Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Books I finished reading this year: up to twenty

I have a GoodReads reading challenge this year of 47 books. (Don't ask me why, it just worked out that way.) I've read 20 books (almost halfway there), and some of the books I ended up reading were not the ones I planned; but that's okay. Re-reads aren't on the list, but I do go back; at least three books I spent time with this year "didn't count" because I had read them before.


A Place in Time: Twenty Stories of the Port William Membership
Berry, Wendell

The Second Coming
Percy, Walker

The Housekeeper and the Professor
Ogawa, Yōko

Fathers and Children
Turgenev, Ivan


Collected Poems 1909-1962
Eliot, T.S.

Four Quartets
Eliot, T.S.

Other Things

Atlas of the Roman World
Cornell, Tim J.

Telling the Truth: the Gospel as Tragedy, Comedy, and Fairy Tale
Buechner, Frederick

The Introvert Advantage: How to Thrive in an Extrovert World
Laney, Marti Olsen

The Greek Way
Hamilton, Edith

Sailing the Wine-Dark Sea: Why the Greeks Matter
Cahill, Thomas

Living, Well, Spending Less: 12 Secrets of the Good Life
Soukup, Ruth

MFA in a Box: A Why to Write Book
Rember, John

Eliot and His Age: T. S. Eliot's Moral Imagination in the Twentieth Century
Kirk, Russell

The Art of T.S. Eliot
Gardner, Helen Louise

Sailor and Fiddler: Reflections of a 100-Year-Old Author
Wouk, Herman

Twenty Things You Should Read
Edwards, David B.

Scaling Down: Living Large in a Smaller Space
Culbertson, Judi *

A Christian View of Hospitality: Expecting Surprises
Hershberger, Michele

 Let's Play Math: How Families Can Learn Math Together and Enjoy It
Gaskins, Denise *

(I guess what I've read this year in Plutarch counts too?)

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Fresh hankies

Eight man-size cotton handkerchiefs, made from two yard-saled pillowcases. (Yes, it took me three months to get around to it. I know. It's awful. But I did have the excuse of having the sewing machine packed away for part of that time.)

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Saturday yard saling: baskets and roosters

Today's yard saling finds: a basket divided into sections (maybe good for napkins or towels)...
And a set of three wooden canisters with roosters.
I already have some rooster things: china measuring cups, and a spoon holder. The spoon holder came from my great-grandmother's house.
I put the canisters and a couple of the china pieces on the back of the stove.
One person's excess is another person's rooster collection.

P.S.: I know, stoves, fire safety, all that. I will probably move the canisters somewhere else tomorrow, but for now I just liked the way they lined up.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Oldest and newest?

What's the oldest thing in your closet? What's the newest?
Besides some jewelry, the only remnant of my school years is this scarf, which I hadn't worn for ages (a Woolite bath revived it). It's painted silk, from a street artist who was selling them in Montreal in 1984. I was working at a camp north of there, and between the two halves of camp, some of the staff spent a couple of days in the city. This was my souvenir.  (I'm not making a face on purpose, it's just hard to take selfies and not look the wrong way.)

The newest is a plaid shirt that I found this morning at a consignment store (the same one where I've found several other good things, especially at their end-of-season sales). I was very happy to find it, and even happier that it fit.

How about you?

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

A Racy Wednesday Hodgepodge on National Thriftshop Day

Notes from our Hodgpodge Hostess:
"Here are the questions to this week's Wednesday Hodgepodge. Answer on your own blog, then race back here tomorrow to add your link to the party. See you there!"

1. I read here four creative activities to try this month. They were-calligraphy, make your own cookbook, dance or learn a new type of dance, and letter writing. Which activity on the list appeals to you most? Will you add it to your August? 

Well, process of elmination would narrow it down to letter writing, and that's definitely something I don't do enough of (if you don't count emails). I will pull out my box of notecards this week and send a couple off.

2. Bertrand Russell is quoted as saying, 'To be without some of the things you want is an indispensable part of happiness.' Agree or disagree? Explain. 

To be without them permanently, or temporarily? I assume he's saying that self-denial teaches us patience. But being repeatedly denied the thing you hoped for can also be demoralizing. I guess it depends which end you're on. As parents, you know it's not good for children to be given everything they want, or to get it too easily, but you hope they'll decide what the important things are and find ways to take hold of them.

3. August 17th is National Thriftshop Day...are you a 'thrifter'? If so, tell us about one of your best or favorite finds. 

