“Deer in the Snow” by Franz Marc
nuzzling the snow
wind nipping noses, two deer
tracking down acorns
~ Barbara Rodgers
(By the Sea)
…new arrivals only allowed in fair weather…
Recently we spent a couple of hours at one of our favorite places, a used bookstore named the Book Barn, in the coastal village of Niantic, Connecticut. The Book Barn has three locations within a mile of each other, two are “downtown” and at the main site there is a huge barn full of books on three levels, surrounded by smaller structures which are also full of books. The complex houses about half a million books at any given moment.
…Lucky is a tiny black cat who hangs out in the outbuilding called the “Last Page”…
If one wants to sell books to the store she must take a number at “Ellis Island,” the receiving spot for new additions. We love to browse the endless stacks of books, pet the friendly resident cats, and read all the creative signs found in the gardens and on and around the buildings. As one might expect from book lovers, words are found everywhere: reminders, warnings, directions, suggestions, quips and puns.
…sign in the Haunted Book Shop…
Of course we came home with an armful of interesting books to read! I may love my Kindle but will always have a special place in my heart for paperback and hardcover books!!
photos by Barbara Rodgers
The following video is a bit long, but the beginning of it offers a good idea about the look and feel of the place…
…”The Little Drummer Boy” is Larisa’s favorite Christmas song…
This year Tim had a vacation for the week between Christmas and New Year, so we decided to travel to visit our kids, who did not have time off from work for holiday adventures. Tim spent Christmas Eve in the emergency department seeking treatment for another bout of diverticulitis… But a CAT-scan determined that it was caught early enough and was mild enough for him to be treated with oral antibiotics and sent on his way.
…Larisa and Compromise…
Christmas morning we set out for New York to spend the day with Dima & Larisa, who cooked us a scrumptious feast for dinner. When darkness fell the twinkling tree lights came on and we admired all their decorations. Compromise, their pet albino rat was allowed out of his cage and spent the evening with us, cuddling with Larisa, while we were playing board games. It was a lovely, cozy and peaceful evening, our first Christmas in the city, with Christmas carols playing softly in the background.
Whenever Larisa needed to get up to attend to something she left Compromise on her chair, knowing he would not risk jumping off it. He would wait patiently for her to return and hold him again. We never knew a rat could be so affectionate. Sometimes he would sit on her shoulder while she was busy with things. So adorable!
The next morning Dima & Larisa were off to work and then Tim & I left for our next destination in Virginia!
My new reindeer ornament!
We will be doing a lot of celebrating this holiday season, planning to enjoy family and five different Christmas trees, including our own. Tim has a vacation this year so we’re off to visit our children and siblings soon. But first we had our winter solstice gathering here, enjoying candlelight dining, music and good conversation with dear friends on the longest night of the year.
On Saturday Tim & I and Dima & Larisa went to celebrate with my sister, brother-in-law, aunt and father at their little house in the Connecticut woods. My sister has been dreaming of a boxwood Christmas tree and this turned out to be the year she found one! Isn’t it pretty? So simple and sweet. I think she may be planning to plant it outside in the spring.
The ancient ones were delighted to see Larisa and seemed to be enjoying the festivities, but we didn’t stay too long because they do tire out from all the bustling excitement of having company. The four of them will be having a quiet Christmas dinner on the 25th. We’ll be heading for New York, Virginia and Georgia.
Auntie and Larisa
I brought Dad some clementines and fondly watched him enjoy peeling and eating one. Sometimes I hesitate to share pictures of him because part of me wants to remember him the way he looked when I was a child…
After my mother died Dad and I used to drive up to Cape Cod to visit her parents, my beloved grandparents. He always brought along a little supply of fruit. As I was the driver, he would cut the fruit into bite size pieces with his pocket knife and share them with me, popping mine into my mouth so I wouldn’t have to take my hands off the steering wheel.
