Seventeen years of Treehouse talk

Seventeen years of Treehouse talk

Wednesday, May 04, 2022

May Be the Wednesday Hodgepodge

Here are the questions to this week's Wednesday Hodgepodge. Answer on your own blog, then hop back here tomorrow to share answers with the universe. See you there-

From this Side of the Pond

1. May Day! May Day!...last time you shouted for help? Or maybe just asked? 

Mr. Fixit! My Overdrive account has gone kerflooey! All my virtual library book holds have disappeared and it seems to think it's four years ago! What's going on?

(My account somehow got shifted over to a seldom-used card for another library. I still don't know how.)

2. What's something you may do this month? 

Take a drive to Lake Huron, just for fun and because the weather's getting better.

3.  'April showers bring May flowers' this true where you live? What's blooming? What's your favorite springtime blossom?

Spring comes slowly here (we were still getting dustings of snow until recently), but the buds are out on our lilac bush, and I've seen some tulips and violets.

4. What's something you learned at your mother's knee?

To share.

5. Share a thought about motherhood. 

     "The Babe,
Nursed in his Mother's arms, who sinks to sleep
Rocked on his Mother's breast; who with his soul
Drinks in the feelings of his Mother's eye!
For him, in one dear Presence, there exists
A virtue which irradiates and exalts
Objects through widest intercourse of sense.
No outcast he, bewildered and depressed:
Along his infant veins are interfused
The gravitation and the filial bond
Of nature that connects him with the world." (William Wordsworth, The Prelude)

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

Wednesday, April 27, 2022

The Age of Aquarium: A Warm-Weather Clothes Story (Only Partly True)

Part One: First Try

No, she's not an oceanographer or a photographer. She just happens to love art glass, like millefiori paperweights, and particularly pieces shaped like turtles. 
So when this purse decorated with mosaic-patterned sea turtles appeared at the thrift store, she snapped it up. (Turtle joke.)
Bflairs PU leather purse

She's read that there's an amazing glass paperweight collection at the Bergstrom-Mahler Museum of Glass in Neenah, Wisconsin. And, coincidentally, she sees on their website that they will be having a Glass Festival this August. So she talks her two best friends, who happen to be her parents, into driving to Wisconsin with her. 

But first she has to pull out her box of summer clothes; and if she needs to think out a travelling wardrobe, she might as well stretch it out for the rest of the warm weather. 

Wednesday, April 20, 2022

Wednesday Hodgepodge: Turtles all the way down

Here are the questions to this week's Wednesday Hodgepodge. Answer on your own blog, then hop back to From This Side of the Pond (click the graphic) to add your link to the party.

From this Side of the Pond
1. What's something you wish you had spent more time doing when you were younger? Explain. 

Oh, a lot of things.

Learning how to drive.

Talking to the older people in the family and asking them questions that I will never get the answers to now.

2. Who inspires you to be better? Tell us how. 

To be a better person all-round, or just to be better at something or other? I could say some of my friends who are much better at very serious reading (like actually finishing the books) than I am, but that would be making comparisons.

3. Share a money saving tip with us. 

Don't stew for a week about a purse you saw at the thrift store with turtles on it, that might still be there if you took the trouble to go back and hunt for it. Because you absolutely do not need a purse with turtles on it.

4. It's National Garlic Day...are you a fan? Your favorite dish that includes garlic? 

Garlic's good. Around here we are very fond of store-brand canned stewed tomatoes with onion and garlic. They're very useful for making both spaghetti sauce and chicken paprikash..

5. Would you describe yourself as decisive or indecisive. Elaborate. 

You're asking someone who couldn't decide about a purse with turtles on it?

6. Insert your own random thought here. 

Purses with turtles.


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

Thursday, April 07, 2022

Five Things I've Learned Recently

That 1960's maternity wards didn't want to see babies leaving without a name, so they suggested a few defaults. Darlene, Dawn, Debra, Jenny...yep, sounds like my 1970's class list. (We won't even discuss what they did to my name.)


That William Morris disapproved of Wagner's turning the Northern Epics into opera--he thought that was entirely too flippant.

"Many thanks for your letter and the translation of Wagner : I have not had time to read it yet : nor to say the truth am I much interested in anything Wagner does, as his theories on musical matters seem to me as an artist and non-musical man perfectly abhominable :  besides I look upon it as nothing short of desecration to bring such a tremendous and world-wide subject: under the gaslights of an opera : the most rococo and degraded of all forms of art the idea of a sandy-haired German tenor tweedledeeing over the unspeakable woes of Sigurd, which even the simplest words are not typical enough to express ! Excuse my heat : but I wish to see Wagner uprooted, however clever he may be, and I don't doubt he is : but he is anti-artistic, don't doubt it."

