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About Kalmia

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  1. Two vintage classics (one of which is definitely off the grid, because there was no grid in the Northwoods in the 1940s): We Took to the Woods by Louise Dickinson Rich The Good Life by Helen and Scott Nearing How-to guide: The Encyclopedia of Country Living, 50th anniversary edition by Carla Emery
  2. I have an undergraduate degree in anthropology but am not an anthropologist. I have not read the above referenced book, but have read many ethnographies on hunter-gatherers. Of course, all groups of hunting and gathering people are not the same. They have different geographical realities and different sets of neighbors. Some groups are in areas rich with resources; others not so much. Some developed cultures that were cohesive; others were competitive. Some are in territorial conflicts; others have safe lands. But I think in comparison to modern industrial culture and modern and agricultural cultures of the historically recorded past, a good number hunting and gathering peoples have been shown to have more leisure time, and their groups have been shown to be more economically egalitarian (especially when contrasted against agricultural cultures), and some participant observers have come away with the idea that the individuals they met in these groups are also happier. Of course, the happiness part might be the product of mindset and degree. There may be philosophies among some groups allowing them to find satisfaction/happiness with less abundance or they may have a different perspective of the role of death, or they may have a stoic philosophy (this pox is bad, but it could be so much worse, phew, we lucked out!). Probably, in general, having a group you can rely on and being active and outdoors has a positive effect on mental health of individuals in all cultures. But of course, industrial and agricultural people in the modern world cannot go back to hunter-gathering. Our population is too large, nature is now "too small", and we have lost the generational knowledge necessary to effectively produce enough to survive under a range of environmental conditions. Our sheer numbers would wipe out the remaining wildlife on earth, then we, too, would die out. However, philosophically (as opposed to practically) people of the many industrial cultures around the world grow and develop when they learn more about hunter-gatherers (or any culture different than their own). This learning helps them recognize that there are multitudinous ways to be human, a glorious variety of cultures, and that most cultures have excellent ideas and strategies to share. If, as reported, a number of hunter-gatherer cultures were experts at happiness (in spite of the diseases, droughts, and environmental dangers that plagued them--and all humans, really) or a few groups modeled extraordinary food-gathering efficiency then, we should appreciate their achievements and perhaps see if any of their good strategies fit well into our lives or if they are just food for the mind. As I am sure the modern hunter-gatherers do the same when ideas from other cultures are shared with them. Two other books for people interested in these topics. The first one is by an anthropologist The second one is by a linguist. Affluence without Abundance: The Disappearing World of the Bushmen by James Suzman Don't Sleep, There are Snakes: Life and Language in the Amazonian Jungle by Daniel L. Everett (This one really gets into the very different mindset--many western people might even see it as a shockingly callous mindset--that allows the particular people in the group the linguist met to be happy despite the regularity of death and disease in their lives. And trigger warning: a baby dies in the book despite the efforts of the linguist and his wife to save it.)'t+sleep+there+are+snakes&qid=1578615854&sr=8-1
  3. I am so glad I was an 80s student when getting into college was so much easier and there were more paths to doing so. You might like this essay by a Colby College Professor that was published by the Boston Globe about how she graduated from Yale but would never get in today. You have to put in your email address to read it, but you don't have to pay. The hoops high school students are made to jump through today are insane now and the many paths to college are now one path and I do not think this is in any way benefiting colleges or society as a whole. We need the students who love to learn, love their subject matter to be prioritized over the ones that checked all the boxes.
