Saturday, September 30

For Amelia

Ah, but not for Amelia my pet chicken. This is for Amelia Raitte, aka Anna Bell, designer of Pippa. She asked for ancestor stories, either as a comment on her blog or as an entry on our own.

In 1875, sixteen year old Mary (Mamie) Murray was staying with family friends in New York when she ran off and married much older widower Patrick Brennan --- a livery driver from Washington, DC. Her parents freaked, took her back to Louisville, Kentucky, and had the marriage annulled. There they kept her pretty much under lock and key. Three years later they relaxed enough to allow her to visit some trusted friends. The friends, however, were on Mary's side and helped her remarry Mr. Brennan. This time she was nineteen, her parents got over their shock and accepted the situation. Mamie and Patrick had 17 years together before Patrick died in 1897. They had nine (?) children, mostly girls. My grandmother Eustelle was the youngest. I've heard many stories of the Brennan girls --- they were a strong bunch. None married before they were 30, and all held jobs or ran businesses (real estate, hardware, a saloon).

The most famous of the Brennan girls were the triplets; Katharine, Anne and Frances Cleveland. The third was named after the president's young wife. Grover and Frances had married despite a 27 year difference in age. Perhaps that similarity was one reason for the namesake? Or perhaps since the Brennan's lived in DC, they admired the well-loved First Lady. Or perhaps with so many girls they had run out of names. Mrs. Cleveland heard about the triplets born to the livery driver; in 1890, triplets surviving birth were rare. She gave the girls a gift of clothes. While my great-grandmother's friends told her she should save the presidential present, she opted instead for practicality. She had three young girls to clothe, here were some clothes. That was that.

Mamie and Patrick were not wealthy enough to have professional pictures made, but having the triplets changed that. A local photography studio took regular photos of the family in exchange for letting him display photos of the triplets in his window. The studio portrait was part of this collection.

The outdoor photo is from the Library of Congress website and was taken at a Christian Endeavorers Convention in 1896. The Brennan triplets were so well known that the summary of the photos from this collection is "Includes views of the Junior Rally for young people; separate seating sections for black Endeavorers; news reporters at the convention; members of the Negro Delegation on the Department of Agriculture grounds; the Brennan triplets attending the convention. Also includes general scenes in Washington, D.C., including downtown views, and views of the Capitol." Patrick and Eustelle are the other two in the picture.

Friday, September 29

Only a mother could love

My baby sister became quite attractive, but she had a pronounced Ugly Duckling period as a preschooler. Excema left red scaly patches on her cheeks and mosquito bites she'd scratched left huge scabby welts on her arms and legs. During this time, my mother was caring for her aged parents, so Teresa spent a lot of time at our grandparents' house. One day, the excema had abated and it was probably late enough in the year that the mosquitos weren't a factor. My grandfather complimented her, said for once she looked "almost human." While I've always suspected that he meant it completely affectionately, my mother never really forgave him for that. Guess mothers are like that.

Remember Amelia? Well, it turns out that chickens molt in the Fall, creating a new warmer coat of feathers. But those new feathers push out the old ones, leaving a scraggly mess for a while. Even though Jamie told me about molting, seeing Amelia's bare neck kinda freaked me out, was she sick again? No, Jamie came over and assured both of us that there was a full complement of pin feathers erupting. She's probably molting earlier than the other birds from the stress of being sick. In a few more weeks, the new feathers should make her more gorgeous than ever, but in the meantime...

Last night Amelia was not in the coop. I got worried, searched the yard and all the trees, finally finding her roosting in the Bay tree. What to do? She'd be safer in the coop, and I had to lock up the coop to protect the other chickens. But she was really well hidden in the dense Bay. I would have needed a ladder to get her down. How she flew that high with her current feather situation I have no idea. So I locked up the coop and let her be in the tree. I worried that I wouldn't be able to sleep and although I did sleep OK, I had a dream where a dog attacked the chickens. Amelia was fine this morning though.

