Dragonfly: Tales from the Phantom Rickshaw
The web journal of Markus, Emily, Taliesin, and Rhiannon, coming to you from the temperate rainforest of BC.

before Tue, Sep 23 2008, 11:58pm: [back to start]

Emily: Doesn't it feel just like flying? Tue, Sep 23 2008, 11:58pm  
That's what Markus said when it happened.

It was early Sunday evening, September 21st. From my perspective, at the end of about 8 hours of very high fever, I stumbled out the door and onto the balcony, unsure whether getting up at that point was a good idea or not, and watched my son pedal down the driveway on his bicycle.

I was so excited that I ran out to the driveway, laughing, choking on those near-tear-gasps that come from sudden joy. He pedaled half-way down our long rocky driveway, and stopped himself - without falling - on his own two feet. I had come out just in time to see Taliesin's first-ever bike-ride. He turned around and ran back, his Pappa cheering and shouting "Doesn't it feel just like flying?!" He fell into my arms and I forgot I had the flu while I held my proud boy.

Then, as usually happens with these sorts of things, the perfect first ride initiated a bit of self-doubt, and the next two didn't go quite so well; by the third ride he actually fell into the irises beside the driveway, and collapsed, sobbing, onto his bike, before punching the bike and swearing never to ride again. So we left it for a day, and didn't push him.

Today I suggested we go ride on "the boardwalk" in the cove - the primordial biking initiation place of so many Bowen children - because it's safe (wood and grass) and has a convenient slight ramp to get a small child started on his ride. The kids were very excited, packed their helmets, and we left.

First, we met some friends, there. What better way to start the afternoon? Of course, Tali had some reservations, but I promised him that if he could just practice catching himself on straight legs a couple of times first, he might lose his earlier problem of folding up collapsing at the end of a ride. He practiced. Twice. And then he had his fourth-ever bike-ride:

After this wonderful start, there were some falls, and also some crashes into posts and walls, but the more things progressed, the less likely he was to hit his bike and cry, and the more likely to just step back on and ride again. He got the better of his frustration, which, I must say, is usually Tal's greatest hurdle.

By the end of the hour, Rhiannon had practiced her tricycle-riding (she learned to steer!! which has been difficult for her, since just pushing the pedals is so much work -- she's developing her quadriceps, now!), and Tali had gained enough control to ride fast, slow, use his pedal-brakes, stop (usually) without falling, and even start pedaling from a stop... uphill! Not only that (and this will be a secret for a while so please don't mention it to him) he rode one-handed!! As he passed Rhiannon he waved at her, and when I cheered, he tried again, but of course since he was paying attention it was much more difficult, and he nearly crashed into the bushes. :-) I think I'm just not going to encourage that until he's had a little more experience.

So this evening Tal came out of his bed and whispered to us: "I flew out my window, you know."

Pardon me?

"I flew out my window."

What do you mean?

"I just close my eyes. And I fly."

His smile was beautiful.

Emily: The Unquiet Grave Tue, Sep 23 2008, 9:25pm  
What happens when you sing lots of ballads with or in the presence of your children? You hear your words said back to you!

Here is Rhiannon and Tali's most recent version of the Unquiet Grave, which they've obviously completely changed the ending of... (who needs calm acceptance, when two ghosts are obviously much more fun than one!?!!)

If you're interested, here is the song as we sing it at our house.

The Unquiet Grave -- Child 78

The wind doth blow today, my love
A few small drops of rain
I never had but one true love
And she in the cold ground is lain

I'll do as much for my true love
As any other may
I'll sit and mourn all on her grave
For twelve months and a day

The twelve months and a day being gone
The dead began to speak
Saying who is that sits on my grave
And will not let me sleep

It is I, my love, sits on your grave
And will not let you sleep
I crave one kiss of your cold sweet lips
And that is all I seek

You crave one kiss from my cold lips
My breath is earthy strong
And had you one kiss from my cold clay lips
You time would not be long

On down in yonder garden green
Where you and I once walked
The fairest flower that ever bloomed
Is withered to a stalk

The stalk is withered dry, my love
So must our hearts decay
Go and make yourself content, my love
Till death calls you away

Emily: Bill C51 -- Freedom in Healthcare Mon, Sep 22 2008, 6:13pm  
I was just talking to someone about this, and happened to come across this video... so here it is!

Shawn Buckley speaking in Vancouver this past June, 2008.

