Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Cows, Books, Life, and Food (for Thought)

reading grazing

[I’d like to think that it takes awe-inspiring skill to deftly tie in cows and books in one post. As a curator of randomness, it is a useful skill. And I know I split my infinitive, but putting “deftly” before “to” doesn’t pack the same punch.]

Yes, we now have cows in our field. And when we aren’t chasing escaped cows, we’re reading. (Okay, we’ve only had to chase a cow twice so far.) That, dear readers, is our exciting life.

I’d like you to meet Molly, Columbus, and Ferdinand, our new foster cows (they belong to a friend).

cows and books 

Ah, reading. We’ve been embracing the idea of leisure as contemplation (see article and quotes below), and grazing through books with brute pleasure.

Levi, of course, has lead the way. After an Agatha Christie spree and the Father Gilbert Mysteries Radio Theatre, he read the Harry Potter Series (4,100+ pages) in four days. FOUR DAYS. And then he re-read several of the Harry Potter books and a couple books in the Peter and the Starcatchers Series. Then he moved on to (auto)biographies (Maria von Trapp, The True Story of a Family's Move to a Remote Island Ranch, and Noah). Next he read Out of the Silent Planet and Perelandra (the first two books of The Space Trilogy by C.S. Lewis). In the past day or two he polished off the four books in Ursula Le Guin’s Earthsea series. This child needs more chores. Or something.

Luke read a couple books by Patricia M. St. John (she was a missionary in Tangier, Morocco when my mom and grandparents were missionaries there, and they attended church together) and then he started in on the Harry Potter series. He is hooked and on book 6. I am right behind him (hurry up, Luke!!) at the beginning of book 5. It is killing Luke not to be able to share things with me (don’t ruin the surprise!).

Leif is the ornery one. He’s super stubborn about what he reads. And he re-reads books like crazy. So we have stacks of Geronimo Stilton, Magic Tree House, Imagination Station (a Christian series similar to Magic Tree House), Magic School Bus Chapter Books, Enid Blyton, Roald Dahl, and Life of Fred books all over the house.

I also grabbed a huge stack of beautiful picture books at the library.

Picture Books 

Thomas Jefferson: Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Everything. A boldly illustrated celebration of Thomas Jefferson and his pursuit of everything.

Dare the Wind: The Record-breaking Voyage of Eleanor Prentiss and the Flying Cloud. The true story of the first woman to navigate the route from New York City, around Cape Horn, and up to San Francisco (with a world record speed, no less!). (Lovely illustrations.)

“A true navigator must have the caution to read the sea, as well as the courage to dare the wind.”

Randolph Caldecott: The Man Who Could Not Stop Drawing. A biography of the famous children’s books illustrator and inspiration for the Caldecott Medal. (Rich, thick, ivory pages full of Caldecott’s illustrations are reminiscent of classic children’s books.)

The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore. A vividly imaginative story that inspired this Academy Award-winning short film:


The Boy Who Loved Words. “He was a collector of words. Selig loved everything about words—the sound of them in his ears (tintinnabulating!), the taste of them on his tongue (tantalizing!), the thought of them as they percolated in his brain (stirring!), and, most especially, the feel of them when they moved his heart (Mama!).”

Which reminds me of this unrelated celebration of words written by Robert Pirosh that I’ll share just for fun:

"I like words. I like fat buttery words, such as ooze, turpitude, glutinous, toady. I like solemn, angular, creaky words, such as straitlaced, cantankerous, pecunious, valedictory. I like spurious, black-is-white words, such as mortician, liquidate, tonsorial, demi-monde. I like suave “V” words, such as Svengali, svelte, bravura, verve. I like crunchy, brittle, crackly words, such as splinter, grapple, jostle, crusty. I like sullen, crabbed, scowling words, such as skulk, glower, scabby, churl. I like Oh-Heavens, my-gracious, land’s-sake words, such as tricksy, tucker, genteel, horrid. I like elegant, flowery words, such as estivate, peregrinate, elysium, halcyon. I like wormy, squirmy, mealy words, such as crawl, blubber, squeal, drip. I like sniggly, chuckling words, such as cowlick, gurgle, bubble and burp."

