Friday, December 12, 2014

It's been a long, long time.…

The intimidation of the blank page, anguish of unfettered freedom, exhileration of embarking on an indeterminate journey, flight of speculations on the nature of possibility. I've lost audience already. So say something worthwhile already. What can be said in this mounting of chaos called the year 2014, more economic collapse, foreclosures and disgusting pollution of planet, not to mention the personal endeavor of coating oneself in noxious substances for glamour.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Mwahahahaha. I wonder how I could set something up like this for my blog...?

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Of no importance whatsoever.

Happy holidays!

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Of no importance whatsoever.

Happy candy filled Halloween!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Hello

Hi, how are you?

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Homeschool. The difficulty of it lies in trying to cram academics into a life already saturated with satisfying endeavors; good food, good Internet, good questions, good companionship, good sunshine, good stories, good soul searching, and good exploration. Children have no use for academics for the sake of academics. They have no use for academics for the sake of making their mother look good, either.
How to stoke their interest is my conundrum of the past ten years. I have arrived at a few simple conclusions. Manipulatives are essential. Manipulatives are things to touch and hold and explore. Discussion is supposed to be a two way street. You cannot have a discussion if the answer is obvious or if think you have all the answers. My kids have come up with some very good answers that I would not otherwise have come up with on my own.
Also, writing is a method of self revelation. The first time I taught my five year old son to clean the front room, he sobbed and protested so much, I wondered if he was too young. By the time we had finished, though, he was beaming. I asked him why the change. He said he just didn't know he could do it, but now he found out that he could.
That brings me to attitude- homeschool can be such a drag for mom when kids have bad attitudes, but one tool I have found to deal with attitudes is negotiation. Of course, I require that they bring a good attitude to negotiations, but I find that most things can be negotiated satisfactorily for both parties.
Illustration brings ideas to life. It helps to be a good doodler. I've made many a custom worksheet. I have my kids illustrate math problems and it is their first experience with summarizing.
Sharing makes the work meaningful, too. I was at the tail end of my workbook phase as a homeschooler; I no longer saved every page, we just kept a sampling of their work for their portfolios. One of my kids had completed a worksheet. I checked the worksheet and dropped it into the garbage. As I watched it fall into the can I had a distinct feeling of wrongdoing. I thought, why am I whittling my kids lives away with work that isn't fit to share or keep? What message does that send to my kids about their worth and when will they feel that they have reached the point that they are worthy to contribute? That is a threshold even I am struggling to reach still, and I am in my forties. I am working to make sure it takes my children less time than it has taken me.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Summer is just too short here in our mountain valley.
I've been pulling my homeschool curriculum together,ironing out the conflict between autonomy, group dynamic, and maternal tyranny. We've spent the last two weeks at a local pool, the spot to take swimming lessons in the area. I didn't find out about it for years because they don't advertise. You have to know the right people, because the urban types go to the college pool six or seven miles further and in Ephraim. I have a friend who took lessons as a child and had a personality conflict with the instructor, but she is right back there with her kids. one of her kids also has a personality conflict with the instructor. But by golly, she is very effective and it seems most kids get over their conflicts with her.
The instructor is also a teacher at the middle school and has been doing both for fifty years. Her daughter is gradually taking over the pool and lessons part of the time. There were fourteen kids in Hyrum's class and usually they have between seven and ten in a class.
Anyway, Hyrum was on the farthest end from the instructor, his attention waned and he began dipping under the water and jumping up repetitively, lost in the pleasure of water. Okay, so my kids aren't so good at group manners. I have instructed them in collaboration. Unfortunately, collaboration isn't conducive to all settings. The teacher couldn't get his attention and beelined across the pool. She grabbed him by the shoulders, leveled his gaze with her own, and gave him a stern talking to.

He wilted, then as she turned away he slipped under the surface and stayed long enough that I was seriously considering jumping in to rescue him when he bobbed up for a breath and slunk down again. Another mom (whose own child has had an experience similar) and I were giggling empathetically and with some dismay, wondering if he would recover emotionally. Also, we were concerned with how long he would try to hide under the water. He finally came up and was listless the rest of the lesson, careful not to distract. The minute he got to the car he announced that he wasn't coming back, ever, and he was very adamant about it. He repeated it endlessly that weekend and he also came down with a cold.
I didn't want to pressure him, because I wanted to allow for the validity of his experience and feelings, but I did ask him questions. "You're not going back ever?" "not ever!" "Are you embarrassed?" "yes" he admitted. So I knew it was the right time. "Do you think you will feel better if you apologize to your teacher?" "..yes", but it was a very meek yes. "Would you like to do that Monday before class?" "yes". "Then would you feel okay about going back to swimming lessons?" "I think so." "okay, good." I felt relief for both of us. He apologized, and he needed some help being specific, but all was well thereafter.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

