The Primrose Post

I thought I’d share an adaptation of a post from the past, another forum, another time (i think the FYB was either an infant, or he was still in the womb), but, I hope, of some general interest and quite suitable for spring:

Dear _____________(insert your name here),

Thought I’d share what the kidlets are working on this morning for school- and
for life.

It’s primrose time here in my part of the country, so I bought fifteen
plants yesterday at the grocery store. Last night over dinner we discussed primroses and their growing requirements.

This morning the girls decided which of two flower beds they wanted to plant
in primroses. They took into account the growing conditions in each of the beds, their respective asthetic values, as well as which one would be harder to weed and which they would have to water more often.

Next, they weeded the bed, saving the weeds for educational purposes (get to that later), and learning an important and useful Lesson for Life- we do not pull up strawberry plants.

Then I had each of them examine the primroses with a magnifying glass and
carefully sketch the blossom, buds, and a leaf. I have found sketching nature observations to be very important, and not primarily for the artistic value. The more we do this, the more I see that sketching what we see is important because it forces one to look more closely at what one is sketching, and helps one to notice details otherwise missed. It was exciting to see that happen today. Although we had already looked at the flowers carefully (we thought) and even used the magnifying glass, it was not until we started sketching that the girls noticed that the different colours of primroses have different centers. We’re not sure why. One of them also commented that just like one of the logic problems in the Zoombinis computer game, primroses all have to have some characteristics in common in order to be primroses.

After they sketched and labeled their primrose portrait with its proper name (primula), they took turns arranging the fifteen differently colored plants into a pleasing arrangement.

We have two or three pink ones, and the rest are roughly divided into two groups, one set with dark purply blue petals with yellow centers and the other yellow flowers with pink centers. The idea was that they were supposed to agree with each other on which arrangement they will use when they plant the primroses, which is the next step. However, after some friendly wrangling over which single arrangement was best, they asked if the 8 and 9 y.o. could have seven plants, the young teens have seven, and the toddler have one to plant in a cunning little duck planter which is just so cute we have to use it even if it means watering the thing three times a day, so that’s what they’re doing.

After we transplant the primroses, we spread some newspaper out on the kitchen table, dumped the week collection out there, and began to work on weed identification.

We have several field guides. Some of the most useful are:
1. Newcomb’s Wildflower Guide
2. A booklet from ecology press called Weeds and What They Tell
3. Reader’s Digest North American Wildlife

Newcomb’s is not in color and it isn’t a field guide I would have picked up, but I’m glad I have it. Somebody else taught me how to use it and it’s indispensable in identifying flowering plants. You have to read the forward and introduction so that you understand how to use the key, but once that’s done, it’s quite simple.

The REader’s Digest book is the book to own if you can own only one. All of the most common plants, animals, trees, and birds are found in that single volume.

When the weeds are identified, we use Weeds and What They Tell to learn something about our soil, as some weeds indicate high acidity, others a nitrogen deficiency, and so on. is another incredibly useful resource for those of us with access to a computer (which includes all our gentle readers, doesn’t it? Otherwise, how would they be reading this?).

After we identified as many weeds as we could, each of us selected a weed to illustrate and label in our sketch books.

Although it’s not necessary to add other items to the sketchbook, it’s always fun to find poetry to match what we are studying. The first verse of this poem would be a nice touch for a primrose page in a nature journal:

A Chanted Calendar
by Sidney Dobell

FIRST came the primrose,
On the bank high,
Like a maiden looking forth
From the window of a tower
When the battle rolls below,
So look’d she,
And saw the storms go by.

Then came the wind-flower
In the valley left behind,
As a wounded maiden, pale
With purple streaks of woe,
When the battle has roll’d by
Wanders to and fro,
So totter’d she,
Dishevell’d in the wind.

Then came the daisies,
On the first of May,
Like a banner’d show’s advance
While the crowd runs by the way,
With ten thousand flowers about them
they came trooping through the fields.
As a happy people come,
So came they,
As a happy people come
When the war has roll’d away,
With dance and tabor, pipe and drum,
And all make holiday.

