Provincetown Signs

10.18.13 ~ Provincetown, Massachusetts

On October 18th, the Rodgers branch of the family headed out to Provincetown, at the very end of the Cape Cod peninsula, where we spent many a vacation when our kids were growing up. We thought it would be deserted, since the summer season is well over, but it was Women’s Week, and the streets were crowded with visitors. Exhausted from the emotions and activities of the previous day, we had lunch and did some shopping, but didn’t stay too long. But before we left I kept taking pictures of signs – there were so many creative ones…

10.18.13 ~ Provincetown, Massachusetts

10.18.13 ~ Provincetown, Massachusetts

10.18.13 ~ Provincetown, Massachusetts

10.18.13 ~ Provincetown, Massachusetts

10.18.13 ~ Provincetown, Massachusetts

10.18.13 ~ Provincetown, Massachusetts

 …a couple enjoying Women’s Week festivities together…

10.18.13 ~ Provincetown, Massachusetts

10.18.13 ~ Provincetown, Massachusetts

10.18.13 ~ Provincetown, Massachusetts

An historic fishing port, Provincetown is situated at the tip of Cape Cod in an area of spectacular natural beauty, surrounded by miles of dunes and beaches. Provincetown has a diverse and singular history. The Pilgrims first landed in Provincetown in 1620 and signed the Mayflower Compact, a declaration of self-determination and radical thought that characterizes the history and people of Provincetown, even today. Provincetown has been home to sailors, pirates, fishermen, painters, and authors for centuries. In the nineteenth century, Provincetown, with the largest and safest natural harbor on the New England coast, was one of the greatest and busiest seaports in the country. The rich texture of cultural and social influences has produced a sense of place that is uniquely Provincetown. For over a century, these special qualities have attracted artists, tourists, and bohemians who have then blended with the local population and produced a unique community character. Provincetown is truly like nowhere else.
~ Town of Provincetown website

10.18.13 ~ Provincetown, Massachusetts

…looking towards Pilgrim Monument from out on MacMillan Pier,
where fishing and whale-watching boats are moored in Provincetown Harbor…

10.19.13 ~ Harwich, Massachusetts

…granddaughter Eliza found her own “sign” to bring home…

Dragonfly Tidings

10.17.13 ~ Harwich Center, Massachusetts

…dragonfly magic…

On our mother’s birthday, October 17th, my sister Beverly and I went early to the cemetery in Harwich for some time alone with our parents and our memories, bringing along Papa’s ashes in a nature-inspired wooden casket.  After we placed some flowers around the gravestones of our parents and grandparents, a small red dragonfly landed on our parents’ stone.  Its presence was a special gift…

10.17.13 ~ Harwich Center, Massachusetts

…more dragonfly magic…

A little later, as we were remembering our grandparents, the dragonfly flew over to perch on their gravestone, too, just above the “E” in White.  And there was another special moment after the rest of the family started arriving.  A small red dragonfly landed on my brother-in-law’s shoulder and stayed there for a long while.  John was the one who was Papa’s primary caregiver for all these years, and it was good to have him appreciated and acknowledged in this meaningful way.  I like to think it was the same dragonfly, but can’t know for sure…

10.17.13 ~ Harwich Center, Massachusetts

When we had all gathered around in a circle, Tim read my little essay about my father – I knew I couldn’t read it without sobbing – and then my cousin Matthew read messages from his father (my uncle) and his sister (my cousin).  And then everyone began sharing their own memories.  After that, Beverly lowered the casket full of Papa’s ashes deep into the ground, and then most of us took turns shoveling the earth back over him.  It was a beautiful autumn day and our little ceremony felt so natural and intimate.

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…returned to the earth…

Our parents are together now.  The next thing I knew, everyone – there were 14 of us – wanted to go to another cemetery in Dennis, to see where our great-grandparents and two generations before them lie buried.  (Swan Lake Cemetery)  It was quite something to show my granddaughter the graves of her 5th-great-grandparents, who were immigrants from Norway and Ireland, and tell her how they met here in America and raised their family on Cape Cod, and how he was a sea-captain…

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…favorite things, Papa was very fond of this baby lynx picture in his last years,
we kept it hanging on the wall in his bedroom…

After that little expedition we all made our way over to Yarmouth to eat at the Hearth ‘n’ Kettle, a favorite restaurant of the family.  We toasted those who came before us with Cape Codders (vodka, cranberry juice, lime wedge) and enjoyed a delicious leisurely dinner.  And then we returned to our rented house and had my parents’ favorite birthday cakes as we gathered around the spacious dining room table – lemon jello cake in honor of my mother and chocolate butter-cream in honor of my father.

