Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Promotion of the Idyllic

Promotion of the Idyllic
First the Big News
A baby girl, 7 lb. 9 oz., was born to Yolanda and Daniel. They named her Liliana. We are smitten with her and her button nose.


Two Children’s Books
In my Preface to Lessons at Blackberry Inn I admit to something. I admit to joining the ranks of the idealistic. I say

I believe an author of children’s fiction has a duty to describe the world as it ought to be, as it can be. 

A blog friend gave me this book mark after she visited Prince Edward Island this summer.
One of my aims in writing was to demonstrate that the “idyllic principle” is also applicable to stories for grown-ups.

It was the “idyllic principle” that enabled me to warm up to the story, The Winged Watchman by Hilda van Stockum. I love this story.

As I continue in my Preface of Blackberry Inn, “All fiction is useful chiefly to animate truth, to inspire some noble aim or sweet spirit.”

Good fiction increases our understanding and our sympathies. Do such books encase us in a bubble? They don’t have to. While upholding virtue, they might introduce us to unpleasant and even life-threatening conflict. In The Winged Watchman, the main characters are a Catholic family living in Nazi occupied rural Holland. Dad runs a windmill, one of the few non-electric water-pumps in service. Hunger and secrecy are part of what this family lives with every day. We learn their secrets one chapter at a time. Meanwhile, as we read, created for us are scenes of faith, hope, patience, industry, trust, generosity, hospitality, parental love - - - and lots and lots of courage.

Love requires courage.
Love is courage in action.

If I could go back and homeschool all over again I would make this a family read-aloud.


A 10-year-old boy, Joris, is central to the plot. I like Joris. And I like his mother very much. She holds the family together. I mentioned some years ago, how rare mothers seem to be in fiction. Motherless characters seem to fill the pages of fiction (including Shakespeare and Dickens.) Here, however, Mother cannot escape notice. And in the last chapter, the beautiful sentiments of admiration for her, voiced by Father, left me with a face wet with tears when I closed the book.

War-torn Holland in WWII would have been unlivable without faithful mothers and fathers. The unity of a strong family is also capable of supporting (and rescuing) members of the community. In The Winged Watchman, this family’s strength has a spiraling effect. (Hilda van Stockum drew the illustrations for her own story.)

Another little quilt made as a table topper with mini charm squares.
Just before I read The Winged Watchmen, I just happened to have watched the fast-paced 1940 Alfred Hitchock film “Foreign Correspondent” with Joel McCrea (a favorite actor of mine) with Dean, so I got a good look inside of one such old Dutch windmill. The film takes place at the onset of WWII.


I picked up another story by Hilda van Stockum: The Borrowed House. This family is not idyllic. I found the tone to be different, too. And the religious motivation dim. It was written 30 years after The Winged Watchman.

The story is for children somewhat older. The main character is a 12-year-old girl, Janna. In Germany she is indoctrinated in Hitler’s Youth Camps. Yet, what she observes and experiences after moving to Holland, gets her thinking. Janna's ideas privately turn around without anyone debating her early impressions. My first thought was that such easy wanderings off her foundations is far-fetched. But perhaps in the stressful times of war, life and ideas are intensified and it might be believable. Therefore, perhaps we have the idyllic principle here after all.


I should tell you something that felt uncomfortable during my reading. Janna’s mother receives friendly attentions from the handsome baron, although she is happily married. This worries Janna. It worried me, too. It is the baron who, by some connection, is letting the family “borrow” the house with its servants – a house that belongs to a well-to-do Jewish family (who were forced to leave.) The fine possessions of the Jewish family fill all its rooms.

We noticed the idyllic principle applied by this painter on Saturday.
The value of The Borrowed House is its presentation of ideas, however lightly touched upon these conflicting political views are. In the last chapter it is a relief to Janna to learn that her beautiful mother remains faithful to Janna’s father. And although I am giving this away for obvious reasons, I am not giving away sub-plots involving some likable courageous characters of the Resistance. 

