Thursday, May 31, 2007

Summer mosaic

Images from last summer to get me excited about the joyful possibilities of this summer, despite the GA heat! I love this mosaic tool. You can find it here on Flickr.

1. Jekyl Island Birding Festival, 2. Jekyl Island Birding Festival, 3. Jekyl Island Birding Festival, 4. Jekyl Island Birding Festival, 5. Jekyl Island Birding Festival, 6. Jekyl Island Birding Festival, 7. Conyers Fair '06, 8. praying mantis, 9. Conyers Fair '06, 10. Red Sox here '06, 11. IMGP1308.JPG, 12. sunflowers, 13. Jesse with Papa, 14. GT's Fruit Salad, 15. Red Sox here '06, 16. Painting with Papa

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Some things I learned this week

- I realized how much I live in scarcity and about how much I want to live in abundance as a result of watching a taped lecture given by Lynne Twist. I am brainstorming ways to make money that won't interfere with homeschooling and am excited about some ideas.

- I meditated for nine hours one day (with walking-meditation in there and a silent meal) and realized how much I love to meditate! I had been so afraid of doing this. My body did hurt but it wasn't excruciating and I felt sooo peaceful and grounded in a way I haven't in years. I am creating a more set apart meditation space now in order to do it every morning.

- I learned that I really love Indian pudding and remembered how much I like Grand Marnier.

- My cousin and his family visited our home here for the night on the last night that I was away. Nicolas had thought that only my cousin and his eldest son (who is starting an organic meat and vegetable farm in south GA) were coming. Instead the whole family showed up! All twelve of them! Nicolas created enough dinner and breafast and enough beds for all... wow. My sister says that his motto is "no sweat". So true. I hate that I missed seeing Fritz and his family. They are wonderful. The lesson here is that my husband is all about service! I am a lucky woman.

- The next lesson came today in an email from my friend Dave who is battling the squirrels in Watertown, MA. He found a source for Coyote Urine. Yes. Apparently that is the answer! He sprayed it along the perimeter of his yard and so far they are being repelled! I will find a local source or buy it online and give Gillen an early birthday present.

And finally, I learned how much I am appreciated as a result of being away. It's good to be home.

Monday, May 21, 2007

retreat for a week

I am going away for a week tomorrow. I'll be seeing my sister and lots of good friends whom I usually only get to see once a year, on this trip. No technology! Lots of meditation and community. The kids and Nicolas are looking forward to lots of sports. They are going to a Braves game one night and will watch and play a bunch here. Gillen's expanded his garden even more, with Nicolas' help and plans to buy more plants while I am gone. He also built a hunting stand (just for pretend!) in our yard. May all squirrels and flowers be thriving when I return.

I'll miss writing, and reading my favorite blogs. Have a good Memorial Day weekend. Hope you get to do something fun.

Sunday, May 20, 2007


With encouragement from the Australian part of the family (though those in Holland will be glad as well) I finally downloaded the free skype software, enabling us to talk to family in far away lands for free. A few hours after I started the account, my computer started ringing! I "answered" the light blue ringing bubble on the screen and suddenly I was whisked into an episode of "The Jetsons". My computer was talking to me, in a familiar Australian accent. My mac laptop had come alive and had taken on Naomi's persona! It was surreal and freaky and I was hysterical.

When I finally stopped laughing and Naomi hooked up her camera so that I could see her (soo wonderful) I saw how cool this could be. We got to see her growing-with-child belly. sigh. That was something! We got to see Kenneth's new rock star haircut. Nicolas and the kids saw K. & N.'s Sydney apartment for the first time, including their beautiful view of the Bay from their terrace. We caught up on their new business venture, they got to hear the kids' voices (though mostly I was heading off Jesse from his attempts to have his stuffed dog Rufus kiss Naomi so much, in case Rufus inadvertently disconnected the skype). We shared Red Sox updates and reconnected with the pandas (Louisafini and Pandolfini who need an entire blog entry to themselves some time soon). It was all good. But that was because I could see them and they couldn't yet see me. I have to get a cord to connect our video camera to the computer.

