Saturday, March 30, 2013

Quote for the day: in memory of Edith Schaeffer

"Mom made this introduction to Jesus through her life example. Mom was a wonderful paradox: an evangelical conservative fundamentalist who treated people as if she was an all-forgiving progressive liberal of the most tolerant variety.

"Mom’s daily life was a rebuke and contradiction to people who see everything as black and white. Liberals and secularists alike who make smug disparaging declarations about “all those evangelicals” would see their fondest prejudices founder upon the reality of my mother’s compassion, cultural literacy and loving energy."

~~Frank Schaeffer, "Goodbye Mom, Edith Schaeffer 1914-2013 RIP"

Dollygirl's Grade Six: School Plans This Week

The first week of Term Three--a four-day week because of Easter Monday.  "Afternoon work" includes reading time (including poetry); all art lessons including drawing, calligraphy techniques, and picture study; composer study; time for composition; crafts and skills (including workshop time with Dad); outdoor time; work in ongoing notebooks or "people pages."  Swimming lessons are Monday nights.

The biggest change in this schedule is that almost all the read-aloud books (the "'fun" ones such as Fellowship of the Ring; the retelling of The Aeneid; and the poetry), plus writing (compositions) and fine arts subjects, are unscheduled and have to wait for the afternoons.  This is both a good and a bad thing:  good because it's flexible, but bad because we have to make sure they get done and that everybody doesn't go off to do something else.  I'm writing in a tentative plan for this week's afternoon work.

If this schedule doesn't work well, I'll re-integrate the afternoon subjects.


New Testament (20 minutes):  "The Journey Northward," two printed-out pages from Saviour of the World (photo:  Mount Hermon)

Arithmetic (30 minutes):  review work this week, because we won't have the new books (Key to Percents) until the conference this weekend.  We might use Clue Finders 5th Grade Adventures.

Natural history (30 minutes):  "A Piece of Coal"

Singing, break  (total 30 minutes)

Memory work  (10 minutes):  begin working on a poem

History (20 minutes):  Story of Greece, "The March of the Ten Thousand"

"Writing" (copywork) (10 minutes)

French (30 minutes or as decided)

Afternoon work:  Picture study; readalouds; written work;  outdoor time weather permitting


Natural history  (20 minutes):  Stars and Planets (read and narrate)

History (30 minutes):  Augustus Caesar's World, "Out of Persia," pg 170-174

Studied dictation (30 minutes allowed for study and then writing)

"Drill"  and break  (30 minutes allowed)

Memory work

Geography (20 minutes):  Study of Cornwall.  Map questions to be answered and places to be marked on outline map before reading.

Writing (copywork)


Afternoon work:   Volunteering at thrift store


Old Testament:  readings from The Book of Adam to Moses, "with necessary omissions"


Grammar (30 minutes allowed):  Continue with "Case closed," and maybe do a fun activity too

French songs, break  (30 minutes total)

Memory work

History (20 minutes):  Story of Greece

Writing (copywork)

Shakespeare play (30 minutes)

Afternoon work:  Composer study; readalouds;  introduction to calligraphy techniques


New Testament:  two printed-out pages from Saviour of the World


Cititzenship (30 minutes):  start book about Winston Churchill, Never Give In

"Drill", break (total 30 minutes)

Dictation  (unprepared--10 minutes allowed)

Grammar (20 minutes):  How to Speak Politely


Singing and Memory Work  (30 minutes total)

Afternoon work: Art time; readalouds; short calligraphy practice time; writing assignments; plus discussion of "weekend reading" and personal Bible study.


Mom goes off to play.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Good Friday: of grief, loss, and flattened faith

I recently read a Globe and Mail essay that left me both aching for one hurting soul...and wondering how Jesus would respond to his pain. 

Basically the author is saying that although he believed that his Christian faith was solid, he got the wind so knocked out of him by the senseless death of his mentor that, within another year or so, he had "stopped" being a Christian.

I don't know this person, so I can't guess how deep his faith went, or the amount of grief he had to deal with.

But if the same logic applied to all Christian believers, then there would have been no Christian believers.  Ever.  Because that's exactly what happened on Good Friday.

Of course the disciples had the Resurrection to boost them up, a few days later, just as we have the promise of eternal life.  But all the same, would they ever forget the grief, failure, abandonment, betrayal that that Friday meant?  Yes, they saw Jesus alive--but did that end all their questions about the God who allowed His Son to suffer? 

If the same logic applied to me, my faith would probably either have been still-born...or killed off as well.  In some ways, it has died, more than once, through sin, stupidity, apathy, failure, disappointment, discouragement, betrayal.  (Sometimes other people's, sometimes mine.)  Every time we've had to make the decision to leave a church, some of my belief in God's people has been shaken.  I've seen Christians I trusted charged with criminal acts.  I've known others who should have been and weren't--which was worse.  I've seen Christian marriages, those that were an example to me, fall apart because of addictions; and ministries break apart over greed and power struggles.  I've often felt, like the author of the essay, that if we lose whatever or whoever most symbolizes Christ to us, then is there a point to continuing?

It seems that the body of Christ, once again, failed to see, to offer support and help where it was most needed...or maybe it was there, and this grieving Christian just didn't see it or couldn't receive it.  I don't know.  But even when the last friend has gone, the last mentor or reason to stay in the church has been taken--each Christian is still on his or her own journey.  Whether with welcome (or unwelcome) company, or alone for a stretch, the road is our own.  If that sounds like something from The Pilgrim's Progress, that's exactly what's on my mind, because that "Christian" had a mentor and best friend senselessly taken from him as well...and yet he continued on, I think, in part, to honour the memory of one he had loved.  And for a much greater reason: because it was his journey.
They therefore brought [Faithful] out to do with him according to their law; and first they scourged him, they they buffeted him, then they lanced his flesh with knives; after that, they stoned him with stones, then pricked him with their swords, and last of all, they burned him to ashes at the stake.  Thus came Faithful to his end.

Now, I saw that there stood behind the multitude a chariot and a couple of horses waiting for Faithful, who (so soon as his adversaries had dispatched him) was taken up into it, and straightway was carried up through the clouds with sound of trumpet the nearest way to the Celestial Gate.  But as for Christian, he had some respite, and was remanded back to prison; so he there remained for a space.  But He who overrules all things, having the power of their rage in His own hand, so wrought it about that Christian for that time escaped them, and went his way.  And as he went, he sang, saying:

"Well, Faithful, thou has faithfully professed
Unto thy Lord, with whom thou shalt be blest.
When faithless ones, with all their vain delights,
Are crying out under their hellish plights.
Sing, Faithful, sing, and let thy name survive;
For, though they killed thee, thou art yet alive."

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Exam responses: Bilbo's Party

Book studied:  The Fellowship of the Ring, by J.R.R. Tolkien

1. Write about Bilbo’s eleventy-first birthday party!

Everyone in the Shire was going to come; it was going to be one of the biggest celebrations in years! Everybody loved Bilbo’s birthday parties; he always had the best games, decorations, food, and PRESENTS! And so, the day of the party came, all of the hundreds of guests were there (they wouldn’t miss it for the world), and they had lined up outside of Bilbo’s cozy little Hobbit hole. Bilbo came outside, and started distributing the presents. Several Hobbits kept coming back for more and more presents! And then the feasting started. And Bilbo stood up to make his speech. He said a few kind words, and then he said “Well, you were nice to know, bye!” and vanished! What he had really done was slipped on his ring with his “Bye!”, but everybody was chattering about it the whole evening!

