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Days I’m Planning to Celebrate or Observe in February

All of February: Letter-Writing Month. The challenge is to “mail at least one item through the post every day it runs. Write a postcard, a letter, send a picture, or a cutting from a newspaper, or a fabric swatch.” I want to do this with my girls. Such an encouragement to the people who receive a REAL letter or card in the mail.

February 2: Candlemas. We’re not Catholic, but it would be fun to light some candles and talk about how Jesus is the Light of the World. Like Mother, Like Daughter on Candlemas.

February 2: Groundhog Day. Check the weather. Watch the movie.

February 7: Charles Dickens’ Birthday. I will start reading Bleak House.

February 12: Abraham Lincoln’s birthday.

February 12: Shrove Tuesday. Pancakes or maybe beignets!

February 13: Betsy-Bee’s Birthday. My next-to-the-youngest baby will be 14 years old. How will we celebrate? Not sure. I know she wants to go to Fuddrucker’s.

February 13: Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent. For the past several years I have taken a blogging break during Lent. This year I’m thinking about “giving up” something different for Lent: sedentariness and prayerlessness. I think that for the forty days of Lent I will go for a daily walk and spend my walking time in prayer. How’s that for a lenten discipline? I’ll let you know how it goes. Observing Lent.

February 14: International Book Giving Day It’s also the day for announcing the winners of the Cybils Awards.

February 14: St. Valentine’s Day. Well, here are 100 suggestions for celebrating Valentine’s Day. I think we’ll listen to some love songs, watch a movie, make a few valentines for friends and strangers who need a little love.
I’m also planning to fill a large jar with Valentine candy, probably M and M’s, at the beginning of the month. Everyone in the family can have two guesses as to how many candies are in the jar. On Valentine’s Day we’ll open it and count. The one who guesses closest wins a prize–not the candy. We’ll share that!

February 18: President’s Day. Work on my Presidential Reading Project. Start reading either my Andrew Jackson book or my Harry Truman book. Hang out our U.S. flag for the day. President’s Day for Kids.

February 22: George Washington’s Birthday. We will read this poem, and maybe I’ll make something with cherries in it.

February 23: Purim begins at sundown. Purim takes place on the fourteenth and fifteenth days of Adar, the twelfth month of the Jewish calendar. I would like to have a family Purim party and read the book of Esther together.

February 27: Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s birthday. Read some Longfellow: maybe The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere or The Village Blacksmith or The Children’s Hour or The Wreck of the Hesperus or other poems by Longfellow. Post lines from Longfellow on Twitter and Facebook.

Love Twelve Miles Long by Glenda Armand

How long is a mother’s love for her son? Twelve miles long. Frederick’s mama must walk twelve long miles to visit her son who lives in slavery in the master’s Big House while his mother toils far way in the fields. Mama measures her journey in twelve miles of forgetting, remembering, listening, looking up, praying, singing, smiling, dancing, giving thanks, hoping, dreaming, and loving. And she tells Frederick the story of her twelve miles so that he will know who he is and how much she loves him.

Love Twelve Miles Long is illustrated with the beautiful paintings of artist Colin Bootman. In fact, here’s a link to a couple of desktop background illustrations from Love Twelve Miles Long. The story is based on stories from the 1820’s childhood of abolitionist, escaped slave, writer and public speaker Frederick Douglass. In his autobiography Douglass wrote that his mother taught him that he was not “only a child but somebody’s child.”

The love and encouragement of a parent, mother or father, can give a child confidence to rise above difficult circumstances and become more than his background would indicate that he can achieve. I can picture a mother and child reading this book together and using that reading as an expression of love and support.

Four brave employees from LEE & LOW BOOKS set out to see what it is like to walk twelve miles through the streets of New York City from Zuccotti Park to Frederick Douglass Circle in Harlem to the New York Public Library:

Mama had told him that there were things he could not count or measure: there were too many stars, the ocean was too wide, and the mountains of corn were too high. But there was one thing he could measure. Frederick knew with all his heart that his mama’s love was twelve miles long.

Unit studies and curriculum uses for Love Twelve Miles Long: Biography, Black History Month, Frederick Douglass, Family Traditions, Heroism, Mothers, Christian Heritage, Slavery, United States History.

