Tuesday, November 29, 2011

More to come...

So on the upper left of this blog you will see a widget that says "I'm losing weight at myfitnesspal." This is new. After a recent hospital stay I finally realized that I can no longer put this off and I'm on my journey to drop about 150 pounds/68.04 kg.

And this journey requires a good scale - but one that fits my budget. So I found one called The EatSmart Precision GetFit Digital Body Scale and as soon as it arrived I began the daily weigh-in. I started this part of the journey at 337.1 pounds/152.9 kg so when I hit my goal I will have shed the equivalent of a small person.

More on this in the next few days...


Tuesday, October 11, 2011

A Cuppa!

September 29th was International Coffee Day. Yum. Bunn, the makers of those wonderful industrial coffee makers you see in most restaurants (and of some great podmakers for home and office use as well) had a great little contest in honor of that day and I was one of the winners! Thanks Bunn!

Yesterday was Columbus Day here in the U.S. and The Coffee Artisan, which is where I order most of my coffee pods from had a nice little Columbus Day sale over the weekend. (I don't get anything for mentioning them as I'm not an affiliate.) I took advantage of the sale and stocked up on more pods. If you are looking for pods, pod brewers or even an re-useable K-Cup adapter (they do not sell K-Cups) then check them out. Their delivery is very fast and their customer service is wonderful!

Anyway both my coffee related prizes (filters, mug, scarf, recipe book and scoop) and my coffee order arrived today and so I'm a happy camper!

So - just wanted to post a little something today. I know I've been bad about keeping up. Just have gotten really busy trying to take care of things here at home and time just slips by. 

Hope everyone is well.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Come On Irene

This will be short and sweet...

OK - It's rather simple. There is a potentially devastating hurricane heading towards the Eastern U.S. Just a couple of days ago an earthquake hit in two places in the U.S. - Virginia and Colorado.
So by now you really should have done your homework and should know what to do but just in case...
First go to www.ready.gov and find the disaster of your choice (hurricane, flood, tornado, etc.) Actually first check to be sure you have an Emergency Supply Kit ready. You may have all or most of the items in your home already. (For example - I have sleep apnea and have to use distilled water in the humidifier. I always keep about 10 gallons around because it does go on sale once in a while and just resupplied - s0 I have water.)
Then go here: http://blog.fema.gov/2011/08/irene-update-4-those-along-east-coast.html - Find your state, open the website and Facebook/Twitter pages if applicable. Bookmark them. Bookmark them again on your phone. (Most phones - even if not smartphones have some internet capability which you can use even without a plan.)
(For those of you not in the Eastern U.S. you can find your local Emergency Management organizations by doing an internet search. A lot of this information is actually usable globally.) Also find out the locations of local shelters and, if your family could be separated, plan where you will meet or who the contact person will be that is out of the area affected.
Most of this is logical but in an emergency we tend to forget this stuff.
I should have put this together at an earlier date for posting but it kept sliding to the back burner.
Right now we are in the middle of a nasty thunderstorm and the power may go out so I'm going to log off and shut everything down.
Good luck everyone. 

Tuesday, August 9, 2011


Well it’s been a while. Summer is here and in full swing and, as a result, some things fell by the wayside. Writing was one of them because after all I’d rather be enjoying nature and fresh air instead of sitting at the computer. (And yes I know I could take the computer or some paper and a pen/pencil with me and, in theory, write while outside but it really isn’t the same. I do have my writing routine of sorts and like to stick to that when I write.)

Combined with Mom’s Doctor appointments and Physical Therapy along with all the lovely events that take place up here during the summer time is the one commodity in very short supply! (See my post from May 29th: THE TOURISTS ARE COMING! THE TOURISTS ARE COMING! for a list of just some of the events that happen up here during the summer.

Anyway – I have been enjoying my garden and have added some additional perennials to it including 4 Hibiscus and 3 peonies. Come winter I will protect them because sometimes it can get right to the lower tolerable level of coldness for them. An arborist told me that it is a good idea to protect perennials for the first two winters anyway in order to allow them to get proper root depth.

What else have I been up to?

Well – in addition to the ongoing clean up and sorting of stuff in the house I’ve had company. My friend David from New Jersey has been up a few times to help with the sorting and moving along with my buddy Chuck and 2 of his daughters. (The girls are 6 and 8 and like to visit with my Mom or watch DVDs.) We’ve also done “stuff.” David has seen a bit of the area and seems to really like it.

