Thursday, January 18, 2018

Ice in the Air

The weather is due to turn this weekend, to be more like February, but for now it is a chilly five degrees.   The furnace is hardly warming the house before it comes on again.  Someone once mentioned to me that we have a lot of fluctuations in our weather.  It would seem so.  We can have snow in May and warm days in January.  But yesterday, yesterday it was snow and rime ice.

After our lessons, I drove us up to the Snail Place, just to look.  It was around 15° F then, with a little breeze.  The branches were like lace, just the way I love for them to look.  It is hard to remember the steamy green of Summer on days like these.

The sun was hitting the trees and sending the rime ice down like snow. You can see it here on the ground, with my ever-present wool shoes.  It was squeaky and powdery, both the ice and snow, not the soggy kind that makes a person wet and cold quickly. 

Today, after lunch, we'll bundle up and head to Raccoon Branch to see what accumulated in the woods.  Schools are still closed today, probably because of the cold and the slight melting that happened yesterday.  Here, of course, we keep on going and we have recess in the snow.  I prefer to take Sun Days, when the Spring weather is simply too lovely to be stuck indoors and the children are giddy with excitement. 

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Crafting On Along

Still knitting at a feverish pace, or at least a decent one.  I finished my Golden Leaves Scarf, which was such a pleasure.  My mother has requested one of her own, so that may be in the works in the next little while.  Of course, that happened after I ordered some yarn to begin a hap for myself.  I thought I'd choose something that would work with worsted yarn, in order to achieve faster results.  This is not a fingering weight season of life.  I will be glad to make it a shawl or a blanket or whatever use strikes my fancy.  I even have the romantic plans of blocking it out on the grass (in the shade, of course).

Still working on Roan's sweater, but not moving very fast, I cast on a hat for myself.  Red and green, it will be a star tam that I am calling the Christmas in Killarney Cap.  Yes, I know that tams are Scottish and Killarney is in Ireland.  Humor me.  I think it will be cheery, and I've wanted a tam for awhile, just to know what they're like.  So, a merry red and green tam to go with my Hollyberry Mittens.  And maybe I'll make another red and green hat, an Elf Cap, just because.  It's been far too many years since I knit for myself.

For more crafting visit Frontier Dreams.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Snow Study

The return to school work involved plans for a week of Winter stories for Roan and weather study for Willow--a perfect match.  I know that many people try to plan concurrent blocks for their children, but I have generally kept the work separate, since everybody hears most every story, anyway.  It's definitely more Wintry this year, so we spent two weeks on our one week blocks.  When a powdery snow began falling Friday night and most of the day yesterday, even better!

It was so easy to see all the flakes and their beautiful details.  It's a treat when the forecast shows no snow and it showers down all day.  It's too bad it didn't amount to six inches, but we're going to look for more snow today.

See?  Tiny crystals!

I remember finding the most snowy part of a hill, after the bulk had melted, and sliding down as much as I could.  I was wearing out the snow, I guess.  For this snow, the pine needles covering the ground at the Roland Estate provided the extra slippery runway we needed.  It's so nice that they encourage us to play in that yard, too.  There are many times I really, really long to live in the country where we could spread out more in a yard of our own.

Willow spent several days, earlier in the week, on her snow crystal pictures.  We read Snowflake Bentley and The Big Snow among other stories, which gave her inspiration.  Her printing is coming along, I think.  She seldom uses capital letters out of place now.

We saw plenty of frozen waterfalls and icicles coming out of rocks on our drive through the Grandfather Mountain area.  I had her make a picture of the Ice Rocks from memory, since our visit is still a ways off.   Well, it's time to sign off and make waffles.  We got a waffle maker for Christmas and everyone is very excited!

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Nature School :: Whatever the Weather

It was drippy and almost warm today, a sharp contrast from a week ago.  There are still bits of ice on the river and piles of it, here and there.  We traded our cold and dry for warm and wet, which we did need a little of.  We went to Linville Falls yesterday, quite the adventure for us, what with getting lost and all the fog and mud.

