Little Pumpkins

We hardly got any pumpkins from the neglected garden this year.  The squash vine borers really got them badly while I was away.  After last year’s harvest of over 40 pumpkins, I am disappointed.  I like pumpkin – it is wonderful baked, in soups, or sliced up with radishes and pickled.  Even pumpkin on the stove top with garlic, olive oil and tomato sauce is very good.  Everyone else says they are glad there are hardly any pumpkins.  Ethan says he is still sick of pumpkin.

I had to roast these now, as none of them are very good keepers.  One of the Table Queen acorn squashes was incredibly sweet and tasted like some kind of dessert with chestnuts.  It was delicious.  Definitely more of them in my garden next year.  The good news is that some wild Seminole pumpkins seem to be taking over up by the pigs.  From feeding the pigs vegetable scraps, a little garden grew up there.  About five or six big vines, and there was even a cherry tomato.  So far we’ve got four medium-sized pumpkins from those vines.  They look like Tahitian Melon/Seminole pumpkin crosses.  I’m definitely saving seed from them.  Any pumpkin that can self-sow and bear fruit without any care is a keeper.

I has been very, very wet, and most days end in being soaked to the skin.  Yesterday was cool even, down to 77 F when we were out doing the chores.  We got so much done, even though it was raining lightly.  The fall garden is being built.  I hope it keeps up, because I have plans for it, you know.  Big plans.

Otherwise I’ve been doing a lot of reading lately.  It has been awhile since I really read a lot – I was busy with other everyday things.  I’ve really enjoyed the studying I’ve been doing for next year’s home school.  The cultures and stories are all fantastic (India, Ancient Persia, Babylon, Egypt), but my recent favorite has been Count Like an Egyptian:  A Hands-on Guide to Ancient Math.

It’s a great blend of culture, history and easily explained mathematics that offer a totally different perspective on basic arithmetic, fractions, decimals, and number patterns.  It’s a text book written in a very nice, easy-to-read style, and even though I am really no good at math, I am able to grasp it, and it has even been helping me fill in the gaps in my math education.  It takes me a long time to study over the ideas.  Someone who was good at math would probably already be done with this book, but I have to mull things over.  The one chapter about place value I had to read about ten times before I understood it – and then I learned something incredible about decimals that I had never realized before and was never explained to me.

I missed a lot about decimals and fractions.  I moved to a new school in 5th grade, and also tested into the Gifted program the same year.  At my old school, on the poor side of town in the normal program, my class hadn’t done anything harder than long division.  Fights and violence often interrupted the classes.  It was normal for there to be a fight once a day either during or after lunch.  The first day at my new school, I wondered who would get in the first daily fight.  To my surprise, there never was a fight, not once all year.  And that wasn’t the only thing that was different.

All of a sudden I was in a class that was reviewing multiplying and dividing fractions and working with decimals.  No one stopped to ask if I had ever done this math before.  So I just sat quietly in class and failed (I was extremely shy).  I had no idea what the teachers were talking about, but because they talked about it as a review, I just felt like I ought to know it already.  My parents felt the same way.  They thought that if I was smart I would just somehow catch up with the class and be able to work with math notations that had never been explained to me, and if not I was dumb and deserved to fail.  It turned out I was dumb, and I failed.  I had always thought I was smart until 5th grade.

So it’s really nice to be able to catch up on things now.  I have to, for homeschool.  Once you get into Algebra in middle school, you don’t have a chance to go back and catch up on some of the very basic things like that.  I know that sounds very worrisome, since we are home schooling, but Ethan was always good at math, so he can always step in and explain things where I can’t.

There’s something about the Egyptian math…it gets in your head.  You start seeing things a different way.  I read Ethan some sections to see what he thought about it, and he complained of having dreams of Egyptian math.  That happened to me last night, too.  After a floundering dream that didn’t work out the way I hoped it would, I found myself dreaming about multiplying numbers by two-thirds in Egyptian notation.

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