Threading Coincidences

I’m clearing out the basement of my mother’s house. Ma très chère mère died six years ago, but we’ve rented the house out as much as possible since then and haven’t ever had the time or inclination to do the job fully. Since I’m (forcibly) in the US for many weeks (please pardon my complaining about the UKVI process!), this seems an excellent time to get done a good portion of this important project.

I needed to sew something and pulled out this cute little sewing box from a trunk that belonged to my paternal grandmother. Some very vintage items in here. IMG_2286

It’s funny – just a month or so before I left Beverley, I bought one of those wooden sock darning forms at a “yard sale” for 10p. Now, here are two of them. I constantly have the strong and deep impression that everything I need is here at my mother’s house, that she continues to provide for me. I do hate getting rid of some of these items. Will they be appreciated by someone else? If I knew that for sure, it would be so much easier. I have to simply say a prayer that they shall be.

In the sewing box was this little vintage card of tapestry needles:

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I particularly like this for two reasons. One is that I’m often using tapestry needles and seem to need to buy them a couple of times a year if I’m not careful with keeping track of them (I usually have too many knitting projects going at once and tend to leave my finishing needle with the unfinished project, in a careful but not permanent place). Second is that it made me smile because of the company name. “Boyes” is a store in Beverley we often shop at and where I likely WOULD have gone to get more tapestry needles should I need them! I love these little cosmic jokes.

I had another one just yesterday. I might as well include it here now. I posted a picture of this framed poster on my instagram account:

MacHaydn poster

What in the world was this doing in my mother’s basement? Besides the fact that it is full of mildew (oh dear…), the shock factor for me was that it comes from a theatre I live very close to in Columbia County. My mother’s house is on the eastern tip of Long Island and I was living here in 1979. The MacHaydn is in a beautiful but pretty sleepy town five or six hours away. My mother has never been to the MacHaydn and was only ever in Chatham after I moved to that area sixteen years ago. It was a very, very odd colliding of the worlds to find that yesterday.

Of course, I then figured that the poster was a find at a thrift shop or yard sale (sources of all good things, before TJ Maxx came to town) for its frame some years ago, but still – what are the odds that a thrift shop out here would have a poster from up there? I wonder how many years it’s been down there? I’m quite certain it was acquired long before I moved to Columbia County, before I was even aware of its existence. My mother would often buy frames for her NYC aunt’s art projects – this was in the 90’s. That aunt was no longer living by the time we were house hunting in 2000. I still can’t shake the feeling of how odd is this coincidence.

What little messages does the universe constantly send us that we may or may not be aware of?

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Tasty Fall Cauliflower

Is cauliflower the hot new vegetable? When I was in Trader Joe’s a week or two ago, near Albany, I saw a whole open freezer display cabinet filled with cauliflower products – packaged diced frozen pieces of it, cauliflower-based pizza crust, fully constructed pizza made with a choux-fleur base, and who knows what else. I was intrigued.

Later that week I bought a GORGEOUS specimen of organic yellow cauliflower at the farm store of the Farm at Miller’s Crossing in Claverack, NY. What a beautiful building they have, and what vegetable riches filled the old barn. We didn’t eat it right away, but a few days later when I was in New Jersey, we roasted and enjoyed it.

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Yesterday Nicholas drove over to Watermill on Long Island (I know, we are still really getting around) and bought two bags of organic veggies at The Green Thumb market, including both a yellow and a white cauliflower. Both were beautiful, and the white one became dinner.

I heated a heavy enamel pan with a tablespoon each of olive and coconut oils and one of butter. Into this I added about a tablespoon of powdered cumin, half a teaspoon of powdered turmeric and a quarter teaspoon of cayenne and slowly cooked them for a couple of minutes. I added the head of of cauliflower, cut into florets, and stirred everything to coat with the spices plus about a half teaspoon of sea salt. The leaves and stalk were also included, since they were all organic!

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I then put the pan in the oven, preheated to 375-degrees F and the convection fan on. This roasted for about half an hour.

What deliciousness emerged – the cauliflower was tender inside but the edges had a crispness to them. The leaves were like kale chips. The spice and salt level was mild, but noticeable. I might want a tad more spice flavor next time. This is definitely a recipe to repeat.

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Eurythmy Revisited

As we were leaving Hawthorne Valley on Halloween Eve, I met the eyes of a woman I used to do eurythmy with. We both attended two of the same classes over a period of a few years. She came over and we spoke for quite a while, about European vs. American lifestyles (she used to live in Germany and elsewhere) and then she announced, “Oh, Nina, tomorrow is Wednesday Eurythmy with Karen, come!”.

