Wednesday, January 04, 2017

"God is officially a grandmother"

Holly wrote something sweet on Twitter:

I saw an amazement in the sky yesterday afternoon - the sun had a baby!

Then she added: "God is officially a grandmother."

Tuesday, January 03, 2017

A guy calls me a closed-minded educator and an idiot

I got e-mail from someone wanting me to promote something vague:

I want to share my "learning that excites, learning that sticks" absolute radical unschool program. It was 30 years in the making, but it is like no other as far as how much it is loved by students.

I have been wanting to connect with the unschooling movement, so any information you could send would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you,
David Hamilton
I've removed the e-mail and phone number, but left the website.

At the same time he had applied to join Radical Unschooling Discussion on facebook, but one of the other moderators flicked it away without me even getting there to say "same guy, different name." He used a made-up name and had a page promoting something vague, but I hadn't known that yet.

I looked at his site and searched for more, finding one youtube video that he had uploaded but hadn't made, nor had he credited. So I responded, by e-mail:
From: Sandra Dodd
Subject: Re: Hello
Date: January 2, 2017 at 9:17:11 PM MST
To: David B Hamilton...

-=-I want to share my "learning that excites, learning that sticks" absolute radical unschool program. It was 30 years in the making, but it is like no other as far as how much it is loved by students.-=-

Please don’t use the term “radical unschooling” about anything that involves the term “students.”
I looked at your site, and it does seem you only used the term because you were writing to me. I hope you’re not using it more widely.

Best wishes, if your project was 30 years in the making. I can’t find any more than the one website you sent, and a video on YouTube that you didn’t credit to the owners.

I’ve been unschooling for 25 years, and so you’re five years beyond me, somehow. Please don’t use the term for lessons for students, though.

Sandra Dodd

His response:

Typical response of a closed minded educator. Only can see the negative. Unfortunate. My presentations are loved by students. Your loss.
And, I don’t need your permission to use the term “radical unschooling”! Ha! Like I need your permission? You are an idiot.

So if he's contacting other unschoolers, don't feel guilty about ignoring him.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

The last fire

I took this photo in October, 2016, and called it "first fire 2016," but what I didn't know is that we would need to stop using the fireplace so it was one of the last fires.

This fall was hot, and after that cold spell in October, we didn't need a fire. When the fireplace was cleaned in November, serious cracks were found inside the chimney, so we will be getting a wood-burning insert in January.

I felt deep sorrow at first, for losing the use of such a familiar and wonderful fireplace we've had for nearly twenty years. I'm sure I'll get used to the stove, when we get it, but for right now I'm sadly without a fire.

Sunday, November 13, 2016


I wrote this in 2013 and have thought about it quite a bit since:

Within half a mile of my house I have a drive-through ATM machine (not a bank, just the machine, in the corner of a gas station lot), car wash, charity-shop donations (they come and take it out of the back of the car for me, and if you don't want a receipt for tax donation credit, they'll offer a bottle of cold water), and a drive-through full service bank window. Oh! and Pizza, or burgers. And a dry-cleaner's, where they will walk out and hand you the stuff. If I go as far as a mile and a quarter, there are drive-through drug stores. Starbucks drive-through. Jiffy-Lube will change your oil, but you do have to get out of the car. Three miles, I drove into the Dodge dealership and got a car repair without getting out of the car.

There are places in the U.S. where none of those things are true, I'm sure. Either too rural or too urban. There are neighborhoods in Albuquerque without so many things in one place to drive through, but right here at Candelaria and Juan Tabo, we are drive-through wealthy.


It was a response to a list of things foreigners were shocked about, in the U.S. These drive-throughs being so common in some places are a shock to some Americans, even.

Since I wrote that, though, I've thought of making a list of all the drive-throughs (current and former) very near me. I might add photos here.

This summer, a drive-through Dunkin' Donuts appeare a few blocks south on Juan Tabo.

At Golden Pride on Juan Tabo near Comanche, when it's busy, they run three drive-through lines—the regular around-the-building, and two through bays of a former self-service car wash next door.

There is still a boarded up former drive-through window which afterwards for a while was a drive-through barbecue window.
There is a plastered-over former frozen yogurt drive-through. The two posts to keep cars from hitting the building are still there.

There's a drive-by post office box, and near there is a drive-through title-loan place (which used to be a drive-through one-hour photo booth).

I should bring pictures. I should mark them all on a map of the neighborhood and name them. I might.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Slowing down

This is going to build up to a "how many hours" post.

It has been 25 years and a few months since we started unschooling Kirby. It was a solid start, philosophically, but Keith and I expected and were willing to see Marty and Holly go to school if they wanted to. It has been 20 years since Holly decided she didn't want to go to school, either.

With two discussions, a large webpage (, a daily blog (Just Add Light and Stir), and a speaking sometimes (including a request I'm considering that would involve another trip to England next year, and I'm hesitant)... should I feel guilty when I want to watch Korean dramas or take a nap? I think about that a few times a week, now.

Keith retired early last year. Soon after, Kirby brought his family from Texas. He, Destiny and her daughter, Devyn—lived with us for several months and then moved into a house they're buying a third of a mile away. They had a crazy-fun wedding last month. Devyn stays with us sometimes. Keith's retirement helped things to slow down at our house. I like it.

There is a new forum for discussing unschooling that I need to get set up and open. I'm hestiating. I'm procrastinating, and I'm wondering why. There are many unfinished projects in my unschooling life (and other parts involving music, sewing, organizing, storing important things...). There are things to start and things to clean up after.