10.17.13 ~ Harwich, Massachusetts

In the evening we piled into the living room and watched a football game while shelling and munching on peanuts, and drinking Papa’s favorite beer.  It was my kids’ idea – they have fond memories of shelling peanuts with their Grandpa while he was watching football on TV.  It was good to be with family - sharing memories together – some of us had not seen each other in a very long time.

Whenever we were at a funeral, for people or pets, ever since I was a little girl, my father always advised us to remember the good times.  And so we did.

Dominic’s Dragonfly

Dragonfly by Dominic Delgado

On October 16th, Tim & I drove to Providence to pick up Nate, who was flying in from Georgia.  Then it was on to Cape Cod where we had rented a big house (six bedrooms, five bathrooms!) for several days, so the family could gather and bury my father’s ashes together.  When Nate unpacked, he gave me this beautiful gift he brought for me from his nephew, Dominic, age 5.  I kept it standing on my dresser while I was there, a cheerful image to behold each morning when I woke up.  Thank you so much, Dominic!!!

Little did I know there would be more dragonfly magic the next day…

Dinosaurs in the Woods

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June 23, 2013, Montville, Connecticut
The Dinosaur Place

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…Dominic…

While Nate & Shea were in Connecticut for the wedding, we also spent a fun day at an outdoor Dinosaur Place with them and their nephews.  It was very hot so we were glad to be in the woods most of the time, and enjoyed watching the kids play on the splash pad after our long dinosaur walk.

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I don’t know the names of these dinosaurs, but Dominic knows ALL of them and he’s only 4 years old!  It was fun seeing this lost world through the eyes and imaginations of the little ones.

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…Julius and Dominic…

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…Julius…

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…Dominic…

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…Julius…

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…Dominic enjoying the amazing playground…

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…Dominic…

Wedding in the Woods

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15 June 2013, Orange, Connecticut
Camp Cedarcrest, by the Wepawaug River

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…Dima waiting patiently…

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…Grandma Nina and Vladimir, father of the groom, waiting patiently…

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…Larisa and Tim…
(photo by Susan Kwan)

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…Larisa reading her vows…

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…Dima reading his vows…

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…a kiss…

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…matron and maid of honor, Alyssa and Alicia…

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…Larisa & Dima…Tim & Barbara…

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…our dear friends from Macedonia, Bojan and his sister Ana…

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…Larisa…

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…Dima…

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…Larisa made the dress with help from her friend, Brit…

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…Svetlana, mother of the groom…

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…tradition is that the person getting the bigger bite “controls” the marriage…

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…best man, Dave…

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…Tim, father of the bride…

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…Vlad, father of the groom…

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…Aunt Delorma, who has been a mother to both Tim and me,
and a very special grandaunt to Larisa…

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…the lights of my life, Nate, Larisa and Jon…

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…cousins Erica, Larisa and Erin…

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…cousins Nate, Jon, Larisa, David, Erica and Erin…

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…Larisa and me…

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…Tim and Larisa…

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…Nate and Larisa…

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…Nate, Tim, Dima, Larisa, Barbara and Jon…

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…Larisa and Eliza…

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…Toby and Larisa…

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…Drew, Janet and Tim…

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…my favorite picture!…

Shea helped me out with a lot of the picture-taking, and Svetlana made all the lovely decorations.  Dima & Larisa created an amazing wedding and reception, in a perfect setting, and we could not have asked for better weather.  A very special day for all of us to remember forever.

An interesting side note – all of the women in the bridal party and the mothers and grandmothers and grandaunt have names that end with an “a.”  Larisa; her attendants, Alyssa, Alicia, Erica and Lisa; the mothers, Barbara and Svetlana; Dima’s grandmothers, Nina and Anna; and Larisa’s grandaunt, Delorma.

Great Black-backed Gulls

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The seagulls know the truth of it
And scream it overhead
~ David Gray
♫ (Nos Da Cariad) ♫

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Growing up visiting the beaches of Cape Cod I never paid close attention to seagulls, taking them very much for granted.  But in 2011, after reading the book, A Time for Everything, by Karl O. Knausgård, I’ve been drawn to these interesting sea birds. However, it wasn’t until April of last year (2012) that I noticed that there are different kinds of seagulls, when I saw a pair of black-headed gulls perched on a dock at Cumberland Island National Seashore in Georgia.

