The Vocabulary of Vocabulary

In our quest to learn something about everything, the overly complicated focus of the past week was part of our “Vocabulary of Vocabulary” unit:

“Vernacular” vs. “Lexicon” – which became a little more understandable when we differentiated between the vernacular and lexicon in our current home state of Texas:

Group – Texans
VERNACULAR examples – y’all, bless your heart (meaning “OMG, how stupid is that?”)
examples from the LEXICON – impordant (the Texan way with “important”), fixin’ (meaning getting ready to do something)

My son learned that vernacular and lexicon are almost-but-not-quite interchangeable; vernacular referring to the unique language/jargon of a particular group and lexicon (almost like a mini-dictionary) referring to the specific words of the language.  (Wow, picky.)

Anyway, using the book, “Pirates Magnified” by David Long and Harry Bloom, we had a blast looking into the vernacular and lexicon specific to sailors and pirates of the 17th and 18th centuries:

Group – Pirates
VERNACULAR examples – aargh, avast ye, barnacle-covered, Davy Jones’ locker
examples from the LEXICON – privateer, cutlass, crow’s nest, swabbies

“Pirates Magnified” also provided conversation provokers –
–  the pirate’s code (the classic case of honor among thieves)
–  lady pirates (these women were SCARY)
–  voted most important discussion instigator:  a significant percentage of sailors on pirate ships were escaped slaves
Good book!

blue plateblue plateblue plate

Story problem from Le Fictitious Local Diner – the diner is rife (vocab) with vernacular (slinging hash, mayo, Adam and Eve on a raft, greasy spoon)…How about their “blue plate special”?  For the month of February, the diner’s blue plate special will include a grilled bratwurst smothered in home-made chili, a side of their jalapeño honey corn bread, and a heaping spoonful of the house chunky cinnamon-spiked applesauce.  Each blue plate special is priced at $8 and costs the diner $3.  If the diner sells 100 specials per week, what will be the profit at the end of February?
A. $500      B. $1,000      C. $1,500      D. $2,000 (answer at bottom of post)

pirate whyeth     bach

The rowdy and the refined – my son and I got so embroiled with pirates of the 17th and 18th centuries that it jarred our brains to think something else might have been going on in the world.  So, when pirates and privateers were wreaking havoc on the high seas (and we learned “the high seas” means “open ocean, not within any country’s jurisdiction”) what was going on in the drawing rooms of European palaces?  How about Vivaldi, JS Bach, and Handel?  What a juxtaposition! (vocab)

– Vivaldi (1678-1741) – we listened to Vivaldi’s “Gloria in Excelsis Deo” (1715). We love this quick paced piece and we’re ready to listen to all performances by conductor and harpsichord virtuoso, Trevor Pinnock:

– Bach (1685-1750) – we listened to Bach’s “Invention No. 13 in A minor” (1720).  Triple score here: 1) super short piece, 2) quick paced, 3) Simone Dinnerstein at the piano (heart, heart, heart):

– Handel (1685-1759) – we listened to Handel’s “Alla Hornpipe” from his Water Music (1717), performed by the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra (A+++).  What an upright, solidly British sound:

midnight clock

My, my, what a short post – I have no idea why there was so little material to work with for this blog post. Oh, yes I do:  my son has been in this most trying phase where he is not ready for stories and studies until WAY late (think midnight), so I have regretfully trimmed down our nightly study agenda.  Hope this is a short duration type of phase. (If wishes were horses…)

But still, welcome to the best part of my day!
– Jane BH
Story problem answer: D. $2,000


A Little Night Music

piano and moon

Question 1:  If my son and I spend 15 minutes every night listening to classical music, how many hours of listening will we have stacked up over the course of a year? (answer at bottom of post)

Question 2:  If we average 3 pieces per evening, how many compositions will we have listened to over the course of a year? (answer at bottom of post)

I have been thinking it would be helpful to have a tab on title-block that would take us to a page where our music themes were listed.  So, OMGosh this has taken forever to assemble (and only includes music I have blogged about since July, 2014), but VOILA!  This post is now tabbed on title-block as “Our Music Themes“.

(This is merely a listing; to read a few short lines of information about each composition and find links to youtube videos of said compositions,  click on the links.)

