Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Story Hand-Me-Downs

Story Hand-Me-Downs

I'm squirreling away gifts into the Christmas-Closet and knitting mittens.

A small pile of books is forming. I noticed something they share in common. They recall true events. What a strange coincidence. I'm guessing that if an adult finds the events interesting, a child would, too.

People of all ages enjoy (and can learn something) from a well-written picture-book.

Out of the Woods - A True Story of an Unforgettable Event by Rebecca Bond is a brand new hardcover. What beautiful illustrations! (Pen & ink with color wash.)

This gentle story was handed down by the author's grandfather. An old photograph of him as a boy is in the "Author's Note" - surrounded by the mittens I made for my 3 grandchildren.

The author's grandfather.   Mittens for my grandchildren.
The setting is the woods of Ontario, Canada, 1914. Young Antonio's mother runs a hotel for lumber jacks and trappers. With no other children nearby Antonio pokes his nose into the goings-on of the hotel and wanders in the woods. During a forest fire a remarkable event brings people and animals together. (Pub. 2015)

Pages inside "Out of the Woods"
I purchased a used copy of Mailing May by Michael O. Tunnell. Although the story is fictionalized the historical facts are accurate. Five-year-old May Pierstorff really is mailed from Graneville to Lewiston, Idaho the winter of 1914.


She wants to visit her grandmother but a railroad ticket would cost a full day's wage for her father. He can't afford that. But May's parents come up with an idea. They would mail May. Because she, with her suitcase, weighs under 50 pounds, she is classified as a baby chick. Her uncle Leonard works in the postal car. He could easily watch over this special live parcel. The train's conductor approves it.

Pages inside "Mailing May"
The author gathered his facts from museums and word-of-mouth, included May's son. Mr.Tunnell wrote his book to show that ordinary people can come up with creative ways to solve a problem. The illustrations are richly saturated in color with accurate details of the period. (Pub. 1997)



Just before sitting down to write about The Matchlock Gun by Walter D. Edmonds, Dean shared a bit of news. The thought had already crossed my mind that it is doubtful whether The Matchlock Gun would win a Newberry Award today.

Society thinks differently than it did in 1942. Therefore, when the news reached my ears it seconded my suspicions. Today, general opinion seems to be that guns are bad.

To those, however, who believe in the right to self-defense, the 2nd amendment of the U.S. Constitution, and small government, guns are not bad. It is violent people and big, tyrannical governments that are bad.

The news? Yale University decided to cover up an offensive musket held by a Puritan. (I googled. A group of 500 Puritans founded Yale in 1638.) In this carved stone relief on the outside of the Yale library, the musket is pointing in the direction of an Indian. The arrow, grasped in the Indian's hand, pointing toward the Puritan, is not covered up. Clay was used to cover-up the musket. This way future generations might find it (and see how far we've progressed to becoming a gun-free, 2nd-amendment-free society?)

Pages inside "The Matchlock Gun"  Antique doll quilt
It's Colonial America in The Matchlock Gun. Young Edward's father is away defending a village near Albany, New York, from an Indian raid. Edward, his mother and little sister, are home. Near the end of the story Edward (frightened but brave) is forced to use drastic measures.

His mother is being chased up the hill and to the door of their cabin by an attacking Indian. Edward, in the kitchen, stands behind his grandfather's heavy antique Spanish gun (that is propped up on the table). He has one shot.

He fires just as the Indian strikes his mother in the shoulder with a tomahawk. Mother is wounded. The Indian dies. The boy saves his mother's life. (No red blood is depicted.) (Pub. 1941)

The author's story was handed down to him as part of his personal family heritage.

This rooster pin-cushion has wings.  Missouri Star Quilt Co. has a chicken pin cushion tutorial.
I'm uncertain whether Thunder Cake by Patricia Polacco is a memory from the author's childhood. But it seems so. She dedicates it to her Babushka Carle and write in first-person, starting with: "On sultry summer days at my grandma's farm in Michigan . . .

