Saturday, February 26, 2011

Farms, Food, and Suburbia

 all nice comments regarding fixed computers retracted.  For some reason I'm on wireless now instead of regular internet and it keeps timing out.  So I'm using my husband's computer but my photos are of course on mine and bah humbug.  AND they erased my entire music collection.  I know, I know, beggars can't be choosers but still...
whining aside:

It was a good day.  We drove a little over an hour out to Surrey VA to a small family farm: Full Quiver Farm for their pick up day.  I found them on line.  They have two baby goats and some calves (the babies were not to eat, they had them there for the kids to see and pet) and they were clearing out their freezers to be ready for this year's fresh meats.  So I bought 3 chickens, two turkeys, 3 packages of sausages and one package of beef liver (to be adventurous.  I've never prepared liver before.  Meg, FM, any suggestions?) for about 70 dollars.  I need to shop around and find out if that was a good price or not.  One turkey was about $20 for around 13 pound turkey- which is high by grocery store standards but it got to run around outside and scratch so hopefully it will taste considerably better.  We'll see, I've got one in the sink thawing out for tomorrow night.

this is their description of their poultry: Fresh Local Pastured Poultry - All Natural
Our meat chicken are also raised outdoors on pasture. They are protected from predators in our open-air hoop shelters which are moved daily to fresh pasture. This more natural low-stress environment produces a healthy low-fat bird with a tender taste you just can’t beat. Availible seasonally, April through January.

I've had the kids watching Food Inc. and Supersize Me.
I watched Supersize me with the older two some 6 years ago I guess and they wouldn't go near a fast food restaurant for years.  So now I've got their memories refreshed and the third grader fully grossed out.  Funny, my hamburger loving 6 yr old refuses to accept it.  I don't take them to fast food more than 6 times a year- but other people sneak it in sometimes.  I figure they still only eat it an average of once a month which is not optimal but not horrible... but the arguments we have over school lunches.  I think school lunches are disgusting.  They are not cooked here, it arrives in a box or a can and then it gets heated up.  In my opinion when you've got a mom who makes you a sandwich and includes a fruit and a milk and something like goldfish (yes processed- but on the scale of processed foods not horrible) you should be happy.  No- their friends get to buy nasty food and they want to too.  Ugh.

I was talking about food and the meat industry with one of my friends over lunch.  She never purchases ground meat.  Instead she has the grinding attachment for her mixer and they buy round or chuck and she grinds it up and keep some for stews.  Of course M is one of those women who just amaze me.  Her children are always neat and tidy, their clothes are always ironed (ironed.  I don't iron.)  She cooks a full meal with meats, veggies, grains and so on everyday.  She is nearly always in a dress and I've never seen her in sneakers- always flats.  She is also an automotive engineer.  She makes her own curtains and created the coolest little modern art pieces for her entry because she couldn't find anything she liked for the walls.  I'm exhausted just trying to describe her!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Picasso is in town

well... not exactly in town but not far

The husband and three older kids are up the hill for ski team again this weekend.  I mentioned in the last post - we've been getting warm weather this week so I don't know what there is to ski on.  So Saturday was a fun day of a baby shower brunch with the moms from preschool (two babies are expected this spring and boy and a girl!) and then M-Lyons and the girl up the street spent nearly 3 hours outside running around.

Sunday I loaded the two girls into the car around 9 AM and headed West to Richmond.  The Virginia Museum of Fine Art is showing pieces on loan from the Musee National Picasso, Paris.  The exhibit runs until May 15th and is totally worth seeing.

I hadn't been to the VMFA in years, like 15 years!  Totally forgotten what it was like- but we found it thanks to the map app on my iphone.  Yay geek husband for getting me an iphone.  And because I am a recent member- voila entrance (and parking) is free.

Standing in line I was pondering how to talk about Picasso with my 6 year old.  I mean, many of his pieces are disturbing - and to a 6 year old used to talking about what the picture is 'about' how do you explain Picasso?  But the exhibit was set up in sections, first his early works which were representational and in a variety of mediums.  Easy enough.  It is interesting to see the broad medium base though.  You look at his Jester Picasso, Pablo (1881-1973) - 1905 Head of a Jester (bronze) done in bronze and he is an accomplished sculptor. The Jester is included in the exhibit in Richmond.  I love this piece and could have spent quite some time looking at it - but it was crowded and I had a 6 yr old and a 4 yr old so we moved along.  photo taken from RasMarley's Flicker

There were many drawings in the next room, showing his move towards abstraction.  How he was finding planes and angles in the face and figure and that too was easy to discuss with my 6 yr old.  The 4 yr old was in a mood and not into it at all.  Oh well - what can I say?