Also, because of the upcoming election, I think Bill C51 is either dead or on hold, but imagine that it or something similar will reappear eventually. Here's the actual Bill as I originally read it: http://www2.parl.gc.ca/HousePublications/Publication.aspx?Docid=3398126&file=4
Emily: the nun's progress Thu, Sep 18 2008, 11:22pm  
Juan Pablo Zaramella. I'm so impressed impressed by this artist. And this is by no means the extent of his talent and style. Definitely, if you have an interest, go to his site (http://www.zaramella.com.ar) and check out his other adventures!

Emily: Recent Entertainment Fri, Sep 5 2008, 6:28pm  
A beautiful rain-split tomato!

Taliesin has recently been more inspired about reading. Here he is helping to read the bedtime story (I'm not sure who chose it but it was a wonderful book: a children's encyclopedia!)

Rhiannon drawing our dog, Juniper, in the book we made for our Omi.

Tal standing by the giant wall of roots we discovered in the woods near our house.

Here you can see Rhiannon and Hunter performing a lovely part of their epic ballet production:

Emily: Wild Food: Stink Currant Jam Fri, Sep 5 2008, 6:03pm  
...with [not wild] tongue wrapped in stink currant leaves.

First go for an adventure in the woods. There are hundreds if not thousands of stink currant bushes in Crippen Park, reaching fragile awkward limbs toward any place sun breaks through the canopy of cedar, hemlock and fir. Sadly, the pale blue powdery berries are usually few and far between, and it takes a long journey to find enough for a small jar of jam. Thankfully the forest-experience alone is reason enough to take the journey! (See the bucket? The 7 berries collected so far soon found their way to the forest floor, and henceforth the berries were carried in pockets.)

Collect a big handful of stink currant leaves. At home, boil and skin a steer's tongue, then marinate it briefly in a warm red wine. Place it in a casserole with about 1/2 - 1 inch of wine still around it. Wrap it tightly in the leaves, and attach with toothpicks, pinning on a halved clove of garlic each time. The leaves' scent is earthy and strong, and will give a very slight "forest" flavour to the meat. Cover and roast for at least 2 hours, basting with the wine every so often.

Stink currant jam: Add a small amount of water to the gathered stink currants in a pot (do not cover), and cook until the currants become mushy. When the mixture begins to resemble jam, add enough sugar to bring out the flavour, without masking it. It will be reasonably bitter and earthy-tasting. Continue to cook and mash until it becomes a good jam.

Eat! Unwrap the roast, and serve with a bit of the warm jam, and maybe some fresh vegetables from the garden or forest! We had it with beans, zucchini, and potatoes.

Oh yes -- and definitely invite somebody to dinner to share the bounty.

Emily: awesome game!!! Wed, Aug 27 2008, 11:02pm  
OK I am not much of a game-player... unless the game is at least a couple of interesting, creative, funny, beautiful, free and addictive. Fantastic Contraption is all of those... and good for the kids, too.

Here's my exciting creation for the day:
According to the law of chaos, sometimes our intrepid hero succeeds in his mission to get up the hill; sometimes he falls of backwards and perishes. Sometimes he flips over on his back and perishes; sometimes he struggles for naught, and then rolls back and perishes. Sadly, most often he perishes.

It's not necessary to build such tragic heros. But it is funny. Perish the thought!

Have fun!!!
Emily: Is it Back-to-Homelearning Season? Sun, Aug 24 2008, 10:56pm  
In a week we begin preschool and Tal's once-a-week art class, conceived so that the full-time homelearners can get together as a group once a week, and also so the teacher can keep track of the kids' development and report to the ministry for us (thereby sparing us the tedious, frustrating task of reporting, ourselves). So, yes, there seems to be a back to school season for us, too! And we're in it. Taking one week to sort out our disaster of a house before we're back making preschool snacks, registering for ballet, modern dance, etc. I was just talking to my cousin about it all, and she inspired me to really think about WHY we've chosen this life. So many people ask me that question, and I generally feel so afraid of criticism that I don't say much at all. So here it is. I'm going to spill my beans. Again. I feel much safer typing this into the great blogland than saying it straight up to someone with actual concerns and opinions!! but, of course, if you do have any, feel free to tell me or email - I don't really want to defend what we're doing, but I love to hear about other people's experiences and suggestions.

