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.

Monday, August 01, 2016

The problem with "being supportive"

I'm moving this here so I can find it again, and so it might be read in a more leisurely way than people tend to read on facebook. I wrote it July 4, 2016:

Bad advice.
Sometimes "support" is the same as very bad advice.
Come on people, we are all doing the best that we can.
You—stressed parent—are doing a great job no matter what, and this is why:
1. No one knows your child better than you
. . . .
You are the perfect parent for your child. You are the expert. Trust yourself.
2. Our kids are going to survive.
. . . .
They are going to be okay—and so are you.
3. We’re all supposed to be doing it differently.

That's from a longer blog post called "3 Things all Parents Need to Hear."

But those things aren't helpful, and they're not true in all cases. Let's not share scare stories, but each of you could think of a scare story—just one, don't inventory all the sad things you know—about a child who didn't survive, about a parent who wasn't ANY kind of expert, who should NOT be trusted.

Anyone who soothes an irresponsible, neglectful, or abusive parent is contributing to that neglect and abuse.
ARE all kids eventually okay? No.

Is it okay to soothe the parents of kids who were neglected and abused?
The author of that blog post thinks so. The 144 people who shared it thought so.

I don't think so.

I'm NOT saying everyone should become unschoolers. Many people should not even consider unschooling. Unschooling's not easy.

What I'm saying is that it's better to encourage other parents to be conscious and careful, patient and kind, than to spread nonsense like everything's the same and no one else can say you could possibly do better.

The writing wasn't considering the kids' point of view. If a child thinks a parent could do better, shouldn't that matter? But this was just parents assuring parents that there is no such thing as half-assed, no such thing as bad parenting. All parenting is equal and all children will survive and be fine.

People who would prefer that message to actual ideas that could help should probably leave this group and find "support" for just whatever, because it is definitely out there.

End of the quote.
I have a couple of pages on my website about "support." One (the second link below) is a random generator of more and more worthless support. The other has those messages in a different format, with commentary following.

Please don't coo and soothe another adult who is harming a child.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

With Erika, visiting Holly

Blue Heron Brewery in Rinconada. Those three doors face East, South and West—so not such a large room as the panorama makes it seem. It was nice to see Holly working. Right after this, other people started coming in.

Monday, July 04, 2016

Amanda's cat Simon

Yesterday we were with Holly in Taos and gave her a ride to Pilar, to her friend Amanda's house, where she had left her truck.

I went down the side of the house Amanda is renting, to photograph the wheelbarrow, and when I turned back, I saw the cat, on on a viga. I took several photos, but THIS one was one of those shots that, looked at later, seems more wonderful than I could have expected or planned. It's not cropped, it was just like this:

I like the hills showing in the lower left, and the sun through the clouds through the trees in two places above that. But at the time, I was only looking at Simon and at the end of that viga.

The cat in greater context:

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Serendipity and that

These days Joyce Fetteroll has a small group of witnesses and perhaps assistants, for a book she and Danny are working on. She's bringing (alphabetically) a word and we make up definitions, and when she tells us the real one, we use it in a sentence. There's art involved, and humor, too.

Today she had defined "latrinalia"

I wrote:
Just the other day Holly quoted me the traditional "If you sprinkle while you tinkle, be a sweetie and wipe the seatie."

I asked if she knew of the equivalent one for men's rooms. She did not.

We aim to please.
You aim too, please.

At a roadside candle outlet in North Carolina or Virginia, on a road trip with a friend of mine many years ago, I chose one of several toilet stalls. While sitting, I read "I love Keith Dodd" in someone else's handwriting. Someone else's Keith Dodd, no doubt. Quite a great coincidence.

Including Joyce's deposit of a word meaning bathroom writings just a few days after Holly and I talked about that a bit, I've had three of them this week.

