The smell of garlic and butter and tomatoes roasting wafting through an open window, alternating with the perfume of honeysuckle, to me where I float in a warm bath and doze and dream of the Italian countryside, catching glimpses behind a gauzy white curtain of fluffy clouds floating in a blue sky, the air is illuminated with gold by a late afternoon sun.
From Mask of the Sun: The Science, History, and Forgotten Lore of Eclipses:
Not until nine o'clock had the sky noticeably darkened. By then, faces had taken on strange appearances. Dark yellowish-green circles appeared around eyes. Lips had turned dark purple in color. Only a thin crescent of sunlight was left. There were only minutes to go before the total solar eclipse would happen. Then, without warning, bands of light and dark started to shimmer over the crowds, looking, as one onlooker said, like a great ribbed shadow fence was passing over the ground. That lasted almost two minutes. Immediately after, some would remember feeling a brief gust of wind. everyone sensed an increasing coldness. The sky darkened more. The sun itself was now a sliver. Only hushed voices could be heard. Then, as the last ray of sunlight disappeared and darkness came over everyone, the silence was complete. Many would later say it was the quietest moment in the city's history. No one spoke. Not a vehicle moved. 
As soon as totality came, those in the gondola began their work. The scientists and their Navy assistants operated cameras. Someone called out the seconds to keep track of how much time had passed. The corona-sketchers began to sketch. Commander Klein, looking outside, would remember the scene succinctly as "a most spectacular sight." The sky overhead was a blue-black. All around, miles away at the horizon, beyond the limits of the shadow, was a flood of merging orange and red light. 


"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