a thousand unbreakable lines

munch-starry-night
“Starry Night” by Edvard Munch

I would say that there exist a thousand unbreakable lines between each of us and everything else, and that our dignity and our chances are one. The farthest star and the mud at our feet are a family; and there is no decency or sense in honoring one thing, or a few things, and then closing the list. The pine tree, the leopard, the Platte River, and ourselves — we are at risk together, or we are on our way to a sustainable world together. We are each other’s destiny.
~ Mary Oliver
(Upstream: Selected Essays)

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!

Poet’s Walk

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4.1.15 ~ Poet’s Walk, Hillsborough, North Carolina

Of a’ the airts the wind can blaw,
I dearly like the west,
For there the bonnie lassie lives,
The lassie I lo’e best:
There wild woods grow, and rivers row,
And monie a hill between;
But day and night may fancy’s flight
Is ever wi’ my Jean.

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4.1.15 ~ Hillsborough, North Carolina

I see her in the dewey flowers,
I see her sweet and fair:
I hear her in the tunefu’ birds,
I hear her charm the air:
There’s not a bonnie flower that springs
By fountain, shaw, or green;
There’s not a bonnie bird that sings,
But minds me o’ my Jean.

~ Robert Burns
(Poet’s Walk, Hillsborough, North Carolina)

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4.1.15 ~ Hillsborough, North Carolina

Tim’s cousin, Allegra, and I took a road trip to visit Dima, Larisa, and Katie in North Carolina last week. One day we kept Katie home from daycare and discovered she is a lover of the great outdoors. In the house she was fussy and dealing with the remnants of her bout with bronchiolitis, but when we took her for a walk to have lunch at the Mellow Mushroom in Chapel Hill she enjoyed the stroller ride and charmed the server at our patio table. She fell asleep on the walk home but after what Allegra called a power nap, she was fussy again. So I took her outside in my arms and we stood by the trees, looking up into the boughs. Katie kept looking up, cooing with pleasure and seemingly spellbound by the soft breeze stirring the leaves and the occasional bird fluttering or insect buzzing through. Special moments with my granddaughter for me to remember.

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4.1.15 ~ Hillsborough, North Carolina

After such a long hard winter I can’t begin to tell you how thrilled we were to be where spring is well under way. We slept with the windows open for three nights in a row! And woke to the delightful calls of the early birds! The sky was so blue!

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4.1.15 ~ Hillsborough, North Carolina

Another day Allegra and I went to the place where I took all these pictures, Ayr Mount & Poet’s Walk in Hillsborough. The modest mansion is a Federal-era plantation home built by William Kirkland of Ayr, Scotland, about 1815. No photographs allowed inside, but the tour was very interesting, and after a scrumptious lunch break at Hillsborough BBQ Company, we returned to the property and walked the trail meandering through woodlands and meadows and the banks of the Eno River.

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4.1.15 ~ Hillsborough, North Carolina

On the last day of our visit Larisa and I walked to Katie’s six-month checkup with her pediatrician. One of the things I do love about Chapel Hill is that one can walk to just about any where one might think of going. Katie is doing very well and was enjoying the time spent with her mother. She is petite for her age, but there are so many short people in our family that this comes as no surprise. Of course there were the obligatory vaccination shots at the end of the visit and the inevitable wails of protest, but comfort and sympathy was given quickly and soon we were off for our walk home, lunch out, and a fun afternoon of clothes shopping. Katie is starting swimming lessons this week and needed the appropriate attire, and of course, Grammy had to buy her a couple of dresses that she seemed to like.

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4.1.15 ~ Hillsborough, North Carolina
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…Larisa and Katie…

That night, as we all went out for ice cream, I suddenly realized I had not taken any pictures of Katie! I was simply having so much fun just being with her. So I managed to get this one at Maple View Farm, in another part of Hillsborough, where we went after dinner to catch the sunset as we indulged in farm fresh ice cream. The sunset wasn’t spectacular, and Katie had discovered the joy of sticking out her tongue, so the picture-taking session was mostly a disappointment, but that’s okay. We’ll settle for this one.

Please enjoy the rest of the pictures from the Poet’s Walk.

