Wednesday, December 31, 2014

We Three Kings

Taking notes from parodies Adam and Julie Daniel are singing:

We three kings of Orient are
One in a taxi, one in a car
One on scooter tooting his hooter
They didn't get very far

We three kings of Leicester Square
Selling ladies' underwear
So fantastic, no elastic,
Only a penny a pair

While shepherds washed their socks by night
While sitting round the tub
The angel of the lord came down
And they began to scrub

While shepherds washed their socks by night
While eating fish and chips
The angel of the lord came down
And charged them one and six

While shepherds washed their socks by night
While watching ITV
The angel of the lord came down
And turned to BBC

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Christmas letter 2014

I sent out two batches of cards, and most had this. The first few didn't. Mostly, now, I want it for my own records and memory.

We wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New year!

A Dodd Christmas update for the outgoing 2014, and happy hopes for 2015!

Early in the year, I was in Australia, and I had fun, learned a ton, but it was too far, too long, and I declared I was through travelling and would stay home forevermore. Immediately, I went to Austin and attended the first Texas Unschoolers Campout, where Kirby and I were speaking. Destiny and Devyn went, too, and we shared a cabin. I was aready scheduled to go to Rochester, Minnesota, to put on an unschooling symposium with Alex Polikowsky and Pam Laricchia, so I did. And I was scheduled to speak at the California Homeschool Association's conference in San Jose in August, so Holly and I went there, and I did.

I was SO GLAD TO BE HOME, when I was home this year—more glad than I've been to be home for a long time.

Kirby is planning to move back to Albuquerque with Destiny (his girlfiend) and her five-year-old daughter Devyn, who started living with them full time in January. I went to help with the transition, and played a lot of PlayDoh and Tall Bird, Short Bird for a couple of weeks. Kirby will be leaving his job at Blizzard where he's been for eight years, but he misses Albuquerque more than he loves Austin, it seems. They plan to come to look for a place in early February.

Marty married his girlfriend of six years, now Ashlee Dodd, on November 20, in Las Vegas. They honeymooned in Puerto Rico and went by kayak into a bioluminescent bay at night and... well ask them if you see them. They tell it well and it sounds magical. Earlier in the year they were made Baron and Baroness of al-Barran, which is mysterious gibberish to people who aren't in the SCA (that's fine), and Very Cool to those who know what it means.

Holly lived away from home for a while, and came back for a while, is now in India for a while, and will be in England for a while in January before coming back again. She's planning to move to Socorro but that's 2015 and it hasn't happened, so it doesn't count yet. She's taking an art class in India that she's excited about and has been shopping (and shopping). I'm glad we can communicate easily at that distance.

Keith is still involved in the SCA, still putting his armor on and fighting, but not always as for long as he used to. He's been happy to support the new baron and baroness (see the Marty paragraph above, if you skimmed down to the Keith portion). He's retiring early from Honeywell, where he's been for nearly 30 years, since it was Sperry, but that's next year, so...

I hope this year will have some warm memories for you, and that next year will have some happy surprises!

[Sandra (signed in green)]

The letter didn't have photos, but I can include some recent things for my blog souvenir.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Twenty-year-old Christmas card

In 1994 my kids, our friend Lilly and I "assembly lined" the production of some Christmas cards. They were printed with a Riso Gocco screen printer I used to use quite a bit. The inside was printed first, and the credits were in there instead of on the back, because of Step 2, the cover.

The cover (tree art by Kirby) was printed second, and with the ink still wet, powdered with "raising powder," and each card (two at a time, I think, on a baking sheet) held under a gas broiler until the plastic melted and the lines were "embossed" (like a business card with raised letters). Those raised plastic outlines made them EASY to paint.

This was high tech, 20 years ago, when people couldn't print their own photos at home, or create beautiful full-color art with a computer and dot-matrix printer. This was the old days.

The inside verse had been done with a computer font, and printed off on a home B&W laser printer, then taken to a Xerox copy machine, copied with a piece of plastic that had a grid of small white dots on it, between it and the glass, to keep it from being solid black (so the next step would work).

The red and green (and gold of the credits) came from ink sqeezed onto a cellulose screen created by the battery-powered flash of strong flash bulbs. That's the way Riso Print Gocco works. :-) The colors were separated by a sort of foam tape.

I did most of the painting, kids helped some, and something happened that year that kept me from sending out as many cards as I had expected to, in 1994. I don't remember what it was, now—that's how stressors or emergencies can look from twenty years away. So a stack of cards, some partially painted, some still flat from printing, were wrapped in plastic in the back of my Christmas file drawer, and this year on their anniversary I have mailed a few out, and scanned a couple to share.