I can’t tell you how excited I was at that prospect. Every time I’ve been away from eurythmy for a period of time (usually due to home schooling) and then been able to start up again, I’ve felt an intense “rightness” and even an urgency about moving the forms with the class. I had looked and looked and made phone calls and wrote emails with the goal of finding a group in England, but I wasn’t successful other than eventually speaking with a fellow in York who used to have an adult class but nothing current. Sigh.

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What is eurythmy? The official definition, as I remember it, is a form of movement developed by Rudolf Steiner meant to embody “visible speech”.  I find it to be very reminiscent of qi cong, an ancient form of Chinese martial arts comprised of movements that circulate energy in the meridians of the body to cultivate health and personal power. Since I’m an acupuncturist, that’s rather up my alley. I love the meeting of the intangible with the tangible, of feeling the energy move so strongly that there are physical sensations in the body. It’s a reminder of the magic of being in a body, of the unseen dimensions of the energy beings we actually are.

Anyway, I went to class on Wednesday morning, was graciously welcomed in to the group, and I thought again to myself how much I’d MISSED THIS. I am super lucky to have found a qi cong class in Beverley, but I’d love to do eurythmy as well.

I don’t have any photos of people moving eurythmy. I do have a picture of the amazing new bathrooms in the downstairs level of the building where we had class. I’ll just have to pop that in here:

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This is a very “Waldorf esthetic” to use natural wood with simple forms and to bring in rough tree trunks is all the better. The whole space is gorgeous at Mettabee Farm.

Thank you to the teacher and class for giving me another experience of moving and sensing eurythmy. It feeds me so!

 

Back in “My Community”

On the day of Halloween Nicholas and I drove over to Hawthorne Valley, which is a unique place. It is a collection of Steiner school buildings and playing fields (where our children attended Waldorf school for most of the elder’s schooling and a few years of the younger’s), biodynamic farm fields and buildings, homes of people somehow related to the school or farm, a crafts and school supply store, and a fabulous farm store eco-building that sells raw milk, organic and biodynamic veggies and meats and cheeses as well as thousands of packaged “health foods” and non-toxic cosmetics and cleaning supplies. I used to shop there often, and it was a treat to have a visit.

Nicholas and I went mostly just to have a cup of tea and sit and chat about a big subject related to our “spending more time in England” theme. What happened is that I felt wonderfully enveloped in the feeling of belonging to a place I used to know well.

Just looking at the bulletin board with all their notices of exciting happenings made me nostalgic – this is only a slice of offerings advertised:

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Lots and lots of classes and talks and events – though, to be honest, many of them had always felt too far away for me to get all the years we lived there. Our house is a half-hour from Hawthorne Valley and evening activities were always tough, being away from kids at meal and bedtimes. But our visit last week made me nostalgic all the same!

What occupied most of our time there was speaking with people. We saw a string of wonderful souls we engaged with – from our elder’s main Waldorf class teacher, who we saw riding his bicycle and stopped to chat with in the parking lot, to a previous classmate who always impressed us a little boy and is now looking all grown-up and very poised and able to converse so well, to many friends we hadn’t previously had a chance to connect with and it was such a joy to see them all. We were at the Farm Store for hours!

I felt so welcomed by and into the community that I had invested fifteen years in, and I suppose that experiencing that warmth and connection made me grieve the notion of leaving it. I know that I can create more community in England, but that takes time. And is there a place anything like Hawthorne Valley anywhere in East Yorkshire?

 

Runswick Bay last August

Here is an entry I never posted! A taste of summer now that Fall is here.

…After our NY friends left us at our camping grounds, the sun was also absent. Overcast and rainy days were the norm for the remainder of our trip. But we made the most of it! One drizzly morning (the day after it rained torrentially) we headed out for a drive. Runswick Bay was our destination.

Actually, we thought we were supposed to be camping in Runswick Bay the whole week – there is a caravan site there owned by the same company we used, but ours was in the Dales instead. The fact that they both had the same name had confused us. Runswick Bay is a tiny town on the coast, about half an hour from where we were camping. It’s magnificent in the summer and must be both lonely and treacherous in the winter months. Perched on a hill, the walkways are made of slippery stone steps. Cars don’t go through the little collection of house streets, it’s that small. Parking is mostly to one side of the village.

We walked down to the sea and then started back up again to explore the town. We were transfixed by the colors of the cottages – this one was particularly beautiful:

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Each one has a gloriously perfect view of the sea. The tide was low and far out. If we’d have brought wellies with us, we’d have been exploring the rocks more, but as it was we kept to higher ground.

