Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Rings and Things

Hugh wanted me to add the above picture to show his perfect poise. 

I've been teaching a little history class to my kids and a few friends. Their mum, in return, has been teaching science. It's been totally fabulous to outsource some learning, and I love the weekly discipline of presenting a class. I miss teaching. 

Here's one of the little history projects they did for our Ancient Mesopotamia study:
Built the Code of Hammurabi out of cardboard and black paint and, when they ran out of black paint, charcoal. It was a beautiful cooperative effort.

They carefully copied the image from the top of the famous stele. Hammurabi is receiving his right to rule from the god Shamash. Then they copied it by eye with white oil pastel.

 Each child came up with ten rules for the house which must be written on the stele and obeyed. The Code commands that if we spill the compost, we must pick it up with our teeth, if we do not eat our vegetables, we must eat more dessert...

Below, Hugh and Kai demonstrate how the Code came to be: Hammurabi spake, and it was written.

I read aloud the fabulous, juicily poetic children's version of the Epic of Gilgamesh, Gilgamesh the Hero by Geraldine McCaughrean. I highly recommend it! It was the basis for the most entertaining and philosophical conversations we've ever had about life, death, immortality, love, friendship, grief, courage. And it really is an exciting story.

The author muffs up the character of Siduri, the wine seller at the edge of the world. Siduri, in my opinion, holds the key to Gilgamesh's quest. In McCaughrean's version Siduri is a fat, tipsy buffoon who doesn't care about lofty quests for immortality. I went to the original epic to find the real Siduri, whose wisdom unlocks the problem of Gilgamesh's obsession with immortality.

               When the gods created man
               they alloted to him death,
               but life they retained in their own keeping.
               As for you, Gilgamesh,
               fill your belly with good things;
               day and night, night and day, dance and be merry,
               feast and rejoice.
               Let your clothes be fresh,
               bathe yourself in water,
               cherish the little child that holds your hand,
               and make your wife happy in your embrace;
               for this too is the lot of man.

Immortality might be outside of our grasp in this life, but the present moment can be luminous—this too is the lot of man!


  1. This is great Mary! I always found classes with friends to be the most memorable part of homeschooling.

  2. Oh Mary, this is so awesome and fun!!!! How great!

  3. patricia harman cnmFebruary 25, 2016 at 8:19 PM

    Hi Mary, You are me from another generation. I happened on your blog because I'm an author about to self publish a children's book, ages 8-12 (or read aloud family book).
    In the 1970s and 80s we lived in a log house that we built, grew all our own food and home schooled for awhile and then I went back to college to become a nurse midwife. Now I'm retired and an author of mostly adult books, novels and memoirs published by HarperCollins and Beacon press. Why I was googling Flying Squirrels is that when I publish my kid's book, I wanted to use Flying Squirrel Editions as the name of my publishing house. AND there you were. I still think I will use it. We live in a conventional house now, but we are pretty sure we have a flying squirrel in the wall of our bedroom. You can read more about me at my website. I would like to send you a free copy of Arms Wide Open: A midwives journey because I think you would like it. ALSO, we have a vacation cottage on Pelee Island, Ontario and I notice you live in Ontario.
    Keep the faith, Patsy (Patricia Harman)

  4. Hi Patsy, thanks for your sweet comment! It is indeed a wonderful lifestyle for children. Midwives have a special place in my heart because my five babes and I experienced such wonderful care before, during, and after our home births. It's a remarkable vocation. I would love to read your book! You can contact me at marytpemberton (at) gmail (dot) com. We've never been to Pelee Island, but of course we love the wine. All the best with your children's book. My father was a self publisher for many years and I know it's a big step. Blessings. Mary