Tree Mapping

March 20, 2018 @ 3:57 pm | Filed under: Nature Study

“You are doing TREE-mendous work!”

That’s what a neighbor said to us today when he and his dog passed us in the park where Huck, Rilla, and I were using printouts of the Portland Tree Map to identify the blossom-laden trees we’ve been swooning over these past couple of weeks. Does your area have one of these?

I mean, this is just heaven on a web page as far as I’m concerned. Whenever I move to a new part of the country I have a burning need to learn the names of All The Things as soon as possible. I’m a little slow out of the gate this time around, but then again I wasn’t exactly up for long leisurely walks last summer or fall. I was scrolling back through my Instagram the other day and came across a caption from October in which I talked about how happy I was to finally be able to take a walk around the block again. These days I’m averaging almost four miles a day—because spring.

“Children should be made early intimate with the trees, too; should pick out half a dozen trees, oak, elm, ash, beech, in their winter nakedness, and take these to be their year-long friends” (Charlotte Mason, Home Education, p. 52).

Happy First Day of Spring, my friends!

Roy G Biv, Portland spring edition

March 19, 2018 @ 10:43 am | Filed under: Nature Study, Photos

I’m heading to Virginia later this week for the VaHomeschoolers Conference. Excited! Swamped! Wondering if my tulips will bloom while I’m gone!

A Friday in March

March 9, 2018 @ 9:20 am | Filed under: Assorted and Sundry

Good morning! On my list today:

* a long walk
* Journey North Mystery Class
* Moomins and other readalouds
* poetry teatime
* German lesson
* painting lesson
* writing the next chunk of a BraveWriter Arrow
* ordering books to be sold at the VaHomeschoolers Conference I’ll be speaking at in a couple of weeks
* taxes, mutter mutter
* A bit of work on the current novel and oh dear there are about fifteen other things I should add to this list but let’s be reasonable. There are clouds to watch sail by.

Re my Portland pics on Instagram: Sometimes I worry they could be annoying to my dear San Diego friends but then I remember I did the same thing (only it was here on the blog, back then) in 2006 when we moved to California and I worried I was bumming out my Virginia friends with all the PACIFIC OCEAN-PALM TREES-NO MORE WRESTLING WITH CARSEAT BUCKLES OVER SNOWSUITS rhapsodizing…

…and before that I worried about my NYC friends when I moved to Virginia and went crazy over the Blue Ridge Mountains and redbud trees and monarch butterflies and fields of chicory like patches of sky in a meadow.

Then I remember that Anne Shirley loved Four Winds every bit as fervently as Avonlea. Hearts are big, with many rooms.

“If a kiss could be seen I think it would look like a violet.”

March 2, 2018 @ 8:19 am | Filed under: Family Adventures, Nature Study

March 1. Sunshine today! Went for a walk down Klickitat with Scott and then another longer one in the other direction with Huck and Rilla. Violets, grass daisies, daffodils, crocus in abundance. Pussywillows budding over a mossy stone wall. Still plenty of puddles for wading in, which was important because Huck wore his rainboots. Rilla exclaimed over each new patch of moss.

Found our first Portland geocache and stopped in the rock store to admire the thundereggs, geodes, shells, and fossils. Debated the merits of the hypotenuse (a slanting street, thick with cars, the shorter way home) versus the quieter, mossier, puddle-strewn right-angle lanes. If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you know which we chose.

Popped up on my FB memory feed today

February 23, 2018 @ 9:26 am | Filed under: These People Crack Me Up

Tuesday, 23 February 2010

So today Rilla asked if we could play a game where I pretend I’m her mommy. Um. OK. About ten minutes in, she said, “Can you pause the game for a second? I need to ask you a question when you’re my REAL mommy.”

Saturday night art date: polymer clay bugs

February 18, 2018 @ 9:48 am | Filed under: Art, Fun Learning Stuff

Image via Skillshare


Rilla’s pick for our Saturday night art date: “How to Sculpt Beetles, Bugs and Scarabs Realistically” class at Skillshare. Delightful course. Really enjoyed the instructor, Stephanie Kilgast—her lessons are clear, simple, and inspiring. Rilla’s take was: “OH GOOD, this is exactly what I’ve been needing to learn.” (Her two chief interests in life are bugs and art. She wants to become an entomologist-slash-artist.)

My house is about to be overrun with Sculpey beetles, I can tell.

(Referral code for two months’ free trial: )

Side-gig: Watchdog

February 17, 2018 @ 9:43 am | Filed under: Current Affairs

Pulling a few more things over from Facebook.


Oh my goodness what a day. First visit to Oregon State Capitol, first time (ever!) talking to state representatives and a policy aide to the governor in my role as advocate for intellectual and developmental disability supports. Having a voice in government: amazing experience.


