On Tuesday we left early to vote in the Connecticut primary and then drove down to the pond by way of the road along the Thames River. Some of the river’s banks are covered with an unattractive cement ramp, but, I happened to notice a swamp rose mallow popping through it as we were driving by.
Fascinated, I asked Tim to stop the car so I could hop out and examine the wildflower up close. How could it be growing in such an inhospitable spot? It wasn’t that big yet, maybe 2 feet tall, and I wonder how high it might be able to grow there. (They can grow to 7 feet, and the flowers are 4-6 inches in diameter.)
As I was enjoying the close encounter I noticed another wildflower growing through another seam. I loved the shades of purple on its petals.
Back in the car and on to the pond. So sad to see even less water remaining in it. I’m surprised the shorebirds don’t do their fishing over at the beach but they must have their reasons for hanging out here still.
Nature, like a loving mother, is ever trying to keep land and sea, mountain and valley, each in its place, to hush the angry winds and waves, balance the extremes of heat and cold, of rain and drought, that peace, harmony and beauty may reign supreme. ~ Elizabeth Cady Stanton (Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Feminist as Thinker: A Reader in Documents & Essays)
We’re supposed to get a break from the heat and humidity this weekend, which will be nice, but we also need some rain!
It was a lovely spring day and the air was filled with birds singing and bees buzzing. I couldn’t catch most of them with my camera but the scenery at Coogan Farm reminded me of a setting from a historical drama. I half-expected to see a character from a Jane Austen novel come around the bend on our path.
It is clearly posted that dogs must be on a leash at Coogan Farm. This one arrived at the same time we did and was darting around the parking lot while its owner was getting things out of his car. We had two doors of our car open as we were getting ready for our walk, too. Next thing we knew the dog jumped into our car through the back door Tim was at, then squeezed between the front seats and exited the car through the front door I was at. She seemed very friendly and not too big so I wasn’t afraid, but, startled and annoyed. The man she belonged to called “Sadie” away and offered no apology. I assumed he would put her on a leash when he saw the signs at the trailhead. They took a different trail but our paths crossed later on and there was no leash to be seen, the man wasn’t even carrying one on his person.
We moved on, trying not to let the selfishness of others spoil a lovely walk for us.
Intensely selfish people are always very decided as to what they wish. That is in itself a great force; they do not waste their energies in considering the good of others. ~ Ouida (Wisdom, Wit, and Pathos of Ouida Selected from the Works of Ouida)
In 2016 this tower (below) was designed by an Eagle Scout, specifically for chimney swifts. It provides a suitable nesting habitat to help increase the chimney swift population: Connecticut Project Chimney Watch
Selfishness must always be forgiven you know, because there is no hope of a cure. ~ Jane Austen (Mansfield Park)
I’m seeing and hearing so many catbirds this year! They have a way of cheering me up. 💙
Walking is the great adventure, the first meditation, a practice of heartiness and soul primary to humankind. Walking is the exact balance between spirit and humility. ~ Gary Snyder (The Practice of the Wild: Essays)
Connecticut’s positivity rate is up to 13%. Not good. It’s been going up since its lowest point in March.
Do not divert your love from visible things. But go on loving what is good, simple and ordinary; animals and things and flowers, and keep the balance true. ~ Rainer Maria Rilke (Earth Blessings: Prayers, Poems & Meditations)
Not too long ago thousands spent their lives as recluses to find spiritual vision in the solitude of nature. Modern man need not become a hermit to achieve this goal, for it is neither ecstasy nor world-estranged mysticism his era demands, but a balance between quantitative and qualitative reality. Modern man, with his reduced capacity for intuitive perception, is unlikely to benefit from the contemplative life of a hermit in the wilderness. But what he can do is to give undivided attention, at times, to a natural phenomenon, observing it in detail, and recalling all the scientific facts about it he may remember. Gradually, however, he must silence his thoughts and, for moments at least, forget all his personal cares and desires, until nothing remains in his soul but awe for the miracle before him. Such efforts are like journeys beyond the boundaries of narrow self-love and, although the process of intuitive awakening is laborious and slow, its rewards are noticeable from the very first. If pursued through the course of years, something will begin to stir in the human soul, a sense of kinship with the forces of life consciousness which rule the world of plants and animals, and with the powers which determine the laws of matter. While analytical intellect may well be called the most precious fruit of the Modern Age, it must not be allowed to rule supreme in matters of cognition. If science is to bring happiness and real progress to the world, it needs the warmth of man’s heart just as much as the cold inquisitiveness of his brain. ~ Franz Winkler (Man: The Bridge Between Two Worlds)
Whichever road I follow, I walk in the land of many gods, and they love and eat one another. Walking, I am listening to a deeper way. Suddenly all my ancestors are behind me. Be still, they say. Watch and listen. You are the result of the love of thousands. ~ Linda Hogan (Dwellings: A Spiritual History of the Living World)
A friend posted part of the above quote on Facebook this morning and I couldn’t get it out of my mind. I put the book it comes from on my “to-read” list. Perhaps I will have more time for reading this winter.
