midsummer in self-quarantine

6.20.20 ~ our geranium
“Calliope Medium Pink Flame”

All change is a miracle to contemplate; but it is a miracle which is taking place every instant.
~ Henry David Thoreau
(Walden)

Oh my, how things do change! Perhaps because of the poison ivy blunder, and the coronavirus pandemic, as Midsummer approached I was feeling pretty glum. Wistfully my thoughts drifted to memories of celebrations gone by, like the ones in 2016 and 2009. But then I remembered Tim & I had celebrated alone before. 2011. So we tried to make this Midsummer special, too.

We haven’t used our balcony for outdoor living in a long time because it is badly deteriorated and needs replacing. Our turn to have it replaced hasn’t come up yet, but we decided to bring the little outdoor dining set out of storage and make the best of it. We had also bought a pink geranium at the end of May and it was blossoming profusely. In fact, I had to deadhead it before I could take the picture. 🙂

6.20.20 ~ our dinner

Each new season grows from the leftovers from the past. That is the essence of change, and change is the basic law.
~ Hal Borland
(Sundial of the Seasons)

Since before my radiation proctocolitis diagnosis in January, food has been a big problem for me. I’m still losing weight and have now lost 40 lbs. since November. Sticking to a low-FODMAP diet seems to be my only option for avoiding painful flare-ups.

So we splurged and grilled a marinated swordfish steak to celebrate. Delicious! And we made a low-FODMAP potato salad from my new cookbook, which was pretty good. The Gut-Friendly Cookbook: Delicious, Low-FODMAP, Gluten-Free, Allergy-Friendly Recipes for a Happy Tummy by Alana Scott.

Last fall I had a margarita and got pretty sick, and have avoided alcohol since, but for this occasion I decided to try a Cape Codder made with gluten-free vodka. Mistake. I enjoyed it but a couple of hours later I was very sorry. 🙁 It looks like alcohol is out of the picture for me for good. Lesson learned.

6.20.20 ~ sunset at Avery Point

The changes we dread most may contain our salvation.
~ Barbara Kingsolver
(Small Wonder: Essays)

Fortunately we were able to go down to Avery Point to see the sunset before my gut turned on me. It was beautiful! We had a nice chat with another couple from behind our masks and from a distance. They were sitting on their own lawn chairs. Why hadn’t we thought of that? Instead of going to the beach and sitting on public park benches this summer, which we have decided isn’t an option for us, we can bring our lawn chairs to Avery Point and sit for a while. 🙂

Things change, we make adjustments, modify our habits. Nothing will ever be the same.

snarfelly

just before take-off
just before take-off (Dec. 20)

Parents of very tiny humans have a delightful way of inventing new words. Snarfelly is one, new to me at least. Katie had a cold when she embarked on her first trip by airplane to visit both sets of her grandparents in Connecticut, and other assorted friends and family. The breathing through her congested nose was dubbed snarfelling by her attentive parents.

When Larisa emailed me this picture from the jet before taking off my already high levels of anticipation of holding my granddaughter intensified tenfold. We were getting ready for our solstice gathering, which turned out to be the biggest one we’ve had in years – twelve adults, two teens and  two babies. And Larisa, Dima and Katie arrived right in the middle of the festivities.

We had Katie and her parents here for three wonderful days, even though everyone except for me was sick. One night Katie’s parents went out and Tim & I got to babysit. When I was changing her diaper, Tim gently jiggled her little rib cage and Katie laughed! She looked so surprised! We’re pretty sure we were the first ones to hear her laugh – what a gift!

Katie's parents help with opening her gifts
Katie’s parents help with opening her gifts (Dec.22)

The day before they left my sister and brother-in-law came down and we had an early Christmas. Then Katie and her parents were off to visit her other grandparents and great-grandmothers for a few days. Larisa sent emails and pictures saying Katie was getting less snarfelly every day.

less snarfelly (Dec. 25)
less snarfelly (Dec. 25)

It was such a joy to hold my little Katie so often during those three days. And once when she was taking a nap I just lay down next to her as she slept. I was going to read, but never actually picked up my Kindle, I was content to watch her sleep. Lost in awareness, thinking of my last baby becoming an amazing mother to her first baby. I love that Larisa is careful to keep as many carcinogens as possible away from her little one.

A first child is your own best foot forward, and how you do cheer those little feet as they strike out. You examine every turn of flesh for precocity, and crow it to the world. But the last one: the baby who trails her scent like a flag of surrender through your life when there will be no more coming after – oh, that’ s love by a different name.
~ Barbara Kingsolver
(The Poisonwood Bible)

just before take-off on her trip home (Dec. 28)
just before take-off on her trip home (Dec. 28)

I have not been active in the blogosphere these past couple of months – I know I’ve missed many of my friend’s posts – and responding to comments on my own posts I’ve woefully neglected. I had surgery to remove a benign but bothersome cyst on my middle toe on November 12. Recovery seemed to be going well for a week and half when I woke up one morning in a lot of pain because an infection had developed. And the infection turned out to be a very stubborn one. The antibiotic I was given made me queasy much of the time. Not being able to keep a shoe on my foot for very long made decorating for the holidays and even routine household chores difficult. It was a good thing I had seeing Katie to look forward to to keep my spirits up!

