Farewell Tour – Early Morning Harvest

In the midst of the ongoing barrage of bad news about the way the current American administration is treating the earth and the people who depend on it, some good news:

It began Sunday evening, after a hearty meal with Tom’s cousin Kathy’s whole clan, grown kids and grandchildren crowding the big table, dogs underneath. A scoop of locally-made ice cream (another story) topped the perfect whole wheat crust on Kathy’s mouth-watering strawberry rhubarb pie. The flour in the crust, Kathy told us, was organically grown and milled just down the road at her friends’ place, Early Morning Harvest organic farm and mill.

The next morning, Kathy’s friend, Ronda Hafner, gave us a tour. We saw the mill first. The grain gets separated from the chaff in a big sifter before being milled.

 

 

So many products are milled and packaged there:

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The farm, originally a dairy operation, has been in the family for generations with a notable exception of the period when it was taken over by eminent domain by the DNR (that’s the Department of Natural Resources, not a last wish) so a coal-powered energy plant could be put in there. After a number of years, when the coal plant never materialized, the grandchildren, Jeff and Sharon Hafner, were able to buy back a portion of the property from the government. It’s now farmed by Ronda’s husband Earl and their son Jeff, and provides grain, milled products, a huge array of aqua-ponically grown vegetables and herbs, and some organically raised meat to stores, restaurants, co-ops, and individuals in the Des Moines area and beyond.

The aquaponic operation came before the mill. Now there are big greenhouses with hydroponic beds and even more raised beds outdoors, all irrigated with the water from the tilapia tanks.

This old fish swims over today hello to visitors as they come into the greenhouses. IMG_2917

Hello to you, too!

Farewell Tour – Oregon to South Dakota

On Monday morning July 9. we said goodbye to Keith and Shelley, and drove along the Columbia River to Hood River, where we had breakfast at a delightful Swedish place, Broder Øst.

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Then, there was a long drive across Oregon and half of Idaho.

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After a good night at an Airbnb an Twin Falls, ID, we ate breakfast in a diner by the depot.

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The road the next day was long and filled with trucks, but we reached Boulder in time for dinner and a visit with Catherine and Steve at his elegant and comfortable home.

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I wish we’d planned a longer stay in Boulder.

Morning found us saying goodbye to the Flatirons:

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and spending the first half of the day on the interstate. By then we had our routine for long days on the road down: a simple breakfast followed by a morning ride listening to recorded books (it’s Kate Mosse’s Labyrinth at the moment, because it’s set in the region we’re moving to), lunch in the downtown of some small town, coffee in the middle of the afternoon, and dinner in another small town.

Coffee in North Platte, Nebraska:

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The GPS took us onto the back roads after that, a fine decision. Nebraska is a beautiful, pastoral state. We ate dinner at the Sandstone Grill in Burwell, Nebraska.

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Late last night, car covered in dead insects, we arrived at Tom’s mother’s home in Vermillion, SD.  Breakfast this morning in the family room:

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Tom’s mother, Dorothy, is a force of nature. At 94, she still lives alone at home and runs her own shop, Ot ‘n’ Dots Art, Antiques, and Collectibles.

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Tom and I are so pleased that our son, James, flew out from New York to join us here.

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Why is David clothed in that picture, you might ask? It’s because we’re in South Dakota.

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Farewell Tour – California and Oregon

A week on the road and I thought surely I’d have something profound to share, but this series of pictures and a simple record of the events will have to do.

Above, always stunning, Mount Shasta as we passed it on our way from Berkeley to Ashland.

We spent our first night in Santa Rosa, where we left our sweet Olive with our friends, Monica and Mark. Olive moved right in.

On Sunday we spent a delightful day with Denise, and an equally delightful evening with Linnea, her fiancé Justin, and his family at Justin’s place in Pleasanton.IMG_2733

Monday was a day of rest at Elisa and Martin’s place in Berkeley, including a walk down to Shattuck Ave. for lunch at Saul’s and coffee at the original Peet’s. It’s heartwarming to see so many of our things at the homes of our children.

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On Tuesday we retrieved the things we left in Santa Rosa by mistake. The cat had no need for my laptop or Tom’s shaver though she probably liked the bag of dirty laundry. Certainly we’re carrying too many things with us, but those weren’t the right things to leave behind. We continued on to Sebastopol where Susan and Steve made a beautiful and delicious lunch for us.

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That evening we enjoyed a Chinese meal with Martin’s mother and aunt, and Linnea and Justin. Great conversation and food!

The following day we took to the road, arriving at Steve and Melinda’s in Ashland, Oregon, in time for a light dinner and a relaxing evening in their beautiful home and garden, followed by a day of great conversation and a little travel to a winery in Jacksonville and a walk sadly shortened by the heat of the day.

