many a word ~ a quirk of speech

Credit: Library of Congress Photo Collection, 1840-2000/Ancestry.com

Man is no mushroom growth of yesterday.
His roots strike deep into the hallow’d mould
Of the dead centuries; ordinances old
Govern us, whether gladly we obey
Or vainly struggle to resist their sway:

Our thoughts by ancient thinkers are controll’d,
And many a word in which our thoughts are told
Was coined long since in regions far away.
The strong-soul’d nations, destin’d to be great,
Honour their sires and reverence the Past;
They cherish and improve their heritage.
The weak, in blind self trust or headlong rage,
The olden time’s transmitted treasure cast
Behind them, and bemoan their loss too late.

~ John Kells Ingram
(Sonnets & Other Poems)

The things we think and say and do. We don’t grow up in a vacuum, our parents teach us many things, either by word or example. Their parents taught them, too. Messages and mannerisms get passed down through the generations, often without awareness. Subconsciously we just know and do.

When we were getting tucked into bed as children, our mother would tell us to sleep tight and wish us sweet dreams. Who was the first mother who used this expression? At the end of one of the last phone calls I had with my mother before she died, she said “sleep tight” instead of “good-bye.” I hadn’t heard her say that in years, although I was saying it often to my own children at bedtime.

The “tight” in “sleep tight,” meaning “sleep soundly,” almost certainly comes from the use of “tight” and “tightly” to mean “soundly, securely, properly,” a use that dates back to Shakespeare. The phrase “sleep tight” also first appeared in the mid-19th century.
(The Word Detective, August 14, 2008)

Although I may not agree with all the sentiments in John Kells Ingram’s poem, I do love the idea that “many a word in which our thoughts are told was coined long since in regions far away.” It reminds me of a quote I like even better, which I shared in a post seven years ago.

We all grow up with the weight of history on us. Our ancestors dwell in the attics of our brains as they do in the spiraling chains of knowledge hidden in every cell of our bodies. These spirits form our lives, and they may reveal themselves in mere trivialities – a quirk of speech, a way of folding a shirt. From the earliest days of my life, I encountered the past at every turn, in every season.
~ Shirley Abbott
(Womenfolks: Growing Up Down South)

winter in the marsh

2.20.19 ~ Barn Island ~ marsh observation area

Yesterday Janet and I explored Barn Island Wildlife Management Area in Stonington, the “largest primitive coastal area left unspoiled in Connecticut.” It was a cloudy, chilly winter afternoon, with snow flurries starting up just as we were leaving.

2.20.19 ~ Barn Island ~ Red-breasted Merganser
2.20.19 ~ Barn Island ~ moss and ice on stone
2.20.19 ~ Barn Island ~ trees with fluffy moss?
2.20.19 ~ Barn Island ~ tidal creek
2.20.19 ~ Barn Island ~ solitary evergreen
2.20.19 ~ Barn Island ~ one tree with shelf mushrooms
2.20.19 ~ Barn Island ~ feather
2.20.19 ~ Barn Island ~ ice falling into ebbing tide
2.20.19 ~ Barn Island ~ juvenile common loon
2.20.19 ~ Barn Island ~ juvenile common loon
2.20.19 ~ Barn Island
2.20.19 ~ Barn Island ~ ice falling into ebbing tide
2.20.19 ~ Barn Island
2.20.19 ~ Barn Island ~ spotted wintergreen
2.20.19 ~ Barn Island
2.20.19 ~ Barn Island
2.20.19 ~ Barn Island ~ great blue heron
2.20.19 ~ Barn Island ~ great blue heron

devoted to trees

3.23.13 ~ New London, Connecticut
trailhead ~ 3.23.13 ~ New London, Connecticut

This past weekend we took a long walk in the woods at Connecticut College Arboretum, and found ourselves fascinated with all the dead and dying trees. Some have been recently toppled, either by Hurricane Sandy or Blizzard Charlotte. This is the time of year to see deep into the woods, before the view is obscured by green foliage.

3.23.13 ~ New London, Connecticut
a mighty one fallen ~ 3.23.13 ~ New London, Connecticut

This fallen tree brought underground stones, embedded in its root system, up into the air, along with the soil.

