Friday, July 30, 2010

what I saw out front

I should've said ceiling, not roof... the underside of the roof over the front step:

That was taken Thursday morning as Marty and Ashlee were packing to go to Austin to surprise Kirby for his birthday, so I couldn't show it yesterday.

The reason we have water in buckets is that it ran off the roof, and Keith changed the buckets out. The reason we keep them is that five gallons of water is a big deal on a 100 degree, 10% humidity day. A big pretty collection barrel with a spigot at the bottom would be prettier. It would also be pretty much $200. And it wouldn't have made those "lights."

And the photo below was taken last Monday, partly for Adam Daniel. It's documentation that when the trash pick-up truck puts the little dumpsters down in our cul-de-sac, sometimes they land looking like R2-D2. It amuses me every time, because I am easily amused.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

I'm that mom who follows the crowd!

I'm not usually that mom who follows the crowd, but this crowd was worth following.

Flo Gascon posted something, and Ronnie Maier picked it up, and then Frank and Jeff and a WHOLE bunch of others wrote, and pretty soon they had themselves a movement.

I'm that mom who said "sure," and "that's okay," about so many things that when the kids were older they shared their fears and secrets, their firsts and their freakouts.

When younger boys were wondering where they could go to play video games, or to play Discwars or Legend of the Five Rings or something, they knew they could go to Kirby and Marty's house, because I'm that mom. I'd feed them, too, being that mom. :-)

When older kids were wondering where they could go to recover from frustration and anger, or to confide in someone, some came here, because I'm that mom (or they just as easily got help from Kirby, Marty or Holly).

Now that my kids are in the late-teen-to-grown range, sometimes I'm that tired, old mom. I'm that mom who remembers nursing and carrying and changing babies who couldn't put their own pants, shoes, coats or seatbelts on, though, and so I really appreciate the more recent freedom to sleep late, go shopping alone, and let my kids help me out sometimes, because they're some of those kids.

When I went looking for gaming photos I found the two above, but found an older one too, from Marty's Pirate Party, when he turned six. On the back in his grandmother's handwriting it says 1/14/95. That's Marty with the pirate vest, and Kirby on the floor. This was a game of "Dead Pirates." It's actually called "Dead Lions," but that wasn't the theme of the party. The object is for one person to be it, all others lie down quietly, and anyone who laughs is up with "it." The last one to laugh wins.

Holly was wearing angel wings. That's me on the couch. As I'm writing this fifteen years later, Holly is out with the girl standing in the back in white, Caiti.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Words up close and distant

I posted something on the Always Learning list, and I thought before, during, and after the writing that maybe it should have been here on my blog, instead. But it's not flowers and rainbows. It's a rant, and my blog has been all cheery lately.

Then came the tie-breaker, in the form of a cartoon sent by e-mail by my husband:
Comic by Randall Monroe

Keith had written "a comic about the future history of english."

If you don't really like the history of English or words or phrases much, you might want to bail out to a VERY cool Randall Monroe page. It has to do with chess. And Something Else. Chess and something exciting. (there it is)

Here's what I posted a while ago:

Subject: [AlwaysLearning] new phrases; old phrases
Date: July 26, 2010 7:48:03 AM MDT

In defense of "C-I-O," someone wrote on someone's blog somewhere far

"I suppose I’ve never been in a family where either parent had the
time to be at the beck and call of their babies 24/7. "

I think it's lazy and chickenshit for people to turn phrases into
letters like "C-I-O," pronounced "cee eye oh" instead of "cry it
out." "Cry it out" is not harder to type than something with
hyphens. It's not longer to say, it's still three syllables. But
giving it a secret-jargon term makes it seem more distant, more a
general practice than a decision, more scientific, less about *crying.*

So that's too new, too "modern," too much attempt to turn flesh-and-
blood crying baby into something chrome and glass, or at least
organically treated crib-wood.

But that was tied in with the phrase "at...beck and call." Because of
my many years of medieval-studies hobby and my long interest in
language, I know a lot about "beck and call." I've thought about it
and written about it. What I wrote was not about babies, it was
about ladies-in-waiting and other attendants in a tableau situation, a
kind of theatrical make-believe situation where I've been a coach and

I am at my family's beck and call, because I like them. If I have
house guests, I am at their beck and call. Nurses are at the beck and
call of patients. Flight attendants are at the beck and call of
pilots first and then passengers. Retail store clerks are at the beck
and call of customers unless assigned to stay behind the cash register
(convenience store clerks are not going to leave the liquor and
gambling cards to go 20 feet to help you find the cheese crackers).

