Marsh Light Manor

10.12.12 ~ Old Lyme, Connecticut
Marsh Light Manor at Lookout Hollow created by Lori & Edward Lenz
10.12.12 ~ Florence Griswold Museum, Old Lyme, Connecticut

Luka built this manor house for his wife Inza and their family of light fareies at the base of this tree from the river rocks and marsh grasses. He created porches and windows to view and capture the light as it dances across the water. Mirrors and magic help Luka and his wife to “bottle” the light. Each of the children take turns delivering a month of special light to the plein-air artists who capture its distinct glow in paint.
~ Wee Faerie Village: Land of Picture Making

Now that some of the excitement has passed by, at least for us, I hope to share a few more fairy house posts in the coming days…

Auntie was transferred to a rehab center last week, a day or two after the storm. She’s able to walk a little and is making some progress in physical therapy there. We finally got up to see her yesterday and were grateful to know that she had some visitors in the hospital and at the rehab center.

Dad is on antibiotics now for bronchitis and we stopped by to see him, too, and showed him our storm pictures on the TV screen. He was somewhat impressed, but decided that the Great New England Hurricane of 1938 he survived when he 16 was far more destructive. He wasn’t feeling too well, but it was good to visit with him anyway.

We are overflowing with gratefulness for the gift of a wonderful young woman named Chelsea, who was hired to help out with Dad and Auntie’s care in September. What an awesome blessing she has been to our family! She has sat with Auntie in the hospital and at the rehab center, and darted back and forth between those places and the house, to give attention to both of the ancient ones. She has been a cheerful, hard-working, kind, calming and pleasant presence to have around and has gotten us through this difficult stretch, even coming in the evening and on the weekends. Thank you so much, Chelsea!!!

timing

I am soooooooooooooooooooooo tired……………..

It was only ten days ago that Auntie came home from the hospital with eight stitches or staples in the back of her head, on the mend, and a few days ago when her doctor removed them in his office. Yesterday Tim & I finished preparing for the big storm and went to bed, content that we were as ready for it as anyone could be.

We only had two hours of sleep when the phone rang. Auntie had fallen yet again and this time she broke her hip or her pelvis. The local hospital felt she would get better care at a bigger hospital so off we went in the wee hours of this morning for another long vigil at an emergency department until they found a bed for her so she could be admitted. When they transferred her from the gurney to the bed, as gently as possible, her cries and screams of pain tore my heart open…

After Auntie got settled and we felt satisfied that she was in good hands we had no choice but to leave her there. The sun was rising behind the gathering clouds – a monster storm is on its way. I saw on the news this evening that the hospital was calling in extra staff and testing its generators in preparation. Governor Malloy has declared a state of emergency. He said the storm is a hurricane blending with a nor’easter and that we could have an eight foot storm surge. The barometric pressure is forecast to be so low it will break all the record lows in this state.

I still haven’t been able to sleep. And now I have an earache.

Must get a cup of green tea and honey and then some sleep now, but I hope to have some time tomorrow to visit blogs and respond to comments. I have much catching up to do in the blogosphere, at least until we lose power! Good night all – things will surely look brighter in the morning.

Mihashirano’s Tea House

10.12.12 ~ Old Lyme, Connecticut
Mihashirano’s Tea House created by Anita Walsh
10.12.12 ~ Old Lyme, Connecticut

Mihashirano, the faerie goddess of green-growing things, works hard alongside her mom, Amaterasu, the Sun Goddess, to help things grow along the river. The plants work hard purifying the air and water as well as supplying food and shelter for many creatures. Their work also benefits the artists in many of the same ways, including natural beauty that inspires their paintings. The location for Mihashirano’s tea house was chosen by a bird.
~ Wee Faerie Village: Land of Picture Making

10.12.12 ~ Old Lyme, Connecticut
10.12.12 ~ Old Lyme, Connecticut

Janet, all bundled up to brave the elements, located the mystical bird and Mihashirano’s sailboat at the tea house out on the water by using binoculars provided by the fairies on the shore. It was a very wet, raw and windy day especially down by the river.

We didn’t feel anything here in southern Connecticut, but last night at 7:12 pm there was an earthquake centered in Maine, 4.6 on the Richter scale, which was strong enough to shake homes as far south as northern Connecticut. Auntie is supposed to come home from the hospital today – I wonder if they felt the tremor up north there last night… And today would have been my mother’s 81st birthday – Happy Birthday, Mom!

