N.B.When I tucked her in, the star headband was safely stowed down on the bedpost and the flags were nowhere in sight. Off-camera but also in the bed is her trusty copy of D'Aulaire's The Star Spangled Banner. Also note, 'patriotic' is commonly pronounced 'patch-er-watic' in this house. My dear patcherwatic girl.
Today we attended another local WWII Weekend event. There were hundreds of reenactors representing many different American units, as well as portrayals of British, Canadian, French, Russian and Polish soldiers. Germans too. Medical units, mess tents, chaplains' quarters, and even a few cavalrymen. There were Red Cross ladies and civilians on the home front, piles of jeeps, vintage cars, all sorts of military equipment and more M-1's than you can shake a stick at.
But most thrilling of all is of course the veterans. As we walked up through the encampments we were excited to come upon a familiar looking display and my daughters were warmly greeted by a man in uniform, all of them smiling and embracing like long lost friends. Actually, they just met this dear veteran at a similar event a couple of months ago, and I hear snippets of the stories he's told them on an almost daily basis. He appreciates my girls because they appreciate his stories and service, and they were all so happy to see each other again. It is just amazing to see and hear this ninety-four year old man enthusiastically relating his anecdotes, showing his artifacts, passing on his memories as vividly as if they happened last week, not seventy years ago.
We also listened to formal speakers telling their stories - a medic veteran of the Battle of the Bulge, an infantryman and a tank driver, both of whom landed on Omaha Beach on D-Day, and a Marine who served in the Pacific. We heard harrowing tales and nitty gritty details of what it was really like. We heard an account of the train full of Jewish prisoners rescued and liberated by American soldiers, and the reunion that took place between some of them so many decades later. We met other men who served as well and the girls added more autographs to their collection.
The opportunity to meet these veterans and hear them speak, shake their hands and thank them for their service, is truly an incredible privilege and it leaves us all in a fair bit of awe. Thankful, grateful awe.
"I think it will last," said Grandfather. "In my experience when people once begin to read they go on. They begin because they think they ought to and they go on because they must. Yes. They find it widens life. We're all greedy for life, you know, and our short span of existence can't give us all that we hunger for, the time is too short and our capacity not large enough. But in books we experience all life vicariously." ~ Elizabeth Goudge, A City of Bells
That lovely stack of books there came to me from a very kind and generous reader (thank you, 'Kitty'!). She said she was sending me a book and behold, she sent three (like Galadriel, my kids noted)! So I am happy to be reading Goudge again. She sent a sweet little copy of Henrietta's House, but recommended I readA City of Bells first, so I did. It's a wonderful story with delightful characters young and old, set in an English cathedral city during the early twentieth century, totally satisfying and typical Elizabeth Goudge. Thus I've just started Henrietta's House and it seems to be a charming story - so nice to be able to visit again with the beloved characters from A City of Bells.
I think the last Goudge I mentioned reading some time ago was The Middle Window, and I feel obliged to let you know that one was quite a disappointment. I enjoyed Towers in the Mistso very much that after borrowing it through interlibrary loan I wanted to find one for myself. The only nice copy I was able to locate was part of a lot which included The Middle Window, so I purchased and read it not knowing much about it. I must say it was not a favorite (to put it mildly), having a rather bizarre story line combining the present and past and implausible, disturbing notions of how the two can come together. Even as just a plot device it was pretty dreadful. At times I actually groaned aloud wondering how she could write such stuff, but I persevered and finished the book. There were some pleasant parts, with it being set in the Scottish highlands after all, but still. (sorry dear daughters, it's not all about the setting) Happily my mind dwells on the enjoyable romanticized Jacobite middle section and has handily blocked out the rest. Definitely not the best Goudge to try if you're not already a devoted fan. ;-)
On to something completely different, Hannah Fowler by Janice Holt Giles was recommended by Leila as a book she (wisely!) gives to her daughters as they head off for marriage. This is the story of a Kentucky pioneer woman in the time of Daniel Boone, learning along with her new husband to live and to love together, forging a marriage of uncommon strength and beauty. The language is simple but powerful and the portrayals of what makes a hearth and home, marriage and family, are just beautiful. Hannah is such a strong, spirited woman but in no way does she seek to overpower her man. I like how their deep love is lived so truly without having to be spoken. I like how all the domestic little things that are so dear to a woman's heart are given their rightful importance and meaning, and how in the end none of them are what really matters at all. If you like Laura Ingalls and Little House you ought to love this beautiful book.
Other books in circulation right now are Churchill's own series on World War II. I still remember the time we were at a booksale and teenaged Josiah came up and asked me if we could buy this set of old books as he heard they were good. Yes, of course we could! He proceeded to read all of them for what constituted his history studies for the year. We've since picked up a couple more sets at book sales as several other folks here wanted their own copies, and Jonathan and Lydia are currently reading them. There's nothing like reading an in-depth history of the war from such an important person who lived it. "A sad tale of all the complicated idiocy." Highly recommended.
