Sunday, November 30, 2008

Holly's First Report Card

Well, not really quite, but here's her "uniform" from Black Friday and the busy shopping-mall days. Usually the employees don't wear matching stuff. Maybe these were for new employees, on a busy day; she's not sure. She had a paper listing the sales per hour with a highlighted note that said "Good job" and some such other stuff... (click to enlarge)

Then she and Keith and I went to a parade downtown. When we were leaving we saw the mountains looking beautiful. I said "Pinky Pie" and she said "Pinky Sky." In the car on the way she got a phone call from Brett who's in Phoenix at his grandmother's. She told him we were going to the "Twilight Sparkle Parade." Actually it's called the Twinkle Lights Parade. All in all, though, it seemed like a My Little Pony world.

The parade was an interesting combination of lit up motorcycles, antique cars, RVs, lowriders, bicycles and souped-up bicycles, marching bands, cheerleaders, horses, ponies, big dogs, little dogs, bagpipes and mariachis. Here are some peeks, but nothing here can show the length of it, the cold, the silly happiness and the oddity of it overall. Click an image, and you can go through larger sizes.

This first video might need to be for background noise while looking at details of things above. Or if you have a laptop, turn it sideways. Holly pointed out that no matter how vertical my subject matter (I wanted to get the lit-up flagpoles of the honor guard), movies have to be horizontal. Oh; right. Sorry. You might want to hear the mariachi band doing "Feliz Navidad," though.

The videos aren't great, but I really liked the lowriders with lights a lot. A little boy near us was VERY enthusiastic about car details, and at one point he said "I'm so excited!" and I'm not sure if it will be on one of the videos, but he WAS excited, and that made it fun to be near him.

I like that it was a parade in the dark in the winter, too. These are strolling mariachis, as opposed to riding-on-a-float mariachis:

Operator failure caused me to miss the pipe and drum band's music, but here they are passing by. Bagpipes and mariachis in the same parade just says Albuquerque to me.

"More lowriders!"

Ponies, and a close-up pony, and more lowriders:

I know these aren't great but I thought... not everyone in the world could go to a dark, cold parade in Albuquerque and maybe I could share. I'm sorry the battery didn't last long enough to catch the all-lit-up VW busses (three or four of them) and bugs (two, I think). Maybe next year.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Quiet, overcast day

For me and Keith the day was pretty peaceful. Holly went to work (in a clothing and skateboard store in a mall on the Friday after Thanksgiving), and Marty worked the dinner shift at the restaurant, but their being gone only made my own day even quieter.

Here are some very still images:

That was about noon. This new camera identified his face, even though he was sleeping Although it was taken without flash, it corrected the light. Bummer. I liked the glow of the screen lighting up his face, and was hoping that would show.

Then this, a few blocks from my house, 2:00ish:

I was out a bit, not far, nothing exciting, and saw this fair-sized tumbleweed. I stopped to get a picture, and it wasn't going anywhere (posing, not tumbling). I thought what a lame tumbleweed, as tumbleweeds go, to be documenting. And that locals would think I was taking a photo of nothing. So I thought about what is "nothing" in different places. I would love to see a raccoon close up when it wasn't looking at me (not spooked and running away). Except for watching one tear our food up one night in Michigan when we were camping, they're rare. I'd like to see an armadillo that's not dead by the side of a road (and I haven't even seen one of those for 30 years). Some people live where they can for real see eagles (I've seen three or five in my whole life in New Mexico, and those were golden eagles, and I saw six or more bald eagles in Minnesota in just a few days. Some people live where they see alligators, or kangaroos. Kirby had a gecko on his porch for days, but it wasn't there when we got there. I thought the kudzu in South Carolina was fantasy-land beautiful (probably because it wasn't my yard it was burying). There are people in Hawaii and southern California who haven't seen snow (not while it was snowing, anyway), and I've never seen lava, nor felt an earthquake.

I guess this is justification for this tumbleweed, and a call for people not to hesitate to post photos or accounts of mundane local things, because foreigners are looking (like me, if you're not in the SW U.S.).

Embarrassing P.S. to all that. The photos had been done quickly and then brought home and uploaded without examination. When I was previewing this post I noticed something in the third photo:

It's not a tumbleweed. It's two or three dried up ragweed (our local version thereof) plants all grown up together with enough roundness to act like and pass for a tumbleweed. Mature tumbleweeds just have a thick stem at the bottom, not a major stalk throughout (usually).

So anyway... It was a dark and not-at-all-stormy day...
And a while ago Holly got to talk to Brett (who's in Scottsdale) and I got to talk to Kirby (who's in Austin).

