Summer Learning

Even though most schools are closing for the summer, learning doesn’t stop. In fact, learning outside of school can be one of the most valuable ways to increase our–and our kids’ and grandkids’–knowledge and understanding in various fields of interest.

From what I understand from working in the education field, and from personal experience, learning comes easier when we are enjoying ourselves and taking part in activities we are keenly interested in.

What are you looking forward to learning about this summer? Or, should I say, what fun things are you planning to DO this summer? (I’d seriously love to know–leave me a note below.) I believe that these concepts–learning, fun, doing–all go together.

If you are interested, Practical Homeschooling magazine just published my article on the subject, in their issue #146. I wrote it about a conversation with my young children, who thought I was insane when I told them I loved to learn. I think I convinced them that “learning” and “school” were two different things, by keeping track of all of our summer activities and showing them how much they’d “accidentally” learned.

The lines between school learning, learning at home, and home schooling have definitely blurred over the past year. If you find that learning at home has been a positive experience for you and your children, and you are planning to continue that in the future, you might want to have a look at homeschooling resources like this one. At $4.95 U.S./Canadian, you can’t go wrong!

What am I looking forward to learning this summer? I want to learn how to use all–or most–of the features of my new (to me) camera.

I have been struggling to learn how to use the manual settings. It’s partly re-learning, since my photography-teacher dad taught me how to use them in the 70s, before I got lazy with point-and-shoot cameras.

Yes, I have watched many videos and read lots of the manuals, but the most effective way I have learned about it is, you guessed, using it. Trial and error, and making mistakes, only nowadays without wasting expensive film and the cost of developing it!

I am fortunate that I enjoy walking and exercise, am a morning person (as are many animals), it is summer time right now, and that I enjoy the quiet and solitude of the forest. All of those give me inspiration to power on through the frustration, to try and try again to get good shots.

The hundreds, even thousands, of out-of-focus animals and flowers, and borrrring landscapes, have taught me valuable lessons. I still haven’t figured out how to take clear videos, unfortunately. Sigh.

If you want to see some of the shots that did work, have a look below. At any rate….

I wish you and yours many happy learning experiences over the summer!

Mergansers – the adult on the right kept attacking the other adult – stressed out from all those little ones? ha ha
Little one strayed a little to far into the neighborhood, the neighbors and I encouraged it to go home because its mother was worried, it disappeared into the long grass
Not sure exactly what kind of bird this is, but it seemed to want its picture taken!

Update – the Calgary READS Big Book Sale has been cancelled

With the wellbeing of our community in mind, the Big Book Sale has been cancelled… Take special care & take comfort in books and reading aloud!

From all of us at Calgary READS

Thanks for giving it your best shot, Calgary READS! You are awesome and it will happen in the future!

By the way, anyone who wants to make a donation can do so here. And definitely check out their fun video!

It’s a stressful time. I wish you all peace, patience, health, hope and connection with our Father in heaven. Here is one of the sweetest songs I’ve ever heard, at 20 Schemes. I discovered it a few weeks ago, and it just keeps going round and round in my head, bringing calm and sweetness to my days. I hope it does the same for you, my friend. {{{Hugs!}}}

This Calgary 2021 Spring Book Sale is a GO!

MAY 11 2021 UPDATE

THE SALE HAS BEEN CANCELLED

For years and years over the long winters in Calgary, I’ve been cheered by looking forward to the 2 huge book sales in May. Last year we had to be patient, and this year one of them is happening!

I contacted Calgary READS a month ago. They were trying to get the sale ready to go for May, and said they’d get in touch with me if they succeeded. They HAVE SUCCEEDED!

Calgary READS Book Sale is

May 28 – June 19, 2021

(closed Mondays and Tuesdays)

at the same place as usual, the Calgary Curling Club, 720 3 St. NW, Calgary

150,000 gently used and carefully sorted books are waiting for you BY APPOINTMENT.

[Book an appointment HERE]

Come to the Sale, or shop from home.

More details from their website…

SHOP IN PERSON

Our entire Book Sale operations have been reimagined to keep our customers and volunteers safe.  We have extended the Book Sale dates so you now have 17 days (by appointment) for relaxed, physically distanced shopping.  No rush …. we’ll refresh tables daily.

