3/22/09

Another Writing Project from Classical Writing Homer A

The Tale of Circe

Huff, puff, huff, puff. Wheezing and gasping, Eurylochus plunged headlong at top speed through the forest, not heeding the sharp thorns and vines and low overhanging branches that tore cruelly at his arms and legs and face. No, he did not stop to think of them and the sharp biting pains they continually inflicted on his person, for in his panicked state nothing else mattered but to escape back to the encampment by the ships where they had been entrenched for three days now. He must reach Odysseus quickly and warn him of the sly and wicked deed he had just witnessed.

Barely missing several gnarled and cracked tree trunks, he was momentarily blinded by a bright flash of light that filled his vision, then an ominous rumble that rolled and rippled across the plain of sound, like ten thousand horsemen charging blindly forwards. Like him. Suddenly he lost his footing and was sent sprawling across the rough uneven ground. Hardly noticing, he scrambled to his feet and crashed off once more, a wild light in his eyes that was fed by the dark and windy weather.

Loose bits of scraggly turf was thrown up as the terror stricken Eurylochus stumbled and pushed through the night, his path briefly lit by the full moon that sometimes broke through its dense cloud covering to illuminate his way, his veering sometimes straying way. The pitter patter of rain on the upper foliage began to be heard, followed by another violent flash of lightning and a much closer sounding boom of thunder that rolled across the night sky.

When he finally reached camp he was soaked through, and as he left the trees behind him and tore through the sandy ground towards the ships he body slammed into something large, and bowled it over, screaming helplessly as he tumbled to the ground with it.

Both he and the thing shouted piercingly in a horrible fright as they rolled frantically about in the dark. A strange sight it must have been with Eurylochus biting and kicking on one side in a mad effort to free himself while on the other side - a man, as it turned out to be - struggled not only to free himself but his blade.

Finally, they untangled one another and backed off a ways, both peering desperately and fearfully into the night, each attempting to size up and evaluate their new arrivals. It continued such for some time until a beam of moonlight cut through the stormy night sky and illuminated each muddy rain soaked individual’s features, who both gave a cry of joy. They each ran forwards to embrace each other joyously, each patting the other on the back and one shouting "Oh, my good friend Odysseus! How good it is to run into you here!" and the other bellowing cheerfully, "Eurylochus, Eurylochus! Welcome old friend! Welcome! You actually had me scared there for a second! Where have you been, why are you so frightened and where are the others? I had not been expecting your arrival so soon! You must explain why you have so abandoned your companions and what has put you in such a state!"

At this Eurylochus stopped and brushed his self off. A single tear rolled from his pale gray and grief stricken eyes, down his muddy cheek and onto the upturned soil of their previous scuffle. And then he began to tell of the past events that had been such a nightmare to him.

"I and my faithful band had been marching steadfastly through the forest in what I had hoped was the direction of the smoke Taerminus had sighted earlier. I guess I was right, for after a while, the trees began to thin and then to an abrupt halt. I ordered the men to a standstill, for we had arrived at the edge of a vast clearing, and within the center of this substantially large area a great mansion rose, ornately designed and adorned, and obscuring not only much of the sky but a large portion of the clearing in its opposing shadow.

“Oh Odysseus, this was to be a place of great mishap and sorrow upon my part. Soon I shall tell of what befell us - or those under my command, rather. Also, all around that bastion of misfortune, - behold! - all about it seemingly thousands of beasts of every kind, shape size and color, herbivores, omnivores, and carnivores of every type, category and kind roamed tamely around side by side, in peaceful companionship. This amazed us, especially me, exceedingly, and we were even more so surprised and awed by the fact that, once I had finally but cautiously dared step into the clearing, is that the beasts came and fawned affectionately upon us like house dogs.

After this we all continued on to the house, but yet tarried fearfully about the outer gate, suspicious of any sorcery that might surround this dwelling. Then one of our number, a sharp little fellow, I think he was called Ardimius, caught the slight lilting notes of a woman singing, and remarked on it to me. You can imagine my joy for surely if it was woman therein we could not possibly come to any great harm?

