a secret garden

“A secret garden. Made by Barbara Lyn (sic) Chomiak. Seven year old.”

One of the strange things about living in the world is that it is only now and then one is quite sure one is going to live forever and ever and ever. One knows it sometimes when one gets up at the tender solemn dawn-time and goes out and stands alone and throws one’s head far back and looks up and up and watches the pale sky slowly changing and flushing and marvelous unknown things happening until the East almost makes one cry out and one’s heart stands still at the strange unchanging majesty of the rising of the sun — which has been happening every morning for thousands and thousands and thousands of years. One knows it then for a moment or so. And one knows it sometimes when one stands by oneself in a wood at sunset and the mysterious deep gold stillness slanting through and under the branches seems to be saying slowly again and again something one cannot quite hear, however much one tries. Then sometimes the immense quiet of the dark blue at night with millions of stars waiting and watching makes one sure; and sometimes a sound of far-off music makes it true; and sometimes a look in some one’s eyes.
~ Frances Hodgson Burnett
(The Secret Garden)

I’m still poking around through my childhood papers and drawings. My mother was the true bookworm in our family. So many images coming back to me now, like my parents in the evening, my mother with her nose in the newspaper and my father watching television.

At bedtime, my mother read to us, even after we were old enough to read for ourselves. One of my favorite books was The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett. (Apparently I loved it so much I illustrated my own version of a secret garden.) And often my father would start playing the piano, gentle Bach lullabies sending us off to sleep.

Spring is in the air! Time to pick up the pace and plow through some more boxes. Onward!

due date

Larisa ~ 10.31.18 ~ Chapel Hill, North Carolina

The due date has arrived! It seems this baby plans on being late, too. Larisa is very uncomfortable and trying her best to be patient.

Tim has returned from Connecticut and has resumed taking Katherine to and from daycare. I’m doing laundry and cooking and we’ve both been helping out where needed.

Katherine is excited about Halloween and her best friend is coming over soon to go trick-or-treating with her. We have birthday celebrations scheduled for the next two days and another one next week. (Tim, Dominic and Dima) Lots of activity and a bit too much stimulation for me, but I’m pacing myself with periodic escapes to my room.

Dima got an early birthday present from his family, a combination smoker and grill. We’ve been having some fantastic dinners while we continue to wait for baby. 🙂

first snow

janetchui-firstsnow
“First Snow” by Janet Chui

Snow provokes responses that reach right back to childhood.
~ Andy Goldsworthy
(Midsummer Snowballs)

I am a book of snow,
a spacious hand, an open meadow,
a circle that waits,
I belong to the earth and its winter.
~ Pablo Neruda
(Winter Garden)

la dulce espera

9.11.14.duedate1
Larisa ~ 9.11.14 ~ Chapel Hill, North Carolina

The due date has arrived! My friend, who works as a free-lance translator, tells me that in Spanish pregnancy is called “la dulce espera,” the sweet wait. Very sweet, indeed!

Last night Tim & I went for a walk into town after supper. The humidity here is unbearable! But the streets are tree-lined and pretty, with lots of old stone walls and brick pathways along the way. And the singing insects – I have no idea what they are but they don’t sound anything like the crickets in Connecticut.

We spotted a Ben & Jerry’s ice cream parlor… I may find that a stop hard to resist if the humidity breaks and we go out again.

The mother-to-be is feeling well and the midwife says it could be any day now… Will keep you all posted!

The Painted Bird

painted-bird

Well, our long-awaited adventure in North Carolina has begun! We took an overnight train to Washington, DC, and met our nephew and niece for breakfast at the station – it was so good catching up with David and Erica and hearing about their jobs and trips and plans. About noon we got on a very slow and very bumpy train to Raleigh – sometimes it felt like we were traveling in a covered wagon, or at least what my imagination tells me that would have been like.

As the train pulled into the station in the evening, there on the platform we could see our daughter, pregnant and due to give birth any day now. What an amazing and beautiful sight! We’ve been getting organized and settled in here at Dima & Larisa’s comfortable home in Chapel Hill, and now the last stretch of waiting begins… A new twig on our family tree will soon be welcomed into the world.

An old friend of mine from high school happens to live in the neighboring town of Carrboro. Last night she and her husband took us to an outdoor stone amphitheater, Forest Theatre, where we saw a giant puppet show, “The Painted Bird,” a production of the Paperhand Puppet Intervention. It was spectacular! I have to say I was dazzled by the huge brightly colored puppets, the astonishing choreography, the live orchestra and special sound effects. Some of the smaller field and forest creatures even slipped into the audience to interact with some of the children. What a sensual treat!

