Posted by: scintillatingspeck | December 11, 2011

All over the place.

My anxiety is not wholly erased, mind you.  And there was at least one incredibly jarring moment today.  But overall, a good day.  Now I will summarize using soothing, structured bullet points that will give me the illusion of listing accomplishments:

  • Northampton Winter Farmers Market in the basement of Thorne’s.  (Every Saturday, 9am-2pm.)  How I love thee, farmers and neighbors!  Always such a joy to run into magnificent people at the farmers market.  And what profoundly wonderful food.  This is food worth weeping over, because it is so beautiful, so delicious, and produced with such love and hard work, right here in our shared home, this gorgeous bioregion.  So I weep over it.  It feeds every part of me, as well as feeding my family.  Today I got beets, butternut squash, and eggs from Crabapple Farm, spinach from Wild Sky Farm (and Kristen W. is both my neighbor and farmer, living just down the road from me), sweet potatoes and orange, yellow, and deep-maroon carrots from Winter Moon Farm, baby arugula from Town Farm, and lamb stew meat from Leyden Glen Farm.  Plus I saw Amanda from Mockingbird Farm and lots of other familiar faces.  Too much goodness for words.  Ran into my neighbor Craig Fear of Pioneer Valley Nutritional Therapy, who was so incredibly kind to my family last week and brought us homemade chicken soup.  Also ran into Stella, assistant farmer at Crimson and Clover Farm, which was a treat.
  • While Tom was at his appointment getting his back examined and exercises recommended, I finished up going to the farmers market and then had time, all by myself, in downtown Northampton.  Gasp.  So of course I went to Raven Used Books and puttered around looking at books, then went to the Artisan Gallery and admired the display of mugs by local artists.  This all confirmed that I still like words, ideas, pictures, and beautiful handmade objects.
  • Drove to Boston, saw my parents, picked up Lily, and drove back.

Wait, could I have written that in such a neutral manner?  I walked into my parents’ place and saw Lily and wham, it hit me, the full force of the love I feel for this luminous child.  Lily beamed, tackled me to the floor and we laughed and kissed each other.  She really enjoyed tackling me so she did it again five or six times.  Thank you, Lily, for keeping me grounded, and for being a giant ray of sunshine.

The aforementioned incredibly jarring moment happened when I went out for a walk with my dad to visit a furniture store.  (My parents are determined to give me a grown-up dresser for my 40th birthday in April.  The bedroom furniture I have now is the same furniture I’ve had since I was a child.)  We walked down Newbury Street in Boston.  If you know this street, you know that it is the height of consumer hell.  (Or heaven, if you prefer.  To me, it’s hell.)  It was packed with people who were shopping their little shopaholic buns off.  They were all striding purposefully around, laden with bags, dressed fashionably, immersed in the seriousness of their task.  It suddenly hit me that today, TODAY, if all hadn’t gone awry, I was supposed to have started my solitary retreat at Temenos.  I was supposed to be in a place that was the precise antithesis of Newbury Street during the holiday season.  I was supposed to be in the woods with no electricity, in the quiet, sitting by a wood stove with my journal and tea, or walking between the trees, listening to the earth breathe.  I was NOT supposed to be rushing down an urban sidewalk at the urging of my parents, between the throngs of shoppers; I was not supposed to be focusing on buying stuff; I was not supposed to be around people at all.  This realization felt like a punch in the stomach.  I also felt sick to think of all the focus on buying stuff that I engaged in yesterday.  (Granted, I was buying useful stuff at my local hardware store, but I still think it’s important to discern that it is NOT buying stuff that really matters.)

After returning to my parents’ place, my mother mentioned that she had something she wanted to show me, something I had specifically requested to see, with great urgency.  It was a journal that my late grandfather, Luigi (“Gigi”) Foschi, had compiled with genealogical information, with details, vignettes, photos, photocopies of old letters, etc.  WHOA, whiplash.  Goodbye 21st century consumerist hell out on the street, hello 19th century tale of my great-great-grandmother Luigia (“Giotta”) Moretti Magri dying in childbirth (something about a “black pox of childbirth”), written in loopy handwriting by my great-great-grandfather Antonio Magri, who would die a few years after.  Hello to the little note written by Gigi inside the front cover, that read “Grazie a Jen per questo libretto.”  (‘Thanks to Jen for this little book.’  I had given it to him as a gift.)  Hello to a picture of my great-grandfather Francesco Foschi, in military uniform, ready to fight in World War I.  Hello to Gigi’s characterization of his father: “Buono e generoso.”  (Good and generous.)  This made me start bawling my eyes out.  My mother insisted that she wouldn’t show the journal to me if it was going to make me cry.  Lily came running to find out why I was crying so hard.  My father wanted to know what had caused this outburst of tears.  I explained, “The last words Gigi ever said to me were, ‘Ricorderò sempre la tua bontà e generosità.'” (‘I will always remember your goodness and generosity.”)

Thank you, dearest Gigi, for reminding me from beyond that what really matters is goodness and generosity.  Perhaps all of the events of the last week conspired to lead me to your words.  You will always remember.  I will always remember.  The ancestors are here if we look for them.  I will be guided by bontà, generosità, and love that reaches beyond death.



  1. As always Jen, lovely blog post. I loved hearing about your grandfather’s journal. Amazing and emotional. And of course, the Lily-tackles…I can so picture that–again and again…when something is that fun, it needs to be repeated! And you, Tom and Lily are those moments for me. If I wrote a journal with pics and little quotations, your names and faces would come up often–and the pics of us all smiling, laughing, dancing, hooping–it would speak all the words needed.

    You truly live your life with generosity and light. And I am, as always, grateful to call you my friend, my sister, my LL (that there is a private joke between Jen and me…ha ha).

    You are blessing Jen Hartley. You truly are.

  2. There are our plans. And then there are the Universe’s plans. And together, in “conversation (as the poet David Whyte says) they play out as “what happens.” Thank you for letting me hear a bit of your conversation with the Universe, Jen, as you continue to walk your path of learning and healing and adding to the greatest good. Love to you all… Tim

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