  4. We are experiencing similar burnout in our daughter who is a sophomore (14), very internally motivated. She is taking 8.5 classes, two of which are APs. My husband and I are very against the AP model, both for its survey-course breakneck speed and shallow content and because it is primarily a money-making scheme for the College Board, which is an institution we loathe for far too many reasons to get into here. We also don't have the motivation to "save money" on college courses by doing them in high school like some parents do want or need as our daughter is interested in small liberal arts colleges where they generally don't teach introductory matter in giant survey courses (might be different if she were likely to go to a university). But despite our rejection of the model. we let our daughter take the two APs (and additional big course load) anyway because she has always been so gung-ho about challenging academics. I will add that she is in a wealthy suburban public school where the parents have been browbeating their kids about top achievement since kindergarten so it is a very competitive, ugly, culture where most of the kids are exhausted, miserable, and have no lives of their own, everything they do is to build a resume for college admissions. She says we are the odd parents who don't push and don't get mad about grades (A dip to a grade of 94 would be a reason for "a talk" from most parents here). It is now right before mid-terms and our daughter's migraines have increased, she is emotionally exhausted, sleep deprived and wants to quit. None of us like it here (we don't fit in at all in the regional culture) and we planned to move back to Maine to a small town with a private town academy after this school year where the kids are actually have fun and live high school lives, not future-oriented lives. Because of how miserable dd is, we may try to move as soon as possible. But, she has realized that there is a toll to trying to do too much, which is a good learning experience, but she is still too young to put this new knowledge into practice especially in opposition to the school culture. She rejected our advice earlier in the year to drop a couple courses. We should have insisted. As much as we want her to be an agent for her own future, she is still a young person without enough life experience to always do things that are in her own best interest. Anyway, it is certainly not a deficit in her executive function that led her to this stressful situation. It would be impossible for her to do all the work that is thrown at her in all her courses. The high-pressure culture of these types of high schools encourages teens to take on too much just because they are smart or promising or want big things for their future instead of nurturing their hearts and minds and guiding them to take a selection of courses that will allow them time to really delve deep and enjoy the material. So honestly, I don't think there is an executive function deficit in most of these smart high school kids. They are overburdened by work at a level that even an adult would feel crushed under and they don't have enough down-time to recover because the pace is relentless. I also think that even smart, motivated kids can be wrong about what they can handle. Until they are in the midst of it, it all seems do-able and if they are surrounded by other high-achieving (often parent-driven) teens, the teachers keep getting all that crazy work turned in on time so the teachers believe it is appropriate, not realizing the emotional and sometimes physical toll it is taking on their students. Also, the AP World teacher met with all the parents before the school year. He knows their steamroller ways well. He told them point blank that their straight A kids were not going to get an A in AP World. Almost nobody gets and A in it, and the parents need to understand that and try to believe that a B is a good grade. He was basically begging them not to punish the kids for getting a B in their AP courses (He didn't dare mention Cs. There are probably more of those handed out too, but had he said the C word there would have been an attack of helicopter blades! lol). My takeaway was that it is designed to be a hard class, almost impossible, and life does not begin or end with it. Colleges know that Bs in many APs are often the top mark for the majority of the class.
  5. Thank you so much for giving us the courage to take our Aspie son out of school after three disastrous years in brick-and-mortar school to homeschool through 8th grade! Thank you for allowing me the joy of re-learning (and sometimes learning for the first time--art history!) so many subjects myself as I taught them to my kids. Thanks for being an role model of creativity and hard work and intelligence with a splash of farming thrown in for adventure! Happy New Year!
  6. Bar mop towels are absorbent. I have a basket of about 40 in my pantry.
  7. I am sorry for your loss. I am a huge proponent of the Oxford comma, but if the headstone was already installed I'd consider these things before changing it: cost of the change, whether I would ever be able to visit the grave without thinking about the missing comma, what my brothers and sisters thought about it, and most importantly if my mother cared about the Oxford comma or not. p.s. This reminds me of the episode in Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life when Emily sends back her husband's headstone several times because they can't get the quotation marks right around the Longfellow (I think) quote and at least once while fixing it they introduced a new error.
  8. A boxful of notes from my friends and boyfriends in high school. We passed notes endlessly and they were full of emotion and creativity. I know I'd love to go through them again as I have reconnected with many of these nice people through FB and reunions.. I would even show them to my daughter if I had them to demonstrate that everyone (even her dull old mother & friends) goes through the high school drama and angst and explain that it does get better as you grow up (dullness is your friend!). A round, oak dining room table and chairs that was not my grandmother's (my aunt has that one) but looked exactly like my grandmother's and which I received for free from someone else ruthlessly decluttering. I have, for the first time, an eat-in-kitchen as well as a dining room and it would have looked perfect there (much better than the empty space that has been "decorating" it for a year).
  9. My two favorite guilty-pleasure Hallmark-style Netflix Christmas Specials are The Holiday Calendar and The Christmas Inheritance. The acting is much better in these than most of their ilk. My recent binge has been the ten seasons of Heartland, a Canadian television production about a family who owns a horse ranch in Alberta. Great characters, super horses, realistic.