My ancestors have been calling to me strongly since May and most of my time since then has been spent doing online research, and planning a research trip in the fall. It’s actually one of Tim’s ancestors who is calling the loudest and most persistently – I have discovered a clue that might lead me to her parents, who I have been looking for, off and on, for thirty-seven years!
It’s a struggle for me to balance research, blogging, gardening, housework, preparing healthy meals, de-cluttering, visiting my dad, enjoying the summer… Summer days are so long and mostly hot and humid, although we have had a few wonderful days here and there to enjoy onshore breezes and open windows. I quickly grow weary of the drone from the necessary air-conditioning…
But summer evenings are the best! Going to plays (Shakespeare-in-the-Park) and concerts (Dave Matthews Band) outside, seeing sunsets and starlight and the moonrise – the stuff memories are made of…
This past Sunday evening we went to Summer Music Sundays at Mystic Seaport for the first time. We dined and had drinks under a huge maple tree outside of Schaefer’s Spouter Tavern (named for the tavern in Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick), with a view of tall ships moored to the dock on the Mystic River, and smaller boats sailing by while the sun set across the river. We thoroughly enjoyed the music, guitar-playing singer Bruce Foulke, who treated us to some covers of old favorites by James Taylor, Carole King, Van Morrison, Eric Clapton… It was a lovely, perfect evening!
Science tends more and more to reveal to us the unity that underlies the diversity of nature. We must have diversity in our practical lives; we must seize Nature by many handles. But our intellectual lives demand unity, demand simplicity amid all this complexity. Our religious lives demand the same. Amid all the diversity of creeds and sects we are coming more and more to see that religion is one, that verbal differences and ceremonies are unimportant, and that the fundamental agreements are alone significant. Religion as a key or passport to some other world has had its day; as a mere set of statements or dogmas about the Infinite mystery it has had its day. Science makes us more and more at home in this world, and is coming more and more, to the intuitional mind, to have a religious value. Science kills credulity and superstition but to the well-balanced mind it enhances the feeling of wonder, of veneration, and of kinship which we feel in the presence of the marvelous universe. It quiets our fears and apprehensions, it pours oil upon the troubled waters of our lives, and reconciles us to the world as it is. ~ John Burroughs (Accepting the Universe)
Now that Tim is back at work it is time to roll up my sleeves and restart the massive home interior improvement project. It was just before Tim’s heart attack in 2007 when we started by scraping the “popcorn” ceiling treatment off of the mold prone bathroom ceiling, and painted the ceiling with smooth mold-resistant paint. And the project has not proceeded much since then, time being consumed with elder care and one medical crisis after another.
And then there was the traumatic selling of our grandparents’ Cape Cod houses: Tim’s grandparents’ home in Provincetown in 2009 and the Dennis Port home of my grandparents in 2010. From each house we inherited furniture, keepsakes, paperwork (including boxes of someone’s poetry) and a baby grand piano, all of which have been stuffed wherever I could put them in a hurry. And I’ve tried to get it all organized ever since!
A home is not a lifeless object but a living entity, and like everything that is alive it must obey the law of nature. ~ Carl Larsson (New Swedish Style)
I also have a vision of what I want this place to look like, and it involves the elements of Scandinavian style: light, simplicity and symmetry. One reason we bought this place is that we love the enchanting light here so close to so much water. Yesterday I spent some time with my paint color chip book and my collection of Scandinavian design books. When painting begins I now have chosen the colors for optimum reflection of light.
Simplicity and symmetry are proving more difficult to pull off, but I’m persistent if nothing else. Simplicity is getting there as I pare down – I’ve donated about ¾ of my books and many knick-knacks… I love de-cluttering, but it can be tiring as well as rewarding. Symmetry is getting there, too, although I think the kids may be tired of my calling them so often to help me move furniture up and down the stairs. If the furniture needs moving on the same floor I do it myself with those ingenious “moving men” disks. It’s not unlike a giant three-dimensional jigsaw puzzle!
FreeStyle is a no-cost design show where professional rearrangers de-clutter, reorganize and move furniture and accessories around a room to give homeowners a dramatic new look without spending a dime. ~ FreeStyle: Home & Garden Television
I love and used to watch FreeStyle when I got a chance and have adopted that philosophy while incorporating all these beloved antiques into our home. Especially since I’m blending them in with the contemporary pieces we already have. It’s been a challenge and an adventure and will continue to be as I keep at it! 🙂
Do you have a particular decorating style, or an eclectic one? What would you say is the mood of your home?
Adrift! A little boat adrift! And night is coming down! Will no one guide a little boat Unto the nearest town?
