Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Friday, December 04, 2009

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Does children's free play matter?

Why is this even a controversial issue? Here's a link to an article on the topic that should be read by every parent, every grandparent, every educator, everyone who loves children....

I just returned from a four-day visit with a family which includes a twenty-month-old child. Even at that early age, it is so clear that free play and unrestricted (i.e., unprogrammed) access to interaction with the people around him is all-important (not to mention delightful to observe or be a part of.) The learning in such play is not something easily measured, especially at that age, but it is so absorbing and satisfying to the child that we must not discount its value! Later on, this toddler version of free play will expand to include the imaginative play described in the article linked above.

Sunday, November 22, 2009


Math Final for my class half made up ...check

Water siphoned out of broken dishwasher ...check

Evil (and dirty) filter removed from heat pump intake ...check

Mushy avocado finished off ...check

Car cleaned out ...check

Clothes washed ...check

Futon taken off bed and put in spare room ...check

Airbed installed in bedroom ...check

Ice packs ready for tonight ...check

Recycling removed from porch ....hmm....

Lesson plan for class tomorrow ready ...sort of

Dining room table piled high with STUFF ...check

Oh, well.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Saturday, October 24, 2009


Today's topic at the Math Club meeting was "Building with Zome Tools", an idea of Dr. Harold Reiter, our illustrious founder. I have to admit I was a little skeptical of how this would work out, but it was wild and crazy and noisy and lots of fun for the students! Here's a photo* of the final product, a dodecahedron using "meta-balls" for the vertices:

It's interesting how there are such clear curves here -- there are NO curved pieces used in the construction! Even the connectors, little white "balls", have no curved edges.

Here's another view:

Minutes after these photos were taken, the dismantling of a couple hours' work began to be dismantled.

The students, making this creation, were as focused as I've ever seen them. It took the 32 or so students about 1.5-2 hours to make 16 of the meta-balls, and connect them together to make the dodecahedron. Teamwork, curiosity, determination, and playfulness were all plentiful! And they had energy enough left after the dismantling process to focus on another activity, a math relay from a past year's Duke Math Meet. Amazing.

The other really great thing that happened at this meeting was that the parents pitched in to help like more than I've ever seen them do. All in all, it was an inspiring morning, and gave me renewed enthusiasm for the Club.

*The photos are from my cell phone... Unfortunately, the battery for my real camera was at home, still in its charger. Clearly, I need to take pictures more often!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Fighting Hunger and Poverty!

On Sunday, October 25, I will be walking in the Eastern York County Crop Hunger Walk. I support the Crop Walk particularly because 25% of the funds collected locally stay in the local community. In Rock Hill, clients of Pilgrim's Inn and other local agencies benefit from Crop Walk funds. Pilgrim's Inn is a local, grassroots organization that has developed programs to help women in crisis, assisting them in getting their lives on track as well as helping them through the crisis at hand with food, housing, counseling, and job training. Pilgrim's Inn is in the process of implementing the Rapid Rehousing program in Rock Hill, which is an innovative new program to help women to get into apartments and jobs without a lengthy stay in the emergency shelter.

Another portion of the funds are used worldwide in refugee resettlement and other programs working to alleviate hunger and poverty. One of the more attractive things about this organization is that they are a coalition of people of various faiths working together, regardless of differences in theology and so forth.

Please consider helping out financially, but if that is not something you are able to do at this time, please pray for the success of this year's Walk.

Monday, October 12, 2009

reviews of various things....

Just a quick list of reviews, w/ links:

Capitalism, A Love Story -- I saw this last Friday night with a good friend, and we both thought it was great! I highly recommend it. It made me think about things differently... plus parts of it were highly amusing. I came home and put some of Michael Moore's other flicks on my Netflix list. My friend recommends especially his non-documentary, Canadian Bacon.

This video, which James D. shared today on FB, is short but very cute -- and reminds us to take the stairs...

