Tuesday, April 15, 2014

spring river life

After a long winter, it has been wonderful to step outside on mostly solid ground to look around and aim the camera at what I see. The river in the spring time always provides a fascinating landscape as the ice begins to thaw and move with the current. The banks overflow and spill out into the area that we call our backyard. Although it is not our property, we are able to have shared use of it with the neighborhood as our playground and nature study area.
This collection of photos is from this past week of river watching as it went from a silent solid mass to a gurgling liquid pool. River snails were left behind as the river receded in some areas and a recent sunset turned everything to gold as budding branches held on to large drops of rain.
We know how fortunate we are to have this view and we treasure it in each new season. Soon the buds will break open, bringing new life and color to this river area and I hope to be able to capture it to share with you.

Monday, April 07, 2014

January/February Book List in color

This is the official January/February Book List. I previously posted just a list of the books after disaster with the original post struck and I didn't have insurance. Sigh.

Favorite Picture Books

Winter Eyes by Douglas Florian
We have borrowed other poem books by Douglas Florian, he has written many of them. We all liked this one and the kids had their favorites and I had mine. Seth and Laura liked the "sister" poems, What I Love About Winter and What I Hate About Winter both of which were done in rhyming lists. I preferred this one.


On winter days there's no excuse
To not enjoy a Norway spruce.
I pine to see a tall white pine,
Magnificent in rain or shine.
The aromatic balsam fir
Is fine as any conifer.
And please observe, the hemlock tree
Is graced with handsome symmetry.
Though temperatures are in the teens,
My eyes eat up these winter greens.

The Llama Who Had No Pajama by Mary Ann Hoberman, illustrated by Betty Fraser
I found this anthology of poems while browsing the bookshelves of my friend Julie in New Brunswick and even though we have many books of children's poetry, we needed this one.  It is a delight and leads to all sorts of conversations around here when we read from it during our Morning Time. It's actually hard to put down, the kids and I both want to keep reading and rereading the poems.

The Amazing Impossible Erie Canal by Cheryl Harness
We have enjoyed several other books by her and this one on the Erie Canal was great too.  Not being that familiar with the canal, I found this to be a well illustrated story of how the canal came to be built and used.  I really enjoy her colorful artwork, detailed drawings and labels.

The Dark by Lemony Snicket, illustrated by Jon Klassen
I had no idea what this book was about, but the cover and the author were enough to intrigue me into bringing it home from the library.  It turned out to be a very unique story idea to a very ordinary type of problem. And the suspense that the book builds was almost too much for Laura who wanted to keep turning the pages even if she was a little fearful of what might happen next.  I won't give anything away by saying anything more. It's a fun book.

The Blizzard by Betty Ren Wright, illustrated by Ron Himler
Although like me, you don't want to cozy up with books about blizzards for quite a while, do mark this one down for next winter. An endearing story of students and their teacher from a one-room school who must take shelter from a snowstorm by spending time together in one of the children's homes.  A gentle reminder of what fellowship and community can be.


Ten Ways to Destroy the Imagination of Your Child by Anthony Esolen
I'm not sure where to begin talking about this book or the ideas presented in it, or its writing style.  Although I have read a bit about the book and seen some quotes from it on other blogs or articles, I had no idea what the book was really about.  Our culture talks a lot about "using your imagination" or " having a good imagination" but our culture does a terrible job of cultivating an imagination.  Saying that leads one to ask what our culture is trying to cultivate anyway since isn't that what culture is, something that has been cultivated and preserved?  This isn't the space to delve into the book, I hope that comes later with some friends who I asked to read the book with me. But for now, consider adding this book to your list, if you can handle the satire that the title emits. Even though it was often difficult reading for my taxed brain, it was very rewarding, as most difficult tasks usually are.

Fit to Burst by Rachel Jankovic
Loving the Little Years by Rachel Jankovic
I'm including these two titles together even though I read them  They are brief books with short chapters that are very understandable and provide a common experience for young moms. Rachel's style of writing and content is empathetic but also exhorting. She writes about how crazy and exhausting parenting is because she is doing it right now, but she also reminds you of what your purpose and goal is and encourages you to do it well.  I like her books and I reread them to remind myself that we are all doing this and no one has it easy. Reading books like these help give you perspective and ideas to parent rightly and with the enthusiasm of a faithful servant in God's kingdom.
Rachel was interviewed by Family Life Today last fall and you can listen to those discussions to hear her in real life here.