So sailors say — on yesterday — Just as the dusk was brown One little boat gave up its strife And gurgled down and down
So angels say — on yesterday — Just as the dawn was red One little boat — o’erspent with gales — Retrimmed its masts — redecked its sails — And shot — exultant on!
~ Emily Dickinson (The Poems of Emily Dickinson, #6)
Now that I have a Kindle and can read for hours on end without bothering my eyes, I have delved into a huge comprehensive biography of the life of Emily Dickinson, My Wars Are Laid Away in Books: The Life of Emily Dickinson. The above poem struck a chord with me.
What I’ve been learning is that Emily grappled with an exhausting spiritual struggle during her childhood and young adulthood. One by one more and more of her family members and friends experienced evangelical conversions each time a revival made its way to her mother’s church in Amherst, Massachusetts. Emily was never moved to convert, winding up a solitary holdout, and I suspect it was the hypocrisy and inconsistencies in the dogma as presented by her teachers and ministers that never sat well with her.
Some keep the Sabbath going to Church — I keep it, staying at Home — With a Bobolink for a Chorister — And an Orchard, for a Dome — ~ Emily Dickinson (The Poems of Emily Dickinson, #236)
Emily found spiritual fulfillment and ecstasy in nature. I think it can be found in the creative arts, too, and in healing. I will read on, as I just got to the “Adrift!” poem yesterday, but my feeling is that once she made peace with this realization, she was able re-trim her masts, re-deck her sails, and get on with her true vocation, her poetry, her spiritual expression, her own way of worshiping.
As a child my intuition rebelled against my father’s atheism. The first chance I got I latched on to a religion with just as much oppressive dogmatism as the scientific atheism from which I was trying to escape. But while ‘gurgling down’ in my spiritual struggle, it slowly dawned on me that religion and science are simply different ways of trying to make sense of and explain the world and the universe. The assumptions of both can be terribly flawed and misguided. Organized religion and organized science can both be dogmatic and self-righteous. People who worship science, in my opinion, give up their own experience of the divine to the men in lab coats, our modern-day priests. Ideally there is a balance between Logic and Wonder, however.
When I started reading Emerson and Dickinson I found myself home at last with the ideas of transcendentalists:
The transcendentalists felt the presence of God in their intuition, but they advised that intuition should be guided by reason, and not follow its own course unaided. They discerned that God speaks directly to the self within us. They stressed the value and importance of personal mystical experience over beliefs, doctrines, rituals, and institutions. All their insights derived from their inner life. Their movement was a reaffirmation of the inner way of introversion or interiority. ~ Wayne Teasdale (The Mystic Heart: Discovering a Universal Spirituality in the World’s Religions)
How I admire Emily for holding on to her inner life!
It’s been some time since I’ve visited any other blog so there’s that “out of the loop” feeling… I offer here (to the left) a picture of my all-time favorite Christmas card – probably posted it last year on my Gaia blog, but I’d like to have it here on WordPress, for the record. There is comfort in the familiar.
Things continue to get ever more complicated and difficult to balance caring for our elderly ones. Auntie’s endless and capricious demands are making our heads spin. To say she is keeping us on our toes is putting it mildly. And Dad is completely bewildered by recent developments. I can’t fathom much more than he does the ups and downs of his sister’s puzzling ways of coping with each new setback. Since her surgery in September it’s been one thing after another, and I think she is having much difficulty accepting the inevitability of each bit of independence lost.
On top of all this Tim got sick last week, with, of all things, a bladder infection. His habit of ignoring messages his body sends him and carrying on in spite of any sort of pain caught up with him big time. (I won’t even go into the story of how hard it was to convince him that he was having a heart attack three years ago.) Having never had a bladder infection before, he didn’t understand how sick he was until we took his temperature on Wednesday night and it was 102.4°F! Even so, he thought the thermometer might be inaccurate and insisted I take my temperature to verify. Mine was normal. No more if-s, and-s or but-s about it, I promptly escorted him to the urgent care clinic.
After many tests, the doctor there was concerned about the infection reaching Tim’s heart so he gave him an hour-long antibiotic infusion before he sent him home with an antibiotic prescription. As of yesterday (Saturday) he was still getting temperature peaks of 101°F but today it’s finally stayed normal. He’s lost ten pounds. He insists he is returning to work tomorrow and I know there is no way I can stop him. Sigh….. Fortunately he has a follow-up appointment on Thursday to make sure everything is back in working order.
In the wee hours of Tuesday morning we hope to wake up and get a peek at the total lunar eclipse and Tuesday evening we’re having our winter solstice party. I didn’t think too many would be able to make it because it will be a work night, but so far we’ve got 18 planning to come, including us! I’m very excited and am planning on spending the next two days cooking and cleaning, hopefully without any new crisis developing.
Wishing everyone very happy holidays filled with magical moments and the wonders of the season! And don’t forget to leave a bowl of oatmeal out for your local Nisse!