Thursday, December 31, 2009

Resolved: I am going back to the old resolution.

The photos have nothing to do with the text. Think Kilgore Trout and Wide Open Beavers (if you're able to). [They were photos of snow, and I might be able to restore it someday, but... snow in the back yard, probably.]

December 31 Resolution you wish you'd stuck with. (You know, there's always next year...)

"There's always next year" isn't a promise anyone can make, and the older I get, the more aware I am of the scarcity of years in the forward direction.

And "There's always last year" is fairly guaranteed, but I'm starting to lose my memory, too!

So... resolutions. I had one last year. For a dozen years before that my resolution was made and kept all year. Simple:

I resolved not to make a New Year's Resolution.

But in 2009, I had a serious resolution, and I announced it, and that was that every day in 2009 I was going to spend 15 minutes more, each day, doing something to help unschoolers than I would have done otherwise. So every day for nine months and some I did that, conscientiously, and in September I ended up wounded and in the bed and on drugs and some days I didn't do it. In October I perked up and kept on with the fifteen minutes a day thing, but sometime in November I let it slide. So I didn't make it all year, but it was still a lot of extra-fifteen-minuteses.

Keith's ice molds, over the solar-powered yard lights, in the dark, last night. First with a flash, then without, then one of them close up (click if you want for enlargements):

Okay, those are dark and dull. So is this, but more dangerous. Graffiti and tumbleweeds, from the overpass at the Bernalillo Roadrunner (light rail) station, taken yesterday.

There y'go. You don't see that every day. (Well some people do, I guess...)

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Thinking about an advertisement...

December 30 Ad. What advertisement made you think this year?

Went to see Harry Potter at the theatre in the mall at the base of Norwich Castle. During the pre-movie bits there was something about "Visit Britain," with a website for tourism. A teenaged girl sitting in front of us kinda snorted and said "Who would want to visit Britain!?" I was too tired to argue with her. I fell asleep a couple of times during the movie, and didn't feel well later, and lost my glasses at the mall.

In an early December issue of People Magazine there was a General Motors ad that said "Ideas are sexy too."
I had already blogged about that when it was new. I wrote I think it's cute. I think it looks like a fusion of Mark Wahlberg, Sam Elliott and Albert Einstein. What human of any gender could complain about that!?

I wasn't the only one who thought it was cool.
"This is my favorite ad... Ever.... Ideas are sexy too."

"This is what I saw when I opened my People magazine today. I would actually want to learn science if they looked like that!"

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Ice, Oddities, Laughter, and its opposite

And here's what Keith does with those buckets of ice, when he gets a chance. The top is more solid than the bottom. They have hollow insides, so they're bucket shaped, but the bottom is the least frozen part. Each of those clear ones is over a solar-charged light, so at night they light up faintly. It's really pretty. The other two are pretty for having a bunch of leaves in them..

Here are some other images of the past few days, clickable in case one interests you:

December 29 Laugh. What was your biggest belly laugh of the year?

Marty made me laugh several times because he's clever and surprising. This year hasn't been hilarious, and most laughter was surprised sputter, or "I can't believe he said that" hoot, or nervous embarrassed laughter. I'm not wanting to laugh at people who are going about their everyday lives. I think the most fun laughing I've had lately involved watching The Big Bang Theory. Tonight I missed it, to talk to my sister on the phone. Then I cried. I didn't cry because I missed the funniest stupid show I ever watch. I cried because she told me the story of when my parents announced they were getting a divorce. She thought I had been there, because the "family meeting" was in my bedroom. But I was at college. She said she could picture where everyone was sitting, in my room, on the floor or on the bed, and sure enough I wasn't there. She thought maybe they chose that room because it would be most like I was there, or they needed my influence.

The other day I asked Keith and Marty if we could open Christmas gifts in the room that was Kirby's for many years, and Holly's for a year and some, because it would seem they were closer than Texas and England.

Those stories are very similar. I didn't know until today, in 2009, that in 1970 the family meeting at which my parents told the other kids it was over was held in my bedroom.