Runswick SeaView

We felt like we kept discovering secret treasures ’round each corner we walked. A house just slightly further up the hill had a garden jam-packed with trees, bushes and flowers, the largest of which was a glorious fig-tree, huge-leaved and with pendulously ripe figs. I was transfixed.

Runswick FigTree

Perhaps I am easily impressed by figs, but these delighted me. Also amazing was the fact that the birds hadn’t eaten them all! While I was standing, marveling at this riddle, a woman walked by, the owner of the house. We chatted. She told us that she lives in her house only for the summer and that there are but TWELVE year-round residents. I asked her about her tree and she said she didn’t eat the figs and we could pick them if we wanted. Incredulous, I asked if she was sure, and she immediately went and got us a bag from inside her house. Overwhelmed by both her generosity and that of the tree, we picked these beauties:

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I’m trying to determine WHY figs excite me so. When I was younger, living on the eastern tip of Long Island, NY, I don’t think we ever had any fresh figs, but we did eat the dried ones that came in a circular “ring” of string, from Greece I think. The few times that I brought some in my lunch to school, it seemed my classmates found them too exotic and unfamiliar. No one else ate them. My family felt different from most families in terms of many of our food choices, especially regarding fruits, probably. Pomegranates were another – a girl briefly moved to my school from California in seventh or eighth grade, and she was the only person I’d ever seen eat a pomegranate in school. I felt bonded to her on that basis alone! I still remember her given name: Megan Morgan, even though I never again saw her after that year. Sorry for that tangent…

I don’t remember the first fresh fig I ate, but it must have been in Staten Island or Manhattan, where many more “non-Northeast” foods were available. My mother probably presented them the way she always served food: simply yet beautifully, somehow understatedly communicating appreciation and love.  I paid attention to my mother’s recommendations and recognized them as always being of superior quality and generally adopted her preferences for my own. As for the fresh figs, I loved both the taste and texture  – small green ones and small black ones are what I remember. And when I was thirteen, I went to France for the first time and my aunt’s house on L’Île d’Yeu had a fig tree. We got one fig off of it because it was too early to expect many. That one fruit was spectacular, and several of us shared tiny slices of it. How I wished we could stay ’til September and enjoy a bountiful supply, sigh…

And so, here we were standing in front of a prolifically productive tree. I’d NEVER seen figs this large. Nearly as long as my hand, and very darkly purple. Picking them was like winning the jackpot for me. We ate one right away, eyes widening in excitement, finished off a few more in the parking lot on our way out of the village, and the rest we savored more slowly back at the campsite over the next two days.

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Delicious, truly. Fully and perfectly ripe. We devoured half of them far too quickly, yet also consciously relishing their flavor. They were so large that eating just one of them was nearly like a meal. Thank you, fig-tree owner! I shall forever-more hold magical memories of Runswick Bay.

Where have I been?

It is Fall is the US, and I have been here for almost nine weeks. I have only written one blog post since my time here, my goodness! My time felt very much occupied with communicating with my British lawyer about my visa and making sure all the necessary information was submitted, then trying to pack in all the tasks I needed to do in the first three weeks because I thought my visa would be ready for me soon, then worrying about how LONG my visa was taking and what my children were doing without me (because they were in school in England), then realizing how relaxed I was starting to feel not needing to focus on anyone’s needs but my own, then finally starting to do some things for FUN for myself. I had several days with my aunt in NJ and we did a cleanse together and spent time in her gardens and went to a wild and wonderful new Network chiropractor she’d discovered. Almost two weeks ago I drove to Boston to take a training in acupuncture with Kiiko Matsumoto, Japanese teacher and practitioner extraordinaire. Last week found me in Manhattan to visit a Wellesley friend I hadn’t seen in fifteen years and with whom the years simply fell away while we talked for hours. It was all lovely and I felt like an “individual” rather than a mother, Halleluliah! Currently I am reunited with my children while they’re on school break for half-term (sounds SO English, and it comes so naturally to us now :).

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We were welcomed in to the home of our Stuyvesant neighbors – their table felt like Fall, so I snapped a picture last night. The dahlias are from their garden, as are the two smallest gourds; the tea cosy I’d knitted for them last year but they need a larger teapot! This was the home of the friends who visited us in Beverley in August. We’d been in their home so many times over the course of fifteen years, but never to stay, since we lived right next door! It was odd and yet perfect, to be with them. Having the comforts of home was excellent, as I don’t enjoy eating out three meals a day for any length of time. It was funny that they have an Aga, oven of England, and we don’t have one in our UK home. I loved using it, and we got to spend good time with friends.

