I really like staying at David and Marilou’s house! It’s such a relaxing and welcoming place, and I sleep really well here! Getting up in the morning and finding myself some breakfast while enjoying all the cool and unique architectural details David created is NICE.

David and I are driving together down to our parents’ in North Carolina at around noon. I am really excited about being able to spend time with him! It will be wonderful to see the Gs, too.

On the way home from my graveyard-visiting adventures today, I found myself driving by Diana’s Pool in Chaplin. I had never been there before, but my photographer pal at So. G had told me about it, so I knew it was worth stopping. It’s a short hike through the woods and is very pretty. You can HEAR the water before you can see it. Luckily, I was wearing my Cemetery Shoes, which were good for climbing around! When I first got there, some teenaged boys were jumping into the pool, but then everyone left and I had it all to myself. (Notice the bridge in the distance in the last picture.)

After I got home, I called my parents and my dad answered. I asked him if he’d been to Diana’s Pool, and he said he remembered the first time he ever went there. He was around 14, and the Brundage’s (friends of my grandparents) daughter, who was much older, took him. He and his friends used to go swimming there as teenagers, and kids used to paint things on the rocks. One time a girl painted “____ loves Gene” on the rocks, and his friends pointed it out to him! He didn’t reveal to me who “____” was. (A gentleman wouldn’t!) From the way he charmingly said it, I assume he remembers her name, but I didn’t ask. He only told me that part because my mom was out of the room! :-D

I’m back from my trip to visit my family in Maryland! It was GREAT. I loved taking the train, and it was very laid-back and comfortable staying with David’s family. I think this was the most relaxing vacation I’ve ever been on, mostly because the train was such an easy way to travel, I slept really well (after the first night of chiming-clock torture), and I didn’t do very much, but enough so that I was never bored. I took these pics on my trip home: 1) Crossing from Maryland into Delaware, B) Passing by Philadelphia, 3) Manhattan in the distance (as seen from New Jersey), and 4) Arriving back in New Haven. Notice that the sky is noticeably BLUER in Connecticut. Haha! (And nope, I didn’t cheat—these photos aren’t tweaked at all.) It was a gorgeous day to travel.

The cottage is back to being yellow (that’s the color I always picture it as, since it was yellow during my childhood), so I was inspired to take some now vs. then photos when I visited Uncle Randy & Aunt Mary Ellen at the lake yesterday and to find comparison photos in my archives.

Turtle Isle (our family’s name for the archipelago of rocks in the middle of our cove) originally had three rocks sticking out of the water and one flat one (on the right) that was usually submerged just below the surface (perfect for sitting on). The rocks, as named by Robert, are Gibraltar, Long Island, Alcatraz, and Atlantis.

As of this spring, the two rocks on the left (Gibraltar and Long Island) have fallen over and only Alcatraz remains above water! Gibraltar tipped on its side during the winter of 2008-2009 and has continued settling since then; Long Island disappeared over this past winter. I thought the lake was just super high or something when I saw it this spring, but nope! (Here’s how it looked most recently, before Long Island went under.) Poor Turtle Isle! It’s a shadow of its former self. It’s still a popular sitting place for turtles, though.

Planning so many plans! I’m going to meet up with Rick’s wife, Elise, at the Village Cemetery in Wethersfield Thursday morning as she travels south, and I bought train tickets tonight for a trip to visit my family in Maryland in early August! So exciting!!

My eyes aren’t really bothering me today but they are still totally different strengths (I think I’m just used to it now), so I’m going to see Smart Dr. Eye tomorrow just in case. My family does have a history of bizarro eye problems (well, mostly Robert), so it’s good to check out, I guess.

Spent about SEVEN HOURS today visiting with Uncle Randy and Aunt Mary Ellen at the lake! I got there at 3:40 and didn’t leave until 10:30. I told them several times they should kick me out (in case they were getting tired), but nope! (I got the sense that Aunt Mary Ellen was starting to get a little tired near the end, but that Uncle Randy didn’t want me to leave and kept talking and talking!) The coolest part is, I had never even exchanged more than just a few words back and forth with them until just a few years ago. I was always sort of scared of them when I was younger! But they are actually insanely easy to talk to and incredibly enjoyable to spend time with. And I’m not usually good at talking to people and get easily worn out by too much socializing. But I was chatting away the entire time!

I think the reason they are so good to talk to is: 1) they make you feel really comfortable and at home, 2) they actually talk about interesting stuff, 3) they let me talk, too, so it feels very balanced and engaging.

