My Many Enthusiasms

03 Jan

I’m one of those people who always needs a hobby and a project. I have to be reading a non-fiction book about some passion of mine. My Amazon wishlist is miles long…well, really I should say wishlists; I have several (20, to be precise), divided into categories like art, Kindle books, Esa reading, math, high priority, third grade, etc. I keep lists, notes, and journals related to my hobbies, too.

I’ve always been this way, but I think it really took off when I learned to knit. I joined knitting groups, both virtual and real, bought several books, needles in every size, and amassed a collection of yarn so vast I could  have opened my own shop (well, almost). (However, I wasn’t as enthusiastic as this lady.) The same thing happened when I learned to sew. And then I got started with homeschooling. That has been my biggest project to date.

Some of my interests die out. Sewing is pretty much dead. This is partly due to the fact that there aren’t any decent places around here from which to buy fabric. The main reason is that I can’t sew the kinds of clothing that I like. I prefer sweaters (too expensive to knit), jeans, and corduroys. I can sew tunics and simple tops, but how many tops does one need? Sewing also began to feel too much like work. I’m not saying I’ll never sew again, but it’s not a regular thing.

Knitting is sporadic. It’s one of those things that I kind of forget about. Then, when I pick up the needles again, I rediscover how enjoyable it is. After a few weeks, something will happen to break the habit and the needles start collecting dust again. I spent months knitting a beautiful, cotton, cable-knit and moss-stitch sweater for my son only to get so completely burned out on it that I gave up after knitting everything except the hood, but I just could not bring myself to do it. It’s still sitting in a bag somewhere, and even if I did finish it, it certainly wouldn’t fit him, although I have a few nephews that might like to have it. One of these days…

Some of my passions, however, endure. If anything, they grow stronger with time. The biggest of those is reading. I enjoy reading now more than I ever have, and as long as I have the use of my eyes, I will read. The others include writing, grammar, foreign languages, homeschooling, art, and baking.

No project excites  me more than a new project. So, as you can imagine, my list of resolutions has me nearly ecstatic.

Which reminds me, I’ve also added gardening to my list. Last year I really neglected the garden and this spring I want to get back out there and get my hands dirty.

I’ve recently discovered My Yahoo!. I’ve had a Yahoo! account for some time now, but I had no idea I could customise the My Yahoo! page. You can add and remove content, move things around, change the background, and add pages. I discovered all of this when one of my enthusiasms, grammar, had me subscribing to podcasts. I was able to add the podcast to the My Yahoo! page.

A grammar podcast?! Yes, indeed! (I told you I was obsessive…er, enthusiastic.) Grammar Girl has many podcasts that are entertaining and informative. I’ve learned a great deal already from browsing the site, and I plan to listen to at least one podcast a week (and take notes!) to improve my usage.

Let’s leave grammar for a minute so I can tell you about another great resource I discovered.

Getting excited about this podcast thing, I started searching around for other podcasts. Here are a few goodies:

I’m still looking for more, so if you have any good ones, I’d love to hear about them.

Another amazing one that I found was for a website called Latinum that uses an out-of-copyright book called A Practical Grammar of the Latin Language, as well as other books and resources in the public domain, to teach Latin.

From this page of the site:

Latinum teaches Latin. The site opens a pathway to full command of the language.

All of our course materials are available for free, and are based on out of copyright textbooks, or copyright-free materials.

You will find everything you need here to learn Latin to an advanced level. There is no need to even buy textbooks, if you are prepared to use digital books. Everything you need is also available on DVD on my little store – prices are very low.

Molendinarius (Evan der Millner) has constructed Latinum as an audio course, based directly on the course of progress followed by students in the Renaissance, at a time when Latin was used regularly by educated people across Europe for reading, writing, and speaking.

The goal of Latinum  to give you the tools to master Latin, in all its forms.  To this end, textbooks that were written for teaching Latin as a ‘workhorse’ language are used – Comenius‘ 17th century course ( possibly the most complete Latin course yet written, covering 4 years of full-time education), Adler‘s Practical Grammar, and various Structured Dialogues, and simple stories.

You can follow the steps  broadly outlined here – but feel free to use the materials in any order. You are encouraged to begin working with Adler (step two) at the same time as working with elements from step one.

Okay, this all sounds great. But I have enough experience with old books to know they’re not always user-friendly. I’ve not had a good look at this programme yet, but I’ll definitely give it a try.

