The artist and the maker

“It is the artist who, more than other men, is able to create something out of nothing. A whole artistic work is immeasurably more than the sum of its parts.
But here is the will of God, a flash of the will that can,
Existent behind all laws, that made them, and lo, they are!
And I know not if, save in this, such gift be allowed to man,
That out of three sounds he frame, not a fourth sound, but a star.
Consider it well: each tone of our scale in itself is nought,
It is everywhere in the world-loud, soft, and all is said:
Give it to me to use! I mix it with two in my thought:
And there! Ye have heard and seen: consider and bow the head!’
… Robert Browning: Abt Vogler.
“I mix it with two in my thought”; this is the statement of the fact of universal experience that the work of art has real existence apart from its translation into material form. Without the thought, though the material parts already exist, the form does not and cannot. The “creation” is not a product of the matter, and is not simply a rearrangement of the matter. The amount of matter in the universe is limited, and its possible rearrangements, though the sum of them would amount to astronomical figures, is also limited. But no such limitation of numbers applies to the creation of works of art. The poet is not obliged, as it were, to destroy the material of a Hamlet in order to create a Falstaff, as a carpenter must destroy a tree – form to create a table -form. The components of the material world are fixed; those of the world of imagination increase by a continuous and irreversible process, without any destruction or rearrangement of what went before. This represents the nearest approach we experience to “creation out of nothing”, and we conceive of the act of absolute creation as being an act analogous to that of the creative artist. Thus Berdyaev is able to say: “God created the world by imagination.”
The Mind of the Maker, Dorothy Sayers.
Those opposed to all copyright law are essentially mere materialists.

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Nature Study, Advice from Comstock

Previously Ms Comstock explained what the study of nature might be expected to do for the child. Now she explains the benefits to the teacher (or parent):


During many years, I have been watching teachers in our public schools in their conscientious and ceaseless work; and so far as I can foretell, the fate that awaits them finally is either nerve exhaustion or nerve atrophy. The teacher must become either a neurasthenic or a ” clam.” ( i.e. neurotic and heading for a nervous break-down or apathetic)

I have had conversations with hundreds of teachers in the public schools of New York State concerning the introduction of nature-study into the curriculum, and most of them declared, ” Oh, we have not time for it. Every moment is full now! ”

(doesn’t that sound familiar? If I had a dollar for every mom who I hear saying she can’t add nature study because she’s stretched to the breaking point, well, we might still be self supporting missionaries, but our self support would bring us up to considerably more comforts!)

Their nerves were at such a tension that with one more thing to do they must fall apart. The question in my own mind during these conversations was always, how long can she stand it! I asked some of them, ” Did you ever try a vigorous walk in the open air in the open country every Saturday or every Sunday of your teaching year? ” ” Oh no! ” they exclaimed in despair of making me understand. ” On Sunday we must go to church or see our
friends and on Saturday we… *(have to catch up with all the undone tasks from the previous week).

What are you catching up with?
Consider, points out Ms Comstock, that you may be behind on grading papers and household tasks and so on, but you are also behind on some other things you haven’t considered- rest, refreshment, rejuvenation, the things that give you more energy and motivation to bring you through the other cares:

Yes, catch up with more cares, more worries, more fatigue, but not with more growth, more strength, more vigor, and more courage for work. In my belief, there are two and only two occupations for Saturday afternoon or forenoon for a teacher.
One is to be out-of-doors and the other is to lie in. bed, and the first is best.
Out in this, God’s beautiful world, there is everything waiting to heal lacerated nerves, to strengthen tired muscles, to please and content the soul that is torn to shreds with duty and care. To the teacher who turns to nature’s healing, nature-study in the schoolroom is not a trouble; it is a sweet, fresh breath of air blown across the heat of radiators and the noi-
some odor of overcrowded small humans. She who opens her eyes and her heart
nature-ward even once a week finds nature-study in the schoolroom a delight and an abiding joy. What does such a one find in her schoolroom instead of the terrors of discipline, the eternal watching and eternal nagging to keep the pupils quiet and at work? She finds, first of all, companionship with her children; and second, she finds that without planning or going
on a far voyage, she has found health and strength.

