Zoë’s Topsy-Turvy Year

1.4.14 ~ Groton, Connecticut

Zoë

This is the sweet face that I see when I open my eyes every morning. My precious Zoë. We’ve been through so much since she decided to be my friend last year, around this time. She picked me – I’ve never had a cat single me out for special affection before! The beginning of this story can be found here: Second Day of Christmas.

She arrived here by car from Virginia with her sister Scarby, on March 2. When we opened the cat carriers, both Zoë and Scarby bolted out and hid under the basement stairs. But in a few minutes Zoë emerged, adorable with cobwebs clinging to her whiskers, and came right to me for greetings and petting. Cleary she was happy to see me again. But poor Scarby was not at all pleased with the new living arrangements and did not come out from under the stairs for about a week, when she shot upstairs and started hiding under Tim’s bed. When Scarby did come out she would hiss at Zoë, making it known in no uncertain terms how much she blamed her litter-mate for this unfortunate turn of events.

And then on April 4, Toby came to live with us. So much was happening over the next few months. Major surgery for Toby. Nate & Shea installing a powder room for his use. Dima & Larisa’s wedding. Toby hard at work making my garden beautiful. Putting my aunt in a nursing home. My father’s final illness, death and burial. So many people, so much activity, noise and confusion – not the stuff cats are fond of. My sister and her husband finally took them in for some peace and quiet early in October.

But Zoë was depressed up north there, and I finally brought her back home in the middle of November. Scarby stayed on, happy as can be exploring the house and the woods up there, already catching mice. Last I heard she had her sights set on catching a chipmunk – I hope she doesn’t succeed though! She is as attached to my sister now as Zoë is to me.

Zoë, my little couch potato, has been getting fat over this year – she weighed 24 pounds when we took her to the vet in August. We think it is stress eating, something we do as well. So now it’s time for Zoë, Tim and me to get some exercise and stop eating so much!

After she came home in November, I think Zoë started to sense that Toby was very ill. Before she went away she hissed at him all the time, every time he came into a room she was in. But one day after she returned, while I was sitting on the couch with her, Toby came over and sat on the couch, too. She stood up and turned around and went over to him, lay down and put her two front paws on one of his thighs. He started to pet her in a fumbling sort of way, and she didn’t cringe at all, but gazed up into his eyes until he fell asleep. The pain meds he was on made him very sleepy and his hand landed on her pretty heavily when he drifted off. She didn’t seem to mind, though, she seemed to understand. I will never forget that touching moment.

I’m starting to get the urge to take pictures again – so I dusted off the camera and got this picture of Zoë. It’s another start.

There are two means of refuge from the miseries of life: music and cats.
~ Albert Schweitzer
(Cats of Our Lives)

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!

cemetery notes

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my tree ~ 4.16.13 ~ Stonington, Connecticut
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4.16.13 ~ Stonington, Connecticut

On this occasion it was Janet who brought me to the Stonington Cemetery to visit my newly adopted tree. And this time I photographed her from her other side (above) and noticed something else of interest. It might be difficult to make out, but there is a stone corner post embedded in her roots and trunk. The tree must have grown around the post as she widened in circumference!

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the holy family ~ 4.16.13 ~ Stonington, Connecticut
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♫ It had to be you ♫ wonderful you ♫ had to be you ♫ ~ 4.16.13 ~ Stonington, Connecticut
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4.16.13 ~ Stonington, Connecticut

A little online research satisfied my curiosity about the woman buried in this grave with a very unique headstone (above), who died at the tragically young age of 51. She was Catherine Voorsanger, an associate curator of American decorative arts at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.

