Draken Harald Hårfagre

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10.8.16 ~ Draken Harald Hårfagre ~ Mystic Seaport ~ Mystic, Connecticut

Over time, I have come to realize that our culture has made valuable contributions to our world heritage at large. For me, it’s important to turn the spotlight on these contributions, and not just the more recent ones, but also our fantastic contributions to craftsmanship and technology. Shipbuilding was the rocket science of the Viking era.
~ Sigurd Aase
(Draken Harald Hårfagre ~ Expedition America 2016)

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10.8.16 ~ Draken Harald Hårfagre ~ Mystic Seaport ~ Mystic, Connecticut

10-8-16-0865On a gray, misty Saturday we went over to Mystic Seaport to see the Viking longship Draken Harald Hårfagre. Draken means dragon and Harald Hårfagre refers to Norwegian King Harald Fairhair. I didn’t get to see her sail into Mystic with her red silk sail because we had been in North Carolina visiting the little one. But much to my delight, the ship will be wintering here at the Seaport. She will be covered over, though. If I keep my eye on the newsletters from Mystic Seaport, a living history museum, I hope to catch her sailing away in the spring.

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10.8.16 ~ costumed Viking enthusiasts who were also waiting in line

Draken Harald Hårfagre is the end result of a daydream of the ship’s owner, Sigurd Aase. After our tour I bought a lovely souvenir guidebook, full of stunning pictures of the journey here from her home port in Haugesund, Norway. Stops were made at the Shetland Islands, the Faroe Islands, Iceland, Greenland, Newfoundland and cities along the Saint Lawrence Seaway and the Great Lakes. Then it went through the New York State canals to the Hudson River and finally down the river to New York City and then Mystic.

The ship has a lovely website: Draken Harald Hårfagre

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10.8.16 ~ Draken Harald Hårfagre

It’s a big challenge to sail a ship of this old variety, and to prove that it is possible to sail a large open Viking ship across the seas.
~ Capt. Björn Ahlander
(Draken Harald Hårfagre ~ Expedition America 2016)

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10.8.16 ~ Draken Harald Hårfagre
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10.8.16 ~ Draken Harald Hårfagre ~ notice the fika (coffee) “machine” near the entrance to the galley ~ our guide assured us that modern-day coffee was very important to the crew members!
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10.8.16 ~ Draken Harald Hårfagre ~ personal items were stored in these chests which fit in the deck of the ship ~ the lid becomes part of the deck itself ~ our guide explained that no part of the ship is water tight so they wrapped their belongings in plastic before putting them in these narrow chests
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10.8.16 ~ notice the little dinghy with a sail tethered to the longship
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“King Harald Fairhair” as portrayed by Peter Franzén on the History Channel’s television drama “Vikings”

And now for a pet peeve of mine. There were several visitors wearing “Viking” helmets with horns who were approached by other visitors asking them where they could get a helmet for themselves. Of course they weren’t for sale on the ship or at the museum gift shop! The guide book, if they cared to read it, debunks the myth of the horned helmet:

One of the most widespread myths in history is the one about the Vikings wearing horned helmets. Their helmets had no horns. The popular image dates back to the 1800s, when Scandinavian artists like Sweden’s Gustav Malmström included the headgear in the their portrayals of the raiders. When Wagner staged his Der Ring des Nibelungen, commonly refers to as the “Ring cycle” in the 1870s, costume designer Carl Emil Doepler created horned helmets for the Viking characters, and an enduring stereotype was born.
~ Draken Harald Hårfagre guidebook ~ Expedition America 2016

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10.8.16 ~ Draken Harald Hårfagre ~ Mystic Seaport ~ Mystic, Connecticut

The line to tour the ship, which only took a few minutes, was very long and stretched around other exhibits at the Seaport. Fortunately we were near the beginning and were marveling at how long the line still was two hours later. In spite of the rain!

The Gokstad ship we saw in Norway last year was one of the inspirational sources for the design of this ship: Viking Ship Museum.

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This is a fantastic opportunity to create history by reliving the challenges our Viking ancestors overcame. An adventure one wouldn’t miss for the world. It is thrilling to bring the Sagas to life and do something a little crazy and down to earth at the same time.
~ Arild Nilsen
(Draken Harald Hårfagre ~ Expedition America 2016)

Logee’s

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3.7.15 ~ Danielson, Connecticut

The temple bell stops
but I still hear the sound
coming out of the flowers.
~ Matsuo Bashō
(Voices from Earth)

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3.7.15 ~ Danielson, Connecticut

There is an extraordinary place located in the quiet corner of Connecticut. My sister and I used to frequent Logee’s, a sprawl of greenhouses specializing in rare and tropical plants and fruit trees. But I think it’s been a good ten or twenty years since we’ve been there.

