Links & Updates 3-3-15

great linksEven the date is wrong on this post, because I clicked “publish” before changing the date from two months ago when I thought I’d publish it.

I thought I’d do an update every other month, but I tend to be fueled by many delusions. One is that I’ll magically become more organized and productive any day now. So far this has not happened, as the teetering stacks of Very Important Papers on my desk attests. Heck, I’ve been on the planet quite awhile now and I still don’t manage to behave. Here are a few recent examples.

My hand is on the door to let the dogs out. I just so happen to be belting out Ode to Joy with spontaneous lyrics lauding joys of peeing in the snow. This was meant to encourage canines to go out (perhaps to escape my singing). Unbeknownst to me, an innocent FexEd guy is on the other side of the door, finger poised to ring the doorbell.
I hope this qualifies him for trauma-related workman’s comp.
Learning never ends. I just learned that one should not, when needing an extra hand, grab a corner of packing tape in one’s mouth. That is, unless you’re seeking traumatic lip exfoliation.
We’re trying to teach the dogs to stop barking when someone’s at the door. To do that we brandish a squirt bottle. (No need to actually spray the water, they get the idea.)
Yesterday the doorbell rings. I grab the squirt bottle on my way to answer it. Immediately it starts slipping out of my grasp. I tighten my grip and, in doing so, squirt myself right in the eye. Yes, I was holding it backwards. Yes, I did one of my hyena laughs.
I pity the poor innocents who don’t realize they’re ringing the bell at Awkward House.
 

And then there’s this.

My loved ones and I are enjoying the blue skies and longer days that hint at spring. I’ve been planting seeds in little pots under grow lights with vegetable garden-sized enthusiasm. It’s all fun and games till I’m yanking out weeds on muggy 95 degree August days. On to some links!

A Few Writerly Updates

My short story “Everywhere Stars” was included in Cleveland Scene Magazine’s fiction issue: full text.

My poem “Survivors of Child Abuse Support Group” was published in Literary Mama: full text.

My poem “Fog as Visible Dreams” was published (full text )in the recent edition of Shot Glass Journal  along with a second poem, “What the Onion Teaches:” full text.

My poem “2:37 am” was published in Mothering:  full text.

My poem “Failure Too” was published this month in the print journal Mom Egg Review, issue 13.

I had the pleasure of being featured on Coffee with a Canine, a site for dog-loving writers. Here’s the recent interview and my last one, five years ago when our German shepherd was still with us.

And I had the honor of talking about the books I’ve been reading on Campaign for the American Reader, which was also published on America Reads.

Amusements

If you haven’t seen the way Mallory Ortberg of The Toast re-captions art, you should. See if you don’t smirk at Women Having A Terrible Time At Parties In Western Art History and Women Listening To Men Play Music At Them In Western Art History. Here’s a taste:

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the-toast.net/2014/10/28/women-terrible-time-parties-western-art-history

get up
it’s weird to lie down when nobody else is lying down
sit up
i’ll sit up when I see something worth sitting up for

If you write, try out the Rejection Generator.  As the folks at The Stoneslide Corrective explain,

The Rejection Generator has helped thousands of established, emerging, and aspiring writers by preemptively exposing them to the pain of rejection, making all subsequent rejection less painful. Now, for the first time, The Generator has been tuned to provide highly personalized pain. Answer a few questions about your writing, and get a rejection letter tailored just for you—instilling maximum healthful preemptive suffering.

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Day Brighteners

How people are stepping up to undo environmental damage in the YES! magazine article, “Depaving Cities, Undamming Rivers.”

A way to purchase bookish delights while helping to build libraries in Ethiopia, made possible by a wonderful volunteer-run site.

What to do when you’re having a crappy day.

Ethical investors around the world are shifting their money out of fossil fuel. Divestment is happening at colleges, churches, pension funds, and other organizations–effectively rerouting more than 50 billion away from the coal, oil, and gas industry.

Science-y Fascinations

Researcher and intrepid person Jeff Leach is spending a year trying to acquire the healthiest possible gut microbiome. Pretty fascinating and entirely relevant for all of us.

