rainy night and toad

10.16.18 ~ Katherine with toad ~ photo by Dima

So, I’ve been in North Carolina for almost two weeks now, spending lots of time with Katherine and helping out her parents as best I can. Tim, too, but he left very early this morning and made it all the way home to Connecticut this evening! He’ll be back, though, after taking care of a few obligations.

Larisa has been pretty miserable but now that the shingles is improving she’s feeling a little better. This morning she remembered that my friend, an interpreter, told us that in Spanish pregnancy is called “la dulce espera,” the sweet wait. I hope these last couple of weeks will be sweeter now.

On the day tropical storm Michael arrived here, Katherine observed her Grandpa frequently tracking the storm on his weather app. She happened to be outside when the first raindrops fell so she rushed inside, so excited, and exclaimed, “Tell Grandpa the storm is here!” And so it was. We listened to the torrential rain and from her bedroom window watched the ferocious wind pelt the lower roof with twigs and branches.

We lost power late in the afternoon, 45 minutes before the pot roast was done. We ate it anyway, and it was delicious. We each had a flashlight to navigate in the dark. When it stopped raining we took our flashlights and went out for a walk in the dark. Katherine had colorful flashing lights on her rain boots which made it easy to keep track of her. Dima’s flight was diverted to Atlanta so he didn’t make it home until the next day. Our power came back around noon the next day, too.

Our niece and her husband learned that their house, of newer and more hurricane-resistant construction, was spared. They returned to help their neighbors and search for missing persons. They even had a story written about their efforts in The New York Times!

Katherine still loves to take her nature walks, even in the dark. One night her father spotted a toad and took the picture above. So much wonder in the world!

And the sweet wait continues…

Hurricane Michael

NASA-NOAA’s Suomi NPP satellite provided this visible image of Hurricane Michael after it made landfall in the Florida panhandle on Oct. 10. Credit: NASA Worldview, Earth Observing System Data and Information System (EOSDIS)/ NOAA

If we were still in Connecticut this major hurricane would not be affecting us. But since we are in North Carolina we have what is now Tropical Storm Michael raging outside today.

The storm first became very interesting to us because our niece, who just got married last month, lives in Panama City Beach, Florida, with her new husband. They evacuated, of course, with their three kitties, and fled to North Carolina to stay with her parents (Tim’s brother and sister-in-law). So the four of them came up here to Larisa’s for dinner last night, and we sat around the table for hours looking at the pictures people had shared online of the devastation in their area. Presumably taken after the tempest had passed. Several buildings near their home were severely damaged and a brick and mortar middle school was a pile of rubble. No pictures of what might be left of their home as of last night. They are very close to where the eye made landfall.

We’re waiting for more news…

Tim & I are down here helping Larisa while Dima is on a business trip. Larisa is in a lot of pain but is putting on a brave front. We all hope this baby decides to come sooner than later! Since Katherine wanted me to play with her this morning it fell on Tim to follow my recipe and start a pot roast in the slow cooker. Hope we don’t lose power! Dima should be home tonight unless the storm interferes with his flight…

another weed by the wall

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autumn 2015 ~ Center Street, Provincetown, Massachusetts

There is a place where an artist lives in a house surrounded by a garden full of sculptures and a stone wall embedded with crystals and other treasures. In all the years I’ve been going to Provincetown I had never known it was there because I had never been down that particular street. But in 2008 our niece showed it to us.

When I started blogging I remember being especially excited to match a picture I took there with an Emerson quote and posted this: a weed by the wall

Seven years later, on our recent trip to the Cape, I decided to go see the stone wall again. This time there was no weed growing by the first crystal, but there was another weed growing by a different crystal.

shy weeds by a wall
retracing steps with pithy
moments of delight
~ Barbara Rodgers
(By the Sea)

The Painted Bird

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Well, our long-awaited adventure in North Carolina has begun! We took an overnight train to Washington, DC, and met our nephew and niece for breakfast at the station – it was so good catching up with David and Erica and hearing about their jobs and trips and plans. About noon we got on a very slow and very bumpy train to Raleigh – sometimes it felt like we were traveling in a covered wagon, or at least what my imagination tells me that would have been like.

