Sunday, August 30, 2015

Poem of the Week: Lochnivar


By Sir Walter Scott
O young Lochinvar is come out of the west,
Through all the wide Border his steed was the best;
And save his good broadsword he weapons had none,
He rode all unarm’d, and he rode all alone.
So faithful in love, and so dauntless in war,
There never was knight like the young Lochinvar.

He staid not for brake, and he stopp’d not for stone,
He swam the Eske river where ford there was none;
But ere he alighted at Netherby gate,
The bride had consented, the gallant came late:
For a laggard in love, and a dastard in war,
Was to wed the fair Ellen of brave Lochinvar.

So boldly he enter’d the Netherby Hall,
Among bride’s-men, and kinsmen, and brothers and all:
Then spoke the bride’s father, his hand on his sword,
(For the poor craven bridegroom said never a word,)
“O come ye in peace here, or come ye in war,
Or to dance at our bridal, young Lord Lochinvar?”

“I long woo’d your daughter, my suit you denied;—
Love swells like the Solway, but ebbs like its tide—
And now I am come, with this lost love of mine,
To lead but one measure, drink one cup of wine.
There are maidens in Scotland more lovely by far,
That would gladly be bride to the young Lochinvar.”

The bride kiss’d the goblet: the knight took it up,
He quaff’d off the wine, and he threw down the cup.
She look’d down to blush, and she look’d up to sigh,
With a smile on her lips and a tear in her eye.
He took her soft hand, ere her mother could bar,—
“Now tread we a measure!” said young Lochinvar.

So stately his form, and so lovely her face,
That never a hall such a galliard did grace;
While her mother did fret, and her father did fume,
And the bridegroom stood dangling his bonnet and plume;
And the bride-maidens whisper’d, “’twere better by far
To have match’d our fair cousin with young Lochinvar.”

One touch to her hand, and one word in her ear,
When they reach’d the hall-door, and the charger stood near;
So light to the croupe the fair lady he swung,
So light to the saddle before her he sprung!
“She is won! we are gone, over bank, bush, and scaur;
They’ll have fleet steeds that follow,” quoth young Lochinvar.

There was mounting ’mong Graemes of the Netherby clan;
Forsters, Fenwicks, and Musgraves, they rode and they ran:
There was racing and chasing on Cannobie Lee,
But the lost bride of Netherby ne’er did they see.
So daring in love, and so dauntless in war,
Have ye e’er heard of gallant like young Lochinvar? 

Friday, August 28, 2015

Happy First Day of No School

 The school kids headed off this week, so we grabbed some friends and did a playground hop!

We managed three large playgrounds: Indian Creek, Watkins Park, and Buddy Attick.

 The one I was most excited about was the new Wizard of Oz themed playground at Watkins, but evidently everyone else had the same idea!

I don't think I've ever seen such a crowded playground!

We only stayed long enough to look around, and we agreed we would love to come back later. 

But we had a great time at Indian Creek and Buddy Attick, so it was a great start to our non school year!

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

The Museum (New and Improved)

 The museum just keeps growing!  I can tell we are on our way to having our very own Hall of Wonders!!

We now have three wings: the William J. Jensen Wing(models, rockets, and things we have made),

the Ocean Wing  (shells, fish, fossil shark teeth),

and the other wing that we haven't named yet (rocks, fossils, bird nests, bones, and anything the kids find and want to put there).

I love having a museum!

I love having a place to exhibit all the things we find and are interested in!

To me it's a place to honor my kid's interests, and reflect on all of the amazing things which have fascinated them

Monday, August 24, 2015


What do you think when you hear "Meanwhile..."?  Does you brain complete that with "...back at the ranch"?

Mine completes it with "at the Hall of Justice"!  Ahem.

Actual View From Door
At any rate, when I returned from Colorado/Arkansas/the beach/scout camp/my folks/summer vacation, much to my surprise, no one had broken into the house and reorganized my home school room according to my exacting specifications.

Meaning, you still couldn't walk into the room.

