self-determination

“Lovers” by Pablo Picasso

How can twins with identical genetics and environment become so different and tolerate these differences so well? J. David Smith suggests that conjoined twins demonstrate an important aspect of human differentiation: intentionality. He notes that the role of self-determination has been lost in the “nature-nurture” debate about whether heredity or environment rules our lives. These two perspectives may appear to be complete opposites, but they share a common deterministic outlook. Even a compromise position still ignores how self-direction shapes our destinies. When we ignore the role of free will and active participation in our own lives, we damage and discourage ourselves.
~ David Schnarch
(Passionate Marriage: Keeping Love & Intimacy Alive in Committed Relationships)

It was perhaps fifteen years ago when I read an excellent book, Passionate Marriage, quoted above, back when I was very interested in the balance between autonomy and intimacy in marriage and other relationships. And the gist of the above paragraph was etched into my mind as I embraced the idea of self-determination playing as much of a role in the course of our lives as heredity or environment.

Ever since I started this blog I have wanted to find the quote to add to my collection here. But memory is a funny thing. About the same period of time I had read another excellent book, The Noonday Demon: An Atlas of Depression by Andrew Solomon. I was certain I had read that paragraph in this book! Self-determination can definitely apply to will in the fight against depression, a very cruel disease. Who knows how many times I thumbed through The Noonday Demon, looking in vain for the desired paragraph? Eventually I abandoned the search.

A couple of weeks ago I happened to be rearranging my daughter’s bookshelves when I came across my old copy of Passionate Marriage. I started leafing through it, looking to see what ideas I had underlined all those years ago, before passing the book on to her. Voila! There it was. I was dumbfounded.

Tim and I often joke about our ever-changing memories. I’ve taken to saying that the more certain I am of something I remember, the more likely it is that I am totally mistaken! This was certainly a case in point. 🙂

middle summer

“The Flowers of Middle Summer” by Henri Fantin-Latour

The first week of August hangs at the very top of summer, the top of the live-long year, like the highest seat of a Ferris wheel when it pauses in its turning. The weeks that come before are only a climb from balmy spring, and those that follow a drop to the chill of autumn, but the first week of August is motionless, and hot. It is curiously silent, too, with blank white dawns and glaring noons, and sunsets smeared with too much color. Often at night there is lightning, but it quivers all alone. There is no thunder, no relieving rain. These are strange and breathless days, the dog days, when people are led to do things they are sure to be sorry for after.
~ Natalie Babbitt
(Tuck Everlasting)

light

7.23.17 ~ tiger lilies at Mystic Seaport

Light is the mother of life. The sun brings light or color. It causes grasses, crops, leaves, and flowers to grow. The sun brings forth the erotic charge of the curved earth; it awakens her wild sensuousness.
~ John O’Donohue
(Anam Cara: A Book of Celtic Wisdom)

7.23.17 ~ flower box at Mystic Seaport

When you possess light within, then you see it externally.
~ Anaïs Nin
(The Diary of Anaïs Nin: 1939-1944)

7.23.17 ~ purple coneflowers at Mystic Seaport

a new visitor

7.24.17 ~ house finch by Timothy Rodgers

Yesterday afternoon a flash of bright red in the arborvitae trees behind our condo caught my eye. This little fellow was feasting away on the tree’s seeds, off and on, all afternoon. When Tim got home he decided to take some pictures through the sliding glass doors. My Facebook friends helped me to identify him.

7.24.17 ~ house finch by Timothy Rodgers

I know most people don’t feel the same way, but the weather yesterday was wonderful! The temperatures were about 20 degrees below normal and we got a good soaking rain. It felt like October! What a pleasant respite from the heat of summer ~ no hum from the air conditioner and a visit from this sweet little bird.

an old friend returns

7.22.17 ~ my gull friend at Eastern Point Beach

Guess who’s back? Monday evening at the beach I was sad that I still hadn’t seen my gull friend with the mangled foot. But Friday night I spotted him! He was up to his old tricks and promptly stole a foot-long hot dog from a woman sitting at one of the picnic tables. After devouring it on a rock nearby he flew away without evening stopping by to say hello.

