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Posts Tagged ‘The Hartsbrook School’

How much can you say and in how many ways about the leaves of fall?

My camera has been taken from me, I have no fancy phone device with which to replace it. I can say that it has rained every day FOREVER, at least a little drizzle. Where is the sun? The leaves are all either a. green or b. yellow. Where are the crimsons, the vermillions, the intense oranges? What are some other words for the color orange? I know it’s cheesy when I do that, but I like to do it anyway. Just once in a while.

This is an autumnal song, but don’t you know, I NEVER knew it had Tolkien references in it because I was not a LOTR geek. Only realized it mentions Mordor and Golem after Hubby told me.

This is from last year, mid-October, a little later than today’s date, and before our Halloween-weekend snowstorm which took so many of our oaks and maples. This is taken on the campus of The Hartsbrook School, my kids’ old Waldorf school. Not bad, hunh? But you can see this was my old water-spot-on-the-lens camera.

Here, you can really tell that it’s later in the season. The Holyoke Range, October 2011:

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Yo! My youngest is in the midst of her last week (ever) at her school. Completing your 8th Grade year is a Big Deal in a Waldorf school. I am swamped with all manner of details and loose ends, not to mention that I went to not one, but two (YES, TWO!!!), poetry readings already this week (only one was an open mic; the other, I sat dutifully and listened).

I want to share so many things with you, dear readers, but it will be a few more days before I can catch my breath.

I leave you with this perennial favorite for any end-of-the-school-year. This is the same as the version I had on my very own 45. Now get out your invisible mic and belt it out with Lulu:

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Above is a photo of some of the sheep at my daughter’s school. You can’t really tell, but behind them (and all around their enclosure) is wool embedded into the chicken wire fence. It is an installation by a local artist, Nancy Milliken, called Walling In. All the while it was going up onto the fence I thought, “hmmm…..now isn’t that interesting and not altogether attractive?” But I will tell you: I drive from the south side of Bay Rd (the road that used to take folks from points west to the Bay, in Boston) and as the road bends, the fence is fully visible as it spills down the hill. It’s beautiful. I love it.

You’ll find a better photo of the whole fence on Nancy Milliken’s website. You’ll also find a photo of a rooster from the school. This rooster. Isn’t he pretty?

Look at the chicken wire up close:

You know I don’t love wool. I used to not be able to wear it at all–the itching and coarseness. When we moved to the Pioneer Valley, it was almost sacrilege not to wear wool, let alone to not like it. Try taking that a step further from the bubble of the Pioneer Valley into the even smaller community that is our local Waldorf school. Wool in our Waldorf school is to clothing like manna is to food. It’s practically heaven-sent and good for anything that ails you. In fact, it is probably edible in some form or another, just ask the Handwork-slash-Ag Arts teacher. I used to hate wool. I sort of still do. Slowly, over the last 11 years, my body seems to have adjusted to it a little: I can wear some wool-blend socks, as long as the percent of wool isn’t too high. I can wear my wool coat because it has a thick polar-fleece lining. I cannot wear a wool scarf directly next to my skin, even the Smartwool kind. I do have a lovely pink and black polka-dot hat that is merino wool and I can wear that.

Maybe it doesn’t matter so much, all of this wool. It’s the Solstice, December 22, and it’s raining in New England. I am sure up in the hill towns and in the mountains there is some snow. Rain in December. What happened to our climate? You probably don’t need wool in New England until January nowadays.

Silk is the other natural fiber one must acquaint oneself with in New England. My initial reaction when told I must wear silks in the winters here was to turn my nose up. The nerve! Me, who was somewhat “tactile defensive” as a child (they just told you to behave or slapped you when I was a kid, no such thing as tactile defensive). I remember a particular episode when I had to wear tights and how I screamed my head off in protest. I did eventually learn to wear silk long underwear and I fell in love with the warmth and softness and the not-overwhelming level of heat that they keep in (unlike a lot of synthetics which can make me too warm unless I’m outside and not moving).

I love new kitty SO MUCH:

Here is the latest photo of the advent calender:

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(Buckle in, it’s a long one….be brave, take your time, know that if you make it through, you’ll be blessed with knowledge of an Italian song so romantic, you will be able to woo and win over even the most unshakeable heart)

In spite of the overabundance of rain (and dampness and cloud-cover), I do like to look out my smallish kitchen window at the leaves. Perhaps the most tolerable thing about all of this rain is that the leaves’ colors are more intense when they are wet.

Cat update: I have switched to a grain-free canned food (they had been on kibble) based on a recommendation from an alternative-medicine vet (I’m not kidding, people, this is the Happy Valley after all). And guess what? It is dramatically improving my fat black cat’s coat and demeanor. The other cat, Willow, well, she’s as sweet as pie and seems simply hungrier for her food than before. They both apparently love their new food and seeing them eat with gusto is satisfying. Now sometimes I wonder if I could just feed them rabbit and chicken meat (and livers and what all other organs). It would all be locally-raised and the money would go straight into the pocket of the farmer, right here, right now. Hmm…..

