Wednesday, November 3, 2010

What Does Several mean?

This morning, I allowed myself to be distracted from the election reports by this interesting article in the New York Times. It concerns chocolate. As I am Dr. Funk's assistant in her very important research into the neurology of Metro Boston restaurants I thought it important to keep up with the chocolate market. The report is interesting, and became more so when I discovered one of my favorite things in it- not as favorite as Madagascan Hot Chocolate at Burdick's in Cambridge, but close: yet another internally contradictory statement presented to the American public with a rather suave non-concern. I quote:

"Tcho’s creators beg to differ. The company, which sold its first chocolate in 2009, is privately held and will not reveal its revenue, except to say that sales have already reached into the millions over the last several years, according to Ms. Metcalfe, Tcho’s president. “By 2012 we hope to be profitable,” she said."

Let me review my counting skills: 2009, 2010! I only get one year there, so is this the answer to that perplexing question, how many is several? In the New York Times just one?

It may seem that this is a rather trivial thing to spark a blog post after all this time, and especially on the morning that election results are coming in, but isn't unreasoned acceptance of clearly questionable statements a dangerous component of our "volatile electorate" as we are called elsewhere in this mornings reports. Edmund Carpenter's phantom is still giving us lots of blows, and we are still taking them complacently.

Do read the article though, whatever Tcho's interpretation of the word "several," they do encourage fair trade and organic cultivation, and gives it's farmers Apple computers, so we now they are "right thinking people." Their chocolate may be good also- more research is required.

One modification of the "Favorite" cited above is that while Dr. Funk and I together go to Burdick's for Madagascar, I singly have been falling into addiction to Clear Flour bread's"Bouchons." I happen to know that they use Scharffen Berger, which isn't mentioned in the NYTimes article. I have been a customer of Clear Flour since the early 80's and I have to say that the quality of the product continues to amaze me. These little "Bouchons" are a case in point- the first one was interesting, the second time I said (to myself) "Hmm, these are rather good" the third time they seemed very good, then I started thinking "what is Christy doing here?" gradually the appreciation of these little chocolate pastries has expanded into a full fledged compulsion. That's how I define really quality and interest. Not completely revealed at first, a little mysterious, a growing fascination.

Would we could experience the same with our leaders before we vote them out of office. Well, here is reassurance- we have Clear Flour, Flour, and Sofra, and Barney Frank won his election, so perhaps there is hope!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Renewing an old hobby:

Collecting conundrums.

It is such a short time after my previous post, and yet I have come upon a real topper in an article in today's Boston Globe concerning the Homeland Security employee who has been convicted of a felony for employing an illegal immigrant.

Here is a quote from the article:
She secretly tape-recorded Henderson advising her not to leave the country or she would be deported.

This is presented as evidence that Henderson, the Homeland Security employee, was encouraging Bettincourt, the Brazilian cleaning lady, to remain in the country illegally. I'm not making this up- there it is in the newspaper. I guess it's sort of like "you can't fire me because I quit." That is, unless the reach of Homeland Security now extends to deportation from other countries. Would she be deported back to the US?

The Judge is looking for a sense of proportion, for which I laud him.

We are told Bettincourt is now in the country legally. Therein lies a tale, I'm sure.

I have another statement ripe with internal contradiction to add to my collection of public utterances that prove, once again, that Edmund Carpenter was right about the force of the media.

And finally, the now legal cleaning lady will lose her employer.


Thursday, June 17, 2010

Stonewall to Gay Marriage

"Pride Week," or as a certain friend of mine refers to it, "the Gay High Holy Days" is now over. Emotionally it's been a little tough on me. I start out with a photo of the official flag raising at City Hall, and it ended with the very unlikely circumstance of your humble servant giving a gay historical tour of Boston's South End called "Stonewall to Gay Marriage, a Long Road Through the South End. Today, I see in the New York Times, that the final arguments in the marriage trial in California have been presented, so there is a nice arrangement of events.

Folks who knew the "Mad Genius" through his "Lucubrations" don't know that he worked at City Hall for a while, so finding myself there for the flag raising was peculiar; my head fairly buzzed with his caustic comments, not the least because I was there at the behest of my friends at "Ethos," and Boston's community of elder LGBT's (I hope I haven't left anyone out of the acronym.) It would seem that I am now officially part of that community which he didn't survive to join with me.

