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

Knowing Samuel Pepys

Posted by Jeanne

(L)et them get the spirit of history into them by reading, at least, one old Chronicle written by a man who saw and knew something of what he wrote about, and did not get it at second-hand. These old books are easier and pleasanter reading than most modern works on history, because the writers know little of the 'dignity of history'; they purl along pleasantly as a forest brook, tell you 'all about it,' stir your heart with the story of a great event, amuse you with pageants and shows, make you intimate with the great people, and friendly with the lowly. They are just the right thing for the children whose eager souls want to get at the living people behind the words of the history book, caring nothing at all about progress, or statutes, or about anything but the persons, for whose action history is, to the child's mind, no more than a convenient stage. A child who has been carried through a single old chronicler in this way has a better foundation for all historical training than if he knew all the dates and names and facts that ever were crammed for examination.
Charlotte Mason, Home Education p282

On Saturday afternoon, Jemimah, her daddy and I went to see the new movie, Cinderella. We'd heard good reports, and the film more than lived up to the hype. I'd recommend it, if you get a chance to go. There are lots of lovely moments, but a highlight for Jemimah and me was when we realised that the book the grown Ella was reading aloud to her father was none other than our very good friend, Samuel Pepys. Mr Pepys has a very distinctive voice, and Jemimah and I both recognised his style immediately. It was a joyful and very satisfying homeschooling moment for us both.

Samuel Pepys caused me a little bit of grief when I realised his diary was scheduled in AO8. His story is so important, his writing style is so captivating - straightforward, lively and chatty, he is a pleasure to get to know, and you can't help but like him. But...our friend Samuel was not always an upstanding citizen. He drank too much, and he was rather an unpleasant, violent drunk. He frittered away his money on frivolous pursuits. He was a womaniser. Although he loved his wife, he fell hard and often for barmaids, actresses, duchesses, maids, and the wives of his friends. He is also remarkably frank about his own faults and weaknesses, and he records his dalliances in agonisingly embarrassing detail. In fact, Samuel Pepys was so explicit, that the first unabridged version of his diaries wasn't published until the 1970s (so you needn't worry about Cinderella - I'm sure her version was quite clean). My concern was how I could introduce my daughter to this charming rogue, and how much I really wanted her to know about him.

Pepys was born in London in 1633, and he kept his diaries for ten years through some of the most fascinating years of English history. He was involved in the Restoration of Charles II, he was an eye witness to the Plague, the Great Fire of London, and the execution of great men including Charles I. Concerned about the frankness of his writing, AmblesideOnline choose to read only a very short excerpt of the diary, covering the Great Fire and the Plague, but although these events were undoubtedly important, I feel that the major value in reading Pepys is learning about the minor events of his everyday life in 1660s London - the food he eats, the books he buys (he was a bibliophile, and I love reading the titles he purchases and his 'book reviews'), the fashions of his wife’s clothes (what were the ‘patches’ that the women wear on their cheeks?), the games they play, his dealings with his servants, his impressions on the plays he attends, the renovations of his house. I wanted more of Samuel Pepys than just a few pages.

After much consideration, I decided on using this entertaining dramatisation of the diary adapted by Hattie Naylor, and produced by the BBC. It is over 12 hours long, and is contained on 11 CDs. This is not for purists – portions of the diary are read, but in between, the events are acted, and are imagined, not factually accurate. There is some bad language – Pepys was extraordinarily fond of the word t*rd for excrement, and uses it liberally to describe the product of both man and beast. There is also much womanising and typical Pepys behavior. Since I am listening to this production with Jemimah, I have not found the content too extreme, but he was a very naughty boy, and it still shows in this production.So far we have listened to four CDs and are enjoying it very much indeed.

In addition to the CDs, Jemimah is also dipping into this book, Voices from the World of Samuel Pepys by Jonathan Bastable. Using Pepys' diary as its main resource, the book also quotes from other first-hand accounts of the day to give us a well rounded account of 17th century London.

