Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Repost from a year ago: Shop, but don't drop

Christmas C.M. Countdown, Day 17: Let's go Christmas Shopping with Charlotte Mason

What Shall We Buy?

In the previous posts about Will, we mentioned choosing between things and courses of action; but in Chapter IV (The Scope of Will), Charlotte Mason makes a finer distinction and says that the true function of the Will is to choose not between things themselves, but "between the ideas which these represent" (p. 147). 
"We must bring wide reading, reflection, conscience, and judgment to bear upon our opinions, if it be only an opinion concerning a novel or a sermon––upon our principles, if they affect only the ordering of our day." (p. 150)
To take it even further (Mason says), if we think we are just making a "regular" choice about something, let's say buying a Christmas present, we may actually be acting with Will, because we're choosing a principle, maybe, of "common sense and good taste," rather than ego and vanity, or even idolatry. Sometimes using the Will is easier than we think!  
"Once having arrived at principles of choice in such matters, the special occasions give very little trouble. A choice of will implies some previous action of judgment and conscience, some knowledge of the subject, and, generally, some exercise of taste and imagination. We do not choose a thing because we will to do so––that would be mere waywardness; but will acts upon information and reflection." (p. 149)
The key warning word seems to be "suggestion," whether it comes from the media, from what's offered as we browse (online or in a store), or by a salesperson. (See a previous post on this topic.) Those who have read Charlotte Mason's guides to education will recall her criticism of teachers who use "suggestion" as a subtle means of manipulating students. Again, this is a very fine line, because we know that even a tiny suggestion can be very potent, especially if it comes from a respected source. (Idolatry again?) When we can see a mistake about to be made, it is so, so hard to maintain "masterly inactivity" and not to interfere. 

Too complicated? Here's the short version according to Mason: if you're watching kids play, and if nobody's in immediate and serious danger of getting hurt, back off. If giving advice to friends means that you're stealing an opportunity for them to build their choosing muscles, keep quiet. And when it comes to your own choices, realize that you are dealing with ideas more than things, and try to choose based more on "information and reflection," and firm, clear principles, than spur-of-the-moment suggestions.

Shop Till We Drop...Where?
"Cheap 'Notions.'––The dishonest fallacy, that it is our business to get the best that is to be had at the lowest price, is another cause of infinite waste of time, money, and nervous energy. The haunting of sales, the ransacking of shop after shop, the sending for patterns here, there, and everywhere, and various other immoralities, would be avoided if we began with the deliberate will-choice of a guiding principle; that, for example, we are not in search of the best and the cheapest, but, of what answers our purpose at the price we can afford to pay.
"The mad hunt for the best, newest, most striking, and cheapest, is not confined to matters of dress and ornament, household use and decoration. We are apt to run after our opinions and ideas with the same restless uncertainty. Indeed, it is ideas we hunt all the time; even if we go to a sale with the dishonest and silly notion that we shall get such and such a thing––'a bargain,' that is, for less than its actual worth." (p. 149)
Charlotte Mason would seem to be very much in tune with current ideas of sustainable and well-considered shopping. As someone who lives next door to a discount store, I am well aware of the temptations of imported bargains and glitz. Even there, though, I try to think through what comes home. There is no reason to impulse-buy four t-shirts just because they're cheap; but they did have decent cloth handkerchiefs awhile ago, so I bought two packages. I don't buy Santa sweatshirts, but I did buy a solid-colour turtleneck sweater that looked like it would hold up through a reasonable number of washings. In a way, for me, shopping there is a good choice because it means I do not run to other stores looking for bargains. Still, I'm aware of even better alternatives, including fair trade, buying from a local maker, shopping used, or not buying anything new at all (re-using, different-using, up-cycling), and I try to choose those options when I can.

That sounds boring! I would rather live in Whoville at Christmas!
"The great decision open to us all, the great will act of a life, is whether we shall make our particular Mansoul available for service by means of knowledge, love, and endeavour. Then, the opportunities that come are not our affair, any more than it is the affair of the soldier whether he has sentry duty or is called to the attack." (p. 151)
So here's the thing...

If we're available, and not caught up with some other "really important" thing, the adventures will come.

And if we're paying attention, we won't miss hearing the angels.

Saturday, December 14, 2019

Mama Squirrel's Want-to-read List for 2020

I did not get to all the books on my 2019 wish-list (do I ever?), so there is some overlap. I don't have any required textbooks this year, but I do have some leftover education books I picked up, and one (Biesta) that I'd like to track down and read.

Earlier this year, Malcolm Guite published a list of five poets he recommends, and representative works for each, so I've included those even though I don't own any of those books.


