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Archive for the ‘7 Quick Takes’ Category

— 1 —

GUYS!

Adventures in Assisi has dropped!  

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A month before the previously announced publication date, the newest book from me and Ann Engelhart is available for order. I was hoping to do a big post on it this week, with quirky photos of my stash of the books, but….

I don’t have any.  Yet.  There was a delivery glitch, so I haven’t even seen the published book yet.   Hopefully I’ll have them tomorrow, and then I’ll talk a lot about this book, which is much different from any St. Francis-for-Kids book out there. 

(We have also, in the last month, come to an informal agreement on another book – #5 for us!)

— 2 —

School’s going just fine…for everyone.  

The 8th grader is getting along famously, takes his homework in stride, and is enjoying his Days Spent With People Not Related To Him. 

It’s weird doing school at home with only one, though.  It’s almost too easy.  Maybe I should add calculus and make it harder.

Or not.

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Feeding an ant to the Venus Flytrap

— 3 —

Speaking of math, I’m going to bore you one more time by talking up Beast Academy.  I know, you go to the website and you see comic books and you think, how challenging can that be?  

Well, plenty – you have to do both the guide and the workbook, and when you do…it’s impressive.  I’m continually amazed by the pedagogy of this series.  I think I would describe it as sneakily challenging.  The workbook pages start off with simple treatment of the matter at hand, but within a few problems have led the student to a crazily higher level of thinking.   This series and its parent, the amazing Art of Problem Solving embraces a pedagogy centered on the value of a student sitting and stewing over a problem in a fruitful way.  I would show you the pages Michael did today on angles, but I wouldn’t want to violate copyright.  Let’s just say that in a matter of ten problems, he went from simply measuring angles with a protractor to being challenged to deduce the measurements of angles without a protractor and without being given step-by-step guidance on how to do it.  

So instead of that, I’ll just point you to the material they have on their site, including these pages from the 1st 4th grade book on triangles.

— 4 —

We’ve started doing some logic, and for writing/spelling and so on, we’re going to – among other things – use the Brave Writer method again.  He’ll be doing copywork and analysis of books for which BW provides issues of “The Arrow” – see here for more about that.  The first, in keeping with our recent trip to NYC, is The Cricket in Times Square.

— 5 —

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This week…music lessons began, an art lesson,.another trip to the botanical gardens, picking up where our previous visit – cut short by a hurting leg – left off.  A trip to the Birmingham Museum of Art.

(If you ever come this way, please know that both the Botanical Gardens and the Museum of Art charge no admission and are both quite fine.) 

Also, a couple of library trips.  Of course. 

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Sketching at the museum, math at the library.

— 6 —

Last weekend:

At the beach for about 24 hours….wish it could have been longer….

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— 7 —

Today, we caught a school presentation/performance related to an event called Earfilms, presented over the last few days at UAB.  (University of Alabama at Birmingham).  Earfilms is an aural experience in which audience members are blindfolded and listen to a mesh of live narration and recorded sound relayed in a “3d” manner – surroundsound, if you will.  The school sessions weren’t the complete performance (which is almost 90 minutes) and we were disappointed there were no blindfolds (we were just asked to close our eyes), but we did get an interesting exposure to different understandings of music and sound from members of the UAB faculty and the artists involved in Earfilms, the latter of whom were British and one of whom wore a cool hat, so there’s that:

Earfilms

After the performance, in an interactive area with one of the artists, speaking into a 3D microphone, whatever that is.

Super busy weekend with two pool parties, a dance and a sleepover. Because socialization.

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"amy welborn"

For today:

The Feast of the Assumption is a day of joy. God has won. Love has won. It has won life. Love has shown that it is stronger than death, that God possesses the true strength and that his strength is goodness and love.

Mary was taken up body and soul into Heaven: there is even room in God for the body. Heaven is no longer a very remote sphere unknown to us.   (Source)

But there is also another aspect: in God not only is there room for man; in man there is room for God. This too we see in Mary, the Holy Ark who bears the presence of God. In us there is space for God and this presence of God in us, so important for bringing light to the world with all its sadness, with its problems. This presence is realized in the faith: in the faith we open the doors of our existence so that God may enter us, so that God can be the power that gives life and a path to our existence. In us there is room, let us open ourselves like Mary opened herself, saying: “Let your will be done, I am the servant of the Lord”. By opening ourselves to God, we lose nothing. On the contrary, our life becomes rich and great.

And so, faith and hope and love are combined. Today there is much discussion on a better world to be awaited: it would be our hope. If and when this better world comes, we do not know, I do not know. What is certain is that a world which distances itself from God does not become better but worse. Only God’s presence can guarantee a good world. Let us leave it at that.

One thing, one hope is certain: God expects us, waits for us, we do not go out into a void, we are expected. God is expecting us and on going to that other world we find the goodness of the Mother, we find our loved ones, we find eternal Love. God is waiting for us: this is our great joy and the great hope that is born from this Feast. (Source)

By looking at Mary’s Assumption into Heaven we understand better that even though our daily life may be marked by trials and difficulties, it flows like a river to the divine ocean, to the fullness of joy and peace. We understand that our death is not the end but rather the entrance into life that knows no death. Our setting on the horizon of this world is our rising at the dawn of the new world, the dawn of the eternal day.

“Mary, while you accompany us in the toil of our daily living and dying, keep us constantly oriented to the true homeland of bliss. Help us to do as you did”.

Dear brothers and sisters, dear friends who are taking part in this celebration this morning, let us pray this prayer to Mary together. In the face of the sad spectacle of all the false joy and at the same time of all the anguished suffering which is spreading through the world, we must learn from her to become ourselves signs of hope and comfort; we must proclaim with our own lives Christ’s Resurrection.

“Help us, Mother, bright Gate of Heaven, Mother of Mercy, source through whom came Jesus Christ, our life and our joy. Amen”. (Source)

— 2 —

Would you like an exercise podcast update?  Of course you would.

This program (scroll down to 8/8) on the destruction of English religious art during the Reformation was really excellent. Presented by historian Diarmaid MacCulloch.

Great Lives has an interesting framework:  a well-known person in a certain field discusses a chosen “great life” along with a host and a scholar.

This week, I listened to a program (4/1) on cellist Jacqueline Du Pre (perhaps you saw the film Hilary and Jackie? I did..a couple of times, and loved it, even though it’s apparently – like most biopics – completely inaccurate.) The well-known person was another intriguing person – deaf solo percussionist Evelyn Glennie. Great! More rabbit holes!