Socks. This is one of my great weaknesses. I love socks. I love all sorts of them–cotton-blend, merino wool, little short sport-socks with a pink collar and plush terry-cloth interior that I pad around in on the cold (and dirty, it is true) floors of my kitchen, the discount wool-and-synthetic blend ski socks I find every fall at TJ Maxx, the hand-knit socks made of bamboo that I bought at an art fair in Maine in the summer, the Sock Lady socks I bought 3 years ago at our school’s annual Holiday Fair (for my mother who didn’t like them, so she gave them back to me) made from mohair wool which comes from angora goats that the Sock Lady and her husband raise. We call her the Sock Lady and I mean no disrespect because I actually know her real name (Cynthia) because I’ve interacted with her quite a bit over the years, but really, the people who have been at the school for years and years and years and into a decade or more simply call her that because they love and crave the socks she sells. They are warm, they are colorful, they have a beautiful sheen to them, they last and last as long as you don’t wash them on hot or dry them, they make you feel heavenly because you have seen the beautiful black-and-white photos of the goats that the wool comes from and you know how much Bob (the husband) appreciates the goats and how much he loves his wife (by all outward appearances).

I like the discipline it takes for me to NOT plug in my computer on occasion so that the battery can almost run out of juice. You have no idea how compulsively I would like to plug it in and how delicious when I accomplish this goal, as per recommendations I’ve found on the internet.

Loving being involved in the Occupy movement and love watching it evolve via an email list I’m on and the weekly gatherings I attend. Democracy in action. DAMN it’s good, deep down inside.

What the hell’s a stornelli you ask? I can’t find out much more than that it is some sort of traditional Italian song played in a drinking establishment and they all seem to have a similar tempo and similar style of guitar strumming, but I did find some stornelli on youtube that weren’t even played on guitar. You can see the whole stornelli concept could be moved to a Music Monday post, but I love this so much, I couldn’t wait.

I’ve had the song for many years on the soundtrack to “Big Night” (a twinkly favorite and highly recommended). I listen in my car, melting, trying not to cause accidents due to being swept away so fully.

I found a translation for about half of the lyrics, but couldn’t find anything more all over the g-damn internet. I don’t know who wrote the song. I don’t speak Italian. I am so not Italian it shocks even me. But I sure wish I could understand the words to the rest of the song. Being somewhat familiar with many Latin roots and knowing a little bit of French like I do, I can piece out little bits, the moon, and thoughts and breath and song and the four winds, but I could also be wrong, as I am wont to be. Although it may seem like it, I’m not really a fan of Italian culture, but how can you resist quattro venti? Even italicized is Italian. Such beauty. Sigh.

E’scritto nel tuo cuore
Il mio destino,
Anche se l’esistenza m’avvelena.
Anche se l’esistenza m’avvelena
Voglio restare sempre a te vicino.

Per quella bocca rossa
e bella profumata
Ci perdo volentieri la mia vita.
Ci perdo volentieri la mia vita
Per poter dire al mondo l’ho baciata.

Se tu fossi regina
Ed io regnante,
Ti colmerei di perle dell’oriente.
Ti colmerei di perle dell’oriente
In cambio del tuo amore affascinante.

It is written on your heart,
My destiny,
Even though its existence poisons me.
Even though its existence poisons me,
I will always be near you.

For that beautiful and fragrant red mouth
I will gladly give my life.
I will gladly give my life
To tell the world I kissed it.

If you were the reigning queen
And I like a prince,
I would cover you with pearls of the Orient.
I would cover you with pearls of the Orient
In exchange for your enchanting love.

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Butternut squash is an old staple crop here in the Valley, but in attempting to research it on the web, I couldn’t get a clear history (time to ply Farmer Dan for answers). Squash was part of a traditional Three Sisters garden. When my kids were each in 3rd Grade at their school, they planted a Three Sisters garden. Awesome.

You see field after field of butternut all along the Connecticut River. I know the pumpkin crop in New England was heavily damaged due to Hurricane Irene; I’m not as sure about the butternut squash. You see truckloads piled high traveling hither, thither, and yon on the roads around here. I haven’t really noticed this year.

It’s been damp and cloudy for days. I feel like I’m in Ohio except for those wild animals that were running around over there last week. Hubby and I discussed our memories, from about 20 years ago, of living in Kent and reading for weeks about someone in Rootstown who had a wild-animal farm where some little kid got attacked by a tiger. Claims of safety ensued, lawsuits and debates followed. At least I think it was Rootstown. Anybody else remember this?