Well, you came to the right place. Dyed-in-the-wool, bred in the bone thrifter. You can see my whole Fall Project 333 here (otherwise known as my mostly-thrifted clothes).

4.  On a scale of 1-10 (with 1= almost none and 10=loads) how would you rate your sense of wanderlust? What kicks your wanderlust into high gear? 

Gorgeous pictures of a) Scottish castles, b) turquoise beaches, c) English villages, d) Greek temples. None of which I have ever been to, but maybe someday.

5. Has life felt more like a marathon or sprint so far this month? How so?

No, it was more just chugging along. I have been busy with a writing project most mornings, and it has been either too hot or too rainy to do a lot of other things.

6. What do you need to get a jump on before fall officially arrives? 

It is very hard for me not to buy school supplies. But Lydia knows what she wants herself (she's going into the tenth grade), and as for our household needs, we're still using up years' worth of homeschool stuff. I did buy two packs of door-crasher lined paper at Walmart.

7. What's the last thing you did with friends or family where you lost track of time? 

I can't think of anything much, not because I haven't had a good time, but because it's hard to forget about watching my watch. Even if I'm not wearing one.

8. Insert your own random thought here. 

Bald generals and laurel wreaths. That's about as random as you can get.

Linked from the Wednesday Hodgepodge at From This Side of the Pond.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Sunday, August 14, 2016

When fashionista generals have their say (or, the side benefits of wearing a laurel wreath)

"He was somewhat overnice in the care of his person, being not only carefully trimmed and shaved, but even having superfluous hair plucked out, as some have charged; while his baldness was a disfigurement which troubled him greatly, since he found that it was often the subject of the gibes of his detractors. Because of it he used to comb forward his scanty locks from the crown of his head, and of all the honours voted him by the senate and people there was none which he received or made use of more gladly than the privilege of wearing a laurel wreath at all times."
~~Suetonius, on Julius Caesar

Tuesday, August 09, 2016

Thrift store haul (or "Second-hand Pants"*)

I really needed fall pants. For one reason and another, my choices in the closet were very limited. I have also had little success lately finding anything at the used stores that fits.  A pullover, a blazer--yes. But jeans or other pants? It seems like everything in my size or close to it has been locked in some secret Size Eight, Short Person vault.

Until today, when we finally made it down to the MCC thrift store. I should have known.
Two pairs of jeans for $3 and $1, one pair of grey pants for $1, and another splurge pair for $6. So, good. I'm done shopping. And I can stop wondering if any pants that fit will return to my home planet.
I also found a pair of shoes, which was a nice bonus.

(I am planning on starting a fall Project 333 page soon. I was waiting on the pants.)

Monday, August 08, 2016

Quote for the day: when fashionista ponies have their say

Rarity: Precisely why I questioned the castle guards! They were at their post at the entrance to the hallway all night, except for a small window of time when somepony brought them cake. A cake that was ordered by a girl pony with a raspy voice! Whoever ordered the cake got a chocolate stain on her ivory scarf, and I couldn't help but notice that Wind Rider's scarf is tied in a tight Windsor knot instead of its usual loose slipknot! And why is that? Is it to hide the chocolate stain?!
[Wonderbolts gasping]
Wind Rider: Ah, this is preposterous. Wonderbolts, you don't believe a word of this, right?
Rarity: Just admit it – you're as guilty of framing Rainbow Dash as you are of ruining that ivory scarf!
Wind Rider: Ah, fine! You caught me! I did it!

(My Little Pony, "Rarity Investigates")

Saturday, August 06, 2016

Saturday yard sales: Crockpots and Kimmie

Awhile back I posted a photo of Little Mama Squirrel with a 1960's Kimmie doll, sold by Regal Imports. Our Kimmie wore Inuit clothes, but they were also sold wearing other types of Native costume, usually something leather.
Today I found a Kimmie at a yard sale. The seller was about my age, and when I asked about the doll, she said it was hers growing up, and now her own kids were also done playing with Kimmie. A bit of Toy Story so-outgrown-toys happening there?

Anyway, I took her Kimmie home with me. She needs a bit of hair TLC, but otherwise she's in pretty good shape.
I also found an extra Crockpot, with a couple of free recipe books, for five dollars, at another sale. The seller was moving overseas and couldn't take it with her.

A nostalgic and useful yardsale morning.

Thursday, August 04, 2016

What's for supper? Roast Beef Ratatouille

Isn't it funny when you can go back five years on your blog and find that you had almost the same fresh and leftover ingredients to use for supper?

