sunshine on a rainy day

1.31.16 ~ Essex, Connecticut

It’s been a long while since I’ve posted much of anything besides quotes and paintings. That’s mainly my way of coping with stress, distracting myself with beautiful images and wise words.

Tim has been ill with recurring bouts of diverticulitis for several years now, getting more frequent and more severe this fall, and so the decision has finally been made to proceed with surgery, a sigmoid colon resection. Friday. My sister is coming to stay with me and sit with me during the operation. Larisa and Katie will be coming up after Tim gets home from the hospital. Recovery time is expected to be 4-6 weeks.

1.31.16 ~ Essex, Connecticut

We had our basement renovated this fall. I’m thrilled with the results — we now have heat in the guest room and the powder room and two new closets for storage and updated lighting and electrical outlets and fresh paint on the walls. But being the way I am it was stressful for me having noisy workmen in and out of the house at unpredictable times. I had to give myself a pep talk every morning for several weeks to keep my wits about me. But it was worth it in the end.

My aunt Lil died on October 27. She was 101 years old. I still have unresolved and complicated feelings about our relationship. She had a hard life, becoming a widow at an early age and then losing both her sons, one in a car accident at the age of 29 and the other from a fatal heart attack at the age of 48. Perhaps understandably, she became a very bitter person, and I had sympathy for her at times but it was so difficult spending time with her.

1.31.16 ~ Essex, Connecticut

And then there is the dark cloud hanging over our country now…

But…

1.1.17 ~ Larisa and Katherine enjoy taking selfies for the grandparents, even on rainy days. They’re coming to visit soon!

I am full of gratitude to be living so close to many places where I can go and find grounding and healing in the natural world. And when I cannot get outside I hear the song birds singing, the gulls calling, the Canada geese honking — I love that sound — and enjoy the lovely water-reflected light that flows indoors.

There are many blessings we continue to enjoy, including our darling granddaughter. We’re looking forward to having her puttering around the house while Tim is recovering. Like her mother, our amazing daughter, she is a sweet ray of sunshine, even on a rainy day. 🙂

And our wonderful son, the computer wizard, who lovingly keeps things running smoothly here on my blog. I couldn’t maintain a presence here without him funding and watching over the many things that I fail to understand in the technical world. We had to cancel a January trip to Georgia to see him and his family, because of the surgery, but will reschedule as soon as possible. 🙂

I am surrounded with love and present moment awareness. Life is here/now.

content with silence

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looks a little wintery ~ 12.10.15 ~ Groton, Connecticut

When words become unclear, I shall focus with photographs. When images become inadequate, I shall be content with silence.
~ Ansel Adams
(Meditation on Both Sides of the Camera: A Spiritual Journey in Photography)

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autumn hangs on ~ 12.10.15 ~ Groton, Connecticut

Life has felt pretty blurry, quiet and strange lately, what with the shingles odyssey for Tim and the unusually warm weather for this time of year. It was a welcome change to get outside and take a walk with Janet, camera in hand, to enjoy a pleasant, spring-like day in December. We found plenty of natural beauty exploring the woods behind my condo complex. Even so, I’m yearning for the first snowfall…

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12.10.15 ~ Groton, Connecticut
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12.10.15 ~ Groton, Connecticut
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contrast ~ 12.10.15 ~ Groton, Connecticut
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12.10.15 ~ Groton, Connecticut
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12.10.15 ~ Groton, Connecticut
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12.10.15 ~ Groton, Connecticut
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late autumn sun ~ 12.10.15 ~ Groton, Connecticut

At home I have two woodpeckers who frequent my suet feeder. I’ve learned their call now because they always squeak before they start eating. So while on this walk I recognized a woodpecker call in the wild for the first time and started looking around to locate it. Found him in the reeds!

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woodpecker ~ 12.10.15 ~ Groton, Connecticut
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woodpecker – symbol of determination and heightened levels of awareness ~ 12.10.15 ~ Groton, Connecticut
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12.10.15 ~ Groton, Connecticut
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forsythia in December? ~ 12.10.15 ~ Groton, Connecticut
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spent milkweed ~ 12.10.15 ~ Groton, Connecticut

And now the weekend begins. Content with silence for the time being, I hope it will be a relatively quiet one, with time for continued healing. Wishing you a great weekend, too!

