Monday, December 26, 2011

Merry Christmas

Well, it has been awhile since I updated this blog, so here is what has been happening in my life. First off, Merry Christmas, and happy holidays! I hope everyone had a wonderful day yesterday, and are enjoying the vacation and the holidays.

I have been taking it pretty easy, and reading quite a bit in my free time. Finishing my application for high school, knitting, and writing poetry. Christmas was wonderful, and I am so grateful that I can spend it with people I love. 

Well, not much to say...I have been enjoying the vacation, and having lots of fun relaxing. 
Happy Holidays!
Claire

Monday, December 19, 2011

Reading

I would like to take a moment to fill you in on the book's I have been reading lately. Because it is almost vacation, I have been doing a lot of reading, and thought it would be nice to write about the book's I read for fun. This is a list of books I have been reading...

The Paris Wife by Paula McLain:
This is an enchanting tale of the first wife of Ernest Hemingway, the great writer. Told from her eyes, this story spans from when they first meet to their painful divorce, and it is both moving and well written.

Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer:
This is the true account of a disaster on Mt. Everest that resulted in many people's lives lost, and many more wounded or emotionally scarred. It is a rich book full of heartache and passion for climbing.

Caleb's Crossing by Geraldine Brooks:
This is a historical fiction based on the life of Caleb, the first native american to graduate from Harvard. It is a story full of love and loss, and it was beautiful to read.

The Life Guide to Digital Photography by Joe McNally:
This book is great for learning about photography, and it has helped me to see things in a different way.


Friday, December 16, 2011

Good Times Remembered

Today was a rather odd day, but I really enjoyed its oddness. I went to my elementary school this morning to help out, then came home to begin the dreaded essay. I wrote about how I once knew that my world was small and perfect, but know I have a better sense that nothing is perfect, and the world contains many sorrows which I hadn't known as a small child. It is a pretty flowery and nostalgic piece, and I will probably change it quite a bit before submitting it, but it was good to get a draft on the table.

In the afternoon, I decided to walk downtown to the library because I was in need of books for this weekend. With perfect timing, I walked past my old school right as they were all getting out for the day. It was pretty weird to see everyone again that I had not seen since last year, and they all welcomed me and exclaimed over me. Being home schooled does that to you, I guess. Everyone said they missed me and were glad to see me, and some thought I was back for good. It was a bit of a self confidence booster when I realized just how many people missed me this year. I missed them too. I said hello to a former teacher, and saw friends from last year. It was an odd feeling walking into the school that I had abandoned for home schooling, and seeing all the kids who still went there. I definitely felt like and outcast, but in a good way.

Anyway, I finally got to the library and got some good reads for the weekend. Two fiction books, one memoir of climbing Mt. Everest, one guide to being a playwright, and one collection of poetry. I guess I can't go wrong with that. Tonight I have a soccer game, and this weekend with hopefully be spent editing my essay.

Have a great weekend!
Claire

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Things

Sorry about not writing for several days, but not much has been happening in this homeschooler's life. My actual classes are finished, so I am taking the opportunity to do all the little things that I have been meaning to do all fall. I have been helping to decorate the house for Christmas, slapping my poetry into shape with a very intense poetry book which has me thinking everything in iambic pentameter, or trochiac substitution with a weak ending, cleaned my room, baked a little, celebrated St. Lucia Day, and read quite a bit to make up for the fall weeks where I was too busy to read anything for fun.

Yesterday I was not feeling very well after a bad night's sleep, so most of the day was spent reading and knitting, with a little calligraphy too. I actually finished three books yesterday, and when my mom playfully asked at noon if that was my second book, I stunned her by replying in the affirmative. Several days ago I discovered the stash of Christmas crafts, and spent a blissful morning making Christmas cards using a technique I learned during my pottery week in North Carolina. This morning, I had a great talk with my dad about our semi new play, Much Ado About Nothing. We have a very good exercise shaping up for next week, dissecting a monologue and really thinking about the character and why Shakespeare wrote the monologue the way it is.

Another thing I have been slaving over is the application to the high school I would like to attend next year. I really want to make it memorable and good, so I have been spending a lot of time perfecting the short answers and thinking about the essay. I have yet to get my SSAT scores back, and I am rather jumpy every time the mailman comes to the door.

Well, that is it for today, another snapshot into my life as a homeschooler. Happy St. Lucia Day, a little late...(it was on December 13)

Claire

Monday, December 12, 2011

Getting in the Spirit

As the holidays are approaching fast, we have finally started spreading cheer throughout our house. Last night we put up the tree and watched Holiday Inn, and this morning I made gingerbread cookies.
Happy Holiday Season!
Claire
Those are the gingerbread cookies, sitting on the Christmas placemats in the kitchen.

December is Nutcracker season, and these are my friends who live in my bedroom.

This is our Swedish Christmas star, which lights up and hangs in the window.

This is our newly erected Christmas tree, next to the Swedish candles in the front window. 

Sunday, December 11, 2011

The Tempest

On Saturday night, I went to see a production of Shakespeare's play The Tempest, which was magical. It was a student produced and directed production, but I think they pulled it off incredibly well. The Tempest is one of Shakespeare's later plays, and some say that the character Prospero was based on Shakespeare himself. The play concerns the inhabitants of an island, and a party who is shipwrecked on the island. The Tempest is more than just a romance: it is a contemplation on magic, dreaming, illusion, and music. The cast includes an exiled duke turned magician, a beautiful princess, a usurper, a monster who speaks beautiful words, and a spirit desperate for freedom. I am going to try my hand at reviewing the play, and give you some details on the choices they made.

