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.

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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!

Steampunk’d Wonderland

10.28.14 ~ Old Lyme, Connecticut
10.28.14 ~ Old Lyme, Connecticut

Some of my readers may remember back a couple of years ago when Janet, her mother and I went to the Florence Griswold Museum in Old Lyme to see a fanciful outdoor exhibit, Wee Faerie Village: Land of Picture Making. And in 2011 the theme was fairy tale birdhouses, if I remember correctly. Last October I missed it but this year Janet and I had a chance to go again, this time bringing her friend Kathy, too. And this year the exhibit theme was Wee Faerie Village in a Steampunk’d Wonderland. As in Alice’s wonderland.

For those who don’t know what steampunk is – I didn’t and I had to look it up – it’s a genre of science fiction that typically features steam-powered machinery of the Victorian 19th century rather than advanced technology. Think Jules Verne.

Local artists are invited to create fairy-scaled installations on the museum grounds for the public to view during the month of October. On the left is one identified as Cheshire Cat Reappears by Robert Nielsen & Billie Tannen.

For some reason I wasn’t much in the mood for taking pictures, so I left my camera in the car, and used my cell phone to capture some of the more appealing creations. (I seem to have lost my Muchness!)

10.28.14 ~ Old Lyme, Connecticut
part of “Alice’s Celebration” by Dylan & Ted Gaffney
10.28.14 ~ Old Lyme, Connecticut
10.28.14 ~ Old Lyme, Connecticut

As we were wandering around Kathy happened to see something we hadn’t noticed before, a real live fairy! Her mother gave us permission to take her picture, after which the fairy scolded us and asserted that she wasn’t a real fairy. But we know better!

We enjoyed a leisurely stroll through the gardens, appreciating the lovely autumn weather and scenery. Lunch was very tasty at the Café Flo, where we dined outside and savored lingering in conversation on the terrace overlooking the Lieutenant River.

After we finished with the fairy village Kathy had to leave, so Janet and I checked out the indoor art exhibit, Life Stories in Art. We saw collections of the Tonalist and Impressionist paintings of Mary Rogers Williams (1857-1907), the intricate glass sculptures of Kari Russell-Pool (b. 1967), and the modern sculptures of Mary Lightfoot Tarleton Knollenberg (1904-1992).

10.28.14 ~ Old Lyme, Connecticut
“Anticipator” by Matthew Geller
10.28.14 ~ Old Lyme, Connecticut
part of “Alice’s Celebration” by Dylan & Ted Gaffney
10.28.14 ~ Old Lyme, Connecticut

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

midsummer mourning dove

6.21.14 ~ Colchester, Connecticut
6.21.14 ~ Colchester, Connecticut

After years of trying I was finally able to capture some good pictures of a mourning dove! She seemed to be posing for me on a tree in Janet’s yard and I was thrilled.

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6.21.14 ~ Colchester, Connecticut

Janet and I had a great time celebrating the summer solstice on Saturday. We went strawberry picking in the morning, then made a lunch out of grilled eggplant with goat cheese and other veggies, devoured it outside on her sundeck and finished with our fresh strawberries and whipped cream.

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6.21.14 ~ Colchester, Connecticut

We took a long afternoon walk in the woods and meadows at Machimoodus State Park. The day was breezy and warm – we could not have ordered more perfect weather! Back at Janet’s we had grilled wild turkey and veggies, enjoying supper outside as well.

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6.21.14 ~ Colchester, Connecticut

Then, as dusk finally fell on the longest day of the year, we shared a campfire and watched the stars come out and the fireflies twinkle in the trees and eventually the embers dying down. We even heard a pack of coyotes howling in the distance. It was wonderful to have spent the entire day outdoors with the companionship of a good friend.

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6.21.14 ~ Colchester, Connecticut

Kentford Farm

5.28.14 ~ Stonington, Connecticut
5.28.14 ~ Stonington, Connecticut

Wednesday afternoon Janet and I found a new woodland garden to explore, Kentford Farm in Stonington, Connecticut. We seemed to have the place to ourselves, but for a very charming tortoiseshell cat who acted as our hostess. When we left we spotted a sign saying the garden was open Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays – unknowingly we had been trespassing! But the gate had been open so perhaps our confusion was understandable.

5.28.14 ~ Stonington, Connecticut
5.28.14 ~ Stonington, Connecticut

The last time we had a cat as our guide was four years ago in May at the the Edgerton & Stengel Memorial Wildflower Garden in the Connecticut College Arboretum.

