Sunday, 6 November 2011
This and That
Much news on all fronts here at Lisablog. We've been busy with dinosaur studies and acorn meal making and preparing to plant bulbs.
Today was the NYC Marathon, so we went out to see the runners and for the first time ever we saw the front runners, over in Long Island City, not far from the entrance to the 59th Street Bridge. It was a lovely day, sunny and cool, with the cheerfulness of runner sweat and the hippity hoppity sound of the hooves of marathoners.
Yes, speaking of hooves, we missed the Breeders Cup yesterday. It was an end of the season garden clean up day, so there was little time for elsewise.
In Central Park we've been moving toward peak colors, and watching the tree cutters make their way through all the storm damage of Halloween weekend. The Unschooling Forest Nursery thrives, with a core group of six or seven families who show up three days a week for walks and picnics. The Beast jumped into the Harlem Meer (Lake) the other day. Actually she walked into it rather than jumping. We all came out unscathed but wet and cold and covered with duck weed. She's certainly a fearless forester.
These days we think are the happiest days of our lives. Having a kid and being a family unit is pretty exciting. It's exciting because of all the possibilities of what the family unit can mean. We're grateful that unschooling philosophies have come into our lives-- that it's possible to think about a life with ongoing learning, thinking, hashing it out as a group rather than as authority (parent) versus/over student/tutee/serf (kid).
One unschooling idea that stays with us this week has to do with household rules. We came across an unschooling discussion where someone said their only household rules had to do with safety and respect. Safety is the one area where we intervene with the Beast, e.g. when she jumps in the lake. Respect seems to be something she'll cultivate out of being respected. She's still in that crazy toddler phase where she spits food at us like the llama in her Tin Tin book. We don't take it as a sign of disrespect. It's just llama play.
Here are a few photos from the park.
And yes, this week marks the beginning of my marathon training for NYC 2012.
Peace out peops.
Saturday, 29 October 2011
It's snowing in Sunnyside. Unexpectedly. The flash of amber in the ash trees is sprinkled with white.
The Beast is watching Dinosaur Train and is very interested in the activity of carnivores in the cretaceous forest.
We've been out in Central Park for our Forest Nursery meetings three mornings a week and it's becoming a great adventure. There are 28 families involved, a dozen or so actively participating, and even in the rain we end up with a little group of three or four kids. The Osage Orange tree was the big discovery this week:
Meanwhile, all is quiet. The holiday soap (persian lime oatmeal) is now curing and it's time to knit a scarf for the beast.
The 7 train isn't running into the city this weekend, but we're still hoping to get to Wall Street tomorrow to take part in the occupation.
We say power to the people. Extinction to the 1%!
Sunday, 16 October 2011
Firstly thanks to all who sent supportive comments to the blog this week. Bea and I appreciate it. We are looking forward to beginning our first week of Unschooling Forest Nursery in Central Park. So far there are a dozen families interested in coming out with kids aged one to seven. We think it's going to be a good winter.
And as autumn becomes more autumny we continue to simplify our lives. Fewer gigs, less spending of money, more knitting.
Unschooling and simplicity go together well. As unschoolers we can do what we want to do when we want to and with an attention to the whole family's needs and desires. For the most part, our schedule is our own. Bea didn't want to go outside today, so we decided not to go outside. She wanted to sort through stuffed animals, and also she gave her dinosaurs a bath. Spinosaurus is a favorite dinosaur. We'll head back to the Museum of Natural History soon to check out those bones.
People are starting to ask us if she's in school yet, and we realize that we'll be hearing more questions as she get older. We had another warm fun satisfying unschooling dinner here last night and preschool was one of the topics of conversation. How do we all as unschoolers negotiate through a world that demands we all fit into some institution? (And why is it that this is already an issue for the two year old crowd?)
As we dip deeper into unschooling I see all of the potential for learning and loving— unschooling inspires a vision of the family as a collaborative democratic unit. Why shouldn't I ask my kid how she wants to spend the day? Why shouldn't she decide what's for dinner? (It was cacophonous today— lamb stew, chocolate chips, and matzo ball soup.)
Unschooling is not just about how we learn, it really seems like a way of re-evaluating the systems that control us. We are all being deschooled and deprofessionalized along the way. So we're grateful to have stumbled into a set of ideas that challenge us to live to our fullest potential. Unschooling raises all kinds of questions: will my kid learn to brush her teeth if I don't force her to? how many hours of Dinosaur Train will she watch? who is the best judge of how much she needs to breastfeed? (probably she's the only one who really knows how much nutrition or how much comfort she needs), who am I to say that something tastes good or something is fun? (sometimes she shouts "no, it's not fun!" and I remember that I can't impose my sense of fun onto her sense of fun.)
We'll be back next week with more questions and also with a report from Wall Street. Peace out peops.
Saturday, 8 October 2011
"All Children Must Wear Sweaters"
Check out this scene. We had three good weeks of Waldorf Forest Nursery in Central Park.
On Thursday morning we were all gathered for our morning walk. It was a cool sunny autumn morning, heading toward 70 degrees. As we set off, the teacher approached Bea and told her she would not be permitted to join the other acorn children unless she put on a sweater.