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3.7.15 ~ Danielson, Connecticut

Flowers and fruits are always fit presents; flowers, because they are a proud assertion that a ray of beauty outvalues all the utilities of the world. These gay natures contrast with the somewhat stern countenance of ordinary nature: they are like music heard out of a workhouse.
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
(Gifts)

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3.7.15 ~ Danielson, Connecticut

Back in February there was a discussion in the comments here about how nurseries in northern climates don’t open until it’s safe to start planting outdoors in the spring. For the first time in ages, this got me thinking about an exception to that rule, Logee’s, and I was delighted to find out that they are still open year round!

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3.7.15 ~ Danielson, Connecticut

The flower is the poetry of reproduction. It is an example of the eternal seductiveness of life.
~ Jean Giraudoux
(The Enchanted)

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3.7.15 ~ Danielson, Connecticut

Tim & I made a trip up there on Saturday and the place was still a perfect antidote to the cabin fever which has been plaguing us. Several linked greenhouses are stuffed from floor to ceiling with colorful, bright and cheerful tropical flowers! The aisles were so narrow that two people could not pass by each other or keep from brushing against some of the plants.

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3.7.15 ~ Danielson, Connecticut
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3.7.15 ~ Danielson, Connecticut
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3.7.15 ~ Danielson, Connecticut

Permission to take pictures was granted and I had a wonderful time shooting right and left, above and below, and at eye-level. An employee was on a step ladder picking fruit from an orange tree, answering questions while he worked. The stifling heat and humidity was a welcome change from the bitter and bone dry air outside.

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3.7.15 ~ Danielson, Connecticut
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3.7.15 ~ Danielson, Connecticut
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3.7.15 ~ Danielson, Connecticut

I perhaps owe having become a painter to flowers.
~ Claude Monet
(The Fantasy of Flowers)

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3.7.15 ~ Danielson, Connecticut

I came home with two impulse purchases, a climbing onion and a white Easter cactus. We’ll see how well I care for them. After a nice lunch at the Vanilla Bean Café, we went to see a movie, The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, and enjoyed it very much.

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3.7.15 ~ Danielson, Connecticut

Each flower is a soul opening out to nature.
~ Gerard de Nerval
(The Fantasy of Flowers)

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3.7.15 ~ Danielson, Connecticut

We noticed on the way home that the temperature outside had crept up to above freezing, just a smidgen! It’s time for the mounds of snow to start melting!

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3.7.15 ~ Danielson, Connecticut

What a nice day after being housebound for so long!

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3.7.15 ~ Danielson, Connecticut

To analyze the charms of flowers is like dissecting music; it is one of those things which it is far better to enjoy, than to attempt to fully understand.
~ Henry T. Tuckerman
(The Fantasy of Flowers)

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3.7.15 ~ Danielson, Connecticut

penetrating the past

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Genealogy becomes a mania, an obsessive struggle to penetrate the past and snatch meaning from an infinity of names. At some point the search becomes futile – there is nothing left to find, no meaning to be dredged out of old receipts, newspaper articles, letters, accounts of events that seemed so important fifty or seventy years ago. All that remains is the insane urge to keep looking, insane because the searcher has no idea what he seeks. What will it be? A photograph? A will? A fragment of a letter? The only way to find out is to look at everything, because it is often when the searcher has gone far beyond the border of futility that he finds the object he never knew he was looking for.
~ Henry Wiencek
(The Hairstons: An American Family in Black & White)

Recently Tim & I had our DNA tested for fun, to see how well our genetic material lined up with our known family histories.

The biggest surprise for me was finding out that I have absolutely no Native American ancestry! There was a story handed down that one of my mother’s ancestors married a Wampanoag Indian. So now I know why we were never able to find such an ancestor and will let go of that research goal. Another curiosity is that 13% of my ancestors came from the region of Italy and Greece. I had no idea!

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Barbara’s DNA ancestry

BARBARA
38% Great Britain (my mother’s New England ancestry)
34% Europe East (my father’s Ukrainian ancestry)
13% Italy/Greece
4% Scandinavia (my Norwegian 3rd-great-grandfather)
4% Europe West
2% Iberian Peninsula
5% Traces of Asia Central, Caucasus, Finland/Northwest Russia, European Jewish & Ireland

Because Tim’s maternal grandfather was the son of Austrian Jewish immigrants we had assumed that would be about 25% of his ancestry. But he’s only 2% European Jewish! And he also has a few Scandinavian ancestors. The only ancestry Tim has that I don’t have is a trace of Asia South. And the ancestry I have that Tim does not have is 34% Europe East and traces of Asia Central and Finland/Northwest Russia.

