even the smallest thing

2.19.21 ~ white-throated sparrow, Birch Plain Creek

One can only hide from the cold for so long. One’s mind needs to be outdoors! One’s spirit needs simple things. It snowed most of the day on Thursday and Friday and when I woke up at 4 a.m. Saturday morning there were still flurries dancing around. We went for a walk in the scattered snow showers on Friday, with about five inches of the white stuff on the ground. Not wanting to drive anywhere, we walked in the woods and along the creek behind our condo complex.

I spotted a new bird, for me, a white-throated sparrow! She was not cooperating about posing very much but I was happy to get the above picture. One musn’t be greedy. I wonder what she was eating.

left over from a city-wide Valentine’s Day scavenger hunt
mourning dove

A mourning dove landed on a branch and eyed me. I thanked her for letting me see the coloring under her tail. Another new thing for me to see. And then she knocked some snow off the branch — yes dear little dove, I did see you do that. 😉

mourning dove knocking snow off the branch
waiting for spring

The creek was mostly frozen over. Tim spotted three gulls out on the ice. Two waiting for an opportunity and one devouring a fish. One always wonders who stole it from who…

great black-backed gull, first winter
it looks cold out there on the ice
winter survival

How surely gravity’s law,
strong as an ocean current,
takes hold of even the smallest thing
and pulls it toward the heart of the world.

Each thing —
each stone, blossom, child —
is held in place. …

This is what the things can teach us:
to fall,
patiently to trust our heaviness.
Even a bird has to do that
before he can fly.

~ Rainer Maria Rilke
(Rilke’s Book of Hours: Love Poems to God)

somebody’s tracks
Birch Plain Creek

My mood improved 100% by the time we returned home. Pretty flurries just continued floating through the sky all morning and afternoon, until dark, still there every time I looked up from my book. I have finished reading The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden and have started on The Girl in the Tower, the second book in the Winternight trilogy. Perfect books for winter.

Birch Plain Creek

sobering numbers

“Window” by Zinaida Serebriakova

Latest statistics: New London County now has 16,753 confirmed cases of COVID-19. Of those, 80 people are currently in the hospital and 364 have lost their lives. That’s 10,105 new cases since December 6 when I last reported. I’m kind of surprised that I haven’t thought of updating the statistics for almost 2 months.

Connecticut’s positive test rate is now 3.64%. 9% of Connecticut’s residents have had their first dose of vaccine. I’m getting antsy. So far individuals over the age of 75 can make appointments to receive their vaccinations. Waiting impatiently for it to be 65+ for Tim and who-knows-when for me (being only 64)…

Connecticut has had 7,020 deaths since the pandemic began. We lost 8,500 in the 1918 Influenza Pandemic. I hope we don’t match or go past that number before this is over. 😟

I’ve been having trouble with one of my eyes. I had a flasher episode for several days late in December and when I got a clear bubble shaped floater a few days later I decided to put my fear of COVID-19 aside and headed to the ophthalmologist. I went back for a one month check on Thursday and everything is looking okay so far. The doctor said the month and the year following a flasher episode is the danger zone for damage to retina. So I have to go back in three months for another check. In the meantime, the floater looks less like a bubble and more like a blob of diffused light. She says the floater is actually shaped like a horseshoe.

Tim says his floaters are dark specks. I mentioned this to the doctor and she said the clear ones are more serious. But she’s cautiously optimistic that the situation has resolved itself.

At first I was finding the floater too distracting to do any reading but my brain seems to be getting used to the mysterious blob and sometimes now I don’t even see it. So I started reading a wonderful story, The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden, which my daughter and son-in-law gave me for Christmas. It’s been a long time since I’ve read any fiction and this reminds me of Kristin Lavransdatter by Sigrid Undset, but set in medieval Russia rather than medieval Norway. I’m loving it so much!!! It’s a wonderful distraction from the pandemic and the weather.

Zdynia, Poland

Konrad Fusiak
my great-grandfather

My paternal cousin has been doing a lot of research on our Ukrainian roots and has shared some of her discoveries with me. Our grandparents spoke Ukrainian and emigrated from there in 1909 and 1910, but it seems our grandmother’s parents were originally from elsewhere. I’ve always considered myself half Ukrainian and identifying 41% “Eastern Europe & Russia” on my DNA test seems to bear that out.

