Thursday, August 28, 2008

"Nothing Could Be Finer...

than to be in Carolina in the morororning!" We're actually in Georgia, in Sky Valley. But right up the road a few miles is Highlands, N.C. which is one of my favorite places on earth. We are swimming and fishing and playing in streams with our friends, the Wilsons, and I have so many cool pictures but can't get them up here on this computer. So imagine Nicolas looking down through the mists of a waterfall spray from a scary peak up above. Imagine Gillen and his friend Logan searching for fossils in the stream beds and imagine me pretending to be an olympic racer in the pool and then passing out. It has been a great week, even when it was raining and we just watched "Star Wars" movies, "Big", and "Robin Hood" episodes (the BBC series) for an entire day. I wish that I could find a way to capture the bright smell of the mountains to take home with me.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

One Local Summer

I'm afraid that I am posting some pictures of the same meal as last week, hopefully better ones. We did have several local-only meals - eggs, gazpacho (this time spicy), and last night , it felt like fall, so I brought home an African Squash, onions and garlic for our favorite warm soup. I am bravely posting a picture of myself, holding this newest member (this season) of our farm vegetable family, because I think it shows how much I needed a bit of warm soup. And isn't it big? This just shows one third of it. I was on the phone with my mother in law who was giving me healing advice. Thanks Helen:Red and green mixed okra (it all turns green after cooking it):Roasted purple and yukon gold potatoes, onions, garlic, red peppers, Delicata squash and beets:
A close up of the small Delicata squash:We just can't get enough fried okra right now. A woman who is volunteering at the farm and is a former chef from Woodfire Grill in Atlanta gave me a hint about the okra. She said to soak it for an hour in buttermilk and then drain well. Coat it in corn meal (with a bit of flour) and with grits, to add more crunch. I can't say I did this the other night as I wanted to wait until I could buy the locally produced grits and buttermilk but I will definitely try it in the future.

Gazpacho:We'll be out of town for a few weeks. I hope that I'll be able to post some local meals from north Georgia and N.C., if we are able to create any local meals.

Friday, August 22, 2008


Back in March, Jesse decided that he wanted to make his own card game. He asked me to cut out cards from card stock and once in a while asked me how to spell something. He would put the cards away for weeks at a time and then suddenly make them every day. Every once in a while he'd ask for new colors of card stock.

About a month ago, Jesse thought of selling these cards at the Live and Learn Conference untrepreneurial fair. This gave him a deadline and he started working more quickly. As of today, the game is officially complete.

His game is called Treno. He has created four different decks of 35 cards each. They are called: Rainbow, Sea Serpent, Light and Earth. I picked one card from each deck to post here.
He came up with very clear and interesting directions (it's less complicated than yu gi oh, so even I might be able to play). He is decorating containers for the decks.

I hope he sells a few at the conference. They are pretty darn cool - not that I'm objective or anything.

Undoing the knots

Yesterday, I spent over four hours de-knotting the koolaid dyed yarns that I want to crochet into wash cloths. As I untangled the many shades of pink yarn (all shades of koolaid, when using cotton yarn, it turns out, turn pink) I learned several lessons:
  1. It is easier to untangle when you work on the whole first, rather than getting caught up in one tiny knot.
  2. Lots of room and freedom of movement help.
  3. When you see deknotting as an opportunity rather than as a pain in the ass, it goes much better. Actually, I found I liked it. I now have much more respect for those who like discovering knotted chains in drawers.
  4. Putting our attention on something together (Gillen decided to help me with one big chunk) makes for great conversation. This one includes - asking for help is ok, as long as you are ok with not getting it.
  5. A pile of tangled, swirly yarn contains so many pictures and connections to other things (a Sandra Dodd connections talk, among others of hers, planted this seed).
  6. Taking the time to prepare the yarn beforehand would have prevented the knots.
Now, can I consistently apply all of my untangling skills to my relationships?

Wednesday, August 20, 2008


We are going to my father's (the week was going to be lost so had to be used) timeshare next week. The week after that, the kids and I stay in NC and go to the last Live and Learn Conference (at least, the last that is put up by Kelly Lovejoy). So we will be gone for two weeks.

Just like before our last big trip, six months ago, I am getting a head cold-sinus thing. Grrrr. As I did then, I hope to kill it with echinacea and homeopathy and coconut oil, and denial.

