Pirates

Did absence make the heart grow fonder?

Good heavens!  Over six weeks since last I reported in.  Did ya miss me?  My goal is to write and post every other week, but my son and I have been slogging through months of disruptive routines – our stories and studies times have been cut short and I have so much less to write about.  Not happy about this, but there you have it.

odyssey ithaka

The Odyssey – we are coming to the end of Gillian Cross’s superb retelling of Homer’s ancient adventure poem.  As we bid farewell to this book we will discuss C.P. Cavafy’s poem, “Ithaca” and its Odyssey references.  Next up: “The Iliad” (which, if I had been a more aware scholar, we should have read first.  Darn.).

citrus

We are Citrus Savvy – it seems like we always have a book in the nightly line-up about sailors, pirates, the sea and such, and one cannot read about sailors, pirates, the sea and such without reading about the SCOURGE OF SCURVY and the importance of citrus.  So, after reading through the Wikipedia entry on citrus, we got out the pastels.

cat paw and dollar

There is always time for a  story problem   Poor Farmer Brown.  Literally, poor Farmer Brown.  He is spending so much money replacing items that his cats, Olive and Owl (the hissing sisters), have destroyed.  Over the past twelve months, Farmer Brown spent:

– $300:  area rug in kitchen (shredded)
– $150:  winter coat (clawed to death)
– $100 each:  3 farmhand bed quilts (each mistaken for litter box)
– $200:  office blinds (permanently bent from bird watching)
– $100:  large ceramic planter (tipped over so many times that it finally cracked)
– $  78:  small ficus tree (casualty of repeatedly tipped over planter)
– $300:  neighbor’s yarn stash (don’t ask)

Judging the past year to be typical,  how much should Farmer Brown budget per month to replace things Olive and Owl will most likely have their way with in the coming year?  

A).  $59     B).  $79     C).  $99     D).  $119

classical music

Classical Music:  How I am able to act like I know what I am talking about –

  • ClassicFM.com – a hip website that makes you feel like you are sitting at the cool kids’ table at lunch.  The graphics, clever topics, quizzes, surveys, contests, video links – all VERY COOL.  
  • The Great Courses – (college level courses offered on DVD, etc, through thegreatcourses.com) so far, I have taken 17 of 26 music history courses taught by the organized, captivating, and hilarious Dr. Robert Greenberg.  These classes have had enormous influence on the classical music experience I share with my son.
  • Exploring Music with Bill McGlaughlin  – an hour-long radio show broadcast 5 times a week, full of entertaining anecdotes from decades of Mr. McGlaughlin’s music profession memories.  If my son and I are in the drive-thru lane of “In-N-Out” at 7pm we are tuned to “Exploring Music”.
  • Wikipedia – in terms of the 300+ classical music entries I have come across, this resource offers dependable and comprehensive information.  A+.
  • The Secret Lives of the Great Composers”, by Elizabeth Lunday – this is the first book that made me aware that the very finest composers are quirky individuals.  Jarringly quirky.
  • The Really Terrible Orchestra (Edinburgh, Scotland) – I cannot get enough of this ragtag group of enthusiastic musician wannabes who find themselves blatantly unqualified to play with any recognized orchestra.  Just thinking about their performance of “Entry of the Gladiators” makes me collapse in laughter:

  • Mozart in the Jungle, both book and Amazon series are eye-opening and entertaining.  A few pieces that I have shared with my son, after hearing them in various episodes:

– Mozart’s “Oboe Concerto in C major”, movement III (rondo) – composed in 1777.  This is such a proper, almost fussy, piece but it moves right along and my son and I love it:

– José Pablo Moncayo’s “Huapango” – this Mexican folk dance was composed for orchestra in 1941 (which is why we listen to this piece played by orchestra, not by a mariachi band)(even though we LOVE mariachi bands).  Absolutely full of the flavors of Mexico:

– Maurice Ravel’s “Daphnis and Chloe”, suite 2, dawn – composed in 1912 for a ballet based upon the ancient Greek romance between goatherd Daphnis and shepherdess Chloe.  So much to listen for in this 6 minute piece, but when dawn actually breaks we hear nothing but GENIUS!

