Clark Gable

Last week Auntie had her first visit from a professional companion-homemaker. I was enlisted to be on hand and make sure things went as smoothly as possible. It was a bit of a roller-coaster ride, a difficult transition for her to have “strangers” in her cottage, but after a while she relaxed a little and even put her feet up while the friendly and cheerful young woman cared for the cleaning chores that have become too much for her. (And too much for us!) We’re keeping our fingers crossed that this week she’ll be able to cope without one of us having to be there while the homemaker cleans and shops for her.

I grew up knowing that my paternal grandfather was artistic. Pop, Auntie’s father, carved wood and even crafted his own violin as a young man, and I was told he could also draw. I had been told that my aunt could draw, too, but I had not seen any evidence of it. So I had a lovely surprise when Auntie and I went into her bedroom so the homemaker could vacuum the living room. She pulled a collection of DVDs off of a shelf on her nightstand and brought out two things that were hidden behind the DVDs. One was a jewelry box, but I was far more curious about the other thing. It was a sketch of Clark Gable! Auntie shrugged it off as something she drew a long time ago and had no use for, and so it was given to me!

Today I finally got around to taking the faded and yellowed drawing out of its unattractive frame with broken glass, and photographed it as best I could. On the back Auntie had written, it would seem 70 years ago, “Clark Gable as Rhett Butler in the movie Gone with the Wind, 1940.” I couldn’t resist trying to imagine the 25-year-old girl who drew this. She had already been married for six years and had a four-year-old son. Since she was 42 when I was born, it’s hard for me to picture her young, romantic, and perhaps a little star-struck! I found a better frame for my new treasure and hung it on a wall that gets no sunlight so it won’t fade more than it already has. It looks great with two other drawings I have, one of Dave Mathews and one of Van Morrison. My collection grows…

Edit – December 14, 2010: For some reason looking at the color I call “yellow mud” turns me off. So this morning I finally figured out how to use Photoshop to transform the drawing from color to black and white. Now it is easier on my eyes, anyway…

winter wren

I’ve been meaning to post this video since November 12, when I found it on Val’s blog. All the excitement of Thanksgiving made me forget about it! Watch what the wren does with the little caterpillar! It’s from a website called The Music of Nature. If Janet, Nancy or Ellie is reading this, you can go to the website and the featured video is of the Eastern Towhee, which one of you identified for me as the bird with the “drink your tea” song. Now I can picture it better!

Scrambling around here – Auntie is getting a hospital bed delivered tomorrow and is very impatient to get her old bed and some other furniture out of her cottage. She had a freak out while we were in Virginia and spent a few days with Beverly & John and Dad. She’s back home now and soon will be set up with a professional companion-homemaker for regular help. In case she needs to be with people again, they’re setting up a room for her at Dad’s, and furniture is once again on the move between households. Hope the dust settles by Saturday because the kids are coming over to decorate a tree and we better have one by then!

This is my first holiday season at WordPress and I love the little falling snowflakes feature! I love snow, but today we’re having a big wind and rain storm. Temperatures will be dropping sharply tomorrow… Nice to be cozy and tucked inside…

that’s okay

postcard by Frances Brundage

Well, I have to say that it wasn’t the Thanksgiving trip and visit I was envisioning, but I did find the love in it. As luck would have it, half an hour into the ride I got a sore throat. And it would not turn out to be a little episode of scratchiness announcing a common cold, but rather developed into the worst sore throat I’ve had since I had mononucleosis thirty years ago. (Is it possible to get that twice?) And no one else got sick!

There are bad times
But that’s OK
Just look for love in it
Don’t burn the day away
~ Dave Matthews
♫ (Pig) ♫

A few relatives recommended “Throat Coat” as a remedy, so Tim went out to find some for me. It did help my throat a little for an hour or so at a time. But it took me a few days to figure out that it was also triggering the migraines that kept starting for no other apparent reason. When I stopped the “Throat Coat” they disappeared. So I went back to my green tea and honey.

Thankfully everyone else seemed to be having a good time and I enjoyed watching the goings-on while curled up in a corner of the living room. When I retreated to the bedroom I received frequent visitors, including nine-year-old Khari who was especially sympathetic and attentive. He’s such a thoughtful little guy! And of course Fran was spoiling me by cooking special dishes to accommodate my wheat-free, milk-free, hormone-free diet. The rice stuffing with dates, chestnuts and figs was extra delicious, even if it did hurt to swallow it!

