Friday, 3 July 2015

June Book Log


Murder Under the Sun by Agatha Christie

New to me -

have several on the go but didn't complete anything! been a LONG while since that's happened, so not sweating it, as ever, there's a LOT going on here.

Friday, 26 June 2015

Dear Cat

Dear Cat that ran out in front of my wheels today,

Here is your ninth life back, courtesy of my lightening fast reactions and well maintained brakes.

It comes with the ten years you knocked off my life.

Yours sincerely,


P.S. Please look twice next time. I can't spare any more nerve endings.

Monday, 22 June 2015

June Project: Prehistoric Art, Cave Paintings, Rock Art

From our shelves, first of all, this handy time line book.

Here's the relevant pages we've been using -

This absolute gem of a book we picked up for a quid in the library shop a while back and it is absolutely wonderful.

 This was also from the library shop I think, and is brilliant for slightly younger readers - packed with info in a simple, picture book presentation and rhyming text with heaps of illustration - just fab.

These we ordered from the library. The top right hand one is fascinating but a bit too specific (about aboriginal Australia). The other too are fab with tons of pictures. I have been reading out loud from bits of the text, particularly from the the Ice Age Art one - definitely a the highest level resource we're using. 

These two were from a Oxfam Bookshop haul and a couple of quid a piece - we've been going through them and picking out the relevant bits. Hoofie particularly likes The Book of Life for some reason!

Wig has been writing a great essay on it all and we also found a great documentary on youtube linking rock art to shaminstic trance experiences which was really interesting, and of course we'll be trying out some of the techniques ourselves!

Sunday, 21 June 2015

Happy Summer Solstice!

We celebrated the Summer Solstice today by working on the allotment - some much needed weeding was in order, Papacrow thinned out the carrots and we gave everything a good water.

Then later that afternoon I went to the cinema to see a live recording of Julie Taymor's Broadway production of A Midsummer Night's Dream. Petal and Dot fancied it and came too.

It was lavish and gorgeous and thought provoking - David Hare was arresting and somewhat distracting as Oberon, spray painted even blacker than normal he stalked barefoot and topless round the stage highlighted in gold paint, and even sang - musical and magical. As a contrast, Tina Benko's Titania was stark white. The fairies were a ragged, Mad Max-esque wild Lost Boys band of highly talented children who danced and juddered and contorted. Roger Clark was a solid Duke Theseus, Okwui Okpokwasili a majestic Queen Hippolyta.

The Rude Mechanicals, a rag tag band of Detroit construction workers - were an utter joy. Max Casella swaggered through the part of Bottom with a witty assurance, Zachery Infante was a heavily Italian accented Frances Flute who raised goosebumps and tears with his performance as Thisbe as, at the end of the play within a play, he twisted it inside out and played it straight. Amazing.

And Puck. My goodness me, Puck. If you're not familiar with who Kathryn Hunter is, then she is well worth a google - in a long and illustrious stage career, she's played many Shakespeare parts including traditionally male ones such as Richard the Third and the Fool in King Lear, and was also Arabella Fig in the Harry Potter films. She was wonderful - in a baggy Chaplin-esque get up including bowler hat and white face clown make up she flew, she capered, she scampered around the stage and up and round David Harewood, contorting her body and bringing t a really alien, otherworldly element to Puck's chaos and mischief.

The setting, sort of contemporary 1920s crossed with quasi Elizabethian, was interesting, the use of blacked out puppteer style stage workers to manipulate the bamboo poled forest and enable the little fairies to fly worked brilliantly, the use of sheets and projected images was also really good. There was good, picturesque wire work by Puck, Oberon and Titania, platforms and hammocks that raised and lowered, trapdoors and a lowered pit section that was intelligently utilised. The incidental music was a raucous mash up of 1920's vaudville and classic circus, with a raucous big band feel and worked very well.