Because I bought some things from China and Holly was here when they arrived, I told her about the government-subsidized postage and China's 20 years or so of moving toward capitalism. She and Keith brought a bottle of mead they bought because a friend's brother owns the company. It was good. I couldn't remember his name and when I did, I googled and found his dad, who was an atomic researcher and I didn't know so much cool stuff about him. In an interview about early atomic research in Los Alamos, he was asked about a co-worker who had moved to China. He said she was disappointed about China's eventual movement away from communism and toward capitalism.

Yesterday at lunch, Keith was asking what I knew about labyrinths in churches. I did know some, and a friend of ours designed and oversaw installation of an outdoors one at a church not far from us. Later that day I turned on the Sherlock Holmes audible book I'm listening to, and the word labyrinth popped up.  

There's a word for that—words or factoids popping up—but I don't remember it. It's one of the many magically fun things in life.

And I posted that somewhere and someone gave me the word, and then...
I can't remember where it was provided, or who.

Gargoyle and an airplane

June 29, 2011, I put this on facebook. So it will be a race between whether this blog platform will last longer than facebook's photos do.

Water spout—not a fancy gargoyle. Look up above in the sky, though. This I caught on purpose, but I've had some accidental catches nearly as cool as this. This is the roof parapet at Henbury Parish Church, in Bristol, where I also got to play the pipe organ. The caretaker pressed me to do that. I played it as though it were a piano,because my feet don't play organ and I couldn't figure out how to turn on the lower keyboard, but I did it! I played something I didn't know, in 6/8, with only two harmony lines at any one time. Coool.

Same place, same day, Alison's boys showed me the "King of the Castle" song/game, which I have on video somewhere and should add here.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Throw-away views

This photo isn't new. Summer, 2013. I was looking for a photo of a chain of office for a discussion about the word "Whiffler," and ended up looking through photos I took in Chichester when I was there with Joyce Fetteroll, Julie Daniel and Adam Daniel. It's always hard for me to say what I love about England, but this is an example of it. This was the view from the window of the women's room in a restaurant, in Chichester.

The roof lines, the building materials, things added, clues to things having been chopped off, or repaired, or modernized, different kinds of roof tiles and panels and treatments... Candid, "back stage," not spruced up for tourists. :-)

Inside the room:

Monday, May 23, 2016

Nice description of the David Bowie letter

A Sean Kelley in London sweetly informed me about a post today at that describes the letter David Bowie sent me very nicely:
Great tales of David Bowie's good nature flooded out after his death too, but we've known about his letter to his first American fan since 2009, after it appeared on the excellent Letters of Note site.

It's a wonderful thing - a measured, charming, excited and poignant response, written in 1967, to a 14-year-old called Sandra Dodd from New Mexico, whose uncle had given her a promotional copy of Bowie's first album (he worked at a radio station).

"When I called in this, my manager's office, a few moments ago I was handed my very first American fan letter - and it was from you. I was so pleased that I had to sit down and type an immediate reply," Bowie begins, before answering questions Sandra had asked about his real name, birthday, height, and whether he'll ever visit America.

"Thank you for being so kind as to write to me and do please write again and let me know some more about yourself," the letter ends.
I love this: "measured, charming, excited and poignant."
It's the second item here, but I will point out again that he was not yet a famous musician when the letter was written.

The letter and notes on my site:

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Out the window

Joyce Fetteroll was doing a words game in April and May 2016 (for a project she and Danny were doing), and the word was "defenestration." It means to throw something or someone out of a window.

I recorded this for that group, but I don't think those posts will be around forever, so here it is for me to find later.

May 4, 2016

Sunday, May 08, 2016

Egyptian Onions, 2016

I took these photos in May 2016 of onions I still have from some my sister gave me fifteen years or more ago. We use some, and they keep reproducing and planting themselves. They're beautiful when their new sets are popping out the top from what look like paper lanterns, at first.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Tiny houses (rejection of)

I'm saving some things from facebook, from a discussion of a funny, well-written article on tiny houses. In case facebook is archived forever, here: blah blah Tiny Houses

It's my writing below:

I think what makes tiny living possible is MacBooks and iPads (or their equivalents). And cellphones and internet.