I marched in the Parade with Emmanuel Church, and I will confess that I marched in my first Pride Parade, bare chested with my honey of long ago, with a little more ease than I did "Coming out" as this staunch Episcopalian which I've been lately- of course I worked out a lot then, and the church is much different now; and then there was the joyfully bizarre gathering on City Hall Plaza at the completion of the parade, now filled with booths for break away Catholics complete with tonsure, leather men, drag queens, corporate sponsors, doggie gift sellers, and politicians. I have been avoiding these gatherings since "The Mad Genius" passed. I have an almost surreal feeling of watching the proceedings from somewhere beyond the grave. I say this all the time but it is starkly true- almost everyone is either 10 years younger, or 10 years older than I. Of those with whom I was even acquainted during the 80's only 2 or 3 are seen around. I keep a mental tally of men I hear of in Boston who about 60- the present number is 9. When you consider that the year of my birth, 1948, was the crest of the baby boom, that we should be the largest, not the smallest, segment of the population, the devastation of AIDS becomes apparent. As I wandered around the festivities I felt like a "stranger from a strange land."

I don't need to tell you about my walk through the South End because one of the new friends who joined us has reported on it already, and very well, here, at Diffuse5. I encourage you to explore her blog.

So on to this report in the New York Times which has graced the cyberworld this morning. As usual, I have some questions. I realize that these may be more about the report than about the arguments reported upon, which I am not about to read in transcript,there are limits to my political enthusiasm!

Here are my questions, the quotations from the NYT report are in italics:

“The marital relationship is fundamental to the existence and survival of the race,” said the defense’s leading lawyer, Charles J. Cooper. “Without the marital relationship, your honor, society would come to an end.”

This line of argument against Gay marriage has always confused me. Yes, this is the lawyer defending Prop. 8. It is as though extending marriage to Gay couples will remove it from world of straight couples, once gay people can marry there won't be any more babies. All the straight people in the world will suddenly revert to Hippies who feel it is unconscionable to bring children into the world, I guess. Or another explanation, which I feel seriously may be the case, has to do with latent homosexual feelings. this is particularly conspicuous in the case of religious leaders: making sexual relations between men OK will threaten sexual relationships between men and women (when we speak of procreation we are speaking of sex after all.) In what set of circumstances could this be true? Only if men are much more attractive sexually than women, right? So when you hear this argument, doesn't it make you wonder about the inclinations of the speaker?

At one point, Judge Walker wondered at Mr. Cooper’s logic. “Do people get married to benefit the community?” he asked. “When one enters into a marriage, you don’t say, ‘Oh boy, I’m going to benefit society!’ ”

Here, my liberal friends will have to excuse a sardonic comment. I have always thought it strange that the homophobic community would be against gay marriage rather than insistent upon it. Gay people are bad, right? And really at their worst when they are running around the streets at night, looking for sex and having fun dancing to loud music. Get them off the streets and confined to the restrictions of marriage like decent people! Let them model themselves on us and benefit society! I suppose that the danger of this line of reasoning would be that straight people would have to stay in their marriages, raise their kids responsibly, do good for the community, and work to reverse the divorce laws. Odd that these "procreation as a standard" folks are not so active in that area.....

Judge Walker also asked why the state’s domestic partnership law, which affords most of the same rights as marriage, was not “sufficient accommodation” for the rights of gay people. Mr. Olson countered that marriage was a unique institution and more significant than domestic partnerships.

“It means something completely different,” Mr. Olson said.

Arguments in the trial began in early January, and included two weeks of evidence and testimony by plaintiffs and experts on marriage, sociology and political science.

The defense offered much more limited testimony, with two witnesses arguing, among other points, that same-sex marriage damages traditional marriage as an institution and that special judicial protections are unnecessary for gay people.