This is now the eighth day of this monster cold virus… throat is improving, but I still have three huge canker sores on my tongue and my voice is still very hoarse. Tucked in at home now with tea, honey, laptop and Tim.

giving thanks

“Autumn Landscape” by Vincent van Gogh

We’ve missed our traditional Thanksgiving celebration for the last two years, once due to a death in the family and then because our hostess extraordinaire was recuperating from surgery. It looks as if all systems are “go” this year, and we’re off to Virginia soon in a caravan of cars for a feast and grand re-connection with Tim’s side of the family. My daughter and nieces are scheming with me for a surprise for my dearly loved sister-in-law, so there is a lot of excitement in the air. It will be so good to get a change of scenery and catch up with family happenings!

Even though things have not been easy lately, I’m very thankful for the many blessings I’m still aware of in my life. The abundant gifts our mother, Earth, offers us… Family near and far away, friends, old and new ones found recently in the blogosphere… Artists and writers past and present who have shared their inspired pictures and words, themselves really… Scientists and naturalists who help me to keep my sense of wonder and awe… Musicians who bring joy to my heart… I’m full of memories of special times with people I’ve loved and still miss, and am full of warm thoughts for those I love and have with me now. I am grateful for all these connections!

Wishing everyone a blessed Thanksgiving!

first snow

“Early Snow” by Konstantin Kryzhitsky

The first fall of snow is not only an event, it is a magical event. You go to bed in one kind of a world and wake up in another quite different, and if this is not enchantment then where is it to be found?
~ J. B. Priestley

It looks as if I have a busy day ahead of me, but my spirits have been lifted by an early snowfall, and, even if the snow will melt away as the day goes on, the feeling of delight it gave me continues… I heard two rumbles of thunder during the night, so I was not expecting to see snow when I got up out of bed! It felt so good to bundle up and go out to warm up the car for Tim, and brush the thick wet stuff off of it. I know I’m weird, but I love going outside in the winter, and this is the time of year when one can see bright yellow leaves from autumn resting on the still-green grass from summer, covered with a dollop of winter white snow.

One year back in the 1980s sometime it happened to snow one day in October, during the peak of fall color on a weekend. We were on a hike deep into the woods of Pachaug State Forest with two other families. It was so very enchanting! Everything seemed bathed in a magical light… (I call it snowlight.) We cooked a meal we brought over a campfire and took in the sounds of nature, the stillness of the snow, the fading light. Even the eight little ones were quietly mesmerized and not complaining about a thing. We reluctantly turned back so we could be out of the woods by dusk.

Things are not going well for Auntie. She’s had a trip to the emergency room in an ambulance and numerous visits to doctors and clinics in the past couple of weeks. Somehow during all this she broke some of her ribs, a painful addition to all her other problems. We’re all feeling the strain.

In my moments of solitude I’ve been exploring the vast treasures to be found at Wikimedia Commons, discovering artists I never knew existed from Ukraine and Norway and other interesting places. I went through a phase years ago where I dragged Tim, Larisa or Fran with me to museums from Boston to New York to Washington, to see all the Renoir paintings I could locate. In the process Larisa fell in love with Rodin. And now that I’ve “discovered” William-Adolphe Bouguereau, I hope to be dragging one or all of them with me to find one of his paintings in the near future!

Early Snow, the painting above, is by Konstantin Kryzhitsky, an Ukrainian painter, who lived from 1858 to 1911.

a sigh of relief, holding my breath

Richard Blumenthal, West Hartford Library, Image: Sage Ross

Congratulations to Senator-Elect Richard Blumenthal!!! So there are enough people in Connecticut who were not swayed by Linda McMahon’s $50 million campaign of corporate arrogance… What a relief!! 🙂 For most of my adult life (20 years or so, I think) I’ve watched Blumenthal in the news on a regular basis as he did a fantastic job as Connecticut’s Attorney General, standing up to powerful corporations and defending the interests of the citizens of this state. Somehow it seems fitting that we had a chance to return the favor and help him fight off an opponent who was willing to spend so much money tearing him down.

And Joe Courtney trounced Janet Peckinpaugh for US Representative, so I’m very happy with who we’re sending to Washington.