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4.1.15 ~ Hillsborough, North Carolina
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4.1.15 ~ Hillsborough, North Carolina
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4.1.15 ~ Hillsborough, North Carolina
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4.1.15 ~ Hillsborough, North Carolina
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4.1.15 ~ Hillsborough, North Carolina
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4.1.15 ~ Hillsborough, North Carolina
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Ayr Mount ~ 4.1.15 ~ Hillsborough, North Carolina

Bonsai Treehouse

Bonsai Treehouse created by Craig & Michelle Nelson, Nelson Designs, LLC
Bonsai Treehouse created by Craig & Michelle Nelson, Nelson Designs, LLC ~ 10.12.12 ~ Old Lyme, Connecticut

Wabi Sabi is a tree faerie dedicated to sharing his love and respect for trees. He inspires the artists to see the greatness of the variety of trees on the property. His house is in a Japanese maple nestled in this leafy bush. It is the ideal setting for him to watch over the magnificent trees surrounding Miss Florence’s boardinghouse. From his home he can easily fly to inspect a spruce, elm, pine, or walnut tree. If he ventures farther afield, he can console the weeping willow, take a walk along the beech branch, or even pine away at the top of the evergreens.
~ Wee Faerie Village: Land of Picture Making

10.12.12 ~ Old Lyme, Connecticut
10.12.12 ~ Old Lyme, Connecticut

The power of imagination makes us infinite.
~ John Muir
(John of the Mountains: The Unpublished Journals of John Muir)

10.12.12 ~ Old Lyme, Connecticut
10.12.12 ~ Old Lyme, Connecticut

Remember back in July, when Tim & I started to discuss adopting a couple of cats? (Two Cats in the Yard?)

Remember back in October when I started posting pictures of all the little fairy dwellings in the Wee Faerie Village at the Florence Griswold Museum? I found a couple more that I never got around to posting… (Windwood Faeriegrounds)

Remember back in November when my sister-in-law Fran’s feral cat, Zoë, decided to make friends with me? (Second Day of Christmas)

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Zoë ~ 12.26.12 ~ Woodbridge, Virginia

Well, back in November, it would seem that Zoë was sensing a shift in energy, somehow knowing that changes were afoot. As it turns out her family is moving from Virginia to Germany this month, and Zoë and her sister needed a new home. So they arrived here to live with us last weekend and they are slowly settling in. They don’t feel at home here yet – who could blame them after a long car ride and leaving the only home they’ve ever known – but when they do feel a little more comfortable I will take some pictures. Zoë is very affectionate and talkative, purring when petted, but her sister, Scarby, is still hiding under the stairs in the basement, only coming out to eat and use the litter pan. It looks like it will take her longer to warm up to the idea of living here.

winter appointments

"Winter Light" by Ann Brainerd Crane
“Winter Light” by Ann Brainerd Crane

I frequently tramped eight or ten miles through the deepest snow to keep an appointment with a beech tree, or a yellow birch, or an old acquaintance among the pines.
~ Henry David Thoreau
(Walden)

Oh! where do fairies hide their heads,
When snow lies on the hills?
When frost has spoiled their mossy beds,
And crystallized their rills:
Beneath the moon they cannot trip
In circles o’er the plain:
And draughts of dew they cannot sip,
Till green leaves come again.
~ Thomas Haynes Bayly
(Songs & Ballads, Grave & Gay)

fourth day

12.28.12 ~ Kingsland, Georgia
12.28.12 ~ Kingsland, Georgia

…we heard it was snowing in Connecticut, but alas, we were in Georgia…

12.28.12 ~ Kingsland, Georgia
12.28.12 ~ Kingsland, Georgia

Our car ride from Virginia to Georgia was long and grueling, but we finally made it to our destination very late Thursday night. It was so wonderful to see Nate & Shea again, and the rest of their multi-generational family: Shea’s mom, Angie, who so generously gave us her room for a few days, and Shea’s sister Sarah and her two little boys, Julius and Dominic. It is a full house, but a big house, and we thoroughly enjoyed the hospitality we were shown. Angie is a fabulous cook and kindly catered to our food quirks!

12.28.12 ~ Kingsland, Georgia
Dominic and Nate ~ 12.28.12 ~ Kingsland, Georgia

We brought the little guys some Lego bricks sets as a gift. Dominic adores his Uncle – and the feeling is mutual – so we got a kick out of watching Nate help him build his little Lego helicopter.

