Monday, 9 April 2012
this and that
We were away from the blog being strip-searched by the Supreme Court. Really, what is happening on the civil liberties front? If you happen to get stopped by the cops as your bike drifts through a red light they can now strip search you even without suspicion that you have drugs or weapons. Any arrest can be accompanied by a strip search. Traffic violation. Open container violation. Going to a peace rally? Save them some time and show up naked. Also what is this problem Obama has with justice and liberty for all? The government of the United States is slap-happy for indefinite detention without trial of human beings. Don't call them terrorists. They're actually human beings. When we think about moving to England we think about all of this. And also about another cracked tooth that is going to net some dentist $1500 an hour. Meanwhile, it's a wild windy springtime in Sunnyside and we are back in Central Park this week to pick the dandelions and invasive ranunculus. Saturday's farm pick up includes ground beef liver. Do you believe it? We're going to make meatballs. Meanwhile, headaches are all the rage here. Does anyone have a good Chinese acupuncturist, NYC area? Peace out people. We'll be back soon.
Monday, 26 March 2012
The mom of Lisa of Lisablog points out that the blog has been languishing. It's been a very busy early spring here, with forays into gardening business (the pansies and primroses are in, and we've started a rooftop vegetable garden on top of a parking garage in Woodside. Meanwhile, Matilda (the oshino cherry tree on our block) has bloomed. She's thirteen days ahead of last year's bloom-fest.
It's true we feel a lurking despair about the state of the world (why are we in Afghanistan? who are these right-wing nuts who want to control women and their reproductive organs? why did Dick Cheney get that heart?).
At the same time we're trying to make things better, bit by bit. Our food supply is clean these days. We give our money to some Amish farmers in Pennsylvania and they provide us with onions, potatoes, goat, lamb, chicken, eggs, and milk. We dabble in local grown lettuces and try to keep a good stockpile of organic apples for the Beast. Our most extragant expense is Pakistani sea salt. (No weird anti-clumping agents.)
We also are imagining crossing the sea to set up house in the United Kingdom. Why? Dismiss it as a back-assward system, but health care and dental care are still the rights of mans and womans and childrens in the UK. The social contract is strong there. (Speaking of which, our friend Rebecca just got back from Tokyo where people leave their bikes unlocked on the street.) Food: the UK labels GMO food. Who knows what we eat here in the USA. And then there's the European Union. What better place to unschool a kid than the EU? Forget about art history class, we're going to the Prado. And yes, we have good friends there. Some of them are even bee keepers.
We'll be back soon with more news of this and that. Keep an eye out for the Robert Duncan book. We've heard we'll see a copy in early June. (I know the pub date is May, but publishing business, oy vey! as Tuli used to say.)
Tuesday, 6 March 2012
Been Away, Are Back
We've been away but we are back.
Reasons we've been away are multitudinous. We're reading proofs of the RD biography mainly, but also kid-enjoying and making yogurt and pickles and soup stocks and rye bread and there are also rice germination experiments.
Also there was a trip to Buffalo, and a long train ride home yesterday with a semi-cranky Beast. Snow in the upstate hills makes us miss our childhood haunts of the cornfields of Derby, New York.
And then there are the Adventures of Tin Tin which never leave our consciousness these days. Tin Tin is the not so secret hero of our household. We've been watching a French version of The Castafiore Emerald over and over and over again.
And we've been out in the park as the non-winter turns to spring. The crocuses and hellebores and winter jasmine shrubs are all blooming. As we change seasons we change gears a bit with the kiddies. We spent the winter days romping through the empty park and huddling close together to eat our snacks. Now we're working toward a more structured "Forest Kindergarden" with games and treasure hunts and story telling and plant and animal identification. If only we could build yurts and have bonfires. It's likely we'll start taking weekend road trips with the crew to add those kinds of activities into the mix.
What comes of all this time in the park? Some wonderful friendships with moms from all over the NYC area. A bunch of kids who are fearless rock climbers. Sightings of blue jays, sparrows, starlings, red tailed hawks, early spring bulbs, squirrels galore. It's simply the best way we can think of to spend our days, and it adds a new dimension to unschooling: giving us a wild environment to learn from in the midst of the metropolis.
We'll be back soon with more news on this and that and hopefully with no news about Israeli bombing raids. Peace out people.
Wednesday, 22 February 2012
We've been offline because we're proofreading the Robert Duncan biography. We'll be online again in two weeks. Peace, people.
Sunday, 5 February 2012
We just read about the 1983 Mitt Romney dog incident. (He put his dog on the roof of the car for a twelve hour ride.) Well, what do you expect from Republicans?
Meanwhile, we're back from the UK where we had a wonderful time with the family and friends. As ever, the land across the pond feels more humane than the land of the lost NYC. People compost their vegetables, not just by themselves, but with the help of the sanitation department. Doctors and dentists, yes, I know people say it's a crap system, but it's there, and it serves everyone, and you can call the National Health anytime day or night and say "I have a headache and I'm pregnant, can I take these blue pills with the number 7 on them?" Someone will actually give you an educated answer.
