Monday, September 27, 2010

Kirby's new car

A 2008 Mazda 8 Mazda 6 which he bought himself:

Monday Morning Report

This is cool:

I took a picture of the tree on a hill at the end of a Dr. Mario level once. This is my second video game picture. For those who don't know what the heck it is, that's okay; it's not worth explaining. But for anyone who does know. I did that myself!! I got the "Sunny Days" achievement about 2/3 of the way through, but I finished it anyway. Up 'til just before the shot, there was a pumpkin around that pot, which I kept renewing as it came available.

Holly's not working today, and she's not feeling good either, so I'm trying to find that balance between leaving her alone and paying attention to what she might need.

I was interviewed last night, and you can listen to it here, lower right (the one that comes up if you just click the box is it, probably).

Sunday, September 26, 2010

My favorite art, when I was a kid

When I was younger, I loved storybook art and fairytale illustrations from the Victorian and Art Nouveau artists. This is scanned from a 3" wide clipping from an early '70's newspaper called The Tribal Messenger, a kind of hippie publication that was available around the University of New Mexico in those days.

I used to sit and look and look at illustrations of fairy tales, Treasure Island, King Arthur and Robin Hood. I suppose those illustrations are all online now. If anyone comes by here who knows internet repositories of these things, I'd appreciate the chance to look at some things I haven't seen for a long time.

These probably were largely behind my interest in the Society for Creative Anachronism, in my mid-20's. I had music to offer and to search out, but the chance to wear flowing costumes was a definite draw, too.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Dressing for the apocalypse

Not the Biblical apocalypse; not the zombie apocalypse. Bo's birthday apocalypse, over at Sadie's house. Holly and Marty have been preparing for two weeks.

They've been gathering goods to trade for food and drink at the party (Bo has set Sadie's kitchen up as a fortified shop, from which food and drinks will be distributed in exchange for such things as might be useful after civilization falls). People will be gambling and trading their goods, too. It really sounds fun. I hope there will be lots of photos.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Doings and Beings

This morning Holly tweeted this little count:
The house my parents share with me has 5 toilets, 4 doors to the outside, 3 freezers, 2 kitchens, 1 dog.
It's a moment in time. I've lived in many houses; so will Holly. I've had many dogs; this one won't last forever. I think seriously and often about adding another outside door to this house, and was thinking about it again today, before I saw Holly's tweet.

This week has been busy, but the blog doesn't show it. I've been thinking a lot about my new-for-unschoolers blog, Just Add Light and Stir. I like it. I wake up every morning and look at that first, to make sure the formatting worked, and that the e-mail version has arrived.

A month from now, I'll be in Pune, India. My international travels to this point are three Canadian provinces; Juarez, Mexico; England and Wales. India is a big one.

I'll be there for a month, staying with Ravi and Hema Bharadwaj, and their children Raghu and Zoya. There will be other unschoolers and home-ed families visiting. Two gatherings are already planned—a Halloween party (because Raghu lived in the U.S. much of his young life and wants Halloween), and a culture day (with different regional foods, costume and arts). I'll be there for Diwali, so that should be wonderfully overwhelming and I'll try to take lots of pictures. Some of those should be usable for "Just Add Light and Stir."

I've been reorganizing piles of papers—filing and sorting. Not my strength. I always find things I meant to scan or finish or do something about.

Keith is repairing, improving, and making new camping furniture, because his SCA camping involves wooden furniture. (And he goes to work, and he works on the house.)

Kirby's schedule changed and his work moved to a new facility, starting the-other-day Tuesday. He's just bought a car, by himself, in Austin—a 2008 Mazda 8.

Marty's taking three classes at CNM (Central New Mexico community college, which evolved from TVI). He's at the Montoya campus, just a couple of miles from here. Ashlee, his girlfriend, is taking classes too, and working a couple of long shifts at the lab, and is here some of the other time.

Holly is working taking care of a little girl five days a week, plus going to music shows and visiting her many interesting friends.