Because I’m quiet and reserved, sometimes when people talk to me, they don’t really let me say anything. Like I say one thing about myself or what I’m interested in, and then because I’m not that forward about it, they proceed to take over the conversation and just talk about themselves nonstop so I only react/comment on their topics and never really get to share anything myself. I’d like to (in some cases), but I need the right feedback to open up. Uncle Randy and Aunt Mary Ellen don’t do that. They talk about all sorts of different topics, and actually let me contribute to the conversation. And because they make me feel so comfortable, I’m much more animated with them, and more casual/relaxed. I like it!

My family left this morning to drive back to Maryland, and I was so tired this evening that I actually fell asleep on the couch before dark and slept for hours! I woke up just now at 9:30-ish to the sound of the photos I posted on Facebook this afternoon receiving lots of comments and tag requests, and I think I’m still too numb-and-tingly-brained to even look at them.

[Edit: It seemed way too quiet today with my visitors gone! I miss Diane, David, Marilou and Hunter already! Too bad they TRASHED my house.

…Just kidding—they were excellent guests and I loved having them here.]

Giant four-hour chat with my sister after everyone else has gone to bed = SO NICE. Late night conversations with family are the BEST! My family’s visit has been great so far. They arrived well before the storm, and David, Hunter and I even got to play a little badminton in the yard. Our corn on the cob and steamers feast was a great success and it’s so fun and relaxing having everyone here! I feel very laid-back and un-stressed about it, yay!

We had a lot of lightning and thunder tonight after David’s family went to bed, and it went on for quite a while, but it didn’t seem that bad… there weren’t high winds or anything. We’ll see what tomorrow’s weather brings. If we’re stuck inside we can always play nonstop Apples to Apples. :-)

Yaaay! My family is almost here! I am so happy that they are coming up from Maryland to visit for the 4th of July!!!

Uncle Randy telephoned earlier to say that the celebration at the Lake is being slid out to the 5th based on tomorrow’s weather forecast. Good call!

Today is still sunny so far, but severe storms are supposed to be on the way.

I think I’m all ready to get visited.

I am being really really ANTI-LINEAR today. I keep doing highly productive stuff, but jumping from one thing to the next and completely forgetting about the other things in between, then going back to them when I discover them half-finished. Heh.

I’ve been trying to wake up EARLIER for PRACTICE, because David’s family and Diane are going to visit for 4th of July weekend, so I made a date to pick cherries at Belltown with Susie this morning so I’d be forced to get up by ten. I’ve never picked cherries before (Susie suggested it), and it was fun and easy to pick lots! I hope they’ll still be good when my fam comes so they can help me eat them!!

After Susie left, I did a zillion random things, like setting up the guest room, weeding some weeds, washing lots of things, streamlining the guest room closet (which is my overflow closet, since the closet in my room needs space to access the secret door in the back) and making a bag of things to donate, then sewing some new skirts using fabric I had in my stash! I also worked on making food plans for the 4th of July, organizing my new gravestone photos, and finalizing the 1920s music CDs I’m making from my old cassettes + some bonus songs I got on iTunes. I’ve been listening to 1920s music while doing all that and NONSTOP for the past two weeks, BTW. I’ve completely forgotten modern music exists. ‘Twenties music is SO GOOD. Aaaaah!!

I was talking (well, writing) to my mom about cooking the frozen pig’s head my neighbor gave me, and told her, “I probably won’t actually try to make head cheese—that seems like too much work, and I’m pretty lazy! I’ll use a rainy day to simmer the heck out of the head and see what happens.”

She wrote back, “My guess is that all of the meat will come off. I don’t think you’re a lazy cook either! I think you’re an adventurous cook and that’s final!!!”

Ha! If my mom says it’s final, I guess it’s final! :-D

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Audio of my grandmother remembering her school days. See my previous post for the background story about this recording, made in 1979 when she was 74 years old.

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Several years ago, my parents gave me an old 60-minute cassette tape of my father interviewing my grandmother (his mother) when she was visiting our family for Christmas in 1979. My brother Robert and my mom also chime in with a few questions. (That’s Robert you can hear asking, “How long did you get off for Christmas vacation?”) She starts off with her earliest memories of Christmas, then talks about other childhood memories, how she met my grandfather, and the early years of their marriage. My grandmother was born in 1905, so it’s a glimpse into a very different world, and some of the things she talks about, such as traveling to school at the Woodstock Academy by horse, having the first telephone in town, and what they did on Sundays, are pretty darned cool.

