"She refused to be bored, chiefly because she wasn't boring." Zelda Fitzgerald

Friday, September 30, 2011

Poetry Friday: A Spiderweb Poem

Spider webImage via WikipediaHappy Poetry Friday!

Wrote a little poem about autumn spiderwebs today. This is the time of year that makes me wish I could stretch out the short window of pre-dawn time...the birds are often starting to sing, the fog rolls misty off the backyard and the changing leaves glimmer lightly through the grey world. And the spiderwebs!

They're so beautiful this time of year. I'm not sure why but I swear that there are more spider hanging webs and taking strolls across paths this time of year. Maybe spider babies hatch at the end of the summer so lots of new spiders are out setting up housekeeping suddenly or maybe they're webbing in earnest, catching bugs to fortify themselves for whatever it is that spiders do in winter. Lay more eggs? Die? Hibernate in some way?

Whatever the reason, the effect is pretty darn lovely. I never remember of course to take the camera out with me for very early morning gardening. Good thing the poeting mind comes along!

And now....my poem.

They bloom with bursts of silver thread
In every autumn shrub or path
They hang in heavy spangled splays,
stretched glistening across each space
Centered in each sparkling spray
The resident spider plumply sleeps
Snoozing away the chill glitter of the day
Not knowing that she rides a silver morning star.
Then there is the warm crescendo of the sun-rise
Each web blanches to humble invisibility
And housewife spiders stretch and waggle
The great day-star has once again upstaged
The whole great earthbound constellation.

You can find more Poetry Friday partipants at Read, Write, Believe...today's host blog. Hop on over and take a stroll through some good words.
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Thursday, September 29, 2011

Happy Michaelmas!

DAVID, Gerard Altar of Archangel Michael, c1510Image by carulmare via Flickr
Michael battles Satan and casts him out of Heaven
We are celebrating Michaelmas or The Feast of the Archangels at our home today. It's a wonderful time to read through all the Biblical stories about angels, and remember the section of The Creed which recite every week which talks about God being...
"maker of heaven and earth,
of all that is, seen and unseen."
 I think there is so much more to life and the world than what we can see with our eyes and touch with our hands. I know that modern scientific, intellectual thought doesn't think very much of this kind of talk but I personally feel quite convinced that the world is ever more complicated than we can imagine and that there are lots of unseen beings and powers at work.

Moses mosaic on display at the Cathedral Basil...Image via Wikipedia
A "Mosaic Mosaic" from The Cathedral Basilaca of St. Louis
I did some reading through scripture to see what angels are recorded doing and was surprised by a few. I didn't realize that Moses' body was a battle ground...after he died he was fought over and Michael, the high saint of the day won, and took Moses on to Heaven. I also didn't realize that in Daniel Michael is described as the personal angel of the Jewish people. Kind of cool. Apparently they aren't the only ones who get a national angel, another section of scripture talks about the angels conferring and mentions "the angel of the state of Persia" which kinda makes it sound like there are angels assigned to people groups to keep an eye on them which is a very cool idea. The biggest thing Michael in particular is celebrated for is his personal confrontation with Lucifer, the angel of light who turned against God and tried to stage a coup in Heaven.

Satan on his way to bring about the downfall o...Image via Wikipedia
Gustave Dore's illustration of Satan from Paradise Lost
Traditionally, a roast goose is served for the feast to celebrate the angels but I didn't think far enough ahead to be able to pull that off this year. We really should do it next year though because we've been looking for an excuse to learn to roast a goose anyhow. Never pass up a great opportunity! Instead we're going to be eating some other foods that are traditional for the feast. We'll have some carrots, steamed with a little butter (carrots were harvested on Michaelmas Eve in old times), some fresh rolls with our own blackberry jam (legends say that when Michael expelled Satan from Heaven he fell into a blackberry thicket, and every year at Michael's feast he curses the blackberries and makes them bitter for the rest of the season, so Michaelmas is the last chance to eat blackberries for the year), we'll also have deviled eggs (a tongue-in-cheek reference to Satan's banishment) and then for dessert the boys are going to share the angel shaped sugar cookies they made.

It's good to remember the old stories, to have special celebrations and to tell our children that we are not alone here, we have invisible protection.

The boys are very taken by the idea of invisible warrior guardians, and I can see why, every boy needs a vigorous hero willing to fight for what is right.

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Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Here's How a Co-op Works!

