my turn

11.19.17 ~ Katherine walking in Ireland ♡

For all the products making claims, exercise may be the only miracle cure for both physical and mental health.
~ Mark Bertin
(Mindful, December 2017)

So, after so many years of Tim’s health problems (2007 – heart attack followed by triple by-pass surgery ~ six years of diverticulitis attacks followed by a sigmoid colon resection last January) it looks like it’s my turn for surgery, a hysterectomy. My uterus is full of pre-cancerous cells. Sigh. After spending 26 years wondering if I might get breast cancer like my mother it was a surprise to discover that it is my womb in danger.

Surgery tomorrow. One night in the hospital. If all goes as planned I will be home Wednesday in time to watch the first episode of season 5 of Vikings. 🙂 Then we can plan our trip to Ireland! I cannot wait to take a very long walk with my granddaughter ~ I miss her so much!

11.19.17 ~ Katherine feeding the sheep on a farm outside of Galway, Ireland

mindfulness of gratitude

“Soup” by William-Adolphe Bouguereau

Practicing mindfulness of gratitude consistently leads to a direct experience of being connected to life and the realization that there is a larger context in which your personal story is unfolding. Being relieved of the endless wants and worries of your life’s drama, even temporarily, is liberating. Cultivating thankfulness for being part of life blossoms into a feeling of being blessed, not in the sense of winning the lottery, but in a more refined appreciation for the interdependent nature of life. It also elicits feelings of generosity, which create further joy. Gratitude can soften a heart that has become too guarded, and it builds the capacity for forgiveness, which creates the clarity of mind that is ideal for spiritual development.
~ Phillip Moffitt
(Yoga Journal, July-August 2002)

Happy Thanksgiving!

fairy tale forest

“The Fairytale Forest” by Edvard Munch

All forests are one. … They are all echoes of the first forest that gave birth to Mystery when the world began.
~ Charles de Lint
(Pulphouse: The Hardback Magazine, Spring 1990)

The realm of fairy-story is wide and deep and high and filled with many things: all manner of beasts and birds are found there; shoreless seas and stars uncounted; beauty that is an enchantment, and an ever-present peril; both joy and sorrow as sharp as swords. In that realm a man may, perhaps, count himself fortunate to have wandered, but its very richness and strangeness tie the tongue of a traveler who would report them. And while he is there it is dangerous for him to ask too many questions, lest the gates should shut and the keys be lost.
~ J. R. R. Tolkien
(J. R. R. Tolkien’s Sanctifying Myth: Understanding Middle-earth)

food shopping

Ruth Mary Hallock (1876-1945) American Illustrator
illustration by Ruth Mary Hallock

Food – the kind of food we eat and the amount of money we spend on it are hotly debated topics. Because of Tim’s heart disease I’ve been on a quest to find a “diet” that will help his body cope with his compromised state of health. In 2012 we tried a vegan diet and he wound up in the hospital twice that year. In 2013 we switched to a grain-free diet and he has not been hospitalized at all, in spite of being under tremendous stress coping with his brother while he was living with us.

But I’m not writing this to promote any particular way of eating, in fact, my stance is very non-judgmental because I suspect different bodies may need different foods to thrive and avoid disease. One of the most difficult things for me about having Tim’s brother with us for eight and a half months was not that his own diet seemed so unhealthy, but that he never let up on criticizing me for “wasting” so much money on our groceries. I let him cook and eat what he wanted without comment and so wished he would have done the same for me.

I spent a lot of time fuming in my room, meditating, slowly acknowledging my anger and frustration, letting it go, examining with curiosity my beliefs about food.

There is a show on public television I watch all the time called Nature. Because I believe that nature is a great teacher, one day it occurred to me while watching an episode that the chief concern and activity of most animals, who definitely live in the moment, is that of locating and eating food. This thought helped me to see that it is perfectly natural to spend so much time and effort cooking and feeding us well.

