A peaceful day

Phillipians 4:4-8

For with Thee is the fountain of life; in Thy light shall we see light. Psalm 36:9

The convergence of Jupiter and Venus

Posted by Jeanne

Have you been watching Jupiter and Venus as they dance across the night sky? Ever since the beginning of June, the two brightest planets have been moving closer together, and will appear to merge into one huge super planet on the night of July 1st. (June 30 in the Northern Hemisphere.)

All you need to do is look to the west after sunset each night. You're looking for two really bright bodies close together - the brightest lights in the sky apart from the moon. The brightest is Venus. Jupiter appears a little less bright. Each night they get closer together.

Of course, Venus and Jupiter actually aren't getting any closer to each other. They're actually about 800 million kilometres apart. Wow. They appear closer to us because of how we see them in their respective orbits around the Sun. Since Jupiter is much further away from the sun than Venus, it takes much longer to complete a full rotation, and Venus occasionally laps it. They seem to get closer and closer, and appear to actually converge into a one big super planet.

Jemimah has been enjoying drawing the convergence into her science notebook, although we've missed a few nights due to cloud cover. She tries to locate the planets within known constellations where she can.This past weekend was extra special, when the moon and the two planets formed a triangle in the sky. They're the drawings you can see in her notebook above.

You can see the convergence in the night sky above Melbourne on Saturday night in the pic below. We were on our way to the ballet when hubby shot that wonderful photo. Most of our other photos are a little less picturesque, but that doesn't make it any less fun.

There's still time to watch the convergence yourself, if you haven't already. Head outside at sunset and look west. Then head out again tomorrow night and see if you can see the difference. Be sure to come back and tell me about it if you do.



More signs of hope

Posted by Jeanne

The Japonica is beginning to bloom. Isn't it so very lovely?

I know I'm beginning to get boring, But my Book of Firsts is giving me such pleasure. I can't wait to be able to look at past years and compare.

You don't need to be a notebook keeper to live a Charlotte Mason lifestyle, but if you do want to, these books are just delightful, and they're a joy to keep.

I don't know that I even would have noticed the japonica blooms otherwise. And that would be most very sad.

Are you a Keeper too?



The perfect day for a walk

Posted by Jeanne

It was the perfect winter's day for a walk. The sky was a perfect blue, with not a cloud to be seen. There was little wind, which meant that the cold didn't chill your bones. Perfect.

On the planner for this morning were poetry writing, organic chemistry, and the paraphrase of a Francis Bacon essay, but somehow they didn't look very appealing, today. And so this morning's bookwork was cancelled in lieu of something much more fun.

We walked hand-in-hand down the street. I love it that my teenager still wants to hold my hand. Our little dog skittered at our feet. She was happy to be getting outside for a run, too.


We heard the warble of magpies - such a delightful, joyous sound. Maggie and his mate were clearly enjoying the sunshine as much as we were. We saw Willie Wagtails, Wattlebirds, little yellow New Holland Honeyeaters, and other birds busy in the trees.

We looked for flowers: hakea, wattle, red and yellow gum tree blooms, and brought home a couple to paint. Maybe.


(Yes, she looks cold.)



We were only out for an hour or so, and then back, via the bakery for doughnuts. Pink for her, chocolate for me.

Now we're home, and Jemimah's in her room plugging away at Bacon. Somehow we're looking at the world through different eyes.

It really was the perfect day for a walk.



Signs of spring

Posted by Jeanne

A Book of Firsts brings hope.

I bought my lovely Book of Firsts from Red Mountain Community School. Ordering details are here.



The Nargun and the Stars

Posted by Jeanne

(E)very spirit appearing in this and my two previous stories, The Nargun and the Stars and An Older Kind of Magic, belongs originally to Australia and its Aborigines. Many of them are beliefs still living; some are remembered from a generation ago; a few have outlived the people who believed in them. They claim their place in an old convention, these even older and perhaps purer spirits of the Aborigines’ domestic life. And I claim a writer’s leave to employ them in my own stories in my own way.

