my turn

11.19.17 ~ Katherine walking in Ireland ♡

For all the products making claims, exercise may be the only miracle cure for both physical and mental health.
~ Mark Bertin
(Mindful, December 2017)

So, after so many years of Tim’s health problems (2007 – heart attack followed by triple by-pass surgery ~ six years of diverticulitis attacks followed by a sigmoid colon resection last January) it looks like it’s my turn for surgery, a hysterectomy. My uterus is full of pre-cancerous cells. Sigh. After spending 26 years wondering if I might get breast cancer like my mother it was a surprise to discover that it is my womb in danger.

Surgery tomorrow. One night in the hospital. If all goes as planned I will be home Wednesday in time to watch the first episode of season 5 of Vikings. 🙂 Then we can plan our trip to Ireland! I cannot wait to take a very long walk with my granddaughter ~ I miss her so much!

11.19.17 ~ Katherine feeding the sheep on a farm outside of Galway, Ireland

new adventures

10.20.17 ~ Katherine loves reading her books

Katherine and her parents have moved to Cork, Ireland!!! For a year or two. It’s been an exciting summer and autumn as Dima & Larisa have been preparing for this grand adventure. Happily all of Katherine’s living ancestors, four grandparents and two great-grandmothers were on hand in North Carolina to celebrate her 3rd birthday in September. Grandpa Tim has discovered that flights from New England to Ireland are cheaper than flights to North Carolina so we surely will be visiting them soon. 🙂

new adventures

6.18.17 ~ Durham, North Carolina

Katherine still loves music. So, after dropping off her papa at the airport for a 2-week business trip to Ireland, her mama and I took her to a cool place in Durham called Notasium, a music-based indoor play space. The heat and humidity outside was unbearable the first week of my visit.

6.18.17 ~ Durham, North Carolina

Katherine ran and danced with joy. She loved pressing the buttons to hear music from different cultures (Mexico was her favorite) and then running over to the bouncy house to jump with her mom and look out the screen window. Then back to the Touch Notes and repeat.

6.18.17 ~ Durham, North Carolina

Katherine had agreed to the rule to wear socks in the play space, but after a while, since she prefers going barefoot, she decided to remove her socks. Her mother gently reminded her of the rule.

6.18.17 ~ Durham, North Carolina ~ waiting for mom to come out of the bouncy house

Then on to a giant slide. One is supposed to climb a giant guitar fret-board to get to the top of the slide!

6.18.17 ~ Durham, North Carolina
6.18.17 ~ Durham, North Carolina

Later, when we were looking over these pictures Katherine exclaimed, “My beautiful dress!” It is her favorite and she wore it quite often while I was visiting. 🙂 These were the only pictures I got during my two week stay. On the days when I had Katherine, while Larisa was at work, there was no way to pause and take pictures.

But they were delightfully happy hours. My heart melted when Katherine finally started calling me Grammy. And when she loved my (grass-fed beef, gluten-free) meatloaf and roasted baby potatoes and roasted Brussels sprouts. (So I made it again the second week!) Most days we sported matching pony tails. 🙂

I also had a chance to visit with friends from high school living in the area, and family. Tim’s brother and his wife recently moved back from Germany to a place about an hour and a half away from Larisa & Dima. Fran and I had a good day taking Katherine to the Museum of Life & Science. It was a very busy, exhausting, but super lovely visit!

Farewell, Auntie Lil

Lillian Elizabeth (Chomiak) Rioux (1915-2016)

Last autumn we lost our aunt, who lived to be 101 years old. The various stories behind the above drawing presented a puzzle for us but after comparing memories we finally decided that the sketch was probably drawn on one of Auntie’s cruises. She kept it hanging above her bed for as long as I can remember, flanked on either side with the senior high school pictures of my sister and me.

Following is the obituary I wrote for the newspapers:

Lillian Elizabeth (Chomiak) Rioux, 101, of Storrs, Connecticut, died on October 27, 2016, at Mansfield Center for Nursing & Rehabilitation, after a short illness.

Lillian was born on January 30, 1915 in New York City, the daughter of the late William & Katherine (Fusiak) Chomiak, both immigrants from Ukraine. She married Leo Oscar Rioux on November 30, 1934 at Montville, Connecticut. Her husband died on June 5, 1957, leaving her a widow for 59 years. Lillian was predeceased by their two sons, Leo Adrian Rioux (1936-1984) and Lance William Rioux (1950-1979).

Lillian was also predeceased by six siblings, Mary Riback, Jon Stephen Chomiak, Augustine Chomiak, Augusta Jean Hereth, Olga Chomiak, and Theodore William Chomiak. She is survived by her sister, Ludmila Sabatiuk of West Virginia, her grandchildren, Leo Rioux, Jr. of Montville and Sarah James of Tennessee, seven nieces and nephews, four great-grandchildren, and a great-great-grandson.

