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


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


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


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.


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.


Jolt of Wonder

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.


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.


Rigged Game

Powerful spoken word poetry.


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.



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


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.


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.


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!


 Auditory Yes

I could listen to this duet every day.

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.


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.

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.



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


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.


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!