A few weeks ago I drove into Boston with Chuck and his 2 daughters for the day. (We had to pick up my car which my niece had borrowed for a couple of weeks for personal reasons.) We drove around a bit and had dinner at a place called James’s Gate Restaurant and Pub with my niece and her boyfriend.  The little ones had a great time.

My college buddy (also named David) showed up for a few days as well. We drove around and tried a few restaurants that I hadn’t been to in a long time – one of which I won’t go back to as it has really gone downhill. 

We took Mom up to Williamstown one day so she could see the Pissarro’s People exhibition at the Clark.  
That was all Mom could handle so I stayed with her while David roamed the permanent collection as well. 

 On the way home we stopped briefly at my friend Louise’s home which is also a Bed and Breakfast called Berkshire Shirakaba just to admire the view. 

Mom and I have had dinner with friends a few times but during the summer it does get a bit difficult sometimes what with all the tourists. Funny thing about restaurants – their capacity does not expand when they get busy!

So I just wanted to give you all a quick update and this is it but there is more to come!

What are you up to this summer?

Sunday, June 19, 2011


Today, June 20th 2011 is Father’s Day here in the United States. I say here because the day is celebrated on different dates around the globe.  While in some countries it is a proper holiday with meaning pertinent to that country’s history, in other countries it is not even recognized.

How this holiday got started has several different sources. One source claims that it was originally a pagan holiday honoring the father-in-the-sky that thanked him for giving us, the children-on-earth the gifts of sun and rain. Animal sacrifices were made with colorful ribbons around their necks and over time transitioned (through the intervention of the church) to a gift of garlands given from sons to fathers. This could explain the tradition we have here of giving a father a tie on Father’s Day. 

However for many years Father’s Day was not even known here.  In 1908 Dr. Robert Webb and Mrs. Grace Golden Clayton organized a service to celebrate the lives of 210 fathers who had been lost in the Monogah Mining Disaster on December 6th 1907. This was a one-time celebration and the state of West Virginia did not even register the holiday at the time. Today Fairmont West Virginia is officially known as the home of the first Father’s Day service.

Independently Sonora Dodd in Spokane Washington created her own celebration of Father’s Day. Influenced by the recent enactment of Mother’s Day Ms. Dodd wanted to do something to honor her father who had single-handedly raised his six children after his wife died in childbirth.

The first bill to try and give Father’s Day recognition was introduced in Congress in 1913. It failed. In 1916 President Wilson was in Spokane and he wanted to make it official. Fearing commercialization Congress refused. (OMG – You mean for once – and maybe the only time – Congress was right?)

In 1924 President Coolidge recommended it be observed but would not issue a national proclamation and a National Father’s Day Committee was formed in New York City to explore the idea.  It would be another  48 years before the holiday became official.

In 1957 Senator Margaret Chase Smith of Maine presented a proposal that accused Congress of ignoring fathers while honoring mothers and this led to President Lyndon Johnson issuing the first national proclamation of Father’s Day in 1966. Six years later in 1972 President Richard Nixon signed a bill making Father’s Day a national holiday.

So to all those fathers and father figures out there – Happy Father’s Day!

Monday, June 13, 2011


So first I want to apologize for the lack of a Foodie Friday last week. On Thursday night around 20:10 hours (8:10 pm) the electricity went out in our area due to a rather severe storm. Many towns lost their power. We were lucky in that it was restored after 23 hours. However at that time our internet, cable television and landline phone were still out due to downed trees and tumbled line poles for another day. Even today as I write this (Sunday) there are still crews cleaning up the debris and every hour or so a truck goes by loaded with logs from the storm. 

Please note that the two photos below were taken the afternoon following the storm and are on a main road that got cleared first. However this type of trees moved to the side of the road scene can be seen all over the place. 
Tumbled Tree As A Result Of Storm

More Tumbled Tree 

The biggest problem I had with this storm was that I suffer from fairly severe sleep apnea and being without my bi-pap machine for even a single night can wreck havoc with my sleeping and well-being especially when the air is as humid and thick as it was during the storms.  Ironically there is a positive lesson to be learned from the experience and I now have an inverter for my car that I will leave in it.