I also listened to Michael Palin talk about Hemingway – Palin did one of his travel programs on Hemingway some years ago.  Enjoyed this one, too.  Both gave me a lot to think about regarding creativity and the self.

 

— 3 —

Actually started and finished a couple of books.  The Confessions of Frances Godwin which, well, I gave two stars to. Sorry.  Next was non-fiction: How Paris Became Paris, which was interesting because of the very mild myth-busting that was going on.  People like to credit/blame Haussmann for moving Paris from medievalism to modernity, but as the author of this book shows, the transformation began centuries before, mostly under King Henry IV who oversaw the construction of revolutionary public spaces like the Pont Neuf and the Place Royale.  Reading texts from 17th century travel guides was illuminating, but the book was a bit overstuffed and the content could have fit in in a meaty Atlantic or New Yorker article.

— 4 —

Speaking of reading and public spaces – I tweeted this last week, but forgot to mention it here.  Our local alt weekly, called Weld ran an excellent, thorough treatment of the murder of Father James Coyle on the steps of the Cathedral rectory almost a hundred years ago.  If you’ve never heard of this case – go read the article.  It’s an important part of our history, featuring anti-Catholicism, the Klan and future Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black.

Coyle could not have imagined that his most imminent threat was from a fellow clergyman. Edwin Stephenson was an ordained Methodist deacon who presented himself as a full-fledged minister for his primary occupation of marrying couples at the Jefferson County Courthouse (which in 1921 was on the same Third Avenue North block as St. Paul’s). He was also a member of Robert E. Lee Klavern No. 1, the first Alabama chapter of the new Ku Klux Klan.

— 5 —

Back to the Assumption – as I mentioned yesterday, don’t forget that my book Mary and the Christian Life is available for a free download.  Not for a limited time, either.  Today and probably always!

— 6 —

I know I mentioned that I sold my other house, but even now, the relief hasn’t worn off.  Once a day, I pause, and think, “Aaaaah!” – amazed at the freedom and resolved that this – the house I’m in – will be the last home I own.  No, I don’t plan on living here until I die (unless I die in the next ten years), but really and truly – when we’re done here, I’m done owning, and will be perfectly fine with renting.  It’s not ownership that gets me – it’s the burden of knowing you are going to have to sell the thing someday, and all that entails.  Plus (again, I hope we are talking far into the future), after dealing with my father’s estate, I’m determined to leave my own children with as few complications as possible, and that includes a house that has to be sold.  What we leave behind is a continual object of meditation for me.  It’s a metaphor, you know.

— 7 —

Rectify is tearing me up,but I won’t write about it until next week – the final episode.  Except to say that in a program filled with fine actors and juicy roles, Clayne Crawford as Ted, Jr is really emerging as a standout.  If you live in the South, you know Ted, Jr – the good ol’ boy/prep/poseur – he’s instantly recognizable…but then as the show has progressed, he’s become recognizable in a different way – as a confused, angry, self-doubting guy who really doesn’t know what’s hit him or his family.   So imagine my amazement just five minutes ago when I looked him to find you a good link and discovered that he’s from these parts – not that far from Birmingham.

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— 1 —

We’re back. House intact, snake alive.

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BIG is a creepy movie, and he’s never seen it, but he did know about the big piano at FAO Schwarz, so here we are.

 

— 2 —

We did almost everything I wanted to do with them.  They’d been to New York City before, but had little memory of it.  It was hot, but not unbearably so. It was crowded, but once you were away from Midtown, Times Square and Fifth Avenue, it was a lot better.

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St. Patrick’s from the top of Rockefeller Center – a nice view of the cruciform shape.

— 3 —

It’s expensive, though, I’ll tell you that – as if you needed to know, as if I needed a reminder.  Really, if you want to do a biggish city with lots of culture with kids and not spend so much money, and you don’t have relatives or friends to crash with in the area, Washington DC – where almost all the museums are free – is the way to go. (Also Chicago if you have local museum memberships – our McWane membership got us into both the Field and the Museum of Technology and Industry – FREE.)

Even attempts to save money here can be problematic.  We spent a big chunk of Wednesday in the American Natural History Museum – they surprised us by having an extensive and good ancient Americas collection, so yes, we spent more time than we thought there – and we went in and out a couple of times (btw, at no time did anyone look carefully or scan our tickets….).  The ticket line was horrendous – every time – first thing in the morning, when we left for lunch, and when we left for good around 3 – probably a hundred people on both sides – but I had just walked up to a kiosk and purchased ours, no wait.  I’m sure the lines were all about redeeming passes of one sort or another…too bad people have to spend part of their short time in New York waiting in lines like that….

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My pre-Columbian scholar LOVED this section.

— 4 —

Food?  Well, nothing super memorable.  Shake Shack met with approval (especially by me when I discovered they serve alcohol), the arancini we snacked on in Little Italy were very good – unfortunately the way we ended up spending that day took us away from Chinatown before I could find the hand-pulled noodles I’d been hoping to get.   Excellent pizza at this by-the-slice place.  Good sandwiches from a deli behind the Natural History Museum, eaten in Roosevelt park.

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No fine dining for us, but they weren’t too hungry that often.

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— 5 —

Favorite things?  I think Governor’s Island, the Brooklyn Bridge and Central Park (where we wandered – saw wildlife – Look!  It’s a RAT!” – did the rowboats and the remote control sailboats) and the Tenement Museum would top the list for all of us.

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Down on the South Street Seaport, looking at Brooklyn.

 

Every counter person, sales person, museum attendant, bike rental person we encountered was very friendly and helpful.  The only rudeness was from a taxi driver who heard where I wanted to go (longish story) and scoffed.   Someone told me later not to tell them where you are going until you actually sit in the cab – then by law they have to take you.  (All’s well than ends well – the subway station was closer than I’d thought….)

— 6 —

We did see Newsies which they enjoyed but which was ultimately meh because it was, of course, the usual homogenized, musically pedestrian Disney stuff.  I couldn’t help be amused by the irony of a Disney show having as a central theme the exploitive greed of a business – as we sat in a theater where the full-priced tickets  went for $300 for a little more than 2 hours of entertainment.

(I got ours at the TKTS booth down at the South Street Seaport – decent discount.)

(On their last visit, we went to see The Thirty Nine Steps which was so inventive and delightful and held their interest, even though they were four years younger than they are now – in a more deeply engaged way than the in-your-face eardrum busting hoofing of Newsies.)

