Tuesday, August 30, 2016

"The last time I saw him, he was sitting in a wheat field." (In memory of Gene Wilder)

From the archives: Crayons and her books

First posted August, 2006.

Crayons: This is a very fun day.

Mama Squirrel: Uh huh?

Crayons: I have nothing to do but sit back, relax, and read books.

(This said while shivering in a lawn chair on the back porch--this is an August morning, and it starts to get chilly in the mornings now--with a stack of ten picture books beside her. She is trying to get them all read so she can win a book bag in the public library's summer reading program.)

(Mama Squirrel is reading Plutarch's Life of Titus Flamininus beside her, but at least Mama Squirrel realizes that it's cold enough to be wearing jeans and a sweatshirt. Mama Squirrel goes and gets a jacket to drape around Crayons so that she doesn't have to interrupt her reading marathon.)

Monday, August 29, 2016

Good reading today at Circe: History all around us

Joshua Gibbs has posted his typical intro to a medieval history class on the Circe Blog. A sample:
"You learn about Pearl Harbor, Charlemagne, the age of Martyrs… the past gets closer and closer to you until you can’t really tell the difference between 1000 BC and yesterday. You learn about Charlemagne, you learn about yourself, your father, your children, the future. History is the human things, the eternal things, the always things, the omnipresent things. Charlemagne isn’t in the past. Charlemagne is in your blood. The study of Charlemagne isn’t the study of a man who was, it’s the study of a man who is. For the Christian, the past is above us, not below us. For the Christian, the past is not without us, the past is within us."
Worth a visit!

From the archives: Coffeemamma, Cruise Night, and Climbing

First posted July, 2006. All the Squirrelings were...well, ten years younger than they are now.

1. Met Coffeemamma and three of the Blue Castle progeny in the park, along with another AmblesideOnline mamma and her family. It was so nice to talk in person after all these years of long-distance chats!

2. All the Squirrels went to the Elora Gorge, and had a good time wandering through the woods, oohing over the precipices, and climbing up and down 59 steps (Ponytails counted them) carved out of the rock.

3. Mr. Fixit, Ponytails and the Apprentice went to Cruise Night with Grandpa Squirrel. Ponytails says, "There were a lot of people, and we met one of our cousin squirrels, and he had some new wheels--it was long and black, one of those cars with no roof, and it had red seats, I think. It was really cool and it made nice smoke."

4. Ponytails made Shrinky Dinks (Shrink Art). Note to Coffeemamma: "thank you so much for the Shrink Art, it's very fun!"

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Laugh for the day: big words, like Saxon

From the 2015 Christmas Special episode of Detectorists: Lance (Toby Jones) is being interviewed by a newspaper journalist about his genuinely rare and valuable find.

Journalist:  Remind me... what was it you found?

Lance:  A late-Saxon jewelled aestel.

Journalist:  It has to be in language a ten-year-old could understand.

Lance:  Pardon?

Journalist:  Can't have too many big words. Er... Like Saxon.

Lance:  Oh, er... Well, it's a type of... jewel...

Journalist:  Gold?

Lance:  Yeah.

Journalist:  Diamonds?

Lance:  Garnets and glass.

Journalist:   I'll put diamonds.

[The journalist asks what Lance is going to do with the money from the aestel]

Lance:   I haven't thought about it yet.

Journalist:  Could we say holiday?

Lance:  Um...

Journalist:  Holiday of a lifetime.

Lance:  Oh, OK.

Journalist:  Where?

Lance:  Er... Dorset.

Journalist:  I'll put Australia.

From the archives: Food and the Apprentice

First posted August, 2006. The Apprentice was just about to enter the world of public high school.

A new quiz to do if you're bored. Made up exclusively by me.

What was the best ___ you ever had?

1. Pasta/spaghetti?
Fettucini Alfredo from a little restaurant downtown that's not there anymore.

2. Best chocolate chip cookies?
Neiman-Marcus cookies.

3. Birthday cake?
My hot dog birthday cake, complete with fries. I think the one I linked to is the right one, family members feel free to correct me.