In addition whenever there is a storm warning going forward I will make sure the car is filled to the top with gasoline so that if there is a re-occurrence and the weather is that bad I can go to the car and set up my bi-pap. Perhaps not the most environmentally friendly thing to do but as a diabetic I have to take care of myself and I simply cannot deal with another night like the one I just had. I am still finding that my thinking is a bit foggy and I feel very out of it 3 days after the fact. Besides – if I’m not in good shape then I cannot take proper care of Mom.

Yesterday I did attend a day-long conference held by Taking Control of Your Diabetes in Albany NY. This is one of several conferences they are holding around the United States this year. While some of the presentations were a basic refresher of things I already knew, there was some new stuff as well. As for the refresher information it is always good to have a review of things like that as one gets a bit sloppy when they’ve been doing something for a long time. As a diabetic this type of refresher is probably a very smart thing to do (as for anyone with some sort of chronic condition or disease.) So if you have diabetes or even just know someone with diabetes you might want to check out their website and consider going to one of their conferences.

Today I got Mom out of the house for a few hours. I took her to brunch and then to get her hair done.

Tomorrow I’ll be going down to New York City for a few days. Wednesday and Thursday is the 140 Characters Conference which is put together by my good friend Jeff Pulver. This conference is a wonderful opportunity for people to exchange ideas and network with each other as well as learn about the multitude of different ways that people can use social media these days. To learn a bit more about this event as envisioned by Jeff watch this video by another friend of mine, Geo Geller.

(Geo is quite the personality and has several websites worth visiting. I'll probably do a blog post on him at one point if he agrees to be a subject.)

You can learn more about the event and get your tickets at 140Conf.com  

I hope to see/meet some of you there if you can attend. If you cannot attend because you are too far away you will be able to view it here on Ustream. Having had the opportunity to experience several of the 140 Conferences live as well as via Ustream I can only say that while it is great to watch the speakers via Ustream there is a very special feeling about being there in person for the conference. So if you can go to one you should. 

For those of you in education, there will be a special 140 Conference - Education focusing in New York City on August 2nd and 3rd. By the way – these 140 Conferences and their associated meet-ups as well as 140Local have happened all over the world. So there are plenty of opportunities to get to one.

Through the 140 Conference experience I have made many new friends. By now I have met some of them in real life while others I have only spoken to via Skype or by tweets.  However the shared experience has created a special bond that goes beyond Facebook or Twitter.

My Mom will be coming down to NY with me. While she probably won’t be attending the 140 Conference, she is looking forward to seeing some friends and family while we are there.  I am also hoping to see some friends that I haven’t seen in well over 30 years.

We are also planning on visiting the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Museum of Modern Art in Manhattan. Mom has not been back in New York City in over 10 years so she is really getting a bit excited. 

While the trip will probably exhaust her quite a bit, this time it will be a good exhaustion and she will be happy when we return home.

OK – I am a bit tired and tomorrow (actually later today at this point) is going to be a long day. So I’ll say good night. I don’t know how often or even if I’ll be blogging while down in New York as I will be rather busy in my so-called free time getting together with friends but we’ll see. (By the way - if any of you reading this are in the NYC area - drop me a line with contact information and maybe we can also meet for a cuppa.)

Hey – ever wonder why it is called “free” time if one is so busy doing stuff? Just saying!

Friday, June 3, 2011


The first Friday in June is National Doughnut Day here in the United States. Many doughnut shops will be offering a free doughnut to customers either with the purchase of a beverage (after all – they are in business to make money) or with a donation to a charity. The charity that usually benefits from National Doughnut Day is the Salvation Army which started the tradition as a Chicago Salvation Army fundraiser back in 1938.

A cup of coffee or a glass of milk for the younger set combined with that deep-fried sweetened round piece of dough filled with cream or jelly, perhaps topped with glaze, nuts, sprinkles or frosting and oh-so-heavenly smelling as it comes out of the bakery is an invitation to overindulgence. Its ubiquitous presence in workplace break rooms, on coffee carts, in cafeteria lines, etc. make them as hard to avoid as a mosquito on a sweaty summer evening. I have personally seen people down 6 doughnuts at one sitting. Fortunately my tooth is not that sweet. My record is two – an acceptable if slightly overindulgent amount for an overweight diabetic.