Music Themes – Post Titles

Art set to music:  Checkered House, by Grandma Moses – from “Good Books, Bad Books

  • Over the River and Through the Wood – Lydia Maria Child
  • Sleigh Ride – Leroy Anderson
  • Carol of the Animals – Robert Davis

Art set to music:  Pirate Chief, by Howard Pyle – from “Fly By

  • The Maid of Amsterdam – traditional sea chanty
  • Overture to The Flying Dutchman – Wagner
  • Pirates of the Caribbean Suite – Klaus Badelt

Art set to music:  The Clipper Ship, by Currier and Ives – from “Garden Par-tay

  • Sea Songs – Ralph Vaughan Williams
  • Overture to H.M.S. Pinafore – Gilbert and Sullivan
  • Over the Waves – Juventino Rosas

Art set to music:  The Fall of the Cowboy, by Remington – from “Answers for Everything

  • Thanksgiving – George Winston
  • Hoedown – Aaron Copland
  • Back Home Again – John Denver

Back to School – from “If it’s August

  • Flight of the Bumblebee – Rimsky-Korsakov
  • Entry of the Gladiators – Julius Fucik
  • Song of the Volga Boatmen – traditional

Barbershop Quartetsfrom “The Cliffs Notes Version

  • Sincere – Meredith Willson
  • Mr. Sandman – Pat Ballard

Benjamin Franklin in France – from “It’s a Date!

  • Overture to The Abduction from the Seraglio – Mozart
  • The Coffee Cantata – JS Bach
  • Symphony No. 45 in F-sharp minor (Farewell Symphony) – Haydn

Black History Month Selections – from “Conversation Circle”

  • Maple Leaf Rag – Scott Joplin
  • The American Scene: The Southwest – William Grant Still
  • Don’t Get Around Much Anymore – Duke Ellington

Blue Days – from “Something Blue

  • Blue Skies – Irving Berlin
  • Blue Tango – Leroy Anderson
  • The Blue Danube Waltz – Strauss

Blue Moon Tunes – from “Second Time Around”

  • Moonlight Serenade – Glenn Miller
  • Rhapsody in Blue – George Gershwin
  • Clair de Lune – Debussy

Brazil, thinking about – from “Tick, Tick, Tick

  • exploring “The Little Train of Caipira” – Heitor Villa-Lobos

The Cambrian Explosion – from “In Which We Learn about the Cambrian Explosion

  • Simple Gifts – Joseph Brackett
  • Polka Dots and Moonbeams – Van Heusen/Burke
  • 1812 Overture – Tchaikovsky

Chicken Coop Melodies – from “Farm Fresh

  • Symphony No. 83 in G minor (The Hen) – Haydn
  • The Hen – Respighi
  • Pick-a-Little, Talk-a-Little – Meredith Willson
  • Chicken Reel – Joseph M. Daly/Leroy Anderson

Classical Broadway – from “Desperately Seeking Ganesha

  • Rosemary – Frank Loesser
  • Piano Concerto in A minor – Edvard Grieg
  • Baby Face – Akst/Davis
  • Hallelujah Chorus – Handel
  • Don’t Cry for Me, Argentina – Rice/Weber
  • Violin Concerto in D minor – Brahms

Cuckoo for Music – from “Things that go Bump in the Night

  • Organ Concerto No. 13 in F major (The Cuckoo and the Hen) – Handel
  • Symphony No. 6 in F major (The Pastoral) – Beethoven
  • The Cuckoo – Respighi

Dealer’s Choice (my son selects 3 from a list of 10) – from “Starry Eyed

  • The William Tell Overture – Rossini
  • The Cuckoo – Respighi
  • Mambo – Leonard Bernstein

Dental Procedures, music for – from “Messenger Service

  • Symphony No. 6 in F major (The Pastoral) – Beethoven
  • The Barcarolle – Jacques Offenbach
  • The Moldau – Bedrich Smetana

The Doldrums – from “Going Nowhere Fast

  • Sea Songs – Ralph Vaughan Williams
  • We Sail the Ocean Blue – Gilbert and Sullivan
  • Sailing By – Ronald Binge

Duets! – from “Sap Happy

  • The Flower Duet – Leo Delibes
  • Si Fino All’ore Estreme – Bellini
  • People Will Say We’re in Love – Rogers and Hammerstein

Einstein and his Violin – from “Brainiac

  • Violin Serenade No. 6 – Mozart
  • Violin Serenade No. 13 (Eine Kleine Machtmusik) – Mozart
  • Violin Sonata No. 26 in B-flat major – Mozart

Exotic Lands – from “That’s Gotta Hurt

  • Scheherazade – Rimsky-Korsakov
  • Overture to Abduction fro the Seraglio – Mozart
  • Arrival of the Queen of Sheba – Handel

Fanfare for the Water Bear – from “A Fanfare for the Water Bear

  • Water Music – Handel
  • The Aquarium – Saint-Saens
  • The Wild Bears – Sir Edward Elgar

Franz Schubert Night – from “Dr. Livingstone, I Presume?”