A new documentary on how birth “seeds” us with essential bacteria, and how we can assure every baby benefits whether naturally or surgically born. Here’s more about the film Microbirth.

Information is passed from plant to seed using memory of seasonal fluctuations. Find out more in the (not very scientifically titled) article “How Mom Plants Teach Seeds When to Grow.”

And how great is this? The risk of coming down with the common cold is reduced by hugs.

Learning

A Thousand Rivers: What the modern world has forgotten about children and learning” is, without a doubt, the best essay I’ve ever read about learning. Long, insightful, and worth reading every word. It’s by Carol Black, maker of the must-see documentary film Schooling the World

The Importance of Ancestral Knowledge in the Modern World” is a wonderful article by Neal Ritter in the recent Holistic Parenting Magazine.

What do you do all day? is a question faced by many homeschooling families. Here are all sorts of ways to answer that question.

In what’s now a classic, The Book of Learning and Forgetting, Frank Smith explains how our culture systematically obstructs the powerful inherent learning abilities of children, creating handicaps that often persist through life. The author eloquently contrasts a false and fabricated “official theory” that learning is work (used to justify excessive regulation and massive testing) with a correct but officially suppressed “classic view” that learning is a social process that can occur naturally and continually through collaborative activities. Here’s a chart from the book.

child 2

Visual & Auditory Yes

Ophir Kutiel, who goes by Kutiman, is a musician and editor who took lots of YouTube clips of amateur music performances, from different people, different years, different places, and different songs, and edited them together into a new song. The vocals are by KarMaRedd, singing a cappella. Kutiman listed the source videos at the YouTube page.

Tony Orrico has been called a “human spirograph” but his work is much more. He is a visual artist and performer who uses his own body to inscribe geometries on paper. Through physically exhausting performances involving highly choreographed motions, Orrico creates works of visual art that record his own motion.

a

This poem was featured at the opening of the Climate 2014 summit in NYC. The poem was written and read by Kathy Jetnil-Kijiner, a 26-year-old native of the Marshall Islands. It was spoken as a promise to her new baby, a commitment to create a just and sustainable world. After her recitation in front of 120 heads of state, her daughter and husband joined her on stage, to a standing ovation. An official U.N. Twitter account said many world leaders were moved to tears.

And here’s a new piece by Michael Franti.

Superstupiditis, philosophies that divide us.
Keep us in fear from one another
so we can’t recognize a brother from another mother.
No way, we can’t live this way,
that’s why so many people stand up and say:
One love, one blood, one heart, one soul and
one drum and only one rhythm,
One tribe and all of us singing.

 

 

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Links & Updates 3-18-14

I’ve been emerging from my hermit world a bit more lately. I blame it on birdsong, extra sunlight, and roads that are no longer chronically icy. Already, the first crocus!

Lately I’ve been giving a series of author talks through the Cleveland-area Cuyahoga County library system. Everyone who has attended so far has been full of questions, ideas, and anecdotes about their own family’s learning journey. I say “everyone” as if crowds have shown up. That’s not the case. Just a few people, six in the last session. That may be due to library systems’ cut-backs, leaving no money for fliers and publicity for such programs. Or it may be that this particular metropolitan area does not want to talk about learning of the free ranging sort. That’s fine too.

I was honored to discover that one woman, a fellow writer and a homeschooling parent, wrote a post about what she took away from my talk on her site Raising Lifelong Learners. Colleen, you made my day. No, my week!

There are three more talks scheduled. I’d love it if you’d spread the news.

Brecksville, Tuesday March 25th at 7 pm

Parma Snow, Wednesday April 23rd at 7 pm

North Royalton, Wednesday May 21st at 7 pm

Poetry-wise, a few extra joys. One of my poems appeared as the mindfulness poem of the day on A Year of Being Here.

I also wrote a guest post for BoneSpark about a writing prompt I recently learned (with the poem that prompt prompted).

