Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Summer Garden Treasures

The first lettuces of spring are so full of hope and the promise of summer (ick--also full of little sluggies that get a one way trip down the disposal), but it is the beginning of the summer garden treasures that I love. This week El Professor has been up in our giant, overgrown cherry tree doing a much anticipated pruning job. He waited until the cherries were ripe and then pruned off cherry loaded branches to be picked over. We've never been sure what kind of cherry our tree bears...some opinions have been Royal Ann, others have been Rainier. Either way, the cherries don't keep for long and we have usually given away the bowls, bags, and bucketfuls that we don't eat. We have given away tons of cherries this year already, but I have also decided to try preserving some with the dehydrator a friend gave me.....

I love dried fruit and these are pretty good. I found a recipe for Cardamon/Dried Cherry Scones I might try. A little research also showed that cherries can be frozen.....I bought a pitter to speed up the process of prepping cherries and have put several bagfuls into the freezer. Later we might use them with the juicer. I'm going to make some cherry jam, too. Hmm. The sound of cherry jam doesn't send me running to the toaster for a lovely summer-bounty-coated piece of toast, but it's worth a try.

While El Professor was picking cherries, I picked raspberries. This is the third year our raspberries have been in and they have been loaded. I filled a lasagna pan with red berries and put them in the freezer. Anne gathered some berries last week and worked them into her baking project......

The lavender is in bloom.....

....and there are 41 bundles drying in the garage.
The cilantro and the tomatoes are never ready at the same time--at least not in my garden. But I've discovered that you can make salsa with that spring/early summer cilantro by keeping canned whole/peeled tomatoes in the pantry.

Oh yes, and lettuce. As the days heat up I will work to keep some slow bolting lettuces in the garden, but they never do as well as spring and fall lettuce. (Maybe the sluggies won't do as well either.)

Monday, June 22, 2009

Sweet Day

It was a sweet day, Father's Day was. In the past few years my dad has had some hair raising health issues, including a span of several months where he was unable to walk or stand. Father's Day was a sweet day, therefore, as he was up and about and was the grill master for a fabulous dinner. El Professor, the kids, and I spent a lovely Father's Day afternoon/evening with my parents at their house, the house they purchased when I was four. We drove home in the late light of summer solstice.

Happy Fathers.

Happy Summer.

Friday, June 12, 2009

First Jaunt of Summer.....

This is usually the last week of school.  All over the state schools are finishing up classes, saying good bye, and teachers are beginning the task of packing up their classrooms for the summer. The district where El Professor teaches, however, shortened the school year by a week to help with the huge budget shortfall, so all of the usual end of the year festivities, grading, packing, etc., happened last week.  El Professor's car looks like a storage locker as he is moving schools next year, but he is off for the summer.  

Early in the week, El Professor's brother/family called to let us know they would be coming to the area (their oldest, my nephew lives just north of here) and wondered if we had a free day.  We decided to get together and head for Mary's Peak, the highest peak in the coast range, for a picnic and a hike.... 

...never mind that Mary's Peak had her head in the clouds.  At 4,097 feet above sea level, the view from the top is amazing....when the weather is clear.  

It was misty, moisty, and magical up in the clouds.

The wild flowers were beautiful.  It looked like a rock gardener had come and planted along the path.

Our favorite memory of Mary's Peak has been walking with butterflies everywhere.  Even with the earliness of June, and the mistiness of this particular day, the wild flower meadow had butterflies galore. 

It was the first jaunt of summer and is, hopefully, the beginning of a good season.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

The Heart of the Matter (or why we home educate)...

I was out on the patio the other day, checking vegetable starts and ‘outdoor tasking’ when Daniel launched into an explanation of a flawed proof for evolution, sighting a 1953 experiment conducted by a man named Stanley Miller.  The information he was spontaneously sharing came from the book, It Couldn’t Just Happen, that he read this year for his Classical Conversations Rhetoric class.  Although first published in 1987, this book remains an excellent resource for opening and maintaining a conversation about origins.  For Daniel, some of these conversations took place during his Classical Conversations Rhetoric class, and it is for honest conversations about fundamental topics, such as origins, that I have maintained a deep interest and desire to see our kids schooled outside of the public education system.

I was a public educator prior to ‘retiring’ in 1998 to manage our home, raise, and school our two kids.  I spent 11 years in the classroom teaching 1st and 2nd graders.  Those years were busy, demanding, and stressful, and while I was ready to hang up my stick of chalk when the opportunity came to do so, those years were also full of sweetness and I had the privilege of working alongside some very well intended, loving, serving colleagues, many of whom were also Christians.  Still, as our own two kids approached school age, the public school system wasn’t an option in my mind.  Large class sizes, my children’s maturity issues, etc. were all part of my concerns but, ultimately, the heart of the issue of educating our children has been an issue of world view.  

In September, Daniel had to write a science report on ‘amoebas’ for his Classical Conversations Biology class.  Each week, the students in the middle school class, Challenge A, research a topic, write about the topic, hand draw an illustration, write a bibliography, and present all of these to their cohort (classmates).  A quick check of our home library afforded very little information on ‘amoebas’, but we did have one book, John Holzmann’s (of Sonlight Curriculum) Biology.  Excellent.  Now, as the assignment required two or more references, we needed another book.  I stopped at St. Vincent de Paul, ‘O Excellent Supplier Of So Many Of Our Books’, and grabbed a middle school biology textbook.  $2.50 (which was less than my library fine).  There was a whole section in this book on amoebas, complete with illustrations.  As Daniel and I read over the section, however, we found that the information was so laced with evolutionary information that it seemed to be more like a tool of evolutionist indoctrination than an honest study of one-celled creatures.  Ultimately, I recycled the book (in the ‘blue bin’, choosing not to regift the book to St. Vinnie’s), and discussed with Daniel how one of my frustrations with the school system is that materials, such as this book, are used to teach core subjects, and that the information is dedicated to a theory of origins that is taught authoritatively rather than acknowledging the status of ‘theory’.  There are no disclaimers such as, ‘Some scientists believe.....’ 

Families have different reasons for choosing home education or home based education, and I have gleaned some great encouragement and wisdom on the subject from many sources, including an article written by Ron Julian of the McKenzie Study Center and Gutenberg College.  (Read it for yourself here.) Written in 1993, seven years prior to our own foray into the waters of home education, the issues of shepherding our children’s hearts through their education rings true today.  Home education was a growing movement in 1993, and the heart of the matter remains the same today.  

For our family, joining Classical Conversations has been an unexpected mercy in our home education journey.  It has been a financial sacrifice for us, but it has been well worth the cost. Granted, we could have combed through the book It Couldn’t Just Happen on our own, but the opportunity to discuss the information in a tutor-guided session with several other students has been valuable.  Weekly accountability to get the readings done has kept Daniel on track.  Daniel, who doesn’t *love* to read, loved this book and I am grateful that he had the opportunity to look at some of the arguments that evolutionists claim support their theory and to explore the huge, gaping holes in those very claims.  Several months after reading about Stanley Miller’s 1953 experiment, Daniel is still chewing on the information.  Home education has given us the opportunity to look at the holes in what our society, education system, and culture claim to be true in fundamental topics such as origins, and I am thankful.