Well, okay, not everyone can do that, but I got lucky with the leftovers. We might even have some cherry tomatoes in the garden.

Wednesday, August 03, 2016

From the archives: on the evils of education

First posted in January 2013, while discussing Charlotte Mason's Volume 6 (Philosophy of Education), Chapter 3. Some of this post worked its way into Minds More Awake.
“...By the time we have dealt with those functions of the mind which we know, we may find ourselves in a position to formulate that which we certainly do not possess, a Science, should it not be a Philosophy, of Education?”—Charlotte Mason, Towards a Philosophy of Education, Chapter 3 
The title and subheading of this chapter ("Children are not born bad but with possibilities for good and evil") are enough to raise quite a lot of anti-Charlotte Mason hackles. “What do you mean, children are not born bad? That’s anti-Christian.” “We are born with evil natures. End of story, next?” “I’m going back to classical.” 

Here is Charlotte’s word on this issue: “The fact seems to be that children are like ourselves, not because they have become so, but because they are born so; that is, with tendencies, dispositions, towards good and towards evil, and also with a curious intuitive knowledge as to which is good and which is evil. Here we have the work of education indicated. There are good and evil tendencies in body and mind, heart and soul; and the hope set before us is that we can foster the good so as to attenuate the evil; that is, on condition that we put Education in her true place as the handmaid of Religion.” “In every child there are tendencies to greediness, restlessness, sloth, impurity, any one of which by allowance may ruin the child and the man that he will be.” 

You can argue about the theological side of it after class. But that is NOT what Charlotte wanted to focus on, in this chapter; not totally. What she seemed to be doing, simply by way of introduction, was to compare the way religious attitudes and Christian education had changed towards children, with the way that she felt educational attitudes could similarly change.

She believed that Christian thought had previously over-emphasized the issue of personal salvation, to the neglect of concern for “the community, the nation, the race.”[See Note Below] She got excited when she thought about the educational possibilities that could go beyond just one child or one group, ideas that could affect “every class and country.” “The recognition of the potentialities in any child should bring about such an educational renaissance as may send our weary old world rejoicing on its way.” 

Well, Charlotte was never accused of thinking small. 

Yes, she is thinking somewhat of a child’s inborn moral status here. But, again, she is comparing his or her spiritual tendencies to sin; AND the parent or teacher’s responsibility, within certain limits, to teach and train those tendencies out of a young child; with his or her intellectual makeup and needs. (The last section of this chapter deals specifically with “the soul,” or the spiritual realm.) 

And this is where she starts to do something interesting with this chapter. Have you read her earlier book Ourselves, which she wrote to be read to children? The next parts of chapter 3 are a very close summary of the first few chapters of OurselvesOurselves begins in an allegorical style, something like John Bunyan’s The Holy War. Every person is a kingdom, and in the kingdom there are governors, and good servants (who can also be bad masters), and troublemakers, and beautiful lands…all kinds of things, which she tries to put in order. “It is important that we should have before us a bird's eye view, let us call it, of human nature.” 

First off, we have the physical body, including the needs of the nervous system. Then she moves on to children’s intellectual tendencies, appetites, and needs: “We do not perceive that the mind, too, has its tendencies both good and evil and that every inclination towards good is hindered and may be thwarted by a corresponding inclination towards evil; I am not speaking of moral evil but of those intellectual evils which we are slow to define and are careless in dealing with.” 

Do you catch her point about “evils” here and in the upcoming paragraphs? The “intellectual evils” are mainly on the part of the educational system, the school, the teacher. The “evils” include dumbing-down, dullness, diagrams; competition for marks; token rewards (like stickers). “Good teachers know that they may not drown their teaching in verbiage.” “A child's intercourse must always be with good books, the best that we can find.” “No child would forget the characterization of Charles IX as 'feeble and violent,' nor fail to take to himself a lesson in self-control. We may not point the moral; that is the work proper for children themselves and they do it without fail.” 

