Saturday, December 13, 2008

TBI Recovery / Bicycling Progression Together

It helps me to stand back and put my recovery progress into perspective. These photos of me riding a bike accentuate my progress.

On July 25, 2007 I first rode a tandem bike with my friend, Phil, at Elizabeth Park, in West Hartford. On 9/19/2007 I was riding my bike with Fatwheels and by 5/19/2008 I rode a bike (alone) with my friend Al at the beach.

I welcome you to make a side-by-side comparison of the 7/25/2007 and 12/3/2008 photos and join me in the rediscovery of my life. The top photo is of me with Phil, taken recently on a bike ride along the CT river (and we climbed the infamous hill at Old Maids lane). If you wish to, please parse thru my BLOG to review the details of each posting. (Notice how chubby I was back in July 2007. It's difficult to comprehend that I was a competitive trathlete and marathoner in the past.)

I have donated my Fatwheels to Gaylord Hospital so that someone else can take advantage of them, as I did.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Our 27th anniversary: I exercised independance.

The entire day felt like old times, again. I acted independently. I planned and exercised time management skills. I researched the menu, bought the groceries, prepped the meal, cooked it, set the table, showered, and got all dressed up. I woke up and drove down to (the local) Gardiners market, where I bought a center-cut pork roast, the correct apples to make applesauce, and an anniversary card.

I swung by the local bakery for a couple of cinnamon buns, which we ate with the coffee that I made before I departed for the market. I brought Stella to run free at the Gazebo, and then I put on my apron and I became a chef. I prepared the applesauce, pork roast, potatoes, carrots and Brussels sprouts with walnuts. I even made a peanut butter passion desert.

Lynn cleaned out the fireplace and prepared the lumber. She left it ready to simply strike a match. After dinner I made a fire in the fireplace.

I've included a photo of the meal. (Notice Stella's head, in the background, below the platter.)

****** Appended 12/09/08 ********

We spent the weekend visiting our long-time friends and co-swimmers, John and Susy, who’ve bought (and relocated to) a lake house in Lee NH. We had a wonderful time. We let Stella run-free in their front yard, took a rugged hike at College Woods, visited the Christmas Dove shop, attended an open-house at an organic homeopathic shop, played card games, watched a UNH women’s hockey game, and swam at UNH. I’ve included some photos that document our weekend.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Easter Seals appreciation dinner

Lynn and I attended the Easter Seals appreciation dinner on Wednesday, November, 19, 2008. Lynn and I were the evening's speakers. I was the Easter Seals patient of the year, 2007. We did really well. I truly believe (and many attendees remarked) that we brought a personal aspect to the otherwise sterile fund raising activity.

When we arrived I spoke to the Easter Seals director of development. She asked me to make my address as personable as I could (i.e. to expose myself to the audience) and she warned me that not everyone had received a letter that I had previously penned to the donor community. That letter had some details about my history so I wrote the first paragraph during the cocktail hour before dinner. We spoke after dinner. Below is my prepared address, which I delivered mostly from memory.

I've been extremely nervous preparing to address you. In my past life, this event would have been nothing. I'll tell you what I mean by that. I've created a BLOG. For those of you who aren't familiar with a BLOG; a BLOG is a website. On my BLOG, there is a documentary film about me and my accident. In the documentary film, there is a scene of me addressing an audience, speaking Italian. Now, that is something to get nervous about. ......Avanti.....

I'm standing in front of you tonight
• as proof of the benefits provided by Easter Seals,
• to thank you for your past donations,
• and to reinforce the need to continue raising funds for Easter Seals.

In January, 2006, while working and living in Italy, I was in a serious car accident. That event changed my life forever. After three months in Italian hospitals, I took a stretcher flight back to the United States. I went directly to Gaylord Hospital. After seven weeks I returned home and I continued therapy as an out-patient at Easter Seals. I entered Easter Seals in a wheel chair and after nine months I was walking with only a cane. Today, I don't even use a cane. My progress was slow but steady due to the professional, dedicated therapists that worked with me.