Most of the time Larisa was with us, riding in the back seat, and sometimes Auntie would come, too. One summer day when we were using the air conditioning in the car, Larisa had brought some chocolate with her. We stopped at a rest area to use the facilities and she left her chocolate in the car. When we returned to the car she was very disappointed to find her chocolate melted into a gooey puddle. But not to worry! Grandpa took that glob of chocolate and held it out close to the air conditioning vent in the dashboard for many miles until the chocolate had hardened up again. If his arm got tired he never mentioned it. That’s grandfather love for you!
We write these words now, many miles distant from the spot at which, year after year, we met on that day, a merry and joyous circle. Many of the hearts that throbbed so gaily then, have ceased to beat; many of the looks that shone so brightly then, have ceased to glow; the hands we grasped, have grown cold; the eyes we sought, have hid their lustre in the grave; and yet the old house, the room, the merry voices and smiling faces, the jest, the laugh, the most minute and trivial circumstances connected with those happy meetings, crowd upon our mind at each recurrence of the season, as if the last assemblage had been but yesterday! Happy, happy Christmas, that can win us back to the delusions of our childish days; that can recall to the old man the pleasures of his youth; that can transport the sailor and the traveller, thousands of miles away, back to his own fireside and his quiet home!
~ Charles Dickens
(The Pickwick Papers)
Time for me to express a little joy, the sort of elation parents often simply cannot contain when something wonderful is happening with one of their offspring. In September we received the welcome news that Larisa & Dima got engaged, and in October we had the pleasure of meeting Dima’s parents, Svetlana & Vladimir, when the kids brought them here for lunch and a delightful afternoon of getting to know one another.
Dima’s family emigrated from Russia to settle in the United States when he was three years old. Turns out he was a towhead when he was small, same as I was. It’s funny the things I make note of and file away in my memory. Dima is short for Dimitri. Larisa is a Slavic name, too, and when she was little we tried calling her Lara, and even Lara-Kate, using her middle name Katherine, but it never stuck. It occurred to me how symmetrical the names Dima & Lara would be together. Kind of like Tim’s brother and his wife, Dan & Fran.
Earlier, as we were preparing for the visit, I was standing on a stool to get some serving platters off the top shelf of the kitchen cabinet. Apparently I was fumbling due to nervousness because next thing I knew the platters were out of my hands and had crashed onto all the wine glasses I had just washed. Broken glass was all over the countertop and the floor and in the kitchen sink, too. Somehow we managed to clean up the disaster, run out to Home Goods, buy new wine glasses, and make it back home before our daughter’s future in-laws arrived. Phew!
Larisa loves the above picture – from one of her many escapades with Dima. We often wonder from where the thrill-seeking genetic material originated. (They’ve been skydiving, bungee jumping and scuba diving, too…) But we’re happy that the kids have found such a good match with each other in their adventuresome spirits. I’ve had some more mellow fun, co-creating a wedding web page with them – they’ve added all the content and provided me with pictures to play with. (So of course I borrowed my favorites to share here!)
We did put those new wine glasses to good use. Svetlana & Vladimir brought gifts of wine imported from Russia and Ukraine, as Larisa had told them beforehand about our Ukrainian ancestry. Apparently there is a Russian saying that only problem drinkers don’t toast before drinking. Well, offering toasts is a custom Tim & I were not acquainted with but soon we were learning a bit about the etiquette involved and were imbibing and well-wishing for the days forthcoming, right along with our new extended family. :)
Earworm: “May your days be merry and bright…” The line from that song has been stuck in my head for days now! We picked out our tree and brought it home on Saturday and I’ve now finished decorating it. Our cozy little nest is ready for the winter solstice. So here’s to Merry & Bright in the days and years to come! Cheers!
Flightingale Infirmary created by Linda, Norman & Joseph Legassie
photo by Barbara Rodgers
Florence Flightingale is a faerie specializing in wing repair. Fireflies are the first-responders to the soft hush of the sunset’s glow – brightening the way for summertime fun – and even twilight painting. But what happens when a firefly scorches a wing-tip? It’s Flightingale to the rescue for all sorts of wing injuries: burned, torn, or just plain worn. Indeed, this boulder’s shoulder is a welcomed sight when fluttering troubles strike for beetles, bees, birds, and butterflies.
(Wee Faerie Village: Land of Picture Making)