Monday, March 26, 2007

Happy Bday George

Sunday was George's birthday. We had a fun, mellow day.

There's a new coffee house in one of the local towns - Watertown. George and Shiloh have been playing there on Saturday nights, and then going over to a friend's house to jam afterwards. Fun stuff. We took Mo to the coffee house a few weeks back and to the jam session a week ago, with sort of mixed results. She's a little too high-energy for those kinds of environments and I'm too tired by that time of day to be very interactive with her. So its been sort of fun but sort of stressfull. Friday night George took her to a party where she was happy to play with a little plastic guitar for awhile, but then started arguing with the band about the set-list. Not so much fun, so George brought her home and she and I had an okay evening.

Friday night was essentially the start of George's bday festivities. He went to the party (up at Pumpkin Hollow) and stayed good and late. Saturday night he went to the coffee house in Watertown and stayed out late. Mo and I jumped on the trampoline, captured frogs and watched the stars come out and Ray played on the computer, so we all had a great time. Sunday Mir and Shiloh came over for a lunchtime pizza party.

After lunch we (all except Ray) hiked up to the pond. The algae and water plants I tossed in several years ago have taken over, so Mir and I chatted about ways to pretty up the area. He wants to plant some lotuses and some annuals along the banks. Mo and I want to mow around the pond and bring our tent up there. She's been wild to go camping, and I still prefer my camp to include men in high heeled shoes and tiaras. I like the idea of having a place to hang out up at the pond, though. Its really pretty up there already, pond scum notwithstanding, with a nice view of the holler. On clear days you can see the top of Short Mountain, which always makes me smile. Last year I was stressed out all summer and didn't get up to the pond at all, but this year I'm hoping to be more motivated in that regard. If Mir's going to work on the pond, that will help me have reasons to get up there.

Mo had a fabulous time playing in the mud at the pond and I found myself wishing I'd brought the camera. Next time. For now, I've included a few random pix from this winter in this post which I've been intending to post for ages. I forgot to rotate the pic of the bass, but its still a nice image. George has built a couple basses this winter - one twelve string, pix of which have been making the rounds of 12string bass message boards. That's kind of fun.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Great Big Aaaaaaaahhhhhhh

I have my favorite room back!

A few years ago, George built a glorious porch on the back of the house for my b-day. Its one of those marvelous "gifts that keeps on giving" - every spring, and sometimes off and on in the winter, I get to open up my house and have one more room. And what a great room! Its 8'x20' - bigger than my living room - and until last fall the couch lived out there, plus a big slab "coffee table" and some end tables and oddball chairs. I tacked up some masonite along one side for Mo to use as an easel and strung clothesline to dry her artwork above it. Weather permitting, its our "messy project" space, and my lounging around space. Its outside, but sheltered and off the ground. I love it love it loveit!

Sitting on my porch, which is on the back of the house, I can look up through bare branches to my hill-tops in the winter. In the summer the leaves keep it shady and cool. Its on the morning side of the house, so on hot Tennessee evenings we can hang out there and eat dinner and watch the fireflies. There's a good view of the run-off creek and a tiny cleared patch I call the back yard, where I've planted asparagus and daylilies and coneflowers and various annuals.

The porch was full of junk until today.

This was one of the complications of Rayan moving into our very small house. As an every-other-weekend kid he didn't use any of the storage space in his room, so we filled it up with all the kinds of things people "normally" put in attics. The sudden change left us kind of at a loss, so we piled the stuff on the porch, which is reasonably sheltered, until we figured out a better solution.

Over the winter we've been sorting and discarding and consolidating that stuff and the heap formerly known as the dining-room table. We don't have a dining room, but we have my mother's table - a dainty cherry thing with those swoopy cabriolet legs. Heaping it with stuff wasn't optimal, but it kept Mo from climbing on it, along with providing storage. Our new family member meant we needed more "family" space, though, so we dug out the table (moved some of that stuff to the porch). We quickly discovered we didn't like eating at the table, so it went out to the barn and the couch moved in to the suddenly expanded living room. That was a good thing for the winter. Its nice having a larger living room, and we don't miss the table.