My memory is poor but I fondly recall the outings we took that helped us regain normal lives, such as bowling, going out to lunch, and shopping. Easter Seals helped me to re-learn basic-but critical tasks, like following a recipe, placing a food order, dividing the bill, collecting money, and making change. Just this past March, Easter Seals helped me to reacquire my driver's license. I successfully passed on my first attempt and I now have my driver license which has helped me recover more of my independence.

As much as Easter Seals has helped my recovery from a traumatic brain injury, family support has been critical to my success. I'd like to introduce you to my number one care-giver, my best friend, my wife, Lynn.

At this point Lynn took over. She spoke from her heart, connected with the audience, and made a true impact. Lynn filled in the gaps about my career at United Technologies Corp., being persuaded to accept the consulting job in Italy, our life in Italy, the night of my accident, how I awoke from my coma in the Italian hospital and could no longer speak Italian, etc.

Lynn did an outstanding job.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Life at Our New Condo; Enjoying our dancing Cockapoo Run Free

Stella thoroughly enjoys running free at the condo and it gives me the opportunity to give her exercise when I might not otherwise be able to adequately exercise her, considering my physical disabilities. I've been bringing Stella to a community-shared area with a gazebo that's become an informal dog park, where various pet owners bring their pups to play together. Stella has many friends at the condo, some small like Stella (note Tucker and Abby) and others quite large (Haley). I have my method of being cautious while letting Stella run free; I keep her leash attached (notice Stella on the run with Haley laying next to her), but I let her run free, yet, I can easily secure Stella.

Stella now has many friends at our new condo. For a brain-injured person, these new, short-term, situations are challenging. For example, I have difficulty differentiating one dog’s appearance from another’s, but my limits are stretched to accurately remember the pets/owners names' and their related stories.
Stella gives us joy living here at our condo. There are so many reasons that we are thankful to have made the relocation from our large house to our condo, but that may be the subject of an entire novel.

****** Appended 11-30-08 *******

Haley Replaced Stella's Rubber Ball

Yesterday we received a note and a package in the mail. I opened the package and read the note,
---- Stella,
------ Sorry I ate your ball.
---- Hope to see you soon.
---- Haley

Haley is the large dog in the photo, eating Stella's rubber ball. I've added a photo of Stella with the large rubber ball / gift from Haley.

My daughter has encouraged me to create a BLOG just for Stella, but I object. My reasoning is that a dog cannot type (yet).

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

My progress continues

The other day, I made a bike ride with my long-time exercise friend, Lappie. In the past, Paul and I competed in triathlons and we biked/toured together. Riding with Paul again was special for me. We went to the ferry landing, climbed a serious hill (Old Maids lane) and back down, returned to the ferry landing again, then back up(hill) to the condo.

Paul sent an email to me the next day and he wrote that I am a regular guy and our bike ride felt like old times to him. I’m quite flattered.

Paul’s quite a character. He is in his mid-40’s. His wife’s in her early 40’s. Any day, they are expecting their first child. They have traveled quite a bit in the past. Paul is an avid mountain climber. In fact, this past Spring, he climbed Mount Denali in Alaska. I wish them the best in raising their baby.

****** Appended 11/30/08 ********

Complimenti, Sheila e Paulo Laps. Avete fate bene.
Chase Callahan LaPierre was born this morning at 6:15 a.m.
Chase weighed in at 8 pounds, 2 ounces. The whole family is doing well.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Today Stella is one year old.

Today is the first birthday for our puppy, Stella.
I first wrote about her when we got her last Christmas.
Do a search for Stella or Cockapoo and read more about her.

Buon compleanno cane.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Comments about our recent move/Acknowledging how far I’ve come

The new location that we live in is very quaint and picturesque. Lynn and I often take a bike ride on the back roads, along the CT river, and we include a demanding hill climb.

I have become very frustrated because I live with my progress on a daily basis versus getting a long perspective. It’s difficult for me to be patient. I prefer immediate results.

Children are so innocent and honest. We have to listen to their comments and appreciate what they are telling us.
We recently hosted the family of a friend, Eric, who provides massage on my left shoulder and also does cranial sacral massage.
In preparation for their visit, Eric had told his young son, Ethan, “Joe had an accident and Joe might not seem just right – you know his speech or how he walks”.
On the way home from dinner, Ethan said to Eric, “Dad, you know all that stuff you said about Joe? Well, I thought he looks totally normal”.

