Squirrel Buster, Yes! Bear Buster, No!

 

 

IMG_0727Back in North Carolina, getting a late start on the summer season but better late than never.

This return to our summer place was made extra easy because my sister arrived the day before I did and had the house open, the refrigerator stocked, and my bed made.  How cool is that!

As I got settled into things I realized that the large Squirrel Buster bird feeder I had bought last summer was missing.  I also had a very bent hanging rod.  These two things were a mystery because I knew I had put away all my feeders.  And the I remembered getting a text from my neighbor who thought I was arriving in late April and told me she had checked the house and filled the bird feeder for me.

It occurred to me that something took the feeder…something big!

IMG_0726I found the feeder down the hill in the woods and if a squirrel did this to my feeder it may be time to head south again!  :)

No, the answer is clearly a bear.  One that saw an opportunity and, literally, grabbed it.  With no people, lights or dogs the feeder was easy pickings, just pull it off that pesky hook and away he went.

The feeder is repairable and, yes, I will continue to feed my fine feathered friends.  But feeders will be locked up tight as long as the house is empty.  Sorry bears.  ❧

New Zealand Memories

Too long between posts here.  My bad.  I love posting on Alice’s Wanderland and have been annoyed with myself for not getting here more often.  But that’s a waste of time. Best to move on and get my life re-adjusted so that I have time again for this labor of love.

For a while I tried to post some new image or video every time.  But the fact is, I have a lot of old photos and videos that also deserve posting.  And I have come to realize that blogs give us a chance, paraphrasing Paul Simon, to preserve our memories because, increasingly, they are all that is left.  Like most people these days I have so many pictures and tapes.  I can’t post them all but this discipline of a blog forces me to choose the best.  I can share AND have a spot where I know my memories are safe from cluttered hard drives and paper stacks.

Today’s post is one of my all time favorites.  It is a short video (5 minutes) that I put together following my trip to New Zealand in 2006.  The pictures are all mine.  The music is from an electronic group called AeTopus.  On their website it is said, “With subtle, pastoral elegance, AeTopus reveals a world that is simultaneously foreign and familiar – an aural mosaic rich in spiritual contemplation, seasonal variance, and ancient ritual.”  That is a perfect description of their song “Psychic Slumber.”  It is also a perfect description of New Zealand.

October in New Zealand is equivalent to April in the Northern Hemisphere.  It is spring.  So we saw flowers and snow, waterfalls galore and lots of baby lambs.  And we saw penguins, in the wild, following a rather harrowing hike through trees and streams…in the pouring rain.  It was cold.  I have rarely been so ecstatic.  When you see the final image of the video you might understand what I mean.❧

 

 

Down Under Again

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The Southern Hemisphere Night Sky With Moon Setting

The night time sky of the Southern Hemisphere is really spectacular.  Last night it was finally clear enough to shoot some stars.  I’m not sure that you’ll be able to see it very well.  I recommend clicking on the image.  It will open in a separate window and you should be able to see it better.  My friends home has little ambient light and once the moon set (visible above in the bottom part of the picture) the stars just popped out of the sky.  The Milky Way was gorgeous and the Southern Cross presented itself in a stellar way.

I’m in Australia for a symposium that convenes on Saturday.  I’m looking forward to speaking and meeting with my medical cannabis colleagues in this fabulous country.  I’m sure I will bring home many memories.  But the Southern Hemisphere night time sky was a wonderful treat that will stay with me for a long while. ❧

Burying a Cousin

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Bunny 2015.

Recently I traveled to New England where we interred the ashes of my dear cousin Bunny.  It was a sentimental journey, for sure.  She was buried in the family plot in Norton, Massachusetts.  I spent the first twelve years of my life in Norton and this trip fueled so many memories probably because little seems to have changed in Norton–except the traffic.  Lots of cars.  It is now a bedroom community to Boston. I’m certain there are the dreaded “developments” somewhere but the town center is remarkably in tact.

In attendance were cousins of every age, ranging from nine weeks to 85 years.  It was a gorgeous day.  Bunny’s brother-in-law Ted gave the blessing. A religious man, he is well known in the family for his deep beliefs in Catholicism.  Nevertheless, he paid a fitting homage to Bunny.  After mentioning God at one point, he looked down at her gravesite and said, “if you believe in God.”  His courtesy brought tears to my eyes and, I have no doubt, a chuckle from Bunny.

Norton, Mass on Bunny's Memorial Weekend.

Norton, Mass on Bunny’s Memorial Weekend.

We each placed a flower on the grave and paused to remember our dear cousin.

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After the graveside service we retired to the Norton Country Club and had a wonderfully relaxed lunch.  People spoke a few words.  A guitarist played softly in the background.  We ate, drank, toasted, and hugged.  The only downside of the day was a washed out Powerpoint show of Bunny pictures, dozens of them, from every stage in her life.  The room was too bright, the projector too dim.  But never mind, it was easy enough to go forward and sit for a spell, watching the images go by on the laptop.  It was there that I caught Bunny’s “baby” sister Carol, with her daughter Molly, sitting at the table, watching the cavalcade of Bunny’s life.  But it wasn’t until I got home and looked at the picture that I realized what I caught.  On the screen you can see Bunny and her sister Sally (who almost seems to be blowing a kiss at Carol) and faintly on the right side of the screen is Mary Helen.  Three Gavin sisters, all smiling, all gone to the other side.  Ghostly images looking back on their baby sister.  How lucky we have been to know them all.  ❧

Norton, Mass on Bunny's Memorial Weekend.

