A Quote and A Story

“My doctor says that I have a malformed public duty gland and a natural deficiency in moral fiber and that I that I am therefore excused from saving Universes.”

That was one of The Equuschick’s favourite quotes from “Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.”

Anyway.

This is a little something The Equuschick wrote about a year ago, and she feels that she needs a reminder.

Not to put too fine a point on it, The Equuschick’s family does not consist of the most punctual individuals. They are of the class of people who are always given the time of things half an hour early, to make sure they’re not half an hour late. (They’re still half an hour late. But hey, they can’t blame people for trying.) When HG and Equuschick were small, HM would do his best to keep his family ahead of time by the tried, and supposedly true,Planning Ahead method. HG and Equuschick were required, on Saturday nights, to lay out all of our clothes for Sunday morning, try them on, check for runs in the tights, and show them to DHM to make sure they matched. This practice, useful as it was, gradually died out as HG and Equuschick grew into their teens, and they have now been emancipated from the mandatory Planning Ahead. Equuschick has still tried, nonetheless, to do a bit of Planning Ahead on her own. Lately though, even that good intention has failed her. She finds herself up past midnight on Saturday nights, and awake late on Sunday mornings, running around like a chicken with her head cut off trying to find shoes, dress, purse, Bible, to feed and let out the horses, etc., all in the half hour before they drive away. But this Sunday morning an odd thing occurred. The morning, and the night preceding it, started out predictably. The Equuschick was up much later Saturday night than she intended, and the idea that she might quickly glance in her closet to make sure there was something decent available for the morning was discarded on the “I’ll be sorry in the morning but I’m too tired now” line. So far, so good. She went to bed and found that her alarm clock was missing, and dismissed the idea of looking for it on the grounds that “I’d most likely be sorry for that too, but HM will wake me up.” He did. Half an hour late. Yep, it was going to be another horrible morning. The Equuschick jumped up, ran to feed the horses, came in to start getting dressed. It was at that point that things got strange. For one thing, she found a decent outfit the minute she looked at her clothes. It didn’t even need ironing. She blinked, did a double take, and then went to find tights. For a moment it looked like things were getting back to normal when she discoverd two pairs with runs in them, so she went hunting in the “sock basket”, an essential house-keeping item for the well-disorganized family of 9. (It is, briefly, the Sock Single club. You put a lonely sock in the basket and hope that its found a mate by morning.) All went well for a few minutes as she hunted furiously, but then she discovered a good pair well before she felt like the search had even started. So she went back to her room, and there things really started going nuts. She found her shoes. She found them immediately, both of them, and they were on the SHOE STAND, of all places. It was quite a shock. She slipped into her suit, tights, and her shoes, and went off to do her hair. She was panicking at this point. It was as she sat on her bed and dressed The Cherub, trying to assimilate the information that the van didn’t have to leave for 20 minutes and she was completely ready, that she started asking why. What had happened this morning that hadn’t happened every other Sunday morning? And then, as she looked around her room, it hit her like a two by four. Her bedroom was clean.
The unlimited potential of a clean bedroom blows The Equuschick’s mind away.
Imagine the possibilities.

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Zeus with Rawhide Bone

What you can’t see here, because I don’t publish pictures of my children, is that the FYB and the Cherub are sitting just a bit behind Zeus, each eating a piece of fruit and sort of hunched over their fruit much like Zeus is hunched over his bone. The ‘family resemblance’ between the three of them is obviously, and yet, since two of the three are adopted (one through a private agency, one through the local animal shelter) none of the three share a gene in common.=)

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Meteor Showers

The Head Girl told us that last night would be a good night for catching the Perseid Meteor Shower, but we had to go outside at 1 a.m. to see it. We have a large security light on one side of the yard which hinders a view of the night sky, so if the better viewing was in that direction I wasn’t going to stay up to look.
So I asked: Which is the best direction to look to see the shower?

And the ever tart Equuschick replied: Up.