12.28.12 ~ Kingsland, Georgia
Dominic ~ 12.28.12 ~ Kingsland, Georgia

Dominic loves bugs and animals and I enjoyed reading his dinosaur book to him. Thankfully it had a pronunciation guide. Little ones have so much energy!!!

On the fifth day of Christmas Nate, Shea, Tim and I drove into Florida and ate lunch at Bahama Breeze, a Caribbean seafood restaurant in Jacksonville – the food was great and the atmosphere was tropical. Then the four of us went to see Life of Pi in 3D – it was the 3rd time for me and the 2nd time for Tim, but not in 3D before. The 3D experience was better than I thought it would be!

After we returned to the house we were treated to a spectacular sunset, Georgia style, which kind of made up for missing our snowstorm…

12.28.12 ~ Kingsland, Georgia
12.28.12 ~ Kingsland, Georgia

On the sixth day of Christmas the guys watched football while Shea read her new Nook, a Christmas gift, and I read my old Kindle. Later Tim & I sat up late (late by my standards anyway) into the night with Nate, talking about the movie, interplanetary travel, quantum physics, gun control, and assorted other existential and scientific topics. I am always amazed by these conversations because Nate seems to have gotten his logical side from Tim and his sense of wonder from me in perfectly balanced proportion.

On the seventh day of Christmas we started the long journey home, from southern Georgia to northern Virginia. Lady Zoë was looking for me and let me pet her again, but still was not ready to sit on my lap.

On the eighth day of Christmas we drove from Virginia to Connecticut, resisting the urge to stop by Dima & Larisa’s, but thrilled to find snow still on the ground in Connecticut! Winter is finally here and I hope it plans to stick around for a little while this year. And our Christmas tree was still standing and looking as pretty as when we left – we had been afraid that a week without watering would be the end of her. All in all, it was a wonderful trip!

second day

12.26.12 ~ Woodbridge, Virginia
12.26.12 ~ Woodbridge, Virginia ~ an impressive Santa collection

Driving from New York City to northern Virginia the day after Christmas is something we probably will never do again! We were stuck in crawling traffic in the rain and wintry mix of precipitation most of the way and were so relieved to finally reach our destination! We enjoyed a lovely evening out at a new restaurant and at the home of Tim’s brother and sister-in-law we found a very lovely white pine Christmas tree, decorated in red and gold.

12.26.12 ~ Woodbridge, Virginia
12.26.12 ~ Woodbridge, Virginia

This is my friend, Zoë, (below) taking her morning sun bath as we were getting ready to depart the next morning. My sister-in-law has a very kind heart and has opened her home to a feral cat and three of her kittens. (They have all been spayed now.) The mother won’t come inside, but the younger ones have learned about the comforts to be found in human dwellings. But Zoë, perhaps taking cues from her mother, is not friendly and had some insulting names given to her, which I won’t mention here.

12.26.12 ~ Woodbridge, Virginia
12.26.12 ~ Woodbridge, Virginia ~ Zoë

For some reason, when we were visiting in November for Thanksgiving, Zoë decided she liked me and let me pet her and then started to purr! She seemed to like the name Zoë so I renamed her. My sister-in-law was astonished because even though she treated this one kindly she had never warmed up to her like the other two eventually did. When I returned on this trip a month later Zoë remembered me and let me pet her again. I felt very honored! I invited her to sit on my lap and she considered it, but decided she wasn’t ready for that much contact yet. Who knows what might happen when we meet again?

The longest leg of the trip was next, northern Virginia to southern Georgia!

first day

12.25.12 ~ New York, New York
12.25.12 ~ New York, New York

…”The Little Drummer Boy” is Larisa’s favorite Christmas song…

12.25.12 ~ New York, New York
12.25.12 ~ New York, New York

This year Tim had a vacation for the week between Christmas and New Year, so we decided to travel to visit our kids, who did not have time off from work for holiday adventures. Tim spent Christmas Eve in the emergency department seeking treatment for another bout of diverticulitis… But a CAT-scan determined that it was caught early enough and was mild enough for him to be treated with oral antibiotics and sent on his way.

