Thursday, December 31, 2009

99 Things

I am so happy that Mon started this list of 99 Things. I love hearing others’ unique stories, and remembering that my life, too, is pretty amazing. It pulled me out of my doldrums (which is quite a feat). I mean, really, look at that face! Since all this joy was bubbling up, I decided to honor it and share it—my very personal list of 99 Things.

Things I’ve already done: bolded.
Things I want to do: italicized.

    1. I was born to an amazing mom.
    2. I’ve been loved by an amazing family.
    3. I’ve met wonder-full people.
    4. Walk across America.
    5. I had a summer job helping a photographer map Montana from a small Cessna.
    6. I gave birth to a daughter, who has taught me much.
    7. I witnessed death.
    8. I opened myself to love.
    9. I saw my teen idol in a café but had since found true love.
    10. Three words someone said to me that I’ll never forget, “Love takes time.”
    11. Commune with nature.
    12. I’ve paddled a canoe.
    13. I have snow-shoed.
    14. I helped build a snow fort.
    15. I’ve attended rendezvous and powwows.
    16. I stepped on and set off a series of poacher’s traps.
    17. I’ve watched salmon spawn.
    18. I’ve witnessed a decline in the salmon populations.
    19. I learned to love a place that used to make me cry.
    20. Advocate for nature.
    21. I have caught fish and crawdads (and ate them).
    22. Learn wilderness awareness skills.
    23. Been caught stealing (once when I was 10).
    24. Falsely arrested for stealing when I was 21 in a police training exercise.
    25. I kicked a posse of carjackers out of my car.
    26. Get to know my town on bike.
    27. I have hitchhiked in a group and alone.
    28. Travel with my family.
    29. Ride a train through Glacier National Park in the winter.
    30. Hike the Pacific Crest Trail from Mexico to Canada.
    31. Visit the Pacific Northwest.
    32. Visit the American Southwest.
    33. I’ve slept on the beach and next to the river.
    34. Regularly swim in the river.
    35. Skinny dip.
    36. Cliff dive.
    37. I chose to be homeless.
    38. I refused to remove a nose ring for a job.
    39. I dyed my hair (purple, red, blue), but now watch it turn silver.
    40. I harbor two three un-amendable regrets.
    41. Choose awareness.
    42. Increase my capacity to sit with others' grief.
    43. Practice communicating better.
    44. Stop thinking you have people figured out.
    45. Be present.
    46. In high school, I won competitions for flute performance.
    47. I also ran 12 miles a day for cross-country.
    48. My knees turned to jelly during a piano recital.
    49. My knees turned to jelly when facing a bear in the mountains.
    50. I broke my collarbone skiing.
    51. I was sexually harassed as a teen.
    52. I stopped a light rail security guard from sexually harassing two teens.
    53. Take a model mugging class.
    54. I cheered as my husband fought in the Thunderdome.
    55. I protested wars.
    56. I wrestled my own dragons.
    57. I experienced sleep paralysis.
    58. I have experienced techno-paralysis and actively resist cell phones and Facebook.
    59. I learned to say no.
    60. Learn to say yes.
    61. Learn more about democracy, anarchy, and personal/social responsibility.
    62. Create community.
    63. Host parties with singing, dancing, costuming, and play.
    64. Explore creativity.
    65. I discovered Native American artifacts.
    66. I went on a night forest hike with friends.
    67. I experienced the supernatural.
    68. Go on a Vision Quest.
    69. I have felt completely empty.
    70. I have felt enlightened.
    71. I have splashed barefoot in rain puddles.
    72. Learn to love my body.
    73. Learn African drumming.
    74. Learn juggling.
    75. Learn fire poi.
    76. I sang in two operas (Bach Mass in b minor and The Carmina Burana).
    77. Find my voice.
    78. I carved a lyre.
    79. I hammered a copper bowl.
    80. I want to learn woodworking.
    81. I serendipitously encountered anthropology, linguistics, and Waldorf Education.
    82. Learn to take baby steps.
    83. Become self-employed.
    84. Become a journalist.
    85. Write and publish a book.
    86. Learn the art of oral storytelling.
    87. Become a librarian.
    88. Visit The Library of Congress.
    89. I studied herbalism and naturopathy.
    90. I smoked cigarettes for seven years.
    91. I was a vegetarian for seven years.
    92. I ate a chocolate-covered cricket.
    93. Grow my own food.
    94. Raise chickens, goats, and bees.
    95. Learn how to preserve foods.
    96. Let go of ‘scarcity’.
    97. Embrace possibility.
    98. Remember what is essential.
    99. Love.
Happy New Year, everyone!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Like Water for Chocolate Book Review