The reason our kids didn't fit better into the house we had before (where Marty is now) with its 1200+slightly more sq ft is because before they were born, Keith and I already had lots of music, books, projects.

Picture a 1990's computer and printer and telephone in a tiny house. And a VCR and some tapes and a 1990's TV. Where y'gonna sleep?

Camera, photos, albums, negative storage?

But these days my projects are on my website and blogs. Photos don't take space. Music is on the phone and the computer. Even letters from relatives aren't taking space.

So a tiny house can work beause people can read, watch movies, take photos, do research, communicate with relatives without owning books, magazines, videos or DVDs, photo-storage boxes/books/binders, dictionaries or other reference books, stationery, pens and stamps.

But what about sewing and woodworking? Keith and I still need a big house.

I keep my computer's back-up drive in an old VCR rental box, wrapped in a green linen napkin. There's some artsy/practical mixing of eras. smile emoticon I stick it on the shelf like a book, in my office, and it's safe to throw into a suitcase.

I've had a computer broken and one stolen when I was out of the country, so I keep the backup current, and never keep it in the same bag as the computer.

Oh, and when I visited India, in the Phoenix airport on the way home, the computer started dying. The next day it was gone. I did lose some notes, names and addresses, but I had been backing up the photos. So back up your computer whether your house is tiny or huge.

With a hot knife, I took out the post that held the video tape in place.

We live near where there was a large video rental store, and used to find boxes in the dumpster. I've used them to ship Thinking Sticks and other small things in the mail, and am nearly out of them now. I should have picked up hundreds of them; they're so strong and solid.

Where, in a tiny house, would one store valuable dumpster-diving finds?

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Hearthstone Magnet Frame

This isn't news, but for the record, to keep this in a cool place.... Once upon a time Kirby lived in Austin and had a photo of his parents, and a magnet that made a frame. So for a while, we were (on Kirby's fridge only) a Hearthstone card. He, Destiny and Devyn moved to Albuquerque in early 2015, and things were rearranged.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

New car

I'll want to know when we bought this car, so I'm bringing notes here for future-me.

Most of it happened Monday, but I didn't say much to anyone at all. I wanted a done deal and a photo before announcing it.

Here's what I posted on Facebook:
Extra key:

Extra car:

The size of a tumbleweed (and a bit more):

Here's what was on the Korean Drama discussion:
I sat in the driver's seat of a Hyundai Genesis sedan the other day, and looked all around and thought... Wow. I didn't want to own it, just to be in it and think about seeing them in dramas. :-)

It was very comfortable, and there seemed to be every automotive accessory and engineering improvement known to man in there. Beautifully arrayed. Solid.

I've had a crush on those little Fiats since they came to town, and Monday Keith took me to see them. We had been once very early, two years ago, to look without salesmen. Yesterday a nice young salesman showed us several models. The big ones were too big—nearly as long as my min-van, so what's the advantage!? The small ones were too small. The sporty one had a seat that only adjusted oddly, by tilting. Keith needs the seat leaned way back because he's over 6'1" and I need it to be nearly straight up to support my back. Some of their models won't do that.
But there were other things I didn't like, too. My crush dissipated. It was infatuation, not love.
So we went to Car Max. I sat in one Fiat I DID like—and was thinking about it. Then I sat in a Smart Car, there, and had a new crush. It was sold, though.
And I sat in that Hyundai, and had a dramatic Korean moment. :-)

Then we went to the Smart car dealer, with me thinking I would order one and let it take its time, but had it not been a banks-closed day (Presidents Day), we would've had one right then, Monday. So we had it Tuesday morning.

Sorry it's not about the dramas, but there's a tie-in.