I have very conflicted feeling about the issue of "Gay Marriage" verses "Domestic Partnership," but will also acknowledge that my ambivalence is self interested: had the community in Massachusetts accepted domestic partnership rather than holding out for marriage "The Mad Genius" and I would have had some protections, and I would have been able to claim his assets when he died. Because of this personal cost I have always been skeptical that the price of "Marriage" was worth the delayed protection that the fight resulted in. I am now coming to see the wisdom of it however.

The quote above contains another oddity. I must say that I am continually amazed at the obvious lack of logic in statements that are made in the media- and also in court. California was mandated by the Court to apply the marriage laws equally to all people, not only to heterosexual people. This mandate was reversed by Proposition 8, and that reversal is being defended by Mr. Cooper who is saying that it would be a special judicial protection to apply the law equally to gay people, and that that is unnecessary; that applying the law to one section of society is routine, but applying it to another is unnecessarily special!

This appeal to the myopic view of a self-centered and fearful majority is exactly what our constitution is meant to protect us from.

and finally, back to the parade!

One problem with marching is that you only get to see what is just in front and just in back of you. I did get to see, however, a couple in a pedicab carrying a sign that read "55 years together, 6 years married." Here is another of my long standing observations about the validity of gay relationships. Consider that in our society all the legal, social, financial, and religious institutions have historically reinforced, supported, even demanded heterosexual marriage, yet the divorce rate is high and examples of happiness rare. And in times past, the times this couple established themselves during, gay people in relationships have suffered legal prosecution rather than protection, were ostracized by society at large and often their families as well, received no financial advantage or religious support, yet have managed to maintain a meaningful relationship. It is rare assuredly, as rare as the fifty-fifth anniversary of a straight couple, and who can say that it is of any less value to society.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

A Few Controversial Statements....

This post is inspired by Joan Vennochi's comments in today's globe regarding Helen Thomas's statement that the Jews of Israel should go back to Germany and Poland. Ms. Vennochi's comments, equating Helen Thomas with Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh et al seem to me to be poorly developed. It is interesting to read the many comments. Most of them would be amusing if they didn't expose such disturbingly poor reasoning on the part of the American public, but a few bring important points to the discussion, not least the difference between Thomas's position and voice as a serious reporter compared to the the position of outrageous talk show hosts who are, it is suggested, entertainers. Technically this is a valid point and might have been considered, but whether it obtains in the mind of the general public is a question- I will once again refer to "Oh what a blow that phantom gave me."

There are many difficulties involved in this discussion, not the least being coming to an understanding of the difference between being "anti-zionist" and "anti-semitic." I know Jews who are not Zionists, and by the way the Arabs are Semitic people. A subtext read in Thomas's statement, I suppose, is that returning to Germany or Poland would be a return to pogroms and death camps, which inference I think the Germans and Poles of today might resent, and by the way, wasn't America included in Thomas's original statement? And while reading the comments Obama's oil spilling in the gulf came up- I thought the oil was British, obviously connected with Balfour, I'm really surprised the commentators missed that, and I also learned that the Jews are right wing, I always thought they were left wing. The world is becoming so confusing to me, it must be my age, just as it must be Helen Thomas's age, which is great, and her career long. Perhaps, in the impatience of age, perhaps not quite at her best, she has slipped a little. We will all , at least the fortunate amongst us will get to that place in life, and having gotten there will think that the world might extend a little consideration, but alas, Dryden was right...

"When I consider life, 'tis all a cheat;
Yet fooled with hope, men favour the deceit;
Trust on and think tomorrow will repay:
Tomorrow's falser than the former day;
Lies worse; and while it says we will be blest
With some new joys, cuts off what we possest.
Strange cozenage! None would live past years again,
Yet all hope pleasure in what yet remain;
And from the dregs of life, think to receive
What the first sprightly running could not give.
I'm tired with waiting for this Chymick gold,
Which fools us young, and beggars us when old."

You cast your bread upon the water, as the good book says, when you jump to criticize the indiscretions of our seniors.

