Avery Point

9.15.10 ~ Beach Pond

Yesterday Janet and I decided to take a walk around the Avery Point campus of the University of Connecticut, here in Groton. On our way to the entrance of the campus we spotted a white heron and I tried to get a picture of it… When I inadvertently got too close, it decided to fly over to the other side of the salt pond.

Avery Point was named for Captain James Avery (1620-1700), who was born in England, came to the colonies with his father, fought in King Philip’s War, and was an early settler of New London and Groton, Connecticut.

The college campus itself was originally a 70 acre seaside estate owned by Commodore Morton F. Plant (1852-1918), a yachtsman and financier, who in 1915, was noted for giving $1,125,000 to the founding of Connecticut College for Women (now Connecticut College) in New London. Plant’s property on Avery Point was eventually acquired by the University of Connecticut in 1969.

Besides his home at 1051 Fifth Avenue [NYC], Commodore Plant owned Branford House, a magnificent estate at Eastern Point Colony, three miles from Groton, opposite New London, on the east bank of the mouth of the Thames [River].
(The New York Times, November 5, 1918)

9.15.10 ~ Avery Point
9.15.10 ~ Avery Point, New London Ledge Light

First we strolled along the Sculpture Path by the Sea, where we took in the sparkling views of Eastern Point, New London, New London Ledge Lighthouse (above), Pine Island, Bluff Point and Groton Long Point.

9.15.10 ~ Avery Point
9.15.10 ~ Avery Point Light

The path led us by an impressive view of the 31-room mansion called Branford House, which was built in 1903, and then on to the Avery Point Lighthouse, the last lighthouse built in Connecticut in 1943. The lighthouse stopped being used in 1967 and fell into disrepair. Funds were raised by the Avery Point Lighthouse Society and in 2001 restoration began and in 2002 it was added to the National Register of Historic Places.

Now I’ve lived in Groton for several decades and I knew there was a little art gallery somewhere in Branford House, but since it is open only for a few hours on only a few days of the week, and because there are no signs indicating where one might enter the building, I have never managed to visit it.

9.15.10 ~ Avery Point
9.15.10 ~ Avery Point

Well, as we were examining all the architectural details on the outside of the building we discovered an unlocked door. Pent up curiosity pulled me in and Janet followed. There were several huge empty rooms, which I believe people have rented for functions like weddings… We poked around, admired the breathtaking views, enormous fireplace, and dark, intricately carved paneling, and eventually came to a grand staircase. Even the white ceiling (see last picture) had detailed paneling! Climbed the stairs and, what-do-you-know? We were in the lobby of the well hidden Alexey von Schlippe Gallery of Art! Alexey von Schlippe (1915-1988) was a painter and a professor of art at UConn’s Avery Point campus.

The current exhibition is a collection from the Latin Network for the Visual Arts. After viewing the colorful artwork of various current Latin artists, we noticed a very narrow staircase with marble steps! Again curiosity pulled me to go down them to what seemed to be a coat closet and another doorway to the main rooms again. Came away wishing I could get a floor plan somehow – I think it would be fascinating to see how the rooms and hallways were arranged and what each room was used for.

9.15.10 ~ Avery Point
9.15.10 ~ Avery Point
9.15.10 ~ Avery Point
9.15.10 ~ Avery Point

I should add as a footnote that Project Oceanology is also located on the Avery Point Campus. This marine science and environmental education organization offers lighthouse expeditions, oceanographic research cruises and seal watches to the public, other things I’d love to do one of these days.

9.15.10 ~ Avery Point
9.15.10 ~ Avery Point

HMB

3.6.10 ~ Avery Point

OMG!  I have (or had – not sure yet) an officially lettered condition!

Menorrhagia. I have suffered from it for many years but no doctor ever offered me a name for it. Last week my daughter casually mentioned that there is a new drug for it. So much else was going on at the time that the news didn’t sink in right away. But tonight I was stuck watching the commercials during the news and there it was: lighterperiod.com.

“Isn’t it ironic?” I can hear Alanis Morissette’s voice singing the question. Especially now that I seem to be tapering off the monthly HMB. Too late to do me any good.

I also hear Neil Young singing, “Don’t need no ad machine… Telling me what I need.” Not sure what the drug is and what the risks of using it will turn out to be. Maybe I would not have wanted it, reasoning that it might do more harm than good.

