Thursday, November 10, 2011

The talk I gave in London, with visuals

This has a more permanent home with a bit more information here:

The Past, the Future and Now
When thoughts are stuck or whirling, which way can we go? Where can we turn? What helps with natural learning, and what hinders? Can people go too far, or not far enough? Is it possible to mess this up?

A presentation for parents interested in unschooling, given at the LiTTLe Conference in London in 2011:

If you don't see arrows, try moving to the next picture with your finger, depending on the device you're using.

The talk can be downloaded from, or you can listen to it directly here or maybe here:

and change the image when it seems right to do so. :-)

The introduction is by Julie Daniel. I wish to point out that to put a book in the toilet, in British English, means to put it in the bathroom. In American English, it would mean to drop it into the water in the toilet bowl. So the recommendation was to use it as a bathroom book. I think. :-)
BRUCE saved a journal from his great aunt. Bernie is his wife. I was nervous.

When I said "the bus from Derby," I meant "the train." (I did ride the bus from Selkirk to Edinburgh, but I was sitting.)

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Medieval tile at Winchester Cathedral

I saw this on July 3, 2011. Someday I might re-order these blog posts in chronological order and remove this top line.

I've had a book about medieval tile for a really long time. I saw some, way up on the wall, at the British Museum 30+ years ago.

Later I got another book, with more information and color photos.

I saw some, salvaged and random, but actually on a floor I could walk on, at Hammond Castle in Massachusetts.

Then I got to see swaths of matching patterns. No nine-squares, but lots of fours. And some random scrappy-sections which might have been covered by carpet at one time, or were put in to repair a floor where the building had been sinking and breaking. But real tile.

In some places, it was being cleaned, and that shows in some of the photos. In some sections, parts had been walked on and other parts were glossy.

Here's a page with information and images on how those were constructed:

I was excited to see so much tile where I could touch it and admire it.

Thursday, July 14, 2011


12:40 p.m. Thursday, July 14; home in Albuquerque for the first time since mid-May. NICE!!

I'm glad to be here. When I saw the desert, from the plane, when we came down through clouds, I cried just a little bit. I had to wipe my eyes. I thought I might cry when I saw Keith, but I didn't. My suitcases ended up being on the same flight I was, and now they're here.

Keith, Ashlee, Marty and I are going to Garduño's. I'll see Holly about 4:45 and am very much looking forward to that!

I'll put up some more pictures, observations and memories, and will complete the set of links to photos (in the file linked up near the title of this page), but for now I'm going to have a green chile chicken enchilada and other familiar foods.

THANK YOU everyone who hosted me and took me places and shared your lives and towns and made the adventure so big and memorable. Thanks to those who read the blog and cheered me on in my Quest to Document. :-)

Breakfast in Atlanta

Not a typical breakfast, and definitely not MY typical breakfast, but this morning it seems very comforting: a big Oscar Meyer hotdog with mustard, and Barq's rootbeer with lots of ice.

The line at Dunkin' Donuts was really long, I don't drink coffee anyway, and had a donut for dinner. :-)

The hotel room was really nice, I slept six hours straight (and then a bit more), their alarm AND my computer as backup went off nicely. Mine was singing in its robotic voice "Tea is ready," and the radio had a bit about Alan Rickman's Snape having been voted the most popular Harry Potter character of all. Then they played "Billie Jean" by Michael Jackson.

I packed up easily, walked out and waited about two minutes for the shuttle, and was at the airport two hours and twenty minutes before the flight. It's a morning full of nice moments.

Here's something I wrote last night, about the scheduling problems:
Calmer than I used to be (on Just Add Light and Stir)

Holly's working today, so Keith will take off early to pick me up at the airport and I can ride in the new/used car he bought while I was away.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

I'm not in Europe, and I'm not home.

Things happen, sometimes, and the frustrating bits are over now. I'm in a hotel in Atlanta. They have free internet without a password.