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Book Aquisitions

Mama Squirrel asked, so here it is:

Michael Innes’ Inspector Appleby mysteries
Some Margery Allingham Campion mysteries
A History of Education in Antiquity, by H. I. Marrou
Kitchener, Architect of Victory, Artisan of Peace
Highly Selective Thesaurus for the Extraordinarily Literate
Almost Vegetarian Entertaining
American Place, A cookbook (autographed by author)
Golden Book of America, The
“Bedside Nature, A ‘unique blend of science and history, a chronological smorgasbord of brief annotated excerpts from the magazine’s Victorian era to the 1953 article on DNA
Tree of Cranes, a beautiful picture book, tells of a Japanese family who decorate a Christmas tree with origami (we do this, too, so it was cool)
Timeline of Discovery and Invention by North, Peter And Wilkinson, Philip
Voyage to Santa Fe, Giles, Janice Holt (Janice HOlt Giles was one of my Grandmother’s favorite authors)
A beautiful blue silk brocade blank book with scenes of Chinese embroidered on it- it’s been used so several pages have come out, but we are a family who love our blank books, and this is lovely and very satisfying to hold in your hand.
Works of G. K. Chesterton, poetry
Fruitlands by Gloria Whelan, historical fiction for girls, a ‘diary’ of Louisa May Alcott’s youth
Wee Willie Winkie, nursery rhymes illustrated by Hader, Berta and Elmer
House of Mirth, by Wharton
Natural Health, Natural Medicine, Weil
Food In History, Tannahill, Reay
James Whitcomb Riley, Hoosier Boy, a Childhood of Famous Americans book by Mitchell.
Freddy Anniversary Collection, Brooks, Walter R (Freddy the Pig)
The 20th Century Year by Year, published by tangerine press, pocket sized, very nice
Animal Fables from Aesop, McClintock, Barbara- cute illustrations
The Fox and the Cat, animal tales from Grimm
Pre-Raphaelites
G is for Google
Celebrate with Chocolate
Chocolate, Riches from the Rain Forest
Heidi, illustrated by Jesse Wilcox Smith
Band of Brothers, Stephen Ambrose
Cathedral, Macaulay
Handbook American Girls Club and Historical society
Homeschooling Only One, by our own Donna Connor
Brideshead Benighted, by Auberon Waugh (collection of satirical essays on modern Britain)
No Fighting, No Biting, to replace an older tattered copy
Ultimate Espresso Machine Cookbook- I can’t wait to use this one
Oxford Rebels, the life and friends of Nevil Story Maskelyne, pioneer scientist, photographer and politician
Beauty of America, in Great American Art- a coffee table book with quotes from American authors
The World of Michelangelo by time life
Mapping the World by Heart- it was only 8.00
John Donne Devotions
History of Modern Elementary Education by Parker, I’ve quoted this on the blog before
Great Cook’s Guide to Children’s Cookery
Paul Gauguin, by Venezia

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3 Musical Things I Like

* Hammered Dulcimers – Perhaps my earliest introduction to them was Carrie Crompton & The Barolk Folk’s Angel’s Draught album, put out by the Music for Little People catalog. I love how the dulcimer’s name connects it directly with its sound: sweetness.

* A Crescendo – Mozart rules here, although other composers provide strong competition. Actually playing a crescendo on an instrument is not easy (“Louder does not mean faster!” was the piano teacher’s insistent cry as she taught me); listening to one, however, is a thrill. I’m intrigued by the selection of an Exultate Jubilate that we own by Mozart, andI’m going to search the library for this album.

* Counterpoint – It is Bach who dominates this sphere. And, again, not easy to learn (“You must count!” said the poor Mrs. C in an anguished way), yet dazzling in its seemingly impossible, but perfect, resolution. What is counterpoint? According to OperaSource, counterpoint is “the putting together of two, three, four or even more independent musical lines.” Bach used this technique frequently. One of my favorite places to hear it is in his harpsichord concertos.

[The HeadGirl would like to acknowledge that she's very much a music amateur and that she hopes she doesn't sound as if she thinks she knows it all in posts like this. She never progressed far in her piano lessons, although she loved her last teacher; she still hits flat notes occasionally while singing...ok, it might be more than occasionally; she doesn't even really like Chopin's music. She's actually one of those annoying people who prattles to musically-educated people about "knowing what she likes." ah, well. please forgive her whimsies. She does really like love music and posts like these help her stretch and define what it is about music that really gets her excited.]

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A Quote and A Story

“My doctor says that I have a malformed public duty gland and a natural deficiency in moral fiber and that I that I am therefore excused from saving Universes.”

That was one of The Equuschick’s favourite quotes from “Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.”

Anyway.

This is a little something The Equuschick wrote about a year ago, and she feels that she needs a reminder.

