Saturday, September 19, 2009

Reading Progress

Four years ago, Maggie read, for the first time, a book that hadn't been read to her previously. It was a short and easy chapter-book, and it had a lot of white space, but I was thrilled. This week, her friend Mary loaned her a copy of Ella Enchanted, a "real" book, a grown-up book, and she read the whole book on her own in two and a half days. Isn't that fabulous?

A Visit from a Friend

On Monday, my friend S had a chance to come visit. We were seldom able to get together even when we lived relatively near each other. So it's a real treat when she is able to make a quick trip to the Milwaukee area.

One of the things I learned from her is what's killed my cucumbers and is in the process of killing my watermelon vines. Apparently there's a fungus among us this year. After what she mentioned, I've discovered that other people are having the same problem, and I'm lucky that it hasn't bothered my beans or tomatoes or herbs -- just my cukes, squash, and melons. We were wondering what-on-earth we were going to do with all those watermelons... Well, I guess this is a lesson in "Don't count your watermelons before they're hatched."

This reminds me (in an ADD way); I'm not killing grass for a garden expansion. Wonder when I'm going to get to that?

My friend can play organ and piano, and one of the things I appreciate so much when she visits is her request before leaving: "Let's sing a hymn or two together." Hooray! Yes! Let's! Why don't I do that with other friends? (Maybe because it's easier when somebody can play the piano for it?)


Last Friday and this Friday we spent gorgeous days, outdoors in southwestern Wisconsin, watching Shakespeare. This week was The Winter's Tale and last week was The Comedy of Errors. This week's play was good, but we enjoyed Comedy much more.

The attendance was amazingly low. Oftentimes the theater is full; I usually order our homeschool group's tickets in early April so that I can ensure we have reservations for the dates we choose. This year, though, the theater was only between half and two-thirds full. Last week we attributed the low attendance to its being the first week of school in many school districts. But seeing low attendance again today, maybe it's the economy.

Donna (one of the moms who attends these plays with us) pointed out that Shakespeare wrote today's story with a 16-year interlude between acts, between the time the princess was abandoned as a baby and the time she grew up and had fallen in love with her father's best friend's son. So here we are in the story, with a 16-yr-old prepared to marry a prince a few years older than she. But APT changed it to be a 20-year gap in the story. Can't have 16-yr-olds getting married, I guess.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Learning a Language

I'm not talking about a normal foreign language, although I suppose the same lessons apply.

In the last week, I became familiar with the language of textual criticism. A friend is finishing up her doctoral dissertation on Job, and she needed a proofreader. When she introduced me to her 500-page dissertation, she was throwing around words like obelus and lemma and catena and asterisk (no, it's not what you think it is) and names like Symmachus and Aquila and Theodotion. So, I'm taking notes, writing down what she wants me to check, trying to figure out what ALL these numbers and punctuation marks mean. Oh, and then there's Greek and Hebrew and Latin and Syriac and Aramaic and German and a bunch of other languages in this book. The first day or so, I was just checking format: margins, vertical spacing, indentations, etc. I could handle that.

But then I got into the text and the evaluation of the critical apparatus. I never felt so stupid in my life. I didn't know what was going on. It all seemed so hard. I had to keep looking up information to make sure I was catching the typos and errors. It was pretty overwhelming. But I kept going, immersed in this project I told my friend I'd help with. And slowly it became easier. Slowly I learned which manuscript numbers were associated with which manuscript-groups and what the code-numbers were. Slowly I began to make sense out of all those symbols and jottings which aren't words. Slowly I began to recognize the players, the ones from the second century and the ones in the last couple of centuries. And slowly I began to speed up on the proofreading because I was no longer looking at something so foreign.

Come to think of it, when Gary taught himself Latin, he had the same experience. He plunged into translating a book, and it went slowly and clumsily. But as he continued working, the translating came easier to him. It also seems to fit with the experience of Nathaniel Bowditch (whose story I greatly enjoy) as he taught himself languages.

Come to think of it, my friend Laura is doing this now, as she learns all the details and routines involved in her new outside-the-home job where she has to learn the language of investing.

I guess I really ought to install Rosetta Stone. I've been procrastinating for three weeks. We can't even pretend to immerse ourselves in German (for tiny little bits of each day) as long the computer program sits in the box instead of on the computer's hard drive...

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Oh, yeah,...

Today's mail contained an envelope for Andrew. I told him there was a birthday card for him from Grandma and Grandpa. He didn't ask which set of grandparents. It took me a few seconds to figure out why he didn't ask.

Seems like there are a whole lot more memories swirling around in my brain, more things being "processed" from last June, now that we're to the time of year when there are memories of another loss too.

Beautiful Day

The weather in September has been more summery than the July or August weather this year. Today the kids played educational games while the moms were occupied at Bible class, then we brought Leah home with us. After Greek class, lunch, more Greek, and a little basketball, we all settled down to our books: I did some editing while the kids sat on the deck with math or history or whatever, enjoying a gorgeous day.

And herein lies the idyllic part of homeschooling.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Health Care

It's that time of year when I get to pondering the luxurious awesomeness of hot water flowing from my faucets.

I remember how much our backs were hurting by the end of the cold-&-quick shower month. We have so much pain relief (that usually goes unappreciated) just from hot showers.

I found fleas on the cat a week ago. I put the Frontline Plus on her. And I wondered a bit as to why we don't get fleas from the cats. For one thing, we usually discover what's going on before the fleas get bad. But if we didn't? Ah, but we take showers each day, and that would wash those little buggers down the drain. (For some reason, kitties don't want to immerse themselves in water daily...)

And think of all the germies that are washed down the drain when we shower daily, and when we wash our hands multiple times daily. Ooooooh -- running water is a lovely thing to have!

There are so many little things we have that preserve our health, things we don't even notice. Fruits and veggies for nutrition, instead of living on potatoes or cornbread. A D.O. or chiropractor who can straighten a back to alleviate pain. Aspirin to counteract inflammation after an injury. Glasses and hearing aids that keep us connected to the rest of the world when age begins to rob us of sight and sound. Enzymes and probiotics (in capsule form) to help counteract the effects of all the over-processing of the food we eat.

It used to be that 60-yr-olds were old. It's not that way so much anymore. I think a lot of it has to do with these little benefits that we take for granted.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Easy Raspberry Vinaigrette

I don't have raspberry vinegar, a basic ingredient to most raspberry vinaigrette dressings. But I have raspberry jam and blackberry jam.

Take a spoonful of jam, an equal amount of apple cider vinegar, maybe with a splash of balsamic vinegar. Add a pinch of salt. If you wish to add other spices, hunky-dory. But the jam, vinegar, and salt will do quite nicely. Stir (or shake) it well.

Use this dressing on a spinach salad, with some onion slices, and if you're lucky you can toss in a few raspberries, and yum yum yum....

Sunday, September 13, 2009

The Tongue

Today's [three-year series] epistle is from James 3:
We all stumble in many things.
If anyone does not stumble in word,
he is a perfect man,
able also to bridle the whole body.

Then James goes on to talk about how animals can be tamed, but the tongue cannot. And how it is wrong for a mouth to spew forth cursing when it has been used to bless God. And how the evil tongue can defile the whole body.

Usually this passage is used to tell us how important it is to control our speech, to watch our language and choice of words, to not fly off the handle and say words that are unable to be taken back.

But today I'm wondering if maybe it has more to do with doctrine than it does profanity or angry outbursts.

Is the person who doesn't "stumble in word" the person who controls what he says or the person who confesses true doctrine?