Okay, weird enough, but also weirder because the teacher knew that Bea was very sweater-averse and that I never had any luck getting a sweater on her and that when she doesn't want to wear a sweater she simply doesn't wear a sweater.
The other parents and kids formed their morning singing circle and when Bea tried to join the circle they wouldn't let her. (She's two and a half— picture those grown ups.)
I said to the teacher, "She's just not going to wear a sweater" and the teacher said she would have to go home and that way she would learn to follow the rules. I said "That's punitive." And she said "No it's not. All children must wear sweaters. It's the responsibility of the parent to enforce the rule."
So we left. We've been expelled from the realm of the Children of the Acorn. But why? We suspect that the sweater was not the real issue. Again we see how schools work— even offbeat Waldorf education— wherever there's a philosophy or a doctrine, someone has to enforce it.
Bea had been greeted with frowns from the grown ups last week when she opened up a piece of luncheon snack seaweed and said it was a book. She read an imaginary story from the seaweed book, about Tin Tin sailing on the ship the Karaboudjan. I said "That's her favorite right now. The Tin Tin books." The adults ignored my comment.
Rudolf Steiner said that no elementary school classroom teacher should ever stand in front of a class with a book. Books are for later. As are characters from books. Bea is supposed to be spared the influences of the world of books and history.
I wonder also if there could have been a popsicle issue. We always had "healthy snacks" at our picnics, but on our way out of the park Bea would sometimes have a popsicle. One of the other kids in the group said "what's that?" with great surprise. I'm afraid we brought the devil popsicle into their midst. But the Beast's favorite foods are broccoli, seaweed, rice, and raw fish. So I'm not so opposed to the popsicle. In fact, I kind of think it would be cruel to deprive her the joy of a popsicle on a sunny day.
So we left the Waldorf group and we're starting an unschooling forest nursery for the sweater shunning anarchic unschoolers.
And we ended up spending Thursday morning at the Science Museum looking at dinosaur skeletons and learning the names of a few dinosaurs— facts from the world of science — discouraged in Waldorf preschooling.
We've always liked the hands on craft and nature aspect of Waldorf philosophy, but we're disappointed to be reminded that it's just another system of education. More and more these days we feel like education is a horrible thing. No one needs to be educated. Every organism thrives in its/his/her own way by its/his/her own volition. Our beast learned letters and numbers somehow. Sesame Street? Subway Trains? That was what she wanted to do.
As for sweaters, they are over-rated.
Peace out peops and check out this terrific blog:
Here's an excerpt:
If a child is forced to say thank you or sorry, then he is robbed of a chance to express his own heartfelt gratitude or apology.
If a child is forced to eat two more bites of dinner, then she is robbed of a chance to feel just full enough to be satisfied.
If a child is forced to clean up, then he is robbed of a chance to show how helpful he can be, voluntarily.
If a child is forced to wear a jacket, then she is robbed of a chance to feel cold enough to know when she really needs one.
If a child is forced to stop crying, then he is robbed of a chance to express his fears or his dreams.
If a child is told she is not good enough, then she is robbed of a chance to be happy with herself the way she is.
Saturday, 1 October 2011
for the Buffalo Peops and all
Evan alerted me to this story. (This is the Huffington Post source). Williamsville North High School has released a statement on their Bullying Policies. It comes too late for Jamey Rodemeyer though. Having grown up in the South Towns I know pretty well the way the word faggot can fly around. (And lezzie, remember that one?) Welcome to America, welcome to Buffalo, etc. We can only hope our Beast comes to inhabit a world where the mysteries of sex and gender are transformed into So What's It To You and Who Cares? issues. One of the reasons we won't send her to school is that they still line the kids up as boys and girls. What about everybody in between? (and what about the giant sea squids?)
Jamey Rodemeyer, 14-Year-Old Boy, Commits Suicide After Gay Bullying, Parents Carry On Message
Jamey Rodemeyer, a 14-year-old boy from Williamsville, NY, took his life Sunday after what his parents claim was years of bullying because of struggles with his sexuality.
His parents, Tracy and Tim Rodemeyer, say that Jamey faced bullies for years, though things intensified in middle school, according to NBC 2. Jamey recently became a freshman at Williamsville North High School.
In the wake of their loss, the Rodemeyers hope to carry on a message of anti-bullying and acceptance. "To the kids who are bullying they have to realize that words are very powerful and what you think is just fun and games isn't to some people, and you are destroying a lot of lives," Jamey's father told WIVB.
Tracy Rodemeyer misses her son, but hopes the loss can still be used to teach a message of tolerance. "It took him away from our family way too early and we're just convinced that he had a purpose on this planet and it was to touch as many people as he could," she told NBC 2.
According to NBC, the Rodemeyers had gone to the school about the problem in the past. Jamey even sought counseling to learn to deal with the problem, but it seems it wasn't enough.
While they say their son seemed happy in the days leading up to the tragedy, his "It Gets Better" YouTube posting from May includes details about how intense the bullying was.