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By Friday afternoon we were in Portland at Shelley and Keith’s.  The next day we went to the farmers market and appreciated the green of the campus of Lewis and Clark College.

The hardest thing about giving up our home in California is leaving friends and family. The best thing about our farewell tour is seeing friends and family.

Especially in their own settings.

A moving sale pop-up store

In less than two weeks Tom and I will pack up our old station wagon and head east on our farewell tour, traveling slowly across the US visiting friends and family. Even though our grown kids rented a truck and filled it with family furniture, art, and almost all the potted plants, our little house in San Luis is still filled with beautiful things that need new homes.

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With the time so limited and all those years of running the shop at Mama Ganache behind me, I’ve decided to create a moving sale store in the living room of our little house.

It’ll be open whenever one of us is at home, partly by schedule, partly by serendipity.  Every day, as I continue to sort and pack, I’ll put more items out.

I’ll post the schedule here, on Facebook, Instagram , and on Nextdoor.

 

IMG_2500At the beginning the store will have smaller items in it: folk art, art supplies, kitchen things. As the end comes near, we’ll sell the furniture.

Letting go of so many things is easier than I expected. A sensation of lightness goes right through me as I walk through the increasingly empty rooms of our little house.

When did I last use all those beautiful rubber stamps? I remember exactly where the pot with the frog on top went in our big house, but it never had a good place in the little one. Surely someone else will love it as much as I did.

 

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I wish we could take all the art! The signed and framed prints, handmade pottery, and charming folk art pieces are the hardest for me to part with.

Tom feels the same about the cookware he’s leaving behind.

It pains me not to take along everything that was given to us as gifts over the years.

Please come by to see which of these loved objects might find a new home with you.

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The moving sale store is at our house:

729 Park St. (Park and Mill), SLO

Hours:

Wed-Thurs-Fri, June 20- 22:    2-6 pm

Sat, June 23: 10am – 6pm

Sun, June 24: 10am – 3 pm

Mon- Fri, June 25-29: 10am – 6 pm

I hope to see many of you this week or next. Take this as one more opportunity to say good-bye!

 

Bodhisattva

Bobbe Scott

July 14, 1937 – June 2, 2018

 

The Bodhisattvas, they walk among us,

and sometimes we lend ourselves and they become us.

The hand of spirit is the hand you raise

when you weave the strands of your nights and days.

Charlo Vogt, Weave your Reality

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Bobbe Scott was the most beautiful woman I’ve ever known.

She was radiant, she was impossibly energetic, she faced life with endless grace. Her laugh was contagious, her smile delightful, and she was always beautifully dressed, right down to the rings on her arthritis-gnarled, stubby fingers. Bobbe’s eulogies should overflow with admiration for the many ways she dealt with that arthritis.

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Bobbe was wise and funny, as all the best Buddhists are. She loved life and the arts, Los Angeles and New York. She was perpetually of service to others, and graciously asked for and received the care of others when necessary. When I sat in a room in meditation with Bobbe, I would be drawn to a level of serenity that I rarely reach on my own.

Bobbe was a dear, dear friend and mentor to me, precious beyond words. She made me feel deeply known and profoundly loved. Our relationship was intimate and authentic.

And I am one of many people who feel this way. Bobbe loved us all.

In my notes from one of the One Year to Live classes Bobbe taught at SLO hospice, I found this page. It’s from the session on end-of-life paperwork, during which we discussed assisted dying.

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“If I can’t enjoy a good meal, if I can’t remember what I ate yesterday, if I can’t get to the Palm Theatre, put me out.”

The next year, she put it more simply, “If I’m more disabled than I am now, that’ll be it.”

That happened.

And she chose to leave as gracefully as she lived.

 

 

 

 

Two Suitcases and One Pallet

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The current state of the pallet.

We’re experimenting with what to take and what to leave behind, and piling up various configurations of it on the driveway. Pretty soon we’ll have a good enough idea of how and what will fit and the pile will move indoors.

Since my project is called Two Suitcases, I took the idea of moving to France with two suitcases pretty seriously. Well, with two suitcases apiece. Eventually it came to me that, though it would offer me to opportunity to partially replicate my parents’ arrival in the same part of the world in 1940, it was a thoroughly romantic – and therefore impractical – notion. We shifted our thinking to shipping one pallet of boxes.

Right now the boxes making the cut contain: the library I’ve collected to use as background material for Two Suitcases, a few boxes of my papers and other books, some of Tom’s papers and books, framed photos of the family, art, kitchen things, winter clothes, and some items to make our new home feel like our old one. Carpets, my computer, Tom’s keyboard, and more art will be shipped separately.