Sets and Costumes: The costumes in the play were simple but attractive, and the set was spectacular. Prospero the magician was played as an artist, complete with paint spattered jeans and t shirt, and a thoughtful appearance. The set was multiple tall shelves filled with lamps, books, art, and knick-knacks. There was creative lighting inside the shelves, which made the stage glow. The artwork in the play was all beautiful, and made by students. There was a large easel and a huge pile of books at the front of the stage, and this and the shelves were the only set throughout the play. It gave the play an air of illusion that only those in Prospero's favor could see his home and art studio.

Characters:
The characters were all well played, and some interesting choices were made. The monster Caliban was played by a woman, which was unusual but worked very well. Miranda was a wonderfully innocent princess who fell in love easily, and Prospero was quiet but powerful, and artistic. Ariel the spirit was eager to serve, yet at the same time was desperate for her freedom.

Overall:
As a student directed play, I think this was amazing. When you perform Shakespeare, you must make choices well because the audience will expect it to be good quality. The cast was great, although had some problems projecting and speaking clearly enough to be heard in the back. The tone in the play was artistic, and the themes of music, dance, and art were clear and beautifully worked out. The musical choices worked wonderfully, and overall the play was magical, as it should be. It was a great first Tempest for me to see, and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Claire

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Shakespeare's Time

Last week, my dad and I did some research on the times of Shakespeare, and his history. I know quite a lot about him now, and the exercise for this week was to write a short piece about a day in his life. I chose to set this in the early years of the 1600's, around 1603. Shakespeare was by then a well known playwright, and he was living with two French Huguenots in London, while frequently visiting his wife and children in Stratford. This is a fictional day in his life, where he discovers some of the words for his play The Tempest...




William Shakespeare awoke to the painful screeching of the matron next door, and her unruly cat who insisted on echoing her. 
“Why you lumpish toad! Sitting an’ singing to yerself with not a care in the world! Beef-witted barnacle!” 
Will tucked that slew of insults away into his mind, then yawned prodigiously and climbed out of bed. Candle stubs littered the room, as well as quill tips, crumpled papers, and stinking clothes spattered with ink. He peered out the window, glancing disgustedly at the grey rooftops, grey streets, grey people, and today, the grey sky. He cursed London briefly as fat raindrops began to spill from the sky. It was going to be a long walk to work. 
Downstairs in the dingy kitchen, maids were working away and being chastised by the cook. Shakespeare smiled to himself as she berated Audrey, the new serving girl, for spoiling the eggs. Another thought to slip into his brain, the melting pot of ideas. 
In the dining room, Mr. and Mrs. Mountjoy were speaking quietly in French and eating breakfast. Their daughter Helena was in the tire shop with some excuse, making moony eyes at the new apprentice, whose name was Stephen. As William entered the room, the Mountjoys looked up and simultaneously said “Bonjour William.” 
Shakespeare nodded and sat at the table, munching on the plate of eggs, which Audrey had not spoiled. “Good day to you Christopher. How was your rest last night?” 
“Ah, my sleeping. I had a dream so beautiful, so perfect, that when I waked, I all but cried to dream again,” said Mountjoy in his distinctive French accent, smiling placidly and thinking back. “The clouds opened and threw riches down upon me. It was...wonderful.”
Will thought this over for several seconds, turning the phrases over in his mind as he so often did. Hmm, he thought, that could be good for a play someday.
All too soon, it was time for Shakespeare to pull his coat over his head and set off through the rain to the playhouse. It was damp and cold, and Will shivered as he pushed through the masses of humanity on either side of him. Living in London was a great way to learn how to multitask. Will shoved against the crowd, listening to jeers and catcalls, hammers ringing, people singing and shouting, lovers quarreling, cats squalling, and carts trundling up and down the streets. He grasped his bag close for fear of pickpockets, held his jacket up to shield him from the rain, took erratic steps to avoid piles of waste, and mulled the morning’s events over in his mind. 
When William Shakespeare arrived at the playhouse, he could still hear Christopher’s voice in his ears. With a little tweaking, they could be magic, thought Will. 
Stepping out of the rain, he could hear them playing over and over in his mind, music to his writer’s ear. 
“The clouds methought would open, and show riches
Ready to drop upon me, that when I waked
I cried to dream again.” 


Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Weekly Wednesday Snapshot

I had a burst of creativity when I dropped my assorted things onto my bed before putting them away. This was a perfect snapshot of what I had been doing this week! I quickly took a picture, and I think this would be a super fun way to sum up the week. Every Wednesday, I will post one picture that sums up my week. It could be a collection of things, or just a picture I took that week which was important. This is a much more fun way to express what I am doing, rather than just writing about my week. I will include a description with the basic things that I have done that week.

Here is the story of my week this week through the items in my picture...

1. My knitting: I have been making a fun little blue scarf this week for a loved one's Christmas present. Knitting is great, and is a quick way to make beautiful homemade gifts.
2. SSAT Prep book: This is one of three prep books I have to study from. So far, I have taken four practice tests and worked through hundreds of problems, as well as many essays. I may post a couple essays soon, as they are a fun read.
3. Books to read: Currently, I am reading The Forgotten Garden, by Kate Morton, but I have several more for when I am finished.
4. Much Ado About Nothing: I am beginning to read this play with my dad this week. It is our second play of the week, and it seems like a wonderful read!


Hope you enjoyed the snapshot, and let me know if you think it would be a fun idea to continue!

Claire

SSAT Essay: A Chance to Write

While studying for the SSAT, I have had the opportunity to write a couple essays using the prompts that they give me. This is undoubtedly my favorite part of the SSAT, because you can get creative and it pushes you to think fast and come up with meaningful examples. There is not a whole lot of time, but enough to get something good down on paper. The prompts can be a little wacky, and so can my responses, but generally they are good. This is just a rough draft, as I had a short time and have not edited it yet.

Here is my essay, written in twenty five minutes. It is a response to the prompt "Imagination is more important than knowledge."