I think that connecting in person is what it's really all about. We connected with some friends here today on their way to Vidalia. Sharing good food and laughs and the outdoors is so fine. If you can't have that, then connecting by voice is good; though I sometimes prefer writing. But this video phone phenomenon...I feel like the first phone generation must have felt. I think of Pa Ingalls saying "these times we're living in are going too fast, we have trains where we used to just have wagons, and telegrams, and kerosene lamps.... it's too much too quick." (I'm seriously paraphrasing Laura Ingalls Wilder) Am I afraid of even more technology? Been reading too many "Little House" books lately?

I want to see the new nephews (one niece?) when they are born. I loved seeing my brother after not having seen him for a year. It was so good to see Naomi looking so pregnant. But I don't want the computer to ring at any old time and have to literally FACE someone while talking. You feel like you're sitting in front of the person, but you're not! What is my problem? I'll stop wondering until I actually have a camera on me for the first time...if anyone even calls me again after this babbling.

OK, I am not stopping. My mac ibook is the way I connect to the world outside of my little town. I love being able to connect to such a fabulously diverse bunch of people, to reach out instantly to so many friends, family and yet-to-be-made friends, so easily. Skype just makes that possibility even bigger. It's a little wierd. But I can face it. Bring it on.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Cool May day at home

It was seventy degrees today, here in normally-already-hot-by-now GA and for the first time all week we didn't have to drive anywhere. There was yet another field trip – this one to the High Museum, and a park day at a favorite Atlanta park with great people. We opted out of all of it. We didn't even farm. It was a day filled with spontaneously starting cool projects. For instance, we were outside reading _Poppy_ and the boys decided to set up "drawing offices" on the deck.

In his office (which looked really uncomfortable to me but he assured me was perfect), Jesse created a "glitter garden" with lots of yellow around a colorful center. The yellow part represent “glitter seeds”. Throughout the day he periodically added more color and glitter over the yellow, showing me that more and more seeds had sprouted..

Gillen bird-watched and then drew all of the birds he saw on one big chart.

At one point Jesse announced that it was time to go make "it" to eat. He asked me to get out the following ingredients for "it" and then he mixed them together.

Thankfully he decided that "it" was too good to share.

The Thai Kettle chips made it spicy. Jesse loved "it". I made strawberry ice cream with my raw heavy cream from the Amish farmer, maple syrup and the farm's strawberries. So good.

Gillen's other big project was his garden. He has added a few new plants to it. Today he collected compost from the farm (early this morning he worked there with N.) and lots of pine needles from the woods next to us and blanketed all of this over his plants. He also finally staked the Honeysuckle and the Bleeding Heart plant (which I kept calling "love lies bleeding" due to its sad unsupported state.) He then created a new plot in another area of the yard and planted potatoes and cucumbers.

I started my Babette blanket (very funky and colorful). Look at the luscious colors of the Mission Falls yarn that I got on Ebay for this project (thankyou Helen for the whole idea). My favorites are Aubergine (deep purple), Merlot, Periwinkle, Goldenrod, lentil.... I love the other four I got as well!
It's fun deciding how to layer them together. Aubergine and Goldenrod together... mmmmmm. So rich. Periwinkle and Merlot together make me think of France. I don't know why.

My post preview button isn't working (from the blogger help board I see it's not just me) and so I don't know how these pictures are going to line up. It hasn't worked for almost a day so I am tired of waiting. It's probably good to publish/eat/dress/draw blindly once in a while....

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

simplicity; and when to give it up

Some friends of ours, a couple who live in Arizona, were here for dinner on Mon. night and I got a lesson in living simply. They simply don't buy stuff unless it is for their basic needs or is of spiritual/moving significance... or is that very ocassional movie or Starbucks latte (they aren't puritans!). They don't include a lot in the above categories. truly. They talked about how having less really does make more room for the good stuff, that it just comes when needed.