A little peek today at Cherry Blossom Schoolhouse, our little homeschool co-op that we attend once a week. I've had several requests to share a little about it. Homeschool co-ops come in all kinds of forms and fashions, just like the homeschoolers that make them up.
Singing the morning welcome song together to welcome each student by name.
Ours is a group of homeschooling families (mainly mamas and their kids, but we have a couple of teaching grandparents and dad's involved too) who all gather with their littles once a week at an outside, neutral location where we have rented a "classroom" space. Our children are all quite small and we're all very interested in Waldorf education so our curriculum (self-formed and a bit plastic) is very nature focused, season based and tradition/holiday-centric and our format quite un-intimidating and preschool-esque.
Story time!
There is usually:
  • some circle time where there are some gentle finger rhymes and little songs
  • then a story-time about our theme for the day
  • some free-play with the toys indoors
  • a snack
  • a handicraft project of some kind
  • group clean-up 
  • and then a much anticipated group stroll to the nearby playground for a recess
A little seasonal description in a felt-board fingerplay
 We are lucky enough to have this wonderful little group around the corner from our house so we just pack up the wagon and walk over every Wednesday. I feel very blessed. Some of the things I like best about a co-op are the feeling of community, the weekly connection with other homeschooled kids who are my children's chums, the feeling of an outing, the ability to go someplace but not need the car, and the chance to corporately celebrate the seasons and some of the more obscure holidays of the year, for instance this week we're going to be celebrating Michaelmas together with our friends.
Play-dough fun!

For snack last week we juiced an apple for each child

I love the new generation of homeschooling options, the choices, the buffet nature of it all and the fact that homeschooling no longer means being alone or being separate but instead belonging to a community that is just a little different. Connection is good. I need a village.

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Monday, September 26, 2011

Inventor's Catalogue

Been spending time going through my photos on the computer today, fall makes me feel like organizing. I'm trying to cull out all the photos of my paintings and put them in one folder all together. The lovely thing about going through your photos is that you re-look at all your photos again. :) I know that sounds redundant but it isn't meant to be.
PhotosImage via Wikipedia

After enough time clicking through image after image, (scroll, scroll, scroll) you either get numb to them all and see nothing but a large blurr (bound to happen after some point) or you start to notice patterns.

I had to share this series of fiddly little things I've caught Dee at. He's such a little engineer-person and it was kind of amusing to notice all the little bits of engineer work he's done around the house in play that I've stopped to photograph.

Let's call it the Fooling Around Tour....(and by the way, if you haven't already, you need to check out this genius book which inspired the tour's name)

Learned that he could balance his fork with this mid-tine move and then did it after every lunch for a while to signify that he was finished.
This is his favorite way to eat a hot dog. No funny business, start in the middle where the good stuff is.
This is a pretty cool gadget that he invented for "shooting arrows" which still gets lots of heavy use with his brothers. Pieces include: our kitchen step stool, a rubber band from Mommy's kitchen drawer and some notched Tinker Toy sticks. Insert taut rubber band in notch, pull back the arrow/stick and let it fly!

A giant bubble wand converting into a handy dandelion blossom holder. He had it all full right before the photo but held it up to show me and most of them fell out.
You might remember when he discovered that the cracks in the wood floors would hold up playing cards. :)

Vacuum pipes are great for playing telephone....
Or sailor's spyglass.
For a while he sported this fashion whenever he found wildflowers while we were out and about. Backwards flowers make him look a little like a Greek hero or Cesar. Yes?
One night when we were eating Chinese he got frustrated by his chopsticks and went bopping into the kitchen and came with a clothespin and ate the rest of his meal with it. He said it was much easier.

Such a sweet little inventor man. I hope he always keeps his fresh mind and his dynamic way of thinking. I expect sometime very soon he'll start solving problems for me. I can't wait to see what he comes up with.

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Friday, September 23, 2011

Comb Honey and September Rain

The world is a sodden, dripping place today. We are having one of those gently, sifting September rains I am so fond of. I remember the year that I abruptly started to like autumn after years of being a whiny complainer whenever it wasn't springtime.


I was taking a culinary arts class and I remember getting up very early in the morning and driving off to school with my knife kit and my gigantic recipe book in my chef whites thinking glowingly "How had I never noticed that September rain was a hidden, unnoticed loveliness in life?" I had never noticed before how vivid all the colors are in the rain and how the world slows down, such a lovely thing after the harried panic of school-starting-up-season. I love the mist that comes tip-toeing ahead of the rain in the early morning and the chilly, dankness inside once it really begins to fall....just daring you turn on the kettle and get a good book out. Everyone loves the way rain smells and I love the fact that September rain is often gentle and soothing, a reason for migrating birds to stop their flight and take a pleasant, little congregational water break.
main international flyways of bird migrationImage via Wikipedia
Bird Migration Patterns of the world, our birds head to South America.

This morning the boys and I pressed our noses against the window and watched a flock of robins stop in our backyard on their way to Brazil or Argentina. They were singing some beautiful rainy day tunes and taking turns hopping around the gravel drive looking for weed seeds and other tidbits. I hope the find all the crabgrass seeds. Ru cocked his head and asked me, "Mommy, why do birds get so happy when it rains?" Maybe he needs to wait awhile for his own autumn epiphany.
First Harvest, my first frame of honey from my own hive.