Anyone can succeed. You don't need years of schooling or intensive learning to excel. Imagination is the most important tool to have, and with that at your fingertips, you can do anything. Examples of creativity outstripping knowledge include painters, poets, and writers such as William Shakespeare.

 The first example of imaginative thinking poetry. Poets do not need vast amounts of learning to create beautiful images and scenes. All they need is a passion for writing and a great imagination. A poet full of imagination and heart will always beat one who has had years of training but produces bland and uninspired poems. Poets like Emily Dickinson did not attend a school for poetry or a university of words. They simply imagined their own world and created stunning poems from their thoughts and emotions.

Another example of a great imagination is the Bard himself: William Shakespeare. As a young man, Will's family did not have the money to send him to university. When Will became a playwright, many other writers had attended university and considered themselves better than him. Will blew them all away with his plays, even though he had less schooling than them. He used his spectacular imagination to create plays better than those stuffed with knowledge.

The last example of imagination versus knowledge is an artist. Artists rely on imagination to create media that will capture the hearts of audiences, and no amount of knowledge can teach a painter how to create magical pictures. You can study hard and become a technically perfect potter, but your bowls and vases will not be fully appreciated unless you create them with the spark of imagination.

No matter what profession you may have, you will always value imagination over technical ability and knowledge. Whatever you choose to do, the amount of imagination you put into it will be the key. It is imagination which makes good thinks into great, and it is creativity which makes the world magical.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

A Rainy Night Turns to Photo Opportunity

Tonight as we were walking to dinner, I grabbed my camera at the last second, thinking that I would try to take some night pictures. I had never taken any night pictures, and I wanted to try, because it seemed like it would be fun to edit them. My camera has a format for night pictures, which takes the picture at a slower speed, which can do some pretty crazy things with the light. People in our neighborhood are putting up Christmas lights, and I discovered that moving while taking a picture had amazing results. The pictures are not really recognizable, but they are works of art. The light is beautiful, and I love everything about these pictures taken on a dark and rainy night.

Claire






Vacation

Bring out the sweats and old t shirt, because today was the first day of my vacation! I slept a little more than usual, showered in the morning, and did some Christmas planning. I started a scarf, made a new zentangle picture, and made thank you cards for the teachers who did so much for me this term, and took me in even though I was not technically a student. Later this week, I am going to bake something nice for them as a thank you for all their time and commitment.

After lunch, I worked on my SSAT prep for a couple hours. I wrote a practice essay to get used to the timing, and went over my previous tests to work on what I got wrong. I am getting very nervous about the test on Saturday, and I hope that my studying pays off.

Claire

Monday, December 5, 2011

Final Exams

Today was the day of judgement as far as the first term goes. I had a final exam in both German and Math today, which is worth a chunk of my final grade and is very important. The German exam was in the morning and lasted for an hour and a half. That one I had studied for plenty, and I feel fairly confident in the score that I will get. Math was in the afternoon and it was harder, but still bearable. I hope I finished with a good score, and I do feel confident that it was at least an ok score.

After taking tests literally all day, I was very happy to come home and relax. My plans were to spend the afternoon reading, which is something that I love more than anything but have not had much time to do lately. After settling down on my bed to read, I only lasted about 15 minutes before falling asleep and staying asleep until dinner time. I guess my body needed a break after a weekend of studying and a day of exams. This week will be spent in preparation of the SSAT, which I am taking on Saturday. Because I have no classes now, I can dedicate the time to the SSAT and other things that I have not had time to do while being kept busy with classes and other practices.

I intend to spend this week knitting, reading as much as possible, and studying for the SSAT. Once the SSAT is over, I will throw myself into the application process for the private high school I hope to attend. This weekend should also be really fun, as I am going to see a production of The Tempest by William Shakespeare performed by a Harvard acting troupe.

For now, I am going to bed early tonight, and will hopefully wake up tomorrow refreshed and ready to start studying.

Claire

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Weekend: Preparing for the Week of Doom

This weekend is one of studying and stressing over what I am worried will be an incredibly hard week. On Monday, I have the final exams for both Math and German, and I am very worried, especially about math. I have been reviewing both today, and plan to continue and do more tomorrow. I am the most nervous about world problems, making stupid mistakes, and forgetting German vocabulary gender (feminine, masculine, and neutral nouns). Then, after Monday's hours of testing, I have to study for the SSAT, which is next Saturday. I still don't feel comfortable with the practice scores I have been getting, and I think a little more studying should help. Still, it is set to be a nerve-wracking week.

Apart from all the testing, I am very happy. We are finally in the Christmas season, which is questionably my favorite part of the year. Radio stations start playing "White Christmas" and people go out to buy apple cider, gingerbread, and Christmas trees. Today, we took out our Christmas lights, and it was an opportunity to take some pictures. I am not sure how well they came out, but it was super fun to take pictures in the dark and get in the holiday spirit.






Friday, December 2, 2011

Pictures of Today

Today I had my Friday morning excursion to my elementary school, and the kindergarteners were having fun counting with beans. Walking home I messed around my my camera a bit, and thought I would post some pictures. As I said earlier, I'm no good at photography, but I really enjoy it!






Thursday, December 1, 2011

A Jumble of Words and Thoughts Because I am Tired

Today was a crazy day. Because of my habit of procrastinating, I did not finish my Twelfth Night paper until this morning. I had it all planned out, but somewhere forgot to write the actual paper, so that it how I spent the morning hours. I feel like I dissected the play, because I began to think much more about characters, illusion, and how this translates to our lives and identities. Is that going overboard? Not at all! I enjoyed coming up with a thesis and backing it up, as I believe there is nothing better than a good essay (except maybe a poem). Anyway, maybe I will include parts of the paper in a later post.

