Monday, July 31, 2006

"Cousin Dave"

My cousin Dave (my father's brother's son) is in CT visiting old friends. Cousin Dave is a missionary in the Ukraine. He grew up just close to where mbh and I are living did our grandparents and our fathers. Cousin Dave took us on a nice hike up a little mountain close by where we climbed to the top of Heublein Tower and enjoyed the view of the surrounding area. Very nice.

The blue paint marks a trail that goes from Massachussetts through Connecticut. when cousin Dave was a student at UMass he once walked all the way home following the trail. It took him two to three days. He has done a lot of that kind of hiking and biking in his life. He is an outdoorsman extraordinaire.

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After a Chinese luncheon of whole deep fried sweet and sour sea bass and other such delicacies we went on a family history tour of the town of Windsor Locks which included, among other things, the Baptist church of which our grandparents were founding members....

and the home at 68 North Main Street where our fathers grew up.
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In the evening over grilled cheese sandwiches, sugar snap peas, and copious amounts of fresh blueberries and strawberries topped with vanilla ice cream we had lively spirited but very carefully respectful conversations with each other about religion and spirituality-- the Baha'i, the Baptist, and the atheist.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Another day in Connecticut, Land of my Forebears

Driving down a new little road yesterday I came upon a flower shop/greenhouse/nursery and I pulled in thinking it was the perfect place to buy flowers for my grandparents. I bought a little pot of red geraniums and continued on down the wooded road.

A deer emerged by the side of the road and very sensibly decided to turn around and slip back into the woods. deer sightings are always exciting for me still. Then onto the highway a couple of exits and back up to the little cemetery. I had reread my uncle's email and found that he had told me exactly where my grandparent's graves are. Up the hill and through the gates and right behind the first set of graves belonging to the Coffin family (very apt name for a cemetery I would say)...and there it was... my grandparent's headstone. SARGENT written in large capital letters at the top and then LAURA H. and ROY E. simply and elegantly beneath along with the dates... my grandfather passed away in 1976 and my grandmother in 1996. interesting the longing that I feelfor family connection and a sense of family identity . It felt good to be there and important and comforting. As though mbh's job change was all in order to bring me to this spot...

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I read the readings I had prepared. A little black squirrel ran across the pathway ahead of me. I have never seen a black squirrel before so it seemed like a special event and also sweetly approrpiate for a squirrel in a cemetery to be wearing black. it started to rain so I left but plan on returning another day.

I continued on up the highway to my next adventure...establishing membership and shopping at Costco. this is a whole new way of life...the car, the highway, the shopping centers and enormous warehouse shops, the golf course that surrounds our apartment complex. all manifestations of the structure of suburban american society. i feel somehow i need to be contemptuous and disdainful of it all, of the extravagance, excesses and the waste...but at this point contempt and disdain seem counterproductive, so i have just decided to enjoy it in a detached way as a kind of participant observer in a cultural experience. so i speed along the highway in my brand spanking new Mazda 3...zoom zoom zoom...

i scan the radio stations and for some reason the only station that seems to provide appropriate theme music is on the country music fits the cultural experience of "middle america" (somehow i feel this is middle america) and I drive into the shopping area past all the oversized stores the Home Depot, the Dicks sporting goods, the Petco and pull into the Costco parking lot. The hugeness of the warehouse is enveloping. The oversized efficiency of everything feels friendly though... i put a gigantic package of 10 huge chunks of pork loin into my shopping cart, about as many chicken breasts, and several pounds of tilapia fillet... a 10 lb bag of carrots (what am i thinking!), watermelons, jumbo container of little colorful peppers, grape tomatoes, a whole tray of plums, three cartons of milk, four packs of butter and premium mixed nuts galore (mbh will take care of all of those in short order, i think he could live on mixed nuts and orange juice alone) and a whole cartful of other stuff with longer shelf life... it is an experience of plentifulness...what do they do with all the leftovers? i want to know...what will we do?

we went jogging in the evening through the manicured landscape of the golf course dotted by a few outcrops of remaining natural growth that still allow for the presence of wildlife... mbh went chasing after rabbits, I managed to capture a tiny little frog in my hands for a few short seconds before it jumped free down to the pebbled walkway (i hope it didn't hurt itself on landing), ducks on the pond... a light mist... very nice.

mbh is happy here. he didn't like the city at all. i am very happy that he is happy. (i didn't take most of these pictures by the way but thanks to those unknowns who take pictures of the things i would have like to :) and hooray for google images)

Tuesday, July 11, 2006


We have moved to a place very close to where my father grew up and where my grandparents lived for most of their life. My grandfather worked at the Dexter company in Windsor Locks, CT. They are both buried here in this little town. My uncle gave me directions to the cemetery and I went there the other day almost on a whim. I hadn't bought any flowers as i had planned...I drove around the little town...i even happened upon the address where they lived but the house did not look familiar. perhaps i had forgotten, perhaps it was a new house that was built in place of the old...

I had a hard time finding the cemetery but some nice folks at a farm fresh vegetable stand gave me some good directions. i bought some tomatoes, cucumbers and green beans from them and set off again in my search. by the time i got to the cemetery it was almost time for me to leave...I spent about 20 min looking for their gravestones but was unsuccessful and decided it would be nicer to come back another day for my visit when i was more prepared and less frazzled.

I had asked my uncle to send me some bible verses to read at their gravesite. my grandparents were devoutly active Baptists, very involved in the founding of a church and the coordination of missionary work around the world...good and kind Christian people who went out of their way to help others. i am very proud of them and proud to be their granddaughter. i only met my grandfather once when i was a baby. i need to find that picture i have of him holding me. i visited my grandmother a couple of times after grandmother wrote to me often as a child growing up in Africa. she sent me bottles of her homemade blueberry jam. she crocheted a beautiful afghan for me-- incredibly intricate with two different greens and little yellow flowers that blossomed upwards out of the blanket. (this was later stolen on one of the several break ins that occurred during my parent's life in that house). i treasured these gifts. i asked my uncle to send me some readings from the bible in their honor. (my brother tells me that my uncle is an exact copy of my grandfather... he looks like him, he worked in the same company for many years, he is as strong in the work of the church as my grandfather was, and worked for many years in the coordination and support of missionary work around the world) uncle sent me a few beautiful passages from the bible to look up. he told me my grandfather's favorite bible verse was Lamentations 3.22-3.24. i found the passage (using the indispensable tool of Ocean)

3.21 This I recall to mind therefore I have hope.

3:22 It is of the LORD's mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not.

3:23 They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness.

3:24 The LORD is my portion, saith my soul; therefore will I hope in him.

I just LOVE this passage. The book of Lamentations was quite a discovery too and in particular chapter 3. the theme and structure of the chapter made me think of the Fire Tablet. it has themes of suffering and mercy both at the hand of God.