• 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, home schooling, and building our own house. I'm nowhere near as regular a blogger as I used to be.

    The kids are 18/Grade 12, 16/Grade 11, and 14/Grade 10.

    Contact me at becky(dot)farmschool(at)gmail(dot)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"

    "‘Never look at an ugly thing twice. It is fatally easy to get accustomed to corrupting influences."
    English architect CFA Voysey (1857-1941)

    "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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  • Copyright © 2005-2016 Please do not use any of my words or my personal photographs without my express permission.

Celebrating International Literacy Day

How to Read (for Children and Adults) and How to Enjoy Reading

The ABC’s and All Their Tricks by Margaret M. Bishop

McGuffey’s Eclectic Readers by William Holmes McGuffey

Why Johnny Can’t Read: And What You Can Do About It by Rudolf Flesch; recommended by Flesch, and still available secondhand, is the old textbook Reading with Phonics by Julie Hay and Charles E. Wingo [I’m using this as a supplement with Daniel to great success; I found mine on eBay]

The Ordinary Parent’s Guide to Reading by Jessie Wise, co-author of The Well-Trained Mind. The WTM website also has a number articles on reading; “Games to Play with Phonics“; “Teaching Reading: Phonics Programs That Work“; “Why Whole Language Seems to Work for Some Children“; “Our Favorite Books by Jessie Wise and Susan Wise Bauer“; and “Our Readers’ Favorite Books

The Read-Aloud Handbook by Jim Trelease

Educating Esmé by Esmé Raji Codell; she has a nifty children’s literature website, too, Planet Esmé

How to Get Your Child to Love Reading: For Ravenous and Reluctant Readers Alike by Esmé Raji Codell

How to Read a Book by Mortimer J. Adler and Charles Van Doren

How to Read and Why by Harold Bloom

The Well-Educated Mind by Susan Wise Bauer

Something Old

The SurLaLune Fairy Tale Pages

Loganberry Books’ Stump the Bookseller

The Little Bookroom: Eleanor Farjeon’s Short Stories for Children Chosen by Herself by Eleanor Farjeon and illustrated by Edward Ardizzone

Onward and Upward in the Garden by Katharine S. White

Clementine in the Kitchen by Samuel Chamberlain

The Reader’s Encyclopedia: An Encyclopedia of World Literature and the Arts by William Rose Benet; my old edition was published by Thomas Y. Crowell in 1948. As handy as a dictionary by a reader’s elbow, especially with little ones asking all the questions they do.

Oxford Companion to American Literature by James D. Hart; I knew my edition was old (1941) but I didn’t realize it was a first edition until I checked for this blog entry. Makes me like it even better lol.

Something New

Encyclopedia Prehistorica: Dinosaurs, the latest in pop-up wizardry from Robert Sabuda and Matthew Reinhart

Powell’s Books Newsletter

Bears by Ruth Krauss, newly illustrated by Maurice Sendak

D’Aulaires’ Book of Norse Myths, the new NYRB reprint of D’Aulaires’ Norse Gods & Giants

Strange Affair by Peter Robinson

Baseballissimo: My Summer in the Italian Minor Leagues by Dave Bidini, guitarist for the Rheostatics; new in paperback for late-summer jaunts

The Story of Science: Newton at the Center by Joy Hakim, to be published in September 2005

Shakespeare’s Use of the Arts of Language by Sister Miriam Joseph, publication date approx. November 2005

S is for Silence by Sue Grafton, publication approx. December 2005

Something Borrowed

Quotations about libraries and librarians

Access to the New York Public Library for non-New Yorkers: for Readers & Writers; for Children

The Library of Congress

Burnaby, B.C. Public Library Children’s Literature Page, with lots of links

The Library by Sarah Stewart and illustrated by David Small

When I Went to the Library: Writers Celebrate Books and Reading by Deborah Pearson

Richard Wright and the Library Card by William Miller

All-of-a-Kind-Family by Sydney Taylor

Reading Rooms edited by John Coughlan and Susan Allen Toth

Free printable bookplates from Anne Fine’s nifty website

A Passion for Books : A Book Lover’s Treasury of Stories, Essays, Humor, Love and Lists on Collecting, Reading, Borrowing, Lending, Caring for, and Appreciating Books by Harold Rabinowitz

