Fanny-Min Becker  8 December 2016 at 10:07 · Hong Kong ·
Remembering Joy Yourcenar on her birthday

nobody knows
all these years I’ve read her name as
for some reason unknown

but Joy she was
and our center …

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A Little Christmas Carol for Natasha_05_The Story of Two (ii)

The Story of Two (ii)

Düsseldorf, Tuesday, 12.10.1999, 10:02 pm

Cont’d from (i)

After teaching Toshie, I rushed to the supermarket to get glucose and castor sugar for the syrup. REWE was closed already. I drove to OTTO MESS. It was still open. Got my stuff and dashed home to my chestnuts.

What a wonderful picture! All these naked chestnuts of different shapes and sizes. I began to put them into the big pot, taking very much care not to break them and feeling very proud of myself that out of so many I had only broken seven or eight.

On one hotplate simmered the chestnuts, on another I prepared dinner. A big Kohlrabi for only 39 Pfennig, plus the rest of the brown mushrooms I bought for our never-appearing guests last week. To make it a fine dish, I added some sour cream. Macaroni fried in olive oil and chives. A nutritious and economical dinner. All ready in 20 minutes.

Now, Otmar the non-vegetarian could not do without meat.

I looked into the big pot. Some chestnuts were breaking up. I turned off the fire, wanted to pour out the water but decided to warm up some minced meat for Otamr instead. The chestnuts could wait, or so I thought.

Dinner lasted only two minutes. But even then it was already too late. The chestnuts looked as if they had gone through an earthquake. Only two survived!

I refused to give up, digging out whatever that could be saved and put these pieces into the syrup as planned.

The rest was made into ‘chestnut chutney a la maison’. Instead of vinegar, I put in some red wine and cherry brandy. To make it something special I chopped up my last piece of ginger and mixed it with the chestnut and syrup.

Otmar was tasting my chutney when I asked him what his daily happy incident was today. We have started doing that for some days now. I think it fun to look at the half-full part of the glass of Life together. A few days ago he told me how he was eating a folded up pizza in the sun; and another day: he got praised by his boss and his colleagues. I was thinking today he might say: trying out this hard-earned product of mine made from the chestnuts we picked together.

Well, today his happy incident was eating out with this colleague whose wife gave birth to triplets some time ago. He got treated to a yum yum curry chicken sandwich by the proud father.

He did not ask me what my happy incident was. Probably he was thinking that with me feeling so sad about all the chestnuts being kaput, I might not have anything happy to tell…

But if he had asked me, I would have told him that my happy incident for today was that I found two whole chestnuts among the debris.

:):) 🙂 :))::):): ): ):):): ):):) 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 :):) 🙂 :):) 🙂 :):):):):): :):):)

2017.12.12 A Little Christmas Carol for Natasha_04_The Story of Two

A Little Christmas Carol for Natasha_04_The Story of Two (i)

The Story of Two (i)

Düsseldorf, Tuesday, 12.10.1999, 10:02 pm

I have already been thinking of making some sweets out of the 202 chestnuts we picked up from the park last Sunday, but it was Eric, my French ‘son’, who gave me the last push last night. He was telling me how expensive these glazed chestnuts were and how they would melt in one’s mouth…

It is a big challenge to make glazed chestnuts, according to Eric. The reason why these whole chestnuts are so expensive is that chestnuts break very easily. But it is not to show myself I could do it that made me want to try out the recipe which I had found in an old cookbook. It was more that I would like Eric and, above all, Otmar (my now ex) to savour this specialty made from self-picked chestnuts.

I spent half an hour snipping the tip off the chestnuts and five hours peeling them. I even skipped lunch. I simply swallowed one of those big apples brought by Andreas before I dashed off to teach Toshie at four.

A handful of chestnuts had landed in Eric’s oven but it was still a long and complicated process peeling the rest of them. The problem is that they have to be peeled hot. After two hours trial and error, I found out the most efficient way. When I finished, my finger tips looked as if they had big blisters but I did a neat job.

The process I devised ran like this:

Two saucepans of water boiling on the hotplates.
Put chestnut A into the first saucepan, after a while chestnut B.
After one or two minutes, when A is hot and the shell no longer hard, take it out.
Put chestnut C into the same saucepan where B was and move B to position A.
Take off the shell of A and put into the second saucepan.

Now B is ready. Take it out.
Put chestnut D into the first saucepan, move C to the ‘front’.
Take off the shell of B and put into the second saucepan.
Meanwhile A is ready for peeling. Take it out of the second saucepan.
Peel A.

Now C is ready. Take it out.
Put chestnut E into the first saucepan, move D to the ‘front’.
Take off the shell of C and put into the second saucepan.
Meanwhile B is ready for peeling. Take it out of the second saucepan.
Peel B.

Now D is ready. Take it out.
Put chestnut F into the first saucepan, move E to the ‘front’.
Take off the shell of D and put into the second saucepan.
Meanwhile C is reading for peeling. Take it out of the second saucepan.
Peel C.

I have always thought that chestnuts were more or less smooth as their shells. I never knew they kind of look like walnuts when they are without their peel. And so many different shapes in their half roundness, so many crevices.

I had to think of what Eric said about the non-existence of uniqueness in people and things. I wish I could show him all the peeled chestnuts.

2017.12.12 A Little Christmas Carol for Natasha_04_The Story of Two
(To be cont’d)


Revelation _ by Joy Olivia Yourcenar

Miles Chandler is with Joy Yourcenar and 3 others.

23 April 2016 · 


In the end,
you fall like a ripe plum,
split and peeled at the last moment,
ripeness before corruption.
You drop,
flesh and pit, under a dark-seamed midnight
riven by the desire
of your hastily invoked archangels.

The wings of Azrael brush your lips,
your face,
limn your downcast lashes in reflected radiance,
erasing a multiplicity of past mistakes,
until you contain the infinite fertility
of a blank page.

Then know:
you will implode, bruised
by the blare of receding trumpets,
surrounded by limpid-eyed saints
professing reservations,
you will find,
concealed inside your peeled rind,
the new pit,
paradise regrown,
splitting open its seed coat
and pushing you up
into the serpent’s mouth,
into the new beginning.

-By Joy Olivia Yourcenar (1999).

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Remembering Joy, with fond memories
It’s again her birthday




Without Maria,
No Baby Alpaca Silk Project.

Met her father in Rio in 2013:
World Fair Trade Organisation Biennial Conference.

Agapita knows no English I speak no Spanish.
But he managed to tell me her daughter knows English.

And our photo arrived as soon as I reached home,
Via email promptly sent by her daughter.

2017.11.22 Maria.jpg

Maria, who gave up her IBM job to help her parents,
Pottery artisans, weavers, knitters, and many more.

After 180 days and 175 emails
Baby Alpaca Silk Collection 2014 was born.

2017.12.01_FM Design 2014.jpg

Baby Alpaca Silk Collection 2018
After much effort and despite reduced resources

AD_Alpaca_FM Design 2018

And now father and daughter say
They’ll build a home in hometown Quinua for Stephen and me to stay.