Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Liturgy ~ In the Midst

In the Midst @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

Supper. Walking along a road. In the midst of real life.

“Jesus is apt to come, into the very midst of life at its most real and inescapable. Not in a blaze of unearthly light, not in the midst of a sermon, not in the throes of some kind of religious daydream, but… at supper time, or walking along a road.

This is the element that all the stories about Christ’s return to life have in common:

…Peter taking his boat back after a night at sea, and there on the shore, near a little fire of coals, a familiar figure asking, “Children, have you any fish?”; the two men at Emmaus who know him in the breaking of the bread.

He never approached from on high, but always in the midst, in the midst of people, in the midst of real life and the questions that real life asks.”

~Frederick Buechner, Listening to Your Life

Walking along a road @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Autumn ~ The Ripe Earth

The Ripe Earth @ Mt. Hope Chronicles


We walked through my brother-in-law’s vineyard Sunday at sunset, picking grapes. [Luke snipped the clumps (he loves these grapes) and collected them in his sack while I took pictures and ate grapes.]


"At no other time than autumn does the earth let itself be inhaled in one smell, the ripe earth; in a smell that is in no way inferior to the smell of the sea, bitter where it borders on taste, and more honeysweet where you feel it touching the first sounds.”

~Rainer Maria Rilke

[We have been reciting the following poem while walking together in the mornings. It is one of my favorites that Levi memorized years ago.]

Fall, leaves, fall; die, flowers, away;
Lengthen night and shorten day;
Every leaf speaks bliss to me
Fluttering from the autumn tree.
I shall smile when wreaths of snow
Blossom where the rose should grow;
I shall sing when night’s decay
Ushers in a drearier day.

~Emily Bronte

Grapes and Laundry

We should all do what, in the long run, gives us joy, even if it is only picking grapes or sorting the laundry.

~E. B. White

Doing Good, Making Honey (Lectio Divina!), and Bearing Grapes

We ought to do good to others as simply as a horse runs, or a bee
makes honey, or a vine bears grapes season after season
without thinking of the grapes it has borne.

~Marcus Aurelius


Photo above.

[I should have used the headings Eat, Digest, Grow/Transform for this Lectio Divina!]

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Autumn Apples

Autumn Apples @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

“Autumn seemed to arrive suddenly that year. The morning of the first September was crisp and golden as an apple.”

~J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows


Autumn did seem to arrive suddenly this year. It was on the first day of autumn during our brief morning walk that Leif brought the apples to my attention.

We have two ornamental crabapple trees (I think that’s what they are—I’m a poor naturalist), but one decided to grow an apple tree from the graft site at the base. Half of this tree is now crabapple, and half is apple. Surprise! It is a young tree, and this is the first year we’ve received a small crop of apples. The kids were delighted and had apples for morning snack after drawing them in their nature journals.


Apple Pie @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

Lola immediately searched her books and found How to Make an Apple Pie and See the World. She read through it, stopping to sing her continents song on the map page (naturally integrating her CC Foundations memory work, hurrah!). This book is similar to another favorite, Pancakes, Pancakes! by Eric Carle.

While traveling the world to gather ingredients for apple pie may be a bit unrealistic, I love that she knows where and how we get ingredients. She has picked fruit, ground wheat for flour, and watched a how-to video on milking cows (we’ve had cows grazing in our field before, but it’s more difficult to find someone with milking cows!). Next on our list are gathering eggs (maybe we can bribe Aunt Holly) and churning butter.

Bowl of Apples @ Mt. Hope Chronicles


We had to make an apple pie, of course, so Lola helped me pick apples this morning and we managed to get a pie made.

Hot Apple Pie @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

[Now, for the realistic version: I did manage to get the pie made, even though I’m sick with a cold and all four children were disobeying and I finally told the two youngest to leave the kitchen because they were driving me crazy. The apples were little and a pain to peel and slice. I also managed to peel the skin off my finger and slice my thumb with a cardboard box. My crust turned out so flaky that it didn’t hold together well. I tried to use a form for cutting out cute little apples on the top crust, but they just looked like holes. After baking, the crust was browned, but the apples weren’t soft, and everything fell apart when I cut into it. The kitchen (and house) looked like a war zone. I ended up going back to bed to avoid it while the kids watched television instead of doing what they were supposed to be doing. The end.]

Friday, September 23, 2016

The Thistle

The Bull Thistle @ Mt. Hope Chronicles


We have been observing the bull thistles in our field during each morning walk before symposium. We exclaim in delight when the purple crowns appear, and the kids have chosen the thistle for drawing in their nature journals a couple times (though they are hazardous to handle).


I found the above quote from an essay by Mary Oliver, because Mary Oliver always says what needs to be said about anything, profoundly, I might add.

If that isn’t quite enough for you, how about the beauty in this poem?

