Thursday, April 30, 2009

flowers, lizard, duck and cover

These big irises excite me every year. When I was a kid we had little blue ones, but these are glorious.

I saw the lizard. Or "a lizard," but as far as I know we have a single lizard in the front yard. Let's pretend, at least.

Can you see him?

Invisibility is their specialty. I was afraid he would run if I leaned closer. I was careful not to cast a shadow on him. He stayed for two more photos, and zipped away before I could do a fourth.

This morning I was asked by e-mail whether little girls in New Mexico did the atomic bomb drills. I wrote this, and figured I might as well put it out where others will know too. My kids, for example.

Yes. "Fallout drills." The fire drill bell was like a classroom bell kind of—electric bell but louder (maybe the same set of bells but on a bigger volume?) The duck and cover drills used another kind of signal—probably the air raid horns left over from WWII. They were a loud hooty honky noise.

One year, or one time, anyway, they marched us to the gym where we sat crosslegged in rows by classroom, and bent over and folded our arms over our heads for a minute or two or whatever.

After that we would sit under our desktops, same position, face down toward our folded legs, arms crossed over our heads.

I think after they saw the damages in Japan, they wanted to protect eyes and faces, and the arms were to protect us from falling.... gym roofs and classroom debris and desks maybe?

Fourth grade is when I really remember it, so maybe it was only that year. It would've been 1962/63 school year.

We were 18 miles
** driving on windy roads from Los Alamos National laboratory. I've never looked at a map to see how far that would be without mountains and windy roads, but I'm guessing ten miles. That was the place they were sure would be bombed in New Mexico. That, and maybe Kirtland Airforce Base, and maybe the White Sands Missile Range or Cannon AFB which was down there by White Sands.


** OOPS! I had written "hours" and not "miles." I'm really sorry. In those days the road was terrible, from Espanola. First it was a two-lane road paved up and down through every arroyo coming out of Puye and Santa Clara Canyon. Deep dips you couldn't see out of or into as you were driving, so passing was deadly. Then when you finally got to the intersection of the road from Santa Fe to Los Alamos and started going uphill, there was a mile or two where passing was possible. Then came the curves and the climb up the mountainside.

I wish I could remember for sure what the sign used to say, just past Santa Clara Pueblo, but I think it was "Dips next eight miles." Could've been ten or six or twelve. If there had been a jingle, I would remember it. :-)

That drive did NOT take 18 hours, but it could take an hour, or 45 minutes for those who were fearless and not going at rush hour. My dad didn't work there, but lots of people from Espanola worked at the labs, and the labs used to stagger their hours so the road wouldn't be so crowded all at once.

Now the road from the Pueblo to Otowi (no longer really to Otowi, but to an intersection west of there) is four lanes and flat and fast. The road from there up is still two-lane, but there are some passing places, and the curves were much smoothed out in the 1970's. It's faster and safer now.

But going backwards instead of forward, in the 1940's when the labs at Los Alamos first opened, it was a dirt road up a mountainside, and supplies probably did take take two hours from Santa Fe. Maybe more. If someone has a quote on it, please leave a note.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Spooky but Cool

All these are spooky but cool in various combinations, I suppose. The first one's not spooky; mostly cool, except for me not knowing it and it's been there since November.

101 Ways to Increase Your Longevity and Quality of Life Of the 101 cool things including eat slowly, eat garlic, have sex, learn to breathe and be confident, one is "Play Video Games," and they used my video games page as a link.
89. Video games. Playing video games isn’t just for kids. Strengthen eye-hand coordination in addition to learning new ways of problem-solving while playing video games.
Their "Mental Health and Wellness" list is my favorite part. Videogames came under creativity, rather than mental health.

I also found my deschooling page listed in two very disparate places:
Prophetic Heretic (more political and strident than I usually read, but Deschooling for Parents is linked way down the right side) and one called Unschoolers Online which seems to be a money-making site, though the links are okay.

What interests me (not in a great way) about both those sites is that the author/blogger isn't identified. I think people should put their names with their opinions. Still, if people find unschooling ideas through those places, good deal for them and their kids.