That you can make Cream of Wheat in the microwave. The directions are on the package. Not that that makes Cream of Wheat taste any better, because it doesn't, but at least you don't have to clean the pot afterwards.

That Charlotte Mason didn't hate Herbart's methods and musings as much as we would like to give her credit for; in fact, she practically pushed them as far as they would go within her educational reality, leaving them behind only when it came to something Herbart never had the chance to hear about, the physiology of habit. One might imagine a leisurely afterlife conversation between them, with Miss Mason explaining to Herbart that he had only known the "baptism of John" in these matters.

That belts are measured from the point where the strap meets the buckle to the middle hole of the belt. Or, if you want to know your belt size, generally add two inches to your waist measurement or pants waistband size. So I feel better about passing up a great 38" purple and teal belt.

And now you know these things too.

Wednesday, April 06, 2022

In Which I Am Determined to Complete a Wednesday Hodgepodge

Because of various distractions, I keep starting to answer Wednesday Hodgepodges and then not finishing them. I literally have several weeks' worth sitting in my draft file.

Sometimes the questions themselves have hit too close to home. No fault of the Hodgepodge.

But today I'm determined to get through this one and post it before the morning is done.

From this Side of the Pond
1. What puts a spring in your step these days? 

Warm weather...lessening of those things that have made life difficult the past two years...homemade new book...and new finds from the antiques market and the thrift store.

2. April 2nd was National Peanut Butter and Jelly Day. Did you celebrate? Do you like PB and J? If so how do you like yours? What's your favorite kind of jelly? 

I had no idea, honestly.

Just jelly, not jam? Um...grape, I guess. 

3. What's a memory you associate with spring flowers?

Planting a garden in the back yard.

4. Three things on your spring bucket list? Do you have a spring bucket list? If not pretend you do. 

1. Completing a Wednesday Hodgepodge.

2. Going to the outdoor flea market when it starts up at the end of this month.

3. Taking walks on the trails around this neighbourhood. They've been too icy/muddy/whatever for the last while. Or it's just been too freaking cold to want to. But I want to go out and find some trilliums to take pictures of.

5. One place you will travel this spring? (It might be Europe or it might be the grocery store)

No specific plans, beyond the grocery store. Maybe the southern end of Lake Huron, for a day or two.

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

Wednesday, March 09, 2022

Spring Stripes (Still Doing Project 333)

It's still cold out, but she's done with turtlenecks...

The online auction ad said "silk scarf, purple and grey stripes." Which didn't sound all that spring-like. But she decided to take a chance on it anyway. (OK, technically it's her birthday present, but she found it.)

And she waited a bit...

Finally it arrived.

How did they miss mentioning the cranberry stripes that go with the plum-coloured dress she just found? 

Read the rest of the page here.

Monday, February 07, 2022

A Tribute to the DHM

2005, in my world, was the Year of the Blog.

Several of my friends and educational cronies began family blogs, all under assumed names, because that was what you did then. And because we were trying to keep a bit of privacy about what we did off-blog (like run the AmblesideOnline Curriculum), we blogged about everything and anything else. Books. Food. Faith. Kids (and, later, grandkids and assorted others). Good and bad things. And the Deputy Headmistress (DHM) did all that better than anyone. Rants and Raves. Sunday Hymn Posts. 4 Moms. News and Views. Random Updates.

"Quinoa and Amaranth Crockpot Breakfast:  This was ridiculously simple. It made more than enough to feed 5 people with leftovers (because two of the 8 people here are teenaged boys who rummaged for leftover pizza)." (The Common Room, 2013)

"No Time to Read: Tips for frazzled and busy young mothers: Keep a book stand and a hymnal over the kitchen sink and sing hymns while washing dishes. Or print out a hymn and tape it to the window or wall behind the sink.  If you’re not into hymns, try folk songs." (The Common Room, 2012)

"Random: The dread pirate grinned at me delightfully and said, “I yuv Gran-ma” and it made my heart go all rainbows, heart shaped clouds and unicorns leaving skittle droppings, even if it was totally just because he wanted the dried raspberry in my hand, which, of course, I gave him.  " (The Common Room, 2011) 

We took turns hosting the Festival of Frugality, the Carnival of Homeschooling, and the Charlotte Mason carnival. Some of us took on political and social issues that hit close to home.

