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Monday, April 30, 2012

An Informed Mind


Matisse

K. Frank age 5
in  style of Matisse
Yesterday, when I was looking into the proud face of a five-year old child who just lost her second tooth, I was struck by how many influences inform a mind.  For instance, I learned that the reason the tooth fairy could not leave her picture when she visits children is that when fairies are photographed, their images disappear. This little girl recently composed a poem that granted me a window on the complicated  interior life of a five-year old’s mind.  Who would have guessed?  I was as “surprised” as she was!
                                                                    Surprised
                                                                    Casey Kittredge 
                                                                April, 2012
Surprised is the color of a light pink heart.  
It sounds like 'poof'.
It smells like roses.
It tastes like pasta.
It looks like someone is coming over to your house who you haven't seen in a while.
Surprised feels like a soft blanket.
Earlier today, I read a blurb (it was photographs and captions, how can that be called an essay?) in www.Livestrong.com that delineated the twenty-one vegetarian foods that are most helpful in building bone mass.  I discovered that a mixture of pea-rice-hemp protein is reported to taste great, is high in fiber, and is low in carbohydrates.  Something new to try. Of the other twenty food items, one was new to me, altogether.  I noticed my nose crinkled when I read about it. Seitan, not as common as tofu, is used as a meat substitute.  It was first imported to the U.S. from China in 1969.  It is a wheat derivative that is high in protein.  http://www.livestrong.com/slideshow/556369-the-21-best-muscle-building-foods-for-vegetarians/  Another lesson learned today.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           
 When my daughter, Kay, first showed an early facility with art and color, I recognized I was going to have to learn to keep abreast of her. She was five, I was almost forty.  By the time Kay was ten and taking private art lessons, I I knew I had to do something to remedy my lack of native color sensitivity. I suspect that Kay never knew that when she would go to bed at night, I would borrow her color wheel (the favored tool of every young girl) and try to absorb the relationships between colors.  Finally, finally, I realized that I could simply rely on my own clothing to inform me if colors were complementary, analogous or neutralizing.  Kay was learning complex color theory at ten, and now, ten years later, she is an intern in a design house in Manhattan.  It is not unusual for her to spend the day dyeing fabrics to particular shades to create sample garments.  Meanwhile, I am still trying to determine the adequacy and relationship of shades and tones.   For those of you who wonder, check  out this worksheet http://www.whrhs.org/21331011516831110/lib/21331011516831110/colorhweel.pdf   As I was dressing this morning, I looked at the color of the thread used to sew the label on the back of my pants to match my socks.  I found a shade in my tunic to pull in the steel blue wrap-around sweater I was wearing.  
The color of threads on the label tells a tale.

The point of these little observational vignettes is that my world is informed by so many influences.  People, places, fragrances, memories, books, films and experiences collide somewhere in the grey matter of my brain.  I marvel at the richness of texture that all of these influences lend to our worlds.  Because of these varied spectra of experiences, we are all individuals. What further cements our unique individuality is the process by which we integrate all that which informs our minds.  All in all, it is a majestic proposition for creating diversity.  
Think about the value of concision, as a writer, a painter, or a dancer.
concision - the quality of being concise.  (Merriam-Webster Dictionnary)

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Make Way for the Old


Some stories are best told with pictures. The words can clutter the meaning.  
Seventeen years ago, my mother packed up her wedding china in a large box.
It sat in storage for fifteen years.  For the past two years, it was kept at my sister’s house.  Last weekend, the box was delivered to me.  As I unwrapped each precious 
dish and cup, I was intimately aware that my mother’s hands were the last to
touch each item. It felt, more than anything, that it was her loving care that I was unleashing.
I felt honored to solve the puzzle of how to incorporate her Noritake China set into my
household.  I felt uplifted to touch, assorted other collectibles, two 150-year old hand-painted plates from Germany, her Dresden plate and a little German vase exquisitely decorated with a gilt and floral design.
I will leave the rest to the images.
1.  Seventeen year old 40"x24" x24" carton.

2. Like an archaeological dig, packed in layers.
4. An extensive number of dishes assembled.

3.  Unwrapping requires patience and time.

5.Storage of 1952 Noritake takes some space.
5a.  Noritake Mark.