I took this as a sign that I actually needed to break in and clean it myself.

 This process took many years decades hours.  Two days, really, because I also had to deal with all the home school overflow in my office!

Actual current view from door
But it's DONE!

I actually went through and tossed or passed on all the preschool to grade 2 stuff.

I went through all the books, games, toys, etc.

Part of the reason it was in such a state is that I hadn't done a major reorganization in a few years.

We've had some busy summers, but really  think it's because I dreaded giving away my "little kid" stuff.

I had such a lovely time when the Zoomlians were little, and I miss that age.

But I'm glad I did it!

The "little stuff" will make other littles happy, and now we can access everything for the kids I have now.

I moved all the books into my office (stuff in current use) or the guest room (stuff I'll need later), so the home school room is all the non book stuff.

I used the book case to hold pretzel bins full of projects.

We have bins for: Legos, dominoes, embroidery, shells, circuits, bones, tie dye, clay, cookie cutters, popsicle sticks, you name it!

I really like the bin idea because it's easy to take the whole bin out to use and it's easy to put it back.

That seems to be the key to successful organization for me: sad to say, if it isn't easy, I won't do it.

I still would like to organize the art shelves a bit better, but I actually know where everything is and can access any of it easily, which is a first in a long time!

Plus we redid the museum!  More on that tomorrow!

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Poem of the Week: The Hummingbird

The Hummingbird

A Route of Evanescence
With a revolving Wheel--
A Resonance of Emerald--
A Rush of Cochineal--
And every Blossom on the Bush
Adjusts its tumbled Head--
The mail from Tunis, probably,
An easy Morning's Ride--

By Emily Dickenson
The Humming Bird by Emily Dickinson
A route of evanescence
With a revolving wheel;
A resonance of emerald,
A rush of cochineal;
And every blossom on the bush
Adjusts its tumbled head,--
The mail from Tunis, probably,
An easy morning’s ride.
- See more at:
The Humming Bird by Emily Dickinson
A route of evanescence
With a revolving wheel;
A resonance of emerald,
A rush of cochineal;
And every blossom on the bush
Adjusts its tumbled head,--
The mail from Tunis, probably,
An easy morning’s ride.
- See more at:
The Humming Bird by Emily Dickinson
A route of evanescence
With a revolving wheel;
A resonance of emerald,
A rush of cochineal;
And every blossom on the bush
Adjusts its tumbled head,--
The mail from Tunis, probably,
An easy morning’s ride.
- See more at:
The Humming Bird by Emily Dickinson
A route of evanescence
With a revolving wheel;
A resonance of emerald,
A rush of cochineal;
And every blossom on the bush
Adjusts its tumbled head,--
The mail from Tunis, probably,
An easy morning’s ride.
- See more at:

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Little Convent on the Llano

Leena and I actually stayed in the convent and hung out with the sisters: my sister and my sister's sisters, who are, of course, my sisters too.

Try saying that five times fast!

And Molly, their moose dog.

Leena loved Molly, Molly loved Leena.

Every time Leena approached, Molly flopped over in hopes of a tummy rub, and Leena never disappointed her!

The valley really is cowboy type country - lots of sage brush and tumbleweed.

And lots of cowboy hats and pick ups.

And lots of open space, perfect for taking a first driving lesson with Manty MaryAnn!

Not bad for 13!!

Best of all, it is big sky country.  At night we saw more stars than I have ever seen, including the Milky Way, and dozens of shooting stars!

Monday, August 17, 2015


 Leena and I are back from her 13 Trip to Colorado! 

When our kids turn 13, we celebrate with a trip of their choice, just them and Mom or Dad.  They can go anywhere in the continental US, and it's special time to be together, do fun stuff , and talk about growing up.

Leena picked Colorado because she loves mountains, and she loves my sister.  It was her first airplane ride- she loved it!
 Manty MaryAnn (yes, we do call our relatives strange things) took us to the Great Dunes National Park.

