Friday, August 25, 2006

Autumn Reading Challenge 2006

The Summer Reading Challenge has been so successful for me (24 finished so far) that I want to continue the challenge for the autumn season (September, October, November) with an Autumn Reading Challenge 2006.
(See initial entry here.)

Because the pace changes during the school months, so does my reading. I doubt I will have as much time after Labor Day as I have this summer, so I've adjusted my list likewise. My reading list is always ready to be amended to fit either my need, my want, or my whim.

If you take up the Autumn Reading Challenge 2006, post a link to your blog and list in the comments. After Labor Day, I'll gather them together in one entry.

Plan. And plan to read.

Seasonal Soundings' Autumn Reading Challenge 2006:

Moby Dick

Willing to Believe (Sproul)

The Soul’s Quest for God (Sproul)

The Cost of Discipleship (Bonhoeffer)

The Intellectual Life (Sertillanges)

William the Baptist (Chaney)

Chosen by God (Sproul)

Realms of Gold (Ryken)

A Place to Stand: Martin Luther (Veith)

Talk to the Hand (Truss)

Lessons from a Sheepdog (Keller)

Jayber Crow (Berry)

Master and Commander (O'Brian)

Tides of War (Pressfield)

To the Last Man (Shaara)

The Book of God: The Bible as a Novel (Wangerin)

Teacher Man (McCourt)

Summer Reading Challenge

Summer Reading Challenge

The Fat Flush Plan (Gittleman)

Listening to God in Time of Choice (Smith)

Wisdom and Eloquence (Littlejohn & Evans)

High-Energy Teaching (Buckalew)

Glory and Honor: Bach (Wilbur)

The Character of God (Sproul)

The Day I Became an Autodidact (Hailey)

Nine Days a Queen (Rinaldi)

The Real James Herriot (Wight)

Every Living Thing (Herriot)

To See Every Bird on Earth (Koeppel)

Molder of Dreams (Doud)

The Beach House (Monroe)

Sweetgrass (Monroe)

Skyward (Monroe)

Bryson City Tales (Larimore)

Bryson City Seasons (Larimore)

Bryson City Secrets (Larimore)

A Walk Across America (Jenkins)

Cultural Literacy (Hirsch)

Zapp! The Lightning of Empowerment (Byham)

Letters to a Diminished Church (Sayers)

The Brothers Karamazov (Dostoevsky)

Walking the Appalachian Trail (Luxenberg)

Fine Art Friday

"Ocean View" (artist unknown)

Maybe not "Fine Art," but for me, for now and beginning tomorrow, it is realistic art. My chair is the orange one. Actually, years ago, I had a chair like that. It was even orange. All the items surrounding the orange chair are ready to go at 3 a.m. --- the stacks of books, the flipflops (though mine are blue), and the ocean. All separately waiting for the convergence.

This week has been full. New cabinet, countertop, and appliance installation began Monday morning and ended yesterday. Except for a few minor details, I have a very nice, new kitchen. (Pictures after the beach trip.)

Besides working around the kitchen birth, oldest daughter's birthday was Wednesday. She turned 25, or as her husband put it, "a quarter of a century." Get used to it, Ashley!

Later this afternoon, my sister and mother will arrive for the surprise kitchen tour (they did not know about this project) and dinner (ham, potato salad, fresh-from-the-garden crowder peas, green beans, homemade rolls, and homemade butterscotch pie. Needless to say, my day is cut out for me: cooking, cleaning, still putting the kitchen back together, freezing peas, laundry, packing, and loading the car. Launchtime is 3 a.m. tomorrow. Intentions are to be on the beach by noon.

Don't forget the Autumn Reading Challenge 2006 (September through November). I intend to post my list later today if I can squeeze it in. Post yours and I'll get a list together in one place after Labor Day.