I had my sights set on the Ice Rocks in Doughton Park, but the warm weather made the Park Service decide to do some road work in that area.  The ranger was so courteous as to call me after I had inquired about access to the rocks, and we'll try again in a couple weeks.  The thing about the Blue Ridge Parkway is that it has many closures in the Winter months.  It's not feasible to plow the whole length or keep it all open when the high ridges are so inhospitable. 

Linville Falls, having been frozen pretty solid last week, seemed like a good consolation prize.  The Parkway was closed in that area, too, so I took an alternate route.  It was impenetrably foggy.  Like so thick you could run a stop sign before you saw it!  Not that I did, but it was close!  I was doing some very slow driving, to be sure.  US 221 is a beautiful road and there were giant boulders and frozen falls along its route.  Somewhere in all that fog, I got a little lost.  Back on track with the help of some locals, we found the trail head.

I was hoping to hike the Plunge Basin Trail, which would have put us waaaaay down at the bottom of this photo.  Its approach is from the Parkway side, so we couldn't get to it without an extra mile.  Instead, we walked to all the other overlooks.  There's one at the top of the photo, and a couple along the way, one being so far you can barely hear the falls! 

Everywhere, the frozen water and the frozen earth gave off so much fog.  It was pretty comfortable, though I hear it was sunny and warm in some places.  Forty feels pretty good right now, to be honest, though I am looking forward to some more ice-building weather.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

The Homeschooling Introvert

See the old woman a-pickin' her geese!
Selling her feathers a penny apiece!

~ Still Glides the Stream :: Flora Thompson

On Monday, as it was spitting snow and sleet, Roan and I watched the goldfinches in the hemlock tree.  The bulk of the crowd was picking the seeds out of the tiny cones at a rapid rate, while a few others were doing cleanup on the ground.  We learned about their Winter coats, with the help of one of those wee Golden Books bird guides.  It was a happy moment, where a mother can say, "Now this is holistic learning."

I think it is easy to question ourselves in this new era of "communication."  It's also just as easy to "find your tribe" and live in a world of your own making.  As a homeschooling parent, one can find oneself surrounded by a plethora of strong opinions, methodologies, and labels.  Strong opinions come with the territory, I think.  It can feel like a confusing tangle to find just the right place for your own family, and to accept your own constraints and strengths.

I've always been the introvert, the INFJ, and the way we do things is an extension of my abilities.  I am content to spend my days quietly, even if I am surrounding by three vivacious children!  I've had the socialization topic come up just a time or two.  One person said I was always choosing who my children were around.  That is largely true, though people who choose conventional schooling make that choice, too.  They simply choose from a larger pool.

Being who I am, I've spent a long time reflecting on the options around me and the ones I've settled upon.  I've also observed how things have fallen into place for our methods, how we come upon new adventures that seem to match our studies.  Finding the Enki curriculum was like seeing my life come full circle.  Waldorf was a calming breath of fresh air.  I liken it to sitting on a warm stone on one of our mountains as a pleasant breeze goes by.  It made sense.  It felt right.

I've given lots of thought to how I go about my days and how my behavior will influence my children.  I do want them to be content within themselves, capable of fulfilling their own emotional needs, and I think introversion serves this well.  I also want them to enjoy community in regular doses, and I feel this will grow as they do.  For now, we enjoy having friends over for some of our family festivals, and we attend various local festivals focused on Appalachian culture.  It's an evolving picture of balance.

I think the biggest lessons I wish to come out of homeschooling are contentment and creativity, as they have lifelong benefits.  Consumer culture would like for us to avoid such immaterial things and to be wildly "social." I know I'm increasing my aptitude for these skills, right alongside my children, and we're doing it at a pace that is just right for all of us.

