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Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Beacon Bits -- Handmade--It's a Good Thing!

If you like Pinterest and if you are a Martha Stewart fan, then you will just love Nixie Sparrow!! New to Beacon and located on the first floor in BEAHIVE, on the first floor of  291 Main Street in the beautifully restored 1907 telephone building, you will have a chance to soon experience the fun of personally creating items to get you in the holiday spirit during the Second Saturday festivities on December 13. Even if you don't know about the social media site and are not a handcrafts maven or Martha-wannabee, you will be introduced to something deep within yourself with the help of a Nixie Sparrow experience.

I 'found' Nixie Sparrow during a Sunday afternoon walk when old neighbors from Nyack were visiting and I was 'showing off' all of the wonderful venues since their last visit three years ago. When I walked in, it felt like the set of a carefully designed arts and crafts studio 
waiting to entice me into whatever was being offered for play and creativity. I spoke briefly with Sarah (Meghan wasn't present) about the focus of this "do-it-yourself" space with its 

scheduled workshops for adults that range from the arts, cooking, floristry and everything you can think of under the sun (e.g., pom pom rugs, stamped wrapping paper, home brewing, watercolor and homemade cards) or everything you may not even have imagined until you make it yourself.

The name "Nixie Sparrow" itself is a clue to what will happen during a visit to attend a workshop. Nixie is the name of a mythological water spirit. And a  sparrow represents creativity and community. The name itself gives the context for those invited artisans who will present their special interests and talents to a group of individuals gathered together for brief encounters of the creative kind. Sounds like a fun process of sharing time and space and it is practical as well, since the skills learned can be transferred into hobbies or future pursuits or gifts to give to self or others since there is always a product to take home with you. And with diverse offerings, you can always return to sample something new.

Food for thought:  The more high tech we become, the more we need to balance our activities so that we engage all areas of our brain. MRI research has shown that knitting, for example, integrates left and right hemispheres. Creative pursuits and making things by hand, not just knitting and crochet, are good for planning and sequencing as we imagine what our actions will produce before we see the results; this executive functioning and problem solving serves us well. The joy and pleasure of being in the moment in a meditative state as attention is sustained over time when something is learned, with just enough frustration to stimulate patience and the sense of success and self-efficacy, is just what the 'doctor' has ordered to decrease negative stress. The opportunities for 'hands-on' experiences are also important for sensory integration. Head, hearts and hands working together while engaged in the simple joys of life are irreplaceable. Let's welcome Nixie Sparrow to Beacon and support its place in growing community and in helping all of us in the pursuit of happiness and well-being; you'll never have to wait for another snow day at home to get into the creative state of mind!

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Beacon Bits -- 'Ober' - Over (not really)

I celebrated my last pick up of the season for my Obercreek Farm CSA share by making a leek potato soup with the purple potatoes. To my surprise, and dismay, the soup did not take on a purple hue, as I had imagined. But it was not at all disappointing in its full and earthy flavor from the freshly picked veggies that are grown within 10 miles from home. It's my fourth year of CSA participation and this was the best year yet. I've signed up for next season and look forward to the 'bonus' Thanksgiving distribution. I have to keep reminding myself that I can continue to enjoy the bounty from Obercreek throughout the winter at the Beacon Farmer's Market and at their new store in New Hamburg where the farm is located. It will be great to see Sam and Tim and their crew without waiting for next spring.

Food for thought:  
As someone who has always functioned with the frontal lobes as a 'planner', CSA participation has reminded me that there is not always predictability in what I can expect. What has been sown may in fact not be reaped. Each time I showed up at the pick up, there were some elements that appeared abundantly, which indicated the peak of harvest for the vegetable crop that was at hand -- true for the tomatoes, zucchinis, peppers, but not so true for the celeriac, winter squash, onions, beets or bok choy. Part of the fun of being a CSA participant was putting together new combinations of ingredients and being able to create spontaneous recipes. It feels like a very European way to engage in the growing season; Jacques Pepin is my inspiration for culinary delights with the pick of the day, the find in the basket , the thrift of using everything that is at hand.  And so CSA membership is preparation for the medley of events that come at us in life when we least expect them, which allows us to be open and flexible, to seize the opportunity and to meet the challenge. And when we feel like we have to plan for success, we can always freeze that extra dish of ratatouille and serve it for brunch for guests when we choose to put it on the schedule.