Patricia Wrightson, The Ice is Coming, 1977

Patricia Wrightson never pretended to be an Australian Aborigine, nor did she pretend to write on their behalf. Which is why I find it sad that her name is to be found nowadays amongst those who have misappropriated Aboriginal identity. Her books, whilst incredibly popular in her time, are little known today, and few are still in print. To me, Wrightson gives these Aboriginal spirits dignity. Her books make me proud to be an Australian, they teach me something about my country, and help me to see Aboriginal myth and storytelling as something worthy of remembering and enriching to my Australian identity. While I am still excited to find quality children’s literature written by Aboriginal authors, Oodgeroo Nooniccal, Dick Roughsey, Sally Morgan, I believe there is still a place for the superb writing of this much awarded white Australian author.

Patricia Wrightson’s books bring to life the magic of the Aboriginal world. Instead of the Brownies and the Boggarts of England, her books contain Pot-kooroks, Nyols, Turongs, and the Nargan. Ah yes, the Nargan.

The Nargun and the Stars is probably the best written of Wrightson’s books, and I scheduled it as a family read aloud as part of Jemimah’s AO8. It’s the story of Simon Brent, who is sent to live with his elderly cousins, Charlie and Edie, on the death of his parents in a car accident. Charlie and Edie are farm folk, and for Simon the countryside of Wongadilla is a whole new world. How can he live with these people that he doesn’t know and can’t relate to? He doesn’t even feel that he can bring himself call them by their names, so he calls them nothing.

But Edie and Charlie are more than just farmers. They’ve lived all their lives at Wongadilla, and they really know the land. They may be white, but they have the knowledge usually held only by the Aborigines, and they know the creatures with whom they share their farm:

Edie and I used to talk sometimes: whatever there was before white men came, like elves and spirits and that, they must live somewhere when you come to think about it. We only know the Wongadilla ones, because they’ve always been here and we happened to come across them when we were kids. I reckon most people never even dream of ‘em. Never expected you to see ‘em either, at least not for a good while yet.

But Simon has seen them. And heard them. And spoken with them. Simon has also done something that Charlie and Edie had never done – he has met the Nargun. The Nargun is a great rock spirit, older than time itself, and it doesn’t belong at Wongadilla. The Nargun is angry, and when it starts to kill the sheep, and seems to be threatening Charlie and Edie and Simon as well, it is clear that it needs to go.

As Charlie works with Edie and Charlie to drive the Nargun away, he learns to love and respect them as well, but he also learns to love the land that is now his home. He comes to know the ancient spirit creatures – the mischevious Pot-koorok, the Turongs and the Nyols, and he learns to work with them to find a way to rid the land of the Nargun. But how to move something that can shake the universe? That has always been since before the beginning of the world? That is only controlled by the rhythm of the earth?

This is a great book, filled with deep issues for further discussion – the need to care for the environment, Aboriginal spirituality and ‘Dreamings’, Australian mythology, the poetic style of Wrightson’s writing. It is a wonderful book for AO8 Australian literature, and my family enjoyed it very much. Better still The Nargun and the Stars is in print here.



Of Regiment of Health

Posted by Jeanne


I don't know how many of you are interested in reading Jemimah's efforts at paraphrasing Francis Bacon's essays, but I'm just so stinking proud of her efforts that I want to share anyway. I think she does such a good job. This is her rewriting of Bacon's essay Of Regiment of Health. You can read his original here: Yes, it's just one long paragraph.

