the ordinary day

There’s a part of me that reads about the Classical education most of us never had, and then wants that, to give that kind of education to my children.  My children and I would be sophisticated and learned (pronounced ler’-ned).  We’d be well-versed in Shakespeare, Latin, Homer, and be easily able to narrate a brief 1,000 word history and explanation of the Renaissance.  None of those things are me.  None of those are my children.

I’ve had a lot of personal moments wondering quietly to myself, “How did I even graduate high school?”  Why didn’t I put in more effort when I could have?  Why did I make a habit of skipping the essays and sticking close to the multiple choice?  Why is it so hard for me to articulate my thoughts and put them into intelligent sounding words?  It’s like a major gap exists between the two hemispheres of my brain.  I need a bridge.

How many vocabulary lessons did I complete, and why can I not think of even five remembered vocabulary words?  Aloof.  I remember writing the word “aloof”.

Aloof: 1) removed or distant, either physically or emotionally  2) at a distance, but in sight 3) not friendly or forth-coming, cool and distant 4) reserved or reticent; indifferent

Indifferent: 1) having no particular interest or sympathy; unconcerned 2) having no interest, choice, or feeling on a matter 3) neither good nor bad; mediocre

Mediocre: 1) of only moderate quality; not very good 2) of medium excellence; ordinary

Ordinary: 1) with no special or distinctive features; normal 2) usual, customary, according to general rule or common experience 3) commonplace

“Although we often use the adjective ordinary to mean “ho-hum, nothing special,” it actually comes from the Latin root for “rule.” You could think of ordinary things as almost like rules in your life.” (www.vocabulary.com)

Today was basically an ordinary day. After being away from home much of yesterday, and having somewhere else to be tomorrow morning, I was looking forward to this ordinary Thursday at home.  We lit a fire in the schoolroom, which remains to me almost another house to keep on top of.  Everywhere I look there are items out of order, and it is so easy for me to get discouraged in this decades-long task of rearing children into adults, knowing in so many ways they are merely my mirrors, that I am, too, in need of learning.

Learn:  1) to gain or acquire knowledge of or skill in something by study, experience, or being taught 2) to become informed or acquainted with

“Old English leornian “to get knowledge, be cultivated; study, read, think about,” from Proto-Germanic*lisnojanan (cognates: Old Frisian lernia, Middle Dutch leeren, Dutch leren, Old High German lernen, German lernen “to learn,” Gothic lais “I know”), with a base sense of “to follow or find the track,” from PIE root *lois- “furrow, track.” (www.etymonline.com)

I’ve heard it said before that the opposite of love is not hate, but indifference.  As a homeschooling mother, as a fellow human being on this gifted planet earth, I wish to instill a love of learning in my children.  This means we get to pass through many ordinary days of following the rules laid out for us in reading, writing, and cleaning up after ourselves.  A part of me has always been resistant to “the rules”, for to follow the rules is to be content, patient with, and accepting of mediocrity.  To “follow the rules” is to follow the ordinary.  Lest we find ourselves walking aloof through our lives, the ordinary remains there to lead us to something-to the flower beside the furrow of an ordinary grasp.

there and back

Early Thursday morning we departed for Dallas.  Thirteen and a half hours later, we arrived at our destination.  My husband had a conference to attend, and months ago he’d mentioned it to me, saying the kids and I should come along.  I loved the idea of going, but the closer we got to having to leave, I was filled with my typical traveling dread. It’s like everything about the reality of being there tried to convince me it wasn’t worth going.

We had an incredible time!  We spent three full days at the home of my husband’s sister and her family.  The first day the kids and I were home alone while the other adults were at work and the cousins were in school.  While the kids played games, I called my Grandma that morning to get caught up on her life.  After talking with her I joined in with the kids, until I decided it was time for some normalcy.  We got dressed, tidied up, made beds, and had school.

That afternoon we went for a walk.  When we were here last September, I’d gone for a run with my sister-in-law, who was training for a half-marathon at the time.  She’d led us down a long bring wall, across the road, and left to a small open park near their house, where the trail figure-eights around two small ponds.  We didn’t need coats, though I did make everyone put on long-sleeves.  The weather was considerably warmer, and while I was quietly disappointed by the lack of hoped for sunshine, to breathe the air was lovely.

The next day we went to the zoo.  In the past I haven’t really been much of an animal person, but in these last several years, it seems my fondness for animals has considerably grown.  I can’t help but find myself talking to them, like you would when a baby spontaneously smiles, exclaiming a delighted “Hi!!!” when coming face to face with a giraffe.  It’s like the eye contact we share speaks to me a profound meaning.  The giraffe is not human, yet we can see one another.  We are fellow creatures calling the same planet home.

Some creatures, however, I’d be perfectly content, to never see them up close.  The tiger was terrifying, and the snakes–the king cobras–send shivers down the back of my spine just thinking about them.  While we were gone, the groundskeeper reported to my husband having seen a bobcat in the dumpster.  This would be the third bobcat sighting here in these fall/winter months, two by the groundskeeper, another by one of my boys.

Saturday night we heard an astronaut speak about his time in the International Space Station.  He’s also the author of the book The Work of His Hands that sits displayed in our school room.