More spooky than cool—a black widow spider:

Keith came to try to pass through the hallway but I was bent down toward the spider and it wasn't so easy for him to get by. Sorry I jumped around, but y'know.... that spider could move fast.

After that part was done, I went to get the vacuum cleaner to clear up the webs and remains. I moved the three planters to vacuum and there was another dead black widow (perhaps a dead widower), AND another, bigger, live one. Too close. No good. They can live in the wall outside, eight feet from my bedroom, but not in the hallway between my bedroom and my office. Bad idea.

My bad idea to put bug-attracting plants in the house all winter, which then attract spiders. So I took those out and transplanted them into the yard, vaccumed twice, and rinsed out the planters, with that kinda creepy spider-might-be-on-me feeling surfacing once in a while.

Outside in the front yard, though, there was other bio-news. A lizard that was small and lived across from the front door last year is still there and bigger! Okay, it might not be him, but I think it is. I never saw more than one lizard there last year, and he would be in the same positions in the same places. I think he lives under that pile of bark, but he suns on one rock (by the trees). So today I got the lawn cart and brought two big rocks to create more sunning space, and a hidey hole for him too.

Now that I look at the photo, they look like loaves of bread, or turtle shells. They're a whole lot heavier than bread and turtles put together, though.

Now that I look at those rock photos, though, I'm thinking the top one might either be very heavy bread or the remains of a long-ago bag of cement that stayed outside way too long. I'll ask Keith's opinon. I'm sure the lizard will be thrilled either way to have a hiding place that's cool underneath and hot on the top. (We looked at the rock Sunday morning. The other side looks better. It's a big granite river rock with damaged and eroded edges.)

I know we took some photos of it last year but I can't find them. I'll ask Holly when she gets home, and I'll try to take a picture of this lizard this year, which may or may not be the same one.

(they were in Holly's photobucket, not mine)

Flowers, fundraiser for Breast Cancer

This is the place Holly works (though today she's going to be working at their shop on Kirtland Airforce Base--and she still has her job at Zumiez, too). It's on Juan Table between Menaul and Candelaria, in the same building as Kinko's, on the north side. It's very near our house.

Several floral shops are selling nice bouquets for $5 to help raise money for Breast Cancer research and awareness. If any of the locals need flowers, this is a really nice deal. Holly brought a bunch (not "a bunch" in the "many units of them," but in a handful of nice flowers) home and they're in her valentine's day vase and they're beautiful.

If your goal is to see Holly herself at work, go on Monday afternoon (or today to the Kirtland flower shop today).

I'm really grateful that they've given her this chance to learn floral arts, and she seems to enjoy it quite a bit!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Drama in the sky

Not the greatest of sunsets, but some very spooky, artsy clouds.

Marty's off at roleplaying, Holly's at work, Brett's out with Josh, Kirby has guests in Texas, Keith is walking the dog or something.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Darwin, Kirby, international pancakes (my house)

Here's a very brief video of Darwin McNeill and Kirby Dodd putting an end to the talent show at the HENA conference in Tempe last month.

See the kitchen in the post below this? That's where I was sitting, too, for the Monday chat. We talked about various things and when it was nearly over and so 5:00 at my house, I commented that I had eaten a banana, some pecans and some M&Ms during the chat so I wasn't hungry enough to really feel like making dinner. Tammy, who was in Australia on Tuesday morning, said she was about to make pancakes, so I said *I* should make pancakes, only it was dinner. Schuyler, who was in England at 11:00 pm (nearly Tuesday) said I could make macaroni and cheese pancakes, and so I did.

I made macaroni and cheese pancakes because someone who lives in New York City was talking about what restaurants might be okay to take a two year old to, while someone in Australia was making breakfast, and someone in England tied those things together.

Are live chats cool or WHAT!? Way cooler than mac and cheese pancakes, it turns out; Keith liked them, and Holly thinks Kirby would like them. The rest of us ate them and thought "interesting, but..." we like macaroni and cheese and we like pancakes, and why mess either one of them up? The third photo is sausage and fruit salad, which was made because Holly bought a jar of sugar palm fruit and thought it was too sweet for anything, so I made fruit salad with it (and grapes, pineapple, banana, mandarin oranges, coconut, cream cheese and cream).

