a language which is not made of words

gray wolf by Gary Kramer

How it is that animals understand things I do not know, but it is certain that they do understand. Perhaps there is a language which is not made of words and everything in the world understands it. Perhaps there is a soul hidden in everything and it can always speak, without even making a sound, to another soul.
~ Frances Hodgson Burnett
(A Little Princess)

a point of connection

6.2.17 ~ Eastern Point, Groton, Connecticut ~ great egret by Timothy Rodgers

The camera is an excuse to be someplace you otherwise don’t belong. It gives me both a point of connection and a point of separation.
~ Susan Meiselas
(Whitney Museum of American Art: Handbook of the Collection)

6.2.17 ~ Eastern Point, Groton, Connecticut ~ black-crowned night heron (?) by Timothy Rodgers

One evening last week Tim took the camera down to the beach and the salt pond and came home with these beautiful shots! I’m pretty sure the bird above is a black-crowned night heron, but if I’m wrong I hope someone will correct me…

6.2.17 ~ Eastern Point, Groton, Connecticut ~ swan by Timothy Rodgers

The swan, like the soul of the poet,
By the dull world is ill understood.
~ Heinrich Heine
(Early Poems, Evening Songs)

6.2.17 ~ Eastern Point, Groton, Connecticut ~ swan and cygnet by Timothy Rodgers

When words become unclear, I shall focus with photographs. When images become inadequate, I shall be content with silence.
~ Ansel Adams
(3000 Astounding Quotes)

6.2.17 ~ Eastern Point, Groton, Connecticut ~ double-crested cormorant by Timothy Rodgers

Photography takes an instant out of time, altering life by holding it still.
~ Dorothea Lange
(Ancestors in the Attic: Making Family Memorabilia into History)

6.2.17 ~ Eastern Point, Groton, Connecticut ~ courting pair of double-crested cormorants by Timothy Rodgers

Farewell, Auntie Lil

Lillian Elizabeth (Chomiak) Rioux (1915-2016)

Last autumn we lost our aunt, who lived to be 101 years old. The various stories behind the above drawing presented a puzzle for us but after comparing memories we finally decided that the sketch was probably drawn on one of Auntie’s cruises. She kept it hanging above her bed for as long as I can remember, flanked on either side with the senior high school pictures of my sister and me.

Following is the obituary I wrote for the newspapers:

Lillian Elizabeth (Chomiak) Rioux, 101, of Storrs, Connecticut, died on October 27, 2016, at Mansfield Center for Nursing & Rehabilitation, after a short illness.

Lillian was born on January 30, 1915 in New York City, the daughter of the late William & Katherine (Fusiak) Chomiak, both immigrants from Ukraine. She married Leo Oscar Rioux on November 30, 1934 at Montville, Connecticut. Her husband died on June 5, 1957, leaving her a widow for 59 years. Lillian was predeceased by their two sons, Leo Adrian Rioux (1936-1984) and Lance William Rioux (1950-1979).

Lillian was also predeceased by six siblings, Mary Riback, Jon Stephen Chomiak, Augustine Chomiak, Augusta Jean Hereth, Olga Chomiak, and Theodore William Chomiak. She is survived by her sister, Ludmila Sabatiuk of West Virginia, her grandchildren, Leo Rioux, Jr. of Montville and Sarah James of Tennessee, seven nieces and nephews, four great-grandchildren, and a great-great-grandson.

Lil was a graduate of Norwich Free Academy and was a seamstress employed at Hendel Manufacturing Company in New London for many years. She was a long time resident of Montville and later moved to Juniper Hill Village in Storrs to live closer to her brother. An avid traveler, beach bum and shell collector, she loved to sew, cook, grow orchids, do jigsaw puzzles and work with her hands.

A memorial gathering will be planned for next spring. Memorial donations can be made to Mansfield Town Senior Center, 303 Maple Rd, Storrs, CT 06268.

We had our memorial gathering for her on May 6, spreading her ashes on the graves of her parents and her husband and two sons, as she had directed. My Aunt Em read to us her memories of Aunt Lil’s earlier years.

Grave of Aunt Lil’s parents, William Chomiak (1882-1965) & Katherine Fusiak (1887-1943), Comstock Cemetery, Montville, Connecticut

Every year on Memorial Day, my father would drive Aunt Lil to these two adjacent cemeteries, so she could plant geraniums in front of the headstones, each one a different shade of red or pink. When my father could no longer drive, my sister and brother-in-law stepped in to take her. As he has been doing for years now, John once again planted the geraniums that meant so much to her, this time with family spreading ashes and telling stories.

Grave of Aunt Lil’s older son, Leo Adrian Rioux (1936-1984), St. Patrick Cemetery, Montville, Connecticut.

The story Auntie told me was that it was not permitted for her to be buried in the Catholic cemetery with her husband and sons because she never converted to Catholicism. But she married a Catholic and had her sons baptized in the church. It was her wish to join them in the cemetery by spreading her ashes on their graves.

Grave of Aunt Lil’s husband, Leo Oscar Rioux (1913-1957), and their younger son, Lance William Rioux (1950-1979), St. Patrick Cemetery, Montville, Connecticut.

At the last grave Tim read a poem my sister Beverly wrote in memory of Auntie for the occasion.

They were worker’s hands, never soft, never still.
It took me fifty years to catch them, hold them, keep them safe and warm.
A thousand times I watched them go:
knit and purl
peel and chop
turn the pages
stir the pot.

If hands could talk what would they say?
It took me fifty years to hear them, know them, find out how they spoke.
A thousand times I felt their love:
show and tell
hug and pat
acts of kindness
pet the cat.

I’d come to love her knobby hands
that always showed me what to do.
How those hands have touched my life!
They’ve one more job before they’re through:
stitch and mend
my broken heart.