I screwed up my courage and broke into the bee hive again to check on their stores and also harvested a little taste of honey. I won't really take in any quantity of honey this year at all, the bees need all the boost they can get just to be sure they are able to harvest enough honey to get them through their first winter on our property.
Beautiful natural comb.

I took one frame of honey and we are eating it, sliced in thin, melting globs or cut into golden, sticky squares and ferried to our mouths with dripping speed, right in the comb. The honey is very pale blonde, almost clear, just the gentlest yellow with a very high floral flavor, not at all heavy or dark. The first bite was legendary, transcendent eating.

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Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Dragonfly Arranging

Am knee-deep in designing and supplying flowers for a wedding for an acquaintance and having untold amounts of fun (Pictures to follow!) and so my attention is a bit divided at the moment. Tonight is the delicious night when I get to stay up until the wee hours with piles of sweet fern and the open, curling faces of roses for company while the living sculptures take shape. Can't wait to see the bouquet I am making in the hands of the bride! I love doing floral design. Preparing for this wedding A asked me how many weddings I had done now and I did a quick finger-count tally and realized this will be my ninth! Amazing! Know anybody else in need? I will happily do wedding flowers for friends, friends-of-friends and even you! Just drop me a line.

Until then...I am out snipping flowers and greenery and accent bits hither and yon, including but not limited too, my own yard. And I had to share this beautiful jewel of a dragonfly, a huge, glistening Common Green Darner...that was resting on our tomato plants. Wish I could find a way to work him into an arrangement. Isn't he stunning? Can you imagine have one of those front and center on your corsage? Assuming of course that no harm came to said creature and he happily participates in weddings.

Dragonflies are the fastest insects on record, are carnivorous (read: mosquito eating) and absolutely stunning to boot. Someday I am going to catch dragonfly larvae with the boys and raise some to maturity in a little glass bowl in our sunroom. Always wanted to do that...

Peace, love and rose buds,
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Monday, September 19, 2011

A Locket Gift

I swear, I don't live in a novel. That said, I did, indeed find a beautiful old locket this morning, tucked into the floorboards of my attic.

I can't complain. Sometimes life hands you ridiculous doses of romance even if it does amount to an absurdly little thing. This is the sort of thing dreamy girls like me want to buy old houses for. I imagine scenarios like this but I don't think I know anyone personally that this sort of thing has happened to.

First there was the long curved bladed, etched filet knife, then the mother of pearl crucifix and now beautiful old locket. A locket for crying out loud! The only way it could get better was if the inside contained the grainy black and white photos of wartime lovers and the necklace was wrapped in a love note promising undying affection. The locket is completely empty save the tiny heart-shaped frames meant to hold photos in, but it is beautiful and it's not every necklace that comes with a story like this.
It feels like personal, lavish Divine Love in tangible form sometimes for these stunning little life gifts to appear. I have to say that I sure feel like I have been beamed upon. I know that may sound trite or hokus-pokus or even vain but I mean it in a truly grateful, honest way.
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Friday, September 16, 2011

Poetry Friday: A Cell Phone Poem

Image representing iPhone as depicted in Crunc...Image via CrunchBaseHappy Poetry Friday! Today's poem is all about my latest conundrum. I gone and lost my blasted phone. I've done this a few times in my life, shocking I know, considering my normally very organized approach to personal property. I have however, never lost an iPhone. This feels like a particular image-blow somehow. I am still searching high and low and wondering if I will somehow think of some helpful clue for finding it or just run across it in some overlooked location (Please God!). It has to still be somewhere, right? The most notorious of my phone-losing-episodes was the time I discovered when we were moving, that a phone I had misplaced had long ago been shoved (presumably by a little boy) down into a crack between said boy's bed and the wall. Argh!

A wears his phone in a spectacular geek-holster on his hip, in all weather with all outfits to solve this very problem. Although terribly practical, his approach doesn't strike me as something I'd be very willing to do despite his very broad suggestions on the topic. Can you see me with my own spectacular geek-holster? What to do, what to do!

In the meantime, while we search and ponder and try to figure out what to do if said-phone never does reappear, I wrote a poem. :)

Lost Phone
I lost my phone on Sunday.
There has been no hand-clock
No reminder dings,
No way to zip-check the weather
And of course not a single text.
I feel more un-hitched,
My own private soul
Drifting, in a cacoon, apart from
The rest of digitized humanity.
It is evening peace to lie down
Without plugging in the charger.
No ringer interruption at dinner,
And no face-glow distraction
After putting the boys to bed.
But I am also apart now.
Friends sigh and send emails
That I will eventually open
Instead of calling up instantly to
Tell me about the perfect
Garage sale purse.

