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Grizzly Mama

There's a Grizzly who has escaped the City of Brotherly Love..(and she's going back to homeschooling!!)

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Location: Out of Philly, Pennsylvania, United States

"All who have meditated on the art of governing mankind have been convinced that the fate of empires depends on the education of youth." Aristotle - Greek Philosopher.

Saturday, June 23, 2007


I have just finished reading 2 books. I had been working on the first for several weeks and not making much headway due to exhaustion. I, not very wisely, started the book in the midst of our end of schoolyear crunch - and as my only chance to read is before falling to sleep - well. Let's just say that I read the same half-page every night and then woke up several hours later sitting up with the book still in my lap and my reading glasses still perched on the end of my little nose. This happened every night for quite some time - until - - until -- swim team practice started. While the girls were swimming laps I saw the perfect opportunity to read. Now I'm smokin' through those books and I'm going to tell you what I think. I loved them and recommend them heartily!

The first was The Last Kingdom (The Saxon Chronicles Series #1, by Bernard Cornwell.

The second was The Pale Horseman (The Saxon Chronicles Series #2), also by Bernard Cornwell.

This is historical fiction, set in 9th and 10th Century England. It is the story of King Alfred the Great and his defense of Wessex from Viking invasion. Several of the characters did, in fact, really exist. Ivar the Boneless, Ubba, Halfdan, Guthrum, Asser, Alfred and his nephew Athelwold, aldorman Odda and others. The main character, Uhtred, is fictional.

In the first book, Uhtred of Bebbanburg (Bamburgh Castle) is a young boy in Northumbria. When he is 10 he is captured by the Dane, Ragnar, in a battle in which Uhtred's father is killed. (The 'Danes' are not referred to as 'Vikings' in the book. Sometimes 'Northmen' or 'Pagans' are used. Viking is a verb that means 'raiding'.) He is raised by the Danes and looks to Ragnar as a father and truly Ragnar loves him as a son - unlike Uhtred's dead father who never showed love to his son while he was alive.

When Uhtred grows up he is not quite sure where his loyalty lies. Back and forth he goes a couple of times between King Alfred - who is not the most likeable fellow - and Ragnar's surviving son. Also called Ragnar. Uhtred has never forgotten his home in Bebbanburg and vows to have it back, but as a freeman, no gift from the Danes. I think it's his evil Uncle who took over in Bebbanburg and it appears that Uhtred will have to face this nasty man - and probably fight him - in order to take back his birthright one day. In any case - he's in the south now.

The second book starts after the battle in which Uhtred, fighting on the side of King Alfred, defeats Ubba Lothbrokson, a formidable foe. Many leaders in the North have submitted to the invading Danes and pledged loyalty to them in exchange for their lives and the illusion of being left in power. King Alfred has refused. Alfred is a skinny, weak and sickly man who does not like Uhtred but realizes in the end that the Uhtreds of the world are the ones who fight and win the battles. Uhtred refuses to give up his Pagan beliefs, much to Alfred's dismay. Anyhoo - Alfred and his family end up hiding in the swamps of Aethelingaeg. (Athelney near Taunton.) They have been driven there by the Danes and are in a desperate situation. Uhtred finds himself there with a British sorceress as his companion. He was pretty much forced into marriage with 'Mildrith' who has a young son by him. He has left them behind after tiring of the farming life - plus, it was time to go a'viking!

Alfred rallies in the swamp and decides to stay and fight even though others are trying to persuade him to get on a boat and get somewhere else, and fast! You have to give Alfred credit - weenie though he may appear, he had the stuff to gather the forces and make a stand. The book ends with the Battle of Ethandun (Edington, Wiltshire). The noble King and his strong, if unseemly, fighters win against all odds. Svein, the Dane on the white horse, and the Danish armies led by Guthrum and assembled against the Anglo-Saxons, are thoroughly routed.

The descriptions of the battles, behind the 'shield wall', are riveting and brutal. I am half tempted to draw my own weapon and go dancing in that space between 2 armies with Uhtred, taunting and tempting and threatening. The bloodlust is there, buried. Perhaps I have a few drops of the Danish blood in me. I am of Cornish and Irish descent, afterall. The Cornish were able to repel the 'Vikings' - but they made some good headway in Ireland.

I see now that there is a 3rd book in the Series: 'Lords of the North'. Perhaps Uhtred finally finds his way home. I'll be reading that next.

Would you like to go A'Viking with me?

Friday, June 22, 2007

Aesop's Fable Friday

The Dogs and the Fox

Some Dogs once found a lion's skin, and were worrying it with their teeth.

Just then a Fox came by and said, "You think yourselves very brave, no doubt; but if that were a live lion you'd find his claws a good deal sharper than your teeth."

Moral of the story: It's easy to fight someone who can't fight back.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

'Conservatism With Heart' Radio Show

Our very own Little Miss Chatterbox, homeschooling mother extraordinaire, conservative woman in Middle America, is now hosting a radio show. Click on title link and be instantly transported to a time and place in which you will be enabled to partake of her wit and wisdom.