As far as busy work goes, I have finished my German review and the math homework for tomorrow. Also started the final math review for the test on Monday. Sounds like lots of math, but I know it is necessary. Today I also kept with my goal of doing one full practice SSAT per week until the real one, which is next Saturday. It is a time eater, and it is painfully dull, but I need the practice *wince* That was what occupied my afternoon.

The later afternoon was spent babysitting, then I had dinner. No chorus tonight because our director feels we are ready for our big Christmas concert on Sunday, and wanted to give us a break. I am so excited for the concert, which is shaping up to be fantastic!

Regarding my opportunity post yesterday, I just want to say that I finished my story, and it is up! If you would like to read it, click here. I wrote about the W.P.S, and the unfairness of the situation regarding women's professional soccer here in the US. Thanks to Nathan for publishing me!

Claire

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Opportunity

Today I got a wonderful opportunity to do something that I think will be super fun and a great way to continue to work on my writing. Recently I discovered a blog about sports news written by an up and coming journalist, who happens to be just 15 years old. He offers on his blog to publish writings from others, so I contacted him to ask if I could try my hand at sports writing. He said yes! I am super excited to work with him on something that combines two of my great loves: writing and soccer. I will hopefully be writing about women's soccer and the German Bundesliga, and it is shaping up to be wonderful!

In case you are interested, his blog is here.

I hope to have something written in the next couple days. Exciting, right?

Claire

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Pictures

Over Thanksgiving break, I discovered a love for taking pictures, and I wanted to share some photos of the ferry ride that we took on the way back from my grandparents.  I also included pictures of my Calligraphy, which I practice as often as I can. Hope you enjoy!

This is a picture of my calligraphy book, where I do all my calligraphy. The book underneath is the book I used to teach myself, and it was incredibly helpful.

This is a picture of a page in my notebook. I use random words or sentences when I want to practice certain letters. The flourishes and curls are the most exciting and hardest things to do.

This is the view from the back of the ferry. I was standing on the upper  deck, and the sun was shining.

In the minutes before we left, I went to the top deck to take pictures. It was warm, and I was all alone.

I loved the contrasting colors of the life saver and the door. The picture came out very crisp and I really liked it.

Back From Oblivion!

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! I know that I took a break on this blog, and I hope everyone had a wonderful time with family or friends last week. I was at my grandparents house most of the week, and there wasn't much to catch up on. Now I can catch everyone up on what I have been doing. I read eight books last week, gobbling them up over Thanksgiving (pun intended). I wrote poetry on my blog everyday, tried my hand at some creative writing, and started up doing calligraphy again (more on that later, or in another post). We ate a lot, went running, played outside, and took two ferry rides, one rainy and terribly rocky, the other clear, warm, and perfect. Seeing family was great, and a good opportunity to give thanks for the wonderful life I have. I feel very lucky, and one of the things I give the most thanks to is being home schooled this year. What a great idea, and how lucky am I to be able to follow through with that? 

Anyway, today was the first class after break of the two high school classes I am taking, and it was my official getting back into everything day. I am very excited to continue my journey, and I am also excited that the Christmas season is now upon us! This morning, I had my math class, and later this afternoon I head up to German class again. It is great to be reunited with everyone after a week away. Over break, I did spend some time studying, as we have a big final exam next week. I feel pretty prepared right now, but I still need to continue with my studying. 

After math class this morning, I came home to write  a letter to my grandparents thanking them for the long weekend we spent with them. But this wasn't any old letter, because I had decided to write in calligraphy. To those who don't know, calligraphy is the art of writing with a special pen and paying close attention to making the letters and words look beautiful. I hope to upload some pictures soon. I also took time this morning to write detailed plans for my final paper on the play Twelfth Night. I read this play with my dad, and will be writing a paper on the themes of disguise, illusion, and concealed identity. More on that later. 

Another revelation over Thanksgiving was a new hobby. I discovered that I love photography. I have been leisurely taking pictures for a long time, and I am not incredible, but I love it, and it is a very relaxing and fun thing to do. You can be anywhere to take pictures, and it gives you a new perspective on the world around you. I may link up some pictures I took of the ferry ride. 

Well, I seem to be running out of things to say. I think this get's you caught up with my vacation, and what I am doing this week while I get back into everything. I also had an idea about this website. Because I read a lot, I think I should post a book review once a week with a book I have read in my free time. It would be a great way to document some of the things that I have been reading. Tell me what you think about that...

Claire

Monday, November 21, 2011

Monday: The First of "Vacation"

Today was the first day of Thanksgiving break for the high school where I take math and German. I technically did not have "school" but today was a work day for me. This morning I had planned to take an entire practice SSAT, because my test date is December 10th. I took the whole two and a half hour test, and ended up doing an ok job. Of course, there are things that I need to work on, but all in all I think I am in a good place. Writing the essay was my favorite part, and the prompt that I had was What comes up must come down.  I loved coming up with the examples and trying to tie everything in together.

After finishing the test, I felt very drained and my brain was tired, so I decided to get some exercise. Forgoing the running option, I snapped on my roller blades and went roller blading. It was a great way to get moving after sitting for so long, and I love to roller blade. I stayed outside for more than an hour, and when I came back home I was feeling great. I took a shower and spent the rest of the day cleaning my room, which had begun to resemble a garbage dump mixed with a very cluttered library. I also wrote my Write on Wednesday prompt, and after this I plan to write on my poetry blog and read for a little.

Claire

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Chorus

I am going to take a moment now to describe being in chorus this year. I am in the chorus at the high school where I take classes, so I am singing with high school students. Anyone is allowed in chorus, with no audition, so it is a good fit for me. The chorus this year has been different from any other chorus I have ever been a part of, but in a good way. We sing much more challenging music, learn it faster, and have lots of fun doing it. Everyone in chorus loves to sing, and you can really hear that passion when we sing.

