Thursday, August 30, 2007


A discussion with a friend about the purposes of education has my mind whirling and googling. Reconsidering the meaning and purpose of education is timely. This time of year, I begin getting questions about what curricula we are using and when do we "start", meaning when do we formally being schooling. Truthfully, I don't consider that we ever "school", rather we "live" and learning takes place inside that framework. As the friend told an acquaintance, "we never stopped" learning.

Many consider education a means to prepare a child "for the real world" in which we live. Likely, this means the ability to function in a democracy and get a job supporting a family. Yet, as this website pointed out, for all the educated people in the world, we've not been so hot at being good stewards of the Earth and that in many cases, our ability to produce technology outpaces our ability to use it responsibly.

I highlight the following passages for consideration:

Finally, I would like to propose that the way learning occurs is as important as the content of particular courses. Process is important for learning. Courses taught as lecture courses tend to induce passivity. Indoor classes create the illusion that learning only occurs inside four walls isolated from what students call without apparent irony the "real world." Dissecting frogs in biology classes teaches lessons about nature that no one would verbally profess. Campus architecture is crystallized pedagogy that often reinforces passivity, monologue, domination, and artificiality. My point is simply that students are being taught in various and subtle ways beyond the content of courses.


Fifth, there is a myth that the purpose of education is that of giving you the means for upward mobility and success. Thomas Merton once identified this as the "mass production of people literally unfit for anything except to take part in an elaborate and completely artificial charade." When asked to write about his own success, Merton responded by saying that "if it so happened that I had once written a best seller, this was a pure accident, due to inattention and naiveté, and I would take very good care never to do the same again." His advice to students was to "be anything you like, be madmen, drunks, and bastards of every shape and form, but at all costs avoid one thing: success."

The plain fact is that the planet does not need more "successful" people. But it does desperately need more peacemakers, healers, restorers, storytellers, and lovers of every shape and form. It needs people who live well in their places. It needs people of moral courage willing to join the fight to make the world habitable and humane. And these needs have little to do with success as our culture has defined it.

Still thinking and learning - Junosmom

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

L'Oréal 7 1/2a

On my husband's side of the family, mothers in their forties birthing children isn't uncommon. In fact, four of us over forty had children within years of each other. I won't say that there aren't moments when I contemplate the adult moments I could be having with two teenaged daughters, but never would I give back the amusement and joy that a young child brings. Does it keep me looking young? No, my religiously applied haircolor does that. Thus far, I've not been assumed to be the grandmother by young, first time moms. Good thing, too, for I'd probably have to deck anyone making such an obvious error.

I nearly bit my menu in two last week when at a restaurant, the waiter referred to me as "young lady". It was such a blatant reference to my age, as in "we all know you are older than the hills but I'm going to treat you nice like you are really only twenty". No one has ever done this before, and I wanted to slap his stupid little earring'ed head, but to do so would have been to have admitted that I knew that he was really calling me old.

Some days, like right now, when I want to be finishing this blog and Wm is calling from the other room for me to change the channel and can he have more to eat, those days I feel cranky and old. Then other times, he'll ask questions that amuse me and keep my mind young:

"Do fish communicate under water?"
"Which is more powerful, an earthdroid [asteroid] or a meteorite or a comet?"
"Where does the sun go at night?"

I type all these cute things as I yell at him to just give me TEN more minutes, just a moment to finish this blog. ARggg...I'm old again.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

I Always Wanted Longer Legs

Monday, August 27, 2007

Am I Back?

It is morning. Somewhere, there is someone walking in the solitude of the beach, listening to the soothing waves, watching the dolphins and a lone ray jump out of the water. Last week, that was me. Today, it is someone else. Today, someone else lives in "our" house, drinks their morning coffee on "our" deck. Grateful though I am for that week, it's hard to give it up, that peace and joy at just being.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Photos coming soon

As I said, I've forgotten the correct cable to download my photos. Perhaps this is a good thing. I'd be obligated to post the photo of myself buried up to my neck and sculpted into a mermaid. A well-endowed mermaid. Sand is very heavy and also persistent in finding places on the body you didn't know existed. Still, it was oddly relaxing and I fell asleep for a split second, causing my foot to jerk, ruining my tail.

The waves are incredible this year, pounding surf eating away at the fragile shoreline. Each morning so far, we've gotten up and walked an hour. After, we play in the water and read. And read. I've visited many of the relatives already. Not everyone was here this year, only 47 versus over sixty last year. Yet, it is good to return to this place we've come so many years like the turtles that return to lay their eggs. Only I'm done laying eggs.