As the train pulled into the station in the evening, there on the platform we could see our daughter, pregnant and due to give birth any day now. What an amazing and beautiful sight! We’ve been getting organized and settled in here at Dima & Larisa’s comfortable home in Chapel Hill, and now the last stretch of waiting begins… A new twig on our family tree will soon be welcomed into the world.

An old friend of mine from high school happens to live in the neighboring town of Carrboro. Last night she and her husband took us to an outdoor stone amphitheater, Forest Theatre, where we saw a giant puppet show, “The Painted Bird,” a production of the Paperhand Puppet Intervention. It was spectacular! I have to say I was dazzled by the huge brightly colored puppets, the astonishing choreography, the live orchestra and special sound effects. Some of the smaller field and forest creatures even slipped into the audience to interact with some of the children. What a sensual treat!

THE PAINTED BIRD is an enchanted pageant of weaving colors, huge puppets, rabbits, mice, and hedgehogs! It is a story of where we came from and how we got here. From the little creatures of the fields and forests, emerging from the brown earth, to the lumbering beasts of green sunlit pastures, all dancing to the rhythms of life. It is a story of time and forgetfulness. Who of us can remember the story of the Painted Bird who carries all the shades of the world on its wings, when the land has gone grey and the light faded? The furry creatures of forest and field must work together to keep a numbing greyness from sweeping across the land. Will the colors be consumed entirely from the world by the ever-encroaching grey? Come see for yourself, and the Painted Bird will rise with our own dreams of a brighter world this summer.

Sometimes it was fun to watch the children watching the show, their attention riveted, their eyes wide with wonder. And the lovely tall trees surrounding the amphitheater added their energy to the magic of the evening.

Will let everyone know when our little granddaughter arrives! Counting the days…

a joyful weekend

6.21.14 ~ Colchester, Connecticut
6.21.14 ~ Colchester, Connecticut

I’m using these photos from the summer solstice at Janet’s to illustrate this post because I didn’t take many usable pictures of the two joyful indoor events we attended this past weekend. It was a welcome change of pace to enjoy the associations and conversations without incessantly taking pictures. (And my indoor pictures never come out very well…)

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6.21.14 ~ Colchester, Connecticut

Larisa & Dima flew up from North Carolina to attend a baby shower I threw for her on Saturday in the clubhouse here at our condo complex. (With a lot of assistance from a few of her very creative friends!) So many of the important women in her life were able to attend, including some who traveled a great distance to get here! Larisa was glowing!

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6.21.14 ~ Colchester, Connecticut

And then on Sunday we drove up to New Hampshire to attend the wedding of Tim’s cousin, Allegra, and her new husband Dan. It was supposed to be outside, but there was a backup plan in case of rain, and it was needed, as thunderstorm after thunderstorm came rumbling through the mountains. We are so happy for the new families being created, and I was thrilled to feel a kick from my new granddaughter as I rested my hand on Larisa’s tummy…

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6.21.14 ~ Colchester, Connecticut

wedding in the woods

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

6.15.13 ~ Orange, Connecticut
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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6.15.13 ~ Orange, Connecticut
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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; Janet and I went to New York City to help Larisa pick out the fabric
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Svetlana, mother of the groom
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6.15.13 ~ Orange, Connecticut
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tradition is that the person getting the bigger bite “controls” the marriage
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6.15.13 ~ Orange, Connecticut
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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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6.15.13 ~ Orange, Connecticut
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6.15.13 ~ Orange, Connecticut
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6.15.13 ~ Orange, Connecticut
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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.

cat cataracts

5.4.11 ~ Sound Breeze
5.4.11 ~ Sound Breeze

Tim took a picture of my new tulips (above) yesterday. I suppose I might have planted them a little closer together…

Meems ~ 5.2.11 ~ Woodbridge, Virginia

This sweet little cat is Meems. She used to be named Tibby, but after she gave birth to Tibette her family started calling her Mommy. (And Tibette became known as Baby.) But Mommy’s favorite human, our niece Erica, calls her Meems. She is a Munchkin (breed) who was born in Italy about fifteen years ago, if memory serves. She was a stray who adopted the family we just went to visit, and she was pregnant with Baby when the family moved from Italy back home to Virginia. Baby is not a Munchkin, however, and is larger than her mother!