I love our Bay tree. Nothing is like fresh bay leaves --- dried just do not compare. If you have access to fresh leaves, try tucking a dozen bay leaves under the skin of a chicken or turkey before roasting it. Yes, a dozen. If you are in Seattle and want some, let me know. I'll cut you a branch or two. But you'll have to supply your own poultry.

Monday, September 25

Extra drumsticks?

A Pennsylvania chicken farmer (rancher?) discovered that one of his birds has 4 legs. Only two legs work; the other two drag along behind. The most telling aspect of this discovery is that the bird is 18 months old. Yup, her extra legs are just now being noticed. How did that happen? Well, this fellow has thirty six thousand chickens. I wonder how much room they each have?

My five birds have the luxury of a backyard 60'x75'. Do a lot of fancy calculations and you'll see that if those Quaker State chickens have the equivalent yardage, then that farmer would have 1.1 square miles of chicken runs. Does anyone want to bet that those 36,000 birds are free-range?

My neighbor
who rents the basement apt next door came over the other day, first time she's come to my door. We've talked on the sidewalk a few times in a friendly way, waved hello, that sort of thing. First understand that her landlady is an uber gardener and there is a delightful and massive hedgerow of roses, clematis, flowering quince, rhodies, forsythia, etc between our yards. And a fence. So she came over all concerned to ask me if I had gotten chickens (why, yes) and did I realise that they were loose? Loose! Where? In my backyard of course, where they belong. Relieved that they hadn't escaped, I offered to have her meet the girls. She did, in a tentative sort of way, admitting that she's afraid of chickens. And she got all concerned that her cats might hurt them. I laughed and said that was not an issue, these birds could take care of themselves with a cat. But it got me thinking.... What if it were an issue?

I mean, here I am with my pets all securely contained in my backyard, not off pooping and killing in other folks' yards. If her free roaming cats were a danger to them, what would she expect to happen?

Saturday, September 23

time for a sweater

We are having a sunny weekend --- typical nice Seattle September weather --- but the week just past! What rain! Perfect time to be knitting sweaters.

I haven't made much progress on Franz's Cambridge Jacket. The Nerd's been busy so his progess was slow. I've been sorta waiting for him to catch up. He and Franz are off on a boy scout backpack this weekend and Zach took his knitting for the car. It's about an hour to the trailhead, so I told him I would work on the Cambridge Jacket for no more than two hours.

Is all that stockinette really going to stop curling with blocking and one row of crochet? Ann Budd says it will.

Meanwhile I've been distracted with the Ribby Cardi for me. I am making the body in one piece and will knit the sleeves in the round until the armpit bind-off. Then I will probably knit the sleeves separately and flat --- unless I get inspired to attach them and work the whole thing as one piece. Given that the sleeves are a different color, that would mean working 5 balls at once. I don't hate seaming that much.

These Rowan wool-cotton colors are elusive to photograph. In person they change with every change of light also. The body is a discontinued color Mellow Yellow. It varies with the light source from creamy yellow to pale green. Swayed by the desire for a two color sweater, I found a color that works well with it. Rowan calls this color Still. Most on-line retailers call it mustard-brown and Jimmy Bean calls it dirty olive. None of their pictures rendered on my screen really capture the color.

I started the sleeve flat on the smaller needles, no sense hassling with DPNs for that. Because I am knitting this without a lot of ease, the cuff is comfortable yet snug. I may leave that little V-shaped gap as a design element instead of seaming it shut, haven't decided yet. It is helpful as it marks the beginning of the round clearly. I hate stitch markers on dpns.

Rosemary chicken, yum. (Just kidding, Jamie!)

Saturday Sky

Saturday Sky with laundry and buddleia. (and yes I know buddleias are now considered noxious plants. they weren't when we planted it. sigh. the hummingbirds like it.)

Monday, September 18

I like to swatch.

Swatching may well be one of the best parts of knitting. you get to try new yarn, new needles, new patterns, new techniques, all without having to commit to a big project.