Still reading Double Crossed: Uncovering the Catholic Church's Betrayal of American Nuns, by Kenneth Briggs, which I highly recommend to anyone who is interested in recent Church history, social justice (inside the Catholic Church as well as in the wider American culture), women's issues, etc....

While searching for articles about Double Crossed, I found this article by Luke Timothy Johnson, whom I heard at the Kennedy Lecture at Charlotte's St. Peter's Catholic Church a few years ago. I haven't read the article yet but hope to go back to it soon and read the whole thing.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Books are our Friends!

The public library is one of my favorite places to be. I have often thought, Maybe they would let me just move a cot in here and spend the night once in awhile... A happy thought... I suppose it comes from my early training with books -- I can still hear my mother saying, "Be good to your books -- books are our friends!"

At least twice and sometimes three times a week, I find myself in a library, due to my work, and sometimes I have an extra few minutes. As I browse the library shelves, the books seem to jump into my hands and shout, "Read me! Read me!" I have little resistance to such demands, regardless of how limited my reading time will be and how slowly I read. So I end up with a smorgasbord of books and books on CD (now that there's a CD player in my car!) and music CD's, and sometimes a movie or two as well. Even magazines once in awhile!

So... life is really full right now, and I'm working on facing up to the fact that I won't get to read all these library books before they are due, even with many renewals. So a pile is going back today, but first I wanted to list them here to share and perhaps stimulate some discussion... What are you reading? What are you having to take back unread? What happens when you go to the library?

Well, in case anyone's interested, here is the stack --

  • The Power of Less, by Leo Barbauta. Full of good ideas on how to de-clutter one's work-life and life in general. I browsed through it a couple times but don't have time/energy right now to work my way through it. (Flipping through the book as I write this, I find I am currently working against his rule about single-tasking: When you work on a task, don't switch to other tasks. I was writing a Module test for my Math 150 class before I started this blog post.)
  • Archimedes' Bathtub/The Art and Logic of Breakthrough Thinking, by David Perkins. Fascinating. I got part way through it, and will put it on my short list of books to get again. It's one of those books that draws from all over history and other disciplines, which is particularly interesting to me.
  • Euclid in the Rainforest/Discovering Universal Truth in Logic and Math, by Joseph Mazur. It's the story of the author's travels (through the rainforest and perhaps other travels, I don't know yet) intertwined with math and logic problems he encountered along the way. I'm part way into this, and finding it pretty interesting. But it's also frustrating as there are math errors peppered through it (I think not on purpose.)
  • The Myth of Ability/Nurturing Mathematical Talent in Every Child, by John Mighton. I have read this before, and picked it up again to get ideas for teaching my Math 150 course. (Didn't have time to do much with it, and we've moved beyond the scope of the book now.) It is a great book, though -- I highly recommend it. It tells the story of the JUMP math program, which would be a wonderful tutoring program to implement in every school system throughout the country.
  • Childhood Unbound/Saving Our Kids' Best Selves -- Confident Parenting in a World of Change, by Ron Taffel, Ph.D. So far enlightening, but it may go back soon due only to lack of reading time...) I'm continuing the effort to understand the challenges faced by parents today that are different from the ones my generation of parents faced. Also, trying to see if there are any sane voices out there writing for today's parents. So far, I think so. One of his ideas that stands out in my mind:
    Almost the same way one would think about sexuality and substance use, delaying kids' absolute access to screen time is essential. (author's emphasis.)
  • Tear Down This Myth, by Will Bunch. A book about politics. Picked it up recently and haven't started it yet, so will keep it for a little while.
  • Double Crossed/Uncovering the Catholic Church's Betrayal of American Nuns, by Kenneth Briggs. This one I am going to try to finish, as it is fascinating and instructive in many ways beyond the topic at hand. I was taught by nuns for my first nine years of school, and have had lots of other contact with them through the years. Almost all of that was a positive experience. When I was a child, I thought (like many Catholic girls of the time) that I might be a nun when I grew up. Sometimes I still think about it, so reading this book is helping me to think more realistically about it.
  • The Creative Family : how to encourage imagination and nurture family connections, by Amanda Blake Soule. I picked this up to share with a babysitting client, who is delighted with it. It has a wide range of projects, crafts, and other activities for families to do together, presented in a very do-able way.
Books on CD --
  • Every mother is a daughter/the neverending quest for success, inner peace, and a really clean kitchen (recipes and knitting patterns included), by Perri Klass. I might finish this one, but listening to recipes on CD is not cool. (I can't imagine listening to knitting instructions - haven't gotten to those yet!) On the other hand, fast-forwarding through the recipes is helping me get through it faster. Hmmm... why am I continuing to listen to a book when "getting through it faster" is looking attractive? It's going back.
  • Mrs. Pollifax, innocent tourist, by Dorothy Gilman. Never read it, love to listen to these books... it's a keeper for awhile.
  • Holiday on Ice, by David Sedaris. Haven't been able to make myself listen to this -- I have an aversion to doing anything Christmas other than in December and January, so it's going back. (I didn't know it was Christmas stuff when I picked it up - was in a hurry.)
Music CD's:
  • Several by George Winston and other Windham Hill artists -- wonderful music anytime (except in the car.)
  • John Fahey, Peter Lang, Leo Kottke. Guitar music; I’ve had it before and loved it…and still love it.
  • Linus & Lucy, Music of Vince Guaraldi. Happy happy music!!
  • Tales from the acoustic planet, by Bela Fleck Haven't listened to it yet, but I like acoustic music...we'll see!
  • Saturday's rhapsody, by Jim Chappell. Good listening while making up math tests and lesson plans.
  • Music for airports, by Brian Eno. Interesting. Comforting, somehow.
  • Also CD’s of Gordon Lightfoot, Norah Jones, and Gershwin.
And one movie:
  • Neverwas. Watched it last night; it had it's shining moments. Ian McKellan was great, and the sets & props were wonderful, magical. Despite what you might read about it, however, it isn't a movie for children.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