They got me thinking about simplifying, yet again. I am not a huge consumer but I do love a scrapbooking supply sale, JJill clothes, books... I only get the JJill stuff when it's on super clearance, once or twice a year, a few things. The art/craft stuff - more often. But I get 90% of our books from the library. We spend most of our money on quality food. But yes, of course I could simplify, a lot! My house could probably use more than 27 more "27 Flings" (idea from Flea Lady to walk through your house with a bag, picking up 27 things to throw away).

Before I overcomplicate... - a story:

Here's where my thoughts about living more simply led us while talking in the car yesterday.

ME (after referring to our friends' lifestyle that we'd heard about the night before) : "So, If you had to simplify your life to the absolutely, positively, MOST important stuff, the essentials, what would you have in your life?"

JESSE: You and Papa and Gillen and Tuki..

ME: We will be with you as long as you can stand us; longer. I mean which of your things, no animals or people?

So as I drove, these are the lists that evolved, in the order in which they said them (for once, I wrote something down right away):

GILLEN: Bike, skateboard, bike helmet, skateboard helmet, fishing pole, bait, hook, canoe, drift wood to hang fish on if it's big, the book "Swordbird" (he's reading it now), Music- U2, Red Hot (he said Hot Red) Chili Peppers, the "Exorcist" song (we have it on a Halloween scary music CD), Aaron (he forgot he couldn't include people), an RV (!)

JESSE: Towel, pillow, YuGiOh cards, Pokemom cards, "Harry Potter" books, "Series of Unfortunate Events" books, Garfield books, sleeping bag, tent, Monopoly, the game of ship, hybrid car, mansion "with solar powered electricity".

So they lost track of simplifying, by the end. I believe they are good lists. Children should have grandiose dreams, should BE grandiose. I learned that a long time ago from a very wise man and that thought came back to me after listening to them. May they be filled with their own grandiosity, filled to overflowing! And I'll just model simplicity... in those areas where it's simple.

Monday, May 14, 2007

NPR's "This I Believe"

I have been listening to the NPR "This I Believe" collection on CDs, from the library. I am kind of afraid of belief systems. I think they can breed all kinds of ugly totalitarian thoughts and if we are run by our beliefs can keep us stuck. But after listening to most of these now, I am inspired to write my own essay of what I believe, even if only for myself. The essays are read by those who wrote them. They are from both famous and unknown, past and present.

This first one I linked is by Gloria Stinam, whom I knew had done a lot for "women's lib" but I was never personally moved by her, until this essay on "the balance between nature and nurture."

This one made me cry. It is by a woman talking about her adoption process and "the power of love to transform."

One guy wrote about believing in barbecue. It was one of the best ones. I would love to hear your beliefs... I'll get mine on here eventually.

They made us brunch

The moms of the local part of the family - my MIL, my SIL, Isabelle and I were treated to a brunch yesterday made by the guys. It could have been served in a five star restaurant, it was that good. And the table! Gillen loves to make flower bouquets and centerpieces for the table. Look at what he did yesterday, complete with sun ordered up to hit the table dramatically.
The food was incredible. Bagels with smoked salmon and cream cheese, pancakes, a huge fruit salad, eggs from the farm scrambled with raw milk and cream cheese, mimosas...
It was the best mother's day yet.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Happy Mother's Day

"The best conversations with mothers always take place in silence, when only the heart speaks." ~Carrie Latet

I have had many good conversations with my mother since she died in 1989, when her presence (or the memory of it) came to me unexpectedly. Once, I was about to go on stage in a huge outdoor amphitheater and unbidden, she was there. She had always been my biggest fan so gave me an extra dose of confidence in that moment. The connection with her was so safe and comforting that I didn't want to leave the offstage room where I was waiting. My cue nudged me forward, the feeling put aside to be recalled in later silence.