  • Serenade – Schubert
  • Ave Maria – Schubert
  • March Militaire – Schubert

French Composers – from “A Test of Faith

  • The Infernal Galop (The Can-Can) – Jacques Offenbach
  • Clair de Lune – Debussy
  • March of the Toreadors – Bizet

The French Horn – from “Working for Peanuts

  • Water Music – Handel
  • Venus – Gustav Holst
  • Pavane for a Dead Princess – Maurice Ravel

Fun Music Only – from “Inventors Invent

  • Dance of the Hours – Amilcare Ponchielli
  • Chicken Reel – Leroy Anderson
  • The Pink Panther – Henry Mancini

Good Shepherd – from “The Rattlesnake Sermon

  • Sheep May Safely Graze – JS Bach
  • He Shall Feed His Flock Like a Shepherd – Handel
  • Tender Shepherd – Charlap/Leigh

Groundhog Day – from “Rodent Rage

  • Winter – Vivaldi
  • Waltz of the Snowflakes – Tchaikovsky
  • Symphony No. 6 in F major – Beethoven
  • Put on a Happy Face – Strouse/Adams

Halloween, scary music for – from “Back in the Saddle Again

  • Dance Macabre – Saint-Saens
  • Mars – Gustav Holst
  • Masquerade – Khachaturian

Harp Music of the Angels – from “Sunday School

  • Harp Concerto in B-flat major – Handel
  • Harp Concerto in A major – Carl Ditters von Dittersdorf
  • Concerto for Flut and Harp – Mozart

The Hungarian March, 3 Ways – from “Travelogue

  • Hungarian March – Berlioz
  • Hungarian Rhapsody No. 15 – Liszt
  • Hungarian Dance No. 19 – Brahms

Hymns: three from one – from “Riveting

  • Ave Maria – Jacques Arcadelt
  • Symphony No. 3 in C minor (Organ Symphony) – Saint-Saens
  • Finlandia Hymn – Sibelius

Inventions for Inventions – from “Lights! Camera! Edison!

  • Invention No. 6 in E major – JS Bach
  • Invention No. 8 in F major – JS Bach
  • Invention No. 13 in A minor – JS Bach

London Busses – from “Late Bloomer

  • Jupiter – Gustav Holst
  • Pomp and Circumstance – Elgar
  • Fantasia on Greensleeves – Ralph Vaughan Williams
  • Overture to H.M.S. Pinafore – Gilbert and Sullivan

March Madness – from “Ranch Report

  • Colonel Bogey March – Lieutenant F.J. Ricketts
  • The Imperial March – John Williams

March’s Marches – from “Wordery

  • The Redetzky March – Johann Strauss, senior
  • March of the Siamese Children – Richard Rogers
  • The Washington Post March – John Philip Sousa

Mendelssohn’s Midsummer Night’s Dream – from “Flying, Farming, and Felix

  • Overture to Midsummer Night’s Dream – Mendelssohn
  • The Wedding March – Mendelssohn

Michelangelo’s Rome – from “One Sculptor, One Scoundrel

  • The Pines of Rome – Respighi
  • Palladio for String Orchestra – Karl Jenkins
  • Symphony No. 4 in A major (The Italian) – Mendelssohn

Minor Key Music – from “Miners and Minors

  • The Hebrides Overture – Mendelssohn
  • In the Hall of the Mountain King – Edvard Grieg
  • Ride of the Valkyries – Wagner

Minuet in G to the Power of 3 – from “Hendecasyllable

  • Minuet in G – Mozart
  • Minuet in G – Beethoven
  • Minuet in G – JS Bach

Mount Vesuvius – from “Mounting Interest

  • Funiculi Funicular – Luigi Denza
  • Aus Italien – Richard Strauss
  • Neapolitan Song – Rimsky-Korsakov

Music to Soothe – from “Music to Soothe

  • Mass in D minor, motet – Anton Bruchner
  • Sheep May Safely Graze – JS Bach
  • Simple Gifts – Joseph Brackett

Negro Spirituals – from “Heavenly

  • Down by the Riverside – traditional
  • Wade in the Water – traditional
  • Swing Low, Sweet Chariot – traditional

