Grigory Rasputin

This Week: One Sculptor, One Scoundrel

michelangelo     Francis-drake

 Yay!                         Icky

Interesting Coincidence – a few posts back (“Two Different Worlds”, July 12, 2015) we mused that the two people we were studying (Rasputin and Albert Einstein) lived at approximately the same time, within a thousand miles of each other, but followed such different paths.  It has happened again!  We just concluded surveys of Michelangelo (1474 – 1564) and Sir Francis Drake (1540-1596), again living at about the same time, within a thousand miles of each other, but following two such different paths.  Michelangelo – devoted to the perfection of his sculpture, painting, architecture.  Drake – devoted to the accumulation of wealth via the only means he was clearly proficient at: brutal thievery.

It is too revolting to speak of Drake; our energy is better spent waxing enthusiastically about Michelangelo.  The book we read, “Michelangelo” by Diane Stanley is A++++.  Among simply loads of other things, we learned a lot about the Sistine Chapel:

Sistine-Chapel full

  • It was named for Pope Sixtus IV (get it? Sistine – Sixtus?), and the ceiling was commissioned by Pope Julius II, who just happened to be the nephew of Pope Sixtus IV. Hmmm.
  • In case you haven’t studied the ceiling, there are 9 major panels illustrating three themes:  the creation of heaven and earth, Adam and Eve, and Noah and the flood.  It took Michelangelo 4 years to paint this masterwork.
  • The 60 foot-high scaffolding (vocab!) upon which Michelangelo stood (yes, STOOD.  He did not paint lying down) stretched under only one half of the ceiling area.  Michelangelo painted the Noah’s Ark panels first. When he finished these panels, and the scaffolding was moved to the other end of the chapel, Michelangelo decided that it was difficult to decipher all the activity on the ceiling, so he painted much larger figures on the creation and Adam and Eve side!  I swear, live and learn.

Other stuff we’ve worked on this past week:

  • Reading comprehension – I wrote up a few paragraphs about my daughter and her job, and had my son read through it – I did not read it out loud – then my son took a multiple choice quiz about what he had read.  Did well.  Important activity.
  • Roman Numeral review. A+
  • We continue to enjoy the novel, “Greetings from Nowhere” by Barbara O’Connor.

michelangelo book

  • We were so impressed with Diane Stanley’s “Michelangelo”, that we selected another of her books, “Charles Dickens, The Man Who Had Great Expectations” to anchor our new study unit. So far, EXCELLENT!  My son is quite taken with this book.  We have learned what “shorthand” is and we are now motivated to give “The Pickwick Papers” a try.

Granny Smith Apple -Photographed on Hasselblad H3-22mb Camera

Our Farmer Brown Story Problem – Farmer Brown supplies apples to Le Fictitious Local Diner for their famous apple pies.  He sells the diner a box of 100 Granny Smith apples for $8.00.  The diner uses 6 apples for each pie. How many boxes will the diner need each month if they make 10 pies every week?  How much will the diner be billed for the apples every month?

Music to remind us of Michelangelo’s Rome

  • “The Pines of Rome”, movement 1, composed in 1924 by Ottorino Respighi.  Characteristic of Respighi’s work, this piece SPARKLES. (This movement has a quirky ending – beware!)

  • Allegretto from “Palladio for String Orchestra”, composed in 1995 by Karl Jenkins to honor the Roman architect Andrea Palladio, a contemporary of Michelangelo’s. (BTW, this music was used in a De Beers Diamond advertising campaign in the 1990s.)  Gorgeous church used in this video.

  • Mendelssohn’s “Symphony No. 4 in A major” (“The Italian”), movement 4, composed in 1883. We LOVE this entire symphony, and we’ve probably listened to this movement 30 times.  It moves right along.  This video?  OUTSTANDING performance.

Welcome to the best part of my day!  And Happy Birthday HKH!

– Jane BH

 

Garden Par-tay

  cicadas on leaf

Cicadas Party – Every summer, it gets really loud in our backyard garden.  It sounds like a golf course sprinkler system going full blast, but it isn’t that, it is the CICADAS!  Last night my son and I did a mini-study of Cicadas.  We learned that cicadas sing their song during the hottest part of the day; we learned that the males make all the noise; we learned that people actually eat these insects (deep fried or stir fried) (gag).  We watched this well filmed video of a male cicada making his rattling noise (7 out of 10 on the repulsive scale).  In truth, my son wasn’t terribly interested; I sort of had to force him to watch this…good thing the video only lasts a minute:

Vocabulary update – two items:

First, I went through the list of vocabulary words we have accumulated over the past year (see “The Wordery” in menu area) and selected 15 words.  I presented the list as a quiz with multiple-choice options.  Happy report: 100% correct!  So pleased with my son’s vocabulary retention.

