I enjoy my own company and my indulgent introversion, but I am also very thankful for those few connections that are important to me. ♥
Here’s Part One of my complete Thanksgiving Report (very slightly expurgated from Twitter) (my account is private).
1) Woken up by phone ringing. Thought, “What the heck?! Phone???” and hid under blankets. (No one EVER calls on the phone!)
2) An indeterminate amount of time later, woken up again by my iPhone ringing right next to my ear. Even more bizarre!
3) Looked confusedly at the screen and discovered it was my parents calling. After a moment’s hesitation, answered.
4) Nice phone call, but was much amused by M’s shock that I’d be sleeping in at 11:30 “ON THANKSGIVING!” Me: “What else would I be doing?”
5) Decided it was no use trying to go back to sleep, and, plus, it was nice and sunny out unlike yesterday’s endless darkness, so got up.
7) Put out Thanksgiving treats for birds/squirrels/chipmunks, including a special bowl of farm stand nuts for the rodents. It’s cold out!
8) Returned inside & watched through kitchen windows with great pleasure as LOTS of birds descended on food & twittered around happily.
9) Made a cup of Rancho Aloha coffee in my Aeropress & drank while munching a bagel slim w/maple almond butter & reading The New Yorker.
10) Decided to tweet Thanksgiving. Spied on cute squirrel with binoculars, & thought about heroic pigeon Cher Ami while watching doves. ♥
11) Spent an absurd amount of time getting ready to go out, frustrated by face peeling off in flakes. I want to go somewhere, but where?
12) Decided the best Thanksgiving activity is probably a walk in the woods, so got all bundled. It’s blue & bare & bright out.
13) The minute I stepped out the door, I could hear our melodious wind chimes ringing far off in the distance through the woods. Wow!
14) The minute I stepped out the door, I thought: IT’S TOO COLD!!! Pressed on anyway.
15) Sounds: faint chimes, birds fluttering & chirping, woodpeckers pecking, dry oak leaves rustling. LOTS of different birds, all around.
16) New sounds: WIND blowing, tree branches squeaking, me shivering, more birds. No machine-made sounds discernible. My fingertips are numb.
17) Walking on trail now. Sounds: leaves crunching, corduroys vipping, teeth chattering, chimes. It’s still again but must be windy at top!
18) Now my nose feels numb. Reached top! What???! Hammock is tipped on its side! How did that happen?? Wind??? Chimes chiming like crazy.
19) Right after that previous tweet, my iPhone shut down & showed battery as drained, but when I plugged it in just now, it’s at 67%. WIMP!
20) What do you think this is, iPhone, the north pole? Walked back on trail, throat dry, eyes watering & tears running down face. Sunny tho!
(continued in Part Two…)
What the heck! I already went to Stone Church Cemetery in East Lyme, back in August!! I did not remember it at all. How embarrassing. My sense of direction is excruciating. It did seem like I’d already encountered a Jonas Stewart stone, but I assumed it was just from seeing pictures. (The one at that cemetery is the only known eastern Connecticut stone by him.) But now I have a photo of myself pal-ing around with it, thanks to my dad!
Anyway, I’m still glad we went, because I got to introduce my Gs to Gershom Bartlett, Josiah Manning, and ol’ man Hartshorne. Most of the cemeteries along the coastline have carvers that I’m much less fond of, but East Lyme bizarrely has some of my northerly favorites. My dad really liked Manning, which is cool because we are related to Manning (not directly, but decently closely). Plus, his parents were great friends with the Manning family when they lived in Storrs. Also, the lighting wasn’t very good today, so I was thinking I’d have to go back. But I don’t have to because I already went! Heh.
Highly successful visit to The Book Barn this afternoon with my Gs (after Johnny Cake Hill Cemetery, lunch at the Old Lyme Ice Cream Shoppe, and Stone Church Cemetery in East Lyme). I got exactly what I was looking for: a Signet Classics paperback edition of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and a set of fantastic Coleridge books!