Nocturnes – from “Zootique

  • Nocturne No. 2 – Chopin
  • Nocturne No. 3 – Liszt
  • Harlem Nocturne – Earl Hagen

The Oboe – from “Music Mechanics

  • Arrival of the Queen of Sheba – Handel
  • Swan Lake, final scene – Tchaikovsky
  • Le Tombeau de Couperin – Ravel

Overtures – from “Takes a Lickin’ and Keeps on Tickin‘”

  • Overture from H.M.S. Pinafore – Gilbert and Sullivan
  • Overture from Midsummer Night’s Dream – Mendelssohn
  • Overture from The Marriage of Figaro – Mozart

Paris Tribute – from “A Ghost by any other Name

  • The Swan – Saint-Saens
  • Carillon – Bizet
  • La Vie en Rose – Edith Piaf

Pizzicato! – from “The Price is Wrong

  • Divertissement: Pizzicati – Leo Delibes
  • Symphony 4 in F minor – Tchaikovsky
  • Anitra’s Dance – Edvard Grieg

The Presidents’ Music – from “The Liberace Instigation

  • classical pieces composed during each administration

The Recorder – from “Well Played

  • Sopranino Recorder Concerto in C major – Vivaldi
  • Ode to Joy – Beethoven
  • Greensleeves – traditional

The Sad Song Scale – from “Two Different Worlds

  • Symphony No. 3 in F major – Brahms
  • What’ll I Do? – Irving Berlin
  • Serenade – Schubert

Saint Patrick’s Day – from “The Business of March

  • Toora Loora Looral – James Royce Shannon
  • The Irish Washerwoman – traditional/Leroy Anderson
  • Danny Boy – Frederic Weatherly

Shrill Thrills! (the piccolo) – from “Jams and Jellyfish

  • Chinese Dance (Nutcracker) – Tchaikovsky
  • Triton Fountain in the Morning – Respighi
  • Stars and Stripes Forever – Sousa

Strauss Family, the splendidly gifted – from “780 Pairs of Saddle Shoes

  • Radetzky March – Johann Strauss, senior
  • Feuerfest Polka – Joseph Strauss
  • Thunder and Lightning Polka – Johann Strauss, junior

String Quartets – from “We the People

  • String Quartet in B-flat major (La Chasse) – Haydn
  • String Quartet No. 2 in D major – Borodin
  • Cantina Band (performed as a string quartet) – John Williams

Summertime – from “Barely Scraping By

  • Summer – Vivaldi
  • Fireflies – Amy Beach
  • Summertime – George and Ira Gershwin
  • In the Summertime – Mungo Jerry

Sunday Night Music – from “How We Write

  • How Great Thou Art – Carl Gustav Boberg
  • Turn! Turn! Turn! – Pete Seeger/Book of Ecclesiastes
  • Let us Cheer the Weary Traveler – Nathaniel Dett

Surprise Endings – from “Bringing Handwriting up to Scratch

  • The Wild Bears – Sir Edward Elgar
  • The Moldau – Bedrich Smetana
  • The Imperial March – John Williams

Tambourines! – from “Peace, Love, and Tambourines

  • Mr. Tambourine Man – Bob Dylan
  • Tarantella – Rossini/Respighi
  • Russian Dance (Nutcracker) – Tchaikovsky

Tea Time – from “Textbooks – if we ruled the world

  • Tea for Two – Youmans and Caesar
  • Tea for Two (Tahiti Trot) – Shostakovich
  • Tea for Two – Art Tatum

Things in the Sky – from “Snakes and Pirates

  • Fireflies – Amy Beach
  • Clair de Lune – Debussy
  • Mercury – Gustav Holst

The Timpani – from “One Thing Leads to Another

  • Dance of the Seven Veils – Richard Strauss
  • Thus Spoke Zarathustra – Richard Strauss
  • Pirates of the Caribbean Suite – Klaus Badelt

Trains – from “Posting about Posters

  • The Little Train of Caipira – Heitor Villa-Lobos
  • The Steam Engine – Patrick Doyle
  • Take the A Train – Duke Ellington

Tribute: music for a beloved grandfather – from “Imagine That

  • Fight for California – McCoy/Fitch
  • The Army Song – Sousa/Arberg
  • Ashokan Farewell – Jay Ungar

The Vatican, background music for – from “Holy Zucchetto

  • Gregorian Chants – traditional
  • Gloria in Excelsis Deo – Vivaldi
  • Locus Iste – Bruchner