Exam responses: Archimedes' War Machines

Book studied:  Archimedes and the Door of Science, by Jeanne Bendick

1. Tell all you know about Archimedes’ war machines.

Archimedes liked using science for nice purposes. He hated war. So when the king asked him to make war machines, he said he wouldn’t. Eventually they wore him down though. So Archimedes made war machines, and he taught men how to use them for several years. Then finally one day came when they were attacked. There was great pandemonium throughout the city. So Archimedes set up his machines, and put them to use. There was a claw that picked ships up and shook them around like they were toys, and so many more. So in that way the enemy retreated and the Syracusens were safe.

Exam responses: Antony, Cleopatra, and Herod

From Dollygirl's spring exams (as written, uncorrected).  Book studied:  Augustus Caesar's World, by Genevieve Foster.

1. Tell the story of Antony’s meeting with Cleopatra.

One day Cleopatra sailed over to see Antony. She invited him to dinner. So he came sailing over, and found that she had prepared a feast for him! So after he had come over a couple times he came one night and found a feast like no other! During that feast Cleopatra took a pearl off of her necklace and dropped it in her golden goblet of wine. It melted, and Antony and all of the other guests stared at her. Antony thought it was amazing that she could be so rich!

2. Tell what you know of Herod.

When Antony left, Herod came rushing into Cleopatra house, “I must see Antony!” he cried. “What is the matter?” Cleopatra asked, “Antony’s gone!” Herod was very upset. So he told Cleopatra his story. His land had been invaded and the high priest’s ear had been cut off. He had to see Antony! So finally after much traveling he came running into where Antony was staying. “Herod, what in the world are you doing here?” asked Antony in bewilderment. Herod hurriedly told Antony his situation. Antony finally told him that he could rule over Judea.

Up in a tree: Dollygirl's exam response

This is Dollygirl's illustration (done in Paint) of Miss Dunbar, the tree-climbing governess in Crystal Mountain.  Right now she is doing some deep thinking with her hat over her face.

Dollygirl's Grade Six: More spring term plans posted (and a quiz)

For those of you checking in by reader, I wanted to let you know that I've posted pages on "A Piece of Coal", a chapter from The Fairy-Land of Science; and on the pieces of music we'll be using for a study of Handel.  The Coal page has a little coal-in-literature quiz I made up--want to try it?

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Thrift Store Wednesdays

I spent about half of my volunteer shift today just cleaning up the bookshelves in the store:  everything seemed to be in the wrong place.  Garden books on the cookbook shelf, cookbooks on the fixit shelf, history books in the self-help, and so on.  Browsing people do that sometimes.  But you have to get it more or less cleaned up before you can tell what spaces need to be filled.  I put out a whole lot of music and art books, filled up the craft books shelf, and priced a bunch of smaller-sized nonfiction books that would fit on our smaller-sized top shelf.  We also took a few boxes of books in ourselves--cleaning house here, and taking back some of the finds that have been read--or, in some cases, not read and not going to.  Henry Bemis might have all the time in the world (if he could ever get his glasses fixed), but sometimes the rest of us have to admit that there are some books we're just never going to get to.

Anyway, here's what we brought home (now that the shelves have been lightened somewhat):

Clue Finders 5th Grade Adventures CD-Rom (Dollygirl has already worked through the 4th and 6th grade versions)

Sheet music for two songs by Handel

Saving Dinner, by Leanne Ely

Saving Dinner the Low-Carb Way

Write Source 2000, a hardcover copy to replace our tattered paperback.

Easter things to make (food and crafts)

Well, at the Treehouse there are always Kiffle.

And maybe Coconut Chicks, though probably not this year.

I like the Easter Cross Centerpieces at Mad in Crafts.

We got cream cheese on a great sale last week (if you're near a Food Basics in Ontario, they should still have it on sale--Lactantia brand for $1.44 a box), so we might make Cream Cheese Mints.  I like the shape of these ones--it reminded me that we have a couple of small plastic cookie stamps, Easter/spring-themed, and I bet they'd work on candy.  On Easter morning we have a coffee-and-baked-stuff time before the church service, and these would be good for that.

On the vegan end...we will also be at a potluck Sunday night that includes vegan relatives, so I'm thinking Pizza Cake, made with a no-eggs-or-dairy white cake as the base.  I usually make pizza cake in the large-sized foil pizza pans from the grocery store, because the foil pans actually have sides to hold the cake batter in (unlike our regular flat pizza pans). 

And, not so much to make...but last year we started kind of a new tradition here.  Instead of having individual Easter baskets or chocolate bunnies, last year we all went to the European grocery and picked out chocolate, cookies and other things for everyone to share.  It was a nice change, and I think we're going to do that again.

From the archives: Of princesses and nasty clothes

First posted January 2007.

Where do I start with this... Macleans Magazine, Canada's weekly newsmagazine, ran an article this week on the current state of young girls' immodest dress. Actually two articles; one was an interview with Celia Rivenbark (author of Stop Dressing Your Six-Year-Old Like A Sk---). The other is by Lianne George and is titled "Why are we dressing our daughters like this?"

WARNING: The articles are so full of language and other non-family-friendly imagery that I wouldn't even let The Apprentice read them. (she was going on fifteen and in public high school at the time)

However, there were a few things that jumped out there that are worth commenting on.

One of the biggest objections to little girls being dressed as if they were standing on street corners is the question of who's watching them and why. It is very, very hard to explain this problem to children, especially if we've raised them to say "Look at me!" Especially if we are constantly taking videos or pictures of them, teaching them to pose, encouraging them to be the center of attention while they're still at their cutest. How then can they understand the danger of someone looking at them with evil intentions? Besides that, there's the basic problem of "me!" Clothing historian Anne Hollander is quoted in the Macleans article: "You can learn a whole lot of very serious narcissim by being brought up to be looked at constantly," she says, citing Marie Antoinette, who was "scheduled to be the queen of France since she was born."
"Nevertheless, Esmeralda was not the most fortunate Princess in the world and it was on account of her one lack that the whole kingdom mourned.

"For Esmeralda was plain.

"There weren't two ways about it--the girl had no beauty, and in a royal Princess that is a serious flaw."--Phyllis McGinley, "The Plain Princess"
Are we raising our daughters merely to be looked at?

To be sexy? Susan Linn, co-founder of Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, is quoted in George's article: "Girls themselves don't necessarily understand the clothing as sexual, she says, but 'what they do comprehend is that they get a lot of attention by dressing in a particular way.'"

To be shoppers? A quote from the article: "In fact, the most important identity of all for girls to cultivate is their identity as shoppers." It describes toys such as plastic purses filled with toy wallets and debit cards, and a Barbie bank with ATM machine. Toy purses are nothing new, but the article suggests that these toys aren't just playthings: for this generation of children, they represent the real thing; they are "practice" rather than just "play."

To be invited places? The authors of Packaging Girlhood: Rescuing Our Daughters from Marketers' Schemes are quoted: "Will she be popular? Will she be invited somewhere? With what group does she belong?" I think those questions sum up the article even more than the details of the terrible clothing do. They sound like the stuff of old teenage novels (Will Poindexter ask me to the prom?); but now it's little girls who worry about those things.