Every last sign and symptom listed on the Mayo Clinic website describes my experience with HMB. The only solutions to the problem that I’ve ever been offered in the past were a hysterectomy or synthetic hormones. No, thank you.

Hey, if Senator Bob Dole can talk about his ED in nationally televised ads, I guess I can’t be blamed for being excited to talk about my HMB. With any luck I won’t have to for much longer, though. But it would have been nice to be able to say, “Sorry about this, but I can’t leave the house today because of my HMB.”

I never suffered with PMS, making me a hormonal exception to the rule. The week before was always the best time of the month for me. Maybe someday HMB will be a household word, like ED and PMS. In the meantime I plan to get as much mileage out of this handy acronym as I can!

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

Grandmother

9.3.10 ~ Groton, Connecticut
9.3.10 ~ Groton, Connecticut

Yesterday my heart and mind were out on Cape Cod, watching and waiting to see what Hurricane Earl would do as it passed by. It was also the day my grandmother died, fourteen years ago, at the age of 90. It was a good day for lingering over pleasant memories.

Grandmother was a typical Cape Codder. As far as I know, all of her ancestors lived out their lives on Cape Cod, or were lost at sea, all of them descending from passengers on the Mayflower and other early English settlers on the Cape. Except for her great-grandfather, who came from Norway, and his wife, her great-grandmother, who came from Ireland. Both of her grandfathers and her father were sea captains, like their fathers before them. Grandmother told me all the time that the sea was in my blood.

Thankfully New England was spared Earl’s fury as the storm kept veering off to the east and weakening. We were very happy to make do without any more excitement! We went down to the beach during a break in the rain and there was some minor flooding from a little storm surge. Normally there is about twenty feet between the life guard chair and the water’s edge, but now the breaking waves came right up to the chair. (See photo above.) We were wondering about the line of birds hunkered down on the rocks in the distance. Couldn’t make out what they were. The breakwaters were almost covered with water.

But all in all, Hurricane Earl was a non-event.

Pop & Uncle Ed

I love this picture of my grandmother’s father, Capt. Martin F. Thompson (Pop), and her granduncle, Edward E. Swift (Uncle Ed), who lived to the age of 102. It was taken in Woods Hole in front of the hardware and ship’s chandler’s shop they used to run behind the Swifts’ house.

The sign used to read:  “Edward E. Swift, Dealer in Hardware, Cordage, Paints, Oil, Glass, and Galvanized Nails and Specialty.”

Uncle Ed  used to build and race 13-foot spritsail boats. After Uncle Ed died in 1964, my grandmother donated one of the spritsails he built to Mystic Seaport, a living history museum here in Connecticut, where it is still exhibited.

After spending many years caring for her children and then her parents and Uncle Ed & Aunt Flora, Grandmother spent the rest of her life pursuing her interests in nature photography and entomology. The little picture of me on the beach (in the sidebar on this blog) was taken by my grandmother. My grandparents were founding members of the Cape Cod Viewfinders Camera Club. The subjects of most of Grandmother’s photos were, of course, bugs…

Emma F. Thompson

While she was an artist and I have several of her watercolors hanging on my walls, more than anything she loved capturing perfectly composed photographs of butterfly eggs, caterpillars, chrysalises, and emerging adults. Grandfather was a land surveyor and Grandmother would go out with him on surveys and find the butterfly and moth eggs of various species and bring them home on their leaves and then put them in outdoor aquariums in her back yard. She made sure each one had the right leaves for its diet, and they were free to fly away after they emerged. Each time I visited I got a grand tour of her latest collection.

Often she would warn us as we sat down to dinner that someone was due to emerge from its cocoon or chrysalis at any moment and that we would have to excuse her if she had to dash away from the table to photograph the event. She was very proper, but also very mischievous. Once when my father was teasing her at the breakfast table, she got him back by impishly buttering the back of his hand. She never lost her sense of wonder and curiosity and I loved her so much for bringing lots of magic into my childhood.

Mum & Grandmother

It was so much fun having my grandmother as my first and best pen pal. Even though we made the trip to Cape Cod to see my grandparents about once a month, we’d exchange letters once or twice a week. We both loved reading and writing… I still have her newsy letters, and later was delighted to discover that she had kept all of mine.