The singular and cheerful life
of any flower
in anyone’s garden
or any still unowned field–

if there are any–
catches me
by the heart,
by its color,

by its obedience
to the holiest of laws:
be alive
until you are not.

pale violet bull thistle,
morning glories curling
through the field corn;

and those princes of everything green—
the grasses
of which there are truly
an uncountable company,

on its singular stem
to rise and ripen.

What, in the earth world,
is there not to be amazed by
and to be steadied by
and to cherish?

Oh, my dear heart,
my own dear heart,
full of hesitations,
questions, choice of directions,

look at the world.
Behold the morning glory,
the meanest flower, the ragweed, the thistle.
Look at the grass.

Mary Oliver, The Singular and Cheerful Life (Evidence: Poems)

I’m a little partial to the thistle because I am part Scottish (my maiden name is of Scottish origin), and the thistle is the national flower of Scotland. But why?, you might ask. Why the thistle? I didn’t know, so I had to do a little research. Legends, heraldry, poetry. Good stuff. But what I loved most was the Latin Motto of the Order of the Thistle:


(No one attacks me with impunity)

This led to a search for the definition of impunity. No one has impunity (freedom from punishment) where a thistle is concerned, that’s for sure.

And Latin. Ah, Latin. My eldest son immediately translated “nemo” into “no one” and said that Captain Nemo of the Nautilus in 2,000 Leagues Under the Sea specifically took that name because of its Latin meaning. (And, of course, the Nautilus also has Latin meaning.)


The kids sketch in their nature journals while I read aloud from Shakespeare Stories after our quick morning walk, but I felt like I needed to join them on this one, even if my sketching leaves much to be desired. I’m setting the example that it is okay not to be excellent at something. We do it anyway, with a cheerful attitude…

nemo me impune lacessit @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

Thursday, September 22, 2016

His Glory Made Manifest

The Heavens Declare @ Mt. Hope Chronicles 


Psalm 19 [Our Bible memory from The Heavens Declare (#12) and Luke’s CC Ch A catechism]

The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.

Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge.

There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard.

Their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world.

In the heavens he has pitched a tent for the sun,

which is like a bridegroom coming forth from his pavilion,

like a champion rejoicing to run his course.

It rises at one end of the heavens and makes its circuit to the other;

nothing is hidden from its heat.


[From MCT’s Caesar’s English, our vocabulary from the same Symposium as above picture/early morning walk and Psalm song/memory work]

Profound: deep, far-reaching, absolute, thorough, penetrating…

Prodigious: Great, enormous, marvelous, extraordinary, large, powerful, vast

Manifest: obvious, apparent, illustrate, evince, observable, evident, unmistakable


The heavens manifest God’s profound and prodigious glory.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

End of Week 3 ~ Beginning Week 4

Expanding the Memory Work @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

I never seem to get a week-in-review post up at the end of the week. We are still finishing up on Saturdays, and Sundays are busy with preparations for the coming week. So y’all get a “this is how last week went, and here’s how this week is going so far” post.

Here we are in the midst of week 4.

I’m still getting up by 6:15ish every morning (which is impressive considering how much I struggle to get out of bed). I make the bed immediately and then shower (and put on earrings and a little makeup) and then have quiet time. I don’t touch my computer (or look at my phone, other than the alarm and the time) until after these things are completed. That has made a world of difference. [But I still get “stuck” on my computer and don’t tackle breakfast and the rest of my morning prep as diligently as I should. I need to set a timer and severely limit my computer time.]

We are still starting symposium by 8 am, sharp.

I need to adjust our Wednesday schedule a bit to accommodate piano lessons and Levi spending time on Latin at a friend’s house.

But attitudes and focus have tanked.

It was bound to happen, and we just have to push through until we figure out how to work diligently, even when we don’t want to work hard. I keep coming back to this article by Angelina Stanford at CiRCE:

But, laziness is not inactivity; it’s doing something other than your duty. Laziness is polishing your shoes when you should be writing your research paper. It’s shooting 100 free throws to get ready for the big game instead of washing the dishes. It’s even offering to help others instead of memorizing those Latin forms. Laziness disguised as helpfulness is particularly deceptive. Laziness is so deceptive that it can even drive you to do something you really don’t like instead of doing your duty.

I’m trying to teach my oldest son that procrastinating may seem easier, but it increases our time spent on tasks as well as allows a black cloud to hang over us for prolonged periods of time. We’re bowed down by the weight of our “to-do” list, when, in reality, it may be a quick and much less painful thing to face the task immediately and get it done. The real weight of our tasks is distorted, and we dread them when we shouldn’t. Of course, I realize that I am still fighting this lesson, almost 30 years later. [Again, Charlotte Mason knew what she was doing when she focused on habit training in the early years.]

