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Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Fascinating facts Lisa wanted to know

These have taken a while to think about, then I forgot about them, then I remembered them again. Applogies to Lisa, my *interviewer.* My life is full of busy-ness and won't be slowing day any time soon. So, I'd better get to it.

1. What situation gives you near-perfect peace? Near-perfect peace for me is that time when 1) my mind is free to think and find new ideas within itself, 2) I can dream of the future and develop ideas to follow and 3) when I can discover new connections between myself, ideas, things and people in my daily life that inspire me. It is usually during these times that I stop hearing the everyday noise around me, the kids, the traffic and my mind is in a different place. This of course requires time to allow my mind to wander and explore. I find this calm, quiet and thoughtful time mostly when immersed in my garden (I am looking forward to having a garden again someday), my sewing room, a kitchen project or a book. I can lose myself in any of these places and be physically doing something while my mind is somewhere else.

2. Top 5 books of your life?
In no particular order I chose the following five novels. These five contain fantastic commentary on societal expectations, politics, interpersonal relationships, economics and individual and collective power structures. It was difficult to narrow my choices down to a mere handful as I am an avid reader of anything that catches my fancy from modern to classic and really enjoy most of what I read.

Tess of the D'Urbervilles, by Thomas Hardy
Animal Farm, by George Orwell
The Persian Pickle Club, by Sandra Dallas
The Stand and It, by Stephen King (a tie, they are my favorite novels of his)
The Fountainhead, by Ayn Rand

I often choose authors and read everything the write, rather than choosing individual books based on their title, flashy cover or previews. I also like big books, long stories that draw the reader in and capture the imagination. I also tend to favor hardcover editions or trade paperback editions (the larger sized paperback books) primarily for the size, less page turning, and smell of the paper used.

Other authors on my leaderboard include Diana Gabaldon, Michel Foucault, Cornelia Funke, L.. Frank Baum, Jean Auel, Peter Straub, C.S. Lewis, Christopher Paolini, Stephanie Meyer, Amy Tan, Madeleine L'Engle, Jennifer Chiaverini, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Emily Dickinson, Mark Twain, Edgar Allan Poe, Shakespeare and Leon Uris. That's all I can remember off the top of my head.

3. Do you have a favourite speech that gives you chills even just reading about it? Listening to the 1984 U.S. presidential campaign - really listening - to the speeches for the first time was a turning point in my thinking about being a woman (someday). As a class assignment in junior high we were supposed to watch the party convention speeches and discuss our opinions in class. Many ideas expressed in Geraldine Ferraro's acceptance speech for the vice presidential candidate of the Democratic Party impacted the way I looked at the world as a young woman - and still do today. She spoke of fairness, as America being a land where EVERYONE's dreams can come true if you are willing to work toward them, of equal pay for equal work, of not incurring debt for future generations, of opportunity for women, of human rights, of pride and excellence... Although I don't agree with either of the major U.S. political parties 100% or ally myself with them, this was a great speech. Those are things that still are important today and need the attention of leaders willing to tackle the difficult issues. She spoke of a government working for the public with the goal of bettering the lives of everyone, not just enriching themselves with money and power. My hope is that someday that is the reality.

4. How is your handwriting these days? I'm told my handwriting is good to excellent. I have very good penmanship if I say so myself. I took several calligraphy courses in college and penned all our wedding invitations myself. I like having nice handwriting, it makes sending a message much easier and nicer for the reader. I think penmanship is becoming a lost art. It isn't even taught in the school my children attend. Penmanship, along with spelling and proper grammar, are among the things my children's generation is not being taught in school IMHO. The the common use of keyboarding, typing, texting and email are outdating these formal skills. That said, I think the revolution of colloquial language and digital communication is a very interesting and exciting phenomenon.

5. How would you persuade a person with no goat experience to fall in love with them? Just look at this picture. How can you not love with that? (The little boy is pretty good-looking too.)Goats or chivos are the perfect pets to have. They are very green or environmentally friendly animals. They are fairly self-reliant, eating grass, weeds and other vegetation. They will work down a compost pile and recycle it in their own manner, eat yard and garden clippings - our herd prefers roses, blackberry brambles and sunflowers - and remove brush from the countryside to reduce fire hazards. They can remain home on the weekends alone as long as their trough is filled and the fence is standing. The love they return to you is similar to a dogs, they wag their tails when they are happy to see you, push their heads under your hands for a scratch behind the ears and always sniff at your hands and pockets for treats. They are like zebras, no two are exactly alike. They are similar in appearance, but have very distinct markings and personalities. They are the perfect size livestock for kids to interact with. They don't smell, even in a small pasture they don't have an overwhelming barnyard odor. They aren't as large and overwhelming as cattle to a child, they don't require the maintenance of sheep (unless you get angoras and then it's your fault) and they don't fly and scare little kids like chickens/chooks. They are also a fantastic source of protein, whether using their milk for drinking, butter, yogurt or cheese or raising them for meat. A majority of the world population relies on goats for their dietary protein.

