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.

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…

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

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!

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