Like Water for Chocolate: A Novel in Monthly Installments with Recipes, Romances, and Home Remedies Like Water for Chocolate: A Novel in Monthly Installments with Recipes, Romances, and Home Remedies by Laura Esquivel

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Like Water for Chocolate is the coming of age tale of Tita, a young Mexican girl cursed by tradition to serve her mother until her death. Out of her many duties, she finds a love of cooking. In the kitchen she learns the family history and culture. Every dish she makes is biographical and has a supernatural effect upon those who eat it. If she is bitter—so is her food. If she is lusty—so pairs of guests find reasons to excuse themselves. Tita, herself, falls in love with a boy named Pedro, but is bound to serve her mother and never marry. It is only through food that she can express her own coming of age and sensuality.

I first heard this tale as a movie—near my own coming of age. My roommates and I went and saw it five times! The story is very sensual and rich in metaphor. I loved it! I still do. However, reading the book as an adult, I am not as moved. Was the movie better? I don’t know. Am I just different now? Maybe. I was put off by the ending, because I think the passion Tita was feeling for Pedro was lust—not enduring love. What substance was there? What character? The ending was too abrupt. Ah, well. It was an enjoyable quick read. I did not mind passing a day in youthful romance.

View all my reviews >>

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Dancing Your Joy

When my sister started college in September, I told her I’d take a class with her. Unfortunately, most of her classes were in the daytime, while I was busy home-schooling my daughter. So, she suggested an African Dance class on Friday nights. At first I said no. I’ve got a pretty funky rhythm, one that doesn’t conform to any recognizable dance patterns. Oh, there was a trail of reasons. But, in the end, none of them really made sense. So, before I could think about it any further, I said yes. Every Friday we walked to class together and danced together for three hours. I needed it. Darkness was swallowing me. I needed to bring some light into my body. It was great fun. Our dance group was wonderful, the teacher was fantastic, and there were live drummers! The only thing I didn’t like was when we had to lead a dance move—and the mounting dread about the final performance. Since the final wasn’t required, I decided that I wouldn’t do it. No, uh-uh, no way. My sister, as usual, was very understanding. She would do it whether I did it or not. After wrestling with this No Monster that lives in me, I said yes. The Monster was still there backstage, subdued, but not without great force. It was scary. But I did it and am thankful. I’m thankful for my sister. I am inspired by her willing and open spirit. Thank you for dancing your joy, sis. And HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!!!!!!!!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

The Red Tent Book Review

The Red Tent: A Novel: Tenth-Anniversary Edition The Red Tent: A Novel: Tenth-Anniversary Edition by Anita Diamant

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A year ago I read Anita Diamant’s The Red Tent, but when it came up on my women’s book group last month, I didn’t hesitate to read it again. The story resonated with me. Upon finishing it last year, I ran to the only private place in the house—the bathroom. I closed the door behind me and sat on the toilet in the darkness and cried and cried and cried. It felt like I was crying for all the women since the beginning of time. I cried tears of joy for their awakened desires, their possibilities and passion. I cried bitter tears for their thwarted desires, their suffering. I cried for my mom. I cried for my daughter. I cried for me.

Although our culture doesn’t celebrate women’s cycles, they are such a powerful part of who we are. Our cycles connect us to the cycles of nature, to pain and its release, and to each other. And in that way, Anita Diamant revealed the hearts of the women of The Old Testament. Diamant does a beautiful job of setting the scene so that we are there with the wives of Jacob, spinning, weaving, gardening, cooking. Although they end up sharing a husband and children (not always willingly), they are unified in their womanhood. They come together monthly in the red tent to celebrate their cycle and nurture each other.