I am very self-conscious of my speech. I recently saw Gen, an acquaintance whom I hadn’t seen since my accident. Afterward, she wrote, in an email to me, that she has no problem understanding me, which gave me confidence about my speech.

Posted 9/21
On Saturday, 9/20, Lynn and I again biked to the ferry landing, we crossed the CT river and we split a cup of ice cream at a shop in Old Wethersfield, then we retraced our journey.

For the first time since I had my TBI I successfully completed a novel. I've had difficulty tracking the printed lines of text, but I found myself so captivated and interested by the story-line that I finished the novel, "Marley & Me", by John Grogan.

Another (post-TBI) first: I cried as I read this book. Crying is uncommon for me. A short time ago, it seemed that my tear ducts dried up, regardless of how sad that I felt.

I have also re-experienced the ability to break a sweat (and smelly at that) when I work out (e.g. ride my exercise bike). For a long time (~18 months) I could not exercise hard enough to break a sweat.

Recently, I went biking on the picturesque rural road that runs alongside the CT river while my friend Jeff rollerbladed. Jeff and I previously played volleyball together. Jeff is a mutual friend of Phil and we tried to arrange this bike ride together, as Jeff rollerbladed. In this instance we could not arrange a joint event. I hope that in the future we can arrange a joint ride because Phil is the very friend who brought me on my first (post-TBI) bike ride (on a tandem). I suspect that Phil will feel quite satisfied to visualize my progress since that tandem bike ride that we made some 5 months ago.

Appended 10/21/08

We recently when went to Hammonasett State park and I biked alone on the park road. Reading my BLOG helps me to keep a perspective on my progress. I rode a bike there with my friend Al, on May 19, 2008 for the first time since my TBI.

Before the TBI, I was a very good, passionate chef. Recently I’ve regained my interest in cooking food. I've been cooking pasta with sauces such as home-grown garden fresh basil and tomatoes with roasted peppers, and home made pizzas. Here’s some pizza photos:

When Lynn was on an errand out of the house and I was home alone, I took an 8 mile bike ride on a nearby country lane, that has a serious hill climb >80 ft of elevation that has become my tour mid-point. I repeated that ride 3 days in a row. Cautiously, I carried my cell phone in my bike jersey pocket. I called Lynn before I left, when I was putting my bike shoes on, and I called Lynn when I was safely back at home.

I have a good friend whom I previously did triathlons with. He owns a bike shop. He has offered me an opportunity to repair bikes in his shop. Relative to my previous career, this work may seem trivial, but I continue to make progress and I'm excited.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Successful Move

We recently sold our large (over 4,300 s.f.) federal colonial home, where we had lived for the previous 16 years, and we relocated to a condominium in a nearby town. Moving is a huge transition, but while suffering from a TBI, it’s especially disorienting. On one of the first evenings in our new condo I wandered into my daughter’s room and I asked her which room I was to sleep in. Now I can laugh about it, but at the time it was very upsetting.

On August 31, I made my first (post TBI) ferry crossing over the CT river with my bike. We rode into a local old town suburb and had coffee with my sister. Then we went to a local lake and I swam most of the way across the lake.

Lynn and I now, regularly, make a bike ride to the ferry landing. We continue along the CT river past many rural farms and make a hill climb. When we return, we must make a serious hill climb into the condo development. It's really quite incredible that I've progressed to the point that I'm riding a bike on public roads shared by cars.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

My Latest Biking Adventure/Goodbye Fatwheels

Appended 11/15/08
I recently accepted an opportunity to volunteer at Gaylord Hospital, where I received some of my accident recovery therapy. Gaylord has a great, catchy motto; make Gaylord Hospital the best place to begin again.

I plan to donate my Fatwheels to Gaylord, so that someone who can benefit from them can use them. I'm really glad that I discovered them and I'm equally happy that I no longer need them. Goodbye Fatwheels!!!