Dean and I went bonkers at this enormous used-book sale this summer.
A Russian-immigrant grandmother deals cleverly with her granddaughter's fear of thunder. As a summer thunderstorm approaches Grandma relies upon her granddaughter's help to make a Thunder Cake. The granddaughter is busy collecting eggs from the hen house, milk from the cow, an over-rip tomato from the garden. Yes, a tomato. The cake must be made during a thunderstorm for it to be authentic Thunder Cake. By the time the cake is in the oven and the table is set, thunder is loudly crashing overhead. But when the cake is cool and frosted it is delicious; a tangible proof of  bravery.

A recipe for Thunder Cake, a chocolate tomato layer cake, is found in on a back page. 15 years ago, after being intrigued by a muffin recipe in Joy of Cooking, with the "secret ingredient" of tomato, I made a dozen. They were good. Therefore, it wouldn't surprise me if Thunder Cake was tasty, too. (Pub. 1990) I picked up a used copy.

Our herb garden around the back patio
Post Script
Zucchini
Zucchini burgers with garden herbs smell delicious while cooking.

When summer brings zucchini, I make vegetarian burgers. A gluten-free, bell pepper-free batch for the Man-of-the-House. A batch with "the works" for me includes finely grated carrot. Yum.

A generous helping of minced herbs from the patio garden add flavor: chive, oregano, sweet basil, thyme, parsley. I cook the burgers in butter and olive oil until brown and crispy on the outside, but creamy-soft inside.

The parsley is store-bought. (Can you see why?) Peter Rabbit lives in the back yard. Benjamin Bunny lives in the front yard. They love parsley. And left us none. Dean noticed that finicky Peter won't touch the Italian herbs. "I wonder if the rabbits in Italy have acquired a taste for them," I said "or they'd go hungry for sure. I hope our rabbits never do."


The Doll Quilt
The little blue-and-yellow quilt is an antique doll quilt presented to me by a family we invited for lasagna dinner. It was a sweet and thoughtful surprise. At close inspection I see it was a young girl who hand quilted it because the quilting stitches are wobbly. Cute. I wonder what her doll looked like.


The Mennonite Historical Society raises money each year with this enormous used-book sale out onw their lawn. Some of the books fit under a tent. We found armfuls of gems.


Books reviewed are linked to Amazon.

Happy Reading,
Karen Andreola

(karenjandreola(at)gmail(dot)com
Typing-in my e-mail reduces spam. Thank you. 

Tiny oregano flowers fill-out my little bouquet nicely. 



Monday, August 7, 2017

Sipping Pages Like Tea

Sipping Pages Like Tea
I'm excited. Charlotte Mason's writings are back in print. Now in a large format. My new set has arrived and I've been writing in the margins! I love my new books. As always I am sipping the pages slowly, like tea.


The company Simply Charlotte Mason has published the series anew. We authorized use of the copyright material on the covers and the front-matter of our pink volumes. They asked Dean to write an introduction for this new edition. Here's a piece of it: 

"The 21st century has brought changes in the way people access, read, and store books. The demand for printed books has diminished while the demand for e-books has increased. Sadly, we are no longer able to continue our printing of The Original Homeschooling Series. Yet thanks to kindred spirits at Simply Charlotte Mason, we have been able to pass the baton, so to speak, and partner with them to see The Original Homeschooling Series safely back in print."


I'm happy to announce that the beautiful old-fashioned font is intact. The pagination remains the same, too.

Both are what I've become so fond, and so familiar, reading. I like how my eye can land on the page on the exact geographical spot of the pages of my pink volumes.

This is good news for those of us who are involved with personal and group study.

It preserves footnoting and referencing so that we can all be literally on the "same page."

More good news. The print is larger (for my old eyes) and the ink is darker and easier to see.
How is it that I'm noticing gems I hadn't noticed before? Was this bit always here? I asked myself.

Re-reading is re-discovering. And Miss Mason's ideas are Christian-life-wisdom for people of all ages; even grandmothers.





Beautiful old-fashioned font is intact. Pagination is the same. A larger, darker size print. Yeah.

Peony taken on Dean's walk, like a flower in the painting.


These days, I share tips with my daughter long distance, over the telephone when she asks. She is home-teaching. What exhausting effort Sophia puts into her bright, rambunctious children.