Beyond the red tent, they are bound by their duties. They have to stay together to survive. This is what I got from my second reading. Their togetherness, their shared histories, their trials and tribulations, their rituals and celebrations, awakens in me—centuries later—not so much a desire to return to their way of life, but a yearning for community. While independence is so highly valued, perhaps we need to come together to survive, as well.

That said, Diamant does not idealize the women and men in her retelling. There is bestiality, racism, sexism, murder, rape…. This is the story of Dinah, the only daughter of Jacob, a mere footnote in The Old Testament. It is her view of the red tent. It is her journey away from the red tent, from her pastoral life, from her brothers’ destinies. She must leave her family to find her tribe, herself. Although her journey is not without suffering, I found a few of the situations in her path to be a little too serendipitous, uncharacteristically easy. However, that was easy for me to overlook in part, I think, because, before she left her homeland, the oracle foresaw something—something big?—something else for Dinah—a path her own. You can’t argue with destiny, can you now?

Diamant breathes life into ancient biblical figures and gives voice to those who had no voice—audacious, this godlike act. Is it blasphemous? Historically inaccurate? A feminist’s diatribe? You’ll have to decide that for yourself. But read it. Read it if you are a young woman or an old woman. Read it with your mom or your sisters or women friends. Read it if you are religious or not. It’s a damn good tale.

View all my reviews >>

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

The Tenderness of Wolves Book Review

The Tenderness of Wolves: A Novel The Tenderness of Wolves: A Novel by Stef Penney

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Considering how much I love books, it's odd that I never joined a book club--until last month. Perhaps Chewing a Leaf attracted me because of the feminine themes, but it may just be the awesome community of women that are part of it. I can't wait to talk with them about it! Our first book was The Tenderness of Wolves by Stef Penney.

The first chapter didn’t grab me. The sentences and thoughts seemed stilted. I didn’t feel the rhythm or lyricism of the style. I didn’t know much of anything about the character (his? her?) perspective.

As I continued, I realized that the stiltedness, commas littered like boulders, reflect the way that many of us think—the way the main character was thinking—the way a story is revealed…. The commas were not boulders but lightning flashes in the night.

The story revealed is of Mrs. Ross, an immigrant to Canada in the mid-1800s. She and her husband live in a colony that backs up to dense forests, and she finds herself afraid of those wilds. Although Mrs. Ross seems strong of spirit, we find that she takes some sort of sedative to calm her inner wilds. And, when a murder occurs in her community, we find that the line between savagery and civility becomes blurred.

What I initially thought was a lack of rhythm or lyricism, was what made the story interesting. This is not a fast-moving book, but the pace is justified so as to illuminate the complex plot. Stef Penney has a poetic style, creating well-developed characters who harbor enough secrets and veiled longings to keep you unsure and interested in the resolution. All came together in the end, leaving you with just enough answers to be satisfied…and just enough unresolved longing to feel the humanity of it all.

I had a Saturday to devote to this book and thoroughly enjoyed it.

View all my reviews >>

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Corner View California...where you go to just be

Solitude. I have some spectacular natural places that I feel particularly meditative in, but they're not just out my back door. And when I need solitude, I need it right then and there. I call it "space." When I need some space, I head for my bed, curl up, and let my mind spiral out.

I've been needing quite a bit of space lately. My mom passed away in March, and in a couple days we are journeying to where she wanted to return.

I could describe for you how beautiful this place is, how beautiful my mom, my thoughts on death and spirit.... The words arise but quickly dissolve, like a mirage, and I find myself, toes dangling, at the edge of the universe.

As cathartic as writing, friendship, and keeping busy have been, I am at a singularity. I can only be present. Thoughts, like tendrils of the Milky Way...the inessential loosening orbit.... Solitude is calling.

Today's theme was "places of reflection...where you go to just be." For other reflective places, check out my sidebar.

