safely gathered in

the-harvest-1889-jpglarge
“The Harvest” by Frederick Morgan

Come, ye thankful people, come,
Raise the song of Harvest-home!
All is safely gathered in,
Ere the winter storms begin.
~ Henry Alford
(The Poetical Works of Henry Alford)

Happy Thanksgiving!

Draken Harald Hårfagre

10-8-16-0859
10.8.16 ~ Draken Harald Hårfagre ~ Mystic Seaport ~ Mystic, Connecticut

Over time, I have come to realize that our culture has made valuable contributions to our world heritage at large. For me, it’s important to turn the spotlight on these contributions, and not just the more recent ones, but also our fantastic contributions to craftsmanship and technology. Shipbuilding was the rocket science of the Viking era.
~ Sigurd Aase
(Draken Harald Hårfagre ~ Expedition America 2016)

10-8-16-0927
10.8.16 ~ Draken Harald Hårfagre ~ Mystic Seaport ~ Mystic, Connecticut

10-8-16-0865On a gray, misty Saturday we went over to Mystic Seaport to see the Viking longship Draken Harald Hårfagre. Draken means dragon and Harald Hårfagre refers to Norwegian King Harald Fairhair. I didn’t get to see her sail into Mystic with her red silk sail because we had been in North Carolina visiting the little one. But much to my delight, the ship will be wintering here at the Seaport. She will be covered over, though. If I keep my eye on the newsletters from Mystic Seaport, a living history museum, I hope to catch her sailing away in the spring.

10-8-16-0869
10.8.16 ~ costumed Viking enthusiasts who were also waiting in line

Draken Harald Hårfagre is the end result of a daydream of the ship’s owner, Sigurd Aase. After our tour I bought a lovely souvenir guidebook, full of stunning pictures of the journey here from her home port in Haugesund, Norway. Stops were made at the Shetland Islands, the Faroe Islands, Iceland, Greenland, Newfoundland and cities along the Saint Lawrence Seaway and the Great Lakes. Then it went through the New York State canals to the Hudson River and finally down the river to New York City and then Mystic.

The ship has a lovely website: Draken Harald Hårfagre

10-8-16-0874
10.8.16 ~ Draken Harald Hårfagre

It’s a big challenge to sail a ship of this old variety, and to prove that it is possible to sail a large open Viking ship across the seas.
~ Capt. Björn Ahlander
(Draken Harald Hårfagre ~ Expedition America 2016)

10-8-16-0875
10.8.16 ~ Draken Harald Hårfagre
10-8-16-0892
10.8.16 ~ Draken Harald Hårfagre ~ notice the fika (coffee) “machine” near the entrance to the galley ~ our guide assured us that modern-day coffee was very important to the crew members!
10-8-16-0899
10.8.16 ~ Draken Harald Hårfagre ~ personal items were stored in these chests which fit in the deck of the ship ~ the lid becomes part of the deck itself ~ our guide explained that no part of the ship is water tight so they wrapped their belongings in plastic before putting them in these narrow chests
10-8-16-0926
10.8.16 ~ notice the little dinghy with a sail tethered to the longship
harald
“King Harald Fairhair” as portrayed by Peter Franzén on the History Channel’s television drama “Vikings”

And now for a pet peeve of mine. There were several visitors wearing “Viking” helmets with horns who were approached by other visitors asking them where they could get a helmet for themselves. Of course they weren’t for sale on the ship or at the museum gift shop! The guide book, if they cared to read it, debunks the myth of the horned helmet:

One of the most widespread myths in history is the one about the Vikings wearing horned helmets. Their helmets had no horns. The popular image dates back to the 1800s, when Scandinavian artists like Sweden’s Gustav Malmström included the headgear in the their portrayals of the raiders. When Wagner staged his Der Ring des Nibelungen, commonly refers to as the “Ring cycle” in the 1870s, costume designer Carl Emil Doepler created horned helmets for the Viking characters, and an enduring stereotype was born.
~ Draken Harald Hårfagre guidebook ~ Expedition America 2016

10-8-16-0932
10.8.16 ~ Draken Harald Hårfagre ~ Mystic Seaport ~ Mystic, Connecticut

The line to tour the ship, which only took a few minutes, was very long and stretched around other exhibits at the Seaport. Fortunately we were near the beginning and were marveling at how long the line still was two hours later. In spite of the rain!