The credits say:

Tree art:
Printing Crew:


Kirby Dodd (8)
Sandra Dodd (41)
Lilly Hankins (9)
Marty Dodd (5, nearly 6)
Kirby Dodd (8) and Sandra
Holly Dodd (3)
Keith Dodd
Sandra Dodd
Marty, Sandra,
and a 1956 Westinghouse broiler

The verse (for those who can't read the font or the printing) says:
Abundant joy,
   a special toy,
      warmth and firelight,
         carols at twilight;

Memories of old,
   children to hold,
      comforting food,
         and hearts renewed.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Scattered family

This might be as scattered as our family has ever been. Keith and I are both in Albuquerque, he's at work and I'm home.

Kirby is in Austin.
Marty is in Puerto Rico on his honeymoon with Ashlee.
Holly is in India, asleep for the first night at her host family's house.

In Spring, Kirby is planning to move back to Albuquerque.
Tomorrow, Marty and Ashlee get back and I'm picking them up at the airport.
Holly is planning to move to Socorro, maybe, sometime after she returns in January.

It's like a breath out and a breath in.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

"Grandpa Favio"

Before Marty's wedding, Holly French braided my hair, and Keith-her-dad's.

Keith took his hair down this morning, and wanted to show Holly before he put it up or braided it his own utilitarian way. Holly said he looked like Grandpa Favio. Keith had no idea what we meant, but some viewers might.

Keith figures it makes him look crazy. I like it. Some of his hair is still blond, when it's fluffed out in the light. :-) He had long hair when I met him, and has only very occasionally had it short, and it's right back to waist-long.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Marty is married!

I'm backdating this, for the record. November 20, Marty married Ashlee Junker, in Las Vegas, Nevada, at the Valley of the Falls, at Mandalay Bay.

We weren't able to take photos of the actual ceremony—those were part of the package, and extras will be for sale at some point. But there are some great photos of them at the reception, and later. I will very likely fill in more here, as other photos come along.

Listening to Brett Henry's toast
Dancing to "Under the Sea"

The photo at the Bellagio fountain is by Holly Dodd.
The mechanical bull and the wookie are by Jennifer Molinar.

Wednesday, November 05, 2014

Holly's 23rd Birthday

Holly was only home briefly, and out for the three days around her birthday on November 2. Marty and Ashlee came over, Holly opened gifts, cut her cake and went to her next fun gathering.

Holly said "chocolate cake with fruit. I cooked it in a Bundt pan and filled the hole with blueberry pie filling. There was a crack in the cake so I filled it with candles.

Tuesday, October 07, 2014

Bobby Hill in the Renaissance

Updates in 2020:
The artist was identified: The Rest on the Flight into Egypt by Vincenzo Catena. (Erica Lewis found the info!)
and I've duplicated this (and might have added some) to Once the baby Jesus looked like Bobby Hill.

This is a detail of a painting

I saved this a while hoping to come across more information, but I should've published it! Help is welcome.

The comments that came when I put this up on facebook in October 2013:

Sandra Dodd
I didn't note the artist. Once I saw a painting where a soldier or guard, I think, looked like a 22 year old Bobby Hill. Maybe I'll come across it again. Maybe it's the same artist. This one was in the Norton Simon Museum. I looked through their website's paintings, and didn't find it. It's one of the most minor curiosities ever, though, so I don't have a burning need to know.
October 25, 2013 at 10:26pm

Heather L Greek
Aha ha!
October 25, 2013 at 10:32pm

Kim Zerbe
That boy's not right. (To quote Hank Hill.)
October 25, 2013 at 10:44pm

Gavin Muhlberger
Dammit, Bobby...
October 25, 2013 at 10:53pm

Sandra Dodd
All that hard Renaissance-artist work just to end up with a cousin of Beavis and Butthead. It just ain't right.
October 25, 2013 at 11:38pm

Gavin Muhlberger
I am a HUGE KOTH fan. This is pretty neat to me.
October 26, 2013 at 12:05am

Deb Lewis
"Now, for my next trick I'm gonna need a large wooden cross, and a couple of volunteers..."
October 26, 2013 at 6:38am

Kirby Dodd
This made me laugh openly
October 26, 2013 at 7:02am

Elaine Greenwood-Hyde
Ha ha!
October 26, 2013 at 7:02am

Monday, October 06, 2014

The cushiest car trouble ever

I posted this on Facebook so people would know I was okay but not home, but I'm bringing it here where I can find it for future reference. That van has nearly 100,000 miles on it, so depending how big the needed repair is…

But I like this van. I know it in the dark. It has four cup holders in the driver's reach. I want it to live. Here is a portrait I took of my van when my sister parked it up close under a cottonwood tree, near the Wells Fargo Bank in Española. I said it had never been in a cottonwood tree, and took this photo:

I have come to make you all feel better. Ready?

