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Thursday, December 24, 2015

Be Not Afraid


Kol haolam kulo gesher tzar m’od
v’ha-ikar lo l’facheid klal


The entire world is but a narrow bridge;
the most important thing is not to be afraid

~ Reb Nachman of Breslov


Photograph and Layout LMR/Pink Granite. Software: Apple iPhoto ‘08 & Adobe Photoshop CS5 for Mac. Fonts: Helvetica and Papyrus.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

The Tiniest Word

“A”
Indefinite Article
Used before nouns and noun phrases that denote a single but unspecified person or thing: a region; a person...

a cancer...

We were driving along, slurping slushy Del’s Frozen Lemonades and relishing the unique-to-Rhode-Island taste when his cell phone rang. The number displayed didn’t look familiar. He was about to ignore it. Then I asked: “What if it’s Lahey Clinic?”
But that didn’t make sense because they told us the biopsy results could take 7-10 days and here it was, little more than 48 hours later.

I pulled into the parking lot of the Garden City Whole Foods as he answered the phone.
Yes, it was Lahey. More precisely it was Dr. M. She is young and smart and skilled in her speciality and in surgery. She is a natural teacher and she has a wonderful bedside manner.
He pressed speaker on his cell phone.
“Hi it’s Dr. M”
She told us everything that mattered, in a way that showed he mattered to her.

After he hung up I dictated into my cell phone everything I could remember of what Dr. M had said.
The most important things I remembered were “this is the best possible type of cancer under the best possible circumstances” and “don’t panic”.

I broke the notes up into manageable blocks and texted it to his sister who is also an MD. His sister is such a fine doctor that she could have mentored Dr. M.

The sun was shining brightly even as it dipped lower in the sky. We sat in the parking lot for several minutes. We heard a siren and then more sirens. Cars zipped by; carriages wheeled and clanked; doors slammed shut.

We continued to drive home. We talked, were quiet, choked up, laughed, ran a couple of errands, talked and laughed some more.

At one point he said: “I have cancer.”

It suddenly struck me at a deep, intuitive level and I replied: “You have A cancer.”

Both of us are old enough to remember the way cancer used to be written caps-lock on people’s hearts; screamed out in people’s minds, but it was spoken of aloud only in hushed, fearful tones.

And we both have lived long enough to have family members and friends die of cancer. One friend died Monday; one family member died in May.

We also have friends and loved ones who have cancer written on their medical charts, but for whom it has receded. Yes, receded. I’m not talking about remission or cures or watchful waiting. I mean that a cancer diagnosis and treatment is something that they went through. They have certain ongoing responsibilities. But the experience has taken its place among all their other life experiences.

“You have A cancer.”

That tiny word; that perfectly named indefinite article of “A”, is helping to restore perspective; transform our understanding of this cancer and make it into something manageable.


===
I wrote this in August 2015.
Today is Chuck's first day of 42 radiation treatments.
As we have told our family and friends, all will be well.
That message was echoed by all of his doctors.
Yes, all will definitely be well...

Friday, November 27, 2015

Black Friday

For as long as I can remember, the day after Thanksgiving has involved shopping. Being 57, we’re talking over half a century! But when I was growing up we didn’t refer to it as “Black Friday”, even though the term has apparently been around much longer than I have. It was just the “Day After Thanksgiving” sales and shopping.

When I was very young my mother, my sisters Karen and Gail and I would all head to downtown Providence, Rhode Island to do our Christmas shopping. I loved every minute of it - the busyness, the crowds, the escalators in the fine old department stores, the Christmas decorations and the excitement of finding just the right gifts for family members. But the highlight of every single one of those Day After Thanksgiving excursions was lunch at Shepard’s Tea Room. It was always crowded and always worth the wait.
Like Shepard’s itself, the Tea Room had beautiful, gleaming wood and I remember an overall rosy glow to the place - could have been paint; could have been lighting and surely fond memories as well. Shepard’s Tea Room managed to be both elegant and casual all at once. I remember the Turkey Club Sandwiches as being a favorite along with a fountain Coca Cola. We would sit around the table, enjoying our lunch and pore over our Christmas lists as we planned our shopping strategy for the afternoon.

Yes, the stores were crowded. Yes, there were many sales in all the stores. But it was never as chaotic and aggressive as it has become in recent years.