I believe in the power of words. So I want to use them carefully, especially with my children. I have often said things I wish I could take back. I think the key is to listen more, talk less. When my emotion has me opening my mouth reflexively, I want to take a breath instead of making a sound. In those pauses, the right words may have a chance to come through. This has worked for me. From this day forward, may I start to do it every time.

There are so many inspiring mothers. The one who has inspired me the most for the past year or so is Diana Jenner. She lost her husband and later her daughter (to cancer and Leukemia) and hasn't let these tragedies keep her from living life to the fullest with her son. She is passionate and funny and genuine - in my opinion, the three best traits a mother can have. When I am having a bad day I think of Diana or read her blog and am reminded of resilience, of mothering tools, and of how infinitely blessed I am.

Amanda has created a beautiful collage of mama photos accompanied by a poem that I love. Go here. Have a wonderful day.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Six Flags, one very tired mama

Yesterday, Jesse and I went to the homeschool day at Six Flags. He wanted to try the roller coasters and Gillen didn't. Gillen decided to go with Papa to do deliveries instead. So Jesse and I had a date. We started out with the Mind Bender,one of the gentlest roller coasters. It wasn't quite the thrill he'd hoped. He didn't cry and wail (as I had as a child in Panama City). But he did stoically decide that there would be no more roller coasters that day. He plans to try again next year. Ben and Jerry's ice cream was a big highlight!Jesse got to do this ride alone! He is there, the little dot in the middle of the seats.

It was soooo hot. Only one water ride was open and that line was probably over an hour long. I was crazy tired when we finally got home, to the news that our good friend from Vancouver Island was visiting for dinner. I cleaned the house like the Tasmanian Devil, made dinner and got to visit with Chris, who is so wonderful. I just hope he didn't take it personally when I fell asleep on the couch while we were talking after dinner!

Vancouver Island sounds incredible. We will have to visit, some day.

Friday, May 11, 2007

"squirrel", part three

This was a lesson to never blog before having coffee.

Above,apparently trying to eat the boogie board, is the "squirrel". I finally had the guts to go close enough to look at it and realized that it was our crocodile, that usually lives on the rim of the bathtub. Yes! No dead squirrel to fish out of the pool, and my son doesn't have evil powers.

I have a vivid imagination (or am just certifiable).

Radical Assumption and death of a squirrel

You know that "Secret" (book, video, show on Oprah) that everyone was talking about a month or so ago? It was about the law of attraction and how you can use it to create what you want in your life? Nicolas and I were at a seminar over ten years ago where we learned the same principle but it was called "radical assumption". We have used it lots.

Apparently, Gillen has become a master of it. Last night, while the rest of us were eating dinner, Gillen sat at the edge of the pool for an hour. He was really sad about the squirrel being free. I don't know what he was thinking as he sat there all that time. But I looked out the window this morning and saw a dead squirrel floating face down in the four inches of water. We haven't finished filling the pool, so he obviously wasn't leaning in to take a drink. How did that happen? It's never happened!

I dread Gillen knowing about this. It will be creepy to see him excited about this death. But then, maybe he can let it go - this anger at the squirrel population. Nature will take care of them. A balance between the birds and the squirrels can exist.


Gillen came home tonight to that sense of victory that only a hunter or a birder can appreciate - he had succeeded, for the second time, in catching a squirrel in his trap. Let me hasten to tell you that it is a humane trap. The squirrel was running in circles, pausing only long enough to momentarily attach himself upside down to the roof of the trap, looking for the secret door. You could hear loony tune music as you watched him. Unless you were Gillen, the trapper, who heard "I am the Champion". He and Jesse called Tuki. Gillen grabbed the trap and ran with it into the yard. And the following premeditated crime was set in motion.

