Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Santa Fe (images on December 30)

Keith and I went to Santa Fe today to scout some stuff out and do last minute things. We took a map of where to put the firewood to a little town called La Cienega, and the guy wasn't home so we gave it to his brother next door. The guy's wife called on the way home and all is set. A cord of wood, delivered outside the Fetterolls' condo, 1:00 January 6.

Here's the airport where I'll be picking Joyce, Carl and Kathryn up Wednesday just before noon:

There were three planes there. Real passenger jets. That's new. It's been little local things until this year.

Although this is subject to change if someone who is in there decides not to check out, here are some of the particular units and views:

This is #49, where Joyce will be, and that's Keith up on the road, near where the firewood will be dumped, figuring out what to do next (next Wednesday).

This is #55, a few doors away, where Pam will be, and then the view on the other side of it (with some distortion and my van):

These are the two new units. Not the same architecture; newer, fastened to the main room where we'll be, but the open to the outside. To the left is #100 which will be Robin Bentley's, and on the right Julie Daniel's. There were people staying in both so we couldn't see. I didn't get to see inside the one we'll have (Keith and Holly and I) which is up the hill a little to the right. Unless they have to move us because the people there now (who are staying until January 3) decide not to leave.

Jill Parmer and family, here! (ugly chairs, but cute table, on the porch, and there's a wood rack on the porch to the left that we'll fill up for you).

This is the view to the west from in front of Jill's. Behind and closer is the parking lot, on the same level.

The Sanders of Iowa will be here.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Tumbleweed Runners-Up

I have "get a tumbleweed" on my list. Two have come into the neighborhood. One was on the street outside our cul-de-sac. It was Too Big:

One came into the yard and hid by the trailer, but it is Too Small:

(It's broken, too.)

For the benefit of those who don't live around here and who are flying in, I will continue the quest (and press Marty to look, as he drives more than anyone else) for a Just Right tumbleweed.

Weather, late arrivals

Pretty much it's expected to be cold and still and sunny.

Santa Fe Intellicast:

The cold is why we can get these condos for so little, this time of year, so good for that!

This morning I worked on kindling for the fireplaces. As you arrive, if you have a fireplace and you want to use it (two units don't and the occupants opted "newer and fancy and no fireplace" over "funky 70's but has a fireplace")... get a basket of kindling when you check in or from me directly if it's not too late. I'll confirm my room number when I know for absolute sure, and the people at the desk will know where I am.

Anyone who arrives after the desk closes and who had a paid reservation for that night can still get the key from a place with a code. That will all come clear if it's necessary to know. It's a system they've used successfully for a long time, and there's someone not far from there with keys all the time, but it's not a hotel so the front desk isn't open 24 hours a day or anything.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Meeting Joyce!

Joyce posted one of her crystal-clear comments on Always Learning, and I responded effusively. I figured I should share it here. The first part is another participant's comment, but the important part was Joyce's clarification.

" I would proudly declare that if I had girls they would not wear pink and would not play with Barbies."

Yep, I've heard people say that.

And can you imagine the reaction if some mom had proudly declared her
daughter would not wear blue and would not play with trucks!


Isn't Joyce clear and solid in her understanding of the logic behind why unschooling and mindful parenting work?
I'm stunned and glad when Joyce writes something as clear as she's written above.

It's likely that now that Joyce's daughter Kathryn is grown, Joyce might well gradually wander away from unschooling discussions. She might not, but her website will endure somewhere between "for a while" and "for a long time."

Still, what if you could look at her writings with her voice and her face in your mind? What if you'd get a chance to just hang out with her and eat, and maybe meet her husband and daughter?

That's one of the things this upcoming symposium in Santa Fe is about.
There's only one three-bedroom condo left in our set, but there are several one- and two-bedrooms left. Those are $79 or $99 a night, if you register before the end of November, and they're real dwelling places you could live in. Full kitchen, living room, fireplace, and my husband Keith and I will make sure you have some firewood and kindling and matches for those fireplaces.

The conference fee is $100 for one person, $150 for two, $180 for three, and $20 additional per family member after that. We will evening meals together. One will be a potluck. One night we'll play Apples to Apples and another night we'll have Show and Tell (potentially like a talent show, but no one needs literally to sing or dance).