As Jemimah learns about Samuel Pepys this year, I hope that this era of history is brought vividly alive as she learns what living in London was like – church, theatre, coffee houses, taverns, books, fashion, music, politics and home-life. When she reads her dry outline of 17th century England, this is what I want to remember. Not lists of dates; real men and women, with real families and real lives. That's really what history is all about, isn't it? To me, this is the value of getting to know Samuel and Elizabeth Pepys.
The fatal mistake is in the notion that he must learn 'outlines,' or a baby edition of the history of England, or of Rome, just as he must cover the geography of the world. Let him, on the contrary, linger pleasantly over the history of a single man, a short period, until he thinks the thoughts of that man, is at home in the ways of that period. Though he is reading and thinking of the lifetime of a single man, he is really getting intimately acquainted with the history of a whole nation for a whole age. Let him spend a year of happy intimacy with Alfred, 'the truth-teller,' with the Conqueror, with Richard and Saladin, or with Henry V.––Shakespeare's Henry V.––and his victorious army. Let him know the great people and the common people, the ways of the court and of the crowd. Let him know what other nations were doing while we at home were doing thus and thus. If he come to think that the people of another age were truer, larger-hearted, simpler-minded than ourselves, that the people of some other land were, at one time, at any rate, better than we, why, so much the better for him.

Charlotte Mason, Home Education pp280-1

Here's part of the dramatisation telling about The Great Fire of London.  I hope you enjoy it as much as we both do.  Meet 'our' Mr Pepys.


Thinking thoughts

Posted by Jeanne

Hullo.  Are you well?  It's rather a while since we've had a chat, isn't it?  I've been thinking a few thoughts, recently.  Here are some of them.  If you're interested, that is.  You can just move onto the next blog in your reader if you're not.  I don't mind.  Really!

So if you're still here, here are some of the thinks I've been thunking:

:: For the last few weeks I've been hosting a decluttering thread on the AO Forum.  The project actually started for me around the new year, although it wasn't really a New Year's resolution; it just coincided with it.

My beloved and I had individually come to the conclusion that we were successfully storing too much stuff.  You wouldn't have necessarily seen it if you'd visited us - we both consider ourselves minimalists, and since the flood when we lost much of our furniture, out home is even more spare, but open any drawer or cupboard, and you would see what I meant.  Stuff.  Because we had the storage space, I think, we tended to just find homes for our new purchases without tossing the things they were replacing.  We had too much stationery, too many cleaning products, too many towels, sheets, pillows, duvets, shoes, winter jackets, pairs of jeans, T shirts, paint brushes, texta colours,  vases, computer cords, socks, Tupperware containers, jam jars, toiletry samples, mugs and toys.  There was nothing wrong with this stuff, only we just didn't need it, and we figured that instead of storing it in case we needed it 'one day', we should donate it in case somebody needed it right now.

So back there in January I started removing one shopping bag of stuff each weekday from our home. Five each week, sometimes more. Some was useless rubbish and went straight into the bin.  Jemimah's clothing went to friends at church for their kids.  The adult clothing along with the toys, bedding, towels and tea towels went to the local 'opp shop'. It didn't matter much where it went as long as it was out of our home!

We've overhauled wardrobes, craft cupboards, pantry, fridge and freezer, the games cupboard, the bathroom cabinets, the laundry cupboards, desk drawers, sports equipment, CD and DVD collections - practically everything except books.  I am decluttering, not getting rid of books.

Last week I realised that I am almost finished.  There are still a few things we need to use up slowly - I'm not tossing something that we use every day, even if we have enough to last us all year.  I just won't buy any more until it is gone.  The freezer is almost empty - we are just finishing up the few odd things at the back.  Why, oh why, did I buy so much kangaroo steak, and what am I going to do with it all?

Our home is working much better.  There are homes for everything, and space to put it all away.  We can see what is in the cupboard when we open the door.  It is sort of empowering to have done it, and we are all inspired to live more simply and to purchase less 'stuff'.  We really have absolutely all we need.

:: Which brings me onto the next thought I've been thinking.  It's related, so I've you're getting bored with simplifying, you might want to move onto the next blog - or at least to point three.

I've been thinking about capsule wardrobes.  I found out about them on FB, and the place that I've learnt most about them is at Un-Fancy. Caroline is much slimmer, younger, and all around more gorgeous than me, but we have almost identical tastes in clothes (except for the skimpy shorts), and I find her blog quite inspiring to look over.

