31 March 2009

Woah! I know what we're doing this w...

Woah! I know what we're doing this weekend!

Sunday, April 5, 2009: "Spring Knap-In":

Michigan Flintknappers.

Michigan artisans demonstrate the ancient art of chipping razor-sharp tools from stone, and members of the Great Lakes Primitives demonstrate stone-age technologies for starting a fire, making cordage from plant materials, and gathering wild edibles and medicinal plants. Also, the Michigan Atlatl Association holds a tournament at noon to test members' skills with the prehistoric spear thrower, and the Chelsea Rod & Gun Club 3-D archery course is open to archers for a $9 fee. 10 a.m.-5 p.m., Chelsea Rod & Gun Club, 7103 Lingane Rd. (south off Waterloo Rd., west of Chelsea). Free. (810) 231-2314.

Not only does it sound fascinating, but it is a perfect fit with our current history studies!

30 March 2009

Productive weekend

I don't really have a lot to report. It felt like a productive weekend - I got half of the birthday cards made and finally made up the laundry detergent so I could get the clothes washed and back in the drawers where they belong, and got some seedlings started.

Actually, the laundry detergent was an especially rewarding adventure -- I have had the materials for months, but kept putting it off until I was out of commercial detergent. Turned out to be *very* easy and so far seems very effective.

The gel turned out far more substantial than I was expecting, and I have to dilute it or is causes our (front loading) washing machine to backwash for a moment before it dissolved. That's no big deal, though. And I will probably bring it all back upstairs and add more hot water to it to make the runnier gel I was expecting.

Still not sure what causes that, though.

26 March 2009

Is Big Food going the way of Big Tobacco?

edited to add: My apologies for the oblique post. The title was a link to a paper on the parallels between the way the processed food industry is behaving and the way the tobacco industry behaved between the 1950s and the 1990s. The parallels are disconcerting to say the least...

I don't know, but the question is interesting.

But now it's past my bedtime.


24 March 2009

Celebrating Ostara

So ... how does your family celebrate Ostara?

Our celebrations are pretty low key.

I hide eggs that morning, and then we go about the day as usual, punctuated by a shout of "Look what I found!" from somewhere in the house.

This year I put several kinds of candy in the eggs. That was a flop. Other years I have put nuts and dried fruits in the eggs and that went over better. I also discovered that some of the little "Toob" toys fit, so maybe next year, we'll return to fruit and nuts in the eggs and add little toys.

There are two "special" eggs -- the clear, "cut" one and the big paper one with the cartoon scene. Those contain "special" surprises, though they have to fit inside. This year it was a lollypop (the one candy Jack ate) and a tiny "plant your own tree" kit. Those were a hit!

We have other games, too.

Jack has a stone egg for each year of his life, plus one. (in the basket) Each year, he gets a new one, and the previous years eggs are hidden along with the hollow ones. He has to find the number of eggs to match his age to get a "prize". (This year it was a small set of Schleich knights.) If he finds the extra one, he gets another, smaller, prize. (This year a couple of Pope Osborn books)

And finally, after he's found all the eggs, we go out and cut forsythia branches to hang eggs from. It looks ok now, but when the forsythia blooms it will be VERY pretty - -and then we will know that Ostara is over and it's time to plan for Beltane.

23 March 2009

Happy Thursday!


We've been home about a week, and we're both still fighting jet lag. Even Jack is still getting intensely sleepy before he usually would.

That's unusual for us.
It's nice to be home, though. We have lovely memories and some nice photos, and a new feelings of being "closer" to the kids...and our own bed and our own routines.

Speaking of which, April is a BIG birthday month -- I have 10 cards to get done in the next couple of weeks. Time went up to the craft room and started planning.

Have a delightful Thursday!

Oh, and you might find this article about white flour as interesting as I did.

22 March 2009

Jack's tatoo; a reward for reading a book

This book is called Dragon of the Red Dawn. This book is a wonderful book for you to read. It has lots of scary things that people nearly die in. It's kind of complicated. The dragon is because I read the book. Kind of strange. Bu it did happen, only tonight on this single blog day.

Happy Ostara! (And make sure that your kids find those eggs quickly!)

Goodbye! (Well, for tonight, anyway.)

by Isaac Jack
Posted by Picasa


This photo is of Jack. Jack and Chanel.
The Rotweiler.
She's leaping up to kiss him, and he's comfortable with that.
I think Jack and his totem are making progress. Don't you?

Home again, home again, jiggety jig

We're back, and I have mostly managed to defeat the viral souvenir I brought home!
I'd say we're beginning to get our feet under us again.

Rod has made bread, we have two gallons of kombucha ready to be decanted, we have made tallow, and we have the bones ready for another broth. We are starting to feel like 'we're home. As much as I have loved this adventure to see all my beloved children t0gether, this Cancer soul is also glad to be home.

We have been off to visit Sweden and Denmark. My older two boys live in Sweden, and the eldest, TJ, has a wonderful partner, Wanja, and two beautiful and brilliant children, Isabella and Oliver.

It has been wonderful to spend almost two weeks with them all. We only get to see them once every three years or so, and I was poignantly aware all through the trip that if the move to Australia comes off in the next couple of years, like we expect it to, then it may be a long time indeed before we can afford to visit again.