Now before I go any further with the story let me explain, to any squirrel-loving readers, like my SIL Naomi (who came to our hemisphere for a while from her native Sydney and fell in love with these never-seen-in-Australia rodents) that there was good reason for the murderous feelings in my son. The squirrels have become way too adept at raiding the bird feeders. Any kind of feeders. They can even cling to the sides of a round plastic feeder and scarf down our best black oil sunflowers seeds, all while spinning in circles AND being yelled at by angry humans. Look what they did to the feeder that Jesse built:

This used to hang on an arbor outside our kitchen window and attract beautiful finches, chicadees and tit-mouses. It has lost a side, in it's dramatic fall and the kids feel it would be a waste to replace it.

As for the fate of the squirrel - I am happy to report that it escaped. It was fun watching Tuki bouncing in every direction, trying desperately to claim it.

Gillen was depressed enough to not eat dinner, until he got hungry an hour later.

So, the war continues.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

The hat is finished; the corn is hoed

Gillen finished crocheting his hat for Papa this morning.

It is a beret but he prefers it pulled down on his head. I think it's cool either way.

He is so proud. He immediately started a green beret for one of his upcoming new cousins due in Sept.

After several hours of fun with our friends at the park, we went to the farm to weed the corn. My hoeing blisters are turning into callouses now and I didn't kill any of the plants today. I was sweating. My feet are hurting. I am farmer, hear me roar!

These two rows go twice as long and then we also had two to do in another field.

This is an heirloom variety of corn that is meant for milling into corn meal. This bunch of it is being grown for seed stock. It was commisioned by a granite-milled flours producer from Charleston, S.C. who we've worked with in the past. His story is pretty interesting as is his success with saving heirloom plants. You can read about him, the heirloom plants and the Charleston restaurant here.

Our first English peas and the chick that Gillen has claimed as his own.

Think this hat may be finished too?

Tuesday, May 08, 2007


So now the word of the day is "clairvoyant". How appropriate. Clairvoyant "polliwog" finds her way to my blog today (see comment in last post), the day I refer to her name? Strange. The internet provides so many possibilities of connecting. Eerie and wonderful simultaneously. I do love being able to follow links to an unknown end, all leading further away from the original topic and into all kinds of surprising new knowledge or a connection with something once known, now missed. Polli's comment just now led me to look at her blog. She isn't a homeschooler, lives in WA, has different hobbies (except for reading.) I wonder how she found me. I love her blog and will return. I ended up at some other site where people, including Polli, write reviews of others blogs and her review of Cameo's "Word Up" video on YouTube led me to dancing my butt off all over my office while the kids looked on in shock - thereby fulfilling the commitment I made last month - to dance all over my house. Full circle connection.

It is another beautiful day here. We didn't farm but we did get a chance to lie in the grass and look up at the trees and sky and birds. Well, I did. While I was doing this, Gillen talked on the phone to a local friend about the squirrel he caught in a trap and about how much he'd like to kill the squirrels with his BB gun if his mom would let him. Jesse was reenacting Ben Ten power moves and wondering out loud (for an hour) how it would be possible to program a real omnitrix with alien powers that would transport him off of the trampoline to fight fires, and injustice...

On another day, the BB Gun thing would have me quietly muttering to myself (not always quietly) or I'd want to get rid of Cartoon Network. But today, just listening, I am seeing the connections.

And one more -The kids and I connected today with a boy we don't know who is fighting Leukemia. He is asking that people send him birthday cards as he wants to receive the world record number of greeting cards. So, filled with Hannah's spirit, we made him cards and talked about death and illness and I realized, again, what being here now means.

Time to connect my family with some dinner.

word of the day

"polliwog'? And the last two days were ""myelin" ? I am just experiencing let down after the first day I had this on my blog when the word was "enervating"! Enervating... It just sounds good. I first came across that word when I played Doris, the eager to improve her vocabulary prostitute, in the play. "Owl and the Pussycat". She uses that word and I fell in love with it. For any who don't know, it means debilitating, bringing you down... though it sounds like it should mean energizing. Just had to keep that word on here somehow. These last two words of the day have been really enervating. Maybe I'll just do my own word of the day.


