Monday, December 14, 2009

Hello? Is it Really You?

Wow, it's been two months - TWO WHOLE MONTHS! - since I've written on my blog. It seems my passion for blogging has all but disappeared, I'm sorry to say. I'll keep it - I've met so many great people this way, and there's too much writing on here to just hit the delete button and banish it forever, but posting has been spotty at best and unless I have a sudden change of heart, I doubt that will change. I'm on Facebook - not a lot, but I'm there. And I'll be speaking at the UWWG in Ohio and Life is Good in May - perhaps we'll meet up?

In other news, life in the cornfields is great. Brady is exploring industry requirements for computer programming and game creation so he knows what secondary education route to pursue. He's working at Subway, taking Community College classes, and teaching programming to homeschoolers.

Jonathan is taking sax lessons, karate lessons, and art lessons. He's writing a book about Chewy McBuckBuck, a schizophrenic beaver, and knows more about football and football history than most adults. He is a happy kid, every day. Rob has an exciting new venture at work coming up but I can't share it yet because it's still a secret. He's teaching karate to several friends and cousins every week in our basement and loves getting back into it.

We're all doing p90x together. That's been fun and challenging. Sometimes my *ss hurts so badly I wonder why our house suddenly has so many stairs? I've started providing personal training for clients at our fitness center, so with teaching, training, and doing p90x, I'm wearing way more spandex than should be allowed, and feel like all I ever do is squat-and-reach and count in sets of 8.

Oh, and.... just in case you're wondering, our marriage is a still a smoldering volcano of torrid passion it's always been. See? This was taken just yesterday by my mom's new husband, Gordy.

Hope you and yours are well! If you haven't already, find me on Facebook and let's keep in touch there!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Good Morning!

Good Tuesday morning! The sun is shining, the birds are singing, and other than an achy hip which has translated into an achy knee on the other leg as I over-compensate (running is hard on a grrrl), I am feeling wide awake, chipper, and alive! Somedays you feel like grabbing life by the fistful and diving right in. Sometimes you feel like you have unlimited options, like the sky's the limit, like the world is your oyster.

Oh wait.
And somedays reality just smacks ya right upside the head.

I can still live large... I can still revel in the day's endless possibilities... I can still be joyful and optimistic...

Right after I clean up this mess. Good morning indeed. Or 'twas a good night, if you're a raccoon living in cornfield country.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Another Reason to Unschool

In July, Jonathan turned 13. One of the gifts he received from a friend was juggling balls and a homemade instructional DVD of his friend demonstrating and explaining some basic juggling moves. Jonathan was thrilled. He practiced diligently. He consulted his friend Eli for help whenever he got stuck, or whenever he was ready to learn a new trick.
He juggled for hours every day. He looked up juggling instructions on the internet. He invited Eli over more often than usual so they could juggle together. He brought his juggling balls along when we went places.

Eight weeks later - only eight weeks - he was good enough to be asked to juggle at a Renaissance Faire in Monroe, WI.

What does juggling have to do with unschooling? Unschooling means we help our children pursue their interests, we support them in their passions, we assist in whatever ways they need. And in doing so, our children learn. Juggling isn't listed in the "scope and sequence" section of any curriculum, I know, but anyone can see that he's learning many things in addition to juggling. He's researching, committing to a task, challenging himself, and setting goals for himself. He's reading about juggling, networking with other jugglers, and applying his juggling knowledge to real life situations.
Unschooling, really, means we live life fully, without worrying about all those schoolish terms above. But rest assured, all those schoolish things are happening, all the time. We just don't name them and quantify them and demand they happen in a specific order on a specific timeline.
If school were to teach juggling, it would be broken down into a easily-measured objectives. You might have to learn specific steps and do them in a specific way and a specific order, proving you've mastered each level before you can move on to the next. You might be tested on it to prove you've learned something. You might not get to touch the juggling balls during the first few lessons. You might only get to read about it, or use something easier to juggle like scarves that waft slowly through the air. Your juggling skills, or at least participation or attention to the lessons or willingness to cooperate, would be graded.
By that time, juggling has become very very un-fun.
Unschoolers just start juggling.
And sometimes, if they like it, they continue juggling and find themselves performing a juggling act on stage at a Renaissance Faire in front of strangers.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

I Brake for Yard Sales

Listen carefully, I have some very important advice for you.

You must - MUST - stop at yard sales.

You never - NEVER - know what you'll find.

A beautiful antique floor lamp, a backpack, a decorative candle....

Two goofy costumes made out of cardboard and paint....

If you never stop, you'll never happen upon a find like these. And then you'll never be able to come home, make your 16 yr old and husband dress up in them and make fools of themselves in the yard.