3.23.13 ~ New London, Connecticut
3.23.13 ~ New London, Connecticut

3.23.13 ~ New London, Connecticut
Tim (5’8″) to give some perspective ~ 3.23.13 ~ New London, Connecticut

3.23.13 ~ New London, Connecticut
skunk cabbage ~ 3.23.13 ~ New London, Connecticut

Skunk cabbage is one of the first plants to bloom in spring. Its flowers are often partly or wholly hidden beneath last year’s fallen leaves. Like many other dark-colored flowers, skunk cabbage is pollinated mostly by flies. The flowers actually produce heat — a benefit to the flies out in cold weather. The leaves emerge after the flowers. They smell unpleasant if they are crushed, hence the name “skunk cabbage.”
~ Connecticut Botanical Society

3.23.13 ~ New London, Connecticut
dying of natural causes ~ 3.23.13 ~ New London, Connecticut

3.23.13 ~ New London, Connecticut
living with scars and imperfections ~ 3.23.13 ~ New London, Connecticut

3.23.13 ~ New London, Connecticut
roots anchored in massive boulders ~ 3.23.13 ~ New London, Connecticut

3.23.13 ~ New London, Connecticut
boulders deposited by ancient glaciers ~ 3.23.13 ~ New London, Connecticut

3.23.13 ~ New London, Connecticut
3.23.13 ~ New London, Connecticut

3.23.13 ~ New London, Connecticut
roots partly above water ~ 3.23.13 ~ New London, Connecticut

3.23.13 ~ New London, Connecticut
swamp reflections ~ 3.23.13 ~ New London, Connecticut

3.23.13 ~ New London, Connecticut
mushrooms! ~ 3.23.13 ~ New London, Connecticut

3.23.13 ~ New London, Connecticut
3.23.13 ~ New London, Connecticut

Imperfection is in some sort essential to all that we know of life. It is a sign of life in a mortal body, that is to say, a state of progress and change. Nothing that lives is, or can be rigidly perfect; part of it is decaying, part nascent.
~ John Ruskin
(The Stones of Venice)

3.23.13 ~ New London, Connecticut
a new life, just a few inches tall ~ 3.23.13 ~ New London, Connecticut

amazing mycelium

giant mushrooms (Auckland, New Zealand) photo by wonderferret
giant mushrooms (Auckland, New Zealand) photo by wonderferret

I believe that mycelium is the neurological network of nature. Interlacing mosaics of mycelium infuse habitats with information-sharing membranes. These membranes are aware, react to change, and collectively have the long-term health of the host environment in mind. The mycelium stays in constant molecular communication with its environment, devising diverse enzymatic and chemical responses to complex challenges.
~ Paul Stamets
(Mycelium Running: How Mushrooms Can Help Save the World)

Paul Stamets on 6 Ways Mushrooms Can Save the World

peach season

9.5.11 ~ Gales Ferry, Connecticut
9.5.11 ~ Gales Ferry, Connecticut

One day I would have all the books in the world, shelves and shelves of them. I would live my life in a tower of books. I would read all day long and eat peaches. And if any young knights in armor dared to come calling on their white chargers and plead with me to let down my hair, I would pelt them with peach pits until they went home.
~ Jacqueline Kelly
(The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate)

Today we went to Holmberg Orchards to pick a few peaches for Tim. There were some nectarines ready to be plucked, too – lucky me!

9.5.11 ~ Gales Ferry, Connecticut
9.5.11 ~ Gales Ferry, Connecticut

On the way home Tim spotted a gnarly old tree sporting a few mushrooms!

9.5.11 ~ Groton, Connecticut
9.5.11 ~ Groton, Connecticut

And after a lot of fuss and bother in the kitchen, a portion of homemade peach cobbler for my honey!

9.5.11 ~ Groton, Connecticut
9.5.11 ~ Groton, Connecticut

into the forest

6.26.11 ~ Pachaug State Forest
6.26.11 ~ Pachaug State Forest

Sunday turned out to be the best day for Janet and me to begin exploring Pachaug State Forest, which is the largest one in Connecticut, with a total of 24,000 acres in parts of five towns, including Voluntown, where we began.