5.28.14 ~ Stonington, Connecticut

We introduce ourselves
To Planets and to Flowers
But with ourselves
Have etiquettes
Embarrassments
And awes
~ Emily Dickinson
(The Poems of Emily Dickinson, #1184)

5.28.14 ~ Stonington, Connecticut
5.28.14 ~ Stonington, Connecticut

We will have to return as the seasons progress – it’s a perennial garden and there will be different things blooming every time we go. Please enjoy some of my favorite photographs. The plan was to travel light, with just the camera and not its bag, but it backfired on me when the camera battery died only about a third of the way through. Next time I will carry the whole kit and caboodle with me!

5.28.14 ~ Stonington, Connecticut
5.28.14 ~ Stonington, Connecticut
5.28.14 ~ Stonington, Connecticut

The wall is silence, the grass is sleep,
Tall trees of peace their vigil keep,
And the Fairy of Dreams, with moth-wings furled,
Sings soft her secrets to the drowsy world.
~ Ida Rentoul Outhwaite
(Tibetan Buddhism Deck:
Buddhas, Deities, and Bodhisattvas 30 Meditation Cards)

5.28.14 ~ Stonington, Connecticut
5.28.14 ~ Stonington, Connecticut
5.28.14 ~ Stonington, Connecticut

Way over yonder is a place I have seen
In a garden of wisdom from some long ago dream
~ Carole King
♫ (Way Over Yonder) ♫

5.28.14 ~ Stonington, Connecticut

Frequently the woods are pink –
Frequently, are brown.
Frequently the hills undress
Behind my native town –
Oft a head is crested
I was wont to see –
And as oft a cranny
Where it used to be –
And the Earth – they tell me
On it’s axis turned!
Wonderful rotation –
By but twelve performed!
~ Emily Dickinson
(The Poems of Emily Dickinson, #24)

5.28.14 ~ Stonington, Connecticut
5.28.14 ~ Stonington, Connecticut
5.28.14 ~ Stonington, Connecticut

In the woods too, a man casts off his years, as the snake his slough, and at what period soever of life, is always a child.
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
(Nature)

5.28.14 ~ Stonington, Connecticut
5.28.14 ~ Stonington, Connecticut
5.28.14 ~ Stonington, Connecticut

The good Will of a Flower
The Man who would possess
Must first present Certificate
Of minted Holiness.
~ Emily Dickinson
(The Poems of Emily Dickinson, #954)

5.28.14 ~ Stonington, Connecticut
5.28.14 ~ Stonington, Connecticut

mountain laurel sanctuary

6.26.13 ~ Union, Connecticut
Nipmuck State Forest, Mountain Laurel Sanctuary
6.26.13 ~ Union, Connecticut
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Nipmuck State Forest, Mountain Laurel Sanctuary
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Nipmuck State Forest, Mountain Laurel Sanctuary

Mountain laurel, which is in the heath family, is Connecticut’s state flower and is abundant in moderately shaded woods in this state. The flower of the native shrub produces clusters of beautiful pinkish white blooms between Fathers Day and Fourth of July in this part of the state. The foliage is evergreen so it stays green all winter long. Hiking in the woods one may come across a thicket of mountain laurel and wonder if it is at all possible to penetrate through the tangled branches that grow close to the ground.
~ Mountain Laurel Sanctuary

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Nipmuck State Forest, Mountain Laurel Sanctuary
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frog ~ 6.26.13 ~ Union, Connecticut
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Nipmuck State Forest, Mountain Laurel Sanctuary
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a whimsical woodpecker,
evidence of other human visitors

There was a blue dragonfly flitting about us (not to mention hoards of mosquitoes!) but it wouldn’t stay still long enough to be photographed.  A few days later, however, Janet found a more cooperative blue dragonfly resting on one of her tomato cages at home and sent me this picture!

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blue dragonfly photo by Janet Hale

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.

lady slippers

5.17.13 ~ Mystic, Connecticut
Liz (Janet’s mom) ~ 5.17.13 ~ Mystic, Connecticut

On Friday, Janet, Liz and I enjoyed a lovely afternoon at a Lady Slippers Walk & Picnic at the Peace Sanctuary in Mystic, Connecticut. Our guide was Maggie Jones, executive director of the Denison Pequotsepos Nature Center. Before we began our walk in the woods, Maggie gave us a little history of the 45-acre sanctuary property.

