Wednesday, June 29, 2011

World's End

Recently we hiked to the World's End. No, not the actual world's end, rather a nature preserve of the south shore of MA. It was so beautiful.

Since it was father's day, there were lots of families hiking together. One exciting thing I noticed about our family compared to others is that we have moved into an unencumbered phase. For the four of us, we carried one backpack with a picnic lunch. Three of us alternated carrying the load. I saw so many families with multiple kids in backpacks and strollers, with lots of equipment. There was even a woman pushing a stroller with a wooden bicycle on top. The kids were walking.

It felt so easy and like a milestone of our kids' independence. And speaking of independence, my son is now off on a three week bike trip with a dozen other 9th and 10th graders. Their chaperones/counselors are about 22 years old. They are biking 450 miles in three weeks going from the North Shore of Massachusetts to the top of Cadillac mountain in Acadia National Park. They carry all their own equipment, cook for themselves and don't call home. I am so excited for him, and can't wait to see how this experience helps him grow.

One other thing about kid's growing older, they get very reluctant to have their photo taken.

Just a bit more info about World's End. Over the past century it has been one of the most threatened landscapes in MA. In the late 1800's it was slated to become a suburban environment with 163 homes. Fredrick Law Olmstead designed the carriage roads that he hoped would draw crowds to buy. It was never built. In 1945, it was considered for a United Nations Headquarters. In 1965, there was a proposal to build a nuclear power plant.

Now the area is protected by The Trustees of Reservations, the oldest statewide land conservation and historic preservation organization in the country. You can see some wind turbines from parts of the shore. I'll take that!

Friday, June 10, 2011


Yesterday's post with the pictures of the fast growing green beans made me think about this:

June '09, Jack is quite a bit shorter than me.

August '10 (less than a year ago), about my height.

June '11 He's a couple inches taller than me. I'm not in the picture but my mother-in-law is a couple inches taller than me too, and he has reached her height.

You might notice from these pictures that Renee has grown from below my shoulder in '09 to about the height of my lips. It won't be long before I'm the shortest in the family. Note the amazing maturation of faces too.

And for another cute blast from the past. I think this is Sept. '08.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Finding Meaningful Work

"Take a brilliant person working on weapons design at a high salary. This is negative work, no matter how high the quality. You, on the other hand, in making a garden have contributed more toward building a better world, even though that contribution may go unrecognized." -- A Handmade Life by Wm. S. Coperthwaite

Compare the green beans above (with flowers) to how they looked a few weeks ago!

I sometimes feel less than useful. Since having my first child (15 years ago) I have not held a full time job that earns meaningful money for my family. I have worked at Barnes and Noble and as the primary school librarian at my kids' Montessori school. Since moving to Boston almost 2 years ago, I have done no paid work.

My husband and I are so lucky that his job alone can provide for our family. He makes enough that we can have a lovely house, healthful food (even grassfed beef from the farm across the street and organic veggies from a CSA membership), the ability to save for retirement and college, and health care. All our needs are met... and more.

So my job has been caring for the family. Choosing and preparing our food, being a caregiver, manager, encourager, teacher, planner, cleaner. I have also been heading out into the community to do volunteer work. I have joined 3 groups that are environment related.

The Green Team is a committee trying to increase environmental stewardship in our local schools. Our main projects this year have been encouraging composting and gardening projects at the schools, promoting the use of reusable bottles and water fountains instead of one-time-use bottled water, and getting rid of the polystyrene trays used in our cafeterias (220,000/year)!

I've recently gotten involved with a new group Transition Wayland. This group was started by a woman I've met in town who is a real inspiration. Here's a blog post she did about a "barn raising" to move her hoop house. She's lived in her home with her husband and daughter for 3 years. In that time they have covered the yard with gardening beds watered from their rain barrels, installed a wood stove, and are now putting up solar panels. In short, she's increasing her family's resilience. If the power goes out she'll have electricity, if there's a disruption in oil supplies or prices skyrocket she'll have an alternative heat source. She can rely on her garden for a portion of her food. That's what Transition is about but at the community level. The group seeks to educate about climate change and peak oil. But not in a frightening way. Rather the group seeks to move the entire community to work together to build resilience in the whole town... neighbors helping neighbors, sharing resources, planting trees, learning skills, growing gardens. It is a long term project that is just getting under way, but it is a hopeful way to look at the future.

I've also joined the green sanctuary committee in church. The group works to green the church building and activities, does presentations to the congregation and Sunday school on environmental topics, and grows a garden to donate vegetables to a local food pantry.

For the moment, I'll try to make this type of work (increasing the resilience of my family and community) work for me, my family and community.