Thursday, August 31, 2017

From the archives: Ruth Beechick knew where to stop

First posted August 2010

"In our age of calculators and computers, we must question how much time even good students of arithmetic should spend working pages of problems of ever-increasing size....Curriculum improvements come slowly in the school world. But homeschoolers have an advantage. With just a decision of one or two people, you can make any changes you want. Will you skip the pages with three- and four-place divisors and let your children, instead, learn some BASIC computer programming? The choice is up to you."--Ruth Beechick, You CAN Teach Your Child Successfully (1984)

P.S. In case you're too young to know this, BASIC here refers to the programming language, not the fact that it was basic.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

From the archives: Ratting out my kids again, because they were funny

First posted July 2005. The Apprentice was thirteen, Ponytails was almost eight, and Crayons (Lydia) was four.

Crayons: Let's play Eye-Spy Colours. I know a colour and it starts with D.

Ponytails: There aren't any colours that start with D.

The Apprentice: I don't know any either.

Mama Squirrel: Maybe she means dark-something? Like dark blue?

The Apprentice: Crayons, is the colour dark?

Crayons: No, it's light.

The Apprentice (inspired, looking at Crayons' shirt): Is it light magenta?

Crayons: Yes!

Ponytails: Light magenta doesn't start with D.

Crayons: I was just kidding.

From the archives: Rose Fixer

First posted August 2005. Ponytails was almost eight, and Crayons (Lydia) was four.

This morning Ponytails and I were reading "The Sick Rose" from William Blake's Songs of Innocence and Experience.
Oh Rose, thou art sick!
The invisible worm
That flies in the night,
in the howling storm

Has found out thy bed
Of crimson joy.
And his dark secret love,
does thy life destroy.
Crayons climbed up on the couch and waved her hands over my head. She explained, "I'm putting some water on you."

Wednesday Hodgepodge: this one is short.

From this Side of the Pond

1. Can you believe we're rolling in to the Labor Day weekend? What's a project you'll labor over this fall?

Getting a new study guide ready for publication. This one has been languishing for too long, so yes, it needs some labour. Around here we labour with an extra "u."

2. Tell us about the best perks you ever had in a job?

Most of my paid jobs were temp or contract, so they didn't come with perks. But I did have a university boss who gave out gift certificates to the campus bookstore as bonuses for extra work. I used one of them to buy an overpriced but interesting guide to Anne Tyler's novels, and also a set of pens and a calligraphy book to address our wedding invitations.

3. August 31st is National South Carolina Day. Have you ever been to SC? Any desire to go? 

I know I was in North Carolina once (I had a freebie from the welcome center called A Little Tar Heel's North Carolina Coloring Book), so it seems like we must have also driven through South Carolina, but maybe it was a non-stop state.

If I had the chance to go to S.C., I'd go visit Harvest Community School in Summerton.

4. Beef, pork, country-style, barbecued, baby back, spare or short...your favorite kind of rib? What's a dish you enjoy that really 'sticks to your ribs'?

Ribs are not really my thing, too much bone, and eating them makes me feel a bit like Tom Bert and William. I'd probably eat the corn on the cob instead.

5. What's one important skill you think every person should have? Why?

Reading, probably, although obviously there are going to be exceptions to "every person." 

6.  Insert your own random thought here.

I did all my random thinking yesterday

Linked from The Wednesday Hodgepodge at From This Side of the Pond

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Some serious talk about minimalism. And what I did in Toronto.

"Consider the trend toward numbers in light of our relationship to God. Metrics are quantitative and not qualitative, so they measure performance, but not relationships. They tell us about the externals of religion and say nothing about the heart...metrics can record the frequency of our church attendance, the regularity of our Bible reading and the exact amount of our tithing, but they can never gauge the genuineness of any of them..." ~~ Os Guinness, Renaissance: The Power of the Gospel However Dark the Times
"Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labor for that which does not satisfy?" ~~ Isaiah 55:2a, English Standard Version 
I spent yesterday travelling to, around, and from Toronto. The official reason was that I had a ticket to Courtney Carver's Tiny Wardrobe Tour. I also wanted to spend time with relatives I hadn't seen for a long time, hear a lunchtime concert at a church, and maybe do a little sightseeing slash shopping. The logistics of the day all came together well (Google Maps gets you from place to place very succinctly), and the Greyhound bus got me back here before midnight.