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Tim’s DNA ancestry

TIM
65% Great Britain (Tim’s New England/Nova Scotia ancestry)
20% Ireland (three of Tim’s Irish 3rd-great-grandparents)
4% Europe West
3% Scandinavia
2% Italy/Greece
2% European Jewish
2% Iberian Peninsula
2% Traces of Asia South and Caucasus

We are finding all this utterly fascinating! I’ve also been watching Finding Your Roots with Henry Louis Gates, Jr. on PBS. It can be seen online for anyone who is interested. It’s amazing what researching the paper trail left behind by ancestors, combined with DNA testing, can reveal.

Life of Pi!

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It’s a miracle that I could make this movie. I carried the anxiety for a very long time, four years. It’s a philosophical book and expensive movie, a scary combination.
~ Ang Lee
(Associated Press)

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!

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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.

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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!

Life of Pi

Starting to catch up with my blogging friends after our Thanksgiving vacation in Virginia. But I must share this – one of the peak moments of the visit this year was getting to see the movie, Life of Pi, directed by Ang Lee, with my sister-in-law, Fran.

About a decade ago, I read the book of the same name, by Yann Martel. It was one of the best stories I have ever read and the movie did not disappoint, not for a moment. For those of us who love spiritual journeys, this is an utterly amazing one! I so identify with Pi’s childhood struggle to understand the universe and the great mystery surrounding us all. And to see his 227-day fight to survive, stranded and almost alone after being shipwrecked, portrayed so vividly on the screen, was breathtaking.

Personally, I don’t think it needs to be seen in 3D, but should definitely be seen on the big HD screen. Tim was sick during much of our visit with his family, so now that he’s feeling better I hope to drag him to see it with me soon. Don’t miss this one!

two cats in the yard

"Two Cats" by Suzanne Valadon
“Two Cats” by Suzanne Valadon

Is owning a cat good for the heart?

Compared with cat owners, people who never had a pet cat were 40% more likely to die of a heart attack over the 20-year study period. They were also 30% more likely to die of any cardiovascular disease, including stroke, heart failure, and chronic heart disease. The results held true even after the researchers took into account other risk factors for heart disease and stroke, including age, gender, race, blood pressure, and smoking. The researchers found no such link for people who had a pet dog. The findings were presented here at the American Stroke Association’s (ASA) International Stroke Conference.
~ Charlene Laino
(WebMD)

After I happened to hear this fascinating snippet of information on the radio just before the summer solstice, I couldn’t help mentioning it to my husband as we were having a nice dinner out to celebrate the change of seasons. As many of my readers already know, Tim survived a major heart attack almost five years ago, and is likely to have another one sooner or later, which is why this finding is so interesting to us.

We love cats, but we said good-bye to our last one about twelve years ago because I learned I was allergic to them. My sinuses have been 100% better without having them in the house, but I do miss having them underfoot terribly. And Our House has always been our song, and keeping cats has always been part of our dreams together…

Our house is a very, very fine house
With two cats in the yard
Life used to be so hard
Now everything is easy
‘Cause of you
~ Graham Nash
♫ (Our House) ♫

It’s funny how things happen sometimes. Recently I saw the documentary The White Lions on Nature on PBS, and a friend recommended a book, Mystery of the White Lions, which I devoured. Cats, big and small, have been popping up everywhere lately. Since that dinner in June we have been discussing at great length the pros and cons and feasibility of bringing two cats into our lives again. It’s a big responsibility.

We discussed removing all the old carpet to keep allergens to a minimum. And the probable need to add antihistamines to my regimen of drugs. (Although… I’ve been learning about quantum healing and am thinking it might just work on allergies, too.) Tim even made a secret trip to the vet to check out the financial aspects of routine medical care for a couple of kittens.

One day as we were driving along a cat sauntered across the road in front of us. Tim had to bring the car to a complete stop while the cat stopped too and stood his ground in our lane, staring up at us intently. This made us wonder because most cats scurry and scramble out of the way of an approaching car. After he held our attention for a while he slowly continued on his way across the street. There is a lot of synchronicity at work here!

For now we’ve agreed to wait until the fall to make a decision, but in the meantime thoughts of petting purring kittens and cats keep going through my mind…

consciousness

“Inspiration” by William-Adolphe Bouguereau
“Inspiration” by William-Adolphe Bouguereau

Our normal waking consciousness, rational consciousness as we call it, is but one special type of consciousness, whilst all about it, parted from it by the filmiest of screens, there lie potential forms of consciousness entirely different.
~ William James
(The Varieties of Religious Experience)

In studying the history of the human mind one is impressed again and again by the fact that the growth of the mind is the widening of the range of consciousness, and that each step forward has been a most painful and laborious achievement.
~ Carl Jung
(Wisdom for the Soul: Five Millennia of Prescriptions for Spiritual Healing)

Consciousness is the basis of all life and the field of all possibilities. Its nature is to expand and unfold its full potential. The impulse to evolve is thus inherent in the very nature of life.
~ Maharishi Mahesh Yogi
(The Little Book of Becoming)