I like all these separate and shared lives.

Friday, September 17, 2010

"Career Options" (big wad of connections)

I've been reading (slowly, occasionally) Killing Monsters: Why children NEED fantasy, super-heroes, and make-believe violence, by Gerard Jones. I had talked to Marty about it, and to Holly, but hadn't written anything.

Day before yesterday I found a cool, recent blogpost by Hema Bharadwaj called "About Violent Games. Last night I put it on my Video Games: Applications to Other Pursuits page. My favorite part is this:
There is a cd we have with Jerry Seinfeld stand-up shows on it. We listen to it often while driving around the maniacal roads of India.... puts up in a good mood :-) So in one of the clips he says "When men are growing up, reading about Batman, Spider-Man, Superman, these aren't just kid fantasies. These are career options." That one really cracks me up... cause both Raghu and Ravi nod their heads whenever they listen to him say it :-)
This morning I was reading An Actor and a Gentleman, an autobiography, and Lou Gossett, writing about his childhood said, "During those days, I was living a Walter Mitty fantasy life, dreaming that I could be the Green Hornet or Captain Marvel or anyone I wanted."

Raghu as Perseus
(found in Asterix comics)

(links to Hema's blog)

While I'm in line at the post office, which is several times a week, I'm reading Vermeer's Hat: The seventeenth century and the dawn of the global world, by Timothy Brook. It's all about connections. Killing Monsters is my book to read in the kitchen. The Louis Gossett Jr. autobiography has been mostly in the bedroom.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Some Problems with Respect

Greetings Sandra Dodd and readers!

I just wanted to point out the mere importance that this stuff has in my life. I am not kidding, I feel like if my life has changed.
There is always a lesson awaiting us to learn it. then, I have realized that I got something really worthy from your column, I would call it wisdom.

That seems nice. It's "supportive." It was pap and spam from "Viagra Online," posted on half a dozen different posts on my site news blog.

Elsewhere recently someone who actually is an unschooler, and someone I've met, wrote (along with some other reactionary and defensive things), "I have lost all respect for you." But neither of those is really about respect or wisdom, or what is life-changing or worthy.

The story of this ivy and why it was photographed is here.

These ivy photos were taken by Holly, in 2009, on a day when we had argued over hurt feelings, and both had cried. I wanted her to take the photos anyway, fearful that they might not be taken if we didn't do it then. I had confidence in and admiration for her ability to get good images with a camera on a timer. She knew it was important to me to have those that day, and so we calmed ourselves and did it. There's something about respect in there, and reliability.

Some people confuse respect and courtesy. Some people confuse nicey-niceness with respect. But real respect changes action and affects decisions.

If someone fawns and says "OOh, I really respect you," but isn't being a very good person, or isn't being honest or respectable, the respect isn't worth as much as if someone *I* respected from experience and observation respected me. They wouldn't need to say it. It's not about words. It's about respect.

Respect can be shown sometimes by being quiet. :-) Sometimes it can be shown by thinking about what someone says and not dismissing it half-heard.

When I respect someone, I praise and defend them in their absence.

The people I respect most have become little voices in my head, and I "consult" them when I'm making decisions in their specialty areas. I have friends who are more patient than I am, more generous with time, and I think of them clearly and try to emulate them when I am making choices in those areas. Some cook better and are more organized, and I think back to things they have said, or to things I have seen them do, or I try to induce in myself the presence and mood they have when they're cooking or straightening. I don't want to be them, but I want to be more like them in the ways they have that earned my respect.

There are people who awkwardly indicate that they would respect me more if I would change my own way of being, or if I would "support" them uncritically, or if I would state in public that their ideas were as good as ideas I actually DO believe are good ideas. Some know they're doing it. Others don't. If someone's respect would be earned by my compromising my integrity, then a) I wouldn't be worth respecting, and b) their "respect" wouldn't be worth a damn.