The dancing was great, the vibe was a good one for the boys, but all I can say is that last night when I got home, I watched, for the zillionth time, the opening number from On The Town…no comparison, as if anyone would expect there to be.

(BTW – a revival is coming! )


 

 

— 7 —

We went to the World Trade Center Memorial – not the museum, but the striking,  huge downward-flowing fountains constructed on and in the foundations of both buildings, both surrounded by walls in which have been etched the names of those who died there.  I found it so very moving and quite fitting.  They are fountains, rather than the cool stillness of stone, and so they powerfully convey a subtle message of hope and life.

"amy welborn"

No, we did not take selfies at the WTC memorial.

 

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— 1 —

A couple of field trips this week -one documented here – to Moundville.  The other, yesterday, was to Horse Pens 40, just about 40 minutes away.  It’s a privately-held park, campground and event space high atop a mountain.  The great attraction is an excellent boulder field (others around here that we’ve enjoyed have been at Moss Creek Preserve and Cherokee Rock Village.) These formations have made the place a favored refuge for various groups and communities over the centuries.  The name?

 

    A young couple named John and Hattie Hyatt finally settled on this land during the late 1800’s. The story is that he came from Georgia with his ‘stolen wife’ (whatever that meant), a horse, and all his earthly possessions in a flour sack. Looking for a place of refuge, the Horse Pens was a natural choice. Years later, he filed on the property, referring to it as “the home 40, the farming 40, and the horse pens 40, each tract containing 40 acres of land”. This is how Horse Pens 40 got its name. This is one of the last homesteads filed in the state of Alabama. The land patent and original title was actually signed by the President of the United States. (Actually, the signatures of two U.S. presidents turned up on documents pertaining to the property during the title search)

No one around here actually “boulders” – yet.  But who knows…

— 2 —

Movies watched over the past week: The Road to Morocco, The Road to Utopia and The Man Who Knew Too Much.  (Remake of the latter – which Hitchcock himself said was better than the first version)

It had been years since I’d seen any of the Road movies, so I did (of course) research to see what The Internet told me would be the best to start with.  The general conclusion seemed to be that Morocco was best, followed closely by Utopia.  Well, I think Utopia was far better than the other – the premise wasn’t quite as lame, Hope and Crosby’s enjoyment of each other’s company is palpable and fun, and I thought the jokes were much sharper, although I had to pause the movie several times to explain 60-year old pop culture references, and that final visual joke, while hysterical and perfect, is…awkward.

The boys were totally absorbed by The Man Who Knew Too Much, perhaps in part because it involved a little boy in peril.  As for me, I was absolutely impressed by Doris Day’s performance – it’s very strong and warm – and that scene where she sits at the piano and starts belting out Que Sera Sera at the top of her lungs so her little boy, imprisoned somewhere in the embassy, would hear her…gosh, my contacts are bothering me. Give me a minute, will you?

— 3 —

A couple of excellent reads on education:

First, a match made in heaven: Andrew Ferguson writing about Common Core:

It has to do with the old rule that supply creates its own demand. Over the last two generations, as the problem became unignorable and as vast freshets of money poured from governments and nonprofit foundations, an army of experts emerged to fix America’s schools. From trade unions and think tanks they came, from graduate schools of education and nonprofit foundations, from state education departments and for-profit corporations, from legislative offices and university psych labs and model schools and experimental classrooms, trailing spreadsheets and PowerPoints and grant proposals; they found work as lobbyists, statisticians, developmental psychologists, neurological researchers, education theorists, entrepreneurs, administrators, marketers, think tank fellows, textbook writers—even teachers! So great a mass of specialists cannot be kept idle. If they find themselves with nothing to do, they will find something to do. 

From The New Republic, “Don’t Send Your Kid to the Ivy League.”   Even if that’s not an option or choice for you, the article is well worth a read as it dissects the thankless, soul-sucking and time-gobbling hamster wheel that high school and college have become for would be “high achievers” everywhere.

 

— 4 —

I usually find several podcasts from BBC radio worth listening to in the course of a week (although, tragically, In Our Time is on its summer hiatus until September…), and exceptional this week were:

Food Programme episode on food and opera.  It was less than thirty minutes long, but boy, did it pack a punch, employing the gifts of Fred Plotkin, opera-and-food-and-Italy writer.  I loved it.

Also the program on World War I: Cradle of Jazz might seem to waste our time, focusing on such a topic instead of the more serious aspects of World War I, but of course there is plenty of attention being given to the more fundamental aspects and will be over the next four years.  This program was actually quite absorbing, detailing the development of early jazz, the impact of the war and the   work of mostly African-American jazz musicians in Europe before and right after the War.

 

— 5 —

Today I thought we might go to Tuskegee, to the Tuskegee Airmen Museum and the George Washington Carver Museum, but then I realized it was 2 hours away and I was sort of done with driving around Alabama for the week, so after I finished writing my Living Faith Lent devotion assignment that was due today, we moseyed out to the new big Latino-food centered supermarket called Mi Pueblo.  It’s enormous – as large as or larger than the Publix down the street.  According to the linked article, it’s the largest Hispanic grocery store in Alabama, the second in the area (the first is way down in a community south of here called Pelham) and a third is planned.  It’s a great store.  A huge variety of foods, quite inexpensive produce, amazing meat counter(including goat, pig and cow heads if you like), in-house tortilleria, a counter offering fruit concoctions, a bakery and a restaurant, where we ate a great lunch from the buffet.  None of the meats on the buffet were labeled, so that was probably a good thing – they ate pretty bravely in Mexico, but still they weren’t given pause by the possibility of eating goat or pig cheeks.  It’s not near my house, but it is on the route for some activities, so it will definitely become a regular stop.

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And then the rest of the afternoon at the pool, which I realized we hadn’t been to in a while, not only because of travels but because one of the boys had a bout of swimmer’s ear about a month ago – the first any of my kids have ever had.

— 6 —

Oh, I finally sold – as in closed and signed off on – the other house.  I was sad to see the bungalow go, even though I haven’t lived in it for a year and  I really love my not-quite-mod but still mid century place, its yard, and on behalf of the boys, the basketball goal.  Someday, I’ll live the Bungalow Life again.  Just not now.

— 7 —

Just a few more weeks and Adventures in Assisi will be published – look for more on that soon!