Life is not idyllic. When I heard my cousin started chemo-therapy and radiation I started knitting.
Other News 
My new book is about to be sent to the printer. Its quotes and footnotes are many. These all had to be checked and re-checked for accuracy. Nigel worked patiently with me on the fussy lay-out. On his computer he cleaned up more than 40 antique illustrations that were scanned from my collection of antique books. He fixed a cloudy eye, softened a sharp nose, removed a misplaced shadow, etc. With this big project finally ready for printing my eye has stopped twitching. My prayer is that it will minster to the biggest concerns of the busy home teacher.

Knitted Lace
I like this simple scalloped edge from Knitting on the Edge by Nicky Epstein, p.88. I used it for an inch before knitting k2,p2.

(multiples of 6) Place markers are helpful.
Row 1  (ws) Purl.
Row 2  K1,*yo, k1, sk2p, k1, yo, k1; rep from * to end.
Rep rows. Knitting in the round Row 1 is K from now on.

(sk2p is: skip 1, knit2tog, pass slip st over knit2tog.)

Cap for a cousin.
By Hilda van Stockum

The Winged Watchman

The Borrowed House

I'd like to read her story The Mitchells, next. It is published by Bethlehem Books.

Alas, the table topper is serving its purpose on the night stand. Dean reads Charlie Brown to unwind.

Dean likes photographing the swallowtails on our zinnias out front. Aren't they beautiful? 



Until next time,
Karen Andreola

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Let's Preserve the Wholesome and the Good, Karen Andreola

Let's Preserve the Wholesome and the Good
Whoever is telling the stories is interpreting life. This is why during my homeschooling years, being unfamiliar with children’s literature, I relied upon recommendations in the paper catalogs of family-owned Christian companies. Now book lists can be found on-line.

Made entirely on machine for Yolanda's upcoming baby. Yolanda likes yellow. 

During visits to the public library, I gravitated to the “outdated” picture books - fiction and non-fiction. I would sometimes purchase library discards. Scavenging through used book shops also supplied me with out-of-print "finds."

It wasn’t until years later that I noticed many of the books I liked best were published pre-1963. These books are disappearing from libraries.

What’s the big deal about 1963? I found out. That was the year that the United States Supreme Court declared Bible reading and prayer in public school to be unconstitutional.  

Not reading Scripture aloud each morning during homeroom, or saying the Lord’s Prayer, is one thing. But publishers took this ban too far.






I like the pink and cream border fabrics immensely and am glad I had entire yard of it, rather than a forth. 
To ensure that their schoolbooks were included (and to stay in business) it seems they removed every mention of God, the church, and reference to the ten commandments. 

They removed any connection between certain noteworthy Americans and their Christian faith, even if that faith was their strongest motivation for serving their fellow man.The final step, it seems, was to drop these people out of the curriculum altogether.
Photograph in hand during a morning stroll. Hollyhocks, their a familiar faces.
Censoring these heroes from the schoolbooks was easy. Simply do not teach history. This removes them from the minds and consciences of millions of American children, silencing their testimony forevermore. Teach social studies instead, (or social issues) which can conveniently be filled with the Left’s propaganda.  


Hummingbirds like the red Bee Balm. I always cut them way back but they are prolific.
Terrence Moore, in his book The Story Killers, believes that the goal of the authors of our government school’s Common Core (slipped in place without a vote from the Senate) is to keep America’s children “from reading stories, particularly traditional stories, that run counter to the political ambitions” the Left represents. He sees Common Core is the “educational arm of the progressive state. As Plato pointed out in his Republic . . . whoever writes the stories shapes – or controls – the minds of the people in any given regime.”*1  


Dean bought me these salt and pepper shakers. Do you know who these funny British folks are?
I spent a little time reading The Story Killers this year. It disturbed me so much that I was losing sleep over it, so I had to put it down. It is written gentlemanly (Terrence Moore is a professor at Hillsdale College) but I found the facts disturbing. I will link (below) to his eye-opening lecture that gives a peek at what he uncovered in the high school English curriculum. You will be very glad you are home teaching.

Peter, Peter, pumpkin eater . . .  


The removal of the best fiction of the Western World is being done quietly. There are no book-burnings, not yet. Schools and libraries simply promote other books, books with contemporary themes. (Yikes. Their recommendations are startling.) Occasionally the discrediting of a classic book leaks out. These discredited books were once considered wholesome and good. Read and re-read for decades, they seem to be read today by few besides Christian home-taught children. Why?