xkcd rocks!

After a several-week drought from reading xkcd, I find that some of the recent comics have been very relevant to my life -- that is, I have found some of these things happening to me at times... notably:

I've been doing this with various TV series (I'm gradually Netflixing some of the better ones from a long time ago...)

I have had this sort of thing happen when in a group...

Plus, I saw this gem last time I checked in. (It hasn't happened to me but I just like it.)

Monday, July 06, 2009

getting rid of STUFF

I spent a lot of time yesterday sorting through books (and other things, but mostly books) trying to make myself unload a lot of them. I'd hoped to be able to post a list of the books here in case any of my readers want any of them, but so far that hasn't come together. It probably won't, I guess, since the boxes of books are out in the car already... but I am not getting rid of any family heirlooms or anything irreplaceable. Don't worry.

If there is anything in particular that you are looking for, ask me. I'm in a giving-stuff-away mood! Remember that any urgent requests need to be phoned in -- I still don't have internet at home so access is sporadic! (Like, tomorrow [Tuesday] I don't think I will be able to get online at all. Wednesday afternoon, maybe.) But, good news: Friday I am getting internet at home again!

Thursday, July 02, 2009

June in review

So, it's been awhile since I posted... a lot has been going on. There was
  • a graduation in Virginia (fun!)
  • a car wreck (not so fun) (don't worry, I'm okay, it was just the car that was totalled)
  • a trip to Chicago (mostly happy and very busy)
  • first and second Rock Hill students (both at Winthrop, about .5 mi. from my condo)
  • and a new [to me] car at the tail end of the month (sigh of relief, mostly).
And in between, babysitting, tutoring, and once again stretching myself a little *thin. (*Figuratively speaking only...)

People ask me how the sitting is going. Here is my take on it: they are a lot easier to manage when they are someone else's kids. Also, this: raising/caring for children is just like doing math...it takes a lot of persistence, creativity and patience; there are a lot of things you have to do over and over again; people don't understand why you like to keep doing it so long; and it helps if you get a good night's sleep once in awhile.

Thank you to all of you who gave me the support I needed in so many ways to get through June, as well as the prior year. I couldn't have made it without you.