Twenty five years is 9,000+ days. 9,125, today. But that count started when school would have begun for Kirby, in 1991, so adding the time from then, about three months, 90 more days... Round it to 9200 days. Let's say I took some days totally off. I didn't, but it makes the math easier. Some days I probably only spent one hour answering someone's questions or writing about unschooling, or defending it somehow. I'm not going to count the time I spent DOING it, or thinking about doing it better. I'm only counting time spent communicating it to and with other people. So sometimes one hour. Sometimes two. Some days it was twelve hours or more—either at a conference, or when there was some embroilment in a forum or a discussion I was running or deeply involved with. Sometimes I prepared for, and then hosted, and then edited the trancript of a two hour online chat. And then published it. Five to eight hours. Most days, three or four hours spent answering questions online, or writing essays for publication, or preparing or summarizing or publishing talks. 1 (few), 3 (many), 5, 12 (not as many). I'll call it four hours a day in later years, three in earlier years, average. 3.5. I'm probably estimating low. I usually do.

So IF 3.5 times 9200, that's 32,200 hours.

Perhaps it's enough. I'm not going to stop. I'm going to open that new forum soon. But I'm not going to feel guilty if I "only" work two hours some days now that I'm older and my kids are grown.

I'm also going to be surprised if I only work two hours in a day, but it is likely that morally and ethically I have done enough, and the rest is bonus round.

The daily thing:
The feedback: (some of it)

Some of the recent posts at Just Add Light have had beautiful photos. I didn't even count time taking, collecting, sorting, storing and retrieving photos, but I do that. There have been over 2,220 Just Add Light posts, each with a photo.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Little Shop of Horrors

Last night we saw Little Shop of Horrors at the Albuquerque Little Theatre. It was fun! We had four seats in the middle of the first row. That was Destiny, Kirby, Devyn and me. Five behind in the second row: Keith was behind me and then Ashlee, Marty, Noor and Brie. Noor and Brie have been here for nearly a week, checking out New Mexico for a probable move.

When "Somewhere that's Green" started, Devyn said "The music is like Book of Mormon." She is So Right! "Sal-ta-lay-ka-city" (however it's written out begins with the same intro music, and is a bit of a parallel to "Somewhere That's Green." I was so happy that she noticed. :-)

At the end, though, she was really sad that Audrey at Audrey's fate, and was nearly crying. Some cast members were out, and the voice of Audrey II was easily accessible (though he did have a little crowd). I asked if he knew where the one who had done Audrey was and told him Devyn was a little upset and might like to see her. I thought he would just point a direction, but she was still back stage, and he went to get her, but she was just coming out. Emily Melville. She apologized for having her costume off already, but talked to Devyn for a good little while, said "You were in the front row, right? You were really paying attention, too..." so she told her it wasn't real, and that if she wanted to see the movie it had a happier ending. They talked a little more, about how to be in plays, I think—I walked away but Kirby and Destiny heard more. It was cheering and calming for Devyn, and I appreciated it.

The sets were great, the plant-puppets (rented) were especially great, the singing was good (some parts great). Costumes good. Staging good! We all had fun.

"Suddenly Seymour" was especially good. We've seen it twice before, but not lately. I either hadn't heard or didn't remember the song they did with four phones, when the store has become really successful, and that was fun.

Nicholas Handley did the dentist, a store customer, and all three people who came to offer Seymour contracts near the end. Quick costume changes, and fun voices. He did a great job. The program said nothing about his other experience, but I poked around a bit and he plays violin, is in a mariachi band, was Tony in West Side Story (which we saw because Emma played Anybodys).

I didn't take any photos (of course) but here's the preview video:

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Oddities, England

The antlers were in all the mirrors. If anyone wants large mirrors, the antique shop in Ashford, Surry, has Many. It was hard to see the mirrors, for all the odd treasures.

The building used to be a pub. The largest room has two skylights, which enabled Jesus to fit up among the chandeliers (and to have a nice lighting effect on his head, too):

A mystery I'm pondering, rather than looking up.

James says "cabbage" is not a term for the operation of a taxi service, but it does look like a gear-shift knob. And another of them seems to have a door knob as handle. I'll look it up when there's a lull, someday, maybe.

This seemed to be Indian workmanship, on thin metal attached to/around a wooden horse. Pretty wonderful, but impractical to own outside of the local area.

This was interesting:

In the left breast pocket of that Levi jacket were two little bullets. I didn't photograph them, or some of my friends could surely have named them. I did look up the organization on that upper patch, and write to the editor of their magazine, saying that if there's someone near, they might want to go there and get it (with some directions about where in the shop, and where the shop is). Said maybe don't mention the bullets, when purchasing. So he wrote right back and invited me to a round-up in a couple of weeks. I will be RIGHT NEAR THERE, three days before. It's a group of people interested in U.S. history from 1700 on, mostly Western history. It would have been fun to be there, but the round-up is near The Wash (which I had never heard of it until playing "Articulate" with Adam, Meredith and Julie a few nights ago), and I will be in Brighton.
British Westerners' Association

Shops like this one are as good as museums for me. I can take photos, touch things, ask questions, and if something is really wonderful, I could potentially take it home—at least as far as Julie's house, if not to Albuquerque.

Outside was a beautiful old pump, and these are not all the cool things, but they're a representative sample of a thousand things. Carved chests and wooden buckets might get their own post.