Monday, December 31, 2012

Deep Breath

2012 was rough - really rough.

Standing on the cusp of 2013 - weighted as it is with its trigger for triskaidekaphobia - I found it hard to be excited. Looking forward was fraught with risk. Hadn’t I done that on New Year’s Eve 2011?

I stayed with that negative feeling for quite a while - longer than I care to admit. Then I took my own advice about an attitude of gratitude and looked back to see what was good about 2012.

- Our grandnephew Finn was born and is healthy, handsome and wildly happy. His fine parents, Kate and Phil, are also wildly happy.

- Our grandniece Isabella celebrated her second birthday - and then some - and continues to be happy and learning like crazy. Izzy’s fine parents, Carrie and Al, are loving keeping up with their energetic treasure.

- My sister Gail surprised us with a visit from Georgia for Fourth of July fireworks.

- We were able to be with my sister Karen on April 27th and April 28th.

- Our niece Kayla found employment just a few weeks after relocating to the East Coast.

- Our niece Emily relocated to California and quickly found employment.

- We were grateful to have several visits with our grandniece Alex who is becoming a lovely young lady.

- We finally bought new cell phones and love how well they work for us.

- We saw relatives we hadn’t seen in years.

- I am now very comfortable creating spreadsheets in Numbers.

- We sold a condominium for a relative just a couple of weeks after we readied it and put it on the market.

- We learned to text - and negotiated the sale of the aforementioned condo mostly that way.

- We saw a “super” full moon in perigee and meteors.

- Chuck’s EEG was 100% normal.

- We got to know a cousin and his wife and they are are now dear friends.

- Our friend Wendy gave birth to a healthy little boy named Luca.

- We had the stand of ailing hemlocks - which scared me every time we had a storm - taken down or trimmed and treated.

- My heart was tested and tested some more and pronounced 100% A-OK.

- We added to our team of fine doctors and specialists and we still have a hospital we trust and like.

- We met a business associate in person after years of talking with him long distance. As a result, we like and trust him even more.

- When Chuck fell in November nothing worse than four non-displaced fractures happened.

- We had a lot of work done on our house by guys we trust completely.

- We got a new camera which has a speedy enough recovery to capture photos of speedy toddlers.

- Our friends’ daughter legally married her partner.

- We traveled to Bar Harbor and Acadia twice.

- We had two reunion luncheons with former colleagues.

- We had two reunion luncheons with extended family.

- We re-elected President Obama.

- One day, we babysat Isabella for eleven hours and when we returned her to her parents she was still in one piece.

- We saw the Grand Canyon.

OK 2013, I’m ready for you...

Thursday, December 27, 2012

When It Was Prettier

When it first began snowing last evening, it was full of promise and very beautiful.

5 to 6

The meteorologists warned us it could be more. But we only got five to six inches of heavy, wet snow overnight. Then Mother Nature added a bit of sleet and a touch of rain. This is what the driveway looked like after one pass with the snowblower. I like snow. This is not my favorite variety of snow...

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

The Best

Here’s the trail of breadcrumbs. Chuck subscribes to The New York Times. That means in addition to the Sunday newspaper being delivered to our home, we also get full digital access. My favorite way to read the Times is on our iPad. Near the beginning of December I clicked on the Times icon. Before the edition refreshed I spotted an article about a blogger with the phrase “big ideas”. Then it disappeared and the new edition filled in. Some searching brought me back to the article which had caught me eye. Here’s the piece.

When I finished that article about 28 year old Maria Popova I clicked through to her website “Brain Pickings”. I was hooked. I quickly added the site to my RSS feeds and followed it on Twitter and Facebook.

Tonight I e-mailed my sister Gail in Georgia and mentioned it to her. That was when I realized I had never posted about Brain Pickings here. For which, I sincerely apologize!

Calling Maria Popova a blogger may be technically true but she is more accurately an editor, a collector, a curator, a librarian of all that is interesting. But not interesting the way CNN Headline News or USA Today are when you are stuck in an airport on a layover. Nor is Brain Pickings interesting the way BuzzFeed and Gawker can be. Brain Pickings is classier, deeper and draws you in with beauty, history and brilliance.