We moved very quickly through the next room, women and breasts and odd shapes.  Thankfully none of his truly aggressive paintings were on the wall.  When I was in Paris in 1993 we went to the Picasso Museum and I hated it.  Most of the paintings seemed so very angry and anti woman and as a woman I felt attacked.  So it was interesting to see this exhibit which seemed less anti female.

There was a selection of prints depicting Dora Maar which I also really liked and could have spent more time looking at.

The Printed Program offered with the purchase of a ticket notes that in his eighties Picasso was known to say "only put off until tomorrow what you are willing to die having left undone."
That really struck me.  I feel like I put off a lot of things- and I'm entering my 40's not my 80's but gosh that'll leave a long list if I keep waiting...

Saturday, February 19, 2011


Thursday was a gorgeous day. (So was yesterday) We are in that belt receiving uncharacteristically warm weather and it is divine! I put Bitsy in the stroller, leashed my walking buddy, and followed the path about 2 miles to the marina. Right behind the marina is a little spot; Wareham's Pond and a spill way from the pond to the James River where I like to sit and paint.

he says the water is fine

that big house up on the hill is about three years old (?give or take - I'm not exactly sure.) that used to be a Wild Reserve for Bald Eagles, for nesting.  Then they opened it up to new residential construction.  Because the world needed more over sized houses.  Excuse the sarcasm.  I am not a fan of "progress."  We need our wild places, however small they maybe.

my spot. the light is against me, but you get the idea; marsh vegetation, long grass to the river

Normally I sit and paint, or use pastels.  But I wanted to try and focus a little more on the architecture and structure under the color.  So I sat for an hour with a pen, listening to the birds in their spring chatter, Bitsy wandering around and exploring with the dog, and the dog keeping the geese at bay.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Magic Wands & Outdoor Wednesday

One of the bloggers I follow posted a magic wand posting a while back: if you could wave a magic wand and bothersome things like lack of funds were fixed, what would you wish for?

here is my answer:


photo by Melissa Wilkins

I wish for Carter's Grove Plantation.

photo by Melissa Wilkins

This cottage was built by the MCCreas for their veterinarian and
 head groundskeeper

photo by Melissa Wilkins.
When the house was built this was the 'front' facing the river.
Guests would often arrive by boat and carriages would bring them up to the house.

Here is an article: The Virginia-Pilot regarding the original sale
and here is a very interesting one with the current owner, published in July 2010 from The Virginia Gazette  The current owner is one Halsey Minor, all of 45 years old, whose vision I can appreciate.  But I saw not too long ago that the plan is to put it back up for auction.  I believe Mr. Minor paid some 10 to 15 million?  So if that magic wand wants to wave a bit and dump some 15 million in my direction I would be very pleased to pass it onto Mr. Minor in exchange for the property.

It was scheduled to be auctioned off, again, but I found an article dated today that this is no longer the case.  The article says that Carter's Grove Plantation LLC has filed for bankruptcy, full article here in the Williamsburg Yorktown Daily.  400 acre plantation that borders the James River.  Wow.

More Outdoor Wednesday posts can be found at A Southern Daydreamer

Thanks to Melissa Wilkins who posted these photos on flicker

breathes a sigh-

last week sometime my computer died.


not turning on.

BUT- I am married to a geek.  Who owns a company that employs more geeks.  And so... my very own geek squad showed up.  looked at my computer.  confirmed it was dead.  took it away.  gave it a new hard drive.  (I think?)  and brought it back today.  plugged it in, turned it on, and made sure all the parts were working in order.


Thank you Matt.
Thank you Jeff.

Yesterday I got to go to Kindergarten for an hour and a half and help my daughter and her classmates pass out their Valentines to one another.  Best Valentine activity ever!  So cute!  So proud!  So fun.