When the Midland Mall was built in Warwick in 1967 and the Warwick Mall followed in 1970, our Day After Thanksgiving shopping forays to Providence soon came to an end. Shepard’s was anchoring the Midland Mall; Jordan Marsh and Filene’s, both from Boston, were anchoring Warwick Mall. Our lunches at Shepard’s Tea Room were replaced by lunches at the Woolworth’s Lunch Counter and the Newport Creamery.

The new stores in the new malls were oh so very modern; the parking was always crowded but readily available; all the stores were close together and we didn’t need to bundle up before we headed out onto the street to dash off to the next store. My glasses no longer steamed up as I entered a new store; the Christmas lights didn’t twinkle and glow the same way through those foggy cat’s eye glasses.

We missed the Tea Room, but made new memories.
We were certain we had gained so much through the addition of those sleek malls.
It would be years before we truly understood all we had lost.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Peace...


"Blue Marble" photograph via NASA
Transliterated languages via Columbia University

Layout LMR/Pink Granite. Photo: "Blue Marble" via NASA. Software: Apple iPhoto ‘08 & Adobe Photoshop CS5 for Mac. Font: Hypatia Sans Pro.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

A Broken Heart

"You will lose someone you can't live without…"
~ Anne Lamott


Layout, photograph and design by LMR/Pink Granite. Software: Apple iPhoto ‘08 & Adobe Photoshop CS5 for Mac. Font: Hypatia Sans Pro.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Honor and Gratitude

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…


Dad ~ 1942

Sunday, November 1, 2015

On Grief

"Some things in life cannot be fixed. They can only be carried."
~ Megan Devine

Learn more about Megan Devine


Layout, photo and texture by LMR/Pink Granite. Software: Apple iPhoto ‘08 & Adobe Photoshop CS5 for Mac. Font: Helvetica.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Hearts

Dear loved ones of Suzann Diehl,
We visit that heart shaped rock slab on top of Cadillac Mountain twice a year.
We will check in on your heart each time we do…
Sincerely,
Lee and Chuck

Friday, October 23, 2015

Sunset


Gorgeous sunset tonight over the Mount Desert Narrows, between Trenton and Mount Desert Island, Maine.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Pope Francis & A Clerk From Kentucky

Kim Davis is the elected civil employee in Kentucky who disobeyed Federal law and refused to issue civil marriage licenses to same sex couples in her jurisdiction. Davis, the daughter of Roman Catholics who currently identifies herself as an Apostolic Christian, has said her religious beliefs preclude her from issuing marriage licenses to same sex couples. Professor Katherine Davis of Columbia University has stated: "Kim Davis has all sorts of religious liberty rights secured under the First Amendment and under other laws, but they are not at stake in this case. All she's asked to do with couples that come before her is certify that they've met the state requirements for marriage, so her religious opposition to same-sex marriage is absolutely irrelevant."

News reports say that Kim Davis, along with her fourth husband (who was also her second husband), had a private audience with Pope Francis. Kim Davis spoke with ABC News saying of the meeting: "Just knowing the pope is on track with what we're doing, and agreeing, you know, kind of validates everything." She had previously stated the Pope told her to “Stay strong”.

Vatican spokesman Father Frederico Lombardi said (in Italian) yesterday: "I cannot not deny the meeting took place but I have no comments to add.”

I normally link to all the sites where I found information and quotes. But a quick Google search will flood your screen with news reports and opinion pieces about this meeting. I will leave you to it.

I keep thinking of all the people Pope Francis could have chosen to have a private audience with:

The Richard Family whose son, Martin was killed in the Boston Marathon bombing; the same Roman Catholics - parents Denise and Richard; their surviving children Jane and Henry - who spoke out against the death penalty for the man who murdered their son.

Any of the survivors or family members of the victims of the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church shooting in South Carolina. They were targeted in their church as they prayed.

These just a few of the people Pope Francis could have spent time with and said to them “Stay strong...”

Monday, September 21, 2015

New Drinking Game


If not Bernie Sanders

I would suggest Martin O’Malley

Or perhaps Hillary Clinton


Thanks to Alana Is Alive for the original post.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Happy New Year!