It was a beautiful day today, cool and sunny. The boys and I helped Nicolas by cutting the greens off of the last of the season's baby turnips.
Gillen ate more turnips than he threw in his bucket. They are so good. Have you ever roasted a turnip? Incredibly sweet.

Eventually they both went off to do other things. Gillen made a wooden, chained sign for a "natural restaurant", painted the name in red paint with his finger, and hung it on a tree. Jesse created an "edible" lunch (as opposed to their usual non-edible restaurant play items I guess) of a sandwich filled with bok choi, a turnip and a strawberry. He meant to save it for Papa's return from the back fields but got hungry and ate it himself.

They played and I got to farm alone for awhile. I do like farming, in these perfect weather conditions. It is good to be outside. I have blisters on my hands from last week's hoeing and today my nails had that old stained black look that a manicurist had struggled with before my wedding 11 years ago. No longer a full-time farmer, it easily washed off today.

Here's the mark of long-term, full-time farming. I am happy to say that Nicolas is out of his slump about his chosen profession. Today, just his hands are looking tired.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Slow Food

Yesterday, we went to a barbecue in Atlanta that was organized by Slow Food Atlanta. The Slow Food movement, with chapters in many states and all over the world, is about maintaining a relationship to traditional and sustainable foods, eating locally and eating with friends and family. It is everything that is not fast food. There is a better explanation here. We became members of Slow Food this past winter. The event yesterday was called "The New Q" . There were loads of great Atlanta chefs, each with their own table of slowly grilled or roasted barbecue. All of the meat and vegetables came from local farms. Every portion of food, or glass of wine or beer, cost a dollar and all proceeds went to a local food bank. There were a few local bands playing. We were next to a bunch of artists lofts where we searched out a blown glass shop and an urban gardener (who had lots of plant advice for Gillen). It was all sloooo good.

These are the gourmet garnishes prepared by Shaun (of "Shaun's"), a very hot new restaurant that Nicolas and I have been to and loved. These were so good that Jesse and I ate a plate full of them, without the barbecue. Of course, this was after having sampled barbecue creations from six other chefs.
Gillen savoring the gelato while watching the band.

Jesse savoring a bicuit from The Flying Biscuit. "Savor" was one of both boys' first words - born slow foodies.

We volunteered to help clean up at the end and were given hot pink bandanas, tickets to a preview of the movie "Waitress" and some leftover bottles of wine. Below are the Donck men modeling their pink.

On the way home we went to a mall to buy presents at a bookstore. My neighbor turned 90 today, my crochet teacher is about to adopt and needs some non-traditional parenting books (Holt and Kohn), the boys needed _Poppy_, by Avi for their next book club group and I had just found out at the "Q" that Barbara Kingsolver had written a new book(!) all about eating locally - so I gifted myself and Barbara (one of my favorite writers ever) by buying her book instead of waiting for it to come to the library. It's called Animal, Vegetable, Miracle - A Year of Food Life.

More than an hour later, we were still browsing in the book store (is it possible to be in a bookstore for less time than that, I ask you?!) and the kids were hungry. Incredible, but true. We bought our books, faced our tired and hungy children, realized how late it was and how far we were from home. You know where this is going don't you? We did what we never do, what we rail against righteously as we wear our slow food snail pins on our breasts and our hot pink bandanas on our heads and necks. We went the the mall food court and bought the kids' Chinese FAST FOOD!

But I can't leave you on that note. Here we are, back in our slow reality tonight, Gillen bringing the salad that was grown on our farm to our table.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

thrift store fabric

I am posting this picture in honor of Helen, a really discerning reader with radically good taste : ), and a friend who shares the same thrift store. I can't wait for her new web site where we can see her fantastic crochet creations, as well as her beautiful children.