But as I spread the good news to the others I could not entirely dispel the small nagging doubts that whispered in my ear of danger. And Odysuess, how right those nagging little voices were. For if I had not listened and had ignored its gentle plea, and entered into her warm inviting and strangely lulling halls, half the company would not only be gone, but I as well, and thus there would be no one to warn you of the danger.

So, as we called out in greeting to the woman, and she came in a flourish and flung the gates of her wondrous halls wide with gusto, bidding us to enter into her vainly attired palace of music and delightful song, I slunk quickly into the heavy shadows and keenly observed the following events that so rapidly took place."

And so Eurylochus told of how the men had entered her halls, into splendor and comfort aplenty, and how they where only to be tricked guilefully by some strange drug she filtered slyly into the wines and beers she served the unknowing and weary soldiers. Eurylochus had, fearing the worst, continued to watch as his fears became obvious and his men began to one by one fall into a stuperous slumber that had caused them to gaze lazily about, their senses askew.

Then he told tearfully of how she had exposed a silver wand and dubbed each of them on the shoulder blades. Suddenly they had begun to transform, to change horribly into pathetic and grunting swine and Eurylochus finished with how they had been driven out to her expansive swine pins and he had run in a blind terror back to Odysseus.

Of course Odysseus was by then consumed by a sublime rage, and, snatching up his trusty broadsword, set off on the trail set by the soldiers previous him, and soon reached the guileful enchantress's palace. Ignoring the bewitched animals, who he realized now were men, he knocked heavily upon her great doors and she answered by flinging them wide, welcoming him in.

As Odysseus expected, she attempted to drug him with drugged wines, he pretended to drain the golden cup she had offered him. She knew she had won and went off for a few minutes to gloat her victory and await the drugs now in his system to overpower him and begin their stuperous effects.

But when her back was turned, he dumped the wine off in a secluded spot, and then returning to his previous location pretended to slouch and slur, and even allowed the wine glass to clatter to the ground and roll away. He then moved towards it slowly and began to make sluggish efforts to pick it up. The enchantress returned then and Odysseus was apparently bewildered by her arrival. She seized her wand and brought it up. Then Odysseus made his move, and leapt up grasping at her throat and sending the sparkling wand hurtling into the far wall.

Holding her there, with his blade positioned at her neck, he forced her to release his bewitched companions from animal bodies into human form once more and to swear terrible oaths to never again treat them, nor any other traveler, guilefully again.

And they all feasted in the enchantress's house - her name turned out to be Circe - for a year, after which Odysseus and his followers tore themselves from the boundless magical comfort of her warm halls and continued on with their homeward journey.

by Zachary/age 12

3/13/09

Sudden Spring

When gilded head of crocus breaks the earth

And blossom trembles on the almond tree

The sun is warmer on my aged back

And memories come crowding in to me.

The dragging winter months have lasted long

And chill has kept me prisoned at my hearth

My senses dulled by many months disuse

But suddenly it's spring again!

With eagerness I daily search them out:

Remembered signs and joys returned

The first dark hidden violet,

The bursting gold of daffodil,

The early song of finch upon the bough,

The scarlet flash of cardinal,

And I am young again

Because

I find a sudden spring.

~ The Marquise De Chambrun

2/27/09

The Defeat of Cyrus

This is the latest composition my 12 year old has produced using the Classical Writing curriculum.

The Defeat of Cyrus

After the Peloponnesian War, Darius II King of Persia died and his two son’s Artaxerxes and Cyrus began quarreling for dominion over the throne.

Eventually Artaxerxes took possession of the throne and became the new King via force, but Cyrus swore to continue seeking the throne, and then went about gathering his supporters in an effort to lead his army against his brother. But his Persian followers were inadequate in number, so Cyrus was forced to look elsewhere for aid in his ambitious quest against his brother. His attention then fell on Greece, land of the warrior race, of whom fighting prowess was renowned throughout the land. He hired 11,000 Greeks led by Clearchus, a Spartan general, to help him and marched on his brother.