6.26.11 ~ Pachaug State Forest
6.26.11 ~ Pachaug State Forest

We had to adjust to not having signs to identify the trees and plants we were looking at. This place is pretty wild, not like the well-marked arboretum we’re used to!

6.26.11 ~ Pachaug State Forest
6.26.11 ~ Pachaug State Forest

There were a lot of unusual mushrooms, like the red one with white dots (above) and the huge rust colored ones sticking out of a stump (below)…

6.26.11 ~ Pachaug State Forest
6.26.11 ~ Pachaug State Forest

6.26.11 ~ Pachaug State Forest
a close up ~ 6.26.11 ~ Pachaug State Forest

6.26.11 ~ Pachaug State Forest
a cheery clump of ferns growing on top of a very tall stump ~ 6.26.11 ~ Pachaug State Forest

6.26.11 ~ Pachaug State Forest
a girl and her horse enjoying a stroll through the forest ~ 6.26.11 ~ Pachaug State Forest

Next trip Janet is going to introduce me to me kayaking! Wonder if I’ll have to leave my camera on the shore…

osteomalacia and hypertension

Has anyone ever heard of osteomalacia before? Turns out I have it, although before discovering this term, all I was aware of was the severe Vitamin D deficiency my doctor said my blood-work revealed last year. This whole experience reminds me of when I learned that I had menorrhagia for most of my adult life without knowing the medical term for it.

For the past year or so my doctor has been trying to get my Vitamin D deficiency and high blood pressure under control. Thursday evening I happened to hear Dr. Michael F. Holick on the radio discussing his book, The Vitamin D Solution. When he mentioned musculoskeletal pain and muscle weakness, and even hypertension and a few other problems, being due to a lack of Vitamin D, I picked up my new best friend, my Kindle, and had the book in my hands electronically within moments. I spent the better part of yesterday reading the eye-opening information and finished it up this morning.

I think I now know how this happened!

In 2004 I had a basal cell carcinoma surgically removed from my forehead and on the advice of my dermatologist became totally paranoid about receiving any exposure to the sun from then on. Turns out this was ill-advised as I am now depleted of Vitamin D, in spite of supplements.

Just as we need a little fat and salt in our diet, we also need a little sun.
~ Michael F. Holick
(The Vitamin D Solution)

collared lizard by Lawrence Gamble
collared lizard by Lawrence Gamble

Did you know that Vitamin D is not really a vitamin? It’s a hormone!!! And every cell in our bodies has a Vitamin D receptor? Hormones are “regulatory substances produced in an organism and transported in tissue fluids such as blood or sap to stimulate specific cells or tissues into action.” The skin is the organ that uses sunlight to produce the Vitamin D hormone that performs wonders throughout our bodies. Cats and lizards don’t need scientists to tell them they need the sun!

For my skin type, fifteen minutes of direct sunlight a day on half my body around noon from May to October should be sufficient to turn things around for me, and also to store enough Vitamin D to carry me through most of the winter. Will be taking additional supplements, year-round, too, and eating wild-caught salmon (farm-raised salmon have almost no Vitamin D because they are fed pellets of grain instead of their natural diet from the ocean food chain) and plenty of sardines, too, which I happen to love, thank goodness. And mushrooms, the only source of natural Vitamin D in the produce aisles of the grocery store.

Fifteen minutes! Sunlight! A wonder “drug” for free! Of course today it is pouring rain, so I’m chafing at the bit, but I’m getting out there first chance I get…

"Sunflowers in a Blue Vase" by Christian Rohlfs
“Sunflowers in a Blue Vase” by Christian Rohlfs

earthquake musings

Hairy Fairy Cup by Noah Siegel, at Devil’s Hopyard State Park

About 38 miles (61 kilometers) northwest from here is a town called Moodus. The Native Americans called the area “morehemoodus,” or “place of noises.” The noises come from the earth, fault lines running under the community. Modern citizens refer to them as Moodus Noises. With the disaster in Japan on my mind I took more note than usual when news reports came in on Thursday that Moodus had experienced a little 1.3 magnitude earthquake Wednesday night at 8:42 p.m. The epicenter was close to Devil’s Hopyard State Park.

We didn’t notice it here, and it caused no damage, but in Moodus they heard a loud bang and felt some movement, causing residents to call the police department and the police to drive around looking for what they feared might be an explosion. At 11:00 p.m. the U.S. Geological Survey called to tell them of the quake and the search was called off.