More information is here:
and that has links to a blog with photos and to a registration page

I'm really looking forward to seeing Joyce again myself, but I promise not to hog her attention, so others can hang out with her.


Wednesday, October 28, 2009


(Starting off rough; can be cleaned up at a later time)

NOTE: The first day would be easiest to miss. Pam and I have spoken other places, and will speak some more on Saturday. We'll be around all the time. People who miss Thursday's talks won't miss the most important parts.

Wednesday if people can show up that would be great; get some firewood and kindling, get settled into your condo.
There is a breakfast room, not fancy, not cooked food, but a good gathering place each morning.

Thursday 9:30 Discussion of what we've learned about unschooling in the past 12 years or so, and how, and what's surprising

12:00-2:30 lunch break (enough time to leave the site, or make a lunch and have a nap, or to hang out with others)

2:30-5:00 Pam Sorooshian, presentation and discussion (topic not named yet)

5:00-6:00 Blake's Lotaburger on site

Thursday after dinner, Apples to Apples and other table games (we have all the American sets and the U.K. Jr. set)



9:30 Joyce Fetteroll, "Building Pitfalls" (title subject to revision), stories of how people come to a new understanding, and some of the pitfalls people can fall into while they think they're getting it.

12:00-2:30 lunch break

2:30 Dads meet. Short presentations by Keith Dodd, Cyrus Sorooshian and Carl Fetteroll, and discussion. No moms.

Moms can hang out elsewhere, go touristing, or get food ready for the potluck.

5:30 Potluck dinner, followed by Show and Tell (talk about something you have, found, bought, made, were given, learned, can do...)



9:30 Teens and Young Adults will share what they know, believe and have done regarding unschooling, for the benefit of each other and everyone else there.

12:00 lunch break

2:30, Closing Statements: What we've learned in the past three days

5:30 Enchilada dinner

Hanging out


Sunday is an unscheduled day. Those who need to go home can check out in a leisurely fashion. Those who are staying for a tourist day can check out on Monday.

Southwest discount air fares

For people planning to attend the symposium, please check here, and see whether it might be less expensive to fly and rent a car than to drive.

The rates are good for the conference dates, but not for Sunday, so it would also involve staying until Monday, which you might have planned to do anyway. Or you could spend Sunday night in Albuquerque.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Dinner Plans

The same room we use for meetings is our dining room.

Communal Dinner plans:

Thursday, January 7, Blake's Lotaburger, grilling at the door. "Open bar" style, you can order from this menu:

Lotaburger (which you can get with cheese or green chile or both)
Hot dog
Chili Cheesedog
Frito Chili Pie
Barbecue Sandwich
And then you can go back for something else!
For those familiar with Blake's Lotaburger, they can't do fries or shakes from the catering truck.

(Vegetarian presence might require a few Dion's Pizzas, which we could send teens out to fetch.)

Friday, January 8, potluck
Bring a dish from home, prepare something in your condo, or get something from a nearby store
Saturday, January 9, Enchilada dinner from RealBurger, on the Old Pecos Trail
Green chile chicken enchiladas
Red beef enchiladas
Posole with pork
Red chile

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

a map of NE Santa Fe

We'll be up in the upper right, "Fort Marcy." The walk to the plaza isn't far. The walk back would be uphill.

This and another couple of maps:

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Most of our Presenters

These photos are by Dan Vilter and were taken Saturday, September 12, 2009, at the Good Vibrations Conference in Del Mar, California. I know it wasn't Sunday, because about that time on Sunday I was in an emergency room in La Jolla for an increasingly painful leg freak-out that I was afraid might be a blood clot but is more likely sciatica. So with a long story I won't tell, I'm home and nearly mobile.

This lacks three of the presenters: Carl, Joyce and Kathryn Fetteroll
The photo includes:
Cyrus Sorooshian, Rosie, Roxana and Kirby, Holly, Roya, Marty, Sandra, and Keith Dodd behind Pam.

Some people have already contacted me and let me know they definitely want to attend the Santa Fe Symposium. If there are others, please e-mail me at and let me know whether you think you want a one-, two- or three-bedroom condo. The reservations will be made through our agent or through a direct web page which isn't set up yet, but I can contact each family with a paypal request for conference fee and then a link to where they can make a reservation.