Hope

100% Renewable Energy Is Feasible and Affordable, According to Stanford Proposal. Researchers have developed detailed plans for each state in the union to move to 100 percent wind, water, and solar power by 2050 using only technology that’s already available. The plan doesn’t rely, like many others, on dramatic energy efficiency regimes. Nor does it include biofuels or nuclear power, whose green credentials are the source of much debate.

I got to interview Andrea Crosta, the founder of WildLeaks. This non-profit organization provides a secure, anonymous platform so whistleblowers can report wildlife and forest crimes happening anywhere in the world. They’re already at work facilitating investigations and prosecutions made possible by tipsters. Bookmark the link to WildLeaks, because you never know when you’ll have the chance to make a difference.

Merriment

Here’s a peek inside the intelligently witty site The Man Who Is Not My Mother. It’s basically observations from a baby’s point of view, if that baby spoke in the droll manner of a seething aristocrat.

A perfect depiction of complex carbs, by artist Gemma Correll.

Okay, I may be teetering over the rudeness cliff, but I find delightful inspiration in the obituary Walter George Bruhl Jr. wrote for himself. Maybe we should jot down a few lines for our own obituaries? Here’s a sample of his:

Walt was preceded in death by his tonsils and adenoids in 1935; a spinal disc in 1974; a large piece of his thyroid gland in 1988; and his prostate on March 27, 2000.

Wonders

Ever since I read The Secret Life of Plants I’ve been fascinated with plant intelligence. Some of that book’s assertions have been denounced, but evidence keeps showing up that provide a glimpse into a world far more complex than we might imagine. Like this study. published in The American Naturalist, which found evidence of decision-making by European Barberry (Berberis vulgaris) plants.  The authors write, “Ecological evidence for complex decision making in plants thus includes a structural memory (the second seed), simple reasoning (integration of inner and outer conditions), conditional behavior (abortion), and anticipation of future risks (seed predation).”

If you want to delve deeper into this obsession there are some great books available, from the science-y to the mystical.

Mycelium Running: How Mushrooms Can Help Save the World

The Secret Garden: Dawn to Dusk in the Astonishing Hidden World of the Garden

The Secret Teachings of Plants: The Intelligence of the Heart in the Direct Perception of Nature

Oh, and we’re all cousins. Check out the charts on Wait But Why. I think we should plan a planetary-wide reunion weekend….

Links & Updates 2-17-14

I love winter. I know this isn’t a widely shared sentiment, especially after the winter we’ve had (in my view, a beautiful one thanks to bountiful snow).  In fact, I’m not at all eager for spring yet. I’m still busy enjoying what winter looks like on our little farm. Only a few more weeks to adore it, then it’ll be mud season.

Here’s one gift of this winter. We got to see an unusual weather phenomenon called snow rollers right in our backyard.

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And hieroglyphics in melted windowsill frost.

One more snow-related update. The tombstone up against the front porch foundation is now partially unburied (pun!) thanks to wind erasing the snow cover. Yes, a tombstone. (One of the many reasons even the mailman wonders about us.) Let me explain. One of my delightful offspring got interested in all things Norse about two years ago. He researched ancient mythology and runes, started learning to speak Swedish, and worked hard to teach himself stone carving using hand tools. It’s not easy to find exactly the right rock for such endeavors. His older brother, always considerate, bought a headstone that was deeply discounted thanks to a typo and presented it as a birthday gift. My Norse-a-phile ground the name and dates off the stone. Then using a rough runic alphabet, he carved a message in the stone. Want to guess what it says? I found it amusing so it’s a good bet it’s a little rude.

Okay, on to some links.

Merriment

My daughter suggests Barbie jeep racing as our new family sport. We’re looking for the right hill…

For far deeper merriment, I heartily recommend a book written by my friend and fun expert, Bernie DeKoven. Here’s a review of A Playful Path. And here’s where you can get an e-book version FOR FREE! (I bought several print versions as well for gifts because I consider this book essential.)

Hope

Activism and, more importantly, an increase on society’s ethical maturity is helping to advance the rights of tribal people. Check out good news at Survival International here and here.