Rosh HaShanah begins at sundown Sunday, September 13, 2015. This marks the beginning of the Jewish New Year - 5776 on the Hebrew calendar,
If you would like to learn more about Rosh HaShanah you can click here.


May we ALL have a sweet New Year!
Shanah Tovah!


Layout, photo of leaves and design by LMR/Pink Granite. Software: Apple iPhoto ‘08 & Adobe Photoshop CS5 for Mac. Font: CK Dear Miss Rose.

Friday, September 11, 2015

September 11th

It was a day unlike today, with sun, blue skies and white clouds. Stunningly beautiful, yet completely ordinary, as people went about their normal routines; getting kids ready for school and heading off to work. Then, the ordinariness was shattered. First, we thought it was a terrible accident. But before we had a chance to absorb it all, shock turned to horror, then a cascade of feelings as the day turned into night, followed by more days, upon days.

It changed us.

It changed us all.

Today, on this solemn anniversary, I 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.

We remember.

We shall always remember...

Monday, September 7, 2015

On The Day We Honor Those Who Labor

“To our sages who toiled -
To the one who chopped wood; to the one who raised cattle
To the storekeeper, the cobbler, and the one who sold salt
To the one who brewed beer and the one who filled casks of wine
To the tailor; to the teacher; to the dealer in cotton
To the one who scrubbed clothing; to the keeper of vines
To the merchant of silk; to the one who plowed fields
To the builder of houses; to the doctors and scribes
To the blacksmith; to the tanner; to the digger of graves

Let us give thanks for a tradition that sanctifies work.
Let us honor those who toil and sustain the world
in noble and humble ways.
We acknowledge those whose labor goes unnoticed.
We praise the strength of their hands,
and the dedication of their hearts.”


~ From the Mishkan HaNefesh, 2015
Published by CCAR Press

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

DT Fans and Followers

So what are we calling them?

Trumpsters?

Trumpets and Trumpettes?

Trumplodytes?

Hmm… That last one does have a certain ring to it...

Friday, June 26, 2015

Love Wins!


Headline:
Supreme Court Declares Same-Sex Marriage Legal In All 50 States

Just one of many articles, this one from NPR

Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote the majority opinion. Here is the closing paragraph:

“No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice, and family. In forming a marital union, two people become something greater than once they were. As some of the petitioners in these cases demonstrate, marriage embodies a love that may endure even past death. It would misunderstand these men and women to say they disrespect the idea of marriage. Their plea is that they do respect it, respect it so deeply that they seek to find its fulfillment for themselves. Their hope is not to be condemned to live in loneliness, excluded from one of civilization’s oldest institutions. They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right.
The judgment of the Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit is reversed.
It is so ordered.”



As I wrote six years ago:
“Perhaps the most transformative aspect of living in a state where same sex marriage was legalized May 17, 2004 is that the sky did not fall. None of the dire predictions and specious arguments made by the opponents came to pass - in particular the idea that allowing same sex couples to marry would undermine “traditional” marriage between a man and a woman. It didn’t happen. And that wonderful, ho hum normalcy has been one of the most powerful arguments in favor of marriage equality.”

I am proud of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and so grateful that the Supreme Court has ruled in favor of justice and equality and love.

As President Barack Obama said this morning:
“Today, we can say in no uncertain terms that we have made our union a little more perfect.”


Layout, photo of granite and paper by LMR/Pink Granite. Software: Apple iPhoto ‘08 & Adobe Photoshop CS5 for Mac. Font: Helvetica.

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Caitlyn and Courage

I've seen some angry posts on the internet about Caitlyn Jenner. Many of them take issue with the use of the word "courage" to describe Jenner's very public transition. Most of these posts are accompanied by a photo of military personnel with captions stating that their courage is real or true courage.

Courage and heroism are part and parcel of our military. We are blessed to have men and women who stand and fight in our name, protect us and preserve our liberty.
We also see courage in every firefighter who rushes into a burning building and every police officer who confronts a criminal. Their courage is made manifest not just in crisis, but when they first pledge to protect and serve and it is renewed daily when they put the uniform on and walk out the door.
We see courage in children fighting grave illnesses and just as powerfully in their parents who comfort them, care for them, stand vigil by incubators or bedsides and wait painfully long hours in surgical waiting rooms.
We see courage in children and teenagers who do the right thing; who stand up to bullies; who hold on to the moral compass and say no to what would be so much easier to say yes to.
Courage - writ large or writ small - comes in many forms.
Courage, like love, like kindness like compassion, is not finite.
Courage, like pain, need not be compared. What is painful to you may feel as a mere twinge for me. What takes courage for me may be second nature for you.