Friday Fill-Ins for those not shopping

1. My stomach has nothing to complain about.

2. Doris's cucumber and sour cream dip is what I ate the most of on Thursday.

3. The yard is giving me seeds for next year.

4. With people I love is where I'd rather be at any given time.

5. The smell of a wood fire reminds me of singing with Keith (or sometimes of the hot tub, sitting with Keith).

6. Sleep is what I need right now!

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to Hearing how Holly's big Friday sales day went, when she gets home, tomorrow my plans include ...nothing... and Sunday, I want to ... these are hard questions. I look around and see dozens of things I would like to do, and that I might do, but none of them would sound interesting in writing.

Congratulations to Janet of Friday Fill-Ins. This is her 100th set. I've only been participating for the past some, but on her site it's a big anniversary!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Wednesday Gratitude, Thanksgiving Week

1. I'm grateful that Kirby has a job he likes, working for the company that made and operates this game, and that he got his name in the credits (along with thirteen pages of other names, two of which can be read if you click for an enlargement). He didn't press to use his middle name on officialness at work, so it says "Kendall Dodd" (his paternal grandfather's name) and not Kirby (my dad's name).

2. I'm grateful that Marty is healthy and happy, still enjoys his job, and has money left after he makes his jeep payments (and paid for that ticket he got early in the month, caught by a camera going a little too fast through a green light at 2:30 a.m. with no other cars around, poor guy). Marty works at Pars Cuisine.

3. I'm very happy that Holly finally got to start actually working at her job at Zumiez at Coronado Mall. She stayed late on her first day there, they asked her to come back in at 8:00 the next morning (that's today) and she's working on the Big Deal Shopping Day, Friday after Thanksgiving. I'm glad the mall's only four miles or so from our house.

4. I'm grateful that I got to talk to my cousin, Nada, the day before her birthday on the 16th, and again today. I'm sorry we didn't get to visit, but it'll be soon. Holly especially likes Nada. I'm glad I talked to my sister, Irene, on the 19th which is her birthday.

5. I'm grateful that our friend Ben/Dermod got to hang out here in a leisurely fashion and spend the night last night.

Those things might seem small, I know, but Kirby's in Austin, Nada's in Dixon, Irene's in Chama and Ben's in Silver City, all far away from here and none in the same direction. Marty and Holly I still see every day, and I'm grateful for that too!

P.S. Here's where I first learned Kirby's name was in there, and that's Diana Jenner's thumbnail, and I got it first by phone and didn't know where it came from and couldn't get it larger or into my computer and long story cut off right there, here it is!! And it's enlargeable too.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Things you might not want to know

20 questions

Self-tagged from Ronnie's "Blog of the Zombie Princess"

The rules:
A) People who have been tagged must[who want to might] write their answers on their blogs & replace any question that they dislike with a new question.

B) Tag 8 people to answer the questions.

1. How many songs are on your iPod?
I don't have an iPod, but I have iTunes on my computer. It says 1946, but some of those are conference presentations and there are a couple of books in there.

2. What music would you want played at your funeral?
"I Wish I Was Magic" (even thought it's not grammatically perfect) by Linda Arnold, which is on my iTunes.

3. What magazines do you have subscriptions to?
People, Entertainment Weekly, Smithsonian, Ode (about to expire; I'm not reading it much) and we get National Geographic after my mother-in-law finishes. She used to give us her New Mexico magazines, but is giving them to the library now, I just discovered. Hey...

4. What are your favorite scents?
Rain in the desert, chocolate cake or brownies baking, lilacs, my children's heads (with memories of when they were babies).

5. If you had a million dollars that you could only spend on yourself, what would you do with it?
Remodel the house so there would be a two story-greenhouse with a hot tub in it, with a deck accessible from the kitchen (which is upstairs) that opened into the top level of the greenhouse where the tomatoes would be ALL YEAR, and Keith would be saying "Why are we staying in this house if you have a million dollars?!" And I'd go Christmas shopping in Ireland.

6. What is your theme song?
[blink blink]
Gilligan's Island (music, not the lyrics necessarily)

7. Do you trust easily?
Yes, but I'm increasingly philosophical about the failure of most people to be trustworthy.

8. Do you generally think before you act, or act before you think?
I think before, during and after.

9. Is there anything that has made you unhappy these days?
Nothing worse than mild irritation lately.

10. Do you have a good body-image?
Realistic, you mean, or satisfied? (Oh... we don't get to ask for clarification.)
I've never had much body-awareness. I lack spatial and kinesthetic, in the scheme of things, and so I'm clumsy and not athletic.