But still, that situation in the Mid-East is very confusing and distressing, so I want to share the opinon of a woman I once worked for with you. My first job out of college, where I minored in stained glass, was working for Durand Studios in New York City repairing stained glass. obviously this caused the team I was on to spend much time in religious establishments, I have many stories to tell! We were working in a Mid-manhattan Synagogue on this occasion. The Synagogues and temples were always the most hospitable and generous places to work- a marked contrast to the RC churches which wouldn't let come inside to eat our lunches. It was a cold rainy December day in 1972, and the woman who staffed the placed was busy making sure we had what we needed and were comfortable. "The Weather- you're working in this weather- we should be in Miami... You think it's warm in Miami? even in Miami it's cold!" She thought a lot about Miami it seems. During lunch we were chatting about the news which contained much distress from Israel just then. She threw up her hands and said "Oy! They should have given us Miami, then we wouldn't have all this trouble!" I still chuckle every time I tell this story.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Warning: Journalist may pose health risks

On my igoogle home page I have a feed from Scientific American, which included this morning an item entitled "Warning: New Doctors May Pose Health Risk." it is a jaunty little essay that reports on a statistic which indicates that there are more mistakes made in hospitals regarding medications during July that any other month, and it implies that this is because July is the month when freshly minted doctors hit the ward. The survey does not seemed to include any statistics on freshly inebriated barbecuers.

I will leave it to Dr. Funk to opine whether this is a causal relationship or not- she lurks amongst the anonymous followers here. I'm sure we will have an amusing diner talking about the incidents of barbecue burns and fish hook wounds, to say nothing of firecrackers during July 4th weekend, or the difficulties in obtaining accurate information on a person's medication from a sober patient, never mind one who has spent the day at the beach drinking "be-ahs" (excuse the dialect, just couldn't help myself.)

What concerns me is the idea that all doctors would have started their career with the seasoned knowledge of an experienced clinician. Obviously we all hope that at the end of that ambulance ride we will be put in the hands of the particular hospitals most experienced doctor. I doubt that would do us much good if the venerable doctor had been work 24 hours a day for the last 20 years and so some of us will have to accept he might be at home asleep- or even at the beach himself- when we are delivered to the emergency room.

This report, I acknowledge I haven't read the study itself, doesn't mention emergency rooms. I think they must be the scene of the errors, however, because if your doctor has admitted you he will be monitoring your case. That is if you have chosen your doctor well, and that my friends, is your own responsibility. And if you are in the hospital and you don't enquire about what they are administering to you, and question if it is different than what you are accustom to, why that is also your own responsibility.

My problem with this jaunty little report in Scientific American is actually a responsibility issue. In it's largest sense, the "it takes a village" sense it has to do with our responsibility as a society to foster the quality of the young professionals. I am often reminded of an essay by Eleanor Perenyi in her book "Green Thoughts." It is titled "Partly Cloudy" and comments on our attitude toward weather. This is a garden book, and she talks of gardeners who complain about rainy days, and then goes into a rather detailed description of what the world and our gardens would be like if we never had to have another rainy day. You may anticipate one of my pet themes here- rainy days are beautiful. It seems a very unfortunate thing to me that people will ignore both the misty pastel colors and vital supplies of the one element that we can't survive without that rainy days bring us. So too with the influx of young doctors, who will become deeply experienced doctors and who, by the way come, in the lack of experience, with the most up to date knowledge, fresh in their minds and right at their finger tips. You, we, are lucky to have them.

So here is my own report on new doctors.

My primary care doctor (I just can't use the acronym PCP, it sounds too much like a toxic chemical) went on Sabbatical last year so I had my check up with one of the "New Doctors" who was covering for him. As you know, I spend a lot of time with doctors, each has his specialty and interest, the older ones have, yes, experience. What I was having was an unsteadiness in balance- I was having to use a cane. At the time I was being treated with interferon, and every one was looking at that as the source of all ills, but this "new doctor," Dr. Petty, took about 5 seconds to question my B12 levels. Surprise, low B12 can cause all sorts of problems with your nervous system, which become permanent if not attended to. No surprise, my B12 levels were in the basement and in a very quick and easy fix Dr. Petty got rid of the cane.