Appointments:

  • For safety reasonsattendance at the Book Sale is BY APPOINTMENT ONLY.
  • Duration: Appointments are for 90 minutes.
  • Need more time?: Day passes are available for $25 per adult.
  • Book an Appointment HERE

Event Fee: An event fee of $3 per adult will be added to your total purchase on EXITING the sale.

Special Days:  Stay tuned for information on our BOGO Days (Buy One Get One).

Safety: 

  • Guidelines: Our procedures strictly follow public health requirements and government guidelines
  • Masks are mandatory
  • Occupancy: Occupancy restrictions are strictly enforced. Attendance is by appointment only.  The number of customers admitted will adhere to public health restrictions. Enjoy physically distanced, relaxed shopping with occupancy restrictions.
  • Our redesigned floor plan allows for one way, flow through traffic.

SHOP FROM HOME

Can’t make it to the Book Sale? Stay tuned for more information on our shop from home initiatives:

  • Personal Shopping Service
  • “Blind Date with a Book” Bags

Learn more about what Calgary Reads is doing to put children on the path to success in school and in life.

Doing a happy dance!!!

Thanks Pixabey and Clipart-Library for the cheery clipart!

Treasure Hunt!

As I posted a few days ago, the first book in the upcoming Sci-Fi Fantasy Leoshine series, Leoshine Princess Oracle, is launching. To celebrate, author N. MacCameron and her friends have ingeniously created this Treasure Hunt to celebrate her book.

If you signed up for the hunt, this is one of the stops on this internet quest!


Welcome to our Famous Canadian Women Internet Treasure Hunt. We’re so glad you’re here to play!

You are doing well! You have signed up at Leoshine’s website and got the key to cracking the code. (If you still need to do that, we’ll hold your place here while you do!)

You have found real treasure – one of ten pictures that represent the name of a famous Canadian woman in the Tassanara script — specially developed by Travis Williams for the Sci Fi/ Fantasy Leoshine, Princess Oracle written by N. MacCameron and due to be released in May.

Your next task is to decipher the script to learn which Famous Canadian Woman you have found. Keep track of each name you decode so you can put it in the form that comes at the end.

You get bonus points if you can say where in Canada this wonderful woman lived(s) and how she contributed to the world as a better place.

Once you find all ten treasures, follow the last link to the answers form.

If the deadline – March 13th 2021 11:59pm MST – comes before you find all of them, send what you have! Prizes will be announced on March 14th 2021.

You could win an audiobook of Leoshine, Princess Oracle by N. MacCameron, an eBook of DiscerningGrace by  Emma Lombard, or a digital background of the map developed by Rachael Ward.

If you play after March 14th 2021, great! There’s a prize for you too! Keep playing through to the end! Thank you for playing! Secret codes are great, aren’t they? By following them, you get treasure! You have fun! You meet new people!

You are amazing! You completed the Treasure Hunt!!! Now go to the Answer Form and fill it out! Claim your bonus now!

A heads-up for fans of Sci-Fi Fantasy Adventure

Is Leoshine a Princess, a Slave, or a Queen?

The first book in the upcoming Leoshine series, Leoshine Princess Oracle, will lead you into the fascinating world created by talented author N. MacCameron.

To find out more about Leoshine, and the launch of this inspiring series, head over to https://leoshine.micandpen.com/ .

There you’ll also find the opportunity to get a free audiobook of another Science Fiction Fantasy Title by N. MacCameron. Hagovi’s Bridge follows the revelation and transformation of a young woman exiled to the end of Time.

To take part in the treasure-hunting fun coming up March 7, 2021,

sign up at https://leoshine.micandpen.com/ .

Review of To See the Moon Again

It’s February, when I usually pick my favorite romance novel of the past year to review.

But this time I’m deviating a bit from Valentine’s Day. This book is not a romance, or a story about a man and a woman. But is a story with a lot of heart, about a friendship between an aunt and her niece.

I love this book. It has strong characters with severe challenges, yet is full of warmth and a moving plot. And the connection with the author whom I so admire made it even more special.

