Wednesday, April 08, 2015

reminders of hospitality

"Meanwhile, since you come to us as friends, favour us by celebrating this annual festival, which it is wrong to delay, and become accustomed to your friends' table."
~ King Evander to Aeneas in Vergil's The Aeneid

I read those words a few weeks ago as I continue to work my way through the class from Old Western Culture and Roman Roads Media on The Aeneid and I immediately thought that it defined hospitality so well. The desire for your friends to be accustomed to being at your table. I need some work in this area and who would have thought that I would find some encouragement in The Aeneid. Wonders never cease.

March Book List

Favorite Picture Books

Elizabeth, Queen of the Seas by Lynne Cox, illustrated by Brian Floca
What happens when a seal loves your city, your sidewalks and your streets? You make a seal crossing sign and let her be. This is a true story of a seal in Christchurch, NZ who was determined to make her home in the city. My animal-loving five year old enjoyed this story and the illustrations are cute.

One Frog Too Many by Mercer Mayer
While readers may want words to tell them the story, this one relies on expressive frog eyes. And it works. We liked this fun, little wordless book.

And Then It's Spring by Julie Fogliano, illustrated by Erin E. Stead
This is not your typical spring book; it features more brown than green, but it tells the story that most seed-planting gardeners will recognize.  The planting, the watering, the waiting, oh the waiting. The illustrations are fun, simply drawn, and uncrowded.

Blue On Blue by Dianne White, illustrated by Beth Krommes
Written as a poem, the illustrations and the words carry you through a stormy day and night at a little girl's farm home. It was refreshingly different.

Chapter Books

The Penderwicks at Point Mouette by Jeanne Birdsall
It's probably not a good idea to start a series with the third book, but I did anyway. I thought I would pre-read this before handing it to my eleven year old son. I'm glad I did. I think he read the first one several months ago and when he brought it back to my room along with a few other other books, I asked him what he thought. He just shrugged and didn't really have much to say except that he didn't really like it. He preferred his Unfortunate Events series. I preferred The Melendy Quartet series myself. I know this series has received rave reviews, I just didn't care for it as much as I thought I was going to at the beginning of the story. I knew I didn't like the boy-obsessed middle sister character, but it was a review on Goodreads that reminded of that popular theme in many modern books for older children, angst. I prefer less angst in my books, I think I get enough in real life.

The Minute Boys of Lexington and The Minute Boys of Bunker Hill by Edward Stratemeyer, illustrated by J.W. Kennedy
I am listing these two titles here although they have been read over the span of two years as read alouds in our Morning Time. The first book, The Minute Boys of Lexington introduces us to the various characters and families who see the first moments of the American Revolution. The second book, The Minute Boys of Bunker Hill follows the story as the war spreads to Boston. Seth, my eleven year old, loved these books and hated it when Mr. Stratemeyer employed the terrible chapter-ending cliff-hanger. The main character, a teenaged Roger Morse shows character and courage beyond his years in both caring for his family and his country.

The Open Garden: A Story With Four Essays by Christopher Milne (yes, Christopher Robin)
I truly enjoyed the four essays in this book, even if Milne managed to remind us how much he considers Adam and Eve and the Garden of Eden a fable. And for that reason, I decided to skip the story at the end of the essays about Adam and Eve. I knew I wouldn't enjoy it and I didn't want to spoil my enjoyment of the rest of the book.
I have quoted from the book previously both here and here and would love to read it again. This was the third book I read by Milne, having also read two of his memoirs earlier this year.

The Reading Promise: My Father and the Books We Shared by Alice Ozma
I really thought this would be about the books they read together and the conversations they had about those books. It is not. It is a memoir with various chapters on different snippets of her life with her family, her father in particular who appears to be a truly dedicated children's librarian and story-teller. But the amount of dialogue she recounts in every single chapter makes you wonder exactly how much she is remembering versus manufacturing. I made myself finish it, but could not recommend it with any enthusiasm.

Classics and Other Such Books

Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh
I did it! I finished this book. I started this two years ago and kept putting it down but as I recently shared, I found a way to help me get through the huh? parts until I could genuinely follow the story on my own. I listened to Jeremy Iron read parts of it and then I returned to the book and finished it on my own. I even managed to see the ending coming which I was rather pleased to know since it was taking so long for me to figure out this book.
Here is interesting discussion between Charles Ryder and Cordelia Marchmain.

"'I never really knew your Mother', I said.
'You didn't like her. I sometimes think when people wanted to hate God they hated mummy.'
'What do you mean by that, Cordelia?'

'Well, you see, she was saintly but she wasn't a saint. No one could really hate a saint, could they.
They can't really hate God either. When they want to hate him and his saints they have to find something like themselves and pretend it's God and hate that. I suppose you think that's all bosh.'

'I heard almost the same thing once before - from someone very different.'

'Oh, I'm quite serious. I've thought about it a lot. It seems to explain poor mummy."

Monday, April 06, 2015

Easter weekend

River movement, moss, rocks, trees and comfortable cool, fresh air, all enjoyed and delighted over this weekend. I wandered around in my rain boots breathing in the spring scents and admiring the plush green carpet of moss under my feet and clinging to rocks and trees. Exhilarating. 

It was wonderful to celebrate Easter Sunday with this dear church family that we call home. Yes, we are meeting in a theater. It was originally an Anglican church but was bought by a theater company to use as their practice stage.
The flowering cross was made by good friends after they read a book by the same name together as a family. And the homemade cookies and table decor were all beautiful laid out by Lia, another talented friend.

As you can see, I had some fun hiding some of the candy eggs this year. Perhaps a little too much fun. But we only do this once a year, it seemed a shame to only use the usual hiding places.
The unfortunate dinosaur scene did seem to paint those creatures in a bad light. I'm sure their egg hunts were all very civil and orderly.
The geese managed to draw a crowd with their gaping interest in the egg cart. The pony especially seemed to need a fair amount of convincing that his cargo was much needed here at this address. It was the squire that spoke just the right words that calmed him down.
And we all know that at this time of year, birds only lay chocolate eggs which is why the crows are always after their nests.
Perhaps most disturbing was the camel trying to pass off his humps as just mounds of fat, when clearly he had already indulged in a couple of eggs. Good thing we had a ton to spare and no children were unhappy because of his indiscretion.

In the late afternoon, I made soup with kielbasa, carrots and potatoes, garlic ciabatta bread, and vanilla lime bundt cake with lime glaze which we packed up and took to share with friends. They added some delicious appetizers and wine and we enjoyed some much down time together with our families. These perfectly purple tulips were in their powder room, so classy and so welcome.
A great weekend filled many of our favorite things. 

Friday, April 03, 2015

maple sugaring

We were invited by our friends, Jason and Kathleen, to come to the cottage for a Saturday of maple sap boiling. Kathleen took most of the outdoor photos, I only ventured out once in the early morning and then later right before we left. The warmth of the wood fire and the need to help keep the workers fed and watered kept me inside. It was delightful. All the kids slept in the same room, Kate too this time. She shared the bottom bunk with Laura and it seemed to go alright with the bed gate to keep her safely on the bed. It is a homey cottage with vintage furnishings, books and artwork in every room. We are always to thankful to be invited and have warm Christian fellowship with all of us together. And they sent us home a large mason jar of maple syrup which is precious gold. Thank you again, you two.

(The last few vertical shots of the inside of the cottage rooms were taken with our new phone while Kathleen used the regular camera. It was my first time using the camera, so forgive some of the strange angles.)