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Homeschooling is always full of surprises. This morning after breakfast, the kids had a little bit of free time before lessons, while they were waiting for me to finish something I was doing on the computer. While most of the kids were playing with the baby or dragging out every blanket in the house, Andrew, our oldest at age 11, decided to write some poetry.

I was quite surprised, since I never taught him to write poetry. In fact, we don’t really do any type of formal grammar lessons at all, except for the little bit that is included in his Latin lessons; we instead focus mainly on reading good literature, both aloud and each child on their own. We do plan to get to the more formal grammar lessons someday, lest you should think that I just don’t care about grammar at all, but, with several children to teach I have chosen to put off some of the more detailed lessons until more of the children are old enough to grasp them.

I was even more surprised after I read the poem. I thought that it was fairly good for a first venture. So, for anyone who is interested, here are the verses.

The Apple and the Blueberry
by Andrew H. Meng

How do you do Mr. Blueberry, Mr. Blueberry
How do you do in these days?
How do you do when the fruit grows ripe and
the harvest is near?
How do you do when the river is clear and
the garden is fair?

I do very well Mr. Apple, Mr. Apple
I do very well in these days.
I do very well when the fruit grows ripe and
the harvest is near.
I do very well when the river is clear and
the garden is fair.

He was definitely paying attention when we read all of those nursery rhymes when he was little.

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A little thwarted that we are not to move to Aix-en-Provence, France, Lubbock, Texas, or even Kennewick, Washington — in other words, my entire scope of hoped-for change is dashed beneath an avalanche of inertia — we are, instead, going to hold, at this month’s end, a moving-rehearsal sale. The invocation I pitched to my husband was, “Pretend we’re moving, and may there be no survivors in any crannies or stow-holds.”

 

Actually, my motive was to hold a garage sale to try to raise some money to dent the airfare cost a wonderful young woman is going to incur, flying to Africa this year to be married. I reckoned a multiple-benefit scenario. A garage sale would inspire my husband to clean out the garage. It would inspire me to part with numerous things that have failed to disappear for wishing they would. Rather than disappearing, these things have maintained their spots and their status as curated objects despite their retirement from usefulness, serving only to remind me of bygone abilities. It is time for them to leave, even if it is not time for us to leave.

 

We are pacing ourselves to be organized without pressure on opening day. We are actually participating in an advertised neighborhood-wide event. About forty households hold garage sales the first weekend of August every year. This will be our first time participating. Normally, we spend as much time as possible away from home, avoiding the event. The community garage sale attracts every Gypsy horde west of the Rockies.

 

Gone will be the chipped Limoges plates, gone will be the tennis racquets, gone even will be a hot air popcorn popper — though I may need to keep it, even though we don’t like popcorn, just because it is made in the U. S. A.

 

I honestly think the inspiration underlying the idea of the garage sale has to do with the spiritual need of purging: my system is stressed by pain I am unable to purge, I cannot purge my wish for adventure, nor can I sate it; really, I desire change I cannot effect, nor would such change be wholesome. So the garage sale is like a dress rehearsal for a wished-for change, sort of like cleaning the oven used to be before the days of self-cleaning ovens. I moved often enough that I would only clean my oven before I moved.

 

May fair weather, fair fellowship, and a fair jaunt to Goodwill with the leftovers after the sale attend us.

If you have a repetitive strain injury, and it hurts to grasp anything in your hands, one of the less welcome events in your day is a button detaching itself from your pants. But this did occur in my day, welcome or not.

I knew that my only hope was to sew the button on using my sewing machine; shoving a needle through fabric, even lightweight nylon, was out of the question. My sewing machine manual hung on the wall above my sewing machine for years and I never resorted to it. So I put it away someplace. I had no recollection of how to sew on a button, and no recollection of where I had placed the manual. I searched for it, and discovered that it was not anyplace. I tried a few things on a scrap of fabric, hoping that the stitches would simply go back and forth and not down. I chipped two buttons during this experiment, an impressively low casualty rate given the importance of my research.

After about 20 minutes of futility, the words, “feed dogs” inexplicably entered my mind. This was scarcely odd because I haven’t any dogs. Then I remembered, feed dogs, the little ridgy things that make your fabric move along. There was some way to disengage them. I opened the compartment where they would logically be located, and stared down the whole mechanism until it revealed its secret. I nudged a lever and thought something moved. I tried again on another scrap, and, Button Bingo. The needle moved back and forth and not down. I set a new button in place, and adjusted the zigzag width. Within a minute or so, the button was secured.

People need to understand that blue thread is fine on taupe pants. It’s what’s already in the machine that counts. Rethreading would have been a dealbreaker.

I e-mailed Vic and told him of the button adventure. He said, “Blue goes with taupe as Spring skies go with the California hills.” That’s because he’s wonderful.

Never, never, never, never never give up.

–by Lauren

Evidently I have been tapped to join this blog for my vast expertise at homekeeping. Readers should be made aware: my fellow Administrators have never met me. They have never seen my home. They believe what I have told them over the past couple of years, making me, I suppose, passably credible, or them passably credulous. As for our Cat who eats at the dining room table, we find this well within the pale of Titus 2:5 homekeeping.

Cleaning my house and its contents takes a fair amount of time; cooking is a fly-by activity. I usually load the crockpot three times a week, but I also roast briskets and cut them up, and cut up vegetables every few crockpot loads. I am knitting my 13th pair of socks, reading three books concurrently, and walking over an hour a day to maintain a sense of well being. It is a false sense for the most part.

Financial tasks and throwing away most of the mail takes minutes a week. It is this bailiwick in which my efficiency brightly shines. A few times a year I go on an organization binge. The last such foray was the bathroom cupboards. We have no medicine cabinet, but we have cupboards, drawers, and counterspace. I categorized objects by their basic purpose, put them in zip-lock bags, and put the bags in little plastic organizer baskets in the cupboards and in the drawers. I used a tableware organizer in the largest drawer for the various hair and skin things I had been tossing things out of the way to find. My husband has very diligently maintained the order, and has seldom asked for help at finding anything. The bathroom is slated for destruction and remodeling, and then we will consider acquisition of a medicine cabinet. But for now, we shun this pretense of normalcy.

My insurance agent has a sign at the door: “Please pardon the mess: We are remodeling.” The office is far from being a mess, and they are not remodeling; however, I asked if I could have the sign, just to post defensively. We have remodeled so much we have earned every defense in the book. And summer brings yet more projects, indoors and out. Those will be my husband’s purview; mine will be to practice my croquet put in the back yard.

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