To be servants? Wait a minute, where did that come from? ( had linked to an article about growing up with a servant's heart.) 
"Dame Goodwit gave her a tiny plot of ground for her to plant and she grew reasonably adept at coaxing the seeds to climb up into the sunlight. She burned her thumbs trying to make cookies, she scratched her knees blackberrying, she made up stories for Echo which had nothing to do with how important she had been at the castle."
At what age do you worry about those things? Are homeschoolers immune to the marketing-our-girls disease, even if they don't watch commercials? Do those attitudes creep in at church, in dance classes, in the ways they play with their dolls? And even, if we're not being very careful, in their clothes? As the article points out, the streetcorner syndrome can be hard to get away from when even the discount store fliers advertise "clothes with bling."

On my last shopping trip with Ponytails, I didn't so much mind the Brady Bunch orange and pink flowers and stripes for little girls (at least they're cheerful), but there was one top she looked at that I did not like at all, and not because it had bad words on it or exposed her midriff. It was clearly designed for someone much older: it was black, stretchy, and tucked in all the wrong places. The ironic thing was that they had only one of these tops, and it was (luckily) a size too SMALL for my fourth-grader. In other words, it was meant for maybe a second or third grader.

I don't usually go on this long, and I'm trying to wind up with one main point to this. If there is one, it's that we can't afford to raise Marie Antoinettes or Esmeraldas, much as we might like to have little princesses with everything they could ever want. And we need more Dame Goodwits who are smart enough to break through the spell our culture tries to cast on our daughters.
"'The magic,' she said softly. 'It is complete. I am no longer plain.'

"Then she turned to Dame Goodwit.

"'My father the king will reward you well. You are a powerful enchantress.'

"'That is as may be,' said the Dame placidly. 'Perhaps your eyes glow because for the first time in your life you have done an unselfish thing. I am well pleased with you, Esmeralda."

You know why Charlotte Mason preferred North's Plutarch? (or, don't eat your fingers) (Updated)

Which edition and/or translation of Plutarch's Lives is the best? 

Charlotte Mason voted for North's translation-of-a-translation, in this (Blackie) edition and this (Cambridge University Press) edition (Google Books preview.  Google Books has it labelled wrong: it says it's Dryden/Clough, but it's not, it's selected Lives translated by North and edited by P. Giles.)  (Actually, with the Blackie edition--I think they may have even bought the individual Lives each term, as in this one.  It seems to make sense, especially since the Programmes state that the books cost only a shilling each.)

* * * * * * * * * * * * *
UPDATE ON THAT:  I figured it out, based on the few Programmes that we do have online.  It's even simpler than it first appeared.  After I saw that Brutus and Coriolanus booklet, I couldn't figure out why there weren't more--once you start looking for the Picture Study booklets, for example, they're all over the place, terms and terms of them.  But the only other individual Blackie title I found was Julius Caesar.  And the other funny thing is that the P. Giles book only contains a few Lives:  Timoleon, Paulus Aemilius, Agis and Cleomenes, Tiberius and Caius Gracchi.  That's it.

So it was a case, I think, of using exactly what was available!  In Programme 90 (spring 1921), they did Timoleon.  Programme 91, Paulus Aemilius (big surprise).  Programme 92, Form III did Julius Caesar (it fit their history) and Form IV did Agis and Cleomenes.  Programme 93, Form III did Coriolanus, Form IV did Tiberius and Caius Gracchi.  Programme 94, everybody did Brutus.   And that's as far as we have.

(2015 update: you might like to know that Oxford's P. Giles Selections is being reprinted!)
* * * * * * * * * * * * *
The sentence below shows you why

But the Carthaginians who were left in Rhegium perceiving, when the assembly was dissolved, that Timoleon had given them the go-by, were not a little vexed to see themselves out-witted, much to the amusement of the Rhegians, who could not but smile to find Phoenicians complain of being cheated.

Loeb Classical Library, 1920, by Bernadotte Perrin:
But the Carthaginians in Rhegium, after Timoleon had put to sea and the assembly had been dissolved, were indignant, and in their discomfiture afforded amusement to the Rhegians, seeing that, though Phoenicians, they were not pleased with what was effected by deceit.

But the captains of the Carthaginians, that were in Rhegium, when they knew that Timoleon was under sail and gone, after that the assembly of the Council was broken up, they were ready to eat their fingers for spite to see themselves thus finely mocked and deceived.

Quote for the day: In defense of reluctant writers

From Youth: Its Education, Regimen, and Hygiene (1906), by G. Stanley Hall, , Ph.D., LL.D., President of Clark University and Professor of Psychology And Pedagogy 
Closely connected with this, and perhaps psychologically worse, is the substitution of the pen and the scribbling fingers for the mouth and tongue. Speech is directly to and from the soul. Writing, the deliberation of which fits age better than youth, slows down its impetuosity many fold, and is in every way farther removed from vocal utterance than is the eye from the ear. Never have there been so many pounds of paper, so many pencils, and such excessive scribbling as in the calamopapyrus [Pen-paper] pedagogy of to-day and in this country.  Not only has the daily theme spread as infection, but the daily lesson is now extracted through the point of a pencil instead of from the mouth. The tongue rests and the curve of writer's cramp takes a sharp turn upward, as if we were making scribes, reporters, and proof-readers. In some schools, teachers seem to be conducting correspondence classes with their own pupils. It all makes excellent busy work, keeps the pupils quiet and orderly, and allows the school output to be quantified, and some of it gives time for more care in the choice of words. But is it a gain to substitute a letter for a visit, to try to give written precedence over spoken forms? Here again we violate the great law that the child repeats the history of the race, and that, from the larger historic standpoint, writing as a mode of utterance is only the latest fashion.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Sigurd the Volsung and Charlotte Mason

Sometimes a book is not all in its title.  Ask any homeschool parent who's tried to find a good copy of Heidi, or an unbutchered version of Robinson Crusoe, or who has muddled through the various translations of Pinocchio.

I mean, this is Cinderella.  Right?
This is Peter Pan.
And this is Ambleside Online's recommended edition of Pinocchio.

Or maybe this?
All right, let's be serious.

But it's not even as simple as going to the other extreme--looking for the longest, most authentic, smallest-print edition out there.  Sometimes--just sometimes--what the Parents' Union School used is a surprise.  Here's one example:  In Programme 92 (first term of 1922), the Form III students (middle school-ish) were asked to read "Sigurd the Volsung* by W. Morris (Longmans, 2/-)."  W. Morris is William Morris, that William Morris.
Okay.  Sigurd the Volsung is not something I'm familiar with, so I looked it up on Wikipedia.  Some connections there--yes, I do know something about the German version of the story--Wagner, Siegfried, the opera Rush went to see in The Saturdays, the big dragon and all that.  I looked closer at the summary of Sigurd, and...well, my goodness, besides sounding very long, there is also a lot of rather earthy stuff in there.  This is what seventh graders in 1922 were supposed to read?

I browsed through some book listings for sale, new and used; looked up William Morris's books on Project Gutenberg; found it all a bit intimidating.  The idea of reading Sigurd for school did not appear to have much to recommend it.