Patience and Fortitude: Wherein a Colorful Cast of Determined Book Collectors, Dealers, and Librarians Go About the Quixotic Task of Preserving a Legacy by Nicholas A. Basbanes; and just for fun, here are the real Patience and Fortitude and also Nicholas Basbane’s website

The Librarian of Basra written and illustrated by Jeanette Winter

Something Blue

Peter in Blueberry Land by Elsa Beskow

Pelle’s New Suit by Elsa Beskow

Uncle Blue’s New Boat by Elsa Beskow

Blue Trout and Black Truffles: The Peregrinations of an Epicure by Joseph Wechsberg

Book Lists

The New York Review of Books Children’s Collection

1,000 Good Books List for Children, arranged by reading levels (K-12) and by author, from the Classical Christian Education Support Loop; not entirely secular but great good stuff

Searchable Database of Award-Winning Children’s Literature

Caldecott Medal & Honor books, 1938-Present, awarded to the artists of the most distinguished American picture book

Newbery Medal & Honor books, 1922-Present, awarded to the authors of the most distinguished contribution to American literature for children

The Good Books list, from The Great Books Academy

The Baldwin Project: Bringing Yesterday’s Classics to Today’s Children

The Well-Trained Mind K-4 Reading List

The Well-Trained Mind High School Reading List

Junior Great Books/Readalouds (from Mortimer Adler’s Great Books Foundation)

Junior Great Books, Grades K-8 (from Mortimer Adler’s Great Books Foundation)

The Great Books; also GBF’s/Penguin Book’s free online discussion guides for various classics

Miscellaneous “Great Books” sites and lists

Project Gutenberg: Fine Literature Digitallly Re-Published

Bartleby.com: Great Books Online

Banned Books Online

Reading List for the College Bound, compiled by the Center for Applied Research in Education and online courtesy of St. Margaret’s School, Tappahannock, VA; for more, get this from your library

Five in a Row’s Book Lists

Online version of Clifton Fadiman’s New Lifetime Reading Plan (4th edition)

A state-by-state book list for children (not comprehensive but still some good things and a dandy idea); this is one of the only times you’ll find a link on this blog to anything at the NEA’s website, so enjoy it…

Reading with your eyes closed (or while you’re driving) (but not both at the same time, please)

Poetry Speaks edited by Elise Paschen

Storyteller Jim Weiss’s audio books/Greathall Productions

Odds Bodkins, another storyteller

And finally, for Grandpapa,
In honor of the Rev. James Granger

——–

Don’t forget Part 2 of Celebrating International Literacy Day over here, with quotes about books, reading, libraries, and librarians.

Celebrating International Literacy Day, Part 2

Give me books, fruit, French wine and fine weather and a little music of out of doors, played by somebody I do not know.
John Keats

Oh for a book and a shady nook…
John Wilson

Books do furnish a room.
Anthony Powell

Just the knowledge that a good book is awaiting one at the end of a long day makes that day happier.
Kathleen Norris

To read a book for the first time is to make an acquaintance with a new friend; to read it for a second time is to meet an old one.
Chinese proverb

A truly great book should be read in youth, again in maturity and once more in old age, as a fine building should be seen by morning light, at noon and by moonlight.
Robertson Davies

Never read a book through merely because you have begun it.
John Witherspoon

People say that life is the thing, but I prefer reading.
Logan Pearsall Smith

When I am attacked by gloomy thoughts, nothing helps me so much as running to my books. They quickly absorb me and banish the clouds from my mind.
Michel de Montaigne

There is no such thing as a moral or an immoral book. Books are well written or badly written.
Oscar Wilde

It does not matter how many books you may have, but whether they are good or not.
Lucius Annaeus Seneca


Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested: that is, some books are to be read only in parts, others to be read, but not curiously, and some few to be read wholly, and with diligence and attention.
Sir Francis Bacon