There's a certain social contract to life in the UK that is not the USA "who gives a shit?" lack of social contract. And the public transport? There's always a dude at the turnstile who can tell you the quickest route to your destination. There are services for people. Hot damn.
In New York we're always trying to find these things tribally, in little tiny communities of the outcasts of capitalist culture. It's an upstream swim, very Mad Max.
Now, the Superbowl. Well, someone will win. More on this later. Our t.v. keeps pixilating and saying "no signal", so it's also an upstream swim.
And finally, for all you fearful flyers out there, we finally have the answer: 3 Ativan, and 1 Beta Blocker. Flying is fun.
Peace out people. We'll be back next week with news of this and that, including but not limited to tales from our beekeeping class and ideas for fermenting beans and grains.
Thursday, 19 January 2012
We're heading to London on Saturday to see the peops across the pond. It's hard to think about lifting off from New York in the midst of such a comfortable schedule of days spent wandering Central Park with a pack of wild and wooly toddlers. The routines of mom-hood (making snacks, taking baths, reading Tin Tin) are very soothing.
At the same time it's exciting to imagine the visit with grandma and grandpa and Aunty Mapes. We're hoping to make it out to a walking adventure at Kew Gardens with some UK Unschoolers, and we're hoping to make a stop at Westminster Abbey where many of our favorite kings are entombed. Creepy? Well, we'll skip Lindow Man at the British Museum for now, and that nutty Museum of Medical Anomolies. But we will go to the Museum of Childhood and the Tin Tin shop. Mostly we want to see friends and drink tea and maybe have a pint.
As fearful flyers, we've been doing all the crazy stuff that we always do pre-flight: checking out the turbulence maps (very turbulent today over nova scotia and the north atlantic), taking pills (beta blockers and ativan), checking cruise ship schedules. Sigh. Tips welcome, as always.
We'll check in from the old country. Peace out peops.
Sunday, 8 January 2012
The Week in Review
We had a nice first week of the New Year, despite the strange weather (sub-zero, then tropical, but no locusts yet). The dinosaur theme saturates the days. On Monday we went back to the Natural History Museum to look at ancient mammoths, particularly the Warren Mastodon that was discovered in Newburgh, New York in the early 1800s.
In Central Park we've been looking at contemporary dinosaurs, doing some bird watching near Azalea Pond behind the Loeb Boathouse. Downy Woodpeckers are all the rage.
Friday for a change of pace we went up to Harlem to see the Three Kings Day Celebration. There were camels! Yes, three camels for three kings, lurching up 3rd Avenue. We all dug it. The Beast is a big fan of the three kings song.
In the kitchen it's been a week of pickles, soup stocks, yogurt, granola, and bread. We are finally tackling bread-making and it's pretty exciting. We bought spelt kernels from the farmers and we've been grinding them and soaking them overnight in raw milk to release the nutrients from the grain. It's a moist milky bread, which the beast refers to as "cake-bread."
Now, on January 21 we head to London for a week and a half. We're looking to connect to some unschoolers there. Anyone have leads? Please email us at email@example.com.
Sunday, 1 January 2012
and a happy new year
The orchid bloomed, we have two baby guppies, and our friends Paul and Lizzie and Jack sent us a chess set for xmas. What more can a family ask for? The Beast woke up yesterday and said "let's play chest!" She already knows the difference between the rank and file. Since we're all recovering from colds we decided to watch Mary Poppins too. Thomas and I have been making lists of "50 Things"— he saw it as an affirmation list; I see it as an affirmations/goal list. His list has great things like "small art" and "Saxon churches". Here's my list (which overlaps with his in a couple places— especially owls, and defiant lightness). Peace out people, and Happy New Year.
1. domesticity (a house in the Bronx)
2. hiking and farming (land in the catskills)
3. relaxation (a sauna)
4. family (adopt a kid)
5. more family (a kitten)
6. more family (a dog)
7. friendships (‘staying in touch’)
8. friendships (an unschooling community)
9. community (conversational Spanish)
10. community (conversational French)
11. activism (fight the death penalty)
12. activism (feed the homeless)
13. activism (anti-war/knitting one hundred hats)
14. self-sufficient farming and localvorianism (keeping bees)
15. self-sufficient farming (summer vegetable gardening)
16. fermented food
17. baking bread
18. knitting sweaters and scarves
19. a sewing machine
22. grasses, sedges, and rushes
24. owls and other birds
25. butterflies and moths
28. old english
29. british history
30. shakespeare’s plays
31. english pastoral metaphysicals (andrew marvell)
32. ancient greek
33. translate the iliad
34. freud’s collected works
35. freud’s house, london
42. eucalyptus scented san francisco
43. train trip through the deep south
45. black belt in seido karate
46. another marathon at fifty
47. finnegans wake
48. movies with bea
49. night sky
50. defiant lightness
Monday, 26 December 2011
The New Year
We decided to observe the beginning of the New Year with the Solstice. It made more sense. The days begin to get longer and we begin to think about spring planting. We're ordering seeds today from Johnny's. And we're trying Feverfew and Borage for the first time. (And also the colorful stuff that clients like-- pink petunias, yellow zinnias, mix and match violets, some red sages.)
