around the world reached out to us here in the United States. They expressed love, compassion, sympathy, friendship, solidarity and support. Ordinary folks of all ages took to the streets of their hometowns with signs and flowers and candles. They made their way to US embassies and signed condolence books. They ordered the flags of their own nations flown at half staff to honor the dead. They wept. They prayed. They rallied to our side. We were no longer one nation, but one world, indivisible, seeking liberty and justice for all.

Today, I will remember the kindness...

Saturday, September 10, 2011

To Be Awesome Again

1. Read this wonderful piece by Melissa Wardy.

2. Then embrace your true, authentic awesomeness.

3. Then help a child to embrace theirs!

Friday, September 2, 2011

Dear National Grid, NSTAR, et al

Thank you.
Thank you for all your long hours and hard work.
Special thanks to the linemen who go out in all sorts of miserable and dangerous conditions so that our lives can be easier and safer.
And thank you for restoring power to my nieces’ homes after Irene left them in the dark.

Now I’d like a word with management.

Please bury your power lines.

Seriously.
Your infrastructure is aging.
Your lines and poles are vulnerable.
I know because during the ice storm of December 2008 our power was out for 157 hours - nearly seven days.
Because of Hurricane Irene more than seven million homes and businesses lost power.

Is burying the power lines expensive?
Damn straight it’s expensive.
But so is the cost to homeowners, businesses, insurance companies, municipalities and the utility companies themselves when power lines come crashing down under the weight of ice or the fierce power of hurricanes.
Isn’t burying power lines complicated by all of the coordination with municipalities?
Yup.
Will burying the power lines keep us from ever losing power?
Nope.
Will burying the power lines help?
Damn straight.

Sincerely,

Lee/Pink Granite

Further information:
Article in the Christian Science Monitor
Underground 2020
Interview on NPR
Q & A at Renewable Energy World

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Twenty!

Tomorrow marks our twentieth wedding anniversary! Chuck and I have known each other for 26 years. (It’s fun to say we’ve known each other for over a quarter of a century.) But on a gorgeous, sunny day in 1991, with some crisp, dry autumn air breezing through, we were married. Our Chuppah was the house we were living in; our guests were just a few family and friends who we wanted gathered round to celebrate with us.

When we married, we thought we were the happiest we could ever be. Twenty years later I’m delighted to report we were wrong. Our love has continued to grow and deepen and strengthen year after year.

Here’s to many, many more!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Hurricane Eval

- The state and federal Emergency Management Agencies and meteorologists need to provide folks with all the facts about an impending weather event.
- The elected officials need to both reinforce the message as well as recommend appropriate action and reassure people that everything that can be done will be done.
- The media needs to report the story - the predictions, preparations, history, impact, aftermath and recovery.

But...

There is a phrase “cool under fire”. Every single one of the individuals mentioned above need to do their jobs without histrionics; without hyperbole. They also need to be “cool under fire”. They need to do their jobs with honor and dignity. If they exaggerate the potential and the risks, then they cry wolf and endanger the populace.

The New England Hurricane of 1938 killed over 680 people and did tremendous and lasting damage. It was a category three storm when it made landfall. Had the satellite and forecasting computers we have today been available back then, countless lives could have been saved.

This weather knowledge is vital and must be used properly. A hurricane or blizzard should never be a “ratings bonanza” nor an opportunity for self aggrandizement. It should never, ever tip over into what Jeff Jarvis has called “storm porn”. This flow of information and reportage is a responsibility of the highest order and should be treated responsibly, not like a carnival barker trying to get paying customers into a sideshow.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Sweet Dreams - I Hope

Well, it turns out that 13 hours of sleep over 87 hours is really not enough.
So I will say hello and then good night and try to catch up a bit.

May everyone in the path of Hurricane Irene’s rain, winds and storm surge stay safe and sound.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Happy Dancing - Now Public!

I can now tell you, with great delight and excitement, that our niece Kate and her husband Phil are expecting their first child!

When Kate and Phil made the announcement to the family at the Fourth of July party, I wanted to shout it from the rooftops. But tradition dictates that we wait until Kate had safely navigated her first trimester. Now that she is 14 weeks along, we are very happy to share the good news here.