That phrase needs be added here:


For anyone who's into language, or curious about what my hobby was
before it was writing about unschooling, some "beck and call" notes:

"Ranking people shouldn't have to say much to get someone to come
closer. The concept of being at someone's "beck and call" means close
enough that a gesture (beck) or call will get them there in a jiffy
(or, more likely, in the nonce, meaning "in an instance") They can't
come quick, because "quick" meant "alive" in period, not fast
(besides, even now teachers will tell you to use "quickly."). If
someone said "quickly" it meant "lively," which can also be used in
terms of speed, as in "step lively." Fast meant stuck, constant, or
fixed. Supper was "fixed" when it was put on the table. (In the
southern U.S. people still "fix supper" even though it's not broken.)"
I wrote that. It's part of this:
and there's more particular discussion in the fifth paragraph of this

But Wait! There was more, this morning. Another e-mail, same list, also brought here because they are of a piece, as was once said of material, by which they meant cloth.

Subject: Words. Single plain-old words.
Date: July 26, 2010 8:44:15 AM MDT

After I put up the new phrases; old phrases post, the next e-mail I saw was from Anu Garg at

Illustrating the importance of using the right word, Mark Twain once said, "The difference between the almost-right word & the right word is really a large matter—it's the difference between the lightning-bug & the lightning."

I like that a great deal today. I suppose I would like it any day, but I've been thinking of how to bring up the continuing problem of people complaining about their words being pointed at and questioned here.

Someone I threw off the list (it's rare, but it happens) wrote several snarky, sarcastic things to me on the side, or in posts I didn't let through. One was this:
"So take the word teaching out and replace it with showing. You are right Sandra. Semantics are more important than meeting the needs of the child."

Neither lightning nor lightning-bugs (fireflies, in case that's not a universal-in-English term) are necessary to meet the needs of a child, but that doesn't make them equally safe or available or desirable.

Someone (don't volunteer who; doesn't matter) recommended maybe finding a place where more holistic writing was welcome. God save us all from "holistic writing," whatever that would be. Seriously. That enough words would eventually make sense even if the little parts didn't?

I don't want to hear "holistic music," or look at "holistic art." I want to experience the best, well-thought-out, edited, deliberate communication that others have to offer.

Holistic medicine is well and good, but that doesn't mean holistic rabbits are better than normal rabbits, or holistic combustion engines are better than something that just had a tune-up. I don't want people trying to dis- and con-tort words so that they're thinking about holistic rocks, holistic clouds, holistic computer programming.

If someone's going to write something like a post for this list, that piece of writing can be as important as any poem or novel IF IT CHANGES A LIFE. There's a mountain of writing in the world that has never changed a single person's mind or actions in any way.

Words matter. Words are chosen, they don't just hop off of people like fleas. They come from thought, and fingers on keyboards. Think carefully and clearly. If your thoughts are a jumble, don't post the jumble in public. If you don't think words are important, writing might not be a good hobby for you. Someone who doesn't think different shades of blue are very important probably shouldn't be advising painters. Someone who can't figure out how to tune a guitar probably shouldn't be coaching anyone about stringed instruments of any sort.

It's okay for someone to think people to think words are not important. They shouldn't be writing about the principles of unschooling, though, if they think principles and rules are just two different words for the same thing, or that "helping someone learn" and "teaching" are exactly the same. (Thinking it isn't as bad as writing and saying so.)


Sunday, July 25, 2010

Birthday Breakfast, Motorcycle Race

Ramona King's birthday is today. Most years since we met, we have a birthday meal together. This morning we went to Garcia's at Comanche and Juan Tabo. She was indecisive [about whether to get red or green chile] and said "Christmas," and they brought her the prettiest breakfast burrito with a straight-line division of red and green chile. The drinks were set down exactly that way—I could see both logos and the lemon overlapped the orange juice (visually).