Don't go directly to them yet, but the site is Fort Marcy Park if you want to look around their webpage. Don't make a reservation yet, though; go through me.
Remember the rooms don't all look the same!

We're supposed to have wireless internet everywhere, by winter. Some units have it now; some have wired. The meeting room has wireless.

More information coming as more information comes!

Friday, June 26, 2009

An Encouraging Word

Here is the information I just sent to the Unschooling Circuitriders yahoolist about this conference:
It's too soon to make any reservations or sign-ups for this one, but it's worth starting to consider.

Off-season rates in touristy Santa Fe, winter sports opportunities and a break for those working as college professors were the factors that made January good for this. I didn't want to conflict with bigger conferences, and I wanted a quiet environment for some serious consideration of the basis of unschooling.
Joyce Fetteroll, Carl Fetteroll, and maybe Kathryn
Pam Sorooshian, Cyrus Sorooshian, and maybe Roya, Roxana and Rosie
Sandra Dodd, Keith Dodd, and maybe Kirby, Marty and Holly
The "maybe" isn't maybe they'll be there, but maybe they'll take the microphone and maybe they won't. This will be the first (and probably only) time all those families will be in one place at one time.
There will be only two sessions per day, plus a shared dinner each night. There will be time to explore Santa Fe and visit with other unschoolers without rushing around.

We'll be in condos with kitchens and fireplaces. Kirby and Marty will have Rock Band and other games available for adults who haven't tried them before, and for kids who want to hang out with other kids rather than go to the sessions.

Oddly, for a conference, this is not geared toward whole families, nor young children. The physical layout is not great for toddlers at all, and there could be snow and ice, on steps, outside. There won't be side activities for children, so this is best for either parents attending without children, for some unschooling parents to get together (not the couples, but the groups of mom-friends or dad-friends) or for families whose children are old enough and responsible enough to come and go, to stay in the room, or to be in the sessions without being disruptive.

(For younger-child families, see the Monkey Platter Festival in November.)
end of quote

I've created a page to go with this blog that will be a FAQ and summary page. When the schedule is ready it will go there, and it will always be easy to find.

Here's one question most of you know the answer to, and after a few months it won't be important anyway.

WHY am I not going full speed ahead in getting this conference publicized and registering participants?

Because I don't want a single person to decide against going to something like The Good Vibrations Conference nor any other large family conference because of this one. Those are what Unschooling Conferences are. This SUSS is different. It's not just another alternative in the growing number of unschooling conferences. I don't want people to just stumble onto it or sign up for it lightly.

Friday, June 19, 2009

New Museum!

There is a new museum in Santa Fe. I haven't been there yet, but it looks wonderful.

New Mexico History Museum

The history museum in Santa Fe has been The Palace of the Governors, a very old building with a wonderful history, but just the history of that building fills the building, and much of it is 17th and 18th Century history.

This new museum isn't limited to Santa Fe, or to the plaza, although it is still in Santa Fe and on the plaza!

I'll find out more before January, but as to rates, for out of state visitors singly, it's $9 a day for those two museums, or $20 for a four day pass to several museums. With a group of ten or more, out of staters can get a discount ($18 for four days, and I'm not sure about the other).

I'm not proposing a group trip to the museum. It's just a few blocks away and will be there. I'll check on getting a discount for proof of conference attendance, though, before January.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

direct flights to Santa Fe (this is big news)

American Eagle Airlines will have direct flights from Los Angeles to Santa Fe by November 2009. I don't know what the cost will be yet, but there's a schedule at the link above.

They already have direct flights from Dallas.

I'm not saying this will be a good deal, but it's a new possibility! Albuquerque has always been the only "real" airport for Central and Northern New Mexico, so this is pretty exciting.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

May update

The update is that I think about the Santa Fe Symposium every day and plans are still apace, but it's still too early to make reservations. I *think* the cost will be $100 (or less) for one attendee and $200 (or less) for a family of four, and perhaps slightly more for way-big families.The "less" might come at the end: Registration

If enough people sign up, cost will be variable on an individual basis partly on the contribution to the conference of having more unschooling experience, older teens your young adults with you, and such. What I plan to do is to make the cost the actual cost of getting the speakers transported and situated, of the firewood (Keith already has a plan on that, which will include wood splitting opportunities for any adult or child who's interested in learning to split firewood, or any who know how and just want to help for fun), and of two evening meals (to be catered buffet style by local companies). Snack food for the gamers and good tea for breakfast will be budgeted in too. Then before I start giving any money back, I'll check against the donations to the cost of my website and chat room, and (which I adopted last fall). When it is registration time, I'll send out PayPal requests as registrations come in, and if very many people reserve, will offer the option of partial PayPal refunds in some cases.