Members of the Dongria Kondh tribe. (Image by Jason Taylor)

Members of the Dongria Kondh tribe. (Image by Jason Taylor)

Here’s nonviolence in action.

(Image: hotair.com)

(Image: hotair.com)

 Orthodox priests stood between the demonstrators and the Ukrainian special police force. Holding icons and crosses, they successfully stopped the conflict.

Poetry

Powerful spoken word poetry by Guante.

An extraordinary poem I’ve used when teaching nonviolence classes, “Invisible Work” by Alison Luterman.

I stopped and let myself lean
a moment, against the blue
shoulder of the air. The work
of my heart
is the work of the world’s heart.
There is no other art.

Read the full piece here.

And what feels like a gift, a very nice review of my book by We Drink Because We’re Poets.

Learning

child

25 STEM Leaders Who Were Homeschooled.

School Ditches Rules, Looses Bullies.

And what I’m learning—Imaginary Motherhood.

Okay, Bringing Winter Up Again

To drag some learning experiences out of the last snowfall, try making snow ice cream or conducting the clean snow experiment. It’s all here in 15 Smarty Pants Ways to Enjoy Snow.

If you’re stuck indoors, try yarnbombing furniture or communicating via banana. Check out more ideas in 40 Cabin Fever Cures for Kids.

Auditory Yes!

Links & Updates 12-2-13

The days are large with joys and sorrows. Joy imparted by my strangely fascinating family, whose dinner table conversations veer from scientific speculation (“The likelihood that any of us would be fossilized is nil.”) to scatological silliness. They’re also, perhaps more importantly, great huggers.

Joy thanks to my tendency to find faces in objects, like my husband’s breakfast smiling on the stove

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the Mayan god image in a walnut I roasted with maple syrup to top Saturday morning’s giant batch of oatmeal

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and the pavement smirking up at me while on a walk.

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Our animals are joy-makers too. Evidence? A bovine reacting to a bucket that dared intrude on his pasture. (See his reaction to leftover Halloween pumpkins!) More evidence. A note from the dog found next to a poo-on-the-carpet accident.

child

But sorrow too.

Ruth Radney Barnes, in our hearts forever

Ruth Radney Barnes, in our hearts forever

Friend and mentor to many, Ruth Radney Barnes, passed away a few days ago. Her life was packed with deeply felt gratitude and the kind of wisdom that can’t help but cast light. Here’s her blog, Inspire the Desire to Learn. Over the last year or so I’ve linked to a number of her posts on my Free Range Learning facebook page as one small way to share her many enthusiasms.  Ruth’s too-short life overflowed with love. All of us who knew her will be forever changed.

Hoping your joys and sorrows let your life expand in meaning, as they do mine. Here are some links to enjoy.

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Jolt of Wonder

https://soundcloud.com/acornavi/robert-wilson-crickets-audio

Composer Jim Wilson slowed down a recording of chirping crickets, revealing something
extraordinarily beautiful. Crickets sound like a heavenly chorus of human voices. The recording runs for over an hour. Let it play to hear more and more nuances in this cricket choir.

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Growing Thinkers

civil discourse for kids, logic for kids, current events kids,

Here are 21 ideas for raising kids who are current events-savvy, from toddlers to teens. You’ll want to bookmark this information packed link.

igged

Rigged Game

Powerful spoken word poetry.

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Dating Problems

Louise the Goose and Honda,

You may have heard that our goose fell in love with my Honda. It’s such a quirky story that it was picked up by Neatorama and Huff Po. We even came up with some goose-inspired advice for Honda, but they haven’t gotten back to us about our fresh design ideas for a new car model. Louise the goose now lives on a nearby farm where she’s newly enamored with a portly white goose. The Honda remains in my driveway, no longer adored by an ardent Toulouse goose.

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Worldschooling

Discover 10 Ways Worldschooling Has Ruined My Childhood. Short, pictorial, inspiring.