Then Marty and I went to see Josh Vickery race his motorcycle. We only stayed for one race. He came in fourth, but was in third off and on during the laps. I was a little stressed about the possibility of accidents. I'm a sports-attendee wimp. Also it was sunny. We left our house under a heavily overcast sky, but the far west mesa was only a little cloudy. I had no sunscreen. Had an umbrella. Came home to light, nice rain.

That's Marty in the Learn Nothing Day t-shirt but Josh said he wore his to the track that day, and wished me a happy birthday.

I'm tired.

Slowly breaking news: Josh came in second in another race later in the day and sent Marty's phone a photo of the trophy. I do love this technology.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

3rd Learn Nothing Day winding down

This was very cute, on facebook. I came across a discussion of people all using the same "profile image" I had (more or less):

And now that I've been informed that a package I sent to Adam Daniel in the U.K. has arrived, I can show this image of Holly, in an ACE Festival shirt, yesterday:

And one of me in a paisley scarf I received in the mail from Deb Lewis in Montana (along with some other cool birthday goodies). Real woven paisley, in shades of brown. BEAUTIFUL. she suggested I might be able to blend in some in India next winter with this!

My birthday gift was a lot of help to clean up the library and rearrange things so that when our new couch [well, not really "couch," but set of modular couchish-to-guest-bed(s) thing] arrives on Tuesday there will be a good space for it. Found some things I had lost, and gathered up some books to give away. Kirby called to wish me a happy birthday, and talked to me and Marty about things we can send back to Austin with him when he visits, and IT RAINED! Real, hard rain with thunder and lightning. Beautiful. We opened up doors and windows. After the rain, Marty and Ashlee went and got food from Golden Pride—smoked chicken and carne adovada burritos. Holly's friend Tony was here. He played piano downstairs and we got to hear. He's the keyboardist for Holly's favorite local band. Very nice birthday.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Holly and Sandra, hanging out

Carpet Installers of the World, I salute you

Holly and I worked for two hours this morning and it seemed like half a day. I couldn't begin to do that for eight hours. Or a week or a month. And so those who have the strength and patience to do that down-on-the-floor and up and down and dirty and funny-smelling and unsanitary... you are noble and strong. And maybe a little crazy.

Not that we were installing carpet. We stripped half a bedroom, carpet out in two strips (rolled, bagged, taped and in the trash) and the padding (almost like new in the corners) and staples and tack strips, up and out. I was deeply grateful for the immediate presence of a Dyson vacuum. We vaccuumed the teeny particulate yuck that gets under the padding as we went, like "rinse and spit" at the dentist, so we were never sitting in it or touching it.

We only planned to do half at a time from the beginning, because it's been so hot here. And because Holly's never done it, and because I'm old. (I'm lining up all possible justifications for working only two hours and then stopping to shower and blog about it.)

I warned Holly about the danger of the razor-blade knife. Then I stabbed the inside of my forearm, just a little, to make the point. Okay, it was a total embarrassing accident and it hurt, and it bled, but I'm a big (BIG) wimp, and once it was washed, a little spot bandaid is all it needed. I didn't even need painkillers. :-)

We stored our tools together for tomorrow, I took a shower, and Holly went back to bed. Her bed had been covered with sheets on the "not yet" side, and we slid it over to the newly-bare wood. Next week she's getting a new twin bed. The house is all quiet again.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

"Spaghetti Western Psych Rock"

Holly's hanging around and helping out at a house where little concerts are happening. I'm loving the ads and descriptions and art.

On Monday July 25th, at 8: p.m. one could, for $5, hear
Spindrift (Spaghetti Western Psych Rock)
Grand Canyon (fun filled alternative country)
and more TBA soon.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

My dad's birthday today!

I have some new photos of my dad. He would be 84 today, but he died in his 50s. I don't think he would have liked to have been 84. His strength and agility were already failing; he died of arthritis-related problems.

Yates Reunion, 1937. My dad is the first, sitting. He turned eleven that summer; guessing by the trees, this was summer or fall. My grandmother, his mom, is standing third to the end, with a dark jacket and belt. My grandfather is just before her, balding, and tall. His name was Lynn Adams. The elder man in the center is her father, James Yates, and the older woman next to him is his mother-in-law, Fannie Perilee Elizabeth Trimble (nee Jones). He was widowed when James (the youngest, the good looking younger man in the back row) was a year old or so. Their mother, with eight children on a ranch near Capitan, New Mexico (near Carizozo, in Lincoln County), died of childbirth fever; an infection, from the birth. She never recovered.