My very favorite thing about the tape is just listening to the way she spoke, though. My grandmother’s family was descended from the first settlers of Woodstock, Connecticut, who came from Roxbury, Massachusetts in 1686 (and from England before that), and they spoke with an accent that reminds me a little bit of the Boston Brahmin accent. To my ears, it does sound like an accent, but a subtle one. I would be curious how extreme or normal it sounds to other people. I love hearing how she said certain things, like North Woodstock (“Nawth Woodstock”), horses (“hawses), Norwich (“Nor’idg”), and dark (“dahk”), and how precisely she spoke. I only remember her as an old lady who had recovered from a stroke, so she didn’t speak as beautifully when I knew her.

Having this recording is very very special. She died in 2002, and I don’t know if there is even anyone alive who speaks like this anymore. I’ve wanted very badly to be able to digitize the cassette, but I didn’t have a working tape player that I could hook up to my computer. Last week I found a very nice old Sony unit at a thrift store for only $7, so I bought it, and was able to make a digital copy of the whole tape tonight. The sound quality is better than I ever expected and I am so pleased. I can hardly believe it’s actually on my computer now. I’m going to burn it to CDs to share with my family, but here’s just a snippet so you can hear. I’ll share a second one in my next post.

Anyway, Milford. I just love Old Milford. I’m really glad I was “forced” to go back to find John Gaud’s stone. The lighting was different enough at 2:00 vs. Sunday’s 5:00 that I got much better pictures of some of the stones but was able to totally skip areas that were inferiorly lit. There are too many stones there to photograph them all, which is kind of great because it forces me to just sort of wander and notice cool details and photograph what catches my fancy.

There are so so so so sooooo many cool John Gaud stones. So many. I’m not usually into skull stones (vs. winged faces) but I adore John Gaud for some reason. I think it’s mostly because of the weird colorful chlorite schist he used, but, as a consequence, I pick up on all sorts of fantastic things about them.

I found some thin broken fragments of chlorite schist collected up under a tree (probably so the lawnmower wouldn’t hit them), so I purloined a few. They don’t have carving on them (except for a tiny bit of border on one piece), and it’s not like they can be put back together to repair the stone they came from. But they are really cool to look at, all orange and silver and gray and layered.

Random:

- I learned a cool new word: panegyric! Mr. Garrit V.H. DeWitt’s gravestone (by Thomas Gold) says his character “requires not the panegerick of a tombstone to perpuate it to posterity.” Thanks iPhone dictionary app, for allowing me to figure out what the heck “panegerick” was supposed to mean! (Mr. Mr. Garrit V.H. DeWitt was born in the Netherlands, btw.)

- I don’t know why, but Old Milford is pretty much the windiest cemetery EVER! I’m glad I came when it was warm. And I’m glad I didn’t bother washing my hair and it was still all messy and windblown from when I was there on Sunday.

- I love LOVE it when the trains go by, although it makes me a little wistful for New York.

On the way back, since it was still decently early, I stopped at Long Hill Burying Ground in Shelton. It was established in 1720 but there are only about fifteen 18th century stones (plus some foot stones) and most are slate skulls. Good, because the stones face east, so they were all in shadow, but I wasn’t too teased since there’s nothing outstandingly interesting. Lots of stones for the Shelton family, though, which is cool. I guess now I know how the town got its name!

My mom grew up in Ansonia, which is right near Shelton and Derby, and not too far from Milford, so this part of the state is interesting to me, even though it’s not nearby or very familiar. It’s a pretty area, along the banks of the Housatonic and Naugatuck Rivers. We used to visit my grandma in Ansonia when I was little, but she died when I was seven, so I barely remember it. But I just feel a feeling of “Nice!” when I’m there that I think comes from a subconscious recognition deep inside.

I avoided 91 by driving home via the Wilbur Cross Parkway and then sneaking across through Middlefield and Middletown and Portland, so the traffic wasn’t bad at all, even though it was rush hour. I was getting tired and really hungry by then, so I stopped in Middletown and had dinner at Forbidden City. I haven’t been there in ages. But EVERYTHING I ordered was SO DELICIOUS. I couldn’t have made better selections! It was relaxing and revitalizing and perfect. I got a Hong Kong Dumpling Soup (unbelievably good!), a Herb Crusted Rack of Lamb (it was served on gorgeous green sautéed edamame and fava beans!), both of which are appetizers, so they weren’t too big, but were just right. And I afterwards I ordered a cappuccino and it actually had good foam! And I didn’t even specially request nice foam. Nice.