Race Point Beach

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Race Point Beach ~ 10.10.15 ~ Provincetown, Massachusetts

One evening on our Cape Cod trip we went to Race Point Beach in Provincetown to see the sunset. It felt so good to be outside in the salty air, walking on the sand.

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Tim at Race Point Beach ~ 10.10.15 ~ Provincetown, Massachusetts
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Race Point Beach ~ 10.10.15 ~ Provincetown, Massachusetts
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Race Point Beach ~ 10.10.15 ~ Provincetown, Massachusetts
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after sunset at Race Point Beach ~ 10.10.15 ~ Provincetown, Massachusetts

I will never forget this trip to Cape Cod with my dearly loved husband of 40+ years. Until 2008 we used to come here all the time – summer vacations and weekend getaways. Sadly, Tim’s grandparents’ house in Provincetown was sold that year and my grandparents’ house in Dennis Port was sold in 2009. Our last trip, to bury my father’s ashes in October 2013, was all too brief.

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Race Point Beach ~ 10.10.15 ~ Provincetown, Massachusetts

We did, however, go to Provincetown in May 2009 to celebrate our anniversary and stayed at a bed and breakfast called The Black Pearl. It’s no longer there, we discovered, the house now owned by someone else. We took a long walk on Beech Forest Trail. Six long years since that visit. The town and the seashore have changed. So have we. But we still found healing there, and peace. I think it will always be a place where we will free to be ourselves in times of transition. It will always feel like home.

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Race Point Beach ~ 10.10.15 ~ Provincetown, Massachusetts

The sea can do craziness, it can do smooth,
it can lie down like silk breathing
or toss havoc shoreward; it can give

gifts or withhold all; it can rise, ebb, froth
like an incoming frenzy of fountains, or it can
sweet-talk entirely. As I can too,

and so, no doubt, can you, and you.

~ Mary Oliver
(A Thousand Mornings)

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Race Point Beach ~ 10.10.15 ~ Provincetown, Massachusetts

sweet saliva

"Elderly Woman" by Domenico Ghirlandaio (1449-1494) Italian Early Renaissance Painter
“Elderly Woman” by Domenico Ghirlandaio

The physical atoms that make up your body have been completely replaced in the past nine years. Yet you remain. You may feel the effects of age, but your spirit is always renewed in each and every moment. Remember this when you are tired or ill. Let each breath renew your spirit.
~ William Martin
(The Sage’s Tao Te Ching: Ancient Advice for the Second Half of Life)

What a long and strange month this has been.

It all started in North Carolina during a conversation with a nurse, a friend of Dima & Larisa’s, about the side effects of statin drugs. Suddenly I had a hunch that all the increasing pain in my muscles in recent years was probably not due to aging but was related to taking one of these drugs since 2011. I stopped taking it and within a week the pain was gone.

So my thoughts turned to another drug – amitriptyline. After years of suffering chronic migraine that only got worse when I reached perimenopause, I was sent to a neurologist, who gave me a prescription for a relatively high dose of amitriptyline as a preventative measure, coupled with a prescription for Zomig, to abort the headaches that broke through that first line of defense. That was in 2006 – nine years ago!

The side effects of amitriptyline are well-known to me. The dry mouth, constipation and weight gain – 50 lbs in 9 years! – were all nuisances worth putting up with to avoid a migraine. But now I started thinking, I’m well into menopause, perhaps I don’t need the amitriptyline so much any more. And so began my unpleasant journey through withdrawal symptoms. I cut my dose in half for a couple of weeks and then quit it completely. Perhaps this was too fast and a little too reckless.

The first thing I noticed was a blessing – saliva production! Oh what a precious gift to be able to moisturize my mouth naturally again! Talk about a feeling of restoration and renewal…

But the nausea, malaise and fatigue have been most unwelcome and difficult to live with. Still, I’m determined to continue and to make it through this miserable ordeal. I’ve been allowing myself extra sleep and long naps, with the idea of healing this body. Less than two weeks remain before our trip to Europe and I do finally seem to be feeling a little better each day. I’m not getting any more headaches than usual and the Zomig continues to take care of them, so that’s a relief. That result alone has made this experiment all worth it.