Here is my dinner:

Delta airlines paid for $6 worth of it. The package with the grapes, carrots, cheese and ranch dressing. I bought the milk, Chex mix (to go with the cheese), and the Dunkin' Donut. The Jaffa Cakes I brought with me from the UK. They wrote that on my customs form. "Cookies."

I haven't eaten yet. I'm about to. Then I'm going to take a shower without getting my hair wet (because Atlanta is a humidifier, though my room has an air conditioner). I thought of taking a bath, because my feet are swollen, but 1) it's not the UK where tubs are huge and wonderful, and 2) even though I would settle for an American tub, there's no stopper, no drain stuff of any sort, just a big scary hole with standing water down there. Eeyew. It wouldn't bother me to take a shower there, though. Nice shower curtain.

I have two beds and eight pillows. I wish I had enough time to sleep ten hours and then mosey down to the shuttle at a leisurely pace, but I can sleep eight hours and hurry down to the shuttle. That will work.

The lucky thing is that my luggage was re-checked by people who thought my plane hadn't left. And they might've been right. But between me and the plane were about 300 people lined up to go through security, and some distance between where we were and the gate where the alleged departure was. Well it was a real departure, but I missed it. Again, then, because when we got off the plane from London, half the connecting flights had been missed already. Blah blah blah, but airport for hours, and now hotel with quiet and a table and eight pillows.   <i>(I have my toiletries and some spare clothes, too.)</i>

I'm in room 104 which suits me fine. Others who were in the same long Delta-sent-us-here line were sent down the hall, up the elevator... but I was "down the hall, on the left" and mine is the first room, right off the lobby. Peachy. I'm for it.

I couldn't have a better dinner, but the restaurant attached to the hotel is a Mexican restaurant, and I was advised by a Delta employee that the hotel is nice, but the restaurant isn't as nice. So I got things I could carry cold and get to the hotel before the other bounced passengers beat me to it. The vouchers cover a room so thoroughly that they didn't even ask to see my ID, nor for a charge card.

I used to be seven time zones from home, but now I'm only two. I'm getting nearer.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

"A chute, to put rubbish down the skip"

"What's THAT!?" I asked one day.

"A chute, to put rubbish down the skip," they said.


Photos will follow. I wanted to write down the text so I could throw away some of the little pieces of paper I've been carrying around in my pockets.

The chute collapses for transport, I should add.

Learning something confusing

(This is out of chronological order and was originally to have been June 20, but I needed to find one of the photos...)

I keep needing to read things like this:

If I'm with someone local and more experienced, I just follow along like a stunned but happy puppy, but occasionally I'm by myself and have to think Very Hard. (I did a lot of following of Julie Daniel, and of David Waynforth, in such situations.)

Here's how Orangina is sold in France. Oddly.

And "Meet the Fockers" isn't funny in France, so it's renamed something about "my father-in-law":

Monday, July 11, 2011

Les Miserables

Tonight Julie and I went to see Les Miserables with her friend who has seen it 70 times. She hadn't seen it in this theatre, though. And this was my first time. I had wanted to see Matt Lucas, of Little Britain, in it. And I did, but I would have seen him better if I had taken my bifocals. DOH!!! I wish Holly had been here to remind me.

Anyway, it was great and I kept thinking of Jon/Balthazar whose favorite musical it is and whose judgment on musicals (and other things) I respect greatly.

I might not have forgotten the glasses but when we were at Kew Gardens earlier (photos to follow; there are none from the theatre because I'm very honest. Not counting the photos I wasn't supposed to take in the Museum of Childhood in Edinburgh. Oh, and Durham Cathedral. Jeez, now I wish I'd've sneaked one at the play. But my camera isn't stealth at all—) OH RIGHT! When we were at Kew Gardens earlier, my camera said there was no room on the disk. That should not have been right, because I had moved photos and then deleted. So I put the other disk in, and after just a few dozen photos, it said no more room. NO no NO!! I was sad.

So the short time we had at Julie's house between Kew Gardens and regrouping to go to the theatre, I worked on the camera disks and didn't calmly think "What do I need to go to a play?" I got my train pass and my oyster card and my camera (which I used to reformat both disks, on the train, and that worked) and did not think at all one bit about glasses to see actors.