Sunday, June 07, 2009

English Dogwood and paperback swapping...

Judy tells me it's an English Dogwood.

I spotted this last night on her street, here in Rock Hill. I was astonished to see what was apparently a dogwood in bloom here in June!

On Facebook this afternoon I spotted a link that might interest the book readers among you who are trying not to accumulate piles of books. It comes highly recommended. Paperback swap....

Monday, May 25, 2009

Weather: the drought-reducing type...

Click on the title above for the current 10-day forecast in Rock Hill, and note that the next day we are predicted to have less than a 50% chance of rain is Friday, May 29! We have already been having rain since at least Saturday and it may have started on Friday -- I can't remember now... Our default weather mode these days seems to be rain. NOT that I'm complaining!! It is so green and lush here now! I was going to post a photo of how green it is here, but didn't get one taken yet. Maybe tomorrow or whenever I get online next....

In the meantime, here is some photos of another lush place I have been to lately: Houston's bay area.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Guest blogging by willowlaughter

Hi all! I'm doing a small guest-blogging spot for my mom, lidarose. As I'm not much for writing, I'll be showing two photos from last Christmas in California with lidarose, my husband J, my sister samadhiseeker, my brother, my sister-in-law, my grandmother, and various other sundry relatives. In any case, here are the photos:

Our family tradition of tossing the gift bows/ribbon onto the Christmas tree continues...

On the road to Loma Linda - look! There's snow in Southern California!!!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

spending time in the library

It has been pointed out to me that I have been absent from the blog-world for awhile. I'm here, just not getting online much, and when I do I have work to do, and am not taking time to play. Mostly I'm at the library, but sometimes at Earthfare or Panera Bread or some other free WiFi place. Work is still slow -- one or two students every day, sometimes more or fewer, and a couple of child-sitting jobs every week. No temp work yet, but I never give up hope. Work on the garden at Pilgrims Inn in Rock Hill is progressing very slowly.... Visits to Houston and CA (weekend before last) were both very good, and last weekend's Math Club picnic passed wetly (the third thunderstorm of the morning flooded the picnic shelter but it was time for the picnic to be over anyway at that point) but I think all-in-all, a success.

I'll have photos of all the above available online when I remember to connect my camera with the laptop!

Sunday, April 05, 2009


I just uploaded some photos of spring at the Oratory to my Google photos...

Here's a link!

Let me know if it doesn't work, please!

Monday, March 09, 2009


I'm back in Rock Hill (well, Charlotte at the moment) and will not have internet for awhile until I have more work. Just letting my readership know, in case you want to contact me...use snail mail or cellphone; my chances to get online will be sporadic.

More about the trip soon, when I have some time to write.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

The journey continues...

We made it to Clarksville, AR tonight, but I'm worn out. Hopefully tonight I can get more sleep than last night.
We had a really interesting day. The highlight of the day was a visit to the Oklahoma City National Memorial. I had never been there before, and neither had Carrie. It was a moving experience just to be there and walk around the grounds.

We also made it to Okemah to see the water towers.

Too tired to write more, or even post pictures (hence the links!)

Tomorrow: Tennessee!!

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Writing from Amarillo

I'm in a hotel room in Amarillo... so far the trip is going well! I have about 150 photos that I want to post, but that isn't going to happen. But here's one that I liked today:

We saw some petroglyphs, but didn't have time to see many... there are hiking trails that take a long time and I imagine there is much more to see than the little bit we saw. Here's one example, with a couple of petroglyphs (on right and left):

We are already on Central time -- I will lose four hours this week: one extra on account of stupid Daylight Savings Time. But that means I ought to get to bed -- I'm going to turn over a new leaf tomorrow a.m. and get up early enough to leave when I said we would!

Day one of trip...