Not to put too fine a point on it, The Equuschick’s family does not consist of the most punctual individuals. They are of the class of people who are always given the time of things half an hour early, to make sure they’re not half an hour late. (They’re still half an hour late. But hey, they can’t blame people for trying.) When HG and Equuschick were small, HM would do his best to keep his family ahead of time by the tried, and supposedly true,Planning Ahead method. HG and Equuschick were required, on Saturday nights, to lay out all of our clothes for Sunday morning, try them on, check for runs in the tights, and show them to DHM to make sure they matched. This practice, useful as it was, gradually died out as HG and Equuschick grew into their teens, and they have now been emancipated from the mandatory Planning Ahead. Equuschick has still tried, nonetheless, to do a bit of Planning Ahead on her own. Lately though, even that good intention has failed her. She finds herself up past midnight on Saturday nights, and awake late on Sunday mornings, running around like a chicken with her head cut off trying to find shoes, dress, purse, Bible, to feed and let out the horses, etc., all in the half hour before they drive away. But this Sunday morning an odd thing occurred. The morning, and the night preceding it, started out predictably. The Equuschick was up much later Saturday night than she intended, and the idea that she might quickly glance in her closet to make sure there was something decent available for the morning was discarded on the “I’ll be sorry in the morning but I’m too tired now” line. So far, so good. She went to bed and found that her alarm clock was missing, and dismissed the idea of looking for it on the grounds that “I’d most likely be sorry for that too, but HM will wake me up.” He did. Half an hour late. Yep, it was going to be another horrible morning. The Equuschick jumped up, ran to feed the horses, came in to start getting dressed. It was at that point that things got strange. For one thing, she found a decent outfit the minute she looked at her clothes. It didn’t even need ironing. She blinked, did a double take, and then went to find tights. For a moment it looked like things were getting back to normal when she discoverd two pairs with runs in them, so she went hunting in the “sock basket”, an essential house-keeping item for the well-disorganized family of 9. (It is, briefly, the Sock Single club. You put a lonely sock in the basket and hope that its found a mate by morning.) All went well for a few minutes as she hunted furiously, but then she discovered a good pair well before she felt like the search had even started. So she went back to her room, and there things really started going nuts. She found her shoes. She found them immediately, both of them, and they were on the SHOE STAND, of all places. It was quite a shock. She slipped into her suit, tights, and her shoes, and went off to do her hair. She was panicking at this point. It was as she sat on her bed and dressed The Cherub, trying to assimilate the information that the van didn’t have to leave for 20 minutes and she was completely ready, that she started asking why. What had happened this morning that hadn’t happened every other Sunday morning? And then, as she looked around her room, it hit her like a two by four. Her bedroom was clean.
The unlimited potential of a clean bedroom blows The Equuschick’s mind away.
Imagine the possibilities.

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Meteor Showers

The Head Girl told us that last night would be a good night for catching the Perseid Meteor Shower, but we had to go outside at 1 a.m. to see it. We have a large security light on one side of the yard which hinders a view of the night sky, so if the better viewing was in that direction I wasn’t going to stay up to look.
So I asked: Which is the best direction to look to see the shower?

And the ever tart Equuschick replied: Up.

Posted in Uncategorized | 5 Comments

The Politics of the Press

Recently a friend and I were discussing our blogs and politics. She said she wasn’t very political and did not have much interest in talking about politics on her blog. I said that wasn’t really my interest, either, that I was more interested in the bias in the media issue, which I don’t see as purely political. I think I was tired, because that was really only half right. I am, obviously, interested in politics, because I am interested in issues like government, economics, liberty, and not getting blown up by adherents to the ‘religion of peace.’

I’m also interested in other things, and one of the top five blog interests I have really is bias in the media. This interests me more than any other political issue. I think that in order to have all those other political things I’m interested in, we have to have an intellectually honest and independent press, and we really don’t have it- although the big dog bloggers are changing that.

Back in 1984 we were living in a trailor park (yes, we did) six miles from a time zone border. The trailor park management provided free cable, and we only had one child and I was pregnant with our second, feeling sick, tired, and with a little too much time on my hands. I mainly watched the news and Phil Donahue (I thought he was wonderful). I’d heard about bias in the media, but I just didn’t believe it. I was pretty complacent. Because we lived in two time zones, I could watch the 6:00 news with ABC, and then when it was over, change the channel and watch the 6:00 news with NBC. The next time the news was up I’d watch CBS and then switch channels and watch PBS- or some combination. Point is, every day I watched the 6:00 news for two different stations. I had a lot of time to compare and contrast, and I was stunned at how much slant the newscasters gave their reporting. I think the tipping point for me was watching Dan Rather report on a debate between Reagan and Mondale. I watched Reagan win that debate, then I watched Dan Rather explain why he didn’t. Then I listened to Rather report that among those who saw the debate for themselves, the majority thought that REagan had won. However, among those who had not seen the debates, the majority thought Mondale had won. Rather didn’t seem to realize that this was an incredibly damning piece of evidence of the bias of the media.

