Monday, 28 November 2011
This and That
The Beast slumbers and the Royal We has a headache.
I've been working on the 100 Hat Project. http://www.angelfire.com/poetry/lisajarnot/iraqhat.html
I just sent hat number 65 to Brother Toby in California.
It's 60 plus degrees in nyc today, which perhaps accounts for the headache. Cooler is better for me.
Sad news, our old friend Ted Enslin died last week. He was the first writer to support my work, and his correspondence with me in the early years of my "career" (late 1980s) kept me going. We last met up in Milwaukee some years ago for the Lorine Niedecker Conference there. Ted in all his woodsy Mainey pipe smoking style hung out with us youngsters at a taco joint and also a bowling alley. Ted's influence on the musicality of my poetry is huge, and it occurs to me now that this is a fact I've overlooked sadly in interviews.
Heading toward the darkest days of the winter we prepare for the solstice. The Central Park hiking crew meets this week as usual with an extra Saturday outing to get the dads involved.
And as the weather changes we find a lot of the social on-the-street world tedious in the expectations that others have that we will dress our kid like a fricking eskimo pardon my french. The Beast still likes to be a layer cooler than most kids. When it's 60 degrees she wears a tee shirt. When it's 50 degrees she wears a long sleeve shirt. When it's 40 degrees she wears a jacket (but still sometimes shuns the leg warmers). Every day (literally) people on the street say "put a jacket on her" or "isn't she cold?". I have finally come up with the best come-back "No jacket. Our religion forbids it."
We'll be back next week with more news of this and that. Peace out peops.
Sunday, 20 November 2011
It's becoming winter in Sunnyside. To quote Led Zeppelin, the leaves are falling all around. I'm going to get a new winter coat for my birthday and the beast has a pancho with dinosaurs for the cooler days in Central Park.
Yesterday we were at the Museum of Natural History and visited the replica skeleton of Lucy at the British Museum. (Thomas pointed out the link between paleontology, the Beatles, and Peter Cook's daughter Lucy.) The beast was intrigued by neanderthal penises, which she described as "poops". Bravo, Doctor Freud.
We'll be heading upstate for Thanksgiving weekend to spend some time at the Old Manse before the snow comes. Are there any hunters, skiers, winter hikers who are looking for a getaway in the Catskills this winter? We'll be renting the Old Manse (Mount Tremper) for weekend getaways from December through March. There is heat, but no running water. It's cozy and has electricity, stove, two bedrooms. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
More soon peops. And eat the 1%.
Monday, 14 November 2011
January 2012: A Poetry Workshop in Sunnyside Queens:
Epic Dudes: Pound's Cantos, Zukofsky's "A" and Olson's Maximus. 10 weeks, $300. Contact me at email@example.com for more details.
Sunday, 13 November 2011
This and That
It's a headachy Sunday afternoon here in Sunnyside and the Beast is chomping on uncooked spaghetti. Roast chicken and yams in the oven, greens and carrots in the steamer. Spaghetti being spit out all over the bedroom floor.
We had a great week in the woods, in Central Park I mean. The Forest Nursery program is becoming a haven from all the chaos of big city life. After two and a half years of parenting, we've finally also for the first time found a community of like-minded peops-- toddler breast-feeders, unschoolers, moms and dads who let their kids run with sticks and leap into mud puddles. I'm actually learning things about parenting from other parents, and that's a first (learning to be less anxious about Bea's rock climbing adventures, getting good advice about food, sugar, t.v., and flu shots.) Who needs t.v., sugar, or flu shots? Simplify!
Last night we made it out to Washington Square Park for the St. Martin's Day lantern parade, a German holiday we got hip to thanks to our friends Ruth and Aisha. It's kind of like Halloween, with a parade of lantern-carrying kids led by a big white horse. Here's a German lantern song:
Sonne, Mond und Sterne
Brenne auf, mein Licht,
Brenne auf, mein Licht
Aber nur meine liebe Laterne nicht.
Dinosaurs continue to be where-it's-at around here. The Beast has been teaching us about the carnivores and herbivores of the cretaceous forest. My gratefulness to the kid increases every day. She's turned me on to the wonders of The Museum of Natural History and I'm reading a terrific history of the place called Dinosaurs in the Attic by Douglas Preston. Suddenly I love the Museum of Natural History as much as I love the British Museum, and that's saying a lot. Why did I not know that New York City had a museum that hosted the largest number of scientific specimens in the world including all the stuff that Franz Boas collected? And as for dinosaurs, holy pteranadon! The ankylosaurs are my favorites these days. And did you know that Tyrannosaurus had a cousin from Canada named Albertosaurus?
What else? We're worried about the world, as usual, with Republicans creeping around campaigning and the Death Machine of Death Row going full speed, and the Occupy Wall Street encampment becoming tubercular as winter sets in. We wonder how the Beast will come to view humans and their criseses. At this point it seems helpful to simply show respect to her and to other humans with the hope that we can all cultivate gentle relationships. She's very keen to share small change with subway musicians and homeless people. It's novel, and it's a way to connect, so why not? I thought that for Christmas we could give things to people rather than waiting for Santa Claus, though I'm not sure she's heard of Santa Claus yet.
For now, we inhabit the world of dinosaurs, and that gives us plenty to think about.
We'll be back next week with tales of this and that. Peace out peops.
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.
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