So Meems is still sweet and petite but is now elderly and suffering with cataracts, it would seem. She dislikes cameras so the only way I could get her to hold her head up was to scratch her chin with one hand and hold the camera with the other. 🙂 She keeps pretty much to herself, so I was startled to find her eye looking like this because my sister Beverly’s cat, Bernie, has the same problem. And it is supposedly rare. But Meems’s vet thinks hers was caused by an injury, and Bernie’s vet thinks his are caused by a virus.

Bernie ~ 7.29.10 ~ Storrs, Connecticut
Bernie ~ 7.29.10 ~ Storrs, Connecticut

Cataracts are not as common in cats as they are in dogs; in fact, they are very rare. Most cataracts in the cat develop secondary to inflammation within the eye, from trauma, or some other eye problem. Rarely, cataracts in the cat may be inherited, may arise with abnormal development of the lens, or may occur in association with nutritional abnormalities in the young cat.
~ PetDoc

It seems to me cats, like people, are living longer than they did when I was a child. Long enough to be plagued with more of the infirmities of old age.

a full weekend

4.30.11 ~ Erica
4.30.11 ~ Erica

Saturday: Autocross is a hobby Dan and Erica (above, the birthday girl with her sun-screening parasol) share on weekends and for this event they took Tim along with them. Tim got a sunburn in spite of applying sunblock and wearing a hat, but he had a great time riding shotgun with his brother and his niece, who were taking turns driving in their shared little blue Miata.

Meanwhile Fran and I went to see African Cats in the morning, had a lovely long lunch, and then went to see Water for Elephants in the afternoon. Both movies were very good. I read Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen a couple of years ago and thought the movie followed the storyline pretty well, but I wish they had included a little more about the elephant’s mischief with the circus lemonade stand. African Cats was especially wonderful, the cinematography was spectacular and the stories were unforgettable. Fran and I found ourselves crying and laughing and cheering for Sita the cheetah and Layla the lioness. The true story was touching without being sentimental – what sacrifices mothers will make for their little ones! If you see how Layla plans for her daughter Mara’s future you will know beyond any doubt that animals do love and understand loss. I’ll be buying this one when it comes out!

5.1.11 ~ Washington, District of Columbia
Acqua al 2 placemat ~ 5.1.11 ~ Washington, District of Columbia

Sunday: Five of us went into Washington D.C. to visit the Eastern Market. First had lunch at a fine Italian restaurant, Acqua al 2 (Water for 2, place-mat above). There are three of them, the original one in Florence, Italy, one in San Diego, California, and this one in D.C.  Tim & I were teased a little – they said we looked like the couple pictured on the place-mat! We had a nice window seat where we could people-watch at the market. (Below, our view) The food was delightful and very satisfying.

5.1.11 ~ Washington, District of Columbia
Eastern Market ~ 5.1.11 ~ Washington, District of Columbia

After shopping, Dan & Fran bought some Italian food at the market to cook for our dinner. I gained 5 pounds on this trip! Back to moderation for me!

5.1.11 ~ Washington, District of Columbia
5.1.11 ~ Washington, District of Columbia

We were parked on North Carolina Avenue and admired the charming townhouses (above) and gardens (below) along the street.

5.1.11 ~ Washington, District of Columbia
5.1.11 ~ Washington, District of Columbia

Monday: Train ride home was pleasant and uneventful. We were wondering if security would be tighter or changed in some way after learning about Osama bin Laden’s death late Sunday night. While Tim was off getting coffee and I was sitting with our bags at Union Station in D.C. a bomb-sniffing dog and its handler checked out our bags and then moved on to the next person’s bags with no comment.

It was a wonderful weekend and I feel so refreshed after reconnecting with Fran and having some good conversations. Today I’m puttering around unpacking and doing laundry, etc. Had a can of sardines for calcium and Vitamin D. Went out on the balcony at noon for my fifteen minutes of sunshine, and gave myself a little Reiki while I was at it. The birds were sweetly singing, too! Maybe I’ll put some flowers out there this year…

train of thought

4.27.11 ~ New London
4.27.11 ~ New London, Connecticut

There isn’t a train I wouldn’t take.
~ Edna St. Vincent Millay
(Travel)

The past few days have been a whirlwind of planning, juggling and preparation – and we finally boarded a train yesterday to come visit Tim’s brother Dan and his family here in Woodbridge, Virginia. By car the trip should take about seven hours, but in recent years it usually winds up taking us eleven hours because of traffic jams, pauses to pay tolls (even with EZ-Pass), rest stops and driver fatigue. Enough already! Tim calculated the cost of gas, wear and tear on the car (last time we came we lost a hubcap!), tolls, food, etc. and decided that the train would only cost slightly more and would save us tons of aggravation!