I made a huge adventure (which demonstrated my recovery) this past weekend when my son, Paul, was home. He, Greg, and I made a bike ride from my home to Wickham Park in East Hartford. I used Google maps to record the mileage and I’ve plotted the topographic course of the final segment to assess the hill climb that I completed. The total bike ride measured 19 miles and the hill measures 100 feet in vertical change over a .54 mile distance. Not only is it a challenge to balance a bicycle, in general, but to climb a hill is quite an accomplishment. I climbed the hill without standing on my pedals (while remaining seated on my bike). It is quite often difficult to keep my recovery in perspective, but I’m still making large steps. I have to keep reminding myself that I was unable to walk and feed myself in the not so distant past. There’s a photo of me and Paul at the overlook of Wickham Park with the city of Hartford in the background.

On Saturday afternoon, 6/21, I rode my tri/road Klein bike (from which I recently removed the Fatwheels) up Line St. (that forms the Manchester/Glastonbury town line), as Lynn ran, and thus I have recaptured that former ability of riding/balancing a (fast) road bike. It was kind of hairy because the road shoe soles are quite hard and slippery (whereas the mountain bike shoe soles are soft rubber so they are easier to walk around in). I removed the pedals from my mountain bike and placed them on my Klein, so that now I can ride my Klein with mountain bike shoes. I'm recapturing my old life, one step at a time.!!!

Above, there I am, standing at the top of Sunset Ridge in East Hartford, on the bike path, with Hartford in the background.

Date: June 22, 2008;
Once again, I completed another big adventure today. My friend, Greg Best, and I made a bike ride from my house to the bike path that runs along side I-384 into East Hartford. We biked at least 18 miles. I rode my Gerry Fisher Big Sur mountain bike, with cleated bike shoes clipped-in to my pedals. We’ve decided to make this bike ride a weekly ritual and we invite any of our friends/supporters to join us at 9:30 a.m. We plan to meet at my house and depart/arrive there. You’re welcome to park at my house. Please call me for details. We documented the adventure with these photos.

Here I am (photographed by Greg) with a close-up on my pedal cleats and my clip-in pedals.

Here is a close-up of us on the bike path, standing at the top of Sunset Ridge, in East Hartford.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

My first (post-TBI) bike ride adventure.

I made a HUGE adventure this morning. Greg (my friend) and I biked from my house, along the bike path, to East Hartford, for a total of 15 miles. I documented the trip with photos and there they are.

My therapist recently said to me “your biggest accomplishment is probably your last”, meaning that I’m extremely driven and I’m constantly expecting to surpass my previous goal. He’s begun helping me to deal with this personality trait. Many people have mentioned that they (secretly) thought that I would never again be on a bike in any form or manner. I am thrilled to be riding my bike (alone) again. His comment/analysis is true, however each new accomplishment helps to motivate me to persevere and continue improving.

Very quickly this personality trait takes precedent: very soon I'm going to bike ride on my other mountain bike, with clip-in pedals. It's actually more dangerous with sneakers in rat-trap pedals (such as on the orange Klein, shown above). Therefore, clipped-in pedals will be safer. The photo below shows that I've already achieved that goal. I should stuff a pair of sneakers into my biking jersey, so I can walk around when I stop pedaling.
Lynn (my wife) ran and I biked on a nearby street, so this photo (on my side street) doesn't indicate how far I've progressed (riding on a tree-lined street that traverses town property).

Again that personality trait emerges…… I (secretly) think; then, I'm going to bike ride on my Klein road bike. I've been removing my FATWHEELs from my Klein (which you can see on my BLOG, on the article titled ‘On the Road, Again’) and I’m now about ready to test it out.

Friday, June 6, 2008

I'm riding my bike again

I've been riding my bicycle, without FATWHEELs, up and down our street, to the cul-de-sac, to enjoy my freedom and to get some exercise. I am now pushing my independence and I have aspirations of making these bicycle rides more adventurous. Then I will truly test my independent spirit. It was quite liberating to make this bike ride on my own.

Monday, May 19, 2008

I rode Al's bicycle (without FATWHEELS) alone

I spent the weekend with my buddie, Al, and we went to Hammonasett Park and I made my inaugural SOLO bike rides (and we made many), in a very controlled environment.
Here are some photos (see, I even have proof). I'm real proud of myself.