Last night while reading I came across the quote above. It made me smile at the mention of nine years because that’s how long my physical atoms have had to grow accustomed to amitriptyline. Also, it makes me happy to know that they will steadily be replaced with a new set of molecules over the next nine years. Lots of time for regeneration…

swamp rose mallow

8.18.13 ~ Groton, Connecticut
swamp rose mallow ~ 8.18.13 ~ Groton, Connecticut

Those who dwell, as scientists or laymen, among the beauties and mysteries of the earth are never alone or weary of life. Whatever the vexations or concerns of their personal lives, their thoughts can find paths that lead to inner contentment and to renewed excitement in living. Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts. There is symbolic as well as actual beauty in the migration of birds, the ebb and flow of the tides, the folded bud ready for the spring. There is something infinitely healing in the repeated refrains of nature – the assurance that dawn comes after night, and spring after the winter.
~ Rachel Carson
(The Sense of Wonder)

Native to New England, swamp rose mallow grows along the salt pond near our beach and blooms from July to September. It is tall, reaching 4 to 7 feet high, and the lovely pink five-petal flowers are 4 to 7 inches wide. This sorrowful summer, when I’m in town, we go down to the beach nearly every day, sometimes twice a day. Enjoying the sight of these cheerful flowers en route helps me find those reserves of strength and healing Rachel Carson wrote about.

8.18.13 ~ Groton, Connecticut
8.18.13 ~ Groton, Connecticut

great black-backed gulls

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8.19.12 ~ Eastern Point Beach

The seagulls know the truth of it
And scream it overhead
~ David Gray
♫ (Nos Da Cariad) ♫

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8.19.12 ~ Eastern Point Beach

Growing up visiting the beaches of Cape Cod I never paid close attention to seagulls, taking them very much for granted. But in 2011, after reading the book, A Time for Everything, by Karl O. Knausgård, I’ve been drawn to these interesting sea birds. However, it wasn’t until April of last year (2012) that I noticed that there are different kinds of seagulls, when I saw a pair of black-headed gulls perched on a dock at Cumberland Island National Seashore in Georgia.

Now I’m pretty sure the gulls we commonly have on our beach here in Connecticut are ring-billed gulls. One day last August (2012), Tim & I were having a light supper sitting at a picnic table on the grass at our beach. We were chatting away and I was watching a gull behind him, who was loitering on the grass, hoping for a handout. (We never give them anything, however, because our food is not good for them.) Slowly it dawned on me that this was the biggest gull I had ever laid eyes on! And yet he had the speckled coloring of an immature one.

Thankfully I had my camera, but when Tim turned around to see what I was so excited about the gull took off. He came back, however, and began strutting along the sidewalk as if he owned the place.

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8.19.12 ~ Eastern Point Beach

Eventually he walked up onto the rocks and posed for me.

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8.19.12 ~ Eastern Point Beach
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8.19.12 ~ Eastern Point Beach

In the pictures above and below I was trying to capture this huge baby standing as close to an adult “regular” gull as I could, to illustrate the difference in size. There were two of these large gulls present that day, but this was the one that came closer to us.

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8.19.12 ~ Eastern Point Beach

Ten days after this gull encounter at the beach we had to take Tim to the hospital in the middle of the night. At dawn I came home to shower and then return to the hospital. As I started driving down Bank Street in New London there was a seagull in the middle of the street, feasting on some roadkill. He didn’t move out of the way of my car until it was almost too late. When he did take off he didn’t fly away, though. He kept flying just a few feet in front of my car, flying very low, all the way down Bank Street to Parade Plaza.

If seagull shows up it means it’s time to clean up your home environment and let go of and recycle as much as you possibly can. … Spend a significant amount of time at the seashore meditating, allowing the rhythms of the waves and the wind to be your guiding pulse.
~ Dr. Steven D. Farmer
(Animal Spirit Guides)

It wasn’t until late September, when we took a day trip to Block Island, that we got a clue about the identity of these giant seagulls. Our tour guide asked us if we had ever seen a great black-backed gull, the largest of all gulls. Apparently they are showing up on Block Island, too!