Until this new schedule becomes habit, it is going to be hard and painful at times. I may have had a few, um, “heated discussions” with my son in the past week or two. After an impromptu family outing on Saturday, we learned that it may be best to limit weekend activities until we figure out how to get our work done during the week.

I have continued to have as many formal family dinners as possible. Last Wednesday I stopped by the local farm stand on the way home from piano lessons. Between the fresh salmon my husband caught the day before and all the fresh produce, we had a feast. I decided to invite my parents over for dinner, which I hadn’t done in a very long time. I even set a formal family dinner on Monday evening, which is our usual frozen-pizza-made-by-children-while-mom-hides-under-covers-in-her-bedroom night. I stopped at the farm stand again this Wednesday, and I’m looking forward to fresh veggies until they close for the season.

We’re adjusting to a new swim team routine. After several years (five-ish?) at the pool in the town just southeast of us, Russ has accepted a new coaching job at our local YMCA and all three boys are making the switch with him. It is a beautiful new facility, and I think this team change will work well for us. The schedule is certainly preferable. They also have child care for Lola (hallelujah!), a masters swim team for Russ, and a free meal program! I think Tuesday and Thursday evenings we’ll take advantage of the free meal for the kids, since I’m picking them up from practice so that Russ can swim with the masters team. [That leaves Monday, Wednesdays, and Fridays for our main family dinners. The weekend is less predictable.] The YMCA is also closer to the high school where Levi may be swimming this winter.

Speaking of Levi and swimming… he has been out of commission with a broken foot for the past six weeks, but he just received a green light from the doctor this week. It’s not healed completely, though, so he still has to go easy on it for the next two weeks.

Lola began a tumbling class at the YMCA this week.

Essentials tutoring is going well. Leif and Lola are settling into the CC community day routine (Monday was the second week for them).

My ScholĂ© Sisters group is meeting at my house this Thursday for our final Flannery O’Connor discussion. We are then moving on to Tolkien for this coming year.

I haven’t been reading as much as I’d like, but I did manage to finish The Call of the Wild and Johnny Tremain. (I may have read them a very long time ago, but I couldn’t remember details.)

The list of things we I still need to work on is long: getting to sleep a little earlier, reading more, creating a chore schedule, helping my Challenge 1 student (a delicate issue, since he doesn’t want help but needs it), exercising (yeah, I haven’t been as consistent this past week), and eating better (food is my joy and I want to eat all day long). I could add about 20 more things to the list, but we’ll leave it there. I can’t fix everything at once.

I’ll end with Luke’s Canada assessment from memory for Challenge A (roughly 7th grade). Drawing is a struggle for him, so I’m proud of him for sticking with this map.

Luke's Canada Map @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

Saturday, September 17, 2016

The Call of the Wild ~ Poetic Parallelism

Parallelism in The Call of the Wild @ Mt. Hope Chronicles 

I’ve written about parallelism in the past. It’s powerful and poetic (and picturesque). After finishing The Call of the Wild by Jack London, I am compelled to compose a complete post with copious quotes from this conspicuous narrative. [Oh, wait. This is a post about parallelism, not alliteration.]

The Call of the Wild is an excellent introduction to classic literature for older kids. It’s a fairly short and simple story (my copy has 134 pages with a fair amount of white space), but the themes are more complex than most children’s books and the vocabulary is rich and varied. For example, London manages to squeeze two of my favorite words into a short sentence:

“And so it went, the inexorable elimination of the superfluous.”

As I was reading, I noticed that London used parallelism prolifically in this novel. Because parallelism is a prominent skill taught in The Lost Tools of Writing as well as the building block of many literary devices, students should be on the lookout for examples in their own reading.

The Call of the Wild is a literature selection for the Classical Conversations Challenge 1 program, so it is a handy example for Challenge students. Let’s explore a few instances of parallelism in this novel.

Among the terriers he stalked imperiously, and Toots and Ysabel he utterly ignored, for he was king—king over all the creeping, crawling, flying things of Judge Miller’s place, humans included. [three present participial adjectives]

Manuel had one besetting sin. He loved to play Chinese lottery. Also, in his gambling, he had one besetting weakness—faith in a system; and this made his damnation certain. [anaphora (the repetition of “Manuel/he had one besetting____”)]

Here was neither peace, nor rest, nor a moment’s safety. [emphasis on the 3rd noun with the addition of an article and possessive adjective]

The day had been long and arduous, and he slept soundly and comfortably, though he growled and barked and wrestled with bad dreams. [two adjectives, two adverbs, then emphasis on the third with three verbs]

This first theft marked Buck as fit to survive in the hostile Northland environment. It marked his adaptability, his capacity to adjust himself to changing conditions, the lack of which would have meant swift and terrible death. It marked further decay or going to pieces of his moral nature, a vain thing and a handicap in the ruthless struggle for existence. [Three clauses (subject, verb, direct object) with anaphora (the repetition of “theft/it marked” at the beginning of each clause)]