Friday, May 9, 2008

The Kindness Center

On Sunday, May 04, Lynn and I attended a seminar held by The Kindness Center in Biddeford, ME and Lynn's friend, Michael Chase, who retired from professional photography to begin hosting The Kindness Center acknowledged my presence at the seminar. He has viewed my documentary and found it so inspirational that he has a link to it on his website. You can view the documentary via

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Joe's Journey Feedback - transcending

This is a portion of a note that my son, Paul, received from a good friend's younger sister who is living in Spain. I was so touched by this comment that I am compelled to publish it.

"i have really enjoyed and gained quite a bit from the documentary and continue to check in on the blog and read the new posts. i falter words appropriate to use without sounding too sappy or trite but want it to be known how well done i think the documentary was and how each time watching it, it stays with me. im so glad to see/read as of late what a turn out the film has had...again, deservably so. just now i sat and watched it with my spanish roomates and while they dont speak english they definitely understood and took alot from it, more than you would think. i thought to share that because i think it brings further truth to how power(ful) it is; your faces, the music, the photos, they speak loudly on their own."

Wednesday, April 2, 2008 now plays Joe's Journey

Silas gave me another of his many gifts when he called me and reported that my fortune continues to improve. He told me that less than a week after being featured as the Karmatube video of the week, our documentary film is featured on or Please don't pinch me or I might snap out of this dream. It appears that I am inspiring many people.

The response has been no less than overwhelming. Responses keep flowing in fom, from, from my BLOG, and even from Lynn's website.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Karmatube: Documentary Update

I really wish I could post on my BLOG all of the comments/replies that I've received about the availability of the documentary film on Karmatube, but that's not possible. Please accept my heartfelt, personal gratitude.

I'm Behind the Wheel Once Again

On my birthday, 3/18/08, I passed my driver evaluation and was authorized to resume driving. I have been given me a few valuable stipulations; limit my driving to familiar routes and eliminate distractions in the car (loud noises, music, engaging in conversations). YIPEE!! I hope to see ya on the road.

On Tuesday, 7/8, I drove ALONE to the Wirtalla's home to swim in their pool (we are good friends with them). It was my first SOLO driving experience since my accident!!! I am grateful that my family had faith in my abilities and that they allowed me this opportunity.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

I’m (once again) stimulating my brain

I'm resuming my former activities. I pursued and received my Masters of Science in Electronic Commerce on-line from the University of Maryland, remotely. Now, I’ve just completed 2 non-credit college courses at the local community college, Manchester Community College. One course, Intro to Windows Vista was on-line. VISTA is the Microsoft Operating System that's now replacing Windows, so that I can better manage my new VISTA p/c. At the same time I completed an in-class course, Introduction to FrontPage, software for developing and maintaining webpages.

Friday, February 22, 2008

EnlightenNext Film Showcase 2-20-08: Event Reviewed

The following invitation was forwarded to me by Silas Hagerty, who filmed "Joe's Journey" the documentary about my recovery.

Dear Friends,
On December 5, 2007 a new movement in media was born. In the heart of NYC, a group of about 40 filmmakers, entrepreneurs, writers, actors, businesspeople, financiers and committed souls on the path of real and radical transformation in culture, came together around a vision of cohering a community of practitioners in media that together would define a new experience of cooperation, creativity, cultural development, innovation and sustainable change through all forms of media.
On February 20th, 2008, we will re-gather to showcase projects that inspire us, build creative collaborations, touch the heart and soul, and value what is of real value in consciousness and culture… and then see what happens!

This is an invitation to be a part of a movement in culture and consciousness that is authentic, cutting edge and makes a real difference. As we showcase filmmakers, projects, innovators in media and cutting edge models for financing, production and distribution, we additionally take the time to interact in an enlightened dialogue about what actually makes these projects evolutionary and powerful. In that, we are a learning and evolving community of media-makers out to make a measurable difference in the world.

This event is hosted by Tim Murphy with the support of EnlightenNext, a non-profit organization.