100 Valentine Celebration Ideas at Semicolon.

Happy 200th Birthday to the Inimitable Boz

Happy Birthday, Mr. Dickens!

Born on this date in 1812, Mr. Dickens has been delighting readers for over 150 years.

Dickens Novels I’ve Read: David Copperfield, Oliver Twist, Nicholas Nickleby, A Tale of Two Cities, A Christmas Carol, Pickwick Papers, Great Expectations, Our Mutual Friend

DIckens Novels I Have Yet to Enjoy: Hard Times, Dombey and Son, Bleak House, The Old Curiosity Shop, Barnaby Rudge, Martin Chuzzlewit, Little Dorrit, The Mystery of Edwin Drood.

Favorite Dickens Hero: Pip, Great Expectations

Favorite Dickens Villain(ess): Madame Defarge, Tale of Two Cities

Favorite Tragic Scene: Mr. Peggotty searching for Littel Em’ly (Is that a scene or an episode?)

Favorite Comic Character: Mr. Micawber, David Copperfield

Favorite Comic Scene: Miss Betsy Trotter chasing the donkeys out of her yard, David Copperfield

Strangest Dickens Christmas Story We’ve Read: “The Poor Relation’s Story”

Best Dickens Novel I’ve Read: A Tale of Two Cities, David Copperfield is a close second.

Dickens-related posts at Semicolon:

LOST Reading Project: Our Mutual Friend by Charles DIckens.

Scrooge Goes to Church

Dickens Pro and Con on his Birthday.

Quotes and Links

Born February 7th

Charles Dickens by Jane Smiley

A Little More Dickens

Other DIckens-related links:
Mere Comments on Dickens’ Christianity.

A DIckens Filmography at Internet Film Database.

George Orwell: Essay on Charles DIckens.

Edgar Allan Poe Meets Charles Dickens.

An entire blog devoted to Mr. Dickens and his work: DIckensblog by Gina Dalfonzo.

And finally, here’s a re-post of my own Dickens Quiz. Can you match the quotation with the Dickens novel that it comes from?

1. “Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen nineteen and six, result happiness. Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pounds ought and six, result misery.”

2. “It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done; it is a far, far better rest that I go to, than I have ever known.”

3. “I would rather, I declare, have been a pig-faced lady, than be exposed to such a life as this!”

4. “It’s over and can’t be helped, and that’s one consolation as they always says in Turkey, ven they cuts the wrong man’s head off.”

5. “If the law supposes that,’ said Mr. Bumble, squeezing his hat emphatically in both hands, “the law is a ass–a idiot. If that’s the eye of the law, the law is a bachelor; and the worst I wish the law is, that his eye may be opened by experience–by experience.”

6. “I am as light as a feather, I am as happy as an angel, I am as merry as a school-boy. I am as giddy as a drunken man. A merry Christmas to every-body! A happy New Year to all the world! Hallo here! Whoop! Hallo!”

7. “We spent as much money as we could, and got as little for it as people could make up their minds to give us. We were always more or less miserable, and most of our acquaintance were in the same condition. There was a gay fiction among us that we were constantly enjoying ourselves, and a skeleton truth that we never did. To the best of my belief, our case was in the last aspect a rather common one.”

8. “It is a sensation not experienced by many mortals,” said he, “to be looking into a churchyard on a wild windy night, and to feel that I no more hold a place among the living than these dead do, and even to know that I lie buried somewhere else, as they lie buried here. Nothing uses me to it. A spirit that was once a man could hardly feel stranger or lonelier, going unrecognized among mankind, than I feel.”

(HINT: these come from the eight Dickens novels that I have read. Which is from which?)

Many Happy Returns: February 27th

The student has his Rome, his Florence, his whole glowing Italy, within the four walls of his library. He has in his books the ruins of an antique world and the glories of a modern one.”
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

American Authors of the 19th Century - Henry Wadsworth Longfellow




Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, b. 1807 (only five years after Victor Hugo).

It Is Not Always May:
“Maiden, that read’st this simple rhyme,
Enjoy thy youth, it will not stay ;
Enjoy the fragrance of thy prime,
For O ! it is not always May !”

Paul Revere’s Ride:
“In the hour of darkness and peril and need,
The people will waken and listen to hear
The hurrying hoof-beats of that steed,
And the midnight message of Paul Revere.”