I am currently reading aloud another awesome book from the same time period,The Shadow of His Wings: The True Story of Fr. Gereon Goldmann, OFM. I had read this aloud to some of the older kids during Lent, and it was one of those books where we all wanted to right away read it aloud again to the family members who missed it - it's that good. This is the first hand account of a Franciscan priest who was drafted into the German SS as a young seminarian and the truly astonishing events surrounding his military service and life of faith. It would be a first rate choice for an older student studying WWII as it gives a most unique and interesting (!) perspective on the war, but it's really an awesome read for anyone (teens and up) as a story of incredible faith. On the surface it would seem amazing that I ever became a priest... Don't miss this one.
Another favorite recent read here is Priest on Horseback : Father Farmer 1720-1786by Eva K. Betz. This little gem of a book is unfortunately out of print, but is certainly worth tracking down to borrow from the library or some fortunate acquaintance who owns a copy. This book tells the story of a circuit riding priest during Colonial times and the hardships and trials Catholics faced during pre-revolutionary times, something often glossed over in the history books as the pilgrims all came here supposedly for religious freedom. Under English law Mass and the Sacraments were forbidden in the colonies, and while the Quaker William Penn showed religious tolerance in his lands, priests in New York were subject to the death penalty. Though this is a children's book, Michael and I both enjoyed it as well as the older girls. It also sent us on a bit of a rabbit trail investigating local history, as Fr. Farmer was assigned for a time to a church in our (present day) diocese and there is a page about him in our book on the history of the diocese. He spent time at St. Joseph's in Philadelphia and helped to establish the parish of St. Peter's in Manhattan, where years later St. Elizabeth Ann Seton would become Catholic. You can even find his marriage register online. If you can't find it at all there seems to be recordings of it at librivox, but you know we like books. :-)
I have also been reading aloud to the family some favorites of the older kids.Rasmus and the Vagabondby Astrid Lindgren is a splendid story about an orphan boy and his adventures with a big-hearted but mischievous, singing, wandering vagabond who calls himself 'God's best friend.' It has old fashioned charm and hair raising adventure, good guys and bad guys, all the stuff that makes for a good story and an utterly satisfying ending to boot.
Rasmus was sitting in his regular notch in the linden tree, thinking about things that shouldn't be allowed to exist. Potatoes were at the top of the list. Cooked, with gravy on them for Sunday dinner they were all right, but when they kept on sprouting in the field and had to be dug up - then they shouldn't be tolerated. He could also easily do without Miss Hawk, for it was she who was always saying, "Tomorrow we're going to spend the day digging up potatoes." "We" she said, but of course that didn't include her...
But it also has love and longing and friendship and family and what it means to belong to someone else. And butterscotch.
That Oscar happened to be such a moderate butterscotch eater made him still more perfect in Rasmus' eyes..."Let's save the others," suggested Oscar. If we ever get into a tight spot it might be nice to have a little butterscotch in reserve."
With Rasmus and Oscar as the protagonists this one has special appeal for boys, though it is of course enjoyed by all as all good stories are. I don't know why the silly Pippi Longstocking remains a perennial favorite while this rich, rewarding work of Lindgren's is out of print. I suppose that's how you know it's extra good?
We recently went on a little outing to celebrate our 28th wedding anniversary: a visit to a chocolate shoppe followed by picnicking in a park, complete with ducks to play with and a bridge for Pooh Sticks, and finishing up with ice cream of course. Some readers have asked for a sample of The Musketoon so I thought I'd share Eliza's recap regarding our day. This is a straight unedited narration, but we find it charming and delightful just the same.
And when we read the issue out loud and her article and pen name are announced, you'd think Eliza's cheeks would burst, she grins so hard with pride. :-)
The Lancaster By Cowslip in the Meadow
So. We went to the Lancaster on August 2nd on Saturday. We went to Wilbur chocolate and we saw a chocolate bunny. We saw a chocolate banana and we ate Wilbur chocolate out of a bucket (it says Wilbur on it. Wilbur the pig. Wilbur has a buttermilk bath- whatever). Ma bought bags of Wilbur chocolate. We heard a noise. The noise is making a sound of a rattling noise. It sounds like a GI mumbling on a barrel. At Wilbur chocolate we walked on lots of steps. We saw airplanes at the sky. We went to the airport and saw airplanes and Mother and Jonathan went to the grocery store to buy bread for the ducks to eat. We went to the picnic table and eat some food. And after they ate food, they went to see the lion’s head. We saw a lion- it was sleeping with its mouth open. I think it was snoring maybe? I don’t know. We went to the ducks’ pond. And we throw bread at the ducks to eat with, and throw bark at the ducks, or leaves. And we heard the ducks quacking. They would say, “Quaaaaack!” So, we went to the ice cream sundae store. And we ate ice cream. And the lady said to me, “What kind is your favorite ice cream?” I choose Blueberry Cheesecake. And we went home, and we drove and drove all the way home. We take showers and go to bed.
Remember, O Christian soul, that thou hast this day, and every day of thy life: God to glorify - Jesus to imitate - The Angels and Saints to invoke - A soul to save - A body to mortify - Sins to expiate - Virtues to acquire - Hell to avoid - Heaven to gain - Eternity to prepare for - Time to profit by - Neighbors to edify - The world to despise - Devils to combat - Passions to subdue - Death perhaps to suffer - Judgment to undergo.
Thanks for stopping by. My name is Kimberlee. I am a Catholic homeschooling mother of seven children ages 8-23. This is my place to share all these things I treasure, and ponder in my heart
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