If your car is running, rejoice!

If you are at your own house, or some comfy place of your choosing, breathe a deep breath of gratitude.
If the last time your car broke it was in your own driveway, or better yet maybe right in front of your favorite mechanic, remember to appreciate your good fortune.

Here is MY good fortune: I got to see my niece, Gina, in a play Friday night. I stayed in a beautiful place with my sister, and spent most of the day with her. I got safely past Santa Fe (not "through"—took the bypass).
I was not yet on the freeway when the engine started to feel rough. There was a clear place to pull over when I decided to stop, when I saw the smoke (not much; enough) coming out of the engine compartment.

Keith is home! He answered the phone (I'm happy to have a cellphone that was working). I'm glad the car started and ran well enough for me to pull a few hundred feet into the shade under I-25.

The difference between sitting in the shade and sitting in the bright sunshine on a cloudless New Mexico day is HUGE. That was going to be dehydration panic. I have some water, but not much. In the shade, I could last until tomorrow. Tree shade would be better than overpass shade but hey… it's shade.

More good fortune for me! I can use my iPhone as a mobile hotspot. I have my iPad plugged in straight to the car's battery (two options, on phone charger); I don't need the car battery today anyway. Keith arranged for a tow truck to be on its way, to take me and this van to our favorite mechanic, where Keith will meet us, load up my too-much overnight stuff, and pay the guy. All I need to do is be calm, play on the computer or iPad, and wait patiently. COOL, huh?

Yep, I'm pretty lucky. It could have broken on the way TO Española, and that would have ruined the weekend. Keith could have been out of town. I could have been in an inside lane and had a hard time getting to the shoulder safely. It could be dark. But nope! Optimal car trouble.

(Posted on facebook October 4, 2014, 4:55 p.m.)

Keith arranged for a guy from Albuquerque to get me and take the van to our favorite mechanic, Chuck at The Mechanic, a mile and a half from our house. I only sat for an hour and fifteen minutes. It was not hot (in the shade) nor cold. I had a little food and water. I had a hoodie I didn't need.

The view from my waiting place. Temperature mild, notice traffic, peaceful.

More detail in response to Jon Kream wanting to know what broke:
Jon, I will report on Monday when the mechanic gets to peek. Oil had sprayed upwards in the engine compartment, up and toward the driver's side. Not much leaked on the road. There was some leaked on the bed of the car hauler, but not like the bottom fell out of it.

I thought "piston" and I thought "tune-up" before I thought "This won't make it to Albuquerque" and pulled over.

It's a 2008 Chrysler Town and Country in case you want to take bets or something. Nearly 100,000 miles, but new tires. Keith is trying to think of how to decide whether to spring for a new engine if that's what it needs, but I think something tubular or ringlike, perhaps. And I know this van in the dark, and don't want to learn a new automobile.

Sunday, October 05, 2014

The shadows are the good part

Here are a couple of gates in Española. The shadow is the best part, in each of these photos:

Taking photos other places, I don't always get a shadow. New Mexico does have some serious light.

Tuesday, September 02, 2014

Fourth Anniversary of Just Add Light and Stir

My busiest blog is four years old. Just Add Light and Stir is a daily quote and image, usually with a link to the place it came from, or something that matches it well. It has a randomizer (thanks to Joyce Fetteroll sending me the code), and each post has three robotically (and well) chosen "you might also like.." links.

Peace, love and happy parenting!

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Books I'm built of

On facebook, a thing was going around, and I wrote what's below. I'm saving it because sometimes people ask me what books I've read, meaning probably which books made me the way I am as an unschooling advocate, but I don't have a list like that for them.

I used to have a list of books I recommended, years ago. (bottom of this page: Follow-up to HSC Home=Schooling Conference 2001) There are books I recommend now, but they're not at the core of me. They might be at the core of some people who read them now, in an impressionable stage; that would be good!
Instructions: in your status, list 10 books that have stayed with you in some way. Don't think too hard. They don't have to be the "right" books or great works of literature, but they should be ones that have affected you in some way. Tag 10 friends including the one who tagged you so they can see your list.
1. Whole Child, Whole Parent (Berrien Berends)
2. Conceptual Blockbusting (Adams)
3. Slapstick (Vonnegutt)
4. Zen Lessons, The Art of Leadership (Cleary, translator)
5. Slowing Down to the Speed of Life (Carlson)
6. The Monastic World (Brooke/Swaan)
7. Learning All the Time (Holt)
8. Man and his Symbols (Jung)
9. The American Heritage Dictionary (editions with the wonderful etymologies since 1969; not all have the etymologies)
10. Material World (Menzel)