Then I looked at the Longman's edition on  It's from a series called Longman's Class-Books of English Literature.  The title page explains it all:  "With portions condensed into prose by Winifred Turner, B.A., and Helen Scott, M.A."

So that's  how they did it.  It's like a version of Shakespeare that includes a lot of the original text, but summarizes scenes here and there.  The text is still 126 pages long, but I assume that's somewhat shorter than the original.  There's a glossary at the end too.

All right--that we could do.

And that's why, sometimes, knowing a little detail like the publisher of a book can make all the difference.
They are gone — the lovely, the mighty, the hope of the ancient Earth :
It shall labour and bear the burden as before that day of their birth.
                    *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *
Ye have heard of Sigurd aforetime, how the foes of God he slew ;
How forth from the darksome desert the Gold of the Waters he drew ;
How he wakened Love on the Mountain, and wakened Brynhild the

And dwelt upon Earth for a season and shone in all men's sight.
Ye have heard of the Cloudy People, and the dimming of the day,
And the latter world's confusion, and Sigurd gone away.

Dante Quote for the Day

From The Divine Comedy: III. Paradise, Canto V, translated by Dorothy L. Sayers and Barbara Reynolds.  Beatrice describes two cases of misguided men (Jepthah, in the Old Testament, and Agamemnon) who, by keeping their vows, caused grief.  She warns, "Keep your oath / But not with stubborn wall-eyed foolishness."  Then she goes on to say:

Christians, be steadier in what you do,
Not blown like feathers at the wind's discretion,
Nor think that every water cleanses you;

You have both Testaments in your possession,
You have the Shepherd of the Church for guide;
So let these things suffice for your salvation...

Behave like men, and not like witless sheep...

Monday, March 25, 2013

Dante Quote for the Day, specially for teachers

From The Divine Comedy: III. Paradise, Canto V, translated by Dorothy L. Sayers and Barbara Reynolds.  Beatrice says to Dante:

Thou must sit still at table long enough
To let digestion work, the which would fain
Have more assistance, for this food is tough.

Open thy mind; take in what I explain
And keep it there; because to understand
Is not to know, if thou dost not retain.

"That took guts" news roundup

Or, somebody's gonna get some hate mail?

1. "Global warm-mongers," (link fixed) by Lorrie Goldstein, in the Toronto Sun. A passel of quotes from the loudest of the environmentalists, past and present.  "Imagine if people like these were in charge of the planet."  You mean they're not?

2.  You might have heard about Dr. Benjamin Carson, over the years.  You might have seen the video of his recent speech in front of U.S. President Obama.  Canada's National Post reprinted an NYT article by Trip Gabriel, recapping the whole thing and suggesting that it might not be so far-fetched for Dr. Carson to have a political future.  Makes you think maybe there is still room for common sense in the world.

3.  An atheist philosopher named Thomas Nagel has published a book, Mind & Cosmos, "which urges deep skepticism about evolution's explanatory power."  "Its vicious reception...illustrates the perils of raising arguments against intellectual orthodoxy."  In other words, a lot of academics are very, very mad at Thomas Nagel (National Post), because if atheists don't believe in God, they're not supposed to believe that people are more than an accidental splash of chemicals either.  Right?  So what's Professor Nagel stumbling over that makes him question it all?  Human consciousness.  Oh brave new world.
"How do these elements become the meaning?  How are they inseparable from the meaning? As Yeats wrote:

O body swayed to music, O quickening glance,
How shall I tell the dancer from the dance?" ~~ John Ciardi, "How Does a Poem Mean?" 

From the archives: The rest of your life

First posted April, 2010 (slightly edited)

I'm finding myself thinking a lot about Charlotte Mason's principle "education is a life." This is true for adult teachers as well as child students.

A couple of parents I know have had to put their children back in school recently, or send them for the first time...when their hearts would have preferred to keep on homeschooling if circumstances had allowed it. Why the italics?--because homeschoolers like homeschooling. If things are going well, then our day-to-day learning-related thinking isn't about whether or not we're keeping up with the public schools. It's about learning itself. It's about what to teach, how to do it, how our children learn best, how this fits into our larger lives. That's the kind of enthusiasm that instantly connects people standing in line together at a homeschool conference; we find it in ourselves, and we recognize it in others.

When homeschooling suddenly stops--or not so suddenly, because sometimes it just happens that our children grow up (they do, faster than you'd think)--for most of us there isn't a feeling of release from something we haven't wanted to do, but rather a reluctance to see it end. This may be because we, the parents, have found social connections in the homeschool community, and we don't want to lose those just because we're no longer worrying about math curriculum; but it may also be because we've found ourselves part of something larger, a way of thinking about learning that goes beyond how many children you actually have at home every day. It's not "playing school," as some have criticized homeschoolers; it's looking at our own lives differently because we've had these children to teach.

Awhile ago I spoke at a support group meeting, on the topic "What in your own life has inspired your approach to learning?" For instance, experiences I had (years ago) working with mentally challenged adults demonstrated that each individual has something unique to offer the world; and that has always reminded me to try to meet each person's needs rather than expect everyone to fit into a pre-determined system. But if I had the chance to give a followup talk to that one, I'd ask this: "What in your homeschooling has inspired the rest of your life?"

You may have started homeschooling for all kinds of different reasons. I know people who just always wanted to teach their own children, and I know others who got bounced into it because of teachers' strikes or bullying, or because their child wasn't fitting into the classroom or the curriculum. Some of the "bounced" ones have loved homeschooling and stayed with it, others haven't. But if you started and you stuck with it for any length of time, no matter what methods or curriculum you used, there's almost no way that you could come away from it and not think of school, teachers, learning, books, words, worksheets, writing, classrooms, play, authority, motivation, memory...thinking... differently.

We're often cautioned not to let homeschooling become our lives. Most of us have husbands, other family members, home and outside responsibilities and interests, ministries, jobs that require lots of attention. Nobody wants to get so narrow that all she can think or talk about is what's in the latest homeschool magazine. But education, in its broadest sense, does become a big part of our lives. We enjoy seeing our children learn. We figure out that we need to learn as well. Some of us pick up books...for ourselves. Some of us even pick up degrees. We don't want to have to stop doing that just because our children have reached a certain age or stage.

And we don't have to.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Palm Sunday

Palm Sunday Procession Under the Reign of Tsar Alexis Romanov 1629-76, by Viatcheslav Grigorievitch Schwarz (1838-1868)

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Some weekend thinking: from Dante's Paradise

From Dorothy L. Sayers' translation of The Divine Comedy, III: Paradise, Canto IV.  Dante has been questioning Beatrice, his conductress through the heavenly realm, about some of the things he has seen so far.  Sudddenly it makes sense to him, and he bursts into thanks.

My love's whole store is too diminutive,
Too poor in thanks to give back grace for grace;
May He that sees, and has the power, so give!

That nothing save the light of truth allays
Our intellect's disquiet I now see plain--
God's truth, which holds all truth within its rays.

Intellect, like a wild thing in its den,
When it has run and reached it, there can rest,
As reach it must, else all desire were vain.

Hence, at the foot of truth, the undying quest
Springs like a shoot, and doubt is still the lure
That speeds us toward the height from crest to crest.