Evangeline, A Tale of Arcadie:
“Fair was she to behold, that maiden of seventeen summers.
Black were her eyes as the berry that grows on the thorn by the way-side,
Black, yet how softly they gleamed beneath the brown shade of her tresses!”

Travels by the Fireside:
“Let others traverse sea and land,
And toil through various climes,
I turn the world round with my hand
Reading these poets’ rhymes.”

The Children’s Hour:
“Between the dark and the daylight,
When the night is beginning to lower,
Comes a pause in the day’s occupations,
That is known as the Children’s Hour.”
*Why is it that the Children’s Hour lasts all evening at my house?

Excelsior:
And from the sky, serene and far,
A voice fell like a falling star,
Excelsior!

The Wreck of the Hesperus:
He wrapped her warm in his seaman’s coat
Against the stinging blast;
He cut a rope from a broken spar,
And bound her to the mast.

The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere:
“So through the night rode Paul Revere;
And so through the night went his cry of alarm
To every Middlesex village and farm, —
A cry of defiance and not of fear,
A voice in the darkness, a knock at the door,
And a word that shall echo forevermore!”

What The Heart of the Young Man Said to the Psalmist:
“Tell me not, in mournful numbers,
Life is but an empty dream!
For the soul is dead that slumbers,
and things are not what they seem.
Life is real! Life is earnest!
And the grave is not its goal;
Dust thou art; to dust returnest,
Was not spoken of the soul.”

A little inspiration from from Mr. Longfellow on his 203rd birthday.

Don’t forget to send me yor list of 10 favorite classic poems for the survey in April, National Poetry Month. More details here.

Many Happy Returns: February 16th

Henry Adams, b. 1838. He was the grandson of one president and the great-grandson of another. Numbered among his many friends were Lincoln’s private secretary John Hay, Henry Cabot Lodge, Theodore Roosevelt, geologist Clarence King, Senators Lucius Lamar and James Cameron, artist John La Farge, and writer Edith Wharton. His most famous work was an autobiography written in third person, The Education of Henry Adams. (online here) He also wrote and published many books about his extensive travels and about history.

The difference is slight, to the influence of an author, whether he is read by five hundred readers, or by five hundred thousand; if he can select the five hundred, he reaches the five hundred thousand.

LeVar Burton, b. 1957. Star and executive producer of the PBS series Reading Rainbow. We used to watch a lot of Reading Rainbow, and I still have quite a few episodes on videotape. Mr. Burton also starred as Geordie in Star Trek: The Next Generation, and he got his start as Kunta Kinte in the mini-series Roots, based on the book by the same name. How many of you read Roots when it was a best-seller, about thirty years ago? I remember it as a good story, and it won a Pulitzer Prize in 1976. However, in 1978 Mr. Haley was sued for plagiarizing several passages in his book from a book called The African by Harold Courlander. Haley admitted that he did copy Courlander’s work “unintentionally,” and the suit was settled out of court for $650,000.
It was still a good story, and Mr. Burton started a fine career with it. Thanks to Roots and its success as a TV-miniseries, we have Reading Rainbow, a good deal if you ask me.
“But you don’t have to take my word for it.”
Reading Rainbow Official website.
On January 29, 2007, LeVar Burton announced that he had made his last episode of Reading Rainbowand that he was retiring, citing a difference in vision with the new owners of the show. “Their vision was not in alignment with what I stand for,” he said.

Many Happy Returns: February 13th

Eleanor Farjeon, b. 1881. Click on her name to read a little more about her life and her poetry.

Grant Wood, b. 1892. American artist born near Anamosa, Iowa.

Georges Simenon,, b. 1903. He was a Belgian-born author of detective fiction. Many of his books feature the Parisian detective, Inspector Maigret. Has anyone read these books? I think I tried one a long time ago, and it seemed that it lost something in the translation. But maybe not.

IMG_0201
Betsy-Bee, b. 1999. She’s a joy and a wonder, Miss Fashion, full of life, our Funny Little Gypsy Girl.

President’s Day for Kids

Monday, February 15th is Presidents’ Day, so I thought I’d re-run this list with a few additions. Have a happy holiday!

Leetla Giorgio Washeenton by Thomas Augustine Daly.

More Washington Poetry.

O Captain My Captain by Walt Whitman.

White House site with mini-biographies of all 44 U.S. Presidents.

