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the day before valentines day

2013 February 13


Oh, hi. Were we just talking about weird things? About opening the closet door on all our quirks and letting them roll out like so many golf balls? Well, okay now! Here’s Dan teaching Col’s homeschool co-op on Ancient Civilizations, introducing the idea of the ancient civilization of Animals.

The kids all made animal mandalas, specifically of 3 animals they feel a kinship with or would like to get to know better. Here’s Col’s:


(black bear, crow, swordfish – he’s going to have to do some traveling to get to know the swordfish)

If you have a special place for crows in your heart, or even a slightly ambivalent but curious place, this book is fab. (Thanks, Nana Judy, best book-picker-outer ever)

Dan’s mandala:


(mountain lion, elk, flicker)

What would your 3 animals be? I think mine are raven, earthworm and pika, today anyway.

How’s everyone feeling about Valentines Day?

I personally am famous for botching these commercial holidays with my own angsty over-analyzation of food coloring and crappy sugar and paper waste and obligatory spending. Which is where you could say something gentle and loving to me like, “hey, look how excited Rosie is to deliver her handmade cards tomorrow!” And truly, it was so sweet watching Col and Rose make, by hand, 21 Valentines Day cards for their classmates, like good little American kids who didn’t actually have roadkill gumbo in their lunch thermoses.

Dan asked if I wanted to do anything special for Valentines Day. “Yes! Lets have a nice dinner together.” “Go out?” “No, at home.” “Like every night?” “Right.” “Great.”

I have a few fun links for you on the day before Valentines Day.

* a gorgeous, easy recipe for apricot-walnut truffles that we made last year on Valentines Day.

* Dan and I have been watching the show, Parenthood, on netflix. We found it randomly and are loving it and I wondered if I should recommend it here, not knowing if the fact that the last movie we saw in the theatre was before Col was born makes us uniquely qualified or horribly untrustworthy, but then I googled it and saw the show has almost a million fans on Facebook, which is to say you probably already know about it and isn’t it wonderful?

* Nerd love, or how Dan and I met.

* Dr. Laura Markham’s very sane take on enjoying Valentines Day with kids. Her answer to a selected question from this post coming this week.

* The list of some of my favorite posts (bottom of sidebar) has been updated.

* Namaste Health Center, everyone’s favorite healing place in Durango (and long time 6512 sponsor!), is kicking off a free lecture series titled: Sugar, Stress and Sex: Supporting the Terrain. Views from the East and West. Details here.

* Durango has the very exciting opportunity to start transitioning our city parks to an organic care program. This is the safest choice for children, honeybees, earthworms and all the other voiceless ones. Plus, who needs a monoculture carpet of grass? The cost of the new equipment is high and we are lucky to be able to contribute to a new, gentler, safer way. If you would like to contribute, go here. Anything helps. Thank you.

* Speaking of weeds, here is a radio spot I wrote for NPR’s Earth Notes on Durango’s first Wild Foods CSA.

And seriously, have a very happy Valentines Day, whatever it means to you.

The world’s youngest cat lady:




24 Responses leave one →
  1. Barbara H permalink
    February 13, 2013

    I LOVE Parenthood too! What a great show! I hope you have a wonderful Valentine’s day!

  2. February 13, 2013

    I’m a huge fan of Valentine’s day. 19 years ago, it was the excuse a boy needed to call a girl he knew was out of town and leave her a message wishing her a happy valentine’s day. Call it commercialized all you want, it got me the guy and I’m forever grateful.

    • Rachel Turiel permalink
      February 14, 2013

      Congratulations, dear. Love is always to be celebrated.

  3. February 13, 2013

    Ooh, I like those mandalas. I think I’ll try those with the kiddos–we’ve been in a bit of a creative rut lately, maybe that will inspire us to sit down and play with some crayons this long weekend.

    And Valentine’s Day, ugh, definitely not my favorite. My kids very much not into cutting out pink hearts (go figure) and me very much not into buying Ninjago Valentine cards. So I end up doing some, a lot or all of the work on Valentines-making. This year I was counting down–only two more years to go (they don’t do Valentine’s parties after fourth grade). Not exactly the spirit of love, is it?

  4. February 13, 2013

    1)I really like Parenthood! I want to be Bonnie Bedelia when I am older–hip and full of wisdom and grace. I also like their (she and Zeke’s) house and yard.
    2)Dan is a very talented artist! And so is Col!
    3)Dr. Laura’s list is great, we will be doing the dance party before dinner idea. Usually my husband and I are so burnt out by the end of the day we put music on after dinner and manually hold our eyelids open to watch the kids fling their arms and legs to the music–tomorrow we’ll join them I think ;)

  5. February 13, 2013

    love those drawings!!! but i’m a col groupie…always waiting to see what comes out of the end of his pencil!

    and i love valentine’s…a day to celebrate love….wish it were even bigger and better and more intentional!!

    but hearts and any excuse for little letters bearing good tidings from lots of happy kids…love!

  6. February 13, 2013

    Have you guys looked at “Bird Brains. The Intelligence of Crows, Ravens, Magpies, and Jays” by Candace Savage? It’s fabulous.

    I think my three critters would be chickadees (I call them my little friends. They are EVERYWHERE I go, no matter how far. I always kind of think they carry the love of my father, looking out for me, and just saying Hi), Canada Geese (I once had a flock of them in Fort Collins completely shift my brain from “run around and around in a cage feeling trapped and trying to figure out what to do” to “trust us, it’s all going to work out fine”. And it did), and river Otters (my husband and I have had close encounters a couple of times, and they are just, well, magical).

    Happy Valentines Day to you and yours! We had crock pot goat shoulder for dinner last night. Grin.

