“Don’t let Mom see,” Larisa advised in an early morning text. She found a zipper spider in their garden and thought her father might like to check it out. If you, dear reader, are an arachnophobe you might want to skip this post. There are pictures. Well, I am afraid of spiders but my curiosity was piqued.
The zipper spider is also known as a garden spider, writing spider, banana spider or golden orb weaver. The female is BIG. Her abdomen can be more than inch long! The zipper, zigzag she weaves into the web is called a stabilimentum. Scientists don’t know its purpose but they have several theories. Katherine’s is that it warns birds not to get caught in the web.
We had picked up Katherine from school and asked her to show us the spider. She loves and is very knowledgeable about bugs. There was some kind of magic at work here because I didn’t feel terrified when I saw her from a safe distance, perched on her magnificent web in the bright sunshine. The giant web was hanging between two tall bushes. After admiring her size and coloring and that amazing zipper pattern I realized that we were looking at her underside.
Well, that wouldn’t do. When I expressed my disappointment to Katherine she said she would show me a way around to the other side of the web. It involved climbing up over a porch bench and jumping down into a narrow space between the house and the bushes, and then making our way between the bushes until we got to the opposite side of the web. Wow! My little Katherine was an excellent nature guide.
If the sun sets you free … You’ll be free indeed, indeed … She’s only happy in the sun ~ Ben Harper ♫ (She’s Only Happy in the Sun) ♫
Mind you, if I had seen this spider in the house I would have had a panic attack. But somehow, outside, it was different. I haven’t been able to stop thinking about this. Why the difference? Larisa says these spiders never come in the house. Because they love the sun? Maybe because house spiders creep around in dark places is why they are so dreadful. All I know is that the words of Ben Harper’s song came to mind when I saw this one!
It’s been a while! We moved into our new place a couple of weeks ago and then the POD arrived with all our worldly goods a week after that. Dima & Larisa and a couple of their friends unloaded the POD on that hot afternoon. The next day friends and relatives came by and got us started reassembling bookcases, etc. We’ve been unpacking and taking empty cardboard boxes to the recycling center ever since.
We found a lovely little one-story townhouse to lease. The neighbors are so welcoming! Next door is a woman who also moved down here to be near her grandchildren. Another neighbor came over with a homemade pecan pie to introduce herself. And another brought sunflowers and cherry tomatoes from the farmers market!
I’m loving having everything on one floor. And we’re located close to our grandchildren, a six-minute drive away. 🙂 We are nestled into a cul-de-sac in a very quiet and heavily wooded neighborhood. There are so many trees here, and so much wildlife, that I decided to change the name of my blog to In the Woods!
It’s hot, too, as expected. The other day the heat index reached 103°! But we’re grateful for the central air conditioning. With dewpoints in the 70s every morning we probably won’t be taking any walks for a couple of months.
The above picture was taken from our front porch, looking up. Moving from a noisy city to this peaceful neighborhood has been such a blessing. And now I’m looking forward to settling in and then catching up with my blogging friends as soon as possible!
A new beginning is a welcome thing. A new week, a new job, a new term at school. Each brings the thrill of a clean slate, a shining start. The heart leaps up at the chance to try again, to do our best, to sow the seed of something that will grow. Autumn is when we plant the promises of spring, unsullied, pure and perfect. ~ Sally Abbott (Call the Midwife, season 12: episode 6)
We have successfully made the move from Connecticut to North Carolina! What a wild, hectic, chaotic and exciting time these past few weeks have been. But somehow, with lots of help from family and friends, we managed to pull it off.
One kink in our planning was Tim developing bouts of shortness of breath and chest pressure on exertion. He spent a morning in the emergency room before we left where they determined he wasn’t having a heart attack and advised him to follow up with his cardiologist. So Larisa and I did our best to keep his activity level as low as possible while we scrambled to tie up all the loose ends.
After we got down here we repeated the process, spending a morning in the emergency room which thankfully resulted in an appointment with a cardiologist the next day. We really like him. Through the magic of “My Chart” medical records he had thoroughly acquainted himself with Tim’s cardiac history. He suspects that 15+ years after Tim’s by-pass surgery scar tissue may have built up and is starting to block the flow of blood. So he has ordered an echocardiogram to see what is going on in there before he decides what needs to be done.