I find the idea of a capsule wardrobe - a minimal wardrobe filled with clothing that you love to wear - intriguing, and I seriously considered making one for a couple of weeks. I've decided against it now, mainly because I actually have significantly fewer clothes than Caroline, and I can't see much point in buying many more, but I do like her ideas, and I have taken a good look at my wardrobe and where it does well and where I could improve it.  I even did a bit of clothes shopping on the weekend (I dislike clothes shopping immensely), and bought some new black jeans, a couple of long-sleeved T shirts and a gorgeous black alpaca cape, so I'm well set for winter.

If you want to know more about capsule wardrobes, here's Caroline's guide to them for you to read.

:: Facebook has been really getting me down lately, and I've been thunking thoughts about how I should best manage it.  I like FB - all of my best friends live inside my iPad, and as an extreme introvert, my online life constitutes a significant part of my social life - so I don't plan to leave it, but sometimes everything is so aggressive and unkind, and it makes me feel agitated and disgruntled.  It's not good feeling agitated before breakfast - sometimes I haven't even had a cup of coffee to calm me down.  Anyhow, I've been thinking about how to make my FB experience more uplifting.  I'd appreciate your ideas if you've thought these thunks before me.

:: In lieu of being online, I've been reading some great books.  I joined Silvia and some other ladies in a reading of Kazuo Ishiguro's new fantasy novel, The Buried Giant, and then got so wrapped up in the story that I finished it before some of the ladies had even started.  Sigh. Ishiguro's writing is gentle, poetic and peaceful, and I loved his portrait of abiding marital love into old age.

The ending, though.  Oh my.  What can I say? I'm haunted by it still now. Which is the sign of a good story-teller, I guess.

A quote from my commonplace book:

“But then again I wonder if what we feel in our hearts today isn't like these raindrops still falling on us from the soaked leaves above, even though the sky itself long stopped raining. I'm wondering if without our memories, there's nothing for it but for our love to fade and die.”

I bought my current book because it had such a beautiful cover, which is probably not the best reason, but has proved to be a good one in this case.  It's titled The Little Paris Bookshop, and it's a pure delight for both Francophiles and book lovers, or those who are both, like me.  Jean Perdu owns a book shop, or rather a book barge, which floats on the Seine.  It's called The Literary Apothecary, and Perdu acts as the pharmacist, dispensing books as prescriptions to treat the troubled souls of his customers.  Perdu has a cure, it seems for everyone...except himself.  For Perdu is suffering from a broken heart.

One day Jean Perdu discovers a letter from his lost love.  A letter written twenty one years ago, and which remains unopened.  The content of that letter inspire Jean to unmoor his book barge and set of for Provence to make things right. ..

This book is a pleasure to read. Okay, there is a bit of language and bad behaviour, but we're grown-ups right, and it doesn't seem gratuitous.  Apart from anything, its a book about books.  And Paris.  And other important stuff, like the redemptive power of love.  Much like The Buried Giant, I guess.

From the Commonplace:

“Books are more than doctors, of course. Some novels are loving, lifelong companions;some give you a clip around the ear; others are friends who wrap you in warm towels when you've got those autumn blues. And some...well, some are pink candy floss that tingles in your brain for three seconds and leaves a blissful voice. Like a short, torrid love affair.”
:: So these are some of my  thoughts.  I'm also thinking about:

 - Our holiday - only a little over three weeks to go now.
- Accreditation  - it is dominating my work thoughts.
- The AO Retreat in Indiana in July - are you coming?
- Why I used to be able to find enough to blog daily and sometimes now I struggle to write once a week.

What are you thunking about?


AO8 Term I (continued)

Posted by Jeanne

Hello everyone.  I'm sorry I took such a long break halfway through my subject-by-subject walk through AO8 Term I with you all. I planned on being able to blog lots during our two week break, but instead real life intervened, and...well, here I am midway through Week 1 of Term II.  I do hope you'll forgive me.

Last post I started going through the books we used last term and telling you what we thought of them. I got as far as Citizenship, which means our next subject was Literature.  How about we just start there, yes?


Our Shakespeare play last term was As You Like It, a particularly enjoyable play.  We chose this because we saw it performed back in January.  We are blessed with some top notch Shakespeare companies in Melbourne, and so we have always scheduled our studies around the plays we can actually see instead of using the AO Rotation. So far it has been a good move.  Jemimah and I read Shakespeare aloud, choosing parts and acting it out a little bit. It is fun.

The History of English Literature by H E Marshall continues on from last year.  It is an extremely enjoyable book and Jemimah likes it a lot, although a couple of times she chose not to read certain parts because they contained 'spoilers' about the endings of books she was reading last term.  Sensible girl.