Now I’m pretty sure the gulls we commonly have on our beach here in Connecticut are ring-billed gulls. One day last August (2012), Tim & I were having a light supper sitting at a picnic table on the grass at our beach.  We were chatting away and I was watching a gull behind him, who was loitering on the grass, hoping for a handout.  (We never give them anything, however, because our food is not good for them.)  Slowly it dawned on me that this was the biggest gull I had ever laid eyes on!  And yet he had the speckled coloring of an immature one.

Thankfully I had my camera, but when Tim turned around to see what I was so excited about the gull took off.  He came back, however, and began strutting along the sidewalk as if he owned the place.

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Eventually he walked up onto the rocks and posed for me.

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In the pictures above and below I was trying to capture this huge baby standing as close to an adult “regular” gull as I could, to illustrate the difference in size.  There were two of these large gulls present that day, but this was the one that came closer to us.

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Ten days after this gull encounter at the beach we had to take Tim to the hospital in the middle of the night.  At dawn I came home to shower and then return to the hospital.  As I started driving down Bank Street in New London there was a seagull in the middle of the street, feasting on some roadkill.  He didn’t move out of the way of my car until it was almost too late.  When he did take off he didn’t fly away, though.  He kept flying just a few feet in front of my car, flying very low, all the way down Bank Street to Parade Plaza.

If seagull shows up it means it’s time to clean up your home environment and let go of and recycle as much as you possibly can. … Spend a significant amount of time at the seashore meditating, allowing the rhythms of the waves and the wind to be your guiding pulse.
~ Dr. Steven D. Farmer
(Animal Spirit Guides)

It wasn’t until late September, when we took a day trip to Block Island, that we got a clue about the identity of these giant seagulls.  Our tour guide asked us if we had ever seen a great black-backed gull, the largest of all gulls.  Apparently they are showing up on Block Island, too!

After Tim came home from the hospital, but before we went to Block Island, son Nate came up from Georgia to help “clean out our home environment” after Tim’s hospital stay. While he was here we took him to the beach one evening, all excited about showing him the big seagulls.  But they weren’t there that night.  However, we sat with him there for hours, soaking up the healing power of the sea and talking about the wonders of the universe – a memory I will treasure forever.  The following sketch reminds me of some of our conversations, Mr. Logic and Ms. Wonder, chatting with their son…

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image: Sketchnotes: Natalie Batalha on Exoplanets & Love

Since Nate left to go back home we have spotted the great black-backed gulls at the beach again many times, even after Hurricane Sandy and Blizzard Charlotte, so it looks like the two of them are planning to stick around for a while.  And my sister has reported seeing them there a couple of times, too, when she’s gone to the beach to eat a peaceful lunch in her car.  Beverly thought I had to be exaggerating until she saw them for herself!

Vegan ♥ Paleo

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To look for a “healthy” diet can be as discouraging as a search for the “true” religion.  I spent many years extricating myself from a belief system which had at one time seemed to have all the definitive answers my teenage self was yearning for.  One would think I might have learned a lesson or two about words and ideas that sound too good to be true.

Some of my readers may remember a few passionate posts I wrote back in October of 2011, when after reading several convincing books by cardiologists I decided that Tim & I should become vegans to try to reverse his heart disease.  In my mind it was a done deal, the final answer.  But in the months following our change to a vegan diet, Tim wound up in the hospital twice, which left me feeling demoralized.  It was as if eating plants was making things worse, not better.

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One day last fall, I happened to catch another cardiologist being interviewed on TV, and he was talking about the evils of gluten and wheat, and how consumption of grains leads to obesity, heart disease and diabetes.  And so began another round of research for me, more books, more websites, more theories to contemplate.  To make a long story a bit shorter, we have switched to a paleo diet, or caveman diet.  Wild game, grass-fed beef, pasture-raised poultry.  Lots of vegetables.  Nuts and berries.  Hunting and gathering.  No wheat or grains. Keeping our fingers crossed.

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This time around I’m not looking at this change as The Answer carved in stone.  It’s an Experiment to see if anything different will happen.  I’m the daughter of a scientist after all. Maybe the food we choose to eat has nothing at all to do with heart disease, though somehow I still think it might.  But cardiologists don’t seem to agree on the best diet for heart disease, so I won’t list all the authors of the books I consulted.  Staying off of the bandwagon for the time being.

Last week we did have some encouraging news after Tim went in for a checkup.  He lost some weight and his progress pleased his doctor for the first time since his original heart attack five years ago.  Let’s hope we’re finally on the right track, although I am keeping myself carefully skeptical, just in case…

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photos by Barbara Rodgers