Virtuoso Night: Stanley Drucker – from “Affordable Housing Forever

  • Clarinet Sonata No. 1 in F minor – Brahms
  • Appalachian Spring – Aaron Copland
  • Rhapsody in Blue – George Gershwin

Virtuoso Night: Sir James Galway – from “Thousands and Thousands

  • Concerto for Flute and Harp – Mozart
  • I Saw Three Ships – traditional
  • Flight of the Bumblebee – Rimsky-Korsakov

Virtuoso Night: Wynton Marsalis – from “Novel Ideas

  • Concerto in E-flat major for Trumpet – Haydn
  • Moto Perpetuo – Paganini
  • The Prince of Denmark March (Trumpet Voluntary) – Jeremiah Clark

Virtuoso Night: Itzhak Perlman – from “Insert Clever Title Here

  • Humoresque – Dvorak
  • Out of Africa, title music – John Barry
  • Violin Concerto in E minor – Mendelssohn

Waltzing with Tchaikovsky – from “Case in Point: Ibn Battuta

  • Serenade for Strings – Tchaikovsky
  • Swan Lake Waltz, Act II – Tchaikovsky
  • Eugene Onegin, Polonaise – Tchaikovsky

Wistfulness – from “Finish the Poem

  • Romeo and Juliet Fantasy Overture, love theme – Tchaikovsky
  • Ashokan Farewell – Jay Ungar
  • What’ll I Do – Irving Berlin

Worker Bees, a soundtrack for – from “Bee Plus!”

  • Moto Perpetuo – Paganini
  • The Pizzicato – Leo Delibes
  • Flight of the Bumblebee – Rimsky-Korsakov


Welcome to the best part of my night!
– Jane BH
(answer 1:  91+ hours)
(answer 2:  1,095 pieces of music)

Working for Peanuts

carver stamp

We begin our botany unit:  “George Washington Carver – Ingenious Inventor”, another “Graphic Library” book, this one by Olson/Tucke.  (These books are pretty fun, formatted comic-book style, including a surprising amount of interesting information.  Not bad, not bad at all).  Anyway, George Washington Carver, FATHER OF THE PEANUT INDUSTRY, has won our hearts:  he was focused, deep thinking, moral (vocab), inventive, industrious, and profoundly generous.  But back to the botany angle: Carver ended up with three patents for peanut oil utilization (hardly representative of his many many many inventions and contributions).  We spent a few minutes wondering what Carver’s scientific response would have been to the present day widespread peanut allergy crisis.  We also decided that we wanted to know more about other botanists (vocab), so books on Gregor Mendel and Luther Burbank have been ordered.

soda sharing

Story problem time – the SUMMERTIME SWEETHEART SODA SPECIAL at Le Fictitious Local Diner:  Hoping to entice the after-movie date crowd, the diner has run a midnight ice-cream soda special (a large-sized soda with two straws and a side of fries) every Friday and Saturday, since June 1st.  Well! This has been so popular that the diner went through two boxes of straws (1000 straws to the box) in June alone!  If the special is priced at $5.00, how much did the diner gross on the special in June?  If the cost per serving works out to $2.00, how much did the diner net from this special in June?  Extraneous question: if a box of 1,000 straws costs $17, what is the price per straw (round up)? (answers at bottom of post)

gabby book

New fiction reading:  We are intrigued by  “Gabby Duran and the Unsittables” by Elise Allen and Daryle Conners.  This book is original and refreshing, with new concepts and vocabulary all over the place.  The introductory adventure involves a movie production (so new words: set, line, soundstage, props);  subsequent adventures involve INTERGALACTICS.  Adding to this, protagonist Gabby Duran, is a high schooler intent on being an orchestra soloist with her French Horn (and consider us admonished via the internet; we’ve learned that this instrument is properly referred to as the HORN, not the French Horn).  So, do you expect us to let it go at that?  Our choice for classical music listening last night focused upon compositions that showcased the HORN.  We wanted to appreciate the deep, comfortable, warm echo-y sound of Gabby’s horn.