Green Is King Factory

10.12.12 ~ Old Lyme, Connecticut
The Green Is King Factory created by Tammi & Sean Flynn ~ 10.12.12 ~ Old Lyme, Connecticut

The Moss family loves everything green. Kelly and Hunter and their children Willow and Sage own the Green Is King Factory. They turn their precious blue and yellow finds into, you guessed it, green. It’s hard to keep up with the demand. Artists use a lot of green! From the gentle yellow-green buds of spring to the deep shades of the forest, the Moss family can have an artist’s favorite green within 24 hours (and yes, express delivery is available).
~ Wee Faerie Village: Land of Picture Making

10.12.12 ~ Old Lyme, Connecticut
10.12.12 ~ Old Lyme, Connecticut

So, the wondrous fairies have a factory in their village, too! Did you notice the cog railway for bringing the yellow down to the factory?

10.12.12 ~ Old Lyme, Connecticut
10.12.12 ~ Old Lyme, Connecticut

What a blessing our in-home caregiver, Chelsea, has turned out to be! She spent Monday in the hospital keeping Auntie company. Thank you so much, Chelsea! You are truly a godsend!

On a somber note, I received some sad news yesterday, my cousin Matt called to let me know that his mother, my Aunt Betty, died unexpectedly Friday evening. She had enjoyed her last day of life, taking a wonderful long walk with her husband, my Uncle Dave, and seemed fine. But after dinner she collapsed and the paramedics were summoned – she was 80 years old. Matt and I talked for over an hour on the phone, shedding a few tears and sending hugs back and forth, sharing what happy memories came into our minds. Tim & I had sent her some organic roses in May for her 80th birthday and she told us their fragrance reminded her of romantic rose gardens from the past on Cape Cod. Aunt Betty was a woman of strong faith, a lovely, gracious, lady.

If I were to walk this way
Hand in hand with Grief,
I should mark that maple-spray
Coming into leaf.
I should note how the old burrs
Rot upon the ground.
Yes, though Grief should know me hers
While the world goes round,
It could not in truth be said
This was lost on me:
A rock-maple showing red,
Burrs beneath a tree.
~ Edna St. Vincent Millay
(The Wood Road)

Windwood Faeriegrounds

10.12.12 ~ Old Lyme, Connecticut
Windwood Faeriegrounds
created by Jennifer L. Johnson & Edward Johnson
10.12.12 ~ Old Lyme, Connecticut

Everyone needs a playground … don’t they? Even the wee faeries of Old Lyme need a whirl or two on the Faerie Wheel to keep their spirits spry. Three good faerie friends decided to get together and create an amusement park for their pixie peers. Chinook, Squall and Leveche are wind faeries and have built fun contraptions to share their love of breezes. Pixiechutes, TumbleTwirls, and the Swing-n-Wings keep the pixie dust flying.
~ Wee Faerie Village: Land of Picture Making

Well, this post was supposed to be added on Sunday, but an early morning phone call changed the course of the day. Auntie fell at 3 o’clock in the morning and had to go to the hospital to get stitches in the back of her head. The doctors admitted her. She has stopped eating again and seems only strong enough to move her arms. Our spending the day at the hospital with her did not seem to be helping much and I came home with a terrific headache.

We had just visited her and my dad on Saturday. Auntie was a wisp of her former self, lying in a dark bedroom, complaining about the dark and the household noises, but refusing to allow her curtains to be drawn open. She grabbed my hand and wouldn’t let go for the longest time. I read to her for about an hour and then left her bedside to visit Dad in the living room. We had a little apple tasting party – McCouns are still his favorites – and then showed him our latest photos on the TV screen. Block Island, the giant seagull, and the fairy village. He seemed to be enjoying the visit.

And now something seems to be the matter with my blog. Instead of a place for comments at the end there is a message saying, “This content cannot be displayed in a frame.” Huh? So I do apologize – I have no idea what is going on!!!

Anyhow, I love the Faerie Wheel above – it may be my favorite thing from the whole exhibit!

learning by ♥

"Learning by Heart" by Nikolaos Gyzis
“Learning by Heart” by Nikolaos Gyzis

It’s funny the twists and turns the course of our lives takes sometimes. Last month we were concerned with moving my failing 97-year-old aunt from elderly housing into my father’s house where my sister, her husband and a couple of home-care aides could make her last days as comfortable as possible. Auntie is hanging in there for now, even perking up occasionally now that she is settled in her new digs.

Sometimes we find ourselves bracing for one event when another unanticipated one appears on the scene. Toward the end of August my hard-working, stressed-out husband had an attack of angina late one night (or was it early one morning?) and landed himself in the hospital. Zounds! But the silver lining to that cloud was that son Nate flew up from Georgia and daughter Larisa came by train from New York and we found ourselves swathed in comforting layers of love and support.

This setback in Tim’s struggle with heart disease has left me frustrated and angry with his doctors. Predictably, I went on a search for a new book to give me some fresh ideas about how to proceed from here. After nearly a year on the vegan diet there has been no improvement in Tim’s health which has been a bitter pill for me to swallow. Truly, there are no simple answers.