12. How do you spend your social networking (Facebook, etc.) time?
Here, I guess, if my social network time is limited to online "social networks" and the real world doesn't count. :-)

13. What have you been seriously addicted to lately?
... (thinking)
Temporary obsessions, not addictions: "My So-Called Life" (watched it on DVD and watched the special features), and gathering seeds from flowers in the yard. Not "addictions."

14. Why do people still believe in the supernatural?
Lightning, thunder, darkness, wind, sun, fear of lack of water, fear of too much water. Elemental forces and people's natural urge to find patterns.

15. What’s the last song that got stuck in your head?
Pinky and the Brain

16. What’s your favorite item of clothing?
a green Albuquerque sweatshirt

17. Do you think Rice Krispies are yummy?
With enough sugar, yep. (Kept that answer...)

18. What would you do if you saw $100 lying on the ground?
Depends where. Someone gave me a five dollar bill I dropped the other day. If I knew whose it was, I'd return it. If I found it wind-blown into my yard, or up in the mountains, I'd spend it. (I'd look around for some more, depending where I saw it.)

19. What items could you not go without during the day?
chap stick, my glasses, my phone

20. What should you be doing right now?
This right here. And I have a phone call to make, so I should do that next.

Monday, November 24, 2008

7th Anniversary of the Always Learning List

Today is seven years from the first day of the Always Learning list. The first topic was initiated by Deb Lewis, on Kids and Spirituality (questions of faith when kids ponder religion). The next day Dan Vilter wrote about Expensive games (Mordheim, 40K, and now Battlefleet Gothic). 40,000 posts later... still interesting!

The Always Learning list has had readers and participants from the U.S.A, Canada, the U.K., Germany, France, Spain, Italy, Israel, South Africa, India, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, Ecuador and Costa Rica.

At the time I started Always Learning, I was sad that the list wasn't going better. I still missed the AOL unschooling message boards. Much water under the bridge and many years later, my children are nearly grown, I have a thriving site (nearly nine years at and a couple of years before that at; Holly was eight) and this blog, and I'll speak at two conferences, or maybe three, in 2009!

I appreciate all those who have written on the list, commented on webpages, found my typos, encouraged me and passed the ideas on to others. Thank you for helping make the world more child- and family-friendly.

Gratuitous Holly Photos:

If Marty and Kirby played with cameras more often, I'd have more photos of them. Kirby will be here in January and I'm sure Holly will document the visit, and Marty will turn 20... wow.

Friday, November 21, 2008

JCSuperstar, Friday

Last night we saw Jesus Christ Superstar in Alto, New Mexico. Alto is a kind of suburb of Ruidoso, which can't really have a suburb, having no "urbs" to speak of. We went to The Spencer Theatre, which is ten years old, high-tech, and in the middle of relative nowhere.

I'm going back. And I want the tour, but tours are never held on the same days as performances.

Earlier in the day when it was still light we passed through several very small towns on our way to Alamogordo to have lunch with Keith's parents, and let them meet Brett. We went and saw Keith's brother at work, briefly, to be familial and to introduce Brett.

Anyway, before we got to Alamogordo, there were many tumbleweeds I botched videotaping (sorry), but there's a bit of a peek at central New Mexico, maybe Corona? (One of those little towns between Moriarty and Carizozo.)

I missed making a video of tumbleweeds bouncing across the parking lot and into and over that motorcycle. A small one is still up against it, and a big one shows between the building and that pickup. (Clickably enlargeable.)

I made this video two hours before the show. Then we went back to Ruidoso to eat. Had I done it again nearer showtime, there would've been a stream of headlights on the two-lane highway on the horizon there. The theatre is that sit-up structure to to the right in the distance at first, and the lights to the left are the parking lot. When I go back again I'll plan to photograph more stuff. I'm so honest I left my camera and phone in the car during the show, and so except for the glass sculptures pre-show, I got nothing. I don't have the sneaky-gene, but the show was really good and there's a link to some of their images below.

The website of the theatre is Production images from the tour's website.

The glass sculptures and sculptor are named and described here:

1. The last band I saw live was Al Yankovic, or the pit orchestra from JC Superstar last night, probably more fairly to say.

2. What I look forward to most on Thanksgiving is ... potatoes? I've never really looked forward to Thanksgiving much. I don't dread it, I just don't 'celebrate' it. I like the food, though.