The ocean seems to be like coming home somehow, like a friend you know but haven't seen in awhile. It is strangely calming and reassuring at the same time holding frightening secrets beneath the depths. As I stared at the horizon, I thought of all my relatives who crossed this same ocean, some not too long ago, and coming here with such hopes.

The moon hangs at half illumination, dashing our chances this year of seeing turtles hatch. In fact, we've yet to locate a nest.

The girls have returned from their evening card games and tell me that the relatives are in their rocking chairs, laughing loudly until tears form and they laughed just to hear them. I stayed home, reading my book and listening to the waves from the second story deck of this rental.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

At the Beach

A more professional blogger would have daily photos to accompany this entry. I've taken photos, but in my disorganized packing, brought the wrong cord to download from my camera. I've also not brought enough sand toys, a serious miscalculation since my relaxation this week will depend on William using this large sandbox (and a great deal of rum).
Internet connection wasn't mentioned on our lease, so I imagined that I would have to carry my laptop up and down the beach searching for a stray un-secured wireless signal. That probably wouldn't have looked too cool. But, lo and behold, our rental has wireless so that I can use this downtime to produce profound and witty blogs. (Don't hold your breath.)
We have already made a "find". On this morning's early walk, I found the egg case, often know as a Mermaid's Purse, of a skate. (Photo above ripped from the Internet.) At first, dh and I debated telling two of our kids who have a concern about what creatures might be lurking in the water around their toes.
The water is warm, the breeze relaxing, and I hope to finish a book or two.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Keeping Up Appearances

It's interesting how men can so drastically change their appearance by the simple act of missing a spot on their chin. Dh likes to spend months growing hair in different configurations on his face, and just about when I'm getting used to it, he'll shave it all off. It always takes me a few minutes to register what it is that is different. Perhaps he got the idea after I showed him this cartoon on How to Drastically Change Your Appearance.

Questions About God

My Aunt Loraine passed away this morning after a brief illness. Because we've known it was coming for some days and have talked about it, William, of course, had many questions. Today, he wanted to know what a spirit does in Heaven. I gave the standard answer that everyone was with God, happy, needing nothing...... He replied that he would find that boring and he knew God wasn't bored.

God, he said, wasn't bored because he had a job to do. He had to make the rain, make people, keep the Earth spinning, etc. Therefore, God would not be bored. He figures that that is why God made the Earth to begin with - out of boredom, now relieved with keeping it working and all.

God Speed, Aunt Loraine. May you now have peace and the answers to all of life's mysteries (and if you wanna answer any of William's questions in my dreams, I'd greatly appreciate it).

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

My Reading List

In the right margin, you'll see that I've added my reading list. This effort has two reasons. The older I get, the more difficult it becomes to remember what I've read, unless the book is just really outstanding. The advantage to this is that I can enjoy the same books over and over. The disadvantage is that I'll get half-way through a book and realize that I now remember how it it going to end. Getting old and feeble-minded is hell. Anyway, this list will serve to remind me.

It may also serve to feed my habit, for if anyone links to Amazon through my reading list, I get a cut! Then, I can buy more books, or if I'm smart, school books. Nah.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Notes to People

To the young lector at the youth Mass:
I admire your leadership and involvement in Church, but the t-shirt you wore Sunday emblazoned with Gettin' Lucky in Kentucky probably wasn't a good choice in attire.

To the marketer of kids' meals at Burger King:
Why do you put toys in the kids' meals that promote movies that my boy (age 5) is too young to see? The Simpsons' Movie is rated PG-13 and my kid doesn't even know who he is.

To the creators of the movies:
If you are going to market the movies in toys to little kids, why don't you make just a little effort to make the movies for the kids to see, at least PG? For example, Spiderman movies and Transformers.

I don't know why, if I am already logged in, I have to type in word verification to publish my post and secondly, WHY it never accepts my first attempt and makes me do it twice. At least I can read the type which leads to:

To the people that design the little verification squares with hidden type:
I know you are trying to screen out robots and alien beings, but I can't half the time read your little weird type with the squiggly lines all over it. Cut it out! Just give it to us straight.

The Zucchini Massacre

About this time of year, I begin to wonder why each spring optimism wells within me, encouraging me to dig up the soil, spend about $100 in seeds and supplies so that I can produce zucchini that people are giving away on the street corners. There is a saying that you can tell a person who has no friends: they are the ones buying zucchini at the grocery.

My garden, which is by now a scar on the face of the earth and embarassing, does however produce mammoth zucchini in my neglect. William shouts "can I have it?" when he sees one, excitement filling the air. He grabs his "little knife" and cuts it into shreds. He sometimes peels it with a potato peeler, as you see in this photo, and then begins stabbing it with a violence that scares me. He then inspects the core sample he's taken (maybe he'll be a geologist instead of a serial killer?) and excavates a mini-cave. Though it makes a mess that takes a while to clean up, others don't understand that it is well worth it, for he is silent and engaged for a full fifteen minutes!