Two women, one older, one younger, nudge each other to have healthier attitudes toward life and themselves. Julia, an introverted professor of fiction writing in South Carolina, is on a year sabbatical, planning a trip to New England to see famous authors’ homes. She definitely did not plan on her grand-niece Carmen disrupting her safe, orderly life. But Carmen is suffering deeply from losing her father, feeling alone, and carrying a secret.

The ending is unexpected and creative, and completely believable. This book was a treat, a typical Jamie Langston Turner book–I didn’t want it to end. Excellent writing, plot, character development, the book is current, relevant, gripping, realistic, satisfying and inspiring.

Of course, being a Jamie Langston Turner fan from wayyyyy back, this is par for the course. I have loved every moment of reading her books. Years ago, I gave away By the Light of a Thousand Stars, a favorite, to my best friend. When I later came across it at a thrift store, I bought it. When my daughter-in-law asked me what my favorite books were, I ended up giving it away again. I’m sure it will get back on my shelf somehow.

I am thankful that of the making of both friends and books, there is no end.

Sheila J Petre

I wondered if there were any of her books I hadn’t read yet. So I went to the author’s website (where I found the lovely quote above, and today found a humorous update by the author). I was surprised to find out that there were several that had eluded me, and was delighted at the prospect of reading more.

On the page that listed her works, I saw a little note saying that she still had several signed copies of To See the Moon Again, and if anyone wanted one they could send her a message. Yes, please! But I checked the date of the post and it was 2014. Well, there was little chance that there were any copies left, but I sent a message anyway.

The author immediately responded that she had one more, so it must have been meant for me! We sorted out how I could send her a cheque and she could mail me the book. What a privilege and a joy to have a personal connection with her! Corresponding with Jamie was as delightful as reading one of her books, full of warmth and friendship.

As we emailed back and forth, talking about how much it cost her to mail it at her local post office–and the exchange rate from U.S. dollars to Canadian–she decided that I had definitely sent her too much money. So the solution we arrived at was that if I was ever anywhere near where Jamie lived (or if she was near Calgary), she would treat me to coffee! (It hasn’t happened yet, but I still look forward to that!)

When I checked my local library, I saw that they had 2 of hers, Sometimes a Light Surprises and By the Light of a Thousand Stars. So I decided to recommend that they consider adding To See the Moon Again to their collection–and they did!!!

Let me encourage you, if you haven’t already discovered Jamie Langston Turner and her beautiful books, now is the time to do so! They were made “for such as time as this”.

Love and hugs, I hope you are well and safe, finding connections of all sorts to buoy you up, and realizing how much you are loved!

[Clipart courtesy of Clipart-Library.com]

Nature Break

Hi everybody, since it’s the middle of the winter,

and the world is STILL not back to normal,

here is a little “nature break” video for you – with chill music!

It’s a collection of pictures and videos I took in the neighborhood park, most in 2020.

I hope it gives you that “Ahhhh” feeling.

And especially for you, my fellow Albertans, enjoy some colors (besides white!) …and remember that those “Extreme Cold Warning” emergency alerts on our phones will one day be a thing of the past!

Here’s the link again: https://youtu.be/zKykIjbUrkY

Sit back, take a few deep breaths, relax and enjoy the gorgeous music, “Teth”, courtesy of

Angelo God’s Minstrel

on Shazam,
on Jamendo,
and YouTube.

A HUGE thank you for your generosity!

Ready for a break from all the negativity? Check out these books

Life, the news, the media, and even books can get us down. But being selective about what we see, hear, and think about can put us in a better mental state.

Here is a selection of books I’ve read recently from various time periods and genres, non-fiction and fiction, ranging from suspenseful to educational to romantic to hilarious.

What they all have in common is EXCELLENT writing, and they are NOT depressing. Have a look, maybe you’ll find a new author or title!

When you look like your Passport Photo, it’s time to go Home by Erma Bombeck – a collection of humorous travel anecdotes. I found this the perfect book for bedtime reading!

The Renaissance Soul: Life Design for People With Too Many Passions to Pick Just One by Margaret Lobenstine – a welcome book, helping to understand a frustrating tendency that moi can relate to! (For fun, to see if you are a Renaissance soul, you can take the quiz here.)