The Gokstad ship we saw in Norway last year was one of the inspirational sources for the design of this ship: Viking Ship Museum.

10-8-16-0945

This is a fantastic opportunity to create history by reliving the challenges our Viking ancestors overcame. An adventure one wouldn’t miss for the world. It is thrilling to bring the Sagas to life and do something a little crazy and down to earth at the same time.
~ Arild Nilsen
(Draken Harald Hårfagre ~ Expedition America 2016)

hanging garden of bottle gourds

9-25-16-0372
9.25.16 ~ Holmberg Orchards ~ Gales Ferry, Connecticut

As we wandered around a corn maze on a perfect autumn day, we came upon an enchanting gourd tunnel.

Gourds are natural born climbers. They seek out anything they can reach to climb closer to the sun. They grow so quickly it can become a daily task to move the vines away from some places you don’t want them to climb on. And once a tendril gets itself wound around a hold nothing short of breaking the tendril off the vine will get the little curlicue to let go. Not even the death of the vine will loosen their grip much.
~ Karen Hundt-Brown
(American Gourd Society)

9-25-16-0376
9.25.16 ~ Holmberg Orchards ~ Gales Ferry, Connecticut

While I looked, my inner self moved; my spirit shook its always-fettered wings half loose; I had a sudden feeling as if I, who never yet truly lived, were at last about to taste life: in that morning my soul grew as fast as Jonah’s gourd.
~ Charlotte Brontë
(Villette)

9-25-16-0379
9.25.16 ~ Holmberg Orchards ~ Gales Ferry, Connecticut

Yet poetry, though the last and finest result, is a natural fruit. As naturally as the oak bears an acorn, and the vine a gourd, man bears a poem, either spoken or done.
~ Henry David Thoreau
(A Week on the Concord & Merrimack Rivers)

9-25-16-0381
9.25.16 ~ Holmberg Orchards ~ Gales Ferry, Connecticut

sprightly

8.27.16.3950
8.27.16 ~ probably a juvenile great black-backed gull

So… Yesterday there were three cormorants sitting on the breakwater, closer to land than I’ve ever seen them before. But, confound it, still too far away for a decent picture. And of course, they had no interest in spreading their wings out to dry. So tantalizingly close by, yet still so far away…

8.27.16.3944
8.27.16 ~ cormorants on the end of the breakwater at high tide

However, in my efforts to get as close as I could to the cormorants, I discovered a large group of gulls wading in the rocky pools created by high tide.

8.27.16.3960
8.27.16 ~ herring gull, wading
8.27.16.3964
8.27.16 ~ herring gull, rock climbing
8.27.16.3973
8.27.16 ~ herring gull, waiting for the next wave to cool off his feet

A few days ago my gull friend with the mangled foot came back! He was sitting on the white post in front of us as we sat down on a bench to eat our supper. 🙂 He took off several times, soaring up high and circling around the beach house and landing each time again on the post in front of us. I think he was trying to demonstrate that he was just fine, thank you. He seems so healthy and energetic now — he must have recovered from whatever malady was troubling him earlier this summer.

8.27.16.3982
8.27.16 ~ look who is back!!!

Yesterday I spotted him hanging out with the other gulls on the rocks. He was getting a drink of water. Gulls are able to drink salt water or fresh water.

8.27.16.3990
8.27.16
8.27.16.3995
8.27.16 ~ posing for me – doesn’t he look sprightly?

My family thinks I should come up with a name for him but for some reason I can’t think of one. I’m also not even sure if “he” is male or female.

8.27.16.3997
8.27.16 ~ more drinking
8.27.16.3998
8.27.16 ~ so refreshing!
8.27.16.4002
8.27.16

After his thirst was quenched he decided to walk over to investigate a noisy group of gulls nearby.

