Thursday, September 29, 2016

The Starfish

A glass starfish we found serendipitously at the fair after church on Sunday

There was a man--or it could have been a woman, in this case it doesn't matter-- walking on a long, empty, and beautiful beach one morning.  Before him, he saw a child dancing on the sand, swinging her arms (or "his" arms, if you like) back and forth.  As the man approached the girl, he saw that she was not dancing but bending down to pick up a starfish and throw it into the water.  There were thousands of starfish beached on the sand, as far as the man could see.  The man said to the girl, "What are you doing?" and she replied, "If they stay too long in the sun, they will die.  So I'm sending them back out to sea."  He said, "But there are so many.  You can't save them all.  You won't make any difference."  And the girl looked at the man and looked at the starfish in her hand, thought for a moment with her face all scrunched up.  Then she threw the starfish into the sea.

"Made a difference to that one!" she replied.

Soon, others heard of the girl's efforts and many people came to the beach to help.  And thousands of starfish were saved.

This was the lesson told at church on Sunday, a popular tale in Unitarian Universalist services that I had heard before.  But the timing couldn't have been better.  There is unrest in our nation, and our wold, anger, sadness, despair even.  The murder of black men by police officers, terrorist bombings in Chelsea, and, since Sunday, yet another school shooting.  The water is not clean in many cities, particularly Flint; the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe attempts to protect its water supply from a pipeline but is opposed by Big Business.  There is war, murder, rape, torture.  65 million displaced persons in the world.  100,000 children being bombed in Aleppo.  And there is a man running for president of our country who prides himself on his racism, homophobia, isolationism, sexism, who quotes Mussolini and befriends Putin, all the while lying and obfuscating to drum up support for his walls and deportations and "law and order."

What can I do?  What in the world can I do?  I'm tired of the "thoughts and prayers" that are posted--that I post--after shootings and bombings.  I'm tired of the "we'll love better" mentality that says if we only love stronger and broader that we can overcome all; we can outlove the haters.  Better yet, we should love the haters.  Okay, yes, sure.  Thoughts, prayers, love.

But action, too. Except, what can I possibly do?  I've often heard that everyone can't do everything so pick a cause and work on it--pick up that starfish--the environment, gun control, education, Black Lives Matter, Habitat for Humanity.  All of those are good.  Which one is for me?  For my family?  How do we introduce children to social action without scaring or worrying them to much?  How do we avoid compassion fatigue?  No one likes to think too long of extinct panda bears; sixty-five million people are so many to save.  


One starfish at a time.

Hospice, Girl Scouts, lay ministry, money for Hillary, cans of food for the food drive, donations to the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation, lemonade stand for autism awareness.  Keep going, spread the word, pick up just one more starfish.

We can each make a difference.  Even if it really all seems impossible.  Sometimes, you're tired of bending over; sometimes the number of starfish is too overwhelming.  So don't look just at the entire beach of starfish despairingly; look at the one you send sailing back out to sea, rejoice that it will live, and enjoy the morning on the beach.  Sometimes, it helps if you dance a little.  

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Stuck at Home

As it seems to happen, I have come down with a nasty cold during a busy week.  I've canceled a routine doctor's appointment, lunch with a hospice colleague, my hospice visit, two historic house tours, and my piano lesson.  It sucks.  The cold came on quite suddenly Sunday evening--typical sore throat, coughing, stuffy nose, painful ears, headache, blah.  I've not slept more than a couple of hours at a time.

I'm resting--"Tudors" and crochet, plus liquids, neti pot, etc etc etc.  I think I like to watch "Tudors" when I'm sick because I know it so well and can snooze--to those dulcet English accents!--without falling behind.  Plus, the costumes and settings are lovely.

Anyway, it's clearly not the end of the world, despite my complaining.  I only hope I'm better for this weekend, when Gommie and Pop arrive (they're wandering Maine right now) and we host Applepalooza!

Monday, September 26, 2016


Here are some of our current favorites:

Timeline American History game:  It's not exactly fair of us to play this game of sorting historical dates in order with the kids, given that they haven't really had much American history and only lived 11 years.  Actually, they do quite well (especially having played once, they remember the dates better than we do) and we have fun playing.