These calorie-laden drugs in food form (for they could be viewed as being that because they are so addictive) originally gained popularity during World War 1 when the Salvation Army sent small teams overseas to set up small areas where service personnel could get a cup of coffee, something to eat, stamps and supplies to write letters home, etc. The teams consisted of 2 men and 4 women. The women provided a female touch of mothering to the boys in uniform. Very quickly everyone realized that getting consistent fresh food – especially at the front lines wasn’t going to happen. So pastries rapidly became the food offered. Freshly made at many locations it turned out that doughnuts were the easiest to make and lasted the longest as opposed to pies and cakes.

So – raise your free doughnuts in thanks to our servicemen and women today and enjoy.  

In 2007 the United States Federal Government declared that the first week in June be declared "National Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) and Automated External Defibrillator (AED) Awareness Week".  The average response time for first responders can be up to 15 minutes if you are in a rural enough area. This is important to know – along knowing CPR and how to use an AED if one is available.

Why? Because after four minutes without any oxygen a brain begins to die while after eight minutes it passes the point of no return and irreversible brain death commences.  So you can see where learning CPR and how to use an AED can make a huge difference in a person having a positive outcome when an incident occurs.

Many places offer CPR and AED training. To find one in your area contact a local hospital, high school or college to see if they offer them as extension classes as well as your local Y, Red Cross or Heart Association affiliate. In more rural areas you may want to contact your local fire department or police station. Remember that you should take a refresher course every year or two as well to be sure you still have the skills.

After the course you might even want to find out about becoming a volunteer first responder in your community.

So – you have this interesting combination in June of doughnuts and CPR.

Is it coincidence or just clever marketing? You have to decide that.

Either way you have to admit that the doughnut (along with all the other greasy fatty food that is out there) is a great reason to go and learn CPR as well as how to use an AED if they are available in public places in your state. The life you save may well be that of a loved one.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011


As my Wednesday starts I want to share with you some commercials that I find very inspirational. If more people followed the lessons shown here the world would be a much better place! (Note - I'm using links instead of embedding them due to copyright restrictions.)

First - my newest favorite: The Concert
This one is definitely a keeper. Think about how often we tell someone "You can't do that." Then watch this. Later on today - keep it in mind!

Although I'm not the world's greatest sports fan the message in this commercial is another one that I've always tried to live by: The Umpire

Compassion is something I've always had - some people would say to a fault. I disagree. Compassion can never by had to a fault: The Taxi

Whenever I travel and stay in a hotel I usually bring my own soap/shampoo. But, since the hotel will usually throw out the soaps and shampoos once I leave I also take them home and, when I have a bag full of them take them to the local women and children's shelter. This commerical is based on the same idea. Are you doing anything to help those less fortunate? Generosity  

Having many friends who are teachers and a brother who just retired from teaching I can tell you that fortunately for us there are a lot of everyday heroes like them - be they teachers, volunteer firefighters, emts, ambulance drivers and more . Have you thanked one of your everyday heroes today? Everyday Heroes

And, of course, there is nothing more valuable in life than friends - regardless of their background and your political differences: Old Friends

Hope you all get out of these commercials as much as I did. Please share them with your friends.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011


Wow – a whole month!

Like a great dessert this post will be a small portion and a bit sweet.

While there certainly were days that I thought “will this month never end?”  along with “oh man – what am I going to write about today?” there were many more days where I actually had to filter ideas and try to decide what to write about.

I entered this blogathon because one of my godchildren in Australia inspired me to do so (thanks ‘Riss) and because I had hit a real rut in my writing. It was not actual writer’s block but rather that I just wasn’t looking forward to it all that much.

While I had played with blogging on a couple of my sites I really never got into it preferring to write other things some of which saw light of publication and some things which sit on my hard drive hoping that they will see some action at some point.

 I did do some recipes on the old AOL which were more like mini-blog posts back in the days when I was a community leader there and today I will visit any number of recipe sites and see them posted there. I suppose I will gather them all and repost them here or on one of my other blogs as well (once I figure out what I want those other blogs to be when they grow up.) Eventually Foodie Fridays will go wherever the recipes end up as well.

By the way – in case you are interested the other blogs are/will be located at From The Gatehouse and Pete’s Place here on blogspot as well as at Join Me For A Cuppa and Whitestone Photo on the web. Don’t worry – I’ll post links here as well as on my Facebook and Twitter accounts when I post any new blogs.

Now that the blogathon is done I will also get back to maintaining iPeter.net my disaster site.

