mementoes

“Idun & The Apples” by James Doyle Penrose

Still enjoying our apples, sometimes two a day. Maybe I’ll make some more apple crisp today. I found an apple poem and still another picture of Iduna. I love the little deer next to Iduna. I was looking for deer paintings when this one turned up in the search, reminding me that apple season is not yet over.

Saturday was Leif Erikson Day and Tuesday will be Columbus Day, but Monday will be the official holiday. Traditionally we used to go leaf peeping in Vermont or New Hampshire for the three-day weekend. But Tim has to work tomorrow so we’re not going anywhere and will have to content ourselves with a little leaf peeping next weekend here in Connecticut, when the color show will hopefully be peaking! Peeking and peeping at the peaking fall colors…

Looked up the definition of the title of the following Edna St. Vincent Millay poem, Recuerdo. It means memory, souvenir, or memento. Tim’s out getting coffee, breakfast, and the Sunday morning paper. My head is spinning with plans and ideas. Very tired after our trip to a museum yesterday, yet very merry. Domestic autumn bliss…

Recuerdo

We were very tired, we were very merry—
We had gone back and forth all night on the ferry.
It was bare and bright, and smelled like a stable —
But we looked into a fire, we leaned across a table,
We lay on a hill-top underneath the moon;
And the whistles kept blowing, and the dawn came soon.

We were very tired, we were very merry —
We had gone back and forth all night on the ferry;
And you ate an apple, and I ate a pear,
From a dozen of each we had bought somewhere;
And the sky went wan, and the wind came cold,
And the sun rose dripping, a bucketful of gold.

We were very tired, we were very merry,
We had gone back and forth all night on the ferry.
We hailed “Good morrow, mother!” to a shawl-covered head,
And bought a morning paper, which neither of us read;
And she wept, “God bless you!” for the apples and pears,
And we gave her all our money but our subway fares.

~ Edna St. Vincent Millay

This American stamp commemorates the 100th anniversary of the first organized emigration from Norway to the United States. Fifty-two Norwegians crowded onto the ship Restauration which sailed from Stavanger, Norway on July 5, 1825, and arrived in New York on October 9, 1825, where the captain was arrested and fined for having too many passengers on board for the size of his ship. What a welcome! My ancestor, Ingebrigt Martinus Hansen, who became Martin Thompson, arrived in Philadelphia almost twelve years later, on June 10, 1837.

Although no one knows the exact day Leif Erikson (Leivur Eiriksson) set foot on North American soil, it was about 500 years before Christopher Columbus did. The Faroe Islands, part of Denmark, lie between the Norwegian Sea and the Atlantic Ocean, and between Norway and Iceland. They also issued a stamp recognizing Leif Erikson’s explorations.

Growing Hope for America

John Mellencamp, Willie Nelson, Dave Matthews, Neil Young

Been meaning to write this blog all week, another rough week, migraine and Auntie recovering from surgery… Taking some refuge in listening to music…

Saturday night I had a treat – I got to watch the 25th Farm Aid benefit concert on Direct TV! I’ve wanted to go to one for years, but they’ve usually been held at locations too far away for us to attend. In 2008, Larisa and I were so excited when we learned that it would be held in Massachusetts, about an hour and a half from here. Unfortunately for us, the tickets (20,000 seats!) sold out in 5 minutes and we didn’t get to go… As far as I know, that was the only time it was held in New England.

This year it was held in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, but I got to see and hear everything! And I think it was probably more enjoyable listening in the comfort of home, with an unobstructed close-up view of the stage. And with earphones the music sounded very good! It must have been cold there because many of the performers and people in the audience were bundled up. The host, Tavis Smiley, even had a scarf wrapped around his neck!

Farm Aid is a worthy cause, celebrating the positive, sustainable future that family farmers are trying to cultivate with their hard work every day. It supports family farms to stand their ground in the fight against factory farms, which are ruining the quality of our food supply, spreading diseases, and polluting the environment. Listening to the information presented between performances renewed my resolve to buy local and buy organic. It’s nice to know so many people are fighting for the future of our planet.

And I didn’t know Willie Nelson had a son who has his own band… Lukas Nelson & The Promise of the Real. He’s a very intense and energetic performer, first riveting my attention during his band’s set. It wasn’t until he came back to perform with Willie at the end that I connected the dots and realized they were father and son. Lukas has his own psychedelic bluesy folk rock sort of sound.

