Monday, March 31, 2008

24th Anniversary

Today is the 24th anniversary of my marriage to Keith. It's a little over thirty years that we've "been a couple." This morning I got out the photo album and the guest book (later bound with the invitation and cards and stuff in) and considered scanning some to bring here. As I was reading through and looking at the photos I got a little sad. Not about the marriage at all, but about eventual loss of contact with some of our friends. Yet there are people there I've heard from this week, visited last month, got great Christmas letters from, and so we have a lot of continuity, too. I think I'll wait until next year to scan up a review page of 3/31/84, though. I was thinking about why some of those friendships slid. In several cases, it was because of childlessness of those friends. They weren't so interested in us once we had Kirby, and it only got worse as we had more kids, but we found new friends, with children, and I still know lots of those I've known for all those years. And so maybe the defining element of our marriage has little to do with our wedding day and a whole lot to do with this guy:
I could write more, but I've been writing about The Adventures of Kirby ever since then, and those stories are easily found. 120 Kirby references [There were 120 on my website in 2008, but by 2021, with the addition of the archives of older unschooing discussions, there will be many more.]
I came back at 10:20. I guess a little then&now won't hurt. Here:
    Keith and Sandra Dodd March 1984 and March 2008

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Ten things I've Done You Probably Haven't

I found this at Frank's blog and he got it from here.

If there are others out there (especially by people I know some or kinda), please leave links in the comments.

I could do ten within an SCA context, or I could leave the SCA out entirely, but I guess I'll just mix them and not be so compartmentalized. Mental. Huh. They're not in chronological order, nor any logical order, but the order I'm thinking of them.

1. I graduated from college when I was 20, BA in English.
(I'm going to add links to some of these that don't have any now, so if you read this and it doesn't gag you, come back again later for improved version.)

2. I was David Bowie's first American fan. I was fourteen. Look.

3. Twice I've been the top officer of the SCA, Inc. early 1980's I was Steward (which was corporate president) and years later (1993?) after a reorganization, in an overnight coup (well, 48 hour buildup to sudden coup) an outsider was let go and I was made CEO. I asked for $15 an hour. I found out later he had been making $40 an hour, but NO WAY could the corporation afford that, and he wasn't in the SCA anyway. There's been another reorganization, and neither of my former offices exists anymore. It keeps getting more and more convoluted, but that's the way such things often go.

4. I was the first Queen of the Outlands. The proper response to that is "Oooooh!" if you're in the SCA and "What!?!" if you're not. No problem. I was pregnant with Kirby. Keith won the first Crown Tournaments when the Outlands went from Principality to Kingdom status in the SCA. He had been the first prince of the principality, too, which is very cool.

5. I never had a broken bone before the age of 30. I've since broken my right leg twice. YUCK!

6. This is for the other mothers out there: I have twice been dilated to 10 cm, been in labor for a long time (24 hours, 40 hours) AND had two cesareans. Those two. I hope I'm the only one who's ever done that, and no one else should aspire to it. #3 was cesarean too, but I bypassed the long labor and full dilation. I went in in labor, though; didn't schedule a c-sec.

7. I have three children who were unschooled exclusively for all of their "school years." They're now 16, 19 and 21.

8. The very first Earth Day, 1970, I persuaded the principal of our high school to let some of us leave school to go to Santa Fe (25 miles away). The gathering was on the Santa Fe Plaza. I don't have photos but I still have the green armband. There were speeches, there was singing.

9. I can't remember numbers but I can remember words I went out of Spelling Bees with. Didn't capitalize Saturday (5th grade). Committee, 6th grade, but I came in second so I got to go to district, where I missed wooly by spelling it woolly which turns out to have been a British spelling I had learned from a deck of cards called Animal Rummy: Woolly Lamb. After that I decided spelling bees were stupid. My mom bought me a chocolate milkshake at Mr. Burger as a consolation prize, on the way home. Robert Torrez (Bubba T) was the other one from our school. He went out on "lightning." He was later the bass player for a band in which my boyfriend was lead guitar. I visited Robert in the hospital before he died, a few years ago, in a much-delayed response to radiation treatments he got for leukemia in high school. He was a really good bass player, and a very sweet person.