I am late - as usual. Grizzly Mama apologizes and has no excuse, other than to say that I am ALWAYS late. Atleast 5 minutes, usually. This time I am an unforgiveable complete and total day late.

Our other very own Skye has desribed Miss Chatterbox's radio show as 'Candy For the Mind.' Indeed.

Congratulations Little Miss Chatterbox. You go girl!


Friday, June 15, 2007

Aesop's Fable Friday

The Stag and the Vine

A Stag, pursued by huntsmen, concealed himself under cover of a thick Vine. The hunters lost track of him and passed by his hiding place without being aware that he was anywhere near.

Supposing all danger to be over, he presently began to browse on the leaves of the Vine. The movement drew the attention of the returning huntsmen, and one of them, supposing some animal to be hidden there, shot an arrow into the foliage.

The unlucky Stag was pierced to the heart. As he expired he said, "I deserve my fate for my treachery in feeding upon the leaves of my protector."

Moral of the story: Ingratitude sometimes brings its own punishment.

Time Trials

The girls had their time trials for swim team today. My oldest's freestyle stroke is just beautiful. Perfect, really. The youngest did well for her first time, except for the fact that she stopped half-way down her lane to wave to me while the timer was running. Everyone laughed. The little kids are a scream to watch - they're adorable in there flailing around trying to make their arms and legs work properly. God bless 'em. They do get it after a bit.


Troll and I did it - we painted the kitchen, dining room and living room. Walls, ceilings and woodwork. Grizzly Mama does the prep, Troll does the cutting and rolling on the walls and ceilings. I also get to do most of the woodwork. I DESPISE painting. I am too impatient. It's something that needs to be done slowly and carefully. I also usually end up tripping into the paintpan atleast once. The bathroom is being finished up by Good Neighbor Leftist and then this puppy is going on the market. Oh! I forgot! The radiators need to be touched up as well. That will be my job.

Clutter Control

It's called Throw It Out. I managed to get a HUGE bit of it done before we painted. Many, many lawn and leaf bags full of crap were taken with the bulk trash pickup. The school materials and the doll furniture are in the storage bin. The house looks so large! I have a lot of work left to do though. I'm tired thinking of it. The bedrooms and the basement/garage must be cleared out and de-cluttered as well as the closets. The girls' rooms are a fright and they never want to throw ANYTHING away.

Happy Fathers Day to whom the wish may apply!

Thursday, June 07, 2007

School's Out For Summer!

"Out for summer
Out till fall
We might not go back at all"

The Grizzly Cubs worked their butts off and finished everything up yesterday. You just know old Grizzly Mama was working her butt off, too.

Troll and I were able to take Skye up on her invitation to the IVC First Wednesday meeting. We didn't scare anyone off this time! Perhaps that's because we were late and missed the food. I think the more likely reason is that we met a really fine group of people who had no problem discussing differing viewpoints. If we can't disagree and still have a good time, then I'm leaving! Well - we had a great time and barely got home in time to relieve the babysitter.
Photo courtesy Skye at Ancora Imparo.

Thank you so much for inviting us, Skye!

Friday, June 01, 2007

Aesop's Fable Friday

The Lamb Chased by a Wolf

A Wolf was chasing a Lamb, which took refuge in a temple. The Wolf urged it to come out, and said, "If you don't, the priest is sure to catch you and offer you up in sacrifice on the altar." To which the Lamb replied, "Thanks, but I think I'll stay where I am: I'd rather be sacrificed any day than be eaten up by a Wolf!"

Moral of the story: Advice from the greedy is best ignored.

My girls are water rats - swim practice started Tuesday for the summer swim team. An hour of laps every single day. Those girls are tired at the end of the day! We've been full steam on school as well - finishing up Math, Science and History for the 1st grader - Math, Science, Grammar, Vocabulary, Composition, Literature, for the 5th grader. The little one has two days of Phonics and Language Arts left and the older one has 2 days of History and Spelling left. Wooooo-doggy! We've all been busting our butts.

I always enjoy the girls' lessons - especially history as my experience of it in school was very dry and boring. History is actually quite fascinating - did you know that?! lol. We're finishing up the year with the Civil War for the 5th grader. We've been using A History of the US, by Joy Hakim, all year. Not at all dry OR boring. Both girls have enjoyed listening to the chapters being read out loud..by yours truly. When I had too much laundry to fold, or needed to be tending the grilled cheese sandwiches, the older would read aloud. This set of books lands squarely in the 'Recommended by Grizzly' column.

This summer we will be fleshing out the Civil War aspect of US History by watching the PBS Civil War DVD 5 pack, which both Troll and I agree has to be one of the best uses of the media EVER! We were lucky enough to get this set from his sister as a Christmas present and YES, it was on our list!

Well - we have a couple of days off. Fun in the sun, with some house work/yard work thrown in for a dash of excitement. Have a great weekend!