Augusta Jean & Jon Stephen

Augusta Jean Chomiak (1913-1986)
Jon Stephen Chomiak (1909-1919)
c. 1914

If you’ve been following this blog for a while you may remember a picture of my Ukrainian grandmother and three of her eight children. (Katherine’s Children)

This picture is special because it is the only picture I have of Jon, who came to America with his mother when he was only 5 months old. He was born in Ukraine on 19 September 1909 and arrived on the SS Finland at Ellis Island in New York City on 4 March 1910. Sadly, he died at home of appendicitis when he was only 9 years old. His family was living in Buffalo, New York at the time.

At the time this picture was taken his older sister Mary was still living in Ukraine with their grandparents. The youngest four children (Lillian, Olga, Theodore, Ludmila) had not been born yet. There is a mystery child mostly unaccounted for, a boy named August or Augustine. No one seems to know anything about him except that he died as a toddler after ingesting something stored under the kitchen sink. I can find no birth or death records for this child, but it seems he was younger than Jon and older than Augusta Jean. It seems likely to me that Augusta was named after her brother who had probably died shortly before she was born.

Oddly enough, when one of my aunts filled out a family group sheet for me she gave August’s birth date as the same date as Augusta’s, leading me to consider that perhaps they were twins, however no one else in the family thinks this is likely. But it does seem likely that August was born in 1911 because Jon was born in 1909 and Augusta was born in 1913 and at that time most siblings were born about two years apart. And Lillian was born in 1915.

Anyhow, my Aunt Lil remembered that Jon was buried in “Father Baker’s Cemetery” in Lackawanna, New York. On a 2002 summer trip to western New York, we found the cemetery, which is now known as Holy Cross Cemetery, but we were disappointed to find no record of his burial in the office and no death certificate in the city hall. (Years later I discovered the family was actually living in nearby Buffalo, according to 1920 census records.) The kind people at the cemetery said that there were many graves not yet recorded in their database.

Aunt Lil remembered Jon fondly as a very loving big brother who bought his little sisters Jean (she went by her middle name) and Lil candy whenever he could. He was an altar boy at the church, and helped the family out by collecting coal from the railroad tracks, which we also located. We discovered quite a bit about Father Baker (1842-1936), and learned that the church where Jon must have served was replaced by the Basilica of Our Lady of Victory (consecrated 26 May 1926), which we toured.

Aunt Lil was four years old when her beloved big brother died and she spoke of him often through the years. Aunt Jean was six years old when Jon died. The middle name given to her only son is Jon. Lil and Jean were seven and nine years old when their baby brother, my father, came along. According to him they teased him relentlessly. 🙂

Today is Jon’s birthday and also the 7th anniversary of my father’s death. A bit of synchronicity that I would stumble across this picture today when I was looking for something else.

Katherine’s Children

Katherine Fusiak (1887-1943) and three of her eight children: Augusta Jean Chomiak (1913-1986), Theodore William Chomiak (1922-2013), and Lillian Elizabeth Chomiak (1915-2016).

It’s simply amazing what comes into the light when cousins start exploring family history, too. Several weeks ago I shared a picture one of my maternal cousins discovered and today I’m sharing a portrait found by one of my paternal cousins.

The woman is my grandmother, Katherine, who died long before I was born. I’ve always been curious about her because she is the one grandparent I never knew.

Катерина Фюшяк (Kateryna Fusiak ~ my Aunt Lil showed me how to write her name in Ukrainian) was born on 19 November 1887 in Luzok Horishni, Ukraine, when it was part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. She died on 22 October 1943 at New London, Connecticut.

Katherine’s parents were land-owning farmers. When her husband William, the son of peasants, left for America, she was pregnant with her second child and they already had a small daughter, Mary. According to my aunt Mary, who grew up with her grandparents in Ukraine, Katherine’s father, Konrad, who did not approve of his daughter’s marriage, was furious about not hearing from William, and with great resentment sold a cow to buy passage to America for Katherine and her new nursing baby boy, Jon. At the tender age of 22, on 19 February 1910, Katherine and 5-month-old baby Jon sailed to America on the SS Finland from Antwerp, arriving in New York City on 4 March 1910. She had no ticket, but was in possession of $19 which she used to pay passage for herself and her son. She was 4’11” tall with a fair complexion. She was identified as a “Ruthenian” on the passenger arrival record, a term used to refer to a group of Ukrainians living in Ruthenia and eastern Czechoslovakia.