Kate and Phil are smart, funny, loving and big hearted. This is one lucky baby who has chosen them to be her or his parents!

Class Warfare? I Call Bull Puckey!

And thank heavens, so does Jon Stewart!

Do watch both videos in sequence.
The “F” word and a few others are bleeped, but probably NSFW.



Thursday, August 18, 2011

All Clear!

Back in March I had Mohs surgery to remove a small basal cell carcinoma from above my right eyebrow. A few weeks ago I had my follow up visit with my Mohs surgeon. I jokingly asked him to remember which side of my face he had worked on - because that’s how dang near invisible the tear drop shaped scar is now. He surprised me by remarking on the remaining redness and puffiness and told me that it would look really good by next March. He then said if I still wasn’t satisfied by next year that I could have laser treatments to even out the skin tone. I don’t mean to portray him as not listening to me. He truly understood how delighted I am with the results. It’s just that the dude has extremely high standards! I like that in a surgeon!

Today I went to see my regular dermatologist. This was my six month screening and I’m happy to report that I got a clean bill of health. Dr. L. looked me over from head to toes - literally - utilizing a bright light and a magnifier and found absolutely nothing of interest! Because Chuck had been so impressed with Dr. L.’s manner and diagnostic skills, Chuck had his first screening today. And he got a clean bill of health as well! I have to go back in six months because once you’ve had a bcc the odds increase on getting another one. But Chuck was cleared completely and only has to come back if he notices something or, as Dr. L. put it, “if your wife says you have to come back”! I like that in a doc!

Bottom line: I am happy and healthy. If you see something on your skin you have questions about, find a good dermatologist, make an appointment and get checked out.

Related Mohs surgery posts from March:
Bye Bye BCC! - all about the procedure
Sláinte - with the wild post-op image
It’s True - a progress report
and OK! - the wrap up

Saturday, August 13, 2011

The Local Hub

Just before we moved to our small town in Central Massachusetts we filled out all our change of address cards. Pretty much the first thing we did when we moved here was visit our new post office. We had a chat with the postmaster who told us what to do to install our shiny new mailbox. The day the letter carrier pulled up in front of our box, (now standing proudly at the side of the road), opened the door, slid in a couple of envelopes and snapped the door shut, we knew we had arrived.

For almost 17 years we have frequented that post office. When my sister was gravely ill 2600 miles away, it was that post office where I slid a card or note or letter into the box almost every day. Including shortly after closing one night, choked up and superstitiously scared that not posting that particular card to my sis would lead to a turn for the worse, the postmaster opened the door and wished both me and my sister well.

I even got to know a good friend via the post office. She has a box there and although we had seen each other around town, chatting inside the post office, then carrying those conversations outside was how our friendship evolved. I doubt we were the only ones to meet and connect that way. The bulletin board near the “Local” and “Out Of Town” slots is filled with what’s happening around town. And I’d bet my bottom dollar it gets far more traffic than the one over at the town hall.

Paperwork for our passports was filed in our local post office. Even though they have yet to be stamped by any country, it sure was nice not to have to schlep into Worcester or Boston and stand in line.

We mail all our holiday, birthday, anniversary and sympathy cards from the local post office as well. When we were mailing off the DVDs and books from Carrie and Al’s wedding they departed from there. And a trip back had to made to share the finished product with the staff!

When we were traveling back and forth to Seattle to be with Chuck’s Dad in his final year, we extended our stay once. I called the post office to let them know we would be gone an extra week. They said it was fine, that we had put a “will pick up” on the hold mail order. But then they added, that if we hadn’t called, they would have begun to worry about us.

After September 11, 2001 and the subsequent anthrax incidents, in addition to the usual card to our letter carrier, we sent a holiday card to our post office. We thanked them all for their service and their courage. We still send a card. We are still grateful for all they do.

Now there’s a way we can be of service to them.