Please join us on Wednesday, February 20th, 2008
At the EnlightenNext Center in NYC
243 West 30th St, 11th Floor
*invited contribution of $10-25 for the value you will receive
No one will be turned away for declining the invitation, or a tight budget
Light refreshments and snacks served

Silas, Lynn (my wife), Paul (my son), and I went to NYC to attend this event. We showed the documentary film, which was extremely well-received by the audience. Then we fielded questions from the audience of ~60 people. It was very emotional, inspiring. and rewarding. Paul, fortunately, responded to the first question posed, which broke the ice and calmed my nerves.

A very astute observation was made quite frequently: brain injury is not the most significant aspect of the film. The strength of our family was a very clear topic conveyed in the film.

I was overwhelmed by the number of people who came up to me afterward that told me they were inspired by my story. It was a very emotional evening.

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Today marks the 2-year anniversary....

**** Addended 2/27/08 ****
Related to what I note below, I saw my physiatrist on 2/5/08 and he started me on a med named Aricept to improve my cognition. It is typically prescribed to Alzheimer patients. To date, I've experienced no poor side effects. I feel as though there has been a fog lifted! He is waiting for me to confirm that I have experienced good results then he plans to administer Aricept in conjunction with another med. I look forward to commence this new med.

**** Addended 2/5/08 ****
Well, the bittersweet day passed. I went out to a celebration dinner with Lynn, Kate, and my M.I.L., Alyce, and it was very nice. Earlier in the day I, coincidentally, had an appointment with my physiatrist who paid me a remarkable comment (hence I will remark); he said "In my 15 years in practice you have made the fastest progress I have seen. Your motivation is unmatched." A STRONG STATEMENT, if I might say so.

**** Posted 1/31/08 ****
Well, it’s arrived.
Today is the 2 year anniversary of the auto-accident that nearly claimed my life, leaving me with a TBI and a "life interrupted". I want to verbalize so many thoughts that I have in my head, so expect to see this posting grow.
ENJOY LIFE!!! Smile ( ;^)

If you're wondering what are the daily activities of a man who 2 years ago suffered a "bad TBI" (then you probably don't have much to think about), I'll attempt to summarize the activities that make up my days. I'm probably not the average TBI survivor, so what I'm doing at the 2-year point may not be "typical".

I spend probably 3 or 4 partial-days at the gym/swimming pool trying to regain the fluidity of my strokes (and practicing one of my few exercise/activities that I'm still physically capable of). Simply the activities of preparing the equipment/toiletries and changing/showering are truly exhausting, in themselves.

Since it's wintertime in the NorthEast, I spend a bit of time collecting starter wood (and, if necessary, sawing or pruning) and tending our wood stove fire. But if it weren't winter, there'd be the lawn to cut, rake, and clean-up.

I've begun an on-line course at MCC (the local Community College) and soon after I'm enrolled in an in-class course. This coursework (and upkeep of my BLOG) exercise my reading/writing skills and thus I continually update my computer skills.

I actively keep the household financial matters in order and I keep-up with house maintenance.

I'm also scheduled to attend a driver reaction-time evaluation to resume automobile driving on my own. I remind you that I still have a valid drivers license (as scary as it seems). Regardless, I want to feel confident that I'm taking every precaution seriously.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Mille Grazie, Silas, per il nostro Documentario

I would like to take this opportunity to thank Silas Hagerty for all the efforts he volunteered to produce the documentary. I, also, want to thank Silas for his gift to me; a website, Silas and I got to know each other quite well throughout the production of the documentary. He is very dedicated, generous, hard-working and talented individual. I can be sure of this: whatever Silas puts his mind to will be successful. I will be an honored guest of (Silas’ “gift-economy” endeavor) in NYC on 2/20/08 for a film unveiling with ~50 guests and I’ll have a chance to meet the audience and address them.
Also, in Boston, in March, the film has been invited to enter a film festival, where it will compete. Lynn, Silas, and I will attend. Here's wishing you well, Silas!
My calendar is filling up!!

Monday, January 14, 2008

I will return to my stated Mission, which I have violated.

The Mision stated at the top of my BLOG is:.....

"This BLOG will keep folks current with news about my latest progress, thereby eliminating the need to send mass emails. You can come and go as you please."

I have been in violation of this mission. I have sent too many "mass emails", especially lately. I am Sorry. Please forgive me. I promise to concentrate on adhering to my stated mission.

