Monday, May 31, 2010

More from that Book

On page 105 she says, "Our society is riddled with myths to suggest that anyone who forgoes a conventional career track and devotes themselves to sustainable home and community life is merely squandering their life... Committing her life's energy to an employer has not made a truly 'liberated woman'. A homemaker's primary job is not to be a consumer. The choice to cultivate self-reliance, curb consumption and live well on less money drains only the extractive economy, but feeds a life-sustaining economy. The pursuit of affluence, the ennoblement of excessive work and hyper-individualism are not manifestations of the American dream, but causes of a national nightmare."

That's it. That's why I'm here and why I wonder at everyone (the general, not specific) pushing their children to go to college. I wonder why I was limited to that view of life and wish that I could have gotten to this one by a more direct route. I know people who did. I know people just barely in their twenties who know where they're going and it isn't into the "extractive economy". I'm not staying home to consume more; I'm not staying home to spend my husband's paycheck; I'm not staying home "for the children". I'm here because our family works better this way. We are able to pay closer attention to our path in the world. And Jason does the work he does so he actually has time to be part of our home economy and part of our community. We feel we're finally in a place where we can participate and be with the people around us. We don't want to be an atomic family; our vision is much wider than that.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

A Book I'm Reading

It's called Radical Homemakers. In many ways, it's simply validating. It tells me that we are not the only ones trying to live this deliberate way and helps me feel a little more sane. Also, the author manages to clearly say things I've brooded over so that I feel like I could better argue my point by borrowing her words. So, here are some of her words.

On page 96, she says, "We see images of happiness, and they are connected to things that can be purchased. Family together-time is linked to fast-food restaurants. Meaningful friendships are linked to soft drinks. Fun is linked to toys. Prestige is linked to automobiles. This practice convinces us on some level that the objects we see in front of us will bring us the happiness and fulfillment we crave. But the data on happiness cited above (or, perhaps more accurately, the national misery data) indicates the reverse is true.

"Even when the commercials aren't running, our mass media pushes us to aspire for more than we currently have. It raises our standards for comparison. Research has shown that happiness is a relative phenomenon. Thus, in determining happiness, one's perceived status in comparison to others' is often more important than actual amount of income. Television programs or ads depicting lives of prosperity inflate our ideas about what everyone else has, and therefore what we should aspire to."

Why do we tolerate the merchandising of our lives? What are we subconsciously comparing ourselves to? Someone in real life? Or someone on television just following a script written to bring audiences back for more? Are people so depressed because there is an overwhelming amount of laundry and dish washing and not that much drama in real life? Not that many surprise bouquets and sultry stares compared to beds to be made or trash to carry out?

Thursday, May 27, 2010

School Schedule

I'm ready to be done with school. The children have been swimming twice because the weather is strangely warm and that means school must be over.

I want to go canoeing instead of doing math. I want to hang the hammock and let the children loll about reading whatever they want to read while I weed the garden. I want to tell everyone who wants to make plans, "Yes!" I do not want to drive to anymore supplemental activities. I want the children's friends to spend the night other nights of the week.

I think next year, school will have to be over in early or mid- May. I'm so ready to be done with school.

Monday, May 24, 2010

What I See

The lettuces are coming up and we might actually be able to eat salad from the lettuce bed in another week.

I have been diligently watering a variety of sticks and almost all of them are showing signs of life like this raspberry. Do not ask about the gooseberries and mulberry tree; I am still operating on faith.

Here are the sugar snap peas and some of the trellis Jason built. These peas are so very slowly getting going. Maybe I did something wrong.

The beds I've outlined with mulch look so pretty to me. These are cabbage and beets, but they are not visible in this picture. Really, this was about a week ago, and only now are they poking their little heads up.

The apple blossoms are just beautiful! I wonder if we'll actually have any apples this year. In the late afternoon, these trees are humming with bees and other pollinators.

The rhubarb is also looking gorgeous. This is something we can eat NOW from the garden. For all of you who like very sour candy- this is the vegetable for you. Baked with a touch of honey is the way we like it.

I think the chickens are settling in, but I will admit I'm looking forward to a fresh flock. These ladies are disturbed by the moving from place to place because they had a different setup before. They now only peck eggs the morning after they're moved.

Look! We added a bedroom. The children have been sleeping out many nights and Ezra tried one chilly night to sleep under stars instead the orange dome. Morning found his sleeping spot abandoned for a nice warm bed.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Two Things I Never Thought I Would Say

I hate books.

I hate reading.

It should be noted that I am being a bit hyperbolic, but Ezra is driving us bananas with the compulsive reading. He's been reading about two years, but suddenly, he disappears for hours at a time leaving chores undone or people missing him. It could be funny, but my sense of humor is strangely inactive on this point. He is hitting too many sore points with this behavior.
1- I really think reading is a lovely pastime and part of a WELL- ROUNDED individual. However, I think a child can not be truly well-rounded without some tree climbing or bike riding or game playing or woods exploring or hole digging or sister pestering. I see encouraging "well-roundedness" as part of my job.
2- We are an interdependent group and when one person vanishes for hours at a time or leaves chores undone, the rest of the group suffers. I value interdependence; I value the time and efforts of all members of the group. I want the children to do the same.
3- I hate being late, and he reads so much that he makes us late, even when given multiple warnings and "assists" in time management.
4- I hate repeating myself, and the reading problem has me saying, "Put away the book!" 700 times a day.

