Galápagos Islands

Image: National Georaphic
Image: National Geographic

Doesn’t this look like fun?

Last week a travel catalog came in the mail – not sure how we got on their mailing list – a copy of National Geographic Expeditions for 2011. It’s fun to dream and fantasize… And we did find an expedition cruise we thought we’d both enjoy! As Grandmother used to say, with a twinkle in her eye, you never know just which dreams might come true.

Tim has always loved turtles. Before Walt Disney World in Florida had Animal Kingdom, they had a little place called Discovery Island. For our 20th anniversary we visited it and I have fond memories of Tim lying on his stomach photographing the Galápagos turtles interacting with each other. Interacting very slowly, but Tim has infinite patience and he got some great pictures.

Well, National Geographic has an expedition called “Galápagos Family Odyssey.” It seems about our speed, ten slow-paced days exploring and mingling with the wildlife on several of the Galápagos Islands. “Gaze into the old eyes of a giant sea tortoise…” And I’d love to see courtship dance of the indigenous blue-footed boobies!

Galápagos dreams in January…

And speaking of anniversaries…

Happy 8th Anniversary, Nate & Shea!!!

(¯`’•.¸(¯`’•.¸*♥*¸.•’´¯)¸.•’´¯)

afflicted with consciousness

"The Difficult Lesson" by William-Adolphe Bouguereau
“The Difficult Lesson” by William-Adolphe Bouguereau

Had Madness, had it once or twice
The yawning Consciousness
~ Emily Dickinson
(The Poems of Emily Dickinson, #1325)

Whenever I read an Emily Dickinson poem I am struck with a deep sense of affinity and connection, sometimes even a moment of transcendence. And yet words fail me when I try to describe what it is about each poem that moves me.

Emily Every Day is my favorite blog, written by Constance Adler. I discovered it almost a year ago, when I started poking around WordPress and following tags to see where they might lead. And while the author no longer posts every day, each post is still a treasure trove of ideas to ponder and of clues to the mystery of Emily’s consciousness.

In the January 6th post, Emily and Jeanne, Constance uses the phrase “afflicted with consciousness,” which seems a fitting description of the essence of my own spiritual journey. Even though I would never dare equate myself with Emily, so often I’ve felt that I “could not escape or ignore the experience of awareness.” It plagued me all through my childhood, as my father did his level best, but ultimately failed, to raise me to be an atheist. Awareness of awareness has driven me to “Madness” on several occasions… But, as Constance concludes:

Emily shows us how to turn and see deeply behind our own eyes. That loss of solid space/time boundaries might scare us back toward front and center. But no. It’s okay to follow Emily’s directive. She’s gone there first. We don’t have to be afraid.

And I think that is what it is for me. When I read Emily’ words I stop fearing, even if only for a little while, that journey ‘behind my own eyes.’ She’s paved a way that I can find and follow. Many thanks to Constance for helping me to gain more insight into the works of my favorite poet.

And so of larger — Darknesses —
Those Evenings of the Brain —
When not a Moon disclose a sign —
Or Star — come out — within —
~ Emily Dickinson
(The Poems of Emily Dickinson, #428)

Between Eternity and Time —
Your Consciousness — and Me —
~ Emily Dickinson
(The Poems of Emily Dickinson, #713)

winter by the sea

We had a lovely snowfall last night, the thick wet kind that sticks to and stays on the trees. After I shoveled the car out, we took off to do many errands. Everywhere we drove we were treated to scenes from a winter wonderland.

This little house across the street from us is always a pleasure to see when I open the shades in the morning. The color of it lets me imagine I am in Scandinavia, and the architecture reminds me of Cape Cod. (It’s called a ¾ Cape Cod house, because two windows are on one side of the front door, and one window is on the other side.)

1.8.11 ~ across the street

Snowlight everywhere…

1.8.11 ~ Groton Reservoir
1.8.11 ~ Beach Pond
1.8.11 ~ Baker Cove
1.8.11 ~ Thomas Road

A new batch of snow is starting to fall as I write this, but all errands are done and we’re tucked inside with a fresh supply of hot chocolate and marshmallows. Life is good!

the dark day

On May 19, 1780, my 5th-great-grandmother, Thankful (Nickerson) Weekes, was in Harwich, Massachusetts, on Cape Cod, giving birth to my 4th-great-grandfather, her last child, Isaac Weekes. An anonymous recorder of our family history noted that this particular day was “The Dark Day.” My curiosity aroused, I was off to do some research.