Lisa created these questions for me. You can read the questions asked of her and her responses on her blog, The Tin House. Lisa's blog has been a draw for me since I *met* her online, we have so much in common, three children, academic careers, interest in current news and communication and a desire to live frugally. We just happen to live on opposite ends of the globe.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

The crack of the bat

It was opening weekend for Little League and Saturday was filled with nothing but softball, softball, softball and some more softball.First it was opening cermonies. There we met other parents, traded some of our gear for gear that fit, and took team and individual photos. Tatum is pretty excited that she is on the Mariner's team, she thinks it beats the options - the Orioles, Cardinals or Dodgers.

Then it was game time. Tatum's first at bat was a strike-out, but she rebounded well. She had two singles, a fielder's choice, 2RBIs and scored three runs. We may have to buy her a new batting helmet. The one provided by the team falls off her head when she rounds the bases or tries to run to fast, so she is constantly holding at least one of the ear flaps with her hands and trying to run.

Rick and I are struggling with watching from the sidelines as the coaches sit idle during games and practices. Apparently the girls are supposed to learn the game without instruction. We have two games this week and a double-header on Saturday if you're interested in taking in a bit of juniors softball.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Collecting - educational/political commentary

We are getting "reminders" in the kids' backpacks almost daily for all the school fundraisers and drives and how important they are to the quality of education offered at school. They just wrapped up a penny drive, which caused the kids to raid our secret stashes of change, including Rick's poker fund. The PTA is holding a dinner and silent auction. We are expected to donate an item, purchase dinner tickets and buy the item back at a higher price.

Currently the classrooms are in a contest to collect the most corporate labels. Like many other schools, they are collecting Campbell's Labels for Education and

General Mills' Box Tops for Education. The General Mills Box Tops for Education are worth 10¢ each. The Campbell's Soup labels are worth 1 or 5 points each depending upon the products purchased (who knows how much money this equates to?). General Mills proudly proclaims on its website this program has earned $250 million for schools across the nation over the past 12 years. While it may sound good, think about it carefully. Those dollars really can't stretch that far in improving education when you consider there are 100+ schools in our little community vying against 1,000s of others for a share of that money.

It is difficult to believe these little labels can make that much of a difference in the educational opportunities afford to our children, however every little bit will help until our government - both state and fenderal - decides education is the greatest social service we can provide our children. We shouldn't have to rely on purchased charity from private corporations to enhance our public schools.

If you'd like to chip in and donate your box tops or soup labels, email me at kate_stine (at) yahoo dot com. It may make a difference and tip the scales for one of the two classrooms represented in this house to win the drive.

Sunday, April 05, 2009


Another quick road trip to check the final arrivals. This is #188 and her little one. She is an ultra-protective and doting mama goatie. The little kid's ears are just like hers, one with a full flip and one with a curl.Darbi came to visit and help Keeli chase and catch the new kids. They finally asked one of the adults to "hold this one still while we catch it." Too much cuteness in this picture!
Another set of new twins. This is a jack/jill pair, belonging to Scarlett. Their colorings are a reverse of Scarlett's, she is a lighter shade of brown with a white body stripe and face blaze.
This is #186's first year kidding, these twins are four days old. Her little ones are very petite, like she is. They spent most of their time today napping in a patch of sunshine.
Along the side of the pasture, among the volunteer poplar trees, you will find the babies. They almost look like patches of snow. Here they hop between the branches, run and play, stalk their mommas and obviously find a comfortable napping place.
We have an offer on a house, with acreage, existing patures and room for the goaties to roam and play - and more importantly for us to return to that rural lifestyle we enjoy. We are waiting on a response from the bank (it is a foreclosure sale). All positive thoughts sent this direction will be appreciated.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Kid count

The nanies are done kidding. There are 17 new little goaties frolicking around the pasture. Now to find them - and us - a homestead.