Saturday, June 02, 2007

Here is a beautiful, visual "European Art Herstory" lesson. Yanina sent it and I found it so captivating I must share it. (Mom, it will take forever on your modem, but being BAAA prez, you must find a way to see this... maybe when you get to Bill and Alison's.)

Drum roll please: I was domestic and the house looks passable. It's always easier to clean when you are not alone and I was not alone. Geoff and William helped me get the job done. And I would like to announce that we (finally) have a super sucker new vacuum! Don't bother wondering what we've been doing without one for 5 months. She's an E-Bay find and a screaming good deal, and cute enough I think I'll name her Little Red. I just know she'll work hard and be wonderful, because she came from Wisconsin.

We are having full days with school and projects. Geoff and Alex are designing a catapult / trebuechet that can be, safely, and easily constructed for the medieval festival birthday party. Alex is keen on historic accuracy and good engineering. We may have to make some historic exceptions and skip felling any trees and use PVC pipes instead. We'll be launching orbs (tennis balls, beanbags?) at tin can knights and cardboard castles. More on all this later.

Today we are going to a class end of year party for Max. It sounds like it will be very nice. The room-mom has been hard at work with planning and organizing. Everyone is contributing something, but I suspect she has been busy doing more than she has asked of the rest of us. I am supposed to be in the kitchen right now, making enchiladas... I was going to make them traditional and I made the corn tortillas in advance, but all of the fresh, hot corn tortillas mysteriously disappeared! Foiled.

There is more to share and pictures to upload. And I must, must, must get to the post office. Busy me. And you? What's

One more thing: About sluggo, well, Delia wants everyone to know, sweet impressionable children especially, that Sluggo lives. His *flying lesson* was more of a gentle suggestion that he remove himself from her flowers and go live in the woods with his slug brethren.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

I am posting on borrowed time. Ever since I got the sewing bug I have stopped cooking and cleaning... wait, did I ever clean? Well, I have stopped cooking. We're sick of granola, but I LOVE sewing.

So, this is just a quick brag about the apron I made up and finished. It looks cute cute on Maria but it's going to live with a little friend in Washington.

It started with a happy hen and just kept growing. I'd drop everything and make another today, but I absolutely must turn my attention to a dozen other things, like cooking, cleaning, bill paying, bathing children and agghhh!! Who knew it was May 31st?!

Have a wonderful day.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

I am still reading "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle." It is stirring my soul, and waking my mind. I miss gardening. I miss waiting for tomato sprouts and the feathery leaves of carrot tops. I miss the anticipation and the realized success of making water, earth, sunlight and seeds bring forth roots, green leaves, flowers, fruit and new seeds. I'd like to have a fig tree, a lime tree and a Meyer's lemon, some guavas, and herbs. I would love to have raised beds with veggies and flowers, and three or four clucky hens. Reading the book makes me envious and anxious, because I feel left out of a cycle I believe in and understand. Even the things I do not understand about gardening and farming are like a prize to be won, a new mission to pursue. I planted my very own first garden when I was 10 years old, inspired by countless gardens my mother kept, and a garden left behind when a neighbor moved away. I was determined to salvage all I could, even when we were on the move ourselves. Here at Garage Mahal, I was barely able to squeeze in some sweet peas. They make me happy and wistful.

We should be alarmed about what is happening to our seeds, to the core of Earth's fertility and cycle, and we should be appalled by the travesty of ethanol fuel, and corporate monopoly and manipulation. We should seriously question the sense of growing, shipping and processing corn to make fuel. I know, there is so much to be angry and frustrated and scared about, and it can feel so pointless to care, because it's hard to change our beliefs and our habits. It's hard to feel deeply moved and sad about the wrongdoings in the world, but I think we can try, even a little bit, to understand our power, and to use our power to make improvements and to question the status quo.

I hope I haven't bummed you out, or completely turned you off from reading Barbara Kingslover's book. The book is not a lecture or a commandment. The book is about a family's year, living within their means and ability to grow their own food or to find it locally. It has recipes and anecdotes, reflections and confessions and facts we should all understand about the sources of our nourishment, and who's controlling what we eat.