Everyman, A Morality Play was a real surprise package.  We used the Dover edition linked on the AO schedule, which has slightly less archaic language, and found it most agreeable.  Like Shakespeare we read it aloud together, taking different parts, and it was so great that we went on and read a couple more of the plays in the same volume because we liked them so much. I hadn't heard of morality plays before being introduced to Everyman, and I altered the Marshall schedule slightly to have Jemimah read the chapter on them before we began instead of when it was scheduled.  This was one of the spoiler chapters that I alluded to above.

I was not expecting Jemimah to like Kingsley's Westward Ho! because of his propensity to waffle, but it has proved to be one of her favourite books.  Some of the sections are pretty long, so she chooses to divide up readings, reading half of a long chapter over two days, for example, but she rarely complains because she likes the story so much.  This book is a great one for introducing all the important characters of the Elizabethan era.  You'll find Drake, Raleigh, even Spencer amongst its pages, and Jemimah loves these connections.  This book follows over into Term II, so we are getting close to the climax now. It is pretty exciting! I am reading it along with Jemimah.  I try to read ahead, but...well...I did say the chapters were long, didn't I?


Fierce Wars and Faithful Loves - another book written in pretty difficult language. Well, it would have been difficult, except Roy Maynard's edition has such wonderfully explanatory footnotes.  Jemimah found the first one or two chapters hard going, but just like Roy assures, it was much easier once she became accustomed to the style. She is considering continuing on to read more of The Faery Queene, so I guess that means she liked it!

I was excited to introduce Jemimah to Shakespeare's Sonnets this year.  We used this app.  It is pricey - $18.00 pricey,  but it was well worth it to hear the sonnets read aloud by such wonderful voices as those of Sir Patrick Stewart, Kim Cattrall, Stephen Fry and David Tennant. Dr Who reading Shakespeare everyone! Can you imagine?  There are extensive notes on each sonnet, but I chose to read excepts of these aloud because of the overemphasis on the homosexual elements.  My daughter doesn't need to know about all that stuff at her age.  (Actually, I wish I didn't at mine.)

Again, there is a chapter in Marshall about sonnets.  It is worth reading this one out of order as well.  It added much to our enjoyment of the poetry to know more about them.

Jemimah chose to learn Sonnet 18 by heart, so we both became very familiar with this particular verse.  Have a listen.


We chose not to read the AO choices for grammar this term.  Rather, Jemimah is reading through Eats, Shoots & Leaves by Lynne Truss.  There is plenty of time for serious grammar later on, and this light hearted romp adds some much needed levity to what is a rather heavy year. It is a good choice, so far.

Science / Nature Study

We have had a great term of science using living books.  There are rather a lot of them, so I'm going to post about these separately. Poke me if I forget.


We finished off a wonderful logic book this term called The Square Root of Tuesday by Jessica Davidson.  It's out of print, and almost impossible to find at a reasonable price, but it's worth purchasing it if you do.  Jemimah had great fun making the logic computer at the back of the book.  As you do.

How to Read a Book is a fascinating read.  We do this one together, because there is just so much to talk about.  I must admit that if you have to do all this stuff in order to say you've read a book then I may have to admit that I've never yet read a single one, but we still seem to find lots of great stuff to talk about at the end of each reading!

Well, that, I think, is that.  We've reached the end. The AO8 Free Reads are great.  Jemimah's great discovery this term was Chesterton.  She adored The Innocence of Father Brown so much, and kept urging me to read parts too. I look forward to seeing what she thinks of other Chesterton titles. Apart from that one, she has also enjoyed The Book of Three and C S Lewis's Out of the Silent Planet amongst others this term.  She has also read some Aussie titles, including Picnic at Hanging Rock and The Nargun and the Stars.  I'll tell you about those separately.

What else can I tell you?  What else do you want to know?  What have I left out?

Thank you so much for your patience, friends.  I'll try not to be gone so long this time.  I miss you all when you don't come and talk to me!!


A look back at AO8 Term1

Posted by Jeanne

In two days we'll be finished AO8 term one. How can that possibly be?  It has been a good term, did you hear that, a good term.  I feel a need to reiterate that fact, because my posts at the beginning of term were filled with how hard we were finding things, how difficult the readings were, and how we were failing to understand.  I'm here to comfort you a little today by saying that it really did get easier, we actually started to like - and understand the books, and we actually had some fun along the way.