Rock Me Archimedes game:  This game is like Jenga with marbles; steady hands are needed.  And strategy like checkers or chess to block your opponent.  Fun!

kazoo magazine:  A new magazine for girls that isn't "girly."  We all like it.

"Speechless":  The new ABC show starring Minnie Driver about a family getting along, including their son with cerebral palsy, played by an actor with CP!  It's witty, humorous, insightful.  Just don't call it inspirational.

"Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norell":  Mama and I are enjoying this BBC miniseries based on the award-winning novel about an alternate history of Regency England involving practical magicians.

"Crimson Fields":  A BBC WWI centenary show, following nurses in a Red Cross hospital in France; only 6 episodes but delightful.

"Home Fires":  This is a BBC WWII who, following women of the Women's Institute during the war, based on the book Jambusters.  More episodes than "Crimson Fields," but not quite as good, I think.

Roasted Carrots:  
I made these the way I make sweet potatoes or butternut squash, meaning 1/4 cup brown sugar, some olive oil, and some salt, baked at 425F for 30+ minutes.

Chicken and Peas pasta:   A mozzarella cheese sauce (2 T butter, 2 T flour, 1 cup milk, 2 cups mozz) with cooked chicken and green peas over rotini or penne.

Meatballs:  I use my Wildtree meatloaf mix and roll it into small balls, baking at 375F for 15-30 minutes, depending on size.

Let the Fall Fun Begin

Yesterday, we attended one of our favorite events, fall or otherwise:  our old church's annual harvest festival.  And we had a wonderful time.  There were dozens of vendors--so many fabulous crocheters, some lovely crafters, and great food.  We got a large embroidered cat cushion for the couch, a lovely dried flower arrangement for the front door, a stained glass starfish for our upstairs window, and some cute screen-printed cat shirts.  For lunch, we had empanadas, chicken fingers, plantains, and chocolate cheesecake.

And we saw so many church friends!  The kids said several people they didn't know came up and said, "You've gotten so big!"  It was 11 years ago at this event that we debuted the twins, over-dressed for the fall day, and introduced them to the church that had supported us so.  How time flies!  Our friends, who just had a baby about 2 months ago, similarly brought their newborn to the fair--also overdressed in a fleece bunny suit for the 69F day.  I think it must just be new parenthood.  But she was very sweet looking, just like ours were.

Good memories, good times.

There will be a whole bunch of fall fun in the coming weeks--and Gommie and Pop arrive this weekend!

Fall Fun Possibilities
  1. Applepalooza (our family fall open house, with apple desserts)
  2. Apple picking
  3. Decorate a pumpkin
  4. Make apple or pumpkin butter
  5. Church in-gathering celebration--this was last weekend
  6. Florence Griswold Museum Wee Faerie Village (the month of October)
  7. Make faerie houses
  8. School Open House
  9. Gommie and Pop visit
  10. Vermont vacation
  11. Make a leaf pile
  12. Make leaf roses
  13. historic house fall tours
  14. Go to Fantastic Beasts movie (November)
  15. Trick or treat
  16. Backyard fire with foil dinners and s'mores
  17. Tent in the backyard
  18. Prepare Halloween costumes
  19. Boo gifts for friends
  20. Amish Friendship bread
  21. Brandied fruit--it's fermenting on the counter
  22. Nature walk or bike ride
  23. Kiddos go to Nature's Classroom
  24. Mama goes to Celestial Navigation course
  25. Girl Scout "mountain" hike and tree study
  26. Kellogg's Olympic Gymnasts' tour
  27. Installation of the new minister
  28. Paint pinecones
  29. Yarn!
  30. Explore sourdough bread recipes
  31. Vote
  32. Make pies
  33. Church Harvest festival--lovely time yesterday!
  34. Get out mittens, hats, scarves, sweaters, etc.
  35. Pull out quilts and blankets
  36. Change fire alarm batteries

Friday, September 23, 2016

Where is Fall?

It's late September--and 85F outside.  Sure, that was okay when I lived in Texas, but it is unusual here in CT.  I don't think we've ever run the AC this late.

Even more unexpectedly, the trees are already clearing changing color--I think this is because they are distressed in the drought and heat, not because nights are much cooler.  So, it looks like the beginning of fall outside but the temperatures are at least 10-15F higher than usual.