    • Rachel Turiel permalink
      February 14, 2013

      Dan and I LOVE that book. We were quite devoted to corvid studies before kids. I don’t think Col’s seen it, I’ll have to get it from the library.
      Goat shoulder, yum…

  7. Sarah Z permalink
    February 13, 2013

    I am definitely not a tv watcher, but Parenthood breaks the mold. Love that show! I cry (sob!) almost every episode.

    Love the drawings. Also loved reading your story about how you and Dan met.

    Happy Valentine’s to your beautiful family.

  8. February 13, 2013

    Love the drawings. Not big Valentine fans here, at least not the commercial side of it. We celebrate in our little way, making some cards for dear friends, crafting and enjoying a nice family dinner.

    Loved reading the story of how you and Dan met :)

    Happy Valentine’s Day!

  9. Andrea permalink
    February 13, 2013

    Well, I can see where col gets his drawing skills! My mandala would be a koala, sloth, and panda. Lots of eating, lots of sleeping, lots of snuggling. And parenthood!! Prepare to cry while laughing. Mainstream tv doesn’t get any better, especially now that Jason has been killed off general hospital (i guess you might have to know me to appreciate that last comment, I mean, you should know me cuz we would make awesome friends)

    • Rachel Turiel permalink
      February 14, 2013

      Holy Australia wildlife!

      • Andrea permalink
        February 15, 2013

        Ha! didnt even make the australia connection! must be the drab pacific northwest weather manifesting itself.

        • Rachel Turiel permalink
          February 15, 2013

          Andrea, I assumed you were from Australia! (though sloths might be only in South America).
          Also, my Gen Hospital genre goes back to Luke and Laura.

          • Andrea permalink
            February 15, 2013

            oh, i am a third generation general hospital fan. used to watch it with my grammy. its my sinful addiction. i hate everything about it but feel compelled to tune in since soaps are being replaced with reality tv. i miss the old days when stealing, cheating and lying was scripted for entertainment.

            and, after years, laura appeared again last friday, only to find luke kissing anna!

            • Rachel Turiel permalink
              February 16, 2013

              You’re kidding me! Aren’t Luke and Laura like 200 years old now? Does anyone even want to see them kissing?

  10. Jilly permalink
    February 13, 2013

    Happy Valentine’s Day! I think this , and every other holiday is what you make it as a family! Writing love letters to my family and friends just as a reminder of how I feel for them everyday, homemade heart waffles for breakfast, passing out extra hugs and kisses, making a yummy warm dinner to share…so much less about romantic love, but about authentic unconditional real love to spread all over this land! and a little sweet treat to seal the deal!!

  11. February 13, 2013

    Like others have said, I’m a huge fan of Col’s artwork. I’d have walls full of his art! You can tell he has such a soft and gentle spirit. What a great little man you’re raising! And Rose. Oh Rose. I have a special place in my heart for Rose. For her commanding presence, for her fantastically whimsical attire and her affection for cats. I feel that if we had grown up together we might have been best friends. As for the animal mandalas, I think I’ll store this idea away for a rainy day with my boys! I just love it! I would also have to say I’m drawn towards mountain lions, horses and owls (how very hipster). Caleb is also hand making 20 some odd valentines cards for his classmates. I got a good look at their ‘valentines mailboxes’ at school and noticed that of the cards already given not one was handmade and that every single card had a piece of candy taped or stuck to it. I hope his efforts are appreciated and not made fun of! And a resounding yes to Parenthood!

    • Rachel Turiel permalink
      February 14, 2013

      Lacey, speaking of owls and Portland, have you read Wildwood by Colin Meloy (lead singer of Decemberists). We are reading it right now. If you like the genre of fantasy, you’ll like it. But even beyond fantasy, I’m thinking there’s a lot of deep lessons about caring for each other and the earth and courage and rites of passage.

      Also, I think my kids would like you very much too.

  12. February 14, 2013

    I’m always skeptical of tv shows, but I’ll check it out thanks to your recommendation.

    Today: moose, mountain chickadee, otter.

  13. February 14, 2013

    Can’t WAIT to get the urban wilderness book!! And as for Valentine’s day, someone on my little book character’s fb page (Her name is Ginger Small if you want to find her) commented this which I think is how I’d like to see it as well…. “All kidding aside, and despite the horrendous commercialization of this day, I say to you: if you are reading this status update, it’s your Valentine. It’s the kind we gave each other in grade school, when it was OK for us to take a day to admit how much we like each other’s company, to write jokes on cards with hearts and attach a lollipop, to be a little too sugary, to distribute our missives in thick stacks instead of thinking we can give only one. Happy Valentine’s Day.”
    So Happy Valentine’s Day to you and yours as well! Enjoy your dinner!! xo~amy

  14. February 14, 2013

    p.s. Seal. Wolf. Magpie.

  15. Emmanuelle permalink
    February 18, 2013

    Well, there is obviously more than one talented artist in your family :o) I love these mandalas, quite powerful and impressive. The mountain lion here looks strinkingly like Dan, which is appropriate – by the way, I am completely in awe of Dan’s wooden animals and birds, though I don’t seem to find them anymore on your new page. (I have just re-read the story of your “nerd love”, it makes me happy.) And I like to think of the bear as a guardian for Col.

    Swallow, Honey bee, and my friend the Fox would have been on my drawing, I guess.

    I think we have many other nice occasions than Valentine’s Day to recall or express our love to someone – whereas having this official 14th february day looming above everyone’s heads is a bit cruel to the many lonely souls who are, at this point of the year (and/or in their lives), not in a relationship. Teenagers, divorcees, widowers, all of them probably avert their eyes from the pink hearts flowering in every shop window – two weeks ahead at least.

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