But something was bothering me at four in the morning, and it wasn't the falafel plate I had for dinner. I had been looking forward to the Tiny Wardrobe event for a long time, and of course it was nice to hear Courtney in person, with her rack of clothes behind her; so why wasn't the event quite the highlight I had expected? Earlier in the day I heard Beethoven and Mozart played in a church with wonderful acoustics. Maybe it was the "acoustics" of the evening event that made the message feel somewhat unclear. Was it the argument over seating arrangements that broke out in the front row, that seemed to sour the evening a bit? In the afternoon I spent time with family, and maybe I expected to find a similar connection with those who had bought Tiny Wardrobe tickets.Was it that I was tired from the day's travels, so of course it all felt a bit disjointed? Was I just "not feeling it," as my teenager would say?

Yes, people make too much stuff, buy too much stuff, dump too much stuff. This is something we really do need to talk about. In a world plagued with over-consumption, waste, garbage, labour injustice, consumer debt, and false promises of advertising, any message that helps us step away from the system even a little can only be a good thing. But in a month like this past one, when masses of people have lost their homes and possessions to natural disasters, any discussion of choosing to minimize can seem ludicrous. It is true that going through flood, fire or political upheaval may change your relationship with "stuff" (such as being all too aware of its impermanence), but in the short term, survival means getting enough of what you need or can pass on to others equally in need, and not worrying about the global implications of too many towels. (For those of us whose lives seem safe and "normal" for now, we might want to consider the ways that the money we plan to spend on "stuff" could be used to help others in need.)

Courtney Carver, Ann Voskamp, and others continually make the point that the goal isn't to have a simple life, or even a beautiful lifeit's to have a life. A meaningful life. A good life. A life centered outside ourselves. Simplifying possessions can be a discipline that encourages more focus, less materialism. Or it can be just a numbers game, even if you pick your own number. It can be the pride of money spent for "that which is not bread," or it can equally be the boasting of money not spent. In either of those cases, the focus is on the wrong thing.
"The difference does not seem to be great; but two streams that rise within a foot of one another may water different countries and fall into different seas, and a broad divergence in practice often arises from what appears to be a small difference in conception..." ~~ Charlotte Mason, School Education 
And what is it that was keeping me from falling back to sleep? Guilt over a few small things I did buy while I was in the city? Worry about not fitting in with somebody else's minimalist program? No...I think I've come to terms with the "problem" that I like having fun with clothes, and scouting thrift shops is one way I do that without hurting our bank account and producing more waste. That's why I keep posting my own Project 333 stories. I have never done a capsule wardrobe exactly "right." But I am learning to use my own talents (such as scrounging) in ways that, maybe, can encourage others.

Maybe it was just an impossible wish that we could spend more time getting to listen to each other's stories. Not judging, or arguing about details, but seeing each other as people who have lives and stuff and needs and questions and ideas. That means relationships. That means time. We need to make more room for both. And to come back to exactly what Courtney says: if any aspect of your stuff (including clothes) is standing in the way of the important things, it's time to make a change.

So maybe the acoustics weren't so bad after all.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

From the archives: Trust and Okay (Why sing hymns?)

First posted July 2007, somewhat edited this time around.

One blog leads to another: the always-thoughtworthy Wittingshire blog posted a quote from George Wiegel, and Wittingshire was linked to by The Paragraph Farmer, which I got to by following the Deputy Headmistress's Sunday Hymn Post. This is the quote from George Wiegel, at least the bit I reallly liked: 
"A thoroughly secularized world is a world without windows, doors, or skylights: a claustrophobic, ultimately suffocating world."
Imagine never hearing the soaring words of Holy, Holy, Holy--Reginald Heber's words, or Nolene Prince's chorus from Isaiah 6:3, I don't care which--I always hear both of them flying out the windows, through the skylights, up past our small selves here. It's the poetry of the words as well as their literal meaning that opens those windows, though. Otherwise we might as well just have "What a mighty God we serve, what a mighty God we serve." Not the same at all.

Again from one blog to another: Lawrence Henry wrote this in The American Spectator, the JunkYard Blog commented on it, and the Deputy Headmistress picked it up as well:
"IT IS AN INTERESTING PARADOX. Churches devoted to rigorous, difficult theology -- real Christianity, in short -- have largely adopted praise music, mainly to get people in the doors. In doing so, they have denied their parishioners an intimate connection with the art, the music, the poetry, and the history of the faith of our fathers, embodied in hymns.