Oregon’s State Legislature is getting some big stuff right this week. Like this:

HB 4101 would stop insurance companies from treating hearing aids as cosmetic or bilateral cochlear implants as experimental. The legislation would benefit Oregon children with hearing loss and their families by:

• Ongoing evaluations, fittings & equipment: Expanding the scope of what private insurers are required to cover for hearing services and technology.

• Help navigating complex insurance system: Requiring insurance companies to assign a case manager to each family when their child is diagnosed with permanent hearing loss to help them navigate the insurance system.

• Expand access to care with more doctors: To alleviate a shortage of pediatric audiologists, the bill would also require companies to contract with a specific number of pediatric audiologists to ensure kids have quick access to services.

This week, HB 4104 passed the House unanimously. It will now move to the Senate.

(source: Disability Rights Oregon)

But also:

So let’s chat a bit about HR 620, which passed in the US House of Representatives yesterday. Quoting Celeste Pewter: this bill “upends a key provision of the ADA by preventing people with disabilities from immediately going to court to enforce their right and to press for timely removal of the barrier that impedes access. It also removes any incentive for businesses to comply proactively with the ADA.”

And there’s the thing. Proponents of the bill paint a picture of people filing greedy or frivolous lawsuits. It’s really important to understand that ***the only thing that can be collected in ADA lawsuits are attorneys’ fees.*** You can’t win damages. If you win the lawsuit, the business or institution has to comply with federal law regarding accessibility.

The bill that passed yesterday makes it a lot harder to pursue the basic accessibility that is already required by federal law. It’s an ugly piece of work. I hope you’ll join me in imploring the Senate to vote no when their turn comes. You can reach your Senator via the Capitol switchboard: (202) 224-3121.

I’m sitting here dumbfounded at the irony of a bill that introduces access barriers to a process intended to REMOVE ACCESS BARRIERS.


February 16, 2018 @ 5:28 pm | Filed under: Current Affairs

I wrote this on Facebook today and wanted to share it here too.

I know there’s way too much to focus on right now. Today alone there’s about a year’s worth of news to process. But I want to focus some attention on Trump’s infrastructure plan that was released earlier this week (i.e. a lifetime ago). There’s a lot to be troubled by in this plan, but what made me choke was the part about match funding for infrastructure projects.

Okay, this can be a dry topic. Five years ago, I would have skimmed right past. But then I spent a few years writing grant applications for infrastructure projects in small California and Texas towns. Oof, talk about a learning curve. Really worthy projects, though: funding for sidewalks in a residential neighborhood so kids wouldn’t have to walk to school in the street. Funding for a farmer’s market in an area with a serious food desert. Funding for wetland restoration projects in an urban area to help filter urban runoff (teeming with bacteria) from contaminating beaches and residential neighborhoods. A “universal playground” accessible to kids and adults who use wheelchairs. The kind of stuff that makes daily life for ordinary people better in a tangible, practical way.

Those grant applications were doozies. The entire reason I was asked on board to write them is because a big part of grantwriting is narrative: how to tell the story of why this community should get federal or state funding for this project. Every grant I wrote was competing against hundreds of other applications.

These projects were scored on their merits: what benefits they would bring to the community. Improved health, carbon emissions reductions, removal of access barriers, and so forth.

Most scoring rubrics included a small number of points awarded to projects that had additional funding sources–the “match.” This might mean, say, that the town seeking funding for sidewalks would say: the town can pay X amount and we need Y amount in federal (or state, depending on the program) funding to complete the project.

Usually, the points awarded for a match were a small percentage of the total points. A match might give your project an extra 5 points out of a hundred, say. And the reason for this is that typically, the communities most in need of infrastructure projects are those least able to afford them. A match helped your application, but wasn’t nearly as important as the practical benefits and efficiency of the project itself.

Okay, that’s a lot of backstory. Here’s what made me choke: In the Trump Administration’s proposed infrastructure plan, “The amount of non-federal funding supplied for a given project will count for 70% of its score, while “evidence supporting how the project will spur economic and social returns on investment” will be weighted at just 5%.”



I’m speechless. Or, well, maybe not since this post is so long no one’s going to make it to the bottom.

I just…that’s a disastrous tidbit of information.

I’m not the only one who sputtered over this revelation. From yesterday’s Guardian:

“In other words, projects will live or die based on the resources they can attract, rather than the number of people they would serve or how urgently they are needed.

“This system not only incentivizes projects that profit at the public’s expense, such as toll roads, but also increases the likelihood that federal dollars will flow to wealthy jurisdictions that need them the least. When priorities are determined by wealth and profitability, the disadvantaged are left behind. Under Trump’s plan, communities that most need critical infrastructure investments – low-income communities, often communities of color – will be left out.”

Infrastructure isn’t sexy, and right now news of this plan is understandably drowned out by bigger, more urgent happenings. But we need to keep an eye on this. I’ll be watching.

Photo upload worked!

February 9, 2018 @ 9:58 am | Filed under: Nature Study

So here’s a little peek at what my Northeast Portland neighborhood is looking like this first week of February. 🙂