Here, subject by subject, is what we thought of the books:

Bible and Theology

Our book this term was The Case for Christ by Lee Strobel.  It was okay. It was an easy read, which is nice, but I prefer to read all the theology books aloud to my daughter so that we can discuss them, so this doesn't matter much to us. Jemimah does her Bible reading privately in her room each day before class, so our weekly theology lesson is an opportunity for me to touch base with her, hear her thoughts on her readings, and also discuss a little bit more about our faith and what we believe.

I say The Case for Christ was okay, and it was. The book is the story of author, Lee Strobel's attempt to "determine if there's credible evidence that Jesus of Nazareth really is the Son of God", and I thing he does manage to establish his case, but it appeared to be a book written for skeptics, and neither Jemimah nor I felt the need for this intellectual defence of our faith at this stage. That said, he did put forward a reasonable argument, and we both learned a few things.


This is our second year using Churchill's series, A History of the English Speaking Peoples, and in AO8 we're using Volume Two, The New World. Jemimah prefers that I divide these readings into daily portions instead of reading a whole chapter at once, and so I did that again this year, but I'm not sure that it was really necessary.  This book seems much easier to understand than Volume One, mainly, I think, because Churchill spends more time on each king, and we are more familiar with the stories of Henry VIII and Elizabeth I than we are with some of the earlier monarchs.  Anyhow, whatever the reason, Jemimah finds this book interesting, and fairly easy to keep sorted.

In addition to the book, Jemimah kept a Century Chart, which went particularly well. I'll try to post picks of the finished object shortly.  She also maintained her Book of Centuries.  I'm sure these also played a role in keeping the 16th Century organised in her mind.

The play, A Man for All Seasons by Robert Bolt, has been turned into a terrific movie of the same name, and so I scheduled this for our first day back at school.  I'm really glad I did.  The production really set the scene so very well, and certainly brought Sir Thomas More to life for us. Later Jemimah and I chose to read this play aloud, each playing different roles.  It was a lot of fun.  This book is full of the most amazing quotes.  Keep your Commonplace Book handy.

And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned round on you—where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat? (He leaves him) This country’s planted thick with laws from coast to coast—man’s laws, not God’s—and if you cut them down—and you’re just the man to do it—d’you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then?

(A Man for All Seasons, Act One, Scene Seven)
Life of Francis Bacon by William Rawley is really short.  It is written in convoluted language, but Jemimah didn't seem to have trouble comprehending it, mainly I think because it was scheduled for the last four weeks of term when her mind was better attuned to the Elizabethan style.  This short work seemed to produce excellent written narrations, possibly because it was short enough to be able to summarise without much difficulty.

I was dreading The Voyage of the Armada by David Howarth, to be honest - my dance-loving daughter read a whole long boring book about a sea battle - seriously?  Fortunately, I didn't admit my reservations to Jemimah, because this book is one of her favourites.  She is absolutely intrigued by Parma's no-show, and has really cast him in the bad guy role, although she is not too fond of the Spanish King, either. This book continues on into Term II, but since the Battle of Gravelines is the next chapter, she hasn't got far to go now.  This book has turned out to be one of the pleasant surprises in Term I.


I dropped the geography titles on Columbus this term in favour of an Aussie title, Around Australia by prolific author, Charles Barrett.  I'll write about this book separately, I think, but it was pretty good, although it required a lot of updating. We haven't done Aussie geography for a few years, so I think this was a good substitution.

For map drills, Jemimah has been enjoying the free app recommended by AO, TapQuiz. She concentrated on the Pacific and South East Asia this term, and found it fun.

Government and Economics

I was uncertain of how relevant Whatever Happened to Justice, by Richard Maybury, would be for my Aussie daughter, but we've found enough of interest to choose to continue with it this far. Some of the early chapters had a great deal of overlap with Bacon's Utopia, which we are reading at the same time, and Jemimah has written some excellent 'compare and contrast' type essays using these two titles.  It's a really easy read, but Maybury's one-eyed opinion of America as the greatest place on earth gets a little waring after a while if you're not American and you happen to think that your own country is pretty wonderful as well.