The picture to the right is of my great-grandmother, Amanda Eliza Hamblin (Mum) and my grandmother, Emma Freeman “Thommie” Thompson. Amanda’s father was a sea captain, too. Thompson was the surname chosen by my ancestor, Martin Thompson, who was born in Brevik, Norway in 1818. At birth his name was Ingebrigt Martinus Hansen, and he was the son of Hans Tønnesen. He Americanized Tønnesen to Thompson when he arrived in America, a month before his 19th birthday.

My sister illustrated (with little sailboats and seagulls) a poem I wrote at a very early age, which we gave as a gift to our grandmother, who framed it and kept it hanging in her breakfast nook. It went something like this:

I love Cape Cod
Oh yes I do.
The sea, the sand,
Grandmother, too.
I love the Cape
So much, don’t you?

hurricanes and heart attacks

“Storm Landscape” by Franz Stuck

The mixture of the calm with the storm is not haphazard. Quite the contrary. My growth is at the center of each. I will trust its message.
~ Karen Casey
(Each Day a New Beginning: Daily Meditations for Women)

It’s been an unsettling week, to say the least. We’ve been keeping a wary eye on Hurricane Earl since Sunday, hoping it stays on its predicted course and brushes past us to the east tomorrow with minimal damage. The tropical storm watch was upgraded to a tropical storm warning today at noon. Cape Cod is now under a hurricane warning and for some reason I have a desire to go there.

Sometimes it seems that all there is to talk about is the remarkable weather. Yesterday and today we’ve had a heat index of 100º. Today many towns nearby are letting their schools out early because of the heat. The weed pollen levels are “very high.” And there is an air quality alert to boot. The advancing storm should be eliminating all these problems when it arrives. I don’t usually watch the news at noon, where I learned all these bits of information, but I was curious about the hurricane.

Any threat of hurricanes stirs up frightening memories for my father and his sisters. The Great Hurricane of 1938 descended on my father without warning as he was walking home from high school in the afternoon. Fierce winds were snapping branches off trees and other trees were being uprooted as he struggled to keep walking. According to Wikipedia it “remains the most powerful, costliest and deadliest hurricane in New England history.”

When Dad got home he discovered that his mother wasn’t home, only his father, two of his sisters, and a baby nephew. At the height of the storm they were all trying desperately to keep walls from crashing in on them, bolstering them up with heavy furniture and the weight of their bodies. Still, the hardest part was not knowing if his mother was safe, and his sister’s husband, too.

After the storm passed by Dad’s mother returned home. She had decided it would be safer to stay at the neighbor’s house where she happened to be when the hurricane struck. Auntie’s husband was caught at work in New London which had flooded with the storm surge, so he stayed there to help rescue people. Not knowing what had become of him for several days was hard for the family to endure.

Well, thanks to modern technology we can worry a little less about the storm coming tomorrow. And modern technology was at work for Tim’s family this week as well.

On Monday Tim’s younger brother, age 51, had a heart attack. He lives overseas in Luxembourg so we found out about it on Tuesday. It was such an emotional jolt. Since Tuesday Tim’s been trying to make contact with him at the hospital using Skype and finally this morning they connected and had a long conversation, comparing notes, etc. This is still more evidence of a genetic factor at work here, their maternal grandmother died of a heart attack at age 54 – the age Tim was when he had his – and their great-grandmother died of a heart attack at age 52. Tim has four more younger brothers and it’s pretty sobering contemplating the possibilities, although we can all be very grateful for the advances in medicine that no doubt have saved two lives so far.

Our inner selves understand the journey; a journey destined to carry us to new horizons; a journey that promises many stormy seasons. For to reach our destination, we must be willing to weather the storms. They are challenges, handpicked for us, designed to help us become all that we need to be in this earthly life.
~ Karen Casey
(Each Day a New Beginning: Daily Meditations for Women)

praying mantis

8.29.10 ~ Groton, Connecticut
8.29.10 ~ Sound Breeze

This morning when I woke up I told myself, okay Lazy Bones, you are not turning that computer on today until AFTER you get some work done. Since the house got a real good cleaning last weekend I decided that weeding the garden would be a good project to tackle. Problem was, it was still dark, early bird that I am. So I decided to read until the sun came up.

A couple of weeks ago we saw the movie Eat Pray Love, and I enjoyed it so much I bought the book the next day and started reading. The spiritual journeys of other people are always of great interest to me. Many critics panned the movie, but I loved the subject matter and didn’t notice all the supposed faults the critics picked out. So be it! The book is even better than the movie because Elizabeth Gilbert shares her internal thoughts more intimately than can be done on film.