THE PAINTED BIRD is an enchanted pageant of weaving colors, huge puppets, rabbits, mice, and hedgehogs! It is a story of where we came from and how we got here. From the little creatures of the fields and forests, emerging from the brown earth, to the lumbering beasts of green sunlit pastures, all dancing to the rhythms of life. It is a story of time and forgetfulness. Who of us can remember the story of the Painted Bird who carries all the shades of the world on its wings, when the land has gone grey and the light faded? The furry creatures of forest and field must work together to keep a numbing greyness from sweeping across the land. Will the colors be consumed entirely from the world by the ever-encroaching grey? Come see for yourself, and the Painted Bird will rise with our own dreams of a brighter world this summer.

Sometimes it was fun to watch the children watching the show, their attention riveted, their eyes wide with wonder. And the lovely tall trees surrounding the amphitheater added their energy to the magic of the evening.

Will let everyone know when our little granddaughter arrives! Counting the days…

Fort Griswold Battlefield

So far this winter has given us only very cold days alternating with unseasonably warm days. Without a blanket of snow, everything looks barren and oddly exposed. Last January was the snowiest month ever in Connecticut history and it made for some very nice pictures! But now that we have a new camera there is no inspiration to get out there and put it to good use, but we decided to give it a try anyway.

Close to home is Fort Griswold Battlefield State Park. War is not my favorite subject, but this is the site where, on September 6, 1781, the traitor and Connecticut native Benedict Arnold led the British on a raid during the Revolutionary War. About 150 colonial militia and local men under the command of Col. William Ledyard were outnumbered. The British demanded surrender but Ledyard refused at first. There were heavy losses on both sides. The last picture tells how it ended.

The first picture was taken outside the dirt and stone wall surrounding the top of Fort Griswold. The second picture is Tim standing in a trench leading up to the top of the fort. The picture above is the entrance to a tunnel leading in to the highest part of the fort, and the picture below was taken inside the tunnel.

Through the tunnel now, in the picture below we are standing inside of the stone and dirt wall, which is taller than us, looking toward the Thames River and New London.

In the next picture we have climbed up the wall and are looking down at the Thames River and New London on the other side. British troops had set most of New London on fire, and from here the men from Groton must have seen all the fires burning and the British ships in the river…

It was a gruesome battle – aren’t they all? The British made it to the top in spite of many casualties… It’s sobering considering what happened here.

I took all these pictures with my gloves on – it was cold! – and I can’t remember which settings I was using on which shot. Clearly I am going to have to wait until spring to practice with the camera outside. Will have to see what I can learn about using it inside while I’m waiting for warmer weather!

Healing Back Pain Naturally: The Mind-Body Program Proven to Work

7.4.11 ~ Stonington, Connecticut
Tim calls this the Mr. Rochester house, Thornfield Hall ~ 7.4.11 ~ Stonington, Connecticut

It’s been a while since I’ve done any blogging, but my back has been getting better by the day. I spent a good deal of time reading Healing Back Pain Naturally: The Mind-Body Program Proven to Work, and Extraordinary Healing: The Amazing Power of Your Body’s Secret Healing System, both by Art Brownstein, MD. The good doctor’s advice and suggestions were just what I needed and were taken to heart.

One thing learned was that quite often a back will act up after a period of stress. That was certainly true with this episode. On the last day of June I reluctantly went in for a routine mammogram. But there have been three false alarms before, when “something suspicious” was seen and I had to go back for a stereotactic biopsy and ultrasounds. Each time there were days and days of waiting, not knowing, and all the waiting and uncertainty made worse by my family history. Happy to report that nothing new was seen on this mammogram, a sigh of relief for a change! But until I knew the result, my muscles must have been tighter than knots, and then trying to distract myself from anxiety by sitting and slouching in front of the computer for a couple of days – it was a perfect recipe for back pain!

So, now I’ve been introduced to my body’s healing system and we’ve been getting to know each other very well. It’s amazing what a shift in thinking can do for our bodies.

7.4.11 ~ Stonington, Connecticut
the front door ~ 7.4.11 ~ Stonington, Connecticut

Yesterday the kids came over for dinner! Larisa & Dima are settled into their New York City digs and came up here for the day, and Nate & Shea will probably be here in town another month or so before they’re off to Georgia for good. We had such a good time! For some reason it seems that on both sides of our families it’s the men who are the ones who love to cook, and it’s proving true with the next generation, too. Dima made the best deviled eggs I’ve ever had, the filling had avocado, cilantro and lime in it, and a tiny strip of bacon on top. And Nate prepared a fruit salad for dessert, with cantaloupe, raspberries, blueberries, mint leaves and lime zest. Larisa and Tim did their best trying to help me salvage a creamy red pepper sauce (for the pasta) gone horribly wrong – my ineptitude in the kitchen is legendary – I should just buy it in a jar… And Shea kept everyone happy with a mixed drink (I forgot the name of it!) she learned how to make while they were on their cruise.

7.4.11 ~ Stonington, Connecticut
something in the back yard ~ 7.4.11 ~ Stonington, Connecticut

We’ve had a couple of little thunderstorms and plenty of gloominess and rain today. Wish I could send some of this rain to the places that need it more than we do here…