10. I've spoken at 31 homeschooling conferences. (I looked it up Thursday night because I was being interviewed for a paper an unschooler was writing for an online class.)

Thursday, March 27, 2008

"Water my yard with swords"

On Wednesday nights in winter we've been having SCA-related get-togethers at our house. This week there was swordplay!

We had three swords, eight sword-wielders and 42 plastic gallon jugs full of water.

One of Marty's best above, and Holly being coached by her dad, below.
Several other still photos and videos are at

This one is short and good and then scary. Keith made two very fancy cuts, but on the second one the sword flew out of his hand toward Jeff, and I was afraid it had hit him. That's my little squeal in there. I'm not much of a screamer. It was only later I realized it could have hit me or Holly. Quinn was standing up on top of the hot tub, so she was safer, but still. Scary!!

When these guys use SCA/rattan swords they often have a little loop and they have a finger or thumb through that, so some of their shots seem dependent on that. Jeff's sword flew once, too, but not at anyone (or at least it's not preserved in motion picture form).

Monday, March 24, 2008

Long-lost Bongos

I found the bongos. They've been lost since before I put Moving a Puddle together, because I had wanted to put a photo of them in there.

A couple of days ago I was rearranging SCA gear, dishes, little camping stuff, and wanted to get more space under the cabinet and...

Kirby stashed a game away, years ago, in two box lids. Maybe the bongos were in there and he just put his game under them. But they were in the second of two trays of game parts. TaDaaa!

The bongos were mentioned in "Your House as a Museum," where there's an even better photo of Marty playing them.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Books—to shun or not to shun...

Not the first time, won't be the last, someone accused me (and all unschoolers, kind of) of shunning books. I responded with a link to articles and Pam Sorooshian wrote
LOL - most of our homes are overflowing with books. Sandra's house even has a real library, to say nothing of books in the bathrooms, bedrooms, common spaces, and every other room. Nothing in Sandra's response said: "shun books."
I said I'd make a video, which I did within moments. The long one isn't uploading to Photobucket, so after several attempts, I tried again and went to sleep. No go. I woke up and put it on YouTube. That's why these don't match (in case anyone wondered or cared)—they reside on different sites, out there wherever videos live.

(I haven't found a way to restore that first video yet, in 2022; sorry.)

There are some writings on my site about books for unschoolers, and why I don't think my kids need or love books as much as I did, and other things about the written word that most people haven't considered (and might not want to, but only the brave come to my blog, right?). When people say "Do you use books?" and they're talking about unschooling, the answer to match the question might be "no," but they're using a very narrow school-minded vision of "books." When a structured homeschooler asks an unschooling "Don't you use books?" they mean "You have a third grader, so don't you have a third grade math book, a third grade science book..." (etc.) and the unschoolers make them crazy by simply saying "I don't have a third grader. I have an eight-year-old son."

"Yeah, but..."

But nothin'—when children are people and books are books and learning is for everyone, whenever, however, everything changes.

When we "use books" it's in whole, real-world ways. It's not "using schoolbooks" to create the illusion that the children have learned all that third graders should/must/need to learn.

I notice I said "houses." Because those two big white shelves are from our old house (which Keith still owns), I was thinking about which books I'd had a long time and it confused my tongue. I think I was trying to say something about other rooms. I don't know...

More about unschoolers and books:
Joyce's page on "Do unschoolers use workbooks and textbooks?" Unschooling and Parenting Books I resort to workbooks sometimes when I get panicky about unschooling

Monday, March 17, 2008

Me and Keith

I asked Holly to take some pictures of us so I'd have one for (not quite finished, but workable).

Here's an extra. She took a few and said our eyes were squinty. I said "We have squinty eyes!" So Keith de-squinted and it made me laugh, and there you have us:

Thanks, Holly.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

I've been Alphabetized!

A - Available?
Married; I need a job; I wouldn't mind being taken out to dinner. (Available for what, I would need to ask.)