I am a soprano, in fact, I believe I have invented a new type of soprano-the 1.5th soprano. I sing right in the middle of first and second, though I stay mostly with the fist sopranos. We are preparing five songs at the moment for the winter concert, which sounds magical. It will be candlelit and we are singing Christmas songs from multiple cultures, with very different sounds.

The first song we are singing is a Nigerian Christmas song which is fascinating to sing, and will hopefully sound great in the concert. This song is very upbeat and joyous, and we hope to accompany it with some African drumming. The next song we are singing is called Lullay My Liking, and it is a lullaby song by Gustav Holst. I love the gentleness to the piece, which is unlike anything else we are singing. We are also singing a Christmas Cantata in Latin, and a traditional Spanish holiday song. All in all,  a very impressive line up for someone like me who has never sang in a different language!

Claire

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Preparation Day

Tomorrow is another one of those busy busy Wednesdays that I shudder before and sigh after. I have both a math test and a German test, and this time around we have the oral test and the written test on the same day for German. I have spent some of today preparing, and I am feeling reasonably confident, but at the same time I wish that Wednesday was already over. Days like tomorrow can get a little stressful. As far as today goes, I worked like crazy to finish all the things I had planned, and came away with one of the most productive days I think I have had so far this year. I had math class, promptly finished 46 math practice problems in my SSAT prep book, and read the entire introduction chapter to my biology book, including working in the work book and taking the quiz on that chapter. Then, I put together a study guide for my German test and did more than half my math homework, as well as blogging. Now, it is time to go to my German class, and this afternoon I may actually have some free time to go outside and play soccer.

Claire

Monday, November 14, 2011

Twelfth Night Work

This past weekend, I finished the play Twelfth Night that I had been reading with my dad. It was a wonderful play, and the ending was both hilarious and happy. Since I have finished, I thought I would share some of the things that I did regarding this play. I did several exercises with my dad, including a found poem on the character Feste, which I already published, and a page about the definitions of comedy and examples of them from the text. In that exercise, I discovered just why things are funny, and what Shakespeare used to create comedy. Just today, I wrote a short piece on the consequences of love in the play and how different characters showed their love. The piece may be confusing to those who have not read the play, and I warn you that is a spoiler too.  Happy reading!
-Claire


Tangling Up the Love in Twelfth Night
"O time must untangle this..."

Explore the theme of love and different characters opinions about it.  How do they struggle with it?  How do they express their love for others?  In which ways are they similar in their approaches and reactions to it?  In which ways are they different?  Is the quality of their love the same?


Here is my writing on this topic...



In the play Twelfth Night, love can be as tangled as a plate of spaghetti. Favors are fought for and refused, wits are sharpened, tears are shed, and in the end most everything works out fine. The overriding romantic feel of the play is of mistaken love, one sided love, and hidden love. As the threads of endearment untangle, we find unlikely matches amongst the people of Illyria.

The first love mentioned in the play comes in the very first scene. This is the one sided love of Duke Orsino and Countess Olivia. Only one of many examples of one sided love, this shows that just because the Duke falls for Olivia does not mean she will feel similar. Orsino has spent quite some time trying everything in his power to gain the favor of Olivia, yet she refuses even to speak with him. This theme of one sided love appears again and again throughout the play. Olivia woos Cesario with no reciprocation, Cesario secretly has a passion for Duke Orsino, and Malvolio has hidden his love for Olivia. The people of Olivia and Orsino’s courts are troubled deeply by their personal worries, and the secret love begins to eat away at some, causing spontaneous outbursts of passion that are often met with disgust. In Act Three, after a teary confession to Cesario, Olivia immediately regrets showing her passion, which is not felt at all by Cesario. As she humbly puts it, “I have said too much unto a heart of stone, and laid mine honour too unchary on’t.” She may feel sorry for herself, or purely embarrassed that she shared such personal feelings to someone who feels nothing in return. This attempt to show her love is very similar to the approach of Malvolio, who is tricked into thinking that Olivia feels the same way. Malvolio embodies the belief that some will do anything for love, as he dresses like a madman and goes to meet Olivia with great confidence. The theme of one sided secret love is hugely prominent throughout the play, and many characters hide their feelings, only to display them when they believe the time is right. Some, like Olivia to Cesario, are left disappointed, while others such as Viola to Orsino, are in for a pleasant surprise.

Another form of love in Twelfth Night is mistaken love, or a lover who was tricked. Perhaps the greatest example is that of Viola and Sebastian’s involuntary switch in Act Five. Sebastian secretly marries Olivia, a woman he is meeting for the first time, while Olivia is sure that he is Cesario, the “man” that she has fallen desperately in love with. Olivia is tricked by appearance alone, which shows something about the depths of her feelings for Cesario. Her love for him was rather more shallow than the other relationships in the play, as she had fallen for him at first sight. This leaves us to wonder how deep her love was, or whether it was purely attraction to his physical features, as she knows very little about Cesario’s real personality or background. If she can confuse Viola with her brother, she must not know Viola/Cesario very well. Concomitantly, there is the case of Malvolio and the infamous letter written to him from Olivia. When Malvolio receives the false letter, he not only believes that it was written by Olivia, but he also follows the outrageous advice in the letter. If he had truly known Olivia’s personality, he would realize that she would never ask him to dress like a madman, or even feel the same way about him. Love in Twelfth Night is both confusing and shallow at some times, and most of the characters share similar faults when it comes to love. People like Sir Andrew and Olivia are very facile lovers, who care for only status and handsomeness, respectively. In people such as Viola, there is a sense that they have fallen in love for a good reason. For example, Sir Toby marries Maria because she helped him in the plot against Malvolio, thus proving to him that she has a wit to match his own.