How do I know when someone respects me? How would I know "lip service" from real respect? The answer is a weird one. It wouldn't have made sense to me when I was young, in my 20's or early 30's. I grew into it, as people do. The answer is that it doesn't matter. If I become a person universally lacking in the respect or regard of other people, that will have happened because of choices I made. And I'm not aiming to become a person universally respected by all people. That will never happen to anyone. There was some guy throwing a great rant about Mother Teresa not long ago because she was given medical equipment and a computer system or something, and they never got used, and so (he ranted) people died. I'm pretty sure that when one runs a hospice, people are there to die. By badmouthing Mother Teresa, he hoped to gain respect. It's an odd choice to make and not a great use of time and energy.

If I live my life by making the better choice, and by making conscious choices I am willing to defend, I will be in a place of moral and ethical strength. What is that good for? It helped create a space in which my children could grow up confident and safe. It helped my marriage last a long time (over thirty years together; over 25 married thusfar). "Being good," making choices by deciding what is better and what is worse, is good for being good. It is its own reward. If no one sees or notices or cares, I'm still by my own measure a better person.

In February I'll be speaking at a marriage conference in Bryn Athyn, Pennsylvania. It is organized by Lori Odhner, who was one of my first two La Leche League leaders when Kirby was a baby. I have respected Lori since 1986. I don't know if I ever told her so, but she didn't need that. She lives a respectful and respectable life. I'm glad I've learned enough about marriage and families to help her with a conference, because her knowledge of mothering and babies helped set me on the path to the place I am today.

Respect has been something I've thought about since I was little and I loved my teacher in ways I didn't love my mother. I thought about that, and why it should be so, and whether it was a sin, or made me a bad daughter. From then on, I looked at the world in terms of who was earning respect, and how, and who was losing it, and how. I didn't talk about it much, though.

Eventually, I joined the Society for Creative Anachronism which was built on a solid base of knightly virtues and moral ideals. Some members of that group don't care about such things, and I don't respect that. If they in turn say I'm not sufficiently fun and so they don't care what I think, their lack of respect for me touches me not.

Perhaps the kernel of respect is "I care what you think."

It's relative. People who think the SCA is a waste of time altogether will have zero respect for my costumes and scrolls and photos. Those who are adamantly in favor of public school have no respect for my unschooling knowledge and activity. I don't respect my nextdoor neighbor, because she's mean to her dog when her relatives aren't visiting, and kinda smarmy fake-nice to the dog when they are there. But she doesn't care at all what I think of her relationship with her relatives or her dog, I'm sure.

There are people I respect. My respect isn't what makes them cool, though. My respect only makes me respectful of things I value. Courage, honesty, service, compassion, integrity, humor, musicality, artistry... different combinations in different people.

SwissArmyWife (Heather, on her blog) had a post recently called "My kids listen. Do yours?" If you're going to read the whole thing, click the link now. If you're undecided, here's a glorious part:
So in response to “does he listen?”, Yes. He listens. He listens to me talk, he listens when I’m feeling particularly uncomfortable about a situation. He listens and hears me when I feel that I need his help. He trusts me, he takes me seriously. He listens when someone is hurting or someone is happy. He listens to the world around him without a need to block anything out. Most importantly, I listen to him. I take him and his needs seriously.
Last night part of the unschooling chat was about respect. A couple of things I wrote are worth repeating:
Sandra Dodd: Being respectful to children and respectful of children's opinions and preferences and desires is what caused my children to be so respectful of other people's opinions and preferences and desires.
Sandra Dodd: And they really are.
The other part was that Andrea wrote that the respect she thought of was esteem, and it seemed "respect has to be earned" didn't apply to our children. She wrote "I want to be worthy of my children's esteem, not just social/hierarchal deference." And without seeing that, because the chat was moving VERY quickly, I wrote:
I love my children and think they're really important, and that it is part of my privilege to be their mom and to introduce them to the fun and interesting parts of the world, and I hold them in esteem. They are of higher value to me than other things and other people. That isn't respect they had to earn. But it's emotional and it's attitudinal, and it's relative to me.
Esteem has to do with estimation, with judgment. None of this is easy, and any quick reference to "respect" stirs up all of that depth and confusion.

