Tuesday, July 26, 2011

hope is harder

"Living without expectations is hard but, when you can do it, good. Living without hope is harder, and that is bad. You have got to have hope, and you mustn't shirk it. Love, after all, "hopeth all things." But maybe you must learn, and it is hard learning, not to hope out loud, especially for other people. You must not let your hope turn into expectation."

"Life without expectations was still life, and life was still good. The light that had lighted us into this world was lighting us through it. We loved each other and lived right on. We sat down tot he food we had grown and ate it and praised it and were thankful for it. We suffered the thoughts of the nights and at dawn woke up and went back to work. The world that so often had dissapointed us and made us sorrowful sometimes made us happy by surprise."

"You think winter will never end, and then, when you don't expect it, when you have almost forgotten it, warmth comes and a different light. Under the bare trees the wildflowers bloom so thick you can't walk without stepping on them. The pastures turn green and the leaves come.
You look around presently, and it is summer. It has been dry a while, maybe, and now it has rained. The world is so full and abundant it is like a pregnant woman carrying a child in one arm and leading another by the hand. Every puddle in the lane is ringed with sipping butterflies that fly up in a flutter when you walk past in the late morning on your way to get the mail."
~my most favorite bits of Hannah Coulter by Wendell Berry, which I've just finished and discussed with my mom. ~

Sunday, July 24, 2011


I'd sure love to win these books!
You must head on over and get in on the giveaway at: Jump Into A Book
She is going to give away 19 Elsa Beskow books!!! 19? wow.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

pioneer playhouse

I almost decided to finish painting all of the trim in the schoolroom on this warm, beautiful day...
I'm SO glad I realized what was the most important part of education...not trim paint, that's for sure.

Instead, Eme and I decided to make a play house - with only old-fashioned things. We drug the old water trough over to the side yard and scrubbed it out.
really scrubbed it out

We started setting out things we wanted to play with in the side yard.

The little washboard I bought last year, the child-sized antique laundry basket, a little basket of clothes pins, a wooden bowl and some dirty clothes to wash...then I started really raiding the house for good stuff...

We needed a little shade, so we rigged up some wire and a lace-edged bed skirt for a canopy...see our old kitty wanted to play, too.
Eme got to washing, and boy did she love it! She washed three little loads of clothes,

and hung them here to dry, in a place where we'd strung up more wire for a laundry line.

This little praying mantis came to visit...he crawled around all of our little things for awhile, until we noticed we didn't see him anymore. He was fun to watch and inspect for awhile, though.

I've had three sheaves of broom corn for a year or so, and we decided to harvest the seed. We rubbed and picked and smacked off all the seeds on this sheet, then saved the seeds in a tea tin and made a little broom for our house out of what was left.

Emma took a bath in the "tub" after about three or four bucket's full of hot water and one of cold. She sat on a towel, so it'd be more comfy, and grandma (of course we invited grandma cause she likes to play pioneer house, too) ran and got a rose off the bush and threw rose petals in her bath. When she got out, she said it was, "So refreshing!" and then put on the clothes she had washed and dried earlier.

Here is our little pioneer house when we'd raided our real house and barn and outbuildings for anything old-fashioned or pioneer-house looking. Our little bath house has sheets and laces strung around it for privacy. We've put up an old screen door for our kitchen...
When my son and husband came home from a trip, they played in it right away and improved it as well. Now our kitchen is well-stocked with antique blue jars filled with things like peanut butter, crackers, sesame-honey almonds, and dried cranberries. My husband set up a brick pad and put our little fire pit on top of it, and we had dinner out there.
The children are both sleeping out there in sleeping bags tonight, watching the stars together.

It is such an inspirational, free-play that each of us is able to contribute to and feel good about. I have so many ideas for the house...and so do the kids! So much fun, and SO much more fun than painting trim :)

Thursday, July 21, 2011

what i want

Oh how I want to be able to do everything I can do at this school, which is only one state away:

Or this one that is IN my state:

I have a new goal in teaching and that is to be an educator, not an instructor. I was taught to be an instructor, with maybe one class or one teacher who said, "Light fires, don't fill buckets."

