Thursday, May 29, 2014

having a field day!

We had Show & Tell for the spring quarter of classes with our homeschool coop this week, bringing to a close our weekly meetings 'till the fall.  It was such a great day! The kids all had a chance to talk about what they had spent the last 10 weeks working on: learning about plants, leatherworking, origami, Shakespeare, geography, photography, the alphabet, soccer...just to name a few.

After a summery potluck - watermelon! potato salad! deviled eggs! - we had a field day!  Sack races, three-legged relays, waterballoon tosses and an amazing slip-and-slide one of the dads created and then manned for a good hour and a half of hilarious action.


Ah, yes, and icecream in a bag. A brilliant idea.  Yes, it worked and yes, it was delicious.

Monday, May 26, 2014

spring ephemerals and is it still spring?

Ephemer-who? From the Greek ephemeros, it means lasting only one day.  These flowers are fleeting, blooming quickly and then dying back once the canopy of leaves blocks out most of their sunlight.  They are beautiful and maybe because they are so short-lived, coming across one in the forest is like finding true treasure.

This year I was set on not missing one of my favorites, Bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis).  The beautiful lobed leaves are visible for much longer, but the flowers are truly ephemeral, and in the past I have missed them by days.

My friends know my love of these flowers, so one day I got an email and a phone call: "Girl, get out in the woods! BLOODROOT IS BLOOMING! Love you!" So Ani and I did.

On a walk last year with a local herbalist and naturalist, we had a good look at the rhizome of the Bloodroot, and it is a deep, beautiful red that will dye your skin and was used as a dye for baskets by Native Americans.

The photo below is not a good one of the flower, but it does show the way the single leaf will wrap itself around the single bloom.

Of course the Bloodroot isn't the only spring ephemeral, just the most elusive (for me!).

cutleaf toothwort
spring beauties

trout lily

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We have a large calendar hanging in our kitchen.  Actually, we have three calendars in our kitchen, and one more mounted on the biggest clipboard you've ever seen.  I am obsessive about planning and mapping, and it helps me so much to be able to move life around with my hands, some post-it notes and a pencil.  (I proudly showed Dan one of my calendars, plotted out with rulers and post-its exclaiming "Yellowstone!" and "Seattle!" He was not so impressed; he keeps track of all of this in one place, the Google calendar, and while I really really try to comply, I just cannot leave it at that.  Not enough fiddling and coloring-in with colored pencils.)

Anyway, all this to say - our summer, Our Summer has really begun. The first large block of time staked out on the calendar, followed so closely by last day of learning coop, first day of Summer Dance Classes, and two rapid-fire camping trips, is a training Dan is participating in, in upstate New York.  For a month.   He trained with SITI company a year and a half ago while doing research for his dissertation.  What I've been remembering about that fall is the chicken pox, but I just went to look at what I wrote about during that time, and it was full of beauty and life!   He and I drove to Columbus this weekend to put him on the plane.

Summer has begun, and we're going to be fine...

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Monday, May 19, 2014


Ani got two birthdays this year: camping birthday and home birthday. Wahooo! Camp birthday was all about the campfire, s'mores, Sheboygan brats, and spelunking.  Home birthday consisted of what has become the traditional birthday breakfast of Dutch Baby, blueberries and bacon, and a family potluck with friends. It all sounds pretty good, doesn't it?!

singing to the blueberries as they are arranged about the plate
Then of course there is cake.  Vegan chocolate with cream cheese frosting (yeah, that's kind of how we just tastes good!), colored with beets.  Aaaaand more beets in the birthday borscht.  And a request for asparagus and an email that read: Dear Tokarz...please bring scalloped potatoes, if you would like to...Fortunately, she did like to.

Buddies and a new dress...

Um, a telephone...and a little brown book full of numbers you're gonna wish you had.

I think her first call was to Ron Weasley, but it might have been Jane Penderwick, I'm not certain.


And then the party got weird.  There was group Sudoku, then Colorku, and then the party glasses came out...

Always a surprise, these potlucks, always a surprise...Happy Birthday again, Ani!!

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Camping, Caves, Geodes and a Birthday!

We've had the first camping trip of the year! (I almost said "summer", but I'm not ready to let go of the springtime quite yet, 80-degree weather be damned.) We drove through Kentucky, stopping first at my aunt and uncle's beautiful spot in the country, where Ani and Dan slept on the ground in the orchard for most of the night, serenaded by the loudest frogs I've ever heard.

I have no photos of our hosts from this trip, save for a long-shot of Ani and Dave walking their awesome and camera-shy lurcher, Rio, one morning.

Oh, and this photo of Dave and his new girlfriend, Lucy, who has claimed him as her own. Really. We watched one morning as she flew alongside his truck as he drove to a neighboring farm.

Anyway, it was a welcoming and nourishing (burgers, apple strudel, baked french toast - Monica is a wonderful cook!) start to our trip! We continued on to Mammoth Cave, to meet Morfar and Grandma Liz.  It was great camping under the tulip poplars, listening to the owls all night; even the night of rain was beautiful to listen to.

fancy camping toaster

Ani was quite proud of her Wisconsin Cheese
the ferry across the Green River

What 9-yr-old wants rocks for her birthday?  Yes, this one. Rocks, minerals, geodes and a rock hammer to wack at them all with...

On the eve of her birthday, Ani, my dad and Dan and I went on a lantern tour in the cave.  It was great - the ambience, the stories, the history.  Apparently part of the cave was used as a TB sanitorium for a year.  This experimental treatment - cold and wet - was not successful.

candle smoke graffiti
 Eliza came down with a stomach bug during the trip and stayed in the tent for a good 24 hours, wrapped in her sleeping bag and listening to a story.  Sadly, it meant that she was not up for the "trog tour" Saturday morning, a tour that is meant for kids only.  I was wondering if Ani would feel like doing it without her, and hoping that she would.  She couldn't think of a better way to spend her birthday morning!  It amazes me how much she has matured this year, how confident and independant she is.

suiting up for the tour: knee pads, coveralls, helmet

So happy. So proud.  So nine.

With one sick girl and thunderstorms passing through, we took a couple non-rainy hours on Saturday to pack up, had a birthday lunch with Morfar and Grandma Liz, and drove home.  A rainbow greeted us in Ohio...seems like an auspicious sign for a new year!