It was fun to spend a few hours at Canterbury Shaker Village in New Hampshire alone with my camera. I almost had forgotten what it felt like to compose an image edge to edge. Ah, composition - that timeless construct.
Guided tours are wonderful. Not because I enjoy being a part of them, but because it means that everybody else is clustered together, and I can meander through spaces unfettered.
Yeah, I’m that guy. It is something primal I am sure. Down deep in my core is an instinct that drives me to resist the herding thing and run counter to mass number activities.
So here are a few images encountered in the solitude afforded by the group.
I loved this communal bathroom setup at the far end of the Sisters wing of the Main Dwelling. The order and symmetry of Shaker design resonates with me.
Above each sink is a soap dish. Between each pair lies a mirror and dual cup holder. Evenly spaced between mirrors are the towel bars. Additionally, the light was terrific.
The baking kitchen was part of the cellar and had a massive oven with a revolving multi-tiered shelf system inside. The prep sink at the window bears witness to the toils of so many who looked through these very panes while creating the innumerable pies, cakes and pastries.
The linen towel in the sink is embroidered with the building name – D, and the room number – 42 so that the laundry facility could know where this towel was to be returned. This simplistic and efficient approach is a hallmark of the Shaker ethic.
This private dining room sits adjacent to the common dining area and was used exclusively by the leadership council comprised of two Elders (men), and two Eldresses (women). The separation extended to all parts of daily life so that the leadership could maintain a semblance of complete impartiality.
You may notice the wooden sliding shutters for the windows. In this room they were fitted to the interior of the room, but as you see in the first color photo below, the shutters were often build into the wall cavities such that they slid out of view and left the wall surface bare and useable.
The schoolhouse was as straightforward and orderly as you might expect. Here on the lower level, students sat at individual desks, whereas above on the second level, students sat upon long benches that themselves were set upon bleacher styled risers that looked down upon the presenting area.
The flowing curves of the matching stairwells(men and women used separate but identical stairways) coupled with the ubiquitous peg hooks and the light from the window proved irresistibly appealing.
The attic of the Main Dwelling housed elaborate storage facilities for off-season goods and items. Like all things within the community, the closets and drawers were individually lettered and numbered to correspond with the building and room from which its contents came.
A central tenet of the Order seemed to have been to do your best work all of the time, and so here in the attic that meant that though these were infrequently accessed storage areas, they were to be built with the same level of care and craftsmanship found in more public spaces.
Speaks for itself really - a metaphor for the whole Shaker movement. Not necessarily gone but, like the candle, awaiting new flame.
Welcome back to color. The black and white wasn’t about making the above images feel old and antiquated as much as that it brought attention to elements and details that often get overshadowed by bolder color.
Here I felt the colors again added to what the image conveys. This is one of the Sister rooms communally shared by a number of women. The Chromium yellow paint was used throughout the village on accents and furniture.
If you click on the image you can see the knobs of the sliding shutters built to recede into the wall. You can also see the bed rope, used to support the mattress, from which the phrase ‘sleep tight’ comes. As for ‘don’t let the bed bugs bite’, that’s more obvious. Bed bugs=Bad.
This last image of the stairway and window landing, I just loved the light that poured in over the railing, walls, and floors.
I now return you to the star of the show - Tougy
It feels as if it has been a while since I wrote a more complete update on Tougy so here goes.
We brought Tougy home on Christmas Day, just short of her nine-month birthday. Tougy is now 15 months old (05April07) and continues to track in the 50%s for height, 60%s for weight and 70%s for head circumference. She began walking in her 10th month and began to sign/speak just short of her first birthday.
Today she runs everywhere and loves to climb anything she can get her feet upon. Her spoken vocabulary is right around 20 words, and her signs around a dozen.
Spoken words include: Mama, Dada, Daouda (one of our dogs), dog, Nonna (my mother), ball, up, down, banana, apple, water, cracker, all done, all gone, hi, bye-bye, uh oh, wow, and her favorite – shoes. Signs include, eat, more, milk, water, bath time, mama, dada, up, down, swing, apple, banana, all done, and please.
Of course we think she is approaching genius level while our pediatrician seems a tad underwhelmed.
Though of course Tougy does not comprehend it, we have begun the paperwork process of adopting what will likely be a boy from Kyrgysztan and expect to travel to meet that child next winter or spring. Yes we will have a blog for that adoption, and yes I will try and give equal time both in terms of photos, and writing to it when the time comes. For now it is a shell of a blog at kyrgmoadoption.blogspot.com.
More important than the factual details are all the little moments that make being Tougy’s Daddy so amazing. I simply cannot say enough about the transformation we have all gone through as a result of this adoption.
I am happy to say that her smile turns me to mush. Her words captivate me. Her explorative nature thrills me. Her hugs move my being. Her joy lights up my world.
I find it challenging to convey anecdotes that truly represent her spirit in ways better than the images hopefully do, so I will continue now as normal, and create a narrative as I move down through the photos. I hope you enjoy.
Over the week leading up to the fourth, we all headed over to south-central New Hampshire to for a triennial gathering of family on KJ's mother's side. KJ's grandfather was one of four boys and, in the mid 70's, the children of those four decided to get together for a few days with their families such as they were at the time.
