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)

grave importance

illustration by Anne Anderson
illustration by Anne Anderson

If you can see the magic in a fairy tale, you can face the future.
~ Danielle Steel
(Silver Linings: Meditations on Finding Joy & Beauty in Unexpected Places)

In an utilitarian age, of all other times, it is a matter of grave importance that Fairy tales should be respected.
~ Charles Dickens
(Household Words, October 1, 1853)

heart disease in gorillas

silverback gorilla by Richard Ruggiero
silverback gorilla by Richard Ruggiero

Heart disease doesn’t just hit humans. It’s the leading killer among male zoo gorillas, and scientists want to know why. Obesity? Perhaps, but the term has yet to be defined for the primates. Diet? Likely, and Elena Hoellein Less of Cleveland Metroparks Zoo is trying to prove it. As part of a multi-zoo study, she’s been feeding her two gorillas, Bebac and Mokolo, a trial menu meant to mimic the largely vegetarian one eaten in the wild. Heavy on leafy greens, the new diet is also modeled after a heart-healthy human one, says Less. Judging by the 65 pounds each of her charges has shed so far, it’s nothing to take lightly.
~ Catherine Zuckerman
(National Geographic, August 2011)

A York State Tramp

John Hubbard
John Hubbard (1804-1883)

No, not the man in this picture. This man is Tim’s great-great-great-grandfather, John Hubbard, a settler of Albion, New York. He and his wife, Lydia (Randolph) Hubbard, were the parents of four daughters and a son.

We have his personal copy of the Bible, with favorite scriptures cut out from a newspaper and glued on to the inside cover. And also some obituaries.

As I was carefully examining the deteriorating pages, a newspaper clipping fell out. After reading the article it made me wonder what about this particular story interested John Hubbard enough to cut it out and stick it in his Bible. The article also gives us a glimpse into life in the 1800s.

A YORK STATE TRAMP

Receives Reception That Is Known to Few Wanderers

New York World

A tramp had just arrived in Albany. Nothing curious about that, but this is a curious tramp. He does his own cooking and consequently enjoys his food. Chefs were rare in the region he was brought up in. He doesn’t collect grub or yearn for drink or freight cars. He has been tramping through our New York lake region, which Americans would know so well and admire so much if it were across the water; and he has a passion, a mania, for little country schoolhouses.

He may look like a dust storm in breeches, but something in his appearance gains him entrance. Perhaps he has seen better days. He sits on the dais and near the desk of “teacher,” an honor that used to be confined to clergymen, school committeemen, visitors of due pomposity, village bigwigs on examination day, and prize scholars, likely, if of the inferior sex, to have “the stuffing” rudely elicited from them at recess by athletic scorners of learning. There sits calmly the pulverulent [sic] one, listening with a twinkle in his eye to the artless droning of those wondering children, even having “the cheek to talk to teacher,” who actually lets him make speech before he goes. A “ripping” speech, the spoken-to say, and how can there be better judges? Does not every maundering bore, every Brother of the Ass, every solemn stumbling, hemming, long-winded sumph flatter himself that he can “make a few remarks” to “the children” and enrapture those victims of the vanity and loquacity of their elders? And this long-legged dust-man pleased them. “Talked like an educated man, did he,” says the president of the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union to Bill and Elizer Ann at supper: “must have fallen through the drink. I wonder at Miss Normal for permitting such a disreputable character to speak in a public school. There at least my darlings should be safe from contamination.”

On goes the dustman through the best sun-soaked days and noblest moonlit nights that ever shone. He breakfasts on his own bacon and coffee by rivers hazy with morning. On he plods, astounding and delighting schoolhouses, winning the scorn of passing wagoners for refusing a “lift.” At last he enters Albany, leaves off regretfully his career as a wandering scholar. For he is identified, presumably by the police, as John Huston Finley, who sports “a tilted trail proud as a cockerel’s rainbow tail;” who is laden with LL. D.’s and is a member of everything worth belonging to. There is no new compliment to pay him except to say that he knows how to plan and enjoy a vacation.

I found a John Huston Finley (1863-1940), but he was only 20 years old when John Hubbard died. Perhaps someone else tucked the article in the Bible after our John died. Or perhaps it was a very young Finley who had this adventure and this was one of the last things Hubbard cut out of the paper. But safe to say, the article was of interest to somebody!

dreams of change

“Harriet Tubman” by H. Seymour Squyer

Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world.
~ Harriet Tubman
(Atlanta Magazine, April 2008)

“John Lennon” by Roy Kerwood

You may say I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
I hope some day you’ll join us
And the world will be as one
~ John Lennon
♫ (Imagine) ♫

meanings in music

“Children’s Concert” by Georgios Jakobides

I don’t want to sound too cosmic or anything… but I think that music is a spiritual experience. … Music is true. An octave is a mathematical reality. So is a 5th. So is a major 7th cord. And I have the feeling that these have emotional meanings to us, not only because we’re taught that a major 7th is warm and fuzzy and a diminished is sort of threatening and dark, but also because they actually do have these meanings. It’s almost like it’s a language that’s not a matter of our choosing. It’s a truth. The laws of physics apply to music, and music follows that. So it really lifts us out of this subjective, opinionated human position and drops us into the cosmic picture just like that.
~ James Taylor
(Performing Songwriter, May 2002)

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

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

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

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…