The book I found, published just this year, is scientifically way over my head, but I’m learning. Learning by heart. About the endothelium layer of the arterial wall. About endothelial dysfunction, inflammation, oxidation, hypertension, and blood sugar. That there are more kinds of cholesterol than you can shake a stick at!

It seems the traditional 5 risk factors for heart disease (elevated cholesterol, hypertension, diabetes, obesity, smoking) are not the only ones doctors should be paying attention to. Of the 20 top risk factors there are, elevated cholesterol does not even make the list. Hypertension is #6, diabetes is #11, obesity is #19, and smoking is #20.

For now I am focusing on #1, endothelial dysfunction and what we can do about it. We can do nothing about #8, genetics, but it is interesting to know that there are myriads of genetic mutations causing different biochemical reactions that each play different roles in the development and progression of heart disease.

On a heart happy note, in the middle of all the other excitement, Larisa and her boyfriend Dima got engaged! It’s so nice to have a wedding to look forward to next year, and I’ve been told it will be very unique, non-traditional and unpretentious. Yes!!! ♥

folding shirts

"The Ages of Life" by Georges Lacombe
“The Ages of Life” by Georges Lacombe

We all grow up with the weight of history on us. Our ancestors dwell in the attics of our brains as they do in the spiraling chains of knowledge hidden in every cell of our bodies. These spirits form our lives, and they may reveal themselves in mere trivialities – a quirk of speech, a way of folding a shirt. From the earliest days of my life, I encountered the past at every turn, in every season.
~ Shirley Abbott
(Womenfolks: Growing Up Down South)

Early this morning I was awakened by a dream, one of those slice-of-life dreams that seems profound in some way. In the dream my father was young again, folding a pile of his fresh white t-shirts, as he used to do so meticulously on his laundry day. Padding over to the computer, I soon discovered our internet connection was down… So… I started looking through my quote collection to find one to go with the painting above, and smiled at the ‘folding a shirt’ connection to my dream.

I have the feeling I’ll be taking a leave of absence from blogging for now. Friday I had a root canal and other dental work done under conscious sedation, and the effects of the sedation didn’t wear off completely until late Saturday. Tim had some dental work done on Monday as well and both of us are still recuperating and on pain meds.

Meanwhile things have reached a crisis level with my aunt, who is 97. She now needs full-time care and seems to be declining rather quickly. She’s not eating and losing weight rapidly. Another aunt is in town and was working at finding her a place in a nursing home, but my long-suffering sister has decided that she would rather move Auntie into my father’s house so she and her husband can care for both her and Dad. Fortunately they have an appointment with an agency to get some professional in-home assistance, and an appointment with Hospice, too.

Both of Auntie’s sons predeceased her, but her granddaughter, who lives in Tennessee, is in town now as well. She doesn’t want to die alone, so the aim is to keep her surrounded by those who love her.

Nothing is here to stay
Everything has to begin and end
A ship in a bottle won’t sail
All we can do is dream that the wind will blow us across the water
A ship in a bottle set sail
~ Dave Matthews
♫ (Baby) ♫

I have been assigned the task of planning for a simple cremation by-passing the cost of and toxic chemicals used at funeral homes. This research is bringing up all kinds of emotions. On the one hand it makes sense to be ready with a plan, but the very act of planning seems cold and calculating somehow… Grave Matters: A Journey Through the Modern Funeral Industry to a Natural Way of Burial by Mark Harris has been helpful. I wish there was a natural cemetery in Connecticut, but since there isn’t, cremation seems best.

Things have changed a lot since my mother died twenty-one years ago. Online I found the Cremation Society of New England. If I understand what I’m reading correctly, one can fill out forms online and have plans in place for when the last moment has arrived. But I will have to read this over a little at a time…

I love the painting at the top of this post, “The Ages of Life.” It seems to be a stage in a play. The woman in the lower right corner makes me think of Auntie, left widowed at such a young age. And now she seems to be the black figure with the cane in the background, quietly leaving the scene.

pistachio-crusted eggplant cutlets

Eggplants seem to be a favorite food of ours – so far every recipe tried with eggplants has been a big hit! The other day I used my relatively new food processor to make something besides hummus, Pistachio-Crusted Eggplant Cutlets, a recipe found in my new subscription to Vegetarian Times. Another hit!

I had such an intense feeling of satisfaction while preparing it, which is saying something because I am notorious for disliking cooking. This has been a major life-style change here and I now find myself spending hours in the kitchen, happily, churning out healthy food as fast as we can eat it.

Frankly, I am pleasantly surprised by this turn of the tide. Tim is doing better avoiding animal products than I dreamed was possible. Last weekend we ate out at a Lebanese restaurant with vegan and gluten-free choices clearly indicated on the menu, so neither of us had any animal protein at all, yet we came away stuffed to the gills.

