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Homeschooling is three-and-a-half-foot-long library recipts.

Photo: Library-ing, homeschooling style. :D

My brother Joshua, shortly before the eight of us (counting Mom) took our seven or eight bags of books out to our elderly and temperamental nine-seater suburban.

And that, folks, is what has been keeping me busy lately, along with probabilities, square roots, negative numbers, essays on Mars, Moby Dick, a science module on the human digestive system, and a very cool book by Dierdre Le Faye (Could have some of that wrong, not sure) about Jane Austen, which has proved helpful for a Somewhat Complicated Project that I have appointed as a fill-in of sorts for history, as people tend to think that kind of stuff important. I’m not sure whether it’ll actually be useful in the long run, but at least I’ll know a lot about Georgian and Regency era fashion.

We’ve actually been doing really well about getting our library books back on time, lately, even if we return them the day they’re due after keeping them as long as is possible. And… I got Benjamin to read the Vesper Holly books, all six of them. I never expected to see my brother fangirl, Benjamin being the calm, quiet, capable person that he is. (Example: He killed three wasps for me this afternoon while I dithered and panicked just outside the room. He came out smiling a little bit and nonchalantly swinging the fly swatter. My dignity wasn’t wounded AT ALL) Nevertheless, over the past couple of weeks I have, quite frequently, walked into the living room and found him upside down in a chair, heels bouncing on top of the chair, clenching one of the books in a death-grip, and giggling/moaning/smiling/muttering/pumping his fists in an upside-down victory stance/shaking the book and lamenting about the fact that Dr. Helvitius (That most vile of creatures) has escaped once again. And, to top it off, just before starting the sixth book, he made sure that Vesper and Brinnie and Mary and Smiler and Slider and the Weed/Toby came back, and warily asked me whether Helvitius came back.

Yes, Benjamin. I know, Benjamin, he just won’t die. Sorry, Benjamin. Don’t worry, Benjamin, it’ll be okay. Don’t choke on your lunch, Benjamin.

And then, when he finished it, I thought he would never stop bouncing, let alone smiling. I think he’s glad I made him read them, which is good.

…On a side note, I just learned that America is best known for pizza delivery and software, which is sort of sad…

In other news, Dad has COMPLETELY FINISHED watching the Lizzy Bennett Diaries, Evelyn is going to enroll part-time in the local-ish public high school, mainly for an ACT-prep class, and Evelyn’s Arch Nemesis Matthew is moving into his college dorm tomorrow. Evelyn has been comforting him for the past half hour, assuring him that he will be fine, and that he will be the Matthewest Matthew they ever saw, and that when he struts in there, he is going to completely Matthew it up. All the way, I guess. Apparently he also needs eight-foot speakers to follow him around for when he introduces himself in a James Bond-esque fashion, so that dramatic music can play in the background. Funny that she’s having so much fun with this, considering they absolutely hate each other, and have vowed to be Arch Nemeses for all eternity.

Also, Maisy came back from the library with a Care Bears movie. It is quite possibly the weirdest and stupidest thing I have ever seen, before I ran away and hid with Going Postal. That rainbow syrup looks like it causes body-wide cancer. The wishing star looks like the kind of thing that is sweet in a kind of concerning way until you turn your back. Then it latches on with its stubby, brightly colored tentacles and sucks the life out of you. The whole plot (what there is of it) is ridiculous! It reminds me of Susan’s version of Jack and the Beanstalk in Hogfather:

And then Jack chopped down what was the world’s last beanstalk, adding murder and ecological terrorism to the theft, enticement and trespass charges already mentioned, and all the giant’s children didn’t have a daddy any more. But he got away with it and lived happily ever after without so much as a guilty twinge about what he had done… Which proves that you can be excused just about anything if you’re a hero, because no one asks inconvenient questions.  – Hogfather, by Terry Pratchett

So far, in this cutsey-wutsey little movie filled with brightly-colored bears who live on a pale pink cloud, we have encountered: manipulation/mind control, depending on how you look at it, power abuse, overworking to within half an inch of the victim’s bright, cuddly life with no respect to the limitations of the victim’s abilities, resulting in ecological vandalism, civic unrest, attempts at enticement, and as a final, devastating result to crown the whole thing… (prepare yourselves, folks…)

