Checking in

The trouble with the internet is that you make friends who live far away. Sometimes you get to meet these folks in person and do stuff together and deepen the relationship. But you still live far away and don’t get to chat as often as you’d like. So this is one of those posts to keep my various cyber-pals up to date on how things are chez moi. Well, that’s not quite right because I also have some friends I met in more concrete locations who keep up with me on this blog because moving across an ocean can make it hard to hang out with folks who used to live around the corner, too.

Knitting
First, because the title and original purpose of this blog alludes to the importance of knitting, a little update. I am working on a sweater for Tigger (as she would now like to be called on this blog) in Rowanspun DK that I got at Xmas-time. I did swatch, flat, in stockingnette, to work out what needle size makes a fabric I like. I measured the gauge on that swatch but am knitting the sweater in 2×2 ribbing, in the round, so I started with a sleeve on the grounds that that counts as an in-the-round swatch. I did the whole first sleeve and decided that I had cast on too many stitches and didn’t like the way I incorporated the increases into the ribbing. So it was a large swatch. The increase rate was fine, though. I have now finished the first real sleeve. It is much better. I’ve ripped out the ‘swatch’ and started the second sleeve. This is a size that fits in my purse so it is the only project I’m working on right now. Weird, I know.

I do have a rather gorgeous skein of Bearfoot that Cassie gave me (so that Fleece Artist didn’t actually increase the size of her sock yarn stash) that I keep eyeing up. I may very well wind that into balls and start a pair of socks for myself soon. The big drawback of working for myself from home is a lack of commute time in which to knit socks.

I’ve got a knit night coming up at the home of a new homeschooling friend. I’m looking forward to that, too.

Spinning
I’ve been trying to spin more of the Persimmon Tree and plied up some today. I have discovered that 7.5 mm knitting needles make great bobbins to slide the cop from the spindle on to. I can then hold two in my right hand to ply with my left (thus creating the Z twist; I spin the spindle with my right hand when spinning the singles; I learned all this from PGR’s High Whorling). Various ideas for what to do with it are mulling.

I plied up the stuff I spun on Cassie’s wheel today, too. It is pretty uneven but probably not bad for a first attempt at wheel spinning.

Homeschooling
There’s been a lot of that on this blog lately so I’m sure you’ve got the idea that it is going well. I’m relaxing into an unschooling mode. This is perhaps made easier by having a child who is interested in lots of stuff. This week we brought the following home from the library: one video about Einstein, one book about Newton (we watched a video a couple of weeks ago), Romeo & Juliet for kids and A Portrait of Shakespeare (both Lois Burdett whose series of Shakespeare for kids I can wholeheartedly recommend), a book about Plains Indians (to go with all the Laura Ingalls Wilder and other stuff about the prairies that we’ve been reading), a novel for her bookclub (yes, our public library has a bookclub for 9-12 year olds), and The Mixed Up Files of Mrs Basil E. Frankenweiler (recommended by Becky to help overcome my ‘issues’ with art and get more of that into our un-curriculum). I think that’s it though we already have library books still at home from the last time, and we ordered the Birchbark House (as another complement to the Wilder and whatnot).

We finished reading Marianne Caswell’s Pioneer Girl last night and I thoroughly recommend that as well. If nothing else it is a good illustration of what kinds of work girls did in the late 19th century. A gendered division of labour is evident but it is not quite what those who harken back to ‘tradition’ make it out to be.

This week I get a bit of a break. It is March Break in Ontario schools (or at least our Ontario schools; we live on the Québec border and their break was a couple of weeks ago). This means day camps. Tigger will be playing basketball all week.

Work
Of course now that I am busy, I got a few offers of contracts in the past couple of weeks. This week will give me an opportunity to complete one, start another, and hopefully finalize a third. All are interesting and fit reasonably well with the whole homeschooling thing. One will involve some travel but probably not until my partner’s teaching term is finished so there will be enough flexibility to make that not much of a disruption.

My volunteer work kicks up a notch this week with a long meeting of the Lambda Foundation board. I added this commitment before I decided to homeschool. I’m still not sure quite what I’ve let myself in for but the meeting this weekend should make that clear. It will be good to meet others who have also made a commitment and work out what we want to acheive and how we plan/hope to do that.

The AtMP board is also going well. I had a meeting in NYC at the beginning of the month (that also afforded the opportunity to see Cassie) which went well. It is so good when you find an organization that just feels like home in both its aims and the other folks involved. I’m glad I got more involved with them.

Basketball
I have scored baskets in the last 2 games. This is not that usual for me. I’ve been pretty happy with how I’m playing and really enjoying it. We need a few more women to join us as we’ve not had more than 8 at most games despite having 11 on the roster (we do have one pregnancy and one back injury that happened in the middle of the season though, which we can hardly blame those individuals for). But the women I play with are good fun and we all share an ethos of focusing on improving our own game. We like it when we win but are not focused on that as much as having a good time and playing well (however that is defined for each of us; we have widely differing levels of skill and experience).