This is my dad and his cousin in a rubber-barred photo-op jail, apparently in Long Beach, California. Must've been the 1940's. That cousin lived in Prescott, usually, and my dad was in California in his mid to late teens (partly in the shipyards in Oakland) before he joined the army not long before the war ended in Europe. He was on a troop transport on V-E day. He was 18, the age my youngest is now, and had his 19th birthday in 1945 in France or Germany; not sure which.

It's possible my dad learned welding from a book written by Pam Sorooshian's grandfather.

When I was a kid I selfishly saw my dad's birthday mostly as the count down to mine, a week later. Kirby Dodd can get that back on me, though, because his birthday is five days after mine. Kirby my dad never met Kirby my son, but my grandmother and several of her sisters did. We went to the Yates reunion in Roby, Texas in 1986 so I could show them the baby I named after my dad, who was so well known to all of them.

I miss my dad still, sometimes. I'm glad he lived until I was grown. I'm glad I lived until my kids were grown too! So far so good. My Mamaw was 84 or so when she died, the age my dad would be now.

I don't look back as much as I used to. I became better at looking at now and tomorrow and this week.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Dream Pop and Nature Drone

Holly is at her friend London Cabada's 18th birthday party. At 8:00 she'll be going to a music show at The Treehouse. The groups were described to her thusly in a text—one of the best texts I've ever seen:
It's a variety. Girlfriends is real dreamy surf rock, like the beach boys or animal collective but with a bit of noise, omotai is a stoner metal band which means it is metal but is not intense, sandia man is really heavy rock, glacier saint is dream pop, and reading rainbow is nature drone. It will be a lot of fun, and starts at 8 on the dot.

After she left, the texted me a new improved rundown of the show:
Show tonight $5. surf rock indie pop with Girlfriends and Glacier Saint. Stoner metal with Omotai and Sandia Man, and a closing drone set with omen and my band Reading Rainbow. 8 pm 1323 Coal SE.

So if anyone in Albuquerque is curious about what stoner metal or dreamy surf rock with a bit of noise would be, there's the where and when!

I don't have a picture to go with this (yet....)

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Kirby and I will be here!!

Pam Sorooshian says the video is by some of the teens from the conference!

Online Registration Deadline Extended through July 18th!

This is an awesome video for everything except learning how my name is pronounced. (I was named in West Texas, so it's a twangier/brighter "a" in the Sandra, is all.) But it IS that fun! This video is not any exaggeration.

The schedule can be seen here: hsc2010schedule0708.pdf, and it's easily printable from that file. But you can look without printing or downloading.

The workshops I'm doing:
Writey Drawey (you can see more here—examples from home)
Connect the Dots (real dots, real connections; real thoughts, real connections)
Words that Can't Be Used (by request--information about insults, oaths, curses and "bad words")

Partnerships (Friday afternoon)
Unschooling: How To Screw It Up (in the last slot on Sunday)

I might also be on a panel about video games, or be a lovely assistant to Rosie Sorooshian, her boyfriend Daniel, and Kirby Dodd (and Pam, and then me, and I'm willing to smile and say nothing, in that company).

Kirby will be on the Grown Homeschoolers panel on Sunday morning.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Bobby McFerrin sings the Alphabet

The first time I was aware of Bobby McFerrin, he was on TV singing (vocalizing) for dancers who were doing a stage thing with balloons all over the floor. It was on a PBS series about dance, I think. Or maybe about arts in San Francisco, or at some particular theatre. It was the early 1980's. If anyone knows what that was, and if there's video somewhere, I would love to see it again. Keith and I just stood and stared. We had the TV on while we were doing things around the house, and when we heard him, we just looked at him, and listened to him, and the dancers were like backup video. That was way before any way to look things up, so I wrote his name down from the credits at the end of the show, and that's one name I've never forgotten.