In the highest civilization, the book is still the highest delight. He who has once known its satisfactions is provided with a resource against calamity.
Ralph Waldo Emerson

Read not to contradict and confute nor to find talk and discourse, but to weigh and consider.
Sir Francis Bacon

Live always in the best company when you read.
Sydney Smith

An ordinary man can…surround himself with two thousand books…and thenceforward have at least one place in the world in which it is possible to be happy.
Augustine Birrell

A house without books is like a room without windows. No man has a right to bring up children without surrounding them with books…. Children learn to read being in the presence of books.
Horace Mann


The walls of books around him, dense with the past, formed a kind of insulation against the present world and its disasters.
Ross Macdonald

These are not books, lumps of lifeless paper, but minds alive on the shelves. From each of them goes out its own voice…and just as the touch of a button on our set will fill the room with music, so by taking down one of these volumes and opening it, one can call into range the voice of a man far distant in time and space, and hear him speaking to us, mind to mind, heart to heart.
Gilbert Highet

There is no Frigate like a Book
To take us Lands away
Nor any Coursers like a Page
Of prancing Poetry —
This Traverse may the poorest take
Without oppress of Toll —
How frugal is the Chariot
That bears the Human soul.
Emily Dickinson

You can cover a great deal of country in books.
Andrew Lang

There is more treasure in books than in all the pirates’ loot on Treasure Island…and best of all, you can enjoy these riches every day of your life.
Walt Disney

In a very real sense, people who have read good literature have lived more than people who cannot or will not read…It is not true that we have only one life to live; if we can read, we can live as many more lives and as many kinds of lives as we wish.
S.I. Hayakawa

My education was the liberty I had to read indiscriminately and all the time, with my eyes hanging out.
Dylan Thomas

My father gave me free run of his library. When I think of my boyhood, I think in terms of the books I read.
Jorge Luis Borges

There was one place where I forgot the cold, indeed forgot Siberia. That was in the library. There, in that muddy village, was a great institution. Not physically, to be sure, but in every other way imaginable. It was a small log cabin, immaculately attended to with loving care; it was well lighted with oil lamps and it was warm. But best of all, it contained a small but amazing collection from the world’s best literature, truly amazing considering the time, the place, and its size. From floor to ceiling it was lined with books – books, books, books. It was there that I was to become acquainted with the works of Dumas, Pasternak’s translations of Shakespeare, the novels of Mark Twain, Jack London, and of course the Russians. It was in that log cabin that I escaped from Siberia – either reading there or taking the books home. It was between that library and two extraordinary teachers that I developed a lifelong passion for the great Russian novelists and poets. It was there that I learned to line up patiently for my turn to sit at a table and read, to wait – sometimes months – for a book. It was there that I learned that reading was not only a great delight, but a privilege.
Esther Hautzig

I received the fundamentals of my education in school, but that was not enough. My real education, the superstructure, the details, the true architecture, I got out of the public library. For an impoverished child whose family could not afford to buy books, the library was the open door to wonder and achievement, and I can never be sufficiently grateful that I had the wit to charge through that door and make the most of it. Now, when I read constantly about the way in which library funds are being cut and cut, I can only think that the door is closing and that American society has found one more way to destroy itself.
Isaac Asimov

My mother and my father were illiterate immigrants from Russia. When I was a child they were constantly amazed that I could go to a building and take a book on any subject. They couldn’t believe this access to knowledge we have here in America. They couldn’t believe that it was free.
Kirk Douglas

The best effect of any book is that it excites the reader to self-activity.
Thomas Carlyle

The way a book is read — which is to say, the qualities a reader brings to a book — can have as much to do with its worth as anything the author puts into it…. Anyone who can read can learn how to read deeply and thus live more fully.
Norman Cousins

The things I want to know are in books; my best friend is the man who’ll get me a book I ain’t read.
Abraham Lincoln

But he who truly loves books loves all books alike, and not only this, but it grieves him that all other men do not share with him this noble passion. Verily, this is the most unselfish of loves!
Eugene Field

The man who does not read good books has no advantage over the man who can’t read them.
Mark Twain