In my defense, I do make sure the children's days are not crammed full so there is lots of free time to read. There are at least 3 to 4 hours daily that he can read without me commenting, and I even preserve the peace if his sisters are being disruptive. But it seems like the more time he has, the more time he tries to squeeze in more reading.

I sure hope this is a phase. And I sure wonder what families do who have to also compete with electronic media.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010


We had friends who live in Canada come to visit over the past two days, and it was wonderful! (These friends are NOT Canadian; they've come to appreciate being American in the time they've lived in Montreal.) The children played, especially the three little girls, while the older daughter and we two mamas planted the potatoes and onions and some beets and some cabbage and one row of the oh-so-lovely Jacob's Cattle Beans.

Did you read that right? Yes! The potatoes and onions are finally all in the ground. It turns out the sheet mulching is doing exactly what it was supposed to. It turns out I did not have to dig up any more grass to plant the potatoes and onions. While I will still need to do a bit of digging to plant any small seeds (like beets and carrots and cabbage), those big seed things can go right in the mulch. Now- the question of the season! Will anything actually grow?

Monday, May 10, 2010

What I See

Despite the snow and cold and frost and unplanted garden- spring is here!
I know how hated dandelions can be, but when they all open in one great sweep and fill a world that has been so slowly greening from white and brown, from mud and cold, they are the most beautiful flower in the world. They can cover a hillside in a glowing yellow. They seem to cheer spring along as we head toward what seems a very distant summer.

(They also mean it's time to have potatoes in the ground. Guess who still has three varieties awaiting planting!)

This is an apple blossom! Isn't it beautiful? Look at the five leaves arrayed around the five blossoms that will open into five flowers that each have five petals that could make five apples each with a five pointed star in the center. I'm in love with the apple blossoms right now.

"A violet by a mossy stone
Half hidden from the eye
More brilliant than a star
When only one is shining in the sky."

Here are some more flowers. My yard in all it's strangeness is extra pretty at the moment and who can be discouraged when surrounded by flowers? They mean that life keeps pushing out.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Another Mother's Day Post

Subtitle: I'm glad the children have aunts

An aunt is a special person; they are nurturing and sweet like your mother on a good day, and they have little responsibility to see that you behave minute by minute or day to day. They enjoy socializing you when you're young, because at the very least, you're a change of pace from their own children while still being quite familiar, and maybe, you're one of the only children they regularly interact with, making you extremely charming and clever.

As an adult, I've discovered an aunt can spell you a bit from the insanities all mothers share. Somehow, an aunt saying the exact same thing your mother said last week doesn't rankle. Also, an aunt can be a bit more direct than your mother; maybe this isn't always true, but it seems there is less muddy water between an aunt and you than between you and the woman who tried to raise you well. Of course, if you have a bad connection with your aunt, then this is all bunk.

However, my children are blessed with some lovely aunts in a wide variety of types. Maybe, they'll know this as they mature. Personally, I had two aunts teach me how to tend a house and another how to paint a house and mow a yard. I had some great-aunts who showed me how to be a lady (these lessons did not stick) and that even wildflowers are beautiful. One aunt taught me about the river and another showed me a gentle way to parent. And all of them laughed often and loud.

Now that my own mother is dead, I find myself often needing an elder, and my aunt is willing to advise and sympathize. I hope my children are so lucky.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Mothers day

Jason and I don't particularly mark mother's day, because it just doesn't make much sense to us (along with Valentine's, St Patrick's, and Father's day). I decided to make an exception this year. There's a new book that I'm not that interested in, but the premise lead me to reflect on the things I carry through my life that my mother gave me.

She was pretty stubborn, and this was mostly a good thing. It meant she led a pretty normal life in spite of a serious physical handicap. She left me feeling I just could not back away from a problem, unless it was for a flanking maneuver.

She was pretty demanding. The thing I do that I think is a reaction to this is I bristle very quickly when I feel bullied or pressured. I also do not keep people on a line when I know they have their own agendas. With age, I've come to realize this demanding quality was probably related to her handicap; she was a real powerhouse, and it must have been extremely frustrating to see a job and not be able to do it herself.

I believe I can do just about anything I want, as well as knowing I get to decide what I want to do. I think she did a nice job of accepting us as we were and being excited for us (or angry) relative to the things we set out to accomplish. I do not remember much pressure from her to become some particular type of person or profession.

She was good at apologizing. I thank her memory often when I find myself knowing I can admit a mistake and fix it.

She was the anti- example regarding minding my temper. I still do not think claiming Irish blood entitles one to temper tantrums.

She left me feeling sure of her love, and knowing that as flawed as I am as a parent, my children can still feel my love.