Grrrls, Photos, Travel

Snacks on a Train

LP and I are on a Girls' Getaway. We left the boys at home, where they are joking about having something called a Rager.

(They'd better be joking.)

We're reading and watching DVDs on my laptop. The train left a little late due to the major weather yesterday, but we should make our connections just fine later.

Thanks be to Amtrak, for snacks and electrical outlets and transportation to the places we want to go!

Snacks on a Train

Bearnaise Sauce Dogs, Photos, reverb10

Wonder — #reverb 10 day 4

December 4 – Wonder. How did you cultivate a sense of wonder in your life this year? (Author: Jeffrey Davis)

This morning I left the house with snow melting off the eaves. It was really just a little snow that fell in the night. The snowfall total was more impressive on my Gmail page (the theme called Tree changes with your local weather). I could hear dripping. The temperature was just above freezing, and as I drove out of Portland toward North Yarmouth, heading to our book group meeting, the sky was grey and the ground was brown, not frosty at all.

I set my iPod to shuffle through my Christmas playlist, which almost always leads to some amusing musical neighbors.

A Handel-singing soprano announces, "And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly Host praising God and saying:" "Christmas Is children who just can't go to sleep." And thus Lou Rawls completes her thought.

I pass through the center of Cumberland, where high school athletes wave Christmas wreaths to get my attention for their fundraiser. I hear a recognizable voice singing a familiar song in an unfamiliar arrangement. Oh, I think, it's James Taylor with Yo-Yo Ma, and that's a Beatles song. And just as I put all the pieces together, the sun comes out to match the refrain. 

And it occurs to me that I cultivate wonder by paying attention to the details around me.

How can you experience awe or joy or love without paying attention? How can you know what's happening inside without also feeling what happens outside? 

Farmer's Market 001 When Sam was sick, he developed a little cough, and of course it terrified me, and of course it happened over a weekend. By Monday morning I was talking to a vet and hearing it was probably unrelated to the cancer, or maybe only in the sense that chemo made him prone to picking up a little something viral. But on Sunday night, long after dinner, when he tucked himself under the dining room table, I spread out on the floor with my face next to his and petted his paws. And it happened that the house was full of women, friends who came to show support and love in a challenging time, friends who let my daughter and me know we would not go through this alone. I could hear their calming voices and feel a comforting touch, a hand on my back petting me as I petted Sam. The rough wool of the Oriental rug, the soft paw of the dog, the strong hand of the friend all fix themselves in my memory creating a tapestry of gratitude and wonder that people cared so much, enough to interrupt their lives and join in mine at a time others might have preferred caring from a safe distance.

I cultivate wonder by paying attention to other people, because the Spirit of Love and Goodness acts through them, surely. 

(A friend who came from far away took this picture of Sam and me at the Farmer's Market on the weekend in question. You can see her shadow; it makes me think of the love that covered me then and continues to cover me now, truly a wonder.)

Photos, Thanksgiving

Ten Rules of Thanksgiving

The first rule of Thanksgiving: when roasting chestnuts in the oven, set the timer, or you may have explosions.

The second rule of Thanksgiving: at 7:30 on Thanksgiving Eve, Trader Joe's has no more pie crusts, not even in the freezer. Don't wait for the guy who claims they have some.

Thanksgiving 001 The third rule of Thanksgiving: you cannot make a homemade crust if you don't seem to own a pie plate anymore; make the best of it with the graham cracker crust and the gluten-free crust you already bought earlier in the week, for heaven's sake.

The fourth rule of Thanksgiving: when it's a small family group eating at your house, and the turkey weighs only 13 pounds, it's okay to sleep until almost 8.

The fifth rule of Thanksgiving: if you have to give your assistant chefs advice on following a box mix for coffee cake, you may be in trouble.

The sixth rule of Thanksgiving: after the turkey is in the oven, introduce your younger children to the original "King Tut," because they just don't know enough yet about Steve Martin.

Thanksgiving 021 The seventh rule of Thanksgiving: stop opening the oven to baste the turkey!!! You lose heat!!! (#1 Son looked it up on the Internet. Leave the bird alone until about half an hour before it's due to be fully roasted.)

The eighth rule of Thanksgiving: any televised dog show that skips over the friendly Berner is no dog show at all.