I found out about the divorce in a wet letter from my mom. She didn't mention that meeting. Each week they sent me $5, to the dorm 90 miles away. The letters never said much. I didn't open it at first, because I was talking to my roommate and some other friends. Then we rushed to leave, and the letter was on the tray when I slid it down to the dishwashing room. I realized it and called back that there was a letter with a check in it! That was the last year they used the dining hall in Hokona. The last year it was an all girls' dorm, and the last year its dining room operated. The dishwasher kid pulled the wet letter out of the deep, soapy sink and handed it to me. My only concern was whether the check could be salvaged. But there with my friends looking on, and a stranger, I opened it and saw that my parents were getting a divorce and my mom had already moved out. I cried.

Monday, December 28, 2009

The Love of Paper

December 28 Stationery. When you touch the paper, your heart melts. The ink flows from the pen. What was your stationery find of the year?

I used to love paper a LOT, and I still use a fair amount of it, and I still own a great deal of it. This year I didn't discover any new paper. That's kinda sad!!!

The best paper I have is some 100% cotton typing paper. It's almost fluffy!

I've been using tissue paper to wrap copies of the Big Book of Unschooling, various kinds of tissue paper, and some is good and some is better, and occasionally there's some that I almost don't want to use for so mundane and practical a purpose.

The paper I use most this year is used paper towels (greasy is best), the paper from sticks of butter, and shredded paper that comes from cleaning old files and sorting through the mail. And I use all those for lighting the fire in the stove that heats the hot tub. Not quite "stationery," but my pen lately has been the computer and my stationery has been this blog (and a few other online cards, tablets and frames, as it were).

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Social Moments, Web Related

Everyone reading this is having a social web moment.

December 27 Social web moment. Did you meet someone you used to only know from her blog? Did you discover Twitter?

I did start using Twitter last year, and my favorite part is seeing what Kirby and Holly write there.

The number of people I've met after meeting them on the internet is in the hundreds, but it wasn't blogs—it was discussions on message boards and mailing lists set up for homeschoolers, and unschoolers.

In September I got to sing with some people after arranging the singing on the internet. That was cool.

I think my favorite "social web" story of the year is that Learn Nothing Day had a life of its own without a bunch of organizing. It's alive. I found a German Learn Nothing Day event I hadn't known about in advance. Just finding mentions is very cool. I don't have any plans for 2010's Learn Nothing Day.

E-mail is my favorite internet thing. Then websites, then message boards, then blogs. I love blogs, but I wish they were more solid, more reliably long-lived. I love the ease with which people can share photos.

YouTube, iTunes and have enriched my life. I love Google. Amazon and eBay have been very useful. Facebook and Myspace have been too much sometimes, but also very useful at other times.

I suppose what I'm saying is that I have social-moments-web-related every day!

Saturday, December 26, 2009

In a playroom far, far away...

Princess Leia (portrayed by Holly Dodd) and Luke Skywalker, in his pirate guise (portrayed by Adam Daniel):

Momentous Moment

December 26 Insight or aha! moment. What was your epiphany of the year?

Aha! Aha...

I'm still thinking.

I had a couple of epiphanies about other people that wouldn't be nice to share. Sometimes I really want to think people like me for myself, but when other factors come into play I realize I am, to some extent, what they call "being used." But then I think... That's being useful! What if I were the sort of person who had no "use" to others?

Then I skirt another insulting phrase, which is being a tool. But there are two ways to go on that. There's the "what a tool" use, which means not a great tool, but dumb as a hammer. But the other way is to have been a tool used by a higher power, like God, or a philosophy or a movement. So if I'm a tool that helps people be more thoughtful or honest, that doesn't offend me. If someone uses me, even I'm embarrassed to discover it, if I was "used" to make the world better, then that's not so bad.

But that's not the learning of a moment, not a flash of AHa-ness. Still thinking.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Gift of the Present; Presence of Gifts

Keith and Marty and I opened gifts in the room that was lately Holly's room, which was Kirby's room for many years before that. It was as close as we could get to being all in one place.

Mica, from Australia, shared the link to this in the unschooling chat today. In Australia, Christmas is in the summer. In the 21st century, Christmas has changed anyway... And this is sweet:

December 25 Gift. What's a gift you gave yourself this year that has kept on giving?

I went to England and Wales, and the benefits are still unfolding.

It's not "a gift I gave myself," as Keith agreed to the financing, and to taking care of hearth, home and kids while I was gone. It wasn't just for my benefit, though I did have a wonderful time!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Kirby and Roxana, Holiday Party in Austin recently

Not all great pictures, but all images of Kirby, and most include Roxana.