"Well, not just the HG [Head Girl, oldest of the Common Room Progeny]. I know others will be interested, too. But this post  over at the Paragraph Farmer is just plum full of things the HG and I have been talking about recently, things that have come up in her civics class. It’s a meaty read on the corruptive influence of abortion, the Supreme Court, activist judges (and why they can’t be conservative), and Justice Thesaurus." (The Common Room, 2005)

I also blogged, often on her coattails, about the things that got our mutual hackles up. Mistreatment of homeschoolers in Europe, and homeschool-haters in general. Ridiculous rulings banning old books (not because of their content, but because children might somehow lick the lead-containing illustrations). During that particular crisis, I wrote an affectionate parody of Miss Suzy, starring the DHM.

"Of all the reasons for or against homeschooling, the supposed "real costs" or "missed-opportunity costs"  argument has to be about the second-oldest after the socialization question, and it's just as misleading. The Deputy Headmistress of The Common Room has posted her current thoughts on this, here and here.  It's also worthwhile to go back to her 2005 post here, because the comments are so interesting.  I originally posted a response to that one here.  (The DHM and I have been friends a long time.)" (Dewey's Treehouse, 2012)

After a few years, the various reasons for closely-guarded blog identities diminished, and we started sharing more freely about the other work we were doing, and places we hung out online.
"I’m tickled to be able to share some exciting Charlotte Mason related news here for the first time as well- that is, that the AO Advisory has at long last opened up a blog to the public.  You can visit the Advisory blog here. You may also spot the Advisory occasionally roaming unchecked about the AO Forums, where you can find hundreds of other very knowledgeable, helpful, people homeschooling CM style and helping each other along the way." (The Common Room, 2013) 

As many people had figured out by that time, the DHM, also called Heartkeeper, was Wendi Capehart, one of the AmblesideOnline Advisory. Wendi and I originally connected on an email list in, I think, 1998, when she and her family were living in the Pacific Northwest. (We found out early on that we had a few things in common:  for one thing, Wendi lived in Canada for part of her childhood.) By the first Year of the Blog, their family had made the move to the Midwest, where they built their real-life Common Room. Wendi wrote most of her original blog from there, and hosted...I was going to say, the AO Advisory and Auxiliary on two occasions, but let's just say everybody. Or at least an awful lot of people, big and small, from many places.

Wendi kept blogging, a few years later, from the Philippines. And, eventually, from back in the Common Room house, only by that time it was just her, her Cherub, and the books. Lots and lots of books. 

And now both Wendi and her daughter are gone. We are all still reeling. I am not a loud or overt reeler. Most of my reeling stays in my own head, with occasional treks down to my heart (which, apparently, does contain its own "little brain"). But I am hurting a great deal for one who befriended me even before the blogs, who taught me in so many different ways that life goes on, that snowstorms end and wildflowers come back in the spring, but that when it's too cold to deal with that, there are always songs and books and forgotten bottles of olives in the fridge.

For some reason, the "Mrs. DHM and the Bad Squirrels" post kept popping up recently in my own most-read posts. I don't know why old posts suddenly appear there, sometimes it's a spam thing, or maybe I had sent it to someone and forgotten. Miss Suzy is an old book I had when I was younger, and something about the squirrel's love of coziness and her hospitality to the toy soldiers reminded me of Wendi. But much more recently, I came across another title from the same publisher, Miss Twiggley's Tree. I hadn't seen a copy of that in years, and I bought it simply out of nostalgia for my own childhood.

When I read through it, my reeling was joined by a barrage of recognition-induced room-rocking. Miss Twiggley lives quite contentedly alone (although she does have a best friend and errand-runner who happens to be a dog, and she regularly plays host to bears). She lives in a treehouse, and is rumoured to sleep in her hat, because, why not. The mayor's wife thinks she's a nuisance and wants somebody to do something about that nonconformist. But when the big storm comes...the whole town climbs up to her house, and they are warmed and fed. Miss Twiggley muses that "When emergencies come, / You don't think about you. / You help all you can. / And you never ask why. / Then the first thing you know / You forget to be shy."

That is what I learned from  the DHM, who knew how to welcome and care for a wet friend or two, or forty; in person, online, or just through a Scripture verse on a postcard.

Godspeed, my friend. Being Mama Squirrel to your DHM was about the most fun I've ever had.