I wasn’t looking for a specific Coleridge book, but I checked out the section where they reside to see what they had, and found Richard Holmes’ Early Visions and Darker Reflections, parts 1 + 2 of a highly acclaimed biography of Coleridge. (The back of the first book has a quote that calls it, “The best literary biography since Ellmann’s Oscar Wilde." Wow!) Part one is a paperback and part two a hardcover, but I don’t care. They’re both in perfect condition and were only $4 and $6 apiece.
As for Frankenstein, I wanted it because I have tickets for the National Theatre Live version next month, and yesterday I discovered to my surprise that I didn’t have it on my bookshelf alongside Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, The Invisible Man, Dracula, etc. I know I read it a long time ago, but I don’t remember it very well, so clearly I need to re-read it before November 14th.
Distressingly, my encounter with the Book Barn cashier went like this:
Laura: “Where would I find Frankenstein by Mary Shelley?”
Cashier: “What genre is it?”
Laura, confounded: “Uh… classic horror, I guess?”
Yes, the cashier had never heard of Frankenstein. What the heck.
It turned out that all horror books are at the Book Barn Downtown, where the much more literate cashier directed me to an entire shelf with a million instances of at least ten different paperback editions. It was fantastic! Naturally, I carefully compared all the different versions, and finally decided on the 1965 Signet Classics edition, which, when I brought it up to the register, caused the cashier to embark on an effusive oration about how that was the absolute ideal version (he made it sound as if he had thoroughly experienced each and every edition on the shelf). He went on for so long, and riffed on so many other tenuously related topics, that my parents left. I was quite entertained, but apparently they thought he was insane and repellent. It was pretty great.
(I will post separately about our cemetery adventures today and Monday!)
The view from Belltown Hill Orchards today when my parents and I stopped by to get cider and donuts. It’s about a mile and a half from my house. All the blueberry bushes have turned red for the fall and are so pretty!
We found out from the cashier that the cider they sell is pressed and pasteurized by Buell’s Orchard (in Eastford near where my parents used to live) but it’s made out of Belltown’s apples. The label just says Buell’s! They should add their own Belltown sticker or something. Or at least have a sign.
We all quite enjoyed cups of Kona coffee brewed in my Aeropress (my parents wanted extra water in theirs; apparently I like my coffee strong) along with the donuts (heated slightly in the microwave so they were delectably warm and soft), followed by cold cider.
Dean and I had an absolutely wonderful dinner at Cafe Routier tonight with my parents (every bit of everything I ate was delicious, but the best part was being together!), and then we dropped Dean off at the Old Saybrook Amtrak station and I hung around talking with my parents at their timeshare in Westbrook for a few hours before driving home. Tomorrow we get to spend all day together, and the forecast looks nice for visiting an old cemetery or two along Boston Post Road down near the shoreline!
Also, my parents want to get lobster, because they don’t have lobster in North Carolina and they massively miss it. (Well, I guess they have it, but only at a restaurant or something, not like a tank at a grocery store or seafood market where you can just pick out a lobster, steam it up, rip it apart with your bare hands, and EAT it.)
One of Cafe Routier’s themes tonight was the Pacific Northwest, and I ordered steelhead (so did my dad). It’s a kind of trout that’s similar to salmon, and it was quite good. I love the name!
This Must Be The Place. I wonder if I will forever associate “Naive Melody” with Oneco Burying Ground now. I think and hope so. It carried me there and back, twice. Well, along with a lot of Cars songs, but it was always “Naive Melody” on repeat when I grew near, and “Naive Melody” that set my brain to that calm, even-keel happy place, even when Oneco was just out of reach. It’s the mood of the place, of slowly zig-zagging the grasses and the sunlight and the quirky detailed stones. I have never appreciated this song before quite like I have these past two Oneco-driving infused days.
The part at the end of the video where David Byrne is dancing with the lamp is so David. So my brother David, I mean.
My burying ground adventure was highly successful, and the special color-coded list of ancestors that I prepared worked great! I only visited Woodstock Hill (East Woodstock and North Woodstock are also on my list), but it contains over half the people on the list, so I did very well. I will return to East and North after I recover from today. It was great, but also kind of exhausting (I think I spent about 3.5 hours) and my knees and lower back hurt now! I guess it is pretty hilly there.