Next time.
No, next time I'll forget too.

But the play was good, and I got a DVD, and I will be able to play it on the little player Schuyler found for me to take home to play my PAL (European region) DVD's on. I think it's a concert and not the production itself, but I don't care.

Kew Gardens is high on my list of things to do again and better next time I'm here.

Gratuitous photos, car repair shop, in Bushmill's, Northern Ireland.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Giant's Causeway

Today we're about to go to sand dunes. That's what people do in Northern Ireland.

Yesterday we went to the Giant's Causeway. The greatest benefit to me is that now my Apples to Apples Junior UK edition will have one card that's less baffling.

Sarah took a couple of photos of me there, climbing down a dangerous trail with the courage of a mountain goat and the fear of a wimpy me (not much fear, just, oh... trepidation; no, caution). Anyway... I'll include those later.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Beautiful view and flowers

Here is the view from the window under which I get to sleep this weekend in Portstewart, Northern Ireland. It faces west, slightly northwest. The first was 11:00 last night (and it's lighter in the photo, because the camera strained to get some light). In the distance I could see the lights of a town in Donegal (Greencastle, says Conchur the host-dad.)

The flowers were picked and arranged by the two "ginger boys" in the last couple of posts, Conchur and Sarah's two older boys.

Fancy Dress Bubbles

In keeping with the heroic theme, my bubble-blower was shaped like a sword, and the bubbles were in the sheath. Nice! There was a breeze, so I just held it out and the wind made a couple of dozen bubbles, which were caught by heroes with nets (sometimes).

Sarah took the picture.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Portstewart and some boys playing

The boys are Adam, Jack and Charlie.

The buildings and views are Portstewart.

Walking down to the shore:

J.E. Toms and Sons Butcher Shop, but it was mostly fancy sausages, condiments, and nicely arranged ready-to-cook things. (There were several notices and flyers taped to the door, and I copied one that jumped out at me, about drive-in gospel; might be totally unrelated to the shop itself.)

Boys playing, and what doesn't show is them catching bubbles with nets. I was the one providing the big bubbles, and couldn't take photos and make bubbles at the same time.

Up toward churches, around the cliff walk, and back to the playground. Sarah walked with me, carrying baby Kit wrapped up.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

"Committing" a nuisance?

I don't know why this was put up, or how long ago, but I'm guessing it's not read much, at night, in the dark, beneath its moss and cobwebs.

It was hard to read in the daylight, and that was one dark little alley!

(Winchester, off the high street, July 3)

Pickup #3

In New Mexico I see pickups every day. We have two in our back yard, and I occasionally nag and hint that Keith should buy a newer one, a good one—one with music and air conditioning. Windshield wipers. Seat belts.

In six weeks, I saw one pickup truck in Scotland and one in France. This was the third one, and it was in Bristol. It identifies itself.

When I was walking away from the estate, just before the gate I saw where the rangers' office was, in a nice little group of buildings.

Dignified ornament:

Beautiful window between two garage doors (or once carriage or stable doors, perhaps); bench; planters; oil barrel; cones:

Museums and their loos

At the Blaise Castle Estate, the ladies' room had sinks mounted into what had been a large formal window with shutters that could be closed in various combinations. They were painted shut, but they used to be quite elegant.

And to the left of that, the fireplace. :-)

At Alison's house where I was staying, the bathroom attached to the bedroom I was in also had a vestigial fireplace, but rather than having the coal insert or anything, it was plastered smooth, painted, and contained an artfully arranged collection of toilet paper.

Bristol, the evening gathering

I'm going to move this next to the earlier entry, about the daytime gathering in Bristol, but for now I'll leave it as the newest entry. On the evening of June 29, there were 14 people at a discussion at the home of Alison and Bartek Pawlak.

Here are our hosts, the next day, exhausted from their long and fruitful labors. The house and garden were perfect for the groups attending. There was room for everyone to sit, and food (though it was too near me and the people were too polite to reach over there and eat). Attendees brought food, too, and so we were all experiencing a bounty of goodness.