No one tagged me, so I'm not tagging. It's just going to sit here. :-)

A couple of recent books I keep referring to and thinking of won't have as many years to affect me as the books above have had, but they're affecting me this year:

Smarter Than you Think (Thompson), about people, computers and the internet
Bad For You: Exposing the War on Fun (Pyle, Cunningham)

(I'll tag people who have already played, whose lists I read: Pam Sorooshian, Rose Sorooshian, Roxana Sorooshian)

I was thinking about what my list would have been when I was in my early-to-mid 20's. The only two above would have been Slapstick and The American Heritage Dictonary.

Probably then, those didn't have the roots in me that they have now.

I think my list when I was 23 or so would have been:

Oliver Twist
The Bible
The Sneetches and Other Stories (still important ideas)
The Lord of the Rings
Life on a Medieval Barony
The English and Scottish Popular Ballads (Child)
The Ballad Book of John Jacob Niles
The Annotated Mother Goose (Baring-Gould(s))
Joan Baez Ballad Book
Be Here Now (Ram Dass)

But the books I didn't list above that are important in my life are reference books, not read-start-to-finish books (The Oxford English Dictionary; Brewer's Dictionary of Phrase and Fable), and collections (The Children's Hour, which I've had since before I was in school; Grimm's Fairy Tales; Chaucer; Shakespeare; Poe; various Robin Hoods, and various King Arthurs and the art in them). I liked the Science Fiction magazines on newsprint in the 60's, and LOOK magazine, and MAD magazine. I liked Childcraft books (which friends had, I didn't) and the series on sewing and needlework that someone was putting out in hardback in the 1970's (which I saw and borrowed but didn't own).

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Who speaks what and why, these days?

Gratuitous photos, each a link.

Rato e Pato photo DSC01401.jpg

Because of unschooling, I've travelled. Because I've travelled, I've met lots of people who are bilingual, or in many cases, who can speak three or four languages—adults and children both, in Europe and India.

I've seen how they've learned, or honed their second and third languages. Some of the adults studied in school, but unless they had a chance to use the language with native speakers, it's not very real, it seems. I studied French in school, and can read a fair amount, but I can't understand native speakers. They have no consonants. It's like a quick song of all unfamiliar vowels and sounds I can't make well.

So I'm thinking… In India there are lots of languages, in the street, in movies, on TV, families have servants who speak the local (state) language, and older relatives might not have as much English as their college-educated offspring have. Hindi and English are known by many. For people who live outside the north central part of the country, they also speak (or understand) one or more of Tamil, Bengali, Marati, Telugu, Gujarati Kannada, Malayalam or Punjabi. Google offers sites in all those languages:

There are a billion people in India. There are 46 cities there with over a million inhabitants.

A smaller city is Rampur. Rampur is in Uttar Pradesh. People there speak Bangla, Hindi, English and other languages, in various combinations. The population was last recorded as 325,000 and some. There are 133 cities in India that are larger than Rampur.

Far away in Iceland, a nation whose borders are as distinct as can be, has a native language which came from Old Norse, so it's 1,000 years old. The entire country has about 325,000 people.

In Texas there's a city named Corpus Christi, on the Gulf of Mexico halfway across the Texas coast. The population is a little over 316,000 people. There are seven cities larger, in Texas.

But closer to the population size of Iceland, and in closer proximity to Canada, is St. Louis, Missouri with 318,416 people.

If someone begins to drive in St. Louis, headed to Mexico, he could get there in 16 hours—1063 miles to Laredo, Texas on excellent interstate highways—to cross over into Nuevo Laredo, in Tamaulipas (where they don't speak Tamil, even though it sounds as though they should).

But say this guy from St. Louis doesn't want to go to Mexico. That border area isn't the good part of Mexico—not the pretty part, nor the (relatively) safe part. So St. Louis people could go somewhere eles. He is (by some of the best roads in the world) 2,050 miles from San Francisco on the Pacific, and barely over 800 miles to Washington DC, on the Atlantic.

Any direction north, he can drive until he hits the Arctic Ocean, and there will be English speakers (even in Quebec). Well maybe he can't drive there. Google says it's 3200 miles to Barrow, Alaska and offered to hook me up with an $825 flight (from St. Louis, a helluva long way from me), but driving directions… even Google maps didn't figure anyone ought to drive to Barrow, Alaska.

Portugal. Portugal has a language and a long and interesting history. And as many people as London has.