Monday, August 21, 2006

"For no other purpose"

Mere Christianity, C. S. Lewis

"This is the whole of Christianity. There is nothing else. It is so easy to get muddled about that. It is easy to think that the Church has a lot of different objects —education, building, missions, holding services. Just as it is easy to think the State has a lot of different objects—military, political, economic, and what not. But in a way things are much simpler than that. The State exists simply to promote and to protect the ordinary happiness of human being in this life. A husband and wife chatting over a fire, a couple of friends having a game of darts in a pub, a man reading a book in his own room or digging in his own garden—that is what the State is there for. And unless they are helping to increase and prolong and protect such moments, all the laws, parliaments, armies, courts, police, economics, etc., are simply a waste of time. In the same way the Church exists for nothing else but to draw men into Christ, to make them little Christs. If they are not doing that, all the cathedrals, clergy, missions, sermons, even the Bible itself, are simply a waste of time. God became Man for no other purpose. It is even doubtful, you know, whether the whole universe was created for any other purpose."

School Days

School year beginnings have always been important to me. I look at these beginnings like I look at the New Year. As a listmaker, I love to write down my goals and design plans to achieve those goals. Without that sort of planning, I would gain little.

Sometimes people ask me how I do so much. With an inward chuckle, I tell them I don't do that much. At least, I don't think I do. Maybe I do get more accomplished because of the plan. This reminds me of that adage, "If you aim at nothing, you'll hit it every time." Another favorite of mine is lifted from Alexander Pope's "Essay of Man": "A mighty maze, but not without a plan."

Getting ready for a new school year can be daunting, especially if you are new at it. Planning takes time. And working the plan can also be frustrating because no plan, ever how good, is perfect. Plans need to be tweaked, redesigned to fit a particular need.

One of the first important items I reclaim at the beginning of each schoolyear is a prayer. Over the years, I have adopted different prayers. At first, I adopted our school prayer with my children in mind. It was a prayer for them to embrace. I wanted it to be their prayer. But over the years, I've learned that my children will not automatically embrace something I want. Particularly when they realize I want it for them! Oh, the education we get when we try to educate our own.

I have learned that if I want my children to embrace something, I need to do it first. So for the past few years, my back-to-school prayer is for myself. Thomas Aquinas wrote the following prayer many years ago. (If you've not arrived at Aquinas in your education, you are in for a treat. It is humbling to be in the presence of genius.) I hope it comes to mean as much to you as it has for me. And every year it means more.

Creator of all things,
true source of Light and Wisdom,
lofty source of all Being,
graciously let a ray of Your Brilliance penetrate
into the darkness of my understanding
and take from me the double darkness
in which I have been born,
sin and ignorance.

Give me a sharp sense of understanding,
a retentive memory,
and the ability to grasp things correctly and fundamentally.
Grant me the talent of being exact in my explanations,
and the ability to express myself with thoroughness and charm.
Point out the beginning,
direct the progress,
help in the completion.
Through Christ our Lord.

St. Thomas Aquinas

A Student's Prayer
(John W. Peterson)

God, the all-wise,
and Creator of the human intellect,
guide our search for truth and knowledge,
all our thoughts and ways direct.
Help us build the towers of learning,
that would make us wise, astute.
On the rock of holy Scripture, truth revealed and absolute.

O how vast the shores of learning--
there are still uncharted seas.
And they call to bold adventure,
those who turn from sloth and ease.
But we need Thy hand to guide us,
in the studies we pursue.
And the presence of Thy Spirit, to illumine all we do.

May the things we learn, so meager,
never lift our hearts in pride.
Till in foolish self-reliance,
we would wander from Thy side.
Let them only bind us closer, Lord, to Thee,
in whom we find very fountain-head of
and life
of all mankind.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

On our screen this summer

Over the summer, we have enjoyed a few DVDs that you might find pleasant also.