But Ukraine wasn’t showing up looking closer under that broad Eastern Europe grouping. Instead, my DNA was indicating “Poland, Slovakia, Hungary & Romania.” And then my aunt’s DNA was matched with another family from Poland! (Apparently the DNA was too diluted for my cousin and me to show up as DNA matches with these distant cousins of our great-grandfather, Konrad Fusiak.) Here’s the tentative line, yet to be proven with documents:

Piotr Fusiak (b. 1760 in Lug, Małopolskie, Poland)
Gregorius Fusiak (b. 1798 in Lug, Małopolskie, Poland)
Gabriel Fusiak (b. 1827 in Zdynia, Małopolskie, Poland)
Konrad Fusiak (b. 1855 in Zdynia, Małopolskie, Poland)
Katerina/Katherine Fusiak (my grandmother, b. 1887 in Luzok Horishni, Lviv Oblast, Ukraine)

Orthodox church in Zdynia by Tomasz Bienias

The province of Małopolskie is also known as Lesser Poland, a historical region. Zdynia is a tiny village, population 220. I can’t seem to locate Lug. (Perhaps it is Ług in Podlaskie?) From what I can tell from a cursory search there were several ethnic groups living in southern Poland. When my grandmother Katherine came to this country in 1910 she identified as a Ruthenian on the passenger ship manifest. Another aunt told me that Katherine’s mother, Ludmila Karaseck, was born in Prague and came to Ukraine to work in the salt mines. Wonder how she met Konrad from Poland? So many questions!!!

So, I’ve ordered a book, The Reconstruction of Nations: Poland, Ukraine, Lithuania, Belarus, 1569–1999 by Timothy Snyder, who “traces the emergence of Polish, Ukrainian, Lithuanian*, and Belarusian nationhood over four centuries.” I hope I can make some sense of the history of the region and gain some insight into my eastern European ancestry.

*Lithuania is a Baltic nation and in December 2019 I had 3% Baltic DNA. In September 2020 my son had 3% Baltic DNA and I didn’t show any. It seemed to be replaced with 3% Balkans. I suspect a mistake was made somewhere along the line. It will be interesting to see what shows up the next time they do an update/adjustment! See: ethnicity estimates.

timelessness and quiet ecstasy

7.14.20 ~ ring-billed gull cooling his feet at Eastern Point Beach

The humidity lowered just a tad on Tuesday morning so we snuck down to the beach for an early morning walk. The only gull out and about was on the rocks, a ring-billed one with his bright yellow legs. He wanted to be friends and walk along with us.

When we went down on the sand he decided to come, too, and lead the way.

follow me, please
pardon me while I cool off my feet again

Then Tim spotted a butterfly flitting about on the wrack line!

monarch butterfly

When it moved to the sand I tried to get a shot of it with its wings open.

shadow on the sand

Yet there are other windows through which we humans can look out into the world around us, windows through which the mystics and the holy men of the East, and the founders of the great world religions, have gazed as they searched for the meaning and purpose of our life on earth, not only in the wondrous beauty of the world, but also in its darkness and ugliness. And those Masters contemplated the truths that they saw, not with their minds only but with their hearts and souls too. From those revelations came the spiritual essence of the great scripitures, the holy books, and the most beautiful mystic poems and writings. That afternoon, it had been as though an unseen hand had drawn back a curtain and, for the briefest moment, I had seen through such a window. In a flash of “outsight” I had known timelessness and quiet ecstasy, sensed a truth of which mainstream science is merely a small fraction. And I knew that the revelation would be with me for the rest of my life, imperfectly remembered yet always within. A source of strength on which I could draw when life seemed harsh or cruel or desperate.
~ Jane Goodall
(Reason for Hope: A Spiritual Journey)

nature’s delightful composition
gull tracks
song sparrow having its breakfast

I’d sit on logs like pulpits
listen to the sermon
of sparrows
and find god in Simplicity,
there amongst the dandelion
and thorn

~ Jewel
(A Night Without Armor)

wild carrot (Queen Anne’s lace)