We are thinking we might have all of our conference projects ready by Sunday, which is amazing. Gillen has been making hemp bracelets, a few a day. Jesse, for about four months now, has been creating a card game, similar to Pokemom and Yu Gi Oh, that he plans to sell at the untrepreneurial fair. He has finished creating four decks and they are at the printers being copied and laminated, twice (so there will be two of each deck available to sell). Now he just has to make 40 power cards.

My projects keep multiplying. A few days ago, Jesse asked me to choreograph a dance for him to "Mama Mia" to do in the talent show. But everything I've come up with hasn't been met with much acceptance. So I am thinking it will be more of an improv.

I also planned to dye a bunch of yarn with koolaid to crochet multicolored wash cloths. The kids are eagerly supporting me in following through on this one. Apparently, they have never tried koolaid.

My favorite part of every day this week has resulted from a delivery that we came home to on Monday. I ordered Beyond the Heather Hills, the fourth book in Melissa Wiley's series about Laura Ingalls Wilder's great grandmother in Scotland, and the fourth book in her Martha Series. I found it, and a few others by Melissa Wiley, here. They are from her original Martha and Charlotte series (another version was published that was dummed down against the author's wishes). I read the whole Little House series out loud to the kids so now, I'm so happy to say, they want these read out loud. This is my nerdy idea of bliss - reading out loud about life in Scotland in the the late 1700s, while Jesse draws more power cards for his Trenno game and Gillen makes a bracelet. One cool aspect of reading this series is that Melissa Wiley is an unschooling mom! Also a good thing - the book is so well written. I look forward to finding the whole original version of these series about Laura's ancestors.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Monday Farm Photos

It was a beautiful overcast morning at the farm. After Nicolas persuaded Jesse that there was indeed fun and opportunity to be had in the barn, I took my camera (and dinner plans) to the okra field.
Isn't it majestic?
Today, I was really aware of the contrast between young and old, and of transition. There were plants waiting to be pulled and sent to their final resting place on the compost. And I was lucky to get to witness this fading butterfly, probably on its last day here, sipping the final sweetness from some of the older Zinnias.Signs of new life:
new bounty:
The next generation :We were there longer than usual and despite some challenging moments - Gillen getting stuck in a bucket:Jesse being surrounded by (but thankfully not bitten by) many yellow jackets:we had a really good farm day.

Saturday, August 16, 2008


This morning, we went to a Dragonfly workshop at Charlie Elliott, our local nature center. It was led by one of the experts on dragonflies - he wrote the southestern book, literally.

Giff gave us a slide show presentation and then we hit the ponds to catch them and even hold them for ourselves.

Gillen has his friend Cole here for the weekend and they weren't so sure about letting the dragonfly workshop take up valuable time out of their day. Thankfully, they ended up loving it and were the last ones to go back to the car. Jesse (here with his best friend Logan) treated it as a sport. He had a fierce need to catch as many dragonflies as possible.

He tried giving them the signal that they were cleared for a landing...
One seems to have chosen a runway behind Jesse.
Finally, he chose the strategy of running as fast as he could , net flying and eyes darting.He had caught many more when we first got there, when he wasn't trying so hard. The Olympics are giving us all a need to reach intensely, and with lightning speed, for our limits.

There were hundreds of dragonflies. I particularly liked this amber winged one. Up close, its wings are iridescent.I plan to sit on the stone bench in Gillen's garden and try to catch a glimpse of the nymphs coming out of his pond. They slowly leave their ecoskeletons in order to spread their wings and "harden" into dragonflies. This process takes about an hour and Giff said it is incredible. Dragonflies spend 90% of their lives, several years, as nymphs. The hour long process when they come out of their hard skins is their most dangerous time. They are also amazing to watch mate - their bodies form a heart shape as they connect.

Friday, August 15, 2008

One Local Summer

Inspired by my cousin coming to dinner, I made gazpacho, I roasted potatoes and beets, and I fried up some okra, with local corn meal. My cousin, Lake, brought wine from a vineyard down the street (it was a super nice thought, but really not something we think we'll do regularly having tried it)and thankfully, we had locally produced Athens, GA Tarrapin beer too.I got lots of yellow tomatoes for the gazpacho as they are less acidic and I thought the color would be interesting. Mixed in with the red tomatoes from the kids' farm, the red peppers, red onions, garlic and cucumbers, when blended the soup turned a rich shade of orange.