Mary stayed behind with her grandparents and so Katherine did not see her firstborn daughter again until Mary was 18, when she finally joined her family in America after World War I. By then, Katherine and William were living on a farm in Montville, Connecticut.

Katherine was a devoted mother who admonished her eight children to stick together no matter what, as she believed that family was all they would have in this difficult world. Her grandchildren called her “Baba.” Katherine died of a strangulated hernia at the age of 55. She lies buried with her husband in Comstock Cemetery in Uncasville, Connecticut.

Three of her children did not survive into adulthood. Jon Stephen died when he was 9 years old, of appendicitis. Augustine was about two when he got into some pills or something that poisoned him. Olga, a toddler, met her death by scalding when she pulled a pot of boiling water off the stove, a horrific accident that my aunt Lil was old enough to remember first hand.

In the portrait above, daughter Mary is missing because she was still living in Ukraine. Jon had already died. My Aunt Jean is on the left, my father is the little boy, and my Aunt Lil is on the right. My Aunt Em was not born yet.

Katherine had a very hard life as a farmer’s wife who made it through the Great Depression living off the land. Her husband was a harsh, bitter man, who regretted leaving Ukraine and apparently hated this country. I admire her courage and fortitude.

My father always spoke of his mother with great fondness and missed her dearly. Even during his last illness he asked for her. He had enlisted in the army during World War II on 4 February 1943. Sadly, only eight months later, on 22 October 1943, his mother died. Only 22 years old, he came home on leave for her funeral and then returned to duty. I am struck with a little synchronicity here because Katherine was 22 when she saw her mother for the last time, and my father was 22 when he saw his own mother for the last time.

My father often credited his mother with raising him to respect women and appreciate their strengths. As an example, he often told the story of her ability to drive a hard bargain. A butcher came down from Norwich to the farm in Montville three times trying to buy a calf for less than the price Katherine wanted to sell it for! But she got her original asking price, impressing her son, and the sale was finally made!

an everyday sort of magic

“Blue Calyx” by Sulamith Wülfing

I do believe in an everyday sort of magic — the inexplicable connectedness we sometimes experience with places, people, works of art and the like; the eerie appropriateness of moments of synchronicity; the whispered voice, the hidden presence, when we think we’re alone.
~ Charles de Lint
(Grief One Day at a Time: 365 Meditations to Help You Heal After Loss)

Elm Grove Cemetery

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William Martin White

Located just a few miles from where we live, Elm Grove Cemetery (197 Greenmanville Ave, Mystic, Connecticut) is where at least eight of my ancestors lie buried. The most recent gravestone belongs to my 2nd-great-grandfather, William Martin White, and his second wife, Martha Bennett. I didn’t grow up in this area and it’s a bit of synchronicity that without knowing it, not long after I married, we moved to the area where so many of my ancestors lived and died.

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William Martin White, son of Austin and Lucy Ann (Thompson) White, was born 15 November 1836 in Stonington (New London) Connecticut, and died 18 November 1925 in Fairhaven (Bristol) Massachusetts. He married (as his first wife) 30 October 1860 in Methodist Episcopal Church, Mystic (New London) Connecticut, his first cousin, Ellen C. Hill, who was probably born about 1844 in Stonington, daughter of Rufus and Lydia (White) Hill. William and Ellen were divorced on 26 September 1876.

William worked both as a sailor and a farmer. For most of his life he lived at what is now 347 New London Turnpike in Old Mystic. It used to be called Old Turnpike Rd. William married his cousin, Ellen, who had also been living in the same household with her parents, his aunt and uncle, in 1860. Ellen was living with her parents by 1860, when she was about 16 years old. However, she was not living with her parents in 1850, according to the census, when she was 6 years old.

The marriage was apparently troubled. In August 1865 the following item appeared in The Stonington Chronology 1649-1949:

A scandalous month-while Wm M White of Wolf Neck, Stonington, was on a fishing voyage, his wife eloped with a gay deceiver named Pendleton who is also a deserter from the regular army. She left 2 children, one 6 mos. old, and took with her $500.

It seems that the couple reconciled for a while, and had three more sons together, but finally were divorced after almost 16 years of marriage. William had custody of the boys and the youngest, Samuel, was told that his mother had died. However, on the 1880 census, Ellen, age 38, was residing in the Poor House of Stonington, identified as a “widow,” and had with her two young illegitimate children, born after she was divorced from William. Their birth records contain statements from William denying paternity.

Sadly, I have no idea what became of my 2nd-great-grandmother Ellen.

After the divorce, William married (as his second wife) Martha Bennett, born 27 July 1849 and died 16 April 1921, daughter of Henry and Caroline (—) Bennett. William’s last residence was 67 Pleasant St. in Fairhaven (Bristol) Massachusetts, and he died there of arteriosclerosis with senility. Perhaps he was living with a son.

In the summer of 1999, my grandfather, John White, and I visited the house of his grandfather, William White, at 347 New London Turnpike in Stonington, then owned by Millicent House Goodman, who very kindly showed us around. Grandfather had only seen it one time when he was a boy. He remembered coming to Mystic by train with his father and two brothers, and then taking the trolley to Old Mystic and then walking “a great stretch” to the house. He slept in the attic with his brothers and saw a sextant there. The next day they went clam digging. They were instructed to call Martha, “Aunt Martha.”

A history of the house William & Martha lived in is recorded in the book, A History of Old Mystic:

In 1717 Samuel Turner purchased land from Ephraim Fellows. He probably had this house built around 1725 when he was courting Rebecca Davison. This house is located on Rt. 184 about ½ mile east of Rt. 201. They were married on March 4, 1727/28. They raised 5 children here and it stayed in their family until 1765. In the Historic Resources Inventory done in 1981 by Blanche Higgins Schroer, she describes the interior as ‘having a large fireplace (brick with granite sides, wooden mantle) East parlor with deep sills and delicate Federal corner cupboard.’ In 1788 it was purchased by Joshua Brown and his wife Joanna Rogers Brown. This couple raised 10 children here and it stayed in the family for 100 years. In 1802 according to an old newspaper “to settle protracted dispute over highway from the Borough to Old Mystic, the country court appointed Benjamin Coit, John Hillhouse and Joshua Huntington to determine its course (the present route) but Joshua Brown’s claim for re-assessment of his land delayed construction and there was much opposition from the people in the northern part of the township since the route by-passed the Road District which was still the center of town.” In 1818 when the Post Road was established with the toll houses, the road went right past their front door. This home has had many owners and in 1981 it was purchased by Mrs. Millicent House. Soon after the ell on the back burned along with part of the house. Mrs. House rebuilt the ell enlarging it yet maintaining its colonial character, at this time she also added height to the upstairs rooms.

Ellen & William were the parents of five sons, all born in Stonington:

1. William Henry White, born 8 February 1862, married Mary Ellen Toomey. William & Mary were the parents of four children.

cemjameswhite062. James Courtland White, born 15 May 1864, died in June 1879, about age 16. In the U.S. Federal Census Mortality Schedules, 1850-1885, states James’ cause of death was a gunshot wound. He lies buried near his father in Elm Grove Cemetery.

3. Walter Price White, born about 1866.

4. Rufus Burton White, born about 1870.

5. Samuel Minor White (my great-grandfather), born 7 July 1873 and died 2 July 1949 in Abington, Massachusetts. He married Emma Flora Atwood, daughter of Reuel Gardner and Louisa Jane (Atwood) Atwood. Samuel & Emma Flora were the parents of three sons.

Ellen was also the mother of two more children:

1. Lydia F. White, born about 1876.

2. John F. White, born about September 1879.

William’s parents, my 3rd-great-grandparents, Austin White (1806-1882) & Lucy Ann (Thompson) White (1808-1852) lie buried together in this plot, too.