"Mainstream churches, which have left Christianity behind for liberation theology, "peace and justice" theory, deconstruction, and modernism, still cling to the hymnbook, to the hard work of teaching choirs to sing in harmony, and to the expense of maintaining pipe organs.

"If only they took as good care of the faith."
The congregation we've been part of for the last while was  formed partly out of this same question of worship style and content: those who rebelled against "My All in All"/overheads/praise bands, among other things. Since we meet in a rented assembly room, singing is accompanied by a piano and led by a song leader (there isn't usually a choir). Ironically, "My All in All" is included in the hymnal they chose; I think we sang it a couple of weeks ago. That hymnal is full of other little surprises, too: every so often I get hit with a chorus I haven't sung since the '80's and never really wanted to hear again. But generally we're on the same track: the hymns we sing at home often get sung at church as well.

But I have one more thing to throw in here about hymns, in case you think I've gone too far off the original point.  I would like hymns--real hymns--at my funeral, whenever I eventually get to shed this mortal coil. I don't care if every person there has to stumble through the words and doesn't know the music, I want some songs with meat on them. How can you get through any kind of a crisis without knowing that "on Christ the solid rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand?" This is something we've lost as a culture, especially during the worst times: being able to cling not only to the words of Scripture we know, but the poetry of the Psalms and hymns that has been written over and over on our hearts. How many families are there who hang up the phone after good or bad news and reach for the hymn book? Crayons once goofted on the name of the hymn "Trust and Obey." She called it "Trust and Okay," but I think that's closer to the truth of what I'm saying.

When I sing, "With ever joyful hearts, and blessed peace to cheer us," I think of the pastor who wrote those words during a plague. When I hear about "sorrow and love flow mingled down," I know something of Christ's love for us during our worst times. When I hear some of the "get people in the doors" stuff--I don't hear anything. It's not that older hymns are just macaroni and cheese to me, a matter of emotion and familiarity and comfort; it's not just style and taste. It's what they are filled with that goes flying away from me myself, past what I know, to something bigger than I am.

God is here within us,
Soul, in silence fear Him,
Humbly, fervently draw near Him.
Now His own
Who have known
God, in worship lowly,
Yield their spirits wholly.
--Gerhard Tersteegen, 1729

Friday, August 25, 2017

From the archives: A Natural History Treasure

First posted August 2007

(Update, September 2012:  Yes, Natural Science Through the Seasons has been reprinted!) 

(Update, December 2010: Thanks to Ann at A Holy Experience for continuing to post the nature calendars on her blog--and welcome to visitors coming from HE!]

For all the would-be Miss Stacys out there...

I bought a book this spring from someone in our local homeschool group, and it turned out to be such a treasure for anyone doing nature study that I have to tell you about it. The only problem might be getting a copy: there are only seven right now on Abebooks, so it seems a bit scarce. But once you know it's out there, you might find some other copies floating around, especially if you're in Canada.

The book is Natural Science Through the Seasons: 100 Teaching Units, by J.A. (James Arthur) Partridge. It was published by MacMillan in 1946 and 1955 as a year-long teacher's resource. Each month has a variety of activities that might be suited to what's growing or hatching during that time (at least in Ontario). Each month has a sample day-by-day calendar with natural things to look for that you can build up "on your blackboard" (or on a regular calendar, for homeschoolers). Each unit has suggested activities, divided into those that are especially suitable for younger and older grades. There are experiments, questions, little verses to learn (or maybe to use for copywork), charts for identifying evergreens, and more things to draw on the blackboard.

And then each one also has a reading list, including suitable pages from Anna Comstock's Handbook of Nature Study; books such as Parker's Golden Treasury of Natural History and Dorothy Shuttlesworth's Exploring Nature with Your Child; and books by other authors whose books are still available: the D'Aulaires, Milicent Selsam, and Roger Tory Peterson. How cool is that?

Keep your eyes open! (The book has a green spine with red printing, it's 9 x 6 inches, and it's over 500 pages long.)

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Blue lake and rocky shore (End-of-summer 10x10 Wardrobe Challenge)

Lawren Harris, Lake Simcoe

I didn't intend to base this mini-challenge on a painting. But when I was uploading the clothes photos to Blogger, every other photo I've taken or downloaded came up for viewing as well, and there was this beautiful but nameless and painter-less painting of birches I had saved awhile back.