There’s not enough caring in Care-a-lot!!!!!! Whatever will we do?!?!?!?!?! If we can’t miraculously conjure up a plan out of our practically empty brains, that big, scary storm cloud on the pale pink and blue horizon will engulf Care-a-lot in misery and damp despair!!!!!!!!!!!!! But whatever we do, we have to do it with unhealthy amounts of optimism, bad planning, and a few musical numbers!!!!!!!!!!!!!! And most likely, NOTHING WILL WORK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!But don’t worry, because if we all care as much as we possibly can, and be the very nicest bears we can be (Even grumpy bear!!!!!!) then surely by the end we’ll be ready for a great big song and dance routine about how great things are when you care, with all of our friends singing and dancing by our side!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

As you can see, I don’t have a high opinion of the Care Bears. That movie is cheesier than a block of cheese. I kid you not. I’m going to need a great big dose of Moist von Lipwig and Adora Belle Dearheart (the most unlikely couple I have ever encountered) before I’ve fully recovered from that. Blue’s Clues and the Wonderpets are all the world needs, really. I can tolerate those. In any case, it’s only ten days until Deep Breath, the first episode of Doctor Who series eight broadcasts. I live in hope of maybe sitting in a McDonald’s parking lot or something like that and watching it online or something. That would be cool. I’ve heard that the Doctor gets grumpy, and tells Clara and a dinosaur and everybody to shut up, and Clara gets annoyed. That’ll be interesting. I haven’t seen much in the way of annoyed/angry Clara yet. 🙂

Anyway, I’m sitting right by an open window, and it’s getting a little cold, and this is already 1,024 words long, which means I’ve probably gotten on my soapbox a little bit somewhere about something, so I’m going to shut up.

Eleanor

 
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Posted by on August 14, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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Don’t trust Dora!

According to common ideas about time travel and general common sense, traveling back in time to view your past self is possible. Dora the Explorer has demonstrated this fact for us:

Exhibit A: Past (and extremely horrifying) Isa, Tico, Boots, Benny, and Swiper. Don’t ask me how I know all this.

 

On the opposite end of that spectrum, we have the famed idea of “Hey, we could talk to future us! How cool is that?” a la Amy Pond in the series five episodes of Doctor Who, the Hungry Earth and Cold Blood (*Sob* How could you do that to Amy, Restac?) and once again, Dora the Explorer:

Exhibit B: Present-day Dora and Swiper talking to Future Dora. Once again, don’t ask how I know all this. Let’s just say it was basically the same situation as the one wherein Sam Vimes learned about the noble game of crockett. Down to the last detail.

But according to the most basic rules of everything, talking to one’s future self SHOULD NOT BE POSSIBLE.

Allow me to explain, before you all denounce me as a complete idiot.

Let’s say you have access to a time machine, preferably in the shape of either a Victorian-esque sleigh or a  1960’s police phone box (Blue, naturally. The bluest blue you ever saw) , because Victorian-esque sleighs and phone boxes are cool.

So. You have this very important thing you need your future self to remember (i.e., this test you need to take, or that blog post you wanted to write some day, or [if we’re going to get really theoretical here] the next Molly Fyde book is due on this day five months in the future) so you get in your time machine and throw the time roter, mess with the zigzag plotter, and push the blue boring-ers, along with a bunch of other levers and buttons. You also stroke the time machine and sing it a song for maximum effect. You wind up about four and a half months after you left. You jump out of your time machine into your bedroom and creep through the house (Don’t want your family to see multiple yous) looking for yourself. But all you find is your family, overjoyed to see you and desperate to know where the heck you’ve been for the past four and a half months, and your little brothers and sisters making sure you know that they really actually truly thought you were DEAD.

Wait, what? where’s your future self that you need to remind about that one thing? That makes no sense. It worked for Dora when you were four, right?

Answer: There is no future self. You got into your time machine and flew away, so there was no future self for you to visit. Unless I’ve got things horribly wrong, there is no way to visit your future self unless you have a really cool time machine that can somehow penetrate the barriers of reality without blowing up a star so you can visit an alternate reality version of yourself that never jumped into a time machine.