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Crafting on Along :: Warm Things for a Warm Spell

The cold weather has washed away with the rain and now it is drippy and squishy. The ground is still quite frozen, but it is muddy where the earth swelled and thawed.  There is ice on the roads, strategically placed for those of us taking walks.  It's supposed to warm up to ten degrees above normal (or more), and I'll admit that we are glad for a little break.  Most homes are still decorated for Christmas because it was simply unsafe to be outside taking things down.

Weather report aside, I'm still plugging away on knitting, when I ought to be sewing.  These things come in moods, I think, so I am not too worried.  I have now become the Zipper Lady, and I'm a little apprehensive of my new role.  I cannot stand putting in zippers, but folks don't know so many seamstresses as they once did, so here I am.  Willow got a sewing basket for Christmas, so she happily does any household mending for me.  Her stitches are becoming so neat and it is always good to feel of use. 

But the knitting!  Yes!  There's a Two-by-Two hat for a Christmas gift.  I finished the hooded scarf, as you can see on my model.  Grey and black must be hard colors to photograph, since Willow is bleached out while the grey looks just right.  Oh, well.  There's another neck thing, this time for me, that I am going to call the Golden Leaves Scarf.  My favorite place for clothes, presently, is Gudrun Sjoden, and I have some dear family members who wanted me to have clothes for Christmas.  The color will go well with my new things, as well as the old.  And there's Roan's Knight Sweater in the first picture.  It's plugging along, mindless knitting as it is.

As for the book, I am reading Still Glides the Stream by Flora Thompson.  If you enjoyed Lark Rise to Candleford, this is another great title by the same author.  I'll share some quotes from it over the next little while.  It's got a bit more of a story and a little less nostalgia, which makes for a less depressing read (if you are the kind to mourn the passage of time away from agrarian living).  I am terribly sentimental, as much as I always have my eyes on the future and seldom dwell on the past.  There are some seasons that it pains me more than others, usually times like Michaelmas.  Something about those quarter and cross quarter days, I guess.

For more crafting visit Frontier Dreams and for my first time, the Yarn Along.

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Cold Snap

I think it's old news that it's been cold practically everywhere but Alaska.  This weather is not exceptional for us, but it's still been pretty wild.  It's a strange and bracing thing to feel your fingers freezing when you go outside for a short moment, even with mittens.  All the blankets (well, almost) have come out, and the children have enjoyed the pleasures of the season.  Here they are on their stage coach.

Cabin fever getting the better of us adults, we took a drive to see the icy streams.  They didn't disappoint.  It's been dry here, but the water's not moving much, anyway. 

Back at home, the children have been in an I Spy phase.  I picked up a book for Roan, which was then followed by some used titles in the series.  And then they remembered there were I Spy Go Fish cards.  Games have always been a little tough here (maybe they are for you, too?).  This time, however, the rules were simple enough and the stars aligned.  Go Fish has been the game of the week, and I've seen sibling interactions improve quite a bit.  More games this Winter, I hope!

There was a day that temperatures rose into the twenties, so Roan and Laurel and I went out to the lake to see the ice.  Roan found this interesting piece in the marsh below the spillway.

There are all kinds of warnings about not walking on the lake ice, which we did not do.  This stream, however, was only a few inches deep.  With boots and no big rocks to crash into, this is a much safer activity.  The children have been promised more time outside today as the weather "improves" into the thirties this afternoon.

We've seen zero two days in a row, with plenty of days around four or five degrees.  It's that cold outside right now.  My little back porch office is a bit chilly, but I am keeping the computer warm with a space heater.  It feels a little wasteful, but it's better than losing something so costly.  I won't need the heater soon, since we're suppose to see fifty by Wednesday!

Roan and I enjoyed some time with his marble run yesterday, while Willow worked on her rug hooking kit.  Laurel's been making soup and tea with her new pots.  School time has been focused on Winter weather, though we've had very little snow.  We might see some more before the warm weather mid-week.