So, we made it to NYC, from our place to our friends’ place, in just 3 hours. Also the return trip, the day after, took exactly 3 hours. We have the route, the best times to travel, and the gung-ho attitude down pat. It was unfortunate that we had to take the car, but all three of us had to show up in person – otherwise I’d have jumped on a bus. It was also unfortunate that we didn’t return with the desired visas. They might still be forthcoming, and hopefully on time. We’ll see.

But the good thing is we got to stay with our dear New Yorker friends, A and D and their daughter E. They even fed us a wonderful vegetarian Thanksgiving Dinner. Yum! There was an acorn squash involved, with honey… I’m growing that squash next season! Amie got to play with E, who is seven now, very bright and kind. They’ve known each other since Amie’s birth and are like sisters, giggling, playing and reading together. It is with this family that we want to start an intentional community (I’ve not written about that, have I? Later).

And we got to take home two things that they had been storing for us (in their tiny 500 sq.f. apartment, which is already crammed full with art works):

  • a grain mill
  • a spinning wheel

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The spinning wheel was a surprise. A, the dad, had picked it up off the street, along with a big, heavy suitcase that was locked. He brought these unwieldy things home (on the bus). There he opened the suitcase and found diplomas, certificates, prizes and photographs, many of them pretty old. A stashed these away until late that evening. When D was asleep, he quietly exchanged all their own photographs with these old ones. D woke up to a house full of strangers! But she became upset when she heard the story, because this was obviously someone’s life – so meticulously collected – thrown in the street as trash.  I’ve offered to help them track down family members to see if they want these things back.

The spinning wheel has some broken and possibly missing parts. We’ll figure out how to fix and work it once we get back from India.

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The grain mill was A’s in college. Apparently, sometime during his adventurous college career, A and a friend baked tens of loaves of bread every day, from scratch. His parents had this mill sitting in their basement in Michigan for over a decade, and so it made its way to NYC, then to us. I don’t know how it works yet. I has a heavy duty engine but I want to find a wheel for it, to make it manual.

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Do scroll down to see my new pots.

Last session I simply made the same thing over and over again, modeled on a small drinking cup I had bought at a pottery studio on Cape Cod. It was good practice, of course, and instructive as well in that I could really see how pots shrink in the kiln. I’m not entirely happy with some of the glazing, but I am never really cut up over something that doesn’t come out like I thought it would.  They’re just practice, experience gained. If once in a while the outcome is just right, I am thankful but it won’t make me expect too much of myself. I really do this for fun, to get out of the house on Monday nights, and for more practical than artistic reasons.

Sorry to be so absent. It will get worse.  We are traveling to India on the 10th – will be back  on New Year’s Day. That is the plan. Thing is, our passports are still at the Indian Consulate without any explanation, or response to our emails, and no one ever answers the phone. If they don’t arrive today, we’ll have to travel to NYC to get some resolution. A huge hassle! And then, if we can’t make it, tons of money will be wasted, but mostly, we won’t get to see my husband’s family, and Amie’s great-grandmother will be extremely sad. It is too stressful…

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What I do when I get stressed is I go out into the garden. I checked on the lettuce and spinach int he hot box: they’re all doing well. I moved some more pumpkins into the Earth Machine in the hoop house and topped it off with shredded leaves (the aroma!). Then I peeked under the row cover to see what’s growing. A photo-essay.

out of our living room window

Considering…

  1. that the house does not benefit a whole lot from being shaded by the trees to the south in Summer,
  2. that we could grow a more successful garden where it already is and expand it even more
  3. that we would make room for fruit, nut and coppice trees,
  4. that if we removed those trees we can put solar hot water and perhaps a small PV on our solar south facing and perfectly pitched roof,
  5. and that we would get wood to fire up the stove for a decade,

… we are now leaning towards removing some big trees on our property. These are two beeches – one of them quite huge – two big red oaks and one big white oak, one double-trunked pine tree (might be on neighbor’s property), a couple of smaller oaks and pines, and possibly two more  large red oaks on the west side of the veg garden (not in photo). All the roots will also have to be removed if we want to plant new trees.

We’ve not decided yet because we need a couple of quotes, an equivalent amount of savings, and a lot more thought about the alternatives and, if we go ahead, the replacements. I’m just saying we’re leaning.

I was very adverse to such drastic measures. The wooded feel of this place  and neighborhood is what we fell in love with, and that strong, majestic beech in particular is such a joy. But we won’t be cutting them down for a lawn, and there are a great many more trees on the property. Still, it  is the thought of making solar hot water possible that brings me this far. What with the stove and solar hot water we would need to rely very little, if at all, on the oil burner.