Friday, September 28, 2018

The Intentional Thrifter: Neglected skirt to new scarf, and two books

I noticed the floral-textured skirt earlier this month. A pretty colour, I thought, but no way I'm wearing a size 24.

Nobody else bought it either, and today was its last 75% off call, putting the price down to a dollar. I looked at it one last time and thought "circle scarf."

I brought the skirt home and cut off the top third (including the zipper). That's it. It's not a fabric that's apt to fray, but I might hem the cut edge just to keep things nice. The photo makes it look very purple, but it's really more burgundy-toned.
I also found a couple of books. Everyone should have a copy of On Writing Well around, really! This is a replacement: our previous one was water-warped and didn't come with us when we moved.

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

The Intentional Thrifter: classic to frivolous

I have a so-so relationship with button-up shirts. I think it's a hangover from Girl Guide uniforms of the 1970's. They never seem to fit right (too tight, too long, or both), or they're too crisp and menswear for me.

I found this blue and white pinstriped shirt yesterday, and brought it home in spite of my no-shop rule. My rationale: if you do find a classic that doesn't give you flashbacks, it's worth breaking the rules for.
I forgot to post about this top that I found a couple of weeks ago. It's fast fashion. It's synthetic. It's shiny. It's not made to last. But it is fun for dressing up.
It reminds me of one of my favourite Tom Thomson paintings.
Image result for tom thomson nocturne
Tom Thomson, "Nocturne, Algonquin Park, 1915"

It also goes quite well with this scarf.
So, both tops are hanging out in my closet for this fall.

Monday, September 24, 2018

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Bad dwarves, card games, and Sunday thoughts

The Apprentice is here for the weekend, and she brought a card game that she thrifted (that's my girl). If you've played Mille Bornes, it's a bit like that: you're either a good dwarf miner, or a bad dwarf saboteur, and only you know which type of card you've gotten. The object is to build a path of cards towards three other mystery cards, two rocks and one gold (again you don't know which is which, although there are opportunities to find out). If you can guess who's acting like a friendly dwarf or a saboteur, you can either try to help them or stymie them; but they might be bluffing. If the good dwarves get to the gold, they share it; if the saboteurs keep them away, they keep it themselves. Simple, right? Kids could play this; you don't even have to be able to read.

Here's the thought: sometimes making good choices is about discernment, trying to figure out what the saboteurs are in our lives and squashing them.  (I said what, not who.) What are the positive and negative factors? You can waste a lot of time trying to tell one from the other, and sometimes the saboteurs are going to win even if you slow them down with broken-pickaxe cards. 

The other approach is to keep going with our own tasks (building the road to the goal/gold). You take the good with the bad, extend grace whenever possible, and realize that, in real life, good and evil can switch places. Or what began as evil, God can turn You might be better using your turn to put down a path card instead of strewing broken-pickaxes around.

It won't help anyone win the card game, but it might help with the bigger story.

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Frugal finds and fixes, and some letting go

Fixing: Besides fixing the jean buttons yesterday, I'm trying to cure a bad case of salt stains that afflicted my old-but-otherwise-okay winter boots. I gave them a spa morning on the balcony, with repeated vinegar-water spraying and wiping, and it did help quite a lot. I may give them a return appointment if tomorrow's sunny again.

Fun find: Another mostly-there craft pad of punchouts and boxes.
I like printed bits and pieces for gift tags and card making.
Money well spent: A doorbell for the apartment, ordered online. Beats listening for people politely tapping. You can even change the ringer from ding-dong to tunes, if you're in the mood.

Still blessedly free, more or less: Radio stations. Watching monarch butterflies migrate past the balcony on September evenings. Wearing fall clothes you already have but that it's been too hot to wear since May.

Letting things go: I do make thrifting mistakes, or end up with too much the same, or trade up to something I like better or that's a better fit. So I'm filling a bag with clothes and books to re-donate.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

The Intentional Thrifter buys some un-mom jeans

I finally decided that my thrifted-two-years-ago lone pair of blue jeans were getting too baggy and worn, so today I took a look through the thrift-store jeans rack. Two pairs looked like possibilities, and only one of those fit. Happily, that pair had this week's coloured discount tag, so the final price was a dollar fifty.
One of the two waist buttons came off in the fitting room. The other button, bizarrely, appeared to have been resewn, but backwards. I fixed them both when I got home. The jeans are in good shape otherwise. They're a skinny cut, ankle length, not baggy. Yay.