You have to know something about 20th century Canadian painters to realize what a needle in a haystack "birches near water" is. I image-searched through Tom Thompson, A.J. Casson, and Emily Carr before I remembered that I had been looking for Lawren Harris paintings last year. Oh right.

So...blues and greens, quiet woods, and the splashing water of Lake Simcoe.  Land of the silver birch, home of the beaver. Ten end-of summer pieces of clothing. Ten outfits. Ten days.

(I'm not sure what I'll be doing on some of those days, so I'll add notes later on.)

The clothes

Navy cotton sleeveless dress
Navy cropped floral-textured pants
Navy shorts
Green skirt
Vanilla top and cami (count as two)
Navy and grey striped tank top
Green and blue print top
Lightweight navy pullover
Long blue cardigan

The outfits

Thursday Evening: Old Car Night (sort of a date with Mr. Fixit)
Print top, green skirt.

Navy pullover, navy shorts

Saturday: Errands, groceries.
Navy pullover, navy cropped pants

Sunday: Church. 

Monday: Trip to Toronto for the Tiny Wardrobe Tour
Green skirt, print top, blue cardigan
Update: the weather seemed too up-and-down for this outfit, so I wore some things that could easily be layered and un-layered instead.

Striped top, navy shorts, blue cardigan

Print top, navy cropped pants

Vanilla top and cami, navy cropped pants

Friday: Labour Day Weekend!
Striped top, navy shorts
Vanilla cami, navy cropped pants, blue cardigan

Bonus Sunday
Navy dress and scarf


Bead necklace
Fabric slip-on shoes
And maybe this scarf?

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Tiny Muddy Waiting Room Hodgepodge

From this Side of the Pond

1. Did you watch the solar eclipse? Your thoughts? Sun Chips, Moon Pies, Starburst candies, a Blue Moon beer, a Sunkist orange, or a Milky Way candy bar...what's your favorite eclipse related snack on this list?

I did not exactly watch the eclipse. For most of that morning and part of the afternoon, we were on a wild goose chase trying to get an immunization that Lydia needs for school. The injection is routinely given in middle school and used to be optional, but it is now required by the public school board, so we decided to get that taken care of, along with a mountain of other things, before school starts.

Short version: a call to a pharmacy that also has a walk-in clinic informed us that we could go to that clinic and get the shot there. (The clinic was closed when I phoned, that's why I didn't call there first.) When we got to the clinic, they refused to do it, I think because she was out of the usual age range, and told us to go to the public health office. The nurse at the public health office was sympathetic, but said that they don't usually do those shots on site and we would need to go to a walk-in clinic. When I said that we had already been to a walk-in clinic, she suggested we go to another one. So we did, and we sat the typical clinic wait in the waiting room and then in the examining room, at which point a doctor came in, asked what we were there for. She approved our request and then disappeared down the hall to rummage in the refrigerator, so to speak. She came back and said they would have to order the serum and they'd call us when it came in. So that was that.

A couple of hamburgers later, because nobody had had any lunch, most of the eclipse was over. Some of the burger employees went running outside while we were eating our fries. I assume they had something to view it with and weren't doing a Marge Simpson.

Oh, as far as the cosmic treats go...the favourite around here would probably be a Vachon 1/2 Moon. We used to call them Lune Moons when we were kids, because the bilingual packaging confused us.
Image result for vachon half moon

2. What are you 'over the moon' about these days? What's something you enjoy doing every 'once in a blue moon'?

Not sure about those today.

3. Tell us about something in the realm of science that interests you. How do you feed that interest?

Library books, mostly! I like reading about new discoveries in neuroscience that relate to how we learn, remember and make sense of what's around us.

4. What are a few things you remember about going back to school as a child?

We were given almost everything by the teacher, on the first day. A pack of crayons, pencils, notebooks, maybe a ruler. Later on, I think ballpoint pens. Everything was stamped with the name of the county board of education.

But you had to buy your own pencil case.

We didn't have glue sticks in those days. When we needed to glue things, the caddies with rubber-tipped bottles of Lepage's glue were passed around. 

Before that, we had Paste, the kind the bad kids liked to eat.

Image found on Ebay (listing expired)

5. I've seen several versions of this around the net so let's make one of our own...share with us five words that touch your soul and briefly tell us why.

How about thirteen?