Bread, Jam and a Borrowed Pram by Dot May Dunn
If nothing else can be said about the book, the speed with which I finished it should count for something. Started it late Saturday night after reading several other nonfiction books and I finished it by lunchtime Monday. (And that included two church services on Sunday and housework and lessons supervised on Monday.)The author recounts her work as a Health Visitor in post-war England with little bits of her personal life included. It is written as journal entries which cover two years in the late 50s and early 60s. The living situations of many of these families is undeniably atrocious, but her recounting is not sensational, instead it is straightforward, detailed and full of concern for those who need her assistance. The book did leave me wanting to scrub my house down to its very crevices as her entries recounting the filth and rankness she encountered made me feel nervous about some of my own housekeeping negligence.  If you are familiar with the television series Call the Midwife, then you will likely see and enjoy the similarities.
Looking forward to her other two titles, Twelve Babies on a Bike and The Village.

Classics and Other Such Books

The Heather Hills of Stonewycke by Michael Phillips and Judith Pella
Flight from Stonewycke by Michael Phillips and Judith Pella
The Lady of Stonewycke by Michael Phillips and Judith Pella
These three books form the first trilogy called The Stonewycke Trilogy. The second trilogy by the same authors is called The Stonewycke Legacy which I also borrowed from my mom to read again at some point. These books were written to capture the spirit of George MacDonald's books written about the Scottish Highlands. I enjoyed these books as a teen and it was a pleasant time to reread this series again revolving around several generations of a Scottish Lord and his family.

At Home in Mitford by Jan Karon
A Light in the Window by Jan Karon
These High Green Hills by Jan Karon
I have kind of lost count how many times I've read these first three books in the Mitford Series, but they are so good I love coming back to them. And Jan Karon is writing some more Mitford novels!

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows
If I read books that are or were popular best sellers, I always read them years after everyone else is talking about them. I'm current like that. This book was alluded to again somewhere I was reading and I thought it was time I read it and see what I thought. I liked it, simple as that. It was witty and interesting and eye-opening. Not bad for a popular fiction title.  I didn't realize it would be all letters but after a few pages, I caught the flow, figured out who was writing to who and enjoyed the stories.  A book to remember and enjoy again.

Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
I guess I have to reread this book because I found the ending disturbing and totally unexpected. But then again, I don't really dig dystopian works. But just to keep up with my tour through the classics, I felt compelled to read it. I'm not really smart enough to read some of these books, but just when I thought I was getting somewhere, a plot twist sent me back to bewilderment. I found the early parts of the book quite profound and the later parts bizarre and sickening.  I might need to find some good ole' CliffsNotes for this one.  Or I can just keep going and finish George Orwell's 1984 and really know my limitations.

And now I have less than three weeks to get the March/April post ready; it almost wants to make me stop reading books for the next three weeks. Almost.

Monday, March 31, 2014

So long, March.

:: Last minute trip to the airplane museum
:: Anticipating spring flavors
:: Birthday cake and a visit from my mom
:: A reflection of life
:: Working hard on speech therapy
:: Fun with play dough birthday cakes
:: Strawberries and chocolate 
:: Spring flower arrangements
:: Gifts from dear friends
:: First signs of new life 
:: Ready for April 

Friday, March 28, 2014

Essays of E.B. White

I came across an older link in Atlantic Monthly to an essay by E.B. White, entitled Death of a Pig. I enjoyed reading it so much, that I checked to see what else he had written and then requested some of his essay collections from our library. Three books came in at once, so I have been digging into them and thoroughly enjoying myself, laughing and grinning my way through each paragraph.

Here are two snippets about Hurricane Edna from an essay called The Eye of Edna written in September of 1954.
It became evident to me after a few fast rounds with the radio that the broadcasters had opened up on Edna awfully far in advance, before she had come out of her corner, and were spending themselves at a reckless rate. During the morning hours, they were having a tough time keeping Edna going at the velocity demanded of emergency broadcasting. I heard one fellow from, I think, Riverhead, Long Island interviewing his out-of-doors man, who had been sent abroad in a car to look over conditions on the eastern end of the island. "How would you say the roads were?" asked the tense voice.
"They were wet," replied the reporter, who seemed to be in a sulk.
"Would you say the spray from the puddles was dashing up around the mudguards?" inquired the desperate radioman.
"Yeah," replied the reporter.
It was one of those confused moments, emotionally, when the listener could not be quite sure what position radio was taking--for hurricanes or against them.
A few minutes later, I heard another baffling snatch of dialogue on the air, from another sector--I think it was Martha's Vineyard.
"Is it raining hard there?" asked an eager voice.
"Yes, it is."
"Fine!" exclaimed the first voice, well pleased at having got a correct response.
Not only were the movements of the storm hard to follow but the voices were beginning to show the punchy conditions of the poor, overworked fellows who had been blowing into their microphones at seventy miles per hour for so many hours. "Everything," cried one fellow, "is pretty well battered down in Westerly." I presume he meant "battened down," but there was no real way of knowing.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

forming souls

"Thus when we teach our youngest children by means of rhymes and songs, we do not so merely because rhymes and songs are effective mnemonic devices. We do so because we wish to form their souls by memory: we wish to bring them up as rememberers, as persons, born, as Caldecott points out, in certain localities, among certain people, who bear a certain history, and who claim our love and loyalty." ~ Anthony Esolen, writing in the Foreward to Beauty in the Word by Stratford Caldecott.