Of course my favorite part was Dave Matthews & Tim Reynolds, who did Bob Dylan’s All Along the Watchtower, and then Dave’s Don’t Drink the Water, Save Me, You & Me, Gravedigger, and Crush. Willie Nelson came out and joined them for Gravedigger. By the way, Willie’s cover of Gravedigger is very good. I refer to Gravedigger as Dave’s genealogy song, as it seems to describe the contemplating genealogists tend to do as they meander through cemeteries.

Just as rock and roll is loud and proud, so is Farm Aid. Farm Aid’s greatest accomplishment, I believe, is in the spirit. It’s the fact that we represent the spirit of the good fight, to keep something good happening. It just keeps getting stronger and stronger….
~ Neil Young

Thank you, Willie Nelson, Neil Young, John Mellencamp, and Dave Matthews, and all the guest artists who donated their time and resources, for keeping us focused on the important role of family farmers in America.

Iduna: Keeper of Apples

“Brita as Iduna” by Carl Larsson

According to Wikipedia: “In Norse mythology, Iðunn is a goddess associated with apples and youth.” Iðunn is “a keeper of apples and granter of eternal youthfulness.” (Idun, Iduna, Idunn, Ithun, Idunna)

A few words following about October and apples, which we are enjoying daily since we went apple-picking last weekend. Nothing like crunching into a juicy McIntosh fresh from the tree! An old saying keeps popping into my head: an apple a day keeps the doctor away.

Now’s the time when children’s noses
All become as red as roses
And the colour of their faces
Makes me think of orchard places
Where the juicy apples grow…

~ Katherine Mansfield
(Autumn Song)

There is no season when such pleasant and sunny spots may be lighted on, and produce so pleasant an effect on the feelings, as now in October. The sunshine is peculiarly genial; and in sheltered places, as on the side of a bank, or of a barn or house, one becomes acquainted and friendly with the sunshine. It seems to be of a kindly and homely nature.
~ Nathaniel Hawthorne
(The American Note-books)

When my father was a boy growing up on a New England farm during the Great Depression, his family picked as many apples as they could and stored some of them in a barrel in the root cellar. Of course he ate as many as he could while picking them, but his parents had a rule about the ones in the barrel he found exasperating. If anyone wanted an apple later in the fall or winter, he was required to take one that was the least fresh. By the time they got to the fresher ones they had also become much less fresh! So all winter he was having to make do with eating not-so-great apples. If only he had known he might have called on Iduna to keep the apples fresher longer!

To appreciate the wild and sharp flavors of these October fruits, it is necessary that you be breathing the sharp October or November air. The outdoor air and exercise which the walker gets give a different tone to his palate, and he craves a fruit which the sedentary would call harsh and crabbed. They must be eaten in the fields, when your system is all aglow with exercise, when the frosty weather nips your fingers, the wind rattles the bare boughs or rustles the few remaining leaves, and the jay is heard screaming around. What is sour in the house a bracing walk makes sweet. Some of these apples might be labeled, “To be eaten in the wind.”
~ Henry David Thoreau
(Wild Fruits: Thoreau’s Rediscovered Last Manuscript)

“Apples & Leaves” by Ilya Repin

Larisa in Norway

August 2010 – Larisa, Johanna, Erin

In August our daughter Larisa had the opportunity to travel to Norway with her cousin, Erin, to visit Erin’s friend, Johanna. Larisa gave me permission to post some of her pictures!! One of my passionate dreams, when circumstances allow, is to visit Norway, the land of some of our sea-faring ancestors. Although Johanna didn’t live by the sea, the mountains offered more than enough beauty and scenic vistas to satisfy my curiosity for now… Larisa brought me a treasure: one of the flowers she picked in the field (below).

Larisa – Norway.2010 – “The hills are alive…”
Larisa, Erin, Johanna – Norway 2010 … Amazing how blue the water is!
Norway 2010 …nature…

According to Wikipedia: “A stave church is a medieval wooden church with a post and beam construction related to timber framing. The wall frames are filled with vertical planks. The load-bearing posts (stafr in Old Norse, stav in Norwegian) have lent their name to the building technique.” There is a replica of one at the Norway Pavilion at EPCOT in Disney World, which I have visited four times.

One of Norway’s stave churches – 2010
…Erin in the graveyard of a stave church…

Raised by a genealogist, Larisa knows that pictures of cemeteries are essential souvenirs to bring back from any country visited.