B-Best friend?
For everyday life, Keith Dodd
For unschooling, Pam Sorooshian
For SCA, Jeff Cunico (well, for SCA Artan)
For hanging out and paying attention to for the past year, Ben Emerson / Dermod
Philosophy buddy, Jon Ibarra/Balthazar
Movie friend, Wendy Dodd (but she moved so I watch more DVDs)
My kids are close and they do lots of "best friend" kinds of things with and for me.

So I guess the answer is no, I don't have a single best friend.

C-Cake or Pie?
C is for Cake. And Chocolate!

D-Drink of choice?
When and why?
Hot tea if it's morning.
Dr Pepper if I need fizz.
Iced tea at a restaurant.
Milk with that chocolate cake I'm thinking about now that I was asked cake or pie.

E-Essential thing used everyday?
Computer. Bed. Toilet. Eyes? Air.

F-Favorite color?

G-Gummi bears or worms?
None. No gummi anything. Those little fried eggs they have in Europe, maybe. Or those peach candies.

Where I had my childhood friends and went to school and grew up and lived in my early 20's, Espanola, New Mexico.
Where I've been longer than I was there, though: Albuquerque

People Magazine as bedtime reading.

J-January or February?
January, for Marty's birthday on the 14th

K-Kids and names?
Kendall Kirby, Martin Alexander and Holly Lynn Dodd

Kid life, teacher/former teacher life, mom life, SCA life, unschooling-writer life, music life, fantasy life...

M-Marriage date?
March 31, 1985 1984 (sorry)

N-Number of siblings?
One and a half.

O-Oranges or apples?

Dentists, but because I don't like the sounds and smells and the out-of-controlledness. I go, but I hate it and dread it.

Everything counts. (Quoting the bottom of my blog; a good all-occasions thought.)

R-Reason to smile?
My family!

I love spring in the spring (bulbs coming up), and fall in the fall (fresh food and good smells) and I love winter (snow and fireplace) but summer isn't so good. I like summer early in the morning when it's still cool outside.

T-Tag three people

U-Unknown fact about me?
I hate to tag people and usually don't. Wait, that's a known fact.
I won a poster contest in 7th grade. I think I got a $20 savings bond or something (hey.... where the heck did that go!?) for a poster with two clowns, one short and one tall and leaning over across the top, and it said "Tall ones, small ones, everybody's going to the..." (I forget what now, some fundraiser in town). They didn't reproduce it. They just used the actual posters kids made in various stores around town.

V-Vegetable you don't like?
Bell pepper

W-Worst Habit?
Taking too much and too fast and interrupting. Terrible. I should take stupefying, chill-the-heck-out drugs.

X-X-rays you have had?
Dental, broken leg (and a series to check the progress), broken ankle (which they screwed back together, so no series of progress-x-rays), sinus infection mystery once (mystery pre-x-ray, anyway), abdominal mystery once. Probably others.

Y-Your favorite food?


Wednesday, March 12, 2008

And THIS makes it easier to unschool

Having a husband who does things like this for fun makes it easier for our kids to know that hobbies and projects are the stuff of a happy, real life. The boards are the front frame of a "Viking A-frame" tent. More information will always be discovered, but in those places and times, there were some stone walls that seemed designed to have one of these put on top of it (like RV camps, the stone walls stayed, but those spending the night there put up their own roofs) and I've read that such tents were also set up on the decks of ships, for sleeping during rain. The ship's sail could be used for a tent.

There's another kind of tent that can be made from a sail and two oars. We've done those (with two poles and a long piece of cloth), but I don't know if there are photos.

Those front boards were carved into dragons' heads [correction: Keith says they're serpents], using knots in the wood for eyes. They're really beautiful close-up. Here's the front and back of those:


You can click those for a closeup, and click that one again for a REALLY close look.

That blue background on the top image was not Photoshopped in. That was the sky from our front yard yesterday.

More of Keith's knotwork and carving, and some of Holly's early knotwork, are here:

The more curiosity and exploration and creation you have at your house, the more effortlessly learning will flow.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Whole and Real (mature or immature?)