I don't usually have the yarn specified in a pattern, and when I try to find a substitute yarn with similar characteristics, I might not get the approved gauge. So I swatch to A) find out what size needles will make a fabric I like B) make sure that this yarn really will work for the pattern, and C) figure out my gauge so I can adjust the pattern accordingly.

Trying out new techniques on a swatch? Very fun. Latest discovery is Tubular Cast On. Wow! It rocks! How does it work? I have no idea, but I followed the simple instructions on and swatched away. Now I want to start every project with K1P1 ribbing so I can go tubular. Makes me itchy to start another CeCe. or a Pippa. But I have two non tubular sweaters to finish first.

We are in sweater-knitting land around here. As I said before, I want to make Franz a sweater. My first thought was a nice dark green Silky Wool sweater with a little accent color in the (tubular) ribbing. As much as I like this, Franz

I thought about the Cambridge Jacket in Summer 2006 Interweave Knits. Zach had said he liked it and it's made with Cascade 220, completely non-objectionable, affordable, easy to use yarn. Franz agreed that it's a nice sweater design. Yup, I guess Ann Budd really does know what men will wear. Only she suggests knitting this sweater on US9s and getting 19.5 stitches/4 inches. Yuck. Zach swatched on US9s and got this gauge and the swatch was really floppy --- not at all what we wanted. So I reswatched in US8s and US7s until we were happy with the fabric. Both Zach and I get 22 stitches/4 inches on US7s and we all like the result. So there it is. With all the sizes calculated for the pattern, it wasn't hard for us to find which ones work with our gauge/desired fit. Alas, no K1P1 ribbing, no tubular casting.

A trip to two yarn stores got us the right colors. With over a hundred choices of colors in Cascade 220, Franz decided on Charcoal Grey. It's really a nice grey, and it's a traditional color he will wear, and that's what matters. Zach thought long and hard about using the bold orange as shown in the magazine; in the end he chose a heathered blue/green.

The cream colored swatch in the lower left is really greenish yellow --- some discontinued "mellow yellow" Rowan wool cotton I purchased from a destasher. The swatch is for Bonne Marie Burns's Ribby Cardi for me. I didn't get gauge, but I did get a fabric I liked, so I just have to adjust which pattern size to use. I think I have enough for the sweater, but I might want to get a contrasting color for the sleeves, just to make sure, and because a two color sweater will be fun.

The silky wool? Still destined for a tubular cast on , V-neck cardigan, but probably for me. Zach and I are in disagreement about the contrasting stripes in the ribbing though. I'll have to swatch.

Chicken post

Hey all.

Thanks for the comments on the chickens. They are beautiful, mostly heirloom breeds. Since Jamie hand-raised these girls, they are mostly well behaved -- as well behaved as a chicken can be, I suppose. The reason I was able to adopt them though, has some sad bits. Jamie had left them for the summer in the care of some folks who said they really wanted them. But, they didn't end up doing a bang up job. One big issue was that they purchased pullet food instead of layer food. Pullet food, for young chicks, just doesn't have enough calcium for laying birds, so they are all calcium deficient. I immediately switched their feed, but it was a bit late. Amelia got egg-bound, meaning that she tried to lay an egg, but with the weak shell it broke before it emerged, leading to a dangerous situation. We took her to the vet for a procedure to remove the bits of egg still inside and to get some medicine. She's now on antibiotics and all the birds are on calcium supplements.

When Amelia was at her weakest, the morning before the vet appointment, Annie hovered over her and acted protective. However, now that she's on the mend, but still slower than the other birds, Tasty is getting a little testy at her. They sure don't like to share. And I have to make sure Amelia gets the medicated food and not the others. Boy, they sure don't understand that and squawk big time, even if they also have a treat. Pecking order is not a myth. I hope that as Amelia improves to full health, she can tell Tasty where to go.

Teresa asked about the eggs. All the breeds produce different eggs. Annie and Tasty have yellow-whitish shells, regular chicken egg size. Lucy's egg is the same size, but a subtle shade of blue. Orpington has a large white egg, while Amelia's is large and brown. Not only is it helpful to have the difference so we know who is laying, it is important that we discard any eggs from Amelia while she's on medication.