Speaking of old texts, let’s get back to grammar now. I’m a quarter of the way through Harvey’s Elementary Grammar and Composition, and it’s hard…really hard. I sometimes have to read some bits several times, out loud, before I get it. I’m just not used to the antiquated language. My brain is really getting a workout, but there’s one problem: the answer key has several inaccuracies. Here’s an example from an exercise I recently did:

Point out the participial nouns (gerunds) and participles in the following exercises.

2. Looking over the wall, we saw a fox caught in a trap.

I identified “looking” as a present participle and “caught” as a perfect participle. The answer key lists “looking” as a gerund. I really didn’t feel that was correct. I went online to read a little more about the difference between gerunds and participles and it confirmed what I thought to be true: gerunds are the noun forms of words (walking stick, looking glass [a kind reader has pointed out that walking and looking, as used here, are adjectives; quite right!] I like skating. [That one is correct]) and participles are verbs used as adjectives (Situated on a high hill, the fort was easy to capture).

As further proof, if I were to say: “Looking over the wall, the fox was caught in a trap” I would have the famous dangling participle. The sentence implies that the fox was looking over the wall, not we.

I’m 99% sure that “looking” isn’t a gerund in that sentence. If you, dear reader, know for sure, please let me know.

There are several other mistakes, some of which are glaring, and some, because I’m not quite Grammar Girl, have me scratching my head. This makes me very reluctant to use this programme with Esa. However, Classical Writing has put together a workbook and answer key to go along with Harvey’s. For some reason, I feel more confident using their materials.

I’ve been taking a closer look at First Language Lessons levels 3 & 4 and I’ve decided we’ll definitely use them prior to Harvey’s. I suspected it wasn’t necessary to do levels 1 & 2 prior to level 3, and according to this review, I’m right. In a few months, when I order it, I’ll take an in-depth look at it. We can always do some prep work beforehand with level 2, if need be.

FLL 3 & 4 covers so much and is a lovely, gentle way to learn grammar. I also love that it has sentence diagramming, which truly helps with understanding the parts of speech and how sentences are put together. I’ve been diagramming with Harvey’s, and it’s been my favourite type of exercise.

I’m going to continue with Harvey’s, and I’ve also found these resources at the library:

I’ve reserved English Grammar In Use. I’m hopeful it will prove more user-friendly than Harvey’s.

Currently Reading:

  • A Woman’s Place: An Illustrated History of Women at Home, from the Roman Villa to the Victorian Town House
  • Great Expectations

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6 responses to “My Many Enthusiasms

  1. Neo

    January 3, 2011 at 7:30 pm

    You’ve been busy! Thanks for the many great links and resource reviews. They’re very useful!

    • whimsyway

      January 3, 2011 at 9:22 pm

      You’re very welcome, Neo. 🙂

    • Molendinarius

      January 7, 2011 at 7:18 pm

      See you found Latinum – there is also audio visual material over at Youtube – the channel is called evan1965, or just search YouTube for ‘latinum’.
      You are right about old books being hard – the audio material is based on these books – making them more digestible – and the audio is designed to be stand-alone. I had a blind person in mind when I designed the course, or those using it while out and about, for example, in the gym and doing chores around the house……

      Many students of Latinum are now active members of Schola – so, after 3 years, the site has produced a few speakers, and quite a few who are now much better writers ( and readers) of Latin.
      Even if Latinum isn’t perfect (and it isn’t, it has improved though over the past 3 years), it remains the only complete audio course available that will take you to college level, and beyond. Actually, it is several courses, and a growing collection of audio books, there are now well over 1000 hours of audio.

      • whimsyway

        January 8, 2011 at 7:27 am

        Hi Evan,
        I tried the first few lessons, but it was a real struggle. I was trying to match the audio with what was in the book, and couldn’t always find it. I know there is more in the audio than in the book, but I need to see it in front of me, otherwise I just don’t absorb it. I’ve been married for 8 years to a man who speaks Gujerati, and despite hearing Gujerati spoken almost daily amongst my in-laws, I’ve only managed to pick up about 30 words and phrases. Immersion just isn’t enough for me. I’m actually more interested in learning to read Latin, so for now I’m going to use another resource. I will most likely come back to Latinum once I’ve learned some Latin, because I do want to be fluent, but for now I need something with a little more hand-holding. 🙂 Thank you so much for all the hard work you have, and continue to, put into the course. It truly is a wonderful resource.

  2. djd

    January 4, 2011 at 1:39 pm

    In my opinion in the examples “walking stick, looking glass”, walking and looking are adjectives.

    • whimsyway

      January 4, 2011 at 1:59 pm

      Eeek! I believe you’re right; thanks for that.


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