"I think the world, especially now, needs as many good and pure voices as possible, because it's not difficult to spread fear and hate." -Aurora

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We have several blackthorn trees planted in the median between the neighbor's driveway and ours, against a fence.

Being in the prunus genus, it has the same faint musk of spring-flowering stone fruits. It's not my favorite scent, especially up close, but on the air it has a hint of sweetness. These are blooming in late February.

There is a white-flowered form with yellow anthers, a pink-flowered form with burgundy anthers and leaves, and a cream-colored form with burgundy leaves. They are beautiful when in bloom and in leaf, the pink one especially. I love looking at them and wish they kept their flowers longer.

The fruit ("sloe", as in sloe-eyed and sloe gin) can be used to make jam, wine, and flavored liqueur, and the juice makes a pale silvery-purple dye. It has many medicinal uses. 

Blackthorn by Linda Hessel

Blackthorn by Linda Hessel

Blackthorn by Linda Hessel

Blackthorn by Linda Hessel

Blackthorn by Linda Hessel

Blackthorn by Linda Hessel


To have compassion means to have passion for all things, not just between two people, but for all human beings, for all things of the earth, the animals, the trees, everything the earth contains. When we have such compassion we will not despoil the earth as we are doing now, and we will have no wars.
(attributed to Krishnamurti)
It occurs to me that life would be very different if at every moment, at every chance to act, we asked, "Is this love? Is this?"

What would it be like to go a whole day asking myself that question? If we rule out those things that aren't love, there seems to be so very little left to do. And yet what was left would all be what should be.

Homeschool... sort of?

Having just spent six weeks in a school environment, W wanted to see what it would look like to put a schoolish framework around her life today. This is what we came up with. Basically, the sorts of things we do already, but categorizing and structuring it.

1. intention
"My intention for the day is for it to go well."

2. thoughts/questions/planning (Where is your mind this morning?)
"What is the weather at the beach?"
Answer from Google: Partly cloudy today, sunny tomorrow.
"Can we go to the beach tomorrow?"

3. current events/social studies
We watched this and talked about it:

We read this article about a boy who went to church to ask to be adopted. In the article was a reference to The Heart Gallery, so we looked that up. We talked about whether we could adopt or foster a child and read about it here.

We watched this interview with Malala Yousafzai and talked about terrorism, education, and human rights:

4. snack

5. math
Reviewed basic arithmetic at Khan Academy.

6. spelling
Word list:

general, social, then, snack, recess, spelling, literature, study, studies, weather, beach, tomorrow, women, adopt

7. physical activity
Stretched, ran around outside.

8. lunch 
At the co-op.


9. science

W found a rock from our garden, and identified it as basalt using The Rock Key. 

8. music
We listened to Rachmaninoff's The Sea and the Seagulls, written in 1911.

W's comments: "Quiet in the beginning, sad, could have been a soundtrack or from a silent movie. It made me think of birds and the sea and the wind and Alison in Wonderland."

9. physical activity 
Ran around the block.

10. literacy and stories
The Boy Who Ate Around (you can see the whole book at

11. art


J attended his second session (second year) of Not Back to School Camp last week. The first time he said it was "the best experience of my life". This year he said it was even better. He came back initially quiet, processing, but then wanting to talk about everything. He is almost manic in his excitement about the possibilities for his life. He is focused. And while he is always thoughtful, the thoughtfulness is pouring out of him right now.

Last night I stayed up way past my bedtime to talk with him (and N was included in some of this) about:

-Being a good guest in someone's home, what that entails; not taking for granted that things are done a certain way, not making assumptions; always asking to be sure. Also how to be a good host: be honest about your needs and expectations, don't assume the guest knows how you want things done.

-The power of making one's own place in the world; of autonomy in decision-making and the actual doing. Of how our culture's social and economic systems are set up to in some ways oppose that and keep it from happening.

 -What he would like his personal living space to be like. The materials and design for individualized functionality and how they create security and comfort (not to mention being practical.)

 -Working out how to make the money he needs to do what he wants in the coming year. What's possible. Getting employment, making money, saving money, volunteering for experience.

-The deeply logical process of some video games; learning logic through gaming. The value of video game "zoning out" -- frees up the mind to wander and think -- alpha brain waves.

That's the more heady stuff. We also talked about who his favorite people were at camp and why; his favorite parts of camp; and how the running of the camp is structured and what role the campers play in that. He joked around and did some funny voices and worked for a while on trying to imitate N's voice (he is really good at voices.) He played piano and talked about his personal process of learning to play, how that works. We watched some cleverly funny YouTube videos with N. He did exercises to strengthen his legs (while talking.) Finally I had to excuse myself to go to sleep but I have no doubt that if I'd stayed we would have ended up talking into the wee hours of the morning!