For about 5 years I've been meaning to travel to Deorah Iowa, so I could gaze upon this beautiful farm, where people are dedicated to the preservation of heirloom seeds. If you have a garden or a free corner in the yard consider preserving some " Vermont Cranberry Beans," and try growing some "Aunt Ruby's Green Tomatoes." I'd like to plant " Hillbilly Potato Leaf Tomatoes," just to see the colors.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

I think any person who served in a war, or is serving today, must have thought an awful lot about home... not parades and medals, not grand moments, but the very simplest moments, when there is a quiet rhythm and ease. They must have thought about backyards and picnics and their favorite burger. They must have pictured familiar faces and longed to be in the company of laughter and comfort. Serving, I must imagine, was not about heroism; I think it must have been about going home and doing regular things, like sleeping-in, walking the dog, eating toast and jelly, wrestling in the yard.

With our fresh fruit smoothies in hand, we made a toast to the men and women who were in bad places and gave their lives, lost them really, and we thanked them for their sacrifice. We acknowledged that we were happy and grateful for the privilege of grilling in the backyard, goofing around, taking pictures, reading books, sampling the first fruits of the coming summer. Life can be sweet, simple and sweet and we are blessed to remember all of it.

Max remembered Fishy, who died and was shamefully and unceremoniously left to decompose in the garden two years ago. Please: A moment of silence for Fishy. He was beautiful and proud. He lived, as betas do, alone, but never lonely. His home was in the kitchen, by the sink, and he was Max's very own fish, loved and cared for by all. We miss Fishy. He was good. This stone and these flowers commemorate the happy life of Max's birthday fish. May he rest in peace.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Both William and Max have sweet Etch A Sketch skills. They can write words and create recognizable images... not just sagging squares and wobbly circles. I don't have examples at the moment. My point is that they make good use of their Etch A Sketch, which is why it isn't surprising that they wore one out. The vertical knob wouldn't draw anymore. You can't send these things out for repair. So, we had a learning opportunity we could not resist.

Embossed in black plastic on the back of the toy, is the message that the silver 'aluminum powder and the small plastic balls' are non-toxic. Good to know, but we were cautious none the less. Who knows the story of the original Tin Man in the Wizard of Oz? Buddy Ebsen was cast as the Tin Man, but was hospitalized for 2 weeks after inhaling aluminum dust from his Tin Man make-up. It coated his lungs. Ouch.

Breaking into an Etch A Sketch is not as easy as you might hope, or, er... maybe you wouldn't hope to break in to one, but we love taking things apart and figuring out what makes them tick. Max made the first attempts, then I stepped in to help. Finally, Geoff got out his hack saw to separate the heat melded plastic inner casing. Once he pried open a hole, remembering poor Mr. Ebsen, we decided to pour the contents into a Ziplock bag.

The plastic beads are not small. The plastic beads are teeny, tiny, and they poured out like liquid. The aluminum spread like a fluid too, flowing and following the tiny beads, coating the inside of the bag until it looked like silver mylar (which is actually metalized nylon.)

Once the bag became super-coated in the silver dust there wasn't much to see. But it was cool figuring out as much as we did.

I haven't done any quilting in 2 1/2 years. I finished the last ones just days before Maria was born. Having come across dozens and dozens of lovely "fat quarter" or "doll quilts" I have been inspired to try my hand at one of these mini projects. I drew a bunny and embroidered it with fanciful colors, then while the boys were out and Maria napped I was able to cut a quilt pattern... I was hasty, and I could not find my rotary blade. Excuses. It's not quite as perfect as the one I was imagining, but it did make me happy to see it completed.

It's hand quilted. The real compliment is that Maria has already claimed it as her own. It's in her bed right now keeping her dancing bunny cozy and safe. If you want to see what patience, skill and an artful eye can produce go see Calamity Kim's doll quilts. She is sewing up a storm. And then if you want to see even more amazing work, then you must see Calamity's "Doll Quilt CrAzY." Keep scrolling through the pictures to see the amazing variety of little quilts, styles and colors. I have lots of favorites.