I'm posting this Friday; we got the car Tuesday February 16.
Today I was feeling uncomfortble about having gotten a car when my van just got new keys (because of a recall), and it's running well. Twice in the past few weeks we've needed an extra car because one was in the shop (Keith's, and then Holly's, and they won't be the last), so though I thought we could really use an extra car, now they're all here.

Keith reminded me that the van is nearly to 100,000 miles. I looked: 99,730. So 270 miles to go. The smart car has 200 miles on it, and had 101 when we got it. Keith helped me feel better.

Tuesday, February 09, 2016

City on the Edge podcast

On February 3 (2016) I was interviewed by Mike Smith and Ty Bannerman, for their City on the Edge podcast, which is fairly new. I'm episode #8! It was a realy fun conversation. It's out, but I haven't listened yet, as I write this. I heard the end of it.

It was put up today! Please listen. :-)

But here's where I want to put clarifying notes here, as I listen. I have one already—I didn't lose sleep over it, but I was sorry to have said something unfair.

Mo's my next door neighbor, I said, and it sounded like is, but it was a "was." She moved in next to us on Princess Jeanne, when my kids were little and she had her grown son and daughter, and two granddaughters my kids' age living with her. Currently she's Marty and Ashlee's next door neighbor. We've always stayed in touch, and I hope Mike and Ty will have us as guests on a podcast together someday. I love Mo's stories.

The room I grew up in Española had "just two steps down," I said. I didn't say that one was about 12" down, onto concrete, and then there was a 10" step or so. That top "step" was a hinged storage box, sort of. It was like a climb or a jump down.

And it was The Chelsea NEWS, not "Times." I should've had more notes with me. :-)

I said that James Daniel had been in a band, but I meant to say it was called Perfect Vision.

The links I said I would send are all in another blogpost of mine here—to the articles from January 11 and 12: [and links to some of the publications from 2009 when Letters of Note printed the letter are here: Bowie Letter]

I don't think my dad said "fire-proof paint." He probably said "heat-proof paint." The company was called M.I.C.A., Mineral Industrial Commodities of America, and the plant was in east of the highway, south of the businesses in Pojoaque, up against the sandhills, on Pueblo land, so at school each year when they checked how schools would be funded, one of the questions was whether a child lived on Indian land, or if the parents worked there. So my dad working there must have gotten some federal funding for the Española Public Schools.

Near the end there, I said that my friend's parents didn't want her to date Indians. That was never stated, and I shouldn't have said it. They didn't want her to date ANYbody. Another neighbor who lived between our houses, though, had specifically been forbidden to continue a relationship with a boyfriend from one of the pueblos, for that reason. He was in the same band as one of my boyfriends. [Yes, it IS a small world!!]

In Española, in those days, there were some Hispanic families (older local families who had or had had money, it seemed to me—"good families) whose prejudice against the local Indians was longstanding, inherited, not personal. Anglo families didn't have that. For whatever reason(s), I was allowed to hang out and socialize with any of the kids, and I often had a car, and time...


That ending was added later, elsewhere. I did not get a taco on a warm night, but I got to to Mike's house on a freezing night, and have a ton of fun.

[More notes might come.]

I did NOT end up telling two first impressions of Albuquerque. I told one, and then got to two concerts I went to. :=) Sorry, guys! But I can tell, next time, maybe, my early memories of the NEW Theatre at Winrock, and of the zoo, when there was only one modern enclosure. If there's another chance, I will tell more first impressions. OH! The businesses that were advertised on TV. And Keith says to mention the airplanes. I'll leave this here for notes for myself for next time.

And the part that I couldn't remember was the two incidents that gave me courage to read the letter aloud.
1. The letter had been read aloud by someone else at an event in London
2. I wrote the foreword to ta book and it was made an audio book, read by a man. I had passages of my writing read aloud by women, or quotes, but hearing it in a male voice was different. And there was one difficult phrase that he understood and read the way I would have.
That's "the best thing I was ever going to say." If I find the article about the London reading, I'll bring dates and the name of the reader. He's famous, but I didn't know who it was.