Next week is "the unveiling, showing your true self." Wow. I wish I wasn't disappearing for a couple weeks. Maybe I'll have my unveiling when I get back. See you then....

To play along and share your corner view, contact Jane at Spain Daily.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Corner View California...staple foods

PIZZA!!! Okay, now that I'm done with my food frenzy, I can rationally say that pizza is not really a staple food in the normal sense of the word. I would love to show pictures of delicious, seasonal, and local produce. Things like tomatoes, onions, garlic, artisanal cheeses and breads, honey.... But, truth be told, I love pizza. There's just no substitute when you don't want to cook. You know what I'm having for breakfast tomorrow!

To see staple foods in other parts of the world, check out the participants in my sidebar.

And, if you'd like to participate, contact Jane at Spain Daily. Next week's theme is "places of reflection...where you go to just be..."

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Corner View California...music

My husband breathes music. If it were socially acceptable, he would probably sing instead of speak.

His band members are pretty rockin’ too, and they’re all great guys. Together, they’re called Cricket Culture.

I get front row seats every Tuesday when they practice in my living room.

But this video is from a local t.v. feature last year. Enjoy!

Check out my sidebar for other Corner View participants. And if you want to join in, contact Jane at Spain Daily. Next week’s theme is staple foods.

Houdini Mama

On Father’s Day, my dad suggested watching Into the Wild. It’s a true story about a young man who is disgusted with his dysfunctional family and disillusioned with society. He breaks all ties and embarks on a quest. Many a young person has set out on such a quest. I did. I wanted to break free from old childhood wounds. I wanted to run wild and free.

During pregnancy, I began thinking about my childhood and what I wanted for my daughter. I found myself excavating old wounds and crying on my husband’s shoulder. While his doublespeak and reflectiveness were not what I was looking for, he helped me to realize that blaming my parents or society was not serving me, that, as an adult, I needed to take control of and move forward in my life—instead of dragging the past around like a ball and chain. When I looked down, I saw that there were others, many of my own device. And, I, like Houdini.

On this journey of motherhood, I have wriggled out of many a chain. But I realized that I am not a supermom. I believe that it is an illusion. As much as we try, we cannot possibly be Ideal parents. My childhood was not ideal…but it was good. It was enough. We cannot be everything for each other. My parents couldn’t be everything for me. My partner can’t be everything for me. And, as much as I yearn to, I can’t be everything for my daughter. We each have our own life path, our own search for meaning and reconciliation. Sure we influence each other, but we can’t fulfill each other completely.

Oh, there are days. Days when I look down, and there’s that ball and chain again, with my initials carved into it. I can envision an ideal and am very hard on myself when I see those chains there—again! Know what I mean?!

We can’t fulfill each other, because we’re already whole. We’ve just forgotten. We must forgive ourselves and move again towards awareness. We all do our best with what we’ve got. The more we connect with each other, the more we “get.” We are not really separate.

“Driven by the force of love, the fragments of the world seek each other that the world may come into being.” Tiellhard de Chardin

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Happy Father's Day!

My first memories of my dad were about how much he and my mom loved each other. I remember, too, being part of that love. My dad worked hard and studied diligently in college, but he also knew how to have fun. Whether it was throwing me up high in the grocery store, the tickle bugs, camping trips, finding a steep sledding hill, or crankin' up the rock 'n' roll! As I got older, my dad made time to do things, just the two of us, like hiking down to the river, skiing, or taking a drive and just talking. That was really important to me, even in my "eye-rolling, I've-got-it-all-figured-out" teenager stage.

And now I have the pleasure of seeing this from a mom's point of view, seeing my daughter and husband together. On the tougher days, it's enough to make a mom green with jealousy, but mostly it's incredibly heart-warming. My daughter already knows what it means to be a girl (and a mother, in some sense). It's from her father that she learns what a good man is: someone who works hard to provide for his family and pursues his passions, someone who likes to figure things out himself but isn't afraid to ask for help or collaboration, someone who spins a good story but knows when to listen, someone who loves life and knows how to play. I see my husband inspire my daughter in ways that I do not. And for us, for now, that's just the way it should be.