More information on the Presidents for President’s Day.

Recommended Children’s Books about the Presidents:

The Buck Stops Here by Alice Provensen.

So You Want to be President? by Judith St. George and David Small.

Lives of the Presidents: Fame, Shame (and What the Neighbors Thought) by Kathleen Krull.

A Book of Americans by Rosemary Carr and Stephen Vincent Benet.

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the White House: Foolhardiness, Folly, and Fraud in the Presidential Elections, from Andrew Jackson to George W. Bush by David E. Johnson.

George Washington and the Founding of a Nation by Albert Marrin.

George Washington’s World by Genevieve Foster.

George Washington’s Breakfast by Jean Fritz.

Dangerous Crossing: The Revolutionary Voyage of John and John Quincy Adams by Stephen Krensky.

John Adams: Young Revolutionary by Jan Adkins. (Childhood of Famous Americans series)

Abigail Adams: Girl of Colonial Days by Jean Brown Wagoner. (Childhood of Famous Americans series)

A Picture Book of Thomas Jefferson by David A. Adler.

The Great Little Madison by Jean Fritz.

Young John Quincy by Cheryl Harness.

Old Hickory: Andrew Jackson and the American People by Albert Marrin.

William Henry Harrison, Young Tippecanoe by Howard Peckham. (Young Patriots series)


Lincoln: A Photobiography by Russell Freedman

Lincoln Shot: A President’s Life Remembered
 by Barry Denenberg.

Chasing Lincoln’s Killer by James Swanson.

Abraham Lincoln for Kids: His Life and Times with 21 Activities by Janis Herbert.

If You Grew Up With Abraham Lincoln by Ann McGovern.

Unconditional Surrender: U. S. Grant and the Civil War by Albert Marrin.

Bully For You, Teddy Roosevelt by Jean Fritz

The Great Adventure: Theodore Roosevelt and the Rise of Modern America by Albert Marrin.

Eleanor Roosevelt: A Life of Discovery by Russell Freedman.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt by Russell Freedman.

Dwight D. Eisenhower: Young Military Leader by George E. Stanley.(Childhood of Famous Americans series)

Kennedy Assassinated! The World Mourns: A Reporter’s Story by Wilborn Hampton.

Ronald Reagan: Young Leader by Montrew Dunham. (Childhood of Famous Americans series)

Many Happy Returns: February 9th

Hilda Gerarda van Stockum was born in Rotterdam in 1908. She grew up in Ireland and in the Netherlands. Her brother, Willem van Stockum, was a mathematician and disciple of Albert Einstein. He was “the first to notice the possibility of closed timelike curves, one of the strangest and most disconcerting phenomena in general relativity.” (I don’t know what that means exactly, but it does sound rather LOST-like, doesn’t it?) Willem died in combat a few days after the Normandy invasion.

The author’s first children’s book, A Day on Skates, won Newbery honors in 1935. Her aunt, the poet Edna St. VIncent Millay, wrote a preface to this story of a Dutch picnic, saying, “This is a book which mothers and fathers will sit up to finish, after the protesting child has been dragged firmly to bed.”

Ms. Van Stockum wrote two series of children’s stories: one set in Ireland about the O’Sullivan family and another set in the U.S. and Canada about the Mitchells, a family growing together and enduring the hardships of the homefront during World War II. Here’s my review of Pegeen, one of the books in the O’Sullivan family series. I found the book at ratty old thrift store in Pasadena, and knowing nothing of the book or its author, I took a twenty-five cent chance. Good call.

Many Happy Returns: February 8th

On February 8, 1577, English scholar Robert Burton, was born in Leicestershire. He spent most of his life at Oxford University, first as a student, then as vicar of St. Thomas Church in Oxford.

Burton was a mathematician who had an interest in astrology, and he suffered from depression, or melancholy as it was called in those times, for much of his life. One of his attempted self-cures for his depression was to go down to the bridge at Oxford and listen to the barge men “scold and storm and swear at one another.” Hearing such nonsense reportedly made Mr. Burton laugh uproariously.

In another attempt at treating himself out of his depressive episodes, Burton wrote his most famous book, The Anatomy of Melancholy. A few quotations therefrom:

“I had a heavy heart and an ugly head, a kind of impostume in my head, which I was very desirous to be unladen of.”

