Weekend Update: New Classes, Rain, Deacons, etc

A. Agreed to teach some 8th and 9th graders history this upcoming school year. It will be weird: some outdoor, socially distanced in person classes, some zoom, all mixed: since nobody will be required to be there in the flesh, we’ll almost certainly need to set every class up as a zoom meeting. Sigh.

A couple of very energetic Catholic homeschooling moms are behind setting up a new ‘hybrid’ school, where homeschoolers, once they reach the point where the topics to be studied do, in fact, require more expertise and time than they have to give, they have more formal classes the kids can take.

This point has been determined to be about 8th grade, which seems about right, for many kids, at least. Around that age, a lot of kids get a switch thrown, where their minds now function as adults minds, minus adult level experience. So I will be introducing them to what would have been a typical college-level approach to learning 100 years ago. and, indeed, what a college prep high school age kid would have experienced in the not so distant past: formal – we will call each other Mr. or Miss Lastname; an hour or more a week will be ‘seminar’ style; more time spent preparing for class than in class; very little slack for tardiness or inattention; regular short essays; selected reading from the classics.

The other part of this, consistent with my unschooling attitude: I’m not forcing anybody to do anything. I will do zero threats or cajoling. You want to be there and learn? Then here’s what is required. You show up prepared and on time, and hand in the assignments on time. Or you do something else. No hard feelings.

8th grade runs from prehistory through the Roman Republic; 9th grade from the Empire to the Black Death. With forays into the rest of world history – China, India, Africa, etc. As I have long said, understanding other cultures requires you understand your own, we’ll start with and emphasize our own.

We start in September. As it stands: Four 8th graders, 7 9th graders. Two 90 minute classes a week for each group, meeting Tuesdays and Thursdays, about 90 minutes each. One is more lecture/talk with the students. I’ll assign very short essays every few weeks, and teach them by example how to write figure out what they mean to say, and say it (yea, like I know how to do that).

I have a ton of work to do. Prayers would be appreciated.

B. Highs have been over 100F here for the last 4 days, and is predicted to remain above 100F for 4 more. This morning, was awakened around 6:00 a.m. by long, rumbling thunder, went outside to take a look. Beautiful orange skies, thunder in the distance, rainbow, light rain – very beautiful. For the last 3 hours, thunderstorms have rolled through the Bay Area. Tiny amount of rain – .03″ near hear, a quarter inch at higher elevations. But any rain at all is a surprise.

Hot, sweaty weather with thunderstorms? We seemed to have moved to Texas without leaving California. Average rainfall in August here is some tiny fraction of an inch. In a typical year it doesn’t rain at all from June through August.

Very unusual weather. In a week, we went from an unusually cool and windy summer with the threat of an early fall, to an unusually hot and nasty stretch. My peaches had just begun to ripen in mid-August – very late, should have been over in July. With this weather, will be picking everything over the next few days. We only have 2 small peach trees, and one is evidently taking this season off. But still.

C. Speaking of the front yard orchard:

Figs amidst rain-soaked leaves.

Citrus and morning glories.
Wider shot of the damp front yard orchard & vegetable garden.

D. An old friend, our late son Andrew’s godfather, was ordained a permanent deacon yesterday. Archbishop Cordeleone celebrated the ordination mass down the peninsula at St. Pius X parish in Redwood City, because of the on-going persecution of the Church in San Francisco. In San Mateo County, where St. Pius X is located, you can do an outdoor mass of up to something like 100 people, if masks and social distancing are enforced, and names and addresses are collected for possible contract tracing. So we had a much smaller crowd than would otherwise have been there. Each candidate for the deaconate could only have 9 ‘guests’ including his family.

The Cathedral in San Francisco, where this should have happened, seats thousands – you could put a few hundred people in there with everybody spaced 20′ apart, let alone 6′. Instead, we had to submit to humiliation rituals, and have a mass in 90F+ temperatures, with the sun beating down on the soon-to-be-ordained men – the way the various canopies and umbrellas were arranged, those poor men had to sit in the sun for about an hour. (Once ordained, they got to join the clergy in the shade.)

It was beautiful. I love and am so grateful for Archbishop Cordeleone. Good man, suffering mightily for his flock.

This COVID nonsense needs to stop.

D. I’m going to be very busy. Posts will probably be sporadic. More than usual, I mean.

E. A moment ago, huge very near thunder bolt shook the ground and set off car alarms. Rumbled for what seemed like forever. Got a couple minutes of decent rain.

Author: Joseph Moore

Enough with the smarty-pants Dante quote. Just some opinionated blogger dude.

14 thoughts on “Weekend Update: New Classes, Rain, Deacons, etc”

  1. As a homeschooling parent of two kids who have benefited immensely from history classes very similar to what you are doing, taught by a very gifted mother (-not me!-), I applaud your commitment to these history classes! I know your students will be tremendously blessed by them.

    And as a resident of NC, what’s with you guys taking the storm and sending us the earthquake??

    God’s blessings to you, Mr. Yard Sale. 🙂

    1. Hey! Don’t blame us! And, just as we Californians freak out over storms that y’all wouldn’t notice, a 2.9 quake would even get a comment out here.

      We just did a outdoor mass under a set of metal awnings while thunderclouds roiled overhead, and wore masks, because a theoretical reduction in risk totally outweighs getting struck by lightning.

      1. I bring it up in comments and it’s a running theme in the background of what I say, but I’ll refrain from a full post on it but will say I’m grateful beyond words to have this job.

  2. That’s fantastic! One of the more fun things I did my 8th grade year was a literature seminar that met at the local library. Maybe five of us? I don’t think our prof. was even getting paid– strictly voluntary. It was great!

    We had figs in the spring… and then they fell off the trees before they got ripe. 😦 But now, they are giving it another try! Congrats on your figs. I really hope ours make it to ripe this time. We just planted the trees this year, and I was not really expecting any, but now that the little baby figs are there, I’m really hoping… It is the rainy season here, and we have been having thunderstorms almost every day. Tough gig for someone who dries everything on the clothesline…

    1. Thanks. Hope I’m up to it.

      Figs typically produce a ‘breba’ crop, which are early, fewer but larger figs produced on last years’ new growth just as spring breaks; then they do their main crop on this year’s new growth a few months later. Sometimes, our tree tries to get yet a third crop in, but these have never ripened before winter.

      So what you’re seeing is your main crop. First year, I wouldn’t get too excited – the tree should spend its energy getting established anyway, so first year is often meager if you even get one. Year 3 is when things should kick in.

      One thing: if you prune your tree this winter, you might want to leave some of this year’s new growth just to get the breba crop.

      1. Fascinating! I’ve never had figs before, so it’s all new to me. I will not be pruning at all this winter, because both trees are still so small! They were maybe 30-inch sticks when we planted them. Now they are sticks with leaves! I’m just glad they survived.

  3. Joseph
    Congrats on the teaching the class. Sound it’ll be very interesting and the students will benefit from it


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