Ourselves by Charlotte Mason has continued on from last year.  It's the easiest of her volumes, being written for young teens, but Jemimah and I certainly find a lot to discuss each time she reads it. Speaking about character like this allows us to discuss our own characters in an impersonal way that is not threatening and I am really impressed with my daughter's insight into her own personality and behaviour.

On to Plutarch. You should be afraid when I say that Plutarch's Lives has been a doddle this term, because...well...Plutarch used to be so hard, so what is our definition of hard now?  Well our definition of hard is our next two Citizenship titles, Utopia by Sir Thomas More, and Francis Bacon's Essays.

I read the first of these aloud to Jemimah this term, and Book One, in particular was extremely difficult to comprehend.  Read almost impossible. Still, we ploughed on, some weeks understanding more than others.  The bits we did understand were fabulous, and made us persevere, but there were lots of other parts that were just a jumble of words.  There are a few reasons for our problems, and most of these have to do with our choice of book.  Our volume is an old one, written in Elizabethan English with almost no paragraphs.  Really.  As in one every twenty pages or so. And those paragraphs were made up of really long run-on sentences about all sorts of philosophical stuff. AO now recommends a modern version - with paragraphs - translated by Paul Turner, so hopefully you won't have the same problems we've had. Fortunately, while the first book is all about three friends who meet up in Antwerp and have a really long chat about whether or not it's possible for philosophy to influence politics, Book Two is all about the mythical (only the men don't know its mythical) island of Utopia. This book covers each characteristic of Utopia individually - its geography, history cities, food, clothing, work, studies, religion, laws, holidays, and more, and it is truly fascinating. Some parts of Utopia sound wonderful - short work days, no money, no pride, no poverty, no dissatisfaction, other parts are not quite so good. Neither Jemimah and I think we would cope so well with all those rules, to begin with.

Anyhow, all I can say about Utopia is that it is worth persevering, even if at first you don't understand much at the start.  If you really, really have trouble, try jumping ahead to Book Two.  It's much easier, and you can always go back and read Book One at the end.  That's, in fact, the way More wrote it, so I'm sure there are valid reasons for reading it in that order as well.  And use Turner's translation, or at least one with paragraphs.

I wrote about Francis Bacon's Essays here, and how we chose to deal with this super-challenging text. Now, only a couple of months later, I am delighted to say that Jemimah has enjoyed her paraphrasing of these essays more than any other subject this term.  I've been posting them online, and I'm sure you'll agree, she's done a sterling job of them. The final essay for the term, Of Friendship is by far the longest she has attempted yet, but I'm sure you'll agree that her paraphrase of this one is her best so far.  I'll post it when she's done.

Just briefly back to Plutarch, it really is easy now.  I write a bit about that here.

Phew!  Still with me?  If you are, and you're finding this useful, do let me know, and I'll continue with our thoughts about the rest of AO8 Term I's books next time. And if not, it has been really helpful for me.


Making memories

Posted by Jeanne

Believe me, my young friend, there is nothing — absolutely nothing — half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats. Simply messing... about in boats — or with boats. In or out of 'em, it doesn't matter. Nothing seems really to matter, that's the charm of it. Whether you get away, or whether you don't; whether you arrive at your destination or whether you reach somewhere else, or whether you never get anywhere at all, you're always busy, and you never do anything in particular; and when you've done it there's always something else to do, and you can do it if you like, but you'd much better not.

Kenneth Grahame, The Wind in the Willows

We almost talked ourselves out of doing this on Saturday. It was expensive, not educational, and kind of silly to think of taking a punt ride around the ornamental lake at the Royal Botanic Gardens. After all, hadn't we visited the gardens to see the flowering Titan Arum, not mess about in boats?

I'm afraid Daddy's logic was airtight, and we all agreed. It looked fun, but it was unnecessary.

And then suddenly there we were, waiting at the dock to hop in.



Can you see how wonderful it was? As we lay back on the plush pink cushions, white parasols shielding us from the fierce heat of the sun, and calmly meandered around the islands, we looked at each other and smiled. We had definitely made the right decision. This was going to become part of our family's collected memory. It was sublimely, peacefully perfect.

We chatted with the punter and admired his technique with the pole. We laughed at his stories. Together we identified moorhens, swanphens and coots, laughed at a funny Pacific Black duck, who followed our punt, admired a couple of aptly named Eastern long-necked turtles, discussed the dangers of the recent blue-green algal bloom, the use of artificial islands as a water filtration system, searched for elusive bell birds in the trees - so easy to identify; so very hard to spot, and lots of other stuff, but mostly we just relaxed and enjoyed the moment.