My girls have been so very busy with their friends that I haven’t spent many hours with them, actually. I am very glad they have the time to revisit the home and community they knew for their whole lives. Nearly every day and night they have been deep in conversation and play with these bosom buddies. They are saying they don’t want to leave, but Friday shall find them flying back to England. I hope it goes alright.

I hope to write more while I am here. Happy November to you all!

They made me leave

Well, my six month tourist visa has expired, and I am back in the U.S. temporarily. I hate not being with the rest of my family who have stayed in the UK. It is SO strange to be back “home”. Two of the first things I noticed right away, that really struck me: everything truly does look much larger here than in England, and related to that, there is so much space on the roads both for the cars and between towns. Everything is big in the Big Old U.S.A. I’d gotten quite used to the English scale which is really and truly much smaller.

My first day in New York, we went to a Whole Foods shop. There was another moment of reverse culture shock. Now this is a funny one for me – previously on every trip I’ve made to England, the prices have felt quite high, but for this half a year I’ve been extremely pleasantly surprised to find that prices of most things seem actually a good deal better than in New York. Take, for example, organic produce. At Tesco’s in Beverley I can buy a head of organic celery for only one pound (just over a dollar). At Whole Foods, it was $3.49. Huge difference. Many other organic foods have a similar price gap.

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One thing that made me gasp with delight was to see the section of probiotic foods. Ah, now that is something that there is very little of in the part of England I’ve been in. I don’t think I’ve seen ANY “true” sauerkraut for sale in any shops, though I’m sure some must be somewhere. Look at this grand variety of choices at the same Whole Foods market:

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I bought a nice little box of miso and have been having a cup of miso soup every day since. Yum, yum, yum. I would have bought some sauerkraut, too, but it was ridiculously expensive! I usually make my own anyway, unless I go to the Hawthorne Valley Farm Store where they make it and so sell it for slightly better. I didn’t get to the Farm Store yet but might in the coming weeks. They make excellent products.

That’s all I’ll manage for the moment about my UK/US impressions. I’m waiting for a new visa to come through to allow me to return to England, and while I’m “home”, I’m working hard on several projects. Hopefully I’ll get to see some dear friends, as well.

Falling Foss

Just as our friends from New York left, our relatives arrived at the campsite, for two nights only. What a lovely transition. We spent the full day we had together exploring a part of the Dales that had been recommended to us – a walk called “Falling Foss”. ‘Twasn’t easy to find!

We drove quite a while, spying lots and lots of brambles on the way. We stopped and picked quite a few to eat, wishing we had containers to fill. Finally we found the walking trail entrance and parked our cars. A magical wooded pathway, very different from what we’d been experiencing on the moors. A large waterfall was at the end, with some smaller ones along the way…

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Fairy trees and graffiti-ed grotto-like structures were in the woods…

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At the end of the walk was a tea room, right in the middle of the woods. From the outside it appeared to be a little cottage:

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It was originally a gamekeeper’s cottage from the 1700s, but people did live in it full-time for many years and it was a tea-room in the 1930’s. There was a large placard of history written up about it that I’ve now mostly forgotten. The residents abandoned the isolated cottage in the 1960’s after a particularly bad winter, and it has only recently been taken over and restored into a tea-garden. It is SO lovely! Very modern-looking outdoor-area where the orders are placed, with lots of outdoor seating and really very good food. They even served small bottles of Prosecco of which we partook to celebrate my sister-in-law’s birthday.

The tea garden was right next to the 30-foot waterfall, but somehow I didn’t get any pictures. This was a coin-filled wishing log that caught my eye, though:

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And while my younger daughter and I waited for other grownups to fetch the car (really, we could have parked right near the tea garden, but we’d parked two miles away at a different carpark), we tried our skills at leaf-identification and then enjoyed the low-level water nearby…

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I’d highly recommend a visit to Falling Foss for a magical woodland walk and a spot of nice lunch.

A Day Out in Beverley

The first day that our NY friends arrived was spent showing them ’round the town. Beverley is beautiful, and there was so much to try to fit in to the eleven hours of daylight. Now I get to show you snippets of that tour.

We started with a quick walk into town to show them how CLOSE our lovely little street is to the thick of things. They needed coffee, so we went to Filmore and Union, a café-restaurant that serves good food and coffee and fresh veggie juices. We sat in the outside garden and drank in the gorgeous sunlight. Most pubs and restaurants have “gardens” here in England, to take the opportunity of the sun and color of beautiful growing things.