easy prey

Years are fleeting and distractions are numerous. Commerce is persuasive. Debilitating chemical dependencies have become easily obtained in the form of casual prescription or performance drinks. School and work are lengthy and taxing. Recreation is spent in the clamor of competition. Food is neither satisfying nor nourishing. Inflation doesn’t sleep. Entertainment is escapist. Peers apply the pressure of beauty myth. The pace of fashion leaves us contemptibly clothed within a single season. Real estate ‘values’ escalate while our ability to maintain a dwelling dwindles. Deadlines are a parched driving rain. Traffic is enraging, routine exhausting.
We know that we are vulnerable; fleshy bags of blood and plasma mounted on a fracture susceptible skeleton, the whole encased in semi-permeable film offering little resistance to puncture or to chemical and radioactive destroyers, wired with dendrites and dreams, pulsating with passions, aspiring to cosmic significance, on a determinate course toward dissolution. We are easy prey.
“Can I keep up?” is easily answered with a dose of commercials served up within an hour of television. “You lack energy, you lack “drive”, you’re balding, you’re fat, you don’t sleep well, your hair is the wrong color, your lips are too thin, you’re hairy in the wrong places. Your life is boring, hassled and mediocre. You’re a lousy parent. You need a vacation and a prescription.” To heed this council is to cultivate clinical depression; to ignore it is to be out of fashion, out of touch. Styles come and styles go, fashion keeps us shopping. Commerce leaves everyone in its wake contemptible and scrambling to acquire.
Advertising is more cunning still. Ads for housing display happy families or children, but omit the house. Pills promise relief. Male enhancement products taut satisfied wives. Insurance proffers security. Investments intone satisfying leisure. What is this bill of goods? Can it be delivered or are we victim and accomplice to fraudulent scheming? These are not things, but emotions. This is nothing but false advertising! There can be no delivery.
But we are working and we are spending. We are spending big, sacrificing our lives and making some very rich, in the hopes of enjoying a few trickle down crumbs of privilege pie. We are entirely engaged in keeping up, distracted from more enduring endeavors. We are paying the tab and the goods are not being delivered, even when the stuff is. It will never be sufficient, even when supplied in excess.
We are both victim and perpetrator in a mental framework that excuses what the market will bear. We are burning up our atmosphere, setting up great weather related devastations, filling our earth with plastic, turning a blind eye to the growing economic disparity of our own society and basically frittering away our resources and lives playing out an attitude of compulsory servitude. Why? Are the options really so limited? Is this a problem of perception or imagination?
Green solutions in health, in foods and in general have begun to emerge. Though they are the same ilk of typical commercialism; elitist self-congratulatory pricey green advice directed toward the over privileged; such as how to remodel your home with “green materials”, meanwhile, dumping all sorts of perfectly fine, though no longer fashionable materials into the landfill. Succumbing to commercial and social pressure to buy a ‘greener car’, still puts a whole new vehicle into circulation, replete with newly mined and minted resources. ‘Natural beauty care’ comes in plastic containers, containing ingredients that sound suspiciously chemical. ‘Natural foods’ are often so processed that they are downright industrial, swathed in layers of plastic packaging, they have traveled every bit as far as their counterpart self-indulgent industrial convenience foods.
Can we rely on free market forces to adapt? We have accepted the label ‘consumer’ and allowed vested interests to advise us in every aspect of life. We as a society are commercially educated. Any research or solution funded by commercial interests is most certainly tainted by profit motive. But that doesn’t keep them from caching in on such research. Products have washed their packaging in green advertising, but very little change has been realized. Companies boast thinking outside the box, but cannot think against their own interest of profits: Social behaviors that contribute to pollution, global warming, disposable society, mounting waste, to disease and war continue to be very profitable. The very survival of corporations is imbedded in perpetuating our self-destructive behaviors. We would be daft to look to commerce for real solutions.
We can’t hope for government to fix this problem! A politician’s only concern is re-election funds provided by “interests”(ie. companies willing to donate to campaigns in exchange for legislative favoritism and privileges) and taxable expenditures. Which puts our survival back into the hands of the corporations and into their pocket alongside the politicians.
The problem is that real solutions aren’t all that glamorous. Hence, they just aren’t marketable or profitable: Quit driving so much, prepare your own food, eat simply, shop locally, buy in bulk, buy less stuff- for God’s sake, avoid the pitch and toss of fashion, live in a smaller house, dress for the season instead of relying so on central air, reduce the water you run down the drain, grow some food and plant anything but grass! Such advice smacks of deprivation.
In truth it is liberating! Using my hands and creativity to prepare food is to embrace the sensual life. Home is a sanctuary from the pervasive message of inadequacy and need for relentless scheduling. Just having less money can be a refuge from commercialism, when I am of the right mind. When dressing for the season, old clothes become new and heighten awareness of weather’s small pleasures; the tingle of radiant sun at the end of a glum winter or a cool breeze of evening couched in a relentless summer. Living in a smaller house leaves me less to clean. Simple alterations to clothes can amplify style or reinvigorate worn ones without leaving me at the recent whim of designers. Oh and growing food… there is no limit to the satisfaction of harvesting even a single zucchini. It begs me to pause and wonder at the skies and soil and endless bounty, the benevolence of the marvelously wrought universe replicating eternally within the very marrow of a vegetable. Freely given it is gratefully received.
Today, this moment, I stand my ground, raise my fist and declare my sovereignty.