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Austin White, son of Oliver and Lydia (—) White, was born 20 August 1806 in Stonington (New London) Connecticut, and died 29 June 1882 in Preston (New London) Connecticut. He married (as his first wife), 19 September 1830 in Groton (New London) Connecticut, Lucy Ann Thompson, who was born 20 August 1808 in North Stonington (New London) Connecticut, and died 29 December 1852 in Stonington, daughter of Elias and Elizabeth “Betsey” (Davis) Thompson.

Austin was a farmer. His marriage to Lucy Ann was performed by Ralph Hurlbutt, Justice-of-the-Peace. Austin married (as his second wife), 31 March 1854 in Stonington, Melissa S. Cole. He married (as his third wife), sometime before the 1880 census, Lydia (—).

Austin & Lucy Ann were the parents of three children:

1. Lydia A. White, born 1833, died 1843.

2. William Martin White (my 2nd-great-grandfather – see above), born 15 November 1836, died 18 November 1925.

3. Rufus C. White, born 6 June 1839, died 16 May 1864, age 24, at Drewry’s Bluff, Virginia. Rufus served as a private in the Union Army, Company E, 21st Infantry Regiment, Connecticut and was killed at the Battle of Drewry’s Bluff. In the 1860 census, Rufus was recorded as a farmer with a personal estate of $100.

Tim & I visited the battle site in May 2000, after reading about the battle, and as a stop on a trip to Florida. The following is from “Stonington’s Forgotten Heroes of 1861-65” by James Boylan:

The second large Stonington unit was Company E of the 21st Infantry Regiment, which was recruited in the summer of 1862 from eastern Connecticut. About seventy Stonington men served in Company E, under Captain Charles T. Stanton, Jr., of Stonington. Like Company G of the Eighth, this company became involved in the fogbound battle of Drewry’s Bluff, in which Stanton was severely wounded, and the siege of Petersburg, where Captain Henry R. Jennings of Stonington was wounded. Partly because its term of service was shorter, it suffered fewer casualties.

My 4th-great-grandparents, Oliver & Lydia (—) White are also buried here.

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Oliver White (c. 1764 -1822)
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Lydia (—) White (c. 1772-1833)

Oliver White, was born about 1764, and died 22 September 1822. He married, Lydia, who was born about 1772, and died 9 February 1833 in Stonington (New London) Connecticut.

It is possible that Oliver was the one born in Salisbury (Litchfield) Connecticut, 25 July 1765, and was perhaps the son of Lawrence and Elizabeth (Vallens) White, but further research is needed to establish a link, if there is one. An Oliver White served in the Revolutionary War, was listed in Zebulon Butler’s 4th Regt. Continental Lines, but there is no probate record for him in Sharon or deeds found in Salisbury.

Lydia & Oliver were the parents of five children:

1. Lydia White (my 3rd-great-grandmother – see below), born about 1798 in Stonington, died there 3 July 1877. She married Rufus Hill, son of Robinson and Lydia (Briggs) Hill, on 24 December 1826. Lydia & Rufus were the parents of at least two children.

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Abby (White) Bennett (1800-1873)

2. Abby White, born 1800, died 27 April 1873. She married Ephraim T. Bennett, who was born 1797 and died 6 March 1876, son of Elisha and Esther (Davis) Bennett. Abby & Ephraim lied buried in the White plot at Elm Grove Cemetery, along with her parents and a brother and sister.

3. Oliver White, born about 1802 in Quenebaugh (Windham) Connecticut. He married 3 January 1830, Eliza Miner, who was born 25 October 1806 in Stonington, daughter of Jesse and Sarah (Hilliard) Miner.

4. Austin White (my 3rd-great-grandfather – see above), born 20 August 1806 in Stonington, and died 29 June 1882. He married Lucy Ann Thompson, daughter of Elias and Elizabeth “Betsey” (Davis) Thompson, on 19 September 1830. Austin & Lucy were the parents of three children.