Working on a new page for my unschooling site, I came across a quote:
At the age of eleven, Holly has had very little exposure to the idea of what is kids' stuff and what is not, and so her television and movie tastes are personal and calm. She will watch Teletubbies on the same day she might watch Stand By Me or The Rocky Horror Picture Show. She likes music, she understands The Green Mile, and she's analytical about the messages various PBS children's shows intend to present, about school or self esteem or history or math. It's fun for me to watch her watch TV.
Holly's not eleven anymore, she's sixteen. The last two movies she's seen in theaters were "In Bruge" (which she says is too rough for me), and "Alvin and the Chipmunks" (which she and Marty went to see at the dollar theater and were happy to find it was 50¢ night). Some others in my world seem to be acting mature (more acting than maturity involved) or are sadly stuck in an immature stage (which they'll probably figure a way out of someday, after some trauma). I know I'm bragging now, but I'm also very humble about it because I didn't know it would happen this way. My own kids are mature and yet still childlike. They're interested in all kinds of everyday things, they laugh easily, they play around without self-consciousness, but when the moment comes for someone to need to figure out what to do in a serious situation, they're right there. It's one of my favorite unforeseen benefits of unschooling, that they grew up without shucking off former stages in an attempt to prove they were big. They just WERE big, from the beginning. We didn't let anyone make them small. And because they were strong, they could afford to be gentle. (I totally lifted that line from 35-year-old SCA writings about knighthood, and they might've been lifted from other places before that.) The new page (still in progress, but I guess they're all in progress) is Food Fun. The inspiration for it came from a link I found on this blog: (nice music there, too!) and the quote above came from I love my kids in ways I didn't know mothers could love teens and the newly-adult. Kirby, Marty, Holly—thank you. You've not only made my life better, and your dad's, but because you've been willing for me to tell your stories as they unfolded, other people's lives are better too. Holly's self-portrait up top is from a recent museum day, and I had promised to put photos there. Now that I've found them, I'll do that.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Marty, as Bardolf, at Crown

There's Marty (Bardolf Gunwaldtsson) in the processional at Crown Tournament. He bore the favor of Duchess Aziza (who is his knight's lady).

The tournament was in Roswell, and Marty was gone for the weekend. Keith and I stayed home and did a ton of yardwork, and it was nice, but it was a little uncomfortable for me that we weren't there to see Marty's first major tournament. But Jeff/Artan, his knight and godfather was there. He knew lots of the people there. Keith and I have been to lots of those tournaments. As a parental urge, though, it was a little odd to miss it. I'm thrilled that there are good photos.

All these photos are by Geillis ui Siridein (V. Collins), and there are other photos of the day here.

Nice shield, huh? He painted it himself.
People keep hitting it, but that's better than when they hit him!

He won one, but unfortunately it was two out of three, and so his opponent won

(and was offered knighthood afterwards at some point that day).

Then a bad thing happened. Not too bad.

He was matched against Dermod, his squire-brother (they both are squired to the same knight). That's an unusual thing, in such a tournament, and the king sent someone to apologize afterwards, saying by the time he noticed it was too late to change the order of the round.

And so Marty died valiantly, and that's okay.
Dermod, his opponent, is Ben who's in lots of Holly's photos, and to the right of Holly on the cute people post.
Dermod is my student in the SCA, too (when I'm AElflaed, I mean).

This is the awkward juxtaposition of two lives. This blog is written for my friends, relatives, and for unschoolers, many of whom are not SCA members, so I'm describing it less smoothly than I would if I were on the Duckford blog.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Holly's bravery

Holly is still hugely confident, but I came across some things I wrote four years ago and they remind me of some of the unschoolers' conversations online this week.

January 17, 2004

Tonight [Holly] and I went into the gaming shop to pick Kirby up after work.
Holly's hair has lately been cut about 1/2" short and dyed lighter (its purple
went to pink and is now blondish).

Kirby's boss is 40's and has a daughter, schooled, late teens.

He said, "Holly, you have a lot of courage."

"Okay, thanks. Why?"

