Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Drawing Out a Handful

“Telling a story is like reaching into a granary full of wheat and drawing out a handful. There is always more to tell than can be told. As almost any barber can testify, there is also more than needs to be told, and more than anybody wants to hear.”

~Wendell Berry, Jayber Crow

[Speaking of more than needs to be told, and more than anybody wants to hear, have I got a blog post for you… This is a couple weeks’ worth, as I won’t be able to post again for a while.]


Travels (and Education)


The familiar ebb tide of February has, this year, given way unexpectedly to a flood tide of activity in which I am having trouble coming up for a breath.

After “the great snow” and our slightly extended vacation, we started the week late (detained and distracted by the white stuff) and ended it early with our movie-and-errand day. I traveled to Medford with family and friend this past Monday to see Andrew Kern and arrived home late Tuesday, inspired but tired and sick—which is how I spend the following two days.

On Friday I had the distinct pleasure of driving to Eugene to sit in on a lunch discussion with Andrew Kern, Gutenberg College tutors, and a few others in various educational realms (charter schools, online schools/classes, and homeschooling). I was in over my head (speaking of flood tide) and out of my comfort zone, but listening to the conversation was an incredible experience. To give you a little taste, the following are short videos featuring a few of the tutors at Gutenberg. (I’m fitting a great deal of life and learning in this post, so be sure to scroll down to read the rest.)


Saturday brought a return trip to Eugene, this time with my sister and two friends. Again, we listened to Andrew Kern and others discuss classical education. I crave some time for contemplation and organization of my thoughts, but the most significant concept I came away with is the “liturgy of learning” or form of masterful teaching that was demonstrated for us on stage.

Liturgy of Learning with Andrew Kern:
1. Invitation (determine student's readiness)
2. Presentation (of particular types or instances, model)
3. Comparison (of student's attempt and model)
4. Definition (student expression of concept)
5. Embodiment (student produces artifact)

I am also mulling over the ideas of analogical thinking versus analytical thinking that Andrew talked about on Tuesday. In The Mind of the Maker, Dorothy Sayers writes, “The fact is, that all language about everything is analogical; we think in a series of metaphors. We can explain nothing in terms of itself, but only in terms of other things.” She goes on to compare the experience of a writer with the existence of the Trinity. I now have a much clearer idea of the Trinity (and of the writing process) than I’ve ever had before. Reading her analogical writing reminds me of Beauty for Truth's Sake wherein the reader is invited to think analogically of the Trinity and mathematics.

And I recently came across this excellent article about the analogical teaching of Jesus:

::  Don’t Be Original @ Story Warren (Go read the whole blog post.)

“…Jesus exercised a different kind of creativity. Faced with a needy but argumentative woman, he took a word-picture from the prophetic writings and used it to communicate both the original message, and something specific – something new.”

I must move on, or this will be the longest blog post in Mt. Hope Chronicles history.

Oh. my. goodness. Speaking of Mt. Hope Chronicles history, I totally missed my SEVEN YEAR blog anniversary this month!! Speaking of anniversaries, Russ and I also celebrated eighteen years of marriage yesterday. But I simply cannot fit everything into this post.

Really, I’m moving on. Where was I going? Oh, yes. Going. Travel.

Yesterday, Monday, was our full day of Classical Conversations and choir for the boys. Russ headed out early in the morning for a flight to San Francisco, so I am single-parenting this week…and we have a big week to tackle without him!

Today I left the house with the kids before 9 am and didn’t return home until 4:30. My sister took Leif and Lola to her house while I took Levi, Luke, and Ivy up to Portland. My best friend arranged a field trip to see The Oregon Symphony in concert at the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall. Three moms and ten kids caravanned in three cars. The driving was somewhat stressful for me due to my inexperience at driving in downtown Portland, but the whole trip was a great success. The music selections were perfect, the narration lively, and the atmosphere exquisite.


After we returned to town and I had exchanged Ivy for Leif and Lola, I got my hair cut and ran several errands with the kids in tow.

And, now, I have one day (with kids underfoot) to do laundry, house cleaning, shopping, and packing for a trip south (while figuring in swim practice for all 3 boys and AWANAS). I need to be completely packed by tomorrow night so that we can be off before dawn the next morning for our 13+ hour drive sans Russ. We are caravanning with my dad. Ilex and Drake will be along to help us both, for which I am immensely grateful. Russ is renting a car and driving from San Francisco to meet up with us at my aunt and uncle’s house where we will be staying for a few days. We don’t have specific plans for a return date, but the boys have standardized testing next Thursday and a swim meet that weekend. Because life isn’t yet full enough. Ahem. (On a related note: the boys will be doing lessons in August. Sigh.)

The reason for our trip south? To celebrate the life of this woman:


My grandmother was an incredible woman who lived a full-to-the-brim life, and she deserves her own tribute post when I return. I will miss her terribly, but I cannot wait to see all the family that will be gathered for her funeral this weekend.

One request: I am not sure how my sensitive oldest son will handle her funeral. He has already been quite emotional the past few days. Could I request a few prayers on his behalf, that he would feel a sense of peace and encouragement? That would be greatly appreciated.