3. My Christmas/holiday shopping is mostly done and mostly secret.

4. Thoughts of everything I've ever thought fill my head. (It's kinda full in there.)

5. I wish I could wear my favorite clothes for years without them ever wearing out.

6. Bagpipes are unfairly maligned, but can be wonderful outside at a distance and I have fond memories of Rick Felix and his Umbrian pipes, and of another friend of ours playing some little electronic bagpipes, long ago, at a coffehouse in Phoenix.

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward tohaving the hot tub ready for Marty when he gets back from work, tomorrow my plans include more of the merry fabric of my unpredictable life and Sunday, I want to write a book and design and make lots of clothes (but my eyes are always bigger than my calendar and attention span)!

And now the gratuitous least-useful image from yesterday. It's a giant pistachio sculpture in Alamogordo. It looks kinda like a desert version of Audrey II from Little Shop of Horrors. The voices are Brett and Keith, and the laugh is Holly.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Gratitude X 2

Holly pointed out last Friday or Saturday that I had missed doing a Wednesday gratitude post. I knew I had. I had known what I wanted to post about, but other things came alone. I told her I'd do it, and I thanked her. She reminded me again a couple of days later. So it's Wednesday again, but it's easy to be grateful for ten things. I'd be grateful if I hadn't procrastinated, but... (how to turn that around?) I'm grateful no one was harmed by my procrastination.

In the first half of the year I was worried, because Keith was worried, about money and my continued employment as a rarely-paid unschooling missionary, and I mentioned it somewhere, about the cost of my website, and some very nice people contributed. I wanted to thank them and couldn't figure out how to do it without seeming like a further and continuing begger (or heavy-hinter), and I thought about maybe setting up a thank you place on my main page with contributors' names. But on what kinds of pieces of art? They do bricks and tiles at the zoo and the museum here. They do chairs in some theatres. Park benches, but that's mostly for the deceased. And webpages don't tend to have chairs or benches, and thanks to The WhoPink Floyd, nobody wants to be another brick in the wall, not around unschooling. Flowers? Like the grocery store windows when people donate to cures for diseases the government is not at war with? Ah, sheesh.... the time passed and then it was too late to do something current and cool. And the real everyday maintenance and growth of the site seemed more important than stopping to thank financial contributors, and that made me an ingrateful bum.

#1 Shell in NZ (which isn't her real name) paid for a month of in March 2008. She has a blog called Unschoolers Anonymous, and three happy children, one of whom seemed happy to paint himself blue recently. Perhaps he's already been informed that there's a future in that.

Thanks again, Shell, and thanks for being such a good error spotter!

#2 Someone in Europe who wishes to remain anonymous very kindly sent me enough to pay for a month of website fees, and I would rather say thanks to a name, but thank you anyway, anonymous donor! It's a good thing to know that even people who want to be quietly invisible do read and benefit from my collection.

#3 Schuyler Waynforth contributed $11 to further my missionary position (ah yeah, just saw "The Ladies Man"—sorry), but Schuyler... I'm always grateful for Schuyler, whose words and clarity go way beyond money and the site is full of her writings! Thirty-one quotes today, and I keep adding more.

#4 Jacki Knouse who has written well and happily over the years on unschooling discussions paid for two months' worth of ever-growing unschooling web exposure, and so for that I'll tell you why her posts always say Gold Standard. It's because she runs Gold Standard Board Preparations Systems, with products to help people get great scores in the USMLE and COMLEX! And I guess if you don't know what those are, you didn't need to know, but if you do know then here. She's never said, but when I got a Pay Pal payment I followed her back to her business nest.
I'm sorry I didn't think of a smooth, artsy way to thank my donors sooner.

#5 For positive feedback, which I collect in a box on the shelf near my computer, and which is quoted in brief snippets here:

So that's my last-week's gratitude list. Here's this week's:

#1 I'm grateful for groceries. I'm glad Keith kinda likes Costco and will go hunting there for us sometimes, and that the people who used this house before us turned the coat closet into a pantry, because we need that for grain storage (sort of, y'know...) I'm glad we're easy walking distance, out the back gate, of a grocery store and that Marty and Holly are willing to walk with me up there sometimes. Each has done so in the past week. Very sweet.

#2 I'm glad the article on how my kids learned math was accepted by unerzogen Magazin, a German parenting magazine. When I didn't hear from the editor for a long time I thought maybe they hadn't liked the article. I was prepared to just stick it at, but then I got e-mail yesterday that said "Ich haben found the time to thank you yet. Tahnk you!!! Your article is wonderful :-) We are translating it - a friend is and she has a few questions. I gave her your adress to contact you. The rest is fine, I might come back to you about the fotos. For now everything is great." I was relieved and happy.

