Wednesday (with words)

aug 12 092

a little poetry as the seasons shift…Robert Hass from “The Beginning of September.”


Here are some things to pray to in San Francisco: the bay, the mountain, the goddess of the city; remembering, forgetting, sudden pleasure, loss; sunrise and sunset; salt; the tutelary gods of Chinese, Japanese, Russian, Basque, French, Italian, and Mexican cooking; the solitude of coffeehouse and museums; the virgin, the mother, and widow moons; hilliness, vistas; John McLaren; Saint Francis; the Mother of Sorrows; the rhythm of any life still whole through three generations; wine, especially zinfandel because from that Hungarian wine-slip came first a native wne not resinous and sugar-heavy; the sourdough mother, true yeast and beginning; all fish and fisherman at the turning of the tide; the turning of the tide; eelgrass, oldest inhabitant; fog; seagulls; Joseph Worcester; plum blossoms; warm days in January.

you can read more of this long and lovely poem at the Library of Congress…though the line breaks of this prose poem are all messed up.  if you can get your hands on the slim volume called simply Praise, it would be worth your time.

more good things to read at ladydusk.


the magic of Shakespeare in the Park


we went to see a wonderful production of Midsummer Night’s Dream this weekend.  the comedies are not usually my favorite thing to see.  and i’ve seen this particular one way too many times.  but the lovers were silly and cross; the rustics were endearing.  oh Bottom!  you made me fall in love with an ass.

if you live in town, you’ve got one more weekend to see this Portland Actors Ensemble production…and it’s not to be missed.  it was worth all the toddler wrangling that’s necessary when we bring our show on the road.  it just wouldn’t be summer without Shakespeare in the Park.  we’re even starting to dream about next season: the Scottish play and Taming of the Shrew!

organization for the mama of littles :: tasks vs. projects

i’ve been working through Mystie Winkler’s (wonderful, free!) workshop called Declutter Your Head.  she is walking me through a few organization basics using ideas and systems from the book Getting Things Done by David Allen.  i feel like i’ve been stumbling around in the dark, and now finally, the lights have been turned on.  

one simple shift is how i write my daily to-do list.  Getting Things Done differentiates between tasks and projects.  tasks are one step items on the list; projects are groups of related tasks that add up to a completed whole.  at first this just sounded like a pretty flimsy distinction.  but i realized that i am often frustrated because i’ve populated my to-do list with projects instead of tasks.

even something as simple as doing the dinner dishes has a few steps.  first, the dishwasher has to be emptied.  then the table has to be cleared.  finally the dishes must be rinsed and placed in the dishwasher. i can get derailed at any step in the project.  maybe the clean dishes didn’t get put away.  maybe we left the table without clearing our places.  maybe i just ran out of steam before i got through all the steps in my dinner dishes project!

really seeing the myriad of related tasks has given me a more realistic sense of what i can cross off my list each day.  and it’s opened up space for a little bit of grace…even if the dishes don’t get done every day. 

Declutter Your Head: A Free 6-Part Email Course

Wednesday (with words)

a few years ago i was talking to a friend about our Advent preparations.  i told him i felt like the novice master or abbot at a monastery.  it was my job, my obedience to educate these eager–but green–monks.  my job to create an atmosphere where prayer + work could live side by side.  as the years pass, this metaphor grows more and more apt!  so as we launch into a new homeschooling year, as the tide is rising + the moon coming full, here are two quote from Penelope Wilcock’s novel of monks and healers finding their work called The Breath of Peace.


“I think I may not have the stature of spirit for what I’ve taken on in this obedience.”

“Nay, neither you nor any man!” Tom responded stoutly.  “That’s why we pray.”


I had an irrational, unquenchable hope that I could find my way to something of blessing, something I could believe in.  And I had this vision of what a home could be, a hearth of loving kindness, a place of shelter, and affirmation…and peace.

Wednesday (with words)

on almost any Wednesday for the last year i’ve posted a quote from the original homeschool magazine, Growing Without Schooling.  the quotes were almost all from John Holt who founded the magazine. in this year, i’ve created a unique snapshot of the homeschooling movement in the early days, a picture of just how exactly families were going about teaching their own. each week i grab the next issue out of the stack and start reading.  it amazes me how dated the articles are, and how very timeless.  legislation has changed in most places, but children have not.  and good books are still good books.  

i had planned to do 52 posts–a year of quotes.  but at 44 and counting, i’ve been limping toward the finish.  you see, John Holt dies of cancer.  and for the last few weeks, John’s death has been hanging over the project.  i knew that any week could be the week, the one where i picked out the issue announcing his death.  this morning, early, while it was still dark, i realized that just the like the magazine went on, just like homeschooling has continued, this project can continue on past John’s death.  it might feel a bit different, but that’s as it should be.

on a blog housekeeping note, the GWS posts usually happen on Wednesdays.  but Dawn at ladydusk has started hosting Wednesdays with Words at her place–a space to share the words + works of others.  this sounds like a great idea to me!  so the last few GWS posts will move out of the regular Wednesday spot…not sure where they will land.  stay tuned! 

sabbath rest

IMG_2020How very good and pleasant it is when kindred live together in unity!

