Written to Philosopher's Stone by Van Morrison
Gratitude is a quality similar to electricity: it must be produced and discharged and used up in order to exist at all.
- William Faulkner
We celebrated Thanksgiving, São Paulo style, together with Jeff and Suzanna, the driving organizational force behind the event, and 6 of their friends, and Urd, a Danish family friend who has been staying at Fazenda Alfheim for the past couple of weeks, at Lola Bistrot & Baràvin in Vila Madalena. Indubitably the most Thanksgiving of all the Thanksgivings I have experienced. The table was exquisitely decorated and the menu was, in a word, sumptuous:
- Pear chutney and goat cheese brusquetta
- Pumpkin soup
- Cranberry and raspberry sauce
- Honey baked ham and sweet potatoes
- Roast tomatoes stuffed with bitter greens
- Mashed potatoes
- Corn grill
- Brussels sprout
- Vegetables, mushrooms, peas and nuts
- Apple pie with vanilla ice cream
As tradition dictates, we ate until our farewell hugs had to be administered with a certain disciplined cuidado.
The week before arriving in São Paulo for the aforementioned Thanksgiving celebration, Lone and Urd headed to Parati, where they spent time with Marina Carvalho, our first volunteer. In addition to a wonderful boat trip, the ladies engaged in some serious mud bathing.
During her stay at Alfheim, Urd shared her abundant cake baking gifts. She is a true artist. Yummy!
While it may appear that things have been quiet back at our little slice of paradise, a great deal of projects have either recently been completed or are well under way:
- Clair widened the path to the bees so that the tractor can pass (helpful for transporting many heavy bee boxes full of golden honey)
- We hired our neighbor, João Jipe (Jeep), the latter a nickname derived from the aging Toyota Bandeirante (aka Land Cruiser) that he drives, for nine months to help us with a series of construction projects, beginning with the repair of our cast iron stove's chimney and including but not limited to a new maternity ward for the piggies. It is indeed a pleasure and a privilege to enjoy the services of a truly capable håndværker, though managing the inevitable combustion between Clair's laborer's work ethic and João's careful artisan profile will be challenging.
- We received a visit from our veterinarian, Ana Maria Paredes, to vaccinate the cattle, treat Mausolus' nasty sore, sterilize our two cats and check whether any of the heifers are pregnant (they're not)
- We also received a beautiful Santa Gertrudis heifer, an overly generous gift from our kind-hearted lawyer/cowboy friend Márcio Magano. If we can figure out why (more or less) suddenly none of our cattle are getting pregnant, we will (more or less) soon be producing one beef calf per year in addition to copious quantities of delicious Jersey milk
Finally, a couple of items -running the gamut from revolutionary to spellbinding to tragic to hilarious- worth sharing:
- The Japanese company Blest has developed one of the smallest and safest oil-to-plastic conversion machines out on the market today. It's founder and CEO, Akinori Ito is passionate about using this machine to change the way people around the world think about their plastic trash. From solving our landfill and garbage disposal issues to reducing our oil dependency on the Middle East, his machine may one day be in every household across Japan. Going to see if I can't purchase one of these machines.
- "If I should have a daughter, instead of Mom, she's gonna call me Point B ... " began spoken word poet Sarah Kay, in a talk that inspired two standing ovations at TED2011. She tells the story of her metamorphosis -- from a wide-eyed teenager soaking in verse at New York's Bowery Poetry Club to a teacher connecting kids with the power of self-expression through Project V.O.I.C.E. -- and gives two breathtaking performances of "B" and "Hiroshima."
- More than 38 million Americans — one in eight — now receive food stamps, a record high.
- Best Door to Door Salesman in The World! Aspiring Comedian Kenny Brooks