Papa Is a Poet: A Story About Robert Frost. A beautiful biography of Robert Frost told from the perspective of his oldest daughter. It includes more information, photographs, quotations, and poems at the end of the book in an Author’s Note.


Other than cows and books, we’ve been soaking up leisure while attending a birthday party, a graduation party, a Father’s Day dinner with family, and the beginning of my sister’s Friday night potluck and volleyball summer gatherings with friends and family in the garden.

My mom took the boys to see WWII aircraft at a local airport.

For Father’s Day, our family went to see How To Train Your Dragon 2 at the theater. It had been a very long time since we had gone to see a movie in a theater. *sticker shock* *gasp* *shudder*

After that splurge, we’ve returned to our cheap, educational DVDs. The boys finished Liberty's Kids - The Complete Series (currently $5!) and Where on Earth is Carmen Sandiego? - The Complete Series (currently $7.75), so they’ve moved on to Schoolhouse Rock ($12.96). (The downside is that I have to hear “Lolly, Lolly, Lolly, Get Your Adverbs Here” over and over and over again.)

Levi has been attending swim team practice, but Luke has had back-to-back strep or some virus and then a terrible ear infection. I’m praying he is finally on the mend.

And I’ll end this post with the best gift I have to offer you: the excellent words of other people.

Food for Thought

On Books, leisure, education, and summer:

::  Beauty for Truth's Sake: On the Re-enchantment of Education by Stratford Caldecott

As we have seen, the “Liberal” Arts are precisely not “Servile” Arts that can be justified in terms of their immediate practical purpose. “The ‘liberality’ or ‘freedom’ of the Liberal Arts consist in their not being disposable for purposes, that they do not need to be legitimated by a social function, by being ‘work.’” …At the heart of any culture worthy of the name is not work but leisure, schole in Greek, a word that lies at the root of the English word “school.” At its highest, leisure is contemplation. It is an activity that is its own justification, the pure expression of what it is to be human. It is what we do. The “purpose” of the quadrivium was to prepare us to contemplate God in an ordered fashion, to take delight in the source of all truth, beauty, and goodness…"

::  Behold: Summer by Sarah Mackenzie @ CiRCE Institute

"Summer is not for the absence of work, but for work of a different order- not leisure in the sense of recreation, but leisure in the sense of re-creation. It’s for contemplation, reflection, delighting in, for the slow drinking in of great ideas and meaningful connections."

::  The Work of a Child by Andrew Pudewa @ Institute for Excellence in Writing (a beautiful, hope-filled story of his son’s struggle with dyslexia and his worry as a parent)

::  A Clean Slate by Cindy Rollins @ CiRCE

“We must know that we do not know. This is much harder than it sounds. I have spoken to my own children often about the power in the words, “I don’t know.” I have tried to practice this myself, but sometimes we deceive ourselves and when we do we have hampered our education and our soul."

::  17 Bookstores That Will Literally Change Your Life (I’m thinking I should plan an eat-and-read-around-the-world trip…)

::  What Does It Mean To Be Educated by Luke Holzmann @ Sonlight

::  Reflection Upon the Summer Institute by my friend Mindy Pickens @ CiRCE


The Prudent Homemaker said...

I just finished Stowaway by Karen Hesse, the story of 11-year-old Nicholas Young on Captain Cook's first voyage around the world. Fascinating.

Danielle said...

I JUST finished the Harry Potter series a few weeks ago and LOVED them. Super impressed that he read them so fast! I know some Christians have issues with them, but wow, I was so impressed by the huge plot, themes, and even Christian/spiritual overtones. I'm really missing being done the series.

I just finished "The Language of Flowers" and really enjoyed that one.

Thanks for more picture books to reserve at the library! So many good titles. We'd already read the first two, The Boy Who Loved Words and The Fantastic Flying Books. They were great. Can't wait to check out the others.