Second, our Rasputin and Einstein books and our current novel (“Surviving the Applewhites”) have presented us with more unfamiliar words and concepts: crude, dynasty, fasting, heir, hemophilia, icons, monarchy, stage mothers, Swiss neutrality, recluse, and thesis.

plums

The Farmer Brown story problem – Farmer Brown is going to be on local TV, showing everyone how to make his grandmother’s prize-winning Damson plum jam!  After the demonstration, he is going to give everyone in the audience (3 girl scout troops), a pint sized jar of the jam.  There are 16 girls in each troop.  If Farmer Brown’s recipe makes 2 quarts of jam, how many times will he need to multiply the recipe?  Farmer Brown does NOT want to disappoint the girl scouts.

ship

Our music theme from last night was inspired by “The Clipper Ship, Flying Cloud”, printed by Currier & Ives in 1852. A few years back, my son and I did a study on American illustrators, and we both loved learning about the firm of Currier & Ives (Currier, the accomplished lithographer and Ives, the finance brains…the selling pitch was, “the Grand Central Depot for Cheap and Popular Prints”).  When we finished our study, my son picked out “The Clipper Ship, Flying Cloud” as a poster to put up on his wall.

Music to accompany “The Clipper Ship, Flying Cloud”:

  • “Sea Songs” by Ralph Vaughan Williams, composed in 1923.  This is a 4 minute march bringing together 3 British sea songs. This video clip shows the Houston Youth Orchestra from two years ago.  Exceptionally well done for a youth orchestra.

  • “Overture to HMS Pinafore” by Gilbert and Sullivan, from their very popular comic opera, which premiered in 1871.  Jaunty!

  • “Over the Waves” by Juventino Rosas.  We often get this piece confused with “The Skater’s Waltz”, and guess what? The Skater’s Waltz (by Emile Waldeufel) was written in 1882 and “Over the Waves” was written in 1888.  (Perhaps another story for another time.)  ANYWAY,  take a look at this video!  The composition is played with surprising delicacy by the intimidating looking Central Military Band of the Russian Ministry of Defense.

Welcome to the best part of my day!

– Jane BH

Two Different Worlds

germany globe rasputin einstein russia globe

Two Different Worlds – we are reading about the extraordinarily weird Grigory Rasputin and the extraordinarily brilliant Albert Einstein.  The two were born only 10 years apart (Rasputin 1869, Einstein 1879), but WHOA, what different worlds they lived in.  After each night’s reading, my son and I have much to discuss – first the family background, the education, and the character of each man (we haven’t gotten to their contributions yet) and then the comparison between cultures.  Grossest tidbit from last night’s reading – Rasputin’s teeth were brown. Yeecks. BTW, both sources of information are well researched, well written, and captivating.

Thinking about Letters – last night I brought out the old family dictionary, so my son could see that there is a non-electronic means of finding the definition of a word.  Then, I asked my son to guess which letter of the alphabet is at the beginning of the greatest number of words (he guessed “E”), and which letter is the beginning of the fewest number of words (he guessed “Z”). Thus begins a 13 day miniature side-study. We are counting the number of pages for each letter; two letters per evening. So, in 13 days we will know!

pluto new

Focus on Pluto – we are keeping abreast of the New Horizons spacecraft that was launched nine and a half years ago with the task of flying by Pluto, sending back images and information.  So exciting!  After traveling some three BILLION miles, the FASTEST spacecraft ever is due to pass Pluto NEXT WEEK.  It is already sending images.  We marvel once again at the brainpower that can successfully manage these far-reaching projects with such precision.

rice treats

Story problem from Le Fictitious Local Diner – The diner is gearing up to make some big bucks at  the county fair – their plan is to sell 3,000 Rice Krispies Treats at their booth during the weekend-long fair. The diner chefs are working from the recipe on the back of the Rice Krispies box, which uses 6 cups of the rice cereal to make 12 large square cookies.  How many cups will the diner use to produce their goal of 3,000?   If a regular sized box of Rice Krispies can make two batches of the treats, how many regular sized boxes will be needed?  Delving into the arena of common sense:  is it likely that any grocery store would have this many boxes of Rice Krispies?

black wreath

Our music theme a few nights ago – “The Sad Song Scale”.  We listened to, and ranked these tear-jerker compositions on a sadness scale of one (“bummer”) to ten (“unrecoverable heart-crushing despair”):

  • “Symphony No. 3 in F major” (third movement), composed by Brahms in 1883.  We ranked this a most worthy 10 on our sadness scale.  SO much desolation.  This piece has been well positioned in several movies.

  • “What’ll I Do”, by Irving Berlin, composed in 1923.  Earns an impressive 6 on our scale.  Sad AND clever. That is sort of hard to pull off.  Kudos Mr. Berlin!

  • “Serenade”, by Franz Schubert.  A solid 9 on the scale.  Written in 1828, during the final year of his life, despondent because he knew he was dying of Syphilis. Blog followers know that my son and I are enthusiastic Itzhak Perlman admirers and this performance is another reason why.  Perfection.

Welcome to the best part of my day!

– Jane BH