And that'd just be a real shame.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Another Farm Fiasco Part II

Hey cows! readers! Remember part I of the Great Escape story? Here's part II. The part where I save the day. Seriously!

From my sister's blog I quote, "[She] saved the day, I tell you." In italics.

Nevermind it was after a thinly veiled criticism of my tendency to talk a lot. But hey, it was my ability to talk a lot that saved the day. In italics.

(I kinda like this whole 'someone else writes my blog posts' thing.)

Hey cow - Who you lookin' at, huh? After all that, I'm done taking any crap from you bovines, ya hear? Done.

I think we've been going too easy on them. Gotta show 'em who's boss. This oughta intimidate 'em: You think?

Monday, September 28, 2009

Ten Things Overheard at Grandma's Birthday Party

Grandma: "I'm an old lady now. That means I can't remember words."

Mom: "That was a long time ago."
Grandma: "It wasn't THAT long ago, it was only like 30 years ago."

Grandma, talking about a high school boyfriend: "He must've been gay. In two years the only time he touched me was when we were dancing."

Grandma: "Back then we didn't say gay, you know. We just said he was 'different.'"

Grandma, receiving a gift wrapped in a plastic bag: "Is this a dead chicken?"
Jackie, the gift giver: "Yes, as a matter of fact it is."

(Note: It WAS a dead chicken.)
(Yes way.)

Grandma: "A dead chicken for an old hen!"

Me to Grandma: "Here's MY gift. Dead beets."

Grandma: "Dead beets from a bunch of deadbeats."

Jackie doing a 5-minute impression of her horse after taking a big bite of a jalapeno plant in the garden.

Aunt Susan: "You know what they say, if my boobs were any longer they'd be nuts."

and a bonus:

Gordy: "I think football in the other room is calling. Please excuse me."

Monday, September 21, 2009

Google Likes Me! They Really Really Like Me!

Did you know that if you search for "Boots in the 80's," my blog comes up as the first option of 3,010,000? I thought you might want to know. And here's why.

I think it should somehow be my new tagline...

"Wistful Wanderlust.... Your Place for Useless Knowledge"

Friday, September 18, 2009

Another Farm Fiasco

"Now where'd did that d*mn steer go?!?"

We had another eventful weekend on the farm, but this time it wasn't my fault! I wasn't involved! I am completely innocent of any and all wrong-doing!
Ok, I did inadvertently allow that one rogue steer to crash through the fence (as opposed to jumping over, like a sane animal might do) and escape into a 100 acre cornfield, but that's only because after racing him up and down the fence line he finally decided to show me who's boss and put on the steam.

Sounds like a new tv game show - "Are You Faster than a 1000 lb. Steer?"

In a word, no. No, no I'm not.

I'd love to tell you the whole story, but I've got a busy weekend ahead. I'll let my sister regale you with the details. Besides, it's her farm, they're her steers, and it's about time one of the farm fiascos happened while she was in town rather than out,
leaving us dopes in charge. (Wishing now you'd've booked that exotic Caribbean cruise, aren't ya sis.)
And besides, she's funny. And she can lift haybales her own d*mn self, thank you very much.

Part I of the "Great Escape" is here. Enjoy!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Calf Update

I'm sorry to report that the little calf didn't make it.

After attempting to feed the little bugger for hours upon hours, we knew it wasn't going to end well. The vet had already been consulted, the little guy had already not responded well to treatments. Something was just plain wrong.

The next morning Rob and I arrived to find him barely alive, gasping, tongue hanging out. But his tail wagged when I approached and petted him. Feeling like I had to at least try something I went to the house to make a small bottle. When I returned a few moments later, he took his last breath.

It was like he waited all night for us to return so he wouldn't die alone.

It was awful. No mother should witness a babe - of any species - die. It was heart-wrenching. I sat with him a while. Rob waited quietly, patiently. He called my sister, the real farmer. I couldn't talk.

We decided to bury him down in the farm's stone quarry, and we got the tractor and set to work. I didn't bring my camera - that just wouldn't be right - but it was something to see the other cows and calves gather round and watch. There were several times Rob couldn't even move the tractor because the cows wouldn't move out of the way.

There was nothing to be done for that little guy. As
Caren said, something was just wrong, and he knew it. It didn't make it any easier to lose him, but at least he wasn't alone.

The cows on our farm aren't just products - they're live beings, treated with love and care. They're used to people, and they're used to wide-open spaces and sunshine and organic grasses. And their well-being isn't taken lightly around here.