These books have their feet planted on a morality and worldview understood by the Christian of an earlier America (for example, monogamy in marriage, between male and female.) The same books ignored, discredited, or discarded, by the Left (woefully in power of the schools and libraries today) are those home teachers are snatching up.

We are educating our children with them. In so doing, we are preserving a culture.

This Upset Me
One recent discredit upset me. Laura Ingalls Wilder’s beautiful stories, yes her “Little House” series, had its award removed only weeks ago. The Association for Library Service to Children stated their reason.“Wilder’s legacy, as represented by her body of work, includes expressions of stereotypical attitudes inconsistent with [ALSC’s] core values . . . ”
Pink Astilbe being crowded out by the Sassafras tree with its 3 shapes of leaves, one being a mitten. 
Are the core values of Laura Ingalls Wilder's stories that "far gone" and immoral? Un-American? Evidently, the ALSC is offended by them. Joy Pullman writes in defense of Laura's values and perspective. I link (below) to her article: “It’s not Laura Ingalls Wilder Who is Prejudice, It’s the Librarians Smearing Her Legacy.” 


Are we entering into the reality of Aldous Huxley's Brave New World?

“But why is it prohibited?” asked the Savage. In the excitement of meeting a man who had read Shakespeare he had momentarily forgotten everything else.
The Controller shrugged his shoulders. “Because it’s old; that’s the chief reason. We haven’t any use for old things here.”
“Even when they’re beautiful?”
“Particularly when they’re beautiful. Beauty’s attractive, and we don’t want people to be attracted to old things. We want them to like the new ones.”

On a Much Lighter Note
Many find Carol Ryrie Brink's Caddie Woodlawn and its sequel to be favorites. They were favorites in our house. Are you looking for something light and cheerful to read this summer? Here is another story by this beloved author. To lighten up this sober post and to lighten up your summer I feature it here. Baby Island has a sprinkle of the ridiculous that will had some humor to a hot afternoon. My children are all grown now so I read it to myself. But it made me chuckle so how can I honestly say I read it "silently?"

Due to a storm at sea, two sisters (conscientious babysitters) drift in a lifeboat and end up on a deserted tropical island with four little children. No one is hurt but the babysitters are bit stressed and bewildered.


The theme of this story uphold an idea misunderstood by a multitude of people today who do not have a Biblical understanding. Therefore, we can no longer take it for granted. Babies are persons and precious. In the name of love, self-less effort is always needed to protect, care for them, and guide them. (I Cor. 13) And they are worth it. 



End Notes
*1 The Story Killers, Terrence Moore, pg 8.

I recommend his “The Story Killers” on Youtube. After the first 5 minutes of introduction the lecture is about 50 minutes long. I listened while ironing.

Joy Pullmann’s article on Laura Ingalls Wilder at The Federalist.


Baby Island at Amazon.


Hope you are enjoying your summer.

Keeping in touch,
Karen Andreola 
   



Friday, June 1, 2018

Love and Duty

Love and Duty

"Karen, please give a short and simple definition of Mother Culture," was the request on Facebook. Wishing to accommodate I typed away. Then I worked to cut it down quite a bit.

     To me Mother Culture is a mingling of love and duty. It is the skillful art of a mother looking after the ways of her household and herself. With a heart of devotion, she seeks to find happiness in those things she "has" to do, as well as whatever she might set her hand to do to express her creativity.
     Greatly helped by an understanding of the educational method of Miss Charlotte Mason, she is a home teacher who learns how to cultivate the souls of her children and herself while she is free to not be too exhausted for her husband's company.
     So nourished and refreshed with ideas, she keeps growing closer to God and into the Christian woman God is designing her to be.

I hope this definition helps you introduce Mother Culture new home teachers in your circle of acquaintances.

In the Works 
Nigel finished the cover of Mother Culture - for a Happy Homeschool (above). If it is difficult to tell whether he used water color or oil paint it is because he used neither. Using his large wacom tablet and wacom pen as a paint brush, he worked meticulously on my front and back covers for a good many days. It is a skill he taught himself. By a kind of trial and error he designs his own paint brush tools to accomplish the strokes he needs to get the look he imagines. "Necessity is the mother of invention," said Aesop.