What I hope each attendee will have is a comfortable condo which will be a place to eat familiar, inexpensive food; to hide out and rest, or to visit other unschoolers; and a base from which to explore Santa Fe and the Sangre de Cristo Mountains a bit if you want. You'll have time to think and sleep, and time to gather and brainstorm.

Please continue to consider this!
AND those who are local and don't want to pay to stay in Santa Fe, or whose children are younger and might want to consider a special alternative: The Monkeyplatter Festival
When I have a date and a logo, I'll add it to the sidebar, but it will be whichever three days Hema's family is here from India, in or around November. There will be no conference fee on that one.

That's Marty in the mirror, and these are just to show some of the kinds of decorative details some condos have. Each is different, but they're all cool.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

What and Why?

This one has my reflection in the door.

This gazebo might or might not be fun to sit in in January. With New Mexico, you just never know. We can use it, though! Maybe as a snowball fort.

What I'm envisioning for this gathering is to create an opportunity to discuss unschooling in a deeper way than conferences generally enable participants to do, and to have that be the starting place.

My central intention is to have these three families in one place at one time: Joyce Fetteroll, her husband and daughter; Pam Sorooshian, her husband and three daughters (or at least two, but having all three is my hope), and all of my family. This has never happened before and might never again.

As to the schedule, I'm planning one late morning session and one after-lunch session Thursday, Friday and Saturday, and a communal evening meal with some sort of information sharing then, too. I have ideas, and they all involve a low-key, slow-paced scenario in which people have time to think and to talk and to observe. Sunday will be unscheduled, so that those who need to drive home can get started, and those who want to go skiing or driving around will have a full day to do that. Those who want to sit and talk will have a whole day, too. The conference rates are good Sunday night, too, for anyone who wishes to stay (and probably past Sunday as well).

I have no wish nor intent to make money on this. The conference expenses need to cover transportation costs of the main guests, two catered meals (not fancy sit-downs), a load of firewood, and a few small incidentals (printing, beverages and snacks). Without pressure, if things work out, I hope Schuyler Waynforth and her husband and children will be there as guests too. Because of this and a few other variable, I don't know yet what to charge for registrations, and so it's too early to register. I will continue to provide information here so that those who are considering whether they want to come can do so. I will make it as inexpensive as I can when I know more. I don't foresee it being over $200 per family or $100 per individual, and if it is I'll explain why. Those families whose experiences make them a great resource for other participants might pay less than others.

The cost of the condos including taxes will be just under $100 a night for a one-bedroom, $130 for a two-bedroom, and about $171 for a three bedroom. All the units have a living room with a couch or two, and some have fold-out couches. Two small families or separate adults could share units. Our base rates are $79/$99/$149 for one/two/three bedrooms, but New Mexico lodging tax is 14.938% and I don't know if there's sales tax on that or not. During busy tourist season, the rates on those are in the $200 to $500 range. For filling 39 rooms, our contract gives us two meeting rooms and rooms for the speakers.

We have reserved 39 units, with the possibility of adding up to ten more, as I understand it. If we need more than that there is a partner hotel half a mile away or so with kitchens (not full suites) that will match that rate.

Budget for groceries, rather than for hotel meals, because it's not a hotel. There is a breakfast room where guests can get free coffee, juice, cereal, bagels, each morning, but no hot breakfast there. We'll all have kitchens, though.

If the facilities are enough fun for people, I would like to do a music-focused gathering, and then one for arts, at the same location, if we can find other off-season times that wouldn't conflict with major unschooling conferences. So if you miss this one and it was fun, there might be other similar opportunities. For now, though, this is the one and only Santa Fe Unschooling Symposium.