What I found is that it is now known that there were massive forest fires burning in the western territories, which caused a smoky cloud to cast itself over the New England states. It was so dark that day that New Englanders had to light their candles and lamps at noontime. Of course then they had no way of knowing the reason for this ominous darkness during the day.

On Wednesday as I listened to Gov. Malloy’s inaugural speech, I was pleased that he went into our state’s contributions to history and that he mentioned some of our well-known historical and literary figures: Harriett Beecher Stowe, Mark Twain, Eli Whitney, and Prudence Crandall. And then I really perked up when he mentioned The Dark Day! This is what he said:

Abraham Davenport (1715–1789)

Perhaps nowhere was our character better defined than by Abraham Davenport of my hometown of Stamford when he spoke about The Dark Day in 1780. He was a public servant in Hartford when a mysterious episode brought darkness to the daytime skies throughout New England. There was a prevailing belief that Judgment Day was upon the land, threatening a shutdown of the Legislature, when Davenport stood and said:

“I am against an adjournment. The Day of Judgment is either approaching, or it is not. If it is not, there is no cause for an adjournment; if it is, I choose to be found doing my duty. I wish therefore that candles may be brought.”

Today, we could use a few candles. Because as most people in Connecticut know, ours is not a pretty picture.

Another history buff! 🙂

intuition

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, Image: Wikimedia Commons

Yesterday I made sure I was on hand to watch (on TV) the inauguration of Connecticut’s 88th governor, Dannel Malloy. Back in October Tim & I had the surprise and pleasure of meeting him when he approached our table as we were eating lunch out in Pomfret. The brief meeting made a favorable impression on me, not so much because of what he said, which I honestly don’t remember, but because of his down-to-earth demeanor, his energy, and that he was out on his own without reporters or TV cameras following and chronicling his every move. (Meeting a Politician)  I rely a lot on gut feelings, intuition.

So… Part of the ceremony yesterday was a reciting of a poem entitled Intuition, written and read by Connecticut State Poet Laureate Dick Allen. As an introduction Allen said:

A new governor, as he takes on his new tasks, will use reason and careful planning. But he will also use daring and instinct. And sometimes, he will need to call upon intuition to govern his people well. This is a small poem called just that, Intuition, an adaptation.

I found a copy of the original poem and tried to adjust the words to the adaptation by listening to a recording of the poet’s reading. Not sure where some of the new lines begin and end, but hopefully the gist of it is here:

Intuition
(An adaptation dedicated to Governor Malloy)

It’s not in your face. It says in quiet tones,
“I will help you.”
It drives an ordinary car on ordinary roads
into the flames

no one else will see for many years. It listens
like a young man in love,
so far down inside a happiness
it moves pebbles and stones.

One evening it read Wallace Stevens and gazed
on Hartford in a purple light,
then talked with the thin men of Haddam,
of the blackbird walking around them.

It wears its sleeves turned up above the elbows,
blinks in spotlights,
jogs for miles on Connecticut shorelines,
delivers messages that glow

faintly as a low-turned halogen
lamp in the corner of a poet’s bedroom. It
considers deeply as a governor
but without anxiety. It has

surveyed what it needs to know of farms and stars
and dismissed the rest. “I will help you,”
it whispers in the hallways of power,
“I will help you, I will lift you up.”

~ Dick Allen

It was as I was hearing this read it confirmed what my intuition has told me the past couple of months, that our new governor is intuitively aware, humble, and for that I am grateful and full of hope.

communication

All right, I think I’m going to give this idea from WordPress a try. Yesterday I subscribed to The Daily Post at WordPress.com. Perhaps while I’m hibernating this winter I can make some use of the prompts and suggestions.

Topic #5: Do you prefer to talk, text message, or a different communication method?

Email. The first thing that popped into my head was the movie, As Good As It Gets, about a “cranky, bigoted, obsessive-compulsive writer.” Whenever Melvin’s doorbell rang he went into a rage because his writing was being interrupted. And sadly, perhaps, I totally understood how he felt, although I was horrified that he expressed his feelings about being disturbed in no uncertain terms and in an extremely abusive way.