Lil was a graduate of Norwich Free Academy and was a seamstress employed at Hendel Manufacturing Company in New London for many years. She was a long time resident of Montville and later moved to Juniper Hill Village in Storrs to live closer to her brother. An avid traveler, beach bum and shell collector, she loved to sew, cook, grow orchids, do jigsaw puzzles and work with her hands.

A memorial gathering will be planned for next spring. Memorial donations can be made to Mansfield Town Senior Center, 303 Maple Rd, Storrs, CT 06268.

We had our memorial gathering for her on May 6, spreading her ashes on the graves of her parents and her husband and two sons, as she had directed. My Aunt Em read to us her memories of Aunt Lil’s earlier years.

Grave of Aunt Lil’s parents, William Chomiak (1882-1965) & Katherine Fusiak (1887-1943), Comstock Cemetery, Montville, Connecticut

Every year on Memorial Day, my father would drive Aunt Lil to these two adjacent cemeteries, so she could plant geraniums in front of the headstones, each one a different shade of red or pink. When my father could no longer drive, my sister and brother-in-law stepped in to take her. As he has been doing for years now, John once again planted the geraniums that meant so much to her, this time with family spreading ashes and telling stories.

Grave of Aunt Lil’s older son, Leo Adrian Rioux (1936-1984), St. Patrick Cemetery, Montville, Connecticut.

The story Auntie told me was that it was not permitted for her to be buried in the Catholic cemetery with her husband and sons because she never converted to Catholicism. But she married a Catholic and had her sons baptized in the church. It was her wish to join them in the cemetery by spreading her ashes on their graves.

Grave of Aunt Lil’s husband, Leo Oscar Rioux (1913-1957), and their younger son, Lance William Rioux (1950-1979), St. Patrick Cemetery, Montville, Connecticut.

At the last grave Tim read a poem my sister Beverly wrote in memory of Auntie for the occasion.

They were worker’s hands, never soft, never still.
It took me fifty years to catch them, hold them, keep them safe and warm.
A thousand times I watched them go:
knit and purl
peel and chop
turn the pages
stir the pot.

If hands could talk what would they say?
It took me fifty years to hear them, know them, find out how they spoke.
A thousand times I felt their love:
show and tell
hug and pat
acts of kindness
pet the cat.

I’d come to love her knobby hands
that always showed me what to do.
How those hands have touched my life!
They’ve one more job before they’re through:
stitch and mend
my broken heart.

~ Beverly Chomiak
(Her Hands)

Then we all went to eat at one of her favorite restaurants, Old Tymes in Norwich, finishing the meal with dishes of Auntie’s favorite black raspberry ice cream. ❤

Namesake

5.6.17 ~ Katherine at the grave of her great-great-grandparents

She’s too little to understand just yet but I think she recognized her name, the one she shares with her great-great-grandmother, Katherine. We were at the cemetery to spread some of my aunt’s ashes on her parents’ grave, as she had wished us to do. Will share some things from the memorial we had for my Aunt Lil soon…

into the mist

hmmm… what have we here?

Last weekend we flew down to North Carolina to see the little one, and her parents, of course. 😉 A visit to the Museum of Life & Science in Durham proved to be a great adventure. The museum’s tag line is “know wonder.” We spent most of our visit at the “Into the Mist” outdoor exhibit because that’s where Katherine’s curiosity led her.

time to investigate the intermittent mist at closer range…

Activate push-button mist fields and watch as droplets of water suspended in air form clouds that hover over small valleys. How does humidity and wind impact your misty landscape? Take a one-of-a-kind stroll through this cooling landscape and watch as rainbows appear then disappear. Climb through tunnels, make sand sculptures, or just sit, cool off, and observe the beauty of mist, landforms, and rock.
~ Museum of Life & Science website

noticing how slippery the steps are…

Katherine is an observer. This little amphitheater/mist pit captured her attention. For a good while she studied carefully how the other children played until the mist stopped coming up from the ground and then how one of them would run up the stairs to push a button on top of a pole to make the mist appear again.

continuing her investigation…
still figuring things out…
watching another child press the button…
a new friend to play with on the sidelines…
but it must be more fun in the middle…
think I should try this, Grandpa?

When she finally decided to take the plunge she had a wonderful time and got thoroughly soaked in the mist.

cool!
oh this is fun!
taking note of a pine cone…
joy!
it’s so wet…
the little scientist explores…

After changing Katherine into dry clothes we all had lunch and then Grammy & Grandpa Tim got to take our little darling on the Ellerbe Creek Railway. She’s very interested in trains these days and there are a few more in the area we hope to ride on during our next visit. While on the train we passed the Hideaway Woods outdoor exhibit and will definitely have to check out the huge tree house playground. But we had all had enough excitement for one day and it was getting hotter as the day wore on. Hard to believe it was still February.

sunshine on a rainy day

1.31.16 ~ Essex, Connecticut

It’s been a long while since I’ve posted much of anything besides quotes and paintings. That’s mainly my way of coping with stress, distracting myself with beautiful images and wise words.

