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