I can always use help with iPeter.net. If there is a disaster that takes place anywhere in the world and you know of organizations that are coordinating or helping  in other ways with disaster relief I would really appreciate it if you would share that information with me.  I try to find out as much information as I can whenever there is a disaster but some of the information is suspect and cannot be confirmed while other information is just hard to come by. So all assistance that any of you can give me on this I really would appreciate.

However first I’ll be taking a much needed two or three day break from writing because I have neglected some other things that have to be taken care of and need to catch up with them.

What's been a lot of fun has been viewing the stats for the blog just to see what countries you, my readers, come from. So far I have seen readers from Australia, Canada, Chili, Mexico, Denmark, Egypt, France, Germany, Greece, India, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Jordan, New Zealand, Poland, Russia, Singapore, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Turkey,The United Kingdom and the United States which makes it rather exciting. 

So my friends – as they say “The meaning of life is ‘42’ and thanks for all the fish!” I’m not saying goodbye but rather raising a cuppa in your direction until we meet again!

Monday, May 30, 2011


Today is one of several "theme days" offered during this year's blogathon. While I haven't participated in the other theme days because I really wanted to concentrate on free-form writing of my own ideas, I did want to check out today's theme which is "Wordles." After doing so I decided that this could be fun and decided to participate.   
So what’s a Wordle you may ask?
A Wordle is a tag cloud (also known as a word cloud).
Tag clouds are a way of visualizing the frequency in which certain words, keywords or metadata are used and can be utilized as an aid to navigating a website.
The original use of tag clouds on a major website can be traced back to Flickr, Technorati and Del.icio.us in the early 2000’s.
While the original enthusiasm for tag clouds plummeted in the mid-2000’s further software development that led to the use of visualizing word counts in free-form natural texts and brought back their popularity as new ways were thought of to make them truly useful.
           Wordle was created by IBM senior software engineer Jonathan Feinberg in June of 2008 and rapidly found a number of ways to be used in different fields including education and art.
           According to the Wordle website, “Wordle is a toy for generating “word clouds” from text that you provide. The clouds give greater prominence to words that appear more frequently in the source text. You can tweak your clouds with different fonts, layouts, and color schemes. The images you create with Wordle are yours to use however you like. You can print them out, or save them to the Wordle gallery to share with your friends.
          Just playing around with Wordle for a bit was a lot of fun and I fully intend to explore it further as I can see many uses for it moving forward. I strongly suggest that you visit the site and play around with it.
           In the meantime here’s my Wordle as my May 30th blog post:

Sunday, May 29, 2011


Memorial Day weekend marks the beginning of the tourist season here in the Berkshires. And we welcome them with open arms (and sometimes a bit of grumbling...) 
I live in a very beautiful area of the US. Of course I think that most areas of any country have their own special beauty but, being slightly biased, I think my area has a slight edge.
Of course we welcome tourists. A part of our area's economy depends upon it. We are located almost equidistant from Boston Mass, Burlington VT and New York City NY. I guess the grumbling comes when some tourists treat us as uneducated hicks (we aren't) or servants - on the street (again - we aren't) or just plain old figure they are on vacation so they leave their manners at home. (Simply put - DON'T DO THAT!) I've had people walk into my house because they thought it looked really nice and they wanted to see what was inside. Hmmm - I have signs posted at the entryways to my drive that say "No Trespassing." Now tell me - who is uneducated? I live 1/4 mile from a popular concert venue. When there is a popular concert I've had people park their cars in my driveway without asking for permission. (Yes - I've had them towed. Remember - my driveway is marked with a sign.) I'm not a nasty person and I do understand that I live in a tourist area. During the summer I expect that it will take a lot longer to get places and that I have to plan my grocery shopping around "tourist schedules," etc. meaning go shopping in the early morning or during a concert and get home by intermission. That's OK. And if you enter my property and ask me if you can park your car there during the concert I'll probably say yes. But don't take liberties like that unless you know me. OK - enough with the rant.