Here comes the "good reasons to thrift" part of this story. These jeans are from the same Canadian designer as the grey suit I posted about earlier this year. Jeans on her website are listed at about $150 Canadian (U.S.$115). That's a little bit scary, K-Mart Shoppers. I mean, these are pretty nice jeans, and I was happy to find them, but I don't know that you'd look at them and think they had been hand-sewn by elves or something. They are made in Canada, not overseas, so that may partly account for the high price. And some people just like to shop in boutiques and have the money to do so...and, apparently, to pass them on to the MCC thrift store when the buttons get loose.

Well, I send them my unbaggy and sincere thanks.

Sunday, September 16, 2018

From the archives: How Charlotte Mason might have taught a lesson on ecosystems and biogeography

First posted September 2014. Lydia was in Grade 8.
Subject: Ecosystems and Biogeography.

Group: Science. Class III. Time: 30 minutes. By Mama Squirrel.

Book used:  Exploring The World Around You, by Gary Parker.

I. To increase the student's knowledge of biotic and abiotic factors.
II. To show how all living things are connected to each other.
III. To give some account of the different biogeographic realms, using Australian marsupials as an example.

By way of introduction, I would ask the student to tell me the meaning of an ecosystem, and, for any ecosystem, name some of the things included; for instance, in an aquarium, we would have particular plants, animals, but also factors such as light and temperature. (Don't forget the tiny organisms that we can't see unaided.)  We can label any of these factors as either biotic or abiotic.  How do the different "factors" interact with each other? (Example: plants releasing oxygen for the animals to use.)

I would have her read orally from Exploring The World Around You, page 11, the paragraph about the interaction in an aquarium ecosystem.

Then, after narration, I would show a map of the six (original) major biogeographic realms: Palearctic, Nearctic, Neotropical, Ethiopian, Oriental, Australian.  Recently this map has been updated.  I would give the student a printout of the updated map, and read from the accompanying article.  "Our study is a long overdue update of one of the most fundamental maps in natural sciences," lead author of the new research in Science, Ben Holt, said in a press release. "For the first time since Wallace's attempt we are finally able to provide a broad description of the natural world based on incredibly detailed information for thousands of vertebrate species."  

After narration, we could talk about why scientists believe it to be important to divide the biogeographic realms more accurately, and what has allowed them to do that. Something hard to think about: would creationists and evolutionists think about biogeography somewhat differently?  As an example of a creationist approach, we would read the rest of the chapter, about Australian marsupials. 

Adapted from Class Notes, as printed in various Parents' Reviews.

From the comments on the original post:
"This is wonderful! And the question follows - how can the homeschooling mother find the information needed to teach these kinds of lessons to her students, and how is she able to do that in the minimal time she has available while also managing a bustling household. Is it wishful thinking for us?"

My response:
"I don't try to teach every lesson this way; I do try to beef up some chapters or lessons, like this one, that seem like they could benefit from a "CM touch." While I don't have a really bustling homeschool these days, I am (obviously) not a scientist or geographer, so I think that should be reassuring! Mostly I just read through the lesson carefully, look for narration points or places where you could include map work etc. In this case, the book (written a few years ago) included a small map of the biogeographic divisions. When I looked online for a better map, I came across the updated information and thought it should be included in the lesson."

Friday, September 14, 2018

Wear your closet: not purple today

A final entry in Encircled's #wearyourcloset challenge. The "blouse" is my Encircled Chrysalis Cardi, which I have to admit I do not wear often, so it fits the challenge! The suit came from a thrift store, and the necklace is a thrifted scarf clip.

Quote for the day: Frye on the power of practical decision

"It follows that such a cliche as 'teaching the student to think for himself' is not a simple conception either...In real thinking we first study a given subject long enough to enable its laws and categories to take possession of our minds, after which we may move around inside the subject with some freedom. There is no real thought outside such disciplines...Of course a thinker should be able to return to society with an enormously heightened power of practical decision, but by that time he has lost interest in thinking for himself." ~~ Northrop Frye, "The Critical Discipline," an address to the Fellows of Sections I and II of the Royal Society of Canada, June 1960, included in his book On Education 

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Poetic thought for the day: "Until we recognize a grandeur"

"Not with the mean and vulgar works of man,
But with high objects, with enduring things--
With life and nature, purifying thus
The elements of feeling and of thought,
And sanctifying, by such discipline,
Both pain and fear, until we recognize
A grandeur in the beatings of the heart." ~~ William Wordsworth, The Prelude, Book I

Wear your closet: unbuttoned

I usually wear cardigans either buttoned up or hanging loose. But Encircled's week of use-what-you-have reminded me that belts work too.
Cardigan thrifted earlier this year, put on hold till fall.