I should explain that she doesn't just live in Colorado, she lives in her "Little Convent on the Llano."  The Llano is like a prairie, except, in this case, it's a high altitude (2 mile elevation) valley nestled in the Rocky mountains.
 I should also explain that the valley is a dried up lake that's thousands of  (flat) square miles - it's unlike anything I've ever seen!

One of the sand bearing streams
And, strangely enough, this is where you will find the largest sand dune in North America.

Very windy!
Streams erode and carry sand down from the mountains, and in one special spot, all the winds (coming from 3 separate mountain passes) blow the sand into a pile at the foot of the mountains. 

Millions of years later, it's a really big pile of sand!

We mean really big!

Enormously big!!

All I can tell you is that it is much much bigger than it looks!

And it was amazingly fun!!

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Poem of the Week

The Assumption (An Answer)
Cosmos Purity

Before Earth saw Him, she had felt and known
The small soft feet that thrust like buds in Spring.
The body of Our Lord was all her own
Once. From the cross her arms received her King.

Think you that she, who bore Him on her breast,
Had not the Word still living in her heart?
Or that, because one voice had called her blest,
Her inmost soul had lost the better part?

Henceforth all generations......Ah, but that
You think was an ancient song she knew!
Millions this night will sing Magnificat,
And bring at least one strange prediction true.

Think you His heaven, that deep transcendent state,
Floats like Murillo's picture in the air?
Or that her life, so heavenly consecrate,
Had no essential habitation there?

Think you He looked upon her dying face,
And, throned above His burning seraphim,
Felt no especial tenderness or grace
For her whose life-blood once had throbbed in Him?

Proof of his filial love, His body on earth
Still lives and breathes, and tells us, night and day,
That earth and heaven were mingled in His birth,
Through her, who kneels beside us when we pray;

Kneels to the Word made flesh; Her living faith
Kneels to Incarnate Love, "not lent but given,"
Assumed to her on earth; and, after death,
Assuming her to His own heart in Heaven.

Alfred Noyes. The Tablet 10/28/50, page 375.

HT: U Dayton

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Adventurers Fall Schedule

Yet another win for last week, I set up the Adventurers schedule!

If you're new to the blog, we live near Washington DC, home to an astonishing number of free world class museums, monuments, and other cool stuff.  

Adventurers, now in our sixth year,  is our weekly foray into this fascinating world!

Here is our field trip advice.
Here is our 2015 Fall Schedule:

9/9 Air and Space (space side)
9/16  Air and Space (air side)
9/23 Natural History (mammals, dinosaurs, insects)
9/30 Natural History (geology, gems, oceans)

10/7 Apple/pumpkin/broccoli picking at Larriland (pay for what you pick, free parking, usually takes most of the day)
10/14 Air and Space Udvar Hazy Annex (in Virginia so the driving will take more time, $16 parking, a good one to car pool)
10/21 Arboretum (Fall foliage, free parking)
10/28 American History (Spark Lab and the new Innovation Wing) This and the Arboretum may be switched depending on timing of peak leaf color

11/2 (Monday, All Souls Day) Arlington National Cemetery (visiting my family's WWI and WWII graves and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier)
11/11 (Veterans Day) American History (Star Spangled Banner and military history)
11/18 Library of Congress
Skip Week for Thanksgiving

12/2 Botanical Gardens (holiday train exhibit)
12/9 Gingerbread Contest and Party

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Household Triumphs

Last week will be known as The-Week-We-Were-All-Home.

We relaxed and did a lot of small projects. 

One thing I'm very glad we did was get Klenda her own desk and chair.  She had been working out of a corner of my office all last semester with her laptop on a tiny typing caddy, while she sat on a step stool.

But now she has her very own workspace (shared with me and a variety of household and homeschool supplies).

We also did some cleaning, loads of laundry, scraped and painted the porch, wondered why the wood was wet under the gutters, and installed gutter guards which we really, really, really hope has solved the problem.

And we saw friends, watched movies, made a library run, played with hose a lot, washed the cars, used squirt guns (which was a major summer goal for Choclo), and got the yard completely mowed and the garden mostly weeded. 