There are ten countries in the EU with a greater population than Portugal's. Leaving Portugal and driving on an imaginary US Interstate highway 2000 miles, one would drive through eight or ten countries and maybe more languages. And St. Louis is fairly central, in the U.S. Closer to the East coast. I tried overlaying the US on Europe with Los Angeles on top of Lisbon. It went too far to make sense here.

Canada and the US make a huge area for English speakers to travel and visit in, and it's a long expensive way to get to places where other languages are native, besides Mexico and Quebec. If different provinces and states has as many different languages—60 or so on the mainland—north Americans would probably speak a several languages, too.

I would prefer that people not belittle me for only speaking English. The world has always been rearranging, and someday other langauges will be spoken in lots of places. The US will fail someday as Rome fell and as England's empire shrivelled. But now, in my lifetime, English is nothing to be ashamed of.

My friends in other countries have been sweet and generous in letting me visit even though I wasn't able to communicate in French, Dutch, or Portuguese. The willingness of Brits and Australians to repeat or rephrase is appreciated. I'm glad I was allowed to trade ideas, stories and writing for that hospitality. Thank you.

Here's something about English in Iceland: Bilingualism: Why Not?, by ZR –

Saturday, July 19, 2014

What I learned from Holly

Holly is good at photo manipulation, and related issues. She showed me how to find a color, from an image, for making matching fonts or lines or backgrounds. I've used that trick quite a bit.

Today I used it again here:

We have three juice glasses, probably from the early 1960's, I got from a thrift store. One day just for fun I photographed one.

Thinking about the heritable personality trait "openness to experience" and thought it would be good to start collecting notes about that, for the benefit of unschooling families.

Helen Davies had brought a Ray Bradbury quote to a discussion:
I was not embarrassed at circuses. Some people are. Circuses are loud, vulgar, and smell in the sun. By the time many people are fourteen or fifteen, they have been divested of their loves, their ancient and intuitive tastes, one by one, until when they reach maturity there is no fun left, no zest, no gusto, no flavor. Others have criticized, and they have criticized themselves, into embarrassment. When the circus pulls in at five of a dark cold summer morn, and the calliope sounds, they do not rise and run, they turn in their sleep, and life passes by.
That inspired me to use the photos of the circus glasses on that page.

This week, someone was asking what to do if adults quiz her child. The child in question is six months old, so it's too soon for her to care. But in the discussion someone used the phrase "my child isn't a circus monkey."

When Marty was four or five (I've forgotten), I wanted him to roller blade for his grandparents. He was really good, very young. He declined. They were getting ready to drive home (200 miles) and I wheedled at him. Keith said (to me, to get me to drop it) "He's not a performing monkey."

True and good point! But what if Marty had wanted to show them and I was the one who had been saying, "No, don't"? And what if someone used "circus monkey" instead, when I already had a page with a circus reference AND a picture of a circus monkey!? Well then it goes on the page.

I didn't think of the page when I wrote my response, but I did think of Marty, twenty years ago, and of Keith who hinted that I should not be a ringmaster.

But back to Holly. The page had a section in red. It clashed with the glasses. The page had horizontal lines as section dividers. They were boring.

I went into photoshop elements to sample the red (somewhat fading away) on the glasses. It was different different places, and had lots of numbers and letters. Not the clean kinds of code webpages need. I picked up the phone to call Holly to ask her how I can find the nearest web-worthy code, and then I stopped and thought "What would Holly do?" So I looked around at my photoshop options and found "Web colors only." Tadaaa! Thank you, Holly who isn't even home!

Holly says she learned photoshop from Marty. I learned it from Holly, but each of us has found things for the others, and that's pretty sweet!

Yesterday on an old episode of Robin Hood I saw a performing monkey in a little coat.
(He's drinking out of the goblet, lower left.)
One more connection, and it won't be the last!

Thursday, July 17, 2014

iPhone, ME!

Like Pinocchio becoming a real boy…

I got an iPhone today, and it's just like a little iPad that's a phone. That last phone I had never did work smoothly. Even Holly (who has a phone just like it) and Marty (who can usually figure out any gadget) couldn't help me.

Keith was feeling generous and encouraged me not to get the smallest iPhone. Destiny was sweet and talked to me all about what was what. Holly went with me to get it "ghost armored." Marty…he's been saying "You should get an iPhone" for quite a while. He said I would already know how to use it, because of the iPad. He was right!. Kirby has had iPhones for years, and he's not even an Apple computer guy, beyond that phone—so I took that as a good sign.

There was one other Mac given to me by Pam Hartley and her husband, when my first iMac was failing to have the power and brains to operate well with all the unschooling work I was doing on AOL—chats and forums, and lots of e-mail—I might find a photo of that and get help identifying it, at some point.
It took lots of thinking and encouragement, but I've owned Apple computers since the Mac IIsi I got in 1991, and had helped Ray Moseley (transcribing The Hammer, and working on a catalog) using Ray's Macintosh II in the 1980's.