We now have 144 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in our town. Our county (New London) has 1,345 confirmed cases. Of those 4 are still in the hospital and 102 have lost their lives. I fret over the figures coming out of North Carolina and Georgia, where my children live. Stay safe and take care…

outbreak

“Cleaning Corpses During an Epidemic” by Fyodor Bronnikov

The other day I finished reading a riveting book, Spillover: Animal Infections & The Next Human Pandemic by David Quammen. A terrifying account of the recent history of disease scientists investigating bizarre and unheard of new diseases of animal origins, a thriller written by a gifted storyteller. Quammen explained the science so well in layman’s terms. This is one of those rare books I couldn’t put down. The fact that it was published eight years before our current worldwide coronavirus pandemic, a fair warning, makes it all the more pertinent.

Spillover is the process by which pathogens, hiding in wild animal reservoirs (also in factory farmed animals), travel into and infect the human population. But near the end of the book, after discussing the plagues of gyspy moths, which come and go, Quammen introduced the concept of outbreaks. We had a memorable outbreak of gypsy moths here in Connecticut in the 1980s so I could easily grasp the concept.

Ecologists have a label for such an event. They call it an outbreak.

This use of the word is more general than what’s meant by an outbreak of disease. You could think of disease outbreaks as a subset. Outbreak in the broader sense applies to any vast, sudden population increase by a single species. Such outbreaks occur among certain animals but not among others. Lemmings undergo outbreaks; river otters don’t. Some kinds of grasshopper do, some kinds of mouse, some kinds of starfish, whereas other kinds of grasshopper, mouse, and starfish do not. An outbreak of woodpeckers is unlikely. An outbreak of wolverines, unlikely. The insect order Lepidoptera (moths and butterflies) contains some notable outbreakers — not just tent caterpillars of several kinds but also gypsy moths, tussock moths, larch budmoths, and others.

We are prodigious, we are unprecedented. We are phenomenal. No other primate has ever weighed upon the planet to anything like this degree. In ecological terms, we are almost paradoxical: large-bodied and long-lived but grotesquely abundant. We are an outbreak.

And here’s the thing about outbreaks: They end. In some cases they end after many years, in other cases they end rather soon. In some cases they end gradually, in other cases they end with a crash. In certain cases, even, they end and recur and end again, as though following a regular schedule.

What could account for such sudden and recurrent collapses? One possible factor is infectious disease. It turns out that viruses, in particular, play that role among outbreak populations of forest insects.

~ David Quammen
(Spillover: Animal Infections & The Next Human Pandemic)

Chills have been running up and down my spine ever since I read the excerpts quoted above. We are an outbreak on this earth. Our population explosion can be fairly compared to an infestation of gyspy moths. Provocative thought, I know. But it’s humbling and sobering to appreciate that we are part the cycles of nature and while we like to think we can control our environment to some degree, when all is said and done, we know so little about the forces shaping our existence here on this little blue planet.

We now have 114 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in our town. Our county (New London) has 1,276 confirmed cases. Of those 7 are still in the hospital and 102 have lost their lives. Hospitalizations are way down here, which is encouraging, but we are still staying home due to our health risks. Please stay safe!

an explanation for all the confusion and difficulties in your life

3.18.20 ~ brant at Eastern Point Beach

How do you explain to the people around you that what you need now is to just crash and do nothing for a while until your head feels normal again, when you don’t even know what’s wrong with yourself?I think it’s important to keep in mind that when we define the severity of a person’s Autism, it’s only a measure of outward behavior and doesn’t really reflect how much one is affected by the condition internally. Those of us who appear to have low severity may actually need more than is apparent to the eye.Sometimes I think of myself as part of a lost generation (or generations), the ones who had to go through life with Asperger’s unknowingly. And I’m hoping that in the future, with better education and understanding, the Aspie youth of the future will have a completely different experience.It’s a nice feeling — a relief — to finally find an explanation for all the confusion and difficulties in your life, but it would have been even nicer to have known it all along.
~ Michelle Vines
(Asperger’s on the Inside)

Yesterday I spent the day reading and then shredding all the journals I wrote when I was in my late 20s and early 30s. (I’m in my early 60s now.) Something I’ve been meaning to do for a few years because there was a lot of very personal stuff in there.