Through it all, Jamey remained outwardly optimistic. “That's all you have to do. Just love yourself and you're set. And I promise you, it'll get better,” he said in the video.
Gay bullying has been gaining increasing attention in the media, as a number of tragedies has brought the issue into the spotlight. Earlier this month the California State Senate passed "Seth's Law" a measure designed to curb anti-gay bullying in schools.
Sunday, 25 September 2011
New Marathon Record and Other Things
Patrick Makau of Kenya set a world record today winning the Berlin Marathon in 2 hours 3 minutes 38 seconds.
There's an opinion piece in the Times today by a molecular biologist named Sam Wang who says kids should start school early so that their brains can be seized by the education system before it's too late. Too late for what? Sigh.
Meanwhile, it's warm—almost tropical— in New York City and we're baking apple pies and pretending it's really autumn. A bit of yellow at the top of one of the ash trees on 47th Avenue.
On thursday we go to Harvard to give a talk on Robert Duncan. Woodberry Library, 5 pm. We'll see you there.
And now that the Duncan biography is finished we're going to read a book. Yes, it's true, it's been over a year since we've had time to read a book. Where to begin? Pop science perhaps. Anyone have recommendations for any good pop science books on viruses and bacteria?
We'll be back soon with news of this and that.
The Beast will be in the park this week romping with the squirrels and looking for stinkhorn mushrooms. Who needs school?
Peace out Peops.
Saturday, 10 September 2011
On the Road
we're heading to buffalo tomorrow to visit our peops there. meanwhile in nyc there are cops everywhere looking for two middle eastern dudes, one five feet tall and one five feet eight driving a truck.
here at the lisablog headquarters we're studying autumn. acorns and apples are the two a's. last week we started a great new program called Central Park Outdoor Nursery. Bea joins three other kids three mornings a week for a three hour adventure in Central Park. We hike, check out the flora and fauna, and have a picnic lunch. It's a Waldorf-inspired group and it already has us all more focused on daily rituals, slow food, duck calls, and wild mushrooms. We'll be out in the park every tuesday, wednesday, and thursday rain or shine or snow through the end of the year. here's a photo from day one:
Peace out peops. We'll be back soon.
Friday, 2 September 2011
Mount Pleasant Report
We're just back from the Catskills where Hurricane Irene wiped out half of our little town and destroyed the homes of many of neighbors. Our cabin was spared because it's up a hill from the Esopus Creek. A few photos on our Flickr site at
Still no electricity or phone service in Mount Pleasant either. And the Boiceville grocery store is closed. And our bridge into Phoenicia is gone. And the railroad tracks are gone. It's high water everywhere and more rain on the way. We're supposed to have electricity restored around the 7th of September. Stay tuned for more updates.
Friday, 19 August 2011
The King of Cats is Gone
Harry left us today after a long battle with kidney disease and a short battle with cancer. He was born on Bergen Street in Brooklyn in 1995 and subsequently lived in Manhattan, Queens, the Catskills, and Boulder, Colorado. He was named after film maker Harry Smith. His nicknames were the Hair Man, Whodunkumunk, Whodunk, Hararama, Boychik, and the Hair Master. His beloved aggressive-licking companion was Bela. He tolerated and was tolerated by Mina. He was loved by all who crossed his path except for those who were allergic to him. He was the best cat ever. Gentle, funny (imagine him trying to wave a Post-It off his paw), a great traveler (he flew the friendly skies all the way to Denver), a great friend through all the waves of life. He enjoyed eating turkey slices, chewing on corn husks, jumping on top of the fridge (in his early springy days), sunning himself on the deck when we lived in Boulder, socializing with my students (he was always the first to amble into someone's lap), and he also really liked to lick ice cubes. Fuzzy toy mouses were also a favorite, as was catnip. Today I read a little bit of Finnegans Wake to him before we said goodbye. He was surrounded by friends in the end, here at home in Queens, curled up on my chest, quietly grogging into barbibituated slumber. Harry was a great presence on Lisablog over the years and even hosted his own political cat chat shows. O people of the blog, please eat a slice of turkey in memory of the Hair-master.
Monday, 8 August 2011
The blog is being renovated. We'll be focusing more on unschooling and yes Lisablog may even become Bea's Unschooling Blog. Or perhaps she will begin her own blog. She is very good at turning on the computer these days.
We've been studying the butterflies of Sunnyside and Mount Tremper. The Cabbage White is a favorite as is the Question Mark Comma with its beautiful silver spot. Upstate we're heading into blackberry season and there are elderberries budding everywhere. Elderberry pancakes are just around the corner.
We've also updated our website lisajarnot.com. Po biz news is that we'll be at Harvard in September to DJ some RD recordings and talk about the biography. The biography is coming out soon, do you believe it? Look for it in the spring. We'll be seeing proofs here in October. Word.
And we're teaching an autumn pumpkiny class on Emily Dickinson beginning at the end of September. Perhaps we'll even take a field trip to Amherst. Class will meet on Friday evenings for ten weeks in Sunnyside. Shout our way if you're interested.
That's all the news that's fit to print. Peace out and see you soon.
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