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Life Lists

Birders keep life lists of birds they spot. Why not expand the concept by making our own life lists. They might be Belly Laugh Lists or Juncture Lists. Here’s more about this from my piece, currently reprinted on Be You.

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Hidden Folk

image: Paxarcana

image: Paxarcana

Some people in Iceland take the huldufólk pretty seriously. New roads and buildings have been relocated to avoid angering the hidden people, elves, who inhabit the natural world. There’s even the Reykjavik Elf School where believers can learn more. Best of all, you can find tiny homes set up in back yards in case the little people need a place to stay.

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Perspective on Learning

Read a wonderful (and yes, long) essay about natural learning by Vipul Shaha on his blog, A Journey Called Life.  Here’s a quote

There is so much healing (or un-learning) that has to happen within our own ‘educated’ minds before we can start to re-imagine and create a different paradigm. Multiple layers of conditionings, starting with over-parenting and schooling, have smothered the authentic voice of our childhood inclinations.  It is endowed with immense creativity and unique potential.  It is time to reclaim that child within!

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 Auditory Yes

I could listen to this duet every day.

Links & Updates 10-4-13

links of interest,

Thank goodness I have things to do in the actual 3-D world because raking through the net’s fascinations is a seriously tempting pastime. Instead I’ve been canning (I think we’re up to 58 quarts of garden goodness) and enjoying this glorious autumn weather. Yesterday I meant to throw together a green tomato cake (better than it sounds) but ran out of time. My daughter was disappointed. She said, “It’s a sad day when I have to beg for vegetable-based confections.” Maybe it’ll happen today.

Right now I’m hovering somewhere above euphoria. The publication date of my poetry collection has been bumped up to November 2013. (That’s not why I’m floating, I’m actually nervous about this book.) My publisher sent me on a quest to collect blurbs. You know blurbs, recommendations from other authors that appear on the back cover? I managed to do this for my first book with medium levels of trepidation but this seems much harder. I’m entirely an outsider to the poetry world. No MFA, no chapbooks, no experience at poetry readings. Typical advice is to reach out to writing professors, poetry mentors, fellow published poets. My degree from Cleveland State garble years ago required one English class and don’t personally know poets with book credits. It’s hard to muster up the courage to wheedle a favor from strangers. Friends have been referring me to local poets they know but they’re all too busy, which I assumed they would be because sheesh, who likes being approached for handouts? With only a few weeks left I took my blurb-less book fears to Facebook. Folks there encouraged me to do the unthinkable: to contact well-known poets I read and admire. With plenty of trepidation, I did. First I asked one of my all-time favorite poets, Alison Luterman who writes astonishing poems like “Looking For Work” and “I Confess.” I practically swooned in fangirl fever when she emailed me back within minutes. Minutes! She asked for my poems. I sent them. She read them. And then she sent back my first poetry blurb.

“Laura Grace Weldon employs radical empathy to enter into the hidden lives of rutabaga, cows, the neighborhood bully, or the beating heart of life itself.  Playful, curious, sensual, she aims to open the reader’s eyes and heart.”    Alison Luterman

I’m still ablaze with wonder over this. There’s more. The other two poets I contacted emailed me back too, asking to read my poems! A word has not yet been coined to describe my wonder and gratitude.

Back to the ground long enough to offer some links for your perusal.

Essential Absurdity

Illuminations

Sawabona

Sawabona” is a common greeting among the tribes of northern Natal in South Africa and it literally means “I see you.” As to say, “I respect and acknowledge you for who you are.” In return people say “Sikbona” which means “I am here,” or “When you see me you bring me into existence.”

sharing circles,

Sharing circles is an article about the gift economy from brilliant philosopher of our times, Charles Eisenstein.

Hope

child

Today’s abolitionists at work.

Nimo Patel’s video features footage from all over the world plus heart-melting appearances by the children Nimo works with in the slums.

Oy Vey

child

I get furious when the most vulnerable among us, and the desperate people who love them, are exploited. Here’s a piece I wrote about a “how to reverse dementia” service coming to a nursing home near you.