Flowers and Zombies

Yesterday I showed what I could see without leaving the house. This is what I can see without leaving my chair:

Click for closeups of Holly as a zombie and the newest flower in my garden—the first iris of 2009.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Photos, those flashes in time

I have this photo too (on paper, since those days), but Malinda put it on facebook, so that might mean she's the person who took it. If so, thank you! I've always really loved that look on Keith's face.

For those who aren't SCA friends, that was when we were prince and princess of the Outlands (at the time, it was El Paso, New Mexico, Colorado, Utah, Idaho and Wyoming). So in the photo we're Gunwaldt and AElflaed, though most of you know us as Keith and Sandra.

This was 1980. We have kids nearly the ages we were then.

I'm back. Just after I posted what's above, Marty called, from an SCA tournament in a park in town, saying he didn't have the tunic that goes with his armor (some of the pads fit into pockets in this tunic, so it's necessary). So Keith is taking that to him. I came upstairs after finding the tunic and calling Marty to say it was on its way, and got an e-mail saying Lee Stranahan has put up a video of part of an interview he did yesterday with me. There will be one of Holly, too, when he uploads that and I'll bring that too.

Part 2: Unschooling & Real Learning

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Rainy Saturday Morning

Yesterday was Brett's birthday and he's 25. (Brett is Holly's boyfriend.) We had a party here last night. I made and set up a bunch of food, with the help of Ashlee and Holly and Brett, and then I went to the back to hang out with Keith and let them have the party.

At 3:00 I came back up to see if there was anyone parked out the back gate, because if not I wanted to turn off the back corner light, which comes into our bedroom some. Marty, Bo and Julie were up in the library talking and I sat and talked to them a bit. Brett came back out. I stayed maybe 15 minutes, straightened up a little (there was really not much mess at all), got a snack, turned that light off, and went back to bed peacefully.

Keith got up and went to an SCA event (Queen's Prize, an arts and sciences event). He took some things to return to a friend for me, and she's going to be sending some onion skin typing paper back for me. That's what I print the warnings on for the Thinking Sticks, so if any of you are old enough and packratty enough to have some onion skin, I'd love to have it. I'll trade you something for it. The booklets I sent back to Flo had been used for this workshop and subsequent web page:, so if any of you are interested in making nets (hair nets, fishing nets) by hand, there y'go. There's a video of Marty and Holly working on theirs that night, too. Holly's the one in the white cap. That's Sadie, in the green dress. Sadie was an unschooler of our acquaintance (college student now), and I made that dress for myself years ago. I always had those pamphlets in a safe plastic folder and I knew right where it was, but it took me a long time to get it returned.

I came upstairs so I could make tea. Bo's asleep in the library, Marty's asleep with his door open, and so I wanted to be very quiet. I got a mouse for the computer because the touchpad makes a click, and then just as I came silently back upstairs with a mouse, it started hailing, so I could've been typing on a cast-iron Remington (with onion skin and carbon paper) and the hail would've still been louder. Now it's raining. Sweet. We haven't had much rain lately and I want my yard to be happy.

Brett has the day off as a recovery-from-Birthday day. Holly works at 4:00. Marty works around then too, or 5:00. I'm happy to have many quiet, rainy hours to look forward to!

This morning I was reading a little magazine thing about whether people have kept their New Year's Resolutions. For many years my resolution has been "don't make resolutions." I was good with that. This year, though, I resolved to spend fifteen minutes a day more than I would have working on unschooling stuff online. When I read that I thought I had failed the day before, because I'd spent all that time on party and food and hadn't checked e-mail since noon or so, but then I remembered I hosted a two-hour chat earlier, and that did it. I'm still good on a resolution that involves doing something every day.

It's not that I wasn't going to spend fifteen minutes on it. It's that I find something every day to do that's not just for me and my personal desire to write and edit pages or whatever, but something directed more outward. I read other people's sites and blogs, or I do routine editing just to make the site better.