The Education of Little Tree


Lady Jane



Ladder 49


Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Cultural Literacy

Cultural Literacy, E. D. Hirsch

Highlighted excerpts that have made me nod in agreement and given me hope:

Many Americans who have graduated from high school in the recent past have been deprived of the cultural vocabulary that was commonly possessed by educated persons in past generations. Some repair work is necessary for them and for the members of the current school generation. They must be reintroduced to the cultural vocabulary that continues to be the foundation for literate national communication.

The more you know, the more you can learn. [William Raspberry]

It should energize people to learn that only a few hundred pages of information stand between the literate and the illiterate, between dependence and autonomy.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Books that put my feet in motion

I cannot tell you how much I am enjoying reading these two books---

A Walk Across America

Walking the Appalachian Trail

My hiking boots and my mind are ready to go, but my body isn't. After reading how Peter Jenkins "trained," I realized I could too. Plans are made to begin September 4, Labor Day.

Who knows?

Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Autumn Reading Challenge, anyone?

I usually think ahead. Way ahead. As soon as I'm in one project, one book, one whatever, I begin thinking about the next.

So this week, I've thought a lot about the Summer Reading Challenge. I've been plowing through my list and realize just how much that List keeps me on track and focused. Without it, when it is completed, I'll need to go back to my original 2006 year list.

Since the Summer Reading Challenge has been successful for me, I thought why not have an Autumn Reading Challenge, and then a Winter and Spring one also. Seasonal reading. Or at least, seasonal lists. That fits Seasonal Soundings most appropriately!

My mind's list is forming for the Autumn Reading Challenge 2006. If no one else has announced such a challenge, I hereby do so. The Autumn Reading Challenge 2006 will cover September, October, and November.

Think about what reading you are up to and able to do during these autumn months, and let's have take up the challenge. I'll be posting my list soon when I can sandwich it in; our new kitchen cabinets installation and kitchen re-do begins later this coming week.

Feel free to copy the challenge photo and post it on your own blog.

Rise to the Autumn Reading Challenge!

Friday, August 11, 2006

Fine Art Friday

Shoeing, Sir Edwin Henry Landseer. (1844)

Landseer is particularly known for his paintings of animals. In all of his animal paintings, Landseer is able to capture that communicative look an animal can give.

(For a look at his beautifully detailed painting "Falcon," click here.)

Upon researching a bit about Landseer, I found that he was the sculptor of the Trafalgar Square lions which inspired C. S. Lewis' image of Aslan in The Chronicles of Narnia books. If you remember when Jill first meets Aslan in The Silver Chair, she describes him lying by the stream "
with its head raised and its two forepaws out in front of it, like the lions in Trafalgar Square."

(Do you get as excited as I do when you come across all these connectional tidbits? I just love it when this happens!)

Thursday, August 10, 2006

From my sister

Don't miss the caption at the bottom.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Soundtrack for today

Oceanside Piano

Beautiful contemporary piano with ocean waves in the background.
(Link offers listening samples.)

"I learned to love history by way of books"

The Course of Human Events, David McCullough

"I learned to love history by way of books," says author David McCullough. McCullough is high on my list of admirable people. Not only is he a gifted historian with a pen, he seems like a person with whom you would love to spend hours talking. I remember seeing him in a short television interview speaking kindly of his family and of children and thought how wonderful a grandfather he must be.

While at the beach, I listened to The Course of Human Events several times during morning walks. Since home, I've listened to it again. And I will again someday. Although the transcript is available online (
here), I enjoy listening to McCullough speaking.

Some of McCullough's thoughts from
The Course of Human Events:

"There should be no hesitation ever about giving anyone a book to enjoy, at any age. There should be no hesitation about teaching future teachers with books they will enjoy. No harm's done to history by making it something someone would want to read."

"We are what we read more than we know."

From John Adams in France while he was separated from his family:

"I must study politics and war that my sons may have liberty to study mathematics and philosophy. My sons ought to study mathematics and philosophy, geography, natural history, naval architecture, navigation, commerce, and agriculture in order to give their children a right to study paintings, poetry, music, architecture, statuary, tapestry, and porcelain."