One morning he said, “I have a surprise for you. I added something to the picture.”
“Really? What?” I questioned.
“Take a look,” he said.

He had painted my purple book, A Charlotte Mason Companion, on top of the pile of books he had placed within easy reach of the mother. 


Fabric 
As you know, fabric makes me smile. In between daily chores I enjoyed making a pint size "courthouse steps" inspired by Kathleen's Tracy's Small & Scrappy. Using the 4" Log Cabin Trim Tool by Jean Ann Wright, my piecing turned out less wonky. With this plastic ruler you trim after you piece each new pair of strips in a continual sort of "squaring-up" of the block as it grows. You end up with a pile of scraps,which in olden days would have stuffed a toy. I watched a YouTube tutorial about how to use it.

I placed this little quilt on my tea table to photograph it, while I was drinking a watermelon-strawberry-orange smoothie, and decided to make the quilt its table top for awhile. Some "wonky" is still in evidence but I tell myself this is part of the charm of something handmade.



I hand-quilted in-the-ditch with blue thread and added a scalloped edge to put some "round" in the design.




Wild Flowers
Walking back from the mailbox early in May I was pleased to see that a wild azalea (rhododendron prinopyllum) was blooming in our Pennsylvania woods again, this year with more blooms than last. I found a second bush on the other side of our property. I only know its name because I identified it (the old fashioned way) with my field guide some years back. I've managed unscathed, to keep the prolific poison ivy off both wild azalea bushes.



At an antique store two little out-of-print books caught my eye: First Delights - A Book About the Five Senses by Tasha Tudor (pub.1966) - a well-read library discard - and And It Was So by W. L. Jenkins of Westminster Press (based on Scripture) illustrated by Tasha Tudor in 1958. One is for Sophia and Andrew's children. 


The other is for Yolanda and Daniel's little girl on the way.



Speaking about babies on the way. I collected fabric for a "pink lemonade" crib quilt. As this quilt has a thicker batting than what I usually use in my doll quilts I quilted it with a walking foot on machine. I will show you my photograph after the baby shower as Yolanda reads this blog and I want to keep the finished quilt a surprise.



In April I spent a week with my parents in New Jersey. Then one of my children had surgery and I tried to be supportive.

And yet, since last November, rarely a week has gone by that I wasn't either contemplating, writing, or re-writing, my book.

A Family Affair
For the book, my husband Dean spent weeks scanning choice pictures from our collection of antique books. His computer died and he had to take it to a computer fix-it place to recover the scans. My daughter Sophia wrote the Foreword in the middle of a major household move. Nigel has started the lay-out.


The Calendar
The calendar I wrote for Simply Charlotte Mason titled Hope for Tomorrow is for sale.

This spring Sonya Shaffer wrote an inspiring blog article, "8 Reasons to do Nature Study" that I enjoyed reading.

SCM is planning to carry Mother Culture. I feel honored and encouraged.


Learning Styles
In March I re-wrote (and polished up) my article "Learning Styles and Charlotte Mason" for the blog Charlotte Mason Poetry. You will find a wealth of topics there.


Garden Flowers
In early May (in between all our rain) I enjoyed surrounding the front lamp post with pink zinnia. I can highly recommend keeping up with any physical therapy home assignments. If it wasn't for PT I would not have the joy of using a shovel again, kneeling on my garden mat and getting up again even with curious bees whirling around and buzzing in my ears.

You can see in the foreground how our hungry wild rabbits like our crocus, nibbling leaves in a series of "meals" until they are chewed down to the root. I try not to mind because somehow the crocus always manages to bloom each spring.


Reading
I think I did more reading this year so far than I've ever done. I hope to share highlights of some of these books in upcoming blog posts.

Links
Kathleen's Tracy's Small & Scrappy

Log Cabin Trim Tool by Jean Ann Wright

My article on Charlotte Mason Poetry

2018-2019 Hope for Tomorrow Calendar Journal for Simply Charlotte Mason

Sonya Shaffer's "8 Reasons to do Nature Study."

Keeping in touch,
Karen Andreola