Conversation Circle

220px-Ferris-wheel

Let’s Discuss – Hey! Look at the blog title block.  It says right there that my son is non-verbal. So how can I keep writing that “my son and I are having a talk about….” or “we had a conversation about…”?  Obviously I do all of the talking, but I try to set up every discussion with lots of statements for my son to respond to with short written answers.

Example – this past week we were looking at the very first Ferris Wheel, constructed in 1893 for the “World’s Columbian Exposition” in Chicago.  After we read through the Wikipedia entry and I put forth a few of my own observations, the questions:
– does riding on this Ferris Wheel look fun or scary?
– would it be safe to jump around in the Ferris Wheel compartment?
– should a Ferris Wheel be made out of metal or plastic?
– what would be a fair price for a Ferris Wheel ride?
– how long should a Ferris Wheel ride last?
– would you rather take a ride on a Ferris Wheel or a train?
– what sort of person could design a Ferris Wheel? A scientist? An engineer? A musician?

city book best

Conversation Starter – Oh my gosh, “City Atlas” by Georgia Cherry and Martin Haake has provoked so many conversations.  We focus upon one international city per evening.  We slog through the uninteresting info (every single city has museums aplenty, and they all seem to have some sort of body of water nearby) and then on to the stuff of fun conversations:
Berlin – Gummy Bears!   Moscow – Matryoshka dolls!   Budapest – Paprika!
Chicago – the original Ferris Wheel AND if that wasn’t enough: “Sue”, the world’s largest and best preserved Tyrannosaurus rex!

gaudi better
The city that has sparked the most discussion so far has been Barcelona.  We wanted to know more about the intriguing architecture of Barcelona’s Antoni Gaudi…We have now read through two books on Gaudi.  Then we spent time comparing the work of the college-educated Gaudi with the work of uneducated, illiterate Sabato “Simon” Rodia and his audacious Watts Towers in Los Angeles. (Here’s an ultra-cool thing: Rodia is included among the many faces on the cover of the Beatles’ “Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Heart Club Band” album cover!) Great conversations!  Thank you “City Atlas”!

Reading for pleasure – We are still laughing through “The Brilliant World of Tom Gates” by Liz Pichon, and we are still loving “Ribblestrop”.  Oh my, what endless imagination has gone into this book by Andy Mulligan.  This story about a English lad who has been sent off to boarding school is a relentless hot-mess of hilarious entertainment.

Bullard book

Perfect for February, Perfect for Anytime – More to discuss!  We are acknowledging Black History Month by learning about the world’s first black fighter pilot.  A short blurb about this man, Eugene Bullard, appeared on my FaceBook wall; I was intrigued, so we found “Eugene Bullard, World’s First BLACK Fighter Pilot”, by Larry Greenly. Before we opened the book, we discussed the challenges of being a pilot, and then the double challenges of being a fighter pilot.  This biography/adventure story is perfect reading for us.

A bit of music to celebrate Black History Month – we listened to some pieces we have liked for quite while that happen to be the work of black composers:

  • “Maple Leaf Rag” by Scott Joplin, composed in 1899; so popular that it provided a steady income for the rest of Mr. Joplin’s life (who passed away 18 years later).

  • “The American Scene – The Southwest: Song of the Riverman”, composed by William Grant Still (“the Dean of African-American composers”), in 1957.  “The American Scene” is a monumental work comprised of 3 sections, with 3 movements in each section. We have been enjoying “The Song of the Riverman” for about 4 years now. This descriptive piece makes us imagine that we are taking a train ride through the old west.

  • “Don’t Get Around Much Anymore”, composed by Duke Ellington in 1940, lyrics by Bob Russel added in 1942 (#1 on the R+B charts in 1943).  We listened to two versions – one instrumental version and one sung by Ella Fitzgerald (both, heaven).  And then we found video footage from 1968 featuring Duke Ellington AND Ella Fitzgerald. Nice.

Welcome to the best part of my day!                                                                                                             – Jane BH

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