Sunday, April 29, 2012

I Have No Words

My sister Karen ~ 1947 - 2012
Zichrona liveracha ~ Her memory is a blessing

Monday, April 23, 2012

Ralph’s Best Side

Back in May of last year I posted about the nifty phenomenon of how “Ralph” the seagull is always waiting for us in the same spot on Park Loop Road. Yesterday we drove the same route and sure enough, there he (or she) was! Today, while happily rained-in by a nor’easter, I had some fun digi-scrapping a layout using current photos along with the text from the earlier post.

(By the way, Blogger has “updated” their platform leaving carriage returns and paragraph breaks non-functional. I’m looking forward to them sorting that out ASAP!)

Photos and layout by LMR/Pink Granite. Fonts: Jayne Print, Helvetica . Software: Apple iPhoto ’09 and Adobe Photoshop CS5 for Mac.

Sunday, April 22, 2012


Even when it is cloudy/rainy/windy and the Porcupine Islands are shrouded in fog, it is still a pleasure to be here.

(For those of you outside New England, “Maine ~ The Way Life Should Be” is posted on signs as you enter the state. As for the bottle in the photo, well, family and friends will appreciate that!)

Photo and layout by LMR/Pink Granite. Font: Hans Hand. Software: Apple iPhoto ’09 and Adobe Photoshop CS5 for Mac.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Welcome Back

"Fred" flew by to welcome us back to Bar Harbor, Maine. (Is it just me or does his look say: "What took you two so long?")

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

One House

The house at the end of our street was torn down. We heard a few different versions of how the lovely, mid-nineteenth century farmhouse had been abandoned or maybe the folks had moved away because of work or perhaps the wife had gotten sick or, well, it didn’t really matter. Gradually, the house fell into disrepair.

A silly woman called it haunted which was disrespectful of a house that was simply full of memories and sounds (laughter; tears; muddy boots stomped on the porch; mice scurrying in the walls) and smells (strong coffee; wet wool, roast turkey; lilacs) and seasons upon seasons of children and pets and young couples and widows and widowers.

Even after people and animals stopped living there, our neighbor and friend continued to hay the fields every summer. He plowed the driveway in the winters until the shed, that doubled as the garage, slowly gave in to the snow load on its punctuated roof.

Word went round town that the house would finally be sold. We heard it was part of an estate and we felt a sadness at the distant loss. Our friend and neighbor made an offer, then another. But a fellow from out of town swept in, made his case and met the price. Before the truth of it all could even circulate, the man had a crew in who wrapped the place up in yellow caution tape; harvested the gold in the form of mouldings and chestnut beams; stripped it bare he did.

Then the chug of a tractor in the field was replaced with the sound of more fearsome equipment, as the big machines pushed and pulled; strained, shattered and finally felled the once fine old home. The sound was terrible; rending in its truest form; a kind of keening that wrenched your heart. Bricks crumbled; joists snapped; horsehair plaster and lath rained down and the dust rose up in clouds. Smoke from the funeral pyre and all the sounds and smells and memories from a century and a half of living went with it.

The corner is empty now. They filled the cellar hole and smoothed it over in a sort of slap-dash way so you can still see the ruts the big treaded tires made. Spring came early after a worrisomely warm and dry winter. A plucky little forsythia burst open in a yellow cascade at the foot of what was once the front walk. I’m hoping the lilac near where the old shed stood does the same in a few weeks; flowers at the grave of an old friend.

Monday, April 2, 2012


Seamus Heaney is brilliant. This clever video presents Seamus reading his poem “Digging” in a marvelous and engaging way. If you are tempted to move on because poetry isn’t your cup of tea, please don’t. Take just one minute and thirty-seven seconds to enjoy every word, every image.

Happy Poetry Month!

Sunday, April 1, 2012

How Doctors Die

“How Doctors Die - It’s Not Like the Rest of Us But It Should Be”

That’s the title of an article our niece Carrie sent us a link to shortly before Chuck’s Tanta died. Written by Ken Murray, MD, it was timely then and, most likely, will be timely many more times during our lives.

One of the things which required the most explanation as we began telling family and friends why Chuck’s Tanta was entering hospice care, was that she was not going to have a biopsy and there would be no treatment for her cancer.

Tanta had the same primary care physician for decades. His colleague had been her mother’s doctor back in the 1980s. Tanta and we met with each doctor about a week apart. At the second appointment her primary confirmed the diagnosis of liver cancer. He explained that the size of the mass and the progression of the disease was quite clear from the CT-Scan. He told us that they had seen nodules on both of her lungs, which they believed was likely a recurrence of the lung cancer Tanta had beaten successfully many years before. Now it seemed that the lung cancer had metastasized to the the liver. But even if it were an intrahepatic cholangiocarcinoma the options and outcome would be the same. A biopsy was not necessary because it didn’t matter which kind of cancer it was. It was untreatable.

We live in a time when treatment, often aggressive treatment, is the norm. The CT-Scan had been done in Boston at one of the finest hospitals around. Both of Tanta’s doctors were affiliated with that hospital. We all went into those appointments expecting to come away with a treatment plan. Instead, two experienced, compassionate doctors were very frank and honest with Tanta, while also being gentle and respectful. Initially the news that there was no treatment which would not do more harm than good was startling. But in short order we all came to understand the wisdom of their advice.

Tanta was given the truth. It was a gift. Tanta also gave us a gift long ago by spelling out, in no uncertain terms, her desire to spend her final days at home. Because of both of these gifts she did not spend her last weeks being shuttled to doctors and hospitals for unnecessary treatments. Instead she stayed in her own home where family, friends, neighbors and rabbis from her temple could stop in for a visit. She had round the clock care and, as she put it, she didn’t have to wait twenty minutes after she rang a bell for someone to respond to her needs. And the brilliant hospice staff was in regularly to tend to her physical, emotional and spiritual needs - but always on her terms, not theirs. Tanta died peacefully and, most importantly, she died with dignity.

Not everyone is able to die this way. Dr. Murray’s article spells out very clearly why we all need to think ahead and understand all of our options. The resources and options are increasing - not just for treatment of disease but for hospice and palliative care. We have choices.