On the way to the cemetery, I stopped at The Vanilla Bean Café for lunch, then Coco’s Cottage, former home of my dad’s Aunt Sarah and Aunt Maude. All three are pretty near each other! Woodstock Hill is such a nice cemetery. I always feel very at home there. (Maybe because so many of the people buried there are related to me…)
I had 25 ancestors’ gravestones to look for, most from the 1700s, and ended up finding 27 because I forgot to list my great-grandparents and also found one Lyon I didn’t have on my list. Amazingly, I only failed to find one person on my list: John Holmes, who almost certainly has an illegible gravestone. He died in 1713, and was the father of both my ancestor Deacon David Holmes and the gravestone carver John Holmes. I would have really loved to have found his stone (which is listed but not pictured on Find A Grave), but there are a lot of impossible to read very early stones carved by John Holmes, Jr., so it’s probably one of those, assuming it’s even still there. I did find his wife Hannah Newell Holmes’ gravestone, though!
On my way home, I stopped at the lake to visit Uncle Randy and Aunt Mary Ellen. I arrived there at 5:00 and didn’t leave until 8:30! We hung around and talked, and had grilled hamburgers (not burnt-off) and excellent corn on the cob and cucumbers (grown, peeled, and cut by Uncle Randy) for dinner. They are so nice to spend time with! I even brought some stamps that Uncle Randy didn’t already have in his giant collection (!!), which I was very pleased to give him. Last time I visited, he gave me about a zillion stamps that he had extras of so I can stick them in my ancient stamp book I got when I was a little girl.
BTW, the stones pictured above are not ones that belong to my ancestors. I will post those separately, in an organized fashion. (I am quite proud of my organization!) They are also not the best or fanciest stones there. They are just some random cool stones that give a feel for Woodstock Hill and what it felt like walking the rows and hills, searching.
The really primitive first one means something like “L. SLT., age 7, died July 2, 1707.” (It’s in the Hale collection of headstone inscriptions!) I have no idea who carved it, but it’s awesome. The next two are some Child family stones (related to me, but not ancestors) and the one on the right is probably carved by John Holmes. The picture with the Woodstock Hill Congregational Church (where I attended many of my grandmother’s brothers’ and sisters’ funerals) in the background (dwarfed by all the GIANT HYDRANGEAS) was taken standing next to the monument belonging to my Blackmar ancestors. I like the fourth picture because the stones are so leany and there’s so much variety in it (including in the background). That’s one of the things about Woodstock Hill. Lots of variety! 1700s, 1800s, 1900s; field stones, slate, sandstone, schist, marble, granite; Boston-style, Rhode Island-style, Connecticut-style, generic modern style. All mixed together. The last picture is just a Holmes stone by John Holmes, standing all alone. Because I like it.
[Edit: Oh my gosh! Aw. Samuel Holmes, the person the last gravestone was for, was the infant son of John Holmes the gravestone carver! I just found him in my database.]
Great subway art at “Robert’s” subway station (I think of it as Robert’s station now because it’s the one near his hotel)! I had a fantastic time hanging out with my big brother today. We met up at MoMA and spent a couple of hours looking at art and talking (Robert had a particular appreciation for Yves Tanguy’s “He Did What He Wanted” that was quite edifying, ha!) (the title reminds me of Loki, natch) and then walked back to my apartment in the rain and decided to go look for a restaurant near his hotel for dinner since it’s quieter in that part of town. It was very fun just walking around and talking and spending time together, and we had a nice dinner outside at a little French place, then ice cream afterwards. This is the most one-on-one time I have ever spent with Robert since I was a little kid, and it was absolutely wonderful. I am so glad I had this opportunity.
I really didn’t feel like coming to New York this week and just couldn’t concentrate on making plans, but now that I’m here I’m really happy. I knew that would happen.