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We walked by lots of “snickets”, tiny little pedestrian alleyways that link larger streets. I’m quite taken by both the name and the fact that they exist. I may do a post solely on snickets one of these days. This one had a name pertinent to our NY neck of the woods…

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We visited the Minster, which is a Church of England gothic church, as large as many cathedrals – I’m still not clear on the difference. I think it has to do with whether a bishop is associated with the church or not. Scenes from the TV series “Victoria” and “The Crown” were filmed there, I think. It’s incredibly beautiful. Just one or two pics…

I quite like the trompe l’oeuil design of the marble floor.

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and a close-up of the hand-carved wooden “miserichords”…

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We walked to my new allotment so they could see that quintessentially English system of a collection of gardening plots. On the way there, we spotted another plum tree (not wild this time) within the Minster grounds. So many had fallen to the ground. We sampled them – delicious!

My plot is still bare except for the many berries we inherited from the previous occupants. The good news is that many of the weeds are gone and that there is tons of potential! There is one slightly sad-looking plum tree that didn’t produce much and whose plums are now gone, but here is a shot of the few that we picked several weeks ago. I remember them being sold at Loveapple Farm in Columbia County as “elephant heart plums”. Super-flavorful and delicious. Allotment Plums.JPG

Other plots are quite impressive. Here’s a meticulously kept and organized one:

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I quite like the “wall” of runner beans in another – thick steel poles are holding these gorgeous vines up:

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And one plot is filled exclusively with apple trees interplanted with flowers!

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I didn’t photograph the windmill that is at the center of the allotment area, nor any of the numerous sheds and greenhouses that look both picturesque and practical.

We continued with a walk on the Westwood open pastureland and communed with some cows lolling about the golf course. Cows have free rein, as there are no gates or fences anywhere on the Westwood (that I have seen).

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and enjoyed the more wild windswept look of trees a bit further along –

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We finished our walk with a visit to Nellie’s, an ancient pub from the 1600’s that still has original features like the gas-lighting. It’s a bit dark for me in there. Nicholas loves it. It certainly has a lot of local charm and color and is an excellent spot to show visitors.

It was such a pleasure sharing bits of Beverley with our friends from home!

 

 

A Few Weeks Ago At The Farm

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Yikes, just found this from several weeks ago! I never posted it! Well, here are a slew of posts I’m letting loose to the ether. Here is what I’d written…

A full day this week in Beverley, or at least it felt like a full day! A good five hours anyway. We had a nice crowd of folks in the morning – I think seven volunteers for a while, two of whom I’d not previously met. I worked on purslane first, cutting back the older growth of lusciously full heads to encourage more young growth that is used in the upmarket salads they offer to restaurants. I filled two huge plastic bins full of cuttings! Only a small portion made its way back home with me, and I think it must weigh seven pounds. Heavy, thick lemony stems they have. I need more people in the house who like the same things I do if I’m ever to get through all the food we’ve got. I couldn’t entice any other volunteers to bring any home, so the main farmer Ben may be eating or juicing masses of it. Not sure what I’ll do with mine, other than put in salads and think about all the good omega-3 fatty acids I’m getting.

Purslane Cuttings

We weeded out a large carrot bed, and the chickweed in there was just perfect, for the first time in weeks. Again, I couldn’t resist, and I saved all the beautiful little and longer tendrils, ending up with a large shopping-bag full in a short while. The five of us who were left stopped for lunch after 1pm and sat on wooden benches around the fire. One woman made us all tea, and we talked. Everyone there is lovely, interesting. It’s a pleasure to be around them. For the afternoon, we weeded onions to give them a chance at light and space to grow…

What I really need to do is not to be so tired and preoccupied upon my return home to be able to make a good dent in cooking or preserving these things the very same day I bring them back. But that wasn’t the case for me this week! My younger daughter was very much in need of attention and my own tasks needed to wait. Tomorrow I’ll blanch and cook and chop and blend to my heart’s content. Thank goodness this is a cultivated variety. The wild garden purslane doesn’t last more than a couple of hours once it is picked.

Update: I made two types of pickled purslane stems (fun to say, too), ate a ton of it in salad and also cooked some. It lasted, even out of the fridge, for quite a few days, surprisingly. I found it hard to sell to anyone else to try, but I really enjoyed it! Here’s some being cooked,

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and a jar of preserved purslane.

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This way it will last me for weeks, even months, to come.