Monday, July 14, 2014

Nature Notes: Spotted Owls and Black Raspberries

Last month we were privileged to see a spotted owl twice.  First Nathan (6), then Gregory (8), spotted the owl's movement out the window around dusk and we were able to watch the owl as he perched in a tree right next to our house.

On June 16th, we unfortunately found a decapitated owl chick on the ground near a large cedar.  In comparing it to photos online, we felt fairly confident that it was a spotted owl chick.  It was about 8" long (err, sans head) and had been dead awhile.  We speculated a great deal about what might have happened, and wondered mightily where the nest might be.  We also wondered if there might be another chick.

Last week, we were visited by this guy!  Nathan noticed him and and we were able to watch him fly to several different perching spots around our house and listen to him call out.  He was about 12" tall, and seemed about 2/3 the size of the adults we had seen last month.  He seemed quite interested in watching us, cocking his head and observing us quite closely. The owl chick's wings were fully feathered, but he was still covered with down on his body and head.  We probably got to watch him for about 30 minutes, before it became too dark to see him anymore.  We heard the same call for several nights after that, but have not heard it the last couple of nights.

We also have been picking black raspberries off our property in the last few days.  Last year we found a small section of berries that didn't look quite like blackberries, and were ripe several weeks before the blackberries should be ripe.  We did a little research, and found that they were black raspberries.  I had never heard of such a thing, but we thought they were quite tasty.

We watched for them eagerly this year, and as they started to ripen we realized they had spread and were all over the hill where we originally found them!  Last year we were only able to pick a tantalizing handful or so, but this year we've been able to pick enough to bring a cup or more back home.  Granted, it still isn't a huge amount by any means - we won't be making jam from them anytime soon! - but it was enough to snack on, add to our pancakes yesterday and have some in our oatmeal.

Monday, July 7, 2014

What We're Reading: June Edition

I'm still plugging away at my reading plan and enjoying it as well as finding it fruitful.  I am starting to look ahead at the upcoming school year and wondering how I should work in reading the kids' books.  Do I add some of those to my reading plan?  Do I block out additional time to read their books and maintain my own plan?  If so, where does that time come from?  In the spring I did a combination of both, adding books I thought looked particularly interesting to my reading plan, and making some time here and there to quickly read through other books.  It wasn't entirely satisfactory, but perhaps this is the best I can do.

My Current Reads
Bible:  Colossians - I think I've slowed down a bit on my Bible reading, although I'm still reading every day.  I tend to read half the book rather than the whole one in one sitting.  I've found the best time slot for this is immediately after I get up.  First I pray Morning Prayer from the Liturgy of the Hours, then I read from my current book of the Bible.  It is about a 20 minute practice, and that way if Hannah wakes up when I wake up, it keeps me from falling back asleep with her as I nurse her.  I'm trying to establish a habit of reading from the Gospels before going to bed, but I'm not doing very well in this.

Fiction:  Still reading Waverley.  But I'm about 3/4 of the way through!

Poetry:  The New Morning: Poems by Alfred Noyes.  This poet came to my attention when Emma and I were talking about The Highwayman and I looked up more information about it.  I particularly enjoyed his WWI poems, and some of this sea poems.  I'm in the miscellaneous section of poems at the moment and finding them somewhat a mixed bag. (perhaps that's appropriate?)

Spiritual Reading:  I finished reading The Autobiography of St. Ignatius of Loyola (Which seems to be written by someone else, based on what St. Ignatius told him at different times.  Doesn't that make it a biography rather than an autobiography?  Anyway...) from which, frankly, I expected more.  Perhaps it wasn't a particularly good translation?  The language seemed rather simple and rough in placed.  I've moved onto The Little Oratory, by David Clayton and Leila Lawler.  I haven't gotten very far in yet, but I've been looking forward to reading the book ever since I heard about it.

General Non-Fiction:  I finished Sarah Mackenzie's Teaching from Rest and thought it was an excellent book on homeschooling.  There were so many good reminders in it about what we're really doing in raising our children, and why.  I also liked that it is fairly method neutral.  There's so much there for Christian homeschoolers of any stripe.  And the audio companion was fantastic - the Andrew Kern talk alone was well worth the cost!

On Jessica's recommendation, I picked up Outliers from the library.  I'm really enjoying it.  I have such a weak spot for sociology/psychology sorts of books.  I find it fascinating to probe the interesting things people do, and how people make decisions and how different factors influence people's lives and decision making.  I'm reminded of a quote I read in Charlotte Mason's Vol. 3 last night:
‘Open, Sesame.’—I think we should have a great educational revolution once we ceased to regard ourselves as assortments of so-called faculties, and realised ourselves as persons whose great business it is to get in touch with other persons of all sorts and condition; of all countries and climes, of all times, past and present. History would become entrancing, literature a magic mirror for the discovery of other minds, the study of sociology a duty and a delight.
Mason, Charlotte (2011-05-15). Charlotte Mason's Original Homeschooling Series Volume 3 - School Education (Kindle Locations 2620-2623).  . Kindle Edition. 
 Self-Education:  I finished Abolition of Man (hooray!) and I've started Beauty in the Word.  There's so much there that dovetails with the CM volume I'm reading right now, that I sometimes have trouble remembering which book I read it in.

Chesterton:  I finished Manalive, and decided to take a little break from Chesterton.  He has such a distinctive writing style and I feel like I was getting oversaturated and a little numb to it.  I think I'll appreciate him more if I alternate his books with something else.  I have a couple of science books I've borrowed, started, but not finished and I'm going to read those in this spot too.  To that end, I picked Darwin's Black Box back up.

History:  I finished a book The Shadow of His Wings, which was a fantastic story from a German seminarian who was drafted into the German Army, served some time in the SS, and ends up being ordained while he is imprisoned in a British POW camp.  It is a fantastic and incredible read.  I enjoyed regaling the family with stories from it during dinner.  Next I picked up from the Emma's pile, True Stories of World War II, which had some great short stories in it, showing a variety of viewpoints into the war - everything from female pilots in the Soviet Union, snipers in Stalingrad, the Manhattan Project, D-Day, to English spies in France.  A great little collection of stories to give a feel for the vast of swath of different experiences in the war.  I haven't figured out what to read next in this category.  I'm thinking I should probably start in on some of the kids' school stuff, but haven't picked up anything yet.

Charlotte Mason:  I'm still moving along in Vol. 3.  I love coming across quotes I've seen in blog posts in their native habitat, so to speak.  The context enriches them and makes me appreciate her writings all the more.

Emma (Age 12) Current Reads
Emma picked up a few Dr. Dolittle books and the Betsy-Tacy books at the library in the middle of the month and has been working her way through them.  I also let her read The Shadow of His Wings, which we enjoyed discussing.  There's so many amazing stories in his life!

Gregory (Age 8) Current Reads
Gregory has been reading the Dr. Dolittle books as soon as Emma is finished with them.  He also read They Flew to Glory, a non-fiction book about WWI and the Americans who flew for the French before the US was involved in the war.  He's also been reading the  Sister Philomena series by Dianne Ahern.
Nathan (Age 6) and Justin (Age 2) Current Reads
I've been trying to introduce the boys to some of the books on the bookshelves that they haven't heard for awhile (or at all), thinking that perhaps they might find some new favorites.  I am getting a little tired of reading the snowman books over and over, can you tell?  I really want to try some of the folksong books Celeste has been blogging about, but I haven't gotten any of them together yet.  Maybe this week?