simple freedoms

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Today is a windy, snowy, snuggle into the moonchair and read spring Sunday. Yesterday was a warm, bright, daffodil blooming, manure flinging, fennel planting spring Saturday. Yesterday was a time for action, today is for reflection. This is the third nudge I've had from the universe this week to take up the pen.
I love to read, but feel insignificant when set before the blank page. Hence, often when I write it takes the form of defensive egotistical ranting if not self effacing over divulgence. So anyway, now you are warned, here goes..
This week I am suffering from yet another bout of internet research induced feelings of betrayal by our industrial information based society.
We as a family have been eating mostly whole grains for at least 15 years. True, it did offer some improvement in our health once we began grinding grain immediately before cooking. However, I just kept feeling like I wasn't getting the nutrition I needed. I've been through all kinds of ideologies; macrobiotic; we were vegetarian for a couple of years, blood type (which for a household of differing parents and the ensuing possible combination of eight offspring is chaotic at best), ayurvedic dabblings, Dr. Christopher studies, sugar free (for a few months), acid- alkaline balance, raw-sprouting additions, weed eating, tea drinking, supplement taking and even a quasi paleo-diet. One might think we were bound to encounter the spring of eternal youth with all this crap. I kept thinking it shouldn't be this complicated to nourish our bodies.
As usual each ideology offered something of benefit, none could deliver the panacea that ideologies are wont to. It could be argued that I was not rigorous enough or that I did not stick with one long enough, but how long do you have to stand in quicksand to know that your situation isn't improving?
The health food and 'science' industries echo a New Yorker article I read recently about Madoff and the Ponzi Scheme-'too good to be true'
We yearn to be on the side of genius, cheat the order of the natural world, fly with the wings of Icharus or in vampirism drink blood to seize upon ever elusive immortality.
The myriad cults of diet have similar earmarks of scheming. We are susceptible fools. And why are we so susceptible? Because we do not know what an honest apple or tomato is supposed to taste like and so have no comparison. We are pale and wan, bleary of sight, wandering in mind and know not who or what to blame. We have been nourished based on maxims of 'maximize profits, minimize expenses' and 'always improve the bottom line'. It is the grandest ponzi scheme of all. Cheat the masses out of substance and soak their money in the process. Churned out from board rooms, concocted in labs, packaged with convenience and stamped and marketed with celebrity. Yes, there is product, but substance is drained more every year.
There is nary an honest tomato (or apple) to blow the whistle and we are accomplice to our own defrauding.
So finally to the point of my betrayal for this week. It seems that I have not been getting enough nutrition from my food, mainly in the forms of calcium, magnesium, zinc and iron; all deficiencies that I have noted over the years, and hence supplemented for. The reason is that whole grains, while containing these vital elements at the same time, contain phytic acid, or phytates, that bind up the nutrients, making them bio-unavailable. The purpose of the phytates is to hold the seed in stasis until it encounters favorable conditions for growth.
While sprouting for quite a while as a way of feeding our beloved troupe on leaner times, I have noted that when I eat my sprouts my body seems to utilize calcium more effectively (less muscle cramps, less tooth sensitivity, less joint pain or cracking, fewer craving for sweets
etc.).
This is at least partially because I have become leery of information that I cannot personally verify. I can afford very little chasing of ideologies at this point in my life. I must have substance and results.
I have encountered this phylate conundrum previously, though I had not encountered a viable solution. Our diet is built around whole grains for economic reasons and health reasons, taste, convenience and simplicity. The solution came from How to eat grains.