I’ve never felt an earthquake before and started to wonder about the local geological history of Connecticut. It turns out that on May 16, 1791 Connecticut experienced what they believe was about a 7.0 quake in the same area. “The stone walls were thrown down, chimneys were untopped, doors which were latched were thrown open, and a fissure in the ground of several rods in extent was afterwards discovered,” an observer said. It caused damage across southern Connecticut and it could be felt as far as Boston and New York. There were more than a hundred aftershocks overnight. It was the largest known earthquake in Connecticut’s history.

Apparently there was a 5.0 earthquake in southern Connecticut on November 3, 1968, but being an eleven year old in northern Connecticut at that time, I missed that one, too. Not that I necessarily want to experience an earthquake! When we lived in Greece in the early 1970s I felt there was a good chance of having one while we were there. And there was a little one my parents felt in Athens, but Beverly and I were away on a school field trip.

And happily imbibing, as I recall! As far as I know, children of all ages were allowed alcoholic beverages in Greece at that time. My parents actually told us not to drink the water as there was a meningitis outbreak in the area. We were instructed to drink only the wine. There were a few overly tipsy evenings on that field trip, this being a wild treat for the American students in our school… The European students were not sure what all our excitement was about. 🙂

This was one of those experiences that had an effect on my opinions about having an age of majority for alcohol. If you grow up drinking wine with your family it loses its fascination and thrill and all sense of novelty.

Two glasses of the Greek wine retsina, photo by Yorick R.

But I digress…

So, anyway… I started wondering, again, just how far above sea level are we, in case we have an earthquake here big enough to cause a tsunami. (After all, there was a 3.9 earthquake off Long Island on November 30, 2010, just a few months ago.) Beverly pointed me to an online topographical map of Connecticut: UConn Map & Geographic Information Center (MAGIC). Looks like we’re about 20 feet above sea level. The entrance gate of the campus where Tim works is about 90 feet above sea level, so we’ve decided that’s where we’ll meet. Happy for me, if driving there isn’t possible I can walk uphill to get there, or run rather, IF we ever feel the earth rumbling here. Somehow it feels better to be prepared, to have a plan.

arboretum winter walk

1.27.10 ~ New London, Connecticut
1.27.10 ~ New London, Connecticut

Here we go again! Following the repeated urgings of the local weather forecasters, yesterday I shoveled about two feet of packed layers of snow and ice off of our balcony. It was so pretty but roofs and decks all over Connecticut have given way under the weight of these record snow falls. And cold temperatures. We haven’t even had our typical January thaw!

And the forecast? Snowstorm tomorrow, ice storm Wednesday, snow storm Saturday…

1.27.10 ~ New London, Connecticut
1.27.10 ~ New London, Connecticut

These pictures are more from January a year ago, a different day when my sister and I took an early morning walk through the arboretum. Notice there is no snow on the ground, and you can see how drab Connecticut usually is for a good part of the winter. Which is probably why I love snow storms so much! But not this much!!!

1.27.10 ~ New London, Connecticut
1.27.10 ~ New London, Connecticut

But I have enjoyed curling up with my new Kindle, a birthday gift from Tim. 🙂 The feature about it that delights me the most is that I can adjust the size of the print to make reading a breeze, no matter what mood my eyes are in. I think in the long run this will be cheaper than buying new reading glasses every time my middle-aged eyes begin to get persnickety. And maybe I can get the size of my physical library under control, while my cyber library grows.

1.27.10 ~ New London, Connecticut
1.27.10 ~ New London, Connecticut

And the day climbs down from its blue loft-bed on a slanting ladder of sunbeams,
pauses a moment between the trees, airy-light, young.

~ Hans Børli
(The Quiet Room)

I noticed two of my Facebook friends talking favorably about an author named Mary Oliver, and so selected one of her books as my first choice. I found out that she has been called the Bard of Provincetown. Already I’m enjoying all the connections the poet and author has to one of my refuges on Cape Cod. 🙂

1.27.10 ~ New London, Connecticut
1.27.10 ~ New London, Connecticut

Batten down the hatches! Are we ready for more of this unbelievable winter?