In the meantime our plans to go out walking in our new adopted home have been put on hold. But I am comforted with the feeling that he is in good hands medically, UNC Hospitals being highly ranked among the best in the country.
Dima & Larisa have made us feel so comfortable and welcome and it is a delight having our grandchildren here to talk to and play with every day. Our real estate agent already has us under contract with a buyer for a selling price higher than we ever dreamed possible. Soon we will be able to find our own place down here. We’ve already started looking online.
I’ve gone out on a few short walks around this cohousing community with the little ones. (Cohousing is an intentional community of private homes clustered around shared space.) This is a magical, nature-loving neighborhood with birds singing all day long. There is a very loud frog outside who has croaked us to sleep for a few nights. Deer are allowed everywhere and help themselves to the abundant greenery.
On the second day of the kids’ visit we decided to go to the nature center to see mama goose sitting on her nest. But we wound up doing so much more! Kat still loves her maps and she noticed a hidden pond on the outdoor map sign and decided we should find it. Tim & I had never explored that part of the property before.
Dima climbs everything in sight, walls, trees, outcrops and probably other things I can’t even begin to imagine. The first time I documented this passion was at Coumeenoole Beach on our trip to visit the Dima, Larisa and Kat in Ireland in 2018. (Scroll down to picture #26)
I dug out my map pamphlet from last year’s visit and gave it to Kat. We started on the Forest Loop Trail, crossing the bridge over a brook leading to the stairs up to Council Rock, a glacial erratic sitting on top of an outcrop.
But first Dima took a detour to climb the first outcrop, while the rest of us caught up.
Then we climbed the stairs and approached the outcrop holding Council Rock. Before we knew it Dima was sitting on top of it! We were able to climb up the not-as-steep side of this outcrop. It was the only one we managed that day.
Somehow Kat managed to get up there with her Papa.
After resting a little we came down off the outcrop and followed the trail to an entrance to Ledge Trail. Dima and Kat got way out ahead while Tim, Larisa and Finn fell behind. I was enjoying my solitude in the middle of the procession when I glanced up to see Dima and Kat had climbed yet another outcrop! They tell me the view was great.
While up there, Dima spotted a wild turkey on the ridge below him, but above my vantage point. He was apparently displaying his feathers off and on. When the others caught up we finally spotted the turkey’s head peering over the ridge. Since the trail led in that direction we headed towards him. The turkey kept walking ahead of us but never ran or flew off.
There were so many twigs and short bushes in the way that it proved difficult getting the camera to focus. As we walked the trail along the ridge the wild turkey finally took a turn and went down into the swampy area at the bottom of the ravine. He joined a flock of about six other wild turkeys down there, and then they all started climbing up to the ridge on the other side.
At this point Finn decided to switch from riding in his mother’s arms and on her shoulders to riding on his father’s shoulders. Having a passenger did not deter Dima from climbing up on the next outcrop!
When the trail finally came down off the ridge we found a sign pointing to Hidden Pond! We were almost there!
Kat was pleased to have found her destination and I was happy we had so much fun and fresh air along the way. Finn was happy he was going to stop for ice cream on his way home and Dima reported that he had never seen a wild turkey in the woods before. Larisa wanted to take a selfie with her parents and we obliged. We then found a shorter connector trail back to the nature center but I’m so glad we took the long way around to find that little pond!
Last week the little ones popped in with their parents for a quick spring vacation visit to Connecticut. Last year Tim & I came to The Dinosaur Place with Kat, just the three of us, but this year we had a chance to take the whole family! It was Finn’s first visit. Monty’s Playground alone kept him completely entertained.
I took the stairs up to the observation deck to photograph the kids and their Papa finding their way through the maze.
After a snack break the kids climbed a rock to wait and watch for a volcano to erupt in the pond.
Then we continued along the trail around the pond and through the woods, spotting dinosaurs and other things here and there as we went along.