Originally inhabited by the Mahicans, the first English settlers appeared in the Berkshires in the early 1700’s.
The original British settlers had farms, quarries, sawmills and textile mills. Potash production and glassworks were also early industries. At one point in the 1700’s iron ore was found leading to the establishment of several ironworks in the county as well.
In the 1800’s the area also saw the beginning of an influx of artists and writers including Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Henry Ward Beecher, Fanny Kemble, Catherine Sedgwick, Edith Wharton and Herman Melville to name but a few. In fact Herman Melville wrote Moby Dick in this landlocked area of the country!
The site of Pittsfield High School was originally the farm of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s family!
            Since then a number of artists, poets, actors, musicians, sports stars etc. have all been born or made homes up here – either part-time or full-time. Some of them include the late actor Christopher Reeves, musician Yo-Yo Ma, singer/songwriter James Taylor, poet Rosemary Starace, the late writer William Shirer, actress Elizabeth Banks, Arlo Guthrie, painter Norman Rockwell, sculptor Daniel Chester French, actress Maureen Stapleton, actor Matthew Perry, baseball player Dan Duquette, baseball player Jim Bouton and many more.
            The first of the large estates had construction commence in 1844. From 1880 through 1920 the wealthy managed to transform this sleepy area into a Gilded Age resort similar to Saratoga Springs NY and Newport Rhode Island. As these millionaires built their “cottages” for entertaining parts of the area developed a “hoity-toity” reputation. Ironically land in some towns went for as much as $20,000 an acre (remember this was in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s) while in a neighboring town it might only cost a few dollars an acre.  Today the cottages that have survived are museums, hotels or performing arts venues.
            Today the Berkshires are a very popular tourist destination for people of all backgrounds.
            You like to hike? Hiking trails abound here including a segment of the Appalachian Trail. Into nature? In addition to several Audubon maintained facilities there are the Berkshire Botanical Garden and the Hebert Arboretum for nature lovers. The Housatonic River and the many lakes in the region offer canoeing, kayaking, fishing, etc. There are campgrounds galore as well. Bicycles are welcome and the country roads make for a wonderful ride.
Photo postcard taken by my father in the 1950's.
Into something a bit more upscale? The area is famous for the performing arts and visual arts with such well known venues such as the Barrington Stage Company, the Berkshire Theatre Festival, Jacob’s Pillow, Shakespeare and Company, Tanglewood, the Williamstown Theatre Festival and more all based here. It is also home to the annual Berkshire International Film Festival.
Museums include Chesterwood, the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art, the Williams College Museum of Art and the Norman Rockwell Museum are complimented by a large number of art studios and galleries that are open to the public. 
            Prefer historical sites? How about visiting the Hancock Shaker Village or Mount Greylock? You might also want to visit the Susan B. Anthony Birthplace, the Colonel John Ashley House, Naumkeag, The Mount - home of Edith Wharton and many other places.
Just want to hang out on a porch? Summer rentals are more popular every year and there are even timeshares available.
Spa fanatics will love Canyon Ranch in the Berkshires while people into yoga will prefer Kripalu. And don't forget The Kushi Institute for people into macrobiotics.
But not to worry. The Berkshires is not just a health food destination. With a wide variety of restaurants run by people from all over the world disbursed throughout the county you won’t lack for different types of food. Many places will even make you picnic boxes to take to an event.
If you’ve ever handled a United States currency note (i.e. a dollar bill) then you have a connection to the Berkshires. Crane Paper Company manufactures the majority of paper used for United States currency right here in Berkshire County.
            Interestingly, despite being home to the largest currency paper manufacturer, the Berkshires also has its own local currency called BerkShares. Usable as real currency by participating stores, banks, etc. they have become a very viable alternative to US currency because one purchases them at a discount over US dollars. So, to use the example from their site, “You go to the bank to purchase BerkShares to spend at a local restaurant. You go in with 95 federal dollars and exchange them for 100 BerkShares. You go to dinner, and the total cost comes to $100. The restaurant accepts BerkShares in full, so you pay entirely in BerkShares. Therefore, you've spent 95 federal dollars and received a $100 meal - a five percent discount for you. The owner of the restaurant now has 100 BerkShares. They decide that they need to deposit them for federal dollars and return them to the bank. When they bring them to the bank, the banker deposits the 100 BerkShares you spent on dinner and gives the restaurant $95 federal dollars, the same 95 dollars that you had originally exchanged for BerkShares. The end result? You receive a five percent discount because of the initial exchange, but the same $95 you originally traded for BerkShares all goes to the business where you spent those BerkShares.”  BerkShares are available to anyone who wants to buy them at several local banks.
The first street to have an AC transmission system allowing the distribution of electric power over large areas using a transformer was here in the Berkshires. The demonstration took place in Great Barrington where William Stanley the inventor of this system lived. He lit offices and stores along the main street. His design became the basis for all transformers and the AC distribution system formed the basis of  electrical power distribution. His Electric Manufacturing Company eventually moved to Pittsfield and eventually became General Electric (GE).   
And that all-American pastime baseball – let us not forget that. The earliest reference to baseball was published as a Pittsfield by-law in 1791. It prohibited anyone from playing “baseball” within 80 years of the new meeting house in Pittsfield and was written after someone broke the meeting house windows in a game. 
1791 Bylaw Stating In Part " that no Person, an Inhabitant of said Town, shall be permitted to play at any Game called Wicket, Cricket, Baseball, Batball, Football, Cat, Fives or any other Game or Games with Balls within the Distance of Eighty Yards from said Meeting House " 
In 1859, the first intercollegiate baseball game was played in Pittsfield, MA and the area has provided many professional baseball players as well. Also located in Pittsfield is Wahconah Park – one of the last ballparks in the US with a wooden grandstand. Built in 1919 and seating 4500 people, the stadium has had a variety of associations including being a minor league affiliate of the New York Mets and the Houston Astros and many professional Major League Baseball players have come out of these teams. 
This scenic area boasts year round activities with the busiest seasons being summer and winter.
Now I’ve been writing about Berkshire County but the term “The Berkshires” has slowly spilled over to include parts of New York State, Northern Connecticut and Southern Vermont.  These places also have some wonderful activities and places to visit but I’m still a bit biased!
Well – I could go on but instead I’d just like to invite you to visit the Berkshires. It’s truly a wonderous vacation spot.
            So let me know when you’re coming up and we’ll meet for a cuppa someplace.