Dollygirl's Grade Six: Term Two exam questions

Bible and Christian Studies

1. Say or sing as much of the Apostles’ Creed as you can. What does it mean to say that God is “our Father Almighty, Maker of Heaven and Earth?”
2. God’s Smuggler: Tell about a) the time that Brother Andrew met with a pastor in Eastern Europe but had no interpreter, or b) one of his other adventures.

Dictation (unprepared): to be assigned.


A) Choose one of the following scenes from The Fellowship of the Ring and write an account of it for one character’s diary—your choice whose.
1. Bilbo’s eleventy-first birthday party.
2. The reunion of Bilbo and Frodo at Rivendell
3. The meeting with Tom Bombadil

B) Crystal Mountain: Describe, in written form OR as an illustration, one of the scenes featuring Miss Dunbar.


B)  The Pushcart War:  Describe, in written form OR as an illustration, one of the scenes featuring Frank the Flower.

English Grammar

1. How many cases does English have? Give two examples of the nominative case (write sentences and mark the words in the nominative case).
2. Explain what is wrong with: “The two of us, Abby and me, were born on the same day.”


1. Tell a) the story of Themistocles’ meeting with King Artaxerxes, or b) Antony’s meeting (holiday) with Cleopatra.
2. Tell what you know of a) Herod, b) the Aeneid.
3.  You are a Spartan visiting Athens, during the Golden Age.  What things about this city (what it looks like, how people live) are different from your own?  Which would you prefer?

Natural History and General Science

1. Tell all you know about a) Archimedes’ war machines (used to defend Syracuse against the Romans), or b) how Archimedes solved the question of King Hiero’s crown.
2. Tell what you know of a) the uses of a hydrometer, b) the center of gravity (e.g. of a long board or a spoon).
3. Tell all you know of the life story of a primrose. Include as many parts of the plant as you can.


1. How did most people traditionally make a living? What was the “prosperous employee model,” and how did it change peoples’ lives? OR, What are some things you need to study or learn about if you want to have a successful business someday?


1. Find the average of 87, 76, 91, and 79, rounded off to the nearest whole number.
2. Write in scientific notation: a) 3,200,000 b) 0.0871
3. Crissy bought 4 posters for $13.50. Find the cost of each poster, to the nearest cent.

French (oral)

1. Give the French for a donkey, the horse, the fish, a long neck.
2. Use in sentences: “je veux,” le cavalier, le train.
3. Explain this sentence from Le Voyage de Monsieur Perrichon: “C'est toujours comme ça quand elle n'a pas pris son café.”


You have been assigned a paper-flower-making table at VBS. What supplies will you need? What steps will the flower-makers need to follow?

Sheila Burnford Quote for the Day (last one): No Little People?

From The Fields of Noon, by Sheila Burnford, 1964.  In "Pas Devant le Chien," Sheila and her daughter inadvertently convinced their dog (really, just don't ask) that there was a little man living inside the workroom heater, and this has turned into a problem--the dog is obsessed, can't sleep, seems to be waiting for whatever he thought they put into the heater to come back out.. 
...This made me think...of a friend who is a retired psychiatrist and has a pack of decidedly neurotic poodles   I rang him up, long distance too, and explained our problem.  Very, very interesting, he said, after a long expensive pause, it was a classic case of Canine Fixation.  The patient's suspense must be relieved....In other words, he explained in bright, kindly tones, murdering little male thermostats meant nothing to a dog, we must install instead a real little tenant in our heater.  He said that he was sorry, sizewise, that he was not able to move in himself, it sounded cosy; but he thought that there must be plenty of tenant material at the Bottom of the Garden if we inquired around, or knocked on the doors of a few toadstools--with this present cold spell as an added inducement there must be many who would be only too delighted to move into a heated apartment.  We might consider Lilliput too.... 
 Spoiler coming--how did they finally solve the problem?  Sheila's daughter disappears in the car for an hour, then returns, "modestly triumphant." 
Ten minutes later he lurched through the doorway, heading blearily for the heater.  I unscrewed the back, and he watched with polite interest.  Then Jonny inserted her hand and slowly drew out a fat, placid hamster, clutching a peanut in its pink hand....The dog was enchanted.  In a quivering ecstasy he watched Jonny open the door of a neat green cage with a kind of treadwheel inside....It curled up in a corner in a snug ball, yawned hugely, and fell asleep.  A minute later there was another cavernous yawn, and the dog slowly folded into a vast inanimate heap under the table.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Dollygirl's Grade Six: School for Friday

The last day of the term!

O Canada

Flower Fairy poems

Life of a Primrose, final lesson, including some talk about cowslips and oxlips

"The Lucky Bag," by Alison Uttley, a story about two girls, Tom Thumb, and a lucky oxlip

Break time!

Finished Key to Decimals, Book 4.

Finished Archimedes and the Door of Science.

Did the second grammar lesson in "Case Closed."  Discussed why it sounds funny when you say "It is I."

Cleaned out a miscellaneous box of who-knows-what.

Went to visit a friend who is home because her school got  two weeks of March Break.

Sheila Burnford quote for the day: Swiss Family Robinson

From The Fields of Noon, by Sheila Burnford, 1964 
The first story I ever remember having read to me was Robinson Crusoe, and later I read and re-read it myself, starting again at the beginning the moment it was finished, just like painting the Forth Bridge.  The Swiss Family Robinson was even better...a wonderfully fat volume, profusely illustrated and complete every last moralization and every gruesome detail...its pages crammed with useful tit-bits of information on how to improve one's lot and live more graciously on desert islands...Thanks to Mr. Robinson, that bottomless well of How to Do It lore, I knew how to make a Unique Machine for boiling whale blubber; I could construct a sun or sand clock, train ostriches, open oysters and manufacture sago; if a sturgeon had been caught in my coconut fibre fishnet, I knew just how to make isinglass windows from its bladder.  I could even--and as I write I feel the urge to do so--make waterproof boots (beloved familiar gumboots), witih a clay mould, taken from my sand filled socks, then painted over with layers of latex tapped from the nearest rubber tree.  It would have been a luckless Man Friday who made his imprint on my solitary sands, for I would have been a fearful bore to live with. 

Thursday, March 21, 2013

We're supposed to like school? (Philosophy of Education)

Well, if not school, at least learning.

"...they never got so far as to learn that knowledge is delightful because one likes it; and that no effort at self-education can do anything until one has found out this supreme delightfulness of knowledge."  ~~ Charlotte Mason, "Too Wide a Mesh," epilogue to Towards a Philosophy of Education

And in that sense, according to Charlotte Mason, the education of the Grenfell twins was a failure.

Check that off your list of standards.

"Wear lots of socks" (World Down Syndrome Day)

More information here.

Sheila Burnford Quote for the Day: Don't try this in a crowded place.

From The Fields of Noon, by Sheila Burnford, 1964.  In this essay, Ms. Burnford recalls her attempt to imitate the vocalizations of various forms of Saskatchewan wildlife. 
At last, listening one morning to the tantalizing clamour overhead, I realized where I had gone wrong.  I had tried to be a chorus of geese.  I had been attempting something like singing all four parts of a quartet simultaneously.  Now I listened carefully and isolated a contralto of about my range in the flock, who kept up an obliging steady honking.  I threw back my head, to make my neck as long and gooselike as possible; opened my throat as though I were about to pour something down it, then fooled it at the last moment by howling like a lovelorn wolf--and out came a perfect yelping honk.  My contralto friend answered, an echelon of her relatives joined in, so did the dog; and as I crouched there, howling my heart out, wingless but ecstatic, the long V wavered, then turned, and our unlovely duet rose and mingled at last in the wild harmony above as they flew directly over us.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

If you like funny bookstore stories...

