Archive for April, 2011

I’m not sure if I have ever actually said this on my blog before, but I believe that education is important.   I don’t necessarily believe that you have to actually go to school to acquire education, but the existence of classrooms and teachers can certainly facilitate the process.

So, that being said, I am in the process of observing just how the whole “emportinse uv eddicashun” idea can be lost in the shuffle of life.

The people who live across the street from us are good neighbors.   The man of the house has been living there over five years — I really forget when he and his sister moved in, but she moved up to Osage Beach after a couple of years to be closer to her job.  He continued on as a bachelor establishment and a couple of years ago he got married to a woman who came equipped with three children:  Older sister, Middle Girl, and Male Heir.

Recently, I was engaged in conversation with my neighbor, and he expressed concern that MG (who is in fifth grade) was in a bad situation in regards to her science project.   Apparently, this assignment was made back in the beginning of February.   The little girl came up with an idea for her “experiment”, but in the ensuing months the materials she needed were not acquired (money and parental interest was lacking) and they went on a long vacation to Illinois to visit family, and. . .   the materials were not acquired some more.  Money is an issue.  Attention is an issue.   The girl being shy and retiring is a Huge Issue.

Daddy works hard but doesn’t earn a Lot of Money (although he has plenty of money for cigarettes and beer) and the wife’s sister, the sister’s husband (boyfriend, partner?) and their two year old daughter are living with them for the nonce since sister apparently has some sort of problem — unnamed but I suspect it has something to do with the INS — and Daddy is now supporting himself and 7 other people.  Another issue is that Mommy speaks English as a Second Language, and not well.  I am fairly certain that her education stopped somewhere short of 9th grade or so, right around the time she started popping out kids.    Daddy works nights and sleeps days.   No One has any imagination about science whatsoever.  Eight people crammed into a two bedroom house (with a dog) does not make for a lot of space and peace for studying or doing science projects either.

The science project is due in two weeks.   For some reason, probably my charitable impulses fueled by admiration for what my mother does, I agreed to help MG with her science project.   I have to admit that my decision was also motivated by Daddy informing me that when he was apprised of the situation (the project not being started), “She got a lickin’.”   Like this was some sort of achievement and his proper contribution:  He had done his part to motivate the student.   Geez Louise.

The first order of business was to figure out something that would be acceptable and possible in the two weeks remaining.  We figured out an observational science project which I have to admit was inspired by the presence of hundreds of cherry tree seedlings sprouting wherever the robins had deposted them last fall.   We are investigating the effect of the growth environment on the healthiness of cherry tree seedlings.   We managed to collect our samples and start to discuss the experimental design.   We needed to get something figured out PDQ because the very next day (yesterday) MG was expected to make a presentation in class regarding her project.   Pretty hard to make a presentation about nothing at all.

Suddenly, it was her bed time, and so we made a date for her to come over after dinner last night to work on the actual measurement and charting process.  So, did she come over after dinner last night?

She did not.   It was Wednesday night, prayer meetin’ night, and Mommy loaded her and her siblings and all the other relations into the van, went down the street to collect the blind woman who needs a ride to church and dragged them all off to church.  I’m fairly certain that prayer will not get a science project done.   Although He is reputed to note the fall of every sparrow, blah blah blah, God does not do homework.  Especially not science homework.

Well, jumpin’ jehosaphat but how in the name of McDonald’s is the child supposed to get anything done if no one gives a rat’s ass whether the project actually gets done, no money is available for supplies, and church trumps everything?  (And people wonder why I am not involved in organized religion)

So I have these effing seedlings sitting on my dining room table awaiting attention, the child is coming here after school today, and we are going to work on the dag-nabbed project.   Come hell or high water, which we seem to have a lot of in Missouri right now — high water that is — we are going to get something accomplished.   And she is going to do it in her own words.

What she really needs to do is learn how to write (her penmanship is right about first grade level) and spell (atrocious is the only word for her skills in this arena) and think (not practiced much given the religious and television orientation of the household).  I can only imagine how excellent her measuring and recording skills will turn out to be.  Her confidence is right about zero too, so I’ll see what we can do to increase that as well.