Merry Christmas, and learning

Those of you who want a Merry Christmas, I hope you have a wonderful one! Those who grumble about Christmas, piss not into my wheaties nor onto my flaming sacrificial tree. (Actually we didn't sacrifice a tree this year, and we have Cheerios and Honey Bunches of Oats, but it was metaphorical, alright?)

I do love Christmas music and cards, and so to anyone reading this who has ever sung with me or to me, or who has sent me a Christmas card in any year past, present or future, thank you for making my Christmasses brighter and better!

December 24 Learning experience. What was a lesson you learned this year that changed you?

New Answer: Always save files. Never trust auto-save!

If I find the longer more esoteric and touching response I had written before, I'll bring that here too.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Excitement, my kids, a van

Holly, recently, in or near London. Other than that, interpretation or narration is beyond me.

Marty and Ashlee recently, either at the Balloon Glow, or at the River of Lights at the Botanical Park:

And those same people on their way to al-Barran Midwinter. Marty said "Are you going to take our picture every time we leave for an event?" I thought, and then I said "I wish someone had taken my picture every time I left for an event." Really, it would've been a great record of some costumes I gave away, or loaned out and lost, or wore out.

I'm still waiting for photos of Kirby and Roxana dressed up for his company party/dinner/whatever it was last week.

Keith got me a used minivan today! It belongs to both of us, but it's for me and Holly to drive. Keith said Holly can use the Ford Taurus while she's home, but I say if she wants to drive this one, that's fine. And now when Kirby's here for a while in January we can all go somewhere at once in one car, or there will be enough cars for him to use one. I'm excited about it. I've usually had a van "of my own" (primarily mine), since the mid-70's, and this is the fourth of that line. :-) I had a twelve-passenger Ford Econoline, then a fifteen-passenger (less fancy; more room) after that. Drove that one past the point of repair. Then there was a used Dodge Caravan. Loved that van, and drove many kids around, and the dog, and used to scavenge scrap and firewood while Kirby was at karate classes. Then that one gave up the automotive ghost, not long after Holly started driving. My #4 my-own-van is a black 2008 Chrysler Town & Country. It will take a while to get used to it, and it has a slight resemblance to a hearse, but someday it will be my old car.

Online advantages or something

December 23 Web tool. It came into your work flow this year and now you couldn't live without it. It has simplified or improved your online experience.

It's Christmas Eve and we're talking about the internet!? While poor Mary is bouncing her very pregnant behind on a little donkey? (Sidesaddle, if Christmas art is to be binding on reality.)

I did purchase a pack of these last year for some of my favorite bloggers, and I haven't seen anything better yet:

Twitter has improved my online experience. I like the news from Holly while she's out and about, especially. I don't read it on the phone, just online.

I like this twitter tool: I ♥ TwitterKeys ☛ ☺
oooh.... Maybe they will work on blogger too.★ ✂ ❀
Ælflæd ❆❆❆❆❆❆❆❆❆❆❆❆❆❆❆❆❆❆❆❆❆❆❆❆❆❆❆❆❆❆❆❆❆

Although it's not a new webtool, Photobucket Pro has new features all the time and I appreciate that. And ☞ another thing... I figured out how to put my dancing trees logo on my PayPal packing slips.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

New Business and me

December 22 Startup. What's a business that you found this year that you love? Who thought it up? What makes it special?

Ed, at the Shape Note sing, cut words out of wood and I bought one. That was nice.

I tried to put it on the scanner so you could see the wood grain, but it's bigger than the scanner bed.

I bought two hats that Jenny Cyphers made.

I could name another couple of places, but maybe I didn't find them just in 2009, and maybe I don't want to tell where I'm buying Christmas gifts, but maybe after Christmas I'll mention a couple of favorite mail-order sites that are fun to poke around even if you don't buy a thing.

Monday, December 21, 2009

A Project I'm Proud Of

December 21 Project. What did you start this year that you're proud of?

I love the cover and am still thrilled that Holly knows these kinds of photo tricks. I have many copies now of the third printing, with all known typos corrected, so it's the cleanest and best and all the pages fell where I wanted them to, and so anyone who was waiting to order until I was fully proud of it (not angsty because the foreword started on a lefthand page, or the bio needed a blank page before it...)...
...I'm really happy with this book.

Click the photo for some reviews. I have several others but am shy about sharing every bit of good feedback I have, though it's tempting.