But its spring, gosh darnit! and I wanted my room back. I wanted to lounge on the back porch drinking coffee and watching the birds. It finally occurred to me that we have a whole pile of grey industrial shelving from Smithville's one coffee-shop closing (George knew the owners and got to loot - we got an old organ, lots of shelves and assorted guitar bits). With a little nudging on my part George agreed that the side porch would be a good place to put some shelves, magically creating the storage space we so desperately need. Tada! Last night and this morning he hung shelves and then he and I moved boxes and....stuff. He's on his fourth dump run, now, and I'm taking a break from my cleaning and arranging.

Once the stuff was gone, and everything swept, the lack of couch weighed heavily on me. Where would I lounge to drink coffee? I remembered the leftover lumber from my garden-fencing project. Aha! I foraged up some concrete blocks and cobbled together a rough-n-ready bench. It works. Its wider than my behind - the one significant dimension - so I can sprawl or lounge or curl up, as I choose. Phew. I tested it with a bowl of soup and Morgan cavorted around blowing bubbles and trying to catch them in her mouth.

As far as I'm concerned this is the official first of spring. Forget daffodils - the darn things start coming up in February! Moving out into my favorite room is It! I hearby declare it Spring in Dismal, TN.

Friday, March 09, 2007

much ado and other stuff

Rayan has had a girlfriend since last summer - a vaguely "gothic" girl named Ciara (pronounced Sierra) who's mother dislikes and distrusts him. I haven't spoken to her yet, although George has. I get the impression she wouldn't like or trust any guy her 14 year old daughter brought home, but Rayan's too much of a "bad boy" to ever win her over.

In the past she has placed restrictions on when and how much they could talk on the phone which has, predictably, led to Ciara calling after her parents are asleep. Not really an issue for us. One of the glorious advantages of homeschooling is we don't have to fuss over going to bed at a reasonable hour. Our schedule is pretty fluid.

She also doesn't like them to spend much time together, and only under her direct supervision. Charming. I've offered to talk to her - to Rayan - but he's under the impression that she's impossible to reason with, and George pretty much agrees. I don't know how much of that is baggage and how much is accurate, but so far I've stayed out of things at Ray's request. I've talked to Ciara over the phone a couple times when Rayan's been asleep or in the shower and she's pretty invested in coercion, which makes me think her mom could be every bit as difficult as Ray and George think - tell Rayan he better call me or I'll break up with him - that sort of thing.

Okay, so this is going to sound like a tangent but it ties in - what tangled webs these mortals spin! (is that the line?) George has been fretting over the fact that we have yet to mail in the registration form for FS@H due to our lack of funds. I've had good news from Jackie on that regard, but I'm not worried in general. No-one is breathing down our necks, and the boy's happy and not in jail, which is more than the school would be able to say if they had him. George is worried though - specifically he's been worried that Ciara's mom would "make trouble for us".

Back to the main plot... apparantly, Ciara's mom has been asking her what Rayan does now that he's not in school - the usual sorts of questions and hoo-haa from people who know nothing at all about homeschool. Ciara passed the question along to Ray, who commented that it wasn't any of her mom's business. As far as I know he only said that to Ciara, but its possible he said it directly to her mom. Less than 100% tactful, if he did, but I've said worse. And really, he's right - it isn't any of her business! But she's used to the public school idea that comparing two people's learning is not only appropriate but normal and good, especially when those people are under 18. I guess you can tell what I think about that. Its probably a good thing I haven't talked to her. I don't have any idea how to say that tactfully :(

So the long and short of it is that Ciara's not allowed to speak to Rayan until he appologises to her mom. George is relieved. I guess there will be more midnight phone calls for awhile. Eventually I suspect he'll appologise - I also suspect Ciara will threaten to break up with him if he doesn't. That's within the pattern she's set already.

It wouldn't break my heart if he finally decided she's not worth the headache, but that's probably contingent on him making some friends in non-school environments. He's met a couple homeschoolers at the skatepark, but has sort of lost touch in between winter and getting the flu (I was right about that! he got really really sick for a few days and is still recovering, to some extent). It will take a while to build those relationships, anyway.