6.  Our family cake plate. Dresden china.


9. German vase, hand-painted.
8. German serving bowl, hand-painted.
10.  1850's hand-painted German plates.


An interesting note.  The influx of German china was as a result of my grandmother's stepmother.  My maternal family were Huguenots.   My grandmother's mother died in childbirth,  delivering my grandmother.  With a brood at home already, her father married their housekeeper, first for reasons of efficiency and second for reasons of the heart.  My grandmother's stepmother's Germanic roots influenced my grandmother and their lives together.  

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Ehler's-Danlos Syndrome Awareness Month





Who knew it?  We are coming up to National Ehler’s-Danlos Awareness Month in May!

The logo is representative of the phrase, " When you hear hoofbeats, think zebras, not horses."  Ehler's-Danlos is considered to be a zebra.

In a nation in which we are learning to be inclusive of all, I should not have been surprised that May was designated National Ehler's-Danlos Awareness Month.  I will do my part to share information about the disorder I inherited....and, regrettably, passed on.  
About the Types of Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome:
The types of Ehlers-Danlos syndrome may appear clear and defined, but symptomatology rarely permits easy classification. Although most of the genes responsible are identified, not all of the mutations that cause EDS have been found yet.
HYPERMOBILITY [distinctive cause unidentified]: Most common, 1 in 10,000 to 15,000. Generalized joint hypermobility, skin involvement (possible hyperextensibility or smooth/soft skin), chronic joint pain, recurrent joint dislocations.
CLASSICAL [COL5A1, COL5A2, COL1A1]: Two to 5 in 100,000. Variable skin hyperextensibility, widened atrophic scars (tissue fragility), joint hypermobility, easy bruising; ± mulluscoid pseudotumors, subcutaneous spheroids; occasional internal organ fragility.
VASCULAR [COL3A1]: Rare at one in 100,000 to 250,000. Thin, translucent skin, arterial/ intestinal/uterine fragility or rupture, extensive bruising, characteristic facial appearance; ± acrogeria, hypermobility of small joints, early onset varicose veins, and pneumothorax.
KYPHOSCOLIOTIC [PLOD1]: Very rare. Generalized joint laxity, severe muscle hypotonia at birth, scoliosis at birth (progressive), scleral fragility and rupture of the ocular globe; ± tissue fragility, easy bruising, arterial rupture and osteopenia.
ARTHROCHALASIA [COL1A1 & COL1A2]: Very rare. Severe generalized joint hypermobility with recurrent subluxations, congenital bilateral hip dislocation; ± skin hyperextensibility, tissue fragility (atrophic scars), easy bruising, muscle hypotonia and osteopenia.
DERMATOSPARAXIS [ADAMTS2]: Extremely rare. Severe skin fragility, sagging redundant skin; ± soft doughy skin texture, easy bruising, premature rupture of fetal membranes, and large hernias (umbilical and inguinal).
OTHER reported types await definition or have been reported only in single families. 

(reprinted from EDNF.org)

Medical Zebras



Public Service Announcement: 

When you hear hoofbeats, think zebras, not horses.


MONTH OF MAY PROCLAIMED EHLERS-DANLOS SYNDROME AWARENESS MONTH
LOS ANGELES - In response to the national need for lifesaving diagnosis, May will be designated Ehlers-Danlos syndrome Awareness Month. To coincide with this campaign, four Public Service Announcements (PSA) have been released by the Ehlers-Danlos National Foundation to increase public awareness about the symptoms of Ehlers-Danlos syndrome (EDS). EDS is a connective tissue disorder which can manifest in debilitating, sometimes fatal symptoms. The overall prevalence of EDS is estimated at 1 in 5,000 births. EDS is critically under diagnosed, with approximately ninety percent of affected individuals remaining undiagnosed until a medical emergency arises. EDS related emergencies range from life-threatening rupture of artery, bowel or other internal organs to spontaneous joint dislocation, as well as fragile skin that wounds easily, requiring stitches. Most physicians are ill-prepared to recognize the symptoms of EDS prior to an emergency, and patients are forced to travel from specialist to specialist, sometimes for years, seeking a diagnosis to explain their myriad symptoms. Increased awareness will enable physicians to make an early, accurate diagnosis and provide proactive patient care. It will provide EDS patients a sense of validation and a better quality of life. 