There was a time when "mostly weeded" would have sounded like failure to me, but now it's a solid win!

Monday, August 10, 2015

The Summer of Hummers and Other Bird News

As you read this, I'm probably on the plane with Leena, heading to see my sister, 2000 miles away, but I am getting seriously behind on my blogging, so I am pre loading a few posts for you.

Last summer, Mxyl got a hummingbird feeder and we saw a few hummingbirds- maybe 2 or 3 that summer.

This year we moved the feeder to the front porch and we started seeing 2 hummers every morning and evening.

We added another feeder and now have seen seven of them at once! Obviously we need more feeders.

Not only that, we can sit on the front porch and watch them feed about 3 feet from our faces!!

If you look carefully, you can see two hummingbirds fight over the top feeder in the video.  Watch for the sparrow and the squirrel photobombs, and you will see how fast the hummers are moving!  I had filmed this in "slo-mo" mode on my phone, but I can't figure out how to post it except at full speed.

I will also admit that I didn't see the second hummer while I was taking the video!

In other bird news, Choclo, Oob, and I dissected a pigeon!

What we found most interesting was the bird digestive arrangement: crop (undigested food), then stomach (chemical digestion), then gizzard (mechanical digestion, grinding the seeds with small stones), and then the intestines. I had always thought the gizzard was before the stomach, since we do our mechanical digestion (chewing) first, in order to give more surface area for the chemical digestion to work. I have no idea why the birds have the reverse arrangement!

I was also interested in the respiratory system and the large (for it's size) heart, all of which allow it to get enough energy to fly.  Choclo and Oob were quite fascinated by the bird's scaly feet.  We talked about feathers being specialized scales (like a flower's petals are specialized leaves), and about the dinosaur-bird connection.

 Did you know that many large dinosaurs also had gizzards?  They found the smoothly worn stones (gastroliths) the animals had swallowed in the right part of the skeleton.  And, of course, many of them had feathers (including the velociraptors!).

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Poem of the Week

On the Grasshopper and Cricket

By John Keats
The Poetry of earth is never dead:    
  When all the birds are faint with the hot sun,    
  And hide in cooling trees, a voice will run    
From hedge to hedge about the new-mown mead;    
That is the Grasshopper’s—he takes the lead      
  In summer luxury,—he has never done    
  With his delights; for when tired out with fun    
He rests at ease beneath some pleasant weed.    
The poetry of earth is ceasing never:    
  On a lone winter evening, when the frost     
    Has wrought a silence, from the stove there shrills    
The Cricket’s song, in warmth increasing ever,    
  And seems to one in drowsiness half lost,    
    The Grasshopper’s among some grassy hills.

Friday, August 7, 2015

Travelogue Part 5: The Road Home

 From Arkansas, we went through most of Missouri, which took most of the day, but landed us with another dear friend, Fr. Joe!

He is originally from Nigeria, we met in Maryland, and he is now pastor of a very pretty parish in a farming community in Missouri!

I had always thought of Missouri as flat (see left), and in the northeast, it is, but most of the trip was through the beautiful Ozark mountains.
From Missouri, we went through Illinois and most of Indiana.

Remarkably, in the suburbs of Indianapolis, we filled up for $2.16 a gallon!  (It's 50 cents a gallon more around here.)
Ice cream splurge!
 From Indiana we drove through Ohio and back into the Appalachians.

Then it was West Virginia, Pennsylvania, West Virginia (still not sure what quirk of geography had us swerving between the two), and finally, back to Maryland.

Where we have happily stayed for an entire week!

Next week, Leena and I are going to Colorado.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Travelogue Part 4: Mostly Wordless in Arkansas

 Our very own Grammy Ann!

(those are her looms, she's a master weaver - also our sweet, sweet Cousin Barb, another great weaver!)

Cousin Jerry's  Slingshot!

Aunt Toni!

(and Cousin Jerry and Second Cousin Krista)