~ Beverly Chomiak
(Her Hands)

Then we all went to eat at one of her favorite restaurants, Old Tymes in Norwich, finishing the meal with dishes of Auntie’s favorite black raspberry ice cream. ❤

subtle energy

JohnConstable.trunk.elm
“Study of the Trunk of an Elm Tree” by John Constable

Trees are the largest and most spiritually advanced plants on Earth. They are constantly in meditation, and subtle energy is their natural language. As your understanding of this language grows, you can begin to develop a relationship with them. They can help you open your energy channels and cultivate calm, presence, and vitality. You can reciprocate by helping them with their own blockages and devitalized areas. It is a mutually beneficial relationship that needs cultivation.
~ Mantak Chia
(Chi Nei Tsang: Chi Massage for the Vital Organs)

so old, so alone

10.12.14 ~ Durham, North Carolina
dawn redwood ~ 10.12.14 ~ Sarah P. Duke Gardens, Durham, North Carolina

The tree was so old, and stood there so alone, that his childish heart had been filled with compassion; if no one else on the farm gave it a thought, he would at least do his best to, even though he suspected that his child’s words and child’s deeds didn’t make much difference. It had stood there before he was born, and would be standing there after he was dead, but perhaps, even so, it was pleased that he stroked its bark every time he passed, and sometimes, when he was sure he wasn’t observed, even pressed his cheek against it.
~ Karl Ove Knausgård
(A Time for Everything)

Fossils show that Dawn Redwood (Metasequoin glyptostroboides) was a dominant coniferous tree in much of the Northern hemisphere from about 90 to 15 million years ago. In 1941 a few living trees were surprisingly discovered in a remote part of western China. Seeds collected from them were germinated at the Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University in 1948. The next year this tree, one of the original seedlings, was planted here in Durham, North Carolina at the Sarah P. Duke Gardens at Duke University.

web of connection

9.20.14 ~ Chapel Hill, North Carolina
carnivorous plants ~ 9.20.14 ~ North Carolina Botanical Garden, Chapel Hill

Quantum physics shows us the universe as a dynamic web of connection.
~ Robert Moss
(The Three “Only” Things)

Technology is destructive only in the hands of people who do not realize that they are one and the same process as the universe.
~ Alan Watts
(Zen and the Art of Making a Living: A Practical Guide to Creative Career Design)

another stickwork sculpture

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Larisa and Katie ~ 3.21.15 ~ Chapel Hill, North Carolina

For the first weekend of spring we decided to fly down to North Carolina to see Katie and her parents. Old man winter sent us off in the middle of a storm, a wintry mix that required de-icing of the plane. But we made it safe and sound and spent a relaxing Saturday hanging around the house.

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Katie’s favorite toy ~ 3.21.15 ~ Chapel Hill, North Carolina

Katie was happy to see us, and I like to think she remembered us since she had just visited us the previous weekend. Her parents have lots of weddings to go to in Connecticut this year so we will be having Katie staying with us for quite a few weekends!

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Katie ~ 3.21.15 ~ Chapel Hill, North Carolina

Saturday evening, a friend of Dima & Larisa introduced us to a cooperative game, Hanabi. It’s a new genre to us. Our family loves playing all kinds of games, but a game without competition is a delightful idea to me.

Cooperative games contain one simple concept… all players work together to attain a mutually desirable goal. Strategies, resources and decisions are shared. The challenge and enjoyment are in the teamwork and the story and setting of the game.
~ Suzanne Lyons
(cooperativegames.com)

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3.22.15 ~ Chapel Hill, North Carolina

Sunday we had a great brunch at Kipos Greek Taverna in Chapel Hill, and then we were off to a game store in Durham, Atomic Empire, to pick up our own set of Hanabi cards. While there we also found a cooperative board game which we are looking forward to trying out at home.

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North Carolina Botanical Garden ~ 3.22.15 ~ Chapel Hill, North Carolina

Later in the afternoon we went to North Carolina Botanical Garden to see Patrick Dougherty‘s stickwork sculpture, “Homegrown.” Some readers may remember that Janet and I visited one of his installations at the Florence Griswold Museum back in October 2011. This one was just as fascinating.

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3.22.15 ~ Chapel Hill, North Carolina

Another pleasant evening was spent playing Hanabi and then Monday morning Dima took us to drop Katie off at daycare and then dropped us off at the airport. It was in the 50s that morning. When we got back to Boston it was 22°F! Brrr… (But I still love you, New England…)

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3.22.15 ~ Chapel Hill, North Carolina

our well-being

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part of sprinkler system at Logee’s ~ 3.7.15 ~ Danielson, Connecticut

We humans have experimented with various social systems; some have endured and others not. I believe, however, that our well-being is tied not so much to the structure of our society and the politics that determine it, as to our ability to maintain contact with nature, to feel that we are part of the natural order and that we are capable of making a living within it.
~ Bernd Heinrich
(The Snoring Bird: My Family’s Journey Through a Century of Biology)

our children

Dennisport, Massachusetts
1880 Capt. Martin E. Thompson House ~ Dennisport, Massachusetts ~ photo by Larisa Rodgers

Once we meet our children, even for moments, in a place of “I don’t know,” of relinquished authority, we return to the realms of mystery and magic, where real connection becomes alive again.
~ Arjuna Ardagh
(The Translucent Revolution)

Well, it’s official, February was the coldest month on record in Connecticut. And it was the third snowiest, but I suspect it may have set a record for the amount of snow that didn’t melt between storms. I have not seen my garden since January 27. And March came in like a lion, with six inches of snow Sunday overnight into Monday. Incredibly we have more snow due this afternoon and another batch due Thursday… So much talk about the weather these days…