But who will be our future governor? Dan Malloy is slightly ahead (by 631 votes) but it is too close to call. They ran out of ballots in Bridgeport yesterday — unbelievable. Last I knew they were counting makeshift ballots by hand. The suspense is frustrating…

Beverly had a unique way of dealing with the stress. At 10:30 or so last night I found her outside in the cold planting some bulbs for me! Woke up early this morning, still no call. Well, we’ll just have to wait. Breathe……..

The Union

Did it again… adopted still another WordPress theme: Elegant Grunge. We were supposed to go to Sea Shanties last night, but when Tim came home from work bone tired, and with more work to do, I assured him I would be more than happy to keep myself amused playing with the new theme…

After Tim left for work this morning I rolled up my sleeves and got started on all the chores that were neglected yesterday. A little later he called and told me to come to the door because he was going to drop off a surprise for me. He had been to Starbucks and handed me the new CD, Elton John/Leon Russell/The Union! It was all I could do to finish up in the kitchen and run up here to listen to it, which I am doing as I write this. It’s fantastic!!!

A little history… When I was a teenager I had a HUGE crush on Leon Russell. The way he played the piano, his long silvery dirty blond hair, and that bizarre voice! Most of all, the intensity in his eyes when performing. A Song for You can still bring me to tears. It’s hard to believe he’s 68 years old now.

I love you in a place where there’s no space or time
I love you for my life ’cause you’re a friend of mine
~ Leon Russell
♫ (A Song for You) ♫

Well, as it turns out, Leon Russell was Elton John’s “biggest influence.” Elton says on the album notes: “…Leon was my man, he was the master as far as I was concerned.” Also, “his music takes me back to one of the most beautiful and fantastic times of my life. It’s not fair that people have forgotten about how wonderful this man’s music was and that makes me angry.” I agree!

Elton John & Leon Russell

Who can forget Leon Russell’s amazing performance at George Harrison’s Concert for BangladeshHearts Have Turned to Stone is playing now – great stuff! Elton John used to open for Leon Russell. Another treat for the ears, Neil Young singing with Elton and Leon on one track, Gone To Shiloh. It’s also remarkable that Leon had brain surgery only weeks before they recorded this album. Perhaps that experience inspired the final, beautiful song he wrote on this CD.

And they knew all the places
I needed to go
All of the people
I needed to know
They knew who I needed
And who needed me
And who would come help me
And who would just let me be

I was in the hands of angels
Until this very day
Inside the hands of angels
What more can I say

~ Leon Russell
♫ (The Hands Of Angels) ♫

After I post this I’m going to burn the album onto my iPod and then, when I’m sure the neighbors are up for the day, play it loud and get some work done around here! Thank you, Elton John, for giving your idol the recognition he so well deserves! And thank you, Tim, my angel.

meeting a politician

Mashamoquet Brook State Park ~ 10.23.10 ~ Pomfret, Connecticut
Mashamoquet Brook State Park ~ 10.23.10 ~ Pomfret, Connecticut

Saturday afternoon Tim and I drove north up Connecticut State Route 169, a National Scenic Byway, to do some more leaf peeping in the “Quiet Corner” of Connecticut, and have a late lunch at the Vanilla Bean Café in Pomfret.

10.23.10 ~ Pomfret, Connecticut
10.23.10 ~ Pomfret, Connecticut

It’s been a nasty political season in this state, with tight races for governor and US senator. Sick and tired of it, I can’t wait for election day to put us out of our misery one way or the other. It didn’t help to see huge Linda McMahon signs lining up one after another all along the roadside – I’ll stick my neck out and say I hope she will NOT be Connecticut’s new senator!!! I was hoping the ride would get my mind off such horrifying possibilities. Dick Blumenthal isn’t perfect, but I’ve watched him over the years, as our Attorney General, fight hard against the corporatocracy our government has become, and no amount of McMahon’s $50 million of corporate riches spent on advertising will tear him or his record down in my eyes.