Our inspiration for classical music listening last night – Gabby Duran’s French Horn:

– George Frederick Handel’s Water Music, Movement 2, from Water Music Suite No. 2, composed in 1717 to humor King George I, who desired music for a concert on the River Thames.  My son and I love this jaunty full-of-energy fanfare:

– Gustav Holst’s Venus, from The Planets, composed in 1916.  “Venus, the Bringer of Peace”, begins with a horn solo, and the horn provides the backbone for this L O N G dreamy movement (just a teeny touch boring compared to the rest of the planets in the suite) (but very restful, if you need to fall asleep) (and sort of sad, too) (OK! Not our favorite, but still a good “front and center” for the horn):

– Maurice Ravel’s Pavane for a Dead Princess, first written for piano in 1899, then orchestrated by Ravel in 1910.  This is a slow processional dance, with the horn taking center stage for the introduction. An excellent choice for anyone seeking background music for a good hard cry:

Welcome to the best part of my day!
– Jane BH
(story problem answers: $5,000, $3,000, 2 cents per straw)

Sunday School

gutenberg stamp

The Good Book – Last week my son and I read through Graphic Library’s “Johann Gutenberg and the Printing Press”.  Excellent!  Just enough information about Bibles and print reproduction methods of the 1400s.  My son was engaged with every single comic-book-style page, so I am looking at other topics covered by Graphic Library.

New information for us:
– we learned that before 1455 (pre-Gutenberg’s printing press), monks who worked on Bibles had to use sunlight to illuminate their work stations; candles were not used in the manuscript shop because of the fire threat
– we learned that the path from the idea of movable type to the actual printing of a Bible was a LONG path:  more than 25 years of continual work – the letters, the ink, the press, the relentless search for financial backing
– we learned that Gutenberg stored his metal letters in cases. The capital letters in the “UPPER CASE” and the smaller letters in the “LOWER CASE”.  Thus, the terms!
– 200 Gutenberg Bibles were printed and 48 remain (we talked about the current $$$ value, oh my gosh)

gutenberg patents

Also studying“Popular Patents – America’s first Inventions from the Airplane to the Zipper” by Travis Brown.  This book is so well researched and so interesting, including patent number details (we sort of skip all of that), and chronological order of “what came before what” in regards to each patented invention.  So far we have read about barbed wire and the bottle cap, and we are coming to realize that:  1)  the type of person that invents, does so over and over and over – the inventors we’ve read about hold MANY patents, and 2), as we learned this from our study of Thomas Edison, successful inventors protect their ideas with a patent.  Poor Gutenberg, how he could have used patent protection.

Story Problems for Sun Days – It is so hot this summer at Farmer Brown’s:


Farmer Brown’s cool farm hands: Farmer Brown knows that a cool farm hand is a productive farm hand, so he is installing 6 new fans in the farm hands’ bunkhouse.  He is planning to purchase 4 traditional type large fans for $48 each and 2 state-of-the-art Dyson pedestal fans for $450 each. Farmer Brown’s accountant says this is certainly a business expense and needs to know the total spent.  Without calculating on paper or with calculator, what is most likely the total of the 6 fans?
A: $4,800      B: $948      C: $1,092      D: $2,000    (answer at bottom of post)

corn maze

Farmer Brown’s corn maze:  Farmer Brown decided to join the corn maze craze.  His angle: the state’s smallest maze (for those that freak out at the thought of becoming lost amid the acreage of a typical corn maze)!  Farmer Brown’s maze is going to be 15 feet by 15 feet.  At the end of the maze, Farmer Brown will serve up complimentary corn on the cob.  The attraction will be open July and August.  If an entrance fee of $3 is charged, and on an average 200 people go through the maze each month, and Farmer Brown spends 50 cents for each ear of corn/butter/salt and pepper, how much money will Farmer Brown net by the end of August? (answer at bottom of post)

angel with harp

Music for a Sunday night – Sunday nights are church-type music nights for us, so what better than the sound of a harp to put us in mind of angels?  The three ultra-soothing pieces we listened to last Sunday night were all composed in the 1700s.

First, George Frederick Handel’s “Harp Concerto in B flat Major”, movement 1, written in 1736. This movement is beautifully presented by an orchestra in Istanbul, Turkey (sorry, I couldn’t decipher any more information, it was effort enough to figure out the city) (harpists’ ruffled dresses = adorable):

Second, “Harp Concerto in A Major”, movement 3, composed in the late 1700s (best we could do in terms of a date) by (here comes awesome name of the month):  Carl Ditters von Dittersdorf.  Such a FUN name to say.  Every single time.  This particular video features a VERY young and most talented harpist:

Finally, Mozart’s “Concerto for Flute and Harp”, movement 2, composed in 1778.  This is such a gorgeous yearning melody, presented by a most accomplished student orchestra in Russia and featuring another very young harpist:

Welcome to the best part of my day!
Jane BH
(story problem answer – Farmer Brown’s cool farm hands – C: $1,092)
(story problem answer – Farmer Brown’s corn maze – $1,000)

That’s Gotta Hurt

pike manpike manpike manpike man

The Macedonian Pike – my son and I are now studying Alexander the Great, who spent his short life (for thousands upon thousands of people, a life not short enough) as a most capable warmonger.  Home base was Macedonia (perched right atop Greece) (found it on the globe), where his Macedonian soldiers were totally whipped into shape and marched with 15-foot tall pikes.  YIKES (there is a sharp metal knife at the end of each pole).  LOADS of warmonger vocabulary words: phalanx, chariot, catapult, mercenary, infantry, cavalry.

alexander the great

Shakespeare this past week – we finished up the comedy, “Much Ado about Nothing” and we have just started the history, “Julius Caesar”.

peck novels

Reading for fun – to balance the war and intrigue study, we need novels that make us laugh.  We LOVED “A Long Way from Chicago” by Richard Peck. LOVED IT.  Every single chapter had an hilarious twist that had us marveling. This book WILL be re-read.  We are following “A Long Way from Chicago” with its sequel, “A Year Down Yonder”.  So far, it is a lot of fun (and it is a Newbery Award Winner), but for us,  probably isn’t in line for a re-read.  But maybe it will be!  Hope springs eternal.

pencil grip

We write – My daughter directed us toward “The Pencil Grip Writing Claw”, and I found a pack of six on Amazon – can’t remember the price, but very cheap.  My son has been practicing writing with this for the past week, and is getting comfortable using this little rubbery appliance on his fingertips.  It truly makes one grasp a writing utensil correctly.

Our Farmer Brown Story Problem of the week – Farmer Brown has 15 field hands who needed new summer hats to keep the blazing sun off their faces.  He purchased a dozen straw cowboy hats for $360 and a dozen canvas “outback” style hats for $300.  Ten of the field hands wanted cowboy hats and the others chose outback hats. Farmer Brown donated the remaining hats to a local farming extension office because they are always so short on funds. How much was his donation worth?

One of the music themes from last week: “Melodies from Exotic Lands” –

  • “Scheherazade” by Nicolai Rimsky-Korsakov, movement I, composed in 1888.  Based upon “The Arabian Nights”, SO elegant.

  • Overture from “Abduction from the Seraglio” by Mozart, composed in 1782.  Two words:  Turkish harem!  What’s not to like, and in this short overture we CANNOT get enough of the smashing symbols.

  • “Arrival of the Queen of Sheba” by Handel, composed in 1748, as part of his oratorio, “Solomon”.   We sort of chuckle every time we hear it, because the music seems more evocative of an arrival at Kensington Palace in the 18th century than the Queen of Sheba’s arrival in Jerusalem during Old Testament times.

Welcome to the best part of my day!

– Jane BH

The Rattlesnake Sermon

Our Sunday Services – My son and I celebrate Sundays by concluding STORIES AND STUDIES time with music of an ecclesiastical bent.  But last night, we were so moved after reading from “John Muir – My Life with Nature” by Joseph Cornell, that we decided “Fellow Mortals” (a chapter from the book) also belongs in our Sunday evening line-up.  In this chapter, John Muir champions God’s plants and creatures, and gets specific about encounters with, of all things, rattlesnakes.  He writes that he had killed two rattlesnakes, for what he felt were responsible reasons, but upon reflecting, “… I felt degraded by the killing business, and farther from heaven.”  The entire chapter is powerful and deeply touching.  Welcome to our Sunday night, John Muir.

john muir book

On other fronts

Pastels (secretly, hand-eye coordination work) – we focused upon warm and cool colors.

pastels warm cool

Exponents – we are memorizing numbers 2 – 9 to the power of 0, 1, 2, and 3.

Book plots – last night, we talked about two well-used storyline strategies: the “situation” and the “villain”.  I do NOT like stories with persistent villains.  At the moment we are reading “Othello”, and I cannot get through it fast enough. I HATE HATE HATE that villainous Iago so much that I dread picking up the book every night.  You don’t suppose my revulsion shows?  Well, I hope so.  I want my son to understand that any example of “man’s inhumanity to man” SHOULD be painful to read about.

bell peppers

Our Farmer Brown story problem:  ratios and bell peppers – Farmer Brown grows acres and acres of bell peppers.  On an average, for every 10 green peppers he sells, he sells 8 red peppers and 5 yellow peppers.  What is the ratio of green peppers to red peppers?  What is the ratio of green peppers to yellow peppers?  If Farmer Brown puts together a box of mixed peppers, using the ratios as his guide, and the box contains 40 green peppers, how many red and yellow peppers are in the box?  If a single pepper sells for 40 cents, how much money will be earned if every pepper in the box is sold?