The Atlantic, 5 April 2012

This is our story today: It is a story about how spending on food and clothing went from half the family budget in 1900 to less than a fifth in 2000.
~ Derek Thompson
(The Atlantic, April 5, 2012)

It is sobering to see that back in 1900 we considered it normal to spend over 40% of our budget on food! Today the average family spends only 10-15% of its budget on food. And most people complain bitterly about the price of food. We spend more money on fancy “starter castles” and less on nourishing food. Animals will leave their homes and travel to find the food they need to sustain themselves, but we humans demand that our food be delivered to us over great distances and at minimal cost. It seems so lopsided!

So we will continue along our current food path, scouting around for grass-fed beef and wild game, avoiding grains. Paying without questioning higher prices for local and/or organic produce. Knowing that no one has the final answers about food, but feeling much more settled about our choices.

a gentle tree

4.7.13.5078
4.7.13 ~ Stonington, Connecticut

On March 31st I met a lovely tree in a local cemetery and could not stop thinking about her all week. (See the Lady Patience post.) So I plan to visit her as often as possible and get to know her through the seasons. As is often the case with me, I sensed an energy coming from her but did not notice any of her particular physical characteristics.

During the week following our meeting a life-threatening health crisis arose for one of Tim’s brothers, Toby. Brother Josh flew from his home in England to California to collect Toby and fly with him here so he could stay with us and seek treatment. So it’s been a very busy week getting Toby settled in for the indefinite and uncertain future.

4.7.13.5080
Larisa ~ 4.7.13 ~ Stonington, Connecticut

It is difficult to realize how great a part of all that is cheerful and delightful in the recollections of our own life is associated with trees. … Their shades, which, in the early ages, were the temples of religion and philosophy, are still the favorite resort of the studious, the scene of healthful sport for the active and adventurous, and the very sanctuary of peaceful seclusion for the contemplative and sorrowful.
~ Wilson Flagg
(The Atlantic Monthly, June 1868)

I don’t even know what kind of tree “my” tree is! When she puts out some leaves I will be able to identify her, but I wish I could identify her by her bark.

Larisa came for the weekend to visit her uncles, and when I mentioned my new tree she was happy to pop over with me to see her and to pose for a couple of pictures with her, too. On this trip I noticed the tree’s burls – one very large one near the base of the trunk, and perhaps ten much smaller ones above it and below the first branches. And Larisa noticed the shape of the branches – like check marks they arch up and then down before reaching up again.

The kitties are handling all the extra people in the house pretty well. Zoë is blossoming with friendliness and curiosity. Scarby is still pretty shy and anxious, but she stays where she feels safe under Tim’s bed and I suspect she comes out to eat and use the litter pan once everyone is asleep. We’re giving her all the time and space she seems to need. After all, it’s only been a month since her whole world was turned upside down!

beneath the snow

“Village in the Snow” by Paul Gauguin
“Village in the Snow” by Paul Gauguin

I do an awful lot of thinking and dreaming about things in the past and the future – the timelessness of the rocks and the hills – all the people who have existed there. I prefer winter and fall, when you feel the bone structure in the landscape – the loneliness of it – the dead feeling of winter. Something waits beneath it – the whole story doesn’t show. I think anything like that – which is contemplative, silent, shows a person alone – people always feel is sad. Is it because we’ve lost the art of being alone?
~ Andrew Wyeth
(LIFE, May 14, 1965)

incentive to vote

“Montreal Star” political cartoon by Arthur G. Racey
“Montreal Star” political cartoon by Arthur G. Racey

We are not just republicans or democrats, liberals or conservatives, moderates or extremists who have trouble finding or defining community. We are part of the great communion that embraces the living, the dead, and all who will come after us. Our ancestors – we share them if we go back far enough – have been rogues and heroes, courageous and cowardly, sung and unsung, hardworking and indolent, cruel and kind, mistaken and visionary. Ancestors are not just our blood kin, but the people whose beliefs, ideas, and creations have shaped us. Whether we know their names or not, they live in us as we will live in those who come after us, whether or not we have biological children.

As part of the preparation for voting – and as incentive to vote – we might do well to contemplate this communion, invoke the wisdom of the ancestors to help us keep faith with the descendants.