Welcome to the best part of my day!
– Jane BH
(story problem answer:  D).  $119.)

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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

Fly By

hawk

Well, look who came visiting.  This gorgeous hawk swooped down yesterday and perched on our fence for some 20 minutes. So, of course we had to read about hawks last night. Most interesting fact:  the people of ancient Egypt believed the hawk (Horus) to be a guardian of the pharaoh, and therefore was considered sacred.

horus_3

Check out the cool hawk headwear!

We continue to read: “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz”.  As of last night, Dorothy and crew had just entered the territory of the Wicked Witch of the West.  So entertaining, and like all books that become movies, so different from the movie.

We continue our study of cats:  we are reading from another DK Eyewitness book, “CATS”, and it is another well done effort.  Maybe too well done?  If there is one thing our book stresses (seriously, page after page), it is how much cats are interested in spreading their scent around. (Like I want to keep reading about THAT) (but I act like it is no big deal/part of nature’s plan/circle of life, etc.) (even though it is gross).

Because it is January: we talked about New Year’s Resolutions, so our Farmer Brown Story Problem revolved around such resolutions. Here comes a semi-troublesome division problem – there are 15 adults in Farmer Brown’s extended family and they have each made a New Year’s Resolution for the past 10 years. If only one person kept one resolution one year, what percentage of the total efforts were successful?

pirate

(from our STORIES AND STUDIES CENTER wall)

Our Music Theme: Putting an illustration to music – “Pirate Chief”.   This is the first time we’ve tried this: I had my son select one of the posters on his wall, then we put together a music program that would bring the artwork to life. He chose the kicking-butt-and-taking-names “Pirate Chief” by Howard Pyle (Howard Pyle was not only a most important American illustrator, he was also an influential teacher/mentor of the likes of N.C. Wyeth).  Hey!  This was fun!  I think we will set another poster to music in a few weeks.

  • “The Maid of Amsterdam” (sometimes known as “A-Roving”), a lusty sea chantey, just the type of thing that pirates, or anyone with access to a bottle of rum, would want to sing.
  • Overture to “The Flying Dutchman”, by Richard Wagner. This is a fave for children’s orchestras.  The story of the opera (cursed man on a ghost ship) is intriguing, the music is motivating, and every instrument gets a crucial part to play
  • “Pirates of the Caribbean Suite”, by Klaus Badelt.  This is consummate sea storms-and-skullduggery pirate music.  The video footage of a performance in Vienna has an added bonus – composer Klaus Badelt is seated in the audience.

Welcome to the best part of my day!

– Jane BH

Snakes and Pirates!

It is always a great night when we start a new academic unit.  Anticipation!  Two nights ago we finished a study of rabbits, squirrels and chipmunks (not nearly as interesting as one might have hoped.  Not interesting at all.  Seriously, the book we read should be up for some sort of “lack of enthralling facts” award.)  So, last night we began a unit on pirates (real pirate info, not romanticized, party-theme pirates).  MUCH more riveting.  And if that weren’t enough, we began a unit on snakes.  GROSS.

We are in the middle of two novels.  One takes place in India in the early 1920’s (“All My Noble Dreams and Then What Happens”).  The other takes place in contemporary times (“Zen and the Art of Faking It”).  I would give both a solid B+ so far.

Our Farmer Brown story problem involved harvesting mangos for the dried mango market.  I have this mini-addiction thing going with dried mangos, and they were on my mind when I was writing up the story problem.

Music selections for last night: our theme was “Things in the Sky”, so we listened to:

  • Amy Beach’s “Fireflies” (did you know Ms. Beach was America’s first major female symphony composer?  “Fireflies” is a sparkling piano piece that we listen to often, A+++++)
  • Claude Debussy’s “Clair du Lune”.  Like I need to say anything about this.
  • Gustav Holst’s “Mercury”, the shortest piece in “The Planets”.  Crazy fun as winged Mercury flits all over the place.

 Welcome to the best part of my day!

– Jane BH