Respect is not something I can fully clarify to myself or to anyone. It's like exploring in a box of old jewelry. It's a jumble of emotion and virtue and ethics that I have enjoyed examining and untangling for many years, and I see different chains and jewels different times, with their connections and their histories.

Different aspects of respect, relating to unschooling, are here:

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

International Freedom in Education Day

International Freedom in Education Day was started in Europe in 2007. Because unschoolers are all over the world now, September 15 is half over in some places but hasn't started yet at my house, so...

From their website:
Sentence to think about : 'Parents have a prior right to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children'.
( Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 1948, Article 26.3 )

Monday, September 13, 2010

10 Things You Should Know Before Moving Next Door to Us

I just found this as a draft, in my "edit posts" section. When I wrote it up in June, it was in response to something Ronnie Maier had on her blog, and I suppose, looking at it, that I either intended to write more, or thought this was too boring. But now that I look back at it I see peace and comfort more than "boring." Sometimes my life is very plain and good.

1. Our dog is Gudrun. We have a dog door; she might be in the front yard. If that bothers you, say "Go home" and she will go to the back, or into the house.

2. Names and phone numbers... (I do write those down on an index card or sticky note when we get new neighbors in the cul-de-sac, and give them to them.)

3. Keith goes to work really early; sorry about the Harley racket some mornings.

4. On Monday morning, if anyone parks on the curb, none of us will have our trash picked up, so move cars in on Sunday night.

5. It's okay if our kids are leaving very late at night; they'll come back. [About teens and up.]

6. If Keith is outside hitting things with a long stick, don't worry. He's exercising or practicing something.

7. If there is smoke coming from the back yard, it's probably us heating the hot tub. We have an exemption to use it even on no-burn nights, for Keith's arthritis.

8. We have quite a bit of company, but if they're staying long we'll get them to park in the back.

9. Our kids didn't go to school and they're fine. If you want information about unschooling, I have some.

10. We're more normal than we look.

who got it from

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Compulsion, and attendance

On the Always Learning list we were discussing unschooling, as usual, and came to the distinction between "compulsory education" and "compulsory attendance" (a replacement phrase in many places for the former "compulsory education," due to lawsuits from families who objected to people graduating without knowledge).

Part of the discussion is whether the wording of the law makes any difference in the relative "legality" of unschooling as a method. I hadn't thought of that in all the years my kids were "school age."

> In the UK, there is compulsory education, in the US it is compulsory
> attendance.

-=-In the US, it depends on the state. In California, at least, it is
compulsory education.-=-

Right after I read that, as I'm doing all these things at the same time:
watering the yard
boiling chicken for tomorrow
making cookies
playing plants vs. zombies
listening to Cyril Ritchard read Alice in Wonderland
checking e-mail as it arrives
this came by:
"You were not attending," said the mouse to Alice severely. "What are you thinking of?"

This reminds me that the phrase "school attendance," in my life, caused me (and millions more, no doubt) to think "attend" means to be there. Attending a play, attending a concert.

But in the back of my mind I know it means to listen to, to pay attention to someone. "Attendants" don't just *be* there. They pay attention.

Alice wasn't listening to the mouse because she was thinking of something else, and because she likes cats and dogs more than she likes stories about the history of why a mouse doesn't like cats or dogs, and so she had zoned out, thinking.

If unschooling involves whatever is most interesting in the moment, my children have had perfect attendance for many years! Maybe I should make them something like this:

Mr. Robert Felix was my band teacher. Band was first period. So he was my homeroom teacher in 7th-9th grade. Looking at my certificate for "outstanding accomplishment in Prompt and Regular Attendance," I'm thinking of the meaning of "certify," too. This certificate certifies that I have been awarded a certificate. Quite a verbal dodge. It doesn't certify that I attended promptly and regularly. It meant to, but it only certified that I had been awarded... words about words, mostly. I like words fine.