Every man who knows how to read has it in his power to magnify himself, to multiply the ways in which he exists, to make his life full, significant and interesting.
Aldous Huxley

When you read a classic, you do not see more in the book than you did before; you see more in you than there was before.
Clifton Fadiman

If we encounter a man of rare intellect, we should ask him what books he reads.
Ralph Waldo Emerson

The first thing naturally when one enters a scholar’s study or library, is to look at his books. One gets the notion very speedily of his tastes and the range of his pursuits by a glance round his book-shelves.
Oliver Wendell Holmes


I am a part of all that I have read.
John Kieran

Show me the books he loves and I shall know
The man far better than through mortal friends.
S. Weir Mitchell

In literature as in love, we are astonished at what is chosen by others.
Andre Maurois

My lifelong love affair with books and reading continues unaffected by automation, computers, and all other forms of the twentieth-century gadgetry.
Robert Downs

The worst thing about new books is that they keep us from reading the old ones.
Joseph Joubert

I’ve never known any trouble that an hour’s reading didn’t assuage.
Charles De Secondat

Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counsellors, and the most patient of teachers.
Charles W. Eliot

There is no mistaking a real book when one meets it. It is like falling in love.
Christopher Morley

Don’t join the book burners. Don’t think you’re going to conceal faults by concealing evidence that they ever existed. Don’t be afraid to go in your library and read every book….
Dwight D. Eisenhower

Properly, we should read for power. Man reading should be man intensely alive. The book should be a ball of light in one’s hand.
Ezra Pound

A good novel tells us the truth about its hero; but a bad novel tells us the truth about its author.
G. K. Chesterton

A room without books is like a body without a soul.
G. K. Chesterton

There is a great deal of difference between an eager man who wants to read a book and the tired man who wants a book to read.
G.K. Chesterton

Woe be to him that reads but one book.
George Herbert

How many a man has dated a new era in his life from the reading of a book.
Henry David Thoreau

The love of learning, the sequestered nooks,
And all the sweet serenity of books.
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

To read without reflecting is like eating without digesting.
Edmund Burke

When we read too fast or too slowly, we understand nothing.
Blaise Pascal

What do we, as a nation, care about books? How much do you think we spend altogether on our libraries, public or private, as compared with what we spend on our horses?
John Ruskin

A book is the only place in which you can examine a fragile thought without breaking it, or explore an explosive idea without fear it will go off in your face…. It is one of the few havens remaining where a man’s mind can get both provocation and privacy.
Edward P. Morgan

When I get a little money, I buy books; and if any is left, I buy food and clothes.
Desiderius Erasmus

Wear the old coat and buy the new book.
Austin Phelps

To be a book-collector is to combine the worst characteristics of a dope fiend with those of a miser.
Robertson Davies


Where is human nature so weak as in the bookstore?
Henry Ward Beecher

Let books be your dining table,
And you shall be full of delights
Let them be your mattress
And you shall sleep restful nights.
St. Ephraem Syrus

Never lend books, for no one ever returns them; the only books I have in my library are books that other folks have lent me.
Anatole France

Consider what you have in the smallest chosen library. A company of the wisest and wittiest men that could be picked out of all civil countries, in a 1000 years, have set in best order the results of their learning and wisdom. The men themselves were hid and inaccessible, solitary, impatient of interruption, fenced by etiquette; but the thought which they did not uncover to their bosom friend is here written out in transparent words to us, the strangers of another age.
Ralph Waldo Emerson

Libraries are not made; they grow.
Augustine Birrell

Knowing that I loved my books, he furnished me,
From mine own library with volumes that
I prize above my dukedom.
William Shakespeare,
“The Tempest”

The true University of these days is a Collection of Books.
Thomas Carlyle

Man, the imperfect librarian, may be the product of chance or of malevolent demiurgi; the universe, with its elegant endowment of shelves, of enigmatical volumes, of inexhaustible stairways for the traveller and latrines for the seated librarian, can only be the work of a god.
Jean Luis Borges,
“The Library of Babel”