Wednesday, February 03, 2016

"The Best Thing You've Done"

This was a writing prompt I responded to, on Live Journal, July 2008. It's still true in 2016.

Q: If you were to die now, at this moment, what would you think of as the best thing you've ever done in your life?

Sandra: Helped people think more clearly and to see their possibilities.

Tuesday, February 02, 2016

My name, in a list

Sometimes I come across my name in a list of names. It's fun.

Looking for the re-print date of one of my articles in Pathways to Family Wellness, I found this, instead, by Dr. Peter Grey:
Of course, I am far from the first to cry out that the Emperor is naked on the issue of schooling. Indeed, many have been saying this longer than I, including such pioneering thinkers as A.S. Neill, John Holt, John Taylor Gatto, Sandra Dodd and Daniel Greenberg. We need all such voices, and we need them to be heard. So, here goes… - See more at: "Schoolhouse Rocked"

This is nice beause I came first, and because that magazine is no longer around, so the page will be gone soon.:
The Homeschooler

This national magazine is published quarterly by the Homeschool Association of California (HSC).

The Homeschooler is filled with helpful articles and resources for homeschoolers. It includes regular columns by prominent homeschooling writers such as Sandra Dodd, Wes Beach, Michelle Barone and others... *

These are fun because I found them by accident, and I feel a little thrill, and that's all. :-) I've brought them here to look at again, someday.

Monday, January 11, 2016

David Bowie's passing

I added to this gradually through Monday and Tuesday. It's not so much about David Bowie's passing as about people's responses to me on on those two days.


I wake up at 6:30 these days, to take Devyn to school. My phone is my alarm clock, so with that in hand I saw that I had a message from Kirby that started Sad times, figured you should see it here before...

I was blurry-eyed and wanted to come to the computer so I could read better, and respond.

The first thing I saw was someone having posted "Just learned that Sandra was officially Bowie's first US fan heart emoticon Still shocked at the thought of him gone."

Kirby's full message was
"Sad times, figured you should see it here before some less tasteful page announces the news:"
It linked to a BBC news announcement.

Fifteen minutes later, Melissa Chan called me from TIME magazine and spoke with me for quite a long time. Then we had an e-mail exchange. They already had an article up, and it hadn't been updated with anything from me when I looked at 7:45.

Melissa wrote a separate piece after she spoke with me. Most of it, especially at the beginning, is exactly what I said. Later it gets a little muddly. David Bowie’s ‘First American Fan’ Looks Back on Singer’s Touching Letter
The title of the article is lame (David Bowie’s Letter to 14-Year-Old Fan Resurfaces After Singer’s Death), and it wasn't a gift from my uncle. It was a reject from the station for being rock'n'roll and not country. My uncle used to give my cousin, Debbie, all the rock albums. Debbie went through a pile and took what she wanted, and brought the rest to give to Nada, when she stayed with us that summer of 1967. Nada went through the pile, took what she wanted, and gave me the rest. So it was rejected three times before I got it.

The letter didn't "resurface," as it was never lost.

Helen Whitehouse of the Daily Star corresponded with me by messenger, asking interesting questions, and will have something on their website at 9:00 UK time (2:00 pm here).

Janine Davies:

This interview of Sandra for the Daily Star yesterday is really lovely.

Two young people connecting so sweetly, and then both going on to inspire so many in their different fields.

It took the edge off yesterday a bit to read and share this wonderful story.

Stephanie Beth Currier:
Very sweet story of letter exchange between Bowie and a then young girl whose own life and writing would inspire many to take off-road adventures.

Except for a couple of times when I sound more British than I could ever be, I think it's wonderfully well done.

Kirby sent me a great comment:
Actor Simon Pegg wrote on Instagram: "If you're sad today, just remember the world is over 4 billion years old and you somehow managed to exist at the same time as David Bowie."
I put this on my facebook page:
September 15, 1967, The Chelsea News published and interview and an article about David Bowie. I know, because he sent me the newspaper. The end of it says this:

I might transcribe that whole interview and article, from that paper, when I get a chance. The scans aren't easy to read.