Radio spots are going to be playing.  They may be heard at the following links:
http://www.ednf.org/images/stories/eds30b.mp3
http://www.ednf.org/images/stories/eds30c.mp3

Books on the topic:
Issues and Management of Joint Hypermobility: A Guide for the Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome Hypermobility Type and the Hypermobility SyndromeJoint Hypermobility Handbook- A Guide for the Issues & Management of Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome Hypermobility Type and the Hypermobility Syndrome [Paperback]
Brad T Tinkle (Author)
A Guide to Living with Hypermobility Syndrome: Bending Without Breaking [Paperback]
Isobel Knight (Author), Alan J. Hakim (Foreword)
Hypermobility Syndrome: Diagnosis and Management for Physiotherapists, 1e [Paperback]
Rosemary J. Keer MSc MCSP MACP (Author), Rodney Grahame CBE MD FRCP FACP (Author)




For additional information, contact www.EDNF.org or talk with a medical professional with training in the field.
I welcome questions and comments and will respond if you include an email address.  Take care of your joints!



Friday, April 27, 2012

The Sting

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=434fAxI3YCo    The Entertainer  --Listen, and enjoy!!




The 1973 movie, The Sting, starred Paul Newman and Robert Redford.  It won an impressive seven Academy Awards, including Best Picture.  I have not seen the movie since I saw it in a theatre in 1974.  Today was the day to resurrect perfection.  Thirty-nine years may have passed, but the story line of two grifters out to revenge their friend’s death has endured.  The famous score is Marvin Hamlisch’s adaptation of a Scott Joplin piece, The Entertainer. I hear three notes and recognize the song instantly.
What is most appealing about this story is the constant edge-of-seat timing.  The Norman Rockwell-like illustrations that divide the storyline help lend a 1930’s feel to the film. The timing, the acting, the directing and the editing are all topnotch. Classics endure.  I am ready to revisit Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.  A lesson learned: the past can still teach us many lessons.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Cherry Delicious


Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Blooming Glory


I am realizing the fruits of my hope.  The bulbs I planted last November on a warmer-than-average day are blossoming. Their color brings a bright note into my day. Outside the window are about twelve double bloom tulips bringing their glory into my world.
I am reminded that beneath the dark soil, in the long, cold days of winter, beauty lurked, ready to spring forth.  They did the labor. They followed the genetic imperative to move, move, toward the light.  And in the light, they have thrived.  Let that be a lesson to carry.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

I Know What I Like


I smile at the small joke.  Just the corners of my mouth lift with the slightest tug heavenward. I am so damn predictable. What I like, I like. I will like it blindfolded.  
I will like it after time.  I will like it again, and again.  How do I know?
About three weeks ago, I walked into one of my favorite stores on Martha’s Vineyard.
Called Rainy Day, it is divided into some rough categories: home goods, bath and body products, candles, cards, gifts , jewelry and children’s toys. There is a creative person 
who moves displays and redesigns the floor space regularly.  It never gets old.  The freshness is not conveyed just through the products, but in how they are displayed. I know where to look for special finds or good prices which is always an incentive to buy.  That Saturday was, indeed, a Rainy Day. When I went in the store, I heard a woman’s voice, accompanied by music, that was lyrical and beautiful.  I had not heard her voice before. I moved around tables, finding myself
inadvertently trying to align myself with the speakers in the ceiling.  When the song was over, I asked the owner of the store if she was playing a cd.  If so, who was performing?  She said it was Coffeehouse Radio. and she’d check who the last performer was.  My iPhone page for Notes was open and I was prepared to scribe when she uttered Rosi Golan, “Come Around.”  I thanked her.  Life intervened and I completely forgot about the incident.
Fast forward to today, I heard a song I had not heard before -- Been a Long Day.  I opened iTunes and found, flat palm striking forehead, that it was performed by.....Rosi Golan.  I like what I like.  Both songs are now safely stored in my music library.
In my recent state of denervation, I have tried to use the time to read, reflect, and listen to music. Some of my favorite diversions (needlepoint, word games and photoshop) are not engaging the way they usually do to calm and distract me from my annoying complaints.  However....that being said, I am surely treasuring the chance to move through iTunes, sampling artists, listening to one minute snippets of their work, and expanding on my knowledge of singers/songwriters and the paths they have taken.  I am unusually emotional.  The piercing sweetness of a single note makes my eyes well-up. A guitar solo can evoke sorrow.  A piano suite can transport me to a different time in my life. So music serves as medicine and also reminds me that, all too reliably, I know what I like.