For him that stealeth a Book from this Library, let it change into a serpent in his hand and rend him. Let him be struck with Palsy, and all his Members blasted. Let him languish in Pain crying aloud for Mercy and let there be no sur-cease to his Agony till he sink in Dissolution. Let Bookworms gnaw his Entrails in token of the Worm that dieth not, and when at last he goeth to his final Punishment, let the flames of Hell consume him for ever and aye.
Curse against book stealers, from the Monastery of San Pedro, Barcelona

The medicine chest of the soul
Inscription over the door of the Library at Thebes

Nutrimentum spiritus (Food for the soul)
Inscription on the Berlin Royal Library

A library is not a luxury but one of the necessities of life.
Henry Ward Beecher

A little library growing each year is an honorable part of a man’s history.
Henry Ward Beecher

The library is not a shrine for the worship of books. It is not a temple where literary incense must be burned or where one’s devotion to the bound book is expressed in ritual. A library, to modify the famous metaphor of Socrates, should be the delivery room for the birth of ideas — a place where history comes to life.
Norman Cousins

Librarian is a service occupation. Gas station attendant of the mind.
Richard Powers

A great library contains the diary of the human race.
George Mercer Dawson

A good library is a place, a palace where the lofty spirits of all nations and generations meet.
Samuel Niger

I have always imagined that Paradise will be a kind of library.
Jorge Luis Borges

The student has his Rome, his Florence, his whole glowing Italy, within the four walls of his library. He has in his books the ruins of an antique world and the glories of a modern one.
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.

There is not such a cradle of democracy upon the earth as the Free Public Library, this republic of letters, where neither rank, office, nor wealth receives the slightest consideration.
Andrew Carnegie

The reflections and histories of men and women throughout the world are contained in books….America’s greatness is not only recorded in books, but it is also dependent upon each and every citizen being able to utilize public libraries.
Terence Cooke

Unprovided with original learning, unformed in the habits of thinking, unskilled in the arts of composition, I resolved to write a book.
Edward Gibbon

The profession of book-writing makes horse racing seem like a solid, stable business.
John Steinbeck

There’s nothing to match curling up with a good book when there’s a repair job to be done around the house.
Joe Ryan

I never desire to converse with a man who has written more than he has read.
Samuel Johnson

The only sensible ends of literature are, first, the pleasurable toil of writing; second, the gratification of one’s family and friends; and lastly, the solid cash.
Nathaniel Hawthorne

I read part of it all the way through.
Samuel Goldwyn

I have read your book and much like it.
Moses Hadas

Thank you for sending me a copy of your book. I’ll waste no time reading it.
Moses Hadas

This book fills a much-needed gap.
Moses Hadas

Never judge a book by its movie.
J. W. Eagan

This novel is not to be tossed lightly aside, but hurled with great force.
Dorothy Parker

Sartor Resartus is simply unreadable, and for me that always sort of spoils a book.
Will Cuppy


From the moment I picked up your book until I laid it down, I was convulsed with laughter. Some day I intend reading it.
Groucho Marx

I find television very educating. Every time somebody turns on the set, I go into the other room and read a book.
Groucho Marx

Outside of a dog, a book is man’s best friend. Inside of a dog it’s too dark to read.
Groucho Marx

The best time for planning a book is while you’re doing the dishes.
Agatha Christie

When I am dead, I hope it may be said:
‘His sins were scarlet, but his books were read.’
Hilaire Belloc

Scratch that

Remember that homeschooling hurricane relief Yahoo group I mentioned the other day (no link again because it’s really not a worthwhile place; UPDATE: old post removed)? Today, after reading several days of garbage — bickering; a volunteer soliciting donations to make up for her own, um, donations; a definitely faith-based approach to relief despite the fact that Americans of all faiths and some with none at all are all in dire need of help — I unsubscribed. My apologies for passing along a genuinely defective link. When I think of Christian charity and Christian kindness, I think of the attitude of the giver, not the required faith of the recipient.

I’ll keep my eyes open for additional ways our family can help from up here.