Quiet: the Power of Introverts in a World that can’t stop Talking by Susan Cain – very interesting and encouraging if you’re an introvert, with plenty of data from studies and statistics.

Carousel by Rosamunde Pilcher – a lovely, warm book, I couldn’t stand that it ended. A woman goes to help her aunt who broke her arm, and ends up becoming part of her aunt’s community. The neighbor’s little granddaughter connects them with a local artist who takes an interest in the newcomer.

Julie and Romeo by Jeanne Ray – owners of flower shops take a liking to each other, but their families’ vicious rivalries go back many generations. Warm, funny, sweet, and an unexpected ending.

My One and Only by Kristan Higgins – fantastic! This was recommended by a volunteer at a book sale when I told her I was looking for a well-written romantic comedy. A woman’s step sister marries her ex-husband’s brother, and the woman and her ex-husband have no choice but to go on a road trip from New York to Montana and back.

Marcia Schuyler by Grace Livingston Hill – an original plot and conflicts, expert revelation of deep emotions, and the vivid contrast between characters made it suspenseful and satisfying. You can read or download this book here for free.

Many Sparrows by Lori Benton, Christy Award-winning author – in this Christian historical novel set in 1774, an American Indian woman and a woman settler bring about cultural changes as they struggle over the boy they both consider their son.

Nights of Rain and Stars by Maeve Binchy – four tourists vacation in the tiny seaside town of Aghia Anna, Greece, and develop friendships among themselves and the locals. Each has something they are grappling with, or running away from, in their lives. After several weeks in the warm, quiet, simple, technology-free environment, they have made some decisions and found peace. A lovely setting and story; gentle thoughts and conversations, reconciliations, revelations, new strength and hope.

The Best short stories of O. Henry – O. Henry is William Sydney Porter, an amazingly prolific writer of gentle stories with brilliant scenarios. When he died in 1910 he left over 600 complete stories behind—can you imagine? My favorites were: A Retrieved Reformation, A Municipal report, The Gift of the Magi, Mammon and the Archer, The Cop and the Anthem, and The Love-Philtre of Ikey Schoenstein. Thanks to the American Literature website, these stories and many more are here , if you’d like to read them!

The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway – I’d been meaning to read this for a long time. What finally brought it about is that I found the DVD of the movie with Spencer Tracy, but didn’t want to watch it before reading the novel. I read this little book about Santiago (the old man, the fisherman) in about 3 hours. What a man, such courage and determination; such exhaustion! I hope you’ll find time this year to treat yourself to the unique experience of reading this Pulitzer Prize-winning book. It is a classic, and available to read for free online.

Now we are Six by A.A. Milne – such sweet, quiet poetry with fun words and rhythm. My favorites are “The old Sailor” who can’t decide what to do first, and “Forgiven” in which the nanny accidentally lets the beetle out of the matchbox. You can read or download this book for free here.

To See the Moon Again by Jamie Langston Turner – A literary novel, two women, one older, one younger, nudge each other to have healthier attitudes toward life and themselves. Excellent writing, plot, character development, the book is current, relevant, gripping, realistic, satisfying and inspiring. I actually contacted the author about this book and she sent a signed copy to me!

Show me God by Fred Hereen – the author interviews many well-known scientists who, through the latest scientific tools and knowledge, find it hard not to believe in creation. It’s fascinating how much the studies of astronomy and astrophysics have developed over the recent years, to the point of being able to measure or closely estimate the realities of our universe.

Frederica by Georgette Heyer – a humorous Regency romance. I got a kick out of how the very arrogant, take-charge hero broke character and actually acquiesced to the pleadings of Frederica’s very young brothers, taking them on “field trips” regarding mechanical engineering & horse handling, and assisted them with the many crises their oversized sheepdog created. The ending was a twist for this type of novel.

A Grain of Sand: Nature’s Secret Wonder by Gary Greenberg – gorgeous photos and studies of sand from various parts of the world using 3D microphotography, showing tiny bits of sea urchins, shells, coral, within the sand grains. Amazing.