But meterological rumor has it that cooler air is on the way tomorrow.    This is good because I've started work on a huge crocheted, rainbow Granny Square afghan for our king-sized bed and it's getting too warm to keep on my lap!  And I'm out of iced coffee and ready to switch to hot tea.  And use the oven and light a fire in the firepit.  And write my Fall Fun list.

Come on, fall!

Monday, September 19, 2016

Parents on the Move

My folks left home yesterday to wind their way to us.  They'll go from Houston to visit a childhood friend of my father's who is dying of cancer.  Then they'll take a lazy, circuitous route to arrive in Connecticut by October 1.  We'll spend that weekend together, with a kung fu performance and Applepalooza!  They'll wander New England and meet us in Vermont later for a few days there.  Then they'll mosey around in Canada, Acadia, who knows where, until they return to Texas in time for my sister's birthday and the election.

We're looking forward to seeing them and hearing all about their escapades.  Safe travels!

Super Sunday

After a lovely morning at church--more on that later--we headed to a great hawk migration fest, though the weather was threatening.  I had been excited all week about the bird festival.  And it really was wonderful, with many of our favorite things.

Butterflies:  First, we saw the butterflies in a lovely flowering garden, with butterfly bushes and echinacea.  In fact, the volunteers were catching and tagging butterflies!  I must admit, I wasn't sure how they would tag butterflies, but Bud and Sis knew because their butterfly-loving teacher had done it before, with little stickers.  And indeed, they put on a little sticker.  Note:  do NOT try to remove the sticker if you come across one.  Just report the number.  Bud and Sis know so much about butterflies because of the three-year study they've done with their teacher--the black dots which indicate the butterfly was male, the difference between various cocoons, the three generations it takes to make the full migration.

Arts and Crafts:  While waiting for a tour of the lighthouse, we did some arts and crafts.  Sis made a pine cone squirrel that she wants to give to Pop for the cabin (don't tell!)  We also all made buttons with animal pictures from magazines.  I made a grumpy Snowy Owl, Bud a penguin.  Sis made a Gyr Falcon for Mama and a Bald Eagle for herself.  It was sweet.

Carousel:  The magnificent carousel in the park is 105 years old, with original horses complete with real horse-hair manes, a working organ, and apparently all the original mechanics and floor.  So pretty.  I loved the lights and the music and especially the little name plates over each horses.  We rode it twice.  Sis and Bud sat together, while Mama and I sat behind them on the sleigh.  You could see the Sound as the carousel went around and around, with that great twinkly music.  I could almost imagine it was another era.  I love carousels.

Lighthouse:  Dating to 1847, the lighthouse was replaced just thirty years later, because it was essentially invisible, being in the wrong place!  It has a stone stairwell, with 72 steps, about a foot high, ending with a three-step ladder.  I stayed downstairs while Mama and the kids ventured up.  They liked the view.

Sea Glass:  Meanwhile, I looked for sea glass.  I found a nice little green piece right off, but it was my only piece of the day.   To paraphrase my dad, "A bad day looking for sea glass is better than a good day doing chores."  I also found a ton of fishing line caught in seaweed; that's bad for birds so I threw it away.

Gyr falcon, with jesses visible

Raptors:  We ended the day with a fantastic raptor show.  He showed off a Barn Owl, a Spectacle Owl, and a four-month-old Sakr Falcon.  Then he flew a Eurasian Eagle Owl (coming to the glove), a Harris Hawk (chasing a "rabbit" on the ground), and a Gyr Falcon (chasing a "bird" in flight.)  It really was amazing.  I don't get tired watching falconry, especially having read H is for Hawk.

What a wonderful day!  It had so many of the things we love.

Eurasian Eagle Owl going by
Though, ice cream or the Ixtapa taco truck would have been perfect.

Harris Hawk

The Great Camp Out

I survived 13 girls and some siblings (including Bud) in the woods on Friday night.  And they survived the woods!  I know it was the first outside sleepover in the woods for my two and some of the others as well.  It was great.

We arrived around 5 pm and hauled our sleeping bags and stuff up the hill to the campsite; there was a single, big platform tent for the troop downhill from the campfire and several lean-tos for the boys above the campfire.  I actually slept in a lean-to myself, since the big tent was pretty full and the lean-to was easier to sleep in.

But sleep was a long way off.