Quote for the day: Tellers of our own story

"Christians are going to have to become better tellers of our own story. Young people are not going to be argued into Christian chastity or browbeaten by moralistic maxims. Beauty and goodness, embodied in great art and fiction, and in the lives of ordinary Christians, married and single, is the only thing that stands a chance.

"If we don't do it, the culture will do it for us." ~~ Rod Dreher, The Benedict Option

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Wear your closet: turn it around

One way to stretch a small wardrobe: wear things backwards. It works more often than you'd think.

Sweater dress, thrifted yesterday to replace my older dark green sweater dress that was pilling.
Turned backwards and pulled up a little, with leggings. Easy.

Quote for the day: Travels with St. Luke

"As they walked, Luke kept them informed of the history of the area, pointing out where Octavian and Antony had met Brutus and Cassius in  battle.
"How is it that a physician knows so much about history?' Silas asked.
Luke smiled at him. 'An educated man should know about many things. And besides, history is the most fascinating of subjects. Have you never read Thucydides' history?'
Silas frowned. 'I never heard of him.'
Luke shook his head. 'What a bunch of dolts I am forced to travel with! One of the most famous Greeks of all time and you have never heard of him!"
Timothy spoke up. 'I know who he is. I read his history in school.'
'Ah,' smiled Luke, 'all is not lost! Here we have an educated young man. Now tell me, Timothy, have you also read anything by Xenophon?'
'Only his Anabasis.'
'Then you are in luck. I have a copy of Memorabilia. You will have to read it. It is marvelous.'
And so as the four men approached the city of Philippi, Luke and Timothy were lost in a conversation about history and philosophy. Paul silently contemplated the great challenge that lay before him, and Silas complained about the blisters that were developing on his feet." ~~ Lydia, Seller of Purple, by Robert W. Faid (1984)

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

The Intentional Thrifter: Find and replace; wearing your closet

I am trying not to add extra clothes to my closet, but this plum-coloured sweater dress is a replacement for another dress that had gotten very pilled. So that's okay.

I'm still looking for belts and shoes, but haven't seen any that I like or that fit. It might take awhile.

I've thrifted some books recently, but they're mostly for gifts and I don't want to spill any secrets. Things I did not buy today, although it was close: a photo book about midcentury modern style; a boxed set of the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy books; a paperback copy of Watership Down (I might still pick that up at the end of the week). 

The (or .com) clothing company is doing a Wear Your Closet challenge this week, through their Instagram page. You pick seven items of clothing you "never wear," spend the week seeing if you can find ways to wear them, and post photos to Instagram. Encircled also sends you styling hints during the week. (If you still don't like the seven items after all that, you have permission to give up and give them away.) Am I participating? Not officially, because I have already thinned out the things I doubted I'd wear again.

But this week's return to sweater-weather, combined with the Encircled challenge, reminded me to try new things. I've already worn a new-to-me sweater with a grey skirt I picked up in April but didn't wear much; and layered a slightly-too-short denim shirtdress with a top and leggings. Today I noticed that an old favourite pullover goes very well (in a cheerfully-clashing sort of way) with the last scarf I bought, and that's what I wore to sort books.
So that's how I'm wearing my closet.

Thursday, September 06, 2018

Quote for the day: First, last, and Wordsworth

"Any temptation I might have to say 'this is my last word on the subject' is checked by the realization that it is probably also my first word. For I find myself constantly returning to the assumptions and intuitions of my earliest critical approaches...I suspect that every critical or creative effort in words is a beginning, a reconstructed creation myth. Its model, for those in my field, is Wordsworth's last work, published after his death at eighty, and bearing the title of 'Prelude.'" ~~ Northrop Frye, preface to On Education (1988)

From the archives: Serious Times (book review)

First posted September 2011
"God calls us to live large on the very stage we find ourselves.  God has placed us in this very situation to infuse it with meaning and significance.  This enables us to live for Christ now rather than waiting for a set of circumstances we imagine will allow us to serve him in the future.  This simple but profound attitude has marked many of the great lives...."
The best book I've read lately...really the Serious Times: Making Your Life Matter in an Urgent Day, by James Emery White, published in 2004.

I'm not sure if I'd ever read anything by Dr. White before.  I didn't go looking for him.  The book turned up in a pile of "religious non-fiction" I was pricing at the thrift store.  I liked the look of it and decided to buy it myself.