A lovely and light start

It was a wonderful back to school day. The kids and I celebrated with a festive egg-in-a-hole breakfast, followed by about thirty minutes of ooohhing and ahhing over the nifty new school and office supplies (thick beginner’s pencils for the boys, #1 pencils — like dark rich chocolate — for Mom and assorted chosen children, an enormous tub o’ gel pens, colored reinforcements (from the Dollar Store, no less), stickers for decorating binders — tanks! trucks! horses!, new Prismacolor Scholars for the first grader, Crayola colored pencils for the Kindergartener, assorted Usborne books — Victorians, Dot to Dot Machines, How to Draw Princesses and Ballerinas, and the Jigsaw World Atlas book — and, drum roll please, new Timex watches for Laura and Daniel (the theory being that a watch on the wrist will help Laura’s rather weak time-telling skills). Yes, Davy was miffed, as expected, until he spied the new little wind-up toy bus, complete with Stop sign that folds out. I know, I know, it doesn’t seem like a particularly fitting present for a homeschooled kid. But around here a big vehicle is a big vehicle, and we don’t play favorites.

After decorating their binders with aforementioned stickers, they sat down to do some math (Singapore for all — new books for the boys, and just a bit left in Laura’s old set), and I went around and around the kitchen table like a dizzy, demented butterfly, helping with the multiplication tables (3’s), number bonds, and number-writing practice. Davy was the first to peel off and decide that Kindergarten was done for the day, though he came back a few times for hugs and to thank me for the new watch. Daniel did a couple of pages in his new Explode the Code workbook, and then joined his brother outside with the cats. And then Laura and I sat down with the new grammar book, Rod & Staff’s Beginning Wisely, which for some reason is a big hit. She loves it (then again, on a day like today, she loves everything). Because or in spite fo the fact that it’s so…so…textbook-y lol. Note to the Grammar Guru Goddess: hurry up with that secular grammar before my child falls too much in love with R&S! A lovely, light start to the school year. We’ll add more subjects as we go on, and should have the full complement within the next two weeks.

Then we had an early lunch and hit the road to be in town for Laura’s piano lesson at 1, during which time the boys and I headed over to the drugstore where I had bought the kids’ watches. Turns out Daniel’s Timex took a lickin’ before it was even out of the box, and needed a new battery. One reason I love living in a small town is that I stopped by the back to say hello to Tom’s cousin’s husband, the pharmacist and drugstore owner, mentioning the watch problem and the fact that I hadn’t had the time to unearth the receipt from the other month. “No problem,” he boomed, reaching down to pat the boys on the head. He asked one of the clerks to help us, and by the time Laura’s lesson was over, Daniel was back in the time-telling business. I was hoping he wouldn’t be too distracted by his wrist at his first-ever piano lesson, which apparently went well for both teacher and pupil.

Off to the post office then to pick up our box from Amazon.ca — very obliging of them to make sure that our books arrived on the first day of school. The goodies include our SOTW3 audio cd’s, read by the beloved (at least in our house) Jim Weiss; Loaves of Fun: A History of Bread with Activities and Recipes from Around the World by Elizabeth M. Harbison, The Story of Science: Aristotle Leads the Way by Joy Hakim; and the Dover coloring book, Empire Fashions by Tom Tierney. (And tucked away temporarily in my sock drawer for Christmas: Isabel Bayrakdarian’s Cleopatra cd for Laura, and the O Brother, Where Art Thou video — I’ve linked to the widescreen dvd because apparently I got the last, non-widescreen video — and Davy Crockett dvd for the kids to share.)

And on the way home, a big grocery shop — milk, peanut butter, fruit, vegetables, shrimp to broil with olive oil and garlic tonight, and oodles of canned goods, on sale, because after all winter will be coming to the prairies. And lollipops and cookies for the kids from their favorite cashier, who once again let them help pack the bags.

At bedtime I read them the first chapter of Caddie Woodlawn, my old children’s book club edition, illustrated by the marvelous Kate Seredy. Definitely left them hanging and wanting more — “just a little bit of the next chapter, just so we can find out what a circuit rider is? Please?”

Who said Latin is a dead language?