Saturday, September 16

Saturday Sky

again, I really have been knitting! I want to share the knitting, but today all I have is sky. Late afternoon Saturday sky looking southeast off the deck.

Thursday, September 14

Meet the girls

Orpington is an Orpington:

Amelia, Speckled Sussex:

Lucy, Ameraucana:

Annie and Tasty, both Andalusians:

Tasty's full name is Tasty Bastard. So named because it wasn't apparent at first that she was a she. If she had not been a she, she would have been dinner. Roosters are not allowed in the city. I have a two year old neighbor though, so we'll have to modify her name a bit. All the other birds were named by Jamie, who built the coop and hand raised these pets.

I should really blog more about how much fun they are, learning to handfeed and pick them up, chasing Lucy down the street when she escaped from the yard, collecting eggs, our first meal with the eggs, how I didn't see Orpington in the coop and searched all the trees in a panic to figure out where she was roosting (but she was at home in the coop where she belonged) but I don't really know what to say. They are a hoot. They have personalities, they have brains and they also act just like chickens.

I will say this. I had to leave them in the run all day Sunday, their first day here, so they would get used to the place. They tolerated it, but the joy on Monday when I let them out! Free range does make a difference.

Knitting! There has been knitting! will show the knitting later.


Wednesday, September 13


Saturday, September 9

Saturday Sky with a joke

Why does the chicken coop have two doors?

Because if it had four it would be a chicken sedan!

Saturday morning washed out grey sky with (clockwise from lower left):
  • red, dead blueberry bush (never happy or productive, we finally succeeded in killing it by not watering all summer)
  • Overgrown Fig tree (figs kinda boring. We always know they are ripe when the starlings descend and fight over them)
  • apple tree (in neighbor's yard. apples wormy and unappealing)
  • random conifers in neighboring yards
  • Italian Prune Plum tree
  • chicken coop!
Coop, run and birds were brought over last night after dark. Quite an event, since the well-built, sturdy, heavy coop is 4 feet wide and our gate is only 3 feet wide. We adopted the chickens from Jamie who lovingly built the coop/run and hand raised the birds . She had left them at a former residence in a fun chicken environment, but the current residents weren't taking good enough care of them and the landlady was starting to complain. A chance conversation over dinner last week (see, this is what I get for inviting folks over for my birthday) and here we are.

Today the five gals have been taken to the Seattle Tilth Fair. Jamie is showing three of them (they are beauties) and will be there to explain urban chicken raising. Today Franz and I will level the run and coop better, clean it all up and add fresh bedding. All the things done better in daylight, not at 10:30 pm after all the hauling and returning of the Flexcar Truck.

Friday, September 8

Why I love my scale

The multi-directional scarf pattern says you can make a 4 inch wide scarf with 200yds, 6 inch wide one with 300 yards. I have 100g = 250yds of Mountain Colors Twizzle. Rough interpolation says I could make a 5 inch wide scarf. Of course all is dependent on gauge and density. And nowhere does the pattern say how long it will be.

edit: well I am redfaced. Kathleen pointed out my reading comprehension error. The directions refer to making a four or six FOOT long scarf, not four or six inch wide scarf. I am still off according to her calculations. I ought to have a 5 foot scarf, but will only have half that. Is my fabric really that dense?

Ball band says use US4-6 and I happened to have a US5 needle handy.

Set up part took 7 grams. Assume the end part takes the same amount. That leaves 86 grams for the short-row triangle parts. Triangle took 16 grams. Therefore I can make 4 more triangles before having to decrease for the last bit. That means my finished scarf will only be 30 inches long.

I could/should probably frog this and go up to a size US6 or even US7 needle, for something a bit more drapey, but I think the existing density is also fine. Even if I redo it with larger needles, I am still going to need another hank to make a decent sized scarf.

Thursday, September 7

One Warm Hat

My first finished Dulaan 2007 item.