The book (and the movie) is divided into three sections, the first (Eat) focuses on Pleasure and tells of her experiences in Italy. The second (Pray) focuses on Devotion and tells about her time in an ashram in India, and the third (Love) focuses on Balance, and how she found it in Indonesia. This morning I finished the Pray portion and took some time to meditate on what she had learned about spiritual seeking. Then a phone call from Auntie woke Tim up and the day was beginning, so I headed out to the garden.

Tim left to do a couple of errands (coffee, newspaper, organic free-range farm-fresh eggs) and I started weeding with gusto and great determination. The moon was still out in the blue sky – welcome company. I filled one laundry basket with weeds and had another half filled when I happened to notice the huge insect in the picture above. He was six inches long!!! Not wanting to disturb him, and frankly, quite awe-struck, I stopped weeding and then realized it was a praying mantis! The synchronicity of a creature with this particular name appearing in my garden when I was immersed in thoughts about prayer filled me with wonder.

Tim came home to find his over-excited, hot, sweaty, filthy wife jumping up and down on the porch urging him to get the camera, get the camera. It was all I could do to point with my blistered finger at the cause of all this delirious joy! He went inside and got the camera and tried to hand it to me but I said my hands were too dirty he was going to have to get this picture for me! And I think he did a fantastic job capturing the well camouflaged creature with our undependable little camera!

Earlier this summer while sitting outside with Dad on his porch, I spotted what looked to me like a tiny green inch worm with legs. Next time Beverly passed by I showed it to her and she said it was a baby praying mantis! It was so tiny the pictures didn’t come out…

2006 ~ Woodbridge, Virginia

And back in 2006 we found a praying mantis (pictured above) on the side of Dan & Fran’s house in Virginia.

There are about 2,000 species of these carnivores world-wide! They eat insects and spiders so I hope ours will be staying in the garden – perhaps I should leave a few weeds for him to hide in. By the time I cleared away all the tools and swept off the porch he had moved backwards down the iris leaf he was on, but he was still there. Will be checking on him every time I leave the house!

So, here I am at the computer again, after a nice long shower, of course. Step away from the computer now, Barbara, you still have laundry to do. But maybe a little Scrabble first… Starting to keep an eye on Tropical Storm Earl – it might be around here as a hurricane mid-week if it keeps to its present course… Step away…

except for the wind

"The West Wind" by Winslow Homer
“The West Wind” by Winslow Homer

There’s a Mary Chapin Carpenter song, Zephyr, that keeps tugging at my heart the past couple of months. The lyrics may be about romantic connections but they stir up feelings about family ties for me. (Some of the lyrics included in italics.)

Why do crickets chirping in August sound so sad to me?

I don’t know nothing, nothing today…

“Good” stress vs. “bad” stress. How do we know which is which? When Tim was going through his cardio-rehab program I attended the group discussion about stress with him. The nurse moderating the discussion stressed that if something seemed stressful to you then it is stressful, no matter how anyone else might feel in the same situation.

“Good” stress: Tim came home from his trip to England with an assortment of cheeses and wanted to have a cheese tasting party. An incentive to clean the house!!! The party was wonderful!!! Our home is so clean!!!

“Bad” stress: unrelenting for the past few years… I used to be known as a meticulously clean homemaker, who often rearranged furniture and redecorated, but I no longer have the energy or the inclination to stay on top of things. A homebody by nature… Well, that’s not entirely true…

I’m a zephyr on the inside
And it’s a hard ride when you feel yourself tied down
Hide-and-earth bound
But there’s no tether, on a zephyr

Because my father’s and my aunt’s situations are so distressing to me, when I find myself with “free” time I usually read or blog or redecorate my blogs, which is so very soothing and relaxing. Forget the housework. But it has been nice writing this today in a house a good deal cleaner than it’s been in a very long time.