Then came the cowslip,
Like a dancer in the fair,
She spread her little mat of green,
And on it danced she.
With a fillet bound about her brow,
A fillet round her happy brow,
A golden fillet round her brow,
And rubies in her hair

Or this one by Patrick Kavanagh:

Upon a bank I sat, a child made seer
Of one small primrose flowering in my mind.
Better than wealth it is, I said, to find
One small page of Truth’s manuscript made clear.
I looked at Christ transfigured without fear–
The light was very beautiful and kind,
And where the Holy Ghost in flame had signed
I read it through the lenses of a tear.
And then my sight grew dim, I could not see
The primrose that had lighted me to Heaven,
And there was but the shadow of a tree
Ghostly among the stars. The years that pass
Like tired soldiers nevermore have given
Moments to see wonders in the grass.

I like to leave this portion of their journal up to the children. They can copy a poem I choose, or not. They can look up another poem they like better, or not. They can choose some prose selection about their subject to copy, or not. If they prefer, they can write out their own description of the item in their sketchbook, just so long as they use their neatest handwriting.

We transitioned gently from nature study and botony into home economics as they cleaned the dirt and debris from the table, the detritus from the floor, vacuumed up the dirt tracked in on the carpet, washed the muck off their hands, cleaned out under their fingernails, and relaxed with a cup of tea (home economics).

They have learned many useful and delightful things, gotten some fresh air and exercise, they have the satisfaction of a nicely arranged fower bed, and a nice entry or two in their sketch books. I have a cleaner house, a weeded and quite pretty flower bed, fun with the children, and some precious time with poetry. I love homeschooling!

Indeed, ‘Thou hast set my feet in a large room should be the glad cry of every
intelligent soul…’ as Charlotte Mason said, and we have handled the treasures of a very large room today.


The DeputyHeadmistress

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The man is raving.

[Background info: Yesterday the DeputyHeadmistress sent this link to the Equuschick. Hugh Hewitt shares a speech by Senator John Kerry (who, I believe, served in Viet Nam. Served what, I am not sure, but I think I’ve heard that he did serve something. Probably banana oil.). Those remarks are rather, well, Kerryesque. Mr. Hewitt said he’d link to any posts on Kerry’s moment of shame and hilarity, so the DHM suggested the Equuschick give it a try. Below are the results. The Kerry quotation is also at the bottom of this post. The DHM]

I’ve been wondering how in the world I can post an opinion John Kerry’s speech.

The trouble is, you see, I hate reading John Kerry. I almost can’t. This is not due to my anti-intellectualism. This is due to the fact that he seems to be completely and totally incapable of nailing down a single concrete point that actually applies to the Real World. I had the same problem watching his debates. I can’t follow him. He loses me somewhere on his fifth metaphysical plane, and I begin to wish he would gather all of his Vulcan followers and migrate to some distant planet where his metaphysical and vague theories may actually carry some weight.

He offers no facts for me to counter, he offers no solutions to consider, he just… well, HE JUST RANTS FOR CRYING OUT LOUD.

When all is said and done, there are no productive responses to someone else’s hot air and angst. Let him use his big words and state his high and mighty ideals and be happy, no one’s listening.

(Except the Vulcan followers, of course.)

(The DHM is dismayed that the Equuschick is so unkind. To Vulcans.)

Kerry’s metaphysical remarks:

“Forces outside the mainstream now seem to effortlessly push Republican leaders toward conduct that the American people really don’t want in their elected leaders, inserting the government into our private lives, injecting religion into debates about public policy where it doesn’t apply. Jumping through hoops to ingratiate themselves to their party’s base while step-by-step and day-by-day real problems that keep Americans up at night fall by the wayside here in Washington. We each have to ask ourselves, ‘Who’s going to stop it? Who’s going to stand up and say “Are we really going to allow this to continue?’ Are Republicans in the House going to continue spending the people’s time defending Tom DeLay or they going to defend America and defend our democracy? Will Republican senators let their silence endorse Senator Frist’s appeal to religious division, or will they put principle ahead of partisanship and refuse to follow him across that line? Are we really willing to allow the Senate to fall in line with the Majority Leader when he invokes faith, faith, all of our faiths over here? Joe Lieberman’s a person of faith. Harry reid’s a person of faith. And they don’t believe we should rewrite the rules of the United States Senate, and we certainly shouldn’t allow this issue of people who believe in the Constitution somehow challenging the faith of others in our nation. Are we going to allow the Majority Leader to invoke faith to rewrite Senate rules to put substandard, extremist judges on the bench? Is that where we are now? It is not up to us to tell any one of our colleagues what to believe as a matter of faith. I can tell you what I do believe though. When you have got tens of thousands of innocent souls perished in Darfur, when 11 million children are without health insurance, when our colossal debt subjects our economic future to the whims of Asian bankers, no on can tell me that faith demands all of a sudden that you put the Senate into a position where it is going to pull itself apart over the question of a few judges. No one with those priorities has a right to use faith to intimidate anyone of us.”