Lamb's Pride Worsted, knit doubled on US8's. For this hat I cast on 68 stitches. the resulting hat is too small for me. If it were freezing and this was all I had, I'd wear it though. So I am thinking this is for ages 4-8.

In my goal of finishing UFOs and organizing the yarn, I frogged the Lamb's Pride that was supposed to be a Mason Dixon felted box and rewound all the Lamb's Pride tidily doubled, ready for more hats. I will try casting on 72 or 76 stitches next time.

Tuesday, September 5

Another birthday present

Franz finished the arbor!

The twistedness was designed to utilize the warpedness of the posts, which were installed about nine years ago. Not a bug, it became a feature.

New guests arriving soon

Can you believe that some folks have to pay for these?

Alas, I either
  1. murdered
  2. saved
  3. hastened the inevitable demise of
my last remaining Italian Prune Plum tree yesterday.

I suspect the third one. Who in their right mind puts weedcloth all the way up around a tree's trunk then piles on the woodchips? Actually, the tree is old, fruit trees don't age well, and it's being shaded out by some conifers planted by the neighbors --- too much mulch too close to the trunk is probably moot. Last year, the spring weather pattern was terrible for pollinators. We got nothing. This year however, the weather was better and there's a new beekeeper a block away. I'm not optimistic about the long term survival of this tree, but for now it's time to retrieve the food dehydrator from the garage. For the next week or so, the dryer will provide ambient noise and the house will smell slightly sweet, slightly fermented.

I did the yardwork, pruning the plum tree, removing the weedcloth and rearranging the woodchips in anticipation of some guests who arrive later this week. These gals will be here for several months at least, perhaps longer. I hope they are a good addition to the family. While they retire early --- no late night parties to annoy us, they do like to awaken around dawn. I hope they will be able to amuse themselves til a more reasonable hour.

On the plus side, they'll help with the gardening and will reduce our grocery bill.

Monday, September 4

music for my ears

I usually dislike being surprised. Over the years I have had many disappointments from thoughtless "surprises" and just don't trust folks. However, I do trust my two fellows.

Thus, when The Nerd asked for money and a ride, I didn't try to dig. He did offer a couple hints, like the fact it was a gift certificate. I just could not think what at University Village fit the clues. Heck, even if I had thought of the Apple store I am not sure it would have registered. But I am glad that I had forgotten about it.

Zach participated in one of his favorite end -of-summer activities, browsing for blackberries, on the walk home. (Erika, I don't know where you are finding the icky tasting ones, we always find delicious ones!) His shorts got some berry stains; so after he changed, I grabbed them to treat and wash. I realised there was something in a pocket, something papery --- obviously, the receipt for his purchase. Dilemma? Nah, unlike the me of the past, I didn't even think about it. Just reached in, grabbed the paper, wadded it into a ball and set it aside. Sure enough the next day he realised where the receipt ended up and was quite worried he'd spoiled the surprise. no fear --- and I was doubly glad I could honestly tell him I hadn't read it.

So now I have some iTunes cash. What to get? I think I will need Zach's help there also, since my musical knowledge is stuck in the 80's. Or possibly the 70's. Does iTunes have any Bill & Taffy?

Probably Irving*

Pure Indulgence. That's what an ipod is for me. While I do indulge myself within our budget, it's usually for things with some purpose, like 10 cubic yards of compost, the cashmere and silk yarns, the fancy olives, fair trade coffee, books. You get the idea, nice expensive things but the costs can be justified.

An ipod? well, I could listen to podcasts on my computer, but the chair is not comfortable for knitting. I'd been thinking of rearranging things for the winter so I could try some out; already knew which ones I wanted to start with**. I can listen to audiobooks in the living room, but because it is a bit inconvenient, I just don't. Plus, I'd love to be able to borrow audiobooks from the library, transfer them to an ipod (temporarily, only during the 3 weeks I have the CD's) so I can listen while I putter around, cleaning or such.

But I couldn't justify the cost for such frivolous reasons. That's why the gift was so cool.