3.18.20 ~ brant at Eastern Point Beach

What was strikingly revealed to me as I read is the painful struggle I was having with autism for years, trying desperately to figure out what was “wrong” with me. The evidence of impaired executive functioning jumped out at me on almost every page, so obvious from what I know now, so baffling back then. I wanted so badly to live like a “normal” (neurotypical) person, to figure out how to get along in this world.

3.18.20 ~ brants at Eastern Point Beach

As I read I kept saying under my breath, “no wonder you were so damn tired all the time.” It’s exhausting trying to make your brain work with a different operating system. I can’t help wondering what my life might have been like had I and my parents and my husband known about autism and if I had had some meaningful support. But it IS a huge relief to have it all make sense now.

3.18.20 ~ brant at Eastern Point Beach

tip of the iceberg

“A Late Riser’s Miserable Breakfast” by Carl Larsson

This is one of my favorite Carl Larsson paintings. I think it’s a combination of the appealing colors and the gentle reminder that some days just seem to start off on the wrong foot. For kids and adults!

There are 68 detected cases of COVID-19 in Connecticut now, all of them west of the Connecticut River in the western four counties, bordering New York. So far the eastern four counties, including our New London County, have no detected cases. But our state epidemiologist estimates there are 100 undetected cases for every detected case, so we are seeing just the tip of the iceberg. The suspense is getting to me. How bad will it get?

It was different in the last pandemic. The 1918 Influenza Pandemic entered Connecticut through New London.

In Connecticut, the state’s busy ports, and particularly New London’s Navy base, provided an easy point of entry for the disease. The state’s first recorded case of influenza appeared among Navy personnel in New London on September 11, 1918. By October 25, the State Public Health Service reported 180,000 cases. It appears the outbreak, after originating in New London County, moved to Windham and Tolland Counties and then continued on south and west to New Haven, Hartford, Fairfield, and Litchfield Counties. Hartford, New Haven, Bridgeport, and Waterbury recorded the most flu fatalities in the state, but smaller towns like Derby and Windham were also hard hit by the disease, with even higher death rates per thousand than in the larger cities. The war ended in November 1918, but the flu epidemic raged on.

By February 1919, the flu had finally subsided, leaving 8,500 dead in Connecticut.

~ Tasha Caswell
(Eighty-Five Hundred Souls: the 1918-1919 Flu Epidemic in Connecticut ~ ConnecticutHistory.org)

Reading used to be my favorite occupation but in recent years I haven’t been able to do much of it because it would put me to sleep, even in the daytime. It’s been very puzzling to me why this would be so. But I think I might have finally figured it out. I keep losing my place when I finish one line of text and try to move down to the next. It was exhausting trying to focus and find the next line. Yesterday I tried holding a bookmark under the line I was reading and then moving it down to the next one. It worked! I read a whole chapter with ease! Looks like I can add reading back to my list of self-quarantine activities.

So now I am reading These Fevered Days: Ten Pivotal Moments in the Making of Emily Dickinson by Martha Ackmann. It’s nice to escape from today’s reality, even if for a few hours at a time.

Capt. John Denison & Phebe Lay

2.23.20 ~ Denison Burial Ground, Mystic, Connecticut
Capt.
John Denison
Died 1698 Age 52
His Wife
Phebe Lay
Died 1699 Age 49

My 8th-great-grandfather, Capt. John Denison, son of George and Ann (Borodell) Denison, was born 14 June 1646 in Roxbury-Boston (Suffolk) Massachusetts, and died 26 April 1698 in Stonington (New London) Connecticut. He married 26 November 1667 in Saybrook (Middlesex) Connecticut, Phebe Lay, who was born 5 January 1651 at Saybrook Point-Old Saybrook (Middlesex) Connecticut, and died in 1699 in Stonington, daughter of Robert and Sarah (Fenner) Lay.

The following is from Ancestors & Descendants of Calvert Crary & His Wife Eliza Hill, Liberty, N.Y. collected by Jerry Crary, (New York, Privately Printed, 1917) 61

The marriage contract or deed of settlement, arranged between their parents, is recorded in Saybrook. By this deed of settlement, executed before the marriage, the respective parents conveyed to John Denison and Phebe Lay, the farm granted to Capt. George Denison near the mouth of Mystic River in Stonington, and the house and land in Saybrook, which Mr. Lay had formerly bought of John Post. … They settled in Stonington, on “the farm near the mouth of Mystic River.” He was known as “Capt. John Denison,” held a prominent position in Stonington, and in many ways was a man of mark.