So I say, rejoice if you get one of the New Doctors, and if you don't know what your medications should be you'd better learn. It takes two to tango.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Best wishes to Dr. Choi

In January of 2009 I made a post called "The Patient Patient" which I dedicated to Elisa Choi, M.D. at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. Dr Choi is, or unfortunately I now must say was, my infectious disease doctor. The past tense is because I was notified yesterday that she has left the Practice at Health Care Associates, and I will be reassigned. This is very distressing to me, but my primary care physician, the poet and doctor Rafael Campo who originally put me under Dr. Choi's care is still my primary care physician and will, I am sure, make an excellent choice in reassigning me.

And yet there is a great sadness in this for me. It has been a huge comfort for me that Dr.Choi has been in my court over the last six years and so I would like to take a moment to give tribute to her.

I have made some allusion to the time in 2004 when Tufts medical insurance dropped me and I was left without HIV meds- ok, that's a comment about "Death Committees," any one who thinks they aren't present in private insurance really needs a reality check. I was without my HIV meds for a few months as a result. These were the months following the death of "The Mad Genius," a time of fear and despair. The result of this was a rather complicated and confusing case of medication resistance that surfaced when Dr. Campo and the social workers at Beth Israel managed to get me medications again. It was at this point that Dr. Campo sent me to Dr. Choi whose specialty this is.

Dr. Choi guided me through the process of identifying the medication problems and she found a new "cocktail" that eventually brought the virus under control. She also identified a host of other problems- in particular damage to my bone marrow that AZT had caused and she got me back on the road to feeling like I had some future after all. All this time my liver enzymes were way out of normal range, and the easy explanation was that it must be my HIV meds, given that I consistently tested negative for Hepatitis C- that great passenger in HIV infection. Dr. Choi was never content to take the obvious cause without proof, and it is really this that I most respect her for. She is a great scientist and wants an exactly defined cause before she rests with any diagnosis. After many, many, tests she insisted on a Hep C viral test, in spite of the negative antibody test, and found that I was indeed carrying a lot of Hep C virus. "If I can beat HIV I can beat Hep C! Don't worry." She actually said that to me once. Further exploration revealed that I was losing other Hepatitis antibody's as well.

I can not explain the importance that my relationship with her has had for me without being so personal about my health. I have seen her every two months for 6 years now, and relied on her to get me through some very scary problems. But there is also another connection that has developed.

In 2007 Dr. Choi had a child. One isn't necessarily aware of pregnancy with male doctors but you know with your female doctors. I really wanted to do something personal- for me that means giving some of my art work- to mark the occasion, but juvenile isn't really my thing. I walk to my appointments at the BI through the Fenway and I had the idea of taking photographs of the ducks and geese, thinking a kid might enjoy them. The image here is one of the results. It has ended up being a large and very successful series of prints, and each one of them has a little thought of Dr. Choi and her family attached to it. I offer her my greatest respect and best wishes for the future!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Oh Joy

I have discovered that yet another fascinating Emmanuel Church person is writing a blog. You will find it over there on the right in my blog list- "The Crooked Line." Look through it, it is very worth reading!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Your Tax Dollars at Work

I was walking through Boston Common yesterday. We are having "Marine Days" here in Boston and the first sign I saw of the activity on the common was trio of smartly dressed officers walking up the path that runs parallel to Beacon Street. They were walking toward the State House. They nodded very politely. Then, as I proceeded down the slope I noticed a group of soldiers wearing fatigues and carrying rifles darting in an out of the trees. We will assume that the rifles were not loaded. The open field of the common was off to the left and as it became visible I saw tents and heavy equipment, vehicles and helicopters, all surrounded with metal railings and with very polite and well washed marines allowing the public to to clamber through them. Here are some pictures from this morning's globe. The engineer in me became fascinated. I actually walked through one of them. The engineer in me sometimes feels like my evil genius.

My route took me through the Public Garden. It has been truly spectacular this spring. Two weeks ago we had some warm weather that brought out all the flowers and then it turned cold so they have persisted. It has been a huge flower arrangement that has been sitting for weeks in the refrigerator of the early spring weather of New England.

