Learning Adventures in July

Learning Adventures in July

Our garden is producing: zucchini, cucumbers, snap peas, cherry tomatoes. The green beans are getting bigger. Mint and basil are abundant, plenty to flavor dinner and drinks.

snap peas
green beans
green tomato
baby cucumber

There has been a sudden interest in baking among the youngest three. Ben made chocolate chip cookies and pecan pie. Lucy made muffins. Anthony helped.

Lucy makes muffins
Ben makes pie
Ben makes pecan pie
Ben bakes chocolate chip cookies

I sit in the hammock in the hot summer afternoons and see goldfinches and nuthatches. We saw a fledgling song sparrow perched in the crabapple tree.

We are reading Lord of the Rings, St Hyacinth, A Year in the Maine Woods, Our Island Story.

Ben is taking a break from reading Akimbo for a bit and read me Alexander and the Terrible Horrible No Good Very Bad Day. Lucy is reading Mother Goose. Anthony is reading How To by Randall Munroe. 

Anthony just finished reading the Prydain Chronicles by Lloyd Alexander. I think he’s now reading a Redwall ebook from the library. Ben has been listening to the same. And is begging for the next Harry Potter audiobook. Bella is reading Sherlock Holmes. She asked me to look up who was the president of the US and what artist were working at that time. She wants to put Holmes in his proper historical context. So we did some Googling.

Lucy reading

Isabella has discovered Google Earth. That she can not only wander streets but wander museums. She spent weeks figuring out how to navigate via street view from our house to Uncle John’s. Most recently she’s been prowling the galleries at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Listening to Star Wars soundtracks on her unactivated phone while looking at portraits of George Washington, busts of Julius Caesar and Monet’s Water Lilies.

She wondered what other museums she could wander and I suggested the Art Institute of Chicago. Sophie joined her and they zoomed in close to see Seurat’s brushstrokes on the Sunday Afternoon on the Grande Jatte, and I was reminded of Ferris Bueller, though they were looking at different spots on the canvas. 

Ben decided he wanted to get in on the Google Earth action, so we set it up on the iPad. The younger three went to Fenway Park, to Bar Harbor Maine, and the Sydney Opera House.

In the past we’ve wandered the streets of Istanbul and found Hagia Sophia and crossed the Bosphorus. I’ve suggested they try Paris to see if they can’t get into the Louvre or the Musee d’Orsay or the Cluny.

Art Institute of Chicago
Art Institute of Chicago

Bella is taking Shakespeare classes via Zoom. They finished the Tempest and today started on MacBeth. She’s really loving the Scottish play and having a great time acting out the scenes.

Today we listened to a new episode of How Music Does That, an episode called The Words Get in the Way… about music with voices but no words. I love learning about music from a teacher who is both passionate and knowledgeable about the subject— Dale McGowan teaches music.

This isn’t exactly what I thought homeschooling would be, but it’s exactly what I think it should be right now. My children think Shakespeare is pretty cool, like going to art museums, are spending time outdoors, playing with Legos, making art, enjoying each other’s company.

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I’ve been stretching my wings a bit too. Yesterday a friend invited others to watch a lecture on Titian and then join in a discussion. I don’t know much about Titian, but I love talking about art so I jumped in. The lecture was excellent as was the subsequent discussion. I hope after the coronavirus shut downs are over that free online viewing of lectures continues. It is so nice to enjoy good quality recordings. The lecture is Titian’s Icons: Logos and Kairos in Renaissance Devotion by Christopher Nygren.

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Tonight I watched a streaming play with a friend. Laptop perched on my lap, earbuds in my ears, and a Facebook chat window open on my phone so I could text with my friend as we watched the same play from two different states. The actors were in different locations as well, a true 2020 theater experience.

The Weir, Conor McPherson’s play about five people telling ghost stories in a rural Irish pub on a windy night translates very well to a Virtual production. The greenscreen staging is effective with a consistent background stage design that feels authentic. And the actors’ chemistry is excellent. I especially loved Amanda Quaid as a rather young and vulnerable Valerie. And Tim Ruddy’s Brendan was a charming bartender. I was especially taken with the way the men were able to communicate with grunts and monosyllables and how well the nonverbal communication worked. The rhythm of the dialogue feels like natural conversation, complete with awkward starts and stops and trailing off thoughts.

The wind sound effects were eerie and definitely set the mood, made the hair on my neck stand on end during Finbar’s story.

The play is about storytelling, how stories and the act of storytelling connect us, reveal us to ourselves and to each other, create community and relationships, heal wounds. It’s one of my favorite plays and what a treat to see it and share the experience with a friend.

The Weir is still showing through Saturday July 25. The performance is free (with a suggested donation of $25). You must pre-register at least two hours before the performance.

spicy pickle ingredients
I made spicy pickles
blueberry-peach bread pudding
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