It had a slightly sticky start for me. Partly the text - I always forget how deeply misogynistic Theseus and Hermia's father are in the first scene - partly the male actors seemed to fall into the old 'stamp and shout to be dramatic' trap, but Lilly Englert was marvellously natural and, later on, really quite funny as Hermia and once we were off with the story proper I was swept along and suitably enthralled. Jake Horowitz was Lysander and Zack Appleman was Demitrius. I took a little while to warm up to them but then was utterly convinced - the pillow fight scene was just genius! Mandy Masden was an inspired casting as Helena and really very good indeed. The chemistry between all the four of them was good and believable.

I enjoyed it immensly, and Petal and Dot enjoyed their first Shakespeare!

Friday, 5 June 2015

June is busting out all over, and so am I

How odd, I thought I'd mentioned about needing to shake up table time a bit again, particular for Wig - who dolefully confided how he was finding everything boring - but can find no trace. Ah well!

Suffice it to say, we needed some tweaking again. It had evolved into Wig and Fluff doing their stuff in the relative peace of the front room and in a way it seemed to be working, so it took while to realise that it really wasn't - I hated being pulled between two rooms, plus the front room just isn't conducive to feeling like working in some ways. Laptop stuff, fine. Book work - not so much. Wig was being all resistant to stuff as well as, as I said, really not feeling engaged so I decided the other weekend to have them all back in the kitchen and round the table again.

Kinda sprung it on them on the Monday and what d'ya know, it went down beautifully! I make sure the radio is OFF (that's new too), required more formal stuff from Dot and I go round helping from youngest to oldest - the older ones have more things they can do by themselves, and the younger ones have less to do, so this works well - the younger ones can go off and play when they're done, leaving peace for me and the older ones to tackle essay work and the like.

We've been doing this for a couple of weeks or so now and it does seem to be working SO much better. Not only that, but things like art and music that I had, again, been internally worrying over how to incorporate more/again/at all, seem to be incorporating themselves - yes, really! There's been lots of piano and recorder practising going on - spontaneously, their choice - and today after everything had been done and cleared, Dot spotted the embroidery stuff so she, Petal and Fluff all sat round for a significant amount of time doing running stitch and the like - wonderful!

Some new resources have helped too, I got the new felt tips we needed so there has been lots more colouring and drawing. I also got some more scientific colouring books - Wig has been going great guns with the high level evolution one and we've all been enjoying the lower level periodic table one - the facts and history for each element in it are great, really interesting.

I've also been reading out loud more - Just So stories, various chemistry books and Edwardian Lady's Country Dairy, mostly, and we've been getting daily conquer maths and/or Teach Your Monster How to Read in much more, which has been brilliant. Wig, Fluff and Petal also all wanted to regular spelling tests and this is proving helpful too - I write them all up a list at the beginning of the week based on what they've been miss-spelling in their diaries & book reviews, or in Petal's case, what they're struggling to read, and they get the list out each day and practice them, with me testing them at the end of their practice, and giving them the list back to self mark/correct.

Somehow, many things that I've been thinking for some time 'need to do that/more of that' just seem to have clicked, leading to much richer, more fulfilling days, hoorah! I'm not forgetting down time and play time, don't you worry about that - there's been plenty of magic and other card games, reading, various games the girls have invented such as a hair saloon game, and we've even had the train track out.

Sports clubs are going well and we've been out to the library, park and allotment a lot, so in all, things are going reasonably well at the moment! Roo seems to have settled in okay at school and Saurus has done his exams and is just finishing up his year at college, Papacrow has finished one seven month job and has another few small ones lined up and we are both writing books (I know, again. Glutton for punishment, me. Don't ask how it's going - it isn't, mostly.)

Tuesday, 2 June 2015

Sunday, 31 May 2015

May's Monthly Project, Rudyard Kipling

I read the Just So Stories with the younger ones- Dot in particular loved them - Wig has been reading Puck of Pook's Hill as well as writing an essay on Kipling's life using wikipedia mostly, and we've been discussing the various issues as we go.

We've looked at his poetry too - most notably 'If' and 'Gunga Din', both fabulous poems.

We're near to Batemans and plan a visit - as the last week of May was half term, we decided to wait until the schools were back and go in June.

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