Tuesday, October 21, 2014


This article, dear children, is true down to the last word. It perfectly describes my recent dilemma at work, as well as the solution. Have I ever tried to talk myself out of behavior created problems? Yep. Did it work? Nope. Its wrong. 

This is right--in terms of business, friendships, families, and romances:

What are some consequences of low trust, and high trust?

In low-trust environments, you'll see low morale, disengagement and a lack of commitment. You'll also see people manipulating, distorting facts and withholding information. There will be resistance to new ideas, bad-mouthing, finger-pointing, overpromising, underdelivering and, often, tension and fear. Everything will take longer to do and everything will cost more.

The converse in high-trust cultures is equally true. When the trust goes up in an organization, the speed will go up and costs will come down. Your ability to collaborate goes up, as does your ability to attract, retain and engage people. When trust goes up, you’ll see people sharing information, not afraid to make mistakes, more creativity, higher accountability and greater energy and satisfaction. When you move the needle on trust, you move all kinds of other needles with it.

Monday, October 20, 2014

The Handmade Puppet Parade always sets a wonderful tone for the beginning of fall. Art is nearly the best humans have to offer and its always good to be randomly immersed for a while. We took Grandmother and spent a lovely afternoon on the street last weekend.
 Mask Making, part 2, out from behind the camera...
 Mask Making, a photographic essay through the eyes (and Olympus) of Ry.

Did I mention another homeschooling mother gave my daughter her cast-off Olympus digital camera? I've always said its important to give kids real tools for their work. I give toddlers sharp scissors and paintbrushes made with hair. Tools matter. Apparently this goes for cameras as well. The only down side is that now I feel I need a new camera.

I'm so grateful to Shannon for the Olympus. It was a game changing gift. I love my girl's artistic eye, her natural sense of composition and her style. Photography has become her primary creative outlet these days. And now she's got a much better toolbox to work with. I think this is the best portrait of Jackson, ever. And Ry, are there two animals in this image, or three? Very nice work!

Friday, October 17, 2014

Next assignment. Well, I suppose I should first mention the first assignment. The kids are taking an essay writing class this fall. If the class trends the way its started, they will be writing an essay a week through December. First class, a one paragraph essay. Second class, three paragraphs. Third class, five, and so on. Actually, its turned out to be fun and they rather enjoy it.

Because we're unschoolers I rarely declare mandatory assignments. But this next thing is just too good. First, we'll read: The True-Life Horror That Inspired Moby-Dick. Then we are going to listen to the audio version of Moby Dick. And we'll sum up next year when we all go see this together! That's some badass lesson planning, if I do say so myself.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

This morning I milked a newly fresh heifer--c a r e f u l l y and tenderly--as we milk all newly fresh heifers. I also milked a cow who kicked at me in a truly dangerous way. While extremely rare, I don't appreciate that shit. I put a belly band on her and I put it on Firmly. After milking I worked outside in the pouring rain. And it was kind of glorious, in a filthy muddy slippery sloppy way. Moments of intense weather bring out a sense of simpatico and togetherness on the farm. At one point one of the farm owners passed by and tossed me a hot egg and sausage biscuit. So for a little while I was walking around the farm working with my right hand--filthy muddy sloppy, and eating with my left. If I needed both hands I tucked the biscuit into my bra on the left side, nice and warm, right over my heart. Its hard work, make no mistake. But I love this job.

Not half as much as I love my kids, though. Afternoons are reserved for them. This afternoon I'm sitting in a coffee house in a cushy leather chair under nice natural light with a big glass of Malbec. Homeschooling teenagers has definite advantages. But homeschooling through high school feels, in some ways, sketchier than elementary school. You need strength of conviction because time is winding closer. If there is something you aren't teaching them you don't have much time to make it up. There will come a moment, soon, when those who are watching and care will exhale, either with relief or accusation. Either the kids will be well prepared to do what they want to do next, or we, or our method, will have failed them. That's the message repeatedly transmitted my way. But is that true? Or does it simply reflect an institutional way of looking at life?

Crossing the parking lot and parting ways, them for an afternoon hanging out with their friends, me for a glass of wine, something occurred to me. Homeschool isn't about their future. Their future is infinitely malleable; there is no time to cease learning. Homeschool will end up being about their past. We win not some ugly imagined schoolish competition over grades or external measures of success. We win what we get to keep forever: our relationship, the long happy years passed in shelter from stress and fear and unworthy authority, their selves formed in solitude with trust, warmth, love, and freedom. Whatever they do next, they get to keep what's already happened forever. And it was really really good.

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