“The history of humankind is a history of exploration and discovery.  Think about the voyages of Christopher Columbus, Ferdinand Magellan, and James cook; the expeditions of Marco Polo, Lewis and Clark, Alexander von Humboldt, and Ernest Shackleton; and the Apollo moon missions.  There is something in the human heart that seeks to understand the world around us, to explore uncharted territory.”
~Colonel Jeffrey N. Williams, The Work of His Hands

Sunday night we watched the Super Bowl, of course.  There is something note and party worthy in being part of the gathering together for a national event.  A son observed, “It’s almost like the Super Bowl is a national holiday”, and I told him that, yes, it basically is. Though I never witnessed it myself, the memory of CBS’s “wardrobe malfunction” is never far from my mind when the half-time show starts or the commercials come on.  When it wasn’t the game were were watching on television, I kept my thumb squarely on the remote control “Power” button, ready to charge my hand toward the screen at a moment’s notice.  A few times I came close, but thankfully so, I never felt I had to use it.

The game ended and it was bedtime and the early morning came soon enough again for the trip home.  During the two car rides, I was able to finish two different books–the one I mentioned previously about Lewis and Clark, and A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryner. The later is a book which tells the true story of two men hiking the Appalachian trail.  I came away from each book feeling such a deep gratitude for the experiences they shared with us.  Colonel Jeffrey Williams writes in his book about how difficult it is to choose one event as “the most memorable moment”, but that perhaps the greatest experience of all of his expeditions is the joy of bringing those moments to others.  I loved this explanation and I understood completely.

 

the eternal snows

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Today was a snow day for much of the area, but we went ahead and had school this morning.  The kids might see it with a different perspective, but for me, homeschooling is one long perpetual snow day.  We get to stay home and stay warm and I love it.

Last week I had the idea to make a “snow” dish by making it out of anything white I could find. I cooked onion, garlic, apples, cauliflower, potatoes, and rice in one pan. Since I’ve grown up hearing things like, “Eat the Rainbow”, I wondered where the white foods fell on the healthy food spectrum.  I don’t fully understand the way light works, but I know from things I’ve read that white is something like a reflection of all the colors.

Then just today as I was making lunch, simultaneously listening to a Dr. Axe video on viruses, he mentioned that in ancient Chinese medicine, the Chinese believed white foods nourished the human immune system.  They thought the design of the food served as a clue to what part of the body it helped.  I thought about my “snow” white dish from the previous week, which ended up more of an orange after I sprinkled it with tumeric.

Then it all made total sense.

White blood cells!

I’ve been reading portions of the Lewis and Clark journal entries quoted in the book “Undaunted Courage: Meriwether Lewis, Thomas Jefferson, and the Opening of the American West.”  Upon Lewis’s return from his great expedition, he wrote a letter to Thomas Jefferson in which the words “eternal snows” were used to describe a portion of mountain that had been impassable without the help of Indian guides.  I’m using them here to describe those vivid moments you feel you could wildly be thankful for forever.

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to be continued

An eerie sadness descends every night before sleep.  Little by little, they–the moments–are slipping away.  If not sadness, then fear.  What, if not death, will my tomorrow hold?

It’s in the early sleeping hours, anywhere between lights out and midnight.  Does someone follow me around to haunt me the second my head hits the pillow?  I tell my husband I’m losing them, that their childhood is now another day gone.  He reminds me of his life, how he is now grown, and yet, still loves his mother.  I am comforted by this, by the truth a grand love doesn’t have to be lost.  All of us were together this evening, and indeed, I see how true his mother still loves him.  Grandparents are an incredible gift.

I baked my first edible brick this weekend.

Just kidding.

The bread was good. I look forward to baking more and experimenting with different recipes.  I think the biggest thing is going to be keeping up with my starter.  It isn’t high maintenance, but you can’t just leave it on the counter and forget about it either.

Today was more of a pondering day.  The Wednesday night church thing we go to has several different classes to choose from and attend.  I chose the class that was talking of addictions.  Each week they’ve focused on a different addiction–food/body image, electronics, drugs & alcohol, and the last one this week is supposed to be on control.

Our group leader wonders if addiction is actually something that every person struggles with. This had been making me scratch my head a bit, wondering, if we all had one or even several addictions, what my particular addiction was.

Food for thought:

What is that thing you can’t stop doing?

nothing to prove

Something in starter didn’t smell right to me.

The directions told me that by day three or four, the starter might be giving off a sour or “pungent” odor.  I didn’t know exactly what pungent meant, but the smell coming from the mason jar seemed to match the word exactly.  The bubbles were forming, the consistency had gone from a thick dough-ball into a bubbly batter-like form.

I wish not to bore you this day with ardent details of beginner sourdough bread-making.  However, I feel as though I have started a story, with each of these blog posts leading into another.  Overnight, between the fourth and fifth day, a brownish liquid appeared at the top of the batter.  The smell was also especially pungent.  I dumped half of it out.

Then I added another 4 oz of flour and 4 oz of water, covered the jar with a cloth, and set it again toward the back of my stove.  These past several days the pungent smell has disappeared and in its place has come a gentler, soothing, bread-like yeast smell.  There are more bubbles this time than there were before, and it looks, I think, like it should.

The garlic rosemary sourdough bread, at this point, is still a picture in my book.  Who, truly, has time for this?  This time, or lack of it, is the number one reason I have yet to start kneading.  The jar stands now representing every dream and intention just waiting to be acted upon.  As long as he sits, untouched, untried, I cannot say I passed him by.

The jar calls, still, and will not be ignored.