Reading Wittingshire today I was reminded of those evenings in front of the tube twenty years ago.

Nightline Hears What it Wants to Hear:

Have you ever known someone who, when in need of advice, only turns to people who will say exactly what he wants to hear?

That’s the mainstream media for you and, as John West notes at Evolutionnews, that’s what Nightline was up to last night:
Nightline’s main point appears to be that there really isn’t any scientific controversy over Darwinism and intelligent design. How do they know this? They checked with several Darwinists, who told them so! That’s right. According to Nightline, because Darwinists happen to believe there is no scientific controversy over evolution, there really must be no controversy.

Hmm. Nightline could apply this logic to a lot of other issues besides intelligent design …

There’s more, ever so much more, all very worth reading, fascinating material on one sided reporting and general ugliness (steel toed boots, brass knuckles, and name calling- tsk, tsk, tsk)- you’ll want to read it all, and check all the links, and shake your head in wonder at people do deliberately blind who are in positions where they are, or would like to be, information gate-keepers.
Then you’ll want to go this Wittingshire post for a transcript on the Nightline inteview- this is the stuff Nightline did not show its viewers. Wonder why?

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Reading the Old Fashioned Way

From the Albany Democrat-Herald comes this article by Jennifer Moody:

In 1931, in a homesteader’s cabin near Packwood, Wash., a 10-year-old girl up to her elbows in dishwater said a prayer that would change the life of every child she ever met.

She had pumped the water for the washing, then heated it on the wood stove of the home she shared with her parents and five siblings. But she remembers telling God she didn’t want a lot of money, or fancy clothes.

Instead, she said, “Please, God, I want to be a teacher.”

And Judy Schrader became a teacher. She spent 40 years in the public schools then ran her own private school. She also instituted a local bookmobile, a children’s square dancing class, and a kindergarten. Later she tutored homeschooled children and provided educational consulting for their parents. She recently retired at 84, so she could spend more time reading before she dies. She is an incredible woman, and there’s much more about this remarkable lady in the original article.

The family she helped most recently are the Bontragers.

“The Bontragers met Schrader almost three summers ago. A family member who was waiting in a dentist’s office noticed a very small girl reading — really reading — a book. He asked her mother how she’d learned so early, and the mother directed him to Schrader.

“We homeschooled with her four months and she taught them how to read,” Venesa said. “It was amazing.”

Schrader swears by phonics, which teaches words by breaking them down into separate sounds…”

…Schrader’s ways didn’t mesh well with everyone’s over the years. She remembers the administrator who threatened to throw her out for teaching phonics, insisting, “We don’t do it that way.” She remembers the principal who went away one morning, appalled, because she had come in early to do her morning exercises — on a pogo stick.

The Arizona Republic had a good article about the use of phonics in teaching kids how to read:

A 2000 report by the National Reading Panel virtually put an end to “The Reading Wars.” It deemed phonics as critically important combined with whole-word strategies to enhance comprehension.

Basic phonetic rules help children sound out words, but other common words still need to be memorized – words such as “the,” “have,” “were” – because they don’t follow any but the most complicated rules.

Established by Congress in 1997, the panel was charged with a comprehensive review of research on how best to teach children to read. The answer, it said, lies in a balanced approach between methods, combining the best of phonics and whole language with good literature.

“You need all of those pieces to put together a strong reader,” Tankersley said.

For the most part, that is what is happening in Arizona. In a 2003 review of reading programs by a panel appointed by the state Education Department, the ones that ranked best had strong phonics instruction.

The DHM is pleased and amused. The DHM comes from a long line of teachers and school administrators, not all of whom have been equally jubilant about the decision of the HM and the DHM to homeschool our brood of seven.

Some fifteen years ago the DHM had a discussion about this with a dear, elderly relative, a retired schoolteacher. She taught school in the Chicago area during the ’20s and 30′s- during a great wave of immigration from Eastern Europe. She had many interesting stories to tell, and she dearly loved her students and was passionate about education. In fact, in many ways reading about Mrs. Schrader brings this relative, whom we shall call Auntie, to mind. She visited her families every week, and once met a cow in the kitchen at the home of one student. She had another student come and live with her after his mother died because his father was a drunken abuser. She was a bright, cheerfuly little old lady, still passionately interested in children and their education.

So she naturally expressed some concern about this strange thing called homeschooling to the DHM.
“Are you sure you’re qualified, my dear?” She asked the DHM.
The DHM (me) smiled cheerfully and said certainly so.