Today I'm back to trying to organize paperwork.  You have no idea...

On Dyslexia

I joined the International Dyslexia Association a few years ago while working my way through the process of obtaining IEP (individual education plan) for two of my kids.  In Virginia Dyslexia is not recognized, they call it a "Specific Learning Disability."  More like a "processing" difference really- check Sally Shaywitz's book out.

Here is some information in a recent mailing that I thought was important to share:

did you know?

Dyslexia, reading disabilities, affects at least 10 million children, or approximately 1 child in 5.

More than 38.7% of children with a learning disability drop out of high school, compared to 11% of the general student population.

60% of America's prison inmates are illiterate

85% of all juvenile offenders have reading problems

Youth not able to read and write exhibit signs of low self-esteem and a lack of confidence.

for information about literacy programs, reading difficulty, and dyslexia visit The International Dyslexia Association, call 1-800-ABCD123

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Stayin Alive

Was at the Beyond Boobs Bunco Tournament last night - one of their fundraising and awareness events in town. They finally got all the BeeGees to give them permission to use "Stayin Alive" and the video is up and running. I think they did a great job!

Friday, February 4, 2011

Pink Saturdays Pink Inspirations

Well last Pink Saturday I made it around to over 60 Pink Saturday Blogs.  I love them.  I love all the pink, I love all the vintage tea cups and the crafts and the ideas that I get from them all.  So many of the Pinkies have ebay shops and etsy shops and sometimes I take a quick hope on over to see what they have - and last week I found the cutest denim skirt for my Bitsy! (at Treasures-n-Textures go have a peek!)

Thursday, February 3, 2011

English Lit. Exams

Everybody needs a good fail on occasion so they can dust themselves off and learn something.

"If you didn't fall you weren't trying hard enough" my dad used to tell us after a day of skiing and I think that philosophy can be applied to many things.

I've been trying to gently guide my 7th grade daughter through that thought process recently.  She just took her semester exams and scored rather horribly on her English Exam.  Because my actual name is on my blog (yes that was a moment of brilliance back in the beginning) and friends in my hometown occasionally catch up with my life via my blog I won't go to much into detail-  But I find myself needing help striking a balance:

So here it is.

Literary Terms: she knows she did not properly study her vocabulary and suffered for it

On the short story segment of 5 questions she did fine

Then there was a reading: Edgar Allen Poe's "The Cask of Amontillado" and of 20 questions she answered 9 correctly

Then a segment regarding a poem and she did fine

Then the grammar segment

This student has an IEP for dyslexia.  As the exam was administered the teacher was trying out some computer grading thing and would ask the kids to try it, and then told them to continue working while he "got it fixed" and then would ask them to try again.  The Poe segment was 3 pages long.

I emailed the teacher this morning and asked if my daughter could bring home a copy of the exam so she and I could go over it.  I know they went over it in class on Tuesday but she is still a little vague about what she needs to do to prepare next time.

I read out loud to her the Poe selection as we were going over the exam this evening and she said "OH!"

Last week when she was trying to explain to me that the exam had not gone well she said, "mom there were these questions about a murder and I thought, 'Oh? There was a murder?  Who was killing who?' "

So I asked her if they had read any of Poe's selections in class.  Because I agree, they should read Poe, but his writing is sophisticated and uses an advanced vocabulary and the style is very different and I think perhaps it is a bit much to just through Poe at a class during an exam.  When I mentioned "The Raven" (everybody in America reads The Raven at some point don't they?) it did ring a bell but she hadn't put it together before that.

So I'm trying to find the line.  She needs to take a certain amount of responsibility to prepare for the final exam in June having learned from this experience.  But, I know in writing her IEP her case worker and I had discussed having the option for an oral exam.  She doesn't need an oral exam but having a 3 page story read aloud, for a dyslexic student, would likely have made a difference in this instance.  For a student with processing difficulties being administered an exam in a quiet room with minimal distraction would also have made a difference.

So: how to teach her to take on being prepared for different kinds of tests?  How to teach her to advocate when it is an issue of the Learning Disability getting in the way?  And where to draw the line as the Tigress Mother?