With his new pacemaker Tim lasted a lot longer this time. He was walking for much of the three hours we were there. Larisa said the kids must have had a great time because they asked her if they could come back tomorrow. 🙂
Busy, busy, busy… We took a first batch of books to sell to the Book Barn and came home with a check for $65! The other day, talking to Larisa on the phone about sorting through my books, I mentioned that I had no idea there were so many of them. “I did, Mom,” she said.
We stopped to admire a new sign at the back entrance. Tim simply couldn’t resist putting his hat on the Cheshire Cat for a picture. 🙂
The appearance of my New Year’s post surprised me because I had put it together a long time ago, when the inspiration had hit, and then scheduled it and forgot all about it. But it’s been fun catching up with all my blogging friends as life gets back to normal.
I am happily and thoroughly exhausted from the intensely exciting visit from Larisa, Dima, Kat and Finn over the holidays. Kat brought me this beautiful painting! They all pitched in and painted our staircase walls. Dima cooked some fabulous meals, incorporating my special dietary needs — he enjoys the challenge. Larisa took me out to buy yarn for a shawl she started knitting for me. (I get so cold while sitting these days!) Finn kept balsa wood and paper airplanes flying through the air. Kat and I had an fascinating conversation while we were peeling carrots together. We baked cookies for Santa, worked on puzzles, drew lots of pictures, and fed peanuts to the squirrels and blue jays on the balcony. We went to the beach to feed clams from the grocery store to the gulls but could only watch for a few minutes due to the bitter cold.
So much joyful chaos! It’s a bit too quiet around here now but I’ve got plenty of wonderful memories to cherish until we see them all again! Now I can turn my attention to explaining my project and the other projects it has led to.
There are still a few places to walk we haven’t visited yet so we decided to check another one off of our still-growing list. Rocky Neck State Park is a little farther west down the coastline than we usually like to go, but seeing pictures of birds taken there and posted online tempted me to give it a try. Sadly, no birds on this windy day. We had to walk through a tunnel (see above picture) under the Amtrak railroad to get to the beach.
This beach is one of the most visited beaches in Connecticut, with some of the buildings at the beach even dating back to the 1930s. This is one of the most popular beaches to visit for those in the area because of how scenic it is. ~ Roaming the USA website
The fact that it is so popular is probably another reason we never tried to come here before. Every summer weekend morning on the news we hear that the parking lot is full and no more cars are being allowed in. When traveling down the interstate we often see flashing LED changeable message signs, miles in advance, announcing the same thing.
We walked down the beach and up a ledge, following a sign saying “Pavilion.” The pavilion was huge! (Perhaps built in the 1930s?) We followed a tunnel through the bottom of it and took some stairs up the back, then came around to the front and took some pictures of Long Island Sound.
Behind the pavilion was a pedestrian bridge (above) back over the Amtrak railroad tracks. We decided to go for it, lured in by a point on a map of the park called Toby’s Nose Overlook. Eventually we found the spot but the viewing platform I was expecting did not exist. There was a complicated maze of trails, parking lots and driveways in the woods back there, but we finally figured out a zig-zaggy route we could take back to the car.
When I got home and studied the map a little more closely I noticed that there was another part of the park, along Bride Brook, with a crabbing deck and an actual viewing platform. Maybe next time. Turns out we had only seen a very small portion of this place.
And now to prepare for a visit from our daughter and granddaughter! Kat has spring vacation so Larisa is going to work remotely here while we have Kat to ourselves for half the week. 😊 (Kat’s other grandparents will have her the first half of the week!)
The ground was pretty soggy from melting snow and days of rain so we decided to take a walk in the village of Stonington Borough, rather than traipse through the muddy woods. I visited this lighthouse many years ago with my sister-in-law and climbed the very narrow circular stairs up the tower to the lantern room on the top. The view was wonderful. There wasn’t much space to move around or stretch out, though!