So basically, don’t trust Dora on issues of time travel. She bends the universe to fit her needs, which is an abominably stupid thing to do. The more you bend something, the bigger the recoil when you finally let it go. It’ll come back around and slap you in the face.

Anyway, those are my thoughts for the evening. I’m so glad Matthew likes Blue’s Clues better than Dora the Explorer these days.

Eleanor

 
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Posted by on July 19, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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Good grief, he’s growing up!

Benjamin tends to ramble a bit when he’s talking. Not sure where he gets it, but I usually tune it out a little, so that it kind of ends up sounding a little like “and so then the tree possum bluejay played dead but we found a bird nest with giant bullfrog tadpoles in it and it’s really deep and I’m going to go wash my feet off ’cause I got poison ivy on them.” He’s my little brother, and I love him and all, but sometimes I just can’t listen to a whole speech about how he constructed his lego spaceship.

But a day or two ago, he finished reading some dragon keeper series or another by Kate Klimo, and since I read the first one years ago I asked him how the other ones were.

“They’re good, but the last couple books aren’t as good as the earlier ones. The first one was best,” he said.

“Oh, yeah?”

“Yeah. The last one had a bunch of stuff about Santa Claus, and it was kind of weird.”

I could see how dragon books that veered off course could be not the best books in the world. I said, “Hmm, that’s too bad,” and began to drift back into Night Watch.

“What I really don’t like though is that a lot of the books I’ve been reading lately start off really boring, and it takes forever for them to get exciting.”

Cue an idea.

 

After a bit of thinking and about five minutes, I handed him Found, by Margaret Peterson Haddix. He frowned, opened it up; closed it; rinsed; repeated. “I don’t know… I’m worried it’ll be like the other books, all Boring, Boring, Boring, and only starting to get exciting in the middle…” he said.
I have since then heard the following comments:

“Oooh, that’s creepy…”

ohmygosh he’s adopted.

“Wow, that’s even creepier.

“That’s just weird.”

Wow.”

And, most recently, “MUST READ MORE.” I think he’s only in chapter eleven or something.

His response has been really interesting for me, because he’s very mellow when it comes to reading books and watching movies, and stuff like that. He’ll get just as excited as the rest of us about a new Doctor Who episode, (“THIS IS THE EPISODE WHERE RORY COMES BACK TO LIFE AND BECOMES A PLASTIC ROMAN!!!” “NONONONONO DON’T OPEN YOUR EYES AMY EVEN FOR JUST A SECOND THE WEEPING ANGEL IN YOUR EYES WILL COME OUT AND KILL YOUUUU…”) and he’ll sing along with most of the songs from Frozen (He doesn’t seem particularly enthused about singing Hans’ part from Love is an Open Door, though) but he doesn’t normally make a big deal about books. “It’s good, but this bit here doesn’t really make sense,” he’ll say, or “In Johnny and the Bomb Wobbler’s granddad talks about shrapnel…” but nothing much more than that.

I guess he’s coming out of the Magic Tree House phase. Never really expected that to happen, honestly, just Jack and Annie on their next not-as-well-written-as-they-were-back-in-my-day adventure. In a few years, he could be reading the Westing Game and coming to me with questions about why Turtle is so obsessed with the stock market. There’s a scary thought.

 

Anyway, in other news, I got Night Watch from the library again, and it turns out that the mysterious Discworld book that lurked around the house for years that me and Dad thought might have been Hogfather was actually Night Watch. Kind of weird, that Evelyn remembered that. I walked up with it on top of a few other books, and she said, “Don’t we own that one?”

Sorry, what? I have no memory of ever owning this book… but it turns out we did, when I was four or five, or something like that.

I am now convinced that Night Watch was predestined by fate to be my favorite Discworld book. Something like the cracks in series 5 of New Who, or Prisoner Zero, the cool-ness of the book pouring into my mind, waiting until the time was right to become known, or something. It’s possible I’m over-analyzing this. Last night I started rambling and over-thinking about the phrase “forever alone” and the angsty teenage fear that one is going to die completely and truly alone. After all, how is it possible to be truly alone when you share the planet with six billion other people?? And even if you discount those, there’s probably going to be a cat or a dog or even maybe a family of rabbits that eat the clover in your backyard. Yeah. Over-thinking. I’ll just shut up.