Oh - and in regards to the random health post: kudos to me for running 4 miles with the dog at 5 AM, for drinking all 8 glasses of water, for eating significantly more fiber, and for NOT drinking an ounce of coffee or cheating with chocolate.  yes, I know, tomorrow will be more difficult.  If I recall correctly it is really day 3 that is the kicker-
an interesting thing happens with blogging-

there has been some wild weather in Australia.  I've never been to Australia and so it is sort of a vague place on the other side of the world in a sense.  But I've got a blogger friend who lives in Australia and so last night I spent some time clicking through various maps trying to get a sense of where I think she is in relationship to the cyclone.  And previously in relationship to all the flooding.  She hasn't mentioned the cyclone on her blog but based on my limited understanding she herself would not have been in the storm.  I hope her family and friends are all okay.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Fibro Cystic Tissues - BAH!

Joy of joys - I had my first ever monogram today and apparently I not only have an incredibly high pain tolerance (I knew this already but it was funny to see the tech's reaction as I stoically put up with the pinching & pulling involved in the procedure) but I also have some questionable tissue - fabulous! Something called Fibro Cystic tissue?  I'm not sure really - so I went and googled it (gotta love google) and I find a variety of things.
This homeopath page by by Cindee Gardner, Ph.D., HD (R.Hom).,D.Hom.,C.Hom. caught my eye-
apparently I'm not going to get better:

Eliminate caffeinated (and decaffeinated) beverages. These contain methylxanthines, which have been linked to breast disease. Theophylline, and theobromine found in chocolate and black teas can also be culprits.
Hormone altering therapies, from birth control pills to the newer bio-hormone regimines may cause an imbalance in the system that can result in benign and malignant breast tissue.
Dairy and meat products, especially those containing steroids and growth hormones, contribute to cystic breasts. Foods that are high in fat cause congestion in the system. Cut down or eliminate them. Instead eat a larger portion of high fiber, high water content foods, like fresh fruits and vegetables. Drink plenty of water between meals. If you are constipated, you are five times as likely of also having breast congestion.

Seriously - chocolate and coffee?  Shoot me now and lets just avoid all the misery!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

For My Aussie Friend

this post is for my Aussie friend FoxyMoron
she told me I was going to have to tell how I spent my American Express Gift Card from the Recessionista - sooo-

Today I dropped Bitsy off at Mrs. C's house. Mrs. C is a Montessori teacher who holds classes for 3 & 4 year olds in her home. Bitsy goes on Tuesdays for 2 1/2 hours in the morning. Then I headed over to the Prime Outlets because in addition to my previously mentioned gift card, I had a gift card from the Gap. I had about 30 minutes to wait for the shops to open so I sat in the car with a book.

I'm picky about the Gap outlet. I learned in a high school merchandising class that once 'outlet' shopping became popular many brands simply produced lesser quality items for the outlet. I've felt that Gap is one of those brands. Sometimes you can find times that are overstocks or what not mixed in amongst the made for outlet items. Turns out the sales had been picked over but I did find a few items.

I was shopping for Dragon. Dragon is very hard on clothing. And he grows like a weed. Nearly all his school pants that I bought in the fall have holes in the knees. And he stains his shirts- much to my dismay he doesn't see a need for utensils or napkins and is simply very messy. I don't tend to spend much on clothes I know will be ruined in a short amount of time... but we are planning a trip sometime this spring and Dragon will need travel clothing- and I would like him to look nice- and so the goal was nice clothing for Dragon. And I had an hour - Bitsy and K had dentist appointments. So - I found two long sleeved button down shirts and a pair of straight brown jeans.

And then I decided to just pop into the Ralph Lauren outlet to see if there was anything exciting. It was my day! On the 75% off rack I found two pair of navy blue pants and *and I am so pleased with this find* a pair of grey wool slacks.  The wool pants were down to $30 (pricey for outlet in my opinion but they were not outlet quality - they were really nice pants!)  I had a little cash in my wallet from the consignment shop (I take in our decent out grown clothes and had been in with items before Christmas) and so it all worked out evenly.  They've got buttons along the inside so I guess they might have had suspenders or something?  But I think they'll look just find without them.

Made it back to pick up Bitsy by 11 and had her and K at the dentist on time.  Excellent morning!

I don't know if you can see what I mean about the buttons?