The managers in charge at the United States Postal Service are working hard against their own letter carriers. They want to lay off workers as well as slash pension and health benefits. They keep claiming that if they were a fully private company (rather than a semi-independent federal agency) that they would have filed for bankruptcy. The problem with that statement is that it is false. Much of what has led to the losses at the USPS in the past four years has been a congressional mandate to pre-fund future retiree benefits 75 years in advance and on a steeply accelerated schedule - enough to crush any organization’s budget, especially in a down economy. They are the only federal agency required to do such a thing.

Congressman Stephen Lynch (D-MA) introduced H.R. 1351. This legislation is designed to right the wrong committed by the Office of Personnel Management which has led to the enormous overcharges. Most significantly, it has kept millions of dollars of revenue out of the USPS which could have been used in day to day operations.

Please call your congressional representative. (You can find a list here.)

: : First off, please urge your congressperson to oppose the Postal Service's proposals to downsize its workforce through layoffs and strip its employees of their health and pension benefits.
: : Second, please tell your congressperson to support H.R. 1351 a vital legislative first step toward ensuring a sound financial future for the Postal Service.

Want more information? Please go to the website of the NALC - The National Association of Letter Carriers.

There are more issues on the table both for the employees of the Postal Service and the citizens of the United States. One of them is the proposal that the USPS should cut back from six days of delivery to five. Besides the significant inconvenience to the customers, the NALC has a list of reasons why five days just won’t work.

Another very disturbing plan is the USPS’ intention to close thousands of post offices across the United States - more than 3600 - many in rural areas. The most comprehensive website devoted to this is Save The Post Office created and administered by Steve Hutkins. The map of post office locations on the hit list alone makes it worth the visit. But the depth and breadth of the website is impressive and compelling.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Hey! Verizon!


Chuck and I are Verizon Landline customers. We are outraged by a company which awards an enormous bonus to its CEO while trying to strip benefits from the workers who keep the phones in service!

The Communications Workers of America (CWA) and The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) began bargaining with Verizon on June 22, 2011. On August 7, 2011 IBEW and CWA went out on strike.

IBEW International President Edwin Hill summed up the problem succinctly:
”This is a company with a $100 billion dividend. The top five company executives were paid more than a quarter of a billion dollars over the past four years. If a company like this is not willing to provide wages and benefits to enable its workers to be part of the mainstream middle class in America, then all who work for a living have reason to fear.”

Please take a moment to sign the petition over on the CWA page.

Back in February, I posted here about The Folks Who Brought You The Weekend. Read that if you would like one woman’s perspective on the historical and contemporary importance of unions - as well as my shame over have unwittingly been a scab when I was about eleven years old.

Image courtesy of CWA

Truly Worthy Of The Word Awesome!

You MUST watch this video!
Seriously.
Within 30 seconds it will leave you gobsmacked.



You can watch this video and more over at Science Friday.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

The Prints and The Potter

Worcester, Massachusetts boasts a wonderful gallery and framing shop: The Prints and The Potter. Located at the corner of Highland and West Streets, they have been in business for 36 years. With an extensive selection of pottery, jewelry, glasswork and framed art, the cleverly named shop should be your first stop for a special gift - for yourself or others! They are also the only place we take artwork for framing. They have handled a variety of projects for us and always do a professional job with exceptional attention to detail. They really are a gem!

Friday, August 5, 2011

One Amazing Year!

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


One year ago today our grandniece, Isabella Rose was born fourteen weeks premature, weighing just one pound, six ounces and a wee twelve inches long. We met her when she was just four hours old and she struck us as "sweet and strong". We were right, because she is still sweet and strong plus well and happy; rolling past all of her developmental milestones!

Then


...and now!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Gratitude


Our plate has been full lately - a little too full. But life doesn’t let us pick and choose when we will be needed. Nor does it let us choose how or by whom. When Chuck and I feel frustrated or overwhelmed we seek out the positive. Sometimes it is an electric pink sky at sunset; sometimes a kind gesture by a stranger; sometimes an old friend who makes us laugh and the years fall away. Focusing on a feeling of gratitude is transformative and lasting; sustaining us even as we reach to pick up the phone to deal with what’s coming next.