John & Phebe were the parents of nine children:

i. Capt. John Denison, born 1 January 1669 in Stonington, died in 1699 in Old Saybrook. He married about 1690, Ann Mason, who was born about 1669, daughter of John and Abigail (Fitch) Mason. John & Ann were the parents of five children.

ii. George Denison (my 7th-great-grandfather), born 28 March 1671 in Stonington, died 20 January 1720 in New London (New London) Connecticut. He married (as her second husband) about 1694, Mary (Wetherell) Harris, who was born 7 October 1668 in New London, and died there 22 August 1711, daughter of Daniel and Grace (Brewster) Wetherell, and widow of Thomas Harris. George & Mary were the parents of eight children.

iii. Capt. Robert Denison, born 17 September 1673 in Stonington, died there in 1737. He married about 1696, Joanna Stanton, who was born 5 June 1679 in Stonington, and died about 1715, daughter of Robert and Joanna (Gardner) Stanton. Robert & Joanna were the parents of five children.

iv. Capt. William Denison, born 7 April 1677 in Stonington, died there 13 February 1730. He married (as her first husband) in March 1698, Mary Avery, who was born 17 November 1680 in Stonington, and died there 5 February 1762, daughter of John and Abigail (Chesebrough) Avery. William & Mary were the parents of eleven children.

v. Dea. Daniel Denison, born 28 March 1680 in Stonington, died 13 October 1747. He married (as his first wife) 1 January 1704 in Stonington, Mary Stanton, who was born 3 February 1687 in Stonington, and died there 2 September 1724, daughter of Robert and Joanna (Gardner) Stanton. Daniel & Mary were the parents of three children. Daniel married (as his second wife) 27 October 1726 in Stonington, Jane Cogswell, who died about 1736. Daniel married (as his third wife and as her second husband) 17 November 1737, Abigail (Fish) Eldridge, who was born about 1691 in Groton (New London) Connecticut and died there 17 June 1784, daughter of Samuel and Sarah (Stark) Fish, and widow of Daniel Eldridge.

vi. Samuel Denison, born 23 February 1683 in Stonington, died there 12 May 1683.

vii. Anna Denison, born 3 October 1684 in Stonington. She married (as her first husband) 7 April 1702 in Stonington, Ens. Samuel Minor, who was born 28 August 1680 in Stonington and died there 8 December 1717, son of Ephraim and Hannah (Avery) Minor. Anna & Samuel had no children. Anna married (as her second husband and as his second wife) about 1718, her first cousin, Edward Denison, who was born about 1678 and died 9 December 1726 in Westerly (Washington) Rhode Island, son of George and Mercy (Gorham) Denison. Anna married (as her third husband and as his second wife) 16 July 1734 in Windham (Windham) Connecticut, Lt. Jeremiah Ripley, who was born 4 August 1662 in Hingham (Plymouth) Massachusetts, and died 10 March 1737 in Windham, son of John and Elizabeth (Ripley) Ripley.

viii. Phebe Denison, born 6 April 1690 in Stonington, died there 30 December 1775. She married 2 April 1706 in Stonington, Lt. Ebenezer Billings, who was born 1 January 1684 in Stonington and died there 20 July 1760, son of Ebenezer and Ann (Comstock) Billings. Phebe & Ebenezer were the parents of twelve children.

ix. Sarah Denison, born 29 July 1692 in Stonington, died there in 1733. She married 7 November 1711 in Stonington, Isaac Williams, who was born 10 April 1688 in Newton (Middlesex) Massachusetts, and died 24 March 1733 in Stonington, son of John and Martha (Wheeler) Williams. Sarah & Isaac were the parents of eight children.

