Our Instrument Landscape


Well, just this, in case I was wondering how my Eldest feels about her instruments..


Cello, do you like playing?
Do you wish someone
would play you more often?
I don't want to...
Mommy can do that.


Play... play! Joyfully...
Sad. Jazz blues classical...
loud! Soft like feathers.
Play... play piano! I will help you.

Poems and Landscape photo by Sara. Used with permission.

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Just Sing and Lay Your Weapons Down


One of the things I love about home educating my children is that they have time to pursue their passions. In case you hadn't noticed, both my girls are currently passionate about poetry. Maybe it's because I've taken to reading to them about it at supper time (that's another thing I love about home education... the school day is quite... flexible!) Last night we read about using the voice of 'apostrophe', which is when the poet speaks to an object as if it could answer back. They liked a poem that was addressed to a t-shirt.

After dinner, my youngest felt quite inspired and wrote a number of poems, including one to the moon. Later, sitting alone, I felt a bit teary-eyed, to see the soul of her coming through. Funny how you can live with someone and not see certain things until a just-right moment. That moment, for me, came in the silence of the house, reading Sonia's poems while she slept.

"The Time"

On a night so dark
with the moon's face
peeking out from behind a cloud
and a figure with
fire hair, on a horse,
holding a flag of
white. And the knights
lay down their
weapons to peace.


I will play the
song for you
and then show
you how to play it.
You will love it
forever. I know that,
because I know you.

"A Feeling"

A feeling comes
from music,
one I can't describe,
but even how wonderful
the feeling is, it
will never match
up to you.

"For You"

How I do love you, I
would spend all my time
with you, making stuff
for you, helping you,
if only I had the time.


Nothing bigger,
nothing bigger than
your kindness,
your presence, your talent,
nothing bigger than you.


A ring? Just
sing for me the
king. All that
nonsense about
gifts. Just sing for me
the king. A royal carriage
to an airport... deluxe
vacation; I have to
run my kingdom.
Just sing for me
the king.

"Moon Talk"

Moon, why is your name
moon? Do you have friends
of small stars and not just
the sun who sends you
light at night, for you to reflect
into your own? Moon, are you
friends with me? What is it like
to live in the sky up there so high,
do you like being admired so much
as you look down on the earth?
And moon, before you and I go to sleep,
just one more question... will you
meet with me next night? Will
you hum the Moonlight Sonata,
will you put me to sleep again?

— poems by Sonia, 9.

Crocuses photo by Sara, 12. Used with permission.

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Girls, Guns and Twain (plus biscuits)

I recently started a "dinner club" that includes my girls and the girl next door. So here's their first shot at making dinner all by themselves. Chips and salsa (okay, they didn't make that part), biscuits, chuckwagon beans, broccoli and garlic, peach pie.

And if you couldn't tell, it was Western themed. I read some excerpts from Mark Twain's book Roughin' It and they were in hysterics. Their favorite quotes:

• from a story about a gun called an 'Allen'... "If she didn't get what she went after, she would fetch something else. And so she did. She went after a deuce of spades nailed against a tree, once, and fetched a mule standing about thirty yards to the left of it."

• from a story about their ride in the stagecoach: "Every time we avalanched from one end of the stage to the other, the unabridged dictionary would come too; and every time it came it damaged somebody. On trip it 'barked' the secretary's elbow; the next trip it hurt me in the stomach, and the third it tilted Bemis's nose up till he could look down his nostrils— he said. The pistols and coin soon settled to the bottom, but the pipes, pipe stems, tobacco, and canteens clattered and floundered after the dictionary every time it made an assault on us, and aided and abetted the book by spilling tobacco in our eyes, and water down our backs....Still, all things considered, it was a very comfortable night."

Who knew... girls would like guns and Twain? (But everybody likes biscuits.)

Chuckwagon Beans

Mix all and bake about 45 minutes or until thick, at 400 degrees...

• 1 medium onion, chopped (the only thing the girls refused to do!)
• 2 large cans pinto beans (25-28 oz), drained
• 1 cup water
• 3/4 cup ketchup
• 1/2 cup brown sugar
• 1/4 cup molasses
• 1 sausage substitute, sliced into rounds (we like "Field Roast: Grain Meat Co.", Mexican Chipotle... hot & spicy!)