This will have to be a retroactive post, as I didn't get around to writing any yesterday. We had a great first day, and saw some things that were new to both of us. We decided to take a detour on a section of [the former] Route 66 between Topock and Kingman. We stopped at Needles, CA, before the detour, and I talked with a nice ranger who told us some about it and about Needles, too, for that matter. [Doesn't Needles ring a bell? It's the home of Spike, Snoopy's brother! The ranger said Schulz placed him in Needles because that's where he himself spent at least part of his youth. He said there are two theories about why Spike is often seen with a saguaro cactus, even though there aren't any in Needles: either Schulz traveled to the Whipple Mountains about 60 miles south of Needles and saw some there -- it is one of only three places they occur in CA ones in California! -- or he just used them because that's how people everywhere think of American deserts.]

The view from Needles -- I took this one to remember that I was in Needles and to show how green the desert was as we went through. It's the Mojave Desert and it was very green everywhere we went in it. I was so surprised! (The second photo was nearby, and it shows the green even better. Even the mountains were green!)

Anyhow, the detour was really interesting, and almost too exciting in places -- the road is narrow, and on the high pass over the mountains there are very sharp turns. As the Needles ranger told me, it's a safe road if you obey the posted speed limits! Before the pass, the road goes through Oatman, and old gold mining town. There are burros wandering all over town, lots of them, and people are allowed (even encouraged, it seemed to me) to feed them! The town was crawling with tourists. here are a couple of photos:

This place, in Oatman, had lots of wind chimes. Carie thought the number and size of the visitors' motorcycles was impressive, also!

Friday, February 27, 2009

Breastfeeding in public - Facebook discussion

This article was linked to by a friend on Facebook... it's an interesting analysis of an issue that's been around for awhile.

I can remember back when my children were small, one of the more popular movie theaters in Charlotte asked a nursing mom to leave the theater when she was nursing her baby during a movie there, on grounds that she was offending other patrons. (She was nursing discreetly.) Local nursing moms staged a peaceful protest and convinced the theater to change their policy.

Now the same issue sparks controversy on Facebook... It's a little disheartening that in 25 years or so, we are still fighting this battle, but I have every hope that this younger generation will be able to make progress on this issue.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Missing blog, missing blogging....

Hey, everybody! It's been so long I'm afraid my blog is going to disappear into the ether if I don't write something, quick!

I am in Denver, visiting for a couple days with an old friend from Charlotte. It's been a good visit, though too short.

Denver sure is a beautiful place. There is a large park near here with two lakes in it, so we've had some good walks. Also they have a great independent bookstore here: Tattered Cover. A beautifully laid-out store with congenial employees. Lots of places to sit and read with great views of the mountains.

I miss the olden days of being able to post a photo once in awhile, linking to interesting stuff that I found whiling away an hour or two exploring the web... Can't remember the last time I just websurfed for fun for awhile. It may be some time before I can do that again: I'm headed back home soon, but I won't have web access there (except at the library) until I can afford it again, and that could be awhile.

Hm, good movies I've seen lately, & good books:
Martian Child (I do love a good John Cusack movie once in awhile)
Syrian Bride (very intriguing and thought provoking + excellent acting)
I've seen some other movies lately but I can't remember them all. Still working my way through Numbers, Lost, etc.

***I forgot Crazy People, which I watched with Joseph a few nights ago. As he pointed out, I slept through some of it, but I still enjoyed it very much! (the sleeping was not because of anything in the movie -- I was just exhausted!) It is vulgar in places, so be warned -- but it was so funny! A great spoof about the lack of truth in advertising, as well as an affirmation of the worth of people whom our society has deemed worthless due to mental difficulties, etc.***

The Opposite of Fate, by Amy Tan (memoir/essays, very very good!)
Griffin & Sabine (beautifully drawn)
the first book of Frazz comics :-) :-) :-) :-)
Unbowed, by Wangari Maathai (I'm in the middle of this, but it is wonderful, such a beautiful voice....)
Simplicity, by Richard Rohr (This is the first Richard Rohr book for me, but it won't be the last! It's great. I'm still in the middle of it.)

Oh, well. I'd better go to bed. More posts soon, I hope -- maybe on the upcoming road trip!