Photograph by LMR/Pink Granite. Layout by LMR/Pink Granite. Font: Hans Hand & Helvetica. Software: Apple iPhoto ’09 and Adobe Photoshop CS5 for Mac.
You’re welcome to “drag and drop” this image onto your computer for your personal use.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Can We Clone Him? Please?

“The American People Are Angry”



I first met Bernie, Senator Sanders, back when he was the Mayor of Burlington, Vermont. I liked him then and my admiration for him has grown exponentially in recent years. What’s not to like about a plain spoken man with common sense, who is always working on the side of the angels?

If you would like to read a recent op-ed by Bernie which covers the same ground, you can click here.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Class Warfare

"House Speaker John Boehner’s new budget proposal would require deep cuts in the years immediately ahead in Social Security and Medicare benefits for current retirees, the repeal of health reform’s coverage expansions, or wholesale evisceration of basic assistance programs for vulnerable Americans.

The plan is, thus, tantamount to a form of “class warfare.” If enacted, it could well produce the greatest increase in poverty and hardship produced by any law in modern U.S. history.

This may sound hyperbolic, but it is not. The mathematics are inexorable."


Click to read the full text of this atatement by Robert Greenstein, President of the non-partisan Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

About 50 To 311,832,658

When we were in Washington state for Chuck’s sister’s surprise birthday party, our timing afforded us a bonus event: our nephew’s senior prom! “A” is a great kid with a good sense of humor and a whole bunch of musical and artistic talent. He’s been friends with “B” for many years so we’ve enjoyed getting to know “B” during our visits to the Seattle area. The afternoon of the prom, 16 couples gathered at the home of one of the girls for photos. That’s 32 high school kids dressed to the nines, along with lots of parents, some siblings and the occasional Auntie and Uncle!

It was like a mini-prom without the dancing and completely unlike any of my high school prom experiences. We had a great time. “A” and “B”, along with their dates, were going to the prom and post prom together. So after the photo op there was a bit of coordination and combining of stuff into one car back at “A’s” house. “B’s” parents swung by to deliver something their son had forgotten. After waving goodbye to the prom bound kids, Chuck’s sister invited “B’s” parents in for a drink. The six of us sat out on the deck and chatted about the kids, the prom, the post prom, our own memories of how different things had been back in the day, etc.

We had never met “B’s” parents before but it was an easy going conversation. At one point I mentioned Rhode Island in passing. “B’s” mom asked if we lived in Rhode Island. I said no, but then gave the typical Rhode Island thumbnail sketch: born in Providence, grew up in Warwick attended such and such schools. “B’s” mom repeated the name of my parochial elementary school and followed with “I went to that school!” An extremely fast paced exchange ensued until we both said we had graduated in 1972! Yes, “B’s” mom and I were part of the same graduating class, she in one classroom, me in the other! Amazing. We spent another hour connecting the dots and reminiscing about growing up together.

There were only 50 kids in our 8th grade class. But there I was, 2500 miles away from that little school, and I was sitting across from one of my classmates. What were the odds?

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Cousins


Well, technically second cousins and second cousins who had only just met. But you wouldn’t have guessed that if you had you seen them together this afternoon!

Our 13 year old grandniece Alex, visiting from the west coast, gave her second cousin, our 11 month old grandniece Isabella, a whole lot of support and encouragement today in the crawling department. Alex took a hands on approach, getting Izzy into a good starting gate position and then provided a little hip assist. Very soon Isabella was rocking back and forth. Shortly thereafter, Izzy did a nifty 360 degree crab crawl / spin the bottle sort of move. Isabella’s Mom, Carrie, loved it and figures it’s probably time to get the baby gates up!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Paging Palmer & Spencer!

“44 States Discontinue Teaching Cursive Writing!”

How did I miss this?

Many states have adopted the “Common Core State Standards”. The CCSS English Language Arts Standards do not include cursive writing. Likewise, with “No Child Left Behind” cursive writing is not a requirement. So now 44 states have stopped including cursive writing as a skill to be learned. Their focus is on printing and “keyboard skills”.