After Tim came home from the hospital, but before we went to Block Island, son Nate came up from Georgia to help “clean out our home environment” after Tim’s hospital stay. While he was here we took him to the beach one evening, all excited about showing him the big seagulls. But they weren’t there that night. However, we sat with him there for hours, soaking up the healing power of the sea and talking about the wonders of the universe – a memory I will treasure forever. The following sketch reminds me of some of our conversations, Mr. Logic and Ms. Wonder, chatting with their son…

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image: Sketchnotes: Natalie Batalha on Exoplanets & Love

Since Nate left to go back home we have spotted the great black-backed gulls at the beach again many times, even after Hurricane Sandy and Blizzard Charlotte, so it looks like the two of them are planning to stick around for a while. And my sister has reported seeing them there a couple of times, too, when she’s gone to the beach to eat a peaceful lunch in her car. Beverly thought I had to be exaggerating until she saw them for herself!

days of darkness

illustration by Lennart Helje (1885-1922) Swedish Illustrator
illustration by Lennart Helje

Our governor has asked all the churches in our state to ring their bells twenty-six times this coming Friday morning, in memory of twenty innocent children and six brave women who were gunned down in their elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut four days ago, last Friday.

As the chilling details of this horrific story have been unfolding we have been thinking of little else. We are numb, still stunned, deeply saddened. Our hearts ache for the first responders and for the parents, families and friends who lost a precious loved one so suddenly and so inexplicably.

As the light begins to return on the winter solstice, as the bells are ringing, as prayers, sympathy and blessings continue to be offered, may the light of comfort and healing shine a little brighter and a little longer in the days to follow.

It may be that when we no longer know what to do we have come to our real work and that when we no longer know which way to go we have begun our real journey.
~ Wendell Berry
(Standing by Words: Essays)

white lions

image credit: PBS/Nature

Our route toward spiritual evolution is radiantly clear. We all have our own unique individual journey to walk toward enlightenment. Living on the brink of evolutionary change means that new ground is being broken and new consciousness is being raised. Truth is of the essence – we have no dogma, no set formula, no prescribed rules, no false standards to follow. All we have is the truth within our souls. I believe most of us want to follow the light, the path of healing and not destroying our earth, but we don’t have the courage, the lion heart, to follow our individual truth toward enlightenment. Giving in to our fears, we bury our “gold” beneath the false value systems of our societies, and we attempt to comfort ourselves with the notion that we have no power or responsibility for what is happening to our world. The reality is that, potentially, we all have the power of light – the White Lion – within us. The very first step is to overcome our fears. Thereafter, our hearts will lead the way.
~ Linda Tucker
(Mystery of the White Lions: Children of the Sun God)

stickwork sculpture

10.26.11 ~ Old Lyme, Connecticut
10.26.11 ~ Old Lyme, Connecticut

Brushing my teeth with my left hand is getting very old. Although my right hand, which was injured so badly on October 1st, is making a lot of progress in its healing, I’m still waiting for new skin to completely cover the worst/last spot on the edge of my palm. And while I can use most of the fingers now, my pinkie still winces when I put any pressure on it. But I did manage to chop an onion on my own and drive the car a couple of days ago.

10.26.11 ~ Old Lyme, Connecticut
10.26.11 ~ Old Lyme, Connecticut

Been feeling very frustrated and lethargic this week, and spending way too much time watching TV. I think I’ve caught just about every news conference our governor has called to update Connecticut residents on the very slow progress the utility crews are making restoring power. As of this morning, 200,000+ customers are still without electricity, seven days after the storm. A couple of times Gov. Malloy has said that the last time we had a storm like this in October was never…

10.26.11 ~ Old Lyme, Connecticut
Janet ~ 10.26.11 ~ Old Lyme, Connecticut

Janet and I spent an afternoon at the Florence Griswold Museum a couple of weeks ago – it seems so much longer ago – and I will resume posting pictures of the fairy tale birdhouses soon. But for now I’m sharing a few pictures of a stickwork sculpture that was also on the museum grounds. The artist is Patrick Dougherty at Stickwork. His website lists other places he has installations. We were enchanted! (I wonder if it survived the storm!)

10.26.11 ~ Old Lyme, Connecticut
10.26.11 ~ Old Lyme, Connecticut