Sometimes she gets muddled. I suspect a probable cause. She sees an endless scroll of questions on Facebook sites. Here young mothers seek specific advice on learning materials. Then, a myriad of well-meaning, but conflicting answers flood in.

"I think you might be experiencing information-overload," I tell her. "Reading a product review and also a couple pages of a well-written book is a calmer, more consecutive, and less confusing practice," I remind her.




Old oil painting. Gift from Dean. A bouquet that never withers.

In the days of her girlhood, I endeavored to live Charlotte Mason's advise. I rarely talked about the philosophy with my children.

Now Sophia is the home-teaching mom. She is learning what to "think" as well as what to "do."

It's always a joy (and relief) to hear what she has decided to apply, and that it is working satisfactory, if not splendidly well, as yet.

It takes time to see progress with anything newly adapted. I commend her hourly effort.






The pages of Miss Mason's books are a big help with child training, home atmosphere, and discipline.
They provide a guide to the kind of books that open the door of a child's mind and create that wonderful "intellectual glow" on the faces of the children that make all the time and effort worthwhile.

I enjoy laying one of my new Charlotte Mason books open where my lap-top computer used to rest before it died. (I'm in no rush to replace it.) I like to read 2 or 3 pages in an afternoon quiet-time. That's all.

I might pencil a note in the margin. Also, whatever especially speaks to me I copy into a hardcover-notebook.



See the bunny? It sleeps under the lilies and ate every lily leaf and parsley leaf there. Humph.
A slow reading is the only doable one for me. Even during my years of young motherhood, when I sometimes had to contend with a quickening sense of urgency in wanting to understand Miss Mason, I sipped the pages like tea.

I didn't worry about having to understand absolutely everything I read. Ideas have a way of growing on you. Weeks or months would go by when I let "thoughts think themselves."*1 I would go about the business of life. Ideas have the potency to stand up to simmering on the back burner.*2 The "life" part (the application of practical ideas) is where the most patience and persistence is required. Keep plodding, my friends.

"Steadfastness is, of course, of the essence of all Loyalties," says Miss Mason.*3 

19th century cradle, gift from Dean. I wonder whose baby slept in it.





Here's a link to the new series for sale at Simply Charlotte Mason. 

It contains hidden gems to uncover. Gems to grow-by.


End Notes
*1  Charlotte Mason, Parents & Children, pg 156 "Thoughts Think Themselves."
*2  Ibid, pg 34 "Now is it not marvelous, that recognizing as we do the potency of ideas, both the word and the [concept] it covers, enter so little into our thought of education?"
*3 Charlotte Mason, Ourselves, Bk 1, pg 123
Yours,
Karen Andreola
"A Philosophy of Education" is one of my favorite volumes and probably the most often quoted in "Companion." 


Friday, June 30, 2017

Margin

Margin 
(Part Two of "Are You Finding Your Feet?")

Landis Valley
A mother dropped me a note.

She shared her happiness with all that the Lord has enabled her family to learn through living books and narration.

She said, "In my early years of home teaching I tried boxed curricula and various memorization/game approaches. We switched, and switched gears again. Then I applied the Charlotte Mason Method. I was home at last. It made the best fit for our family."

I appreciated her sharing her joy-of-discovery with me. Knowing her discovery wasn't accidental, I wrote back, "This is because you made it fit." Someone had to apply it. You had to have given it a "good go" with some enthusiasm, with your personality, prerogative, and prayer."


Home learning is a growing experience for the whole family. Oh, the joy of the shoe that fits. It comes while finding your feet.

Principles are cross-cultural.
This example might surprise you.

As the result of an article I wrote for The Old Schoolhouse Magazine, introducing Charlotte Mason to a general audience, a little pink envelope landed in my P.O.Box. The note was polite. It was short. And it was desperate-sounding. I noticed the return address was nearby. Interesting. I telephoned the number provided, and left a message. In a few days my telephone rang. By the caller's dialect I instantly knew her to be Amish.

