Mid-October Updates: Pampered Pooches, Peppers & Poe

It has been a couple of weeks since our last regular update.

Schoolwork has kept us busy. The pets continue to entertain. We are making plans for Thanksgiving dinner with my mother. My body seems to have switched into hibernation mode, well ahead of the arrival of winter. Life is a series of bursts of activity between naps and rest periods. Autumn has been only an occasional visitor so far. Typical for the Deep South.


Updates from The Zoo

Holly would like everyone to know she is miffed that our pet updates fall under the category of “Catville.” She feels embarrassed and misrepresented at the image you all must have in your minds of our household being dominated by cats. As senior member of this motley bunch of pets, Holly has petitioned for a change that better represents her position as Pampered Pooch in Residence. Updates from Catville now become Updates from The Zoo. When asked for her opinion on the matter, Blondie the guinea pig replied, “Will someone please pass the carrots?”

Holly, Hermione, and Dobby have enjoyed the short spells of slightly cooler temperatures. Holly has been hanging out in the back yard more often and staying there later into the night. Hermione and Dobby have taken to jumping the fence to visit next door. Squirrels running willy nilly unchecked under the neighbors’ pecan trees absolutely must be interrogated. Sam is not impressed with the felines’ new vocation as border patrol agents.

Updates from The Garden

I hate to admit that the start of a new school year, health problems, and an unending parade of pests brought my gardening hobby to a halt. Lots of plans and ideas for the spring. Lots of reading and pestering my poor friend Susan with questions. But not a whole lot getting done outdoors. A nap or rest period of light activity usually begs for the spare time I have left in daylight hours.

Much like the cactus, the bell pepper was left to fend for itself. Maybe that’s what I should have been doing all along. Sometime around the end of September, The Little Plant that Could started producing flowers and buds. A couple of days ago I harvested our first pepper! I feel like a proud mother.

The little fellow probably should have been left on the vine longer. But the assault from bugs, worms (caterpillars, to be exact), and fungi is real! I hated the thought of losing that one little tantalizing green vegetable this late in the game. Its conspicuous presence among the carnivores of the insect kingdom worried me.

The guinea pig and I shared our little bounty. Blondie gave it her seal of approval as her pieces disappeared between her buck teeth with munching sounds not unlike a room full of secretaries at old metal typewriters. That was the best tasting bell pepper we’ve had in a long time.

There are two more peppers on the bush right now. About a half dozen flowers or buds hint at the hope of more harvest to come. I never thought I’d say this in a million years, but I am hoping for cold weather to hold off as long as possible!

Leaf-footed bug nymphs pay the bell pepper plant a visit.

Updates from The Little Red Schoolhouse

Literature has been a blast so far this year  (in the teacher’s opinion, at least).
We finished the novel Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson the first week of October. It led to one of the more memorable discussions we’ve had as a family in quite some time, thanks in part to the perspective of Kat’s older brother. That day and that experience was one of the quintessential examples of what is beautiful about homeschooling. A separate blog post is coming on that subject.

From Speak we moved on to a week of Poe: The Raven, The Fall of the House of Usher, and The Murders at the Rue Morgue. Quite the fan of all things Gothic and weird, I would have been pleased to extend Poe over the entire month of October. Kat, as usual, was less than impressed. So while I’m still getting enjoyment out of quoting The Raven in the best Christopher Lee impression I can muster, Poe left Kat hopeful for a more up-to-date reading selection. (Hear Lee read The Raven.)

The Lottery by Shirley Jackson did little better on the teen impress-o-meter. The Legend of Sleepy Hollow begins tomorrow. Something tells me not to hold my breath on that, either. However, Washington Irving’s many historical references will give us the opportunity to learn a bit of American history along the way… so there’s that.

Today we took a short holiday from schoolwork. Technically there has been no official day off from school since we began this year’s studies just after Labor Day (not counting weekends, of course). We did skip our studies the Friday before heading up to Old Cahawba. But the Cahawba field trip doubled as an educational day and five hours of exceptional community service.

Since this is National Chemistry Week, Thursday and Friday will focus primarily on chemistry experiments and demos. A few will be new, and the rest repeats of prior experiments with our tweaks and, “Hey, let’s try this!” thrown in for good measure. We will concentrate various substances through evaporation, observe the density of gases and the effects of temperature on pressure, growing crystals, and a few more.

I have always been curious as to the combustion properties of Fels Naptha. What secrets does that harmless-looking bar of laundry soap hold? Rumor has it that one of the resulting concentrates from our evaporation experiment has flammable fumes. Thursday and Friday look to be a blast. Maybe even literally!

© 2015-2016 Our Lives in Stories


8 thoughts on “Mid-October Updates: Pampered Pooches, Peppers & Poe

  1. I can’t wait until next spring when we can try on our gardens again. At least we can spend the winter wishing and planning. My kids totally agree with Kat on Poe. It was pure torture to get through that section of literature. I reminded them that they don’t have to enjoy everything they are asked to read for school although there are lessons to be learned in everything that we read. 🙂


    1. Well said, Susan! Many life skills learned in pushing oneself through non-preferred writing styles, difficult vocabulary, and settings different from those around us — not the least of which is a sense of accomplishment. I look forward to the spring gardening season myself. I am less disappointed in not piddling in the yard as I am in not working in containers on my back porch. But the winters here are mild, and I do have a heated laundry room out back. I might just have a whole bunch of seedlings come spring. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. We were hoping for just another couple weeks of warm weather here for our plants. The deer ate our habanero to the ground at the end of June. The resilient thing grew back, complete with many peppers. Unfortunately, the cool weather arrived before they could turn orange – they got to the right size before the cold weather, just not the right color.


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