This is at the end of a video of Star Wars. We don't use our videos anymore, but I'm really glad it's available for others to see. I used to pull out that video and find it for guests sometimes. The Wizard of Oz, the whole show, in less than eight minutes. He gets audience participation, another of his trademarks. SO cool:

I think this is my favorite of his stuff:

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Tam and Holly

Our friend Vincent King was credited (in an intro speech, and in the movie credits) for a "full dome" animated movie called Tales of the Maya Skies, which had a reception and special screening tonight at the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science. Many of those who worked on it are here in Albuquerque; the musicians are from Santa Fe.

If you can see it, please do! It's beautiful. Three times a day in Albuquerque, and it's in some other places too (well.. maybe Mexico and California... and Philadelphia! but it will probably get around other planetarium theatres).

Besides Vincent, we saw his parents and his sister Tamarind, who's been at Stanford dancing and doing art and being otherwise busy for a few years.

(if you didn't move your cursor over that, please do!)

Tam is Marty's age, and was homeschooled. Vincent is between Holly and Marty in age, and was homeschooled until high school, when he went to the Albuquerque Academy and he's at UNM now (I think; I'll correct this if someone clarifies). Their younger brother had already seen the show and was occupied elsewhere tonight.

Sunday, July 04, 2010

Proof of locality (Holly's Home!)

Holly and I spent a good chunk of the day together, and visited Beau Tappan who has a broken leg and so is not off camping where Keith and Marty (and her husband Steve, and dozens-to-hundreds of her friends are in Colorado). We played Five Crowns, and told stories, and saw the progress of her garden and the perpetual beauty of her yard, and hung out a while.

After Beau's house, I dropped Holly off at her friend Caiti's house, to reconnect with her Albuquerque yoga and party crowd. They're probably off watching fireworks in some good place.

I came home and slept, and woke up to the pops of the fireworks in all directions. We have newgrown kittens (cats in their second year) so I opened the windows and gave them good window seats so they can hear and maybe see something of fireworks. I know the dog doesn't love this day. I remember the year she was a little puppy, just a few months old, and we did backyard fireworks, and took turns holding her and reassuring her, when she wasn't hiding under my chair. She's an old dog now, and those three little kids with the Chinese sculpture fireworks that turned into lanterns and tanks with flags and stuff that night are all grown and in three different places. Marty is at a medieval-re-creation campout in Colorado; Kirby is at work in Austin.

I'm thinking of fireworks over my lifetime, in back yards, rodeo grounds, stadiums, viewed from Sandia Crest (from which the largest fireworks are all miniature and silent) and at the reflecting pool between the Washington Monument and the capitol building in Washington, when Holly had left her backpack on the Metro and was very sad. Fireworks shows viewed from the nearby yards or next-to-house parking lots in Española (the Maestas' back yard in Valley Estates one year) and Albuquerque (the church parking lot on Sunshine Terrace, where my kids ran around with sparklers with Valla and Jeff). Those are just the 4th of July fireworks, not Christmas Eve in Texas, or the fire works competition at the fair grounds when Keith and I went on "blue night," pre-kids.

I am content.

My birthday, compared to the 4th of July

This is an 11:11 situation.
Today my age is 56 years, 11 months, and 11 days.

I was born on a Friday. Cool. There was a waxing gibbous moon.

Holly, home, working her Canada puzzle, telling me stories.

A politician I never heard of named Claire McCaskill is the same age. More important to me, in northern Germany (on the east side, in Lübeck) Wolfgang Marquardt was born, and he and I trade notes on the adventures of our same-aged lives. He was always really interested in the U.S., and lives in Belleview, Washington now.

Some of this trivia came out of my head, but some came from, a cool search engine that specializes in numbers, which I do not.

And while it says no Observances for July 24, 1953 (United States), there is specific to Utah "Pioneer Day", and specific to the unschoolers anywhere who want to play, "Learn Nothing Day." Twenty more days.

Friday, July 02, 2010

Keith and the benches he made

These are photos of Keith and the top-of-trailer packing artistry. The inside-the-trailer packing job was just as cool, but I didn't take a photo. Sorry.

The benches were made by Keith, and he packed them pretty impressively (as usual). This doesn't show the carving of the handles (cross bracing). I'll look for photos of that and maybe be back.

Clickable images of
the benches after they were unloaded, added 7/6, Keith's birthday: