I started out to come up with 10, but I wound up with 13. Thirteen favorite things, in the order that I thought of them. Maybe it tells you something about me, or something about where my head was today. Here goes . . .
My 1st favorite thought – CHOCOLATE! This is a chocolate caramel, one of my favorite chocolates! I also love chocolate almonds, chocolate ice cream, chocolate cakes. Let’s face it . . . I love chocolate! When you’re having a bad day, there’s nothing better, and on a good day, it’s a great reward. Chocolate is one of the best things in life. It gives you endorphins and makes everything better. It’s a very good thing!
My 2nd favorite thought – DOGS! To the left is my shrine (really) to my dog Leia. I said goodbye to her in 2014, but I’ve never forgotten her. She was a border terrier, and she was almost 15 when we said goodbye.
She was my best friend ever. She always slept outside my room and waited for me to get up. She even has her own story. It’s cute, but cute isn’t enough to get it published. Sorry, Leia! Someday, I promise.
To the left is the dog I’d get if my husband agreed. He’s never been a dog lover. It’s a poodle! I know, a she-she-poo dog, but they’re so trainable. I miss having a canine friend. Maybe someday!
My 3rd favorite – BOOKS! I have loved them forever. My childhood favorites included Dr. Suess, The Snowy Day, Charlotte’s Web, and The Little House books.
As a teacher I had 9 boxes of books by monthly units, 2 drawers of holiday stories, and 2 boxes of chapter books.
Now I read for fun and to stay current with the kids’ market. I’m fascinated with ideas and where they come from. I just finished Dragon Night. It started with the homonyms night and knight, added a little fear of both, and stirred in the legend of St. George and the Dragon. Clever!
Fourth – SUBBING! I thought when I retired I would never, EVER sub, but it’s fun once a week. I get to hang out with teachers and kids.
I stayed in 2nd grade for 28 years. Now I love bouncing from Kindergarten one week to 4th grade the next. I’m amazed by what these teachers and kids accomplish, and I love being part of the action for a day. Then I go home and focus on writing the stories they want and need.
Here’s #5 – MY FAMILY! I can’t believe they didn’t come up sooner. They’re my base. I wouldn’t be me if I wasn’t a wife and mother. My children are now grown up and scattered across the country.
This photo is from a wedding last April. From left to right – Andy, Ashley, Jaclyn, Alex, me, and Wayne.
Alex and Jaclyn live in Houston, Texas. Ashley is in Clarksville, Tennessee, and Andy’s in Columbus, Ohio. My husband and I travel between Wapakoneta, Ohio and Norris Lake in Tennessee. I love when everyone’s all together. It doesn’t happen often, but when it does, there’s nothing better.
#6 – TRAVELING! I love going places! Most of my travels are to see my children or to visit our lake house. Occasionally we fly, but usually we drive. It’s cheaper!
We made 2 big trips when our kids were still home. We did a historic loop of Washington, DC, Virginia, and Pennsylvania. We went out west to see Glacier, Yellow Stone, and the Grand Canyon, but our favorite family trips were to the beaches of South Carolina and to Norris Lake in Tennessee. We loved it so much we have a house there.
I’ve been overseas a couple times. I love visiting other countries and talking to people. I love seeing how we’re the same and different. I’ve been to England, Germany, and the Bahamas in a plane. I’ve sailed on a cruise ship to ports of call in Mexico, Honduras, Belize, Grand Cayman, and Cuba. There are so many places to see. I hope they’re part of my future, whether I travel by car, by plane, or by boat.
#7 – BEACHES! I love to travel, especially to beaches! The first one is in the Carolinas. I’m not a big city or big beach girl. Our favorite was Ocean Isle Beach, at the bottom of North Carolina. In the 90’s and early 2000’s it wasn’t crowded. My kids loved finding sea shells and hunting hermit crabs. It was the perfect vacation!.
The second beach is St. Augustine Beach. We only went there once, but I remember it wasn’t crowded and its beautiful white sand. It’s my kind of beach! I couldn’t believe you could actually drive your car on it. Surprise!
#8 – Germany! I have been there 4 times for about a month each time with Wapakoneta, Ohio’s sister cities program. Our sister city is Lengerich. It’s in the state of Nordrhein-Westfalen or North Rhine Westphalia.
This is one of their famous half-timbered houses. I love the style! This one is a business in downtown Lengerich. I’ve parked and walked by it.
This photo and these maps were at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lengerich%2C_Westphalia
The file photo is listed as Fachwerkhaus or half-timber house. Its address is Im Hook 5 in Lengerich. My sister teacher lives on that street in Lengerich.
Lengerich is in the district of Steinfurt. That’s one section of North Rhine Westphalia.
I’ve visited Tecklenburg to the north. It’s a touristy sort of town famous for its castle ruins. I saw the German version of the Jungle book there.
I’ve been to Ibbenburen. One of the kids I hosted traveled there each day for a couple years for high school.
If you look east of Lengerich, you’ll see Lienen. It’s the sister city of our our next-door neighbor, St. Marys. Lienen is horse country.
Ladbergen is sister city to New Knoxville, another close neighbor of Wapakoneta. If I remember correctly, part of Neil Armstrong’s family came from Ladbergen.
Go south of Ladbergen, and you’ll find Munster. There’s a university there that’s housed in an old castle. I love Germany!
This is a map of Germany. When I was there 5 years ago, we did a lap around the country. We flew into Frankfurt. That’s in Hessen. Its river front is gorgeous. We traveled onto Cologne in North Rhine Westphalia. Its medieval cathedral is a World Heritage site.
We went north to Bremen and Hamburg. You know Bremen’s capital from THE BREMEN TOWN MUSICIANS. I had my picture taken next to the statue.
Bremen has a great harbor. Did you know it’s where most Germans said goodbye to come to the US? It’s on the North Sea, and it’s much colder than the Carolina Coast. Hamburg has a harbor too. It’s the 3rd largest in Europe.
I traveled across to Brandenburg and down to Berlin. It’s an amazing city. I’ve been there 4 times, but I’d return in a heartbeat. There is so much history. Travel south to find more in cities like Nuremburg.
Go further south and you’re in the state of Bayern. That’s where Munich is, and their famous soccer team, Bayern Munich. Munich is incredible. It’s the heart of what Americans think of as German culture, and it’s completely different from the North. Someday I want to visit during Octoberfest.
The first picture is from my bedroom at the lake. I bought a special fold-up chair for it, but I usually don’t write in it. I sit in the family room in my lazy-boy, feet up, view of the lake.
The second picture is from downstairs in Wapakoneta looking out at our backyard. I sit in another lazy-boy. I used to write upstairs till we moved the furniture. It’s back but I’m still downstairs with my great view.
Favorite #10 – NORRIS LAKE! This is our view the first year. We saw more trees and forest than lake and water. I took the squirrel picture 2 days after we’d moved in. Our house was empty for 3 years so the critters felt at home. The second picture is my husband. He cut down a lot of trees that first year. Most were tiny. A few were big. The biggest ones we had a professional cut down. The last picture is my husband with his pride and joy, the boat.
I don’t care if it’s fall, winter, spring or summer! I love the lake. This is our 4th year. It hasn’t grown old.
I’m named after my Grandmother, Rinda Hoskins Wilson. I didn’t know she died near Norris. Moving here gave me a chance to learn more about her, and it’s been a wonderful surprise.
#11 – MUSIC! I discovered music in 3rd grade when I started taking piano lessons. Then in 4th grade I joined band. Guess what I played . . . clarinet!
I stayed with marching band through high school graduation. I did solo contests with both instruments. I thought I’d become a musician, maybe a music teacher. Then I discovered that you need to practice an hour a day, per instrument. I was a high school senior, and I loved music, but not enough to practice 2 hours per day. Instead I became a fan of other peoples music.
Here's a clue to my favorite song. It’s by Steve Windwood. I looked hard to find the original version. Enjoy! And don’t forget . . . roll with it! https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=1847979958580985
#12 – COLORING! I’d forgotten how much I love to color. When I first retired, I needed something to do in the evenings, and adult coloring books were popular. I love coordinating colors and designs. It helped me connect to my artistic side. It also gave me enough confidence to take a painting class.
And lucky number 13 – COCA COLA! It’s the real thing! I’ve loved Coke since I was little! When I had my 3 kids, I knew my husband loved me . . . he brought me a Coke after I had each baby. It’s the little things! For those of you who’ve been around as long as me, enjoy this blast from the past, another favorite song . . .
This is my favorite kind of question!
Which country has the world’s most eco-friendly beaches?
Australia France Spain New Zealand
The answer . . . Spain
FYI – this beach may or may not be in Spain.
Spain has 590 beaches that have been awarded Blue Flag certification by the Foundation for Environmental Education. That means their beaches are eco-friendly, safe, accessible, and have learning experiences. The next 2 beaches are in Spain.
This beach sits beside Malaga. Malaga is both a city and a province. It’s gorgeous!
This beach is in Andalusia. It’s a territory in southern Spain. It has 8 provinces, including Malaga. The provinces form the bottom of the Spanish coastline. It’s gorgeous too!
This is a map of Spain. It’s done in the colors of the Spanish flag. The country to the north is France. The country to the west is Portugal. The continent to the south is Africa.
The Mediterranean Sea and its beaches are to the east. The Atlantic Ocean and its beaches are to the west. Do you see the bottom red section of land? That’s Andalusia and its beaches.
I love to learn, and I love doing quiz questions. I just got the idea for us to do trivia together. I saved my favorite questions from two sites, travel trivia and quiz club.
Here’s your first question. Good luck!
PS- I never look up the answer. I try to guess.
What was the happiest country in 2018? I got it right! I hope you do too!
Your choices . . . Finland Norway Denmark Sweden
How did Finland win? The United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network picked them. Wow! That’s a mouthful!
The UN Network looked at 6 factors – 1. Money earned from goods and services (GDP) 2. Life expectancy 3. Social support for citizens 4. Generosity 5. Freedom 6. Lack of corruption. They ranked 156 countries. Unfortunately the US came in 17th.
Here’s a map of Scandinavia. It’s made up of 4 countries: Finland, Sweden, Norway, and Denmark. Scandinavia must be a happy place . . . Norway and Denmark are past winners.
Finland is home to 5.5 million people. Take a look at the pictures below. It’s a beautiful place!
Here’s the travel trivia link. It’s a great way to visit new places on the internet.
Day or night, Helsinki is a beautiful city. It’s Finland’s capital.
These are the Northern Lights. They make me want to visit Finland. It’s a beautiful place. And happy too!
The story behind this post: It all started with a publicist, not mine, Riley’s. Riley’s owner, Jill Mangel Weisfield , had a publicist for her book, and she emailed me and asked if I’d review it. She sent me a copy to read. I loved it so much I decided to review it for My Reads and write a post about working dogs.
In her adventure Riley searched for the right job. She imagined pulling a sled, guarding the president, competing in a dog show, guiding a blind person, working at a fire house, and becoming a therapy dog.
I researched and found even more job opportunities for Riley! It’s true— a dog is man’s best friend! Keep reading to find out why dogs are the best pet ever!
Sled Dogs: Long ago dogs pulled sleds in cold and snowy places like Alaska. Mushing peaked during the 1880’s gold rush. In the early 1900’s dogs still delivered mail until planes took over. Sometimes dogs still help out by moving people and supplies.
Dog sledding was a popular sport until snowmobiles appeared in the 1960’s, but in 1973 the Iditarod revived dog sledding. It takes 8-15 days to race from Anchorage to Nome. It may be early March, but the dogs race through blizzards and gale-force winds. The wind chill can drop to −100 °F. Yikes!
Carting: Carting or dryland mushing is a sport found all over the world. It looks like dog sledding without the snow, and it keeps the dogs in racing form during the off-season.
Draught Animals: These are draught (draft) dogs from long ago. I’d never seen the word draught before. It means that they’d pull carts for their owners, usually farmers or peddlers. Sometimes they carried mail or people.
In WWI they pulled small field guns. The Soviet Army in WWII used them to pull carts with stretchers for wounded soldiers. Would you believe the military dogs had guard dogs to protect them too. They were valuable!
Turnspit dogs: Can you find him in the picture? He’s inside the wheel, and he’s running to get some meat. He reminds me of a hamster on a wheel, except hamsters do it by choice, for fun.
Now can you see the spit on the fire? It’s cooking some meat. The dog’s wheel is connected to the spit.
When the dog runs, it turns the meat so it won’t get burned. In today’s world, that seems mean, but if you were a kid back in the day, you’d rather have a dog turn the spit than you. This picture was from a book about a tour to North/South Wales in 1797 by Henry Wigstead. I wonder if George Washington had a turnspit dog.
Turnspit dogs were also called Kitchen Dogs or Canis Vertigus, but no one’s sure what breed they were because no one recorded that information. Some people think they might be related to the Glen of Imaal Terrier or the Welsh Corgi. I think both are too cute to be put to work!
Hunting Dogs: Dogs have been helping people hunt since before bows and arrows. Hunters love their dogs. They can find, track, and bring back the animal you shot. Sometimes they chase away animals you don’t want like mice or cockroaches.
Dogs are trained to hold big animals like bears or wild boars in place until you arrive.
Bird Dogs: These dogs were bred to point hunters toward the game and to retrieve it. They’re energetic, and they love water. Bird dogs are great with kids, and they’re great as therapy dogs.
Here are some of the most popular bird dogs. Do you recognize any of them? Do you have one?
My dad’s favorite dog was a Brittany. She was his best friend and a family legend, pointing out pheasants hidden in the woods.
Sight Dogs: I’d never heard of Sight dogs till this post, but they have great eyes and great speed. They can chase down things that move fast like cats, squirrels, even kids. They love to play games like fetch. Sight dogs love to run, but if there’s nothing to chase, they’re happy laying by your feet. Here are a few sight dogs.
Herding Dogs: Everyone can picture them. They’re Biblical! Remember, the shepherds watching their flocks by night? I picture them with a dog or two. Don’t forget cowboys and their dogs herding cattle. I’ve never pictured dogs herding geese, but they are in the first picture below. I’ve seen dogs herd kids. My border terrier, Leia ,used to herd me if there was something she wanted me to do.
Did you know there’s actually a herding group of dogs? There are 80 different breeds in this group! But not all herding dogs turn out to be good herders. Some are better as pets. Click on the next link and you can read the whole list. Link: https://www.dogbreedinfo.com/h/herdingdogs.ht
Did you know herding dogs have trials? To win one, a dog must move the sheep when their handler is farther away. BTW a handler can be the owner or a professional hired by the owner. The dog must control the sheep and take them to the handler, and then repeat, by doing the opposite. It’s interesting that the away drive is harder. It’s against instinct for a dog to move the sheep away from the handler. The final task for the team is to move the sheep into a space like a pen or a cart.
Sometimes the dog must separate the sheep into 2 groups according to a judge’s directions. It’s called shedding. Singling is when the dog and handler work together to pull a few sheep out of a large group. They may also do a cross drive where the dog moves the sheep from one side of the field to the other, in front of the handler, but at a distance from him.