You know how once in a while you meet or hear of a person from some underprivileged place coming uneducated and impoverished to [insert privileged society here], and getting so inspired that they learn to speak English, then to read, and seemingly become accomplished academics overnight? It's because they WANTED to. They found some extreme desire and pursued it. Same with the crazy artists, singers, beach-glass-collectors and West Coast squatters who left their prestigious careers or their parent' high hopes and just followed their dreams. I want our kids to have nothing between them and their passions; no homework, no obligations, no expectations, just them and the world and all their OWN inspiration, successes and failings. It doesn't really matter when you find your passion, if you find it when you're 2 or 10 or 50, or if you have a long string of ever-changing passions. What matters is that we give our children the freedom to find their own passions, even if they're different from ours. I don't yet know which of my passions will not be shared by my kids, but I'm sure one day I'll find out, and have to overcome some disappointment, no matter how accepting I try to be.

And you know also how some of the most happy people in the world are either not living the standard of life we depend on for our happiness, or are raging socialites with seemingly no education, or are working in jobs that seem not-so-prestigious -- but they're happy? What about the mothers who spend all day cooking and cleaning and driving kids around? (Ack!) I couldn't handle it, but I know people who do actually like it. There are happy people walking every part of life, and in the end, happiness is the crux of all our wishes for our kids. This world needs all sorts of people, and we can't all be academics. Some people just are passionate about academia. And some aren't. The world needs all of us. So if there's one thing and one thing only that I hope to learn and to share with my kids, it is how to find happiness and acceptance of ourselves and others.

That's why we're unschooling. To give our children the freedom to become who they truly want to be, and to hold off the pressure to conform, also because once we've stepped off the bandwagon we don't (as parents) feel pressure to measure up. Parents can be awfully competitive! So we're just living happy lives, in confidence that our kids' freedom and passion will lead them where they need to go.

Homeschooling vs. Unschooling
I know I've said this before on the Rickshaw Unschooling blog, but this is just for the sake of people who haven't read that one (people keep asking me to explain). We are not homeschooling, we're unschooling. We're calling it unschooling, because that seems to be the most-used term right now. Other words for what we're doing are free-learning, or (as my mother does it in her preschool) child-led learning.

What this all means is that we don't have a structured homeschool schedule or system. We do register the kids in any classes they feel inspired to take, but other than that just live our lives happily, allowing our passions to lead us. Learning traditional "school subjects" isn't something we do specifically; we just learn those things as a natural part of life. A lot of times that means I think of great ideas and hope the rest of the family feels inclined to follow, but often it means they think of great ideas, and I follow them. Sometimes I do put a stop on activities that frighten me or that damage my belongings, etc. And I do keep some control over schedules, just so we actually do make it out of the house and to the classes we've registered for.

I sometimes try to guide the kids' learning in a non-coercive way, but that in itself is a kind of oxymoron, so it usually doesn't go very well. It's usually me who learns a lesson from the experience. I keep expressing my excitement to Tal about his progress with learning to read, and every time I do he kicks back and refuses to read for days or weeks. When I stop trying he ends up reading -- and then he wants me to notice and appreciate, but not be too excited, and CERTAINLY not ask him to read something else!! Sometimes I get so irritated with it all that I threaten him with the perils of growing up illiterate, which of course isn't going to happen anyway, and then he gets turned off reading for weeks. It's a balance I'm only very slowly learning to hold. I'm not the most balanced person. Maybe that's something I can learn from Annie.

PS: Unschooling Is Not Anti-Schooling
Some school-families have been insulted by our use of the word "unschooling" or told me they felt inadequate because they send their kids to school. But you don't have to be out of school to be an unschooler. Lots of unschoolers send their kids to school. It's more about letting the kids lead their own lives (bumps and falls included) than it is about being anti-school. If unschooled children choose to go to school because they want to, then school is absolutely the best thing they can be doing.
Emily: Born Learning Wed, Aug 20 2008, 10:35pm  
This is so wonderful! It's basically working toward the same goal my Mothers Place initiative was! How wonderful to see someone being successful with it! http://www.bornlearning.org/
Emily: August activities Tue, Aug 19 2008, 12:04am  
Just for some photo-dispersal, here is a collection of our recent activity:

Markus' mother came and surprised him for his birthday!

Emily painted the preschool:

Rhiannon is now as tall as a tree (see?). And she's planning to be a witch when she grows up, and is starting by harvesting pocketfuls of conifer needles for tea. You should have some. It's yummy and it makes you healthy.


Tal is coming out of his shell a little more, these days, and can be quite a performer, when the inspiration strikes him. He's also aware of his sweet looks and uses them to great advantage if he can.

And kids are just plain funny:
(Can you tell we've been to two weddings this year?)