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buds are emerging ~ 4.16.13 ~ Stonington, Connecticut
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nooks, crannies and a needle-eye ~ 4.16.13 ~ Stonington, Connecticut

Josh has returned to England now, and Toby awaits further medical tests after an infection, for which he is being treated, clears. We’re getting lots of practice exercising patience as we wait and wait for elusive answers to our questions…

Scarby remains mostly in hiding, but Zoë is enjoying the fresh air coming in the open windows, and watching all the birds and squirrels scurrying and fluttering about near the balcony. She’s getting plenty of exercise chasing the red spot made by a small laser flashlight. Besides pony-tail elastics, it’s the only toy that seems to inspire her to play.

a gentle tree

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4.7.13 ~ Stonington, Connecticut

On March 31st I met a lovely tree in a local cemetery and could not stop thinking about her all week. (See the Lady Patience post.) So I plan to visit her as often as possible and get to know her through the seasons. As is often the case with me, I sensed an energy coming from her but did not notice any of her particular physical characteristics.

During the week following our meeting a life-threatening health crisis arose for one of Tim’s brothers, Toby. Brother Josh flew from his home in England to California to collect Toby and fly with him here so he could stay with us and seek treatment. So it’s been a very busy week getting Toby settled in for the indefinite and uncertain future.

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Larisa ~ 4.7.13 ~ Stonington, Connecticut

It is difficult to realize how great a part of all that is cheerful and delightful in the recollections of our own life is associated with trees. … Their shades, which, in the early ages, were the temples of religion and philosophy, are still the favorite resort of the studious, the scene of healthful sport for the active and adventurous, and the very sanctuary of peaceful seclusion for the contemplative and sorrowful.
~ Wilson Flagg
(The Atlantic Monthly, June 1868)

I don’t even know what kind of tree “my” tree is! When she puts out some leaves I will be able to identify her, but I wish I could identify her by her bark.

Larisa came for the weekend to visit her uncles, and when I mentioned my new tree she was happy to pop over with me to see her and to pose for a couple of pictures with her, too. On this trip I noticed the tree’s burls – one very large one near the base of the trunk, and perhaps ten much smaller ones above it and below the first branches. And Larisa noticed the shape of the branches – like check marks they arch up and then down before reaching up again.

The kitties are handling all the extra people in the house pretty well. Zoë is blossoming with friendliness and curiosity. Scarby is still pretty shy and anxious, but she stays where she feels safe under Tim’s bed and I suspect she comes out to eat and use the litter pan once everyone is asleep. We’re giving her all the time and space she seems to need. After all, it’s only been a month since her whole world was turned upside down!

Drifters’ Cove

Drifters’ Cove created by Marvin Haltzer ~ 10.12.12 ~ Old Lyme, Connecticut
10.12.12 ~ Old Lyme, Connecticut

Ebb & Flo, a brother/sister faerie team live in this riverside home made of driftwood. These faeries control the tide waters of the Lieutenant River. Every six hours, Ebb is busy pulling the salty waters into the marsh and then it’s Flo’s turn to push them back out into the Sound again. This keeps the water always in motion and the marsh a dynamic and beautiful ecosystem for birds, fish, insects, and more. The many shades of green keep the painters busy mixing their vibrant and sunny hues.
~ Wee Faerie Village: Land of Picture Making

Today I baked spaghetti squash for the first time, and served it with a grass-fed ground beef marinara sauce. Mr. Logic thought it tasted good, and so did I! And so the paleo culinary adventure continues…

Zoë and Scarby, sweet little carnivores, are on a grain-free diet, too, and seem pleased with it for the most part, as pleased as cats will allow themselves to admit.

Scarby is still giving Zoë a wide berth, and hissing occasionally to remind Zoë about how things stand between them. She spends her evenings close to Tim on the couch, purring loudly. We’re being patient and encouraging with her.

Zoë provides us with morning entertainment – playing with and pouncing on pony-tail elastics, preferring them to all other toys. And she talks to us all the time.  🙂  My little shadow.

a sap run

3.10.13 ~ Orange, Massachusetts
3.10.13 ~ Orange, Massachusetts

Before the bud swells, before the grass springs, before the plow is started, comes the sugar harvest. It is the sequel of the bitter frost; a sap run is the sweet goodbye of winter.
~ John Burroughs
(Signs & Seasons)

3.10.13 ~ Orange, Massachusetts
3.10.13 ~ Orange, Massachusetts

We had no idea what a treat we were in for when we checked into a motel in Orange, Massachusetts Saturday night. Our plan was to spend the night, grab a breakfast somewhere, and head over to a family reunion in the neighboring town of Athol on Sunday afternoon. In the morning we discovered a great place to have breakfast, on Johnson’s Farm, a restaurant, sugar house, and gift shop! Maple syrup production was well under way, the old-fashioned way.