If you've never stepped over here to read this from me, I invite you to. I wrote this WAAAYYY before I read anything on Waldorf education - back when I thought it was some sort of frilly, willy nilly idea. It has now become a conviction. Why not?!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

the seashore

these are what I'm reading these days - two to settle my homeschooling heart,
one to hear a kindred spirit, and one that is fascinating and inspiring me to teach about the seashore.
published in 1929 by Little, Brown and Company, The Burgess Seashore Book for Children by Thornton W. Burgess is a collection of many little stories told from the prospective of Graywing the Gull, Danny Meadow Mouse and Reddy Fox (among others). The animals tell about the seashore from their perspectives in these little stories such as "Reddy Fox Meets Big Claw", "The Innocent Looking Drillers", "Pa Stickleback Does His Duty" and "The Ink Maker".
Included in each story is at least one very accurate, beautiful full-color plate of the animal that was told about in the story.

Besides having a really great dedication page...
Here is what the preface says:
"The seashore has a natural history all its own. It has been my experience that few of the host who seek the seashore every summer have the slightest acquaintance with the life of the beach, the rocks and the salt marshes. I recall how, as a boy, I was forever picking up things on the shore and asking 'What is this?' and 'What is that?' and never finding out. The Sand Dollar I knew as such. No one ever told me that it was an Urchin. I suspect that it is much the same way with the children of to-day.
"It is to meet what seems to me a real need that this volume has been prepared. It makes no pretense of being more than it really is, --an introduction to the life of the seashore. Like its predecessors in this series --the Burgess Bird Book for Children, the Burgess Animal Book for Children and the Burgess Flower Book for Children-- it is intended to be at once a storybook and a handbook within its limitations.
"...It covers those things most likely to catch the eye and the interest of a child and does this in a way to make identification easily possible. It is hoped that it will arouse sufficient interest to lead the reader to desire to know more and to seek that knowledge in more scientific and complete works.

Now how is that for humble and honest?
I admire the man already.

I am SO excited to be working on some wonderful activities to go with the stories in this book. We've planned a trip to the beach at the end of this month, and this will bring these stories so close. I am looking forward to the little moments with the stories at the seashore.

Monday, July 18, 2011


An American Bullfrog took advantage of a rainy day and found his way from a neighbor's irrigation pond to our dry yard. We quickly caught him (he wasn't as fast as he looked) and helped his poor body out by putting him in the kids' wading pool. We very gently touched his skin and picked him up to see him better.

He was so lovely. This guy was so huge, we thought he might be about 10 years old.
What a long time to be alive when you start out as a tiny frog egg.
Imagine the odds.

He looked absolutely calm when we were holding him. But soon, we took him back to where he belonged. We knew this was a "he" because the "he" frogs have larger diameter tympanum (the large round "ear drums" near their eyes) than their eye diameter. A "she" frog has the same size diameter or smaller tympanum than their eyes; pretty cool, huh.

This made me think of something I just read by Rudolph Steiner:
"Our highest endeavor must be to develop free human beings, who are able, of themselves, to bring purpose and direction to their lives."

The froggy saw the opportunity to go on a walkabout and he did. No matter how careful he'd been all those years, probably, perhaps, most likely, growing up in the same irrigation pond year after year, avoiding all kinds of dangers. It rained - is raining - HARD the last few days, but it seems that very next day after he'd decided to head out, it was dry and hot. Ahh well, it was a very high endeavor, indeed.

Friday, July 15, 2011

to be a farmgirl

do you know what it means to be a farmgirl?
do you know that it begins in your heart?
it is a personality trait.

I am a farmgirl.

if you love the chink chink chink of the irrigation lines in the summer,
if you adore old barns for their practical, sturdy help,
if you talk sweetly to your chickens and bring them armfuls of weeds from the garden as treats,
if your heart wells up when you've made a meal where more than half of the ingredients were from your garden or something you raised,
if you reuse old things to make new things out of,
if you are handy with a hammer,
if you can drive by for-sale tractors and dream of owning them,
if you worry over the weather,
if you print out pictures of pigs that are not your own,
if you know how to fix almost anything with bailing twine or wire,
if you do your own canning, sewing and candle-making,
if your work clothes are irrigation boots and a kitchen apron,
if you study over books on raising a dairy goat,
if you love nothing better than to walk through an overgrown pasture
and find yourself sitting down and hiding among the sweet grasses
and you hear a cow lowing and a calf answering
and you find a little tear coming from the corner of one eye,

you probably have something of a farmgirl in you, too.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

along our street

we met so many beautiful four-legged neighbors this evening:
these gorgeous long-horned cattle

a very curious little white horse and a duck in flight

a whole pasture full of angus cattle chewing away

Can you believe this barn at the end of our road? You can't tell, but it is
a dark green. Isn't it magnificent? Lucky ducks...