These days I understand a little more about why
farmers are a crusty lot. It's not always a walk in the park, this farmin' business, and that's coming from me, not even a real farmer, but the occasional poser fill-in. I know my sister and her husband carry a lot of weight on their shoulders, muddling through these early years, learning. Just thought you should know that.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Willow Weekend

This year's Willow was wonderful as usual, but a bit subdued. I didn't take nearly as many pictures, and I'm sure there are a few folks who were relieved at that. I didn't even get photos of our friends performing, as I was busy taking video for a friend. Taylor, I'm sorry I sang along into the video recording - I was taken by the moment. Am I off-key? How's my vibrato? Can you hear the group over my singing? I'd be happy to handle all the recording for next year, too. Taylor? Taylor? Taylor?

Gemma was back this year, and with her came these two cute little punks.

Doug learning how to carve a bird from the chef.

The spread of food was amazing as always. I swore Sunday evening I wouldn't have to eat for a week. It was Monday evening before I even felt hunger again.

This year we didn't tent camp - we got a bed. Woot! Thanks Duffords! Your B&B service is the best.

Dan gave us the garden tour.

Dan playing the shofar, which David Stocker brought back from his trip to Palestine.

A new game inspired by the young 20-somethings set.

The labyrinth mowed into the yard, a new addition. I never even walked it! Hard to meditate when surrounded by revelry.

Our teens were happy to be together again.

View from the amazing porch.

Ashley, Gemma and I filled tamales....
made by the Willow kitchen goddess, Joanieji.

And as usual, the requisite "we can't believe you didn't come home for Willow, see what you're missing?" photo to send to our faraway friends.
Ah, Willow....

Friday, July 31, 2009

Playin' Farmer Again

So the other day I was going to pop on here and tell you another funny farm story that involves me showing up at the farm, being the only one there, getting scared out of my wits when a strange man said "Excuse me?" while I was bent over collecting eggs in the barn, and being asked questions about the "new 40 acres going organic" by the stranger, who turned out to be an organic fertilizer dude.

Not wanting to sound like the complete dope I am, I managed to furrow my brow and nod as he talked, and say things like, "Well I should do some checking to be sure, I'll be right back" instead of what I was really thinking: "
We're turning 40 more acres over to organic? Well I'll be darned."

Mostly I was just glad to find out that the big-*ss truck he was driving - and no lie, my van looked like a happy meal toy parked next to his spreader - was going to spread organic fertilizer and not
organic chicken sh*t.

(Note to self: Never, ever forget camera when heading to the farm.)

But I missed my window for humor when the very next day things once again became dire on the farm. The
real farmers have again fled the coop and left us in charge of the farm for a few days. Once again, the instructions started out fairly mundance - collect eggs, make sure water tanks are full, let chickens out, close chickens in, yadda yadda.

But then the more serious points: 3 mama cows are still pregnant - #31, #T14, and "one of the tagless Murray Greys, the bigger one" (picture me trying to find THAT cow in the field) - check on them at least twice a day to see if they're in labor. If they have trouble,
you know what to do.

And then... there's a calf that needs to be bottle-fed.

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Usually when a calf needs to be bottle-fed it's because the mama won't let him nurse. This one, however, is different - HE won't nurse. Won't have any of it. The mama cow tries and tries to get him to nurse - she licks him, sucks on his ears, nudges him. He won't do it. Because she was such a good mama, my sister didn't even realize at first he wasn't nursing. Eventually they noticed he wasn't gaining weight and realized what was going on.

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But here's the thing.... he isn't fond of the bottle, either.

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It took him several days to start drinking from the bottle. Then he steadily increased the amount he'd drink, culminating in one or 1-1/2 bottles in the morning and again at night.

July 09 152
Until today. Today I found him lethargic and lying down. It took me quite a while to get him up, and longer to get him to suck on the bottle. After about 45 minutes of trying, I'd finally gotten him to drink 1/4 of a bottle. I'd pry his mouth open with my left hand, shove the bottle in with my right, then massage his jaw or clamp his mouth shut on it, trying to encourage him to suck. Every once in a while he'd humor me and take a few swallows.

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But most of the time he'd do this.

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Something's wrong with this little guy. Something's very very wrong.

I've gone to the farm five times today, each time spending nearly an hour trying to get him to drink. Sometimes he'd be standing when I got there. More often, though, he'd be lying down, barely moving. Once, I tried to lift his head and it rested heavily in my hands - he wouldn't even hold it up. After hours of trying, he never finished even one bottle.

But after another visit at 10pm, he's still alive. He took a few more sucks and then turned away and refused any more attempts. He even seemed to get a little pissed. Which is fine.

Being pissed is a sure sign of life.