#3 I'm glad that unerzogen Magazin gave me permission to mount up the article they published by Kelly Lovejoy. I haven't done it yet, but I want to. And they interviewed Joyce Fetteroll. So I can lift that one onto my site and link it from the Joyce page. They're PDFs. I'll announce them at when they're up and ready.

#4 I'm grateful that the Certificate of Empowerment has been translated into French, and I was notified of that in the same early-yesterday e-mail session in which I learned the math article was a go. It's here: The word "empowerment" isn't in the text, it's just what I had entitled the document, and it's on the originals (which I used to distribute when I spoke, all printed out frameably, and hand-signed). But that doesn't translate, and so it is called (in the title of the blog post) something having to do with "autonomy." That is not my favorite of words or concepts, and I need to process my thoughts about that, which I'll probably do on the Always Learning list, but I'm going to be out of town for 20 hours on Thursday and so I'm stalling about starting that. And the link above has a clear note about why the translator made the choice she made, so that's very cool.

But #2 and #4 combined to make me feel grateful that my words will help some people in France and Germany, not just this season, but maybe years down the line when someone finds a webpage or a printout or an old magazine. That might not be immortality, but at least it increases the effects of my life geographically and temporally.

#5 I'm grateful that I was able to come up with this on short notice yesterday:

I wanted to send it to help clarify something I wrote for the German translator. She was impressed I had it and could get it to her so quickly. "Thank you a lot for the effort to scan it for me! (Amazing that you keep these things and, moreover, can find them if necessary.)"

That gratitude involves being glad I'm a packrat, and a relatively organized one, and that I have a scanner and am not afraid to use it. (Here's some of my more creative scanner stuff:

After next Wednesday, I can stop being grateful. y'think!?

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Jasmine's Birthday

Our friend Jasmine turns 18 today. On Sunday, there was an airsoft battle at Doc Long's picnic area in the Sandias, and Holly represented our whole family there. Here's Holly at the rendezvous point to be transported to the mountains:

That night, the paintballers met the elderly, cowardly and too-young at Garduño's at Winrock for the feast.

The surprise was there was a small mariachi subset, three guitars and great singers.

This one shows my kids and has my booming (because I was holding the camera) voice. I never tried to get a whole song, but just a sample, because who knows when little batteries will die, and who knows when computer uploads will choke on too-long videos, so these are all very short.

Jasmine's request (artist, not necessarily song)

The one below was made by Holly to show all of Jasmine's grandparents and her aunt Veronique. It also shows some nice guitar work and you can hear the harmonies.

And here is Sophie, Jasmine's little sister, dancing as usual. And her dad, Leon, our host, and the father of a newly-18-year-old!

Jasmine's is the family Holly visited in England. We've known them as long as Holly remembers. I know the mom from the SCA, when we were both very active and she was my student until she was a Mistress of the Pelican (yeah, blah blah blah to those who aren't SCA; sorry). Helene, the mom, is standing, with blonde hair.

I didn't get a good photo of Jasmine, but I know there were many cameras there. She shows in the videos, for those who know which one she is. She's the third or fourth from the far end of the table, across from the musicians. She's wearing glasses and has reddish hair.

Here are Holly and Brett just before Holly left for a group interview at Zumiez at Coronado Mall nearby (with activities, races, performances, laughter, and evalutaions of various secret sorts). Marty and Brett and I waited a long time for her to come back and get us. She found out the next morning that she got the job.

Marty was back from a long day of fighter practice in Santa Fe (the day after coronation, so people from all over the Outlands) and then a Thanksgiving dinner at Pars, where he works (given by the owners for their friends, relatives and employees). The owner's wife was getting drinks and clearing tables, which seems to have been uncomfortable for the employees who were told to sit and let her wait on them. They had enchiladas and local New Mexico food, so not turkey, and not the Persian and Mediterranean food they usually serve, either. Then he was home long enough to kill some mutant zombies or whatever is occupying Washington DC in Fallout3 before heading for another party. Life's hard sometimes for Marty. I was glad to have some time with him. He's really out and about lately.

These are the kinds of times I'm glad to document in blogs—moments and ages and sights and sounds that someday will be in the distant past. I hope these blogs last, so Sophie can find this and see herself dancing. Sophie McNeill I'm adding, so in the future she can google herself. (Hi, Sophie-in-the-future! It's okay if you don't remember me.)