I am so grateful for these two fine men in my life. I hope that they both know how very much I appreciate them.

What do you appreciate about the fathers in your life?

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Home Brewin' Papas

Last year for Father's Day, I wanted to get something that my husband and dad would both enjoy to do together. Hmmm.... They get along well...and both appreciate a good beer. So, I decided to get them a gift certificate to The Home Brew Outlet. Although brewing took a backseat to more important things last year, they ended up getting together a couple months ago to work on it.

My dad used to brew and enjoyed it. A little of this, a little of that-and voila! You know, the good stuff. What he didn't remember was how much time and tending it takes. And since he lives a ways away, doing it together just wasn't gonna work. While I was a little disappointed, my two awesome men seemed cool with it. Before my dad left that day, he helped get the supplies ready...


...and told a hilarious story about sampling the compressed hops.

The moral of the story is...don't do it! You'll never get the taste off your tongue!

My dad left, and my husband happily assumed the role of mad scientist! He sterilized the brew water and then began the wort. He added malted barley and let it cook. The house smelled sooo pungent and good!

Then he added the sugar and malt syrup and cooked it some more. All this sterilizing and cooking is what took the longest time that first day.

My hubby then cooled the wort quickly and siphoned it into the fermentor. He topped it off with sterilized water, added the yeast, and aerated. Now we were to wait for it to do its magic for a couple weeks.

So we waited. And watched. Later the next day the percolator announced that something was happening. (Sorry I couldn't rotate this video. You'll just have to imagine that you've had a few too many ales!)

And a couple days later we could see massive churning in the carboy.

We were making beer! This was very exciting (even though I prefer tequila)!

The tedious part now lay ahead of us: sanitizing everything.

My husband and I washed the bottles...

...then bleached them...

...then thoroughly rinsed them.

That's a lot of bottles! I'll refrain from singing that boisterous, back of the schoolbus song that you know you sang as a kid! Woa-ah-ah!

My little creamy shadow thought this was all very interesting, though!

After fermenting for two weeks, it was time to round 'er up! My husband transferred the beer to the bottling container and added the priming sugar. I gently stirred, as he bottled.

Then he capped them all and let them sit for two more weeks.

When they were done, we split the beer between us and my dad. And then, well, I'm sorry to report, the beer fairy must have come and drank it all, because I don't have any pictures of the finished product! (I wonder if that happened to my dad, too?)

Next Father's Day-a kegerator!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Corner View California...street fashion

I almost didn't do this week's corner view. It's not that I don't like fashion; I do. I love the way people express themselves with color and fabric. It's not that I think our little city is without fashion. It's no San Fransisco or Tokyo, but it's colorful in its own way.

It's just that...I'm horribly shy. Taking pictures of nature and my family are one thing, but I've never taken pictures of people I've never met. But my girl Mel was in my head, encouraging me to push the boundaries of my comfort level. So, I (literally) dragged my pre-teen daughter out to the farmer's market and proceeded to embarrass the hell out of her.

I pictured myself climbing a tree and taking pictures from there.... But that wouldn't do it. I could just sit somewhere all day and take pictures of whoever passed before my lense.... Don't think that would have gone over too well with my daughter! So, I started out by taking pictures of people from a distance. Vegetables are the new accessory!

Two little birds.

Two more cool birds.

Skater boys skate to the market.

Bicyclists bicycle.

Check out her cool boombox purse!

After the unsatisfactory experience of taking photos from a distance, I got the nerve up to ask this chick if I could take her picture. She was very sweet. I have some chocolate mint in my garden from Woodsong Herbs. Mmmm....

This gal was also so very nice to let me photograph her. She had highlights in her hair that complemented her outfit.

Meet Johannes and Phillipe. They're from Finland and are traveling around California for the summer. They were friendly. How could they not be with the most awesome national anthem in the world?! I woulda talked with them more, but I'm still making my debut.

After I bought my daughter a lemon Italian ice, we walked back to the car. I said, "That wasn't so bad, was it?" She said that she wanted to hide, but that she liked Johannes and Phillipe. She saw this face on the way back to our car.