The ninth rule of Thanksgiving: take a more careful look at the oven temperature before walking away from the turkey. Still hoping for the best.

The tenth rule of Thanksgiving: listen to Ella when she sings, "You're sublime; you're a turkey dinner."











Children, Photos

2 out of 3 ain’t bad


We're checking out at Whole Foods.

LP: What are you doing? 

Me: Taking a picture.

LP: Why?

Me: I just want to.

(I turn to her.)

Me: Smile!

002  (She obliges.)

Me: Cute!

#1 Son (noticing): What are you doing?

Me: Taking pictures! Take one of me.

(I hand the camera to LP.)

LP: How does it work?

Me: You press the little thing that looks like a camera.


 LP: It's blurry.

Me: It's okay.

#1 Son: Why are you taking pictures here?

Me: I'm happy!

Bagger: Can I take a picture of all of you?

#1 Son and LP: NO!

Me: Yes, please!!


Tomorrow night we go to Beantown, hear Snowman in a concert and bring him home. 


Bearnaise Sauce Dogs, Family, Photos


After trying all the things that veterinary oncology had to offer for a histiocytic sarcoma, we had to admit this week that Sam's tumor was not only resistant but worsening, and yesterday our vet made the hardest kind of house call, freeing him from his increasing discomfort and illness. 

It's hard to write about this today, but I want to share some pictures. Here he is the day we picked him up from his breeder.

Sam and Martha

I also want to say that he lived up to his namesake, Sam Gamgee. The breeder asked us to put an L word in his fancy, pedigreed name, and on the way home from getting him, I mentioned this to the kids. It was #1 Son who said, "Oh, that's easy. Loyal."

And that was our Sam, Rosier's Loyal Samwise Gamgee, who lived March 31, 2003 to October 29, 2010. That sounds short, and it feels short, although we know in the scheme of things for Bernese Mountain Dogs, that's longer than the average life span for the breed. 

Although he was on the shy side, Sam was a Canine Good Citizen. After we lost Molly, he went to work with me in Freeport, and even went to Sunday School there. He had a lot of friends in that congregation, and I thank them for their hospitality to both our dogs.

I also want to thank the kind folk of North Yarmouth Congregational Church for their welcome to him and their patience with me as I have nursed him. We had a Blessing of the Animals two weeks ago, and I'm glad he was still able to participate. 

I'm grateful to our dog walker, Louise, who came to the house to be with Sam, LP and me at the end, and my friend, revhoney, who extended her visit an extra day to be with us, too. The boys had a great visit with Sam a couple of weeks ago, and Pure Luck was able to get here and see him before the end, too.

I'm very thankful for the offer from my choir director, Joanne Lee, who is also a photographer, to take some pictures of Sam and me, which we did last Monday. Here's one of them. 

Sam 2 (Joanne Lee)

Sam spent most of his life keeping Molly out of trouble. So I like to think of them together again now, her mischief balanced against his loyalty, exploring the snow-covered paths of Dog Heaven, where the Greyberries surely fall plump and juicy into a good dog's mouth.

Molly and Sam 2008

Bearnaise Sauce Dogs, Photos, Poetry

The examining room

Sam in the backyard last week From this angle, you look just right: 

fluffy, glossy, long and lean. 

Panting, but that's normal, 

or at least usual. 

Until it isn't.

I pet you and fur flies. 

Is this your illness? 

Your nervousness? 

The time of year?

I don't know.

You're losing weight. 

I have to really touch your sides to know;

your heavy coat hides your frame 

just as it hid the lump on your leg.

You listen to the voices in the next room.

That dog is Bilbo Baggins, 

and you are Samwise Gamgee. 

Your human parents, Bilbo's and Sam's,

are worried, sad, perhaps despairing.

The vet is an oncologist,

a word that sounds like worry.

We wait. 

They are discussing football now, 

the doctor and Bilbo's father. 

Or maybe just college. 

But come on now. 

We are waiting to hear 

what's next.


Sam has a histiocytic sarcoma on his left hind leg. He started chemo today. We're hoping to get some period of remission. Right now, he feels fine and is sporting a cute bandage on the chemo leg. Let's hope the chemo doesn't disagree with him!