Monday, May 26, 2008

Relaxing, Southern style

Where are you heading? people ask us at the airport. With a big toothy grin, we say, Arkansas - and keep watching their faces closely. The confusions sets in, maybe they were expecting Hawaii, Mexico, Florida - at the very least, California. But... Arkansas? You have relatives there? Why, yes, we do, and mighty fine ones too. We count ourselves among the lucky few who have many reasons to visit the largely-but-not-entirely undiscovered state of Arkansas. Chief among the reasons are my dad and stepmom, but there are lots of other folks and rivers and mountains (small, sweet ones) and birds and festivals and such to enjoy there as well.

We all had so much fun. Seeing folks we love tops the list for fun. A close second for Rob and me: the screen porch with a bird belt behind - that is an enormous woods with millions of birds in it that we could listen to and watch. Jasper and Lucy loved the birds too, but for both of them, the second favorite thing about the trip would have to be the airplane rides themselves. Lucy especially loved the turbulence - I think she called it the jostling on the way down. Yikes - it was a little much for me... Here are some pics of it all -

Thursday, May 15, 2008


Yesterday, Lucy and I went to meet with a Waldorf homeschool co-op group. Cool people; Lucy loved playing with an almost-eight yr. old boy who is homeschooled this year, and will continue to be next year. He was so open and sweet and totally at ease with the grown-ups and kids. Most of the kids of the group weren't there and I left J. home too, with Grandma Gloria, who we have REALLY enjoyed having back in town after her month-long absence. Anyway, around ten families are involved and they seem like a good group. I think we're going to meet every week at Carkeek Park Environmental Center starting in the fall.

I was really glad I had that experience in the afternoon because in the evening, Rob and I went to Kinderhaus for our last parent evening. We sat around as usual over tea, and discussed our children. Parents each brought a flower and then added it to a bouquet and recalled some anecdote about the year at Kinderhaus. Mary and Kelly told stories about the children. Teacher Mary said that Lucy uses the materials in the classroom more inventively than any other child she's seen and described some of Lucy's creations. Kelly talked about how Lucy oohs and aahs over her sandwiches when she has her most favorite bread (dave's killer bread). There were lots of tears as parents described how their children have grown and changed over the year(s) they've been with Mary and Kelly and in some cases, cried over the changes happening in their own lives and how it is affecting their children. The most moving moment for me came when one of the moms who is also an artist, pulled out a rolled cloth. She laid it on the floor and slowly unrolled it to reveal tons of sticks that had been wrapped in it. Then she emptied a couple of bags of rocks onto the cloth. Then she pulled handfuls of small objects out of her pockets - chestnuts, acorn tops, rusty nails. She arranged everything on the golden velvet cloth and then said these were all the things her son had brought home from Kinderhaus this year. I know all of us could relate. On the children's long walks every day, they all bring pocketfuls, if not armfuls, of treasures back to school. Some of it makes its way to homes, yards, gets forgotten or dumped along the way. But it was incredibly poignant to see the treasures of the year all collected and arranged together. It was a very moving evening and I would have been sad to be leaving Waldorf school and community had I not just had the co-op meeting and been reassured that we will not be alone on the next leg of our journey.

And this morning, Jasper and I celebrated spring with a hike at St. Ed's with Meta and Kate. So beautiful; the forest is such a brilliant green right now, the birds are furiously singing, the motorboats are on the lake again, the trail is muddy only in spots, tiny wildflowers are blooming, stinging nettles are everywhere, the salmon berries are forming, slugs and snails creeping along. I really needed that and am looking forward to lots and lots of forest and beach time this summer.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Michael Pollan Knows How To Say It

Rob and I, perhaps contrary to popular belief, are no saints when it comes to environmentalism. The air cleaner is on and sucking up the energy as we speak and is certainly only necessary because we don't dust and clean the house frequently enough. The computer is on right now and way too much. We leave lights on. We whimsically drive ourselves all over town for love of badminton, Waldorf education for Lucy, Nia (dance) or yoga for me, multiple grocery shopping trips per week. We have quite a lot of land here at 15220 5th Ave NE, and we've failed to plant trees or food on much of it.

Rob is reading Omnivore's Dilemma now, so we frequently talk the politics of food and Michael Pollan in our household. It was so refreshing to read that book and to now have Rob reading it because Pollan so thoughtfully and convincingly explains why it is important to cough up the extra dough for environmentally friendly products, local food and organic everything - the smaller and more artisan the producer or grower, the better. Intuitively, it seemed right to me and Rob went along with it too, but Pollan spells it out, dispelling any remaining doubt we might have had. If that means we are spending most of our money on food, good. That keeps us from spending it on a bunch of other carbon-producing, petroleum-reliant items that we don't need. Eating organic food, local when possible, joining CSA's (community supported agriculture - getting a "share" of produce from a local farm), eating many vegetarian meals, not too heavy on the beef, and if we must, make it grass-fed (pasture-finished) and local.

Just now I was browsing at Soule Mama's website and saw this link to a fantastic Pollan article called "Why bother?" It inspired me. Check it out and maybe it will inspire you too.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Breaking Through

Friday was a beautiful, warm, Springish day so Lucy's class went to the Wallingford Park and stayed for a long time, including for snack. Lucy said after they got to the park, she traced her usual path through the shrubs at the park's perimeter, then hopped across the empty wading pool on concrete blocks, and made her way to a favorite climbing tree. She climbed in the tree and spent the next long while - perhaps over an hour - fingerknitting with a very long strand of yarn that she had stashed away in her coat pocket. She told a story to herself the whole while, she told me.

That day after we got home from school and Jasper was asleep, I myself went to take a little nap because I was very tired. While I napped Lucy wrapped five presents for me and lined them up on my bed. Then she set the table and prepared a nice snack for herself, me and Jasper (celery with dressing for dipping, bread with butter and jam). And she also cleaned her room and made her bed. For the first time ever without prompting or complaining, completely of her own volition. Then after I woke up and we'd enjoyed our snack together, she said, Simon really wanted the fingerknit I made today but I didn't want to give it to him. But I will make one for him now. She proceeded to make a long green fingerknit strand, she wrapped it in tissue paper and made a card for him. The card had a dot of green and let him know that the dot was a magical green dot.

Quite abruptly, it seemed, although it is really a long transition, I know, Lucy Brown was no longer the dreamy, dressed-up girl lost in her own imaginings, or just playing around the house or looking at a book. She is reaching out to me, feeling empathy and care for Simon, making her presence known in the household in a new way. I think some of her fluffy duckling down is being replaced with big grown-up feathers. Her body is stretching, with her spirit, mind and capacities right along with it. She seems to have taken ownership of herself in a new way. It is fascinating to witness.