A quote from The Complete Plain Words, by Sir Ernest Gowers:

"...we can turn to Shakespeare, and from the innumerable examples that offer themselves choose the lines 'Kissing with golden face the meadows green, / Gilding pale streams with heavenly alchymy' which, as a description of what the rising sun does to meadows and rivers on a 'glorious morning,' must be as effective a use of thirteen words as could be found in all English literature."

6.  Insert your own random thought here.

OK, on to the tiny muddy part.

On Monday I will be taking a bus to Toronto for Courtney Carver's Tiny Wardrobe Tour. Once in a blue moon I like to go to the city, but it has to be a very blue moon indeed. 

Since the time of the summer t-shirts and shorts is quickly coming to an end, and since (unlike last year) it doesn't look like Septenber will be unseasonably hot, I figure I will be packing them away in just a couple of weeks. I had thought about winding up the summer with a 10x10 Wardrobe Challenge like I did last spring (choose ten pieces, wear them for ten days), to get extra mileage out of the most summery things.

Yesterday I had somewhere nice to go in the afternoon, and I pulled on my green skirt, vanilla-coloured cami and top set, a necklace I had just thrifted, and put everything I needed in a purple tote bag, including an umbrella because it had just stopped raining.

Did you pay attention to that last bit?

I was on my way to the bus, thinking what a nice outfit that was, that I had never worn those pieces together and I liked them, and that I should really do that 10x10 challenge, when I slipped on the mud outside our building.

Other than a slightly sprained wrist and a large amount of injury to my pride, I wasn't hurt, but I did need to go back in the building, back up the elevator, dump all my clothes and the tote bag into a dishpan that was conveniently sitting in the bathtub, find Outfit #2 and Bag #2 very quickly, and head back out the door. I knew I had missed that bus, but Mr. Fixit was also leaving right at that time, so he gave me a ride downtown.

Later I washed everything, and, happily, all the mud stains seem to be gone. My arm still hurts a little.

I'm sure there was a lesson in there somewhere. I'm just not sure what it was. "Have such a small wardrobe that if you have a major malfunction it's obvious which backup clothes you should grab?" "If Woolite doesn't take mud stains out of skirts, try.regular laundry detergent?" "If you're going to slip in mud, make sure you do it right outside of your own building, and make sure nobody sees you going back up the elevator with dirt all over your backside?" And the most obvious one: "Stop worrying about what you're wearing."

But as for the 10x10 Challenge...I might still do that.

Linked from the Wednesday Hodgepodge at From This Side of the Pond.

Friday, August 18, 2017

From the archives: Churchill and magnanimity

First posted July 2011

Seen in the New York Times Book Review: Harry V. Jaffa's review of Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics (translated by Robert C. Bartlett and Susan D. Collins, The University of Chicago Press).
"Some time in the 1920s, the Conservative statesman F. E. Smith — Lord Birkenhead — gave a copy of the “Nicomachean Ethics” to his close friend Winston Churchill. He did so saying there were those who thought this was the greatest book of all time. Churchill returned it some weeks later, saying it was all very interesting, but he had already thought most of it out for himself. But it is the very genius of Aristotle — as it is of every great teacher — to make you think he is uncovering your own thought in his. In Churchill’s case, it is also probable that the classical tradition informed more of his upbringing, at home and at school, than he realized.

"In 1946, in a letter to the philosopher Karl Löwith, Leo Strauss mentioned how difficult it had been for him to understand Aristotle’s account of magnanimity, greatness of soul, in Book 4 of the “Ethics.”

"The difficulty was resolved when he came to realize that Churchill was a perfect example of that virtue. So Churchill helped Leo Strauss understand Aristotle! That is perfectly consistent with Aristotle’s telling us it does not matter whether one describes a virtue or someone characterized by that virtue. Where the “Ethics” stands among the greatest of all great books perhaps no one can say. That Aristotle’s text, which explores the basis of the best way of human life, belongs on any list of such books is indisputable."

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Today is National Thrift Shop Day (and here's the new Project 333 page)

I just finished putting together my seventh seasonal #Project333 page. Out of 34 pieces of clothing and shoes for this fall (yes, I went over 33 this time), 24 are from thrift or consignment stores. So about 3/4 of my clothes, and most of my extras like belts and scarves, are on their "second life."

If you've followed us for awhile, you'll know that some of our furniture (like our dining room table) also came from the thrift store, and so did many of our books, records, baskets, craft supplies, toys (when the Squirrelings were younger), homeschool materials (ditto), and small appliances. It's also, sometimes, a source of items for Mr. Fixit to repair and restore.

