My friend Bill died Sunday night, December 26, at 10:30

it is 10 pm Monday, December 27, 2016

I met Bill about three years ago.  He joined our writing group after being diagnosed with ALS because, he, like all of us, had something to say.  He is sitting on the left in the picture below.

Bill is on the left, circa Feb. 2013
Bill is on the left, circa Feb. 2013

Bill’s writings are on his blog called Movie Journeys/Travel & the Movies . If you like history, or will be traveling abroad, or just need a sampling of movies from around the globe, many free on YouTube, check it out.

I am going to write here what I learned through knowing Bill and seeing him every Wednesday right up until he came to group from Hospice in November.

Always have a project, it gives you something to wake up for and a goal for the day.   When he was diagnosed, his wife told him, “Write your book,” and that is what he did.  Every week he arrived with part of his story, complete with a beautiful picture to capture the essence of the wonderful place featured that evening.  Bill wrote and showed up weekly as he lost his ability to drive, his ability to walk, and as his illness took more and more of his body.

I learned all I ever want to about ALS. ALS gobbles you up…pass the pink juice to me when the oxygen containers come out, no matter what I get.  I asked Bill if this depressed him, this illness.  He said something like “No, depression just isn’t my thing.” Wow, I thought, unbelievable.

But his illness depressed me.  I told my husband in Summer 2014 that I couldn’t take it, seeing Bill like this…the deterioration.  Ram told me to buck up, and rightly so, I wasn’t sick and if Bill had the courage to come to the group, my issue with his illness could be managed. It was my call on how to manage it.  I continued to attend .

I learned about my writing: its strengths and weaknesses.  Bill  had a way of telescoping right into what I read and making a comment to uniquely sum it up.  He always left me feeling that if I wrote with my heart and stayed true to the tale, no matter how wacky, it would give people “a slice of life.” He couched his critiques in a way that was loving and kind, not condescending.

I learned the sadness of  “No.” Bill asked me in Fall 2013 if I wanted to examine some of his notes on life and do something with them.  I had to decline but I never really did…he made the offer but I didn’t say yes, or no.  He later told me he envied  my work with a professor in the last year of his life. But I have my own notes and stories and that is where these lessons trail off.

I learned through Bill that time, especially for writers, is of the essence…it waits for none of us.  We all, I am learning, will leave work unfinished. Will My Rural Broadband Journey be it, my lasting contribution to the archives of humanity, or do I want to write another tome?  Do I have a goal, or want one! for my writing, my life?

It’s been raining since I heard the news 3 hours ago.  Bill has been gone for 24 hours now.  Its a harsh rain, whipping around, inconsistent: hard, soft, pellets on a cold winter night.  “What are you doing here, he’d say right now: I’m not sure if it is a poem, an essay, a lament: what?”

I would reply, not sure, but I needed to say…it is as if this rain & wind have come to carry you away.  Adios Bill!  You will be dearly missed.

it is 10:31…the rain paused

Meet the Center-Line Rumble Strip

In early September 2014, I drove out of my driveway to the ExtraMart, three miles up the road, to Skype with an online class: my Internet connection died at home.  That is when I saw a huge, yellow road repair machine  coming toward me.

I, thought, Wow, wonder what that is for? and went to the store parking lot to Skype.  A day later, I noticed a loud obnoxious noise coming from the road into my serene little world.  Unlike the calm swoosh of traffic that barrels down our road, this noise is a jagged saw that cuts randomly through the swoosh. 

It is over a year later, and the passing of vehicles over the rumble strip woke me three times last night.   I have decided to take up a short-term rumble strip investigation.  

I called the proper authorities last year and was told, something to the affect:  “The Governor put this in; you aren’t going to get it removed.”

I reflected on what would happen if the Governor decided to put one of these down Park Avenue, would he then not be questioned.  And why weren’t we consulted about the rumble strip?  And is it true, it can’t be removed?  

Ironically, before this menace arrived, I had read about a gas line being potentially installed on a road nearby.  I was relieved I didn’t have to worry about all the noise that construction would create and so glad I didn’t live on that road. Little did I know that the Center-Line Rumble Strip lay in wait for me, just a few months away?

Here is a link to a Rumble Strip complaint and noise that mimics my situation:

Video:  Rumble Strips Battle

Why I “hate” Stink Bugs

Stink Bug hiding under hair appliance

There I am, minding my own business, engaged in an activity, and one shows up. Yesterday this baby, above, fell out of the sweater I am wearing today. THAT is how they are these bugs: quiet, and with a face that any mother would find hard to love.