We've been eating many homegrown and wild foods, as usual. Some of the current flavours are cucumber (photo), beans, peas, beans, herbs wild and cultivated, beans, lettuce, beans... did I say beans? OK I'll stop. And zucchini, needle teas, various berries (shown are oregon grape, salal, and stink currant, which subsequently became jam)... etc.



Finally, we just came back from Princeton, where my Mum, brother and I got to perform together for the first time. It was fabulous! Singing alone on stage really scares me, but singing with my family makes me feel totally whole and fulfilled, and looking out to see people grinning and singing along made it the best performing experience I've ever had. I felt so happy to be sharing my wonderful family and my family's music with complete strangers (and also a whole bunch of not-at-all-strangers, including many people from Bowen). That night was the ultimate music party; we sang and sang and sang. It feels so good to be a part of a far-flung and yet tight community like this one. The kids I grew up knowing in the Vancouver folk are still returning, and every time we come together again it feels like coming home. At one point during the first evening, Tal went off with only Nana and Opa, and I reminded him to keep aware of Nana or Opa so he didn't get lost among all the many many chili-eating performers. He smiled at me and said "Don't worry; I know everybody there. I can just go to anybody if I need something."
Rika and Jon worked very hard making this wonderful festival happen, and I was very very happy to be a part of it.


Now we have a little while left before Rhiannon's preschool and Tal's art and dance classes begin -- we're going to use this time to pay more attention to our colossal mess of a house and yard, and then hopefully drift into the autumn routine.
Emily: The Rickshaw Masquerade Mon, Aug 18 2008, 11:26pm  
It's taken me a long time to post; but here at long last are a few photos from the Masquerade. It's 3 years running, now, and is really beginning to become what we hoped for: a warm gathering of the richness, inspiration and joy that holds us together here. It's kind of our way to cement our community once a year, and I can finally say I think that's happening. The masks are not just for fun, either; they're a way to express the creativity and flair of our guests, and when the masks come off there is a sort of honesty of presence that I think is less noticeable when people arrive unmasked. The unmasking after the spiral dance is a kind of soul-baring; we come masked in our extravagance, and then slowly relax into each other's company and the essence of our community. And as usual we end up sprawled all over the ground around the fire making music until the wee hours.

We're very grateful to our family, as well as Chloe, Stefanie and Katrin for helping us stage the party, and clean up afterward!! These photos are all taken by Stefanie and Katrin.

Emily: Recent Activities Sun, Jul 27 2008, 12:11am  
Rhiannon's latest songwriting explorations: "In the Car Shop There's a Car":

We've washed the Subaru and will get it detailed this week. We have a new (older but tougher and cheaper) Pathfinder, and the Subaru is for sale. See the ad for it, here if you're interested.

We've (let's say 99% Markus) have been working on my studio. I'm hoping to be standing on that floor painting at about this time next year! Well, actually no - I'm hoping to have a bunch of dutch family camping on that floor in anticipation of Adrian's wedding at about this time next year... but after that. Painting. Really. :--)

It's summer... the kids are photogenic as usual. I think Rhiannon thought she was very lady-like dressed as she was and on the phone with her friend Hunter, who was home sick and needing an extensive 3-year-old phone conversation. I rather think she resembles Neil Young, though...

Summer means berry season!! Here a gratuitous ripe black raspberry, which we ate in a salad of garden and wild veggies.

Summer means Pacific Treefrogs. Mostly they live quite harmoniously with us; sometimes it's a bit of an awkward relationship, as this one (right) discovered when he needed rescuing from between the window panes...

Happy Summer!
Emily: modern amenities Sun, Jul 20 2008, 12:33pm  
Today I turned the tap in our kitchen, and pre-heated water flowed out onto my hands. Have you ANY idea how wonderful that is?!

We are blessed daily by a multitude of amazing innovations and amenities that we take utterly for granted. We consider ourselves unfortunate when our stove breaks down and we're forced to cook by campstove; our communities become incapacitated when the power goes out, and all stops while hydro crews race to restore it; we consider a daily shower to be a "basic need", while millions of people live without even enough water to drink; we go camping to find the "simple life", which is of course much more complicated by our efforts to approximate, outside, the lifestyle we've created on the urban grid at home. We are so spoiled that our consumption gets in the way of our happiness.