Show me your cemeteries, and I will tell you what kind of people you have.
~ Benjamin Franklin

Norway 2010 …feels like home…

The first time Larisa showed me the picture above, I got butterflies in my stomach because it seemed so very familiar. I saw that same reaction portrayed once in the movie The Motorcycle DiariesWhen Ernesto “Ché” Guevara took in the spirit of the ruins of Machu Picchu, he wondered, “How is it possible to feel nostalgia for a world I never knew?” I knew exactly what he meant. It is the same feeling I also had when I walked into the stave church replica at EPCOT.

And of course it also made me think of Sigrid Undset and her books Kristin Lavransdatter and The Master of Hestviken. And the Kristin Lavransdatter movie directed by Liv Ullmann.

Thank you, Larisa! You have given your mother a most wonderful gift!

insects and trees

9.20.10 ~ Sound Breeze
9.20.10 ~ Sound Breeze

Look who reappeared! On Monday Tim spotted our darling little cannibal taking an afternoon sun bath on the west wall under the kitchen window! Since I never finished weeding the garden I think she decided to stick around after all! I think we’ll call her Iris, as she was sitting on an iris leaf when first I found her. (See Mantidae Stagomantis if you missed her story.) I wonder what the neighbors will think if I just let my garden go wild so praying mantises will feel at home here?

In recent years we’ve had a cricket population explosion at the end of summer, many of them finding their way into the basement laundry room where they would sing and scuttle around. We’ve tried to find a humane and non-toxic way to discourage them from coming inside, and it would seem that Mother Nature decided to help us out by sending Iris the cricket carnivore. We’ve only heard a couple of crickets this year! We hope she decides to deposit her eggs in the garden and helps to restore some natural balance in the neighborhood.

9.15.10 ~ Avery Point
9.15.10 ~ Avery Point

Friday afternoon we got flu shots, which was my first time getting one. And promptly, on the ride home, we both came down with colds. So it was a crummy cranky weekend, and mainly why I haven’t been online (except to play Scrabble) and have missed reading and commenting everyone else’s blogs. Hope to catch up today and tomorrow.

9.15.10 ~ Avery Point
9.15.10 ~ Avery Point

The tree pictures from Avery Point are for Janet, because I didn’t manage to squeeze them into my last post.  🙂

Last night we did see the full moon and Jupiter briefly through the clouds, but Jupiter didn’t show up in the photographs we tried to get. And we had a thunderstorm soon after we saw them, a regular, nice, thunderstorm.

I’m so happy Autumn is here! (Even if it is supposed to be hot and humid again tomorrow.) I would have loved to go apple picking yesterday or today to celebrate, but I think we’ll have to do that this weekend, when we’re feeling a little better. The weather on Sunday is supposed to be more autumn-like, so maybe I’ll bake a wheat-free apple crisp!

Avery Point

9.15.10 ~ Beach Pond

Yesterday Janet and I decided to take a walk around the Avery Point campus of the University of Connecticut, here in Groton. On our way to the entrance of the campus we spotted a white heron and I tried to get a picture of it… When I inadvertently got too close, it decided to fly over to the other side of the salt pond.

Avery Point was named for Captain James Avery (1620-1700), who was born in England, came to the colonies with his father, fought in King Philip’s War, and was an early settler of New London and Groton, Connecticut.

The college campus itself was originally a 70 acre seaside estate owned by Commodore Morton F. Plant (1852-1918), a yachtsman and financier, who in 1915, was noted for giving $1,125,000 to the founding of Connecticut College for Women (now Connecticut College) in New London. Plant’s property on Avery Point was eventually acquired by the University of Connecticut in 1969.

Besides his home at 1051 Fifth Avenue [NYC], Commodore Plant owned Branford House, a magnificent estate at Eastern Point Colony, three miles from Groton, opposite New London, on the east bank of the mouth of the Thames [River].
(The New York Times, November 5, 1918)

9.15.10 ~ Avery Point
9.15.10 ~ Avery Point

First we strolled along the Sculpture Path by the Sea, where we took in the sparkling views of Eastern Point, New London, New London Ledge Lighthouse (above), Pine Island, Bluff Point and Groton Long Point.

9.15.10 ~ Avery Point
9.15.10 ~ Avery Point

The path led us by an impressive view of the 31-room mansion called Branford House, which was built in 1903, and then on to the Avery Point Lighthouse, the last lighthouse built in Connecticut in 1943. The lighthouse stopped being used in 1967 and fell into disrepair. Funds were raised by the Avery Point Lighthouse Society and in 2001 restoration began and in 2002 it was added to the National Register of Historic Places.