These are the things we know about thrift stores: You can get nice things, sometimes unique or scarce things. You can pay less than retail. (Hopefully always, but even thrift stores do get mixed up or carried away on prices.) You can find wool sweaters when everything in the regular store is acrylic, and mixers with glass bowls when everything else is plastic. You can find the exact not-made-now model of bread machine that matches the previous one that conked out.

However, the benefits of thrift stores go beyond what you take home yourself.

Sales at our local MCC store benefit Mennonite Central Committee projects around the world, including disaster relief.  The store is also a great volunteering opportunity for many people (Lydia's experiences volunteering at a thrift store may have just helped get her a part-time job.) Shops representing other non-profit organizations will have similar goals and benefits. When you donate items, you're helping. When you shop, you're helping.

Would it work just as well to close down all the stores, have people just donate money instead, and send all the old stuff to the landfill?

Maybe. But it wouldn't be half as much fun.
Bead necklace, found at the MCC store today

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Back to the Wednesday Hodgepodge

From this Side of the Pond

1. Do your actions match your words? Elaborate.

Does anybody ever do everything the way they want to and say to? I know St. Paul had a problem with that.

But probably yes, more or less, because I hesitate to blather about things I haven't tried myself. Like parenting boys.

2. Sick as a dog, go to the dogs, dog days of summer, dog tired, it's a dog's life, every dog has it's day, can't teach an old dog new doggone it which saying could most recently be applied to your life?

An old dog, new tricks: I am looking at furthering my own education in the near future. I am not worried about the course content as much as I am about handling assignments online. If that sounds funny, considering that I have done other computer tasks like formatting books, just figure that every "old dog" has her particular cyber-bogeys.

3. Your favorite book featuring a dog in the storyline? What makes it a favorite?

I couldn't choose between

a) Mine for Keeps and Spring Begins in March, by Jean Little. Who wouldn't want a Westie after reading those?

b) the Mitford books, even if I can't imagine owning a dog as big as that.

c) The Ark, by Margot Benary-Isbert. Lots of dogs in that one.

4. What's something you hope to one day have the confidence to do?

Take a plane across the ocean. So far I've only gone as far as Texas.

5. August 16th is National Tell a Joke Day. So tell us a joke.

Knock knock.
Who's there?
Billy Bob Joe Penny.
Billy Bob Joe Penny who?
Seriously, how many Billy Bob Joe Pennys do you know?

(From Knock-Knock Jokes for Kids, by Rob Elliott.)

6. Insert your own random thought here.

The other night I had a dream that I was chasing three people through our apartment parking garage...I'm not sure whether I thought they were villains or whether I was just trying to get an interview with them. I woke up suddenly and thought, "I know who they are! They're the three women from A Wrinkle in Time, and the three weird sisters from The Prydain Chronicles. They can't fool me." I was hoping I would get the better of them or at least find them in the next dream, but they didn't reappear. I was disappointed, especially because my dreams aren't usually that archetypal (or even coherent).

The other funny thing about that dream is that one of the mysterious people was wearing the same grey poncho I bought recently. So I thought maybe I was trying to catch up with myself.

Which is what I seem to be doing a lot of lately, anyway.

Linked from The Wednesday Hodgepodge, at From This Side of the Pond.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

When we get clouds (#2)...

...sometimes we get hot-air balloons too.

Preview of my fall Project 333 page

"Perfection is highly overrated and you are working with pieces you love, so it will be hard to pick the wrong items." ~~ Courtney Carver
Who's counting?

I've gone back and forth on the question of whether to set a number limit on clothes. Thoughtful people have pointed out that it's more important to have a functional wardrobe, one that meets your needs and that you're happy with, than to limit yourself to a predetermined amount of clothes; or not to wear something nice that you own just because it's not in this season's capsule. 

Clothes from last spring's 10x10 Challenge

Still the questions keep coming. How do some minimalists manage even less than 33 items, jewelry and sunglasses included? Is resistance to fewer clothes a fear of being stripped down of my protective layers, in the same way that I want to turn the radio on when the room is too quiet?  Is my problem that I need to let go of too-comfortable excess? Or just that I can't decide on pink over green? 

I'm still working on those.

