Saturday, July 10, 2010

Belated 4th of July

I know, I know....everyone has already posted about the 4th of July. Nolan asked, "Why do we call it the 4th of July instead of Independence Day?" At which time I felt the need to dig into the book shelves and discover a little Thomas Jefferson. I think Nolan regretted his vocalization.
So we were going to head out to the park and the symphony and the fireworks. Yet we didn't. It was a very quiet sort of Independence Day (see, Nolan, I didn't call it the 4th of July). Quiet is really the way we like it. As much as we look in the paper and see all the glorious goings on around us, we really like to stay home.
So I made hamburgers and got out little umbrellas to make things festive. We sat in the yard on the quilt and let the kiddos shoot of fireworks. It was glorious. Even if I am telling you about it a bit late.

Friday, July 9, 2010


There is so much happening, my head is spinning!

First, I've done a bit of sewing in the last few weeks. Of course, I don't have any pictures but will try to get some up this week.

It has been unbearably hot here in PA the last week or two. We only have air conditioning in our bedrooms so I'm not very apt to get a whole lot completed due to the heat. It was only 92 degrees today so it felt absolutely balmy.

I finished My Antonia by Willa Cather. I just adored this book. The characters feel so real to me. Their trials and tribulations understandable. The description of the late 1800's prairie so real. Oh, I wish I could have seen it. The hard work of those pioneers seems so romantic when put into prose. Next is The Picture of Dorian Grey. I'm hesitant about English Literature now but blazing forward....

I went fabric shopping at the quilt shop today. I bought another dress pattern when they were on sale for $.99. I've wanted a dress in designer fabric for a while. I bought some Amy Butler flower print. I'm hoping to cut into it tomorrow.

In other news, I have a job interview. I don't HAVE to work but it is a struggle. I look in the paper every week just to be sure that I COULD get a job IF I needed (or wanted) to. Having a degree in social work was probably the best economic thing I ever did. Every week there is at least one job posted that I'm qualified for. Really, I haven't been looking but wanted to keep my eyes peeled in case the perfect thing came along. came along. A job that is part time, pays a decent wage and is flexible with our homeschooling schedule. I sent my resume' off on Thursday and got a call today for an interview. How's that for the old ego? So now I'm desperately trying to figure out how I can work and homeschool without being crazy.

Lastly, but not leastly, I also was diagnosed with Lyme disease. AAAACK! I found the tell tale rash and high tailed it to the doctor. I have no symptoms other than the rash. So I'm on antibiotics and need to stay out of the sun (how do you do that in July???). My husband and son are freaked out about the whole thing while I'm not worried at all. I feel fine and am being treated in a timely manner. No worries.

Well, I'm off to get those pesky boys to bed. Have a great weekend everyone.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Literature and Love

I have always loved to read. I can't remember a time that I couldn't read (thank you Mom) and I have always loved a good story. This summer I've been reading a few classics. I read To Kill A Mockingbird again since I found the book at a garage sale for $.10. I had no idea it was the 50th anniversary of its publishing so it's been wonderful to hear some reviews and information about the book and the author on NPR.

I decided that this might be the summer to indulge in literature and I've wanted to read Howard's End by E.M Forester for some time. Truth be told, I own the movie and have never quite liked it. I've always attributed that fact to the fact that I've not read the book. I always think that the philosophy of literature is often lost in translation of the movie adaptation. After reading the book, I do believe the movie is very true to the book but I hated the book as well. I think I have real trouble with the ideals of the British bourgeoisie trying to reconcile themselves to the poorer classes. I must re-watch the movie. At the very least I adore the costuming and the scenery. I do love Mrs. Wilcox (the first) and Meg has her charms but I'm not clear about her affections for Henry. I adore that she loves him, warts and all, but am not sure I can reconcile myself to her philosophy of life. Howard's End (the house) is gorgeous and I'd live in it in a SECOND! Apparently the house in the movie is the very house E.M.Forester wrote about in the book. I love that.

So I began to ponder literature. Is it Britain that I detest? No. For I love Jane Austin and Emily Bronte (I have no idea how to do umlauts on the computer). I guess they are gorgeous to me because they don't attempt to deal with the classes other than the differentiation in the gentleman's class. So....on to American lit.

I began reading My Antonia by Willa Cather. Love, Love, LOVE. I adore this book. It's like Little House on the Prairie for grownups. I understand these people. I wish I could see the sunflowers scattered upon the Prairie. To see the owls and the prairie dogs digging underground. The time is gone. The land is changed. Oh, to see it as it was. Oh, longing.....

So, the question is.....what makes us love one book and not another? Is it the setting, the characters, the philosophy, the understanding? In 9th grade I had a drunken English teacher. I sat in the front row and held my breath the entire class. He was a hideous man. But......we read Silas Marner. I can remember the ecstasy of that book. Of being helped through the difficult sections and understanding the plot, the history of England at that time. Oh, the JOY that was mine!

In 10th or 11th grade we read John Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath. Oh rapture, oh joy, oh Heaven. I had hated English class until that day. I had no idea that English class could transcend grammar. My teacher told me to major in English in college. I think he was thrilled to have a student love the books he was assigning. I was not in the advanced class.

Books have spoken to me since that time. I still am learning. I guess this is one of the reasons I love homeschooling the boys. I get to read the books that they are reading. I get to offer them the books that no one offered me. Of course, only one of my boys is joyous about this. But, one is better than none, right?
So back to my original question: What makes us love or hate something? With literature, I am guessing that I love My Antonia because I understand her characters. I come from a family of farmers who have worked hard for their living. I still love the land and the animals. As for the British Imperialism, that I do not care for. It is not part of my life. Perhaps this is why I hated the book.....for it's philosophy.

It is only July 6th. I've got more summer reading ahead of me. Any suggestions? I do have The Picture of Dorian Grey awaiting me after My Antonia. I have a longing to re-read all of John Steinbeck, too. But, I'm open for suggestions.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

July already?

It's hard to believe one month of summer is already gone. We have a few things on the burner this summer but also lots of time for relaxation. The boys and I spent a few hours in the front yard yesterday weeding and planting flowers. Our yard is full shade and encumbered with the roots of VERY old, VERY large trees. When we moved in there was a not so great looking bit of landscaping out front that has needed work. What I'd like to do will cost a bit of scratch so I had to content myself with a less expensive fix. So trips to Ollies and the Basket warehouse, as well as to a local greenhouse and we've got pots and flowers and color. I am amazed that there are flowers that prefer shade. Aaaahhh....the Glory of God's Creation.
I've also done something I haven't done in years. Many people would be surprised to know that I don't sew clothing. Ok, not that I don't do it, I just haven't enjoyed it for years. I've made lots of costumes and I certainly know HOW to sew clothing, it just wasn't enjoyable for some reason. Recently, however, I had the hankering to make myself a dress. I'm still not sure what came over me. So, off I went to the fabric store and came home with a pattern and material. Of course, I sewed over a heat and humidity wave with no air conditioning. I find the sizing of patterns to be difficult to determine so I feel fortunate that the dress actually fits. It is a little lower cut than I thought (that darn model is much more flat chested than yours truly) but it will work for a nice dinner out sometime. The pattern came with a little jacket so I'll work on that next.
One other thing I take a secret pleasure in over my summer holidays is reading through curriculum for the next school year. My own education was somewhat lacking in several areas so I feel the need to preview the boys books for several reasons. FIrst, of course, to make sure the books and work are a good fit. Secondly, so that I can have intelligent conversation with them as they are studying. So, I'm reading through Church history. Next up, the Greeks and the Romans.

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