I tried to be constant just like a star
I tried to be steady and yar
But the storms keep breaking over my head
I’m aching for blue skies instead

What is “yar,” Mary Chapin? Sounds like a sailing word… She must mean yare, which is pronounced “yar.” I love looking things up! An adjective “describing a boat that handles with little effort. A good sailing design, quick and capable.” I have the feeling I should have known this. It sounds like a word my grandparents might have used. “Steady as she goes,” I do recall. Steady and yare, steady and yare…

Wish I could handle things with just a little less effort, because

I’m a zephyr on the inside
And it’s a hard ride when you feel your heart tied down…

…All of the wings I’ve ridden back home to you
All the things I’ve given I’ve wanted to
All that you see has always belonged to you
Except for the wind…

Yes, my dear family, little ones, elderly ones, and dead ones, I’ve freely chosen to give them all I’ve had in me to give. Even if it’s hard, love keeps me from flying away… As Louisa May Alcott once wrote, “I’m not afraid of storms, for I’m learning how to sail my ship.” Steady and yare…

Love is all there is and time is just sand
And I might just slip through your hands

I took Auntie to the surgeon for a consultation again. More skin cancer to be removed, this time from her leg. It makes me remember when my children were young and Auntie was newly retired so she came to our lovely little beach with us all summer long. Time is just sand on the beach, and time often stood still on those endless days.

Those were good times, watching the kids’ swimming lessons, reading novels, chatting, soaking up the sun, damaging our skin.

The time a seagull pooped on our umbrella and us laughing at the antics of the kids dragging the umbrella to the outdoor shower in a futile attempt to clean it off with water… The times the gulls stole our fries or those scrumptious $1.50 each kraut-dogs… Melting ice cream dripping down sticky, salty bellies and legs… “Watch me swim out to the raft, Mom!” Marveling about the fact that we could hear their conversations out on the raft but they could not hear us calling them from the beach. Sound travels only one way over the water. I can still hear their voices sometimes…

The outdoorsy kid always in the water. The creative kid, drawing on or sculpting in the sand. The future social worker coming for frequent cuddles and eating all the slices of cantaloupe when no one was paying attention. The time Grandma & Grandpa came for a picnic and we all took a walk and saw three baby swans riding on a mother swan’s back as she swam around the salt pond… The year the kids were interviewed by a newspaper reporter about the Lion’s Mane Jellyfish population explosion…

Larisa K. Rodgers, a sixth grader, became a victim Monday. “All I know is, it hurts,” she said. Larisa was swimming at Eastern Point Beach when she was stung on both thighs, dashed out of the water and ran to the first aid room. “It rashes up really big,” she said, though she needn’t have explained. …. “I’ve noticed more,” said Larisa’s brother, Jonathan, who has his own method of measuring the jellyfish problem. He says he gets stung about once a summer, but this summer he’s been stung three times.

[Source: “Beware of the blob! Jellyfish numbers increase,” by Steve Grant, The Hartford Courant, Hartford, Connecticut, 13 August 1992, page 1]

As I’ve been for many years, I’m still grounded, but…

I’m a zephyr on the inside
And it’s a hard ride when you feel your life tied down
Hide-and-earth bound but there’s no tether…

my first tornado warning!

Image: National Geographic

Southeastern Connecticut doesn’t usually have many exciting weather events and I’ve pondered whether I should bother to write about the wild thunderstorm we had Thursday morning. Maybe it has just taken me this long for me to gather my wits about me again.

I was at the computer, perhaps playing Scrabble, enjoying the start of a day all to myself. Heard some rumbling of thunder and didn’t think much of it, except that it rarely thunders in the morning here and it seems to be happening a bit lately. Then a blue jay started calling at my window, very insistently. I finally got up to see what all the fuss was about. When I came to the window it flew off the balcony to a nearby tree, now quiet, but staring at me. The storm was coming on fast and I didn’t like the feel of it. Then suddenly it was right overhead – it felt like someone was dropping boulder after boulder on the roof and the house was shaking. The lightning was striking fast and furious, crackling and sizzling like it was ripping the air to shreds.

About 8:45 I turned on the TV just as the station was interrupting programming and two meteorologists appeared with their dazzling technology. They pointed right to our town where the darkest red indicator was right overhead. They zoomed in – there was our street right under the reddest red. There was a tornado warning, too, and Dr. Mel informed us that this was the first early morning tornado warning ever issued in the history of southeastern Connecticut. Then he advised us to turn the TV up really loud and go down to the basement.

I didn’t do it. I froze in fear. It makes me wonder about my ability to respond appropriately in an emergency. When I spoke to my sister about it she said instinct probably was making me play dead like a terrified bunny.