4. Chicken burger?
A certain resturant's Monterey Jack bacon chicken burger *drools*.

5. Hamburger?
Mr. Fixit's. I'm not bad at it either.

6. Pumpkin pie?
If you give her some whipped cream, that Mamasquirrel can make one mean pumpkin pie.

7. What's your favourite food, and who made it?
Cabbage rolls. Preferably made by Mr. Fixit, with the little spice packets from the meat store.

8. Name three people you'd like to join in.
Mamasquirrel. Pippinsqueak. Katelyn.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

From the archives: "On the high seas"

First posted August, 2006. Lydia (Crayons) was five years old.

Crayons came in from the back porch (it was gray and windy out there) and said, "I'm on a gallant ship. Like in Little Tim. And you're all on the ship with me."

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

A Honnie Sweete Wednesday Hodgepodge

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

1. It's National Waffle Day (August 24th)...what decision are you currently 'waffling over'? (or share one you've recently 'waffled over')

That's a rather waffle question, because I can't think of any good answers right now. 

2. It's the middle of August, but I'm already seeing lots of autumn-related posts. Do you think we rush the seasons? If so, does that bother you? I saw (here) an end of summer bucket list that included-

make s'mores, read a new (or favorite) book in the park, eat something delicious and bad for you at a state fair, be a tourist for the day, have a pot luck picnic, book a last minute summer getaway, relax by or in the pool, take a hike to watch the sunset, have a day on the lake, try a new summer recipe

Which activities on the list might you squeeze in before summer officially comes to a close? 

I don't know if I'll get to do any things on that list before the end of August, or even the end of September. I was looking forward to cherry tomatoes but I think the dry season killed them for this year. Mr. Fixit and I have tried a couple of new foods, but they all came in packets at the Euro store, so I don't think that counts as recipes.

It's been an at-home, working summer, more than a vacation; but I'm looking forward to the extra amplfication of voltage that happens in the fall. Some people are trying to be less busy, more peaceful, and I totally get that. Me, I need things that energize and keep things going (coffee doesn't count).

3. Your favorite summertime 'art' found in nature?

Clouds. Sunsets. Birds. A couple of roses that popped out unexpectedly. Bees that pollinate the roses.

4. Stephen R. Covey is quoted as saying 'We judge ourselves by our intentions, and others by their actions.' Agree or no? Do you define yourself based on your intentions, your actions, or something else? 

Another waffle thing to ask, and I'm sorry, I don't know the answer.

5. Are you useful in a crisis? Elaborate. 

I am usually pretty good at keeping calm and thinking of possible ways around a problem. I also have a lot of poems and songs in my head that I draw on. 
6. What's been your go-to dish this summer? Is it something you'll continue making as the seasons change?

Um...asking Mr. Fixit to barbecue things?

7. Adult coloring books are a thing now. Have you jumped on the bandwagon? If not is this something you think you might enjoy?

I adored colouring as a child. If I had a little one around who wanted a colouring buddy, I would do that. But I can't see the enjoyment in colouring for myself. I'd be thinking of other things I should probably be doing. Like finding a go-to dish and pondering Stephen R. Covey.

8.  Insert your own random thought here. 

A quotation I liked from Thomas North's (1579) translation of Plutarch's Life of Phocion (one that I bet even most of the Plutarch-reading homeschoolers haven't read yet):  "For he that correcteth them that offend, seemeth to cast their adversitie in their teeth : and he that telleth them plainly of their faultes, seemeth also to despise them. For like as honnie sweete by nature, applied unto woundes, doth bring both smart and paine : even so, sharpe words, though profitable, doe bite the unfortunate man, if they be not tempered with discretion and curtesie."

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

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 Greek Way
Hamilton, Edith

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

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 *

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

Soukup, Ruth

A Christian View of Hospitality: Expecting Surprises
Hershberger, Michele

The Introvert Advantage: How to Thrive in an Extrovert World

Laney, Marti Olsen

 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.)