Geography and That Other Stuff


40 Days of SPS

Last week was off-kilter with travel and illness, but I’ve been back at the early-rising and morning quiet time this week. It is still extremely difficult for me to get to bed at a decent hour. Argh! The 40 day challenge was technically finished this past weekend, and I’d call it a success. I’ve created a positive habit that I intend to continue.

40 Days of (Good) Food

Um. Well. [cough] I think I am going to have to repeat this challenge. Repeatedly. (The 40 day challenge is up this weekend, but I would only count it a partial success.)

40 Days of Geography

Wahoo! I have exciting things to report! I’ve conquered Africa. And that is sayin’ something. I spent some time working through Africa on the Sheppard Software site, but what really lit a fire under me was this timed quiz. It gives you 12 minutes to type in the name of every country in the world. Which means you also have to be able to spell them. Kazakhstan. Azerbaijan. Liechtenstein. Mauritius. Cote d’Ivoire. Seriously, some of those gave me fits. But. BUT!! I can now type (and spell) the name of every country in the world except for 9 of the islands in Oceania in just 10 minutes! That is 187 out of 196 countries mastered!

I have a little over a week left to finish mastering Oceania and spend more time drawing maps.

::  The true true size of Africa @ The Economist

::  The Happiest States in America @ Business Insider (just for fun)

40 Days of Movement

I knew going into this one that it might fall through the cracks with all that has been going on around here. But it is sitting there, on my mind. And it made me get off my rear end on Friday and take a walk in the fresh air with my little independently-dressed pal. Which meant that I enjoyed the sunset in honor of my grandmother, who loved the sunshine.


40 Days of Memory Master

If I had had it all together, I would have posted a new 40 day challenge yesterday. The boys and I have about 40 days to prep for our Cycle 2 Classical Conversations Memory Master proofing. If I can pull this one off, I will be a Grand Memory Master with all 3 cycles of memory work under my belt. Whew!!


Good grief. It’s the post that never ends. Are you still there? Would you like some encouraging links for reading while I’m MIA?


::  The Long Way @ Story Warren

"C.S. Lewis called it the inconsolable secret. It’s the deep desire to be able to slow, to enter, to quench an ineffable thirst. It’s an ache in my chest, a wild need to hold on to the invisible source of the beauty before my eyes. It is my soul trying to swallow."

::  Why Writers Are the Worst Procrastinators @ The Atlantic (I think this could extend to all artists/creators.)

"As long as you have not written that article, that speech, that novel, it could still be good. Before you take to the keys, you are Proust and Oscar Wilde and George Orwell all rolled up into one delicious package.... By the time you’re finished, you’re more like one of those 1940’s pulp hacks who strung hundred-page paragraphs together with semicolons because it was too much effort to figure out where the sentence should end."

'Unfortunately, in your own work, you are confronted with every clunky paragraph, every labored metaphor and unending story that refuses to come to a point. “The reason we struggle with"insecurity,” says Pastor Steven Furtick, “is because we compare our behind-the-scenes with everyone else’s highlight reel.”'

And this. Yes.

“Work finally begins,” says Alain de Botton, “when the fear of doing nothing exceeds the fear of doing it badly.”

::  Focusing on the Important Stuff in an Age of Distraction by Jeff Goins (His book The In-Between: Embracing the Tension Between Now and the Next Big Thing is on my to-read stack this year.)

"In the in-between, that place where we spend most our lives, we learn to recognize the temporal nature of life. Eventually, all waiting must end. And when it does, we are left with what we did with the time in between the beginning and the end."

::  On Changing Dreams @ A Beautiful Mess

“Being successful in whatever you are pursing in life is never going to magically happen one day and then it's done. It's an ongoing thing. You don't always feel it. It doesn't look the same in everyone's life. And another really weird thing about it is you don't always know it as it's happening. Like I said, choosing to be a failed actress is what led me to my current dream job. This was a successful move, but it sure didn't feel like it at the time. I felt anything but successful that year of my life. Don't be discouraged if you're not feeling successful this year. Keep going. Work hard. Play to your strengths. Take opportunities as they come. Be brave.”

::  The Weird Strategy Dr. Seuss Used to Create His Greatest Work (And Why You Should Use It, Too) @ Huffington Post (On constraints. What is the size of your canvas?)

“Limitations drive you to figure out solutions. Your constraints inspire your creativity.”

::  A good life is a good story. What do you want? (Donald Miller of A Million Miles in a Thousand Years)


Anonymous said...

Heidi - I'm so sorry about your Grandmother. I just lost mine on Feb 19th, too. It has been so beautiful and sweet and sad and hard and wonderful - all mixed together - to celebrate her life. I am hoping it is very special for you all together, too.

Also thank you for this long post full of wonderful links - I, for one, am grateful for your gift of collecting these resources. Thank you!


Anonymous said...

Enjoyed this eclectic post. Love hearing about what your family is doing with CC. Thanks for sharing courageously.