Next I headed for Copley Square. The Marines were there as well. They had 4 machine guns set up around the large fountain where the skate boarders practice all winter while it is empty. It's still empty, but only one skate boarder was there in the cross fire of the machine guns. He looked very brave, but then there were no marines actually manning the machine guns at the time. They still looked very threatening though. And there was a large, I think it's called a mortar? I didn't stop to ask, a very large gun about 12 feet high, which they had pointed at the Boston Public Library. I can't imagine what these people are thinking about. I'm sure this is all meant to gain good will and show us how our tax dollars are spent, but pointing machine guns at skateboarders and artillery at the BPL is a little to ominous, dare I say prophetic, to be comfortable.

Here is another article from this mornings Globe- "Travesty of Justice" by Kevin Cullen. I recommend to you that you read it carefully. Be mindful that in describing the actions of the FBI and the Court system he is discussing the same entity which enforces it's will with the Marines who are flexing their muscles for us all in our fair "City on a Hill." Then go look at those gun emplacements on Copley Square.

Oh! By the way, did you hear that the BU class of 40 years ago will finally have a graduation ceremony. Those of you who remember will know that they never graduated because of the National Guard killing 4 students at a war protest at Kent State University. Those of you who don't can read about it here. BU has invited all the members of that year's class to join in this year's graduation, so they will finally have a ceremony. I add this as a reminder to those who think that it can't happen here. Think about Kent State in 1970 while enjoying "Marine Week".

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Bicycles, accidents and police

Here is a story from the NY Times regarding a confrontation between a bicyclist and a police officer. While you are drawing your own conclusions I'll tell you a story.

On September 30th 2004, about 4 pm, I was riding my bicycle on Massachusetts Avenue from my home in Dorchester, that is I was heading into town. I had only just started riding again after the summer during which I was struggling with medication resistance and the damage that AZT had done to my bone marrow. It felt good. After months of thinking that life was over I was starting feel like there was a future and strength would return. I was exercising, I was out in the free air, I was also fairly weak still and being quite cautious.

I am a long time bike rider- I started riding racing bikes in 1964, and I always rode fast. I discovered in high school that the guys who bullied me started to back off when I started to pass them on the long straight road that lead to the High School. They were in cars, I was on my bike. My philosophy of bike riding is that the cars can't hit you if you are going faster than they are.

But on that day in 2004 I discovered a flaw in that reasoning. Mass Ave, as we call it, gets a little complicated in the area where the food markets, Melnea Cass Bldv. and the exit from the central artery all converge. there is a huge detour around the fire department buildings, unexpected one way changes and very odd traffic patterns. In my hay day this would have been a signal to sprint- and perhaps if I had things would have been different, but I was cautious. There is a sidewalk on the left hand side, and I slowed down, got on the sidewalk, and was proceeding cautiously. As I was crossing Gerard Street, quite properly in the cross walk, a car came full speed down Mass Ave, turned into Gerard Street, and plowed into me. So much for being cautious. These are my memories: I remember flying through the air, thinking an expletive about not being able to "get out of this;" I remember coming to in the ambulance, I called my brother, I am told, and remember the EMT saying the car was doing 30 mph when it hit me; I remember having my clothes cut off and then a doctor apologizing profusely about how long I was in the Emergency Room. I assured her it was my quickest trip to an ER ever, I had no idea that it was midnight and I had been there for 6 hours. That's it, no memory of anything else.

Weeks later, when I went to get the police report, thinking of a nice law suit, I discovered that the officer, of whom I have no memory, entered a report saying that the car had been parked and that I ran into it, and in addition that I had been belligerent toward him. No explanation of how it happened that the front and rear wheels of my bicycle had been bent sideways, or of how the hood and windshield of the car had been damaged. I say nothing about how an unconscious person expressed his belligerence.

So that is what I have to say about bicycles and the police!

Watch this!

Here is a link to a film about Kevin Bright teaching blind students at Perkins School for the Blind to use a video camera. It is a "Must Watch!"

I am reminded, by one of the incidents in this short clip, of an exchange I witnessed, I should really say overheard, in the locker room of the Metropolitan Health Club many years ago. I should mention for the benefit of those who live in the real world that the Metropolitan Health Club was Boston's first avowedly gay gym. There was a blind fellow who worked out there and was quite popular, and he was chatting with another fellow while they were changing. I was in the next row of lockers but recognized the voices.