 

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— 1 —

We returned home from running errands and dinner, and we could have hunkered down for the evening inside, doors closed, air conditioning humming, but instead we drifted outside.  For our trouble we saw huge lovely woodpeckers and a slew of bats sweeping overhead and I heard a steady stream of most interesting information on members of the animal kingdom who dwell from the deepest points of the ocean to the most arid desert.

— 2 —

The boys watched Napoleon Dynamite for the first time  a couple of weeks ago.  I hadn’t seen it in years, and of course it lost none of its oddness during that time.

Nor had it lost any of its quotability.  Every day, I hear at least one ND callback:

Make yourself a dang kay-sa-dilla, Napoleon!

IDIOT!

How long did it take you to grow that mustache? About 2 days. 

They don’t, however, quote my favorites, which are:

Do the chickens have large talons?

and

I caught you a delicious bass. 

 

— 3 —

As I mentioned on Twitter, we watched North by Northwesthe other night and I’d forgotten how racy it is.  Awkward!  Love the Van Damme house in all its Mid Century glory.

Not complaining about Cary Grant in that towel, either.

Aside from the greatness of the film itself, what I found fascinating was the snapshot of American style, from New York westward, in the late 50’s.

But the greatest, most mesmerizing scene has nothing to do with constructed style – it’s those minutes in the midwestern (actually California) cornfield – and not just the iconic Cary Grant-chasing-crop duster.  From the moment the bus drops him off..watch the whole scene.  A human being alone, without any of the resources his position and status might afford him.  He’s dressed, but he’s stripped and he’s alone in that expanse, in the world.

What will he do? What can he do?

 

 

— 4 —

While I was in New York, I saw A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder, which one the Tony for Best Musical this year, and is based on the same early 20th century novel as the Alec Guinness classic, Kind Hearts and Coronets.  For copyright reasons, they can’t make any sort of connection between play and film explicit though.

It was enjoyable – if nihilistic, but of course, we can’t blame that on the 21st century because it’s in the source material.  The main attraction, as it was in the film, is the fact that a single actor plays all the murder victims, in this case, the amazing Jefferson Mays, who was quite entertaining to watch.  If we are going to compare film and play, well…the play wins for having a far more compelling actor to play the murderer, but the film wins for the ending, which I much preferred. In both productions, the villain, it’s clear, will not get away with his crimes, but in the film it’s a subtler and grabbier, if that’s a word, which it isn’t, but too bad.  I was told, however, that in order to make the distinction between play and film quite clear (again, for copyright reasons), the endings couldn’t be the same.

— 5 —

Hmmm…about that novel.  It’s called Israel Rank: The Autobiography of a Criminal and what intrigues me is that is seems to be, in part, a satire of Edwardian anti-Semitism.  Looks like I may have to add it to the list…..

If I EVER finish No Name.   It’s FREAKING ENDLESS.  But  – I must say..I am enjoying it immensely.  It’s definitely a page-turner, and I will report when finished.  So set your calendars for March 2015.

— 6 —

Last Thursday morning, in my NYC wanderings, I wandered Chelsea.

My hotel was on west 37th – just a couple of blocks from Penn Station – and for some reason I had it in my head that Chelsea was down in Lower Manhattan – even though I’ve walked the High Line before and done some gallery strolling with Ann.  But when I was trying to figure out how to structure that day, I finally came to some comprehension of basic Manhattan Geography, and saw that I could do some Chelsea wandering, return to my hotel, check out, check my luggage with them, and then go down to lower Manhattan for the rest of the day, and make it work.

I had done a bit of research as to what was happening in the Chelsea galleries and saw that the installations at the Pace Gallery might be interesting.

They were.

Tara Donovan is the artist. 

Now, first.

I am interested in all sorts of art, from any and every era and perspective, because I’m mostly interested in human beings and the world.  I’m interested in what the world really is and how human beings live in that world, perceive it and navigate it.  Art is an expression of that, and it is what it is.  We who live out of a spiritual context might look at much of contemporary (the last century or so) art and scoff because it seems so shallow to us, so superficial.  And perhaps it is (or isn’t).  That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t attempt to understand it or we should close ourselves off from.  On the contrary. If this is how people think, so be it, and we have to understand it – or at least try.

All that is to say…if you make it, I’ll look at it, and try to understand it, and perhaps take a shot and understanding you in the process.

So that Thursday morning, I walked into the Pace, greeted the Straight-From-Central-Casting-Gallery-Vassar-Grads in their black shift dresses, then walked into the first gallery:

 

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I was mesmerized.  They are constructed of note cards, they are supposed to make me ponder issues of accumulation, and they did, but they also reminded me, quite strongly, of the tent rocks and hoodoos of New Mexico. 

And then you turn the corner into the next gallery and:

 

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It was the most astonishing sight.  The sculpture is made of thousands of acrylic rods, but the effect is…fuzzy.  Isn’t it?

I stayed for a while, me and the two chatty security guards, but I could have stayed longer, thinking about why spend so much time, piling up tiny bits of life in order to make something else, and how beautiful those things can be.

Why indeed.

— 7 —

My daughter is living and working  in southern Germany for a while.  She bought a drindl because, as she says, you see them everywhere.  She sees women wear them to Mass and at the festivals (which are frequent), not wearing one pretty clearly marks you as a tourist..and we can’t have that!

 

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— 1 —

Almost back from NYC – perhaps by the time you read this, I will be safely back in Alabama.

Speaking of Alabama, it occurred to me today in walking around Manhattan that, even taking it proportionally, the number of men I’ve seen walking around shirtless in the middle of Alabama towns pales to the number I’ve seen in Manhattan. Today.

— 2 —

I would post a map of my walking over the past three days, but it would be nothing but a blur of blue lines over a map of the island.  I try to walk five miles a day back home for part of my exercise, and I don’t think I’ve failed to meet my quota this week.

— 3 —

The boys haven’t been with me. They have been with their Florida family.  I have been of two minds about this all week.  It’s been pleasant to be able to eat what I want without concerns about the more selective palates of other members of my family, and it’s also been good to just..wander on my own. Not going to lie about that.

But I realized early on that I missed them.  Not only did I miss them just because I missed them, but I guess I am so deep in my Travel Guide/Educator/Facilitator mode at this point in my life that I actually found it a bit difficult to adapt to solo sightseeing.  What is there to see when I don’t have someone else to show things to? It was quite revealing to me, and gave me much to think about regarding my own instincts and motivations.  I need very much to see life on my own, but also to tell others about it and help them see as well…and then more time alone to process it all.  Then it’s a complete experience.