My tendency to get overly tongue-tied when talking is one of the things that motivates me to write when I want to express myself. My dislike of talking on the phone borders on being a phobia. And text messaging presents multiple problems… Being signaled that a text message has arrived feels like as intrusive an interruption as a telephone ringing. Being technologically inept prevents me from sending a coherent text message if I feel a response is required to one just received. Sometimes I manage to send off an “OK” successfully. 🙂

Email is wonderful. The only thing better is letter-writing which no one I know does any more. One can collect one’s thoughts and figure out the best way to say what needs to be communicated. When an email is sent, one doesn’t have to worry about bothering the recipient at a bad time, knowing that the person will check it when they’re open to receiving it. And when I’m finished with a few hours of uninterrupted genealogical research or writing, it’s a pleasure to go to my email and see what might be there.

Blogging is wonderful, too, for pretty much the same reasons. People can comment on each others blogs when convenient or when in the right frame of mind. And send thoughts out into the blogosphere to discover who else is out there to connect with.

So dear readers, how do you prefer to communicate and connect with others?

my best friend

Image: Sivaprasad R.L via Wikimedia Commons

For Tim, from deep in my heart… Thank you.

Hear the mating call of the mourning dove
Like Romeo angels in the roof above
Rains will come sweet and clean
Let the tears of God keep the mountains green

Roll back the covers, raise the shades
We don’t want to miss out on the best part of the day
You’re my best friend, you shared my crazy ways
Now we don’t want to miss out on the best part of the day

~ Bernie Taupin & Elton John
♫ (The Best Part of the Day) ♫

artist date

Recently Jeff posted a great story about what he called an artist date with a friend. At the end of the post he posed the question, “Have you allowed yourself an artist date in a while, if so what, where?” That question started a long trip down memory lane for me, and although I never thought of it in those terms before, I have had a few very memorable artist dates over the years…

Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Massachusetts

In the late 1980s my mother and I found ourselves staying at the YWCA in Boston to be there for my grandfather, who was having by-pass surgery at a hospital there. All the details escape me. But while Grandfather was actually having the surgery, to keep ourselves from going nuts, Mother and I decided to go to the museum and check out a current show. It was something about the object as art, or something like that. Mother had already been diagnosed with and had some treatment for her breast cancer. In her opinion some of the “art” in the show didn’t seem to be worthy of the name, and I had to agree. It was the first and only time I went to an art museum with my mother. The wild taxi ride, zigzagging at high speeds over the crooked little back streets of Boston, back to the hospital, was much more memorable!

I think it must have been in the late 1990s when I visited the Boston Museum of Fine Arts again, this time with Tim. I had chanced across a used coffee table book on Renoir at the Book Barn, which I bought, and then fell in love with paintings, which seemed to me to be expressing celebrations of the simple joys in life. When I learned that Dance at Bougival was at the museum in Boston I had to go see it. When we got there we studied the floor plan to try to figure out where it might be, and set off on our search. As we went from room to room I started to fret, thinking I must have been mistaken about it being there, etc… I almost walked past it, it was on the wall behind us as we entered a room. “Barbara,” Tim said from behind me as he gently tapped me on my shoulder. “Look.” I turned around and there it was! Much larger than I expected, life-sized! And then I had an intense moment of transcendence, don’t know what else to call it. Time seemed to stand still and at the same time the dancing couple was moving. They were as alive as could be. The colors were vivid. I was stunned and got a huge lump in my throat as I tried not to let the tears come.

“Dance at Bougival” by Pierre-Auguste Renoir

That’s when I learned how art is similar to music. One can listen to a recording with great pleasure and appreciation, but there is nothing like live music to stir the soul. And one can also look at a picture of a painting with great pleasure and appreciation, but there is nothing like the original painting with the living spirit of the artist still present on the canvas and in the paint used to create it.

It’s time for me to continue cleaning for tonight’s party. It was too cloudy to see the lunar eclipse last night. 🙁 And I wish I was on Cape Cod — they got 11 inches of snow in Dennis yesterday!!!