By the end of the play, it seems that most of the characters are either happily married or soon to be. Somehow, the tangled yarns of love, unrequited and false, shallow and one sided, mistaken and true, are free and bring together people in happy unions. Illyria is soon to host a magnificent double wedding, and life will be perfect. At least, for everyone except Malvolio.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Working

Today was a packed day, but I feel confident at the end of it in saying that I am caught up from my day of sickness on Wednesday. Turned in math homework, finished German work, and scheduled a make up for the quiz I missed. I also had a great Shakespeare class with my dad, and worked on the SSAT prep book. At the end of the day, I feel satisfied and good about where I am. Now I think I will get an early start to the math homework for the weekend.

Claire

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Sick

Sorry about the slight lack of post luster, but I have not been feeling well for the past couple days. Yesterday I did not do anything, and today I find myself struggling to catch up in my German and math work, as well as get back into the swing of things. I have also resolved not to get sick again this winter, because it was very inconvenient.

Today has been rather harrowing so far, and I am struggling to finish all that I have to in the time given to me. I hope to make up all German and math work, as well as begin my new biology textbook and blog and prepare for the SSAT and write poetry and stay alive and write about it all, all in time to get to babysitting, which takes up my entire afternoon before I go to chorus and then to bed. Just thinking about it all is daunting. So, where was I? Oh yes, this morning. I am almost done with the math work, but still have to study for the German quizzes which I hope to make up. I just spend ten minutes scrubbing blood out of my carpet. Makes me sound like a murder suspect, doesn't it? No, it was actually a pea sized affair from a forgotten stubbed toe. Not very intriguing.

Right now I am blogging to get my mind off the hundred and one things I have to do, and how I still don't feel one hundred percent well. Did I forget to mention that we are having a dinner here tomorrow, so on top of everything else I have to "pitch in" and clean? Whew, I feel like a house elf. (Sneaky Harry Potter reference)

This morning I finished the memoir of Nicholas Sparks, who is one of my many favorite authors. I love reading biographies and memoirs, and this one was pretty good. My all time favorite memoir is Julie Andrews', simply because she had an incredible life and I practically idolize her. The Nicholas Sparks book, called Three Weeks with my Brother, is a story of Nicholas and his brother, and their life and adventures. It was funny, touching, and well written and I recommend it to anyone who has read his work.

Well, back to work now. There is only so much you can procrastinate on.

Claire

Stephen Cushman: Poet

Last night I had the opportunity to go to a reading by the poet Stephen Cushman from his new book, entitled Riffraff. Mr. Cushman entranced the audience with personal and relatable tales, as well as spell binding poetry. He writes in different forms of poetry, mostly non rhyming, and about a wide variety of things. Poems he read to us last night included the sky, his family and two sons, sailing, Egyptians, and other interesting topics which most people would never think to put in a poem. I enjoyed that he could bend and twist a poem to his liking, and he has quite a knack for metaphors that really make you think and are very original. I liked his humor and the way he interacted with everyone there, in a very casual and friendly way.

My favorite poem that he read was a new poem of his which he used to finish the reading. It was entitled "Small Craft Warning," and I loved everything about it. A shorter poem, it personified a flag, flapping in the wind, "one side of me lashed fast, the other flapping free." The poems attention to detail and beautiful word flow contributed to why I liked it, but I was caught by the amazing line, "the rumbled sea." For some reason that stuck out as my favorite line, although the entire poem was astounding. In fact, all the poems he read were wonderful, and I have resolved to get one of his books from the library as soon as possible.


Claire

Monday, November 7, 2011

Happy Birthday Marie Curie!

Today is the 144th birthday of Marie Curie, the famous scientist who was the first woman to win the Nobel Prize. She won the prize twice, once in Chemistry and once in Physics.

Today was also a pretty good day for me. I got my math test back, and discovered that I did not do as bad as I thought I would. This morning, I got a lot of work done including my new Write on Wednesday and a Twelfth Night handout exploring the different types of comedy and how they are used in Shakespeare. I also finished my math test corrections and spent a considerable amount of time studying for the SSAT, which I am taking in about a month.

This afternoon I have German class and soccer practice. I also have a lot to look forward to in the next couple of days including a poetry reading and another Shakespeare meeting with my dad.

Claire

Friday, November 4, 2011

Volunteer

Volunteer. That very word I used to sneer at. Who would actually give something, give their time, for nothing in return? I was skeptical, and downright mean. My view now is the opposite.

Every Friday, I walk to my old elementary school to volunteer with my old kindergarten teacher. Consistently, I have a wonderful time helping the kindergarteners with their center work, and they are all very sweet to me. Sure, I am not gaining anything material, but I am earning the trust of both the teacher and the students. Every student in that class has a different way of looking at the world, and I get to watch them learn and grow. It is very special to help them, to see their smiles when they finish something, and to hear their thank you's at the end of the day.

It is very nostalgic, working with kids in the very room where I first went to school, with the same teacher. I keep finding memories hidden in the rafters and the stacks of construction paper. I love to help them, love the feeling of contentment that I feel while walking home, knowing that I have done something good for someone else, knowing that I have helped in a small way with these kids.

To conclude, my views of long past are gone. Completely wiped away. Volunteering is not for losers, it is for winners. I look forward to going again and again and again.

Claire

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Feste

After a very successful meeting with my dad this morning, I feel very pumped to share some of the work we have been doing. We are reading Twelfth Night, about an act a week, and it is great so far. Every week, we meet for a little bit and talk about different aspects of what we have read.

Today, we got into topics including illusion and disguise, and we went in depth about the character of Feste the clown. Feste is clever, with a sharp wit, but he is also wise in ways that the other characters do not always catch. We also went over an activity that I finished for this morning called a found poem. In this found poem, I take words that Feste has said, and manipulate them into a short poem that displays his character. It was a very interesting thing to do, and I learned a lot about him. Feste is not only a "witty fool" but he has good intentions, and I noticed he used a lot of good words like virtue, beauty, heaven, and soul.