— 4 –

Museum highlights:

The New York Historical Society. Interesting exhibits all around, but of special interest is their Bemelmans/Madeline exhibit – very sweet, in one respect, and inspiring in another.  I love to learn about the creative process, whether the creators be artists, writers, scientists or builders.  I find the dynamic of inspiration and creativity endlessly fascinating.  The exhibit on the European-born but ultimately New York-based Bemelmans took three rooms in the museum, with a generous selection of original artwork, manuscripts and some of his earlier work, and much about his life in New York – most of which concerned hotels for one reason or another.  As a person who grew up with Madeline and who has read it aloud so many times over the past thirty years that she has most of the first book memorized, this was a lovely treat.

Related – the New York Pubic Library’s exhibit on children’s books.  Well done with some omissions.  Of course, not a religiously-oriented book in sight (lest you think I’m being picky, they did feature various educational books for children, and what books have educated more children up to the 20th century that religious, mostly Bible-related books?) and, I realized after I left, no mention of N. C. Wyeth.  I responded to myself that, well, this mostly about picture books, and Wyeth illustrated mostly novels for older children and teens,  but I have to say that there was one wall – pictured below – dedicated to Edward Stratemeyer, the originator of the syndicate that produced the vast majority of super popular series books for children and teens from Nancy Drew to Tom Swift – look at the number of series (each square represents one).

So..yes..I think Wyeth should have been given a case!

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http://www.nypl.org/

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Finally, the Museum at Eldridge Street – a gorgeous Orthodox synagogue built in 1886, essentially abandoned by the 1950’s, rediscovered in the 1970’s and restored over the past twenty years.  It’s so deep in Chinatown that I kept walking and walking, convinced that Google Maps had done me wrong once again – but then there it was, standing tall between the noodle shops and foot massage services.  I was led on a mostly individualized tour by a sweet intern named Luna, who adjusted her talk down a notch when she learned I wasn’t Jewish, explaining to me what the Torah was, and such.  That was okay – I appreciated her enthusiasm.

She emphasized over and over again the poverty of most of the congregants who contributed to build this lovely place of worship and community – that it was an expression, not only of their devotion to the Lord, but also of their own strength and sense of community, as they worked hard to construct something beautiful and lasting.

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One corner is left unfinished, not only to show the restoration process, but also as a reminder of the Temple.

 

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The bimah, from which the Torah is read, faces the Ark, which holds the Torah scrolls. Faces east.

— 5 —

Speaking of such things, I made a particular effort to visit all three of the churches in the current controversy involving potential closures of certain NYC parishes: Holy Innocents, St. Francis and St. Michael’s.  I was at Holy Innocents Tuesday evening during Adoration, then today during the noon Mass, St. Francis yesterday and St. Michael’s today.  More on that tomorrow, when I’m not quite so tired.

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St. Michael’s on 34th.

— 6 —

Also Old St. Patrick’s today:

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— 7 —

Food:

Lunch Tuesday: Tapas at Boqueria

Dinner Tuesday: Hospitality hour at my hotel – they are working really hard because they just opened, and it was substantial!

Lunch Wednesday: Grazing at Broadway Bites: Arancini, Empanadas and summer rolls.

Dinner Wednesday: Gennaro’s

Breakfast Thursday: Pain au Raisin from Eric Kayser.  Eric Kayser is one of the more chi-chi bakeries in Paris.  I only went to one once, just to try the bread, which was said to be THE BEST – it was fine, but I was content to stick with one of the three normal, not-chi-chi but truly excellent bakeries on my block when we were in Paris.  BUT – I do adore Pain au Raisin – it was my favorite pastry during that month.  So of course, when I saw that Kayser had crossed the Atlantic, I had to go – and yes, it was just the same, and was wonderful.

Lunch Thursday: Fantastic Falafel at Taim, consumed a park across the street from the tiny restaurant, a park where children played on the climbing bars and in the water spraying from the ground, where a crew of old men played dominoes, where another man slept on a bench and a young woman, seated and wrapped in a proper salon cape, was getting her hair cut and styled by another young woman there under the trees.  An excellent slice of life. I thought, “Why don’t I live here?” But then I thought, “Because it costs a zillion dollars and they have winter.”

Thursday gelato – at the famed and trendy il laboratorio di gelato. It was nice, but nothing spectacular.  In particular the rosemary was so subtle as to be almost undetectable.  Yes, you would have to be careful, but I once made a rosemary lemon sorbet that was a knockout, with the rosemary coming through loud and clear, but still softly.

Dinner Thursday: Cafe Sabarsky with Ann.  \We did not see Yoko Ono, whom Ann had seen there at a previous visit a couple of months ago..

And after dinner, a stroll down Madison down to the Hotel Carlyle with, appropriately enough, a drink in the Bemelmans Bar – a charming (and expensive) place – the walls all painted by Bemelmans himself. It was really the perfect way to wind up the week.

One more food related take: One of the oddest things I saw over the past few days was today in Chinatown.   A woman at an outdoor food market was crouched in front of a tub of water, which was in turn, teeming with live eels.  Her purse and shopping bag next to her, she had a plastic bag sheathing her hand, with which she was reaching into the bin of eels.  She worked for several minutes, but in the time I stood there watching her – probably about five – she could never actually get one.  I thought at first she was simply being selective and trying to find the eel that was just right, but I don’t think that’s what it was – she just couldn’t grab one, proving that “slippery as an eel” is more than a metaphor.

 

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— 1 —

That trip is done – we returned home about 6 this evening, relieved to see that Rocky was still with us.

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No, he wasn’t left loose while we were gone. He’s just chillaxin in his freedom.

(When you watch videos related to “my snake won’t eat” as I have been doing lately, you see how many snake owners keep their ball pythons in nothing more than Sterilite plastic drawers with torn up National Enquirers for bedding, so you think, “Well, maybe I shouldn’t worry…”  But you still do.  Because he’s growing on you and you have NO BLOODY IDEA what you’re doing.)

(Speaking of snakes, my exercise podcast this evening was almost a parody of BBC earnestness, which is like NPR earnestness but far more charming and far less pompous.  It involved a woman accompanying a herpetologist who was going to show her adders that live in Scotland.  So they tramp about the moors or what have you looking for the adders – which he knows are here because this is where they live – but without seeing them.  It’s fifteen minutes of two Brits, in hushed tones, breathlessly talking about how lovely the adders will be when they finally come out.  It was, indeed….breathtaking. But perhaps not in the way they intended…)

(Yes, they finally saw an adder, but the buildup was something else.)

