Kathy was great and updated my Robin McKinley library and bought me two of the Butcher Furies series, which has been really fun to go through again now that I know what I know from the fourth book. Mysterious worries and mutterings in the first book are now clear as glass. Yay!
I'm savoring the McKinley books ever since I found that I actually really enjoyed Sunshine. Rose Daughter surprised me because I'd loved Beauty so much, but after a year of battling a real garden really made me ready to enjoy the gardening aspects of the new telling far more than I would have even a year ago. Especially with a big, warm scratch still on my right arm from when I was too enthusiastic with the raspberries...
Mom and Dad bought me two great Chinese art and calligraphy books. I've *finally* found the book I've always wanted with respect to Chinese Calligraphy. Rebecca Yue's book Chinese Calligraphy Made Easy doesn't actually make it *easy*, but it does break it all up into small steps. Each small lesson builds on the others and she introduces just a dozen characters at a time and tries to build up from them. And in between the character lessons she also put in projects, like making your own new word book from real double layered papers. Beautiful, small projects that really capture what the calligraphy can be used for. I'm definitely going to be more motivated to practice regularly with this book.
The other book, The Mustard Seed Garden Manual of Painting was written thousands of years ago, and was translated into English and while there's a lot about the values behind the various kind of painting and the Chinese cultural history behind various types of paints, most of the instruction has more to do with copying the absolutely gorgeous examples than anything else. There's a section on brush work where the author actually talks about dozens of different artists and how they all did things differently and still came up with gorgeous works of art, and ends by saying that what kind of brush, what angle of brush work, what order and direction of the brush, and how much and how fast one uses ink is all up to ones spirit. *laughter* I *love* that, but it also goes on about how a tree must have four main limbs... the attitude of the plants when two are put together...
It's pretty cool.
And also on the very cool, learning-Chinese scale, John's Mom and Dad gave me the first set of Tuttle flash cards. Nearly 500 cards each with a character on them with stroke order, both simplified and traditional characters, and lots of appropriate phrases with context for the word itself. Wow. I'm probably going to combine it with the calligraphy book and start to figure out if there are some things I can finally read, as with the phrases, there's thousands of characters on the cards with meanings.
But now I feel mildly guilty about not doing my calligraphy and painting when I'm doing my knitting. But Isabel and George helped out there, too, by also giving me the McPhee Meditations for Women Who Knit Too Much. Whew. *giggles*
It is better to be balanced... a bit.
John and I are getting started on the work to put some photovoltaic panels up on the house. We first have to figure out how many of them make sense, so are doing an energy audit for the house, including some tests of the house itself to see if there's energy we're losing for no good reason. It should be interesting to get through it all, but the guy came out and peered at the house, climbed up on the roof and did a lot of measuring and came back with a couple of quotes. It should be fun to see how it plays out.
John and Jet bought me a cool mushroom kit from Gardeners for my birthday, too, and Jet and I sat out in the yard and watered things, dug things up, and "fluffed" the compost (much laughter) to get the little guys all set up and going. The box smells very nice. We should have some white button mushrooms in just a couple of weeks.
John and I also went to the first parent-teacher conference with Jet's teacher yesterday evening. We went on our bikes while Jet played with Chris, who's another of our backyard neighbors. Jet's teacher had some very fine stories about Jet.
There was trouble with two of the kids and Jet comes up to the teacher and says, "That person isn't respecting the other person very well, is he?"
The kids are all cutting out matching card games for themselves, and the teacher has told them that they cannot stack the papers on top of each other as she's seen the resulting cards are very crooked on the edges. The stacks slip and the cuts slide across the cards, so they're not identical any more. Jet sidles up to her after folks have started cutting, "Miss --- I'll be all right. I've got a system and it worked yesterday, can I stack mine?" She'd seen his cards the day before and she had to nod without laughing and say, "Yes, Jet, you may."
She says he's doing general thinking quite well, that he's starting to catch up on reading and is at the cusp of something very cool if he can get a bit beyond just succeeding (he took home the *same* books for far longer than he should have, but I'll admit that it probably made him feel very safe to do so when he knew he could read them), and that, so far, she hasn't given him a math problem he hasn't been able to solve (oh oh). So I'm very, very happy and she's very happy to have him in her class as he seems to be adding things to discussions that help everyone talk about stuff. Woo...
I'm very glad.
Jet seems really happy to go to school and very proud of what he does there. He was writing a book and when he came home he'd tell us that we'd love the book. Then he started telling us that he had to copy the book as well, for conferences, and we'd assumed that all the kids had to copy their books. But it turned out that in the time most kids did just one book, Jet had done *exactly* the same book twice. The same picture, the same words, and he was busting his hump to get both done in the time the other kids had done just one. She hadn't asked him to do two, but he was completely convinced that he *had* to, so he did.
*giggles* That did make me blink a bit, but the books he wrote and drew were pretty cool and he gave one to us and kept one for himself. I think he really, really wanted one for himself and when he heard that the book he'd written was going to conference and was going to be given to his parents, he had to make the copy for himself...
So it is...
I'm so glad he likes school and that school pretty much likes him. He does well with the other kids and with his teacher. I can't ask much more than that.