Check out others' street fashion around the world:

caitlin, joyce, ani, kim, a day that is dessert, natsumi, epe, kaylovesvintage, trinsch, c.t., jeannette, outi, schanett, ritva, francesca, state of bliss, jennifer, dana, denise, cabrizette, bohemia girl, dianna, isabelle, amber, a girl in the yellow shoes, mister e, janis, kari, jgy, skymring, elizabeth, audrey, allison, lise, cate, mon, victoria, crescent moon, erin, otli, amy, ida, caroline, lisa, dorte, kimmie, la lune dans le ciel, nicola, malo, vanessa, britta, virgina, april, b, kyndale samantha, karen, kristina, dorit, goldensunfamily, sophie, janet, mcgillicutty, desiree, di, travelingmama, aimee, sunnymama, amanda, ali, jenell, guusje, britta, juanita, pamela, inna, daan, myrtille, cris, ibb, susi, jodi, lily, gillian,

Next week´s theme comes from Lisa and is "music."
Contact Jane if you want to play along!


Tuesday, June 16, 2009

The Sisterhood of the Purple Bicycle

Last week an invitation arrived on the breeze. Mel, over at From clutter to Shine , wrote about a recent experience she had personalizing an old bicycle. A shift occurred when she rode her new purple bike, a feeling of living from her source. She found herself waving to people and smiling. Through this experience, Mel found herself wanting to reach out to other women who are on the warrior’s path, women who are on a journey to live from this source. So she created a sisterhood.

It’s not a club or a clique—it’s a sisterhood. You have only to be interested in connecting to your source and supporting your sisters. You don’t even need to fix up or own a bicycle (but it could be liberating!). You are only encouraged to share your process—whatever form it takes—knowing that you have a supportive community around you. How awesome is that?!

Hide not your talents,
They for use were made.
What’s a sundial in the shade?
~Ben Franklin

And so, on the same wind that carried this invitation, I send it out again…an invitation to shine.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Kombucha Experiment #2, Update

A few weeks ago I made kombucha without a mushroom. When a full batch didn't work, I tried halving the recipe. After a week there were little bits of culture here and there, but not a whole mushroom. I decided to let it go for awhile longer. The day before what would be two weeks, there was alot of activity, bubbles galore. But no mushroom still. I told my friends that my experiment had failed and that they'd probably have to find a mushroom through the local Weston Price group.

The very next morning I looked at it...the bubbling had subsided...and there was a mushroom...a whole mushroom! It is pretty thin, but I made a fresh full batch with it today, and (hopefully) it will grow.

It worked! It worked! Yay, it worked! Woo-hoo!

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Refreshing Melons

This week Mon and Mel sent me a Watermelon Award. Sweet!

I accept and reciprocate by sharing six things that make me happy:

  1. I like to wake up in the morning, snuggled in my bed, with a crisp breeze coming through the window. The last few days, I find myself wanting to be there, curled up, not even reading, just being....
  2. In general, I don't like to go to the gym or exercise, but physical exertion is good. And there's something about swimming against a river current that makes me feel alive. Invigorated. That said, I haven't done it since high school....
  3. I love to daydream. The positive side is that I feel creative and am never bored. The negative? I'm too busy daydreaming to do anything!
  4. This week a dear friend, who I've never met in person, sent me a beautiful beaded heart. A just because gift. I'm a tough nut, and this kinda thing cracks me open.
  5. As much as I enjoy solitude, if I were the last person on Earth, I don't know if I'd want to go on. Family and friends make me who I am.
  6. And lastly, I like being around adults who can be vulnerable and who still have a childlike sense of wonder.

In turn, I nominate these refreshing mammas:

  • Amber, one of the most grateful people I have the privilege of knowing. She is sunshine.
  • Aurore, a naturopath, friend, and one of the most outspoken women I've met.
  • Docwitch, an enchanting writer.
  • Jennifer, an inspiring fiber artist.
  • Sarah knits the wind into poetry that warms the soul.
  • Tara, one audacious chick, who shares her journey into sustainability and what that means to her family.