Since then I've had an iMac G3 (the fat round ones), iMac G5 (elegant—LOVED THAT ONE), MacBook Pro (a string of those, for various reasons with interesting stories behind each change), and now a MacBook Air.

I have no preferred brands of shoes, chocolate, cars or much of anything, but these past 25+ years of Apple computers have been GREAT! So… I was slow to get an iPhone, but I have one now.

Note to future me: This shows a 13" MacBook Air, iPhone 5s and iPad Air

As I find portraits of the others, I hope I will bring them here, too. :-)

Holly and the G5:

Kirby and the IIsi:
Kirby 5:00 a.m. photo kirbyasleep.jpg

Sunday, July 06, 2014

Thursday, July 03, 2014

Dead Poets Society, 25 years

This is a powerful movie that came out over a lifetime ago for people the age of most of those actors. Some of us who are parents of adults now had babies then, or were yet childless. Such a story with boarding schools for rich boys is foreign to most of us, but not to all the people I know. Such parenting is more familiar than the school is.

The 1950's are gone, right? Long time ago.

This is a great movie, and potentially a painful one. If it seems exotic, and out of your experience, that is wonderful, especially if you have children.

Robin Williams and Norman Lloyd are both still living and working.

Robert Sean Leonard, not long after, played Claudio in Ken Brannagh's
"Much Ado About Nothing." Later he played Dr. Wilson in the TV show House, for years.

Kurtwood Smith played Red Foreman, Eric's dad in That 70's Show for eight years, which redeems him as a dad (where even though he was a cranky dad, he wasn't as bad as the movie character.

Josh Charles played Will Gardner for years on The Good Wife.

Ethan Hawke has been in tons of movies, and played Hamlet in 2000.

Below are interviews with some of the actors, ten years later (fifteen years ago).

Don't watch it if you haven't seen the movie.
ONLY WATCH this IF you have already seen the move AND you remember well what happens. :-)

It says "Movie trailer," but it's 27 minutes of memories and stories about the filming.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Ace Art (by Holly, 2010)

Holly did this art for a very small unschoolers' gathering several years ago. I just came across it and put it in a better place. The name came from Adam Daniel (documented here), the concept of a zia-based ace was mine, but the artistry and execution were all Holly Dodd's!

A little more about the small series of meet-ups:

Albuquerque Chat and Explore
Albuquerque, and The Ace Festival (notes about the name, and connections made because of it)
3rd Learn Nothing Day winding down (Holly's t-shirt, like Adam's t-shirt)

Friday, June 20, 2014

Saxon mother's son

One thing led to another. "Only" was on the lyrics game and I played "…only ever has to give me / love forever and forever / she don't give boys the eye" from "She's a Woman," by The Beatles. While I was thinking of the lyrics, I thought about the tune. It's interesting. And the words are pretty much one per note, so that reminded me of my collection of verse in small words (early native-English words in modern poetry and lyrics).

"She's a Woman" has three words I figure weren't native, but came from the Norman French:
I cast my mind out to what else might fit on that page, because having added the lyrics to "She's a Woman," I needed one more song to fill my chart. The next song I thought of was "Help":
I need somebody
Not just anybody
You know I need someone
I went to look, and found a recording I had never heard or seen (as far as I remember).

I love the internet. I love the people who volunteer to share the videos that they or their parents made, or that they've scrounged from hither and yon. I love seeing (again) the youthful movements of John, Paul, George and Ringo. I'm happy to have been cognizant when they first produced records, and am happy to have seen Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr on live TV not so long ago.

But "Help" is insufficiently Anglo Saxon for my collection. It has all this mess of borrowed words:
On the other hand, there are some phrases that are beautifully antique.

When I was younger, so much younger than today
I never needed anybody's help in any way

If anyone reading here can think of a song (not necessarily by The Beatles) that has almost all elderly English words, please leave a note!
My collection is here: Small Words and has The Boxer, Easier Said than Done, Surfer Girl, Your Cheatin' Heart, Glad All Over, Red Rubber Ball and a few others.

(P.S. The title of the post is part of a description from a Beatle's song. Double points if you knew that before you got here. Triple if you can sing the chorus of that song just from reading that phrase that comes before it.)

(Two black-and-white posts in a row!
Both concern English history mixing with modern days.(

Little John being rewarded by the Queen

Archie Duncan played Little John in the 1950's Robin Hood series I've been watching lately. I watched it when I was little, but I was very little. There are snippets I remember. I see the roots of some of my interest in early music and costume.

