a castle by the river

6.23.21 ~ Gillette Castle State Park
East Haddam, Connecticut

Another gorgeous day of mild temperatures and low humidity presented itself on Wednesday, so off we went to visit a small castle in Connecticut. The last time we were there was in 1981, when the gypsy moth infestation was in full swing. 40 years ago — where does the time go? My memories are of trees stripped of their leaves and our three-year old son stomping on every single caterpillar in his path. And there were many. It was slow going…

Wiliam Gillette as Sherlock Holmes lithograph
1900 Library of Congress Collection

The castle sits high above the Connecticut River. It was designed by William Gillette (1853-1937), an American stage actor who famously portrayed Sherlock Holmes in multiple productions. He lived in his castle from 1919 until his death. We couldn’t get any indoor pictures but it was a very enjoyable and informative tour. (We were required to wear masks inside the castle and the visitor center.) The man owned 15 cats and had designed many built-in features to entertain them, like a round table with wooden toys dangling off the edge.

Connecticut River, viewed from the castle

Looking at the river we spotted the ferry crossing from Hadlyme to Chester, which brought back another memory. One day when the caterpillar crusher was a teenager he wanted to visit a certain obscure comic book store, far from home and on the other side of the river. We went by the interstate but I decided we would take a side trip on the way home to locate an ancestor’s gravestone at a cemetery on this side of the river, and that we would take the car over the river on the little ferry. It was an adventure!

Chester/Hadlyme Ferry

Gillette also designed a short-line, narrow gauge train with three miles of track on the grounds of his 184-acre estate.

From the 1920s through the ‘30s, Gillette’s personal railroad amused visiting dignitaries from Albert Einstein to Calvin Coolidge as it carried them across bridges, trestles, and through a tunnel Gillette designed himself. The 18-inch-gauge railroad included electric- and steam-powered locomotives, two Pullman cars, and an observation car. In the 1940s the tracks and train engines were sold to Lake Compounce in Bristol. They were donated back in the 1990s and a restored passenger car is currently on display at the castle’s visitor center.
~ Connecticut History website

“Grand Central Station”
???mysterious substance hanging from ceiling of train station???
looking out from the train station towards the river
Gillette Castle from a different angle
stone wall along a driveway
entrance to ???
stone wall along a walkway

Tim spotted a bird high up in a tall tree and I did the best I could with the telephoto lens and no tripod! My first pictures of an indigo bunting!!! A lovely way to end the visit.

indigo bunting

But that wasn’t the end of the outing. On our way to the castle I had spotted a picturesque body of water and Tim had spotted a place where we could pull off the road to look at it. So on the way back we stopped. There were no signs so it took a bit of investigating when I got home to identify it.

6.23.21 ~ Whalebone Cove
Lyme, Connecticut
freshwater tidal marsh
dome-shaped beaver lodge of sticks and wood
lovely summer colors
more summer colors

And then I spotted what looked to be part of the bark on that dying tree in the first picture above. But when I zoomed in it turned out to be a bird! The bird never moved, except to turn its head, the whole time we were there. Flitting around it were two other birds who never landed for more than a second, but I managed to get the last picture below of one of them. I was able to steady my arms by leaning on the car. With help from the good folks at the What’s This Bird? Facebook group it seems to be a fledgling barn swallow and its parents.

juvenile barn swallow
barn swallow

We stopped at our favorite restaurant on our way home again and wondered how many more of these delightful days we will have before the heat and humidity return and settle in…

enjoy the ride

“Self Portrait” by Zinaida Serebriakova

The secret of life is enjoying the passage of time
Any fool can do it
There ain’t nothing to it
Nobody knows how we got to
The top of the hill
But since we’re on our way down
We might as well enjoy the ride

The secret of love is in opening up your heart
It’s okay to feel afraid
But don’t let that stand in your way
‘Cause anyone knows that love is the only road
And since we’re only here for a while
Might as well show some style
Give us a smile

Isn’t it a lovely ride
Sliding down
Gliding down
Try not to try too hard
It’s just a lovely ride
Now the thing about time is that time
Isn’t really real
It’s just your point of view
How does it feel for you
Einstein said he could never understand it all
Planets spinning through space
The smile upon your face
Welcome to the human race

~ James Taylor
♫ (Secret o’ Life) ♫

James Taylor in the 1970s.

The other day this song came on the radio — I hadn’t heard it in ages and found that it has even more meaning to me now than it did in the past. Lately I’ve been so at peace with the passage of time… Even often ‘feeling afraid’ isn’t spoiling the ride. James Taylor was the first singer-songwriter I followed with passion as a teen. Since he was about 9 years older than me I often found his songs expressing and reflecting feelings I’ve had along the way.