Do you know where the “feeble and violent” reference comes from? The History of Modern Times, from the Fall of Constantinople to the French Revolution, by Victor Duruy. Here’s a longer excerpt: 

Charles IX. was then twenty-one, of good intellect, but of a character at once feeble and violent; spoiled by absolute power, surrounded by Italian favorites who perverted his heart, he played very well and sometimes unwittingly the role which his mother [Catherine de' Medici] left him. He had more than once found that the Huguenot chiefs carried their heads too high, and had not forgotten the homicidal counsels given him by the Duke of Alva at Bayonne. But then he was impatient of his mother's yoke and envious of the victories ascribed to his brother. Inconstant and passionate, he entered with ardor into new projects, wrote to Coligny, to Jeanne d' Albret, and urged the prompt conclusion of the marriage of Henry of Beam with his sister. The Queen of Navarre decided to come to Paris; so too did the admiral. "At last we have you, my father," said to him the young king, embracing him, "and you will not escape from us when you wish."
Later in Volume 6, Charlotte writes, “Now Plutarch is like the Bible in this, that he does not label the actions of his people as good or bad but leaves the conscience and judgment of his readers to make that classification. What to avoid and how to avoid it, is knowledge as important to the citizen whether of the City of God or of his own immediate city, as to know what is good and how to perform the same.” It seems that the writing of Victor Duruy would fall under the same classification. Intelligent children reading this…assuming that they have the bits of background and vocabulary they need to make sense of the story…wouldn’t need to fill out a worksheet or be drilled by a teacher afterwards to show their understanding of Charles’s character flaws. They would get the issues with the mother and the brother, and ponder that mixed message in his greeting to the admiral. This is obviously not someone we want to emulate.

What bores children in school? Is it that they need more chance to play? Oh, said elementary teachers of years gone by—yes, what a wonderful idea! So let’s try sand tables! Classroom games! Puppets!  In my time:  let's videotape the puppet shows!  And the teachers of today—stop-motion Lego projects! Abraham Lincoln Rap!  Classroom reality shows!  Because yes, we teachers get…so (yawn)…bored…hm? Oh, yes, we were saying…”What reason have we to suppose that children are not equally bored? They try to tell us that they are by wandering eyes, inanimate features, fidgetting hands and feet, by every means at their disposal; and the kindly souls among us think that they want to play or to be out of doors. But they have no use for play except at proper intervals.” 

Play is for recess time. Play is for after school. If the children are bored in school…says Charlotte…it’s not because they need more play. It’s because they need more more.  More stories like the one above.  More to really think about and remember.

“That is the capital charge against most schools. The teachers underrate the tastes and abilities of their pupils. In things intellectual, children, even backward children, have extraordinary 'possibilities for good'––possibilities so great that if we had the wit to give them their head they would carry us along like a stream in spate.” “Just so of our parsimony do we fling aside the minds of the children of our country, also capable of being wrought into pleasaunces of delight, structures of utility and beauty, at a pitifully trifling cost. It is well we should recognise that the business of education is with us all our lives, that we must always go on increasing our knowledge.” ~~ Charlotte Mason
NOTE ON "Savin' Yer Dirty Sowl": This is not Charlotte Mason's original thought or phrase, nor did it originate with the Irish woman she mentions. The line actually comes from Charles Kingsley's novel Westward Ho!. The character Sir Richard says, "But this is the way with your Anabaptists, who, by their very hatred of forms and ceremonies, show of how much account they think them, and then bind themselves out of their own fantastical self-will with far heavier burdens than ever the lawful authorities have laid on them for the sake of the commonweal. But what do they care for the commonweal, as long as they can save, as they fancy, each man his own dirty soul for himself?" (I'm not agreeing with him, I'm just giving you the quote.) Kingsley's line here was quoted and misquoted in various publications; for example, "'Save your souls,' says Charles Kingsley, 'each man his own dirty soul for himself.'" I don't think that's exactly the point Sir Richard was making, but in any case--the issue that the woman seem to have is the idea of someone else saving their own soul by making her their evangelical project.

Good reading for today: Teacher or technology?

"Geoff Shullenberger, writing in Dissent magazine, suggests that in promoting Massive Open Online Courses, "We are remaking education around information technology, rather than using information technology as a pedagogical tool. This is a 21st Century version of what Paulo Freire called the 'banking method of education,' a model that Deweyan humanists and practitioners of critical pedagogy have long repudiated as reactionary and disempowering."
"Now in my 56th year of teaching university students, I have seen new technologies come and go, all of them hoping to "radicalize" my classroom, promising more efficient paths to greater academic achievement."
Read the rest of university professor Don Morgenson's column here.

Monday, August 01, 2016

Quote for the day: Simply the news

"The task of the preacher is to hold up life to us; by whatever gifts he or she has of imagination, eloquence, simple candor, to create images of life through which we can somehow see into the wordless truth of our lives. Before the Gospel is good news, it is simply the news that that's the way it is, whatever day it is of whatever year."

~~ Frederick Buechner, Telling the Truth

The newest Treehouse rodent

Muffin is Lydia's guinea pig. He's five weeks old.