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Saturday, August 3, 2019

In Honor of Ellen McConnell Blakemann


As I mentioned in a post I published one year ago today, "Normally on this day of August 3rd, I would be calling Ellen Rachel McConnell Blakeman to wish her a happy birthday. However, she died earlier this year and is missed very much by Cam and yours truly.

As some of you may know, volume two of the Words In Our Beak book series is dedicated to her.

I think of Ellen [who can be seen in the photograph atop this entry] often, but especially today and my thoughts are also with her family (including her mother, her sister Martha, Douglas McConnell, Susan McConnell and Bennett Paul) as well as her friends, especially Loris Damerow, whom Ellen often spoke about whenever we discussed various topics."

The last time she and I spoke by phone was late January or maybe early February 2018. She died soon after we spoke (on the eleventh of February 2018).

While we were talking I heard a lot crash and so did she. The noise was from gutters falling off of the building where I live and landing in the yard of a tenant who lives in the building directly east of me; as seen in the image directly below, where the short arrow indicates where the gutters used to be and the other arrow indicates where they landed.


The gutters were eventually removed from that yard and placed in the yard of the tenant who was living in the ground floor of the building where I live as seen in the next picture.


The gutters remained there from February 2018 until this past Tuesday (July 30 2019), when workmen came to remove them and to put new gutters up.

It was at that time I learned that the gutter on the opposite side of my building would have to be replaced as they were in danger of collapsing.

And those particular gutters are the ones that run from the roof extension of the building where I live  to the backyard. But major obstacles occurred when the workers were here to remove and replace them and replacing them and that is what I was referring to when I stated the following in this past Tuesday's blog entry:

"As for my completing my projects, my work was truly disrupted by an unexpected major upheaval in my rooftop garden and at this time, I cannot even write about it, but I will do so in a few days, dear reader, after I've had time to deal with today's unfortunate situation..."

Now on what would be the second of Ellen's birthday's from when we had our last conversation and heard the gutters fall, I can guess what she would've said about so much time passing.

Moreover, I can also guess what she would've said about what happened when the gutters under my roof extension (my garden is atop the extension) were replaced: The workers intended to complete the job this past Tuesday (July 30 2019) once they replaced the fallen gutters. Their plan had been to attach a ladder to the railing around my garden, remove the old gutter and replace it.

However, it turned out the railing is probably too weak to support a heavy ladder being attached to it, so they had to return the following day and temporarily remove part of my railing.

In doing so a portion of kiwi vines which wrap around the railing were destroyed, as you may surmised from the following photo.


I have had my kiwi vines since 2010 and it was hard to watch them being treated so roughly. I will not know until this coming Wednesday (when Juan V can look at them) how and if that portion of the kiwi vines can be saved/repaired/salvaged.

Moreover, prior to this calamity, my H.F. Clematis (which grows on a pole that is off camera in the image above) may have been partially destroyed. I've had that vine since 2005 (or 2006?) and it is upsetting to see her manhandled, but, as is the case with my kiwi vines, I'll learn about the prognosis of my H.F. when Juan V has had a chance to examine the flora.

My rooftop garden is not only an oasis for a number of birds and for me and those who come visit; it is also the setting for my book series, Words In Our Beak, and as I've stated beforevolume two of my three volume book series is dedicated to her.



Within the dedication of volume two, I state, "... She will be missed, yet her fighting spirit lives on. www.alongswim.org"

During 2011, Ellen co-founded (in partnership with her brother Douglas MCConnell), A Long Swim, a nonprofit that both borrows the ALS acronym and is dedicated to raising funds for collaborative ALS research using open water and marathon-distance swimming.

Perhaps I am bold to say that if Ellen and I were to be talking on her birthday today, in addition to the update on the gutters she heard fall, we might also be talking about our mutual efforts to raise awareness about our respective medical conditions. Ellen's being ALS and mine being my recent efforts to raise awareness re NF (Neurofibromatosis) via my project, Imperfect Strangers.



Many years ago, Ellen read part of what I will be including in this book project and I am confident she would be pleased with the angle I'm now taking. I hope when I pass from this life I will be able to leave a legacy as Ellen has done.

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