It was my first time coming all by myself and not being met at the train station, and I did great! I took the Metro North train from New Haven (and it actually wasn’t bad at all!), the subway shuttle from Grand Central to 42nd St., and then the subway to 50th St. and walked to our apartment. Then I rode the subway uptown to the Natural History Museum station and met Robert at his hotel!
When I emerged above ground, my cell phone connection wasn’t working at first, even though I tried reloading a billion times, so of course I couldn’t look at a map. I knew his hotel was pretty close to the subway station, so I just picked a direction and started walking. My connection finally came back partway along, and for the first time EVER, I had picked the CORRECT direction!
When I walked up to his hotel room he was standing there with the door open and exclaimed, “You’re so beautiful!” and picked me up in a lifted-off-the-floor hug. It would have been quite romantic except that he’s my big brother, of course. But as a huge narcissist and fond little sister, I loved it. :-) This is the first time I have really spent much time alone with Robert because he lives far away and we don’t see each other very often; plus, he’s over ten years older than I am and my parents and I moved to Connecticut when I was 11, and my older siblings didn’t move with us.
I really admired and looked up to Robert when I was little, and loved doing stuff with him, but didn’t get to know him very well as an adult and have always felt sort of intimidated by him because he’s really smart and I usually don’t understand half of what he’s talking about. So today was extremely cool, just walking through Central Park and talking (we went by way of the road, not the park-ish part of the park, so it was loud and tunnel-like, but kind of exciting!) and then museum-ing around at The Met talking about the paintings. Robert is a huge expert on history, so he was a cool and enthusiastic person to look at the American History type stuff with, but I didn’t feel out of my depth either and made a lot of good observations. (I am highly observant, I have noticed.) It was all quite good and felt like equal adult siblings who could communicate with one another and had stuff to talk about! After the museum we walked back to the subway station and came over to the apartment and met up with Thomas (my nephew) and then we all went out to dinner in Hell’s Kitchen. Excellent day!
(I must go back to the Natural History Museum subway station… it has fantastic subway art, but I didn’t get a chance to look at it because I was running late to meet Robert since my train at 50th St. took forever to arrive.)
I also saw the statue that the cover of Surf’s Up was based on! It’s “End of the Trail” by James Earle Fraser. I immediately stopped dead and pointed it out to Robert, of course. Surf’s Up was one of the only records my family owned (I think someone at work gave it to my dad, or something bizarre like that… it’s a pretty strange album to have) and the first song I ever remember singing was “Long Promised Road,” when I was very, very little. I kind of messed up the lyrics, though. I thought it was “Head hit Hard on a Saturday night and they both keep gettin’ me down” and that it was about two guys named Head and Hard who got into a fight. I think they were stand-ins for my brothers.
Had a fantastic time with my brother Robert at the Met this afternoon! He’s a very good museum buddy. (The best I have ever experienced, in fact.) My favorite thing we saw was Nathan Hale. Such a defiant and supercilious look on that magnificent face! And the bound arms and feet! It reminded me a little of Loki in Central Park, actually. Except, you know, Nathan Hale is a hero and Loki is… not. Maybe Tom Hiddleston should play Nathan Hale! That would be pretty much perfect, I think.
P.S. I love his haaaaaand shadow. It’s like Nosferatu!
P.P.S. I need to visit Bethesda Terrace in Central Park, site of my fav scene in The Avengers. :)
On my way to the lake, I passed this, so I had to screech and back up to take a picture. What the heck.
After hanging out talking with Uncle Randy and Aunt Mary Ellen for nearly five hours (!!), we went to Midway for dinner, and Uncle Randy pulled over near this old abandoned cemetery so I could see where it is. Even though it’s not my era, it’s VERY cool. I will have to return with long pants and boots on!
It was an absolutely wonderful visit. We had so much to talk about and they are so fun and relaxing to spend time with. I was smiling nonstop. It was the first time I ever hung out with them all by myself but will not be the last.
When I zoomed in with my camera and saw the Macy’s sign, that was when I knew we really were going to have a good view. And the blimp. And all the police boats with their blue lights lined up in a river blockade. Yes. It was good that we asked Thomas to come up. The 4th of July is meant to be spent with family.