More information will be posted as it trickles out. I'm sorry for the hesitation. The symposium is definitely a go, but I don't want to detract from the conferences happening over the next several months. I would hate for someone to decide not to attend a full-on unschooling hotel conference, because the Santa Fe Symposium isn't the same thing at all. I'll see lots of you in San Diego in September, and many who read here will be meeting others in Vancouver, Toronto, Boston, and other places in the next few months.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Fireplace news!

There was once a policy that wood was bought from the main desk, but they've undone that policy, and we have permission to buy a load of wood and put it in a central location, from which attendees can take wood for their fireplaces. This might not sound so exciting, with it springtime. And those who read this in the summer might find it downright uncomfortable. But in January 2010, in Santa Fe, a fire will be nice!

Fireplaces aren't all the same, but each unit has one.

There might be snow, but probably not. It's statistically likely to be cold but not snowy. That doesn't mean there won't be snow at Ski Santa Fe! And I hope we'll be able to get discounts on lift tickets for those who want to ski or snowboard. The ski area is just fifteen miles from where we'll be. There will be no gatherings scheduled for Sunday, but the rooms will still be at conference rates on Sunday night, and that might be a good go-to-mountains day for some and stay-to-visit day for others.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Kitchens! (and one potluck)

The plan, if all goes as intended, is that each family will have a kitchen (though two families can share a unit if they'd like to), and so no one will have to eat in restaurants. The facility has a small continental breakfast, but families can have their own food, snack whenever, and eat with the larger group in a communal fashion Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights.

Saturday we'll have a potluck meal, so be considering, if you're thinking of going, what you might be able to bring with you, or to cook easily in a strange kitchen with groceries you could buy in Santa Fe (or take with you if you're driving).

The kitchens are all a little different, but all fully equipped and have dishes and cooking utensils.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Driving, and New Mexico

New Mexico isn't great with public transportation, especially in the winter. Santa Fe doesn't have "a real airport," not one that major airlines fly into. People fly into Albuquerque. There is, recently, a light rail from Albuquerque to Santa Fe, but not from the airport. It's just not the way people get around here.

When there was a Live and Learn conference in Albuquerque a few years ago, the hotel was not far from the train station, and a quick freeway drive to the airport, and Old Town and the museums were right out the side door.

Santa Fe is different. Their nickname/slogan is "The City Different," or used to be anyway. (Click the card for some Santa Fe history and trivia.)

More about Santa Fe, from the city's official site:
including this news item: American Eagle offers nonstop daily flights between Dallas and Santa Fe starting June 11, 2009!

The place we'll be staying would send a van the 65 miles to the Albuquerque airport to get you, if you went in summer and paid full price during tourist season. We're using discounted, off-season winter rates, with another discount. So that's good! But as to walking there from a train station, that's not happening.

So the best way to attend this gathering will be to drive there. The second best way would be fly to Albuquerque and rent a car. That drive only takes an hour or so. Or for the adventurous winter sportsmen type, maybe fly to Denver or Colorado Springs and rent a car, if you want to see some mountains. If a great deal of snow is seeing the mountains at the same time, it might be difficult to get to Santa Fe. It's rarely impossible, and Raton Pass (sounds like "rahTONE") is rarely closed longer than half a day, when it's closed. I-25 is a reliable corridor.

Because of all this, it's probably a better idea for those from the western U.S., in general, than for New Englanders and that. On the other hand, for a family that's never seen the mountains or has wanted a good excuse to go to Santa Fe, here you go!

Because anyone who can see this page can also get to google maps and mapquest, I don't feel too bad about providing an imperfect map. The red lines are the freeways and highways. Denver to Albuquerque, that's I-25.

Friday, March 20, 2009


In January, 2010, there will be a symposium in Santa Fe, New Mexico, for the purpose of discussion of Unschooling by and for those who have done it for many years, who have teens, or who will have teens and want to learn more about the issues faced by families with teens and young adults.

Another aspect of the discussions will involve helping new unschoolers, and the philosophical and scientific underpinnings of natural learning and of parenting peacefully.

Guests will be Joyce Fetteroll, her husband Carl, and their daughter Kathryn; Pam Sorooshian, her husband Cyrus, and as many as we can lure in of their three daughters Roya, Roxana and Rosie. If plans go well, we might have Schuyler Waynforth and her husband David as well. My husband Keith and our Kirby, Marty and Holly will be staff and lovely assistants.

More information will follow here, and reservations will be taken starting in August or September.