Biesta, Gert J.J.
The Beautiful Risk of Education

Gardner, Howard
Good Work: When Excellence and Ethics Meet

Glass, Karen
In Vital Harmony

Katz, Steven
Intentional Interruption: Breaking Down Learning Barriers to Transform Professional Practice

Kohn, Alfie
The Schools Our Children Deserve

Mumaw, Stefan, and Wendy Lee Oldfield
Caffeine for the Creative Team: 150 Exercises to Inspire Group Innovation

Palmer, Parker J.
The Courage to Teach: Exploring the Inner Landscape of a Teacher's Life

Words and Ideas

Greenfield, Susan A
Tomorrow's People: How 21st-Century Technology is Changing the Way We Think and Feel

Boyle, Mark
The Way Home: Tales from a Life Without Technology

Levitin, Daniel J.
The Organized Mind: Thinking Straight in the Age of Information Overload

Adler, Mortimer J.
How to Think about the Great Ideas: From the Great Books of Western Civilization

Ruined by Reading: A Life in Books
Schwartz, Lynne Sharon

Piper, John
Think!: The Life of the Mind and the Love of God

Lewis, C.S.
Fern-seed and Elephants, and Other Essays on Christianity

Armstrong, Chris R.
Medieval Wisdom for Modern Christians: Finding Authentic Faith in a Forgotten Age with C. S. Lewis

Lindvall, Terry
Surprised by Laughter: The Comic World of C.S. Lewis

Shaw, Luci
The Crime of Living Cautiously: Hearing God's Call to Adventure

O'Connor, Flannery
Spiritual Writings

O'Connor, Flannery
The Habit of Being (Letters)

Murray, Donald
Writing for your Readers

Jauss, David
Words Overflown by Stars: Creative Writing Instruction and Insight from the Vermont College Mfa Program

Guite, Malcolm
Mariner: A Voyage with Samuel Taylor Coleridge

Oliver, Mary
A Poetry Handbook

Eagleton, Terry
How to Read a Poem

Behn, Robin
The Practice of Poetry: Writing Exercises From Poets Who Teach

Koch, Kenneth
I Never Told Anybody: Teaching Poetry Writing in a Nursing Home


Buechner, Frederick
Lion Country

Haruf, Kent
Plainsong (Plainsong, #1)

Tolkien, J.R.R.
Tree and Leaf, Smith of Wootton Major, The Homecoming of Beorhtnoth


Chesterton, G.K.
St. Thomas Aquinas / St. Francis of Assisi

Lawson, Dorie McCullough
Posterity: Letters of Great Americans to their Children


Cairns, Scott
Idiot Psalms

Di Cesare, Mario A. (ed.)
George Herbert and the Seventeenth-Century Religious Poets

Eliot, T.S.
Inventions of the March Hare: Poems 1909-1917

Heaney, Seamus
Opened Ground: Selected Poems 1966-1996

Hill, Geoffrey

Lewis, Gwyneth
Zero Gravity: A Space Requiem

Shaw, Luci
Harvesting Fog

Shaw, Luci
Polishing the Petoskey Stone: Selected Poems

Williams, William Carlos

Wordsworth, William
Selected Poems


Macfarlane, Robert
The Old Ways: A Journey on Foot

Aird, Paul Leet
Loon Laughter

Lawrence, Gale
The Beginning Naturalist: Weekly Encounters with the Natural World

Lochnan, Katharine A.
The Earthly Paradise: Arts and Crafts by William Morris and His Circle from Canadian Collections

Collingwood, R.G.
The Principles of Art

Cline, Elizabeth L.
The Conscious Closet: The Revolutionary Guide to Looking Good While Doing Good

Carver, Courtney
Project 333: The Minimalist Fashion Challenge That Proves Less Really Is So Much More

Minter, Adam
Secondhand: Travels in the New Global Garage Sale

Friday, December 13, 2019

Mama Squirrel's List of Books Read in 2019

It has been an interesting year, and the books seemed to go in chunks. There were several books I really wanted to read but didn't have time or opportunity for, so they're going on next year's list.

As always, just because I read it doesn't mean I recommend it!

Maybe the book that influenced me the most this year

McKeown, Greg
Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less

A novel about researchers that unexpectedly helped me get through a course about research

Willis, Connie

Better in hardcover:

Karon, Jan
Patches of Godlight: Father Tim's Favorite Quotes

A book I was coerced into reading

Young, William Paul
The Shack

Another book I read quickly but didn't like as much as I wanted to

Magsamen, Sandra
Living Artfully: Create the Life You Imagine

Things I read for Adult Education and related term papers

Garvin, David A.
Learning in Action: A Guide to Putting the Learning Organization to Work

Gostick, Adrian
The Best Team Wins: The New Science of High Performance

Illeris, Knud
The Fundamentals of Workplace Learning: Understanding How People Learn in Working Life

Merriam, Sharan B.
Qualitative Research: A Guide to Design and Implementation

Prior, Karen Swallow
On Reading Well

Raelin, Joseph A.
Work-Based Learning

Wolf, Maryanne
Reader, Come Home: The Reading Brain in a Digital World

Things I read for Charlotte Mason-related pursuits

Kingsley, Charles
Madam How and Lady Why (re-read)