7.22.17

But tonight (Saturday) he made up for it, flying right to the white post in front of us. He talked to us for quite a while as you can see from these pictures. Not sure what he’s got stuck on his beak — maybe a feather from another gull? Maybe he was complaining about it — he sure had a lot to say about something or other.

7.22.17

It was nice to see him looking so self-assured and sprightly. 🙂

7.22.17

We didn’t stay long. There was no sea breeze for some reason. Barely any waves. It was hazy and muggy and none of the sailboats had their sails up. The ocean has many moods.

7.22.17

dinnertime

7.17.17 ~ great egret at Eastern Point Beach

While Tim & I were eating our supper at the beach last night we noticed a great egret fishing for a meal. After we finished I decided to see how close I could get to him for some pictures. He didn’t seem to notice me at all, his attention was so focused on fish in the water.

7.17.17 ~ great egret at Eastern Point Beach

Got it!

7.17.17 ~ great egret at Eastern Point Beach

The fish put up a good struggle but the egret kept at it until he got the fish in the right position to gulp it down.

7.17.17 ~ great egret at Eastern Point Beach

It was really over quite fast ~ my eye didn’t see as much as the “sports” setting on the camera was able to capture.

7.17.17 ~ great egret at Eastern Point Beach

I’m amazed he didn’t drop the fish at some point!

7.17.17 ~ great egret at Eastern Point Beach

Ready to swallow!

7.17.17 ~ great egret at Eastern Point Beach

And then it was gone. Followed by a quick sip of water…

7.17.17 ~ great egret at Eastern Point Beach

Since he was still studying the water I wondered if he was preparing for another strike or if he needed to wait a little to make room for more.

7.17.17 ~ great egret at Eastern Point Beach

My sister and I saw a great egret fishing at the beach back in 2013, but I didn’t have my camera that morning. This is the first time I got a picture of one with a fish in its mouth! I’m still bubbling with excitement. 🙂

For 32 years the concession stand at our beach was run by Bob & Pat Garcia, but sadly, Pat died this past April. We miss them terribly! Their foot-long hot dogs were inexpensive and very high quality. We always had one with sauerkraut on it. Someone else is running the stand now and we’re doing our best to get used to the change. The hot dogs and sauerkraut are not nearly as good. But last night we sampled a handcrafted hamburger and decided we could live with that and continue our summer tradition, slightly altered.

I haven’t seen my gull friend with the mangled foot this year, so that is making me a little melancholy, as well. But having a chance to photograph the great egret catching his dinner brightened my mood considerably. 🙂

Cape Cod Seafaring

The decade of the 1850s was truly an incredible period in seafaring history. Clipper ships sailed the world’s oceans, bringing back fortunes and treasures from faraway lands to Cape Cod, and the town of Dennis. And some of the ships playing a part in this history were built right down the road at Sesuit Harbor. These vessels, built by East Dennis hands, outraced pirates, battled typhoons, and carried their cargoes to their Dennis homes. And some just seemed to fall off the edge of the world, their crews never to be heard from again.
~ Jack Sheedy
(Dennis Journal)

My 3rd-great-grandfather, Capt. Martin Thompson, son of Hans Mathias Tønnesen and Dorothea Larsdatter Strømtan, was born 23 July 1818 in Brevik (Telemark) Norway as Ingebrigt Martinus Hansen, and died 22 October 1896 in Dennis (Barnstable) Massachusetts. He married (as his first wife) after 2 July 1849 in Harwich (Barnstable) Massachusetts, Ann Isabella Hughes, who was born 6 January 1830 in Ireland, and died 16 May 1885.