No time for nature study? By not doing nature study, you may be losing at more time in terms of the renewed eagerness, fresh minds, health, and cooperative spirits that come from time outside observing nature.

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Learning Is Hard Work

“Cognitive scientist Daniel Willingham: “People’s minds are not
“especially well-suited to thinking….Thinking is slow, effortful, and uncertain.”
This means we tend to automatically rely on past habits and memories to guide our actions, and are less likely to think deliberately and deeply.
To further complicate matters, struggle and confusion are usually necessary for deep and transformative learning to happen, something that many students tend to avoid or incorrectly interpret as a sign of their ineffectiveness as learners.”
From the free online course ‘The Science of Learning, What Every Teacher Should Know.’

There is so much to think about packed into that small paragraph. It’s true we don’t like to think, which I suppose is why so many substitute thinking for feeling as though they were the same, or even as though feeling matters more than thinking.

Since we do rely so much on past habits, it behooves us, as Charlotte Mason explained, to help our children (and ourselves) develop good habits).

And also, the fact that something we ask of a child is not light and easy and as much fun as eating popsicles while dabbling our toes in the swimming pool is not ‘proof’ that we are asking something we shouldn’t. Sometims learning is really hard work. Worthwhile things often are.

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Books for your Kindle Collections

1.99 Hear That Lonesome Whistle Blow: The Epic Story of the Transcontinental Railroads, by Dee Brown (Author of Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee)

2.99 for Diane Setterfield’s The Thirteenth Tale

FREE: A Noble LIfe, by Dina Maria Mulock Craik:
Amazon Review:
The last Earl of Cairnforth is born severely disabled, just days after the death of both his parents. He grows up unable to walk or feed himself. But his nature is affectionate and even cheerful, his expression sweet, and his intellect precocious. With these few assets, and many physical liabilities, the “wee Earl” is launched into life’s adventure.

Henry James was scornful of Craik’s predilection for disabled characters, but Victorian readers enjoyed plenty of pathos and a good moral lesson with their novels. Craik’s books were popular.

The Scottish locale is charming, the Earl’s extensive property is wonderfully picturesque, and the Scottish tenants are industrious and forthright. The local minister, while not a brilliant preacher, is religious in the best sense and a thorough scholar. He becomes tutor to the Earl, and gives him the classical education considered de rigueur for a gentlemen.

In the early pages of the book, my eyes were misting over constantly, as are those of all the good people in charge of, or serving, the tiny Earl. Yet despite his physical helplessness, the Earl survives to live a life rich in love and friendship, visited by a modicum of disappointment and heartbreak — and full of wise business decisions!

I read the excellent introduction with great interest. Craik was a strong woman who took on unconventional subjects in her fiction with skill and courage.

This may not be one of the great Victorian novels, but it’s very good storytelling — and a fascinating window into the sentimental and devout heart of the typical Victorian reader.

2.99 Fix It and Forget It Big Cookbook

FREE: The Fairy Godmothers and Other Tales by Mrs. Gatty

.99 Stock Market Investing for Beginners: Essentials to Start Investing Successfully, Tycho Press
Some reviewers felt it wasn’t basic enough, but even most of them suggested it was worth it as a reference tool. HEre is one positive review (the average is 4.5 for over 100 reviews): This book de-mystifies the world of investing for those of us who have maybe been scared off by terms and numbers we didn’t understand. This does not read like another “get rich quick” book at all, but rather encourages the reader to educate themselves by not only reading this text, but others as well, which are listed in the bibliography and “for future reading” sections. It’s filled with easy-to-read charts and graphs, and gives simple equations that can be used to easily calculate the number you’re looking for. In the end, Chapter 11 recaps the book with a great section entitled, “Building Your Perfect Portfolio”, which is straightforward and easy to follow. I highly recommend this book for anyone interested in becoming more active with their investment strategy.