I’m planning to kick start our Latin studies during our first week back by substituting some cherce phrases from the Handy Latin Phrases website (on the sidebar, at right), instead of our usual Minimus. Some of the favorites, the kids’ and mine, so far:

Te audire no possum. Musa sapientum fixa est in aure.
I can’t hear you. I have a banana in my ear.

Vacca foeda!
Stupid cow!

Antiquis temporibus, nati tibi similes in rupibus ventosissimis
exponebantur ad necem.
In the good old days, children like you were left to perish on windswept crags.

Caesar si viveret, ad remum dareris.
If Caesar were alive, you’d be chained to an oar.

Quantum materiae materietur marmota monax si marmota
monax materiam possit materiari?
How much wood would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?

Minutus cantorum, minutus balorum, minutus carborata descendum pantorum.
A little song, a little dance, a little seltzer down your pants.

Tuis pugis pignore!
You bet your bippy!

Ita erat quando hic adveni.
It was that way when I got here. [This one seems to be getting a great deal of use, especially by the boys.]

Sic hoc adfixum in obice legere potes, et liberaliter educatus et nimis propinquus ades.
If you can read this bumper sticker, you are very well-educated and much too close. [CafePress, anyone?]

Hocine bibo aut in eum digitos insero?
Do I drink this or stick my fingers in it? [Popular at meal times.]

Illiud Latine dici non potest.
You can’t say that in Latin.

And most popular when dealing with friends, acquaintances, and the extended family who think that a classical home education, even of just the neo variety lol, and any Latin instruction before the age of 12, is akin to child abuse,

Vah! Denuone Latine loquebar? Me ineptum. Interdum modo elabitur.
Oh! Was I speaking Latin again? Silly me. Sometimes it just sort of slips out.

Our secret — the kids think it’s fun and useful, sort of like a secret code.

If you haven’t found anything useful here, you can request a particular translation; send your request to the Handy Latin website’s “staff linguist” at bsmith@zippynet.com.

Or you can check the following for more good stuff:

Amo, Amas, Amat and More: How to Use Latin to Your Own Advantage and to the Astonishment of Others by Eugene Ehrlich

Veni, Vidi, Vici : Conquer Your Enemies, Impress Your Friends with Everyday Latin, Ehrlich’s follow-up (recently available at BookCloseouts)

Which Way to the Vomitorium: Vernacular Latin for All Occasions by Lesley O’Mara and Rose Williams

Latin for All Occasions by Henry Beard

Ave atque vale.

A Confederacy of Dunces

Much as I dislike George Bush, there seems to be more than enough responsibility to go around for the disgraceful post-Katrina efforts, and we’d better learn our lessons quickly before the next U.S. disaster, natural or man-made. Rudy Giuliani can’t be there to bail us out every time.

  • Generations of Louisiana governors and NO mayors who lined their own, and their friends’, pockets at the expense of the state’s and city’s poor.
  • Also from the last article, “Bush had the legal authority to order the National Guard to the disaster area himself, as he did after the Sept. 11, 2001 attack. But the troops four years ago were deployed for national security protection, and presidents of both parties traditionally defer to governors to deploy their own National Guardsmen and request help from other states when it comes to natural disasters. In addition to Guard help, the federal government could have activated, but did not, a major air support plan under a pre-existing contract with airlines. The program, called Civilian Reserve Air Fleet, lets the government quickly put private cargo and passenger planes into service.”
  • The shameful treatment of tourists and international visitors caught in the crisis. Ten million tourists visited New Orleans last year, and the rebuilt city, when it’s up and running, might benefit from some of those tourist dollars. I remember reading on the NO Times-Picayune website (I can’t seem to find a link for it now) that “At the Wyndham Canal Place, which housed 1,500 guests, employees and their families during the storm, guests were turned loose if they couldn’t get out on their own.”
  • The blinkered and less than constructive comments by members of the Congressional Black Caucus and other African-American leaders.
  • News outlets ignoring much of the devastation beyond New Orleans, especially in Mississippi, where entire towns and cities are gone, too.

    Last Thursday, The Houston Chronicle reprinted this article from 2001. Apparently no-one in any position of authority read that, either.

