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

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Morning Moment

Breakfast California.

Loving eating all the things that are raised here. So beautiful!!!

This morning we had an avocado, a few local boiled eggs, and a cactus fruit....all from the farmer's market. Add coffee and bliss out.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Beach Combing The Knots Out

The boys and I left the city today and drove a short distance to Half Moon Bay to beach comb together in the sun. So fun to sift through so many different species here on the other coast.

My dream is to find a glass, Japanese fishing float or a real message in a bottle. But in lieu of those jackpot finds I always am willing to settle for a shiny bit of mother-of-pearl, frosted beach glass or rocks with holes worn through for a necklace chain.

Here's the one I was wearing today (don't mind the pajamas....am blogging from bed) made from a California rock from our last visit here a couple of years ago.

I used to be a crazy stuff-hound at the beach, hauling home pockets and buckets of treasures. But recently I've leaned much more towards "catch and release" beach combing. This fitting, given the message I've recently been downloading from the firmament about having less. I am only keeping the truly special finds, usually culling the chosen favorites further at home. And most of what I find is photographed for the sake of capturing the art of the piece and then left in the sand to drift off on a new adventure.

We have fun later, looking through the photos and using them to key out creatures and plants in field guides, no broken bits to dump out of our pockets, no heap of muted finds...disappointedly dulled by the dry indoor air and artificial lights.

I am inspired by this Etsy seller's beautiful photo collages of her beach combing finds. I haven't tried any light box arranged collection photos. Maybe they'd be fun, arranged in a series of thick frames down the upstairs hall or something.

I have plans to look up a good beach in the area that is supposedly great for sea glass and I was really hoping to see a starfish today in the tide pools, so that leaves us two things to look forward to in the next sandy foray. This weekend we are headed up to see the redwoods and I am hoping to stop at one more beach then too! Never enough "wave therapy,"as my priest calls beach-time.

The urchin shell below was my favorite find today. Urchin shells make me squee out loud! This one goes in my "Save" box

I think the best find today though was the wild sea lions, napping in the sun on the jetty. Ru, my most ardent animal lover was absolutely entranced and sat devotedly still watching for a long while. Thank you, Mr. Sea Lion for being so gracious to my little boy, I wish you many fat fishes in return.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Decorative Peace

California is lovely. I am enjoying the sun and the local avocados and the palm trees but I think the biggest win this week is the disruption.

It's so useful, instructive and clarifying to step out of our normal life and live in neutral, observing ourselves. We are staying in a simple but elegant condo unit, wearing a week's clothes and possessing little in the way of "stuff" for entertainment or daily use. It's f.a.b.u.l.o.u.s!

Right before we came out here I had a minor meltdown with pouting and hair pulling and lots of ranting about how our house was always trashed and I hated the way it made me feel. Lockbox is a very understanding audience. (Many thanks for her sympathetic listening ear.)
And then, we visited relatives who we're showing their house for sale and had just had a professional stager come consult with them on the space. It was an amazing revelation. So much clean, open, simple space. I sat in their living room resolving to remember this and make changes at home.

Then the world shifted suddenly, and life tossed out to the West Coast for a one month retreat in a condominium.
I am so thrilled with my new simple life here. I can't wait to go home and downsize EVERYTHING! Books can come from the library. The Internet has all the recipes in the world, one vase will do for flowers, nobody needs four thousand toys, plungers and toilet brushes can live in cupboards instead of cluttering the bathroom floor, one set of fluffy towels feel lux and also manageable. Every little bit helps. I see a smaller, simpler life ahead of me.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

San Francisco Snow

Went for a hike today (here in California, mind) wherein I reminded my children to be careful not to step "on the thin parts, or you'll fall in!"

Still with me? We went to the salt flats to explore! Salt evaporation ponds are crazy! Beautiful colors some places, rust reds and dusty pinks to gray-blue shades with lots of glittering white in between.

It's astounding how much it looks like ice and snow, even in your hand. The brain says...."cold" but it isn't. Surreal stuff.

The poor baby was given a salt wafer about the size of cookie by a generous big brother who thought he'd enjoy throwing it to see it shatter. And instead he just ate it. Oops! Took me a panicked minute to figure out why he was coughing and spitting so vigorously from the carrier on my back. I don't think he'll ever overdose on salt again. Once bitten....

The boys and I picked wild fennel on the hike and I minced it into a marinade/rub for a beef roast tonight. So divine! Lemon zest, fennel, rosemary, olive oil, honey..... Dee made me proud saying with his mouth full: "Mom, I like it when you cook with all these right-here, California foods!"

Still thinking about all the glittering salt, in rock candy style formations all along the foot paths. Amazing! The world is an astounding place full of Suessical realities, y'all! Sweet dreams!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

The Golden State of Produce

This morning the boys and I went out foraging and we brought some record varieties: avocados, pomegranates, limes, lemons, figs etc. Folks, we're not in Connecticut anymore!