~ Elizabeth Cunningham
(Tikkun Daily, October 26, 2010)

Hurricane Sandy III

10.30.12 ~ Groton, Connecticut
10.30.12 ~ Eastern Point Beach

The picture above shows that the storm surge was still relatively high. There is a sidewalk just behind that white fence and the water never comes up to the top of the wall like it is in this picture. We were planning to make our way over there to snap even more pictures, but the police suddenly decided it was time to have all of us leave the area so the city workers could start operating their equipment to clean up the beach! If we had anticipated that happening we would have gone out there first off and worked our way back.  🙂

10.30.12 ~ Groton, Connecticut
10.30.12 ~ Eastern Point Beach

In this picture you can see that a portion of the white fence is missing (left of center), and a bit of the wall with some of its top missing. In the summer this stretch of sand is covered with mothers chatting under umbrellas, their children playing, blankets, towels, beach balls, shovels and buckets – I had my place among them – and senior citizens reclining, dozing or reading in deluxe beach loungers, enjoying their time in the sun…

10.30.12 ~ Groton, Connecticut
10.30.12 ~ Eastern Point Beach

10.30.12 ~ Groton, Connecticut
men at work, collecting chunks of stone for the payloader to haul away ~ 10.30.12 ~ Eastern Point Beach

10.30.12 ~ Groton, Connecticut
remnants of the wall ~ 10.30.12 ~ Eastern Point Beach

10.30.12 ~ Groton, Connecticut
sand and rocks deposited in front of Zbierski House ~ 10.30.12 ~ Eastern Point Beach

10.30.12 ~ Groton, Connecticut
many rocks landed in the playground ~ 10.30.12 ~ Eastern Point Beach

10.30.12 ~ Groton, Connecticut
waves still crashing over breakwater, wall, ramp and stairs ~ 10.30.12 ~ Eastern Point Beach

10.30.12 ~ Groton, Connecticut
debris rammed into corner of wall and parking lot ~ 10.30.12 ~ Eastern Point Beach

10.30.12 ~ Groton, Connecticut
section of wall in the foreground moved across the sidewalk ~ 10.30.12 ~ Eastern Point Beach

Although we were amazed to see the damage done by Superstorm Sandy here on our little part of the Connecticut shoreline, we know that New York and New Jersey had it far worse and our hearts go out to them. It is truly heartbreaking to see the TV footage of the devastation they are enduring while we sit in the comfort of our living room.

However, I have a hard time feeling much sympathy for the people in the wealthier beachfront areas of Connecticut. Many of their homes were destroyed in Hurricane Irene just last year and they foolishly rebuilt at the same locations, and were wiped out again this time.

Recently I read an article that referred to a “way of life that was based on a mindless materialism oblivious to nature and its boundaries.”* I think this is a case in point. Mother Nature is delivering us a strong message about where we should not be building our homes. Climatologists say we can expect more of these super storms in the near future and rising sea levels in general, due to global warming.

During the Great New England Hurricane of 1938, all the summer cottages and much of the land at Bluff Point, here in Groton, were swept away by the storm surge. Nobody rebuilt there. The newly formed peninsula became a state park. It seems like the most sensible response to such a loss. When will we stop stubbornly resisting the forces of nature and start trying to live in harmony with them?

*”Power of Nature” by Gitte Larsen, Søren Steen Olsen, and Steen Svendsen, Utne Reader, Nov-Dec 2012

a mysterious tune

“The Moon over a Waterfall” by Hiroshige

Everything is determined by forces over which we have no control. It is determined for the insect as well as for the star. Human beings, vegetables, or cosmic dust – we all dance to a mysterious tune, intoned in the distance by an invisible piper.
~ Albert Einstein
(The Saturday Evening Post, October 26, 1929)

Go out of the house to see the moon, and’t is mere tinsel; it will not please as when its light shines upon your necessary journey.
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
(Nature)

We tap our toes to chaste love songs about the silvery moon without recognizing them as hymns to copulation.
~ Barbara Kingsolver
(High Tide in Tucson)

The moon is quite a show off given the chance. The stars make a sound when they shine so bright. Water so blue and so black.
~ Dave Matthews
(Twitter, February 16, 2009)