FREE: John Halifax, Gentleman, by Dinah Craik

.99 for The Well-Fed Microbiome Cookbook: Vital Microbiome Diet Recipes to Repair and Renew the Body and Brain
by Kristina Campbell
Amazon Reader Review: This book is for you if any of these are true!
– You’re looking for a basic lesson in how our guts and the billions of good microbes that reside there work
– You are curious and have heard about the benefits of probiotics but haven’t tried them yet
– You’re constantly on the go with family commitments, but still want to feed your family in a healthy way that supports good “gut health”
– You have specific gastrointestinal issues and are looking for a long-term solution which focuses on restoring your gut flora (rather than a “quick fix” solution)

The book begins with a very accessible explanation of gut health and the human microbiome (the sum total of the microbial community in and around our body), aka the “gut flora”. The author is a scientist but the information is understandable by anyone. Probiotics, prebiotics and the working of the human gut are all explained.

As a scientist, the author is careful not to make any claims beyond what is currently scientifically known. Admittedly, modern science is in the early stages of understanding how this newly discovered “organ” operates within the context of our body.

As a mom, she has made the advice, technique and recipes family- and budget-friendly.

The book provides common sense dietary guidelines on how to work with, restore, and feed your gut flora. She lays a foundation of how to change your habits in order to be most successful, with tips such as “go shopping once a week” and “shop the perimeter” of the supermarket. I think the phased approach for people suffering from ailments is wisely prescribed. The recipes are simple and made from ingredients found at any supermarket.

2.99 The Best Quick Breads: 150 Recipes for Muffins, Scones, Shortcakes, Gingerbreads, Cornbreads, Coffeecakes, and More
by Beth Hensperger

FREE Free: The Story of Rome from the Earliest Times to the End of the Republic

1.99 The Return of George Washington: Uniting the States, 1783-1789

FREE: How to Live a HOly Life by Charles Ebert Orr

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Overwhelmed by Laundry?

I actually set ours on fire in the yard once. Had a big bonfire. 
Long story short, we had 3 kids, and then adopted two more kids who came with scabies, and it kept recurring no matter what I did and my husband, OF COURSE, was always deployed when we had another outbreak.  The kids, btw, were 2, 3, 5 but severely disabled, 8 and 9. Essentially, as long term readers know, we had 24 hours notice they were coming and they arrived 2 weeks before Christmas with nothing but a few outfits which were scabies playgrounds.  I had never even heard of scabies before.  At first when the social worker told me they had scabies I thought it was some  kind of allergy.  Cue hollow laughter.
In addition to homeschooling and parenting five stair step little girls, we moved to the country and had goats and chickens to care for, and the deployments did not decrease.   So, about the fifth scabies outbreak/husband deployment in a year, I went to the doctor again, in tears, asking him what else we could do.  He said if I wanted to be really insane about it, I could throw out our clothes and get new ones, steam clean stuff, and, once more, use the toxic lotion we had used all the other times.  He said that as though obviously I would not want to do all that other stuff, and he would just write me another prescription.  Silly man.
I decided Insanity was highly appealing and easier than resistance at this point.  I burned all our clothes and stuffed animals, steam cleaned the house, threw out other stuff, bought us each five outfits (Walmart, new), and at last we never had another outbreak.   We also insisted on no more gifts from the birth mother unless they were new and still in the package.  I felt really bad about this, but all the other outbreaks were rather co-incidentally timed with receiving second hand gifts that were none-too-clean from her.  I did always wash them first, and it is entirely possible it was just coincidence, but I was clutching to ragged little remains of my sanity by shreds of cobwebby, tenuous stuff, and couldn’t take the chance.
I also discovered that really, about 7 outfits was all we needed to make life simple, and one of them should be our ‘We are going to town so don’t let’s look like homeless hillbillies, ‘k?’ clothes.
We could have gotten by with three outfits for home and one for going out, except that far too often it was an emergency if I didn’t get one load of laundry done every day, and some kid had to run around with nothing on but a pinned towel until her clothes dried.  I needed a cushion for those nights I couldn’t get the laundry done, or those days when the stomach virus from Hades raced through the ranks.
Did I say long story short?  I, um, exaggerated.
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