We headed out to Cali, tagging along with A for a month of job training. So he trains and the homeschool boys and I jet around adventuring!

Today we picked random scrub fruit from the scruffy corners of urban streets, played in the hot tub and took deep breaths of the piney + eucalyptus West Coast scent.

Tomorrow we explore the Farmer's Market and hatch plans for Halloween costumes! Will there be ideas inspired by our travels?

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Art In Real Life

Leaned against the mighty hooves of DaVinci's horse today. We've been studying Leonardo this month so I thought we ought to see his work firsthand. There is almost nothing as compelling in any subject as firsthand interaction with the topic at hand. Books are great, God knows I love my library card but nothing actually beats real life. If you are homeschooling, take a minute and google your current topics of study and your state (or states you are visiting, in our case). You might be surprised what you find and how the "real thing" works on your psyche. Student forever...that's one of very favorite parts of running a homeschool.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Space Sharing With Your Spouse

Feeling a little cramped in my own house today. A has been holed up in the office all week on important (must keep the kids quiet!!!) phone calls and dodging in and out of the house for meetings and gym runs. This morning he left while I was out with the boys and he locked up out of the house by accident. Its so hard to switch up your regular routine and toss a new person and new demands into it, right? It seems so cozy to spend extra time together but the reality is a little stickier.

I always thought I was extrovert until I realized that being an introvert is more about needing alone time than it is about hating people. Read this fabulous book all about introvertism and came away with a whole new perspective and an understanding about my need for space and recharging. Makes sense that having my little world invaded, even by my own spouse, would make me feel a little encroached upon now that I feel legit about my own wiring. Autumn feels like a season that pushes all the introvert buttons extra hard too, its all of the moment: stand at the sink peeling apples for hours and stock the larder with homemade apple sauce, read books alone in the dark by the light of a lantern, get up in the quiet and start a coffee cake before the children get up, walk home from work alone and take a shortcut through the woods to kick leaves....you get that right?

Sharing is good but admitting your own needs and boundaries is also good. Sometimes a little open-eyed clarity is the key to stopping the obsession and high-stepping past your own little stumbling blocks. I think one of the problems is that I also skipped my mama-night out alone this week. So, now I'm off to the library to look for a good book that I can take off and read alone after dinner just to get myself out of the house and breathing in a little solo space.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Store Bought Spore Prints

Spore prints are super-fun mushroom art + biological wonder. I remember making them with my sisters when we were little, lots of little cups and bowls stolen from the cupboards and upended over whatever little mushrooms we had found that day, usually a rainbow of little toadstools spread across black and white construction paper. Mama is an inveterate mushroom hunter and carefully taught all six of us how to do spore prints for both identification and beauty.

Last year, I magpied a great teaching idea. of monthly themes for our homeschool when a friend shared that she picks one a month to guide her unschooling rabbit trail style. September's theme was "Mushrooms" which, granted sounds insane...(A whole month on mushrooms???)...but it was a solid pick folks.

  • We're studying Egypt right now in history---Guess who ate mushrooms and thought they were only pharaoh level food!
  • We read lots of books about mushrooms from the library including our current read-aloud, Flight To The Mushroom Planet, a silly, gentle, beginner sci-fi story from the 50's.
  • We hiked our local parks and picked mushrooms as we found them, some to eat and some to just identify and poke apart on the dining room table.
  • We read about how mushrooms grow and started three purchased oyster mushroom kits to grow our own in the basement. 
  • We drew and painted mushrooms in art, talking about the anatomy as we went (cap, stalk, annulus...) and then we ended the month making spore prints to frame using store-bought portobello caps and I thought I'd share the process.
 First, remove the stem so you have a flat cap. Take care not to touch the gills (the part that looks like the pages of a book...as they are delicate and damaging them means a print that's less pretty.
 Lay each cap on a sheet of paper (white if you're using portobellos since they have dark spores) and then cover with bowls or cups to protect them from air currents that may disturb your design. Leave them to rest overnight.
 In the morning open up the covers and see what prints your caps have made. Portobellos have soft chocolate brown spores but mushrooms generally have all different colors and its fun to see the rainbow of results if you try it with random wild mushrooms.
Then, get out a magnifying glass and check out the micro-beauty of it all. Spores are miscroscopic and normally not visible to us, part of the minute detritus that we breath in and walk through along with the pollen and dust of the universe. Making spore prints is a chance to see them there, millions at a glance, in all their downy glory. The delicate outline of the gills is also super pretty, printed on the page like so many rays of shadow radiating around the stalk.


Tuesday, October 1, 2013

You Don't Have To Be Normal

Its a list day. Ka-ching! Having one of those real butt-kickers where all kinds of things get done and I feel completely in control of my own existence. (Aren't those the best?)

Time to enumerate my confidence and share things I am doing over at my house to bust out of the mold. Not everything that everyone needs to be copied...sometimes we get stuck in zones of group-think and never consider opting out. Maybe you need a boost today and one of these things could be a new experiment for you.