I’m a product of the Palmer Method (Yes, I am that old.) and I’m slackjawed. This makes absolutely no sense to me. I understand that teachers are increasingly put in the untenable position of wearing far too many hats for their students and “teaching to the test”. But how is a person supposed to read original documents without knowing cursive? What about the development of fine motor skills? And heaven forfend I should ask the question: “What about the art of cursive”?

The emphasis on “keyboard skills”, what I knew as typing, reminds me of the news anchors who say: “To learn more, go to our website and click on such-and-such a link.” It presumes that everyone has a computer and access to the internet. It is narrow minded and insensitive. With reference to no longer teaching cursive, you can add short sighted to that list.

Thankfully, Massachusetts has “re-included” cursive writing as a standard. But with 44 states throwing in the towel I remain disturbed.

Here’s just one article on the issue of cursive instruction from the Huffington Post. But a quick Google search will lead you to many, many more.

Want some inspiration? Go to the IAMPETH website - that’s the International Association of Master Penmen, Engrossers and Teachers of Handwriting.


: : Update: Dorothy Ann Yanni has created a Cursive Handwriting App. Yes, an iPod and iPad APP for cursive handwriting! That’s an integration of classic and contemporary I can get behind!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Keep Breathing...


I found myself recommending a relaxation breathing technique to a gal who is beginning a challenging recovery in a rehabilitation facility. She was hit by a car just last week. Melanie, AKA The Coupon Goddess, is a generous soul with a very good sense of humor. Do stop by and wish her well. As I left the information for her, I realized I had never posted about it here.

Dr. Andrew Weil recommends the “Relaxing Breath” for stress reduction. We discovered it years ago and it is something both Chuck and I utilize in difficult circumstances. We’ve found it helpful in pain management and it even helps when I’m having trouble falling asleep.

For a long time I just had the numbers 4-7-8 written on Post-It Notes around the house. I created the image above to share with family and friends and now all of you here on Pink Granite.

You can read all the details about the “Relaxing Breath” at Dr. Weil’s website, along with two other breathing techniques.

Feel free to click on the image, then drag and drop it onto your computer and print it out for your own use.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

HHH + A

Oh I know it’s only mid July and there is a whole slew of summer left to go, but this heat and humidity has already gotten to me. Far too soon, I know.

Jump shift:

You love Adele, right? Of course you do. We have her albums “19” and “21” and love them both. Recently she performed in the iTunes London Festival. It is a delight! You can watch it here. And if you reside in the Northern Hemisphere I suggest an air conditioned room and an iced beverage of your choosing.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Crazies, Breadcrumbs, A Delete Button & A Hat Tip

I saw a tweet or two on Twitter from Margo and Roger Ebert which intrigued me. They were about Congresswoman Michele Bachmann signing a pledge called "The Marriage Vow: A Declaration of Dependence upon MARRIAGE and FAMILY". But the tweets referred to slavery. Curious, I followed a link which led me to an article by Jason Linkins on the Huffington Post entitled: “Bob Vander Plaats, Iowa Social Conservative Kingmaker, Unveils A New Pledge For 2012ers”. I read it and was duly appalled by the entire outrageous “Vow” and in particular by the language quoted in Mr. Linkins article: Slavery had a disastrous impact on African-American families, yet sadly a child born into slavery in 1860 was more likely to be raised by his mother and father in a two-parent household than was an African-American baby born after the election of the USA's first African-American President.

I wanted to send out a tweet about all this, but first I wanted to check out the “Vow” for myself. I went to the website of “The Family Leader” who wrote the “Vow” and clicked on the link which took me to the PDF. As I read it I couldn’t find the slavery reference. I did note that the URL had the date “7.9.11” in the address and yet the Huffington Post article was published two days earlier. So I copied all four pages into a Pages document and searched it for the key phrases. Nothing. Then I downloaded it as a PDF and did the same search in Reader. Again, nothing. So I logged onto Huffington Post and left a comment: “Has "The Family Leader" edited the pledge? I cannot find the 1860 slavery reference in the current pdf of the vow or the notes” I also put in the link to the PDF of the “Vow”.