"The oldest written constitution still in use in the world today is the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, drafted by John Adams in 1778, just two years after the Declaration of Independence and fully a decade before our national Constitution. In many respects it is a rough draft of our national Constitution. But it also contains a paragraph on education that was without precedent. Though Adams worried that it would be rejected as too radical, it was passed unanimously. Listen, please, to what it says:

Wisdom and knowledge, as well as virtue, diffused generally among the body of the people being necessary for the preservation of their rights and liberties. [Which is to say that there must be wisdom, knowledge, and virtue or all aspirations for the good society will come to nothing.] And as these depend on spreading the opportunities and advantages of education in various parts of the country, and among the different orders of the people [that is, everyone], it shall be the duty [not something they might consider, but the duty] of legislatures and magistrates in all future periods of this commonwealth to cherish the interests and literature and the sciences, and all seminaries of them ... public schools, and grammar schools in the towns.
And he goes on to define what he means by education. It is literature and the sciences, yes, but much more: agriculture, the arts, commerce, trades, manufacturers, "and a natural history of the country." It shall be the duty, he continues,
to countenance and inculcate the principles of humanity and general benevolence, public and private charity, industry and frugality, honesty [we will teach honesty] ... sincerity, [and, please note] good humor, and all social affections, and generous sentiments among the people.
What a noble statement!"

Adams had written in his diary, "I must judge for myself, but how can I judge, how can any man judge, unless his mind has been opened and enlarged by reading."

More of David McCullough's books will be on my 2007 reading list.
A complete transcript of this lecture can be found here. And an insightful interview with McCullough as he expounds more of his thoughts can be found here.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Fine Art Friday

Schäferszene, Constant Troyan

I have a penchant for paintings of farmlife.

I have no idea of the English translation of schäferszene, but I'm sure Sarah at Homeschooling the Doctorate? does.


[Addendum: I finally found out what s
chäferszene means--shepherd scene. Since Troyan is French, I figured the title was French (thus calling on Sarah for help) even though it doesn't look French to me. When I checked the translation as German, Bingo! The title makes perfect sense, doesn't it?]

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Home again, for a bit

Each morning, I enjoyed a brisk walk from pier to pier along the lapping low tide with the sun rising as a backdrop.



Last year, I remember reading about the sea from Phillip Keller in Sea Edge:

"The shore has an atmosphere of serenity, beauty, strength and invigoration that stimulates the whole of man. It is more, much more, than merely a balm for the body. It also has a profound impact upon our moral and spiritual lives. The sea can restore weary minds, strained emotions, flagging wills and aching hearts. But beyond all this, it can be that strong inspiration of God to lift our spirits, cleanse our conscience, and draw us to Himself."
"As eternal as the surge of the sea, so is the ever moving melody of the love of God my Father flowing over me. As soothing as the sound of the surf, so is the quiet assurance that sweeps over my soul that Christ is my constant companion, speaking peace to my spirit. As inspiring and thrilling as the thunder of the breakers on the beach, so is the strong surge of God’s Spirit breaking in upon my life. In a hundred places, in a score of ways, He is ever pressing in upon me to inspire with great joy in songs of praise."

After walking each morning, I sipped hot coffee from my thermos while pondering R. C. Sproul's thoughts on The Character of God: Discovering the God Who Is.

I enjoyed simple fiction of Walt Larimore in Bryson City Tales, Bryson City Seasons, and Bryson City Secrets.

I determined more fully to section walk the Virginia section of the Appalachian Trail in the next few years as I read Walking the Appalachian Trail and listened again to Bill Bryson's A Walk in the Woods.

I spent all the hours I could from just before sunrise until late afternoon reading, thinking, wondering, resting, pondering, watching, and napping in front of the waves.

My favorite place.

Plans are to return to the above position in the same location for six more days at the end of August.


Just three weeks away.