• About Farm School

    "There are obviously two educations. One should teach us how to make a living and the other how to live."
    James Adams, from his essay "To 'Be' or to 'Do': A Note on American Education", 1929

    We're a Canadian family of five, farming and home schooling. I'm nowhere near as regular a blogger as I used to be.

    The kids are 17/Grade 12, 15/Grade 10, and 13/Grade 9.

    Contact me at becky.farmschool@gmail.com

  • Notable Quotables

    "If you want a golden rule that will fit everybody, this is it: Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful."
    William Morris, from his lecture "The Beauty of Life"

    "The world of books is the most remarkable creation of man. Nothing else that he builds ever lasts. Monuments fall, nations perish, civilizations grow old and die out; and, after an era of darkness, new races build others. But in the world of books are volumes that have seen this happen again and again, and yet live on, still young, still as fresh as the day they were written, still telling men’s hearts of the hearts of men centuries dead."
    Clarence Day

    "Anyone who has a library and a garden wants for nothing."
    Cicero

    "Histories make men wise; poets, witty; the mathematics, subtile; natural philosophy, deep; moral, grave; logic and rhetoric, able to contend."
    Sir Francis Bacon, "Essays"

    "The chief aim of education is to show you, after you make a livelihood, how to enjoy living; and you can live longest and best and most rewardingly by attaining and preserving the happiness of learning."
    Gilbert Highet, "The Immortal Profession: The Joys of Teaching and Learning"

    "Good judgment comes from experience. Experience comes from bad judgment."
    Walter Wriston

    "I'd like to give you a piece of my mind."
    "Oh, I couldn't take the last piece."
    Ginger Rogers to Frances Mercer in "Vivacious Lady" (1938)

    "No race can prosper till it learns that there is as much dignity in tilling a field as in writing a poem."
    Booker T. Washington

    "Please accept my resignation. I don’t care to belong to any club that will have me as a member."
    Attributed to Groucho Marx in "The Groucho Letters" by Arthur Sheekman

    "If you can't say something good about someone, sit right here by me."
    Alice Roosevelt Longworth

    "If we bring a little joy into your humdrum lives, we feel all our hard work ain't been in vain for nothin'."
    Jean Hagen as "Lina Lamont" in "Singin' in the Rain" (1952)
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Over the river

Over the river

and through the woods

and over another river

and over the the newly-renamed bridge

to Grandmama’s and Grandpapa’s

Upper West Side apartment we go!

Happy Thanksgiving!

*  *  *

A Boy’s Thanksgiving Day
by Lydia Maria Child

Over the river, and through the wood,
To Grandmother’s house we go;
The horse knows the way to carry the sleigh
through the white and drifted snow.

Over the river, and through the wood -
Oh, how the wind does blow!
It stings the toes and bites the nose
As over the ground we go.

Over the river, and through the wood,
To have a first-rate play.
Hear the bells ring, “Ting-a-ling-ding”,
Hurrah for Thanksgiving Day!

Over the river, and through the wood
Trot fast, my dapple-gray!
Spring over the ground like a hunting-hound,
For this is Thanksgiving Day.

Over the river, and through the wood -
And straight through the barnyard gate,
We seem to go extremely slow,
It is so hard to wait!

Over the river, and through the wood -
Now Grandmother’s cap I spy!
Hurrah for the fun! Is the pudding done?
Hurrah for the pumpkin pie!

New York: Autumn 2008

ilny

:: I’ve moved this post up as a “stickie” so I can make last-minute additions. About two weeks until we depart and everyone is getting excited. ::

We’ve decided to head to NYC to spend Thanksgiving (or “American Thanksgiving” as it’s known around here) with my parents. We haven’t seen them in a year and a half, and we’re all excited to spend part of the holiday season in NYC, where we haven’t been for four years.

I’m using this page to keep track of some of our readalouds etc. in preparation for our trip, and also some sites/sights we’re planning to visit and revisit.

BOOKS

Storied City: A Children’s Book Walking-Tour Guide to New York City by Leonard Marcus; found at BookCloseouts a few years ago and bought on a whim. I just wish there was a book like this for most cities.

The New York Chronology by James Trager, a great big doorstop of a book (for adults and older children), found not too long ago at BookCloseouts and still available there

The Cricket in Times Square by George Selden; we read this four years ago, but Daniel, who was five-and-a-half, remembered little, and Davy, who was four, remembered nothing.

Chester Cricket’s Pigeon Ride by George Selden

This is New York by Miroslav Sasek

From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg; same as Cricket — the boys remember little to nothing.

Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh

A Rat’s Tale by Tor Seidler, illustrated by Fred Marcellino

The Dinosaurs of Waterhouse Hawkins by Barbara Kerley, illustrated by Brian Selznick; also very good for chapter one of SOTW4 (about Queen Victoria and the Crystal Palace)

On This Spot: An Expedition Back Through Time by Susan E. Goodman, illustrated by Lee Christiansen; also good for prehistory/evolution

My New York by Kathy Jakobsen

You Can’t Take a Balloon into the Metropolitan Museum by Jacqueline Preiss Weitzman and Robin Glasser

DVDs

Miracle on 34th Street with Edmund Gwenn and Natalie Wood

On the Town with Gene Kelly, Frank Sinatra, Jules Munshin, Ann Miller, Vera Ellen, and Betty Garrett. And Comden and Green and Leonard Bernstein.

My Sister Eileen with Betty Garrett, Jack Lemmon, Bob Fosse, Tommy Rall, and Janet Leigh

A Night at the Opera with the Marx Brothers and Kitty Carlisle

Life with Father with William Powell, Irene Dunne, Elizabeth Taylor, and Edmund Gwenn

It Should Happen to You with Judy Holliday and Jack Lemmon

Guys and Dolls with Marlon Brando, Frank Sinatra, and Jean Simmons

Bell, Book and Candle with James Stewart, Kim Novak, and Jack Lemmon; somehow it’s just not a NYC movie without Jack Lemmon…

An Affair to Remember with Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr

The World of Henry Orient with Merrie Spaeth, Tippy Walker, Peter Sellers, Paula Prentiss, Angela Lansbury, and Tom Bosley

Funny Girl with Barbra Streisand and Omar Sharif

King Kong with Fay Wray, Robert Armstrong, and Bruce Cabot

West Side Story with Natalie Wood, Richard Beymer, Russ Tamblyn

Splash with Tom Hanks, Daryl Hannah and John Candy

The Muppets Take Manhattan

American Experience: New York directed by Ric Burns

“The Odd Couple” with Tony Randall and Jack Klugman

Leonard Bernstein’s Young People’s Concerts

SITES/SIGHTS

Free 90-minute walking tours of the Flatiron District, starting at 11 am every Sunday

Museum of the City of New York, especially the exhibits on NYC theater and my childhood favorite toys (including the dollhouses for Laura) and the fire engines

New-York Historical Society, especially the new exhibit on the Hudson River School, “Nature and the American Vision”; and Audubon’s incredible watercolors for his “Birds of America”.  And, good timing for our current Civil War studies: “Grant and Lee in War and Peace”, the new exhibit at The New-York Historical Society; particularly good along with the NYHS’s the permanent exhibit “Slavery in New York”

American Museum of Natural History, especially the new Horse exhibit; and the Planetarium/Rose Center

The Maxilla & Mandible shop near the Museum of Natural History

Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade; the parade itself and the balloon blowing-up the night before, on my old block (West 77th Street)

USS Intrepid/Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum for Daniel

South Street Seaport — the museum, not the shopping (oy). Some interesting looking family programs on Saturdays, free with admission.

Gramercy Typewriter Co. for Davy

New York Doll Hospital

Zabar’s

Bronx Zoo

Watching Jacques Torres make chocolate

Chinatown

“Drawing Babar: Early Drafts and Watercolors”, at the Pierpont Morgan Library and Museum from September 19, 2008 through January 4, 2009.
The Morgan Library & Museum
225 Madison Avenue at 36th Street
New York, NY 10016
closed Mondays

FOOD

New York City’s new Rat Tracker website, officially known as the “Rat Information Portal, complete with a searchable map of rat inspections and violations”; via the Associated Press

From Serious Eats/New York:
The NY Times covers cheap sandwich spots in downtown Manhattan
A Guide to the Best Doughnuts in New York
The kids are intrigued by the idea of $1 meat on a stick under a bridge, especially the hot dog flower. Less so the octopus…

Chocolate egg creams (and BLTs) at Eisenberg’s Sandwich Shop, and just egg creams at Lexington Candy Shop luncheonette

Black and white cookies and chocolate eclairs at the Glaser Bake Shop, 87th and First

Economy Candy on Rivington Street

Aiming low

For a good laugh on a Sunday, read Dick Cavett, who takes on “The Wild Wordsmith of Wasilla” in his New York Times blog today:

I suppose it will be recorded as among political history’s ironies that Palin was brought in to help John McCain. I can’t blame feminists who might draw amusement from the fact that a woman managed to both cripple the male she was supposed to help while gleaning an almost Elvis-sized following for herself. Mac loses, Sarah wins big-time was the gist of headlines.

I feel a little sorry for John. He aimed low and missed.