There's another chat Sunday morning. It's Easter, but my kids are grown (counting Holly at 17 as practically grown), and I don't go to church anymore, and the time is good for Hema Bharadwaj, who is missing some of the internet ease she had when she was living in the U.S. So anyone who has no church or egg-hiding or Easter dinner obligation can come and chat instead.

(Gratuitous flower images from my yard.)

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

So I wrecked the Saturn

Very sorry, Pati, to have wrecked the car you took such good care of. Very sorry, Keith, to have wrecked the car you drive to work. Very sorry, Vince, to have hit you when you were minding your own business.

At first Vince was cussing me out and I didn't mind. I rolled down the window, assured him I didn't do it on purpose, said I was very sorry, and asked him if he could call the police.

Vince called the police. I put the emergency flashers on because though I had conveniently moved his car out of the traffic, mine was still half in the inside lane. A nice man who seemed Middle Eastern stopped to make sure I wasn't wounded, and helped me get out of the passenger side. My glasses were kinda broken. I didn't notice until after I climbed over the gear shift and all and got out of the half-sprung door and looked back and saw the parts on the floor by the clutch pedal. The lenses were out and the plastic frame was too bent to pop them back in. I wasn't scratched or bruised.

So Vince and I got out and talked a bit, and his wife came by (I guess maybe he had called her, because both of us lived very near there). I called Holly. She was at the hairdresser watching Brett get a haircut. He was just about done, and they had two cars, so she sent him to get Keith (which is where I had been going, because he had taken his motorcycle to the repair shop and I was going to pick him up and bring him home), and she went to the house to get my other glasses and bring them to me so I could tell a vehicle registration from a proof of insurance card. Having Holly there made it much better.

Weren't the sky and mountains pretty today? And there's that "Cultivate Mindfulness" sticker I got because it was just like Kelli Traaseth's, and the "Got Virtue?" sticker Ben Emerson gave me. I mindlessly and rudely wapped another guy's car with Keith's car.

Vince and I are both okay but it was not good. The very nice young policeman pointed out cheerily that I hit Vince at the best angle, because if I had pulled all the way out the other car would have t-boned me and I would've been hurt. I think that was euphemistic for "dead." So I pointed that out to Vince, who was initially pretty pissed off that I had hit him. I told him even though it would have still been my fault he might have hit and killed me and he would've felt bad. He agreed. It cheered us both right up.

And although his car had a broken axle, mine was ugly but still driveable. Not in the dark, because the headlights are pointed at imaginary things.

By the time the tow truck came to get Vince's car, Keith and Brett had walked up there from the house. Holly drove Brett back, but Keith walked me home because I didn't want to get in a car. He went back with bailing wire to put the car together enough to drive it home.

I called USAA. Then Vince's insurance agent called me. Was there a citation? No, I said, but did she think I might get one in the process of the police report? I didn't run the stop sign, but Vince did have the right of way. She said she's never seen that happen.

Vince called after a while to see if I was okay and to tell me he had no hard feelings and accidents happen and he wanted to make sure I wasn't feeling too guilty. It really did make me feel better that he called. I was going to call him later to say I had asked about a rental car for him.

As such things go, we both walked away, and although he's horribly inconvenienced, I'm glad he doesn't hate me. And although Keith is inconvenienced and it will cost us money, he will eventually love me just as much as he ever did.

I cleaned the hot tub today and so I will sit in that later and my knee will feel better. Tomorrow Holly will take me to pick up a copy of the police report and to see if the optometry folks can fix my glasses, or get me some new ones. The bifocals are the ones she brought me. The purple prescription reading/computer glasses are the ones that didn't survive.

These purple glasses are in three pieces:

The photo is from yesterday. Nice record of some glasses I really liked.

Monday, April 06, 2009

Ashlee and Marty

Marty has a very nice girlfriend who has some very nice photos of them from a day they went to the zoo last month.

If you want to see those (and a few others) with more stability and fewer flowers, they're here:

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Beautiful Holly

Holly has been a great friend and a comfort to me this week.

She's cute, too! We walked to the store in the wind to get things for dinner today.