General Silliness

child

35 Awesome Dates: The End to Dull Nights Out. Yes, this is what I’m trying to talk my husband into.

Why your face looks wrong in photos. Or maybe it’s just my face…

Auditory Yes

More evocative music from The Civil Wars.

Thanks to my son Sam for this piece. Bet it’ll be stuck in your head too.

 

Links & News 7-16-13

learning updates,

It’s clear these won’t be weekly links. Just occasional, hey you might want to look at this links.

As for our news from our little farm, this summer our Belarusian daughter Tanya is back! She came here every summer when she was a little girl through the Children of Chernobyl program. Now she’s a new university grad and it’s a delight to see her. Hopefully I’ll write a post about it before the summer is over. Right now I’m still struggling to find out how she likes to fill her days. Unlike her little girl self, she’s now so polite that she refuses to express much in the way of an opinion.

As for links, I share a lot of them via the Free Range Learning page on Facebook, but most people have more social media self-control than I do. So here are a few links for you to enjoy.

Hope

collateral repair project, iraqi christian refugees,


This Iraqi Christian family fled after receiving threats that the entire family would be killed. The father can find work a few days a month, CRP provides food vouchers, cleaning kits, and gifts for the kids. collateralrepairproject.org

One of my favorite causes, Collateral Repair Project – Helping You Help Iraqi Refugees has been awarded Top-Rated Nonprofit Status. This shoestring operation does amazing work. Zip over to their Facebook page or site to see the families they’re helping directly every day. They make even a few dollars in donations go a long way.

“This is the world I want to live in, the shared world.” Rediscover it through Naomi Shihab Nye’s story-poem, Gate 4-A, from her book Honeybee.

Fascination

child

Your life has been enhanced and/or twisted in ways you may not realize thanks to your name. The moniker you carry around affects your grades, job evaluations, even how others perceive you. Find out how in Does Your Name Help or Hinder?

Finding common ground with people who hold extreme opinions may be easier than you think. A recent study finds it has to do with asking them to explain an issue (nicely!). Find out more in The Less We Know, The Surer We Are.

Oy Vey

robot takeover, killer robots,

If my research holds true we humans may be on our way to becoming squishy fuel for autonomous machines. But no one likes hysterical articles, so I aim for a sardonic tone when writing about robots. (See if I’ve achieved it in my most recent piece Is a Robot Takeover Around the Corner?) Unfortunately the leading non-profit working on this issue has taken the easily mockable name Stop Killer Robots. And when the UN discusses lethal autonomous robotics (LARs), recommending a moratorium, media outlets are too busy with royal pregnancies and snarky politicians. I’m not entirely anti-robot, believe me. A robot vacuums my floors

 

Growing & Learning

child

Enthusiastic parents buy plenty of toys and games for little ones that marketers assure them will promote reading readiness. Balderdash. It has a lot more to do with movement and play. There are lots of no-cost ideas in Get Ready to Read By Playing.

Pediatrician Stephen Cowan, author of Fire Child, Water Child, has written a lovely piece titled 11 Things I Wish Every Parent Knew. These are things I wish everyone knew.

Transcendence

Extraordinary piece about an attempted murder, titled The Night I Died. Author Tracy Cochran writes, “Things happen, even terrible things, but they are not what they seem to be. And we aren’t alone. There is a light, a luminosity behind the appearances of this world.”

Auditory Yes!

Links & News 5-20-13

Lots going on here, from peas and strawberries ripening in the garden to bigger excitements. I hope to start including weekend links and news along with my usual blog offerings. Let’s see if I can keep up.

I’m pleased to have an article in the creative education issue of Lilipoh magazine (print only) which will soon be available in Spanish and Chinese editions. And the biggie this week for me, I signed a contract with a small publisher to have a collection of my poetry published. I’m really thrilled about the news, but also feel suddenly shy. Poetry is so personal. Well, not so personal once it’s out in March 2014…

I share a lot of links via my Free Range Learning page on Facebook, but I recognize that plenty of people have better self-control than I do and stay off social media. So here are a few links for you to enjoy.  Continue reading