They clashed at Cunaxa but Cyrus was slain and the Persians surrendered. The Greeks continued fighting bravely on against impossible odds until an exasperated Artaxerxes, having already defeated his brother's forces, prepared a message for the savage Greeks that the very man they had been fighting for was dead and there was no point in continuing to fight further. The message also stated that they all would be transported safely home back to Greece if they were only to stop fighting and comply with his request to lay down their arms. The tiring Greek soldiers readily agreed to this, and laying down their arms as proposed halted their fighting and began preparing for their home journey back to the native soil they so loved that lay a good eight-months march due west. Artaxerxes also grandly invited all the Greek officers, generals, and those in positions of power within the Greek army to a great council of the Generals, where all those on both sides, the Persians and the Greeks, who held militaristic power would meet and discuss matters of war. The Greek army commanders replied that they would be honored and hurried to the meeting where as the treacherous and scheming Persians awaited their arrival with grim hearts and sharp steel. As the Greek military commanders filed idly into the pavilion whereas the meeting was to be held, they were beset suddenly by an onslaught of flashing steel and whirling blades that deftly ended their surprise and replaced it with a sudden flash of excruciating pain, and then a cold numbness that was death.

The Greeks military infrastructure was then shattered and when the now leaderless Greeks received word of their leaders’ demise they despaired as of what to do. For, stranded as they were in a strange land without directions and lacking a single interpreter amongst them, or provisions and Persian currency, they were in a sense utterly helpless, stranded in the middle of a completely alien and possibly hostile environment. They had not but their armor and weapons that they had managed to retain and couldn't even manage a good night’s rest as they were constantly in danger being surprised by Artaxerxes men that were searching day and night for them. Besides it was all the more difficult to sleep with the multitudes of wretched men bewailing their plight, and the ever present knowledge that there was a good possibility that they may never see their home again, even if they managed to evade the ever present Persian search parties for a time.

But, they were in luck. A young man and former pupil of Socrates was amongst them, and as the others wandered aimlessly about their hurriedly constructed make-shift camp Xenophon plotted all the night and by the morn he had constructed a viable plan. Although not flawless, it was well worth attempting as they literally had nothing to lose, not even their freedom. The plan was if they were but to unite into a compact force and push steadfastly north they possibly would find themselves at the Black Sea.

2/21/09

Spring

So...it is nearly March. Winter has come and gone. I watched the leaves blaze then drop, crisp on the ground. I sat sorrowfully wondering why the sky was so blue, the heavens so bright when the world was dying.

Loss. I've felt too much of it this year.

There I was in Southern California. I'd fled the troubles from home. My mom in my sister's care, her memory gone. My dad so recently passed away stirring up memories I'd tried to run from all of my life.

I was a wimp, but I had run. And California was nothing I had expected it to be. From the winding little hills to the flame colored rooftops to the wonderous Pacific stretching on and on ...California was nothing I thought she was going to be. But I'd landed in Dana Point, and I think it may be quite different than LA, the city on the sea.

So...there I was. Enchanted. Dana Point had romanced me away from any desire to ever return to Texas.

Then I found the dratted lump.

On we came back to Texas. It was a rushed trip. We drove it in 2 days. My husband, myself and three kids. It was miserable and hard. My husband stayed a few days with me then left to go finish the job in California. It was the first week or so of October and he planned to be back by Thanksgiving. My support was gone. I don't think I've ever felt so alone in my life.

I lost my mom in December. While I was having mammograms at MD Anderson she lay there on her death bed slipping away. The lady giving me the mammogram must of thought I was a wimp for crying. I opened my mouth to try to tell her that yes it hurt, but I was crying because of my mom. The words would not come. Only more tears.

Oh, how I want that woman back. Whole in mind and body, as she was before this disease took her.