Then I went back to Twitter and tweeted my query to Margo and to Ebert. Finally I tweeted it to Jason Linkins of the Huffington Post. In less than an hour Mr. Linkins tweeted back to me: “Thanks for the heads up!”. By 9:00 p.m. Mr. Linkins had posted a new article on the Huffington Post: “The Family Leader Drops Controversial Section Concerning Slavery From 'Marriage Vow' Pledge”. And there at the very bottom of the article he wrote: Hat Tip @pinkgranite The @pinkgranite was a link which opened to the relevant tweets I had sent out earlier.

Fortunately, the original version of the “Vow” - the one signed by Michele Bachmann - has not been lost to the ether. And the extant revised “Vow” still provides useful insight into the thinking of the right-wing. The 2012 presidential election is just 16 months away. Things won’t get prettier nor will they get easier as the calendar pages flip by. As I wrote to George Geder, who posted about the slavery version on his blog this afternoon: “We'll all have to stay vigilant!”

This post was edited and updated throughout the evening.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Mount Rainier


On every trip we have taken to Seattle, Washington we have always been able to glimpse Mount Rainier at least once. You would think that at 14,411 feet or 4,392 meters, it would be a constant presence. But it is frequently shrouded in clouds, fog, rain or snow. On our most recent trip, we saw Rainier on the clearest day we have ever experienced in the Northwest. It was absolutely stunning. We saw it repeatedly as we drove around the area - but only from the highways. I never got a photograph of it that day. Sorry. The next day we were out on Lake Washington on the boat belonging to Chuck’s sister and her husband. In the distance, slowly but surely being cloaked back in clouds, was Mount Rainier. It was, as if, on our last afternoon in Seattle, it was bidding us farewell.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Sparkler


Happy Fourth of July!

We did our celebrating a day early on this long holiday weekend. We spent yesterday down in Rhode Island with family and friends. Al and Carrie kindly hosted the sometimes boisterous cheerful group. Isabella was at ease with the crowd, including one cousin she had never met before and an Auntie and Uncle she had only seen once, half a year ago. Good food, a couple of different varieties of killer sangrias, lots of laughter and post-downpour fireworks over the bay made for an excellent celebration!

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Precisely!



This is not my work.

Because I admire it so - both the sentiment and the graphic design - I am posting it here. I found it via Pinterest on a website called Wild Guess, which I think is part of Tumblr. I believe it was "Wild Guess” who created the poster/print. Liz Feldman is a writer and comedian.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Pinterest

Did you ever tear a photograph of your dream kitchen out of a magazine? A wedding dress? The pink sand beach in Bermuda that you dream of escaping to in the middle of winter? Well, Pinterest is the on-line location where you can gather all the nifty things you come across on the internet. Pinterest is the virtual intersection of a bulletin board, a scrapbook and a notebook. As Wendy says, it’s her “happy place”! Mine too!

One of the cool things about Pinterest is that you don’t just see your own boards; you get inspiration from other people’s boards. When you see something you like right on Pinterest you “re-pin” it. When you see something in your travels around the internet you “pin it” using a little gizmo up on your browser bar. Easy peasy - and definitely worth a look!

Major Step For Little Rhody

Tonight the Rhode Island State Senate passed a Civil Unions Bill. It’s not perfect. It’s not full and equal marriage. But it’s a big step, in the right direction, for the smallest state. Governor Lincoln Chafee will sign it.

Thank you Rhode Island!

Friday, June 24, 2011

Minot


Before last month I had never been in the state of North Dakota. When we took “The Empire Builder” there was a scheduled stop in Minot, North Dakota. It was a brilliantly sunny day, with nary a cloud in the sky. We stepped off the train onto the platform to stretch our legs and breathe the fresh spring air. We were in Minot much longer than anticipated because of a problem with one of the cars. We eventually reboarded the train and continued on our way.

Within a few hours the sky grayed; clouds deepened. Somewhere in North Dakota or perhaps over the line into Montana, the landscape changed. The image below is not a photograph of a lake. It is the flat of the northern prairie inundated with water. The wave you see is actually the wake from the train as it moved ever so slowly across the flooded railroad tracks. Once we were safely back on dry track, the train was stopped while the conductor and crew got out to inspect the undercarriage to be sure we had not picked up any debris.