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Larisa and Compromise ~ 12.25.12 ~ New York, New York

Christmas morning we set out for New York to spend the day with Dima & Larisa, who cooked us a scrumptious feast for dinner. When darkness fell the twinkling tree lights came on and we admired all their decorations. Compromise, their pet albino rat was allowed out of his cage and spent the evening with us, cuddling with Larisa, while we were playing board games. It was a lovely, cozy and peaceful evening, our first Christmas in the city, with Christmas carols playing softly in the background.

12.25.12 ~ New York, New York
Compromise ~ 12.25.12 ~ New York, New York

Whenever Larisa needed to get up to attend to something she left Compromise on her chair, knowing he would not risk jumping off it. He would wait patiently for her to return and hold him again. We never knew a rat could be so affectionate. Sometimes he would sit on her shoulder while she was busy with things. So adorable!

The next morning Dima & Larisa were off to work and then Tim & I left for our next destination in Virginia!

winter solstice

12.22.12 ~ Groton, Connecticut
my new reindeer ornament! ~ 12.22.12 ~ Groton, Connecticut

We will be doing a lot of celebrating this holiday season, planning to enjoy family and five different Christmas trees, including our own. Tim has a vacation this year so we’re off to visit our children and siblings soon. But first we had our winter solstice gathering here, enjoying candlelight dining, music and good conversation with dear friends on the longest night of the year.

12.22.12 ~ Groton, Connecticut
12.22.12 ~ Groton, Connecticut

On Saturday Tim & I and Dima & Larisa went to celebrate with my sister, brother-in-law, aunt and father at their little house in the Connecticut woods. My sister has been dreaming of a boxwood Christmas tree and this turned out to be the year she found one! Isn’t it pretty? So simple and sweet. I think she may be planning to plant it outside in the spring.

12.22.12 ~ Storrs, Connecticut
12.22.12 ~ Storrs, Connecticut

The ancient ones were delighted to see Larisa and seemed to be enjoying the festivities, but we didn’t stay too long because they do tire out from all the bustling excitement of having company. The four of them will be having a quiet Christmas dinner on the 25th. We’ll be heading for New York, Virginia and Georgia.

12.22.12 ~ Storrs, Connecticut
Auntie and Larisa ~ 12.22.12 ~ Storrs, Connecticut

I brought Dad some clementines and fondly watched him enjoy peeling and eating one. Sometimes I hesitate to share pictures of him because part of me wants to remember him the way he looked when I was a child…

12.22.12 ~ Storrs, Connecticut
Papa ~ 12.22.12 ~ Storrs, Connecticut

After my mother died Dad and I used to drive up to Cape Cod to visit her parents, my beloved grandparents. He always brought along a little supply of fruit. As I was the driver, he would cut the fruit into bite size pieces with his pocket knife and share them with me, popping mine into my mouth so I wouldn’t have to take my hands off the steering wheel.

Most of the time Larisa was with us, riding in the back seat, and sometimes Auntie would come, too. One summer day when we were using the air conditioning in the car, Larisa had brought some chocolate with her. We stopped at a rest area to use the facilities and she left her chocolate in the car. When we returned to the car she was very disappointed to find her chocolate melted into a gooey puddle. But not to worry! Grandpa took that glob of chocolate and held it out close to the air conditioning vent in the dashboard for many miles until the chocolate had hardened up again. If his arm got tired he never mentioned it. That’s grandfather love for you!

We write these words now, many miles distant from the spot at which, year after year, we met on that day, a merry and joyous circle. Many of the hearts that throbbed so gaily then, have ceased to beat; many of the looks that shone so brightly then, have ceased to glow; the hands we grasped, have grown cold; the eyes we sought, have hid their lustre in the grave; and yet the old house, the room, the merry voices and smiling faces, the jest, the laugh, the most minute and trivial circumstances connected with those happy meetings, crowd upon our mind at each recurrence of the season, as if the last assemblage had been but yesterday! Happy, happy Christmas, that can win us back to the delusions of our childish days; that can recall to the old man the pleasures of his youth; that can transport the sailor and the traveller, thousands of miles away, back to his own fireside and his quiet home!
~ Charles Dickens
(The Pickwick Papers)