“But it’s very important that they learn to read, ” said the Elderly Auntie, “And phonics is the best way to do that. Have you had the proper training in teaching phonics?”

The DHM had read a book or two on it, and her oldest was reading five or six years ahead of her grade level (when in the first grade), so she said that yes, she knew how teach phonics, and she certainly agreed that phonics was the way to go. The DHM could not resist asking Auntie if she was quite sure that phonics was still taught in school, because it hadn’t been taught when the DHM was in school, nor was it taught in most public schools that she knew of.

Auntie was shocked and somewhat disbelieving. She was sure that public schools still taught phonics, because otherwise, how were the children learning to read?

In far too many cases they weren’t:

California embraced whole language, with a statewide adoption of whole-language textbooks in 1987. Five years later, the National Assessment of Educational Progress showed California had the fifth-lowest reading scores in the country. By 1995, the state’s scores had dropped to the lowest in the nation, and whole language was blamed.

Meanwhile, Auntie has gently gone to meet her maker- keen and sharp to the end, she died within a day or two of contracting a cold which quickly turned to pneumonia. She never was completely sure of this homeschooling thing, but I think she would be pleased to know that five of our seven children now are reading fluently (The Cherub will never read, barring a miracle), and the babe in my arms the day Auntie and I had this conversation is now 14 and just finished the unabridged versions of The Count of Monte Cristo (for the second time) and Kenilworth, and the sister 17 months older than she is telling us that John Bunyan’s Holy War is one of her favorite books she read this year.

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The Politics of the Press

Recently a friend and I were discussing our blogs and politics. She said she wasn’t very political and did not have much interest in talking about politics on her blog. I said that wasn’t really my interest, either, that I was more interested in the bias in the media issue, which I don’t see as purely political. I think I was tired, because that was really only half right. I am, obviously, interested in politics, because I am interested in issues like government, economics, liberty, and not getting blown up by adherents to the ‘religion of peace.’

I’m also interested in other things, and one of the top five blog interests I have really is bias in the media. This interests me more than any other political issue. I think that in order to have all those other political things I’m interested in, we have to have an intellectually honest and independent press, and we really don’t have it- although the big dog bloggers are changing that.

Back in 1984 we were living in a trailor park (yes, we did) six miles from a time zone border. The trailor park management provided free cable, and we only had one child and I was pregnant with our second, feeling sick, tired, and with a little too much time on my hands. I mainly watched the news and Phil Donahue (I thought he was wonderful). I’d heard about bias in the media, but I just didn’t believe it. I was pretty complacent. Because we lived in two time zones, I could watch the 6:00 news with ABC, and then when it was over, change the channel and watch the 6:00 news with NBC. The next time the news was up I’d watch CBS and then switch channels and watch PBS- or some combination. Point is, every day I watched the 6:00 news for two different stations. I had a lot of time to compare and contrast, and I was stunned at how much slant the newscasters gave their reporting. I think the tipping point for me was watching Dan Rather report on a debate between Reagan and Mondale. I watched Reagan win that debate, then I watched Dan Rather explain why he didn’t. Then I listened to Rather report that among those who saw the debate for themselves, the majority thought that REagan had won. However, among those who had not seen the debates, the majority thought Mondale had won. Rather didn’t seem to realize that this was an incredibly damning piece of evidence of the bias of the media.

Reading Wittingshire today I was reminded of those evenings in front of the tube twenty years ago.

Nightline Hears What it Wants to Hear:

Have you ever known someone who, when in need of advice, only turns to people who will say exactly what he wants to hear?

That’s the mainstream media for you and, as John West notes at Evolutionnews, that’s what Nightline was up to last night:
Nightline’s main point appears to be that there really isn’t any scientific controversy over Darwinism and intelligent design. How do they know this? They checked with several Darwinists, who told them so! That’s right. According to Nightline, because Darwinists happen to believe there is no scientific controversy over evolution, there really must be no controversy.

Hmm. Nightline could apply this logic to a lot of other issues besides intelligent design …

There’s more, ever so much more, all very worth reading, fascinating material on one sided reporting and general ugliness (steel toed boots, brass knuckles, and name calling- tsk, tsk, tsk)- you’ll want to read it all, and check all the links, and shake your head in wonder at people do deliberately blind who are in positions where they are, or would like to be, information gate-keepers.
Then you’ll want to go this Wittingshire post for a transcript on the Nightline inteview- this is the stuff Nightline did not show its viewers. Wonder why?

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