One of the many great things about homeschooling is that generally healthy people have a better chance of staying generally healthy. We haven’t had serious illness in this house for ages.
Until this week.
There are 21 students in my son’s 8th grade class. Today 8 of them were absent…including him. It’s this feverish malaise that just wipes one out. He got home at 3:30 yesterday, went to bed, slept until 10pm, got up for about 30 minutes, then went back to sleep for twelve hours, was up for the afternoon, and then back in bed around 6….
Did you get caught up in Serial? I didn’t. I listened to the first three, then couldn’t take it anymore. I wearied of how the reporter Koenig dominated the story…no, I wearied of how her FEELS dominated the story and her practiced, self-conscious and distracting verbal tics were starting to drive me nuts.
As the frenzy over the series grew, I was also bothered by the unreal air these very real events were taking on. The objectification of real human beings and the exploitation of tragedy by gossips, storytellers and true crime writers is as old as the ancient memory of listeners crowded around a smoldering fire, but boy, this was distasteful. Perhaps good was done by exploring the deep flaws in process, but the total effect was that it might as well have been the last season of Breaking Bad, but it wasn’t – it was real, and she was real. Who? Sarah Koenig, who’s famous now? Yeah, she’s real.
But so was Hae Min Lee. Remember her?
Yes, “We were eager,” but do not forget that a young woman was murdered. The meta question of guilt is: Should we have taken our pleasures here?
We finally got a tree a couple of days ago. It seems to me that ten days before Christmas is a quite reasonable window for getting a tree, but this year…what happened? By last weekend, every tree lot around here was almost sold out and shutting down. Whole Foods had three trees standing there. The Scout lot that my son works was almost empty by early this week and will be closing on Friday, and it wasn’t that it was a shortage – they sold the same number of trees this year as in past years, I was told. I guess that “put up your tree at Thanksgiving” tradition is really catching on.
I was afraid I was going to have to go artificial this year, until I stopped by Home Depot and saw that they had plenty, and that they wrap them in netting (important for me, because I have a smallish hatchback – it just helps to have it tied up like that). So we’re good. Although it still is just standing on the front porch – this illness in the house has thrown me. We’ll get it up this weekend.
Related: I have three Advent calendars up (I don’t buy new every year, but just reuse) – and no one’s opened a single window, and I haven’t pushed it. I guess it’s time to admit that we’re past that now?
We’ve been taking a pretty close and (for us) organized look at the topic of sound over the past week. I decided to take this route partly because the 10-year old’s last science center class was on the physics of light, and it sort of followed, but also because he’s very interested in music, and we talk a lot about it anyway. It’s also a great opportunity to do a lot of demonstrations and experiments that really don’t require anything special – no chemicals or animals…just things that make sound.
So we checked out many books and have spent the week talking about resonance, frequency and such. As a part of that, we’ve been watching a lot of Khan Academy videos on music…which are wonderful.
I certainly have appreciated Khan Academy before this point and have used a lot of the math videos (although I’m not one to say…let’s just replace teachers with monitors playing Khan Academy videos…no…), but the music videos are different. I don’t know if they were made especially for KA, but whatever the case, those on musical instruments offer accessible and engaging insights and explanations. What I particularly like is the fact that at some point in each video, the musician who is explaining his instrument takes a few minutes to relate the story of he came to play the clarinet, timpani or bass viola. There’s no huge drama, just stories of childhood musicianship taken in one direction, then perhaps another, encouraged and engaged, with some surprises along the way but with deep satisfaction and gratitude for the opportunity to connect the deepest part of themselves with the rest of the world through a bow drawn across some strings.
There’s no dearth of “introduction to the orchestra” videos out there, but these are among the best I’ve seen.
During the week, we’ve examined our piano more closely, constructed some instruments, and pulled this out:
My late father’s old band clarinet:
We watched a video and eventually figured out how to make it bleat, if not exactly play.
The most affecting thing for me was that the little tiny container of cork wax – what you put on the cork on the connectors so the pieces engage smoothly and the cork doesn’t dry out – was well-used, and a round depression had been rubbed, dug out and worn out of the little square of wax by my father’s touch, circa the late 1940’s, Paris, Texas, USA…long, long ago.