We made pizza first, with the girls mixing and kneading their dough by hand.  They even wandered the lovely herb garden to find toppings for their pizzas.  "I can't believe we can just pick leaves and eat them!" one said, as they sampled sorrel, onion chives, garlic chives, lemon balm, sage, basil, cherry tomatoes, kale, and other things.  The pizzas were pretty good.  Well, Bud thought it was dough-y but loved all the herbs; Sis got to make hers with no sauce, just cheese.

Next we lit the campfire, which I tended while they went on an extended night hike (the whole event was for their Night Owl badges.)  They had a very exciting time--climbing rocks, watching for wildlife, gazing out at the city below--maybe too exciting, since they were near a tall cliff!   The hike was Sis and Bud's favorite part.  I sat meditating by the fire, listening to the symphony of the forest, and making and eating by myself the best s'more ever.  I only missed hearing any owls.

The kids returned all full of stories and inhaled their s'mores.   We then all shared our experiences with wildlife--turkeys in the yard, hawks on the wing, a bear on the road.  The woman in charge of our group, an outdoorsy woman with shorn hair and an impish smile, told of a deer jumping over her one night as she slept by the fire.  She loves kids, you could tell, and talked straight to them.  (And all the leaders giggled when she made one of our precious snowflakes pick food out of the garbage can for the compost bin and another return a wheelbarrow she had tried to avoid putting back!!!)  And most of them liked her (except a few snowflakes.)

And we sang around the fire--"Baby Shark," "Bear Hunt," my favorite "Barges," "Linger," "On the Loose," and "Taps."  Such a lovely time.

And then there was no sleep.  I could hear the girls all the way up the hill until around 3.  I think Bud fell asleep despite it all.

Then the coyotes started around 4 a.m.  Bud heard them, too.

But I missed the owls hooting at 5 a.m., apparently.

And we were up at 6 a.m. by the fire to warm up.  I had actually been relatively comfortable in my bag, even with the chilly mist--I thought it was great sleeping weather; everyone else was cold.  I loved watching the full harvest moon through the trees and the flicker of the waning fire.  The sound of the girls and the insects and even traffic in the distance were comforting.

For breakfast, the girls gathered eggs in the chicken coop and picked some more herbs.  They also admired the sheep and ducks.  And their parents soon arrived to take them home.

It had been a great camping trip.

And I napped three hours that afternoon.


Hmmm, I want to linger.
Hmmm, A little longer.
Hmmm, A little longer,
Here with you.
Hmmm, It's such a perfect night.
Hmmm, It doesn't seem quite right.
Hmmm, That this should be,
My last with you.
Hmmm, And come September,
Hmmm, I will remember,
Hmmm, Our Scouting days,
Of friendships true.
Hmmm, And as the years go by,
Hmmm, I'll think of you and sigh.
Hmmm, This is good night
And not good bye.
Hmmm I want to linger.
Hmmm A little longer.
Hmmm A little longer,
Here with you.

"On the Loose"
Have you ever seen the sunrise turn the sky completely red?
Have you slept beneath the moon and stars with a pine bough for your head?
Have you sat and talked with friends, though a word was never said?
Then you're like me and you've been on the loose.
On the loose to climb a mountain,
On the loose where I am free.
On the loose to live my life,
The way I think my life should be.
For I've only got a moment,
And a whole world yet to see,
And I'll be searching for tomorrow, on the loose.
There's a trail that I'll be hiking
Just to see where it might go.
Many places yet to visit,
Many people yet to know.
And in following my dreams,
I will live and I will grow,
On a trail that's out there waiting, on the loose.
So in search of love and laughter,
I'll be travelling through this land.
Never sure of where I'm going,
For I haven't any plans.
But in time when you are ready,
Come and join me, take my hand.
And together we'll find life,
Out on the loose!



Notes for my next posts:

Friday Girl Scout Overnight

  • making pizza
  • herb garden
  • campfire and s'mores
  • skipping the night hike
  • lean-to
  • no sleep
  • cold and damp night
  • harvest moon
  • coyotes
  • breakfast egg scramble
  • farm animals

  • commissioning of Lay Ministers and blessing of hands
  • crochet lesson

Hawk Fest
  • butterflies
  • historic carousel
  • historic lighthouse
  • sea glass
  • raptors

Jury Duty

Whew . . . .