There were multiple reports of a funnel cloud over the river, but later in the day authorities determined it was smoke coming from an industrial stack. Then the civil defense sirens started wailing from 9:02 to 9:05. (By now I was taking notes…) I kept expecting some sort of announcement from the loudspeakers but there was no message. A warning with no instructions – very puzzling. I kept watching the TV as the storm moved to the east, until it left our area and regular programming resumed.

A news report quoted one woman saying, “I scooped up my 3-year-old out of a dead sleep, grabbed him and ran into the bathroom. I heard the sirens go off, which seemed like forever.” Maybe if I had a child to protect I would have been less paralyzed, maternal instinct might have kicked in.

After it was gone the experience seemed surreal, as if I had dreamed it. But Nate called to see how I was, since Tim was away visiting his brother in England, so I guess it did happen. He saw 4 or 5 lightning strikes right outside his window at work. I never looked out the window, probably a wise move. It was the worst thunderstorm I have ever experienced! Although it probably wouldn’t have seemed that bad to someone who lives in Kansas… The storm did leave behind downed trees and wires, and flooded streets. Several homes were hit with lightning and there were power outages.

The blue jay came back to sit on the balcony again, apparently no worse for wear. But it was trying out some different sounding calls. Wish I could have understood its version of the disturbance!

The following is from the town webpage:

Shortly before 9am on August 5th, the National Weather Service issued a Tornado Warning for New London County and targeted Groton and our immediate shoreline being at highest risk. The Town’s emergency sirens, located throughout town, were activated in response to this immediate threat to life and property.

This event was the first time the emergency sirens were activated for a tornado warning and this tornado warning was the first issued for our area in recent memory. Due to the extreme weather patterns we have experienced over the past year or so, the chance of more storms of this type cannot be discounted.

blessings

Bernie by the succulent garden ~ 7.29.10 ~ Storrs, Connecticut
Bernie by the succulent garden ~ 7.29.10 ~ Storrs, Connecticut

As difficult a day as Wednesday was, Thursday I started feeling less flustered and more grounded. And a bit sheepish.

Before I went up to Dad’s I stayed home a while to watch The View to see the interview with President Obama. I came away from it with a restored feeling of hope… I won’t go into politics, but listening to him talk without the pundit filter reassured me that he is still the same man who I came to trust, respect and admire while reading his two books, Dreams from My Father and The Audacity of Hope. I like that he is so even keeled and doesn’t lose sight of the big picture. It set the tone for a much better day!

We had a good visit from Dad’s “baby” sister. Aunt Em is 81. She’s a vivacious widow who lives in Maryland near her children and grandchildren, and still drives by herself on long trips like the eight-hour one from Maryland to Connecticut. Her presence is a tonic to Dad and Auntie. Together, they are the three surviving siblings of a family of eight children.

It was hot and humid, perfect weather for Papa who, like many elderly ones, always seems to be cold. There is a space heater in every room he occupies, and they are used often, even in the summer. So he wasn’t a bit hot in his flannel shirt! We wheeled him out to the landing on the wheelchair ramp and got a chair for Aunt Em, and left them to have some time alone together.

I went for a non-walk with Bernie. It was too humid for him to move around, I suspect, but he decided to soak up some sun on a stone wall. Cats are solar-powered, you know. But he could do without the humidity, being a cat hailing from arid New Mexico! It fascinates me that to the naked eye, Bernie’s blind eyes look a dull solid yellowish-gray. But the camera reveals all sorts of colors, each shot making his eyes look like multicolored marbles.

Since Bernie didn’t seem to be going anywhere, I snuck around the side of the house and surprised Aunt Em and Dad. “Paparazzi!” I announced, while climbing up the outside railing of the ramp, aiming the camera between the bushes. At first Dad didn’t understand the joke but Aunt Em found it hysterical. She stopped laughing long enough to explain the humor to him and then he started laughing, too. Got two snapshots – it’s been such a long time since Dad has laughed out loud!

paparazzi shot, Dad and Aunt Em ~ 7.29.10 ~ Storrs, Connecticut
paparazzi shot, Dad and Aunt Em ~ 7.29.10 ~ Storrs, Connecticut

Aunt Em treated us all to a take-out dinner in the evening after Auntie and Larisa arrived. Spending a few moments catching up and making plans with my daughter was wonderful…

When I made it home, tired after the hour-long drive, I found a tube of natural progesterone cream on the kitchen counter. After work my darling husband had made the trip through heavy summer tourist traffic to the nearest health food store. (The progesterone already seems to be helping!) I am grateful and blessed.