Cindy announced a book study through Beauty in the Word, starting last week and for once, thanks to Amazon Canada(amazon.ca), I could get the book at a great price and in time to participate. (And with thanks to my in-laws for birthday money they sent, I did not have to justify buying myself more books. They were basically a gift. Yep.)
Stratford Caldecott's books have been on my wish list for a couple of years now, so this seemed like a great time to dig in, with Cindy at the helm.
I chose this quote from the Foreward because as I read it last night, I was glad to hear someone else say what others around me are saying too. I want to our children to know their people's history and culture and to know that they belong to a certain group of people. We are part of Western civilization and it has many aspects worth conserving and remembering.
Recently I watched Wesley Callihan give a tour of his personal library, shelf by shelf. (I posted a link to it on March 22 on my new Facebook page, more details down below.)
His library is organized chronologically from ancient/ classical up through the early church writers, through the Middle Ages and on into the Reformation and Modern era. They are books that tell the story of Western/Christian civilization. It is a past worth remembering.

On another note, I wanted to announce that back at the end of Feburary, I created a Facebook page to be a companion to both this blog and my Tumblr blog, Whatever is Lovely.  Over the years since Facebook came into existence, I have pondered whether to create a page for Prone to Wander on Facebook.  But wanting to keep some order and control over the content-management prevented me from doing so. Two years ago, not very happy with Pinterest, but liking the visual array it presented, I started a Tumblr blog to create a place where I could post pleasant photos and images. Along the way, I have somehow collected a couple hundred followers who can see what I post on Whatever is Lovely. But I really only post with me in mind. And you, if you enjoy beautiful images and photos.
So I finally happened to consider that perhaps if I started a Facebook page as a companion to my Tumblr blog, it could also serve as a way of sharing items similar to what you would find on here and still make me happy with social media managing the content.
So to summarize, my announcement is that I have created a Facebook page called Whatever is Lovely and you are invited to go check it out and like it. And I think that the link should work even if you don't have a Facebook account. I have tested it, but please let me know if it works for you. That is all.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

food for the Kingdom

Many years ago now, I read Noel Piper's Faithful Women and Their Extraordinary God and this excerpt from her chapter on Esther Ahn Kim has remained lodged in my mind ever since.

"She made a habit of buying complete lots of poor produce from the poorest vendors, at full price. Then she culled through and gave what was edible to her mother and sister. She ate what was left. She was preparing for the rotten beans and millet she expected in prison." p. 118

I think about this all the time, without even meaning to, just wondering what it would be like to think of food this way. How would it change me as I grow, shop, cook and organize the food in our family's life?

I do recommend Noel Piper's book, and also Esther Ahn Kim's autobiography called If I Perish.

Monday, March 10, 2014

January/February Book List

I had a bit of an incident with this original draft over the weekend in which I unintentionally deleted the whole post replete with photos, excerpts and comments of the books I was listing.
In order to get on with life, I'm posting just a list of the books read in January and February. If I am able to, I will rewrite a new version of the book post and get that up whenever. I know I don't have to, but part of me is a major stickler for consistency. But at least for now, this is my list of books read since the beginning of this year.

Favorite Picture Books

Winter Eyes by Douglas Florian
The Llama Who Had No Pajamas by Mary Ann Hoberman
The Amazing Impossible Erie Canal by Cheryl Harness
The Dark by Lemony Snicket
The Blizzard by Betty Ren Wright


Ten Ways to Destroy the Imagination of Your Child by Anthony Esolen
Loving the Little Years by Rachel Jankovic
Fit to Burst by Rachel Jankovic
Bread, Jam and a Borrowed Pram by Dot May Dunn

Classics and Other Such Books

The Stonewycke Trilogy by Michael Phillips and Judith Pella
At Home in Mitford by Jan Karon
A Light in the Window by Jan Karon
These High Green Hills by Jan Karon
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society by Annie Barrows and Mary Ann Shaffer
Brave New World by Aldous Huxley

Thursday, March 06, 2014

this doll is real

Did I ever tell you about the September day last year when I was cleaning up in the girls' room, putting clean clothes away and sorting clothes that were too small or out of season when I happened to pick up this doll, with her winter boots laying nearby and wondered if the boots would still fit her for the upcoming winter?
I laughed at myself and then realized that for just a moment there, I had slipped out of reality.
I'm back now and still laughing at this picture I took to remind myself how for a little while I thought the doll might be one of my little girls who had outgrown her winter boots.

(Her name is Rosy Cheeks and she came from North American Bear Co.)

Monday, March 03, 2014