What will ambitious politicos learn from this? That frayed syntax, bungled grammar and run-on sentences that ramble on long after thought has given out completely are a candidate’s valuable traits?

And how much more of all that lies in our future if God points her to those open-a-crack doors she refers to? The ones she resolves to splinter and bulldoze her way through upon glimpsing the opportunities, revealed from on high.

And,

A woman in one of Palin’s crowds praised her for being “a mom like me … who thinks the way I do” and added, for ill measure, “That’s what I want in the White House.” Fine, but in what capacity?

Do this lady’s like-minded folk wonder how, say, Jefferson, Lincoln, the Roosevelts, et al (add your own favorites) managed so well without being soccer moms? Without being whizzes in the kitchen, whipping up moose soufflés? Without executing and wounding wolves from the air and without promoting that sad, threadbare hoax — sexual abstinence — as the answer to the sizzling loins of the young?

Mr. Cavett concludes,

I do not wish her ill. But I also don’t wish us ill. I hope she continues to find happiness in Alaska.

May I confess that upon first seeing her, I liked her looks? With the sound off, she presents a not uncomely frontal appearance.

Read the entire post, with lagniappe for English mavens at the end, here.

Over

The New York Times reports,

Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska did something here on Thursday that she had not done in her entire campaign as the Republican Party’s vice-presidential nominee: she stood behind a lectern and held a news conference.

She was asked what had changed.

“The campaign is over,” she said.

Granted, the question-and-answer session lasted only four minutes, and for only four questions.

Two of which were about the lack of a news conference during the campaign.

And a tidbit from the transcript of Gov. Palin’s appearance yesterday on the Larry King show:

[Larry] KING: One of the most frequently asked questions I had, and I don’t like to use the word “I,” was, when are you going to have Sarah Palin on? And we never got a good response. It’s kind of sad. Anyway, it’s good to have you now. Katie Couric, by the way, said last night [link here] that she thinks you should keep your head down, work really hard, and learn about governing before contemplating a presidential run. What are your thoughts about her saying you should learn about governing?

[Sarah] PALIN: Well, thank you, Katie Couric, for your advice. And I won’t reciprocate in giving her any advice, that’s for sure, because I have respect for her and the profession that she is in. I would have greater respect though for the entire profession called mainstream media if we could have great assurance that there is fairness, that there is objectivity throughout the reporting world.

And you know, Larry, there, too, if there is anything that I can do in terms of assisting there and allowing the credence, the credibility that that great vocation, that cornerstone of our democracy called the press, if I can help build up that credibility in the press and allow the electorate to know that they can believe everything that is reported through the airwaves and through print, I want to be able to help.

I started out as a journalist. It’s that important to me that that cornerstone of our democracy is given the credence and credibility that it deserves. But we have to have a two-way street here going where reporters are fair, objective, non-biased.We get back to the who, what, where, when, and why, and allow the viewers and the listeners and the readers to make up their own minds and not so much commentary I think being involved in mainstream media’s questioning and reporting on candidates.

I would like to kind of help build back that credibility in that cornerstone of our democracy called our media, allowing for the checks and balances that government needs.

KING: Don’t you think, Governor, that there is also a right-wing media?

PALIN: There is a right-wing, there is a left-wing, I tend to believe that what we need is, again, back to the who, what, where, when, and why, and allow the electorate, allow listeners, viewers to make up their own minds based on fair, objective, non-biased reporting. That’s what I would like to see. At the same time though, it’s healthy, it’s interesting, it’s entertaining to be able to hear the commentary on both sides. But when mainstream media especially is expected to be non-biased, without the commentary being involved, I think we really need to get back to giving the — some credence to the wisdom of the people, allowing them the ability to make up their own minds without hearing too much commentary infiltrated in the questions and the reporting.

This close to Thanksgiving, I’d like to jump on the gratitude bandwagon, too, and say, Well, thank you, Katie Couric.  Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Say what?

Gov. Sarah Palin to softball-lobbing Wolf Blitzer on the role of state Governors in the new Administration:

Sitting here in these chairs that I’m going to be proposing but in working with these governors who again on the front lines are forced to and it’s our privileged obligation to find solutions to the challenges facing our own states every day being held accountable, not being just one of many just casting votes or voting present every once in a while, we don’t get away with that. We have to balance budgets and we’re dealing with multibillion dollar budgets and tens of thousands of employees in our organizations.

That executive experience that every governor has and must have being put to good use now as we work together as governors to help reach out to Barack Obama’s administration, being able to help him make good decisions based on the solutions that we already seek. For me specifically of course, energy independence that is doable here in this country, we have the domestic solutions because we have the domestic supply.