You can find the other poets and verse of the day over at today's Poetry Friday host, Poem Farm.
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Thursday, September 15, 2011

School Start-up

First day of school! The boys headed off to their first time ever participating in our local homeschool coop. It was kind of fun to make even homeschool starting into a special milestone event. They were pretty excited to comb their hair neatly and go marching off down the sidewalk to see their friends a Cherry Blossom School House.

Kindergarten + Preschool...here we come!


Wednesday, September 14, 2011

The Nib Review

 Time for a little expose on my smallest son. He's almost sixteen months old, and still a cheery-hearted boy who is often a balm for my over-scheduled soul. When life is falling apart at the seams I frequently feel like he is the bright spot and I love his relational little self to pieces.

Nib Likes:
  • Giving kisses. (so lovely, this stage!)
  • Mornings. He's a glowing, chattering, cheery boy in the mornings...all mornings...starting at least by 7:30 AM but often 5 AM.
  • Sweet corn. He got my Williams family corn obsession gene and will easily polish off a whole ear alone, two if he's allowed. 
  • Dried fruit. He loves cranberries, cherries, blueberries, prunes, dates and anything else you let him try.
  • Music. He's a dancer and a singer this one and he loves a good round of plunking notes out on the piano. Any repetitive noise can be danced to and sung along with if you're enough of a music lover: car alarms, nervous toe taps, squeaky hinges and the noise from a bowl of eggs being beaten with a fork.
  • Nursing. He's still cutting the very last of his teeth so I'm being an indulgent and comforting mommy but the end of milk is in sight. I am feeling like I need to stop soon. Trying to enjoy every last bit before the end.
  • Story books. He brings stories to A and I, often particular favorites (a board book picture dictionary or The Little Train are some of his loves)
  • Sword fighting with his brothers. (all sticks become swords!)
  • Babies. Babies need kisses and Nib is happy to oblige, along with kind pats on the head.
  • Greeting people. He waves wildly and yells "HI! HI!" to passing strangers on the other side of the street when he's behind our closed living room window. Love the ardor he has about this new skill.
  • The phrase "Uh oh!" Such an exciting thing to say, use it as often as possible.
  • Plucking treats off the fruit table. Such delight! Take as many bites as you like and then chuck it....unless Mommy catches you!
  • Helping empty the dishwasher. This is his particular chore. He loves to hand me silverware so I can put it away and also enjoys pushing "Start" when it has all been re-loaded.
  • Eating. He is hungry far more often than three times a day right now. I feel like he wants to eat constantly. Handily his appetite is pretty broad and he self-feeds pretty neatly.

Nib Dislikes:
  •  Cherry tomatoes. He loves the way they look and almost always wants to try one but they always come right back out with lots of spitting and a repulsed face. More Sungolds for me. :)
  • Sharing. Nobody smaller than him? You can tell. He's sweet but a bit assuming as far as being the center of attention goes. Kid needs a few younger babies in his life.
  • Being left out. He's really learned to be part of the pack and it drives him crazy to have his big brothers do things he can't...and it is four shades of terrible when they go away and he can't come. 
  • Being in his car seat. The car seat shrieking stage was a little late in coming for this kid but it has definitely made it's appearance now. He is tolerant on short jaunts but on long car rides he has begun to assert his own, piercing will. 
  • Being told no. He wants to be picked up when he orders it, to be read to on demand and to be given any snack he hauls out of the pantry. Limits are not cool. The next thing he plans to do is be two years old.
  • Having his hair washed. He doesn't put up the wild fuss that his big brother Dee does but he doesn't like this part of bath time very well and complains about it until I finish and leave him to paddle in peace.
  • Being carried or stuck in the cart at the grocery store. I still make him refrain because it is just too much for me to handle but he sure would love to be free to run down all the aisles in joyous, unrestricted glee. 
  • The end of ice cream. Okay, maybe I'm stretching with this one, it might properly belong on the "Likes" list but he does put up a pouty-lipped royal fuss when his much enjoyed ramekin of ice cream is scratched-out-all-the-corners-empty and not one more drop can be coaxed out.
  • Wearing socks or shoes in the car. Think you'll be efficient and appropriate and make sure I'm full dressed when I am buckled into the car before we head to the library. Ha! Think again, Mommy. No dice. Those suckers get shucked as fast as you can turn the engine over.
  • Latched or locked doors. Nothing drives him batty faster than trying to open a door and finding it fast. He hates that!

And that's about the size of it. At the moment he's still a very mellow little person who is just starting to show us what thrills and frustrates him. I can't wait to see more of him unfold. He is a lovely little man and I am curious about what else the world will show him about himself, nothing left to do but wait some more and see!