Thursday, September 29, 2016

The time from Michaelmas to Christmas, when night rules the day, and the earth grows cold and dark, is the shadow time; light and life retreat; soil and water turn to stone and seal the earth until spring. And now, in these dying days, while the earth is still open, the shadow spirits come forth.

Grey day, dark at four; Hurry home and shut the door. ~ Shirley Hughes

Earlier this month, the harvest moon was the loveliest I have ever beheld: it was immense and golden with a misty halo 'round it.

On Instagram, there is a meme going around: Which three fictional characters are you? I don't have a cell phone, so I can't play on Instagram. But, I can play here! I tried to think of characters that I am actually like, rather than characters I wish I could be:

1) Aunt Becky from the TV show Full House
2) Mrs. Tiggy-winkle by Beatrix Potter (Mrs. Tiggy-winkle is a hedgehog washerwoman who lives in a tiny cottage and makes her living doing laundry for the animals in the neighborhood)
2) Snow White (Walt Disney's version-because I sing, live a quiet domestic life, and have an affinity with creatures of all kinds)

Which three fictional characters are you most like?

Yesterday was chilly and gray. Luke called me to the window to see these crows mob this handsome sharp-shinned hawk. I went outside and watched the battle for a while. The hawk held his ground, but then the crows called for reinforcements and the hawk finally retreated.

We've been back to our home school lesson work for three weeks now. I only have two students left this year. My oldest three children all have jobs but, thankfully, still live at home. I savor every minute with them.

Sometimes when my two students are working on their lessons, I play with words. The other day I wrote this poem:
I knew your hair
Pale as moonlight,
Dark as well water
Wondering why I 
Open the gate and 
Through the needle
To the garden
Where I knew you
If you look, there is a "hidden" message. : )


At this time of year I think a lot about education and what I want for my children. I believe that education is the lifelong pursuit of developing one’s potential and creativity as a human being, and the  purpose of education is to live a fulfilling and meaningful life, one that is significant for other people as well as oneself. I also believe that the very nature of human beings is to learn. In the same way that a plant’s nature is to reach toward sunlight and water, human nature is to inquire and create constructively and independently from the resources available. The effort needed to learn is a fulfilling, constructive force that results in a positive self-concept unless coerced or pressed beyond one’s developmental ability. 

I have never followed a systematic, graded, artificial scope and sequence with my children. There are a lot of walks in the woods and on the beach, a lot of trips to museums and interesting places, a lot of making and doing. There are lots of stories and articles to share and read and maps to pore over, and music, songs, films, and art. These are the things that make up our curriculum. We make a practice of recording our adventures, experiences and impressions in words and illustrations. We enjoy many--and deep—conversations. Math is our servant, applied when we need it to make sense of the world or solve a problem while cooking, knitting, buying and selling, woodworking, gardening, writing music, planning a trip, etc. We discuss world events and the problems faced by society past and present. We delve deeply into matters of religion and politics.

I cannot say with any confidence that my children's education is "better" than the education provided by schools. All I can say is that it is unique and personal and infused with great love.

I have been enjoying the long, cool evenings with outdoor fires and indoor candles and twinkle lights. Last weekend, a big garden spider warmed herself on the fireplace grate. I waited until she was toasty, then I flicked her off so I could roast my marshmallow.

Lately, I've been so busy with everything that I've fallen far behind in correspondence, knitting, reading, and blog-keeping. I am hoping that autumn's longer evenings will give me more time for these activities. Elvis wants to help me write a letter on my yellow lap desk. : )   

These are my favorite nights of the year. They are perfect for books and blankets, hot tea and cocoa, popcorn and board games. 
I watched the first Presidential debate Monday night with boredom and disgust. Some people point to one or the other of the two candidates as being "the lesser of two evils", but really, there is no such thing; Satan or Lucifer--what's the difference? I wish that the Green Party candidate (Dr. Jill Stein) and the Libertarian Party candidate (Gary Johnson) were allowed to participate in the debates. Perhaps they are just two more devils, but we will never know. I shudder to think about what is happening to this country . . . but of course greed and corruption have been going on for a long time. I believe that my generation and the one before it are the worst that have ever lived--materialistic, godless, narcissistic, immoral, hedonistic addicts. We are leaving our children and grandchildren without a solid foundation and with a hopeless mess from which to try and build their lives. It makes me very sad. 

A lot of people I've talked to said that they are probably not going to vote. I don't know what to do. I'm not sure if it even matters. 

What I will do is keep living and loving and nurturing my family and my critters and plants, and praying and worshiping God with a grateful heart.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

The leaves are just beginning to turn with splashes of crimson and gold here and there. I could spend all day in the woods walking, looking, listening, and loving it all. I think the hummingbirds have left us for the season, but I filled the feeder with a new batch of nectar just in case a few hungry travelers show up. 

We are in the midst of a statewide drought. I can't remember the last time we had a good soaking rain. Tropical storm Hermine gave us a lot of wind yesterday but only a disappointing bit of drizzle. I've never seen the pond so low. The lagoon is completely dry and turning into a meadow:

This summer, when my brother Steve came to visit and we walked at the pond, he found the "Kindness Rocks" tucked in a leafy bower near the old red bridge:

The kids and I have been gathering and painting rocks for the project ever since.


I was so happy to find a ladybug on my kitchen windowsill the other day, as I understand they are good luck in the house. (I wouldn't mind an infestation.☺)

Speaking of luck: Look how lucky we are with Lucky the rabbit. I had a good laugh when Indiana Jones sat on him the other morning. Lucky didn't seem to mind one bit. 

The day returns and brings us the petty round of irritating concerns and duties. Help us to play the man, help us to perform them with laughter and kind faces. Let cheerfulness abound with industry. Give us to go blithely on our business all this day, bring us to our restingbeds weary and content and undishonoured, and grant us the gift of sleep. ~ Robert Louis Stevenson

This is probably my favorite quote ever. It is so easy--too easy--to indulge in melancholy and let gloom rule the day, but we do so at the expense of those who must endure our misery. On Sunday, Mother Teresa was declared a saint by the Church. She said, "Let no one ever come to you without leaving better and happier. Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless. Every time you smile at someone, it is an action of love, a gift to that person." Yes, and every time we complain or frown or speak with irritation it is the opposite. It is selfishness, an action of evil (an uncomfortable word that people don't like to use these days, even though avoiding it doesn't make it any less real). We are not always happy. In fact, perhaps we are rarely happy. But, that is all the more reason we should strive to be excellent to each other; that we should "play the man" and "go blithely about our business"; that we should establish cheerfulness and kindness as the rule of the day.

Kortney mentioned Garrison Keillor's The Writer's Almanac in her latest post, and it is a real gem!