That made it so much more wonderful that this visit allowed me to actually bond with both of my long-distance grandchildren! They are old enough now to understand that my Swedish is rudimentary at best and to speak slowly and clearly for me -- and not to freak and take it personally when I gave up and said "Let's ask Pappa".

That meant that we could really communicate -- and I spent hours colouring in and putting together puzzles with Bella and letting both children brush my hair (you would have to know me well to really understand how much I have to love these kids to let them touch my hair with a brush! *snap* *crack* eeeek!) and hanging with Leo and watching his endless cut-paper creations manifest.

One of our first adventures after we arrived in Sweden was to take all the children to Bus Fabriken in Helsingborg. 'Busa', in Swedish, means rough housing or mischief. Fabriken means factory. Bus Fabriken ("Fun Factory" is what we called when we were speaking English) is a play emporium that is easily five times the size of anything I had seen before and kept the kids amused for three hours - - the time limit set by the establishment. Of course, Helsingborg is a big town, so the waiting list probably gets pretty long on cold, dark winter days.

Anyway, the littles had a blast and Rod and I got to hang out with TJ, Wanja, and Corey and just chat, mostly unmolested. One advantage of that big an emporium is that while the seating area was unlikely to be mistaken for a library, it was quiet enough that we could actually hold conversations. Most of the noise was at the back where the wildest games were.

Corey and Wanja are enjoying their new(ish) jobs, and Corey seems to be starting to see a place for himself in the working world. He has taken an interest in root cause analysis within the manufacturing environment (something I have been working with at work) and I consider that an excellent sign. TJ is still trying to get his feet under him, and is jumping through hoops to stay on welfare while he is unable to find work. He's thinking about returning to school to get job training, since what he was enjoying so much is seasonal work and is being made even harder to find by Sweden's economic downturn. They all seem to have found a reasonable equilibrium for now, and that was good to see.

I found it interesting that the food in Sweden didn't give me the rush of energy is has in the past -- but it also didn't make me as sick as eating in a restaurant here does. My interpretation is that Swedish food is cleaner than mainstream US fare, but probably not as clean as our almost entirely unprocessed, organic and largely biodynamic diet at home. One thing that *really* struck me was that by the end of two weeks there, without access to raw milk, my arthritis (which had faded gradually enough not to have gotten my attention) was back worse than before. I look forward to seeing the end of *that*!

Since we have been back, despite feeling pretty tired and slow, we seem to have returned to our previous pace without a missed step. Saturday, we got together with Linda B and went to a coffee tasting at Cafe Luwak. The coffee was great!

Today, we hit the ground running -- Rod had to be on the other side of Ann Arbor at 8:30 for choral rehearsal before their performances this morning, but I needed the car, so Jack and I dropped him off and then came home so I could have my turn in the shower. Then we dashed back to Jack's choral rehearsal, and then we raced over to Royal Oak to pick up John, and then *back* to the other side of Ann Arbor to meet Rod for the Ostara ritual -- then back to our place for lunch/dinner (Indonesian inspired vegetable curry.) I'm ready for bed!

On an more meta-blogging topic, a couple of years ago, I posted a list of books the Disney films are based on. It has consistently gotten two or three hits a month...until earlier this year when it started to get four or five hist a week! Now, I am very glad that it is making itself useful -- but why all this interest all of a sudden? I get the feeling I must have missed something. Anyone have any idea?

I plan to try to post more regularly. Then again, we all know about the best laid plans. ;)

Posted by Picasa

18 March 2009

wow...what a trip!

I am writing from the Hotel Norlandia Star, just outside Copenhagen's Central station and a few blocks from the Danish Royal Palace (which, incidently, seems to be under construction).

We have been visiting my kids in Sweden and we will be home this evening. I'm whipped, and want to be asleep, but Rod paid for Internet, so I had to say "Hej"!

We have seen castles, and Cathedrals, and lots of beautiful countryside. But mostly we have drunk coffee and beer and chatted with TJ, Corey, and Wanja and we have explored a children's play emporium, drawn pictures, and writ
ten lists, and had a blast with Bella and Leo.

Jack not only learned to deal with Boss and Chanel, the Rotweilers in the family, but he actually got fond of them and was sen cuddling with them more than once. It's been marvelous and I am sure I will have a lot more to say once I've slept and can write on my own keyboard, (Laptops seem like good idea, but in practice they're too small in the keyboard. Between that and the inscrutable Mac keyboard commands, I have had to rewrite this post in almost every paragraph as I get confused and it all turns to capitals or all the letters are off by one. Oops.)

03 March 2009

Eavestaff Pianette

A very quick note for those folks who are looking for information about pulling apart an Eavestaff Pianette, the site is here.

Just to be clear, this is the US made Minipiano built by Hardman, Peck and co.

I expect I'll be editing this from time to time to improve the content, but that little site is still more information than I have been able to find anywhere on the web.

Take care


01 March 2009

Harpers, September 2003

In September of 2003, Harper's published a thought provoking article by professional educator John Taylor Gatto.

Called Against School, in the article Gatto questions the purpose of our system of schooling. He then explores the early writings of some of the early proponents of our current educational methods.

While we are told that the purpose of the schools is
1) To make good people.
2) To make good citizens.
3) To make each person his or her personal best.
That's not what Gatto finds in his research though.

This is going to require some research...