Museums and their objects

So... all my life I've heard that if one wants to see costumes, the Victoria and Albert Museum is the place. So I made a deal to go with my costumer friend Carolyn (Adelicia, in one costume-friend personna), and the costume display was closed until 2012. Still, there was enough to get museum-sick about.

I like this bell:

Very sweetly, the museum didn't mind people taking all the photos they wanted to, flash or not. My cool little camera rarely needs a flash anyway, but I felt rich and free after museums that said no photos, or no flash.

Here's Handel's shoe:

The artist didn't seem to have bothered to put a shoe on the other foot. It's by Louis François Roubiliac, 1738. More and better information is here.

I like that one person's favorite thing in a museum might be someone else's not-worth-a-glance.

From a temporary display called Sacred Silver & Stained Glass, of items rescued from no-longer-standing churches and religious houses,there was a cool reliquary (I can't find who it was; sorry), and what I loved most was his beard and hair being the stand. It was for holding some relic of his head, and that's why there's a glass viewing dome of sorts on there.

His beard kind of has little feet. How cute!

Alison Pawlak took me to the Blaise Castle Estate, a house turned into a museum, in Bristol. She stayed outside to play with her big black happy poodle while I went in and saw a "Cabinet of Curiosities" containing interesting, mysterious things such as...

I couldn't photograph the notes on that, but it said
A lacemaker's "block."
The globe was filled with water, intensifying the light of a candle placed behind it.

"...known to man." HA!
That was before the women discovered them.

I do love museums.

London in One Frame

This is a good representation of what London looks like to me. I don't know where I was, and it's just one shot, but it covers a lot of motifs.

Monday I'm going to Kew Gardens in the daytime, and that evening back to London to see Les Miserables here:

I don't suppose either of those will look like the image at the top, but will have some aspects of it. :-)

A guy as a dog in a carrier

Does this happen other places? I saw two of these guys in London:

It's cute, and spooky, and I hadn't seen it before.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Interesting but not Important

ALL of these posts could have been marked "interesting but not important."

In Staines there's a mall.  There's a plaque high up on one wall, and it's visible from the food court that is up high, too, across a large open area.

Adam Daniel wrote a letter to the queen, when he saw that, when he was five (I think), and said he noticed she had been to Staines. He had been to her house at Windsor, and maybe the next time she was in Staines, she could come to his house for tea and a visit. Or some such. And he got a letter back from one of the Queen's ladies-in-waiting. Very nice.

Outside and not far from that mall is a building with pretty brickwork, and a carved date showing the time it was built. 1899. Very pretty. I have no idea about those scrolly-brick things under the windows. But look at the windowpanes themselves. Those have not been there so long, not with those decals, anyway.

Here's the whole building front 112 years after it was built:

I thought I had already shared those photos, so if I had, sorry for the repeat. I couldn't find them on the blog this morning.

Here's a word we use differently.

Well, not any of those words. That's all fine. But in the U.S. we say a car would get a boot. But here, most of the cars have boots. They WANT them to have boots. Car boot sales would be worthless if car boots were those clamps they put on mis-parked cars.

My favorite British/American dictionary compiler ever, Chris Rae, defines it nicely:
boot: n trunk of a car. The boot of a car is the part you keep your belongings in. So called because it was originally known as a “boot locker” — whether it used to be commonplace to drive in one’s socks is anyone’s guess.

There are other things he doesn't bother to be nice about. I love his stuff.

Here's what he said about car boot sales (which I love—I love car boot sales):
car boot sale: n merry event where people get together in a field and sell the rubbish from their attic, under the secret suspicion that some part of it might turn out to be splendidly valuable. Not entirely dissimilar to a jumble sale. The term stems no doubt from the fact that this is normally carried out using the boot of your car as a headquarters. This sort of nonsense is now largely replaced by eBay, where you can sell the 1950s engraved brass Hitler moustache replica your father was awarded for twenty years’ service in the post office without actually having to meet the freak who bought it.