When WordPress sent me my blog’s statistics for 2014 I was startled to see how long it had been since I posted anything. Laurie, Kathy, Sybil and Diane turned out to be my four most active commenters – thank you so very much for all your thoughtful comments over the year!

The post most viewed was Cat Cataracts, even though no one commented on it this year, posted back in 2011! And people from 114 countries viewed this blog. It makes me wonder about them – were they just passing through or do they return for more? When you think about it, the internet is an astonishing thing.

Katie-Dec30
asleep with new toy in hand (Dec. 30)

I am so grateful for family. Tim & I had fun spending Christmas morning on Skype with Nate, Shea and Dominic, all the way down there in Georgia. And also Christmas afternoon here with Bonnie, Kia and Khari. We saw the third installment of “The Hobbit.” We’re planning a trip to Germany, Norway and Italy. Zoë loves to sit between us , purring contentedly, when we watch TV in the evening. And we have plans to see Katie in January.

Happy New Year!

farm to table

4.19.14 ~ Groton, Connecticut
in my neighbor’s garden ~ 4.19.14

Grocery money is an odd sticking point for U.S. citizens, who on average spend a lower proportion of our income on food than people in any other country, or any heretofore in history. In our daily fare, even in school lunches, we broadly justify consumption of tallow-fried animal pulp on the grounds that it’s cheaper than whole grains, fresh vegetables, hormone-free dairy, and such. Whether on school boards or in families, budget keepers may be aware of the health tradeoff but still feel compelled to economize on food – in a manner that would be utterly unacceptable if the health risk involved an unsafe family vehicle or a plume of benzene running through a school basement.
~ Barbara Kingsolver
(Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life)

Our food journey continues… On this leg of it I am reading Barbara Kingsolver’s Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, an account of her family’s first year of eating deliberately, consuming only food grown, raised and produced locally or on their own farm. We are fast becoming (grain-free) locavores!

Locavore – a person whose diet consists only or principally of locally grown or produced food. Farm-to-table.

One thing I learned from this book is that local farmers may well be growing things organically, but some of them cannot afford the fee to be certified organic. And some things labeled “organic” in the grocery store may be only marginally so, cutting corners and following the letter of the law but not the spirit of it.

And so I’m discovering things about food sources closer to home. One day I happened to notice a restaurant in town called the Oyster Club. I suppose I never gave it a second look because I don’t care for oysters. But when I did, the tagline on the sign, “farm & sea to table,” caught my eye. When I got home I found their website, which states, “the menu, which is written daily, showcases food that travels the shortest distance from ‘farm & sea to table,’ with seasonality and location determining the day’s delicacies. Benefiting from the region’s many local farmers and fisherman, Oyster Club features bounty from the sea, pasture raised beef, local produce and artisanal cheeses.” Cool!

Today I was at our food co-op and started talking with a woman from Firefly Farms and was astonished to learn that they are raising heritage breeds of chickens, pigs and cows. I had just been reading about the importance of preserving heritage breeds… As their website explains, “The fact that these breeds are too difficult for factory farming is, in our view, the first signal that they are good for people.” We bought a frozen Red Ranger chicken from her and I plan to roast it on Monday. (Easter plans at the nursing home with Auntie tomorrow…) We hope to visit the farm this coming week and learn more about their forest raised pigs! Maybe we will soon need to buy a freezer.

Things have been coming along around here as we continue to heal and to pick up the pieces of our lives. There are more good days than bad days now, and we just had a wonderful two-day visit from Tim’s cousin Allegra. We are also looking forward to a trip to visit our kids and celebrate our anniversary in May.

things unnoticed at the time

6.21.08 ~ Provincetown, Massachusetts
doorknob to the house in Provincetown ~ 6.21.08 ~ Provincetown, Massachusetts

For memories are always impure, joined together in another order – doubly exposed, impossible to separate, part of a different kind of logic and a confused chronology which is the hallmark of memory.
~ Lars Saabye Christensen
(The Half Brother: A Novel)

It’s surprising how much of memory is built around things unnoticed at the time.
~ Barbara Kingsolver
(Animal Dreams)

one held breath

okapi.pintrest
Okapi ~ image found on Pintrest

She is inhumanly alone. And then, all at once, she isn’t. A beautiful animal stands on the other side of the water. They look up from their lives, woman and animal, amazed to find themselves in the the same place. He freezes, inspecting her with his black-tipped ears. His back is purplish-brown in the dim light, sloping downward from the gentle hump of his shoulders. The forest’s shadows fall into lines across his white-striped flanks. His stiff forelegs splay out to the sides like stilts, for he’s been caught in the act of reaching down for water. Without taking his eyes from her, he twitches a little at the knee, then the shoulder, where a fly devils him. Finally he surrenders his surprise, looks away, and drinks. She can feel the touch of his long, curled tongue on the water’s skin, as if he were lapping from her hand. His head bobs gently, nodding small, velvet horns lit white from behind like new leaves.

