Saturday 30 March 2013

Outdoor Hour March

Fungi & Moss

 We found this on the top of a pile of mulch. At first glance it looked like yellow flower petals but we had no plants nearby, quite weird.

 A closer look shows something that looks like corn kernels, but we think it was some sort of fungus. By the next day it was shrivelled up and barely noticeable.
Update: I sent these two photos to and I was very kindly sent the following information:

'It is an organism from the group that used to be known scientifically as 'myxomycetes'. We call them 'slime moulds'. The most likely species is Fuligo septica, which goes by the delightful common name of 'Dog Vomit Slime Mould'. There are several others that look very similar.

Myxomycetes used to be considered as fungi, but scientists have reclassified them in recent years. These strange organisms begin life as amoeba-like cells, but at later stages in their complex life cycles some of them can coalesce to form colourful patches like the one you have photographed.

Amazingly, these shapeless blobs can actually move about in search of food!'

Extraordinary in the Ordinary

Rainbow Lorikeets are very common in our area but on about three occasions we've seen some that can't fly - they don't have tail feathers and proper wings. They could be babies or what are known as 'runners' which are lorikeets that haven't got the ability to fly. Apart from their stumpy look, they appear normal.

A back view

Side view

Autumn in the part of Australia where we are is an ideal time for bushwalks. The bush is much less hostile at this time of the year and we've taken advantage of the milder weather and the decreased chance of coming upon snakes and have been bush bashing regularly.

Flowers in the garden

Blue plumbago

Camellia Sasanqua

Bromeliad - they only flower every two years

His lordship, resident mammal

Friday 29 March 2013

The Tempest in 10 Weeks

I've been borrowing the BBC Arkangel recordings from our local library when we do a Shakespeare play, following the audio alongside a written guide to the play. I wasn't able to get a BBC copy of The Tempest but I did find a Naxos recording (ISBN 13: 9789626343081) which has been very good. We've noticed a few times that the male voices on one or two of the Arkangel recordings were sometimes difficult to distinguish from one another but the Naxos recording didn't have that problem and the dramatisation was excellent. It's unabridged and lasts for about 2 hours and 8 minutes.

I did a 10 week schedule for the play, dividing the audio into about 15 minutes listening time each week. This leaves some time to watch a movie version of The Tempest. We'd previously read the adapted story versions of The Tempest in The Enchanted Island by Ian Serraillier and Tales From Shakespeare by the Lambs.

Week 1 

Act 1: Scene 1 and Scene 2 up to Enter ARIEL.

Week 2

Act 1: Scene 2 from  ARIEL 'All hail, reat Master, grave sir, Hail!'
Act 1: Scene 2 to CALIBAN exits

Week 3

Act 1: Scene 2  Enter FERDINAND; and ARIEL, invisible, playing and singing, "Come into these yellow sands..' up to end of Scene 2.

Week 4

Act 2: Scene 1  from Enter ALONSO, SEBASTIAN, ANTONIO, GONZALO, ADRIAN, FRANCISCO, and others up to enter ARIEL, invisible, with music and song.

Week 5

Act 2 : Scene 1 continue until end of Scene 1 and continue on to end of Scene 2

Week 6

Act 3: Scene 1  Enter FERDINAND continue until the end of Act 3: Scene 2

Week 7

Complete Scene 3
Act 4: Scene 1  Up to Enter CERES

Week 8

Act 4: Scene 1  From CERES until the end of Scene 1

Week 9

Act 5: Scene 1  Enter PROSPERO and ARIEL - up to 'Here Prospero discovers Ferdinand and Miranda playing at chess.'

Week 10

Continue Act 5: Scene 1 to the end of the play

Did you know that the 27 moons of Uranus are named after characters in Shakespeare's plays (except for a couple taken from the writings of Alexander Pope)? And of those, 10 are named after the characters in The Tempest.
You can download the script of the play here or read it online here.

A possible movie option has been done by the Stratford Festival - I haven't seen it but thought it looked like it might be quite good.

Monday 18 March 2013

Four First Rate Living Books to Read Aloud

Walkabout by James Vance Marshall

Walkabout is the story of a meeting of two very different cultures. A girl and her younger brother on their way to Australia from America are stranded in the Northern Territory after a plane crash in which they are the only survivors. They encounter a young Aboriginal boy on his 'walkabout.' He helps them find water and food but the girl mistrusts him and he misunderstands her behaviour, resulting in tragic consequences. The story is short, simple and sparse and a wonderful book to read aloud.
Charlotte Mason said in Home Education, Volume 1:

'Every now and then there occurs a holy moment, felt to be holy by mother and child.'

This book helped to bring about a holy moment in the life of my youngest son who was about 6 years old at the time. There was a poignant event towards the end of the story which led to some very deep questions about the nature of God and how he viewed people who didn't know Him. I'll never forget the impact that story had on my son and the opening it gave me to communicate something of the heart of God to him.
Holy moments are not usually planned and they can come when we are least expecting them. Sharing a good book with a child creates an environment which is conducive to times like this.

Enemy Brothers by Constance Savery

Written in the early years of World War 2, Enemy Brothers is an outstanding story that revolves around Dym, a young man serving in the R.A.F. who believes that a 12 year old German boy imprisoned on a British man-of-war and brought back to England is his brother who was kidnapped as an infant and whom he had been searching for before the war put a halt to his efforts.
What sets this story apart is the developing relationship between Dym and his estranged brother and the patience and faith displayed in the older brother as he tenderly works at breaking down the indoctrination and resistance of the younger boy. It is a story of 'love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things.'

Incident at Hawk's Hill by Allan Eckert

'A slightly fictionized version of an incident which actually occurred at the time and place noted.' 
The time was 1870 and the place was the Winnipeg area in Canada. Ben, a withdrawn, lonely and frail little boy of 6 years of age, wanders away from his home and disappears into the surrounding prairie. For two months there is no trace of Ben, no clue as to what has happened to him. How he is eventually found and how he survived for all that time with nothing but a female badger to help him is a gripping, emotional story. 
We don't have badgers here and we've never seen one except in pictures - a wombat might be our closest match, but it was easy to become involved in this story nonetheless. Not surprisingly, it was a Newberry Honor Book in 1972.

The King's Swift Rider by Mollie Hunter
Mollie Hunter (1922-2012) was a well-known Scottish author who drew much of her material for her novels from Scotland's history. This book is based on actual events that occurred during the war of Scottish independence during the time of Robert the Bruce. It's a thrilling book, full of action, heroic deeds and patriotism. It does have a couple of gory moments that you might need to slightly edit. If you have any Scottish heritage in you at all your blood will rise and you'll want to listen to the bagpipes. 

A Midsummer Noon in the Australian Forest

A Midsummer Noon in theAustralian Forest by Charles Harpur (1813-1868)

Not a sound disturbs the air,
There is quiet everywhere;
Over plains and over woods
What a mighty stillness broods!

All the birds and insects keep
Where the coolest shadows sleep;
Even the busy ants are found
Resting in their pebbled mound;
Even the locust clingeth now
Silent to the barky bough:
Over hills and over plains
Quiet, vast and slumbrous, reigns.

Only there's a drowsy humming
From the yon warm lagoon slow coming:
'Tis the dragon-hornet - see!
All bedaubed resplendently.

O 'tis easeful here to lie
Hidden from noon's scorching eye,
In this grassy cool recess
Musing thus of quietness.