In this week’s Thankful Thursday, I wrote about homemade veggie stock. I’m simply too lazy to write up a veggie stock prescription right now, but it would make logical sense to have your veggie stock ready before you cook this. Also, in keeping with being NON-CANDY-ASS, you’ll want to have soaked about a cup (or slightly less) of white beans the night before so they’re ready to go for adding to this soup.

Here comes a recipe for one of my favorite soups of all time. FAVORITE OF ALL TIME! That’s a bold statement:

Kale, Butternut Squash, and White Bean Soup                                                                                                                                     from Simple Vegetarian Pleasures by Jeanne Lemlin

1/3 C olive oil
2 large onions, diced
10 C vegetable stock
1 C finely diced canned tomatoes, with liquid
2 tsp fresh rosemary (or 1/2 tsp dried)
1/2 tsp salt
freshly ground pepper
1 medium butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and diced, appx 2 C
2 C cooked or canned white beans, well rinsed
1/2 lb. kale, shredded
grated parmagiano-reggiano

1. Heat oil in stockpot. Add onions and cook until tender.
2. Stir in stock, tomatoes, rosemary, salt, and pepper and bring to a boil. Add squash and simmer. Cook 30 minutes until squash is tender.
3. Add beans and kale, cook 15 minutes and serve with cheese.

NOTES: I make this soup in all manner of batches and sizes, usually doubling it or more. The quantities of ingredients are very forgiving. Sometimes I use fresh tomatoes to no detriment, or of course (NOT CANDY-ASS ALERT) the ones I’ve roasted and frozen from the summer crop. I also sometimes use spinach over kale. Just a softer texture, not so much for the flavor. It freezes well and is a great fall soup when the crops are all in. If I use fresh rosemary, I add it toward the end of cooking. I always use my own veggie stock which I highly recommend over store-bought or bouillon.

The recipe was given to me by an old Kent friend, Abby Greer. She made it at a Play Group Christmas Party in 1998. Warm memories and post-partum depression.

For musical accompaniment, you could play “Beautiful Soup” from some manifestation of Alice in Wonderland, the best one being Gene Wilder singing it from a somewhat charming 1990’s TV movie. Or you could listen to this which seems to fit my mood today and the weather we’ve had of late, even though the video was shot in the spring.

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My daughters are both back in school. Yesterday was monumental in that my 13-year old was in the annual Flower Ceremony at her school. The tradition at a Waldorf school is this: each 8th Grade student is assigned a 1st Grade student with whom they will spend time doing special things together throughout the year. On the first day of school, the 8th Grader (and at our school, a 12th Grader as well) gives a wildflower to her 1st Grader. At the end of the year, when the 8th Grade students graduate, the 1st grader then gives a rose (symbolic of a student progressing from wild to cultivated) to the 8th Grader and so on each September morn and each June afternoon for the first and last days of school respectively.

On the heels of last week’s Thankful Thursday, I took some photos of a few of the mushrooms that continue to emerge in my yard:

and

and

Aren’t those interesting?

This week, something else sort of special happened. “Best Penis” made a deposit into my spam inbox. I know we all get lots of spammy emails, but as you can imagine, this one had special appeal. Who doesn’t want a correspondence from [the?] Best Penis? Is it the best penis in the world or just in the USA? How can it write an email? All these questions…

In the same vein, one of the ways someone found last week’s Thankful Thursday was by searching for the following information:

can you trip from a phallus rubicundus?

I am sorry that someone out there did not get an answer to that question on my blog and I hope that person is sensible enough not to consume any unauthorized fungi in search of a great hallucinogenic experience.

All of this makes me think of the song, Wildflowers by Dolly Parton. Well, the toadstools and spam don’t make me think of it, but the flower ceremony does. I also predict that my pal pt dismal will be telling me all about Mama Maybelle Carter rockin’ the autoharp, too. Am I right pt?

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I’ve already gushed about this on Facebook, but I’ll repeat:

This was a fantastic movie and it is where my gratitude goes today. I suppose I can be silly and say thanks to the bees. Thanks, bees. Thanks filmmakers, thanks women, thanks men, thanks beekeepers, thanks organic farmers, thanks to those who refuse to use pesticides on anything whatsoever, thanks to brave, stouthearted folks who are willing to defy the odds and understand complexity and interdependence.

Wow, Thankful Thursday just began to feel suspiciously like a rant in reverse. Sorry. I really did love the movie and it really made me happy. I am blessed, too, to live in Western, MA, the “Happy Valley,” next door to “Paradise City,” first state to legalize same-sex marriage, some of the most fertile soil in the US along the Connecticut River, and home to many small, organic farms, fruits, vegetables, and livestock included. Raw milk, local honey, local maple syrup, local eggs from my neighbor. HUZZAH!

Happy that my kids learn beekeeping at their school. A new calf was born 3 weeks ago to Heatherbell. He has a white heart on his forehead. It reminds me of the Cat Stevens’ song “Boy with the Moon and Star on his Head.” Remember that one, flower children?

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