    More than 16 years ago, John McPhee wrote in The Control of Nature,

    Something like half of New Orleans is now below sea level — as much as fifteen feet. New Orleans, surrounded levees, is emplaced between Lake Ponchartrain and the Mississippi like a broad shallow bowl. Nowhere is New Orleans higher than the river’s natural bank. Underprivileged people live in the lower elevations, and always have. The rich — by the river — occupy the highest ground. In New Orleans, income and elevation can be correlated on a literally sliding scale: the Garden District on the highest level, Stanley Kowalski in the swamp. The Garden District and its environs are locally known as uptown.

    Torrential rains fall on New Orleans — enough to cause flash floods inside the municipal walls. The water has nowhere to go. Left on its own, it would form a lake, rising inexorably from one level of the economy to the next. So it has to be pumped out. Every drop of rain that falls on New Orleans evaporates or is pumped out. Its removal lowers the water table and accelerates the city’s subsidence. Where marshes have been drained to create tracts for new hosing, ground will shrink too. People buy landfill to keep up with the Joneses. In the words of Bob Fairless, of the New Orleans District engineers, “It’s almost an annual spring ritual to get a load of dirt and fill in the low spots on your lawn.” ….

    In the early nineteen-eighties, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers built a new large district headquarters in New Orleans. It is a tetragon, several stories high, with expanses of sheet glass, and it is right beside the river. Its foundation was dug in the mainline levee. That, to a fare-the-well, is putting your money where your mouth is.

    Among the five hundred miles of levee deficiencies now calling for attention along the Mississippi River, the most serious happen to be in New Orleans. Among other factors, the freeboard — the amount of levee that reaches above flood levels — has to be higher in New Orleans to combat the waves of ships. Elsewhere, the deficiencies are averaging between one and two feet with respect to the computed high-water flow line, which goes on rising as runoffs continue to speed up and waters are increasingly confined. Not only is the water higher. The levees tend to sink as well. They press down on the mucks beneath them and squirt materials out to the sides. Their crowns have to be built up. “You put five feet on and three feet sink,” a [U.S. Army] Corps engineer remarked to me one day. …”

    Homeschooling during a disaster

    A friend just sent me this link to Ambleside Online’s Helping Hand Emergency Learning Plan, which isn’t secular but could easily be secularized for any family:

    This is a free, complete, user-friendly curriculum plan for homeschooling families who need support, encouragement and alternatives to the curriculum they’ve lost in a disaster, and also for churches and other groups needing to set up temporary schools for children who may not have been homeschooled. All texts and teaching materials needed to implement this plan are free online. The only things you need are access to a computer and printer, paper and pencil. Please print out and share this information freely with anyone who might need it.

    We know that there are more important things than missed schooling during a crisis. But sometimes in the midst of disasters, creating a small oasis of normalcy and continuity is very important. In the midst of such a disaster, grown ups with many urgent details on their minds cannot focus on thinking up things for children to do, and it is our prayer that this free resource will fill a need.

    The most important things to do during a disaster are simple things that bring the family together — special times that build memories and connections. This includes things like singing hymns, folksongs, reading poetry, playing silly but educational games like Mad Libs, telling stories to each other, reading and retelling the old favorites like The Little Red Hen, The Gingerbread Man, and doing silly things like dancing together, playing hide the thimble, and ring around the rosie.

    Think beyond the usual textbooks. Improvise, make the most of what you have, make things up. For example, one family was given an old board game that was too hard to use, but it had a lot of little coloured plastic pieces that fit into each other, and those became their favourite math manipulative. If your phys. ed. equipment consists of a jump rope and a ball, look for new ways to use them instead of worrying that you don’t have access to more than that.

    Make use of people as resources, including you, your spouse, your relatives and friends. Use internet helps such as search engines, e-texts, swap boards, patterns, maps, Bible commentaries, game instructions, study notes, and experts with websites.”

    The page includes suggestions for history and geography, math, literature and poetry, science and nature, language arts, music, art appreciation, games and handicrafts, and more.