Kirby and Roxana

Roxana Sorooshian is visiting Kirby because he invited her out for his company Christmas party which was last Friday night. I asked for a photo of them, dressed up, together. This isn't that yet, but when I get one of the party I'll share it too.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Julie Daniel

December 20 New person. She came into your life and turned it upside down. He went out of his way to provide incredible customer service. Who is your unsung hero of 2009?

I tend to sing my heroes' praises. To have a best-of-the-year featured person, though, I'm going to go with Julie Daniel.

Before I went to the U.K. last summer, Julie had written and offered to give me a ride to the airport, as she lived near Heathrow. Without remembering that it would be easier for David Waynforth to pick me up at Gatwick, I agreed. (Sorry again, David.) And so after a few weeks of exploring, I would be at Julie's house the last couple of nights. She was a nice hostess and I LOVED her son Adam in the extreme. Holly said later that he must be cool for me to be going on so much about a four year old child. I'm not one of those "oochie coochie" kinds of people who thinks that any child, puppy or kitten is something to squeal about. There I was, though, in the middle of unrelated conversations or quiet lulls, telling a story about Adam, or something Julie showed me or said or did.

Time passed, things happened, I was busy, and sick, and wounded, and more busy. And as things unfolded in unexpected ways, Holly ended up at the Daniels' house 2/3 of the way through November, to stay six weeks.

Had Julie not made me a generous offer and I hadn't taken her up on it, had we not had so much fun and she'd come to many of the online chats, Holly wouldn't be having a big English adventure (the third of her life—the first two being East Yorkshire in 2000 and then Chertsey in 2005).

The glorious thing, though, about Julie, is how generous and attentive she's being to Holly. Holly went there to help out, and I'm sure she's doing that, but they've been to see the stage play of Priscilla, and up on The London Eye, and to see Schuyler, David, Simon and Linnaea Waynforth. Holly might see this little list and point out how much more they've done. It seems the benefit to Holly is bigger than any amount of assistance she might be providing and I'm excited and grateful.

I didn't know, when I was first a mom, what a big thrill it would be for me when other people were kind to my children. Now that they're 18, 20 and 23, each time I see or hear that someone else has praised or rewarded or awarded or even smiled at one of them lovingly, I go all soft and warm about it.

When 2009 began, I had not the slightest inkling that I would ever meet anyone named Julie Daniel who lives in Ashford west of London. She became a big part of a big year.

If Julie stays involved in home education / unschooling over the coming years, you'll probably be hearing from her from time to time. I encourage you to pay attention because she will have valuable things to say, and she'll say them well and probably just at the right times.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Point of View, and one car trip

This is another photo by Norman Rhee, taken when I was 15. Maybe I was sixteen, because I have a summer birthday and that peach tree looks pretty busy behind me. Holly said she liked it, so I've brought it here.

There's another from that day I really like, of me sitting on top of that VW, and if I ever come across it I'll scan that too. You might think I would keep that set all in one place, but that's not my style of packrattery. If I keep all my scissors in one place, I wouldn't have any close at hand in every room, and I might lose them all at once. Better not to keep all my photos in one basket, I guess I figure.

Anyway, I scanned that as part of some requested documentation of what I looked like when I wrote to David Bowie. The color photo in the blog post below is before I wrote. Debbie had brought the albums on that visit. The one above was the summer after, I think. Or the autumn after, maybe.

Norman was nice to have taken those and given me copies.

After Holly wrote that she liked the photo of me between the cars, I looked at it again. Holly is two years older than I was in that photo, and I think of her as young. I remember the things I knew and thought in the seasons of those photos. I was young, but I was full of life and ideas and words and music and art, and then I remember that Holly is too, but she's seen and done more than I had. So that puts me in quiet awe of Holly, again.

I hear Marty downstairs talking to his girlfriend, Ashlee. Kirby is in Austin, maybe taking his visiting girlfriend to lunch. They're big, and grown, and real people who look at photos of me when I was younger than they are now. A shift, in me. A continuum for them, but a new perspective for me.

The Best of 2009 item for December 19:

Car ride. What did you see? How did it smell? Did you eat anything as you drove there? Who were you with?

