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…

more waiting

Mid-May I started re-reading The Master of Hestviken tetralogy and this morning I finished the last volume, The Son Avenger. (see Changing Perceptions) My reason to begin reading it again was that I remembered loving the descriptions of the natural surroundings and the inner thoughts of the characters living in medieval Norway. Or so I thought. What stood out quickly to me in the first volume, this time around, was all the waiting Olav & Ingunn had to do to get matters settled so that they could finally be together.

In my “Eternally Terminal” post I commented on the waiting again, and connected it to the waiting theme in my current life situation. Little did I realize that the theme would keep coming around again and again in the four volumes. Waiting. Some things cannot be rushed.

Like many of the other characters, Olav was not to have a quick or easy death. He had a stroke and could no longer speak or use one side of his body. His son and daughter-in-law did their best to care for him as he lingered on for a few years. When Olav felt his death was near he struggled, inch by inch, to drag himself outdoors near dawn one morning without his family hearing him. He wanted to see the fiord once more. He finally climbed high enough to find a spot where he could see the water and the sky and be with nature. The next two paragraphs took my breath away:

The immense bright vault above him and the fiord far below and the woods of the shore began to warm as the day breathed forth its colours. Birds were awake in woods and groves. From where he lay he saw a bird sitting on a young spruce on the ridge, a black dot against the yellow dawn; he could see it swelling and contracting like the beats of a little heart; the clear flute-like notes welled out of it like a living source above all the little sleepy twitterings round about, but it was answered from the darkness of the wood. The troops of clouds up in the sky were flushing, and he began to grow impatient of his waiting.

He saw that all about him waited with him. The sea that splashed against the rocks, rowan and birch that had found foothold in the crevices and stood there with leaves still half curled up – now and again they quivered impatiently, but then they grew calm. The stone to which his face was turned waited, gazing at the light from sky and sea.

What a profound moment of intense awareness… It reminded me how when playing in the woods as a child I never felt alone, sensing and delighting in the energy of the trees, my friends. I now feel I was led to read this book again so I could pick up on this message about waiting. Patient waiting is definitely not one of my strong points! I’m impatient for my father’s suffering to end.

I’m also impatient for menopause to arrive, because I’ve been assured, by older women who have been through this and by my neurologist, that my hormonally triggered migraines – and they are the worst of them – will disappear. Every time I go several months without a period my hopes climb a little higher, only to be dashed as they were yet again last night.

Both these things I wait so impatiently for are part of nature. Maybe like Olav I can learn to become more aware of all of nature waiting with me. To let nature calm me down and soothe my frustrations.

Poor Olav. When his family discovered him missing they came looking for him and when they found him unconscious they carried him back to his dark little bedroom and there he died a couple of days later. They meant well…