 10 "Normals" That I am Rejecting. 
  1. You have to shower every day. I shower once or twice a week. Whew. Scary to admit socially here in The States where daily showering is and iron rule but there it is. It works really well for me, from what I read its better for my body and it also saves water, time and money on toiletries.
  2. Kids love toys! Buy them more! I just kept picking up and packing up more and more and more toys. I did it a little bit at a time. One fitful load on one twitchy day after another. Eventually we got down to one small box of Duplo Legos, one shelf of books, about 5-10 costumes for pretend and a toy kitchen with nothing in it but a set of four wooden bowls and two spoons. That's all I have in our playroom right now. Everything else is in the basement in a giant nest of forbidden boxes. I'm not sure what to do with the stored items but I do love the new uncluttered existence and I love that the playroom is much more accessible and I love the idea of "having" less and getting my children's possessions down to a more manageable collection. Now I just need to figure out how to teach children to keep their smaller batch of goods away. Tips?
  3. Nobody knows their neighbors these days. I am resolved to know my neighbors. To have my kids know our neighbors, to not be suspicious of the people who live around me but instead grateful for them. I live in a city neighborhood on purpose and feel so lucky to be surrounded by folks who make neighborhood associations and plant trees together and have community cook-outs. We should all be so lucky. It isn't just for the 1950's. Your community is what you make of it. We can all learn the names and faces that surround us.
  4. Youth is the currency of the day. I think we should all embrace aging. Every year you earn, you earn. I walk the line by encouraging myself to be youthful in spirit, embracing of beauty, brave and flexible but I'm no Botoxing, perpetually 29, trying to pretend I'm not getting older, depressed because another birthday is arriving type. Grey hairs are badges, wisdom is hard fought, our elders our inspiring leaders and youth is just a starting point...not a panacea.
  5. Wild mushrooms are DANGEROUS! You know how I feel about wild food, right? Someday I'll get to the bottom of the American terror of eating wild mushrooms. I'm not sure why we have a gospel as a culture that fungi will kill you deader than dead but we do. Truth. Wild mushrooms are eminently learnable and delicious. Wild mushrooms can be toxic but no more so than many of the things in your grocery store which doesn't really freak everyone out. Flowers, plants, detergent....its all potentially dangerous. Mushrooms have no superpowers. They just got really bad press somehow. I'll eat your mushrooms anytime.
  6. Real women do it all by the sweat of their own brow. Man, I'd like to kill this one dead. I grew up with a wonderfully empowered, can-do kind of culture that taught me how to be happy with little, make things out of nothing and pull myself up by my own boot-straps. That's great and I'm super grateful. Its really made me who I am. The part that I don't dig is the insidious lie that real women, cool women, strong women....need nobody. They clean their own houses, they make their own clothes, they watch their own kids, and grown their own food and their husbands do nothing but earn money! Its crazy!!!! Women need men who pitch in. Women need friends who spot them on bad days. Women need hired help who bring professional muscle to the task. Women need older mothers and aunties to advise them and lend hands when they can't hack it all. Really real women admit that they need help and seek it to make their lives better. End of story.
  7. Boys will be boys. Boys will be wild and rambuncious but they will also be overly sensative and cry all the time. They will break stuff and be mean but they will also love gardening and babies and try hard to paint faces accurately. Boys and girls are allover different and the same. Trying to excuse or explain or expect a snips and snails and puppy dog tails when you really get individual children, touched off by all kinds of different stimuli is often more harmful and ignorant than it is galvanizing in my opinion.
  8. Embrace your flaws and paint them with glitter. I think its bad to be fat. I think it hurts to have poor people skills. I think that being sloppy is unacceptable. I think there's no real good in pretending that these things are "part of who I am" and boldly proclaiming them our favorite new forms of personal expression. I do think seeing yourself in an open-eyed way is important. Honesty is key. But then self-guilt as step two is no real help either. The way to handle your shortcomings is not through self-abuse and shame but instead through acceptence. I see these flaws. They are. I'm lovely and strong and can do better.  I'm going to try these things to see if they help.
  9. Babies sleep in cribs. I've never owned a crib. Freaked out yet? My babies sleep in my bed with me and then in a little basket or cradle on the floor next to me and then on a mattress on the floor. Skipped all the normal American baby sleep stuff. Whoops!
  10. Children should never be made to eat anything if they don't want to. I have a one bite rule. A and I disagree about this one. He is much more straight-up American about eating and hates the idea of children being "forced" to put anything in their mouths if they don't want to. I believe strongly in good manners at the table. I think its incredibly rude to the chef to be unwilling to taste the food (barring allergy, of course) and I am insisting that my children learn to politely try anything they are offered. No chicken nugget outs at our house! I'm the mean mommy!!!
 What normal do you opt out of? Anything interesting or unknown?