On September 10, I rode with Pam and Cyrus Sorooshian, their middle daughter, Roxana, and my oldest, Kirby, from their home in Los Alamitos to Laguna Beach, and then on to San Diego for the Good Vibrations conference. Kirby and Roxana were carrying on a quiet flirtation. We had stopped in Laguna Beach so that Kirby could see the World of Warcraft art exhibit at the Laguna Art Museum. We had lunch there too, and they gave my food and Kirby's to the wrong people, so we waited a long time, but it was very pleasant company and the day was nice and we weren't in a great rush to get to the hotel, except that Keith, Marty and Holly and arrived earlier than they had expected, having driven from Albuquerque while Kirby and I both flew to Long Beach.

How did it smell... there were succulents in front of stores on the main street/highway, as we walked, and they were like some we have at home, in pots, but these were gargantuan. Some had blooms. I think it smelled like trees, and the wet air of sea-level places with oceans. Mostly I saw Kirby, because that's where I chose to look, and I was really excited to be with him after a long separation.

I blogged some about that in September. Clicking the photo would get you more of that day.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Money? Shopping?

December 18 Shop. Online or offline, where did you spend most of your mad money this year?

Amazon, probably. Family Thrift and Savers after that. Travelocity got a fair amount of our money this year.

I would need to shop more in my life, but Keith represents our family at Costco and all I have to do is write the list and help bring things in.

Gratuitous, unrelated photo:

That's me in the left of the photo, at 14, in my room in the back of the house pictured below. My room had been a canning room, and was half in the ground. The wall behind the shelves was bare adobe. The others were plastered and painted.

The other three people are Max Rasamimanana, Nada Merrifield, and Debbie Hathcock. Debbie was visiting from Amarillo, Texas. Her dad was John. Nada's mom was Doris. My mom was Mary Lou. They were three of seven siblings, and Nada, Debbie and I were all born within an eight month timespan, in 1952-53. Nada lived with us. We met Max at Ghost Ranch when we were at 4-H camp (Nada and I, and Annette Delay, Ymelda and Dolores Martinez, Annette DeLay, and I'm not remembering if there were others. Probably were. Max was working in the dining hall, working at Ghost Ranch for a summer job between semesters at Wooster College in Ohio. He was from Madagascar and was really interesting. He came to visit at our house one weekend and at Annette's once. English was his fourth language after Malagasy, French and German. We were pretty impressed by his international experiences and knowledge. He had seen real monkeys, for one thing! (Lemurs or something.)

The reason I found that photo and scanned it is that an editor from Rex Features wanted a photo of me at 14, and there it is.
Debbie is the one who went through the promo albums first, and gave her rejects to Nada.
Nada is the one who went through that pile, saved some, and gave her rejects to me.
I had the David Bowie album.

My room was in the middle of the back, so if you were sitting in that station wagon at the left, you'd be facing my room, and the porch outside of Nada's room. That house was built in 1915, I think, but the farm was older, so there was another house before that one. It was on Lower San Pedro Road, in Española.

Thursday, December 17, 2009


December 17 Word or phrase. A word that encapsulates your year. "2009 was _____."

It must have been an awesome year, because I said "awesome" a lot, and by about August I was hearing myself and thinking I should stop using that word so much.

Being able to choose my word carefully, I'd go with an older, smaller word. Big. This was a big year.

P.S. I went to look for the words "awesome" and "big" in artistic lettering, to add so that this blog post will have an associated image, and have been distracted in the big awesome world of google imagery. My year was not quite this awesome:

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

our house and "The Raghu-Weasley Star Award"

You can read the whole thing (red link below), but the important award moment is this: "Raghu says to award your home the Raghu-Weasley Star for "most interesting home" :-)"
The Raghu-Weasley Star Awards

Raghu stayed at our house, went home and thought about it, and during a Harry-Potter-Movie-watching marathon at his house, decided our house was most like The Weasley's house! This is wonderful. I'm only disappointed now that I have no magical clock to tell where and how my family members are, nor have I the ability to enchant a spoon to just keep stirring. Other than that, I accept the honor with feelings of gratitude and a little embarrassment. Sorry about the crumbs.

Many images of our house and their family and other places around town are on the monkey platter festival blog here.

There's Raghu playing Beatles Rock Band, and in the next photo his sister Zoya touching fingers with Marty in the background. Then there's his mom, Hema, and my daughter, Holly, with house-view behind them (and an art project on the table which should've been outside on the ground but it was too cold for that).

Barbieland (our room under the stairs), and some of the front-yard doings:

Thank you, Raghu and Hema, for comparing my house to one of the most loving homes in recent literature.