I am really glad that I decided to play when I moved back here a couple of years ago. I had never played organized basketball before and signed up as an individual in a recreational league. The organizers made up a team of all those folks who had done the same. Some of us are still together and we seem to add a couple more ‘individuals’ each season. My experiences with sports as a child and youth were not great so I am really glad that I’m having some good experiences now. Helps me keep fit. And also helps me have an encouraging attitude for Tigger. One of the reasons she plays basketball is because I do. And she sometimes comes to early games and seeing how much we enjoy playing inspires her.

Planning for the future

This is not the big-F future but the little-f future. We are planning to go to the New Hampshire Sheep and Wool Festival in mid-May. Not planning as in booking hotel rooms, or anything concrete like that. But talking seriously as if this is going to happen. I guess maybe we should sort out accomodation but I’m not worried.

We’ve also started planning a road trip to Cape Breton for early September. There is so much we want to do in Cape Breton that we’ve decided that the rest of Nova Scotia will have to wait. Louisbourg, the Alexander Graham Bell Museum in Baddeck (no phones but lots of kites), bird watching (bald eagles!), hiking, maybe a mining museum, hopefully some fiddle music. Don’t think ‘vacation’. More like intense unschooling thing. We’ve decided that audiobooks are required for the journey. Mamma friendly children’s audiobook recommendations gratefully received.

Before then Tigger is going to spend a week with her grandparents birdwatching and going to the ballet in Toronto (hence the Romeo & Juliet stuff). The fact that she can take the train on her own makes that very easy. But, as she reminded me today, we do have to book some train tickets.

She is also planning a trip to England to visit her other grandparents and various friends. Her original idea was to spend a month but at Xmas she realized that when she is there she misses her Canadian friends so the current plan is for 3 weeks. Her dad will go with her but she’ll come back alone. Have I mentioned she is very independent? She’ll be 9 in mid-July.

And then there is camp. Probably 2 weeks at the local Y girls camp. This will be her third summer. She loves it. The first year she went for just under a week. When she got off the bus the first thing she said was ‘Can I go for 3 weeks next year?’. It turns out that you can’t go for 3 weeks so she has to settle for just under 2. The schedule gives the staff every 2nd weekend off, something I wholeheartedly approve of.

Someone has said that there are very good science day camps at the university in the summer as well. We might try to squeeze one of those in just because the opportunity to spend a whole week doing science with scientists in university labs only comes around when the other kids don’t have school. I have to train all the people I do work for to think about summer holidays and march break as times when I am MORE available. The activities available in the holidays do not suffer from the problems that led me to homeschool (stultifying boredom being top of the list) so we are more than happy to make full use of these activities when they are available.

I think that’s enough for today. If you got this far, thanks for reading and I hope you don’t mind getting the round-robin Xmas letter version of my life instead of a personal e-mail, letter or phone call.

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5 thoughts on “Checking in

  1. I hope Tigger enjoys Mixed Up/Frankweiler as much as my kids did : ).

    Your September trip sounds amazing. I’ve been pushing for something like this so that I could get to experience the East more (beyond TO and Montreal). I may have to live vicariously through others for a while yet, so I hope you’ll be posting more, even before you go, about your plans…

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  2. I loved, loved, loved From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler when I was a kid (and still love it). Actually, you can’t go wrong with anything by Konigsburg. One of her more recent books — The View from Saturday — was another good read. I actually did a little bit of graduate work in children’s literature and still read a lot of children’s and young adult books. If you can give me an idea of what sort of books she likes, I would be happy to provide some recommendations.

    Another approach with the whole adding in more art is to do a unit on different types of artists or genres, just to provide some structure. I did an independant study when I was in high school on women artists and I enjoyed reading about their lives and who they were as much as I did looking at their work. I found it gave me a much better basis to approach them when I understood not only when in their lives the pieces were created, but just having a frame of reference for who they were. One of my favorite discoveries was the photographer Margaret Bourke White, who did something that no woman at her time was doing. She was strong and believed in herself and her vision and that was a powerful role model for me. I also really loved Frida Kahlo for much the same reasons. Plus, I just love their respective works. Honestly can’t get enough.

    Anyway, there are a TON of biographical materials written for kids and young adults that cover a wide range of different artists.

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  3. That’s great! Thanks for the update.

    Sounds like life is rich and busy. And that home/unschooling is going well. I had some thoughts a while back (a long while, when you seemed worried) about assessment for homeschoolers–not standardized testing, but a framework for goal-setting and tracking that could help homeschoolers to be more confident about what they’re doing and to better track the extent to which they’re keeping up (or exceeding) the in-school curriculum. I know there are theories that you need far fewer hours of homeschooling to accomplish the same. Anyway, it sounds like you’re not worried anymore, but it could be a fun article or presentation if you ever want to think about it.

    I’m feeling a little behind right now (though I’m reading blogs anyway–dysfunctional work habits anyone?), but remind me to coordinate about NH. It’s mother’s day weekend, so I need to be home sunday, but I think we can have fun on Friday and Saturday for sure.

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  4. I love posts like these…where I get to know the person a little behind all the great thoughts! Your trip plans sound wonderful….totally unschooling boot camp! Your daughter sounds amazing!

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