What it really means is that I was glad to be in school because it was so much better than being at home, and that a year when I had music classes at school was the best sort of year, in those days, when I was twelve and thereabout.

What it means in light of my children's lives is that they accomplished prompt and regular attendance to everything they found interesting every day from their birth to now. I expect that they will continue to attend regularly and promptly to their lives as they unfold.

The reason I'm listening to Alice in Wonderland is that my friend Teresa posted "15 albums that will always stick with you," and her first was Alice in Wonderland by Cyril Ritchard. I know his name because he played Captain Hook in the version of Peter Pan they used to show on TV every year when I was little (and I absolutely watched it that 7th grade year). His voice was awesome. This was recorded in 1957, and it's for sale on Amazon, right here.

I'm the only person at my house today, and the learning and activity are just as swirly as ever. Keith has been camping since Thursday (at the Outlands Crown Tournament) and Marty left this morning to join him. Holly spent last night in Bosque Farms with friends and visiting-from-out-of-state other friends. I have no doubt that they're all in the midst of their own swirls of activities and thoughts.

In case anyone is reading here who doesn't have a vivid image of Cyril Ritchard, here you go:

"Mrs. Hook's little baby boy..."
That line has made me smile since I was a very little girl.

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Kirby and dance shows

At the HSC conference, Kirby was on a panel about TV and Video Games. People in the audience were trying to suggest that IF kids watched TV or played video games, that's all they would do. Rose Sorooshian was the panel leader, and pointed out that everyone up there was a martial artist (all black belts but Kirby), and in listing other activities, Kirby mentioned having worked on the stage crew at a dance festival.

First, here's a photo from when Kirby was 12 or 13. The dancer is his friend's mom, Carol. He had gone with her to set up for a performance.

And that "dance festival" he mentioned so politely in Sacramento was this, in April, 2010: Texas Burlesque Festival

He didn't dance, but he did end up on stage (click to embiggen):

I'm putting these here partly for storage and juxtaposition, and partly just for the general purpose of showing what kinds of things can come along in busy lives for kids who are trustworthy and voluntarily helpful.
Another thing, for the record, about the Garfield shirt. It came from the karate dojo where Kirby studied for years, and helped with the young children's classes. He didn't get a black belt because the school had a strict rule that no one under 18 could go above brown belt, and after he was grown he was busier and generally doing other things (including still teaching the kids' classes for quite a while). But the owner liked him and trusted him enough to have him housesit. The dojo is in a building that also houses a martial arts supply store, and the sensei lives in back. As a teen, Kirby stayed the weekend two or three times when the teacher was out of town. Big responsibility. No dancing involved... just the shirt and the "trustworthy and voluntarily helpful" connection.

Sunday, September 05, 2010

What I do, at home, after all these years

It's Sunday, and I'm working on web pages. A mom in England sent me very clear directions for creating feedburner e-mail subscription setups, and I'm working on those in a few places. As is the specialty of the internet, one thing leads to another.

Looking for the source of a quote that came up on my unschooling page (which has a random quotes generator which I keep filled with some of the best that various unschoolers have said or written), I came in three steps to this, and not knowing where to keep it, but it seeming worth keeping, I thought I would bring it here, for now.