Their irritability arose out of their misery, increased with it, doubled upon it, outdistanced it*. The wonderful patience of the trail which comes to men who toil hard and suffer sore, and remain sweet of speech and kindly+, did not come to these to men and the woman. They had no inkling of such a patience. They were stiff and in pain; their muscles ached, their bones ached, their very hearts ached^; and because of this they became sharp of speech, and hard words were first on their lips in the morning and last at night. [*emphasis on third without preposition, +emphasis on third with extra words “of speech and kindly,” ^emphasis on third with “very”]

All things were thawing, bending, snapping. [three present progressive verbs]

And amid all this bursting, rending, throbbing of awakening life, under the blazing sun and through the soft-sighing breezes, like wayfarers to death, staggered the two men, the woman, and the huskies. [three gerunds, three nouns]

With the dogs falling, Mercedes weeping and riding, Hal swearing innocuously, and Charles’s eyes wistfully watering, they staggered into John Thornton’s camp at the mouth of White River. [one gerund, two gerunds, gerund/adverb, adverb/gerund—love the alliteration of “wistfully watering” (and “with,” “weeping,” and “White”)]

Mercedes screamed, cried, laughed, and manifested the chaotic abandonment of hysteria. [four “-ed” verbs, emphasis on the last as it continues with a vivid direct object]

But love that was feverish and burning, that was adoration, that was madness, it had taken John Thornton to arouse. [anaphora (“that was…”), the first clause has a predicate adjective, the second two have predicate nominatives]

And when, released, he sprang to his feet, his mouth laughing, his eyes eloquent, his throat vibrant with unuttered sounds, and in that fashion remained without movement, John Thornton would reverently exclaim, ‘God, you can all but speak!’ [anaphora (“his” repeated each time); so poetic with the adjective following the noun]

He sat by John Thornton’s fire, a broad-breasted dog, white-fanged and long-furred; but behind him were the shades of all manner of dogs, half-wolves and wild wolves, urgent and prompting, tasting the savour of the meat he ate, thirsting for the water he drank, scenting the wind with him, listening with him and telling him the sounds made by the wild life in the forest, dictating his moods, directing his actions, lying down to sleep with him when he lay down, and dreaming with him and beyond him and becoming themselves the stuff of his dreams.

Strangling, suffocating, sometimes one uppermost and sometimes the other, dragging over the jagged bottom, smashing against rocks and snags, they veered in to the bank. [two present participles, two “sometimes____” phrases, two present participles + prepositional phrases]

They went across divides in summer blizzards, shivered under the midnight sun on naked mountains between the timber line and the eternal snows, dropped into summer valleys amid swarming gnats and flies, and in the shadows of glaciers picked strawberries and flowers as ripe and fair as any the Southland could boast. [past tense verb + two prepositional phrases, past tense verb + three prepositional phrases (last with compound object), past tense verb + two prepositional phrases (last with compound object) (all objects of prepositions in first three phrases have adjectives), but emphasis placed on the last phrase by switching order and starting with prepositional phrase and ending with past tense verb (and compound direct object)—so poetic!]

There is a patience of the wild—dogged, tireless, persistent as life itself—that holds motionless for endless hours the spider in its web, the snake in its coils, the panther in its ambuscade… [three adjectives, emphasis on the third with a simile; three nouns with prepositional phrases repeating “in its”]

…this patience belongs peculiarly to life when it hunts its living food; and it belonged to Buck as he clung to the flank of the herd, retarding its march, irritating the young bulls, worrying the cows with their half-grown calves, and driving the wounded bull mad with helpless rage. [present participles with direct objects, increasing intensity and adding words to each subsequent phrase]

As twilight fell the old bull stood with lowered head, watching his mates—the cows he had known, the calves he had fathered, the bulls he had mastered—as they shambled on at a rapid pace through the fading light. [three nouns with adjectival clauses, with repeated “he had”—very strong grammatical parallelism]

From then on, night and day, Buck never left his prey, never gave it a moment’s rest, never permitted it to browse the leaves of the trees or the shoots of young birch and willow. [three verb phrases with “never” repeated at the beginning of each (anaphora), each subsequent phrase getting longer]

The birds talked of it, the squirrels chattered about it, the very breeze whispered of it. [three clauses, grammatically parallel; interesting switch from “of” to “about” in the second clause, emphasis on third clause with addition of “very,” epistrophe (repetition of the word “it” at the end of the clauses)]

He plunged about in their very midst, tearing, rending, destroying… [three present participles]
Thenceforward he would be unafraid of them except when they bore in their hands their arrows, spears, and clubs. [three nouns]

One wolf, long and lean and gray, advanced cautiously… [three adjectives]