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“Torture and Rats Not Necessary…”

A few years back we purchased a vacuum cleaner from a door to door salesman. That is a very long and funny story in its own right, and I suspect before we were through the vacuum cleaner salesman was wishing he’d offered us money not to buy a vacuum cleaner from him.
But that story isn’t what this post is about. On small part of the story is that we bought the appliance on credit- interest free credit, meaning that we were able to make small, easy payments to the company, and if we paid it off in six months, we paid zero interest. However, we refused to give the company our Social Security number. They couldn’t figure out why. Two different salesmen called to argue about it. One of them told me, and I quote, “But this is what a Social Security number is *for.* That’s why the government issues them.”

I was flummoxed. “You think the government issued Social SEcurity numbers for the benefit of credit companies to identify and track financial information on its potential customers? That is not what it’s for and it has never been appropriate to use a Social SEcurity number as identification, and it is not for your benefit.”

He told me I was just wrong, it was specifically for the benefit of credit companies. I still don’t know if he really believed that or if he just thought I was an idiot. Well, he did think I was an idiot, but I don’t know if he also actually believed the smoke he was blowing in my direction.

Now that you know that story, you’ll be able to identify what I find so interesting about this article.

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A Very Mooooving Piece of Art

Here (not all links from this site are, er, edifying)

A cow is living on top of a ten storey building in Santiago in a work of performance art.

It was kidnapped on its way to a slaughter house by a group of artists who won’t reveal their names.

The cow was lifted by crane on to the top of the building in the Chilean capital, reports Las Ultimas Noticias.

It will live on the 1,500sq ft rooftop, which has been remodelled as a farm, for a week.

The cow will be cared for and milked daily during the week and afterwards the artists plan to release it on a nature reserve.

A spokesperson for the group said: “We want to question the limits of the art creation. People think art is only what is in the galleries but that is not true.”

I am mooooved, aren’t you? You can see a picture of the cow at the above website. Methinks that Pipsqueak should post a picture of our manure pile as a commentary on the above piece of art. After all, a picture is worth a thousand words…

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Bolton Nomination

Spot on WSJ article here.

Eric at Classical Values has an extensive background information on Melody Townsel, the woman who seems to have derailed the Bolton nomination by her accusation (made for the first time to the commission in the last week or so) that several years ago Bolton chased her down and pounded on her door at a hotel room. She says she never mentioned it before because she left politics to raise her children. Eric looks into what she was doing during the time she ‘left politics’ to raise her ‘children.’

And saving the best for last- Excellent summing up and suggested solution for dealing with failed Republican leadership on this issue- from Captain Ed.


Now we have Frist losing another nomination battle with the Democrats when the Republicans on the Foreign Relations Committee failed to do any timely research on the one witness to come forward to claim that John Bolton was mean to her in public. That allegation caused George Voinovich to lose his nerve, even though a small bit of research would have made clear that Melody Townsel has a big axe to grind against the GOP:

The latest accusations of abuse aimed at the president’s nominee to be America’s ambassador to the United Nations come from a self-described “liberal Democrat” who in 2004 helped organize the Dallas chapter of “Mothers Opposing Bush.”
The woman, Melody Townsel, alleged that John Bolton chased her through the halls of a Moscow hotel throwing objects and screaming threats at her in August 1994, according to a letter circulated Saturday by the spokesman for the ranking Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Senator Biden of Delaware.

The New York Sun published this on April 18th, the day before Voinovich lost his nerve. Why didn’t the GOP leadership distribute this information to FRC members? Frist and the Republicans instead allowed Voinovich to back away from Bolton and postpone for several weeks any reconsideration of his nomination, once again snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.

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