I now have a Website

My friend, Silas Hagerty (the gifted, young man who directed the often-mentioned documentary about me) presented me with this gift and it's initial contents will automatically direct visitors here, to my BLOG.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

The Diving Bell and the Butterfly : A movie review

Yesterday (1-10-08) I saw a fabulous cinema “The Diving Bell and the Butterfly”.
I cannot express how strongly I was moved by this film. I was accompanied by the strongest person whom I know, Lynn, my wife. You MUST see it!! I cried uncontrollably (which I am physically incapable of). I enclose, here, a review copied from the local newspaper, The Hartford Courant.

The Diving Bell and the Butterfly

In 1995 at the age of 43, Elle France editor Jean-Dominique Bauby suffered a stroke that paralyzed his entire body, except his left eye. Using that eye, he blinked out his memoir and eloquently described the aspects of his interior world, from the psychological torment of being trapped inside his body to his imagined stories from lands he had only visited in his mind.

The cinematography in this film was exceptional. Coming from someone who understands what it must feel like to be JD (yet the comparison stops there), one truly felt as though one had exchanged bodies, via the filming technique. In my humble opinion, one could truly sense the frustration of having lost the ability to communicate, while, in his mind, he knew very well what it should feel like to be a participant. One must truly be amazed by the determination and patience of JD and, in part, of his wife and of his speech therapist.

Friday, January 4, 2008

Stella, Our New Puppy!!

Breeder's photo of Stella before we purhased her (11/19/07).

Kate holding Stella (12/18/07).

Stella (Means star, in Italiano. She’s bilingual!!!!) has arrived!! We received Stella on December 18, at just 9 weeks of age. I’m completely unbiased, but she is BELLA!

We opted to wait until 8 weeks before accepting her from the breeder, to allow her to remain with her breeder to attend Puppy Pre-school (and graduate with a REAL diploma). Stella's birthday is 10-14-07. Now, she recognizes her name (only if spoken in Italiano) and the magic words “make Potty” (shush!!!). To say it mildly, we are in LOVE!

Kate, in her car, with Stella (12/18/07).

The following was found in Wikipedia to formally introduce readers to the type of dog we have purchased/acquired. As you will read below, Stella is a pure Cockapoo. Both her parents were Cockapoos!!


The appearance of Cockapoos may vary
Alternative names
Cockapoo, Cockerpoo, Spoodle (AU)
Country of origin
United States

Classification and breed standards
Not recognized by any major kennel club
A Cockapoo (also called a Spoodle or Cockerpoo) is a hybrid dog, bred by crossing an American Cocker Spaniel (or English Cocker Spaniel) and a Poodle (in most cases the Miniature Poodle or Toy Poodle), or by breeding Cockapoo to Cockapoo.

Cockapoos have been known in the United States since around the 1940s. They have continued to increase in popularity, and many Cockapoos are now the result of breeding Cockapoo to Cockapoo rather than of a direct cross between a Cocker Spaniel and a Poodle. Cockapoos have also become very popular in other countries. In Australia and Sweden, they are usually called Spoodles, and can be the result of mating either the American Cocker Spaniel or English Cocker Spaniel with a Poodle, or of breeding successive generations of Spoodles.

Both Poodles and Cocker Spaniels can suffer from luxating patellas (loose knees) and progressive retinal atrophy, and dogs should be tested for these problems before breeding. Like many floppy-eared breeds, Cockapoos can be subject to ear infections, and it's important to keep their ears clean and dry. As with a lot of smaller dogs they tend to be quite long-lived, and it's not unusual for Cockapoos to live to 15 years of age or more.

Strictly speaking, the Cockapoo cannot be described as a purebred because it does not 'breed true'. In breeders' terms, 'breeding true' means that the pups of two mated specimens will have more consistently predictable characteristics, and will resemble both their parents, rather than exhibiting the varying characteristics of the dog breeds in their ancestries.
Breeders usually try to retain the smaller build of the American Cocker Spaniel, while retaining the wavy quality of the Poodle's coat. Like Poodles, they will usually need regular grooming, as well as clipping every couple of months.
There are currently three Cockapoo clubs in America that are working towards developing the Cockapoo by breeding successive generations, and establishing the Cockapoo as a recognized breed.