— 2 —

We last left the merry party in St. Louis.  The next day found them till in St. Louis, at the City Museum:

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For those of you who don’t know about it, the City Museum is an extravagant, lush, stimulating play space that encourages exploration and daring.  The place is full of tunnels and mazes, and chances to (safely) climb to great heights.

If you are within five hours of this place…it’s totally worth it.  Your kids will thank you, love you and be super grateful.  For five minutes before they resent you again.

I knew we would spend a good deal of time there on Tuesday….I didn’t anticipate it being all day – from just past opening to almost closing time.

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Yes, you can climb in the planes.

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Very Gaudi-esque, I thought.

 

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Even the aquarium is quirky.

— 3 —

After we left the City Museum, we stopped at the St. Louis Science Center, just blocks from our hotel, and advertised as free.  We’ll go for free, especially if we just have an hour to kill before that closes.

Well…yes…free admission…but with a $15 parking fee.

Oh, well.  We’re on vacation.   We took it in anyway, and at that point, an hour was just about right. As far as those damn places go, it seemed okay.   They played around with some structures, but what amazed me was the fact that they spent probably 20 minutes on math puzzles.  I mean, they’re both sort of mathy – but I didn’t think they were that mathy.

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Finally.

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— 4 —

The next day, we hit the zoo, also “free.” Yes…”free” because of yet another $15 parking fee. (You could park on the road in Forest Park of course…but then you’d have to walk a mile by the time we got there…..). The St. Louis Zoo also has several attractions that cost money – a stingray petting tank, the children’s zoo…so “free” goes out the window pretty quickly.   (We didn’t do any of that stuff, anyway.)

It was a good zoo, albeit with a confusing layout.  The highlights for us were hippos, one o which slipped in the water and spent several minutes masticating a fish, without much success, as well as the reptiles.  Of course.

(I learned that Marlin Perkins – he of MUTUAL OF OMAHA’S WILD KINGDOM! fame had been director of herpetology at the zoo back in the ’20’s.  They had a huge python that refused to eat, so they had to force feed it, and they did so publicly, drawing thousands to the spectacles.  

That story gave me an odd sort of hope for our Rocky, who has yet to eat for us….)

The Herp building was old, classic and gorgeous.

9-year old Michael, the animal lover in our group, did remark on the way to the zoo, though, “You know…now don’t think I don’t want to go because I’m saying this, but sometimes..well, sometimes I feel sorry for the animals in the zoo.  They say it’s good for them because it saves endangered species, but I don’t know…I still feel bad for them.”

And who can disagree?

— 5 —

In my preplanning, I’d thought we would hit the art museum after the zoo.  But then I looked at the museum’s holdings and thought…I don’t know if it would be worth it at that particularly juncture in time with this party.  So then I thought we’d do the history museum, partly so we could visit the exhibit on the 1904 fair and by doing so, do some sort of homage to our own Vulcan.   

But the zoo took longer than I’d expected, we were all a little weary and were going to be moving on to Memphis afterwards, so I made an executive decision that we needed a different sort of space before we hit the road again, and so we went to the Basilica instead:

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— 6 —

Now, some of us have done one or all of these St. Louis sites before.  We went to St. Louis about 9 years ago – both boys were born, I know – and we went to the City Museum then, but Joseph, who would have been 4, didn’t remember any of it.

The time before that, as I mentioned in my last post, occurred when Joseph was a tiny baby and I was speaking at the St. Louis Eucharistic Congress.  The three of us were touring the Basilica, and as we reached the area behind the altar, we encountered a Cardinal.  I don’t remember who it was, but he was European, and must have been there for the Congress.  I think it must have been Schotte.   And so there we were, Mike and me with our two-month old, and the Cardinal stopped, said hello, and blessed the baby.

Yesterday, I walked behind that altar again, Joseph, now 13 at my side, and another Michael. I paused and told Joseph the story, and felt a slight twinge, but not a terrible one. Mostly I felt gratitude and hope, because if I didn’t, what was the point of being there?

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— 7 —

Our meals improved during those last two days, thank goodness:

Lunch on Tuesday at Rosalita’s Cantina down the street from the City Museum was good, higher end Tex-Mex.  There was a statue as well as an image of Our Lady of Guadalupe on the wall at the front door, with a big plastic box affixed, inviting donations to St. Cecilia parish.   Invitation accepted!

Dinner that night was on The Hill – Anthonina’s Tavern, mostly because I told the boys they had to have toasted ravioli if they were in St. Louis.  They were doubtful (because they always are), but actually loved  and devoured it.

Wednesday lunch was the Courtesy Diner after the zoo – it’s right across the interstate – a diner experience is always fun with kids.

Wednesday night in Memphis, we walked down to Beale Street, just because that’s What You Do – there was some sort of motorcycle convocation which was interesting but deafening.  We made it quick at the Blues City Cafe which was nothing special, but nothing awful either.

Thursday lunch, also in Memphis, was at Central Barbecue, right across from the Lorraine Motel, which was kind of odd, but I guess okay…


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(And don’t even scold me about not finding the perfect Memphis BBQ…I do what I can where I am with the people I’m with….)

More on Memphis in the next post…

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— 1 —

Random things cooked this week, some old, some new:

Plentiful and cheap tomatoes mean that I do this a lot. 

The twist that I’ve added this year is to do the initial roasting in the evening and then leave the tomatoes in the oven overnight.

Like candy. 

I had “roasted tomatoes” as part of an antipasto in a fancy-shmancy restaurant in these parts a couple of weeks ago , and I tell you they had nothing on mine. They seriously just tasted like stewed tomatoes…out of a can, even.

Harrumph.

— 2 —

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Made Spanish Romesco sauce (or at least this version of it) the other day – a new thing for me, and really good.  I used roasted red peppers that I’d done myself.  I probably won’t do anything fancy with it – I’ll just use it as a spread/dip for myself.

— 3 —

Also…

The usual Artisan Bread in Five Minutes, which I make regularly now, and throw in a cinnamon cake.  Peaches and blueberries are coming in strong, so time to start in on them…..

And pizza. Always pizza.  It’s nine o’clock at night, and I think, “I really don’t want to make pizza dough right now…”

But then I do, dragging out the mixer and the flour, pulling it all together and then pulling it apart into six firm little discs of dough, and then the next day at noon I’m so glad I did because I can answer the question “What’s for lunch?” in a very exciting way.