Bruce Jenner before his surgery; Caitlyn Jenner after her transition did not block out the sun. All the joy, all the pain; all the virtue, all the crime still exists. But there might be someone who has had similar feelings and experiences to what Bruce Jenner lived with for 65 years, whose world got a little brighter. Maybe our generation, like Christine Jorgensen's generation in the 1950s, has their understanding of gender identity and the boundaries of their world view expanded. Perhaps the positive posts about Jenner on Facebook, plus the tweets on Twitter outweighing the negative ones is evidence of our progress.

Then again, as Jon Stewart pointed out, listening to the pundits swiftly pivot to misogynistic objectification of the newly female image of Caitlyn, shows we still have a long way to go...

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Love and Peace

Family is constructed in so many ways.
Ties stretch to welcome in new members; ties break casting some adrift.
Our hearts swell with joy; they break with shocking suddenness.
Love is where we start. Love is what we return to. Love endures - in all its complicated and blessed forms.

This week we lost two members of our extended family. Both too soon; both too young.

May the Source of peace send peace to all who mourn, and comfort to all who are bereaved...

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Three Years...

It still doesn't seem possible.
How I wish the phone would ring and I could hear your laugh again.
What I would give for just one more hug.
I love you Karen…
Thank you for everything...

Thursday, February 19, 2015

From The Hills of Western Worcester County


This is the path I had to shovel from our back porch and barn, in order to get to the far side of the kitchen wing to rake that roof.
The top of the snow on the path is up to my hip.
But I should note that I did not shovel all the way down to the ground!
The snow high on the barn siding is what has been blown there by the wind.

What a winter!

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Memory

I grew up in a household with a father, mother, two sisters and an occasional grandparent. Back when more of us were still alive, we often sat around the table after a meal and told stories. So help me Hannah, to listen to us tell the tales, none of us lived in the same house or shared the same experiences. Frequently, it was the conversational equivalent of Rorschach tests crossed with Rashomon. And those stories morphed over time. The funniest bits got played up for laughs; the sad ones; the painful ones, well, if we were generous, we learned to edit and ease up on those.

So I'm going on the record to support Brian Williams, Anchor and Managing Editor, of NBC Nightly News. I don’t know how or why his story of his time in Iraq evolved. There are vast amounts of digital ink being spilled on Mr. Williams’ chronology; not nearly as much on the science of memory; and far too much umbrage, snark and glee for such a serious subject. Mr. Williams has acknowledged what he did. He has apologized. And he is temporarily off the air.

I understand this is journalism. I understand there are ethical standards. I also understand Mr. Williams has sustained a crushing blow to his credibility and his career.

Back in 1995 Jay Leno asked Hugh Grant: “What the hell were you thinking?”
Hugh Grant eventually replied: “I did a bad thing, and there you have it.”

Yeah, Hugh Grant is an actor. Brian Williams is a journalist. I get that.

I also know I am very grateful no television crew was ever in my home rolling tape as my family and I told our stories; grateful no internet existed to pounce upon any of our missteps, misspoken, misremembered moments, nor the embellished tales we told.

My gut says Mr. Williams is a smart, well intentioned human being who screwed up.
I hope he rides out this media tumult and emerges tarnished, battered, but unbroken.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Our View


This was the view down our road at the end of the last snowstorm.
Or was it the snowstorm before that…?
Yes, this is really being a winter to remember - even if the details are already beginning to blur!

Monday, January 26, 2015

Milk, Bread & Eggs

There was a cute article in the Washington Post: Milk and Bread Are Actually Pretty Terrible Survival Foods.

We all joke about the French Toast Alert System and rushing to the store before storms, stripping the shelves bare. The Washington Post article takes all that on and wonders why we do it.

I believe a big reason we do what we do goes back decades.
What three staples used to be delivered to homes because they were perishable and we ran out of them?
Yup. Milk, Bread & Eggs...

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Thank You Josh!

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Liberté