In the ensuing 30-some years, the gathering has convened all about the US and has grown decidedly in number as new generations continue to expand the genetic influence of the the Liljegren boys.
A perennial scene stealer, Tougy was quick to win over the hearts of her new extended family. She played tirelessly at the water's edge and reveled in the attention of so many adults.
Avocado continues to be among her favorite foods and over the course of the week she managed several meals comprised almost entirely of guacamole. Always on, here Tougy responds to "What does a rooster say?" by flapping her wings and trying to imitate 'cock-a-doodle-do'.
Someday they will no longer look like this and so I wanted to make sure I captured the magic of her stubby baby fingers replete with knuckle dimples.
Great-Uncle Allen played willing accomplice numerous times as Tougy marked him as her #1 beach buddy. He repeatedly walked up and down the beach and, at Tougy's insistence, offered out a finger so that she could effectively lead him about her explorations and wanderings.
As the wealth of cheek gives way to the beginnings of facial features, a single dimple has found a home on her right side and has taken to revealing itself during moments of utter glee.
Pondering all that is presently ponderable, Tougy was transfixed by the ebb and flow.
I am not sure whether or not I have made mention of Tougy's shoe fascination yet. Shoes are the first thing she asks for when she awakes in the morning, and many hours have been spent in nothing more than a diaper and shoes.
On occasion she will have a quick change of heart and, out of nowhere, will become insistent that a different pair of shoes is now called for. As it happens, Great-Uncle Lonnie seemed more than happy to indulge our little girl, and so one pink sandal was exchanged for another, and all was made right in the world yet again.
Hikes are an integral part of cousin reunions, and here is Tougy at the base of the fire tower atop Belknap mountain looking off in the direction to which Allen is pointing in the background.
Unfortunately, what we were all gazing upon, as we rested beside the steel tower on the summit's clearing, was the rapid approach of a thunderstorm.
Of course no family gathering is complete without that ultimate test of athletic prowess, academic agility, and broad-ranging superiority - Putt Putt Golf.
With Tougy asleep on her back, KJ lines up and sinks a putt for par. You champion you!
Sitting on KJ's mother's lap, Aitugan effectively manipulated both knife and fork while feeding both of them.
As both of KJ's parents are 100% Swedish, they have decided to use the Swedish form of Grandma and Grandpa - Mormor and Morfar, which connotes mother's mother, and mother's father.
Just a happy smiling child.
There were nearly forty of us this time around, and we enjoyed most of our meals out on the beach in a long line of picnic tables. On this particular evening we had arranged for a caterer to prepare lobster and clams, and so it was that Tougy had her first lobster dinner.
What can I say, she is just THAT happy.
Having sufficiently tested her scant incisors against the cobb, the time had come to conquer the big red dragon on her plate. As she had previously shown an affinity for shrimp, haddock, and clam chowder, it was hardly a great leap to expect she would enjoy the lobster as well.
An anticipated highlight of each reunion is the ceremonial tour of the grounds in honor of those unable to be with us as well as those no longer with us. As is customary, Lonnie's bagpipes lead the assemblage.
The Holm/Morrison portion of the clan, showing the three of us along with KJ's parents, her brother Erik and his girlfriend Jessica.
Yes this completes the week. There were so many more activities and great moments, though I found it hard to always have a free hand for the camera.
At the conclusion of the New Hampshire portion of the reunion, several members of the extended family came out our way for a couple of days.
A staple trip for all out of town guests is a journey over to Pemaquid Point and the lighthouse that sits upon the most glorious rock outcrop ever to bath itself beside the ocean. Foggy though it may have been, it was a great way to get out and share a few precious moments together exploring the mesmerizing tide pools and magnificent geology.
Perhaps absent the parentally applied fear filter so commonly saddled upon the young, Tougy has begun to develop a confidence and independence that I hope will rage inside of her throughout her life.
I am not advocating for a disregard of fear, but instead for a foundation for personal judgement. Go Tougy - We Love You!
Before our company left, we had time for one last hike together close to home. Daniel Boone may have had his Coon-skin cap, but Tougy found this little Horseshoe Crab fit her just right.
Who doesn't love strawberry season?
I know that I post a shot like this every few months, but it is just such a look. I can't resist.
I love this shot of her. There is just something in her gait.
Not the best image, but a great joyful smile.
I figure I should put myself in here every now and then. You have to love the moments such as these. I love my girl!
I couldn't resist the sweet face she was making as KJ had her folded in half and was changing her diaper. I won't miss the diapers when they are through.
We'll end with a couple fun shots from an afternoon spent at a park here in town. Lobster is big business here in Boothbay. The colorful trap buoys dot the harbor and, here as the sun sets, the sky is reflected in the water.
Though it has been years since Richard Bach forever altered the way I regard Seagulls, I can't help but wonder what this one was trying to tell me.
We'll wrap this up with a few shots of the ever continuing VIolet Grayce. Here we see the new stem and sheer plank in place.
And lastly we see the new deck beams getting let in to to the new sheer clamp. New wood - getting stronger everyday!
Finally I get around to this part of the post, the part where I make it clear that this chapter is over. Next thing up will be more photos, maybe a week or so. Until then - Take Care.