Saturday, September 5, 2009

Adventures in Salem, Mass.

After the conference ended on Sunday afternoon, we decided to go exploring in nearby Salem, since I'm interested in all things witchy. What a cool town! We didn't see as much as there is to see--not enough time, plus a lot of things were closed due to Sunday blue laws--but we saw enough to want to visit again sometime...preferably at Halloween!

First stop was Artist's Row, a brick alley lined with little galleries and shops, and an open-air cafe at the end.
Then we walked around this very old cemetery for a while, reading the gravestones. There were so many children! It was heartbreaking. One poor family lost a different child three years in a row. Can you imagine? It makes you thankful for modern medicine.

This looked like some kind of spellwork to me. These shoes were filled with salt, and a small note (which we didn't read or disturb), under a tree in the cemetery.

Adjacent to the graveyard, there's a stone memorial for all the people who were executed in the Salem witch trials. They were all hung, except for this poor guy, who was pressed to death. We speculated as to the exact nature of the execution, and why he was so unfortunate, and we found our answer in a children's book we bought later in the day: they laid him down in a field, placed a wooden board on his chest, then piled the board with heavy rocks. Why? Because he had the gall to plead "not guilty." I used to know all this....must watch The Crucible again!

A kind stranger took this photo for us.

Our new friends, Debbie and Johnny Evil. (Is that a great name, or what?? It's real, he showed us his license.) We bonded with them because Ely was wearing his Steelers jersey and Johnny is a fellow Steelers fanatic. In Salem, of all places! They told us we HAVE to come back in October, that Salem in October is like Mardi Gras every night. (The stores are decorated for Halloween all year round.) Plus, Ely, Johnny, and Debbie all have birthdays in October, and our wedding anniversary is in October. It's one of the advantages of being married to such an extrovert--we make friends wherever we go.

This was a beautiful wooden schooner docked at the waterfront and open for free tours.

Logan thought this was a stripper pole. How does my 7-yr.-old even know there's such a thing as a stripper pole? Because his friend Damien's mom has one in her bedroom! Thanks a lot, Damien's mom.

My boys. I love this pic.

This one, too.

Lots of touristy, macabre photo ops.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Our First Conference!

Ely told the kids to "strike a pose."

Kandee Wright and Dayna Martin, and their very comfy babies

Keith Wright, Eli Gerzon, Ely, and Joe Martin

Last weekend, Ely, Logan and I went to Wakefield, Mass. for our very first unschooling conference. It was so empowering to finally meet other families actually living this way. To be honest, I already knew most of the nuts-and-bolts, how-to-unschool stuff from all the reading I've done. I get it. This conference, for me, was all about forging a real connection to the unschooling community in a way that the internet just cannot do. We met so many amazing people. I came away energized and galvanized, more sure than ever that unschooling is the way to go for our family. Plus, it was just so much fun!

Some random impressions and memories:
--an adorable little girl strumming her plastic guitar at the talent show
--all the confident, outgoing, interesting teens and young adults
--Logan joyfully being chased down the hall by his new friends, all chanting his name
--Ely bonding with other unschooling dads, and realizing that maybe I'm not so crazy with this unschooling thing, after all
--enjoying the very talented unschooled singer songwriter Julian Baptista, and the unschooled Ryan siblings' Irish folk band, Fishing with Finnegan
--listening to Dayna Martin's talk on Sunday morning with a lump in my throat and tears in my eyes because her words hit so close to home
--sitting on the floor late into the night, drinking, laughing, and talking with other unschooling moms
--actually winning some cool stuff at the auction!
--not wanting it to end

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