Life as it is

I try to stay honest about my typical day and week, and say no to clothes from some other life (one in which I'm taller, younger, and dress up for work). I admire Downton-Abbey-style vintage hats, but they would be a bit odd to wear around the apartment. I also don't have any real use for a new travel satchel, although I enjoy thinking that I'd like to pack clothes and go somewhere more often. I'll probably be away overnight just once during the fall, for a weekend retreat on Lake Erie.

“Is there not glory enough in living the days given to us? You should know there is adventure in simply being among those we love and the things we love, and beauty, too.” 

Tuesday, August 08, 2017

A Treehouse summer quiz: Answers

1. The last thing Mr. Fixit fixed was

a) Mama Squirrel's favourite Charlotte Mason souvenir pen that needed refilling
b) a little RCA Victor transistor radio that Grandpa Squirrel gave him for his birthday

He worked on both of these: the radio works fine, but the pen won't click. (We need another size refill.)

2. This week Lydia reached what milestone?

a) She got her first driver's license

It took visits to three different testing offices, due to crowds and cutbacks; but when she finally got to write the test, she aced it.

3. Who/what does Mama Squirrel have a ticket to hear in Toronto at the end of August?

b) Courtney Carver on The Tiny Wardrobe Tour

4. Lydia's school robotics team was one of 150 local individuals and groups that received awards from a Member of Parliament at an open-air ceremony this week. When they got to the 125th award, what happened?

c) A thunderstorm drenched everyone

5. Better late than never: which Star Trek series are we finally getting around to watching?

a) Deep Space Nine. DECEMBER UPDATE: We are still watching this...up to the third season now.

6. Who made Mr. Fixit's birthday cake?

a) Mr. Fixit (second one, for a family party)
b) Mama Squirrel (first one)

7. The high school course Lydia is most looking forward to in fall is:

c) enriched drama

8. Which of these things did come with us when we moved?

a) a complete set of Three Stooges DVDs
c) a coffee mug shaped like a Polaroid camera

9. Where does Mr. Fixit make hamburgers now?

b) around the back of the building.

UPDATE: when I wrote this in the summer, b) was the correct answer. After they put away the communal barbecues for the season, we bought a little electric grill that can be used on the balcony or even in the kitchen. So that's right too.

10. Why can't The Apprentice take the ferry to the Toronto Islands this summer?

a) flooding
b) nasty mosquitoes

Both: the water from the flooding caused a rise in virus-laden mosquitoes. Maybe next year?

Sunday, August 06, 2017

A Treehouse summer quiz

By way of catching up, here's a quiz for you to take about the new Treehouse and the Squirrels who do or don't live here now. See how many of these you can guess right. Answers will be posted soon.

1. The last thing Mr. Fixit fixed was

a) Mama Squirrel's favourite Charlotte Mason souvenir pen that needed refilling
b) a little RCA Victor transistor radio that Grandpa Squirrel gave him for his birthday
c) Muffin's leaking water bottle

2. This week Lydia reached what milestone?

a) She got her first driver's license
b) All her wisdom teeth came through at once
c) She got a job teaching swimming to small children

3. Who/what does Mama Squirrel have a ticket to hear in Toronto at the end of August?

a) Coldplay
b) Courtney Carver on The Tiny Wardrobe Tour
c) The Prime Minister of Canada

4. Lydia's school robotics team was one of 150 local individuals and groups that received awards from a Member of Parliament at an open-air ceremony this week. When they got to the 125th award, what happened?

a) They passed out popsicles to everyone
b) They called a break for everyone to do some Swedish Drill
c) A thunderstorm drenched everyone

5. Better late than never: which Star Trek series are we finally getting around to watching?

a) Deep Space Nine
b) Enterprise
c) Voyager

6. Who made Mr. Fixit's birthday cake?

a) Mr. Fixit
b) Mama Squirrel
c) He didn't have one because he hates cake

7. The high school course Lydia is most looking forward to in fall is:

a) co-op accounting
b) accelerated biology
c) enriched drama

8. Which of these things did come with us when we moved?

a) a complete set of Three Stooges DVDs
b) a vintage toboggan which we are using as wall art in our bedroom
c) a coffee mug shaped like a Polaroid camera
d) A and B
e) A and C

9. Where does Mr. Fixit make hamburgers now?

a) in the bathroom with the fan going
b) around the back of the building
c) on the balcony

10. Why can't The Apprentice take the ferry to the Toronto Islands this summer?

a) flooding
b) nasty mosquitoes
c) they doubled the fare
d) she is not in Toronto anyway, she's touring Scotland