You'll like Annette Snowdon's "Roger the Taurus and other tales from the bookshop," in The Globe and Mail.  (One or two of her stories are a bit adult, so be warned.)

Thrift shop Wednesdays: Get-well package

Dollygirl stayed home from the thrift store today--she had a sore throat and sniffles and didn't feel like doing much.  So I brought her home some cheer-up-get-well things:

A "Paint Enchanting Fairies" kit...I'm not sure what shape the tubes of paint are in, but I thought it would be fun anyway.

The Gashlycrumb Tinies, by Edward Gorey (turned out to be too "Gorey.")

Flicka, the old movie with Roddy McDowall

Newton: A Tale of Two Isaacs, one more video in the Devine Entertainment scientist series

I also picked up Hillyer and Huey's Story of Architecture, Gothic to Modern--not in very good shape, but I thought it was worth getting.  We used to have copies of several of the Hillyer and Huey history, art and architecture books, but had given them away at one point.

Playing around with Charlotte's geography books

For those of you who read us by reader (and you all have noted that Google Reader is ending soon, right?), you won't have noticed the page I put up recently labelled Cornwall and Devon.  No, this is not a real vacation we're planning--don't I wish.  It's next term's geography study for Dollygirl, an experimental updating of two chapters in Charlotte Mason's Geographical Reader Book Three.  Because, honestly, there's no point in saying that a town is full of cottagers making lace, if its economy has now turned to computer chips or whatever.  And some of the newer facts I came up with are as interesting as Charlotte's old ones, I think.  Did you know that Christopher Robin Milne used to run a bookshop in Dartmouth?  Have you ever heard of the "Tinners' Hounds" in the town of Redruth, made from miners' old boots?

Anyway, as the disclaimer says:  I've never been there.  If you have, and if I've messed up, I'd be happy to fix whatever it is.

Carnivals this week

This week's Carnival of Homeschooling: Spring Refreshment Edition is up at momSCHOOL.  Did you know that Petticoat Government is doing a series on Dorothy L. Sayers' The Lost Tools of Learning?

Windy Hill Homeschool hosts the Charlotte Mason Blog Carnival for the first time, focusing on Education is an Atmosphere.  One post I really liked was from the Glaser family in North Carolina, about hatching frogs' eggs.  Great story, great photos.

Sheila Burnford Quote for the Day

From The Fields of Noon, by Sheila Burnford, 1964.  Ms. Burnford reminisces about the outdoor habits of her Scottish childhood. 
...and then, of course, the day-in-, day-outers of the children, the gumbooted habitués, who twirled, dangled or dragged their walking sticks, and it mattered not what kind, as long as it had a curved handle.

We could not possibly walk without a curved handle to our sticks.  It was invaluable for hooking round the necks of recalcitrant dogs, pulling down branches, rattling along the palings of St. Bride's, prodding; one could practise golf strokes, or use it as an ice hockey stick when the river froze.  One could, one supposed, brandish it menacingly should a menacing situation arise--or thrust it through an enemy's bicycle spokes.  Once...I hurled it like a boomerang at a stoat intent upon a nerveless rabbit--but being me, of course, I hit the rabbit and knocked it out cold.  Fortunately the stoat was so amazed at this performance that I was able to pick the rabbit up before it recovered.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Free cookbooks for your Kindle app

The Apple Cookbook - Apple Recipes From Sweet To Savory (Hillbilly Housewife Cookbooks) by Hillbilly Housewife

Low Carb Recipes - The Frugal Low Carb Cookbook by Hillbilly Housewife

Almond Flour - The Ultimate Collection - Over 30 Best Selling Gluten Free Recipes by Jonathan Doue M.D.

Black Rice Recipes: The Ultimate Collection - Over 30 Recipes by Jonathan Doue M.D.

Millet Recipes: The Ultimate Collection - Over 30 Best Selling Gluten Free Recipes by Jonathan Doue M.D.

21 Classic Italian - Delicious Slow Cooker Dinner Recipes (Delicious and Easy Italian Slow Cooker Recipes that... by L. Lucci

From the archives: And get that writing and drawing garbage out of my classroom

First posted August 2010

One more good reason to homeschool:
"In public school (yes, we’ve been there too… so I speak with authority on this subject) he used to get beaten up by the “tough” kids because he’d rather draw and write stories at lunch break … and the teachers told him (you won’t believe this)… “well, maybe he should keep his art and writing for at home and play football here at school so he can fit in more” !!!!"~~ "The Cost of Homeschooling" at Mom Loves Books

From the archives: What is leisure education?

First posted March 19, 2006
"A school girl wrote to [President Hoover] and complained about social studies. 'Do you think they should make me do those in school?' she asked. 'No,' he answered. The schools were doing all kinds of things 'these days' that were none of their business. The girl should work hard in important subjects like arithmetic and spelling. And if children want to learn dancing and such things they can do it after school." ~~Ruth Beechick, You CAN Teach Your Child Successfully
Our local newspaper ran a story on leisure education this week after Linda Caldwell and Edward Smith lectured at the university.

Did you even know that leisure education exists? We're not talking about even a college degree in recreation here; we're talking about adding yet another "subject" to the curriculum of middle-school students.

These were a few of my favourite bits from the article:
"If they [young people from 12 to 14] find something they are passionate about, they are on a positive trajectory," Linda Caldwell said in an interview after the public lecture. "If you are doing something positive, you are not doing something negative."
Caldwell, a professor of recreation, park and tourism management in Penn State's college of health and development, said parents can't assume they know best when it comes to teens. Youth must be intrinsically involved in the decision making process for using their spare time, she said.
The five-year study, which began in 2003, is looking at youth in Grades 7 to 9. The curriculum, called TimeWise: Taking Charge of Leisure Time, was introduced to teachers and educators at the school. The work is being funded by the United States-based National Institute on Drug Abuse.
Oh, so that's where the tax dollars are going.

But alas, the work of a leisure researcher is not all fun and games.
The brain of a young adolescent [is] open to influence and ready for change. In fact, the frontal lobe, where decision-making is processed, is not fully developed. So it's ripe for igniting passion and introducing leisure education, Caldwell said.
I just bet.

Sheila Burnford Quote for the Day: Will spring ever come?

From The Fields of Noon, by Sheila Burnford, 1964.  Ms. Burnford grew up in Scotland, so her ideas of "spring" were somewhat different from what she encountered in northern Canada.  We are in southern Ontario, but at the moment, spring is stubbornly holding off. 
Our heralds of spring in northwest Canada bear no resemblance to the traditional and seldom inspire the poet within us: no primroses, lambs, or forsythia here, no tender green over the earth and soft unfolding buds.  Instead we have the ice-breaker battering a channel through the ice cap, smelt running in snow-swollen creeks, frost boils erupting on the roads, municipal drains backing up and, finally, and inch-by-inch clearing of the snowdrifts in the garden until the exhausted daffodils push their way through the ironbound earth at last--in June.  One's whole soul cries out for spring hats and blossom, new-mown grass, the mayfly hatch, the first young tender morels.  Instead one pokes ineffectually with a stick at overflowering gutters, yearns over the etiolated narcissus brought up from the cellar and plucks, no primroses, but long-lost overshoes and last year's oyster shells from the snow receding at the porch.  
Photo by Dollygirl.