Making memories, for us, is intentional. There are lots of bits of Jemimah's childhood that are far from perfect, and I can't do much about those, but I can help create good times. They don't always cost money, either. A mummy-daughter night with popcorn and a movie. A walk hand-in-hand through the bush. A green St Pat's meal. A picnic at the lake.

When she is grown, it is entirely possible that Jemimah will look back at her childhood and see parents who worked too hard, and a house damaged by floods, but somehow I don't think so. I hope she'll see the magic parts. The ballet, the picnics, the holidays, the food, the books, the jigsaws, the happiness. I pray that she will.

And maybe she will remember the special afternoon we spent together punting on the ornamental lake in the Royal Botanic Gardens in the middle of the Melbourne city, and how happy we all were. I think I'll remember it as well.








Of Innovations

Posted by Jeanne

Jemimah's paraphrase of Francis Bacon's Of Innovations.

Of Innovations

New ideas, which are born of time, are like living creatures, and are underdeveloped in the beginning. Despite this, and in the same way that those who first bring honor to their families are mostly more worthy than their children, so the first idea (if it is a good one) is rarely acquired by copying. For evil, according to man’s perverted nature, gathers strength as it grows, whereas good is strongest at the beginning. Every medicine is a new idea, and those that won’t use them must expect new illnesses, for time will bring out new ideas. If time makes things worse, and wisdom and good advice can’t make them better, what will become of us? It is true that settling things by tradition might not be perfect, but at least it is accepted, and those things that have gone together for a long time are at least linked, whereas new things don’t necessarily fit in. So new ideas are useful but they can cause problems. They are like strangers, admired but not approved of. Well, this would be true if time stood still, but it doesn’t. On the contrary, times moves in such a way that continuing with traditions can be as disruptive as the new idea was, and those who live in the past are scorned by men of new ideas. Therefore, it would be good if innovators would follow time’s example. Time certainly brings great ideas, but it does it slowly and quietly so that you hardly notice them. Otherwise, anything new is not wanted. It surely helps some and hinders others, and he that is helped takes it as a blessing and thanks time, whereas he who is hurt takes it as a bad thing and blames the creator. It is good not to try experiments in states unless it is urgent or obviously beneficial. We would do well to remember that reformation comes from the change; wanting change doesn’t bring about the reformation. Finally, remember that a new idea, even though it is not rejected outright, might be held in suspicion, and as Scripture says, we should stand in the old ways and look and find where the straight and right way is, and walk in it.


Dis and dat

Posted by Jeanne

:: I am sitting in the kitchen sipping white wine while watching other people cook my dinner.  This is, as you can imagine, rather rare, so I am enjoying it very much.  My husband is hosting a young student at work, and he is head chef.  Hubby is acting in the role of sous chef and bottle washer.  We are having homemade pasties.  Yum.  The wine is very nice. It is called Upside Down Sauvignon Blanc from Malborough in New Zealand, in case you wondered.

:: Tomorrow my beloved and I are going to see The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel at our local cinema.

It is a fundraiser for the Rotary Club, and includes dinner first and supper afterwards, so I don't need to prepare meals then, either.  Perhaps I will forget how to cook. Hah!  Have you seen this film?  Is it good?

:: This weekend we are going camping to celebrate Jemimah's 13th birthday.  We are staying at a remote campsite where you have to pack everything - water, firewood, everything, so it is quite a process, especially since we are hosting four other young teens as well as our own.  We're beginning to wonder whether this might have been a bad idea.  Anyhow, we're going.  Think of us.  Mum, can you mind the dog?

::  I have begun a decluttering project with a few friends.  It is very liberating to get rid of junk.  I'm not planning to do anything too scary here, but it is amazing how much rubbish you accumulate over a decade.  Today I cleaned out my bedside drawers and found a couple of booklists that I thought I'd lost forever, so I am rather chuffed about that.

:: We are planning a holiday.  We don't have much time, so we're thinking Bali might be nice. We're looking at May.  No, we won't be camping.

 Are you planning a holiday, too?  Where are you looking at going?  Are you decluttering with me?  Are you having your dinner cooked for you?  What's going on in your life this week?

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