Last October we pulled our barely-functioning stove out to replace, and, due to a lengthy process of hurdles and complications of trying to convert to propane, not being able to, and deciding electricity is greener in this area, we were stoveless/ovenless until mid-March. Then, since we were buying a new electric stove, we thought we'd get really selfish and buy a dishwasher, too. 3 days after it was installed (still in March), our hot water tank met its demise. Well, we thought, rather than just get a new one, lets go green and get a tankless heater! So we did. But we couldn't just install it ourselves, and electricians (like plumbers and gas-fitters) are in short supply on this island of mass-development, and it took until last week for our electrician to inform us that the changes necessary to our house and electric panel were going to cost us at least $3500.00. So with the last 5 days on the return policy we shipped the tankless heater back and have finally, just yesterday, bought a new tank at our local building centre. It would have been working yesterday, except that it took Markus until today to discover that there was, in fact, no power in the wires, and to look in the panel to see that the electrician had disconnected them... then 20 minutes later the tank was going, and 2 hours later again we have pre-heated water flowing at the mere turn of a tap.

People who've been over for a visit have been amazed that we've functioned stoveless and hot-waterless for so long, and I've been amazed that it's been relatively normal, around here. We cut our bathing down to once a week, boiled the water on the stove and shared the bath (yes, my parents offered baths upstairs at their house, but Markus is a little shy about that, of course). Markus boiled a pot of water to wash the dishes every night, and everything else (laundry, etc) has been done with cold water. And in general it hasn't been that much of an inconvenience.

Still... to turn a tap and have heated water seems amazing, after all this time. And I'm glad I've learned a little humility in the face of our senseless consumption of "amenities". I wish everyone could truly appreciate how rich and how privileged we are to live the way we do.

We're going to use our new dishwasher today, if we can remember how it works...
Emily: plastic grass Sun, Jul 20 2008, 12:41am  
the issue of the today... Every few years or so we really have to fight for the way of life we've come here for. The suburbs have a way of sliding in while we're crouched with our noses in the shrubs, and sometimes it behooves us to stand up and look around. This monday many of us will be standing at the council meeting to speak up against an artificial field currently planned for the community school yard.

Thanks to George for this fabulous video, and to Erin for having the guts to go public. Before all of this became such a big deal, I was shocked that it was happening so quietly, and created an art project to raise awareness and promote conversation about it. It worked, in large part because Ken Beatty, who apparently has worked hard to bring this field about, railed at me in the Undercurrent, calling me repeatedly gutless, and sneaky. (Link here to my response.)I am a lot of things, but not really gutless or sneaky. And I'm ever so glad to have done what I feel is the primary role of art: to make people think.

Emily: friendship Fri, Jul 18 2008, 9:14pm  

Tal and Rhiannon have these beautiful friends, whom they've been close to since they first met as babies. It hasn't been a persuaded friendship; just one of those natural happenings. For me it's beautiful to watch, and I've learned a lot about parenting and even my own social situations from watching how they are in their most natural social state, with me on the sidelines.

The other day I was sitting with my own childhood friend and a newer, but also close friend, talking about what determines our friendships, and the basic ties that bind us. Truth, it turned out, was the common denominator. We pull close to people we feel an innate trust in; people we can not only trust with our deepest truth, but in whom we perceive an honesty and openness of character.

Despite the fact that Kai (above) is a foot taller and twice Tal's weight, and a rambunctious player, Tal is more at ease with him than with any other, simply because he can trust him. They wrestle, they play chase in the pool (Kai can swim and Tal cannot), they make lego and play dollhouse together. When Tal pulls out a sword and gets threatening, Kai just wanders away; when Kai gets too rough, Tal says "stop" and Kai does. Rhiannon and Kai's sister Hunter have the same easy relationship; they even look after each other's babies with as much care and respect as they show their own. There's no judgement, no pressure, and no fear. They simply ARE. Sometimes I think this is what it would be like to have cousins living close by. There is nothing I could hope more for my kids than that they have love and happiness, and in the development of open, honest relationships I think they have it all.
Taliesin: Mischa's Wedding Tue, Jul 15 2008, 4:35pm  
This weekend, on the same day my cousin Allard married Gwendolin in Barcelona, my sister Mischa married Mitch on the Lonsdale Pier, in North Vancouver. Of course, we attended the latter...

First of all some proof that my children are capable of cleaning up in a snap when necessary! These photos were taken less than 24 hours apart:

Here, my beautiful sister accepts Mitch's self-written vow, and (earlier) the bridesmaids and flowergirls watch her coming down the Pier with our Dad. That's Breelana on the left, and Rhiannon making typical flowergirl faces, for your entertainment.