Eleanor

 
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Posted by on June 13, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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I’m totally fangirling

So, yeah, I kind of fell off the earth over the week. Sorry about that. I’ve been busy fangirling. We went to the library for the first time since before Christmas, so naturally there was much excitement and a rush to remember all the books you’ve been wanting to read. I finally read Gypsy Rizka by Lloyd Alexander, which is cool. I’ve had that on my list for nearly a year. Then, of course there were the three Terry Pratchett sections… You know how it goes. Speeding your way through your other books so you can reread the Johnny Maxwell books, and then Monstrous Regiment, and then Thief of Time. Thief of Time is weird, but good. And Monstrous Regiment is just brilliant all over, especially the part where Buggy the gnome drops a bag of coffee beans on Maladict. So there’s one reason for fangirling.

Then Maisy had a birthday party yesterday, and recieved Frozen. So also naturally, there has been much singing along with various songs.

The third reason for fangirling is a bit weird.

Sooooo….. A few years ago, Evelyn played a roleplay game with three other kids who were all (like her) homeschoolers with no friends and not much of a social life. It was a space travel roleplay. The thread died a couple years ago, because they were all starting or advancing through high school, and their respective parents thought they were spending a little too much time on the computer.

But the roleplay still didn’t want to die.

Evelyn and the other roleplayers still talk. Quite a lot. Hardly a day goes by when Evelyn says, “So Spock (a nickname for one of the roleplayers) and I have been talking about [random subject here]” And they write stories set in the roleplay universe, and imagine what would happen if the characters were spaceships or ponies, or come up with pairings and names for the pairings. Conversations like this usually provoke odd responses from the two boys in the little foursome.

nopenopenopenopenopenopenopenopenopenopenopenope

They seem to think that if they just say “Nope”, it will all go away. But I kind of took one of the Nope-provoking ideas and ran with it, resulting in writing my first piece of fanfiction. It’s awesome. It’s stupid. But I think I did an okay job with it. And I’m kind of pleased. And I’ve got another one in the works.  Their idea is: What would happen if Evelyn’s character became very disturbed and kind of psycho about a traumatic event in her past, went nuts, and tried to kill everyone else?

So, yeah. I’ve written what we’re calling GRIMDARK Eenie, and it’ll be interesting to see how it goes over. We’ll see. Either way, it’ll go over way better than my second one is going to. So far, it’s looking like the plot is that the characters, in a desperate First Contact move, chase evil aliens back in time to 1806 or thereabouts and run around Bath in Regency garb looking for the aliens so they can get rid of them. And of course, go to the pump-rooms and the upper/lower rooms and talk about the price of muslin in the process. It’s fun, and totally stupid. I guess this is my way of letting out some excess weird that might otherwise be used in knitting armies of fezzes and TARDISes.

So, yeah, anyway, that’s my news about the past while-ish. And now it’s out there that I’m a silly fanfic-writing fangirl. But, hey. Who cares? 🙂

-Eleanor

 
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Posted by on May 26, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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Yesterday I reenacted Moby Dick, with only one casualty!

And I have oddly mixed feelings about that casualty. I meant to type all this up yesterday, but Life and these obnoxious things called Siblings got in the way. 😛

 

Ahem.

Call me Eleanor. The day being a Monday, and the time having come for me to do my schoolwork, I was sitting on my bed subtracting a couple of decimals, when my eye drifted, and I saw upon my bookshelf headboard a most feared and dreadful sight:

Note: The author of this chronicle suffers from severe arachnophobia, and getting this picture off of Google made her start hyperventilating in about three seconds, so don’t laugh or judge, mm’kay?

Yes, a spider! Black it was, and furry-looking with horrid white marks across its cursed back. My mind immediately passed the word for the rest of me to get as far away from the horrible thing as possible. “Send everybody aft!” it cried, “Mast-heads there! Come down!” I threw my computer and notebook from my lap, and quickly took refuge behind a pair of scissors and a small blanket.

Yes, I’m a teenage girl. With hereditary arachnophobia.