3.10.13 ~ Orange, Massachusetts
3.10.13 ~ Orange, Massachusetts

Sugar weather is crisp weather. How the tin buckets glisten in the gray woods; how the robins laugh; how the nuthatches call; how lightly the thin blue smoke rises among the trees! The squirrels are out of their dens; the migrating waterfowls are streaming northward; the sheep and cattle look wistfully toward the bare fields; the tide of the season, in fact, is just beginning to rise.
~ John Burroughs
(Signs & Seasons)

If only some way could be found to share the smell of New England in maple sugar season on a blog post! Our olfactory receptors were tickled with delight to whiff in the aromas of wood-burning stoves and sap boiling down into syrup. We bought a couple of jugs of pure maple syrup! Mostly we’ll be using it in marinades, since pancakes are no longer on our grain-free diet…

3.10.13 ~ Orange, Massachusetts
3.10.13 ~ Orange, Massachusetts

It was if we had been transported back in time to a place in the heart of New England. It made me appreciate anew that there are more “seasons” than the four four we normally notice as the year goes around. The gnarly old tree in the above picture caught our attention – what an amazing life it has had. And I loved the knotty pine interior of the sugar house in the picture below – so typical of New England.

3.10.13 ~ Orange, Massachusetts
3.10.13 ~ Orange, Massachusetts

When we got home Sunday night Zoë and Scarby seemed a little angry with us (ears pinned back, ignoring us) for leaving them overnight, but they’re back to purring and following us around, rubbing our legs and talking to us again.

Bonsai Treehouse

Bonsai Treehouse created by Craig & Michelle Nelson, Nelson Designs, LLC
Bonsai Treehouse created by Craig & Michelle Nelson, Nelson Designs, LLC ~ 10.12.12 ~ Old Lyme, Connecticut

Wabi Sabi is a tree faerie dedicated to sharing his love and respect for trees. He inspires the artists to see the greatness of the variety of trees on the property. His house is in a Japanese maple nestled in this leafy bush. It is the ideal setting for him to watch over the magnificent trees surrounding Miss Florence’s boardinghouse. From his home he can easily fly to inspect a spruce, elm, pine, or walnut tree. If he ventures farther afield, he can console the weeping willow, take a walk along the beech branch, or even pine away at the top of the evergreens.
~ Wee Faerie Village: Land of Picture Making

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

The power of imagination makes us infinite.
~ John Muir
(John of the Mountains: The Unpublished Journals of John Muir)

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

Remember back in July, when Tim & I started to discuss adopting a couple of cats? (Two Cats in the Yard?)

Remember back in October when I started posting pictures of all the little fairy dwellings in the Wee Faerie Village at the Florence Griswold Museum? I found a couple more that I never got around to posting… (Windwood Faeriegrounds)

Remember back in November when my sister-in-law Fran’s feral cat, Zoë, decided to make friends with me? (Second Day of Christmas)

12.26.12.zoe
Zoë ~ 12.26.12 ~ Woodbridge, Virginia

Well, back in November, it would seem that Zoë was sensing a shift in energy, somehow knowing that changes were afoot. As it turns out her family is moving from Virginia to Germany this month, and Zoë and her sister needed a new home. So they arrived here to live with us last weekend and they are slowly settling in. They don’t feel at home here yet – who could blame them after a long car ride and leaving the only home they’ve ever known – but when they do feel a little more comfortable I will take some pictures. Zoë is very affectionate and talkative, purring when petted, but her sister, Scarby, is still hiding under the stairs in the basement, only coming out to eat and use the litter pan. It looks like it will take her longer to warm up to the idea of living here.