An unschooling mom wrote:
Thought of you this morning when I learned of David Bowie's passing.

I think of you often- at least from time to time- usually it's some nugget of wisdom that has changed the way we 'family'... blessed & changed the way i parent: i am a more fun, more thoughtful, more responsible mama thanks to the ways your work has touched my life... hmmn.

ANYway... funny how the mind works & what brings someone to mind. This morning I think of you. And Mr. Bowie. With heartfelt thanks & much Honor to you both for the contributions you have made to my life. To so many lives. Thanks Both.
I wish you peace.
Another wrote:
Like many today, I've shared your "letter of note" from David Bowie. Thank you for sharing your letter with the world. It's an incredible glimpse that only you could give us. I'm so glad you saved it.
Part of a longer discussion:
It seems obvious to me, now, that you would write his first American fan letter and he would respond in length and with much cleverness, to you. Two originals brought together through music. Very apropos.
Some of what I'm going to add here I will have cut and pasted from comments on facebook or messages, so I don't have to write it again.

Although one article says so, the letter did NOT make me "the envy of my friends" because they had never heard of David Bowie. I told a TIME magazine reporter this morning something I hadn't thought of so clearly before. I had the opportunity to listen to that album without any prior knowledge of him. Few others in the world, ever, had that chance.

Someone linked me in a post with a video interview from 1979 in which he told the reporter he had liked New Mexico. I wrote
When he was filming The Man who Fell to Earth in Madrid, New Mexico, a friend of mine said "Isn't that they guy who wrote to you?"

Yes, I said. The friend was really pressing me to GO there to the film site and introduce myself. I said no. I had no interest.

Others have asked since, but I had already written what I had wanted to say to him. I wasn't being giddy fan-girl. I had been impressed by his songs, and by his writing, and I had already communicated that and he had been generous to share that packet of stuff with me. I didn't want to invade his privacy, and film sets don't let just anyone on. The friend said "Take the letter, and they'll let you in."

Really, I didn't want to do that.

But I'm glad to hear he liked New Mexico, because I think it's the first part of the U.S. he saw, making that film
There was another time, when the letter was published in Letters of Note, that someone from New York City contacted me insistently, that I should meet up with David Bowie and if I wanted to, he could arrange it. I politely declined. He was insistent, nearly to the point of being insulting. I said I had no interest in invading anyone's privacy. Probably this agent-of-meeting guy was hoping for the excuse to meet David Bowie himself. I didn't want to assist anyone else to bother him, either.

People should give what they want to give, and not be harrassed or bothered beyond that. He gave us music, movies, lots of interviews. He sent me a letter, a newspaper, and photos. I shared them freely with others years ago (thanks to scanners and the internet), and you can see them here:

Second half of the day, waiting to be interviewed for KOAT TV. Lida Alikhani called, late morning, and will come here.
Later note: Lida was sweet and efficient. She was her own sound and film crew. Here is a longer, nicer version than appeared on the news, with text and video, and a link to the letter on my site. Read David Bowie’s sweet reply to a 1967 New Mexican fan letter

One of my kids' friends posted this on facebook (click it to go to the page she linked):

Got a call from Meredith Dunkel with a request for a radio interview tomorrow/Tuesday morning on 99.5 Magic FM (Albuquerque). Meredith says she'll try to send me a copy, and it's okay for me to put it on my site if so.

My sister linked this Huffington Post article on facebook. I especially love the title: David Bowie's Response To First US Fan Mail Shows How Truly Humble He Was

Another unschooling mom statement (and a good one for sure):
That is so freaking cool! Who could have known how big of a star he'd go on to become but she liked him then for who he was then.
And something more serious:
Sandra Dodd has had a profound and hugely positive impact on my life, especially when I experienced my first wobbly steps into the world of homeschooling, and more importantly, Unschooling. And once again she humbly shows how she is a woman far ahead of her time. As I said, you never cease to amaze me!