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d_0LMpycXFg



Monday, April 23, 2012

Times of Trouble


When I find myself in times of trouble, Mother Mary comes to me,Speaking words of wisdom,Let it be.         paul mccartney

When I find myself in times of trouble, as much as I would like, Mother Mary does not come to me.  However, I am not alone.  Again and again, I have heard words of wisdom when I believe myself to be most alone.  Whose words, whose voice, I can not say. I have learned that if I can quiet myself sufficiently, out of the background noise emerges a general direction or knowledge about what to do, how to move forward, or how to let go. Call it prayer. Call it intuition.  Okay, for argument’s sake, call it Mother Mary.  Most of all, it is a matter of practice, letting go and believing.  The rest just happens.  

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Spring

The world around me has erupted into a panoply of greens and blues.  The frothy growth of new leaves gives the trees a fresh, whipped cream appearance.  The colors explode in brilliant heart-aching splendor. Spring is here. 











Saturday, April 21, 2012

Homecoming

A part of my mother came home to me today.  My brother-in-law stormed up my driveway in a large, heavy-duty, utility truck.  He and my son off-loaded various items from my parents’s estate. The one that most tugged at my heartstrings was a hope chest that my grandfather made --as family lore goes -- for my mother, long before she was ever married.  He did not live to see her wedding day, but that piece of his heart remained intact and her’s to take into her new life.  
Now my mother is gone and I find stray bits of her that surround me and bring me solace in everyday life.  There are mostly things she made me with her hands.  Shawls and blankets and scarves and mitten and quilts. She was a gifted artisan and I see more clearly than ever how her creativity was passed on to both my sister and me. 
Her mother, my grandmother, used to say that it was most important to value the tools, not the product.  With that in mind, I was grateful to receive a long, narrow box. Filled with my grandmother's knitting needles.  She, like my mother, was an expert knitter.  
My heart does a little flip-flop now when I walk into my bedroom.  There, at the foot of the bed, my mother's beloved hope chest; my grand-father’s painstakingly crafted gift to my mother has come to spend time with me.  The time will come when it will make its move on to the home of one of my children. Along with my grandmother’s knitting needles and my mother’s sweaters and blankets.  And, I suspect, a few samples of my own needlework. We are a family rich in heritage. The value of this heritage is priceless; that which is made in love offers a legacy greater than its intrinsic worth.   
Fisherman's Sweater
Sally Evans
Prayer Shawl
Sally Evans






Hope Chest circa 1935
Charles Beauchamp

Friday, April 20, 2012

Life is a Bowl of Cherries...and a Tad of Almond Extract


From Whole Foods Circular


For two weeks, I have been looking forward to trying a recipe that was in the Whole Foods circular.  I was enchanted by the idea of combining the flavors of cherry and almond in a Cherry Almond Smoothie.  Finally, I had all the ingredients stocked.  I pulled out the frozen cherries. Check. Almond Milk. Check. O.J. Check. Bananas. Check. Cinnamon. Almond Extract. As I layered the ingredients in the blender, I decided to add 1/4 chopped almonds to increase the protein level. I debated whether I needed to still add the almond extract.  I had a thought, just for an instant, of omitting it.  I didn’t remember when I bought it, but the thought was fleeting, and my hands were faster.  Whirrrr.  The Vitamixer made a smooth, creamy, vitamin-packed breakfast in seconds. The color was a vibrant, bluish-red.  I filled my favorite glass to the brim. Inserted a bendy-straw and ... voila..... Parfait!  Except, wait.  The first sip started gloriously, but there was a burning, alcohol flavor in the back of my throat.  Another sip, my face screwed up at the lingering acrid taste that I was picking up.  I thought of a wine tasting that my husband I once attended. While everyone was nodding and oohing over a wine we had been served. My husband commented quietly to me that the wine had turned. I tasted it. Vinegar. What was going on with everyone?  Finally, after the sommelier had served the entire room, he picked up his glass in preparation to speak. He brought it to his lips, then away, to make a point. Again to his lips, again, no taste. Finally, over his lips, his adam apple bobbed. Just a frisson passed over his face.  Another sip. I remember my husband and I holding still, waiting to see what of what stuff the sommelier was made.  Would he ‘fess up in a room full of nodding heads that the wine had turned or gloss over it?  I couldn’t take the suspense.  I formulated the question that had to be asked, “Do you think this wine might have turned?”  
“Excellent, excellent. This is an excellent opportunity for us all to learn.... “  My husband and I kept our laughter to ourselves. When we got to the car, we roared that an 
entire room needed an "expert" to confirm the obvious.