— 4 —

To balance out the food, the past couple of week’s exercise podcasts have included some In Our Times that are worth mentioning not only because of their quality, but because they took religion seriously and without the usual American narrative voice which reflexively dismisses religious conviction and the spiritual dimension of human life.

One was on the 17th century scientist Robert Boyle, often regarded as one of the fathers of modern chemistry and, like most of his contemporaries, a very religious man.   It was interesting to me that Melvin Bragg kept pushing the question of the connection between Boyle’s faith and his scientific pursuit, which the panel generally affirmed, but not specifically enough for Bragg until one of them finally made the fascinating connection between Boyle’s interest in casuitry and self-examination and his scientific method.  Really interesting – and observations made by Michael Hunter on the connections between Boyle’s “practical religious life and practical scientific life,”  the author of a book called Boyle: Between God and Science.so that makes sense.

The program on the Bluestockings – a salon-type movement among British women - also took for granted these women’s religiosity – although I wish it had gone a bit more into it.

There’s another BBC4 show called The Food Programmewhich had a recent episode on “Holy Food” – it wasn’t the most thorough treatment of the very rich subject of the connection between monasteries and food and drink, but it was good for what it was.  One of the subjects interviewed was Madeleine Scherb, the author of a book called A Taste of Heaven and a blog called The Hungry Pilgrim. 

This week’s In Our Time is on Hildegard of Bingen – haven’t listened yet, but I’m trusting the tradition of decent treatment of religion will continue….

— 5 —

This week I read Penelope Lively’s Judgment Day which I picked up for ten cents at a library book sale.  It had its moments, but as a whole was too episodic and without much depth.  I’m continuing to read Collins’ No Name, which astonishes me because I read and read and read and the Kindle Ticker is telling me that I’ve still only made it through twenty percent of the thing.  It must be a thousand pages long.  But it’s a good, melodramatic, 19th century beach read, and although there’s no beach nearby right now, I’m enjoying it.

— 6 —

This is Rocky.

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Yes, me – the person who never had a pet as a child and has only allowed thirty years’ worth of children to own 1) some hamsters for a couple of months and 2) some fish for about the same amount of time – for some reason got all crazy and bought a snake at a reptile show.

A snake. 

My youngest is reptile-mad, we were at a reptile show, and so the next day we went back and bought Rocky. We won’t be traveling as much as we have been over the next year, and besides, snakes can go a week (they say) by themselves…

He’s fine.

I’d say he even has sort of a nice face, don’t you think?

I have no problem with snakes and I’m surprised to say that so far, he seems low-maintenance.

It’s kind of crazy, though. When you see snakes in the wild, the pattern is for both you and the snake to scoot, both as fast as you can.  These ball pythons are relaxed creatures.  They loll around, they curl and climb, but never too fast, and yes, we may be crazy but it does seem that Rocky has a special affection for his keeper.  Well, not affection.  But a comfort level that’s readily apparent.

It’s ironic, though, that his brother and I read this Ambrose Bierce story, “The Man and the Snake,” earlier this year.  I admit I think about it sometimes when Rocky’s snaking around….

(Was the photo a “trigger” for anyone?  Sorry.  I worked for a principal once who had such a morbid fear of spiders and snakes she had to clip together pages of books that had pictures of either so she wouldn’t accidentally open up to them. She was a science teacher, so this was a bit of a challenge for her.)

(The name “Rocky” happened because they saw the movie just a couple of days before the snake came into our house, and it just seemed right.)

— 7 —

Rectify continues to absorb.  As with a novel, it’s hard to pass judgment this soon – being only two chapters in.  But what I’m seeing so far is the continued weaving of complex themes of culpability, honesty and consequences as well as that intriguing and fairly accurate depiction of an individual’s spiritual life – in this case, Daniel’s sister-in-law, Tawney.  In one stressful, but well-done and sensitive scene she confesses and works through her confusion about  spiritual and emotional motivations.  Another scene depicts a women’s small group – meeting outdoors around a fire pit – I do wonder about Georgia evangelicals breaking open the wine during small group, but I’ll just assume that they’re part of a church where the pastor sports jeans, hipster glasses and a soul patch and we’re good.

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A quick rundown of recent…learning?  Or attempts.  The Chicago and Mexico trips were major “teachable moment” blocks, but we’re back, with no major trips planned until July, probably, so..no more excuses!

(Although there will be the usual raft of staycation roadschooling things.  My daughter will be home for a few weeks before her next adventure begins, and I want to try to see things like the Tuskegee sites related to the Tuskegee Airmen, Booker T. Washington and George Washington Carver,  the Montgomery sites we missed last time, and some Nature of one sort or another.  We also have a short Charleston trip in mid-May.)

 

 

We’ve let Latin slide at the moment because we’ve had to go hard core with Spanish for the 13-year old.  Why? Well…because he’s going to school next year.  He won’t be going back to his old school, but to another one, run by Nashville Dominicans.  We didn’t enroll them there when we first moved here almost six years ago for various reasons, but now it just makes sense – it’s an excellent little school, 8th grade is confirmation year in this diocese, and doing it through this school would be more fruitful, I think, than through a parish program, plus he has a friend who has transferred over there.  We’ve done the tour, he shadowed for a day and really liked it.  He’s ready to go back and hang with other kids Who Are Not His Family.  The then-fourth grader will stay and do his unschool thing at home, though.  He’s a natural unschooler, and while we won’t have the freedom to travel we did over the past two years, it will be fine..we’ll still be able to do a lot.

(We were at the library yesterday and passed the “Used books for $1 cart.”  He immediately spied a college biology textbook and requested it.  Sold. That  – plus the rabid interest in All Things Mayan, plus reptiles, plus….well, that’s what I mean.)

Oh, and so the Spanish?  They have an excellent middle school Spanish program at this school that prepares them to start with Spanish II  – most of them in honors – in high school…so we need to catch up.   We’ll be working at home with their texts, online resources, with some tutoring, but unfortunately not from this fellow:

(It works…we all know the days of the week in Spanish now…without even trying…)

  • Keyboarding every day, as well as cursive practice.  Just fifteen minutes or so.
  • The zoo/science center classes have been winding down, but there have been a few – on microscopes, conservation, the water cycle and such.  Our routine is that they go to the class, and the next day they present to the rest of us (all two) what they learned.
  • If American school children know anything cold, I’m convinced, it’s the water cycle.  And rainforests.  The water cycle and rainforests.
  • Art classes for the 9-year old continue apace.  Plus, there’s your random art festival children’s area.