Mason, Charlotte M.
Formation of Character (Original Homeschooling #5) (re-read)

Mason, Charlotte M.
Parents and Children (Original Homeschooling #2) (re-read)

Salloum, J E
Our World-God's Visible Language: Visible Creation as Testimony to an Invisible Creator

Poetry and Kindred Thoughtfulness

Berry, Wendell
Our Only World: Ten Essays

Bestvater, Laurie
Studying to be Quiet: One Hundred Days of Keeping

Buechner, Frederick
A Crazy, Holy Grace: The Healing Power of Pain and Memory

Buechner, Frederick
Now and Then: A Memoir of Vocation

Buechner, Frederick
Telling Secrets

Rumer Godden (translator), Carmen Bernos De Gasztold
Prayers from the Ark (re-read)

Guite, Malcolm
After Prayer: New sonnets and other poems

How to suddenly move and have to rethink your space

Bauwens, Liz
Country in the City: Relaxed Style for Modern Living

Becker, Joshua
The Minimalist Home: A Room-by-Room Guide to a Decluttered, Refocused Life

Boyle, Erin
Simple Matters: Living with Less and Ending Up with More (re-read)

Florke, Randy
Restore. Recycle. Repurpose.: Create a Beautiful Home

Michaels, Melissa
Love the Home You Have

Mitchell, Ryan
Tiny House Living: Ideas for Building & Living Well in Less than 400 Square Feet

Postel-Vinay, Danielle
Home Sweet Maison: The French Art of Making a Home

Smith, Myquillyn
Cozy Minimalist Home: More Style, Less Stuff

White, Dana K.
Decluttering at the Speed of Life: Winning Your Never-Ending Battle with Stuff (re-read)

White, Dana K.
How to Manage Your Home Without Losing Your Mind: Dealing with Your House's Dirty Little Secrets

How to kill time in the midst of moving

Maffini, Mary Jane
Organize Your Corpses (A Charlotte Adams Mystery, #1)

Maffini, Mary Jane
The Cluttered Corpse (A Charlotte Adams Mystery #2)

Maffini, Mary Jane
Death Loves a Messy Desk (A Charlotte Adams Mystery #3)

Maffini, Mary Jane
Closet Confidential (A Charlotte Adams Mystery #4) (re-read)

Maffini, Mary Jane
The Busy Woman's Guide to Murder (A Charlotte Adams Mystery #5)

Books about money, clothes, and sustainability stuff

Button, Tara
A Life Less Throwaway: The Lost Art of Buying for Life

Heti, Sheila
Women in Clothes

Imhoff, Daniel
Paper or Plastic

Jackson, Carole
Color Me Beautiful: Discover Your Natural Beauty Through the Colors That Make You Look Great and Feel Fabulous! (old book, re-read)

Linett, Andrea
The Cool Factor: A Guide to Achieving Effortless Style, with Secrets from the Women Who Have It

Long, Charles K.
How to Survive Without a Salary: Living the Conserver Lifestyle (old book, re-read)

McCallum, Will
How to Give Up Plastic: A Guide to Changing the World, One Plastic Bottle at a Time

Rees, Anuschka
Beyond Beautiful: A Practical Guide to Being Happy, Confident, and You in a Looks-Obsessed World

Simpson, Lee
My Year of Buying Nothing

Soukup, Ruth
Unstuffed: Decluttering Your Home, Mind and Soul

White, Betz
Sewing Green: Projects and Ideas for Stitching with Organic, Repurposed, and Recycled Fabrics

Miscellaneous fiction

Aldrich, Bess Streeter
Miss Bishop

Alexander, Lloyd
The First Two Lives of Lukas-Kasha

Christie, Agatha
They Do It with Mirrors (Miss Marple, #6) (re-read)

Goudge, Elizabeth
Pilgrim's Inn (Eliots of Damerosehay, #2) (re-read)

Goudge, Elizabeth
The Scent of Water

Goudge, Elizabeth
The Sister of the Angels

Graham, Winston
Ross Poldark (Poldark #1)

Grimes, Martha
The Old Fox Deceiv'd (Richard Jury, #2) (I think this was a re-read. I read several from this series back in the 1990's, but I'm not sure which ones.)

Grimes, Martha
The Anodyne Necklace (Richard Jury, #3)

Grimes, Martha
The Dirty Duck (Richard Jury, #4)

Hill, Grace Livingston
Not Under the Law (re-read)

Karon, Jan
Home to Holly Springs (Mitford Years, #10) (re-read)

Karon, Jan
To Be Where You Are (Mitford Years, #14) (re-read)

Penny, Louise
Still Life (Chief Inspector Armand Gamache, #1)

A Miscellany

Brandeis, Madeline
Little Anne of Canada

Michael, Chester P.
Prayer and Temperament

Newport, Cal
Digital Minimalism: Choosing a Focused Life in a Noisy World

Westley, Frances R.
Getting to Maybe: How the World Is Changed