There have been a few awkward and uncomfortable moments as those around us adjust to this change. For years I have brought Swedish Meatballs to Dad’s for Christmas and Auntie apparently looks forward to them all year. My poor sister tried to explain to her why I would not be bringing them this year, to prepare her ahead of time for the inevitable disappointment. Auntie was not pleased. In fact, she declared that she didn’t see why I should bother to come if I wasn’t going to bring Swedish Meatballs. Ouch! When I did show up, she spent the evening eyeing me suspiciously. She showered Tim with affection, however. Perhaps she feels sorry for him…

The more I enjoy cooking now, the more I’m understanding what my problem was with cooking before. I disliked intensely handling animal flesh and animal carcasses. Trying to stuff a turkey one year brought me to tears – it’s hard to stuff something you’re trying not to touch. At the time I knew nothing about how animals were being tortured on their way to become our food, and I knew nothing about the link between animal protein and the diseases of affluence. Something about it just revolted me, a case of my intuition alerting me, but I just kept struggling along, managing as best I could, relying mostly on prepared meats, like Swedish Meatballs from IKEA.

There is a dark comedy I love, Wilbur Wants to Kill Himself, which is also a quirky love story. Wilbur is great at pointing out the endless ironies found in our lives. One of the many scenes that endeared me to him was when he was trying to prepare a goose for Christmas dinner. He just couldn’t cope and finally threw the uncooked goose into the kitchen sink and shouted, “Why does this have to be so disgusting!?!” I knew exactly how he felt.

One thing I love about vegan cooking is that the pots and pans are so easy to clean, even if the food is burned on. And I don’t have to worry about thawing something in the morning for dinner. Our freezer is now full of veggies and I can decide at the last-minute which ones I want to prepare, although we have fresh veggies as much as possible.

Our favorite cookbook remains 1,000 Vegetarian Recipes by Carol Gelles. We tried a Hearty Lentil & Mushroom Shepherd’s Pie from Vegan Holiday Kitchen by Nava Atlas, which was kind of blah, but there are more recipes in that cookbook which look promising. I love slow cookers and we both loved the Slow & Easy White Bean Cassoulet with the Tempeh & Shallot Confit from Fresh from the Vegetarian Slow Cooker by Robin Robertson.

Tim once came home with scallions when I had asked for shallots, but he is slowly getting more familiar with all these new foods. And I didn’t read a label carefully enough and bought a spice jar of red curry instead of curry. The resulting super spicy Curried Chickpeas & Kale (1,000 Vegetarian Recipes) was too hot for both of us. I made it again with regular curry and loved it, but it was still too hot for Tim.

Some of my readers had requested that I keep you all updated on our progress so I will no doubt write more about our culinary adventure in the months to come. Bon appétit!

O Christmas Tree

12.16.11 ~ Old Mystic, Connecticut
Christmas Trees at *Somewhere in Time* (our favorite restaurant)
12.16.11 ~ Old Mystic, Connecticut

Christmas trees are like the moon, best enjoyed with the naked eye. After failing to capture an image on camera that came close to representing what our tree looks like to me, I realized that Christmas trees posses the same mystery and aura as the moon. Lovely Luna is one huge light-reflecting orb who never shows up on the camera the way she looks to us here on the earth. And evergreens brought in for decorating hold in their arms many small lights and orbs (and birds and garlands), radiating an enchanting glow which also never shows up well on the camera. Sigh………. A gentle reminder to stay in the moment and put down the camera… I can’t help wondering if painters have better luck capturing the magic of it all!

12.28.11 ~ Groton, Connecticut
12.28.11 ~ Groton, Connecticut

O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree,
How lovely are your branches!
Your boughs are green in summer’s clime
And through the snows of wintertime.
O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree,
How lovely are your branches!

We had a delightful winter solstice party here, eight of us around the dinner table for hours enjoying the tree, the candlelight, the food and music, the conversation of friends and story-telling.

Christmas day we went up to my father’s home. Every time we see Dad (89), Auntie (96), and Bernie (the cat) they seem to be shrinking in old age still more, if that’s even possible. Dad and I had a few quiet moments sharing a few clementines for a snack. I brought them because I know he loves them. Simple precious moments I will cherish forever. Bernie didn’t want to take a walk with me, so I sat with him at the top of the stairs for a while, petting his thin and bony body, talking to him. Then I went out for a walk in the woods by myself before it got dark.

12.25.11 ~ Storrs, Connecticut
long midwinter shadows on the moss
12.25.11 ~ Storrs, Connecticut
12.25.11 ~ Storrs, Connecticut
somehow we managed to ice-skate in this swamp when we were kids
12.25.11 ~ Storrs, Connecticut
shortly before sunset

If the weather cooperates we’ll go to Massachusetts this weekend for still another gathering, this time with Tim’s aunt, three cousins and all their children and grandchildren. It will no doubt be a lively day. How different holiday celebrations can be from one place to the another!

Hope your holidays were merry and bright!