Norton, Mass on Bunny’s Memorial Weekend.

 

 

Orchids!

Here in Florida spring has sprung and we are already having hints of summer weather.  But nothing too bad as yet and everything is using this time to bloom and be happy.  Mary’s friend Bob Milner maintains a beautiful orchid garden under the oak trees.  Here are some spring blooms.  If you wish a bigger and closer look just click on the image. ❧

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Letting go….

Grieving is a process, individual and unique to all.  It begins early in life.  Some say the first grief is when we exit the womb into this world of gravity and constant stimuli. Throughout childhood we begin to learn the key elements of grieving… loss and the need to let go.  This may begin with a pet goldfish or a beloved teddy bear that has been reduced, through love, to tatters. Eventually it extends to our human loved ones.  For some that comes very early in life.  I recall a friend in my childhood town of Norton, Massachusetts whose father died unexpectedly. I was about ten and I pondered what all of that meant to my friend Jackie.

I could only imagine but eventually my time came, as it comes to all of us.  No matter when we lose our parents it is just plain hard. So my heart aches for my cousins Milo, John, and Phil who have lost their beloved mother, Bunny.

Bunny’s Bouquet

Now begins the painful process of letting go and yesterday we held a memorial service for her at Point of Rocks.  It was very moving, warm and relaxed as she would want it to be.  Each person took the time to remember Bunny and contribute a flower to Bunny’s bouquet.  By the time we were finished the sun had set, the bouquet was complete, and there was much love in the spring night air.  It would have been Bunny’s 96th birthday.

Bunny’s remains will be interred in the family plot in Norton, Massachusetts on April 17.

Additional photos from the March 26th event are below.❧

There were many wonderful photos of Bunny.

There were many wonderful photos of Bunny taped on the wall of her home at Point of Rocks.

 

John and Aya

John and Aya

John prepares flowers for the memorial.

John prepares flowers for the memorial.

 

Cousin Tess and her husband Steve.

Cousin Tess and her husband Steve.

 

Poppy with her young son Charlie.

Poppy with her young son Charlie.

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Avery Dodge, Bunny’s long time neighbor, remembers her friend.

Martha and Mary

Martha and Mary

A Passing

Bunny and her great grandson Winston in 2014

 

Phyllis “Bunny” Gavin Robinson is gone. She died peacefully on February 29, 2016 in Sarasota, Florida.  She was 95.

Bunny was born in 1920 and was my first cousin, once removed.  She was nine years younger than my mother and they grew up together in Norton, Massachusetts.  Indeed, for me, Bunny’s death is the severing of the last link to my mother and her generation.

Bunny was the first of four daughters born to Phil and Helen Gavin.  The Gavin Girls — Bunny, Sally, Mary Helen and Carol — were a force of nature.  The power of four sibling sisters should not be underestimated.  I have known several of these groupings in my life and each has been fascinating to me.  There is a closeness and yet a distancing between these sisters that is almost electric.  They are fiercely competitive yet uniquely giving. They can fight like cats and dogs in one instance and then fall into a circle of intense communication that is almost telepathic.

Before her marriage she served in the Red Cross during World War II and was in the South Pacific when the war ended.  My Uncle Bud, then serving in the Navy, actually visited her on one of the islands during the war, an amazing thing to me.  All of Bunny’s life was amazing to me.   As I was growing up, first in Norton and later in Sarasota, Florida, I would hear stories of my exotic cousin Bunny. Her marriage to Parker Robinson immersed her in the diplomatic corps and Parker was stationed in some fascinating locales in the 1950s and 60s — France, Spain, Chile. Bunny became the diplomat’s wife and she had wonderful interpersonal skills.

She lived long enough to see her first great-grandchildren and, as you can see from the picture, she loved meeting them.  Look at that picture for a moment.  What is passing between those two?  Winston will not remember meeting Grandma Bunny but something passed in those moments that I hope stays with him, a joy of life and a respect for its wonders.

Five days before she died we had our last conversation. I was sitting at her bedside and she opened her eyes. “Alice!” she said.  I said hello and gave her a kiss.  The eyes closed and opened again a while later.  “Such a good girl,” she said.  The eyes closed again for a while and then opened.  Looking directly at me she quietly and sweetly said, “Now, go away.”

My years as a hospice nurse gave me the insight to know what she was saying. She was letting go. Her world was diminishing and she was acknowledging that.  I kissed her softly and said goodbye. Then I went away.

I would see her one more time but she was unresponsive, making the transition to the next world. She was very peaceful and that is how I will remember her. With the passage of time these awful weeks of her final illness will fade from memory and I will recall my wonderful, fascinating cousin Bunny in happier times. And I will recall her courage in the final days…the days that will come to us all…and hope that I can carry that courage to my final time.

RIP Bunny. ❧