We hopped on the train in mist and fog at Union Station in New London at 12:46 p.m and arrived at Union Station in Washington at 6:30 p.m. About six hours! This is surely the best way for us to go! Whenever the train ran along I-95 we were going faster than the cars on the road and found this knowledge so thoroughly satisfying.

Had plenty of time to relax and let our thoughts wander or disappear…

Between Old Saybrook (1:08 p.m.) and New Haven (1:35 p.m.) I enjoyed the Connecticut shoreline scenery. Skunk cabbage was everywhere swampy, and in the marshes I saw an egret with two babies! I also saw an osprey pair sitting on their nest on a platform constructed for their nesting convenience.

Around Bridgeport (2:00 p.m.) the marinas and seascapes disappeared and the warehouses and truck lots started appearing, and lots of graffiti, some ugly, some artistic. At Stamford (2:25) my thoughts turned to daughter Larisa and her boyfriend Dima, because his parents live there. They emigrated from Russia to Connecticut when Dima was seven years old. Then the sun started to come out!

New Rochelle, New York (2:45 p.m.), we started seeing jets coming into the various airports in and around New York City. My cousin got married in New Rochelle in 1974 but I don’t remember the details much – the past is gone. Pennsylvania Station, New York City (3:15 pm.) – perhaps Tim & I will be getting off at this station in the near future, Larisa is planning to move to the Big Apple in July to join Dima, who is already living there and working there, doing research at Mount Sinai Medical Center. This was the longest stop as the train took on a new crew for the rest of the trip. I pulled out my Kindle and started reading Falling into Grace by Adyashanti.

I was thoroughly engrossed in the book and didn’t pay much attention to the scenery in New Jersey. We made one stop there in Newark (3:50 p.m.). Two good things – I was not getting motion sickness reading in the train – maybe I grew out of that problem! – and it was a good thing I had my Kindle because if I had Falling into Grace with paper pages I would be underlining almost every sentence! Wished I could talk with Kathy about believing and not believing our thoughts!

As we approached Philadelphia (4:50 p.m.) a hot flash power surge, as Laurie would call it, decided to come over me. Tim was sleeping soundly beside me and it was all I could do to struggle within the confines of my window seat, getting my hoodie off and my indigo blue Japanese fan out of my bag, without elbowing and poking him awake! But I did succeed! Tim has a stepsister and I have a cousin in Philadelphia – I hope we can visit them in July when Jeff has his photography show there, too! Perhaps we’ll take the train…

Wilmington, Delaware (5:15 p.m.) and then Baltimore (6:00 p.m.). My thoughts turned to Dad and Aunt Lil and how they used to take the train to this station to visit their sister, my Aunt Em. We used to drop them off at Union Station in New London in much the same way as Nate dropped us off there earlier. It’s funny when you think about it, how we often repeat patterns from the lives of older relatives. Dad used to drive to Maryland, as we used to drive to Virginia.

And I have a feeling we won’t be driving to Virginia any more. The train was full, even though it wasn’t a holiday weekend. Many middle-aged and elderly ones with suitcases, not just businessmen. If you live on the east coast you probably know what a nightmare traveling on I-95 has become. I heartily recommend the train to anyone!

Washington, D.C. (6:30 p.m.). Dan and his daughter Erica were there to greet us! They work in D.C. and fetched us after work. Fran and her son David had a yummy taco dinner ready for us! We are now safely arrived here with Dan & Fran, even if we were under a tornado watch this morning. But the sun is out now and the weather looks to be improving so we should have a wonderful time catching up with each other!

4.28.11 ~ Woodbridge, Virginia
our home away from home ~ 4.28.11 ~ Woodbridge, Virginia