Brain Pickings has a separate page called The Literary Jukebox. Ms. Popova pairs a song with a quote or a poem. Sounds devilishly simple doesn’t it? I don’t believe it is and once again she makes it something special. Here is my absolute favorite combination which joins
John Steinbeck and Natalie Merchant. I find it both inspiring and beautiful.

Not every single Brain Pickings post is fascinating to me. But I am always happy to see the yellow avatar pop up in my streams. And I find it comforting to know that someone is working so assiduously to bring important and wonderful things to the attention of an ever widening audience.

Thursday, December 20, 2012


Just in case the folks who (mis)interpreted the Mayan Calendar are right, I give you the incomparable Edith Piaf singing “Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien”.


Saturday, December 15, 2012


Storytelling at its best can be found at The Moth. You may have listened to it on your local Public Radio station. I am certain it is a major cause of “driveway moments”. This particular story by Tristan Jimerson “A Dish Best Served Cold” is a wonderful story, wonderfully told. They describe it as “a case of credit card fraud sets an amateur sleuth on a crime-solving caper.” (Chuck had a "driveway moment" with this story and then brought it to me. Thanks Chuck!)
Sit back and enjoy.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Newtown, Connecticut

The facts are still emerging. But many children and adults are dead after a shooting this morning in an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut. It is being reported that twenty children and six adults were shot dead by one man.

I wept when I heard the news.
I can only begin to imagine the grief and anguish the loved ones of those murdered are feeling and will continue to live with.
I felt waves of emotion including horror and sadness.
I also felt frustration and fury.

The United States has a culture of violence. I do not profess to have all the answers. I do know we need better laws. With 40% of all guns in the United States being purchased through private sales, including gun shows, without a background check, that’s not a “loophole” that’s a norm.

I’ve read arguments today about how changing or improving gun laws is just “feel good legislation”. My response is there is a great deal of room for improvement in weapons legislation. Improving and tightening laws and regulations does not make it just "feel good legislation". It makes things better; safer. No legislation is perfect. No law can be completely and perfectly enforced. That doesn't mean we shouldn't have the laws.

There is a lot to think about in today’s article in the Washington Post by Ezra Klein: “Twelve facts about guns and mass shootings in the United States”.

There is also, once again, talk about “not politicizing” this, another, mass shooting. Ezra Klein writes the following about when the air has been thick with:

"calls to avoid “politicizing” the tragedy. That is code, essentially, for “don’t talk about reforming our gun control laws.”
Let’s be clear: That is a form of politicization. When political actors construct a political argument that threatens political consequences if other political actors pursue a certain political outcome, that is, almost by definition, a politicization of the issue. It’s just a form of politicization favoring those who prefer the status quo to stricter gun control laws."

I agree.

Two quotes comforted me today.

“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.” To this day, especially in times of “disaster,” I remember my mother’s words and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers – so many caring people in this world.”

This quote is attributed to Mr. Fred Rogers.
He was a wise man. His mother was a wise woman.
And we are grateful for the helpers - the police officers, the emergency medical technicians, the social workers, the fire fighters, the nurses, the doctors, the teachers, the clergy - all the helpers, always.

And this statement from President Barack Obama:

“This afternoon I spoke with Governor Malloy and FBI Director Mueller. I offered Governor Malloy my condolences on behalf of the nation and made it clear he will have every single resource that he needs to investigate this heinous crime, care for the victims, counsel their families.

We've endured too many of these tragedies in the past few years, and each time I learn the news, I react not as a president but as anybody would, as a parent. And that was especially true today. I know there's not a parent in America who doesn't feel the same overwhelming grief that I do.

The majority of those who died today were children, beautiful little kids between the ages of 5 and 10 years old.

They had their entire lives ahead of them -- birthdays, graduations, weddings, kids of their own.

Among the fallen were also teachers, men and women who devoted their lives to helping our children fulfill their dreams.

So our hearts are broken today -- for the parents and grandparents, sisters and brothers of these little children, and for the families of the adults who were lost.