Our Sunday Night Music – our theme was “The Good Shepherd”:

  • Bach’s “Sheep May Safely Graze”, a cantata (No. 208) composed in 1713 for a duke’s birthday.  Written as a choral work,  how could my son and I not be fascinated by this skillful instrumental rendition, played on the Hinsz pipe organ (a baroque era masterpiece, and possibly the most important antique organ in the Netherlands).

  • Handel’s “He Shall Feed His Flock Like a Shepherd”, from his oratorio “Messiah”.  Composed in 1741, using texts from the King James Bible and The Book of Common Prayer.  I am a UCLA alum, so I was delighted to find this video clip.  Bruins rule.

  • “Tender Shepherd”, from the 1954 Broadway musical, “Peter Pan”.  Music composed by (WE HAVE A WINNER HERE!!!!!) Moose Charlap (we so want to know a person named “Moose”), with lyrics by Carolyn Leigh.

Welcome to the best part of my day!

– Jane BH

Things that go bump in the night

beebee raccoons

Our Easter Evening Event:  As our family gathered to reflect upon a lovely Easter day, tranquility was interrupted by sudden bumps and scraping sounds coming from the attic. A quick look revealed a mama raccoon tending sweet, sweet “kits” amid the attic insulation.  This propelled my son and me to begin a mini-study on raccoons.  We found out that they are native to North America, they are “omnivores”, and they are “nocturnal” (that is why we didn’t hear them moving around during the day).  A happy ending to the day:  new vocab words for my son, and mama and babies are now enjoying their new home in a safe wooded area of the local golf course.

We thought the phrase, “things that go bump in the night” perfectly described our Easter Evening Event.  We learned that the words come from an old Scottish prayer –

“From ghoulies and ghosties

And long-legged beasties

And things that go bump in the night,

Good Lord, deliver us!”

Zigzag Learning (where we let one topic lead us to another at lightning speed): Julia Rothman’s excellent book, “Nature Anatomy” started the learning chain this time. We were looking at her illustrations of butterflies, and we took particular notice of a “swallowtail” butterfly. My son needed to know why swallowtail butterflies were called swallowtail butterflies.

 swallowtail     swallows white background     capistrano swallows     swallowtail tux

  • So first, we looked at several photos of swallows. We saw how the birds’ pointy, forked feather tails could easily have inspired the animal naming committee to call butterflies with the tiny drip on the hindwings, “swallowtails”.
  • Then, we decided to read about the swallows of the San Juan Capistrano Mission (with a short-side trip to learn a bit about the California mission system). We found out that the swallows spend the winter in Argentina and the summer in southern California.
  • So now, we had to locate Argentina on the globe, and think about the iron-strong muscles in the birds’ wings, that allow them to fly the 6,000 miles.
  • Finally, we had to see how the swallows have had their way in fashion: we looked at men’s clothing from the Victorian era – the formal tailcoat, with “cutaway”, “swallowtail” or “morning coat” options.

That’s a lot of learning from one little butterfly.

Our music theme for last night – “Cuckoo for Music”. We considered the two-note cuckoo motif and then listened to three neat compositions:

  • “Organ Concerto No. 13 (The Cuckoo and the Nightingale)”, movement 2, by Handel (1740).  About one minute twenty seconds into the movement you can definitely make out the cuckoo motif.  This piece really moves right along. Classic Handel.  Fabulous pipe organ in this video!

  • “Symphony 6 (The Pastoral)”, movement 2, by Beethoven (1808). This is a long movement (around 13 minutes of happy, relaxing gorgeousness) (and this video clip has Leonard Bernstein conducting and one should NEVER miss an opportunity to watch Bernstein conduct).  The bird sounds aren’t evident until the final minute, but so worth the wait (or one could be the type of person that fast-forwards to the final minute) (your secret is safe with us, because maybe we have felt compelled to fast-forward upon occasion).

  • “The Birds”, movement 5 (The Cuckoo), by Respighi (1928). Here is what we like to do: count the number of times we hear the cuckoo motif. Try somewhere around 70 times, in the short span of 4 minutes.  This is an absolute jewel of a piece.

Welcome to the best part of my day!

– Jane BH