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5.17.13 ~ Mystic, Connecticut

The Universal Peace Union had been founded in Providence in 1866 by a group of reformers whose belief in nonviolence after years of bloody warfare led them to a broad critique of American imperialism, U.S. immigration and Native American policies. The local branch had formed among Rogerene Quakers around Ledyard, and the first national meetings took place in private homes there. As the number of members grew, including large numbers of women, the annual meeting moved to a larger venue in Mystic. By the 1880s and 1890s, the gathering attracted as many as ten thousand attendees. In 1890, the organization purchased land from Silas Burrows and the Fish family on a hill overlooking the river on the northwestern side of town. Meetings then took place at this open and undeveloped spot, attracting such speakers as reformer Lucretia Mott and author of “The Battle Hymn of the Republic” Julia Ward Howe.
~ Leigh Fought
(A History of Mystic, Connecticut: From Pequot Village to Tourist Town)

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happily growing in a decaying tree trunk ~ 5.17.13 ~ Mystic, Connecticut

When peace became less popular around the start of World War II, the land was purchased by explorer, naturalist, cartographer and writer, Mary Jobe Akeley (1886-1966), who turned it into a summer nature camp for girls. Camp Mystic was very popular and attended by girls from across the nation. Renowned explorers often visited the camp and shared stories of their experiences with the girls. Sadly, during the Great Depression the camp was closed.

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almost ready to bloom ~ 5.17.13 ~ Mystic, Connecticut

After her death in 1966, the Mary L. Jobe Akeley Trust & Peace Sanctuary was established and the property is now looked after by the Denison Pequotsepos Nature Center. In the month of May nearly 400 native pink lady slippers, also called pink moccasin flowers, can be found blooming in the woods on the property.

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5.17.13 ~ Mystic, Connecticut

Lady slippers are part of the orchid family and are native to Connecticut. They love the acid soil found in the woods, and need a certain fungus found there in order to survive. They grow 6 to 15 inches tall and the flowers are about 3 inches long. They can often be found growing in decaying logs. I used to see them occasionally when I played in the woods near the swamp where I grew up, so it was a treat to see so many of them in one day!

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5.17.13 ~ Mystic, Connecticut

The pink lady slipper has been the provincial flower of Prince Edward Island since 1947, and the state wildflower of New Hampshire since 1991.

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different stages of blossoming ~ 5.17.13 ~ Mystic, Connecticut

Our walk was mostly uphill and when we reached the top we were treated to an outdoor picnic buffet in a lovely woodland garden. I had stinging nettle soup for the first time, and another soup made with wild leeks.

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narcissus ~ 5.17.13 ~ Mystic, Connecticut
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garden shed ~ 5.17.13 ~ Mystic, Connecticut
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daphne ~ 5.17.13 ~ Mystic, Connecticut
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a frog bidding us good-bye as we made our way back down the hill
5.17.13 ~ Mystic, Connecticut

garden angels

5.6.13 ~ Groton, Connecticut
an angel in my garden ~ 5.6.13

Our lives have taken on a surreal quality, a numbness, in recent weeks. Tim’s brother Toby is now living with us, and sadly, has been diagnosed with incurable bladder cancer. A few days after receiving this devastating news, we were stunned to hear that Tim’s cousin has also been diagnosed with an incurable cancer. Radical treatments will buy them both a little time, but how much is uncertain. This is all so uncomfortably familiar, having lost three of our middle-aged parents to cancer when we were young adults. And yet, this is now all so terribly new to us, cancer striking our generation for the first time. Insidious, unrelenting, cruel…

5.5.13 ~ Stonington, Connecticut
new elm leaf ~ 5.5.13 ~ Stonington, Connecticut

Zoë has been wonderful company for me – I’m thinking of getting a cat harness and leash for her so she can come out into the garden with me. She seems rambunctious enough to enjoy an outdoor adventure. 🙂 Toby is doing angelic things in my garden – he loves gardening and it gives him something satisfying and distracting to do between medical appointments. And Scarby has been wonderful company for Tim – she is coming out of hiding more often and enjoys sitting on the cat tree to look out the window and soak up the sun. She often sits on his desk and watches him work.

The other day I sent Tim a link to an article, how to calculate tree height using a smartphone. And then, Voilà!!! Mr. Logic found the app and used it on our next visit to my tree! He determined that my tree is 60 feet tall! (That’s about 18 meters tall for those of you on the metric system.) An interesting bit of information to ponder, since I still cannot see the shape of its leaves just yet.

5.5.13 ~ Stonington, Connecticut
my tree ~ 5.5.13 ~ Stonington, Connecticut

Janet and I took a train to New York City. We met Larisa at Penn Station and went shopping in the fabric district for material for her wedding dress! She is sewing it herself with a little help from her friends. Seeing her drape the different shades of purple fabric over her body to see which one she liked best, well, they were some of the happiest moments in my life. My lovely daughter is going to be a stunning bride in just a little over a month!