Capt. John Denison (1646-1698)
George Denison (1671-1720)
Daniel Denison (1703-1749)
Mary Denison (1728-?)
Elias Thompson (1773-1848)
Lucy Anne Thompson (1808-1852)
William Martin White (1836-1925)
Samuel Minor White (1873-1949)
John Everett White (my grandfather)

2.23.20 ~ Denison Burial Ground, Mystic, Connecticut

Last Revised: 2 March 2021

James Morgan & Margery Hill

1.27.20 ~ James Morgan (1607-1685)

A visit to the special history collection at the Bill Memorial Library in Groton turned up another book containing a map of the Avery-Morgan Burial Ground, identifying who is buried where. To the right of the line of four ovoid stones of my ancestors (discussed in previous posts) are two more graves with very small stones. They mark the resting places of the parents of Capt. James Morgan. My 9th-great-grandparents. Back to the cemetery for more pictures!

1.27.20 ~ Margery Hill (1611-1690)

James Morgan, my 9th-great-grandfather, was born about 1607 in Wales, and died 6 August 1685 in Groton (New London) Connecticut. He married 6 August 1640 in Roxbury-Boston (Suffolk) Massachusetts, Margery Hill, who was born about 1611 in England, and died 28 April 1690 in Wallingford (New Haven) Connecticut, presumably while visiting her daughter.

The following is from History of New London County, Connecticut, with Biographical Sketches of Many of Its Pioneers & Prominent Men compiled under the supervision of D. Hamilton Hurd, (Philadelphia: J. W. Lewis & Co., 1882)

James MORGAN died about 1685. He was about seventy-eight years of age. The earliest notice of him is from the records of Boston, where the birth of his daughter Hannah is registered, eighteenth day, fifth month, 1642. He was afterwards of Gloucester, and came with the Cape Ann company to Pequot, where he acted as one of the townsmen from 1653 to 1656, inclusive. His homestead, “on the path to New Street,” was sold Dec. 25, 1657. He then removed east of the river, where he had large grants of land. The following additional grant alludes to his dwelling: “James MORGAN hath given him about six acres of upland where the wigwams were in the path that goes from his house towards CULVER’s among the rocky hills.” He was often employed by the public in land surveys, stating highways, and determining boundaries, and was nine times deputy to the General Court. His estate was settled in 1685 by division among four children,–James, John, Joseph, and Hannah, wife of Nehemiah ROYCE.

James & Margery were the parents of six children:

i. Hannah Morgan, born 18 July 1642 in Roxbury, died 12 December 1706 in Wallingford. She married 20 November 1660 in New London (New London) Connecticut, Nehemiah Royce, who was born 30 May 1637 in England, and died 1 November 1706 in Wallingford.

ii. Capt. James Morgan (my 8th-great-grandfather), born 3 March 1643 in Roxbury, died 8 December 1711 in Groton. He married (as his first wife) in November 1666 in New London, Mary Vine, who was born about 1641 and died 8 December 1689 in Groton. James & Mary were the parents of six children. James married (as his second wife and as her second husband) about 1690, Hannah (Brewster) Starr, who was born 3 November 1641 in Duxbury (Plymouth) Massachusetts, and died 11 December 1711 in Groton, daughter of Jonathan and Lucretia (Oldham) Brewster, and widow of Samuel Starr.

iii. John Morgan, born 30 March 1645 in Roxbury, died 12 February 1712 in Preston (New London) Connecticut. He married (as his first wife) 16 November 1665 in New London, Rachel Deming, who was born about 1643 in Wethersfield (Hartford) Connecticut and died 6 August 1689 in Groton, daughter of John and Honor (Treat) Deming. John & Rachel were the parents of seven children. John married (as his second wife) about 1689, Elizabeth Jones, who was born 28 August 1664 in New Haven (New Haven) Connecticut and died 23 August 1711 in Preston, daughter of William and Hannah (Eaton) Jones. John & Elizabeth were the parents of eight children.

iv. Lt. Joseph Morgan, born 29 November 1646 in Roxbury, died 5 April 1704 in New London. He married in April 1670 in New London, Dorothy Park, who was born 6 March 1652 in New London and died 5 April 1704 in New London, daughter of Thomas and Dorothy (Thompson) Park. Joseph & Dorothy were the parents of ten children.

v. Abraham Morgan, born 3 September 1648 in Roxbury, died there in August 1649.

vi. unnamed daughter, born 17 November 1650, died a week later.

1.27.20 ~ Erected to the Memory of the Founders of the First Avery and First Morgan Families in America Whose Graves Are Near This Site.