4.5 billion years – Earth. Yeah, it has been here awhile. My son and I are currently entranced by photos of Earth taken by UK astronaut, Tim Peake, presented in his book “Hello, Is This Planet Earth? My View from the International Space Station”.
Our favorite photos:
- the dazzling night time photo of Italy…I don’t know why this shocked us, but from space, the shape of Italy looks exactly how it looks on our globe.
- the cartoony, loopy route of the Amazon River
Before we gazed at the photos we got firm with a few facts:
- The moon is approximately 240,000 miles from Earth
- Low Earth Orbit (LEO to those in the know) – is anything that circles the Earth within an altitude of 1,200 miles from Earth
- The International Space Station orbits at an altitude of approximately 220 miles above the Earth, well within LEO
- the ISS circles the Earth 16 times a day – the photographer’s opportunity for “the perfect shot” is minuscule (this book represents a lot of planning)
250 million years – Crocodiles. Yeah, they have been here awhile. We’ve just finished Owen Davey’s “Curious about Crocodiles” (graphics: A++). But, oh dear, crocodiles. Everything about them is bad news. My son and I mused over this: what if we were crocodiles and the only good thing anybody could say about us was that we help regulate populations of other species by preying on them?
35 million years – Squirrels. Yeah, they have been here a while. We decided to learn more about squirrels since we have been glaring at one (“Dennis”, our own personal backyard menace) every single day since we installed our bird feeder. We are picking and choosing our reading topics in the Thorington/Ferrell book, “Squirrels, The Animal Answer Guide”. Sad fact: only 25% of squirrels make it to their first birthday party. The rest provide banquet fare for ever so many larger animals. From what we’ve read, those who make it past their first birthday can be found congregating around bird feeders.
200,000 years – Man. New kid on the block. Let’s just admit that we don’t stand a chance against crocodiles and squirrels.
17,000 years ago – Cave Paintings of Lascaux. Yeah, these have been here awhile. We did a quick internet study of the breathtaking, graceful drawings of horses, bulls, and deer found in the French caves. This inspired our new Read ’n’ Draw project: once a week I give my son drawing paper that has been divided into 4 squares. Atop each square is a noun (like arrow, question mark, cat head, snail, stop sign, Saturn). Without me saying the word aloud, my son has to draw a picture of the noun. A fun, satisfying activity, with results so close to being breathtaking and graceful.
These books have been around awhile – recent fiction re-visits:
- from 1958, Mary Nash’s “While Mrs. Coverlet was Away”. We read this every August and we love every theme (self reliance, cats, vitamins, neighbors) in this fun, original work. Maybe the best overlooked part is found in chapter 15; a captivating account of “turtling” at the local slough…by the end of of this descriptive narrative we feel as sweaty, sunburned, muddy as the book’s characters – an afternoon well spent.
- from 1941, Holling C. Holling’s (we pause to consider the author’s name)(sorry, we are that immature) “Paddle to the Sea”. This is our second time through this poetic and observant journey through the Great Lakes, and we are focusing on the geography aspects.
The Local Diner – Yeah, it has been here awhile. A story problem to elucidate: One of the busboys was rummaging around the diner attic and found a chest filled with old menus. The diner called in designer, “Miss Jane”, who selected a menu from 1920, 1930, 1950, and 1960 to frame and install near the entrance of the diner. The designer said she would be able to frame the menus in jazzy retro “diner style” colors for $80 each. But the diner accountant, “Mr. Tom”, said that he could frame the menus with supplies from the local mega art store for $25 each.
– If diner management selects Miss Jane to frame the menus (which really is the best idea), how much more will they spend on the project, than they would if Mr. Tom’s plan was put into action?
a) $25 b) $80 c) $180 d) $220
– If Mr. Tom is directed to purchase the cheapo frames, and the frames fall apart after one year and have to be replaced, this time using Miss Jane’s framing services, how much will the diner have spent to have the menus framed twice?
a) $150 b) $420 c) $575 d) $1,000 (answers at bottom of post)
Classical Music Corner – The Symphony – Yeah, it has been here awhile. Franz Joseph Haydn composed from the mid-to-late 1700’s and created a 4-movement template for symphony construction that has been used by a majority of composers to this day. Cheers for Haydn’s organizational skills! Cheers for the following Haydn compositions:
1785 – Symphony # 83 in G minor, known to all as “La Poule” (the hen), movement 4. Jaunty, happy, sort of fussy-precise…this is the piece where we can hear bits of “Pop Goes the Weasel” –
1787 – Symphony #88 in G major, movement 4. We refer to this as “Busy Bugs”. Who can hear this and not envision jillions of ladybugs on roller skates? This piece flies! We came across this movement about a month ago and have listened to it about 15 times. My son LOVES it –
1791 – Symphony #94 in G major known to all as “Surprise Symphony”, movement 2, this performance conducted by one of our favorites, Mariss Jansons. We wait in anticipation for the mighty boom (about a half minute into the piece) –
Welcome to the best part of my day,
– Jane BH
(story problem answers: d) $220 and b) $420)