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As I stood/sat there for fifteen minutes watching him make his very detailed Dalek (upper left), I said, “You know, we do have buckets of markers and lots of poster board and paper at home.  Any time you want, you could spend your afternoon making Daleks.”  He shrugged.  Maybe if I set up a table in the back yard and sell three dollar cokes?

 

The best children’s section I ever encountered was at a festival down in the Tampa Bay area.  Someone had a station featuring the Japanese art of making prints from fish.   Real, dead fish that you ink up.  I thought it was fantastic (as did my kids) and I’ve often wondered why I’ve never seen it anywhere else….

  • Still watching the Great Course on Roman architecture.  Watched the first episode of Eyes on the Prize , which includes material on the Montgomery Bus Boycott.
  • Read-aloud is Tom Sawyer.  This is a second go-round, but the first time was probably three years ago, so it might as well be the first.
  • 13-year old is reading, for his “assigned” reading, To Kill a Mockingbird.   We discuss it and use various random resources for related writing prompts.
  • We are working our way through Hamlet.  This is going to take a while.  We’ve read a couple of story-type re-tellings, and now we’re sort-of-reading through it.   We’re going to watch scenes from lots of different productions as we go along, and at some point this week, we’ll watch this:

 

(The fact that there’s a version starring David Tennant is very helpful - even though it apparently has problems…nothing like Harry Potter or Doctor Who faces to keep a certain viewer’s attention.)

 

  • religion? The usual – daily prayer which includes the Mass readings if we’re not going to daily Mass.  Discussion of the saint of the day, anything interesting in said Scripture readings.  Plus we are still working through the super-dooper The Mass Explained app.
  • Various local activities, like today:

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It was an “Artbreak” at our (wonderful) Birmingham Museum of Art, tying in our Delacroix exhibit to Chopin.  The speaker told the interesting tale of the connections between Delacroix, Chopin and Georges Sand.  We were the youngest people there, naturally, (and I mean “we”), but they’re used to that at this point.   The material was a little above their heads, but not too much, and at least they heard words like “Romanticism” and the names of these folks and a couple of memorable stories, plus the 9-year old, in particular, appreciated the music.  He is very attentive to live music.

  • There’s been quite a bit of camping activity – the 13-year old was on campouts three of the weekends of April, including a two-night backpacking trip up in Tennessee, and the 9-year old on one.  Lots of learning there! Including mom learning for the first time how to remove a tick!
  • Meterological education was not neglected, as in the two hours in front of the television last night following tornadoes ….
  • I think we’ll go see The Barber of Seville in the ATL this weekend - this review indicates that it’s a good production, and, as I wrote once before, it was my entry-level opera (way back in Mad Men days..probably 1969 or so – the Kansas City Opera)…so..let’s go!  And…hit the library tomorrow for some books on opera….
  • I have a couple of art projects in mind, and I think I’ll order a cow’s eye for dissection for when my daughter is here – she would have fun doing that with them….and that’s about it, I think.  Math, Spanish, Shakespeare and some teachable moments/events and travels…plus lots of time outside, as per usual.  Yes, it’s spring!

Summer is already filling up.  Older son is going for a week of sleepaway Scout camp.  Then there’s a local basketball camp he enjoys, and he’s said that this year he wants to do two weeks of that, instead of just one.   The younger one doesn’t want to do the bb camp this year, but will be doing a sort of higher-level music camp.  There are, of course, no lack of camps – science museum, art museum, and so on..but what he have at this point is enough.  More than enough…

 

 

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— 1 —

If you didn’t notice, the other day I mentioned that our new book will be coming out in August:

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Adventures in Assisi is unlike any other St. Francis-book-for-children out there.   I’ll talk more about it as the release date approaches, but know for now that it was inspired by the trips both Ann Engelhart and I have made to Assisi and a desire to bring St. Francis to children in a way that goes a little deeper than peace-animals-creche – as wonderful as all that can be.

 

— 2 —

Homeschooling has slowly revived.   Math has happened, lots of religion, conversations about the trip, music, science museum class, art class, To Kill a Mockingbird, reviewing some of our Shakespeare, gearing up for next week…Holy Week..think we’ll start Hamlet, too….

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Reteaching what he learned in science center class.

— 3 —

Good exercise podcasts, thanks to In Our Time, my favorite.  I’ve listened to:

  • 1848 revolutions - very good.
  • The Concordat of Worms - puts present Church/State conflicts in perspective
  • Robinson Crusoe - I have never read it, but had read something years ago about how contemporary editions generally edit down the religious content.  This program gave Dafoe and the book a thorough, honest treatment and attention to his religious motivations.
  • The history of radio.  I love learning about the history of technology/industry/products/science.  I find the cumulative, aggregate effect of human understanding mesmerizing.
  • Kama Sutra – in general, one of the reasons I love In Our Time is because I find it refreshingly free of any kind of cant – ideological or academic.  In most contemporary contexts, any historical discussion these days are almost always framed in terms of some overriding contemporary concern.   This discussion on the Kama Sutra (a work which is about more than sex, mind you) actually didn’t deviate from that excellent track record, but found myself unsatisfied (so to speak) in the listening because kept saying to myself…but…isn’t this an elitist kind of work about elitist concerns? What did this have to do with the lives of most people in India who weren’t  the aristocratic men who were its audience? 

— 4 —

I have started that little blog on our Mexican trip.  Here it is so far…not much, but hopefully I’ll have it all done by next week some time.  

— 5 —

Binge-rewatching season 6 of Mad Men.  It’s certainly enjoyable television, but that 70% that is really good is violently hauled down by the 30% that is either pointless or evidence that there is currently no one in Matthew Weiner’s circle whose job is it to read scripts or sit next to him in the edit bay and say, “Um…no.  I mean…no one cares about Betty Goes To The Village and everyone will fast forward through it on the rewatch. Promise. “

— 6 —

Currently reading Gringos by Charles Portis.  It’s set in Merida, where I just was, so I’m finding it really entertaining. 

— 7 —

Reminder:  First Communion/Confirmation/RCIA/Mother’s Day books?  I’ve got some choices….

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The new zipline at the Birmingham Zoo has just opened and was free to members this week…it was a good value for free, but sorry to say, it wouldn’t be worth the normal 20-25 bucks….

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