It lasted just a moment, whatever that is. One held breath? An ant’s afternoon? It was brief, I can promise that much, for although it’s been many years now since my children ruled my life, a mother recalls the measure of the silences. I never had more than five minutes’ peace unbroken. I was that woman on the stream bank, of course, Orleanna Price, Southern Baptist by marriage, mother of children living and dead. That one time and no other the okapi came to the stream, and I was the only one to see it.

~ Barbara Kingsolver
(The Poisonwood Bible)

When I stumbled across this picture of an okapi on Pintrest it brought to memory this passage In Barbara Kingsolver’s amazing book, The Poisonwood Bible. It stuck with me because I had a similar experience with a stag when I was little, a moment of transcendence, when time seemed to stand still for this six-year-old.

I was introduced to Barbara Kingsolver’s writing by a physical therapist who was coming to the house regularly to work with my dad. One morning the three of us were sitting around the table, waiting for Papa to finish eating his late breakfast. Her name was Betty-Jean, which reminded us of my mother, who was called Betty-Jo by her parents. We fell into a conversation about my mother’s love of nature and Native American culture.

Papa mentioned a visit he and my mother had made to the Mashpee Wampanoag tribe on Cape Cod, and that he had inadvertently offended a young man when he “stepped into his circle.” I wasn’t sure what he meant and he had trouble trying to explain it to me. Betty-Jean thought perhaps it had something to do with a vision quest. “What’s a vision quest?” I inquired, full of curiosity.

The conversation meandered around for a bit after that, but before Betty-Jean began her session with my father, she asked me if I was familiar with Barbara Kingsolver. I had never heard of her until then, so she said she thought I would like her book, Animal Dreams. I ordered it as soon as I got home that night and have been devouring her books ever since. They way she weaves spiritual journeys with nature resonates with me deeply.

grackles by the sea

4.5.12.0913
4.5.12 ~ St. Marys, Georgia

Last April we took a trip to visit our son and daughter-in-law in Georgia. When we got home I started posting pictures on my blog of the places we visited, but never finished. Since I have a little time now I decided to post some more of our photos. (For anyone interested, the first batch of pictures started here.) The following pictures of grackles were captured at the Howard Gilman Memorial Park on the waterfront of St. Marys, Georgia. The park has a lovely large water fountain and on the day we visited it was doubling as a bird bath!

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4.5.12 ~ St. Marys, Georgia

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4.5.12 ~ St. Marys, Georgia

To claim, at a dead party, to have spotted a grackle, 
When in fact you haven’t of late, can do no harm. 
~ Richard Wilbur
(New & Collected Poems)

4.5.12.0963
4.5.12 ~ St. Marys, Georgia 

4.5.12.0964
4.5.12 ~ St. Marys, Georgia

4.5.12 ~ St. Marys, Georgia
4.5.12 ~ St. Marys, Georgia

Few people know so clearly what they want. Most people can’t even think what to hope for when they throw a penny in a fountain.
~ Barbara Kingsolver
(Animal Dreams)

4.5.12.0967
4.5.12 ~ St. Marys, Georgia

4.5.12.0968
4.5.12 ~ St. Marys, Georgia

4.5.12 ~ St. Marys, Georgia
4.5.12 ~ St. Marys, Georgia

Birds know themselves not to be at the center of anything, but at the margins of everything. The end of the map. We only live where someone’s horizon sweeps someone else’s. We are only noticed on the edge of things; but on the edge of things, we notice much.
~ Gregory Maguire
(Out of Oz: The Final Volume in the Wicked Years)

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4.5.12 ~ St. Marys, Georgia

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4.5.12 ~ St. Marys, Georgia

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4.5.12 ~ St. Marys, Georgia

photos by Timothy Rodgers

in all directions

"Eternity" by Mikalojus Čiurlionis (1875-1911) Lithuanian Painter, Composer & Writer
“Eternity” by Mikalojus Čiurlionis

Awareness is everything. … People worry a lot more about the eternity after their deaths than the eternity that happened before they were born. But it’s the same amount of infinity, rolling out in all directions from where we stand.
~ Barbara Kingsolver
(Animal Dreams)

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)