The Amazon reviews are pretty right on.  To say it's an entertaining book (as someone there said) might sound like you were doing it an injustice (I mean, the title is Serious Times); but it is written in an engaging and readable style.  Good thought stuff, good faith stuff, good life stuff.  I especially liked the chapter on "Developing Our Minds."  Here's a quote from that chapter:

"Beyond engaging various fields of thought, it is critical to be able to think about our faith in relation to its significance.  In dialogue with the world, the deepest question regarding the Christian faith is 'So what?'  This simple question gets to the heart of not only thinking Christianly but communicating Christianity itself....The Christian mind must understand the significance [of the resurrection] in order to offer it to the world.  If we cannot, we will have lost our place in the most critical of conversations--indeed, the only conversation that matters."
This one is a keeper.  I'd like to figure out a way to use it for an adult Sunday School class.  It would also be a great addition to a highschool worldview course.

One more quote:

"By nature we tend to adapt, to conform, to our surroundings.  There are only two forces shaping us: one is the world and the other is the will of God.  If we are to avoid becoming in the surrounding culture, we must take a stand.  That stand comes through the renewing of our minds....Taken into prayer, ideas become real, life-changing, dynamic.  Then, and only then, they change my life."

Wednesday, September 05, 2018

Quote for the day: Northrop Frye on the subversive career of an English teacher

Image result for "prince caspian" doctor cornelius 
"At his trial Socrates compared himself to a midwife, using what for that male-oriented society was a deliberately vulgar metaphor. Perhaps the teacher of literature today might be called a kind of drug pusher. He hovers furtively on the outskirts of social organization, dodging possessive parents, evading drill sergeant educators and snoopy politicians, passing over the squares, disguising himself from anyone who might get at the source of his income. If society really understood what he was doing, there would be many who would make things as uncomfortable as they could for him, though luckily malice and stupidity usually go together. When no one is looking, he distributes products that are guaranteed to expand the mind, and are quite capable of blowing it as well. But if Canada ever becomes as famous in cultural history as the Athens of Socrates, it will be largely because, in spite of indifference or philistinism or even contempt, he has persisted in the immortal task granted only to teachers, the task of corrupting its youth." ~~ Northrop Frye, keynote address to the Ontario Council of Teachers of English, October 30, 1980. Published in Indirections 6 (Winter 1981). Republished in Frye's book On Education.

The last Wednesday Hodgepodge, and Mama Squirrel's summer reading list

From this Side of the Pond
I have not Wednesday-Hodgepodged for awhile, but I'm glad I didn't miss this one: it's the last-ever Hodgepodge. (First time we participated: July 2015.)

1. What has been the highlight of your summer so far? (It's still summer, people!)

That would be the trip to the U.S. in July, which was a sort of working holiday, retreat and reunion all at once. Some of our family also had a nice one-day holiday on Lake Huron.

2. What do you wish you'd done more of this summer? Less of?

Eaten more peaches: the ones we had were amazing.

I spent half the summer finishing a spring-term online course, and then a couple more weeks working on a writing project. So I could say I wish I'd done less work, but I really don't wish that, because Things Got Done.

 3. Something you're looking forward to on your September calendar?

My fall term online course, Designing Curriculum for Adult Learners, starts today. (So I'm procrastinating by answering the Hodgepodge.)

 4. Best/favorite book you've read this summer?

In June, I finished two education textbooks, a book of Denise Levertov's poetry, and the business book Scrum, which I'm still pondering.

Here are my four favourite books from July, August, and the first few days in September (because it's still summer):

Ulin, David
The Lost Art of Reading: Why Books Matter in a Distracted Time

Walsh, Peter
Let It Go (about decluttering)

White, James Emery
A Mind for God

Willis, Connie
To Say Nothing of the Dog

 6. Insert your own random thought here. 

Our family has now been online for twenty years. Definitely a life-changing decision, to dial up that first connection. Our two youngest cannot remember life any other way. It's been good, bad, strange, useful, productive, time-wasting, annoying, and amazing by turns. Right now it means that I have to go and work on my online class.

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

Tuesday, September 04, 2018

Quote for the day: And that's all there is to say about that.

"I do not know of anything except the arts and the sciences that can tell us anything about reality." ~~ Northrop Frye, preface to On Education (1988)

The Intentional Thrifter had good intentions today

I knew I shouldn't even have gone into the thrift store clothing section today. I am in a no-clothes-buying season right now. But I did, and there it was: a sort of snakeskin-print grey and blue-grey cotton tunic sweater. I'll make room, okay?
I took a whole bag of books in to the store, and came out with one (plus the sweater): Northrop Frye, On Education.
Am I the only one who finds it funny that the cover shows a tree and a bitten apple? In this case, the fall was caused by listening to the snakeskin.