IMG_3701 (1)
Stink Bug on top of towel

I hate the way Stink Bugs, or in this case, the Western Conifer Seed Bug (note, this bug is not in the official Stink Bug family but is commonly labelled as such by many of us) sneak up on me. To my knowledge these sly bugs don’t bite: my husband, a former science teacher, confirmed this fact. They just roam around looking for a plant to juice with their needle-like mouthpart.

Stink Bugs appear out of the blue…usually as a harbinger of the change of seasons, or in the middle of winter with a global warming trend. The Stink Bug has disturbed me at the most inopportune times.

I’ll be typing away and one shows up, crawling along my keyboard, about to be smushed by my next word. Many a night, cozy in bed reading a book, one of these creatures dive bombs me from the ceiling with a buzz the intensity of  which is matched by a bumble bee.

The problem is, except for a bed and wall inspection, interception is futile as the Stink Bug slowly, stealthily, bursts into my life without warning in its other worldly costume.
My intervention is usually a shout to request that my husband guide the bugger out the window in hopes of avoiding its stinky smell when smushed.

One night, however, this did not work.

It was the fall of 2005. It was the middle of the night and I woke up parched. I reached for my glass of water and sipped it for that midnight refreshment.

It tasted funny, a slight sweetness. Gatorade comes to mind all these years later. I thought I better take a look. In order not to wake my husband, I took the glass through the darkness into the bathroom. That is when I saw it: a stink bug had drowned in my water and was off gassing.

I did wake my husband who said, “Don’t worry about it, it is just a little extra protein, go back to sleep.” I remained concerned and at 2 am called poison control.
The poison control guy talked me down and here I am more than 10 years later, alive and preparing for the next stealth bomber.



a first world problem in a suffering world

One Sunflower

This picture was originally taken in 2012, I think.  It was a sunflower that just grew and grew.  It may have been one that my husband let take root, even though it contrasted with his vision for that particular area of landscape.

Like many things in nature, it can be a metaphor for our lives.  We reach a peak of growth and then as we decline, whenever that moment begins, we are laden with the ripeness of our time.  When that seed spreads, it may flower, feed other life, or disappear.  It is the nature of things.

To see this sunflower in its moment, its fullness, on the brink of decline and then to revisit it nearly four years later, is a bit of magic.


sunflower copy
Sunflower circa Fall 2012

“In too many places, libraries are the only reliable high speed access point”

4 years later…rural broadband seems to have stagnanted in many places. Source: “In too many places, libraries are the only reliable high speed access point”

Bill Carpenter Helped Hangar Theatre take flight

Recently, I blogged about the loss of our writing companion at the Lansing Writers Group. Here is an Ithaca Journal article about his many accomplishments that reflects the dynamic and creative individual Bill we lost.  It is written by our mutual friend Kathryn Mapes who also writes a very interesting blog entitled, IthacaLansing Tales.

Link to Bill’s website:  MovieJourneys

Link to my blog about Bill


The Matrix

  • To escape the Matrix, you must first re-enter it.


that precise moment

when you know how Tony felt

at a duck sighting.

Beautiful Hooded Merganser ducks landed on our pond:                               hope for the New Year

the empire state building at night


In 2008, a lovely friend said to me…”Have you been to the Empire State building at night?”

“Well no,” I said. He replied, “That is a must see.”He went on to describe the magic of looking out from the perch into the city.

Beginning then, I put it on my informal bucket list and started bugging my husband: let’s go. His usual reply, sigh, “ok, but I hate the city. ” He lived there for years.

We have been to the area at least once a year since 2008, but my desire for all things NY City stays safely nestled on the other side of the bridge in Jersey. By self-admission…we are lazy travellers…we like to go but we like comfort more: the extra effort to cross the GW Bridge, park, and logistically get to places, when immersed in laughter while visiting his family, just seems like too much work for Ram and I.

Flash forward: summer 2015. The most beautiful picture of NY City pops up on my FB screen…it is at night with lights glistening, from the Empire State Building. Who took this, I wonder? It is my brother Bill’s handiwork:  I tell Ram, “oh cool, ” he says.  I sigh:  “See we should go.”  “Yep,” the flat response.

It is now Christmas and we are visiting with my brother and his family. I ask about the picture. I had envisioned the family trooping up at midnight to the top of the Empire State Building. Bill said no, he couldn’t find any recruits. He described his journey and I thought of how fun it is sometimes just to go by yourself on a little adventure to somewhere you haven’t been before, to see things in a new light.

“To really get the good view you need to go to the 86th floor,”said Bill.

As he concluded his story, my husband leaned forward in his chair and with conviction, 7 years after my first request to take that elevator ride into the city sky, said : “We have to go!”

Moby: character

he sits in stasis many

hours and wonders.