He's also met a few hs'ers online -gotta love Runescape. Its too bad we can't get World of Warcraft, though. There's a "guild" of over fifty unschoolers last I heard. Boy oh boy would I love for him to meet some other kids whose parents think staying up all night playing computer games is cool - not to mention some of those parents. But our dial-up is way too slow. I guess there are a few WoW players who have dial-up, but a "good" connection speed for us is (brace yourself) 49Kbps. No shit. DSL is a ways away out here in the hollers. Bummer.

I'm hoping to bring him to the Live and Learn Conference in Sept and/or get him to Not-Back-to-School camp so he can meet some home/unschooling teens in a fun environment. I don't see Ray as wanting to spend the rest of his life in TN, much less Dismal, so in addition to making friends, I'd love to help him find reasons to travel, and making friends all across the US sounds like the sort of thing that would appeal to him. I suppose I should talk to him about that LOL! He's been trying out being a night-owl (or maybe a vampire) so I haven't seen as much of him as I'd like. I told him I've missed him, but I'm trying to be cool about that - I sooooo don't want him to feel pressured to change his schedule.

Monday, March 05, 2007

pooping toy

Bwaaahhahahahhahaha! OMG, now I've seen it all! Barbie, yes that's right BARBIE has a new dog that poops! I saw this just this morning on the lousy tv we have upstairs, so I'm sure I missed details. I can't decide if I'm totally appalled or if I want one. Mo wants one - a pooping toy? Cool! I do think its nice that someone finally figured out that little girls are as fond of poo and farts as boys. Mine sure is.

Okay, okay, I'm calm, now. I'm getting ready to do some cooking - or rather, I'm in the middle of doing some cooking, this is just the "procrastination" stage ;) I did something new and different for me the other day - okay, if you know me and you're reading this put your coffee cup down and swallow what's in your mouth, alright? don't say I didn't warn you - I bought meat at the grocery store. Told ya. I'm not going to eat it, though. Its for George and Rayan.

Here's the story: George has been eating meat for a couple years (?) but mostly fishy things and easy to prepare stuff. He doesn't really know much about meat, how to buy or cook it, etc. We had been buying lots of coldcuts and meaty soups for him and Rayan, but the soups, especially, are pretty costly. Anyway, we're surrounded by enthusiastic deer hunters, so we ended up with a bunch of venison this winter. George didn't know what to do with it, but I looked in my favorite cookbook (the plaid one, of course!) and found a recipe for beef-vegetable soup. It turned out to be a great way to economize, and the guys both love it. Now we're out of venison, though, so I took my courage in hand, waited for the higher-the-hair ladies to move away from the meat counter in the store and spent a merry few minutes looking at sale prices and determining best value, blah, blah, blah. Morgan was slightly interested, but more in punching the packages than their contents.

On that note, we bought her a punching bag. Its one of those things that stands about kid-height with a weight in the base so when she hits it, it pops back up. Fun. She's just head-over-heels in love with Sandy Cheeks on Spongebob, so she's been whacking and kicking a Lot. After far too many "nos" and "stop its" I went out and got a punching bag. She picked one with a picture of Scooby Doo on it but made a drawing of the big bad fairy from Fairly Odd Parents and taped it on the other side. Lots of tv-inspired fun going on around here.

A few years ago, that would have been an issue for me. I was pretty heavily saturated with anti-tv sentiment, including the notion that art, stories and games inspired by tv shows was somehow "less" than the same inspired by, um... books, fables and classical art. Duh. Now, I really love the way Mo mixes and matches characters and ideas from different shows - and mixes them happily with stuff from "books fables and classical art" as well. The other day she was making a "Fairy Magic Playset" based on one of our computer games. She decided there was no reason not to have a Playset for something that isn't Disney or Barbie or some other major franchise. If it didn't exist, well then, she'd make her own. You go, girl.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Mo art

Here are a few of Mo's drawings from this winter. She's been making lots of books, which are a little tricky to scan, but I've included one of her comic-strip type things. Sometimes these are lists or "plans" for what she wants to do or someone else, usually me! to do. Others are short stories or scenes. The pale aqua drawing with her name on it is one of her maps (just in case y'all want to come visit). There's also a drawing of a beach and, of course, Spongebob and Patrick.