I included a few farm shots to make up for the lack of Monday farm photos this week.

Watermelon:The intellectual farmer:The farm and the farmers are all tired. Pictures of the rows would be filled with weeds, the edges of some vegetables even singed from the sun. But there are lots of them and we are so grateful for the abundance.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

I'd like to thank the red head in Wisconsin

Angie, a funny, red-headed, organic farming, unschooling mama put me down as a recipient of this cool award. She is one of my favorite bloggers and I feel honored.

I followed her link to the Mexican site that talks about the award's origin and found this one bit of explanation in English:

"What is the meaning of the expression: Arte y translates into a wonderful phrase in Mexico, “lo maximo.” ...It will never find its counterpart in English, but if it HAD to, it would be something like, Wow. The Best Art. Over the top."

I have no idea how I could ever have been included in her list - I give credit to Nicolas' vegetables - but I'll let it inspire me to greater artistry and creativity.

Now the hard part, where I pass it on to only five other blogs. Of the twenty or so blogs that I read regularly I would have to point to the following five as being "lo maximo" - over the top artistically. They are, for the most part, blogs that have so many readers that I don't even know if they will notice that I gave them this award, but I wanted to share them with any of you who may not have read them:

Bits and Pieces - Cathy Zielske's blog. She is a graphic artist who inspires me with her artistic ideas and, more importantly, she is one of the funniest women alive.

Julie Person's blog. Another red headed unschooling mama who likes to garden. She is also an amazing photographer, painter, felt artist and blogger. I once was looking through the archives of her blog for a certain musician I knew I'd discovered on her playlist and I ended up laughing and crying my way through most of her posts. Her blog is amazing.

Mary Gold's zenmomma blog. I love what she can do with food, with taters (most recently), with combinations of words and pictures. I followed the band Train (well, at all my local venues) for a year, so I relate to her obsession with the band James.

Elsie Flanagan - very young, sassy, and extremely talented. I sometimes feel old while visiting but often feel inspired.

Little Purple Cow Photography, my friend Stephanie's new photography blog. She is an artist, with photographs and with words. So is my sister - Bhu Sullivan - who is linked in my side bar list.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Gillen's Birthday

Gillen turned eleven on the eleventh, which happened to be the same day as the GA Unschoolers' not-back-to-school-party, held at a very cool pool. On his birthday eve, we were at Mindy's, which meant we were with some of his favorite people.

In addition to the yard sale-ing, Gillen got to teach Sophie to make a hemp friendship bracelet and she has agreed to help him lead the funshop at the Live and Learn Conference.They sure are some cute eleven-year-olds.Mindy made him a Mississippi Mud cake that was amazing. The next day, his actual birthday, we drove to the pool party with leftover cake and shared it with other appreciative unschoolers. This cake even has marshmallows!Below are a just a few of the unschoolers and their moms. Even dads showed up. That was cool.Here is what the place looks like as a whole. There is also an inside Olympic sized pool with diving boards.Gillen definitely had a good day.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

The World's Longest Yard Sale

This past weekend, the kids and I went to Mindy's and got to experience a piece of the world's longest yard sale. I got so many of the things that I have wanted to get for years. Truly. Well, maybe I didn't know how much I needed a pink tea cup but I have been craving blue glass and everything else on this list:

-blue bottles with wonderful old embossed trade names
-hand sewn quilts - I got two double bed sized for $50!
-cool containers to hold art supplies
-a stool for my kitchen
-a wig
-the perfect pink tea cup
-a heart shaped glass snack dish to go with the other clubs, diamond and heart dishes that I bought at the only other yard sale I've been to this year. I was looking for the spade one but two hearts make up for no spades. Now four of us can play Texas Hold'em while eating nuts in style.

So much joy for a few bucks.

Everyone scored. Jesse was introduced to Beanie Babies, a long time favorite of Mindy's kids, for a dollar a piece and has been playing with his new creatures ever since.Gillen bought knives and swords and material for a quilt. He has wanted to make a quilt since reading The Boy and the Quilt years ago and has been reinspired by knowing he'll have Sophie as a teacher. Mindy and Sophie helped him to pick out the material.
There was much hat, wig and chain-mail wearing.I made Mindy model her new apron and hat: