Monday, May 26, 2008

Hey, we're back...

We had such a time at the unschooling conference. Ups and downs I am so glad to have been there. Here are some highlights-

-I got to hear the song Funky Town while watching many many people do DDR (dance dance revolution- something I admit to knowing absolutely nothing about prior to the conference, including what DDR stood for or that there was even such a thing in the world). This is fun because it is a song that is in my head on and off anyway and yet I so rarely hear it otherwise.

-The kids enjoyed making puzzles out of popsicle sticks and now we can make hundreds more because we have soooo many popsicle sticks and I always think, hmmm surely there is something to do with these. I use them as markers in the garden to show where I planted seeds and we have made sculptures and robots now we have puzzles. Here's how- you tape several together and turn them over and paint or draw a picture of your choice. Remove tape (or keep it on for a popsicle picture instead as Eva chose to do) and shuffle. Et voila! A puzzle! And here is more. Or what about this.

-We learned to play Stratego. Samuel loooooved this game and made up his own version, inspired by both chess and Stratego, that night with cards. He taught Eva and I how to play. He said we did really well, for our first time. Grin.

-Samuel got to play chess. Eva got to dress up as a fairy princess.

-I have no pictures of the conference except of a wild bunny that lived near the hotel who we saw eating grass one night and we tried getting a picture from our hotel room and then wandered outside to get one close up. He (or she?) let us get very close and we tried various flash settings and yet our memories are still the best representation of that bunny night.

-We got to swim.

-There was a thunderstorm and it is a testament to how infrequently there are storms here that many people stopped everything to go watch the storm. It reminded me of how much I love thunderstorms and how much I miss that kind of weather. The rain here is very very mild compared to a thunderstorm. I think there have been less than a handful of these kinds of storms since we moved here 5 years ago. The air is still amazing!

-I got to see Scott Noelle talk again, which is a lot of fun and very inspiring.

-Got to talk with a lot of people and watch a lot of kids enjoy life and unschooling. It was very inspiring and exciting to see so many people in one place doing these things.

-The talent show was a lot of fun with everyone's spirits shining through what they chose to do. There were tumblers and dancers and singers and comedians and one woman did the hula and another sang a song about bald men. And of course someone sang....da da da da da da da.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

It is a wonderland out in the garden with flowers blooming everywhere and baby spiders building webs on anything they can find. Dozens and dozens of little yellow spiders with black markings, the future generation of banded garden spiders. The irises came out this week and the first roses are in bloom. Last year some of the roses bloomed into November. It seems impossible but true. I took down the broccoli plants who bloomed and bloomed and nurtured the bees for weeks. The kale is blooming now and I will take that down soon as well. I am also watching as some carrots from last winter are getting ready to bloom. I am curious and wonder which bees the carrot flowers will attract. I am making room for warm weather plants like tomatoes and peppers and sunflowers and beans. Some of the mesclun mix that I planted a couple of months ago is now bolting and blooming as well, joining in the fun with the other cool weather plants. We had a burst of hot hot weather and everything changed. Today it is cooler and there was even rain, which I find to be a relief. The plants need water and I prefer it from the sky rather than from the garden hose. I also wonder at the timing of the baby spiders emerging and the hot weather. Once they were all settled in a web, safe behind a leaf here and there, it cooled off and rained. I wonder about the connection they have.

The kids and I are getting ready to go to the Life is Good Unschooling Conference on Thursday. We are staying three nights at the hotel and are really looking forward to the fun. A completely new experience for us- a conference like this and staying in a hotel. It is very close, just north of us in Vancouver.

Monday, May 12, 2008

We had a lovely day today at an outdoor skills class with Trackers Northwest and learned a little something about animal tracking. Samuel and Eva really enjoyed walking in the woods and we saw Osprey and Hawks. We looked at a lot of animal poo and considered who might have left it. We saw an amazing ant mound with a ton of worker ants. I have been searching the web trying to identify them but haven't yet. They had a read head and a fairly thick abdomen, similar to a termite I guess. They were carrying wood and grass and seeds. It was great fun watching them.

Tracks found- deer, elk, fox, rabbit, beaver, maybe coyote. Fun fun fun! We learned how to tell who was eating the grass or the trees and when a beaver was cutting down trees. I am amazed at how lightly foxes walk along the sand. As though they are barely there. I imagine we were tracked a little ourselves.

After the tracking, we worked as a group to build a fire and they showed us how to start a fire without matches, which was quite interesting as well. I have to say I enjoyed the tracking most of all.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Art Museum

Today we went to the Portland Art Museum to see a special show on dancers that we have been hearing about at the ballets we have been seeing this year. We saw paintings and sculptures and lithographs by Degas, Forain and Toulouse Lautrec. All were about dancers. It was a lovely show.

Afterwards we went over to the Farmer's Market that is running now on Wednesdays and lo and behold there were strawberries! Imagine that. I am so hopeful that the upicks will be starting with berries soon. It seems a little early but I am optimistic. June is a huge berry month here and the time when we get some of the really fancy berries like Marion berries and boysenberries and black caps. I can hardly wait. Eva says she is ready this year because she has a new sun hat.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Walt Whitman and other encounters

Here's a Walt Whitman poem I read today before returning the book to the library-
To a Stranger by Walt Whitman
Passing stranger! you do not know how longingly I look
upon you,
You must be he I was seeking, or she I was seeking, (it
comes to me as of a dream,)
I have somewhere surely lived a life of joy with you,
All is recall'd as we flit by each other, fluid, affectionate,
chaste, matured,
You grew up with me, were a boy with me or a girl with me,
I ate with you and slept with you, your body has become
not yours only nor left my body mine only,
You give me the pleasure of your eyes, face, flesh, as we
pass, you take of my beard, breast, hands, in treutrn,
I am not to speak to you, I am to think of you when I sit
alone or wake at night alone,
I am to wait, I do not doubt I am to meet you again,
I am to see to it that I do not lose you.
I just finished reading The Craggy Hole in My Heart and the Cat Who Fixed It by Geneen Roth.

Eva and I sat today outside on our patio in the May sunshine and took in all of the flowers around us. The mason bees love the apple tree who is outdoing itself this year with amazing blossoms I am sure I would have remembered from last year. Eva brought us tea from her tea party and then the groceries were delivered! and we ate chocolate cream cookies and I made a turkey pastrami sandwich with the bread we had from the farmer's market yesterday and I surprised her with some fresh strawberries all the way from California. Can't wait to upick next month!

Samuel is happy with his bike riding and horse riding and loves listening to stories on CD. Right now he is enjoying another Freddy story by Walter Brooks.

We will try and plant tomatoes next week although we may wait as the trusted farmer at the market said another two-three weeks for tomatoes and peppers for sure. There is not really space for them yet anyway because the broccoli is busy flowering and the kale is waiting for the juicer!