5. Samuel Minor White, born 12 May 1808, died 11 August 1894 in Sandusky (Erie) Ohio. He married 10 June 1832 in Sandusky, Damaris Pendleton, who was born 5 March 1800 near Westerly (Washington) Rhode Island, and died 6 October 1872 in Sandusky, daughter of Abel Pendleton.

Oliver & Lydia were the parents of another of my 3rd-great-grandparents, Lydia (White) Hill (1798-1877), who is buried here. I don’t know where her husband Rufus (my 3rd great-grandfather) is buried, however, though his wife and parents are all buried here.

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LYDIA,
Wife of
Rufus Hill,
Died July 3, 1877.
Aged 79 Years 2 Mo.
& 11 Ds.
———-
The memory of the just is blessed.
Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do,
do it with thy might for there is no work,
no device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom,
in the grave whither thou goest.

Rufus Hill, son of Robinson and Lydia (Briggs) Hill, was born about 1799 in Connecticut, and died 10 March 1881 in Stonington (New London) Connecticut. He married 24 December 1826 in Stonington, Lydia White, who was born abut 1798 in Stonington, and died there 3 July 1877, daughter of Oliver and Lydia (—) White.

Lydia & Rufus were the parents of two children:

1. Rufus Hill, born about 1839.

2. Ellen C. Hill (my 2nd-great-grandmother), born about 1844.

And lastly, the graves of another set of my 4th-great-grandparents, Robinson Hill & Lydia Briggs. For the longest time I felt frustrated that Lydia was identified only as a “relict” of Robinson Hill. But finally I think I can place her in the Briggs family of Block Island, off the coast of Rhode Island, and so have another place to go looking for gravestones.

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ROBINSON HILL died Feb. 14, 1817. Aged 52 years.
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LYDIA, Relict of Robinson Hill, died Sept. 20, 1848. Aged 81 years.

Robinson Hill, was born about 1765 in Block Island, New Shoreham (Washington) Rhode Island, and died 14 February 1817 in Mystic Bridge (New London) Connecticut. He married in New Shoreham, Lydia Briggs, who was born 21 February 1767 in New Shoreham, and died 20 September 1848 in Mystic Bridge, daughter of Joseph and Marjorie (Dodge) Briggs.

Lydia & Robinson were the parents of:

1. Rufus Hill (my 3rd-great-grandfather), born about 1799 and died 10 March 1881. He married Lydia White, daughter of Oliver and Lydia (—) White. Rufus & Lydia were the parents of two children.

Last Revised:  11 January 2019

helping hand

RenoufHelpingHand
“The Helping Hand” by Émile Renouf

The first time I ever saw a print of this painting was at an estate sale, not long after my father died on September 19th in 2013. The expression on the man’s face reminded me of my father and the little girl reminded me of myself so I bought it. It’s not in the greatest condition and the coloring is way off. Perhaps the coloring on this digital copy is off, too. Some day I may replace it with a better copy.

He’s been gone for three years now and I still miss him, my favorite teacher. Papa taught me how to wash my hair, how to cross the street, how to trust my own instincts, how to treat animals, how to be compassionate and kind, how to swim, how to ice skate, how to paddle a canoe, how to chop an onion, how to look up words in a dictionary, how to do research, how to enjoy bird-watching, how to garden, how to walk (and play) in the woods — the list goes on. I think of him every time I do any of those things.

It’s almost autumn and I will be eating as many Macoun apples as I can while the season lasts. They were his favorites. He often told me the following story when I was growing up. (It first appeared almost 6 years ago on my blog!)