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Most of my days are filled with sorting and packing. This box has our favorite mugs at the bottom, some delicate pieces of art and glass in the middle, and at the top, some of the birds that lived in our houseplants or flew around the ceilings in our home here.

At its center, packed very carefully, is the crystal bell my father bought my mother with his first paycheck in 1943, less than a year after they arrived in Philadelphia. He always said he bought it to remind her of what is important.

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A thoroughly romantic notion.

 

 

 

 

 

Cordes-sur-ciel

Our journey to Cordes-sur-Ciel began as an open-ended exploration about a year ago when I realized I could get dual Austrian-American citizenship, EU citizenship, opening the possibility of living anywhere in the European Union.

 

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The European Union

At first Tom and I imagined we would go to Luçon, the small city on the Atlantic coast of France, near to my guru family at  Centre Tripoura. We’ve been going to visit them since the 80’s. But when I heard the mayor of Luçon say that his main vision for the town was to keep it French, I began looking elsewhere.

 

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We considered Montauban next. My parents were there for a few months in 1940, after the exodus from Paris. Through the collaborative efforts the Austrian Social Democratic Party, the Philadelphia Quakers, and the French Resistance, they went into hiding nearby for two and a half years. Then, sponsored by the Quakers, they came to Philadelphia where I was born. I thought we would take a furnished apartment in Montauban for a few months, do some research on that very interesting collaboration, and then move on. We found a lovely apartment in Montauban right away, but it was only available for a full year, September to September, longer than we wanted to spend there. In the end, Montauban didn’t call us.


Over the next few days we visited four medieval villages. The third of them was Cordes.
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It was a crazy busy holiday that day, no parking anywhere in the lower village – except at Le Jardin des Paradis, where they probably want you gone after your tour of the gardens. Tom suggested we use one of the many empty 30-minute spaces and pay the fine. A good idea, I thought. When he deposited the euros in the machine, out popped a ticket telling us there were no fines that day. Free parking.
We ate, and climbed the cobblestone road up the hill to the old village. The first building we noticed at the top turned out to house a most unusual shrine to Anandamayi Ma, my guru Ganesh Baba’s teacher. It was a complete surprise – my friends in Vendée didn’t know it was there.
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I’ve had Anandamayi Ma picture on my altar for forty years.
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Then, also at the top of the hill, we discovered Yves Thuriés’ chocolate museum. One of the founders of nouvelle cuisine, Thuriés has been Tom’s favorite for the same forty years. He lives in Cordes.
We felt at home immediately.

The next day, I found the house on Leboncoin, the French Craigslist. We put in an offer late that afternoon.

IMG_2057.jpegAs luck would have it, we had one night with no place to sleep scheduled, so we stayed at Le Secret du Chat, on the same street as the house. The proprietors there were able to answer so many questions!

The following day, we discovered that Cordes is only twenty minutes from Verfeil-sur-Seye, where my parents were in hiding for two and a half years.
It’s the right place.

A shift in the wind

It’s five weeks until Tom’s and my exploratory trip to France following the final sale of Mama Ganache, and less than four months until our projected move to France.
This immense choice to change countries, and languages, and neighbors is largely driven by my current project, Two Suitcases, a series of historical fiction pieces based on my parents’ three escapes from Vienna, Paris, and the south of France. In order to do research in all three settings, we planned to move to Luçon, a city of 10,000 on the Atlantic coast, very near to Centre Tripura and dear friends.
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As these things go, the moment I fell totally in love with Luçon, having explored it in great detail via leboincoin, the French Craigslist, Google Maps, and a series of wonderful five-minute broadcasts by Sud Vendée TV, the direction of our adventure seems to be changing.
It occurred to me to consider moving directly to the region of southern France where my parents were in hiding, rather than settling in Luçon immediately. Do the the research out of chronological order. Ease into our new life in a furnished apartment in a small city  more like San Luis Obispo or Ithaca, walkable, culturally and historically rich, with no need for a car.
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Our trip to France in May will now include a few days in Montauban , a city of 58,000, four hours southeast of Luçon. If the right furnished apartment in center of the city shows up, perhaps we’ll end up there for our first year of footlooseness.
An hour north of Toulouse, Montauban was my parents’ destination when they left Paris as part of the great exodus of June 1940. Under the combined auspices of the Austrian Social Democratic party and the French Resistance, they spent the next two years in hiding outside a small village about an hour from Montauban. As I was growing up, both of them – but especially my mother – spoke of retiring to Montauban.
So we will see where the shifting winds blow us. Stay tuned.