Our hearts are broken for the parents of the survivors as well, for, as blessed as they are to have their children home tonight, they know that their children's innocence has been torn away from them too early, and there are no words that will ease their pain.

As a country, we have been through this too many times, whether it's an elementary school in Newtown or a shopping mall in Oregon or a temple in Wisconsin or a movie theater in Aurora or a street corner in Chicago. These neighborhoods are our neighborhoods, and these children are our children, and we're going to have to come together and take meaningful action to prevent more tragedies like this, regardless of the politics.

This evening, Michelle and I will do what I know every parent in America will do, which is hug our children a little tighter, and we'll tell them that we love them, and we'll remind each other how deeply we love one another. But there are families in Connecticut who cannot do that tonight, and they need all of us right now.

In the hard days to come, that community needs us to be at our best as Americans, and I will do everything in my power as president to help, because while nothing can fill the space of a lost child or a loved one, all of us can extend a hand to those in need to remind them that we are there for them, that we are praying for them, that the love they felt for those they lost endures not just in their memories but also in ours.

May God bless the memory of the victims and, in the words of Scripture, heal the broken-hearted and bind up their wounds.”

Another wise man.

Now we need to “be at our best as Americans”.
We need to address this problem - not in all or nothing terms; not with heat and no light. But we must act. We must do everything we can to help prevent this violence, these tragedies.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012


Two minutes which made me laugh:

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Happy Chanukah!

Tonight, just after sundown, Chanukah began!

Enjoy this lovely song from the Barenaked Ladies:

Here are two places to find lots of information about Chanukah. One is and the other is the Union for Reform Judaism. The URJ Chanukah page is new this year.

As for the spelling... Chuck and I settled on “Chanukah” many years ago. But Hanukkah is also quite common. I’ve seen Chanukkah and Hannukah too. Because all of these are transliterations from the Hebrew, you have some leeway on the spelling!

Monday, December 3, 2012

Will and Kate

They are charming, intelligent, poised, seemingly down-to earth and beautiful. They are the prince and princess of our childhood fairytales come to life. There is no Evil Queen; no Evil Stepmother just a voracious, insatiable press digging into them and photographing their every move. They are Will and Kate, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.

(I’ve written previously about my feelings toward this couple and all British Royalty. So I will sidestep all the benefits and costs associated with their positions and attendant to their roles in British society.)

Last summer, when photos were released of Kate sunbathing topless, the press, along with social media, went nuts. That’s not lazy word choice on my part, they were freakin’ insane. At the time, all I posted was: “The important point about Will and Kate sunbathing topless is that they were using SunScreen! #SkinCancerAwareness ;o)” Privately, I thought it was a little naive of them to be so visible to the public, but really, who cares? Soon after, I was sitting in a dentist’s office waiting for Chuck, thumbing through a People Magazine. The magazine had published a photo of where the photographer was standing when they snapped the pictures. (Here is a comparable image.) My jaw dropped. The point on the road was about a half a mile away from where Will and Kate were on the private balcony. One half mile! That’s the length of nearly nine football fields placed end to end - or nearly two Empire State Buildings or two and a half Eiffel Towers! For most anyone else in the world that would have been plenty private and plenty reasonable.

Now it has been announced that Kate is pregnant with their first child. Unfortunately she has been hospitalized with a medical complication known as hyperemesis gravidarum. This isn’t “just morning sickness” nor is it “just acute” or “intense morning sickness”. This is unrelenting vomiting. Since we’re talking about a member of the Royal Family, I have to assume that if Kate’s symptoms had fallen along the typical mild to dreadful morning (or all day) sickness continuum she would be at home. It’s also clear from the timing of the announcement (Kate is still early in her first trimester) that the situation was serious enough that The Palace broke the news early. But the press - and most particularly social media - is having a field day with the story. And it’s been more than snarky, it’s been decidedly ugly.

What have I learned? Well, the other day I decided I don’t have a thick enough hide to run for political office. Today I confirmed that it is a very good thing that I didn’t follow those two of six degrees of separation to meet and marry Prince Albert of Monaco, because I could not live in the roiling waters of that sort of fishbowl.

So here’s to Will and Kate and their child. May they all soon be well and strong and happy.