The Stonington Harbor Light is a historic lighthouse built in 1840 and located on the east side of Stonington Harbor in the Borough of Stonington, Connecticut. It is a well-preserved example of a mid-19th century stone lighthouse. The light was taken out of service in 1889 and now serves as a local history museum. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1976. ~ Wikipedia
The Stonington Harbor Light is located at the southern end of Stonington Point, marking the eastern side of Stonington Harbor. The light station consists of the tower and keeper’s house; both are built out of large granite blocks, and the keeper’s house has a wood-framed ell attached. The tower is an octagonal stone structure 35 feet (11 m) in height and 10 feet (3.0 m) in diameter, with a circular glass lantern house on top. The house is 1½ stories and about 30 feet (9.1 m) square. ~ Wikipedia
The promise of a water view behind the lighthouse lured us around the back and across the spongy lawn. How nice to see a bench there. Looks like a nice spot to enjoy a warm spring day. But no sitting for us on this wet day!
There were lots of sparrows chirping and flitting about, making it feel like a spring day. We found a sundial in a corner of the yard but it was too cloudy out for the sun to tell us the time. It might have been accurate, too, because we are not in daylight savings time. I wish they would do away with the time change. We’re only under “real” time for about four months out of the twelve…
Looking west on our way down to Stonington Point we saw a moment of blue sky! From the end of the Stonington Borough peninsula one can see two lighthouses in two different states.
Latimer Reef Lighthouse, which was placed on the western end of the half-mile-long rocky reef, consists of a prefabricated, cylindrical, forty-nine foot-tall, cast-iron tower with a cast-iron, concrete-filled foundation. … There were a number of other lights built around this time using the same design and employing the same construction methods. They were initially referred to as “Coffee Pot” lights because of their shape, but a few decades later, after the internal combustion engine was in common use, these towers became more commonly known as “Spark Plug” lighthouses. ~ Lighthousefriends.com website
A good portion of the parking lot at the point was still covered with the snow deposited there from the blizzard. It blocked a lot of the views! But in the distance between these mounds (above) I spotted Watch Hill Light, which we visited in October. So I walked across the waterlogged lawn area and used my zoom lens to get a picture of it from Stonington Point. (below)
Our plan to keep our shoes dry failed completely! But at least they were less mucky than they would have been had we gone for a walk in the woods.
Years ago I used to be a member of the Stonington Historical Society but discontinued my membership when paying the dues didn’t fit in our budget. But it was there that I found a letter written to the Society by my great-grandmother in a file. Emma Flora Atwood was asking them if they had any information about her husband’s parents, William Martin White and Ellen C. Hill, who lived in Old Mystic, another village in Stonington. I don’t know what their reply might have been, but the folder had little else in it. It was exciting to handle a piece of paper that she had touched, too. I like to think my great-grandmother was as interested in family history as I am. She was my mother’s Grammy and that’s why I wanted to be Grammy to my grandchildren. ♡
The other thing I learned while I was getting the Society’s newsletter, was about my 2nd-great-granduncle, Pvt. Rufus C. White, brother of my 2nd-great-grandfather, William M. White, mentioned above.
Rufus C. White, born 6 June 1839, died 16 May 1864, age 24, at Drewry’s Bluff, Virginia. Rufus served as a private in the Union Army, Company E, 21st Infantry Regiment, Connecticut and was killed at the Battle of Drewry’s Bluff. In the 1860 census, Rufus was recorded as a farmer with a personal estate of $100.
The following is from Stonington’s Forgotten Heroes of 1861-65 by James Boylan:
The second large Stonington unit was Company E of the 21st Infantry Regiment, which was recruited in the summer of 1862 from eastern Connecticut. About seventy Stonington men served in Company E, under Captain Charles T. Stanton, Jr., of Stonington. Like Company G of the Eighth, this company became involved in the fogbound battle of Drewry’s Bluff, in which Stanton was severely wounded, and the siege of Petersburg, where Captain Henry R. Jennings of Stonington was wounded. Partly because its term of service was shorter, it suffered fewer casualties.
And there was another pleasant memory, which Tim & I recalled as we passed the Society’s Captain Palmer House Museum on our way home. It must have been in the early 2000s, when I read with great interest, In the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex by Nathaniel Philbrick. I am distantly related to some of the sailors he wrote about on that ill-fated voyage. Imagine how excited I was to attend a lecture he gave about his book at the museum. Tim and Larisa came with me and we had a brief conversation with him afterwards.