A Bride in the Bargain by Deanne Gist – an excellent Christian historical novel. Anna in Massachusetts signs a contract to be a cook for a logging company in Washington state. When she arrives she finds out her boss, Joe, had signed a contract for her to be his wife (so he wouldn’t lose his property and logging business). Enjoyed everything about it: plot, characters, and history.

Notes from a Big Country by Bill Bryson – what fun! These are a collection of columns he wrote for a magazine about the American way of life, humorously self-effacing, often criticizing, but in a way that is usually good-hearted and hilarious. I seriously laughed ’til I cried.

Romance Rustlers and Thunderbird Thieves: a Ruby Taylor Mystery by Sharon Dunn – an amusing page-turner. Ruby is a self-appointed investigator with a dry, deadpan sense of humor (I saw and heard the actress Janeane Garofalo as I was reading). She has no interest in her mother’s new-found Christianity, and nurses wounds from a childhood and youth ruined by her criminal parents and foster homes. Ruby gets thrown into a mess of an adventure, including a kidnapping, a gorgeous cop, and a harrowing event with a helicopter.

The Forever Feast by Dr. Paul Brand – the author contributed extensively to the medical fields of hand surgery and hand therapy for leprosy patients. Interesting reading about his intricate knowledge of the human body, so much more miraculous than we’ve ever dreamed. You can read this online here.

Howards End by E.M. Forster – the classic novel about a middle-class intellectual, artistic family connecting with a staid family of wealth who own a rural home called Howards End. Aside from more philosophizing than I care for, I especially loved the story of how two patient, quiet characters–each from opposite “sides” of the family–were able to redeem a seemingly hopeless legacy of embattled, incompatible and discordant relationships.

My Lady Quixote by Phyllis Ann Karr – twists and turns and comedy. Aunt Cassandra–in an effort to help her niece Deirdre make a “match” with Rev. George Oakton, and avoid the arranged marriage with a rake–decides that the solution is to have Deirdre abducted. The idea is that when Sir Roderick, Auntie’s friend who is secretly a highwayman, abducts young Deirdre, Rev. Oakton will rescue her, realize he loves her, and marry her before the rake can interfere. But alas, most of her strategies fail thoroughly, catastrophically and hilariously.

Fancy Pants by Cathy Marie Hake. Set in 1890 New York, Lady Sydney Hathwell of England is pledged to the overly-chauvinistic (even for that time) Rexall Hume. She escapes life with him by dressing up as a man and heading west to stay with Uncle Fuller, who she led to believe is his “nephew”. Original believable plotline, and wholesome!

The Black Arrow by Robert Louis Stevenson – a thrilling adventure set in medieval England with young Richard Shelton, fellow orphan Joanna Sedley, and a mysterious outlaw/ally identified by his black arrows. I am stunned that I couldn’t put this book down, since most of it consisted of one escapade after another of the inexperienced hero and his ragged band fighting, fleeing or stalking myriads of others (in a little too much gory detail for me!). But throughout the tale, he never stops his quest of freeing his one true love, who is the complete opposite of the helpless female so common in novels written in 1883. He is such a decent, incredibly courageous, intelligent young man, and humble, making reparation as best he can when he makes mistakes that bring harm to others. So suspenseful. Happy ending.

So there you go. I hope you find some reading materials–here, or elsewhere–that genuinely elevate your mind and spirit.

If you particularly enjoyed reading one of these I hope you’ll share the experience with us in the comments!

Review of The Birds’ Christmas Carol by Kate Douglas Wiggin

“The book, the dear, enlivening, enchanting, stimulating, informing, uplifting book, is the most faithful of all allies, and, after human friendship, the chief solace as well as the most inspiring influence in human life.”

Kate Douglas Wiggin

What a dear book this is! The Birds’ Christmas Carol is about a family who stays cheerful, strong, industrious and generous, even amid sad circumstances that require constant sacrifice.

One reason I picked this up was because I was familiar with the author, who is best known for her book Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm.

Another reason was because I thought this book had to do with feathered friends! I imagined a delightful story about birds singing in snow-covered pines during the holiday season. But actually it is about a girl named Carol born on Christmas Day into a family with the last name of Bird.