But something happened, and I will be happy if someone who reads this knows a way to discover more.
"Duncan was briefly replaced in the Little John role by Rufus Cruikshank for about ten episodes after Duncan was injured when a horse bolted toward the spectators, mostly children, watching the location filming of the episode "Checkmate" on 20 April 1955. He grabbed the bridle, stopping the horse, but the cart it was pulling ran him over, causing a fractured kneecap and cuts and bruises. He received the Queen's Commendation for Bravery Award and £1,360 in damages from Sapphire films." (wikipedia page)

"Received a Queen's Award for Bravery for protecting a group of spectators (during filming of a first season episode of Robin Hood) by grabbing the bridle of a horse, which had bolted, and was drawing a cart with fixed axles that could not be steered. The cart ran over Duncan, fracturing his kneecap and putting him out of action for the next eleven episodes." (imdb trivia)

According to this, in the 1950's it was called the Queen's Commendation for Brave Conduct, and the name was later changed to "Commendation for Bravery" in 1994.

I would love to know more about the particulars of this award, as Elizabeth hadn't been queen for very long, and the brave act was done in costume as Little John, with a medieval-style cart, on a film set. It must have been mentioned somehow in the presentation, on in the certificate.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Why we unschooled

 photo KeithBoysTaos.jpg

 photo SandraBoysTieDye.jpg

I really loved school. When Kirby was three or four, I was at a La Leche League playgroup and some of the moms were talking about homeschooling. My friend Rhiannon said she would NEVER send her kids to school. I said "but what if they loved school as much as I did?"

Rhiannon said, "What if Kirby hates school as much as I did? What are the odds?"

That's the moment I started considering homeschooling. I knew two unschooling families (in that same group) and two school-at-home families (ditto). I thought about it for the next year.

Flash forward 20 years. Her kids DID go to school, and they did not like it. Kirby never went to school.

The odds of which she spoke were well known to me. I taught Jr. High for six years, after paying close attention to what school was for various people, because I knew from the time I was six that I wanted to be a teacher, and I started teaching when I was twenty-one years old.

The odds that someone will love school are smaller and smaller as the years go by, and one element of loving school seems to be an unhappy homelife. I wasn't planning on providing my kids an unhappy homelife. Attachment parenting, in combination with my working on recovery from growing up with an alcoholic mom, was changing my life.

I could tell good and fun school stories at length, but in each story, there are people who "lost" because someone else won, or kids who were watching but not involved in whatever cool thing was happening.

The kids who have fun at school aren't ecstatic about school.
The kids who are unhappy at school are sometimes so unhappy they kill themselves or others. School wounds people for life, if they live.

I found the writing above today, in a folder of things I had saved for a book. But it isn't in the book. It's likely I didn't find it when I was working on The Big Book, but I'm glad I found it today.

It was probably written on a forum that no longer exists. I cleaned up some spelling and word order.

The photos are from that time, when I only had two children and figured they would be in school someday.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Retro Learn-Nothing-Day poster

This art is by "artworkking", in the UK. I ordered it on .
Click he image to go to the Learn Nothing Day blog. Other exciting art is already scheduled to launch there, and unschoolers keep sending me more! I'm also collecting art from years past, and there is a randomizer. Have fun!

Sunday, June 15, 2014

A favorite photo

This was all natural, in Stroud—the roofline of a house down steeply off the road, and the other side of the valley beyond. Alison Pawlak drove me there on June 30, 2011.

Here's another favorite: the chariot on a carousel at Hollycombe. Half a dozen favorites (this included): My Best Photos

Sunday, June 01, 2014

Minnesota symposium done, and nicely so

Pam Laricchia, Alex Polikowsky and I spoke in Rochester (I'm writing to my future self, and my few readers) this weekend. There were families (or at least parents) from nine states and provinces:

Of the Canadians:

3 Ontario
2 Manitoba

Of the Americans:

8 Minnesota
2 Wisconsin
2 Iowa
1 Illinois
1 Kansas
1 Washington (state)
1 New Mexico

Very nice people, LOTS of kids, cleanup was easy, no damage to the site or equipment and very little to people (headbump, a couple of minor upsets, but mostly peace and play.

I'm writing from my quiet recovery last night in the Grand Kahler hotel. I slept the afternoon away sweetly and peacefully thanks to the hotels efficient black-out curtains. When Pam and I went to lunch in the hotel, we were told it had been raining since the night before. We couldn't hear it or see it, from the conference area. Rochester is like St. Paul, downtown, in that you can get from building to building through underground passageways and second-floor walkways and not need to go out in winter weather (or spring rain).