Franz doesn't do such surprise presents very often, and that's just fine, it makes it even more of a treat, doesn't feel like a budget buster when he does.

Last time he pulled a big surprise was a few years ago for Valentine's day I received diamond earrings. (yes, he's a keeper)

After purchasing my birthday yarn, including the Silky Wool for Franz's sweater, I decided I had an embarrassing number of projects on needles --- must finish a few before starting a new one. Saturday, before my birthday dinner, I finished my blue sock and worked on my cashmere sweater. The sweater is not going to be finished anytime soon, US2's and 8 stitches per inch, but, whatever. I've also dug up a Dulaan 2007 hat I started in July and should finish that today. Then if I can get a few pattern repeats on Cozy (60% done) I will be able to start a new project with a clearer conscience. And there's no question which one it will be; time to go chase after Franz with a measuring tape.

* The Title? Last week on the ferry I saw this guy with a T-Shirt that looked like it said I'm probably Irving. Saw him later up closer and it really said I'm probably lying. Not nearly as provocative. While getting my new iPod configured, iTunes wanted to give it a name. It suggested Dorothy's iPod, but eww. Probably Irving it is. I even got my iPod his own gmail account. probablyirving at gmail dot com. how's that for random nerdiness. (then looking for knit ipod cozy ideas, I saw that Wendy named her iPod Irving. Pure coincidence, I'm probably not Wendy)

** Yo, Eliza! I know you subscribe to my blog, but I'm just one of many; don't know if you actually read me. If you do, Howdy.

goodbye, yellow striped bugs

you can't trap me in the guest room

good thing we have a guest room

Cuz last night we found 8 yellow jackets in our bedroom.

Sunday, September 3

A Surprise

I had a delightful birthday yesterday complete with a party, unusual for me. Nancy and family came for dinner. They brought me this yummy gift of Fig-Chocolate Cake and Fig-Port Vinaigrette. Nancy also made me a Lemon-Lavender Birthday cake, beautifully decorated with fresh lavender and a rose, but alas, no pictures. It was very good.

I made Greek Turkey Burgers from Rachel Ray: recipe from Chef Messy. They were a big hit, especially the red pepper-olive-parsley tapenade which was frighteningly easy. Dan made me take a photo of the burgers before serving them.

I didn't follow the recipe too closely, certainly didn't measure anything. And grilling seasoning? Whatever that is. Anyway, I used a generous bit of oregano and some smoked paprika which worked out well.

To understand what came next, you have to understand that we just don't do birthdays around here. Not much at least. Sure, The Nerd gets presents, but even he doesn't get that much. We just aren't into getting more stuff for the sake of stuff, and if we want something nice for ourselves, we plan for it and get it. We are frugal but not ascetic. We really don't give each other gifts that often, we are more likely to decide as a couple to purchase kayaks, go on a ski trip, that sort of thing. Last year my birthay was the fourth day of a five day family backpack and neither of my guys had remembered it. I was not surprised nor was I hurt, it's just the way it is. I had already treated myself to a fancy titanium camping mug for that trip, so all was well.

I knew something was up for this year, just didn't know what. Even The Nerd got into it. He asked for his back allowances and a ride to the shopping center. One clue was that he said he wouldn't need a bag for the walk home. Hmmm... probably a gift certificate. He also said his present would not be useful without Franz's present. Hmmmm? So what's at the shopping center? I had no idea. The best I could come up with was the Spa. Perhaps Zach's gift certificate would add onto a larger one from Franz? Not a bad idea (but Franz, if you ever do decide to go this route, I'd suggest the Olympus Spa in Lynnwood).

I had forgotten The University Village has an Apple Store.

Saturday, September 2

Birthday Sky

I noticed last Saturday that some folks from the East Coast were complaining about just having a boring sky to show, since it was grey and rainy. And here I am, ready for the grey to start! Anticipating much more interesting sky once Seattle moves into its rainy season sometime in the next 6 weeks or so. For now, all I have is boring blue blue blue. Except for the contrails and the occasional bald eagle (yes, some nest within a mile from here) this is all we see from about July 12th to Oct 1st, our summer.