I lost my breast in January. I try not to complain. I try to keep my tears to myself. People look at me sometimes when I do and suggest that it COULD have been worse. I could have been eaten up with cancer. And I do feel...grateful. I'm glad that breast cancer isn't killing me. For that matter I'm glad the renal cell carcinoma that they found in my kidney almost 10 years ago didn't kill me either. But it isn't the same. I miss my breast. I've never missed my kidney.

So sometimes, like last night, when I am laying in bed, alone, thinking of how grateful I should feel...there is this little angry part of me that asks the Lord, "So what are you trying to say God, that you could have killed me but you didn't?"

I feel as if I've been threatened.

He did, in away, kill a part of me. I'm wounded. I feel deformed. I'm numb in a place that is supposed to be one of a woman's most sensitive places.

Loss.

And we won't even go into my oldest teenage boys ... both whom I've always been close to, always homeschooled...and now I'm watching both of them hold me down while they cut the apron strings. Bad timing and all that. I need them to draw close to me right now. I need their love to shield me from all this pain I feel...and they are pulling away.

Loss.

My world has been shaken. I'm nowhere near the place I was before I went to California in July. I keep thinking maybe if we pack up...carefully packing the same things we took before...drive back ...the same route, stay in the same Holiday Inns and in the same condo once we get there..that maybe I'll wake up..and all of this will have been a bad dream.

Spring is coming...

After my surgery, to cheer myself up I brought home a puppy. A little 5 week West Highland White Terrier. I named him Harry. Harry has to pee about ever 10 minutes. Harry gets taken out almost every 10 minutes. Ok..it is better now that he is 8 weeks old, but not much. We go out a lot but I can't seem to mind. I've had a chance to watch the frost on the ground under a bright full moon. I've listened to the early morning silence. I've gone out right after a rain, the clover looking like nature had come and dusted glitter all over. I've watched the trees bud and green. Swirling white clouds pink as the sun rose..and set.

And now I'm thinking of rebirth. It was all dead but now it is coming back to life.Soon now my teenagers will be mowing the lawn weekly. I have this incredible urge to plant a garden. I want roses and jasmine, gardenias and moon flowers.

Rebirth.

In May I'm scheduled for my 2nd surgery. This one to reconstruct, to recreate my breast. My plastic surgeon will take fat and skin from my abdomen and use it to make two new warm, jiggly breast. Will they be the same? Close probably. Will this nightmare be over? No, probably not. Though she claims to be able to reattach nerves to bring back some sensation, it is not to be complete sensation. I'll be able to feel hot and cold, but not much more. That part of me is gone forever.

But I'll look ok I guess. Maybe. If there are no complications. And if I look ok then everyone can happily go on with their lives and not worry about me anymore, because I'll have been 'fixed'.

And so I ask the Lord, "Ok...so you didn't kill me. But will you reattach my nerves? Make me whole again?"

The leaves some back, the grass comes back, the sun rises and sets every day and everything always is reborn.

But what about me?

Ugh. I complain too much I guess. I just need to be grateful, right? I'm working on it, I promise. Maybe my reconstruction will make it all ok. Maybe. Hopefully. If not...maybe I can talk my husband into moving to Southern California. Now THAT would be nice.

11/11/08

Ikea bookcases

I love my Billy bookcases. We've had them for over a year and they are holding up really well under the weight of all these books. We are enjoying them very much.

10/16/08

So long, farewell...

Tonight will be my last night in Dana Point, California. We have been here since July and I've been absolutely seduced by the beauty and climate here. My husband has been to many places in the world and he feels the same as I.

My emotions are in a turmoil as we pack up to leave a month sooner than expected and under unexpected circumstances. Just days ago I was diagnosed with Breast Cancer so heading back to our home in Texas seemed the wisest thing to do. Sean will fly back to California to finish his work here, though he will fly into Houston when I have my surgery. It was a decision made by both of us. Although I want him to finish his job...and although I do not feel in the least abandoned by him ...I usually suffer from separation anxiety when forced to be away from him even in the best of times. But I will survive. And he will always be just a phone call away.

