Saturday, November 23, 2013

keeping busy

late afternoon light and early morning geese

We had another Saturday snowfall this afternoon; the first one at the beginning of November was noted and hastened the buying of snow pants, hats, mittens, and various outerwear items. So after saying goodbye to visiting friends, out they all trooped, Kate only lasting a few tromps around before she reconsidered her plans and came in. The other two whooped it up in snow angels and sledding before heading in for hot cocoa and marshmallows to the neighbor girl's house. Then later they emerged for another try before darkness and dinner came. The river is still flowing freely but with freezing temperatures and potentially more snow for this week, the forming ice will still this slow current and the geese who spend their days lounging around in the frigid waters will have to find a new spa.

If you take a moment and listen to the geese in the short video below, I believe you will hear what I'm quite sure they were warning each other about as I approached: "Human wearing pajamas!!!" 

Friday, November 22, 2013


"The day that I was again to go to Kilns, I saw a small headline in the Oxford Mail as I was eating my breakfast sausage and eggs: 'C.S. LEWIS FUNERAL TODAY'. He had died two or three days before at 5:30 in the afternoon. I hoped he had had his tea. I did not have the heart to go to the funeral, even though I was, so to speak, an invited guest: he would not be there. But I did walk over to the Eastgate and stand there a few minutes, looking across the High and remembering a decade past, his great shout from the other side: 'Christians NEVER say goodbye!' And his grin. And I thanked God with gladness for the meeting we had had." ~ Sheldon VanAuken, Under the Mercy

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

On Time

Photo from earlier in January
Fly, envious Time, till thou run out thy race,
Call on the lazy, leaden-stepping hours,
Whose speed is but the heavy plummet's pace,
And glut thyself with what thy womb devours,
Which is no more than what is false and vain,
And merely mortal dross;
So little is our loss,
So little is thy gain,
For when as each thing bad thous hast entombed,
And last of all thy greedy self consumed,
Then long Eternity shall greet our bliss
With an individual kiss,
And joy shall overtake us as a flood;
When every thing that is sincerely good
And perfectly divine,
With Truth, and Peace, and Love shall ever shine
About the supreme throne
Of Him, t'whose happy-making sight alone
When once our heavenly-guided soul shall climb,
Then, all this earthy grossness quit,
Attired with stars we shall for ever sit
     Triumphing over Death, and Chance, and thee, O Time.
~ John Milton

Monday, November 11, 2013

September/October Book List

Favorite Picture Books

Nurse Clementine by Simon James
This delightful picture book was recommended in a recent post by Stacy along with another title which our library did not have. Clementine is gifted with a nurse's outfit and first-aid kit and finds that her nursing skills are in high demand around her home with one exception, her dare-devil brother Timmy who would prefer to be left alone to manage his own bumps and bruises.  I have high praise for this author's ability to tell both a humorous and heart-warming story in word and picture. But even more so, for deftly using a phrase repeatedly throughout the story that is not only not tiresome, it actually provides the closing punch-line and a chuckle with the closing illustration. Pairing this book up with a first-aid kit would make a great gift for some little person.  Thanks Stacy for a great recommendation.

Mark Twain and the Queens of the Mississippi by Cheryl Harness
A short selection from this book was used in our grammar lesson(First Language Lessons, Level 4) earlier this fall, so I looked up the book and borrowed it from our library. I confess much ignorance about the Mighty Mississippi River, like the fact it begins in northern Minnesota.  Yikes. Full page illustrations and hand-drawn maps detailing the river and its many tributaries were a wonder to pore over and fill in the gaps of my mind. Learning about Mark Twain, aka Samuel Langhorne Clemens in the context of steamboats and the river life was enriching and Cheryl Harness' illustrations are colorful and engaging. Just my kind of book.

Peter Rabbit and the Pumpkin Patch based on the original tale by Beatrix Potter
This was an impulse purchase at our local pharmacy store while waiting for a prescription for Seth's encounter with poison ivy back in early October. I was looking for something for him to occupy him until the worst of the swelling on his right eye was over and I found a Star Wars Lego minifigure sticker book that he didn't have.  And then among all the tasteless Hallowe'en titles, this little darling cover caught my eye. A quick flip through the first couple of pages assured me that while it was not expressly written by Beatrix Potter, it carried the spirit of her work. (As a sidenote, we do enjoy trick-or-treating in our neighborhood and carving a jack-o-lantern for our front door. And Sheep Trick or Treat is a fun book to read for this time of year.)

Later, reading it at home together, Laura learned that a parsnip is not a white carrot and that scarecrows in old nightshirts aren't really scary. But it was the last two pages that we all loved. To come home to this little party would delight anyone who loves celebrations and cozy gatherings.

Mousekin's Golden House by Edna Miller
Written back in the mid-60's, this first book in a series about Mousekin are sweet, yet full of interest for the natural world and all that happens often unseen by busy humans. In this story, Mousekin happens upon a discarded jack-o-lantern in the woods which sparks both curiosity and suspicion, but with a hungry owl swooping down on him, he finds himself taking shelter inside this strange new pumpkin world.  As autumn fades into winter, Mousekin and the other forest animals prepare for the snow and hibernation.  Perhaps putting our jack-o-lantern in the trees along the river will provide some little creature with its own Mousekin adventure and shelter this winter. I recommend any of these stories.

Economic Facts and Fallacies by Thomas Sowell, second edition
This is the first book I've read by Thomas Sowell, although I have read several of his articles and listened to various interviews given by him so his work is familiar to me. He discusses and argues against almost every idea I have heard promoted everywhere and anywhere, from our Canadian news agencies to our Canadian neighbors. Ideas of overpopulation, exhausting our natural resources, gender pay differences, the shrinking middle-class, racial inequality, third world countries, etc. I found his style of writing interesting, his examples helpful and his use of statistics straightforward. I will be getting back into his Basic Economics next.

Classics and Other Such Books
Silas Marner by George Eliot
With a bit of a slow start, this shorter Eliot novel contains many plot threads which somewhat taxed my mind trying to bring them into connections with each other, but as typical of these older novels, one must keep reading and soon the loose threads form a rich and complex story. Eliot, like Alcott, enjoys adding to her stories, her thoughts and opinions on the characters she creates and human nature in general. And she does so without sounding preachy or moralistic. Last month, I posted an example of this here if you're curious about her writing style. I liked this Eliot novel enough that I am now reading her much longer Middlemarch.

Animal Farm by George Orwell
I started this early in September and then let it sit on my nightstand for a while. The first week of the partial government shutdown in the states found me curious to finish the book.  It was a bit surreal to read a portion each night as the news articles and broadcasts were bombarding us with dire predictions and impending doom. If only something significant had happened, but as it turned out to be instead, more of the same policies.  Now that I have read this book, it seems that I find more frequent allusions to it where previously I was ignorant of the importance of something in a comment or political cartoon. And the chilling use of the phrase, "Tactics, comrades, tactics!" to explain a so-called "cunning" move by the leading animal Napoleon did little to ease my agitated state of mind that this was written about past Soviet government leaders as opposed to a current North American government leaders. No, this is not a comfortable read, but it is a necessary one.