He’s going to perform with Bonnie Raitt at Fenway Park in Boston on August 11. Not sure I could handle the traffic or the crowds but it is so tempting to dream about! Live music is always amazing…

a mysterious tune

“The Moon over a Waterfall” by Hiroshige

Everything is determined by forces over which we have no control. It is determined for the insect as well as for the star. Human beings, vegetables, or cosmic dust – we all dance to a mysterious tune, intoned in the distance by an invisible piper.
~ Albert Einstein
(The Saturday Evening Post, October 26, 1929)

Go out of the house to see the moon, and’t is mere tinsel; it will not please as when its light shines upon your necessary journey.
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
(Nature)

We tap our toes to chaste love songs about the silvery moon without recognizing them as hymns to copulation.
~ Barbara Kingsolver
(High Tide in Tucson)

The moon is quite a show off given the chance. The stars make a sound when they shine so bright. Water so blue and so black.
~ Dave Matthews
(Twitter, February 16, 2009)

a need for solitude

“Sunlight in the Blue Room” by Anna Ancher
“Sunlight in the Blue Room” by Anna Ancher

My passionate sense of social justice and social responsibility has always contrasted oddly with my pronounced lack of need for direct contact with other human beings and human communities. I am truly a “lone traveler” and have never belonged to my country, my home, my friends, or even my immediate family, with my whole heart; in the face of all these ties, I have never lost a sense of distance and a need for solitude – feelings which increase with the years.
~ Albert Einstein
(Einstein: His Life & Universe)

a sacred gift

"Einstein’s Vision" supercomputer image by NASA
“Einstein’s Vision” supercomputer image by NASA

The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift.
~ Albert Einstein
(The G.O.D. Experiments: How Science Is Discovering God in Everything)

The metaphoric mind includes rationality, linearity, and logic – for it created them. But like some children, the rational mind often seems embarrassed by the presence of its parents.
~ Bob Samples
(The Metaphoric Mind: A Celebration of Creative Consciousness)

eating plants

"Little White Pigs and Mother" by Horatio Walker
“Little White Pigs and Mother” by Horatio Walker

Nothing will benefit human health and increase chances for survival of life on earth as much as the evolution to a vegetarian diet.
~ Albert Einstein
(Please Don’t Eat the Animals: All the Reasons You Need to Be a Vegetarian)

In my last post I described the part of my journey from eating animals to only eating animals that were humanely raised and slaughtered. Still, even after seeing EARTHLINGS, and thinking I was doing enough, my intuition was telling me that this was not the end of the story. So I starting searching at Amazon.com and settled on a book called Please Don’t Eat the Animals: All the Reasons You Need to Be a Vegetarian by Jennifer Horsman & Jaime Flowers. It is available on Kindle so I got it within moments and read the book in record time, neglecting my blog-mates and many of my chores in the process.

Hundreds upon hundreds of scientific articles from around the world demonstrate that a healthy vegetarian diet is the single most powerful thing individuals can do to promote, protect, or improve their health.
~ Jennifer Horsman & Jaime Flowers
(Please Don’t Eat the Animals: All the Reasons You Need to Be a Vegetarian)

There it was, right in the first chapter. As many of my readers know, my husband survived a heart attack and had triple-by-pass surgery four years ago, and we are both taking a host of drugs to deal with hypertension and high cholesterol. Also I’m being treated for osteomalacia and migraine. Trying to keep on a low-fat, low-cholesterol diet isn’t helping those stubbornly high numbers to come down. But not one doctor has ever suggested a plant-based diet to either of us, in spite of countless scientific studies indicating that this would be the best route to a healthy lifestyle.

I don’t understand why asking people to eat a well-balanced vegetarian diet is considered drastic, while it is medically conservative to cut people open and put them on powerful cholesterol-lowering drugs for the rest of their lives.
~ Dr. Dean Ornish
(Reversing Heart Disease)

I am so excited about possibly getting off all of these expensive drugs! Apparently eating even humanely raised animals is not good for us! I used to believe that since the animals ate each other nature was teaching us that it was perfectly natural to eat them. The circle of life. But while some animals are predators, there are many others who are not. The following information came as an enlightening surprise to me:

While humans can digest flesh, and it is likely that our ancestors did consume small amounts of meat infrequently, our anatomy much more strongly resembles that of plant-eating creatures. Like all plant eaters the human colon is long and complex, and our intestines are ten to eleven times longer than our bodies. Meat eaters have a short and simple colon, and in order that putrid meats pass quickly through their bodies, their intestines are only three to six times longer than their bodies. Human saliva contains digestive enzymes; meat eaters’ saliva does not. Our teeth resemble those of other plant eaters, with short and blunt canines, as opposed to long, sharp, and curved canines of the big meat eaters. Additionally, the meat our evolutionary ancestors consumed was wild game, which has less fat content than our modern domesticated meats.
~ Jennifer Horsman & Jaime Flowers
(Please Don’t Eat the Animals: All the Reasons You Need to Be a Vegetarian)

Once again science and spirit come together in my life. As I shared the results of the scientific studies mentioned in the book with Tim, he seemed to be open to the idea of trying a vegan diet. And then came the next question, “What’s for dinner?”

This book, to the left, has nothing to do with having pigs for dinner, but is a heartwarming true story about a very special pig. It is called The Good Good Pig: The Extraordinary Life of Christopher Hogwood by Sy Montgomery. Christopher Hogwood was a wise old soul, a teacher to everyone in the community who melted under his spell. He was a good good pig! I hope you will read it if you haven’t already!

embrace all living creatures

“Harmony of Creatures”
by Margret Hofheinz-Döring

A human being is a part of the whole, called by us “Universe;” a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts, and feelings as something separated from the rest – a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty. Nobody is able to achieve this completely, but the striving for such achievement is in itself a part of the liberation and a foundation for inner security.
~ Albert Einstein
(Mathematical Circles: Mathematical Circles Adieu & Return to Mathematical Circles)