I watched in horrified fascination at how quickly it moved and how unutterably gross it was as it scaled my bookshelf headboard, crossed the random groove that I’ve never known what’s for, but keep pens and pencils in. Then, clutching the scissors, a kind of maniacal panic came over me and I began to hyperventilate madly, and mutter to myself: “Ohmygosh. *deep breath* Ohmygosh. *deep breath* Ohmygosh. *deep breath*” Etc, etc, as the white-marked arachnid began to climb up Greenwitch. (http://books.google.com/books/about/Greenwitch.html?id=clk-PgAACAAJ This book, in case you aren’t familiar with it. Third in a series, absolutely wonderful.)

By the time it was halfway up, it had dealt me such an awful blow to my senses that I thought I might pass out. Then, as it crawled out of sight, I gathered my wits and my courage about me, steeled my resolve…

…and ran downstairs to find one of my siblings that isn’t scared of spiders. Unfortunately they were off looking for a sheep, so I was obliged to throw a couple pillowcases on my arms, grab my scissors and the broom, and go after the furry black devil myself. After poking at my headboard for a few minutes, Benjamin and Elizabeth showed up.

“All ye siblings have seen a black spider with white markings before, or heard of it, yes?”

“Yes,” they replied with a shudder of fear, as Elizabeth had had an encounter with the selfsame devil I had just now seen. “He moves uncommon fast,” said Benjamin, “And his markings follow an odd pattern of sorts, do they not, Eleanor?” Elizabeth added.

“Pattern!” Cried I, “Aye, Elizabeth, the markings maketh a pattern on him; aye, Benjamin, he moves extremely fast, like all the others of his kind we hath encountered before. Death and devils! men, it is Scurrying Dick ye hath seen, a spider which hath escaped the combined forces of the Vacuum, the Sneaker, and the Boot. It is Scurrying Dick we hunt, somewhere by my bed.”

“Pardon, Eleanor,” asked Benjamin, “Where was Scurrying Dick last seen?”

I pointed with my broom, and explained what I had seen, and swore to turn the room upside down, and the house, and the country, and round perdition’s flames searching for the spider, before I gave him up.

Grim-faced, we set to our task, first searching amongst the books scattered where he was last seen, and among the random flash drives and pens and stitch markers to no avail. Then we looked in the other two shelves, hoping to find it, and do away with this dreadful ordeal.

“Mind,” I said to my assistants, “call out the moment you see anything.”

But they did not see anything, and so we tore everything from the headboard, from the bed, and from the window sill and received nothing for our troubles but a pile of books and blankets. At last, I handed the broom to Elizabeth, hitched up my pillowcases, and pulled the bed away from the wall.

Nothing.

And still nothing when we pulled the headboard out and searched through the random sentimental crap I had stuffed back there.

Yes, I know. Nothing is gained by being a sentimental idiot.

We searched everywhere in chase of Scurrying Dick, but discovered only old tissues and a copy of the Hobbit and Dodger, that both miraculously escaped packing.

Finally, dismayed and discouraged, and dreading where it might turn up next, we put everything back in order. We put the books back, the sentimental crap, the pens and balls of yarn, and still did not find that most horrible of spiders.

BUT:

As I finished making the bed again, and was preparing to retrieve my laptop and finish subtracting those decimals that led to the half-hour of mad searching, my eye once again chanced to wander…

…And there he was, on the sheet of Evelyn’s unmade bed! Scurrying Dick! O, ye horrible miscreant, dost know how long we searched for thee? fearing ye, yet hoping to find ye that we may take your life, exact revenge for the bursts of fear and adrenaline you inflicted on us?

I raised my shoe-

Stomped!

Missed.

Stomped-

And the harpoon that was my foot hit its loathed target. I twisted my foot like a corkscrew a few times before raising it, and letting the corpse fall away, only a smear remaining on Evelyn’s sheet.

I grimaced, and picked up the corpse with a stray plastic bag that I have absolutely no idea why was there at that moment, and discarded it into the nearest trash can.

And thus was Scurrying Dick removed from this good green earth, leaving behind only a legacy of fear, a wish of mine to sterilize Greenwitch and Over Sea, Under Stone, and a smear on a sheet.

Don’t worry, Evelyn. Your sheet’s in the wash, and I swear upon… Something that it shall be returned to its rightful spot.

-Eleanor

 
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Posted by on May 20, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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