When my father was a boy growing up on a New England farm during the Great Depression, his family picked as many apples as they could and stored some of them in a barrel in the root cellar. Of course he ate as many as he could while picking them, but his parents had a rule about the ones in the barrel he found exasperating. If anyone wanted an apple later in the fall or winter, he was required to take one that was the least fresh. By the time they got to the fresher ones they had also become much less fresh! So all winter he was having to make do with eating not-so-great apples. If only he had known he might have called on Iduna to keep the apples fresher longer!
~ Barbara Rodgers
(Iduna: Keeper of Apples)

But perhaps I miss him the most whenever I hear a story on the news about a threat from a new virus or other infectious agent. Dad was a microbiologist and was utterly fascinated with microorganisms — viruses, bacteria, spirochetes, amoebas, fungi, parasites. He would never tire of explaining things about them to me and correcting any misinformation the media might be passing along to his fellow citizens. And I never tired of listening. I find myself wondering what he would have had to say about the Zika virus. It’s not easy finding someone so interested in this subject!

I didn’t notice it at first, but my father died on his older brother’s birthday. Jon Stephen was born on September 19th in 1909 in Ukraine. My father, Theodore William, never knew his older brother because Jon died of a ruptured appendix on March 15th in 1919 in New York, when he was only 9 years old. Papa was born three years later on March 13th in 1922. A little bit of synchronicity there I think.

Still missing you, my dear old Papa!

lady patience

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3.31.13 ~ Stonington, Connecticut

Exploring cemeteries is something we enjoy, even ones in which none of our known ancestors lie buried. They are pleasant places to take walks and get some exercise – we even met a couple of joggers in the 22-acre non-sectarian Stonington Cemetery on Easter Sunday.

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3.31.13 ~ Stonington, Connecticut

Reflecting on the life stories stone carvers have told with their memorial masonry…

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3.31.13 ~ Stonington, Connecticut

In the smaller sculpture (above), which is elevated on a pedestal, the woman is leaning on an upright log. In the similar, but larger sculpture (below), the woman is leaning on a pillar.

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3.31.13 ~ Stonington, Connecticut

A close-up of the same statue…

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3.31.13 ~ Stonington, Connecticut

The following engraving touched me – how much sorrow the simple word “only” conveys.

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3.31.13 ~ Stonington, Connecticut

The Stonington Cemetery was incorporated in 1849, expanding a small 18th century burial ground.  A group of Stonington leaders, many of whom made their fortunes as a result of the whaling and shipping trades, came together to design a significant horticultural and aesthetic landscape site responding to the “rural” or “garden” cemetery movement of the time.
~ Stonington Cemetery

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3.31.13 ~ Stonington, Connecticut

A majestic tree, waiting patiently for spring to begin in earnest…

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3.31.13 ~ Stonington, Connecticut

A bit of architecture to mark the ATWOOD family plot. I wonder if they could be related, as I have so many Atwoods on my family tree, though my branch settled in Plymouth County, Massachusetts.

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3.31.13 ~ Stonington, Connecticut

A large rough-hewn stone cross – I love its simplicity.

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3.31.13 ~ Stonington, Connecticut

Following the custom of Laurie Buchanan over at Speaking from the Heart, I selected the word ‘patience’ to focus on in 2013. In a bit of synchronicity I found another statue of a woman in a newer part of the cemetery, much like the ones in the older part. This stone carver gave her a name – PATIENCE. She is leaning on an upright log.

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3.31.13 ~ Stonington, Connecticut

The ship’s wheel (below) indicates a sailor lies buried here, the grave much more recent than most of the others in this cemetery. The surname sounds Portuguese to me – in the mid-1800s it was primarily immigrant Portuguese sailors who manned the local Stonington whaling fleet.

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3.31.13 ~ Stonington, Connecticut

A lovely little garden plot by the woods…

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3.31.13 ~ Stonington, Connecticut

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3.31.13 ~ Stonington, Connecticut

This anchor (below) decorates a pile, where sailors would secure their boats to the docks with ropes. I’m wondering if this stone is marking the corner of a family cemetery plot. Perhaps the plot was bought but never used, or maybe it is filled with unmarked graves.