The middle fabric is a scarf. I thought that the ones on either side were simply fabric. I had decided that I would teach myself to sew in order to make tablecloths from them (inspired by soulemama's creations). They were all folded up and taped at Goodwill. I untaped them at home and discovered that my sewing days can be further delayed! They are already tablecloths. The red came with 5 napkins as well.

Friday, May 04, 2007


We were on our way to a cool unschooling get-together to make tie-dyed stuff at the Land Trust. The sky darkened and we decided not to make yet another long drive. Truth is, we were tired and we have lots of field trips coming up.

But we did still go to the new local thrift store. We'd planned to go to get t-shirts and pillow cases to tie-dye. Instead, we went to explore. We found a few books, some great vintage material for a tablecloth, a basket, and then, the toy section - where all good will at the Goodwill thrift store ended. Gillen found a big boogie board and a big pillow boxing thing. He picked them up and played with them. He asked if we could get them. I asked him for the prices. He turned to look for them and they were gone! A woman who'de been watching all of this had grabbed them. Oh well. A new cartload of toys comes out and Gillen sees one of those big ball with handle things you can ride. A little small for him but the kind of thing he and Jesse love to use on the trampoline. I thought we'd eventually give it to a friend of our's younger son. He asked if he could take it off the cart and the goodwill employee said no, that it had to go on the shelf first. He followed her the few steps to the shelf and again... that same woman there, grabbing it off the shelf! I said (in a light tone), "wow, my kids just aren't going to be able to get anything with you around." She answered, with attitude, "I have 13 grandchildren."

Gillen immediately labeled this the worst shopping experience of his life, even cried.

Waiting in line to pay, behind that same woman and her overflowing cart, I told him to run back to the toys and see if anything good was put there. He ran back with a boogie board - smaller than the one he'd wanted but a lot more practical for our tiny pool and lack of beach. And he also had a plastic bat (a better size than the hard bats at home).

So, despite the cool, grey weather, the boys decided it was time to open the pool today.

cleaning the pool; finding a frog
Gillen and frog
Jesse joyfully bonding to frog
Boogie down!
Catching that 1" wave!

The hours of play with this board and then the game with papa later with the plastic bat were so worth the $5. I send that thrifty grouch's 13 grandchildren thoughts of good will. As for her, may she never meet Gillen or I in a toy aisle again.

Thursday, May 03, 2007


Here is another example of how Nicolas is the better human being. He doesn't waste paper. Ever. Not once since I met him thirteen years ago have I seen him just grab a piece of fresh, new, 8 x 10 paper and start writing. He is a born recycler.

Me, I loooove paper. I kept a journal for years and years and picking out my new one was always a big deal. I love graph paper and origami paper and cool wrapping paper and I used to make my own handmade paper (but not, I admit, because of any sense of wanting to spare trees), though I did also buy lots of recycled paper.

Now that scrapbooking has become such a huge hobby, man... the PAPER. So many incredible designers creating multiple possibilities of mood and style and texture in a 12 x 12 sheet of what used to just be paper.

Hence, Nicolas' pad of paper for work; this little pad to the left that is finally down to two sheets of paper, tiny notes about vegetable orders on both sides of the wrinkled sheets. To the right, a glimpse of my paper stash, stacked into two tightly packed containers. And my dirty little secret is even bigger. When I was at MOMA last year I bought a book of sticky notes that were designed by Lotta Jansdotter . I'm talking 8 different books of decorated paper contained in a bigger book. But you have to see these sticky notes! I use them sparingly and when I do, they truly brighten my day. Oh. do you know about mulberry paper? How about heavy weight vellum - translucent, coming in many differnt colors and patterns and when you emboss it...

But back to the difference between Nicolas' sustainability and mine. He is the recycler. Now, I do recycle - everything. I just happen to also be the buyer, and not always of recycled goods. He simplifies, I layer. He is aman of few words. I am a woman of many. But I do have to say that many of them (my words) - not having been fully appreciated the first time, are recycled.