Saturday, August 11, 2007


Likely, my friend would have shot milk out her nose had she been drinking it. She asked me on the phone if she was interupting anything. Oh, no, I told her. I was just writing an Outlook Express message rules so that email received with sperm in the subject line would be deleted. I informed her that should she ever email me on that topic, I would never see it and would not respond to the email. She thanked me for the advance warning.

Some spy bot has found my email address on a website somewhere and I've lately been subjected to 25-50 messages a day about enhancing body parts that I don't have, Rolex watches that I've never coveted, and medicines that I don't need.

Recently, on NPR I heard a debate on the right of President Bush and the government to intercept emails between US citizens and foreign email addresses. I can not help but wonder if they have the technology to do this, why they can't stop the Nigerians from emailing me with a promise of millions of dollars if only I'd give them my bank account, social security number and mother's maiden name? Can they not stop the Canadians from emailing me about Viagra and Cialis? Could they please stop the Chinese from emailing me text I can't even read?

In the meantime, I make rule after rule, making a list of words that you wouldn't use in polite conversation.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

The "System"

We were ushered into an office at the headquarters of a neighboring county's eSchool. The purpose of the visit was to qualify both girls by testing for online dual credit (high school/college) classes requiring reading and writing skills (we're not doing math yet). I was surprised that another mother and her daughter were also invited in, as I supposed that this was to divulged the test results to us. She's going to tell us the test scores in front of each other? Isn't this a privacy issue? Oh, yeah, this is a school system.

Sure enough, the woman turned to the other pair and told them that the girl had not qualified to take the classes and would have to study a little more and try again. The mother divulged that the girl had "transportation issues" and was going to homeschool after two years at a city public high school.

The official (lady) then began to address us both. Did we know that by homeschooling, if we did not teach the required courses and the required number of days that we could be jailed for truancy? (I begin to squirm. What have I done? I've identified myself to the enemy.) AND, if we allowed them to miss nine days of school, did we know that their license to drive would be taken away? (I'm beginning to get a bit hot under the collar.) By choosing to homeschool high school, we could make our children ineligible for certain college scholarships. (I begin to wonder how long I can hold the red hot firebolts from shooting out of my eyes and impaling the woman. ) The difficult job of planning high school courses falls on YOU MOM and you should consider signing up for our eSchool, and we'll plan it all out for you. (Now I get it. This was a scare tactic so that I'll hand my kids over to the public school system and you get more tax money and have jursidiction on them.)

I keep the words that are ready to vomit out of my mouth by biting my lower lip. The atmosphere is charged with animosity. The pair to my right is quiet. Do we have any questions? Well, yes, did my daughters pass the test? The woman laughs, leans back in her chair and says "Oh, my gosh yes. They blew it out of the water. They can take any dual credit class they want."

I ask a few questions about the dual credit program and the whole electricity in the room begins to change. She becomes friendly and happy, giving me information about their dual credit program. She becomes a real person again, someone helpful and non-threatening. Very interesting, I am thinking.

As we leave the building, I have a hard time containing my joy and pride at what my girls have accomplish, and so happy that they can try these classes. I look around to make sure no one is looking and do a "Clem Ka-diddle-hopper" (Red Skelton, and yes, I'm that old). My girls laugh. They claim that they did well on the test because before the test I let them go to Old Navy and buy clothes, and then took them to lunch. It has absolutely nothing to do with all the homeschooling we've done over the years.

Michelin Girl

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

The Road To Hell.... paved with good intentions, they say. And I have the best of intentions. It's that time of year most homeschoolers recognize. Like New Year's Eve, I make resolutions for this coming school year. This year, this year, will be different. I will plan, organize, journal and stay on track. This year, my day will have a rhythm to it and we'll go on those field trips that I've been meaning to get to. Somehow, it never quite turns out the way I planned. And they get to where they were meant to be and learn what they were meant to learn in spite of me.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Mother and (Hopefully) Daughter Portrait

Here's Chicken Lickin's new arrival. She is still sitting on one more egg, due tomorrow by my calculations.

From the email bag:

Dear Chick-Ann:
Just curious... why take eggs from the other chickens for her to sit on?
A reader

Dear Reader:
Good question. The first part of this mystery is easily explained. Chicken Lickin' is single and has no man in her life. Despite that, she laid nine (unfertilized) eggs and sat on them. Bantams love to brood eggs.