Here is my found poem for Feste:

A witty fool
Good faith and wisdom
My soul resolved
Virtue, Sir Toby
Fools speak well
Answer me
God bless thee
Talents in faults
Take away sin
Bear it
A wise man

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Wednesday: Presser Cooker

Today was a rather stressful day, but I got through it and I feel much better about this week now that today is over. I had a math test and a German test this morning, and on top of all the other crazy things happening this week, I was a little worried about doing well on my tests. This morning I woke up in time to look over my math stuff again, then it was time for the test, which was on graphing and systems of equations. I felt confident once I started the test, and I am pretty sure I will be happy with my grade.

After the math test, I spent the middle of the day studying and cementing my German for the test. The chapter in German including things to do, grammar, and new verbs. I also began a "Found Poem" for my Shakespeare meeting with my dad tomorrow. The found poem is an exercise that I was set which involves writing a poem with Shakespeare's words. First, I picked a character from Twelfth Night (I picked Feste the clown), then I found around 35 words that he says in Act 1. Then, I created a poem using those words. I am very excited to compare my poem with my dad.

In the afternoon, I did some boring work which needed desperately to be done, including organizing my math work and homework, and cleaning up my room. The clean room helped cheer me up, and I am gladly no longer stuck in a rut. The week is beginning to really look up, and I am ready to get a lot of work done tomorrow when I have no "real" classes!

Claire

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Tuesday: Oral Tests and Brothers at Home

Today was a little distracting because my brothers were home from school for the second day in a row. I tried to make them stay away, but they were still a little loud. In the morning, I had math, where we prepared for the test tomorrow. Then, I went home and began to study for my oral German test in the afternoon. I read two chapters of my sociology book, because I found it very interesting, and couldn't stop reading once I started. For awhile, I knitted while practicing German, because I discovered I could multitask!

In the afternoon, I went for a run and took a shower after. Then it was time to go to chorus. In chorus, we are up to five songs in four different languages. It is very different from my old chorus, and much more challenging, but I think that is a good thing in the end.

This week has seemed very crammed so far, because I have had some problems and stress, and there is a lot going on. I think it will be much better after tomorrow.

Claire

Monday, October 31, 2011

Monday: Halloween?

Happy Halloween everyone! Today was supposed to be a wonderful day, but unfortunately the weather did not want to cooperate with us. First off, we had a horrible snow storm this weekend, which took the power out of most of our town. Our house still has no heat and no power, so life has gotten a little harder. Today I went to math class in the morning, then went to the library to work somewhere that was warm. At the library, I did math homework and studied for German. This week I have a test in German on the third chapter in our book and a test in math on graphing, and systems of equations. I feel dreadfully behind in math right now, but hopefully I will feel more comfortable after studying for the test.

I blogged with a Halloween poem, and did the Write on Wednesday prompt for this week. Then I had lunch and went to German class, where we had a spelling quiz. This afternoon, I plan to work with the math that I don't understand, and study for the oral German test tomorrow.

As if the day had not been bad enough, our town postponed trick or treating until Saturday. Hopefully I will survive the bad weather, the unheated house, and the tests long enough to go trick or treating!

Claire

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Vegetables Rock!

I recently finished a stunningly good book called Vegetables Rock: A complete guide for Teenage Vegetarians. This book has helped me immensely, and I have only had it for several days. I am a semi recent vegetarian, and this book gave me all the knowledge and fun facts, nutrition and recipes I could ever want. I recommend it to anyone and everyone, and it has proved very valuable so far.

Friday: Grandparents=Clean Up!

Hey guys.
So this Friday was not the most academically intense ever, but I felt that I managed the time well and ended up doing just about what I thought I would do. In the morning, I had math class, where I was informed we have a test this coming Wednesday. I think I will take the opportunity to study a little this weekend, just to get ahead...

After math class, I put on my dusty snow boots and walked across the fields to my old elementary school. Over the past few weeks, I have gone there on Fridays to volunteer with my old kindergarten teacher. It is a great experience, and I love helping the kids with their crafts and centers. That tends to eat up my time on Fridays, but I believe it is totally worth it.

After coming home from the school, I prepared for my German class, which included learning a new dialogue in German. Then, I straightened up the house because my grandparents (gro├čeltern, to use my German language skills) were due to arrive that afternoon.

In the afternoon, I went to German class, and then had soccer practice which was sunny but very chilly.
Then, my grandparents arrived, as they are staying for the weekend.

Claire

Friday, October 28, 2011

Snow!

Wednesday night, before Halloween, and it snowed here about two inches. This is absolutely crazy weather and it was pretty funny to throw the first snowballs of the season in October. Hopefully it melts for Halloween!

Claire

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Thursday: Veggies, Veggies, Rain

Today was a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day. At least according to the weather. Fortunately, I did not listen. This morning I went running in freezing rain with a temperature in the forties. It was brutal, but at least it woke me up. After showering and attempting to bring my body heat back up, I began my work for the day. I organized my pottery and cleaned up a little bit.

Next, I had a wonderful idea, if I do say so myself. I needed something to listen to while doing my math homework and drawing a little bit, so I turned on my CD of A Midsummer Night's Dream, by William Shakespeare. I love that play, and listening to it was wonderful. I know it well enough that it was not a distraction, but at the same time I could soak up the poetry while doing math homework. It was such fun!

Midmorning, the mail came, along with a package from Amazon with some books I had ordered. It was a great surprise, and I spent most of the rest of the day reading them. The books were:

Veggies Rock! which is a complete guide to teenage vegetarianism (I am a semi new recruit and it was a good idea to get this book as far as nutrition goes)

The Annapolis Book of Seamanship...I love to sail, and was very interested in learning more about it during my off season. I also hope to learn more of the science and navigation of sailing.