Whole Wheat Biscuits

Sift together...

• 2 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
• 1 tsp salt
• 1 TB baking powder

Cut in until crumbly...

• 1/2 cup room temperature butter

Add and mix with fingers until dough holds together...

• 1 cup buttermilk (or yogurt)

Roll dough to about 1/2 inch thick. Cut circles with cookie cutter or mouth of a small cup. Bake at 400 degrees, about 12 minutes.

Dinner Club photo by L.L. Barkat.
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The Garden Still


This week, I tried my hand at writing a villanelle. Last night, I shared it with my Eldest. The thought stayed with her, and today she handed me this, saying she enjoyed doing it because it was "like a puzzle."

"The Garden Still"

The garden still
the wild roses blooming
and the air with leaves is filled

the trees on hill
the birds asleep, not singing
the garden still

the wild dill
the joy is ringing
and the air with leaves is filled

the flowers bright until
the end of summer's bringing
the garden still

the strong wind willed
the colors dance uncaring
and the air with leaves is filled

the fall comes till
the snow starts drifting
the garden still
and the air with leaves is filled.

— by Sara

Okay, addendum. Two more poems arrived before bedtime. The first a villanelle, the second a sestina (sort of). On that point, let me just say that a sestina is complicated in terms of how end-words are supposed to be repeated in a certain way. Sara managed to begin to capture this by repeating the word 'sestina', 'this', 'word', 'anything', 'poem', 'wind' in a rolling fashion that pushed the repeated word further down into the stanza with each ensuing stanza. I'm going to italicize and bold the words so you can kind of see what she's done.

"Igloo (an almost nonsense villanelle)"

The sails unfurl
the cries ring in the air,
the ship is on the waves of curls.

Ship rides o'er seas of pearl
while dragon rests in lair,
the sails unfurl.

Setting off to lands of kings and earls
the sailors eat some pears,
the ship is on the waves of curls.

One seaman's known to love a girl
one boy climbs up a mount, on dare,
the sails unfurl.

Some on the ship have seen Arur
a family has a small pet bear,
the sails unfurl
the ship is on the waves of curls.

"Failed Attempt at a Sestina"

This is my first sestina
I do not know quite how
I am supposed to do it.
If I do it wrong, it
probably was by accident
and will be a boring poem.

Sestina is a word
of letters made, sestina
is a poem too, I
guess, but very hard
and I'm sure you could
read something much more

interesting than this.
A poem really is a word
multiplied (as in sestina
and letters) only with
rules (which I may
not be following.)

A sestina can be about anything,
anything at all, this
poem is about a word
a word, yes, the word sestina.
Anything can be a poem,
anything at all.

One more thing about a poem,
in this one, ends can't be anything
at all, one of the rules of this
poem type. These words
are complicated, sestina
one, also sonnet or villanelle,

(all poems). The wind
is not blowing poem
ideas into my head, not anything
I can think of. Really, this
is hard (all end words
are unrhyming in sestina).

The wind never blew
me anything but this
one word: sestina.

— by Sara

Oh my, another addendum. Two more villanelles...


Sunrise has sprinkled... drop!
light over the sky
the morning has come, plop!

into the sky the sun has hopped
the birds on high
sunrise has sprinkled... drop!

night away has been mopped
moon, stars, away they fly
the morning has come, plop!

up the buttercups have popped
the greenest grass you cannot buy
sunrise has sprinkled... drop!

a cake of sky with sun cherry is topped
you may ask just how, just why
sunrise has sprinkled... drop!
and the morning has come, plop!

"Morning Argument"

Pretty in red
black hair straight
she got out of bed

she got up and she read
my story, not of plates,
pretty in red

my poem led
us to a debate
she got out of bed

she sang instead
so early, not late
pretty in red

she was now quite ahead
she always knew the date
pretty in red
she got out of bed.

— by Sara

Flower painting from Midsummer Night's Dream Set, painted by Sara, 12. Used with permission.

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