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!

lady patience

3.31.13.5010
3.31.13 ~ Stonington, Connecticut

Exploring cemeteries is something we enjoy, even ones in which none of our known ancestors lie buried. They are pleasant places to take walks and get some exercise – we even met a couple of joggers in the 22-acre non-sectarian Stonington Cemetery on Easter Sunday.

3.31.13.5011
3.31.13 ~ Stonington, Connecticut

Reflecting on the life stories stone carvers have told with their memorial masonry…

3.31.13.5008
3.31.13 ~ Stonington, Connecticut

In the smaller sculpture (above), which is elevated on a pedestal, the woman is leaning on an upright log. In the similar, but larger sculpture (below), the woman is leaning on a pillar.

3.31.13.5013
3.31.13 ~ Stonington, Connecticut

A close-up of the same statue…

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3.31.13 ~ Stonington, Connecticut

The following engraving touched me – how much sorrow the simple word “only” conveys.

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3.31.13 ~ Stonington, Connecticut

The Stonington Cemetery was incorporated in 1849, expanding a small 18th century burial ground.  A group of Stonington leaders, many of whom made their fortunes as a result of the whaling and shipping trades, came together to design a significant horticultural and aesthetic landscape site responding to the “rural” or “garden” cemetery movement of the time.
~ Stonington Cemetery

3.31.13.5031
3.31.13 ~ Stonington, Connecticut

A majestic tree, waiting patiently for spring to begin in earnest…

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3.31.13 ~ Stonington, Connecticut

A bit of architecture to mark the ATWOOD family plot. I wonder if they could be related, as I have so many Atwoods on my family tree, though my branch settled in Plymouth County, Massachusetts.

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3.31.13 ~ Stonington, Connecticut

A large rough-hewn stone cross – I love its simplicity.

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3.31.13 ~ Stonington, Connecticut

Following the custom of Laurie Buchanan over at Speaking from the Heart, I selected the word ‘patience’ to focus on in 2013. In a bit of synchronicity I found another statue of a woman in a newer part of the cemetery, much like the ones in the older part. This stone carver gave her a name – PATIENCE. She is leaning on an upright log.

3.31.13.5049
3.31.13 ~ Stonington, Connecticut

The ship’s wheel (below) indicates a sailor lies buried here, the grave much more recent than most of the others in this cemetery. The surname sounds Portuguese to me – in the mid-1800s it was primarily immigrant Portuguese sailors who manned the local Stonington whaling fleet.

3.31.13.5052
3.31.13 ~ Stonington, Connecticut

A lovely little garden plot by the woods…

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3.31.13 ~ Stonington, Connecticut
3.31.13.5058
3.31.13 ~ Stonington, Connecticut

This anchor (below) decorates a pile, where sailors would secure their boats to the docks with ropes. I’m wondering if this stone is marking the corner of a family cemetery plot. Perhaps the plot was bought but never used, or maybe it is filled with unmarked graves.

3.31.13.5061
3.31.13 ~ Stonington, Connecticut

All true stories begin and end in a cemetery.
~ Carlos Ruiz Zafón
(The Shadow of the Wind)

blue thread

A mood of melancholy has followed me around like a dark cloud the past couple of weeks. It probably has a lot to do with the anticipated move out-of-state for our son and daughter-in-law drawing ever closer.

Tuesday Laurie of Speaking from the Heart, posed the question, “What’s been your most recent surprise?” Well, the night before Tim gave me the dragonfly pendant pictured at the right. Laurie hinted that she wanted to see it, so….

Other recent gifts have been a long phone call from my daughter and of course, this new web domain from my son. I feel blessed and full of gratitude, and yet, still blue. I’m also taking more steps on a path to vegetarianism and am engaged in a pensive, inner spiritual struggle. Planning to write a post about that soon…

Deep in the sun-searched growths the dragonfly
Hangs like a blue thread loosened from the sky:
So this winged hour is dropped to us from above.
~ Dante Gabriel Rossetti
(Silent Noon)

I went up to visit my father Tuesday, and stayed overnight, returning yesterday morning. Visiting him always leaves me sad as there is so little I can do to make his life easier. My only hope is that my presence somehow makes him feel as comforted as the presence of my own children makes me feel…

Bernie, my sister Beverly, and I took a walk in the woods Wednesday morning. Bernie is showing his age and was in a little funk himself. If you haven’t been introduced to Bernie yet, you can find his story here.

9.21.11 ~ Storrs, Connecticut
Bernie ~ 9.21.11 ~ Storrs, Connecticut

Lately I’ve thought a lot about “my” hemlock tree, which I climbed all the time when I was a child. I loved to sit high up in it and absorb its energy and have now been wondering what its energy would feel like these days. Part of me wants to climb it again, for old times’ sake, but I’d have to bother someone for a ladder to get to the lowest branch and I question my agility and this stage of my life. The tree has been under attack and weakened from an infestation of the hemlock woolly adelgid, which my brother-in-law, who is a botanist, is trying to control. So I took a picture to show where Hurricane Gloria snapped its crown off in 1985. You can see where new growth has filled in above the break, in about the middle of the photo.

9.21.11 ~ Storrs, Connecticut
hemlock and orbs ~ 9.21.11 ~ Storrs, Connecticut

When I got home and uploaded the picture I was delighted to find it full of orbs! Orbs have been on my mind recently, too, since seeing Kathy’s picture of a golden brown orb on her post at Lake Superior Spirit. I think the orbs are a good sign that my tree still has some healing energy. Maybe I will bother someone about a ladder… Later on, walking along the path to the mailbox, I thought this little clearing looked pretty so I snapped another picture, and didn’t realize until I got home that it was full of orbs, too.

9.21.11 ~ Storrs, Connecticut
9.21.11 ~ Storrs, Connecticut

But that was it for surprise orb photos. The hemlock below has not fared so well, and has become an ideal place for woodpeckers to drill for insects…

9.21.11 ~ Storrs, Connecticut
9.21.11 ~ Storrs, Connecticut

I liked the texture I found in a pile of scrap lumber by the shed…

9.21.11 ~ Storrs, Connecticut
9.21.11 ~ Storrs, Connecticut

And to end on a more cheerful note, a pretty flowering sedum in Beverly’s rock garden…

9.21.11 ~ Storrs, Connecticut
9.21.11 ~ Storrs, Connecticut

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