8.27.16.4009
8.27.16
8.27.16.4010
8.27.16 ~ walking with a sense of purpose
8.27.16.4016
8.27.16 ~ pausing to listen and contemplate

Meanwhile, another herring gull walked into view. He’s pretty handsome, too.

8.27.16.4075
8.27.16 ~ another herring gull

It seemed like everyone wanted their pictures taken!

8.27.16.4092
8.27.16 ~ another juvenile great black-backed gull
8.27.16.4096
8.27.16 ~ juvenile great black-backed gull

I’m still amazed that the juvenile great black-baked gulls are larger than the adult herring gulls. In fact, they are the largest species of gull in the world.

We didn’t see any laughing gulls this day, who are smaller than the herring gulls, but had seen several of them a few days beforehand.

8.27.16.4106
8.27.16 ~ Mystic Whaler heading out for a dinner cruise…

Summer is winding down, but it’s still hazy, hot and humid. We are close to setting a record for the hottest August in Connecticut weather history. Sigh… Looking forward to October!

a very short visit

8.14.15 ~ Sound Breeze
Katie ~ 8.14.15 ~ Sound Breeze

Katie’s all-too-brief mid-August visit was a bright spot in our mostly crummy summer. We hadn’t seen her in two months and were happy for the chance to see what’s she’s been up to lately. At eleven months old she is crawling and exploring her world. Because the caregivers at her daycare label her belongings “Katherine V” (her surname begins with a V) her father has taken to calling her Queen Katherine the 5th.

8.14.15 ~ Sound Breeze
8.14.15 ~ Sound Breeze

The Russian name for teddy bear is misha and Katie brought one of hers with her. (You may remember her other grandparents are from Russia…) Her face lit up and she sighed with pleasure when she saw the four mishas I had waiting for her here. Then she tightly hugged each and every one of them in turn.

8.14.15 ~ Sound Breeze
8.14.15 ~ Sound Breeze

Katie’s parents told us that she loves music and is fond of Jason Mraz. She dances on her knees and enjoyed shaking toy maracas to the music we were playing in the background. The next day she bonded with her teenage cousin Kia over music. They sat on the floor facing each other and bobbed their heads to the music Kia played from her cell phone. It was so sweet!

8.14.15 ~ Sound Breeze
8.14.15 ~ Sound Breeze

Green beans and scrambled eggs for breakfast – yes!

8.14.15 ~ Sound Breeze
8.14.15 ~ Sound Breeze

Katie and I got to read several books together and it warmed my heart to see that she loves to read on her own, too. Maybe some day we’ll find a way to tame all those wildly adorable cowlicks.

8.14.15 ~ Sound Breeze
8.14.15 ~ Sound Breeze

Morning nap in Grammy’s arms – an hour and a half of bliss for me. Little did we know that hours later our visit would be cut short when Grandpa Tim got seriously ill with another bout of diverticulitis and wound up in the hospital for three days. But Katie’s aunt Bonnie and cousin Kia came down to look after her and the three of them had a wonderful time together. What a blessing a loving family is.

In a couple of weeks Katie will be coming again for another visit. I cannot wait!!!

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.

Janet’s new granddaughter, Summer, was here, too. She is just a month older than Katie. It was so much fun having two babies in the house!

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!

storm on the way

8.12.14 ~ Groton, Connecticut
swamp rose mallow ~ 8.12.14 ~ Beach Pond

misty sunlit noon
swamp mallows basking in pink
a storm on the way
~ Barbara Rodgers
(By the Sea)

8.12.14.1447
8.12.14 ~ Eastern Point Beach

I first met this battered old gull three years ago in August of 2011, when we were expecting Hurricane Irene. Today he sat on this post right next to us, closer than he’s ever come before, and we heard his long and mournful cry again. He looks a lot worse for wear, his life has no doubt been difficult with that badly mangled foot. Now it looks like he has a barnacle or a growth on his beak. I think he was letting us know about the approaching rain storm. No hurricane this time, though.

8.12.14.1460
8.12.14 ~ Eastern Point Beach