Tim has been ill with recurring bouts of diverticulitis for several years now, getting more frequent and more severe this fall, and so the decision has finally been made to proceed with surgery, a sigmoid colon resection. Friday. My sister is coming to stay with me and sit with me during the operation. Larisa and Katie will be coming up after Tim gets home from the hospital. Recovery time is expected to be 4-6 weeks.

1.31.16 ~ Essex, Connecticut

We had our basement renovated this fall. I’m thrilled with the results — we now have heat in the guest room and the powder room and two new closets for storage and updated lighting and electrical outlets and fresh paint on the walls. But being the way I am it was stressful for me having noisy workmen in and out of the house at unpredictable times. I had to give myself a pep talk every morning for several weeks to keep my wits about me. But it was worth it in the end.

My aunt Lil died on October 27. She was 101 years old. I still have unresolved and complicated feelings about our relationship. She had a hard life, becoming a widow at an early age and then losing both her sons, one in a car accident at the age of 29 and the other from a fatal heart attack at the age of 48. Perhaps understandably, she became a very bitter person, and I had sympathy for her at times but it was so difficult spending time with her.

1.31.16 ~ Essex, Connecticut

And then there is the dark cloud hanging over our country now…

But…

1.1.17 ~ Larisa and Katherine enjoy taking selfies for the grandparents, even on rainy days. They’re coming to visit soon!

I am full of gratitude to be living so close to many places where I can go and find grounding and healing in the natural world. And when I cannot get outside I hear the song birds singing, the gulls calling, the Canada geese honking — I love that sound — and enjoy the lovely water-reflected light that flows indoors.

There are many blessings we continue to enjoy, including our darling granddaughter. We’re looking forward to having her puttering around the house while Tim is recovering. Like her mother, our amazing daughter, she is a sweet ray of sunshine, even on a rainy day. 🙂

And our wonderful son, the computer wizard, who lovingly keeps things running smoothly here on my blog. I couldn’t maintain a presence here without him funding and watching over the many things that I fail to understand in the technical world. We had to cancel a January trip to Georgia to see him and his family, because of the surgery, but will reschedule as soon as possible. 🙂

I am surrounded with love and present moment awareness. Life is here/now.

weekend in the mountains

12.10.16 ~ cougar, Western North Carolina Nature Center

Last weekend we flew to a different part of North Carolina, where Tim’s brother had rented a vacation house in the southern Appalachians. So we had a little family reunion and an early Christmas there. We spent the better part of Saturday at the Western North Carolina Nature Center in Asheville. It was very cold there in spite of the welcome bright sunshine!

12.10.16 ~ Katherine was very much interested in understanding and using the map

We bundled up and enjoyed seeing many animals native to the Southern Appalachians. All of the animals there are rescues and could not survive in the wild. Katherine especially loved watching the river otters gliding in and out of the water, but I couldn’t get a good picture of them. They were moving too fast!

12.10.16 ~ Katherine studying the brochure
12.10.16 ~ sunshine made the bitter cold easier to bear
12.10.16 ~ Western North Carolina Nature Center
12.10.16 ~ watching other children play
12.10.16 ~ sunlit beauty
12.10.16 ~ let’s see, where should we go next?
12.10.16 ~ let’s proceed!
12.10.16 ~ taking in a bit of rock climbing
12.10.16 ~ we didn’t take this trail but I thought the sign was beautiful
12.10.16 ~ deserted picnic area – too cold for a picnic
12.10.16 ~ coyote, Western North Carolina Nature Center
12.10.16 ~ another beautiful sign
12.10.16 ~ screech owl, Western North Carolina Nature Center

This little screech owl is blind in one eye and is being used to educate the public about rescuing wildlife. Katherine was paying close attention.

12.10.16 ~ Katherine in Mama’s arms, watching the screech owl and listening attentively to its handler

We stayed in Asheville for dinner out at the Tupelo Honey Cafe, “a southern restaurant with mountain south roots.” Tim enjoyed the food so much he bought their cookbook! And after dinner we took in the Christmas light and music extravaganza at Shadrack’s Christmas Wonderland. There were so many light displays it took us a full hour to drive through the two-mile maze, synchronized holiday music playing on our car radio! It was a pretty dazzling experience.

Sunday we stayed in the cabin, enjoying each other’s company by the fire. Dima, Larisa and Fran whipped up some scrumptious dishes for us. A perfect weekend!