Christmas Barn ~ 10.23.10 ~ Woodstock, Connecticut
Christmas Barn ~ 10.23.10 ~ Woodstock, Connecticut

After arriving at the popular restaurant/coffee house and settling down to chattering away and eating our salmon pesto salad and turkey sandwich, out of the blue, gubernatorial candidate Dan Malloy came up to our table and introduced himself and shook our hands! It was the first time either of us had met a politician face to face! Now to be honest, I had been supporting his opponent in the primary, but since Malloy won that contest I had shifted my support to him. Meeting him was an encouraging experience, but it was what I realized after he left that made an impression on me. It wasn’t a photo op! There were no reporters or TV cameras following him around. He was spending a Saturday afternoon out on his own, connecting with and listening to citizens in a rural town, out of the limelight. And of course, I had left my camera in the car…

10.23.10 ~ Woodstock, Connecticut
Mrs. Bridges’ Pantry ~ 10.23.10 ~ Woodstock, Connecticut

After that bit of excitement we drove through Mashamoquet Brook State Park, enjoying the fall scenery and crisp autumn air, and then found two charming shops in Woodstock, the Christmas Barn (oh what a 12-room wonderland of a barn!) and Mrs. Bridges’ Pantry (British imports and a tearoom/restaurant). We found the perfect indoor pumpkin for Halloween and returned home by way of the Interstate as darkness fell around a full bright Harvest Moon. ‘Twas a good day. 🙂

10.23.10 ~ Woodstock, Connecticut
Southwood Alpacas ~ 10.23.10 ~ Woodstock, Connecticut

meandering

10.17.10

Yesterday Beverly, Tim and I went for a Sunday drive on the spur of the moment after we finished our brunch at our favorite Somewhere in Time Cafe. Fall colors aren’t peaking here yet, in fact many trees are still completely green. Perhaps next weekend I can find some color to photograph… I wanted to revisit a tree in North Stonington that I saw one autumn day maybe fifteen years ago when I was doing some family history research in church records out there. I don’t think we actually found it, though.

At some point we pulled over because a hawk was sitting on the fence of a pasture. When Tim sopped the car he flew off, but then came back and perched on top of a telephone pole. Not the most picturesque place for a photo shoot but I tried! What amazed us was that he kept taking off to fly in a huge circle and then land back on the telephone pole. He (she?) was eyeing us and kept spreading out his feathers to impress us, I presume.

We stopped for free-range/local eggs and had much better luck photographing a curious, healthy, and happy looking hen. No doubt we’ve had at least one or two of her eggs! But not only are we voting against cruelty to animals with our purchases, scientists are finding that, compared to typical supermarket eggs, eggs from free range hens have 4-6 times as much vitamin D, 1⁄3 less cholesterol, 1⁄4 less saturated fat, 2⁄3 more vitamin A, 2 times more omega-3 fatty acids, 3 times more vitamin E, and 7 times more beta carotene! Nature knows best.

10.17.10

In the 70s there was a television commercial for Chiffon margarine with a hook in it that stuck with me for many years, but for the opposite reasons than the corporation intended. The narrator hands Mother Nature, a woman dressed in a white robe with daisies in her hair, a tub of margarine. She is “fooled” and mistakes it for her sweet creamy butter. When the narrator tells her that it is really margarine she stands and calls for thunder and proclaims, “It’s not nice to fool Mother Nature!” Being raised by a couple of nature lovers I would never dream of trying to fool Mother Nature. Because we can’t fool her. We may think we can, but the joke winds up being on us.

We chanced to pass by an open house at a very charming Victorian for sale, so we turned around and stopped to explore it inside. It was fun imagining what we would do there if we owned it. One bedroom had its own tiny little sun porch which I fell in love with. Tim thought the attic would be a good place to spread out his computer paraphernalia. And Beverly spotted a little den off the kitchen with a convenient tiny little powder room connected to it. We all wanted to know if the cat came with the house. 🙂 It’s kind of sad, though. The house has been on the market since January and they’ve lowered the price three times already.

10.17.10

We chanced to pass by an open house at a very charming Victorian for sale, so we turned around and stopped to explore it inside. It was fun imagining what we would do there if we owned it. One bedroom had its own tiny little sun porch which I fell in love with. Tim thought the attic would be a good place to spread out his computer paraphernalia. And Beverly spotted a little den off the kitchen with a convenient tiny little powder room connected to it. We all wanted to know if the cat came with the house. 🙂 It’s kind of sad, though. The house has been on the market since January and they’ve lowered the price three times already.

We rarely go out for Sunday drives any more, trying to do our share by not burning fuel unnecessarily, but it was fun to go exploring for a change of pace…