and then I looked back and saw the side of our red barn, and our little chicken coop
and I sighed (*sigh*, just like that) - I can't hardly believe we live here sometimes.
I'm absolutely in love with our little place.
It feels like a new toy I keep getting out every day, and haven't been tired of playing with yet.
My heart was home when I married my husband and then when we had our two children,
but the rest of me came home when we moved in here.
Amen, amen, and amen.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

summer night

I couldn't resist the sunset reflected in my barn window
nor could I resist this:

Imagine, please, that you can hear two children in that tent
laughing and speaking low
happy to be together
happy that their daddy rigged up this light
happy to be in the fenced in side-yard
happy to be right under our bedroom window
happy to have flashlights - one each
happy, happy, happy

this is always irresistible: the moon in all her abundance. It makes me want to share an old poem I'd written about her for you:

Last night, unveiled
rounded and gleaming
forever becoming with shining feet dancing from the last
with silver grace
standing before her in sharp relief
saw-edged obsidian trees
illuminating and softening
forever wise to who is watching
still pouring forth the light of Who She Is
dancing through each age
proud and serene
and generous

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

rainy summer afternoon

the rain stopped
and the sunset came through
watery and low

my life is very much like this right now
~watery sunshine~
too much coming too slowly
but all bright and green
and warm

the goddess is talking
very strongly
to me in these moments

be strong
go slowly

Sunday, July 10, 2011

little bits

the days are stringing together like embroidery
carefully worked
lovingly strung
filled with bits of time with family
bits of time with friends
lazy mornings
long moments in the garden two or three times a day

and this funny little story that is growing
like vines in my head

about a girl growing up in a rock pile
where the air is always cold and blue
she eats mutton-potato soup every day
while she listens to stories of old sorrows
that she will never be able to fix

until the day she begins walking
along a dusty road that edges out of the frowsy city
her tired scratched legs begin to go faster and faster
until she is running away through a forest
dark and close
her chest is heaving, her brow is dripping
her skin is thawing and she begins to feel her heart beating
and she comes suddenly
into a lime-green meadow
blowing with dandelion fluff

she is afraid someone from the city
might come drag her back
so she crawls right into the center of the million stems
and makes herself as small as she can
lying down
hugging her slight body
trying to keep all of her new feelings

yes, stories and sunshine

Saturday, July 02, 2011


the little grasses have a story
there is a great drama unfolding in this square inch below my foot
the tiniest little funny indigo beetle with a red dot on his bum
and funny little feet landed on my hand
and told me his story
it was all scurry and side-stepping
and I listened to it
the wind is telling me a story
as it softly plucks at my shirt and cools the back of my hot neck
when it caresses the little elm leaves as they flutter on their many branches
it tells another, sweeter story
the bright yellow butterfly listens to the wind's story as a blue highway
going only where it tells it it must go
the rocks behind our house tell a story of back-breaking
and skin-slipping
a deeply-voiced story of bleeding callouses and sweat rivulets
our red barn tells a homey story
of animal snufflings and rootings
of dark and quiet corners with biting spiders
and oil spills and ancient dust

I am learning to listen to the story of my children again
I had forgotten that as their mother, I am their first listener
their first reader
I am not here to write their stories
only to stand witness to the unfolding of them

I acknowledge that my being has always been inside of myself
and that I've learned to listen to it and write my own story
my story is
of a country princess who grew up wild and free among fields of wheat
rolling in the peppermint
and barley
and garlic
who grew up into a queen and moved with her kindly king to a rich land for many years
only to feel drawn back to her castle made of sky and grass and red barn wood

I don't want anyone to tell my children what their story is
no one has the right to do that
not even me
I hope to stand and listen to their stories and help them
know how to share them with the world
so that the story inside of them
gets made into something real
no matter how much money it takes
no matter how many hours
no matter the naysayers (why are there SO many naysayers?! those who do not care to know their own stories? those who do not care to hear the stories of other people?)
no matter the hard work
I want them to know their lives are more than worth it

there is a tale about how it can be when you are letting your story become real
the velveteen rabbit
tells it best