"Bread and milk are plain fare, peasant food, but anybody who has ever baked bread also knows that the humble loaf of bread is a beautiful symbol of hearth and home, a work of patience and attention, a hands on process requiring some attention and feel for when the dough is ‘just right.’ Milk, too, is both an ordinary food, and one of two foods God used to describe the promised land, one flowing with milk and honey. The Proverbs 31 woman is to have the law of kindness on her tongue, and we speak metaphorically of a kind and generous soul as one flowing with the milk of human kindness. Bread is a metaphor, too. It’s a metaphor for our Lord, who is the Bread of Life. He gives us life, and we give it back to Him. Think about that today as you go about your daily tasks and duties. Your praise and your days may be plain as bread and milk, but you, too, can be a preserver of truth and beauty." ("Praise as Plain as Bread and Milk," The Common Room, 2017)

Tennessee, April 2019

Wednesday, January 26, 2022

Winter Blues (A Wardrobe Sequel)


Here's the [somewhat hypothetical] tale to go with this wardrobe.

They just found out that they're moving.  Across town. Again. In the dead of winter. With lots of things restricted and problematic and in short supply. She sighs very deeply.

Plus, she's very mad at herself because she's lost an earring somewhere in the house. She's sure it did not disappear when she was out. But she can't find it.
So she figures that what she's going to be wearing most in the next few weeks is...her winter coat and snow boots. And in that case, who cares what's underneath?

Well, she does. But it had better be practical and stand up to hauling boxes in and out of a parking garage.

Crocheted beanie, handmade. Gloves, gifted some time back.

This painting popped up on an Instagram art account she follows. David Milne was a Canadian painter whose work has been exhibited worldwide. Some people don't like his minimalist approach. Others find it  refreshing...something they are happy to keep looking at. She puts herself into the second category.

David Milne, Gray Hills, 1915-16

Wednesday, January 05, 2022

Wednesday Hodgepodge: Fringe Benefits

From this Side of the Pond

1. Share one happy moment/memory from the holiday season. 

Mr. Fixit and I had a rare night away, at a hotel where we had the swimming pool all to ourselves.

What, you were expecting something actually Christmas-related?

2. Let's be reasonable with our expectations going into this new year, k? What is one thing you'd like to accomplish/improve/complete/do in 2022? 

Oh, there are some huge things.

But let's keep it simple.

I hope to be able to remember my library PIN code this year, when I have to sign in to renew books. Because I don't, usually.

3. Every January 1st (since 1976) Lake Superior University has published a list of words they'd like to see banished from the Queen's English. Words may be banished due to misuse, overuse or just general uselessness (go here to read more about how the words are chosen). Here are the words/phrases they'd like to see banished in 2022-

wait, what?-no worries-at the end of the day-that being said-asking for a friend-circle back-deep dive-a new normal-you're on mute-supply chain

Which of these words/phrases do you use regularly? Which of these words would you most like to see banished from everyday speech and why? Is there a word/phrase not on the list you'd like to add? 

I don't see much wrong with "asking for a friend" or "wait, what?" (maybe I missed something?); but some of the others can deep dive right into the dumpster.

Wait, what, was I on mute? Sorry.

4. Best thing you ate in the month of December? 

That I made, or that somebody else made? That's always a tricky one.

Well, I thought the brown sugar button cookies turned out pretty well.

5. January 5th is National Bird Day. Are you a bird lover? What's your favorite bird to see in the wild? Choose a phrase from the list that follows and tell us how it relates to your life like a bird, bird's eye view, early bird, bird-brained, free as a bird, a little bird told me, or kill two birds with one stone.

We like watching and trying to identify birds, but bird-feeders are discouraged here due to rodent issues, so (other than robins, who nest enthusiastically under our deck or anywhere else we let them, and the tiny little birds who try to squeeze through any possible holes in the siding) we don't get many birds out back. Most of our birding activities take place on walks, or sometimes in the car when a flock of something swoops by. I like seeing any particularly colourful ones, as many of the birds we see (or don't see) around here are more into camouflage.

I occasionally often do bird-brained things. But I try to make up for it.

6. Insert your own random thought here. 

We went thrifting yesterday, and for under ten dollars I came home with five Brother Cadfael mysteries, two bags of file folders, and a floral scarf with ugly fringe made of embroidery floss knotted at intervals along the hem. I snipped off every clump of fringe, and poked out the little thread ends that were stuck in the hem, and now I have a very nice scarf.

So I guess you could call that Beyond the Fringe?

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