Monday, March 18, 2013

From the archives: Remembering my mother

First posted March 2008
In memory of Grandma Squirrel

My mother had a remarkable talent--which I do not share--for making things come out looking just like a magazine picture. Knitted sweaters. Smocked dresses, Halloween costumes, and Barbie clothes with impossibly tiny sleeves to set in. Birthday cakes covered with roses, hand puppets, painted ceramics, and rag dolls with dresses that matched their small owners'. About the only thing she never managed to do well was get everyone's heads in a photograph.

During an era when working outside the home took on a feminist face, she worked long, hard hours at jobs that had no glamour: teaching kindergarten, working for a catering company, taking orders at a flower store, wrapping chocolates in a candy store, clerking at Sayvette, and working in the supply room at the hospital. In between other jobs, she invented businesses: babysitting numerous children; making and selling wedding cakes, lollipops and Raggedy Ann dolls; baking cookies for the farmers' market.

And somehow she also had time for us. As preschoolers she read to us, helped us make all the crafts out of our Humpty Dumpty magazines, and helped us shape fondant and put toppings on the pizza mix--no takeout in those days! She bandaged the hurts and settled the fights, which usually meant kicking us outside for awhile. In those days you didn't think anything of telling a five-year-old to go ride her tricycle down the street or even go around the corner for a loaf of bread. We always made it back all right, and we always knew Mom would be there.

When we took school lunches, there was no slopping bologna in a paper bag; we got cream cheese and cherry sandwiches, or maybe meat and pickle, with carrot sticks cut with a crinkle cutter. And she knew how to fold the wax paper so it stayed around the sandwich; I've never been able to figure that one out.

Mom was the oldest daughter of an oldest daughter:  no-nonsense, organized, adult and frugal. And she occasionally got so tired of seeing herself that way that she had to invent a wild-and-crazy side. This part of Mom usually surfaced on weekends away with my aunt and uncle, or when she was excited about going to a Burt Reynolds or Clint Eastwood movie, or at an Oktoberfest dance. Watching Family Feud or getting a small win on Wintario would do it too. She always liked a good New Year's party with a lot of yelling and kissing at midnight. It was very hard to take her by surprise, but we managed it just once, on her fiftieth birthday. I think it was the only picture we have of Mom with her mouth completely open.

She admitted to screaming at Elvis movies as a teenager, and often talked about a trip out west that she'd taken with some girlfriends before she was married: it sounded like the most fun and adventurous thing she had ever done. One year during university I wanted to go to Quebec City during Reading Week, but couldn't find any travelling company; so Mom and I went together. I think it was probably the only travelling that we had a chance to do just the two of us (trips to the orthodontist don't count). We had the most fun together that week, even though it was freezing cold: we ate duck with maple syrup, checked out all the craft shops, walked around when we could stand it and took taxis everywhere else. That was my mom, remember, who always worried about every penny, having a good time splurging.

Mom liked to try out new kitchen gadgets and recipes: I remember her granola and homemade bread period, and her experiments with the blender and the wok. But I think she sometimes found everyday cooking a chore, especially when she was working; so when I started making a lot of the dinners during high school, she was the most uncritical and ate the biggest helpings, even if it was Jamaican pigeon peas or fried tofu. She was sentimental about keeping anything and everything we'd ever made for her: Brownie Christmas decorations, shop-class flower shelves, and anything with a magnet on the back.

She liked to read: James Herriot, Erma Bombeck, the Rabbi mysteries. She was a whiz at Boggle, Scrabble and crosswords; but never thought she had it in her to try anything very academic. When my aunt started taking university courses, Mom had the chance to audit a folk art history course with her. She loved it and wished she had taken the course for credit. I always wished she would have had the opportunity to try more things like that, but life went on in other directions.

Mom's stubbornness carried her through a thirty-year battle against her own body, against a nightmare of auto-immune issues and chronic pain, and against a medical system that is only now beginning to see the whole picture of women's health and wellness. She continued to make her own choices when she could, including moving to a care centre three years ago after a major health setback.

Mom lived as much for others as for herself. She gave away much of what she made, and found ways to care for others even when her limitations became overwhelming. Earlier this month she and Dad phoned me first thing in the morning to sing Happy Birthday: another tradition she never forgot. I'm thankful that her pain is over. But I will still miss her.

Chesterton Quote for the Day

From Greybeards at Play, by G.K. Chesterton

Toiling, rejoicing, sorrowing,
So I my life conduct.
Each morning see some task begun,
Each evening see it chucked.

Photograph by Dollygirl.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Chesterton Quote for the Day: from "Envoy"

From Greybeards at Play, by G.K. Chesterton

The babe upraised his wondering eyes,
And timidly he said,
"A trend towards experiment
In modern minds is bred.

"I feel the will to roam, to learn
By test, experience, nous
That fire is hot and ocean deep,
And wolves carnivorous.

"My brain demands complexity."
The lisping cherub cried.
I looked at him, and only said,
"Go on. The world is wide."

A tear rolled down his pinafore,
"Yet from my life must pass
The simple love of sun and moon,
The old games in the grass;

"Now that my back is to my home
Could these again be found?"
I looked on him, and only said,
"Go on. The world is round."
Illustration by Ernest H. Shepard, from When We Were Very Young.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Life of a Primrose, Part 7: The Golden Crown (end)

These lessons are adapted from "The Life of a Primrose" in Fairy-Land of Science, by Arabella B. Buckley.  You might start today by reviewing the parts of a flower, e.g. stigma, stamens.  There will be a general review at the end of the lesson.
But why should the primroses have such golden crowns? Plain green ones would protect the seed quite as well. Ah! now we come to a secret well worth knowing.
1, Primrose with long pistil, and stamens in the tube. 2, Primrose with short pistil, and stamens at mouth of tube. (Diagram from Fairy-Land of Science)  See also diagram here (scroll down to Primrose) and the photos and diagrams in this really good post about primroses and cowslips.
Look at the two primrose flowers, 1 and 2, and tell me how you think the dust (pollen) gets on to the top of the sticky knob or stigma.
No. 2 seems easy enough to explain, for it looks as if the pollen could fall down easily from the stamens on to the knob, but it cannot fall up, as it would have to do in No. 1.

Now the curious truth is, as Mr. Darwin has shown, that neither of these flowers can get the dust easily for themselves, but of the two No. 1 has the least difficulty.

Look at a withered primrose, and see how it holds its head down, and after a little while the yellow crown falls off. It is just about as it is falling that the anthers or bags of the stamens burst open, and then, in No. 1, they are dragged over the knob and some of the grains stick there. But in the other form of primrose, No. 2, when the flower falls off, the stamens do not come near the knob, so it has no chance of getting any pollen; and while the primrose is upright the tube is so narrow that the dust does not easily fall.

But, as I have said, neither kind gets it very easily, nor is it good for them if they do. The seeds are much stronger and better if the dust or pollen of one flower is carried away and left on the knob or stigma of another flower; and the only way this can be done is by insects flying from one flower to another and carrying the dust on their legs and bodies.