I have a suspicion that this young lady may turn out to be my unofficial literacy tutoring project, and I now say publicly that I am willing to apply myself to the project for the long term, because that is what it is probably going to take.  I imagine this beautiful little girl sitting toward the back or side of the classroom and hiding behind her cloak of hair and shyness, keeping her head down and avoiding too much attention, and just barely getting by.  The teacher probably thinks of her as “dumb” when what she really is is scared to death.  It is never good to get too much attention in her life, as the attention is usually negative.

{sighs deeply}

We have another project approaching us apace — a 20 year old young lady is going to be moving in with us this weekend and will be staying for an unspecified period of time.   She is also in need of further education, plus she needs a safe space in which to figure out Who She Really Is, which in all probability will include “I am a lesbian” as part of the definition, but who knows?   She has not been living in an environment where that statement is acceptable, and it is pretty hard to figure stuff like that out even when it IS acceptable.  We went out and spent upwards of $200 yesterday to acquire a bed for her to sleep on.  {another deep sigh}

Oh yeah.  The Son is getting married towards the end of May, here in our garden.  {Really huge sigh[of both happiness and trepidation]}

This should all be interesting.

Of course, you all know the old Chinese curse:  “May you live in interesting times.”


I had time to make another art journal page; another riff on “Patterns.”

I find it interesting to note that all my art regarding “patterns” has the patterns falling apart.   You don’t suppose this is a reflection on my life, do you?


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So,  day’s drive southwest of here everything is so dry they have wildfires eating the countryside.  In contrast, the Ozarks have received bunches of rain and we are now experiencing flooding.   It is so wet here that we can’t mow the lawn and the grass is really taking advantage of it.  In some places it is well over the 8″ limit that our fair city believes is the appropriate height for a lawn.

In the past five days, it has rained through four of them.   Total accumulation in those five days was 7.75 inches.   That’s a little over 20 cm for the rest of you.

My weeds are rank.   The asparagus is going nuts.   I walk past the raspberry bed and wonder if raspberries drown. . .

But the sun is out this afternoon.   I can hear the weeds growing.

I’ve been playing in my art journal.

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. . . alliums . . .

Lichen on benchback. . .

Flowers that sit on the shelf in my window. . .

Tulips ariot because it is spring. . .

These are a few of my favorite things.

(with apologies to Rodgers & Hammerstein)

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My wonderful niece has taught me how to upload video.  These are lots and lots and lots of bumble bees in the patch of ajuga near the raingarden this afternoon.

(edits from niece – I apologize now for creating a monster)

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For Syncopated Eyeball.   As requested.  (and then some extra)

Last, but not least, I caught this vision of a dragon rising from the bonfire at solstice in 2006.

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We’ve been terribly busy here at The Havens.

This was taken a few weeks ago.

This is the stroll garden now.

Doesn’t the new mulch on the paths look great?

We were galvanized into action by the fact that a wedding has been planned to occur here at the end of May.   I know I mentioned this in passing before, but I wasn’t sure if the participants were wanting it discussed.   However, I am not prepared to be secretive any longer.  They would be our son  and the young person (and I emphasize the young) he has been with.

We thought one of our friends, who is an ordained Universal Life Minister, would be happy to officiate at the wedding.   But when I called him to ask, he very reasonably told me he doesn’t do weddings any more because people just kept breaking up.   And he doesn’t really believe in the institution of marriage any more.   Funny, even though I am happily engaged in one, and I enjoy the legal protections it brings, I don’t really either.

The change to the stroll garden paths has been talked about and planned since the end of last summer when we killed the grass on the paths.   Now all the new weed seedlings have been burned off with the weed torch, landscape fabric spread and tacked down, and 5 1/2 cubic yards of cedar mulch spread.  The mulch will mean we no longer have to mow and weed eat those paths, which turned out to be MUCH more difficult than I envisioned when I initially planned the garden with grass paths.   Also, the grass paths were simply a vector for weeds to the garden, and we have plenty of weed seeds being distributed by the birds and wind, we don’t need another source.