Saturday, May 28, 2011


For years Mom always planted a simple garden – mostly begonias and impatiens along with some day lilies. About 10 years ago I added some hosta and daffodils to the mix and, after some expression of dissatisfaction with the change (and trust me – it was the fact that there was change) she got used to it.

Last year it was finally time to get a bit more daring and we got a lot of different annuals including hydrangea bushes. We removed some of the bushes from in front of the wall between the porch and the gate and this year it is a beautiful flower bed. Additionally over the last couple of years my friend Steve who used to have a landscaping business up here does a lot of the planting and figuring out what will look good. He also planted tulips last fall that were to come up this spring which they did.

The tulips and snow crocuses are now gone as are most of the daffodils thanks to local wild fauna and their dining preferences along with the severe rains we’ve been having on and off the last few weeks. The leaves of the day lilies are growing nicely although the flowers haven’t yet begun to show.

Last night we had a pretty bad thunderstorm. There was wind and the weather forecast predicted we might even get some hail. At one point they were even talking about a possible tornado.

Today I realized that if I did not get some photos now and we did get the bad weather then later on I might not have any photos of this year’s garden – something I would end up regretting. This is what occurred last year. Everything was planted and we had a very nasty hailstorm. So I have no pictures from last year.

This year's planting looks great. One can sit on the porch or in the sun and enjoy the flowers with their coffee or tea. Hopefully Mom will also decide to spend more time downstairs and enjoying all this. 

At one point this summer the windchimes will be finished. This is a project that my friend Alan is doing. I had to have some trees removed before last winter. This one was extremely tall and very dead. The idea of the windchime came to Alan when he and his wife Rosemary came over one day. We were discussing which trees had to go and he said "You know - that one, if they don't cut it down all the way, would make an awesome windchime." And the project was on!

When the fellow came to take down the trees with his crew it turned out that he is really in to windchimes as well. I have photos of that day and will share that all at one point. Needless to say it turned into quite the "treechime fest!"

I do want to thank Steve for all his hard work on prepping and getting my "garden" ready for this year. I could not have done this without him.

Now it is time for the next step. So grab your cuppa, sit down, kick back and enjoy while I share these photos with all of you. (Note - clicking on the photos will enlarge them.)

The Front Of The House
Looking Through Arch On Porch
Looking Through The Gate

African Violets In Teacup

Alliums, Begonias, Impatiens

Alliums, Begonias, Impatiens

Begonias and Tubular Begonias

Begonias, Hosta, Asters, Geranium

Chicks and Hens, Impatiens

Coleus, Tubular Begonias, Varigated Ivy, Geraniums


Hosta, Geraniums


Impatiens, Hibiscus

Impatiens Hibiscus


Tickweed, Begonias

Impatiens, Trailing Lobelia

Base of Windchime


Friday, May 27, 2011


Yesterday I wrote partially on a more personal note. Today’s post deals with things that everyone should be thinking about. Sorry there’s no Foodie Friday this week. It will return next week.