Ingebrigt was vaccinated on 18 September 1832 in Brevik by Dr. Schmidt. [In 1995, my brother-in-law John located the birth record for Ingebrigt Martinus in the regional archives in Kongsberg, Norway.] According to naturalization papers, Ingebrigt arrived in America in the port of Philadelphia on 10 June 1837, and filed a Declaration of Intention in New York City 6 April 1848. The naturalization was processed by the Boston Municipal Court and he became an American citizen 17 April 1854. According to his great-granddaughter, my grandmother, Martin came to America to help test steamships which were just becoming commercially useful.

By 1850 the newly married couple was living in Dennis and Martin worked as a mariner, master mariner and sea-captain and had accumulated some wealth by 1870, claiming real estate valued at $4000 and a personal estate of $8000. On 2 March 1866, while Martin was captain of the Schooner Niger, two Swiss sailors with the same name attempted to land in a boat from the schooner but capsized and drowned. On May 13 the body of John P. Erixson was picked up on the shore of Harwich Port and on May 14 the body of John Erixson came on shore close to the same spot. John had sailed with Capt. Thompson for about 4 years and boarded with him and Mrs. Nehemiah Wixon. The sailors were buried together in Swan Lake Cemetery.

I have not been able to identify Ann’s Irish parents. She died of a tumor when she was 55 years old. The following is from Saints’ Herald Obituaries, 1885, p. 426:

Ann L. (Thompson) was baptized and confirmed a member of the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints on 30 September 1874 at Dennisport, Barnstable, Massachusetts, by C. N. Brown.

Birth Date: About 1830
Death Date: May 1885
Death Place: Dennisport, Barnstable, Massachusetts
Spouse: Captain Thompson

Martin married (as his second wife and as her second husband) 1 February 1887 Frances Jemima (Turner) Turner, his housekeeper, who was born about 1848 in England, daughter of James Turner and Jemima Frances (Best) (Turner) Tyrode, and widow of John Turner. After Martin & Frances married Frances was able to bring her 18-year-old daughter over from England. Her daughter by her first husband was Eugenie Helene Maud Turner (1869-1939). By this time Martin had settled down as a merchant, and at the time he died he owned a spice store, his occupation being noted as trader. Apparently he left most of his estate to Frances and her daughter.

Martin died of bronchitis, at the age of 78. His will was written 24 March 1890 and proved 8 December 1896. Martin & Ann are buried together in Swan Lake Cemetery in Dennis. The inscriptions on their tombstones are identical:

Rest till the morn
Of the resurrection,
When we hope to Meet thee.

Ann & Martin were the parents of three children:

1. Capt. Martin Edward Thompson (my 2nd-great-grandfather), born 4 August 1850 in Dennis, died 1928. He married (as his first wife) 5 July 1874 in Harwich (Barnstable) Massachusetts, Elisabeth Emma “Lizzie” Freeman, who was born 4 September 1851 in Harwich, and died there 4 October 1876, daughter of Warren and Elisabeth (Weekes) Freeman. Martin & Elisabeth were the parents of one son.

Martin married (as his second wife) 23 February 1882 in Dennis, Elizabeth’s younger sister, Rosilla Ida “Rosie” Freeman, who was born 6 March 1856 in Harwich, and died 18 March 1923, daughter of Warren and Elisabeth (Weekes) Freeman. Martin & Rosilla did not have any children.

2. John “Hanse Ingebrath” Thompson, born 19 June 1853 in Dennis, died 1917. John was also a mariner and was named after his grandfather, Hans Tønnesen and his 2nd great-grandfather, Engelbret Olsen Baar. He married (as his first wife) Thankful M. (—). John married (as his second wife) 13 February 1881 in Harwich, Etta Lee Kelley, who was born 1858 in Dennis and died 1929, daughter of Joseph and Barbara A. (—) Kelley. According to my grandmother, Uncle John had quite the temper, and made a big impression on her when he threw a frying pan out of the window, shouting out after it emphatically: “I said that there will be no onions fried in this house!!!!” John, Etta and their daughter Annie are buried with John’s parents in Swan Lake Cemetery.

3. Anna Thompson, born about 1863 and probably died young. She was in her parents household and attending school in 1870, when she was 7 years old.