The reason I call this post Christmas in April is because for Christmas last year The Son gave us a gift card from the local emporium which was selling mulch in bulk in order to help us out with the costs of the project.   It was a huge help, it wound up basically being a matching funds grant.  We aren’t broke, but gosh, we don’t make that much money and everything just keeps getting more and more expensive, so it was nice to have to only pay for half the costs.

There will be more Christmas in April at the end of the month when I go to Kansas City for the Missouri Prairie Foundation’s native plant sale and my niece treats me to $100 worth of plants for the new project out front.

The place seems to be decorating for the holidays too.   The wisteria is in full beautiful bloom

Out in the Rose Garden, the miniature daffodils and the species tulips are combining with the ajuga to celebrate the primary colors.

Too bad those early spring flowers will be gone soon.   But not to worry.  The iris and poppies are already blooming, so the season proceeds on apace.

The hen and chicks are propagating.   Nothing very surprising about this, except that it is useful when viewing the next two shots to realize that the gravel in this bed is about 1 cm in diameter.   Then, all of a sudden the little chicks that the tiny hens are producing seem nothing short of miraculous.

For some reason, I just couldn’t sleep last night. That makes no sense at all since I spent most of the afternoon pruninging the yew and removing english ivy from the planter by the carport, and basically wore myself out and then did three massages.   Maybe it was because I was sore, but sleep eluded me until finally about 2:30 a.m. I dozed off.  Of course the alarm went off at 4:30 to awaken us for the beginning of the day, and I got up and made coffee and got Jim’s lunch together, then did my crossword and now it will soon be time for my first client to arrive.

Oh, I am tired.   Bone weary.  Perhaps that accounts for my feelings of discouragement and foreboding.

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Art journals

I have been beguiled by the existence of Art Journals lately.   So beguiled, in fact, that I have spend several hours watching tutorials and looking at pages that other people have shared.    So beguiled that I went to the big city and bought a bunch of materials, and have begun playing in my own journal.

I’m not sure that I am a “paint” person.   It seems like all these folks are painting their pages with great abandon, and paint as a medium frustrates me.  But I am experimenting with it anyway.   I may stop using it altogether, but for now I think I must fool around with it enough to feel comfortable with it before I reject it out of hand.

Anyway, here are two pages that I made this week.   Both of them were intended to be full width spreads incorporating both sides of the journal.  This has brought me to the realization that the next journal I buy will not be a spiral bound one as the spiral tends to cramp the flow of imagery for me; a throwback to the days when you were supposed to “stay in the lines” when you were coloring.

So here is the first one I did.  It goes with this poem, which I wrote a while ago and which I am not certain I am finished with.


Dances with Sheets

On a gale-y day

I hang wet sheets to dry under the arms of the spiral galaxy

The wind seduces me with an invitation to the Universal Dance

Lilac permeates the gust that fills the billowing lengths of cotton whipping in the wind

My fingers cling to the fabric, challenged by the power of the atmosphere tugging me East

I watch energies

Trapped in the web

Tear free and ride the west wind streaming shrapnel sparks behind them


a broken dream

four fast weddings rued

sudden death

Wind chimes chatter clatter rattle

Plum trees toss in silent waves in the background

The next sheet blows to life in my hads

Animated by the winds

Another ghost rides the cosmic wind into the dust the permeates the world

We are the comets

We breath their atoms


When I stepped back from this page (these pages?) I discovered my Gemini nature had asserted myself.   A clear dichotomy shows up in this spread even though it was supposed to flow from left to right.   Perhaps my left-brain/right-brain war is evident here.

The second image was inspired by the dog walks through the woods at dawn, when the air is laden with hundreds of bird calls.  As I walk the path I find myself walking through invisible patches of scent wafting along in the morning breeze, coming from the spring flowers blooming — calling all pollinators.

I like this image better in person.   The glitter on the pieces of bird songs does not come across on the computer.

So, I wonder what will occur to me next?

I turn the page. . .  it is blank. . . for now. . .

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