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3.31.13 ~ Stonington, Connecticut

All true stories begin and end in a cemetery.
~ Carlos Ruiz Zafón
(The Shadow of the Wind)

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…

a thorn in the foot

rose thorns by Xosema
rose thorns by Xosema

I went to the hill and I got it.
I sat on a knoll and I sought it.
And if I would get it I would leave it.
Since I did not get it, I took it with me.
~ Scots Gaelic Riddle
(The Celtic Spirit)

As I sat down very gingerly on the chair for my breakfast this morning, I opened my Caitlín Matthews book of daily meditations for the turning of the year. As I started to read I began to smile over the synchronicity I found there in her words as she elaborated on the riddle above. A thorn in the foot, an irritation. A thorn in the foot that hurts when one walks on it. Pains in my back and my legs when I sit.

There is no surefire way to avoid irritations, no magic formula that will ease them out of our way. They arrive without warning to plague us, and we have to get on and deal with them. Some of the tiresomeness can be alleviated, however, if we see many of our irritations are reminders of neglected areas of our life. … The universe has its own way of getting our attention and making us attend to what is important.
~ Caitlín Matthews
(The Celtic Spirit)

Well, this bout of sciatica has certainly got my attention!!! Yesterday I wound up puttering around the house catching up on little chores and the constant movement kept the pain at bay. But when I sat down for lunch the pain returned and so for the afternoon I reclined and listened to three more Adyashanti CDs, which nourished me spiritually.

No magic formula, but an idea occurred to me while lying there to help me deal with this “irritation.” I dug my old exercise ball out of the closet and Tim pumped it up with air for me. We tested having me sit on it for a few minutes. No pain. He moved my laptop down here to the coffee table and this set up seems like it might just work!

This has been a painful reminder to me to pay more attention to how long I sit in front of the computer screen. I tend to have these marathon days where I visit a lot of blogs and catch up responding to comments on mine. On top of that, as the day wears on, as it did Saturday, my posture gets more and more sloppy and as a result the nerve gets irritated. If I’m honest with myself, most of these flare-ups occur after I’ve sat too long and incorrectly, usually during a long trip in the car…

Do you have a figurative thorn in your foot? What do you do to deal with it?

winter winds

Last week I had the fun and wonderful privilege of writing a guest blog at my friend Kathy’s blog, Lake Superior Spirit. I’m still “recovering” from all the excitement! Thank you, Kathy!

From time to time in my life I’ve been called upon to write an autobiographical sketch and as I wrote this one for Kathy it occurred to me that every time I write one it comes out a little differently. Probably because I’m always growing and changing, and each time I look back over my life my perspective has changed and some events take on new and deeper meanings. And other events are left out entirely because even though at one time they seemed so important, they no longer seem worth mentioning.

Within our whole universe the story only has the authority to answer that cry of heart of its characters, that one cry of heart of each of them: “Who am I?”
~ Isak Dinesen
(Last Tales)

A couple of weeks ago I figured out how to write a blog and not just save it, but actually schedule a publication day and time for it! Great! Now I can combine quotes with art and schedule them to go out on Saturday and Sunday mornings. Still, I was surprised Saturday morning when I saw the quote for that day published already and realized that I hadn’t written a regular post here all week.

Yikes! Oh no, I thought, my readers will think I’m doing nothing but posting quotes from now on… However, I’ve noticed these quote/painting combos are collecting more comments than I thought they would! It’s been so interesting, for me anyway, seeing so many varied kinds of responses to the same words and images.

This morning Tim and I went out for breakfast – it’s been a while because he has worked at home a lot on recent weekends – and it felt very good to get out of the house together. It snowed a little last night… After breakfast we headed to Starbucks for a coffee treat and saw a Mumford & Sons CD there, Sigh No More, which we eagerly purchased. We first heard them perform at the Grammys a couple of weeks ago and both of us like them a lot.

Then we drove down to Eastern Point and Avery Point and found a new sculpture on the Sculpture Path by the Sea. It’s named “Pig Iron” by Timothy Kussow. Looked for the sculptor online and he doesn’t seem to have a website of his own, but he lives on the same road in the same town where Tim’s family used to live. Small world and a bit of synchronicity as well! A little music and a little art – a very nice morning date!

But if your strife strikes at your sleep
Remember spring swaps snow for leaves
You’ll be happy and wholesome again
When the city clears and sun ascends
~ Mumford & Sons
♫ (Winter Winds) ♫