Now I’ve lived in Groton for several decades and I knew there was a little art gallery somewhere in Branford House, but since it is open only for a few hours on only a few days of the week, and because there are no signs indicating where one might enter the building, I have never managed to visit it.

9.15.10 ~ Avery Point
9.15.10 ~ Avery Point

Well, as we were examining all the architectural details on the outside of the building we discovered an unlocked door. Pent up curiosity pulled me in and Janet followed. There were several huge empty rooms, which I believe people have rented for functions like weddings… We poked around, admired the breathtaking views, enormous fireplace, and dark, intricately carved paneling, and eventually came to a grand staircase. Even the white ceiling (see last picture) had detailed paneling! Climbed the stairs and, what-do-you-know? We were in the lobby of the well hidden Alexey von Schlippe Gallery of Art! Alexey von Schlippe (1915-1988) was a painter and a professor of art at UConn’s Avery Point campus.

The current exhibition is a collection from the Latin Network for the Visual Arts. After viewing the colorful artwork of various current Latin artists, we noticed a very narrow staircase with marble steps! Again curiosity pulled me to go down them to what seemed to be a coat closet and another doorway to the main rooms again. Came away wishing I could get a floor plan somehow – I think it would be fascinating to see how the rooms and hallways were arranged and what each room was used for.

9.15.10 ~ Avery Point
9.15.10 ~ Avery Point
9.15.10 ~ Avery Point
9.15.10 ~ Avery Point

I should add as a footnote that Project Oceanology is also located on the Avery Point Campus. This marine science and environmental education organization offers lighthouse expeditions, oceanographic research cruises and seal watches to the public, other things I’d love to do one of these days.

9.15.10 ~ Avery Point
9.15.10 ~ Avery Point

HMB

3.6.10 ~ Avery Point

OMG!  I have (or had – not sure yet) an officially lettered condition!

Menorrhagia. I have suffered from it for many years but no doctor ever offered me a name for it. Last week my daughter casually mentioned that there is a new drug for it. So much else was going on at the time that the news didn’t sink in right away. But tonight I was stuck watching the commercials during the news and there it was: lighterperiod.com.

“Isn’t it ironic?” I can hear Alanis Morissette’s voice singing the question. Especially now that I seem to be tapering off the monthly HMB. Too late to do me any good.

I also hear Neil Young singing, “Don’t need no ad machine… Telling me what I need.” Not sure what the drug is and what the risks of using it will turn out to be. Maybe I would not have wanted it, reasoning that it might do more harm than good.

Every last sign and symptom listed on the Mayo Clinic website describes my experience with HMB. The only solutions to the problem that I’ve ever been offered in the past were a hysterectomy or synthetic hormones. No, thank you.

Hey, if Senator Bob Dole can talk about his ED in nationally televised ads, I guess I can’t be blamed for being excited to talk about my HMB. With any luck I won’t have to for much longer, though. But it would have been nice to be able to say, “Sorry about this, but I can’t leave the house today because of my HMB.”

I never suffered with PMS, making me a hormonal exception to the rule. The week before was always the best time of the month for me. Maybe someday HMB will be a household word, like ED and PMS. In the meantime I plan to get as much mileage out of this handy acronym as I can!

Greeting September

Today I have more pictures than words. The children are back in school for the year and the mood at the beach has changed dramatically. Places and moments of solitude are easier to find…

9.8.10 ~ Eastern Point
9.8.10 ~ Eastern Point

There are no more french fries and hot dog buns for the gulls to snatch, so they must  return to more natural ways of feeding themselves. Humans may resume fishing, too.

9.8.10 ~ Eastern Point
9.8.10 ~ Eastern Point

Not only is it great having a sister to share an occasional walk with, it’s handy to have a geologist pointing out that the sand tinted red is garnet sand.

9.8.10 ~ Eastern Point
9.8.10 ~ Eastern Point

There are more bird than human footprints now…

9.8.10 ~ Eastern Point
9.8.10 ~ Eastern Point

I’ve decided that my camera is an Impressionist at heart, preferring a windswept mood to sharp detail…

9.8.10 ~ Eastern Point
9.8.10 ~ Eastern Point

It’s almost noon. Not a soul in sight. Serenity…

9.8.10 ~ Eastern Point
9.8.10 ~ Eastern Point

Grandmother

9.3.10 ~ Groton, Connecticut
9.3.10 ~ Groton, Connecticut

Yesterday my heart and mind were out on Cape Cod, watching and waiting to see what Hurricane Earl would do as it passed by. It was also the day my grandmother died, fourteen years ago, at the age of 90. It was a good day for lingering over pleasant memories.