I walked over to the cupboard, collected the bottle and poured the almond extract down the drain.  However certain I was that the extract was not good, I couldn’t waste all the fabulous vitamins that I wanted and needed. In four glub-glubs, I downed the smoothie. When the Vitamixer was clean and my glass rinsed and put in the dishwasher, I did the math. One eighth teaspoon of almond extract spoiled two cups of smoothie. The lesson was clear; it takes a little bad attitude to ruin an entire day.  I needed no special training to trust myself on this one.  

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Entertaining Fantasies






It is a fact of human existence; we all entertain fantasies.  To the extent our imagination can carry us, we can create another world.  Some people fantasize with more facility than others; they do not seem to be engineered with an internal editing engine that stops them with such self-talk as “Don’t be so ridiculous,” “Be realistic,” and “Grow up.” 
The funny thing about fantasies is that, sometimes, you entertain them without acknowledging them as such.  When I was eight, I sat in front of our house in Piscataway, N.J. singing “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.” I was filled with the righteous conviction that someone driving by -- it was a main thoroughfare, after alll -- would hear the strains of the melody and stop their car.  So enchanted would they be that they would knock on the door to ask my parents if they could take me to New York for a career as a singer. This was no more a fantasy than the dishes I would do after dinner.
Even now, I cringe a little with embarrassment that I was full-owner of that particular fantasy.
In fantasies, reality is born.  Many of my so-called fantasies have turned into sweet reality. My home on a mountain.  My three children.  The ability to spend some time on Martha’s Vineyard. Loyal and caring friends.  A working laptop and internet to bring me the world. All things I dreamt of having in my life.
I have had an eye on the day number that I use to label my blogs for about a week.  The counter has turned steadily toward 200.  Let’s all get our party hats and horns.  Today is the 200th day that I have written a daily blog.  On television, the 200th show commands extravagant celebration. Why not the 200th blog?  What is the particular fantasy I can lay claim to pertaining to the 200 in the volume? That my Facebook account and email account and comments section will be overflowing with feedback.  When performers are on stage, it is perfectly acceptable for them to use the universal sign of gimme, gimme when they are asking for louder applause.  And writers?  We may be solitary in our habits, but certainly not solitary in our fantasizes!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Soggy Cheerios and Chemotherapy



My temperature is 103 and I haven’t thrown up in an hour.  The last time my head hurt like this was when I had a post-myelogram headache; that is when cerebrospinal fluid is leaking from the entry point of a large gauge needle. I ache in the way I did after our car was T-boned in 1977.  I missed a semester of school due to that accident.  In other words, I am a hurting camper.  The way I ended up in this condition was straight-forward, and, in essence, self-induced. I have osteoporosis,  Despite my best efforts with diet, supplements and exercise, I continue to lose bone mass.  Not particularly good news.  The drug I opted to use to treat the osteoporosis, Reclast, has an excellent track record for stabilizing  bone loss.  Between hearsay and the doctor’s explanation before starting, I knew I might experience minor body aches and flu-like symptoms for a day or two.  The rheumatologist had laid out two choices.  First, I could ogive myself daily injections for two years, or second, once a year, I could check into an “Adult Health Day Spa” for an infusion of a drug called Reclast.  The latter, with its three, large, overstuffed, leather recliners i.  The doctor came in, expertly inserted the IV, and shortly thereafter, the medicine was dripping into my arm  Deliberately, I did not read up on the drug prior to the procedure. I am so analytical that I did not want to reason my way out of doing the infusion rather than the injections; I might have gathered too much information to proceed.
While the infusion was going in, the video I was watching on my iPhone started to swirl and dance.  I waited about ten minutes, then when the nurse came to check on me, I said, “I might be a little dizzy. Is that normal?”  “It’s not something we usually see,” she said. “I must be imagining it. Sorry to bother you.”  She came back in about five minutes. I said,”I really must have been imagining it, I feel so much better, now.” She grinned, “Maybe that’s because I turned it off the drip for a while!”  When she restarted the drip, she did so slowly, and stayed with me. I went home feeling off somehow, but not in a way I could describe. I went about my day, but was relieved to go to bed...at eight o’clock.  Around 3a.m., I woke up in time to rush to the bathroom. The siege had begun. 
I talked with the doctor’s office and they told me so long as my fever stayed below 103 and I was getting enough fluids, I could stay home. Any change from that and I was instructed to get to the hospital.  The nurse pointed out that this was a kind of chemotherapy. I need to let my body do what it has to do.  There is not a “fix” other than time.  She suggested I would feel better anywhere from 3-5 days from the day of the infusion.
Last night, day Two, I had vague feelings of hunger.  I had not been able to bear food all day, but at 3:30a.m., it was on my mind. I felt too wobbly to get up and get something.  I had a real surprise.  By my bed, there was a bowl of cheerios and milk -- my uneaten dinner sat where I left it. The  Cheerios had been sitting there since 8p.m., No mind, they were available. The soggy mass of Cheerios was sitting in a unappetizing mass at the bottom of a white cereal bowl.  Reluctantly, I pushed a few of the gelatinous appearing O’s onto the spoon, then brought it to my mouth.  The surprise? They were delicious. They had the consistency of Oreo cookies when they have spent too long in milk.  They tasted a lot like oatmeal.  With bird-sized bites, I worked my way through the bowlful.  My head was still pounding, my hips felt like they were in vises, but, for first the first time in 12 hours, my stomach didn’t reject what it took in.
With a full belly, I started to dose off. My thoughts turned to every cancer-survivor whom I have ever known and every loved one I have lost to cancer.  Was this what their weekly rounds of chemotherapy were like, I wondered. I don’t think that they set out to be inspirations to those around them.  All they wanted to do was to survive. None-the-less, what this brief experience has given me is insight into just how miserable, miserable can be. What’s more, I am discovering, at an entirely new level, why cancer patients -- whether they win or lose the fight -- are heroes.  Their desire to survive is far greater than I ever imagined or understood. To willingly, willfully, put themselves in the way of what feels like a speeding train in hopes that the science will be enough, makes them heroes to me. And if it requires eating soggy Cheerios to keep food down, so be it. Legions of cancer patients have shown a level of determination, acceptance and forbearance that the rest of us -- the lucky ones who have not yet lost the spin of the Roulette Wheel-- can not know.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