No one wants to acknowledge that they are going to die but let's face it. Death is the ultimate act of life. It happens and as of today there really is no way to avoid it in the end.

The following are items that one really needs to deal with while a person is still capable of making decisions on their own. You the reader should be doing all this for yourself and you should also be talking with your loved ones about doing all of these for themselves as well. 

1.       HEALTHCARE PROXY:  If the patient has a healthcare proxy and it is not you, know who it is and how to reach them. If there is no healthcare proxy find out from your local hospital or an attorney what is involved and make arrangements. (Some states also list a sample or official form on their websites which can make your life easier.) A healthcare proxy is both a legal document (sometimes known as a durable power-of-attorney for health care) that appoints someone to make healthcare decisions if the patient is incapable of doing so or should the patient choose not to do so as well as the term used for the person who is that agent. The document does not remove the rights of the patient to make his/her own decisions rather it ensures that in case something happens and the patient is not capable of doing so that someone will be able to act on their behalf. In many cases it can save a lot of time when communicating with healthcare professionals. It is important that a copy of the healthcare proxy document be filed with the patient’s local hospital as well as with any medical professionals the patient sees on a regular basis. One can have a primary and secondary person designated as a Healthcare Proxy (HCP) in the document in case the primary is not available.

2.     Advance Directives:  This document is meant to ensure that if you are too ill or hurt to tell people your wishes that they will be followed. It is a legal document that deals with end-of-life care ahead of time. The big plus with this document is that if a decision is made in accordance with the directives (also sometimes known as a “living will”) then no one can sue because the patient died or became totally incapacitated. It can address a number of issues including tube feeding, organ donation, tissue donation, autopsy, the use of artificial means of keeping one alive like breathing machines and what to do if breathing stops. If a person has advanced directives and needs a surgical procedure it is extremely important that they make a decision as to whether or not they want to suspend it temporarily during the surgery.

3.     WILL: A will is something that everyone should really have. If something happens to you – either in a medical situation or by accident – then at least your possessions and money (if you have any) will be distributed the way you want them to be and by the person you want to handle it all. A will also prevents people from just helping themselves to your stuff – and this can happen – and thereby gives your estate and executor legal recourse. Believe me – some people will just take what they think they are entitled to.

4.     FUNERAL ARRANGEMENTS: Here in the States it is possible to prepay a funeral. This is an annuity that ensures your funeral (or the disposal of your body) will be done in accordance with your wishes. Because it is an annuity, you are protected over time if the price of a funeral goes up. The contract also will specify exactly what you desire. So when Uncle X shows up and insists on a bigger and better coffin or ceremony or a burial when you chose cremation his hands are tied. This is extremely important for a number of reasons. First the funeral is planned while the deceased-to-be is still alive so he/she has input. Secondly the financial aspect of the funeral is done.  (You can even prepay your own memorial stone if you want.) This is good because when people have to deal with burying their loved ones it is a very emotional time and they are vulnerable. Unfortunately funerals are, in part, a sales event and some (not all) funeral parlors will try to upsell the bereaved to a better casket, bigger services, etc. Prepaying does away with not only that but also any family arguments that may arise because someone isn’t happy with the way things are being handled.

Other things that need to be investigated (and that can vary from state to state include looking into inheritance taxes if the person’s assets are numerous as well as property transfers and how they are affected by state and federal assistance programs.

An example would be if a person transfers a car to a family member or friend and then within a year or two has gotten so sick that they have gone through all of their assets – will any government entity or nursing home be able to claim that car thereby reversing the person’s intent?

A consultation with a lawyer who specializes in elders and/or a certified public accountant might be in order to find out these answers and for suggestions on some other paths to take.

Once done, family members and close friends should be informed exactly what has happened and who is “in charge” where necessary. This way if there are any objections they can be dealt with at that point. Believe it or not – there will be hurt feelings. And a family member is NOT always the best choice to be a HCP or executor of an estate. Think about it – how would you feel if you had to make a life-and-death decision for a loved one? Another thing to remember is, if the patient is admitted to an ER or hospital that is a teaching hospital, that an overzealous resident may sometimes try to convince the Healthcare Proxy to go against the wishes of the patient. So the HCP has to also be someone who is strong enough to respect and fight for the wishes/desires of the patient.

I hope that these two articles have been of use to people. Let me know.