The grand production, and Mitch signing up for life:

Here's the second wedding cake of my life, and one of the last. I'm glad I've learned how to construct a 12-layer cake with tiers, and make fondant icing, but I've now firmly decided it's only for immediate family. :--)

Finally, Hannah sharing her bouquet with Rhiannon, and some avian entertainment at the Pier.

Taliesin: Why to live in the forest. Mon, Jul 14 2008, 11:10pm  
Mama was reading a book about Canadian Aboriginal peoples to the kids. We read about how in the sub-arctic it was useful to assemble camps in the forest, and Mama asked the kids why they thought it was so useful.

Taliesin: So they can be away from the wind and get firewood there...

Rhiannon: So... umm... the government... ummmm... so the government doesn't find them!
Taliesin: taking things literally Thu, Jun 26 2008, 10:12pm  
overheard during a phone conversation:

from the phone: "So you're going to bed, now?"
Taliesin: "Um, not now, because I'm talking to you on the phone, so I don't think so. Not the second you said that, anyway."
Emily: the river is flowing Sun, Jun 22 2008, 10:23pm  
The 3-day solstice gathering we attend, which has happened for about 40 years in the interior, came to our own island, this year! It was much smaller than usual -- I think only about 60 people. But that too was beautiful in a new way. Despite the fact that we were without the infrastructure and the entire generation who started this gathering, many people worked together to be sure the main events happened, and in all the spirit was still there; we blessed our own Trout lake as the grove of forgiveness, which was extremely meaningful to me and, I think, many others from Bowen. So here we are home again after 2 nights camping with family, old friends and new friends, and we're exhausted but spiritually renewed for the coming year.

It was so good to join a group of like-minded people for a weekend of openness, love and celebration... and even more wonderful that it happened on our own earth. Mother Earth will carry me; her child I will always be. Mother, carry me, down to the sea. A weekend of following my heart in total confidence has somewhat refueled my ego. I am so glad we've become full-time homelearners (posted here on the unschooling blog), and will have more time to follow our hearts in the coming year, spend time with loved ones, and grow free.

Taliesin: I liked that we went for a really long walk and it was light all night. It was interesting when they cooked the lamb by roasting it on the fire with two logs, because it was a whole lamb.

Rhiannon: I liked when Tali gave a medicine bag to Pappa, but it was boring when we had to sleep in the morning.
Emily: gluten-free wedding cake Sun, May 25 2008, 10:56pm  
What an adventure. And now I've been asked to do both my sister's and brother's upcoming wedding cakes! Good thing I've learned how, now!! I learned it all on the Internet. I researched types of cakes, styles, trends, and construction methods on Google, and then watched people using fondant and gum paste on YouTube to figure that part out. Wow there is some useful stuff out there in cyberspace! Here's what I did:

Over the couple of weeks before the wedding I baked 4 tiers (2 layers each) of varying apple cake and spice cake (the bride's request), and froze them all in bags until two days before the wedding. Then I took them out and stacked them with buttercream icing on their cake-boards (cut from plywood and covered with tinfoil). Doesn't sound very elegant, does it? It didn't feel very elegant, I must say... and the careful shifting and leveling, shifting and leveling, and spreading and respreading the icing until each tier was perfectly square and perfectly level was downright tedious. I used the kids' little level (as you can see on the table in the photo, below). It worked wonderfully!

Then all the cakes sat in the fridge for a few hours to harden the icing... And then I rolled and draped the fondant. It really is neat stuff. It stretches and molds quite easily, and is semi-translucent, too.

After all the rolling and mixing icing, my wrists were toast and I couldn't use the saw; Markus had to cut the dowels for me (poked into the cakes to hold up each upper tier). Then I happily made about 3 times the number of little gum-paste leaves I required -- it looked like so much less on the plate!! Because it was a western-themed wedding, and I wanted there to be something left over for my friends to keep, I made a horeshoe topper out of modelling clay and painted it white and silver. The rest of the decoration was all icing. And look at the tools! Really not much needed other than a small rolling pin, a small knife, a pen for stamping the button-decorations, and a brush for the egg-white-glue/varnish. I did end up making a jig (shown) out of two knives, a piece of Brio traintrack and some tape, just so I could cut perfectly even and matching ribbons. But really that was it. There is absolutely no need for all the many many tools available for wedding-cake making. Or maybe I just don't know enough to need them, yet. Somehow I doubt it.

Then off to the florist on the way to the wedding to buy some lovely roses, and... TA DA! A cake happened.

And we thought it was yummy, too. :--)

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