I am really trying to be strong and upbeat about all this. And I for the most part feel exactly that. I've already had cancer once before..Renal Cell Carcinoma, a much more serious cancer, which was, thank God, caught before it had spread. But this time...though the cancer is not near as serious I'll loose something far more dear to me than just a kidney. Yes, I'll be ok. I'll be just perfectly fine. But nothing will ever be the same. So, yes, there have been lots of tears and times when I just want to run away.

Fact is though...there is nowhere to run. I actually thought I'd already done that. Left all my problems in Houston by coming to California. I guess you can never run far enough away after all.

So...while feeling so sad and down yesterday evening I happened to look out my window saw the beginning of a sunset. We grabbed cameras and headed across the street.

The sea looked like glass. Like softly glowing liquid silver. Luminous and alive. The sky above was awash with pink clouds and Catalina Island was silhouetted in the distance. As we neared we could hear the surf crashing, see the boys holding their surfing boards running in the sand below. The entire image was magical and I was so glad I had the chance to see such a lovely scene before leaving Southern California, the beautiful Pacific, a place I'd be honored to one day call my home.

10/4/08

Sabrina, Fable, Starlie and Bucket

I really miss these guys.

9/17/08

8/26/08

Name This Tree

I'm seeing these trees everywhere in Southern California. The bark is very pale and smooth looking. Someone said they are Banyan Trees. I'd like to know for sure.

8/7/08

2008-2009 School Year: Ready or Not...Here it Comes...

I'm finally getting a little excited about the new school year. I enrolled my oldest in Hewitt Homeschool so that he could still school at home, pick out what he wanted to study and get grades from someone other than mom. He decided to work through: Beautiful Feet Books: US and World History for history. He will be working through the 2nd portion of this 2 year program, focusing on the 20th century. Some of the books he will be reading with this program are To Kill a Mockingbird, Anne Frank, the Diary of a YOung Girl, and The Hiding Place, just to name a few. For Literature he decided to go with Literature Lessons from Lord of the Rings. He will not only read through the Lord of the Rings series, but also two works of Shakespeare; The Tempest and Macbeth, as well as Beowulf, an old English epic. Hewitt is going to expect a lot of writing, essays and reports and projects from all of the above. Thankfully we will be using IEW, which is working wonderfully for him. And of course algebra and science and computers programming and health and all the rest. The books are going to be great, but it is going to be a long hard year. And that is just with the oldest. My 2nd grader is going to be much, much easier. Now to go figure out what my 7th grader will be reading for the year. I better hurry, school starts the day after Labor Day!

8/1/07

6th Grade Reading Adventures

Yesterday's post 'The Viking Tale' is a bit of writing my 11 year old son composed after immersing himself in the stories and songs and lore of the Vikings.

Having worked out way through the Ancients last year using H.A. Guerber's Story of the Romans and Story of the Greeks that Nothing New Press has republished, combined with TruthQuest Ancients and TruthQuest Romans we have now moved on to the Dark Ages. Our spine this year is Guerber's Story of the Middle Ages.

Since June my history loving 11 year old has read the following:

Beowulf the Warrior by Ian Serraillier, which we actually took turns reading aloud to each other. It is written in epic poetry form but simple enough for a younger child. Having read read through this we are looking foreword to reading the original story of Beowulf when we get to ancients again.

White Stag

Children of Odin

He learned all about the Norse gods of the Vikings in this book of tales.

Black Horses for the King. This is a story of a boy who helped find/capture horses for King Arthur. My son appreciated this little book because unlike many King Arthur stories, this book put the story in the correct historical time period.

The Story of Roland by Baldwin

Blood Feud by Rosemary Sutcliff. This woman can tell some wonderful tales. My son could not stop coming to me with all the details from this little book.

Sea of Trolls by Nancy Farmer

Viking Tales

We are now moving on to the early medieval period so he is now working through:

When Knights Were Bold by Eva March Tappan

and for free reading

Red Hugh: Prince of Donegal by Robert T. Reilly. (which takes place in the 1500s)

He is thrilled with the books he has read so far and excited about the ones to come. All of them combined with TruthQuest History Middle Ages is going to make a good year for my medieval loving son.

