Dense fog in Portland, Maine, this morning. Casco Bay islands are behind a veil of gray and even sailboats moored just offshore look like ghost ships. The fog is expected to burn off by noon, then sunshine and cool temperatures for the rest of the day.
That weather report is a small tribute to Milt Rebmann of Milt’s Muse. He began every post with his personal Idaho Falls weather report which became his signature style:
“It's a beautiful crisp, clear, sunny day in Idaho Falls, definitely one that should be enjoyed from the other side of the window....I intend to do just that.....”
I had no reason to care about the weather in Idaho Falls until Milt made me care, and I would have been hugely disappointed if he had ever stopped doing those reports.
Milt, who began his blog in July of 2005, and was always plain-spoken, wrote in his profile:
“I'm existing with cancer. It's a pain in the butt. I have it and am stuck with it. This is a blog of my thoughts about the cancer, the resulting depression, and my feeble attempts at self help.”
His attempts were far from “feeble” as he struggled with the ups and down of the disease, the depression it caused and medication that made his mind fuzzy. In the spring, he wrote more frequently of pain and on 30 May, having given up Oxycodone for over-the-counter painkillers, he said:
“That's my whinny rant for the day, I may feel more like my old self tomorrow....I don't have much confidence it that though......”
It was Milt’s last blog post. His granddaughter, Amber, posted a couple of short notes saying Milt was very sick but resting comfortably and now, with no explanation, his blog has been taken down and only a Google cache remains.
Susan at Saz Secrets and Claude of Blogging in Paris have tried to track down news of Milt without success. I too have checked his site regularly and searched Idaho Falls newspapers for an obituary, but none has appeared.
As so often happens in the blogosphere, Milt was not the sort of man I run across much in my life, not the sort I would usually seek out to know. But we became friends across the ether; my gain. I like too what he told a reporter about blogging when he was interviewed for a piece about elderbloggers in The New York Times in April:
"’It's a therapy for me,’ said Mr. Rebmann, who retired from the electronics business and lives in Idaho Falls, Idaho. ‘It's pretty much gotten me out of the depression. I'm not having so many dark thoughts about death as I used to. I can see improvement in my thinking.’
“Mr. Rebmann also gets something by visiting some of the other bloggers who visit his site. ’It's kind of like talking over the backyard fence,’ he said. ‘Like a neighborhood.’"
Yes. A great, big worldwide neighborhood with no more than an electronic back fence separating our yards. I hope we can find news of Milt and I’m betting that wherever he is, he’s starting every conversation with the local weather report.