Monday, March 24, 2008

A debate about homeschool regulation was on the Diane Rhem show today. It is coming, regulation is coming. My public educator husband predicted that it would be only a matter of time. I feel sick at heart. Why should I? What is the fear?
Regulators don't know when to stop. The dysfunctional public school system is the result of regulation and more regulation to try and fix the dysfunction of regulation. I was disappointed with the defenders of homeschools when the question of testing came up. They replied with an appeasing, 'oh my kids have been tested and surpassed the average'.
The problem with testing is STANDARDIZATION of the individual and who should decide upon that standard, but other individuals. and who will they be? A few publically educated, collectively minded, suit wearing, statistic slinging, status seeking, industrial economy worshiping, conformists. They are just human beings. They don't know the future ant more than you do. Well I will grant that they have an educated guess. But how many times are those overturned and a new one is put into place as the current educated guess? And now we have a few jokers who are out to standardize the rebels who want to make their own educated guess for their own children.
And do you know what your children are in their eyes? Well Ill help you out. They are a mass of human flesh, the workings of our economic and political system that has served so well as to put them on top of the heap in the position of determining what everyone else should be managed by statistics and posturing oh and did I mention the penal system. The US has more person per capita in prison than any other country.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

It seems that equality is a non issue at this point in history. No one cares. Everyone wants the government to sanction their platform of privilege, whether it be religious, ethical or just plain monetary. Personally, I want my privilege of cheap iceburg lettuce to keep coming to me through all seasons at a rock bottom price. But when I burrow into the thousands of exploitations and insults to life, liberty and and the earth that are required to sustain this privilege, I despair of life in this wretched schema where I have to slice from my soul the sinew of ideals that hold it together. I have to do this in order to just eat for a day. My husband thinks we're crazy. What is that popular definition of insanity 'to keep expecting something different in the face of other such evidence' or something like that? Couldn't that also be a definition of hope?
I suppose humanity has always struggled for equality. The declaration of independence invokes the self evident truth that all men are created equal, yet this country supported a tradition of slavery for eighty-nine years and it was a bloody mess to uproot.
It seems to me that where there is a lust for leisure there is also a bent for exploitation. The first requires the second. We as a society worship leisure. I don't want to grow my own iceburg lettuce. Few of us would actively exploit a human being, but most of us tolerate sweatshops, illegal workers, unethical corporations, and on and on because we want our stuff.
I am timid about prying at the sensitive heart of capitalism; the right to amass and horde more than one could ever use. I know the benefits of capitalism: It creates industry, invention, incentive, and competition eventually it turns to the proliferation of stuff and more useless stuff at the cost of individuals and society.
I don't pretend to have an alternative. I just think we need to think about it. It seems to me that the accumulation of fortune gives one greater power than another. Could it be that this system of capitalism undermines the ideal of equality in ways similar to the system of slavery? People were born into slavery. Everyone is born naked, but to different circumstances and these make all the difference. Economic circumstances have the same detrimental effect today. Slavery wasn't everyone's problem. It was a problem for the slaves. The slaves had no power so the institution of slavery was not threatened. Slavery became a problem to the non participating northern states, because of economics. They could not compete. That is when equality became an issue.
Americans can't compete in the marketplace now. We can't compete because we have laws that protected the poor and weak from the rich and powerful. Laws about work hours and pay. Laws about safety and bigotry. We just can't compete with the countries who ignore such issues, but we don't mind.
Our jobs are being shifted elsewhere because we can't compete, but we don't mind because we have 'investment'. Leisure money that sustains the unethical industries, but since these are in someone else's backyard we don't have to see the havoc they wreak on people's lives. 'We are helping them, they wouldn't have jobs at all if it weren't for us', is our excuse for complicit tolerance of their living and working conditions. We just aren't willing to sacrifice some of our leisure or convenience, we want our stuff to keep coming. Or maybe we just don't think about it, who has the time and energy to connect up the dots of self incrimination?

Monday, April 2, 2007

Do your post and then...

Doesn't 'feral' have two r's?

Here's your first post, dear one!



We will freedom for freedom’s sake, in and through particular circumstances. And in thus willing freedom, we discover that it depends entirely upon the freedom of others and that the freedom of others depends upon our own. Obviously, freedom as the definition of a man does not depend upon others, but as soon as there is a commitment, I am obliged to will the liberty of others at the same time as my own. I cannot make liberty my aim unless I make that of others equally my aim.
- Jean-Paul Sartre
Now we like underwear so much more!