"To do your hair like that. Most girls your age wouldn't be brave
enough to have their hair that short."

Holly smiled and shrugged and was friendly, and I said, "She's not in school.
That helps."

He looked at me like I had entirely changed the subject, and said most women
wait another ten years before they're brave enough to have a haircut like
that, or some such.

I know he meant it as a compliment, but it was a strangely disjoint (and
still friendly) conversation.

This next one was posted on some unschooling list or another:

Wednesday, July 21, 2004 - 06:42 pm:
Today at the zoo Holly told a mom she should be
nicer to her son.

We were in a three-stall bathroom. I was in the
far one, with a baby stroller between me and the
outside (door open). I could see Holly. She was
facing the outside door, and a mom came in being
rough and threatening with her kid. Critical, not
threatening. "I'm tired of you and I'm not going
to put up with this" kind of speech.

When she opened the door to leave, Holly said "You
really should be nicer to him."

She heard me say that to our behind-the-wall
neighbor once.

The woman turned back toward Holly (I could tell
because of the sound) and said "He's my son and I
love him and I take care of him 24 hours a day and
I know what needs to be done, thank you very
much." It was a mostly nice tone of voice.

I was giving Holly the "cool!" hand signal from
where I was for having said something.

I asked her how old he had been, and she said
"About six."

We get out and there's a batch of kids I
recognized, because we had given them all some of
our fish'n'duck food. It was the oldest boy.

Marty had seen the other part of it. The boy was
in trouble for crying because an older cousin (10
or 11 he figured) had climbed up on the front of
the two-passenger stroller he and his brother were
in, and he had no place for his feet and he wanted
her off (or maybe she had stepped on him).

Then Holly said what I hadn't known. The mom had
pulled him in the bathroom and swatted him twice,
and told him she was tired of his "episodes."

So that was all sad, but good that my kids were so
thoroughly on the kids' side.

The mom wasn't being thoughtful or calming. She
was just threatening.

Holly couldn't imagine why a six year old was in
trouble because an older relative had crowded him.

The mom needed a snack and a nap, I'm guessing.
And some therapy maybe. But she got a touch
of it, when a twelve year old girl looked at her
levelly and suggested she could be nicer.

I referenced that zoo story just this week, and now I find a report when it was new! I'm very glad I wrote that down, and that I found it again today (looking for something altogether different, where I find some of my best stuff).

Holly's an inspiration to me, and I'm glad to know her and to be able to see her grow braver and better all the time.

Update on March 15:

I found another Courageous Holly story here: Unexpected Benefits of Unschooling. That was written in 2005, so Holly was thirteen when I wrote it, and eight years old at the time of the original incident, I think.

About five years ago, Holly was swimming with a young neighbor and her youngish uncle, who was pretty much her primary caregiver. He was house-sitting a third neighbor’s pool (so right near) and… he would not let his niece get out and get her towel.

She was cold, and wanted to get out and sit with the towel.

The answer was no.

Holly looked at all that, got out of the water, walked over, got the towel and brought it to the girl. That was brave, I think. Holly probably didn’t think “brave.”

Monday, March 03, 2008

Back from Arizona

I'm home from having spoken at the HENA conference in Tempe, Arizona. It was fun, and tiring. It was a satisfying kind of work-out, though. I went up and down those stairs LOTS, and spoke at the end of whichever hall it might be, way at the end. I was completely exhausted last night. I was asleep in the airport until Kirby called. I was asleep on the plane until they landed. I was practically walking in my sleep when Brett found me (I could've seen Holly easier in my sleep). They were nice to pick me up at the airport so midnightish. This morning I'm only kind of exhausted.

Notes will be here, and are beginning to be already.

I got to visit with Pam Sorooshian lots, and that was great. We told the latest on our kids until late into the night one night, and discussed the philosophical intricacies of helping other people understand unschooling another night. We're just that way.

My friend Lori Taylor, who used to live in Albuquerque and now lives in Tucson, was in town for an SCA thing (Atenveldt Crown Tournament). I got to see her twice on Sunday and she took me to the airport, which was wonderful.

It was a good weekend.