From childhood, little Carol had a sparkling personality, always finding ways to share whatever she had, help other people, compliment them and encourage them. When her brother wondered aloud why she wouldn’t take a bite of food until she’d given some of it away, their mother said, “She is a little Christmas child, and so she has a tiny share of the blessedest birthday the world ever saw!”

As she’d grown older, Carol had “wished everybody a Merry Christmas before it was light in the morning, and lent everyone her new toys before noon.”

She had never been physically strong, and by age 10 she was a helpless invalid, yet that didn’t dampen her spirits. Since she had to spend all of her time in her room, her father renovated it so that it was a conservatory full of windows.

She had the company of birds in cages, and hundreds of books which Carol turned into her own circulating library. Every Saturday she loaned ten books to the children’s hospital, and the patients who read her books would write letters to her to thank her.

In warm-weather Carol had a “window school” where she read to the poor neighbors next door, the Ruggles. She was so contented she called herself a “Bird of Paradise”.

Carol wrote a magazine article about living in her own room for three years, and what she did to amuse herself. With the money she earned from the article, she decided to treat the nine Ruggles children to something they had never before experienced: a grand Christmas dinner—in her own room! She paid for the food and decorations, a Christmas tree and presents.

According to my book, The Birds’ Christmas Carol was first published in 1895. However, on further research, I discovered that it was originally published privately in 1886 by the American author, and copyright in 1888 by Houghton, Mifflin Company, U.S.

My copy of this little 72-page book was published by A. & C. Black Ltd., London, in 1929, and illustrated by Francis E. Hiley, an extremely prolific and popular self-taught artist of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

When I read the inscription, I thought, “Auntie Kate Douglas Wiggin? Did the author give the copy I am holding in my hand to her nieces?” But that isn’t possible, as the author had been born in 1856 and died in 1923.

According to her autobiography, Wiggin described her childhood as happy. But at the age of 9, her country grieved over the death of Abraham Lincoln. She described this event as her “first conscious recognition of the greatness of individual character.” It no doubt helped her form fictional children and adults in her books who developed great character struggling with tragedies.

Another influence was undoubtedly the books she read. Her favorite author was Charles Dickens, and she also read Harper’s Magazine and Littell’s Living Age, the Bible, and the most popular great novels of the era.

She dedicated this book “To all lovers of little children”, which clearly included the author. In 1878 at the age of 22—before marrying Samuel Wiggin—Kate Douglas Smith headed the Silver Street Kindergarten in San Francisco—the first free kindergarten on the West Coast of the United States. She is also credited with leading the kindergarten education movement in the United States. In fact, she wrote this little book and another, The Story of Patsy, to help fund the California Kindergarten Training School, which she helped establish.

Translated into several other languages, The Birds’ Christmas Carol sold over a million copies and remains in print. This little book was so successful, it allowed Kate Wiggin to become a full-time author and to travel extensively in Europe.

I found it interesting when I read references to the toys of that era: “So Donald took his velocipede and went out to ride up and down the stone pavement, and notch the shins of innocent children as they passed by, while Paul spun his musical top on the front steps.” A velocipede is one of the earliest forms of bicycles for children and adults—without pedals—and the musical top is a classic toy available even today.

The Birds’ Christmas Carol is the most famous of all American Christmas stories; here, if anywhere in the collection, we have Victorian tearfulness; but age has its privileges, and Americans have wept too often over this tale to decline to weep once again.”

editor Edward Wagenknecht in The Fireside Book of Christmas Stories

You can read this illustrated book online for free at Gutenberg.org.

I was delighted to discover many more delightful works by this author. One short piece, written about a surprise meeting at the age of 6 with her beloved Charles Dickens, is a must-read, here.

There are 48 of her books and short stories at Gutenberg.org, available in many formats, including the work that sold more copies than any other book (other than Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm and The Birds’ Christmas Carol), Mother Carey’s Chickens.

Also at Gutenberg.org are two more Christmas stories by Kate Douglas Smith Wiggin: The Romance of a Christmas Card and The Old Peabody Pew.

Enjoy!

And Happy New Year!

Image courtesy of Susan Cipriano susan-lu4esm at Pixabay