Continued on Tuesday:

I didn't keep the names with these quotes, because I didn't have time on Monday to ask anyone for permission (nor to eat).

Another unschooling mom wrote:
How fitting that Sandra Dodd was David Bowie's first American fan; no one could have known it at the time, but this is a letter from one groundbreaking pioneer to another.
This morning I drove do KOB's studio to do an interview for NBC London, but it will be on in Albuquerque tonight, and I don't know where all else where NBC stories are shared.
Here's what was on in Albuquerque: New Mexico woman shares letter from David Bowie

I have a request to participate in a podcast on New Mexico doings, in a couple of weeks.

Alex Polikowsky wrote:
I like what my friend wrote on my page (she has met Sandra): "It's such a sweet exchange between 2 young people with a love of words and music before they both became "famous" in their respective fields. They both went on to inspire many people.❤" Christine Snyder Hall
I really like it, too, and this from Alicia Knight:
Very exciting! How cool something you did as a teen would have reverberations today.
Commenting on a 2010 article that made the rounds again (my own comments, left elsewhere yesterday):
That article is a bit irritating. Why would I be "the envy of my friends"? He was totally unknown. Both my cousins had rejected the album, from a pile of demos from my uncles C&W station.

And the letter had been out, in photocopies in the 70's, and on my webpage from 2001. So "unearthed" is a little dramatic. :-)

BUT... Letters of Note had found it on my site, when the blog was new, and the day after he put that up, my site which usually got 1,500 hits a day, give or take, got 90,000. So it wasn't "unearthed" but it was spread around! smile emoticon

I was just interviewed, and they said that I was kind of famous now. I said I thought the letter was famous. :-)
Joyce Fetteroll wrote (I have the note in that collection now) that now my letter had fans.
I think I will end this narrative on Tuesday night. It has been a part of the celebration of the life of David Bowie—a focus on one incident in his youthful pre-fame. I'm happy to have received, and saved, that beautiful letter.

Susan Gaissert wrote something beautiful, and I accept it gratefully:
This is my friend Sandra. She wrote David Bowie his first American fan letter when she was 14 and he was 20. Because she is smart and thoughtful and always knows what's important, she saved that letter and shared it through the years, so that now, in our sadness, we all can read it and see what a gentle, sweet young man David Bowie was.
[and then she shared the NBC story]

Friday, January 08, 2016

Small world (thanks to google, and random luck!)

I was playing on the Lyrics Game group (something I set up) on Facebook. The play was "bird," or any specific bird.

I played
Little bird, little bird, in the cinnamon tree
Little bird, little bird, do you sing for me

—Man of La Mancha
Then I thought (on a Friday morning in Albuquerque) that I had never seen a cinnamon tree, and didn't even know what one looked like.

So I googled cinnamon tree, clicked on images, looked down a few rows and saw this very cool bird, and thought I should send the photo to Robbie Prieto. I clicked it so I could go to its source page, but the page was loading very slowly.

Without having read the URL above in the search bar, I looked more closely at the photo while I was waiting.
It said: "Mommy Labs / Rashmie Jaaju".

I know her! I know that blog! Rashmie Jaaju is a homeschooling mom in India.
I don't know Rashmie in person, but we've corresponded by e-mail quite a bit. She interviewed me for her blog, and they're some of the best interviews ever.

That was quite a nice coincidence, and surprising. That connects Robbie (a young friend in New Hampshire) to a girl in Goa, as dot-connecting goes.

I still don't know what kind of bird it is, but Robbie might. Or I might hear back from Rashmie. When it's late morning here, it's the middle of the night in India.

Here are the interviews of me, on that blog, with Rashmi Jaaju's graphics from those pages as links. There are other photos of me and my family there as well.