It was my response to someone complaining about my "bedside manner." The reason it seems current is that on facebook (not the center of my online universe, but I do participate there), I wrote something that I considered to be in defense of unschooling and of parent/child relations, and was lambasted. I'm used to lambastation, and it cannot take the joy away from my own family. But because some who read this might have read that, I thought I would bring something from early 2008 in which similar issues were on the table on a discussion list. I don't know whose the boldfaced quotes are. I could look it up, but it's not important and I wouldn't want to put the finger on it anyway, at this point. The responses are mine.
-=-You Sandra, seem like an excellent doctor with very bad bedside manners.-=-
But I'm not a doctor, and people don't come here because they're sick or wounded. It's a place for healthy people to discuss issues related to their unschooling.
-=-However when it comes to the manner in which these clashes are executed I find unnescessarly cutting for a public forum, regardless if you are the list owner or not.-=-
Is it "a public forum"? Do people wander by here on their way to the Hallmark shop or to have their nails done? I don't think it is. I think it's a place people have to find, and then choose to join or not, and choose to post or not (and can choose WHAT to post, and how). This forum isn't accosting passers-by. We have no missionaries going door to door. The only advertising it gets is my listing of it on my front unschooling page, and people searching for it.

That's not so excrutiatingly public.

I'm not a doctor. If anyone can do better at helping unschoolers, yahoogroups and googlegroups are as free and open to them as to me. Staying here and complaining isn't good form, is it?

Telling someone that what they're recommending could be harmful to other readers isn't disrespectful and discourteous. Ignoring harmful advice would be.

Telling someone that what they're claiming to do or believe is moving them away from unschooling rather than toward it might be perceived as disrespectful, but I don't respect controlling, punitive parents. They don't often respect themselves. If I can help them see that they can be softer and warmer and closer to their children, I'm being respectful of and courteous to their children.

I'm not here to help moms feel good about doing whatever they want to do. I'm here to help children have more peaceful lives, when the mom's interested in moving that direction.

If you can do better, DO IT! Practice right here, or start your own group.
Telling me I'm rude and have bad bedside manner isn't evidence of the ability to do better.
Anyone who needs a bedside visit shouldn't come here.

The quote I had been looking for, which I had also written in that in that topic that month, about how natural learning can flow, was
That all "just happened," but it happened because we've been building up to it with our whole lives and our whole style of communicating and living together in a constant state of open curiosity.
I'm not always at home rearranging my unschooling writings, though. Yesterday afternoon, Holly and Clare and I went to tea:

Saturday, September 04, 2010

Nice flowy week

In a while, I'm going to the St. James Tearoom, to their new "home" (custom adobe, it looks like—they used to be in Old Town) with Holly and Clare (the girl she spends many of her days with).

This week I've been watching Star Trek, making quiches, and being on unschooling chats.

There were other bursts of cooking, partly because it hasn't been so hot this week as some. Bread, two days. Green chile stew. Scalloped potatoes once.

And then someone I was corresponding with about my trip to the U.K. next year said she wished I had a daily mailing for unschoolers, so I created one for her: Just Add Light and Stir. Now I'm trying to figure out a visual map of everything I know about unschooling and parenting, so I can move across it in a pattern somehow. That's fun. I have a five-pointed star with strewing/doing at top...

Well here:
1=philosophy,learning, what hurts/what helps upper left
2="subjects" upper right
3=Breathing, thinking, resting, sleep lower left
4=strewing/doing at top, and
5=rules/principles bottom right, and then back to

I realize that some people keep ALL their information on one blog, with topics and such, but that makes no more sense to me than keeping recipes and song lyrics and diary notes in one notebook, so I have this blog which is about what I'm thinking about what I'm doing, or what's happened at my house, and other blogs for SCA memories, the lyrics game, odd connections, news on my unschooling site, and now daily inspirations for Alison Potter (and anyone else who wants to use those). I figure I'll still add to the 100 species blog at some point. It's not a race. Most others I was following quit even before I did, but I like having those photos, records and memories of plants in my neighborhood and in my yard. And I just put something on my quietest "what is this?" blog. I have other things to put there, but I don't guess there's any big rush as it's just my own curiosity.

The aforementioned blogs, which are most of my blogs, are (after "Just Add Light and Stir" and this one here) (the word today/Saturday is "little") (if you have a photo of a mystery thing you want me to include there...)

I add to my own knowledge with these things, and put information where I can find it again (thanks to searches which are easier online than in my house, very often). It others are also amused or enlightened, that's just a bonus.