A Geology Lesson in the Valley


View from Mt. Sugarloaf, 652 ft,  taken 6.19.11 dee

My head is filled with facts that may never be called forth.  However, I spend a couple of hours today researching them. I can tell you what year Amtrak’s Montrealer ceased chugging as far north as Montreal.  I know when Vermont became the stopping point for the Amtrak run, leading to its new name, the Vermonter, in 1995. There are big changes in store for those travelers who wish to take the train from Springfield, MA to Brattleboro, VT. By the end of 2012, the Amherst, MA stop will be eased out and replaced with a refurbished railway stop in Northampton, MA.  This will carve eleven minutes off the travel time between Springfield, MA and Brattleboro, Vt; it will allow the train to travel through areas of greater population.  Upgrades in the equipment and rails themselves will be an important part of the systemic changes to this form of mass transportation.( http://www.amtrak40th.com/amtraks-history\)

I can talk about the word Wequomps, a word used by Native Americans to describe Mount Sugarloaf (South, elevation 652 ft., and North, 791 ft.)  There are ancient tales of giant beavers that roamed North America.  Fifteen thousand years ago, the region from northern Vermont to southern Connecticut was submerged under a giant post-glacial lake.  Sugarloaf Mountain was called Wequomps because the word is used to represent a stopping point. The lore of the Native Americans was that Mount Sugarloaf was the carcass of a giant beaver who laid down and died there. Native Americans believed that the giant beavers lived in a lake that existed over today’s terrain of the Connecticut River Valley. Once thought to be a myth, scientists are now lending credence to the notion.(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pocumtuck_Range\)

I learned about the Pocumtuck Range of Mountains in Franklin County, MA.  I can describe wildflowers that are native to Massachusetts.  I read about the path Mercury follows relative to the sun.  And, yes, jpeg files can be recovered from an SD Memory Card using a Mac.  
All of this information is uniquely relevant to the book I am researching. At 8 a.m. this morning, I would not have guessed that it was this information that I would be seeking.  By 3 p.m., my imagination had advanced the plot of my novel sufficiently such that I needed facts.  How like a spider a writer is, spinning a web to draw in the reader. ( For more on how spiders build their webs, a fascinating discussion is available --(http:ednieuw.home.xs4all.nl/Spiders/Info/Construction_of_a_web.html).)  To suspend disbelief, the tale must be firmly entrenched in the believable.  Truths and identifiable facts are the key.
Such is the life of a writer.  Volumes of data and mountains of facts must be distilled leaving only the essential details that will move a plot forward. I save it all.  It could be one small, seemingly inconsequential fact that will illuminate a moment and imbue it with meaning. I can only hope that I will recognize the key when I find it.