I'm happy with the way the weekend went, and I love hotel rooms, so I'm happy here right now. I'll be home Tuesday night and I have orders for a book and some Thinking Sticks to pack up and mail Wednesday, and a chat, and I'll be back to routine, and home. I will be happy there, too.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

The only connection is me

Just sayin'…
Earlier this month, I saw August Osage County in which the character of the only teenager among much older relatives says she doesn't eat meat because it's eating an animal's fear.

This week I'm watching the Robin Hood TV series from 1955. A character is eating his own food rather than sharing a feast, and says venison is bad to eat, because deer live in fear, which causes melancholy humors, "which when eaten causes a superfluity of yellow bile: gall."

I'm the juncture of those two; I connected them by seeing them both in a short space, and telling you about it.

I'm having lots of fun with this series. Because it's black and white and they were half-hour episodes, each disk has 13 episodes or so, and there are 143 in all. It will take most of the summer.

The music is good. Costumes are fun. Props are great.

They were made in a studio that doesn't exist anymore—Nettlefold—that sold most of its equipment to Shepperton Studios, where many favorite and famous movies of the past few decades have been made. I love following little trails like that.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Finding things in pairs, and old fears

I'm finding things in pairs lately, which partly seems great, and partly shows how much stuff I have to find/discover/rediscover.

Yesterday in my office, looking for something else, I found the original of this art. I had no idea where it had been, and I didn't think it was on website. I was right.

This morning, looking for some old code for a plain date count-down, I found the art. Its name was "carnival2." Ah… a blog carnival! So I looked around the code on that page and found a link to a blog, poked around, found it from a phrase… That's a lot of moves, and it's surprising that I found the art (on paper) AND online (by coincidence) in a short space of time and of… space.

I had responded to a blog carnival with a piece of art and one sentence full of links. It was August 2006. They linked me back to here: Trust and Freedom for Unschooling.

I slowed way down on my use of "freedom" after it was so misundersood and abused by other families whose lives were not freedom on top of learning, but freedom (it seemed) without regard to learning. Freedom to live without enrichment. Freedom to live without closeness with thougtful, attentive parents.

But my children did have lots of choices, and leeway, and options, and parents helping them safely navigate their explorations.

In the same "test" file with lots of snippets of html code and notes where the "everything" art was, I found another piece of writing about my fears and my confidence, as an unschooling parent, regarding my children. Just recently there was a chat on fears, and I hadn't remembered having written this:
I used to worry strongly about what would happen if I died, when my kids were eight and ten and unschooled. I was very fearful of leaving them in the lurch partway through the project. But as each has turned 14, give or take a year, the whole worry flowed out of me regarding that child. Each of them blossomed HUGELY right after the rough early puberty, and I think that right at this moment any of them would make it fine without parents. I wouldn't think the same of the schooled teens I know around me, who are suspicious and resentful of adults, who avoid eye contact and have learned to just say what they have to say to get adults to ignore them too.

My kids are, by contrast, direct and cheery, honest and responsible.

Often I'll look at them through the lens of something I'm reading about or thinking, or a period movie I've watched. Could the boys be sailors or soldiers if they were in another place and time? Easily. They would be among the best, if they had good reason to go and do those things. Either of them, right now, would make good parents. Holly's still a little young, at 13, but there are times in which she'd've been in the early stages of arranged marriages, and could she do that? Yes. She's physically young, but she's emotionally and mentally more aware of social issues and human factors than many adults, and she's not thinking maybe she understands it, she knows she has some clear understandings.

She knows.

That feeling of fakery and fraud that people have talked about for the past few decades seems absent in these kids. What they don't know doesn't scare them, and what they do know is solid.

9/3/13 It's whimsical photo HollysinLondon-09.jpg
photo by Jasmine McNeill
in Camden Market
Holly was 13 nine years ago, so 2005, probably. I don't know where I wrote it.
Found it! Always Learning, July 2005.
So here's a photo of Holly that Spring:

Friday, May 02, 2014

Unfinished projects

In my office, in my sewing room, on my computer, even on my iPad… unfinished projects, writing started, photos not uploaded, notes to myself, lists of things to do.

2014 is full.
I've already been (exhaustingly) to Texas, and then Australia and then Texas again. Now...
Rochester,Minnesota in late May/early June
Santa Clara, California in late July/early August
Camden, Maine in late September (when trees are showy!)
Las Vegas, Nevada in November for the Marty's wedding
Albuquerque ALLive at the very end of December.

In 2015 (an early resolution) I hope to Stay Home a lot. More than I have for years.
It doesn't mean I won't do things for family, and for unschoolers. It means I will (I hope) do them from home, and in the process, finish some of the hundreds of small and large things I've started.