Grandmother was a typical Cape Codder. As far as I know, all of her ancestors lived out their lives on Cape Cod, or were lost at sea, all of them descending from passengers on the Mayflower and other early English settlers on the Cape. Except for her great-grandfather, who came from Norway, and his wife, her great-grandmother, who came from Ireland. Both of her grandfathers and her father were sea captains, like their fathers before them. Grandmother told me all the time that the sea was in my blood.

Thankfully New England was spared Earl’s fury as the storm kept veering off to the east and weakening. We were very happy to make do without any more excitement! We went down to the beach during a break in the rain and there was some minor flooding from a little storm surge. Normally there is about twenty feet between the life guard chair and the water’s edge, but now the breaking waves came right up to the chair. (See photo above.) We were wondering about the line of birds hunkered down on the rocks in the distance. Couldn’t make out what they were. The breakwaters were almost covered with water.

But all in all, Hurricane Earl was a non-event.

Pop & Uncle Ed

I love this picture of my grandmother’s father, Capt. Martin F. Thompson (Pop), and her granduncle, Edward E. Swift (Uncle Ed), who lived to the age of 102. It was taken in Woods Hole in front of the hardware and ship’s chandler’s shop they used to run behind the Swifts’ house.

The sign used to read:  “Edward E. Swift, Dealer in Hardware, Cordage, Paints, Oil, Glass, and Galvanized Nails and Specialty.”

Uncle Ed  used to build and race 13-foot spritsail boats. After Uncle Ed died in 1964, my grandmother donated one of the spritsails he built to Mystic Seaport, a living history museum here in Connecticut, where it is still exhibited.

After spending many years caring for her children and then her parents and Uncle Ed & Aunt Flora, Grandmother spent the rest of her life pursuing her interests in nature photography and entomology. The little picture of me on the beach (in the sidebar on this blog) was taken by my grandmother. My grandparents were founding members of the Cape Cod Viewfinders Camera Club. The subjects of most of Grandmother’s photos were, of course, bugs…

Emma F. Thompson

While she was an artist and I have several of her watercolors hanging on my walls, more than anything she loved capturing perfectly composed photographs of butterfly eggs, caterpillars, chrysalises, and emerging adults. Grandfather was a land surveyor and Grandmother would go out with him on surveys and find the butterfly and moth eggs of various species and bring them home on their leaves and then put them in outdoor aquariums in her back yard. She made sure each one had the right leaves for its diet, and they were free to fly away after they emerged. Each time I visited I got a grand tour of her latest collection.

Often she would warn us as we sat down to dinner that someone was due to emerge from its cocoon or chrysalis at any moment and that we would have to excuse her if she had to dash away from the table to photograph the event. She was very proper, but also very mischievous. Once when my father was teasing her at the breakfast table, she got him back by impishly buttering the back of his hand. She never lost her sense of wonder and curiosity and I loved her so much for bringing lots of magic into my childhood.

Mum & Grandmother

It was so much fun having my grandmother as my first and best pen pal. Even though we made the trip to Cape Cod to see my grandparents about once a month, we’d exchange letters once or twice a week. We both loved reading and writing… I still have her newsy letters, and later was delighted to discover that she had kept all of mine.

The picture to the right is of my great-grandmother, Amanda Eliza Hamblin (Mum) and my grandmother, Emma Freeman “Thommie” Thompson. Amanda’s father was a sea captain, too. Thompson was the surname chosen by my ancestor, Martin Thompson, who was born in Brevik, Norway in 1818. At birth his name was Ingebrigt Martinus Hansen, and he was the son of Hans Tønnesen. He Americanized Tønnesen to Thompson when he arrived in America, a month before his 19th birthday.

My sister illustrated (with little sailboats and seagulls) a poem I wrote at a very early age, which we gave as a gift to our grandmother, who framed it and kept it hanging in her breakfast nook. It went something like this:

I love Cape Cod
Oh yes I do.
The sea, the sand,
Grandmother, too.
I love the Cape
So much, don’t you?