Via Daniel Larison, complete with possible translation, at The American Conservative‘s Eunomia blog.  Poor Sister Bernadette.

Remembrance Day 2008

Library and Archives Canada, in conjunction with Veterans Affairs Canada and the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC), has an online exhibition, Oral Histories of the First World War: Veterans 1914-1918 featuring audio interviews and written transcripts, as well as photographs.  The exhibition is organized into seven “interview themes”: Second Ypres, Vimy Ridge, War in the Air, The Somme, Trench Warfare, Passchendaele (Third Ypres), and Perspectives on War.

The exhibition is based on the CBC‘s 1964-1965 radio broadcasts In Flanders Fields, a series of interviews with veterans of the Canadian Expeditionary Force.

The Library and Archives Canada website includes a number of other online virtual exhibitions, including The Battle of Passchendaele, Canada and the First World War, and Faces of War.

Also online: The Canadian Letters and Images Project, a virtual archive of the Canadian war experience, from the Riel Rebellion and Boer War to World War I, World War II, and the Korean War (one letter).  The project began in 2000 at the Department of History at Vancouver Island University. In November 2003 the Project was very pleased to bring in as partners the History Department at The University of Western Ontario.

The following is a letter in the collection written by Flight Sergeant Harry Hansell of Vulcan, Alberta.  He was 19 when he enlisted with the RCAF in 1942. He was 20 years old when he and his crew were shot down on a raid over Germany in September 1943.

May 21st, 1943

Dear Dad:

I received your letter of the 20th and was very glad to have got one. I haven’t received any letters yet for about 2 weeks. I am glad that Mary got my picture. I have never met a girl that could stand up to her yet, and I don’t think I ever will.

I can’t tell you what l am doing, but I am not in the tail, but in the mid upper turret. I might say I am in the front line now, please don’t worry.

I received mother’s letter and got the address but I only had 5 days’ leave and that was taken up by travelling to the next station. I wish mother would send me some parcels. All the lads are getting them but me. I found my kit bag just as I was leaving the other station. So I got all my personal belongings. It’s all just about dirty laundry. I haven’t stayed in one place long enough to get it all done. I have a very fine crew of fellows. They are all Sgt. just as I. There is seven in the crew all together. I hope my picture turned out all right in the paper. I sure want to see it.

I am not going to write to Mary so much because you can’t tell what may happen, but I will nevertheless continue to write very often. I sure am very proud of her. By the way, I would like to know why Ruth is quitting school. I am doing my part so that she can have the privilege to go to school. I wish now that I was still in school. You tell her that she can’t quit school just as she likes. What do you think the war is for? You tell her she just can’t do as she likes along the lines of education. I realized too late about my education and I don’t want her to do the same. Well, there is no more paper.

I will write soon.
Love to all,

Harry

Half of Sgt. Hansell’s file includes family and government letters after his death.  One RCAF letter three years later finally gives the complete details of the fate of Sgt. Hansell and his crew:

The aircraft crashed on the night of 27th September, 1943 about 1.5 miles South of Eberholsen in a forest. This town is located approximately 22 miles South of Hanover, Germany. The aircraft exploded when it hit the ground and unfortunately individual identification of the crewmen was not possible. Your son, together with his crew, were laid to rest in the Town Cemetery at Eberholsen in a Communal Grave located in the North East corner of the cemetery. The grave is nicely kept and marked by a cross upon which is inscribed the names of the crew.

Previous Farm School posts marking the day:

Remembrance Day 2007

Poetry Friday: Remembrance Day Edition (2007)

Remembrance: “Nothing forgotten” (2006)

Remembrance Day II (2005)

Remembrance Day 2005

“A language with roots”

James Wood, in the current issue of The New Yorker‘s “Talk of the Town”, on talk:

A theatre critic once memorably complained of a bad play that it had not been a good night out for the English language. Among other triumphs, last Tuesday night was a very good night for the English language. A movement in American politics hostile to the possession and the possibility of words — it had repeatedly disparaged Barack Obama as “just a person of words” — was not only defeated but embarrassed by a victory speech eloquent in echo, allusion, and counterpoint. No doubt many of us would have watched in tears if President-elect Obama had only thanked his campaign staff and shuffled off to bed; but his midnight address was written in a language with roots, and stirred in his audience a correspondingly deep emotion.

Read the rest here.  The entire issue is devoted to the election and well worth reading, from Roger Angell on “A new start for the Greatest Generation” to George Packer on “The New Liberalism”.

(And if you need a break from politics, try Joan Acocella’s book review/article in TNYer on the rise of “overparenting” , and the morality and socioeconomics thereof. Not for the faint of heart.)

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