Happy Birthday to me

Still thinking of Anna Bell's Pippa, but not psyched at the cost of all that Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino. The only non-baby color it comes in is dark blue. I have some 100% merino that is very similar in construction and gauge to the cashmerino, so I dyed enough for the sweater. (actually, not wanting to duplicate my running out of yarn problem with Cinxia, I dyed way more than enough!) Not sure I got the green dark enough or uniform enough for this sweater, but we'll see. I can always overdye the finished item.

Some birthday presents to myself. Weaving Works offers a 15% birthday discount, so I treated myself. These are Mountain Colors Twizzle (Merino- Silk and very soft). I am thinking scarves. Red one for red scarf project, blue one for me.

I also got some dark green Silky Wool to make a sweater for Franz, and some grey Zephyr to make Mountain Peaks for myself.

See a pattern? :)

Friday, September 1

On Education

I usually learn something from To The Point, a radio program on National Public Radio. Not Yesterday. Yesterday they discussed Homeschooling. One guest, the Rah-Rah Homeschooling, was a guy from the Home School Legal Defense Association and the other, taking a more cautious approach that homeschooling needs more regulation, a Poli-Sci & Ethics professor from Stanford University.

Both guests misused statistics to spin their cases, but sadly, that's par for the course on any discussion. The HSLDA guy lost me when he said that Creationism and Evolution were equally valid and equally unprovable theories. The Stanford guy lost me when, in an example of how homeschoolers need more testing, he suggested that parents administer AP tests to their kids. Honestly, couldn't Warren Olney and Co. have gotten folks more informed? I have heard thought-provoking, comprehensive discussions of homeschooling, but this wasn't one.

And yes, the sad case of the mentally ill woman drowning her kids did come up --- even after the professor declared he wanted peer-reviewed research and not anecdotes. Hello, Mr Ethics Professor, what's your point? As if homeschooling had anything to do with that tragedy. As if parents who send their kids to school never murder their children. As if those kids were even of school age. Only one or perhaps two of the Yates kids would have even been in school*, would the small respite school would have provided have helped her mental illness? Would school have noticed anything wrong and alerted authorities? How many parents murder their children even after state intervention?

We homeschool part-time because life is too short to spend that many hours in a large bureaucratic institution. Because in six years of public school, Zach had three teachers who ought to have been shown the door, one whose good qualities just maybe balanced her weaknesses and two who were competent. Because while Zach's middle school's goal is to create lifelong learners**, in reality, being a lifelong learner means taking more responsibility for your own education, learning how to pursue your passions, not performing in 50 minute increments on other people's curriculum decisions. Because I don't need to create a lifelong learner, but I do need to nurture the one I have.

For us, it's probably just a short term thing, just for the middle school years***. We'll see. We'll decide what Zach needs for high school when the time comes. Til then, we'll be busy. Last year we learned to knit and dye yarn. This year? Drop-Spindle classes? I have insisted to husband and son that I do not want to learn to spin. But maybe just one drop-spindle class would be fun.

* One thing that really ticks me off is a parent of a three year old saying that they are homeschooling their child. I don't care if you are discussing MacBeth and Fourier Transforms with the little darling. If your child is not old enough to be in regular compulsory education, then you are not homeschooling. You are Parenting. This irks me off sooo much I have thought a lot about why I have the reaction. First, it's a superior attitude that shows lack of respect for parenting. Good parents are attuned to their child and strive to meet their needs. Distancing yourself from other parents by calling anything "academic" you do with a three year old homeschooling is insulting. Second, a big part of parenting is being flexible, meeting your child's individual needs without prejudice. It's hubris for a preschooler's parent to insist that they are or will be homeschoolers no matter what. You just can't know what will be best for your family two or five years down the road.

**And the welcoming letter last year referred to "lifelong-learners". Zach took one look at the letter and pointed out the misplaced hyphen and a handful of other mistakes.

***And Yay! I got the required signature, spent 10 minutes in the enrollment office and we are set to go.