Right now, Minot, North Dakota is experiencing the worst flooding it has known in over 130 years. The Souris River runs through the heart of Minot and is continuing to overtake the city of 40,000. Nearly 10,000 people have been evacuated. The Roosevelt Park Zoo has also been evacuated. The river is already 9 1/2 feet above flood stage. The crest may be reached on Sunday at 15 1/2 feet above flood.

Here’s one way you can help the people of Minot:
American Red Cross, Mid-Dakota Chapter.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

It Felt Like A Sunday

Chuck and I met 26 years ago next month. In September we will celebrate our 20th wedding anniversary. In the intervening years between meeting and marrying we became friends and fell in love. Shortly before we met, Stephen Sondheim wrote the Broadway musical “Sunday In The Park With George”. We were smitten with it. Song after song moved us; touched us in some deep way. The musical was inspired by Georges Seurat’s spectacular painting “A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte”. In fact, the painting becomes a scrim in the musical production.

Back in the late 80s, right around the falling in love stage, we began thinking about visiting Seurat’s original painting. We even looked into a weekend plane trip from Massachusetts to Chicago, where the painting resides in a museum. But the cost of such a trip was prohibitive. When we drove across the country from Seattle to the east coast back in 1998, we were pushing to make a deadline. We were very disappointed to find ourselves traveling through Chicago around midnight.

So when the Amtrak adventure began to take shape we realized this might be our best chance. The only potential glitch was the timing. Because the railroad tracks are owned mostly by freight companies, Amtrak passenger trains often have to wait their turn to let long freights have priority. That can mean significant delays. We were lucky. “The Lake Shore Limited” arrived in Chicago on time, leaving us with nearly a four hour layover. We stashed our carry-on luggage in a locker at Union Station and hailed a taxi in the pouring rain.

Next stop: The Art Institute of Chicago.

We stepped out of the warm rain and into the cool serenity of the Art Institute. We paid our admission fee and asked for directions to the painting. In just a few moments we were in the gallery devoted to it and a few of Seurat’s other works. We were overcome. We had dreamed of this moment for almost a quarter century. We sat on a long wooden bench and tried to take it all in. Group after group of elementary school students bustled in with notebooks in one hand, folding stools in the other. They plopped down in front of the enormous image and listened while the docents explained the painting and the magic of pointillism.

I wanted to take a photograph. Chuck found a guard and inquired if non-flash photography was allowed. “Yes”, she replied. I took some photographs. We sat down again; still feeling overwhelmed. The guard looked at us quizzically and we felt compelled to quietly explain how we came to be there. Families walked in and out; individual visitors, many wearing the now common headphones playing the audio tours, stopped, looked and moved on. Most everyone seemed interested. No one seemed quite as taken as we were. But then, very few of them had been looking forward to that moment for such a long time.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Urban

I may have been born in the city of Providence, Rhode Island, but I grew up in suburbia. I have lived in a few cities, including Worcester, Massachusetts. Now I make my home in a rural community. So my city forays are for shopping, education, cultural activities, entertainment, sporting events and dining. That’s why this photo opportunity was irresistible to me.

The Amtrak train we were on called “The Empire Builder” (I know. It is so very cool they name their routes!) made a stop in Spokane, Washington. The back half of the train was being separated and would follow a southerly route to Portland, Oregon, while our “consist” would continue along to Seattle, Washington. Spokane was one of the few stops long enough to allow the passengers the chance to get off onto the adjacent platform. When the train glided to a halt, this wonderful old brick building was right outside the window of our sleeping car.


I love photographing the natural world in all its splendor, but now I have a strong urge to look at the city with fresh eyes; a camera in hand.

A Brief Explanation

Former Labor Secretary Robert Reich explains the problems with the U.S. economy in less than 2 minutes, 15 seconds — replete with illustrations. Watch and learn...



Many thanks to MoveOn.org for this video.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Sweet Surprise

It took two weeks and nine modes of transportation to complete our recent trip.