There is wisdom in this beyond the rules of medicine: knowing what makes you well and unwell is the best way to stay healthy. It is better to say, this doesn’t agree with me so I won’t continue it, than it is to say, this doesn’t make me ill so I will continue it. For the strength of youth is not as sensitive to excesses as an older man will be. Remember that you’re getting older and cannot do the things you used to do, because age will not be tricked. Beware of a great change in your diet, but if you must, change your whole diet to make the change work as effectively as possible. For it is true for both nature and state, that it is better to change the whole rather than one specific part only. Examine your daily habits – diet, sleep, exercise and clothing, and so on; and if you find anything harmful, try to discontinue it bit by bit; but in such a way that if you find the change causes even more trouble, you may reintroduce it. For it is hard to tell apart things that are good and wholesome in general from those that are good for you in particular. One of the best rules for long life is to be cheerful at all times, during eating, sleeping and exercising. As for your passions, avoid jealousy, anxiety, unexpressed anger, awkward interrogations, excessive excitement, and bottled-up sadness. Be hopeful. Laugh. Have a good variety of pleasures, but not too many of them. Wonder and admire new things. Learn from good things like history, fables and nature. If you avoid medicine completely, then it will be too strange for your body when you need it, but if you overuse it, then it won’t do much good when you get ill. I believe that a seasonal diet is better than regular medicine, unless it becomes a habit. For diets change the body more than medicine and hurt it less. Don’t hate change in your body, but look for its cause. When ill, health is most important; when you’re healthy, action is. People who work their bodies when they’re healthy will be able to heal most slight illnesses with care and good food. Celcus could never have said as a doctor, had he not been also a wise man, that one of the main rules for health and long life is to vary one’s habits but not too extremely: Fast or eat a full diet, but prefer the full diet; stay awake or sleep long, but prefer sleep; be sedentary or active, but prefer activity, and so on. In this way we will be looking after our natures, but keeping them in control. Some doctors are so eager to keep the patient happy that they are afraid to cure the actual disease, whereas others are so busy curing the disease that they fail to conform to the patient’s needs. It’s best to find a doctor who is a mixture of both, or if you can’t find one, take one of each, and don’t forget to ask the advice of the one who is the most familiar with your body since he is the best in his area.

Paraphrasing these essays has changed Bacon from a drudgery to one of the highlights of AO8 for my daughter. I encourage you to try it with your kids...or trying it yourself.

In addition to helping us understand the thoughts of one of the greatest minds in history, reading these essays has proved a good opportunity to me to discuss essay writing structure and what makes Bacon's writing different from the writing of later periods. He writes deep, pithy sayings in short, unconnected sentences. Sort of like twitter. (Did I really write that?) He rarely develops his arguments,; each idea is separate from those that follow. There are no signs of the five paragraph essay here - in fact there are no paragraphs at all. Similarly, Bacon pays little attention for grammar and form. All of this makes Bacon hard to read, but despite this - or perhaps because of it, Bacon always makes you think. Perhaps because he fails to develop his arguments, his style encourages you to do it for him. His essays make you think, and allow you to agree or disagree, to form your own opinions and conclusions. Bacon encourages you to meditate on a variety of fascinating topics. And that's possibly the best reason to read his words. Bacon makes you think.



Making lists

Posted by Jeanne

Charlotte Mason lists can be about anything you see in nature. Whilst visiting the Armitt last year, I saw lists of rocks, fungi and insects as well as the ubiquitous birds and flower lists that were kept by all students.

During our current Indonesian holiday, I've been keeping a list of the wonderful tropic fruit we've seen and tasted. Oh my, it's been a yummy research project. The P.N.E.U. student lists always included the English and Latin names of the species, but for my list, I've chosen instead to include the English and Bahasa Indonesia names. I can always add the Latin names when I'm back home if I'm keen.

Keeping lists is a bit addictive. Miss Mason does nothing by chance, and I suspect that this is one reason why she advocated such pastimes. Keeping lists makes you more observant. Can I add another fruit to my list today? Another bird? Another wildflower? Can I identify what I see? Can I buy a field guide...or find a clever person to help?

Somebody on Facebook recently said that a timeline kept badly is better than a great one never kept at all. I love that sentiment, and I think it applies to so many of Charlotte's methods. If we always wait to do things perfectly, if we are always searching for the perfect notebook, or putting something off until our child is the right age or can draw better or has neater handwriting, we run the risk of never starting, and missing the benefits completely.

Keeping lists is terrific fun. I encourage to to pick a subject and start your list today. Come back and tell me if you do.



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