Paradise, PA, taken through the car windshield on our drive home from church. They drive home from theirs.
She asked me questions about the article. Narration and living books intrigued her. She liked the Nature Study and the Nature Notebook idea, too. We talked for a while on the subject of history. Then she told me about her curious active boys. They didn't like filling in the blanks of their work-texts. Mornings dragged. The box of work-texts that came in a shrink-wrapped-pack at the beginning of the school-year, had quickly become monotonous. Her boys were obedient. And the work was dutifully done. But the texts didn't spark curiosity. Nor did they satisfy it.

I told her, gently, that her suspicions were correct. This is the very opposite of what education ought to be and do for a child. I was validating her mother's intuition.

Surely, amidst the intricacies of God's world, there has be a better way of putting children in touch with it than a never-ending pile of identical-looking work-texts. A little conversation was all it took for this mother to catch the "living-book-bug."

Neighbors. Taken with permission. The little pony is 11 years-old, they said.
"Now may I ask you a couple questions?" I was so bold. She giggled. Rightly guessed, she is horse-and-buggy, old order Amish. I asked in a tone of surprise, "But . . . isn't it against church rules to homeschool?"

"Normally, but our bishop approves of it," she said calmly. "Our whole church is home-teaching." (A church is usually 10 families.)

Buggies parked while a church meets above the brown barn. Horses wait out back. 

Sun Dial, Landis Valley, 
I heard a rooster crow. She was standing in her barn talking. Telephones have to be separate from the house. She was so pleasant that I felt comfortable enough to ask another question.

I knew that she spoke Pennsylvania Dutch as her first language but I asked if she was reading the Bible in English rather than Luther's German translation (a strict Amish tradition.) She said yes, English. I was happy to hear this, knowing her children wouldn't have to learn a third language to be in God's Word. Next, she shared her testimony, her understanding of the Gospel, of redemption and regeneration, mentioning that she was "born again." Knowing that Amish are not typically evangelical, I had to ask if she knew the family featured in the documentary, "Trouble in Amish Paradise." (On YouTube). Yes, she knows them well. (Paradise is a township of small farms beside us and where we attend church.)

When I met this sweet mother and her friend in person, she was dressed as conservatively as I expected. Her dress was plain, her apron black. But the solid color of her dress was a beautiful shade of cherry red (a rarity). Her cheeks were rosy, too. She was bubbling over with anticipation to apply what she could of Miss Mason's ideas. A better education for her children than the one she'd had, was her aim. I understood implicitly.


 As this emboldened mother and her friends find their feet, a generation of Amish children are being brought up with narration, living books and Nature Notebooks here in Lancaster County. We haven't been in touch for awhile but I'm guessing there's been a change in their educational life.

For Charlotte Mason to cross this boundary of cultural tradition is remarkable to me.

Deep-Rooted Things
If your student is using some form of narration regularly from interesting, well-written books that uncover truth, beauty, and goodness - give yourself a pat on the back. This is an enormous advantage to home learning. It contributes to the growth of his "person"while it puts him in touch with fine minds.

I'm guessing your home-taught child is probably being given unhurried hours to develop close relationships.

Is your child familiar with the life and words of our Lord Jesus?

Landis Valley kitchen garden looks dreamy
Have you a hero in history? If your student is developing a moral imagination through the Bible, is gazing at uplifting artwork, listening to musical masterpieces, or simply enjoying some fun folk tunes or Christian hymns - great.

Are you and your child noticing the intricacies of the living things in your neighborhood?

My guess is your child is beginning to learn how to worship God and honor parents, that he is learning about self-control, service, gratitude, purity, accountability. I'd make a guess, too, that socially he or she is learning to be courteous with people of all ages in the community.

Wow, wonderful. What a refreshing abnormality this is in the culture we live in, today.

Purchased a "jelly-roll" of reproduction fabric strips "Rachel Remembered" to be a table runner.
These are deep-rooted things, my friends. They are sown with love in the soft soil of a child's trusting mind and heart. They are sown within a margin of cross-cultural personal application.

Finished hand-quilting my flag. I like watching 1960s "Wagon Train" - refreshing good old-fashioned morals.
Dean took the outdoor photos. I took the indoor ones.

(Western expansion would never have been successful, without responsible God-fearing self-governed families and the 2nd amendment to the Constitution.)

Your blog friend,
Karen Andreola