Animal Behavior, because I am an animal lover, and thought it was a great idea to include animals in my science learnings this year...

Anyway, I spent an hour or more reading the Veggie book, because I was hooked from the moment I began. I will have another post with more detail, but I will just say here that book is inspirational and exactly what I need as a new and eager Vegetarian (well, since July).

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Wednesday: Surprises and Rain

Today was a very interesting day, and I had more than one surprise today. It is freezing and rainy, but I still went up to the school this morning for my math class and German class. In German today, we learned new vocabulary, and watched a short video on a Swiss rock climber. Then, my German teacher gave us a suggestion which I think is a wonderful idea. She suggested listening to a German radio station called Bayern 3, because it would be good for our vocabulary and they played good German and international music. When I returned home, I found it on the web and am listening to it right now. She was right. Listening to real people speak the language fluently is very good for my language skills. I love listening to their voices, their accent. It doesn't really matter that I don't catch everything they are saying.

Today I also received a package of pottery from my great aunt in North Carolina. I had made it when visiting in September, and I was so happy to get the finished works. Hopefully in the next couple days I can expand on a report I am writing of that week, and maybe post some of it on this blog.

 Later today, despite the wind and rain, I think I will go to the Varsity girls soccer team because they have a home game. I am their ball girl, so I get some exercise as well as watching them play, which is wonderful.

Claire

Pottery Pictures

 This first picture shows off the pendants I made using slip trailing on white clay.
 Here you can see some of the jewelry I tried making.
These are examples of stamps I made. I used both geometric and abstract ideas.

Pottery!

Today I received a wonderful surprise waiting outside my door when I got home from my German class! In the beginning of September, I spent a week studying pottery with my great aunt, who is a potter. Today, she sent me the rest of the pieces which she had fired after I left.

Some of my favorites include a box made of slabs with a heart theme, and a small bowl with the Swedish colors made using a press mold. Hopefully there will be more pictures coming soon, as well as a more complete description of my trip.

Opening the box was the best part. I was giggling and ripping open the package like it was Christmas in October! I focused more on the decorating aspect, and had a lot of fun experimenting with different clay and jewelry.

Claire

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Tuesday: JFK and Chorus

Today was a merrily busy day where I believe I accomplished a lot. This morning, I had my math class, where we worked on graphing, and I finished my math homework. When I arrived home, I wrote a letter to my younger cousin for a school project of his. This included writing about my town's history, which tied in wonderfully with the history I have been learning about my town. I wrote on my poetry blog, and read about the Cuban missile crisis, including on a great new website which I found and wrote previous post on. Then I cleaned my guinea pig's cage and went to my German class back at the school.

The highlight of today was my first choir rehearsal with the Academy Chorus. They were beginning new music and I was allowed to join them. I know this will be a huge boost in my singing and music reading this year. Today, we started three songs, in three different languages. They are all Christmas songs, but there is one English, one African, and one Spanish song. Next rehearsal we will hopefully also be starting a song in Latin. This chorus is a huge step up from my previous one, but the challenge it making me a better singer and I love it already!

Claire

Cuban Missile Crisis Explained

Today, after spending some time reading a memoir of the Cuban Missile Crisis by Robert F. Kennedy, I found an interesting website that I hope to exploit more soon. The website comes out of the Presidential library, and has tons of information on "the closest the United States ever came to nuclear war." 

This website even contained clips from meetings held during the critical thirteen days, and it has really helped me to better understand this event, which was not very clear at the time when it happened. I think it is an excellent resource, and I will continue to learn from it in the next couple days. 

Monday, October 24, 2011

Write on Wednesdays

I want to take a moment now to explain a recent ritual that I have undertaken. This is Write on Wednesdays, a group of easily excited writers keen to share their works with one another.

I joined WoW several weeks ago, and have since then had a ton of fun writing short pieces from prompts every week. WoW is done through the blog www.inkpaperpen.blogspot.com and it is a wonderful way to improve your writing and have fun while doing it.

Claire

Monday: Flu Shots and SSAT


Alas, the first day of recording my actions is a little less impressive than I had hoped. Today was a day for busy work and things that needed to be done more than a day for hard core schooling. Weighted down with a long orthodontist appointment and a flu shot, I did not have as much time as usual to learn things. This morning, I set up this blog and read a little bit while waiting for the orthodontist.

I wrote poetry on my blog (www.quiltofdragonflies.blogspot.com), and read some other blog posts from Write on Wednesday, which is a weekly writing exercise that I participate in. With only about an hour of valuable time left, I began to review for the SSAT's with a new book I had just gotten. Today I worked on Analogies, Synonyms, and test taking skills. Hopefully in the coming weeks I will prepare enough to feel comfortable when I take the test in December.

And so ends the day. My mouth and arm is hurting from the various doctor's, I am tired, but I am ready and raring to go for tomorrow, where I hope to accomplish more than I did today.

Claire

Here We Go!

Hello everyone, my name is Claire, and I am making this year special. This year I will sing and laugh and read and write until my hands are cramped and my vision is blurry. This year I will learn what I want to learn, how I want to learn it. This year I will discover new worlds, and learn more about the one I am living in. This year I am living my dream...

I am in eighth grade this year, and I am being home schooled. More accurately, I am homeschooling myself. I have the opportunity to take two high school classes a year early, but other than that, I am on my own and loving every second of it. On this blog, I hope to keep records of what I am doing day to day, how I am going about this dream of a year. To anyone visiting, you are welcome to take a look at what I am doing this year, offer up any advice or criticism, ect.

I hope this year helps me discover myself and the people and places around me as I delve into a new style of learning. The year will be full of surprises and new knowledge, and whatever I do, I vow to have fun doing it! Here we go!

Claire