Christmas is over, hurray. The music and crowds and christo-capitalist undertones and overtones are just too much. We asked the beast what she wanted for Christmas and she didn't express any great interest in any particular thing. We've talked a lot about gifts for the new king, the sun king, the king named Jesus or Mithra or Mithras, and she's definitely more interested in gifts for babies than in gifts for herself. We did shop for a pink dress (pink dress number 6) and we had a chocolate brownie yesterday in Central Park after visiting Gus the polar bear at the zoo. The Burmese Prince and I didn't get any presents (except for pieces of the Beast's brownie) and it felt pretty sane to be free of all that.
We also baked some cookies and made some popcorn and bought some oranges to give to homeless people. Then I realized that heck, we should do that all the time. A box of tangerines was $4 at our corner fruit stand, and a carton of eggs would run us another $3. So why not take food for other people every time we go outside? At $7 a week there's no excuse not to.
Also, we're saving money through our contract with the Amish farmers of Pennsylvania. Raw milk is cheap, and this week we made another batch of yogurt and a first round of cheese-- an Indian paneer. Suddenly it's true we're 90% localvore, and that's a good feeling.
In the realm of unschooling, I'm finding that I learn more every day about how I learn, what I "need" to learn, and about the fluidity of learning as part of life rather than as part of an EDUCATION SYSTEM. Bea picks up Spanish because our local baker and grocery guys talk to her in Spanish. Her friends in Forest Nursery speak Spanish with her. And we have a little local Queens group for kids to get together and speak/sing Spanish. So, there it is. Spanish surrounds us. French is still lurking. The umbrella is a parapluie, and the birds are petite oiseaux.
I've been eager to take a class on conifers at the NY Botanical Garden, but it costs money and we don't have it. So I'm not going to take a class. I'm just going to learn conifers. We're in Central Park three days a week. Plenty of time to do fieldwork.
So if we save some money on horticulture and botany classes I will put it aside for the dojo. I do still want to get a blackbelt in karate, and that's something that I'd like to learn with other folks in a more structured setting. And perhaps a class on bee keeping. When we make the move from apartment living to house-owning there will definitely be bees in our backyard.
But now, there's a chicken that needs to come out of the oven. Peace out people. We'll be back next week.
Sunday, 18 December 2011
There's a food revolution happening in our kitchen these days, mostly thanks to the very hip moms we've been hanging out with in the forest nursery. We use recipes from the Nourishing Traditions cookbook for a lot of stuff, and also we just make up recipes, which is fun. Here's a view of the week's experiments:
Homemade granola. butter, oats, raisins, cashews, honey, cinnamon. I warm it on the stove top to mix the honey and butter, then put it in the oven for 20 minutes at 200 degrees. Presto, cheap good granola. (maybe $2 a pound rather than $8-10.)
Yogurt. 4 cups raw milk, 1/2 cup starter (we used thick greek yogurt for the first batch, and left over yogurt from the second batch as a bacterial starter. Heat the milk in a double boiler to 180 degrees. Cool it to 110 degrees. Mix in the yogurt starter. Put it in a clean sturdy container (we use a clay pot) and keep it in a warm place for 7 hours. (An oven with a pilot light is a good one, or a pre-warmed oven. You want to keep the temperature at about 110 degrees so the bacteria can eat the milk.)
Pickles. two large cucumbers cut into sticks. two cloves garlic, some sliced up leeks, a pinch of cayenne pepper, two seaspoons of salt. Mix it, stuff it all into a jar, add some water to cover the cucumbers, (leave an inch at the top of the jar so it doesn't explode.) Keep at room temperature for 3 days and it's done. Refrigerate after that.
We have to admit we were wary of raw milk but now that we're using it, we're ecstatic. It tastes better than ultrapasturized organic milk and it's cheaper. We get ours in glass jars-- no more plastic milk jugs, and no more plastic yogurt containers-- all the yogurt is now in a clay pot. And, we pay the farmer directly. It's nice to pay a farmer for milking his cow. We've read through the endless safety warnings from the FDA and CDC re: raw milk and have found that 1) pastuerized milk and all kinds of other corporate farmed foods (spinach, for example) are the major culprits in food poisoning, and 2) the small number of raw milk food poisonings have mostly come from raw cheeses served off the back of taco trucks. Also, the beast prefers warm maple milk, so her raw milk tends to be home-pastuerized at 165 degrees anyway.
Meanwhile, the estimate is that 100,000 civilians died in the Iraq War and 4000 plus Americans got blown to bits. We're done with all that now. Except for the pesky blood stains that won't come out of our clothes. This is what we've been reflecting upon as the solstice nears.
We'll be back next week with news of this and that. The beast and papa are reading Tintin and it's time for the mama to take over reading duty. These days we're finding that even twenty minutes away from the Beast feels like too much. She's just so damned fun to hang out with.
Peace people. And eat the rich; pickle them first.
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