It is like the precious oil on the head, running down upon the beard, on the beard of Aaron, running down over the collar of his robes.

It is like the dew of Hermon, which falls on the mountains of Zion. For there the LORD ordained his blessing, life forevermore.

Psalm 133

organization :: for the mama of littles


Mystie at Simplified Organization uses a 3×5 card for her daily to-do list.

Jessica from Life as Mom uses a 3 inch square post it note.

as much as i love index cards, for me the sweet spot is the 2.5 inch post it.  any bigger and the note just doesn’t fit my day.  most days i can plan on space for one extra in my day.  one outing or one chore or one hot spot.  just one, not all three.  the tiny size helps keep my productivity expectations in line.

doing a morning review helps me see where i can best focus my (limited!) energy and attention.  and an evening review helps me to really see and appreciate all that i got done.  even on the most unproductive days!

GWS :: forty-five

Miquon Set of all 6 Student Workbooks | Main photo (Cover)

What Lore Rasmussen found, to her great interest and mine, was that even after doing a particular worksheet completely correctly, a child might do that same worksheet half a dozen times or more before moving on to something else.

Apparently the children got much pleasure and satisfaction from doing something they had struggled to do the first time more easily and confidently each time.

Only when it became so easy that it was boring did they decide that they had enough–and they were the best judges of this.

–John Holt in Growing Without Schooling 

Issue 14 archived here.

end of summer

woman + firefliesif you keep track of the seasons using the old English reckoning, then August 2nd is the first day of Autumn.  that might seem strange at first…isn’t August high summer?  but really it’s the beginning of the harvest.  in our CSA this week we’ve got melons, tomatoes, peppers, and corn to prove it.  and we’ve picked our first tomato from our front door garden.  but for us, for now it still feels like summer.  AP is around, we are watching so many movies, we have lunch in the park a few times a week.

and most of all, we haven’t started school yet.  i was planning on starting next week, to give us a trial week while Andy was still around for backup, but we are having house guests instead.   there will be lots of conversation, lots of drawing, lots of margaritas.  see it can’t be Fall yet, we’re still drinking margaritas!

i am slowly getting our bookshelves + learning spaces organized and ready.  and we’ve got a passel of graphic novels about Greek mythology coming from the library.  this is Nico’s kinder year, so we are going to travel The Alphabet Path again.  really we won’t be following Elizabeth’s plans all that closely.  but we will be making plenty of room in the schedule for lots of picture books.  i think everyone will be happy with that piece of the curriculum.  we will also be making ABC Snacks and even trying our hand at some bento fun!

i’m looking forward to a bunch of free webinars coming up in September.  Julie Brave Writer will be speaking on September 9th, 17, and 23rd.  i heard Julie speak about helping your struggling writer.  i don’t have struggling writers, but even still, it was time well spent.  her “authentic writing voice” really shines and her gentle, loving, grounded approach to writing and homeschooling can throw the lights on for you.  and did i mention it’s free?  go sign up already.

one more thing…i’ll be signing up for the fiction writing MOOC offered by the Iowa Writers Workshop.  it doesn’t start til the end of September, but that gives me time to get school underway and dust off the novel that needs to be completely re-written.  if assignments help you get your work done, if you love hearing working writers talk process, if you want feedback from readers on your work, then this is the place for you.  and i would be foolish not to plug ModPo again.  hands down the BEST MOOC out there.

a real lady purse

this summer my mom and dad came for a visit.  in amongst all the usual preparations–clean the house, bathe the children, make a list for Target because it’s right by their hotel!–i started looking for a new bag.  something that wasn’t a backpack or a diaper bag.  something with some structure.  maybe even a bit of style.  something that a 40 year old woman could take to church.

we met my parents at their hotel when they arrived.  we got there first and waited in the lobby.  as soon as i saw my mom’s bag, i loved it.  i wanted to tell her to keep an eye out at garage sales for another bag like it for me.  but when i told her i liked it, she gave it to me.  the only thing was she needed a bag to carry on the plane with her for her book and yarn.  i ended up finding yet another bag that had belonged to her that i had absconded with years before.

i’ve used the bag all summer for trips to the cafe to write.  the little computer fits in the pocket like they were made for each other.  i also keep it stocked with a few pens, my journal, washi tape, a book.  the thing is spacious.  it’s fast becoming my portable, inspiring workspace.