Wednesday, January 21, 2009


Today was one of those days that made my head spin. We started off at the two animal shelters where we volunteer. We were delighted that there were hardly any animals at the first shelter, the adoption rate has been very high this month. We snuggled some goofy ferrets and then moved on. The second shelter was full of kitties, Evie was asked to remove matted fur from a little one who is scheduled for adoption this weekend--only Evie could yank on a cat that much and so gently that the cat just lolled in her lap drooling and purring. We got to see a few dogs being spayed too.

We got home to what I thought was going to be an ordinary afternoon. We have been playing with magic squares, so for fun I gave Evie the formula for a 3x3. She made one then transformed it into two others using rotational symmetry (I didn't know what it was called until I looked up what she had already done and why it worked!) Then we started plugging in other numbers for the variable "n" in the formula. When we tried "2" one of the squares ended up with a negative number. I swear I saw Evie's brain shoot off fireworks. We must have encountered negative numbers somewhere because she knew just what to do. We kept making new squares with increasingly smaller numbers, turns out it is no longer magic below positive 2. Of course we had to experiment with all negative numbers, big and small. We found some ridiculously interesting patterns and we could both hardly write fast enough. Then we started multiplying things and Evie asked what happens when you multiply two negatives together. Something told her that was an unusual case. I drew a quick number line and explained with some help from baby Steven. Two hours later we looked up and went, "WOW!" It was so fun.

The evening was spent working on a board game based on Greek myths. Evie made a proto-type board game using Tux Paint (opensource drawing software that we LOVE). We then wrote pages and pages of notes on the object of the game, how play proceeds, questions for the game etc. It was fun to pass the notebook back and forth and really work on it together. Our brains got tired after awhile so we came to a good stopping point and decided to put it away unil tomorrow. "Can we work on it for several hours tomorrow?" Evie asked. I love that!

We watched a really strange animated version of the first three of Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales. I had a really interesting conversation with a good friend about the whole genre of "knights and castles" fantasy literature, Arthurian stuff included. She dislikes it all because of the very rigid social class system where birth determines fate. She grew up in a country where that was true (India) and observing it in real life made her angry and want to change it. She commented that the US might be the only country where that kind of class system has never been an (overt) actual part of the country's history. I admit I felt a little guilty for liking this genre of writing so much because I totally understand what she is saying. I don't want to support that kinds of real class system either. I asked Evie what she liked about those kinds of stories, she replied that "they were all pretend." We talked about India and American history. Evie went on to say that she liked stories where the hero/heroine is unlikely, determined (personally, not by an outside force), and must make his/her way through adversity with brains more than magical help. We talked about poetry and social commentary and what the big deal was with Chaucer. She got her Middle English dictionary the other day so that came out for awhile too.

All to say that a lot of things happened today. We just lived our lives and followed our interests. It took us in so many different directions I had to write it all down. Thanks for reading!


Carolyn said...

I love that genre too -- one of my all time favorites Marion Zimmer Bradley's "The Mists of Avalon" -- and Sabine loves the movies "Enchanted" and "Ella Enchanted" and more recently "The Princess Bride" -- oh and she loved "Men in Tights" when it was a free "on demand" movie...We've also read Parzival, and some other books (blanking out now...) we like talking about that time period...and how glad we are to live now!

Lynch Family said...

"Mists of Avalon" is one of my all-time favorite books too. I have to say I usually use that as my "true" reference point so I often think (when reading other versions), "Oh, they have that all wrong!" "Ella Enchanted" is one of our favorites too, Evie loves the author (Gail Carson Levine) and has read almost all her books. We also like "Ever After." So much good discussion!