“Why doth one man’s yawning make another yawn?” (Yes, why doth it?)

“I may not here omit those two main plagues and common dotages of human kind, wine and women, which have infatuated and besotted myriads of people; they go commonly together.”

“Much may be done in those little shreds and patches of time, which every day produces, and which most men throw away, but which nevertheless will make at the end of it no small deduction for the life of man.”

“I am enough of an artist to draw freely upon my imagination. Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world.”

“Aristotle said . . . ‘melancholy men of all others are most witty.'”

Vicar Burton was “most witty,” and I think I’ll add his Anatomy to my TBR list.
Some famous and learned men were fans:

Charles Lamb, the sixteenth/seventeenth century essayist whose birthday is to celebrated soon on the 10th of February: “”I don’t know if you ever dipt into Burton’s Anatomy. His manner is to shroud and carry off his feelings under a cloud of learned words.”

About Samuel Johnson in Boswell’s Life: “Burton’s Anatomy of Melancholy, he said, was the only book that ever took him out of bed two hours sooner than he wished to rise.”

Other birthdays on February 8th.

Many Happy Returns: February 7th

Born on this date in 1812, Mr. Dickens has been delighting readers for over 150 years.

Dickens Novels I’ve Read: David Copperfield, Oliver Twist, Nicholas Nickleby, A Tale of Two Cities, A Christmas Carol, Pickwick Papers, Great Expectations, Our Mutual Friend

DIckens Novels I Have Yet to Enjoy: Hard Times, Dombey and Son, Bleak House, The Old Curiosity Shop, Barnaby Rudge, Martin Chuzzlewit, Little Dorrit, The Mystery of Edwin Drood.

Favorite Dickens Hero: Pip, Great Expectations

Favorite Dickens Villain(ess): Madame Defarge, Tale of Two Cities

Favorite Tragic Scene: Mr. Peggotty searching for Little Em’ly (Is that a scene or an episode?)

Favorite Comic Character: Mr. Micawber, David Copperfield

Favorite Comic Scene: Miss Betsy Trotter chasing the donkeys out of her yard, David Copperfield

Strangest Dickens Christmas Story We’ve Read: “The Poor Relation’s Story”

Best Dickens Novel I’ve Read: A Tale of Two Cities, David Copperfield is a close second.

Dickens-related posts at Semicolon:

LOST Reading Project: Our Mutual Friend by Charles DIckens.

Scrooge Goes to Church

Dickens Pro and Con on his Birthday.

Quotes and Links

Born February 7th

Charles Dickens by Jane Smiley

A Little More Dickens

Advanced Reading Survey: Nicholas Nickleby.

Other DIckens-related links:
Mere Comments on Dickens’ Christianity.

A DIckens Filmography at Internet Film Database.

George Orwell: Essay on Charles DIckens.

Edgar Allan Poe Meets Charles Dickens.

Amy is reading A Tale of Two Cities at Hope Is the Word.

An entire blog devoted to Mr. Dickens and his work: DIckensblog by Gina Dalfonzo.

And I have a new Dickens quiz for all you Dickens lovers. (No one did so well on last year’s quiz, perhaps because I offered no prizes.)

Can you match the quotation with the book from which it is taken?

1. “If you could say, with truth, to your own solitary heart, to-night, ‘I have secured to myself the love and attachment, the gratitude or respect, of no human creature; I have won myself a tender place in no regard; I have done nothing good or serviceable to be remembered by!’ your seventy-eight years would be seventy-eight heavy curses; would they not?”

2. “How does the world go? I’ll tell you what,” he added, in a lower tone, “I shouldn’t wish it to be mentioned, but it’s a -” here he beckoned to me, and put his lips close to my ear – “it’s a mad world. Mad as Bedlam, boy!”

3. Persons don’t make their own faces, and it’s no more my fault if mine is a good one than it is other people’s fault if theirs is a bad one.

4. “Don’t ask any questions. It’s always best on these occasions to do what the mob do.”
“But suppose there are two mobs?” suggested Mr. S.
“Shout with the largest,” replied Mr. P.
Volumes could not have said more.

5. There are books of which the backs and covers are by far the best parts.

Anyone who leaves answers in the comments will receive a visit from yours truly to your blog, a thank you for participating, and a link in a future post. It’s a mad world, but we can always decide to shout with the largest mob.