Big chickens have been bred over the years to be non-broody. They've lost the instinct to hatch their own eggs. So, when we see that a bantam is wanting to be a mamma, we'll give her eggs from the big chickens to hatch. We took away the unfertile eggs and replaced them with the fertilized eggs. This chickie is a cross between an Arucauna and our Cochin rooster, Lester.
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Monday, August 06, 2007

I'm Green...

...but not with envy. Only after a new neighbor and a friend came by to see Roxie the foal did my dear daughter tell me that both my hair and neck are green. Green as in spray paint. I spray painted the hay feeder today. Evidently, a bit of it is on me. I can hear them now on their way home, "Do you think she's sick or has she a (weird sort of) olive complexion?"

News of Chicken Lickin': One of the two eggs we gave her (from the big chickens) hatched! Wm was delighted to find the chickie when we went in to check on her. Perhaps another tomorrow?

Saturday, August 04, 2007


If you knew or had known Juno, you would know why this drawing by Anna brought tears to my eyes. The scan doesn't even do it justice - it is nearly three dimensional. Her portrait hangs in our main room. Dh laughed that it looked like an ancestral portrait. Juno was certainly a one of a kind dog, and that is part of my reaction, but I am overjoyed at the talent Anna is developing.

Juno by Anna, copyright July 2007, Prismacolor pencils

Suntan Lotion

My dh claims that the spray suntan lotion is necessary for golfer, as ordinary suntan lotion leaves one's hands greasy. Unfortunately, his use of this luxury has influenced his children, who now prefer it to the generic lotion I buy in the five gallon buckets. I say unfortunately because it must be laced with gold dust, given the cost per ounce. Really, what is in that canister that they can charge $7 for 6 ounces? And we complain about gas prices. It's the suntan lotion manufacturers that are making a killing.

Rather, suntan lotion should be applied like sheep dip: you have a bit vat of it and you corral everyone and run them through it. When they emerge, they shake like an animal, and voilà! they are covered for pennies per usage. Predictably, my family is not in favor of this method, but I think it is an idea whose time has come.

Friday, August 03, 2007

The Simple Things in Life

When George arrived, he needed three things to be provided: a hat to protect his bald head from the sun, a pair of sunglasses to protect his light blue eyes, and headphones to protect my ears from hearing game shows blasting from his radio all day. He loved all three, and even wore his sunglasses to bed. When first he put them on, all of us exclaimed how cool he looked, and perhaps that made an impression on him.

The only request George had was to visit McDonalds. How hard could that be? William could play in the playplace. George could eat and listen to his radio game shows, and I could read Harry Potter. Sounded like a winner. If only I had known.

The first clue that things weren't going to be so easy was when Wm. was causing some disturbance in the backseat of our F150 truck at the same time George decided he could get in by himself. Getting into the truck for a short person such as George is a challenge in itself, but he must balance on the ball of his foot of his bad leg, for a short tendon keeps him from putting the heel down. Combined with limited flexibility, he lost his balance and WHOOF, down he went in a second. I screamed. He'd hit his head, but in the only spot where he would not have hurt one of the shunts in his head. No damage apparent but a small scrape on his knee and he immediately said he was okay. We got him into the truck.

On the way in to the restaurant, someone pointed out that he was bleeding. He'd scraped his elbow in the fall, and sure enough, was bleeding. We wiped it with a napkin and antiseptic goo I carry.

After, George walked up to the counter. "I'll have a Big Mac," he told the teen.
Stupidly, I repeated an earlier request, "You don't want chicken nuggets?"
"Yes, I'll have chicken nuggets, " he told the teen.
"Soooo, you don't want the Big Mac?" the teen was getting confused.
"Yes, I'll have a Big Mac." George, you see, wants whatever was offered last. We went with the Big Mac.

Shortly thereafter, we had our order and the teen was distracting me by asking me how far I was into reading my Harry Potter book and that he did not intend to read it (no explanation and I wasn't waiting for one). William was running off, and I called to George to come. With his headphones still on, he pulled away from the counter - where his flat small radio had been placed. SMASH onto the ground, batteries going everywhere. Old ladies stooped to help us pick them up.

Radio restored, we headed to fill our drinks at the drink station near the bathrooms. I'd gotten one drink filled before I realized that George was going to tables to introduce himself to other patrons. I gently guided him to a table to sit. About the same time, a large soft drink hit the floor behind me as William was trying to put a different lid on it, though WHY I don't know. I called a store employee over while George introduced himself a few more times.

By now, the entire establishment had their eyes on us as we made our way to the playplace to eat, George dragging his right foot behind in a his distinctive limp. We finally settled in at our table, and had no other major mishaps.

Such a simple thing, taking George out to eat, with the addition of watching a five year old and the confusion of a store full of people again made me realize the ease with which my day is normally negotiated. We jump into the truck, go up and down stairs easily. Such little things so easily forgotten.


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