  10. We were very lower middle class growing up, but lived in a safe, rural town. My mom was a stay-at-home mom until I entered middle school in 5th grade. My younger sister and I were then latchkey children in (for her, part of elementary school), middle school, and high school. It was great! We would take walks, ride bikes, draw, crochet, write stories, watch TV, prep dinner, walk the dog, help the neighbor with barn chores, do our homework, nap, hang out with friends, and recover from the stress that was school. By high school we were even tending the wood stove for heat in winter. Being on our own made us competent and confident. If we'd had to do stay in school for hours until our parents got off work, it would have been torture. I am sure it would have been in the loud cafeteria or gym and we would have been forced to play team type things and do what adults told us every minute. My sister and I needed our downtime. We thrived with responsibility for the management of our own time. Freshman year of high school when I went to a horrible public school, being made to stay extra hours with the bullies that tormented me daily might have made me suicidal. How could that have been better for me than learning to manage a home and practicing the arts and exercising on my own? I am not against after school activities being available. I know everyone's home circumstances are different. However, I am vehamently against them being mandatory.
  11. We moved 500 miles from the northeast to the pretty-much midwest (probably not technically included in a map of the midwest, but the culture and attitudes are the same). We have not fit in at all. I grew up visiting my grandparents in Michigan (relatively similar to here) and somehow never realized the fundamentally different ways people interact in the midwest vs the northeast. I'll not say one is better than another, they are just completely different cultures, and we are not going to assimilate. It is also depressingly flat (we are mountain people) and cloudy pretty much all year here (seriously depressing) and there is no ocean. We also moved from a rural area to a small city and I hate the traffic and can detect the air pollution and can no longer see the stars. It is also a 6-10 hour drive to see any of our friends or family so that isn't happening half as much as I thought it would. The job was also not as great as it was made out to be. So we are waiting the two years (6 months left!) until we can sell the house without any taxes on the profits so we can go home. I have already told my husband that I will stay married to him forever, I am happy to take vacations anywhere, but I am never living anywhere but New England again so that should end his frequent job hopping.
  12. I'd like an invite. Nineteen-going-on-twenty kid with ASD and dysgraphia, so smart, but failing spectacularly at keeping up with assignments at college and managing his own self-care.
  13. Was the seed catalog Fedco? That's the only one I've ever seen with quotations. I got to hear Will Bonsall lecture on seed saving when his radical self-reliant gardening book came out. Most of my recommended books I first learned about here on WTM My Family and Other Animals by Gerald Durrell Uncle Tungsten by Oliver Sacks I second this lovely one someone mentioned in a previous post: The Summer Book by Tove Jansson
  14. We have Peakeep alarm clocks which we don't use as alarm clocks, but they have lasted longer than some of the other brands we have tried. This one has seven alarm sounds.
  15. I worked for the New York Zoological Society (Prospect Park Zoo) as an instructor. Big zoos, like the Bronx Zoo, San Diego Zoo, etc. that are accredited by the AZA take animal care extremely seriously. They are staffed by educated professionals including world-class veterinarians and nutritionists and behavioral specialists. The enclosures are kept spotless. Their health is monitored on a daily basis. All needed medical care is taken care of. The diets are arrived at using the best available scientific data. The animals have space to exhibit their natural behaviors and are given behavioral enrichment to keep their minds and bodies active. Being on the inside with friends who were keepers and vet techs and hearing all their talk, I had zero qualms about the care of the animals in the NYZS facilities. A world class zoo will also be doing conservation work. NYZS works in many countries to protect habitat and species. They also participate in breeding endangered species for release, the species survival plan. The zoo I was working for was breeding the endangered Wyoming toad. The only thing that saved the black footed ferret from extinction was the coordinated efforts of several zoos to breed and reintroduce them. Now, many "zoos" are really roadside attractions or underfunded city facilities or for-profit enterprises and I have my doubts about those and avoid them. And there are some species of animals that I believe should not be housed in zoos or aquariums. So I am not always, rah-rah zoo. But if you have qualms or moral reasons not to support them, don't go. It is perfectly okay to learn about the wildlife in your backyard/town/region instead. And if you go despite qualms, only go to an AZA accredited facility. At least you know that whether or not you believe the animals should be there, they are being cared for according to the most modern standards.
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