Several months ago we received an Evite from our brother-in-law. He and the kids were planning a surprise 60th birthday party for Chuck’s sister. We couldn’t resist. But we decided to do something different. We decided to travel by train - - - to Seattle, Washington. Yes, four days and three nights on the train vs. five hours by plane. We looked on it as an “adventure”. Well, sometimes we saw it as an adventure; sometimes we saw it as a what-have-we-gotten-ourselves-into?

But at the surprise party, in the moment when Chuck’s sister ran into his arms, we knew it had all been worth it.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

He’s Smiling

My Dad loved the Boston Bruins. We lived in Rhode Island when the Bruins hockey games were broadcast over a UHF station out of Boston. We had only one television that could pick up the UHF signal. It was a little black and white TV with the round wire UHF antenna on the back. Dad had to position it “just so” in the northeast corner of a second floor bedroom. Even with his careful and repeated adjustments, he still watched nearly every Bruins game through a field of electronic snow. Truly, I do not know how he ever actually saw the puck. Between the tiny screen and the chronic snow I think he must have intuited the position of the puck as it flew across the ice. It didn’t matter. He loved the game. He loved the Bruins.

So when the Boston Bruins won the Stanley Cup last night, for the first time in 39 years, I know that Dad was smiling. And I sure hope that they had an enormous, state-of-the-art, HD TV up in heaven so that Dad could watch his team win the best of seven and bring the Cup back to Boston. If there was a cold Heineken on hand, well, so much the better!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

10 = 7

Isabella turned ten months old on Sunday. Having been born prematurely, her adjusted age is seven months. When we visited today her Mom, Carrie, treated us to a very big surprise:

Izzy can sit up all by herself!


Oh, and she is presently quite fascinated by her toes - - - along with everything else in this great big, wonderful world!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Jumping Back In

I’ve been gone so long I hardly know where to begin. We were away for two full weeks and every day deserves its own post! That seems a bit too unwieldy right now so let me start with an easy one:

Congressman Anthony Weiner is a schmuck.

(Yes, all Yiddish puns intended.)

I thought Congressman Weiner was a good politician; a good advocate of the liberal agenda. I honestly thought that while he was bold and brash he worked on the side of the angels. The argument can be made that his private life is just that - private. But his stupid, vain, childish and inappropriate behavior has undermined his efficacy and power in Congress. Thereby effectively vitiating his ability to fully represent his constituents and those of us across the nation who count on his vote.

Now we are learning that Congressman Weiner’s lovely wife Huma Abedin is expecting their first child.

Yup. He is a royal schmuck.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Hyla Neighbor!


We were rushing out the door to get to an appointment this morning, when we spotted this Gray Tree Frog (Hyla versicolor). He/She was clinging to our storm door, about halfway up. Despite his thriving conservation status as “least concern” neither of us had ever seen one before. Clearly the appointment would have to wait a couple of moments!

After I snapped a few pics, he leapt down to the stoop. While the “versicolor” in his Latin name does mean Gray Tree Frogs can change color, they do so fairly slowly. So I think it was my camera being challenged by the different backgrounds, not his own physiologic magic, which accounts for the different colors between the two photos. I would say he was really somewhere between the two.

Thanks to the Brookhaven National Laboratory you can listen to some (very noisy) Gray Tree Frogs.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Yum!

If you are anywhere near a Trader Joe’s drop what you are doing and head directly for their freezer case. Look for their "Caribbean Fruit Floes". Buy a box. Eat one. Come back and thank me. Repeat.

They are like sorbet on a stick, only chewy. They are meaty popsicles. That sounds bad and these aren’t bad. These are delish.

Please buy them. Please save us from being the kiss of death to another yummy Trader Joe’s product.

Thank you!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Seven Years and Counting...


Today is the seventh anniversary of the legalization of Same Sex Marriage in Massachusetts. Happily, despite repeated attacks, equal marriage has remained the law of the Commonwealth. All those specious arguments; all those dire predictions about how so called “traditional marriage” would be undermined, yet here we all are. The sky did not fall.

Image from Mass Equality’s website.