I would love to hear what makes you happy, but please don't feel obligated.

There is much love to go around; pass the melons!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Corner View California...out our back door

Sunrise.... I don't often see it. But many a morning I've spent drinking a steaming cup of something, and soaking in the sun's rays.

My cats do the same.

Before we bought this house, we'd come and sit amidst these flowers in the backyard. The house had been empty for awhile, and the backyard had a garden gone wild. We loved it.

A friend of mine is a garage sale goddess. She bought us this trampoline for $10! And our beautiful oak wraps us in shade.

The girls like to bounce and imagine an elaborate and fantastical world. I snuck up on them to get this shot. My daughter was upset and literally chased me away.

We've planted fruit trees, flowers, and herbs. We've had wedding receptions and barbeques, birthday parties and Advent celebrations. We've been visited by lizards, preying mantises, flocks of turkeys, skunks, possum.... Birds sing wildly every day. Our yard calls to us, "Come play!"

Visit these Corner Views to see what others around the world see out their back door [or window].

caitlin, joyce, ani, kim, a day that is dessert, natsumi, epe, kaylovesvintage, trinsch, c.t., jeannette, outi, schanett, ritva, francesca, state of bliss, jennifer, dana,denise, cabrizette, bohemia girl, ruth, dianna, isabelle, amber, a girl in the yellow shoes, mister e, janis, kari, jgy, jenna, skymring, elizabeth, audrey, allison, lise, cate, victoria, crescent moon, erin, otli, amy, ida, caroline, lisa, dorte, kimmie, la lune dans le ciel, nicola, malo, vanessa,britta, virgina, april, rebecca, b, kyndale samantha, karen, kristina, angelina, dorit, goldensunfamily, sophie, janet, mcgillicutty, desiree, di, travelingmama, aimee, sunnymama amanda, ali, jenell, guusje, britta, juanita, pamela, inna, daan, myrtille, cris, ibb, susi, jodi, lily, jillian, doobleh-vay



And to participate, contact Jane of Spain Daily. Next week's theme is street fashion. Come play!

Monday, June 8, 2009

My name is Oz

"Ozymandias"

I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said: Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them on the sand,
Half sunk, a shatter'd visage lies, whose frown
And wrinkled lip and sneer of cold command
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamp'd on these lifeless things,
The hand that mock'd them and the heart that fed.
And on the pedestal these words appear:
"My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!"
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare,
The lone and level sands stretch far away.

~Percy Bysshe Shelley

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Trust and Children

My daughter is seeking more and more freedom. She wants us to trust her, to trust that she can handle what the world brings to her. It's not that I don't trust her.... I'm just not sure that she could assert herself were a dangerous situation to arise. I know it took me awhile to develop that ability.

Many parents will argue that it is not their kids that they distrust, but the neighborhood. I'm to a considerable degree sympathetic with that fear. Partly because fewer kids are outdoors playing, many neighborhoods may in fact be less safe now than then. It used to be that if anyone harassed someone outdoors, there would be many kids around, of all ages, as witnesses and deterrents. It is also the case that today, with both parents in most families away at work, there are fewer adults at home in any given neighborhood, fewer adults who could spot potential problems. People (adults as well as children) are also less likely to know their neighbors today than in the past, and that too makes neighborhoods less safe. And, of course, there are more cars on the streets than there used to be, and communities no longer feel that it is their duty to construct and maintain sidewalks, parks, and playgrounds. “No Child Left Inside”: An Example of The Wrong Way to Solve a National Problem by Peter Gray

It's not that I don't trust the world; I do...for the most part. I think that there is "good" in everyone, but, conversely, I think there is "bad" in everyone. And it is those few who act on their "bad" impulses that I don't trust. When 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys are sexually abused by age 18, how could I?

So, while I love the idea of Free-Range Kids and Summerhill, a HUGE part of me has reservations. I want to do everything in my power to prevent my daughter from becoming a statistic.