Here is the big lesson, for me. Nicolas' energy sustains him through many hours of hard labor on the fields and then hours of family. My energy comes in passionate explosions of creativity and generosity; and then utterly fails me. His is recycled, mine often has to be recreated from scratch.

the moral: because of sustainability issues I need to blog more (hence using less paper to scrap book) and recycle (some) of my cool papers into farm notebooks for my husband. I need to talk less, breathe more and maybe even plant some more trees.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007


I discovered this library site last night that allows you to keep track of what books you are reading and even share part of that list on your blog. Oh how happy that makes me!

The list to the side is not even all of the books I'm reading right now. I am also reading : a Moosewood Desserts book (borrowed from the library to make black and white brownies), a spiritual book by Arnaud Desjardin (I highly recommend him if you want a lift) called _Towards the Fullness of Life_, a 900+ page novel about India called _Shantaram_ by Gregory David Roberts, and yet another scrapbooking/art book, _Artful Memories_.

And then there are the magazines... Creating Keepsakes, More, Newsweek, Live Free Learn Free (which hasn't arrived in a while, hmmmm). If I weren't reading so many other things I would have noticed sooner. And all the fantastic blogs!

I once read an article by Sandra Dodd in a homeschooling magazine about the possiblility of books being an escape and about how much learning there is in the world without being dependent upon and holier than though about books. I so agree that books are just one of MANY ways to learn. I had no agenda about when my kids should learn to read and never taught them. They are both reading now, having picked it up, I think, from having been read to A LOT. One boy loves to read (the 6yo) and reads really quickly and then talks about the books for days. The other one prefers listening to books and we listen to lots of them while we drive. I think that you are born with certain tendencies and some people are going to have the propensity to love books and others to love video games or frogs. I don't place a value (for my kids or others') on books as opposed to other forms of entertainment or distraction or learning. Unfotunately, some other people definitely do and i think my non book-loving son pays a price sometimes.

Whether they are my form of escape (one of many) or just one way in which I love to learn, I can't imagine my life without books. My favorite book memories:

-Coming home from first grade and lying on the couch with one of two favorites : Grimm's Fairy Tales and the collected stories of Hans Christian Anderson.

-Reading _The Secret Garden_.

-Going with a friend from middle school to the Boston Public Library to hear S.E. Hinton talk about writing _The Outsiders_. We followed that with a trip to the Harvard Bookstore Cafe where we drank tea and ate croissants and read the shelves' newest childrens' books. I think we both thought we might end up writing for kids. I still do.

-Reading Ruth Flanagan's (same girl from above) copy of _East of Eden_. She read it first and wrote all kinds of cool things in the margins. She knew I was reading it next so they were written to me, about the book but with lots of good boy gossip and doodling thrown in. I wish I still had it.

-Going to amazing old bookstores in NYC and browsing for an hour at a time, sometimes more, in the dusty aisles. I missed two auditions by doing this. I was supposedly in NYC to be starting my career as an actress, not as a reader/book lover. Escape...

-Reading Shakespeare, in college, with an amazing professor - John Hunt, once I'd left NY and decided to go to UMass.

-Reading _A Prayer for Owen Meany_ by John Irving, while escaping homework in college.

-Reading the Harry Potter series to the kids. We all love the story and I'm getting to use my acting training again. I went mute for a few days while reading one of the earlier books as a result of my Dobby (the house-elf) voice.

-Hearing the Little House on the Prairie series in the car with the kids. It's so surreal to be in traffic, surrounded by cars on a highway, listening to how far Laura and Mary Ingalls are walking to school .

So I like my book list to the right. I'll move it further down on the page once I figure out how, and I'm not in any rush. There's a book critic, a librarian and a book store/coffee house owner in me and for now they are being tamed by my book list.

Anyone have a favorite book story? The book can be the hero or the villain.