Monday, March 29, 2010

Spinning, Yarn and Animals

It has been a week of discovery. A local college is hosting a fiber arts festival and the library is hosting some cool classes. Nuno felting is beautiful, something to aspire to someday, (see earlier post), but the spinning lessons have spoken to my spirit and imagination. Spinning is an art and necessity. While spinning one begets a connection with women (and men) from time immemorial. I have notions of falling into a trance of visions as well as the domestic industriousness of Almanzo's mother in "Farmer Boy" and the independent spirit of Ghandi as he sat spinning his own homespun and conversing with international figures.

I met Jeanette, an angora bunny/sheep/alpaca farmer and owner of a yarn shop, Fae Ridge Farms, on her farm at the first event of the week. Her engaging presence, her spinning lessons and the fact that everything she had brought to sell was from Peace Fleece endeared her to me right away. The friends with me that night felt the same way, so we car-pooled, kids and all, to her farm/shop an hour away last Saturday morning. We spent the most enchanted day! The children came into the tiny shop with us, but Jeanette encouraged them to go out and meet the animals with a bucket of feed. It was cold, but we rarely saw them the rest of the time we were there. I think they were busy climbing trees, petting bunnies and feeding chickens.

I was inside with friends, old and new, watching everyone spin, and keeping an eye on my little guy, contemplating how much I had loved my first spinning lesson, but hesitant to take up something new. There were beautiful knitting books everywhere, as well as the yarn, roving in all shades of beauty. She had needles from Peace Fleece, fresh farm produce and fresh-that-morning eggs. Puck and I spent a lovely quarter of an hour gazing at the pictures in Fairy Tale Knits when he announced that I should knit him a purple hat. Now, purple and I have been best friends for many years, and though I don't wear it as much, how could I resist knitting my baby the hat he wanted in that particular shade? Add to that the fact that Arthur, five, had decided before we even left that we should return home with a spinning wheel and was really decidedly interested in learning to spin, and so was I, there was only one option. I purchased the only spindle I had ever tried; a Turkish model from Peace Fleece; "A yarn company committed to helping historic enemies cooperate and prosper through trade. " It is also the neatest spindle ever; it has a fantastic spin to it and it comes apart into pieces, so that when you have spun a length of wool, it is a center-pull ball and can ply from both ends. How cool is that? I also got a big bag of purple swirled with green roving for my Puck's hat. And four dozen eggs, of course.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Scarf for my brother

St.Pat's Day Towel for Mom's Birthday

Aragorn's Skull Hat

Knitting and Cleansing

This is what the last three months have been about. I've been on elimination diets, cleanses and gone gluten and dairy-free, trying to eliminate an itchy skin condition. Much of my energy has gone into this and it has been an excellent learning experience. We have all discovered a much healthier path in life, and that while gluten-free bread, pumpkin scones and pizza crust are all delicious (thank you,!), chocolate chip cookies are just better with wheat flour! Our fruit and vegetable consumption has increased greatly, sugar consumption is way down and we are all feeling better.

On to the knitting; here are pics of the latest projects. Having busy needles makes everything better!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Aragorn Playing his First Coffee House

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Music and Kids

Music and Kids

So my son and husband have become guitar-playing, music-making nuts. It is so much fun to have rock and roll or folk or metal music around the house at all hours. This is Aragorn's first public performance, and he was such a natural! He just sat down next to his wonderful teacher and played everything that was put in front of him. There was a roomful of guitar players, poets, audience members and he played "like he was in Madison Square Garden," according to his teacher, lol!

Life's Lessons

Life Lessons

Sometimes we philosophize too much, seek out hidden messages in random events. Sometimes the signs are there, staring us right in the face and we refuse to open our eyes. I am not sure how I feel about the wake-up call I had last night driving home with three children in the back seat.

I was looking for the right exit, being perpetually without a sense of direction, I usually am. I did not see the large, white object until my wheel was about to DANG, roll over it. I was driving fast, keeping up with traffic, so it took a moment to slow down, pull over, all the while dragging the darn thing as it screeeeeeched along under my car, wheel, who knew. I got out, smelled smoke, found the thing and stared. It could only be described as a...chamber pot? White enamel-coated metal pot, now thoroughly squashed in it's middle, where did that thing come from? What could it possibly want to tell me?

I have a few ideas, but I think I shall keep them to myself. In the mean time, no injuries, no flat tires, the smoking stopped, but my new red shoes have a scrape from where I kicked the thing right into next week and off the road. Potty indeed.

First Piano Recital

Lily, at thirteen, just played in her first two piano recitals, as did Alienor, eight. The nerves were worse for Lily, of course, as she practiced a great deal more and worried a great deal more, but Alienor had her moments too! She sat up straight and played her little heart out. Lily was intense and focused and professional. The first recital was open to family and friends, the grandparents came and we made a day out of it with ice cream after wards.

Last week was the formal recital in front of university professors. They both did beautifully and we just heard that Alienor and Lily each received a "Superior" rating from the judges on Saturday. Bravo sweeties!

Lily and Alienor; waiting to play piano

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First Recital; Alienor

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From Sad and Cuddled...

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To Emerging Hope...

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To...All Better!

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Dad-Daughter Night Out; my little Girl Scout

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Seekers of Wisdom/Keepers of the Faith

Seekers of Wisdom/ Keepers of the Faith

Does there have to be a conflict? Has there always been one between the two? Is this what the difference between unschooling, or child-led education and a method such as Waldorf comes down to? There is an element of respect in a Steiner (or Waldorf) education for the stage of development a particular child finds himself in. Steiner himself wrote much of not feeding information to a child but bringing out what is within him or her. Is this the same though, as allowing him to freely search out what moves him and inspires him to explore a topic, thus discovering the world?

I strive for a balance between the two. The children read books they choose at the library, they play games they invent themselves. I read aloud books of my choosing and form a "curriculum" of subjects I think might be of benefit in their understanding of the world; math, history, botany, French grammar, proper writing skills, geography. This passing on of wisdom of ages past and present is my gift of experience and knowledge, the freedom to explore their world is a gift each one deserves from the universe.

How do others interpret this age-old conflict in the realm of education?

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Mammitoe By Lily

Mammitoe was our rat. He died on Saturday, March 6Th. He was, in rat years, about eighty years old, and in human years, just over two. Our first rat died struggling and sick, our second rat was put to sleep after having a large tumor, and our bird died of an overly large hart. Mammitoe died of old age, and had the best life that a rat could have had. His kind of rat was bred for snake food, so he would have died when he was just a few weeks old. When he knew that it was time, he went into his small rat bed, curled up, and died. He was always calm, and accepted life the way it was. I was the one who found him, cold and stiff, just before pizza night. Everyone came around to see him. There was a lot of sobbing and crying, but the two year old puck did not understand. Mammitoe was buried the next day in the back yard, in a place near a bush where, in May, there are yellow flowers on the the bush, and white flowers on the ground. Mammitoe died as he did everything, calm, and accepting.