Our blind friend ask what the other had done over the weekend, to which he responded quite readily that he had gone out on a "blind date." By the time he finished the statement, however, he realized that he had probably transgressed all sorts of codes, manners and PC standards, and so without taking a breath started profuse apologies for making this thoughtless statement to one who was actually blind.

"No, no, it's fine, I use the term myself" said our very secure and grounded friend. But what followed was, to the ears of an eavesdropper, a foolish and continued insistence on the part of the sighted fellow that he was in error, while all the time the blind fellow was consoling and reassuring him.

I have learned how often it happens that it falls the lot of an assumed victim of affliction to take care of his comforters. I encourage you to watch the video!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Speaking of rain

I posted a photo last year- see Rain- which I had taken in response to a various comments I had heard at Emmanuel about our being in a bleak time of year. As it happens last year, at the end of March, we were also having a good bit of wet weather. While that photo made my point about color I was always dissatisfied with it. My Canon camera was new, and I eventually replaced the lens. This year on the same date we were having similar weather so I returned to the location, this is the result. The location is the Longwood stop on the green line. This is taken from the bridge over the Muddy River which brings on from Beth Israel via Winsor School, a route I travel all too frequently.

Friday, April 16, 2010

It's Raining Today So I Hope You Are Going Out!

I came in from the Friday Matinee at The Boston Symphony to find the message "It is raining today so I hope you are staying in." I had been reveling in the extraordinary beauty of the day on my way and on my return, the colors in the soft moist light, pinks and whites and the hot lavender of the early rhododendrons. The walk was ravishing. why would one stay in? I grabbed my camera in order to show you!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

An Explanation

A few days ago I open up this blog in order to send a new friend a link to it and was surprised to find new "followers" I will take advice on whether the quotations are correct in this context. This is a pleasant surprise, and makes me feel badly that I've been so negligent about making posts over the last months. A number of factors have been contributing, not the least a large increase in the difficulty I experience typing, these resulting from the neuropathy that I developed a few years ago. It seems that the nerves are not carrying the signals from my brain to my hands at the same speed, left and right. I sometime have to try two or three times to coordinate the cap shift with the intended letter. It has been very frustrating. I am getting around it however, and hope to be more communicative. Posting photos and poems is a way to get around that ofcourse so I will not make excuses, but try to be more attentive. Someone asked me a few weeks ago if I was a famous poet, I responded that yes, very famous, but only amongst a group of five people. Now I find the group is extended to eight, and I've been ignoring the possibilities. Mea Culpa!

What have I been doing all this time? I've been working on building projects at Emmanuel Church and reading Sir Walter Scott.

Every one asks why Scott? The answer is simply that other authors refer to him so frequently that it seemed like a sensible idea to familiarize myself with his writings. This intention received a solid push when I discovered a copy of "Guy Mannering" at a recent Boston Public Library book sale. While I was paying my dollar for it the librarian said wistfully,"Ah yes, Scott, ahhh, Guy Mannering, so dear, my favorite!

It turns out that picking favorites is very difficult. I struggled with the dialect in Guy Mannering, became completely hooked, and promptly decided that if one was going to struggle with the dialect and the vocabulary one had best get on with reading them all at once; which I have, pretty much. I'm reading all of the Waverly novels, in order as well as I can manage that, and am now up to "Woodstock," number 22 of 26.

The remark was made the other day that I must be some kind of masochist to attempt such a thing, but the truth is that they are all amazingly compelling, enormously interesting, and great fun to read. Taken as a whole they are an astounding accomplishment, and each is fresh and new and unique. I can't put them down which is something to say when reading the twenty second novel by the same author in the space of five months. There is no repeat of plot, or characters. There lurk surprises at every turn, and one can see very clearly the source of much in Dickens, Thackeray, Elliot, and Trollope. One also finds bizarre and convoluted premises for the tales- one person relating it to another who writes a memoir that gets read by a neighboring antiquary who tells us this story.... and heros who are ambivalent and blown by fate one way or another, bad guys who turn out to be essentially good and good guys who are motivated by evil, it's almost post modern.

I'll try to be better about sharing all this, but to be honest, until I'm finished, I just can't put them down!