The Radetzky March

Meanwhile…

city book

Around the world in perhaps 150 days – my son and I are working our way through Lonely Planet’s “The Cities Book” (thoughtful Christmas gift from sister –  Lonely Planet books are so A+).  There is a two page spread for each of the 200 cities showcased , and we are managing one or two destinations per evening.  Ten categories define each city, but alas, most are of little interest to my son, so here is how we are using this book:
1- we find the city on the globe.  I am dismayed to report that there are several cities of significant population that I have previously never heard of, like Addis Ababa, Ethiopia (5 million) or Lahore, Pakistan (almost 9 million).  For shame!  So I learn along with my son and I just keep appreciating the opportunity.

globe

2- we find out how old the city is.  (eye-opener)
3- we read about the location’s “weaknesses” (beastly hot/spotty electricity/toxic smog levels)(always worth a side conversation).
4- we read about the city’s exports.  If the city produces enough of something to supply the city residents and the product is good enough to export, like coffee, oil, silks, and Siamese cats (!!!), we want to know about it.
And lastly, I should mention this book is quite large and weighs a lot.  I let my son guess how much it weighed.  He guessed 10 pounds, my husband guessed 2 pounds, I guessed 40 pounds (and ta-da! the book weighed in at 7.5 pounds on the cooking scale).  “The Cities Book” can be our new go-to device for pressing flowers or flattening out a curled document.

president book

Meanwhile, back in the USA – we are pretty much loving every page of Ken Jennings’ “Junior Genius Guide to U.S. Presidents”.  Frankly, we are planning on reading everything this super clever author publishes (we have read “Maphead” and his “Junior Genius Guide to Greek Mythology”).  We like to know quirky info like:
– James K. Polk accomplished all of his campaign goals in his first term!  Commendable, but at what cost?  (He quit after one term and died three months later.)  Jennings suggests that Polk’s time was spent “working, not having fun, working more”.  (It would be so interesting to get a glimpse of the family dynamics of his childhood.) (It looks like mirth and relaxation were not encouraged.)
– James Garfield came from the most economically deprived upbringing. He was 19 before he ever heard a piano!  He was 23 before he tasted a banana!
– Woodrow Wilson was the only president (so far) to earn a PhD.

herbs

Meanwhile, back at the ranch – Farmer Brown has all the seed catalogs out, anticipating planting a large herb garden once the winter frosts have passed.  He wants to purchase 40 heirloom seed packets at $4 per packet from the “It’s About Thyme” company and 25 seed packets at $5 each from the “To Bee or Not To Bee Heirloom Seed Company”.  If Farmer Brown budgeted $250 for his herb garden, will he have enough money buy all the seed packets? (answer at bottom of post)

NY Phil

Well, listen to this!   I have recently enlisted the assistance of personal trainer “Brute” (not his real name – smirk).  Brute promised that I could work out to my choice of music.  Yay!  So I said, “classical” and was met with the most puzzled expression.  (Seriously?)  To make it simple, I said I would be happy to listen to any recordings by the New York Philharmonic, to which Brute responded, “Hmmm, I have never heard of that band.”. (Seriously?) AAAAAAACK.  See? This is what happens when school systems are forced to cut funding from the music curriculum.  My son selected three pieces that he decided even a new classical music listener could love, and I found a recording of each by the New York Philharmonic:

  • “Mars”, from “The Planets” by Gustav Holst, composed around 1916.  The standard by which all scary aggressive music must be judged:

  • “The Radetzky March” , composed by Johann Strauss, Sr, in 1848, commissioned to commemorate Field Marshal Joseph Radetzky von Radetz’s victory at the Battle of Custoza (Oh yeah, the Battle of Custoza)(?????).  This is just the dandiest of marches, maybe THE BEST MARCH EVER:

  • “Masquerade”, a waltz composed  in 1941 by Aram Khachaturian (as incidental music for a play of the same name).  Delicious, dark, depraved.  Yikes, it is all here:

Welcome to the best part of my day!
– Jane BH
(story problem answer: NO)

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Wordery

Webster_27s_Dictionary_advertisement_-_1888_-_Project_Gutenberg_eText_13641

Words, words, words – this past week, new vocabulary words have been emerging willy-nilly.  We have clocked in a fair amount of time defining unfamiliar words, phrases, and concepts.  Thank you Wikipedia and Google Images!  Last night, I presented my son with a vocabulary matching quiz, to see if the words had been explained well enough. (YAY!  Big smiles here. Phew.)

  • From “The Young Reader’s Shakespeare: Hamlet” by Adam McKeown:  coronation, goblet, immortal, liege, parapet, specter, avenge, revenge, and vengeance
  • From “Flora and Ulysses” by Kate DiCamillo:  arch-nemesis, euphemism, treacle, and villain
  • From “The Little Prince” by Antoine de Saint-Exupery (translation by Katherine Woods):  baobab (a tree…real or imaginary?)
  • From our new novel, “The Way to Stay in Destiny” by Augusta Scattergood (a book BTW that we are LOVING), we had to do a bit of a side study on the illustrious Hank Aaron.
  • From Mozart’s “Overture to The Abduction from the Seraglio”: seraglio

baobab

Editor’s comments: there is such a thing as a baobab tree (it is VERY weird and ridiculously large, and we can see why the little prince worked diligently to make sure this tree didn’t take root on his little planet), and everyone should take a listen to the “Overture to the Abduction from the Seraglio” – five and a half entertaining minutes (we love the rambunctious cymbal smashing)!

“Overture to the Abduction from the Seraglio” – take a listen!

 mules turkey rooster combs

From our Farm Unit – last night we learned quite a bit about mules. During the course of the past few days we’ve learned about turkey breeds, the three reasons to breed goats (milk, meat, fiber), and we’ve learned about draft horses. This book (“Farm Anatomy” by Julia Rothman) is just dynamite.  There is something new and easy to understand every single night.

Best Farmer Brown story problem from the past week: Farmer Brown has been glad it has been raining, because his cows, sheep, and goats drink a LOT of water every day (we learned this from our “Farm Anatomy” book!). If each sheep needs one to four gallons of water daily and he has a herd of 60 sheep, what is the least amount of water they need during the course of a week?

Last night’s music theme: March’s Marches. Last year, during March, my son and I listened to a different march every night. In truth, the concept ran thin about day 18. Even accounting for the wide variety of marches (military, wedding, graduation, coronation, funeral), 31 marches are a lot of marches. Last night, I presented my son with our list from last year and he selected three to listen to:

  • “The Radetzky March”, by Johann Strauss, Sr., composed in 1848. Such an A+ march; we never get tired of hearing this.
  • “March of the Siamese Children”, from “The King and I” by Rogers and Hammerstein (1951): elegant, and we love listening for the low, reverberating gong tones.
  • “The Washington Post March”, written in 1889, by John Philip Sousa.  Interesting aside: it is said that when Sousa was 13, his father signed him up as an apprentice in the United States Marine Corps band, to keep him from joining a circus band (a parent’s gotta do what a parent’s gotta do).   The link below leads to a neat video, starring the US Marine Corps Band and a nice explanation of the piece by the band leader:

Welcome to the best part of my day!

– Jane BH