Saturday, 10 December 2011
This and That
We're thinking of moving to the Bronx because it might be where we can afford to live. We'd like to live in a house rather than a rental or a co-op. It feels ambitious, economically, but perhaps it is possible. Anyone have tales of life in the Bronx? Any unschoolers up there?
Meanwhile, the Christmas music surrounds us, as do the bright red and green lights, "decorations" the Beast shouts, but perhaps she knows not what they are for. Christmas and Solstice and Halloween seem to blur together for her, which is nice, in that the spooky pagan candle-burning feeling of Halloween and Solstice seem to out-shadow the weirdness of Jesus and Santa.
We're hoping to go up to the Old Manse for the solstice to get the wood burning stove up and running for the longest night of the year.
What we do have is a yule wreath that came from Brother Toby at the Starcross Community out in Annapolis, California. It's the third year now that we have a Starcross wreath, and it brings some cheer to the December darkness, though really, December doesn't seem so dark. There are sunny days and walks in the park, crisp and cold, but not so dark. Finally all of the leaves have fallen off Matilda the cherry tree at the top of 39th Place near Queens Boulevard where there's also another new 99 cent store as if the world needed more plastic.
We'll be going to London in January, and we're dreaming of Paris. Not on this trip, but soon, we'll get the Beast over there to have some real hot chocolate.
Meanwhile we were at the Museum of Natural History today where the dinosaurs are already like old friends. I paid particular attention to the duck billed dinosaur mummy today (a terrific sample of dinosaur skin), though we always make the rounds of the Beast's pals: t rex, apatosaurus, allosaurus (chomping on apatosaurus's tail), triceratops, the ankylosaur family, and corithisaurus. We picked up a brachiosaurus in the gift shop, my new favorite toy.
There were thoughts of getting a solstice kitten for all of us, and especially for Bela who seems lonely these days, and then there was the thought that the Beast would terrorize a kitten. We've been using the line "the cats have to feel safe in their own home," but the Beast has Mars in Aries, and Venus in Aries, and no interest in cat-human love-ins. She gleefully screams "Baaaa!" at the cats and they scatter toward the closet. So, the kitten may have to wait.
The Museum of the Moving Image in Astoria has an ongoing display of Muppet trinkets, including some original puppets of kermit and miss piggy and such. And they are showing films throughout the upcoming weekends, so we'll head over there on xmas eve to see some Muppety stuff.
And we'll be back next week with more news of this and that. Until then, peace out peops.
Sunday, 4 December 2011
These days mostly we're cooking. The other families in the Forest Nursery have inspired us in new directions. We just joined a raw dairy delivery service, and we're going to start getting even more back to the land. Milk fresh from the cow/goat/sheep. Chickens. Yes, chickens are cooking in the soup pot. Pickles. We started our first jar of pickled radishes yesterday and they are bubbling away on the kitchen table.
Meanwhile we had an early solstice celebration with the Forest Nursery crew yesterday, hiking down around the lower pond in Central Park and picnicking and hearing the story of the Old Sun King and the New Sun King. It was a good day all around and the Beast napped on the way home.
And what else? The days are short, the weather is fine, the leaves are falling off the callery pear trees in streams of deep red and gold. And the guppy is pregnant.
Peace out peops.
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.
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