Sorry about not listing all the authors of the books he has read. I'm just too lazy this morning to look them all up.

7/30/07

THE VIKING TALE

Over blue oceans, the wind hard and good

I see no land for a home

Oh Odin, I long to see earth

Besides the old soil in a brass chest

Mine Viking heart aches for frolic

Must we all feast in Ran’s Halls?

My sword arm dos’ ache

With the heaving of the oar; my back dos’ ache with

the heaving of the oar.

Over black oceans, the wind and waves, are tossing us

hard

The mast is down the oars are out;

I see no land to rest

Oh Thor bring up your hammer; call of your rage

We tire of the sea

Must we feast in Ran’s Halls?

With a heart-breaking gesture we prepare for death;

We put on our hell shoes

I hand out our fee.

Us Norse Men need land, I pray for deliverance

Our provisions are low winter draws close

Shall we die aboard the ‘Dragon Tongue?

But lo’! A bird! A Raven Odin’s Bird!

The storms have lifted; the mast is up the men rest

from the oar

Follow and keep watch: Land must be near

Odin’s Bird shall guide us follow

Strip of your hell shoes pocket your gold give a great

shout

The gods have mercy upon us

Lo’! I see land give thanks a great shout!

We shall have frolic and houses and fields.

New land’s full of sun.

The women weep; It has been hard

They weep for joy and for sorrow for their old homes

and for the fair sight of

Wonderful land.

We pulled ashore the ship is on rollers

The men leap for joy

They roll and tumble in the grassy land.

We have found a land for a home;

We have found land to rest.

I build our temple we give our praise

to the gods in Asgard that watch over us.

We give great thanks and build

our great hall the ale dos’ flowith merrily!

Now winter is over the Jotuns leave us in peace

the hall rings with wily

rejoicing feasting tables bend from Platters

and food; benches dos’ bend from men

The women weave

The men do plow the fields.

~by Z. age 11 ~

inspired in part by Jennie Hall's Viking Tales

7/28/07

Learning to Blog

As the saying goes, the more I learn the more I realize I don't know squat! Or something like that anyway.

This applies to blogging of course. Even Blogging For Dummies isn't helping me enough. Thank goodness for my friends over on The Well Trained Mind Boards. Anything I ever need to know I can find there.

Today I've managed to get my LibraryThing Books to show up in my side bar, though I'm sure I went about it the hard way. I do everything the hard way I think.

I also helped my 9th grader get his own blog started. He is really excited about that. He doesn't have much to say at the moment, but I'm sure that will come for him. For now he is has managed to get a picture of his drumset up there and is working on figuring out how to get a video of himself (playing the drums) up as well.

Other than that, I've been content to take pictures of my calico kitten, Starlie. She was sweet enough to pose, so I thought I'd give her a spot on my blog. I'm sure all her furiends will be impressed. She sends them all her purrs.

7/26/07

Docendo Discimus: 'While we teach, we learn.'

This is a Latin proverb I picked up from somewhere. I like it so much I've considered having it put on a T-shirt. For me. Since learning with my kids is what I do.

My children and I are on very long journey. A Quest.

In literature a 'Quest' is an adventurous journey taken on by the protagonist of a story. The protagonist usually meets with and overcomes a series of obstacles, returning in the end with the benefits of knowledge and experience.

I think that about sums up our own particular quest called Homeschool. Seven years completed, only twelve years to go.

I've been learning all sorts of thing that I never learned in school. Such as Latin, and classical literature and higher math. And learning how to blog. My oldest, who is in high school this year, wants to learn to blog. So I decided I'd learn myself. Writing is something I've needed to get back to doing anyway. And this seems like a good enough place for it. I have high hopes that by writing every day I'll be a good example to my children. But I'm doing it for me as well. I've always enjoyed writing...but somewhere along the way my writing has gotten a little rusty.

You know, I never once dreamed during my own high school years that I'd be teaching children, much less my own. But here I am...teaching... and learning as I go.