If you suck the end of the tube of the primrose flower you will find it tastes sweet, because a drop of honey has been lying there. When the insects go in to get this honey, they brush themselves against the yellow dust-bags, and some of the dust sticks to them, and then when they go to the next flower they rub it off on to its sticky knob. Look at No. 1 and No. 2  and you will see at once that if an insect goes into No. 1 and the pollen sticks to him, when he goes into No. 2 just that part of his body on which the pollen is will touch the knob; and so the flowers become what we call "crossed," that is, the pollen-dust of the one feeds the ovule of the other. And just the same thing will happen if he flies from No. 2 to No. 1. There the dust will be just in the position to touch the knob which sticks out of the flower.

Therefore, we can see clearly that it is good for the primrose that bees and other insects should come to it, and anything it can do to entice them will be useful.
Now, do you not think that when an insect once knew that the pale-yellow crown showed where honey was to be found, he would soon spy these crowns out as he flew along? or if they were behind a hedge, and he could not see them, would not the sweet scent tell him where to come and look for them? And so we see that the pretty sweet-scented corolla is not only delightful for us to look at and to smell, but it is really very useful in helping the primrose to make strong healthy seeds out of which the young plants are to grow next year.
Where the bee sucks, there suck I:
In a cowslip's bell I lie
~~William Shakespeare, The Tempest
This is a good place for narration.
And now let us see what we have learned.  We began with a tiny seed, though we did not then know how this seed had been made.
We saw the plantlet buried in it, and learned how it fed at first on prepared food, but soon began to make living matter for itself out of gases taken from the water and the air. How ingeniously it pumped up the water through the cells to its stomach—the leaves!
At this point we might have gone further, and studied how the fibres and all the different vessels of the plant are formed, and a wondrous history it would have been. But it was too long for one hour's lecture (or seven natural-history lessons), and you must read it for yourselves in books on botany.
We had to pass on to the flower, and learn the use of the covering leaves, the gaily colored crown  attracting the insects, the dust-bags holding the pollen, the little ovules each with the germ of a new plantlet, lying hidden in the seed-vessel, waiting for the pollen-grains to grow down to them. Lastly, when the pollen crept in at the tiny opening we learned that the ovule had now all it wanted to grow into a perfect seed.
And so we came back to a primrose seed, the point from which we started; and we have a history of our primrose from its birth to the day when its leaves and flowers wither away and it dies down for the winter.
(Photo found here--read the blog post too!)

A fun followup:  The Magic School Bus, Episode 11: "The Magic School Bus Goes to Seed," (available as a book as well)

Chesterton Quote for the Day

From Greybeards at Play, by G.K. Chesterton

And I have loved the Octopus,
Since we were boys together.
I love the Vulture and the Shark:
I even love the weather.

(Wouldn't that make great copywork?)

(The Visibly Vicious Vulture. Illustration from Nonsense Botany, Animals and other poems by Edward Lear.)

Spring school plans for Dollygirl

For those of you who read our posts on a reader and don't see sidebars or new pages, I just wanted to let you know that spring plans for Dollygirl's Grade Six are on this page.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Online treasures: The Book of the Great Musicians

Found at  The Book of the Great Musicians, by Percy Scholes.

This book is mentioned in Charlotte Mason's Programmes from the primary years through Form III (so up to about age 13).  No details are given there--it's just suggested as a supplement to the term's composer.  You would probably figure it's just another book of boring biographical notes and maybe some music terminology.

Not so:  this is a very creative, open-ended little guide for young musicians!  Granted, the biographical notes can be a bit sketchy, e.g. He got sick; he went blind; then he died.  That sort of thing.  And you can probably skip the questions and answers.  The best part of each chapter is the "Things to Do (For School and Home)."  There are research questions; there are listening assignments; there are ideas for acting things out and putting on performances.  This could be a great book to add to other biographies or information books, to liven up a term's composer study.  And for free!  Thank you, people who upload old books!


3. Get into your head as many good Folk Tunes as you can, so that you will always have something jolly to sing or whistle. This will help to make you musical. Some of the country people in England know as many as 300 or 400 old tunes. How many can you learn and remember ?

6. If possible, get some grown-up or other good pianist to play you a piece in Variations form belonging to the Elizabethan times, for example:
John Bull's The King's Hunting Jig.
Orlando Gibbons's The Queen's Command.
Giles Farnaby's Pawle's Wharfe.
Get them played several times and listen carefully, so as to find out how the tune is changed in each of the Variations.

5. Would this be a good plan for a Symphony or Sonata ? --

Long quick piece,
Short lively piece,
Merry piece,
Very rapid piece.

6. Would you prefer this ? --
Slow expressive piece,
Funeral March,
Solemn piece.

I. If you are a pianist get Schumann's Album for the Young, and learn some of the pieces in it. (If you are a pretty fair sight-reader you can play them without much ' learning '.)  Then study how they are made and make little diagrams of some of them. Look at their titles and see if you think the music expresses the idea of the title. If you cannot play yourself, get one of your friends to play them to you, and, by listening carefully, learn all you can about them.

And this is just for Leslie (a Chopin fan):

I. Get somebody to play you one or two of the Nocturnes, and find out how they are made.

(a) What sort of work has Chopin given the right hand to do, for the most part ?

{b) And what sort of work has he given the left hand ?

{c) What is the 'form' of the piece? Try to make a diagram of it.

{d) When you have found out the form and made the diagram, find out the chief keys (if you understand keys) and put these in the diagram.

(e) Then see if you can find out how Chopin keeps up your interest in the piece by variety in the character of the tunes (or ' subjects ') he uses, and in their keys.

{f) When you have done all this, have the piece played again and listen to it carefully to notice all these details.

(g) And finally have it played once more, without troubling much to listen to the details, but just enjoying the beauty of the piece.

Linked from the Charlotte Mason Blog Carnival.

What's up in the Treehouse? Richard Greene in Lincoln Green, not to mention St. Patrick's Day

We are finishing our week of March Break.  Dollygirl saw a circus exhibit at a local museum (with a friend's family), and set up a dolls' St. Patrick's Day parade here with the same friend.  One of Ponytails' friends had a pizza-making and games night too. 

We've been watching some old episodes of Robin Hood (the series with Richard Greene) on DVD.  (More here.)

Both Squirrelings (not so "ling" any more, either of them) are going to a Pi Day party later today at our youth group leader's house.  We're sending Blueberry Crisp Pie from a recipe on this page--it's an old site, sorry about the popups.  I cut back somewhat on the sugar and just eyeballed some of the other amounts--it still worked out.  (I also replaced the crumb crust with pat-in pastry: crumbles on top plus crumbles on the bottom seemed a bit much.)

The Apprentice was here during the university's Reading Week, but we haven't seen a lot of her otherwise because she's busy with end-of-term projects and trying to find a summer job.  Last summer she worked at a hair salon, but she's hoping to find something different this year.

Mr. Fixit has been fixing and selling.  Tonight we have a date night (since the girls are out), if it doesn't start snowing too hard again.  This has not been one of those "surprise, it's spring already" Marches.

Photos by Dollygirl.  Copyright 2013 Dewey's Treehouse/Dollygirl's Treasures.
Related Posts with Thumbnails