However, I remember. I remember thinking feeling that my parents didn't trust in my ability to handle myself in the world. This holding tight and loosening is a process, yes? And so I let go...in small ways. I let Anouk explore with my little sister at the whole earth festival. I let her go to the bathrooms with a friend at a concert in the park (different vibe and fetched them when they lingered). I let her ride bikes with her friends on the camping trip.

I listen to my intuition and encourage her to be aware and listen to hers. But somehow that is not enough. I know there's no going back now. She's hungry to experience the world on her own two feet. Soon, she'll not be satisfied by my intuition and will feel smothered by my fears.

In the next couple of years, I would like to enroll us in this empowering self-defense class, which comes highly recommended by a friend of mine. And, perhaps I should continue to examine what trust means to me. How can I develop trust in her ability to stand on her own two feet? How do I give her the skills she'll need? How do I create a safe environment in the meantime, one in which she can experience freedom?

Work outside of the school system to develop safe places for children to play. Let the legislators in your community know that they should start spending less money on schools and more money on sidewalks, parks, and police protection in areas where children can play. Urge your community to develop and maintain parks that are safe yet provide opportunities for adventure--parks that have woods to explore, trees to climb, ponds and streams to fish in. Develop and support programs that allow children to engage with the outdoors in their own playful ways, on their own time, with others of their own choosing, without adult supervision and certainly without testing. Meet with other parents in your neighborhood to talk about the problem of providing safe places and opportunities to play. Maybe you can set up a neighborhood watch, which will help assure people that the neighborhood is safe for children's play. Maybe you can find ways to take weekend trips with other families, to campgrounds or other places where the kids can play safely, with one another in new and exciting settings, while the adults ignore them and socialize among themselves in their own chosen ways. “No Child Left Inside”: An Example of The Wrong Way to Solve a National Problem by Peter Gray

I want to cut to the quick of trust. Is this enough?

Friday, June 5, 2009

Touched...

I was steeped in the history of where we camped by the ocean. Poetry danced in my blood. I could call the flora and fauna by first name. The intimacy of the place was alive in me.

I took so many pictures, enamored as I was. But my favorite things were not to be captured.

*Sitting around the campfire, raising our voices to the stars. By chance, we even sang a version of the Om Namah Shivaya song!

*The surprise of finding a note from the fairies and gnomes on our tent with an awesomely artsy t-shirt.

*Playing Mafia with the older kids and adults after the little ones were nestled peacefully in their tents. The patchwork of clouds and stars overhead. And the clap of thunder at a particularly suspenseful moment.

*The communal parenting among my friends is always deeply moving. I love how we interact with and see the best in each others' children (even when they're overstimulated and hungry). How we see the best in each other.

What gifts! I am deeply touched....

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Corner View California...beaches

Northern California beach camping. How good it is to get away from the concrete jungle and breathe with the earth. Our journey was incredible. Where do I start? The scenery was beautiful, and, although foggy the first day, the company was so good for the soul.

The next day the fog looked like it was clearing, and we headed to Stinson Beach. We set up the beach towels and got the lay of the land.

When the gulls cleared, the kids played some sort of beach ball game.

The fog was receding over the hills. Our campsite was nestled up there.

The day was perfect for flying a kite.

Here comes the sun....

Home base, snacking and ocean napping place.

Who can resist?

Flourescent seaweed dredged up from the 80s!

Down the beach....

My girl in the surf.

Waves are like a campfire; you can watch them for hours. Enchanting.

This guy was freeclimbing.

And these little guys looked like they were nestled in tightly, waiting for the tide to come in.

Pretties. This part of the world has an amazing biodiversity.

More pretties.

And this guy was doing what humans do...making something beautiful even more beautiful.

This jellyfish had the most beautiful radiating pattern. Can you imagine being one?!

We played in the surf. We hiked the coastline. We met the local flora and fauna. We sang to the night. We slept on the mountain. Today, I wanted to go to the top. From sea level to 2571 feet. If you look closely, you can see San Francisco in the distance. It was amazing to be in such a seemingly isolated, wild place and be so near the city.

Check out these corner view beaches from across the globe!