The picture above is from a 2010 trial in Utah. I found it, plus more information at this link.
Fire House Dogs: That’s the one and only Dalmatian. You know as in 101 Dalmatians? I’ve never seen a live one at my home fire house. They’re just statues. Read on and discover how Dalmatians became fire station dogs.
Back in the days of fire carriages in merry old England, the firemen would get the call, throw in a steam pump, hitch up the horses, and take off. The Dalmatians kept the horses from spooking and they could run forever beside the coach.
I love this fact! Dalmatians were the first siren. Their bark warned people to get out of the way because a fire carriage was coming. They also kept the horses calm when they arrived, and they guarded the equipment. Back at the fire house, they took care of vermin like rats.
But when fire trucks were invented, Dalmatians weren’t needed to bark or calm the horses. Any dog would do, but firemen have kept Dalmatians around. They’re tradition! I hope it never changes! Here’s the link that helped me write this post. It has more information than I could share.
Show Dogs: Have you ever seen dog shows on TV? The dogs are shampooed, trimmed, combed, and primped until they’re perfect. It looks like a beauty contest, but it’s not.
The AKC, American Kennel Association, says dog shows are about finding the dog that best fits the breed standards. That’s a list of physical traits, movement, and temperament. Each breed has its own standards. A Cocker and a Brittany are both spaniels, but they have different standards. A judge picks a winner based on those standards. A handler preps their dog to show off their best traits and to minimize others.
The AKC, American Kennel Association, says dog shows are about finding the dog that best fits the breed standards. That’s a list of their physical traits, how they move, and their personality. Each breed has its own standards. Boston and Border are both terriers, but with different standards. A judge picks a winner based on which dog fits the most standards. A handler preps their dog to show off their best traits, and to minimize others.
Did you know there are 340 recognized breeds world-wide? The AKC recognizes 192. Each breed has its own American club. There’s one club for Boston Terriers, and another for Border Terriers. A dog that conforms to standards will do well in shows. Winning means your dog is worth more money. Their puppies are worth more too. Winning might even get them a dog food commercial, and more money.
Some shows are small local events with just one breed. Others, like the one at Westminster feature all 192. They might have more than 3000 dogs entered in them. Here are 2 links to the AKC: https://www.akc.org/sports/conformation/ and https://www.akc.org/dog-breeds/
If a dog doesn’t have enough traits, or it’s a mix of breeds, they can’t be in dog shows, but don’t worry! They can still be a great pet, and here’s another possibility.
Agility Dogs: Agility contests are for all dogs. It’s a growing sport across the US with over a million entries a year. Winning is strictly about how fast and how accurately a dog can race. It reminds me of the obstacle courses some people do on TV. Fast and accurate is the way to go! Each mistake is subtracted from your score.
The course is too complicated for a lone dog. They need a handler to guide them through a series of jumps, dog walks, seesaws, tunnels, pause tables, and weave poles.
The handler gets to walk through the course before the race, without their dog, but during the competition they’ll work together as a team. The dog will race off leash, without rewards like food or toys. The handler can’t touch the dog or anything on the course, but they’re allowed to use voice or hand signals. It must be hard for them to do this cold without running the actual course, but at least at home the handlers can prepare their dogs by using different obstacles, and by changing the order. Training, obedience, and working together is key!
To learn more, click on:
https://www.akc.org/sports/agility/ and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dog_agility
Guard Dogs: Dogs have been guarding people and their possessions since the shepherds watched their flocks, since dalmatians became fire house dogs.
Guard dogs and watch dogs are basically the same. They both guard something, but guard dogs work professionally for businesses like security firms and the military. Watch dogs work as pets and as home protectors. If this dog lived at your house, I think I would call and check before coming over. How about you?
Police Dogs: This is a German police dog, but dogs serve policemen world-wide. They can check out crime scenes and track down the bad guys. Dogs can make them freeze until policemen can arrest and handcuff them. Police dogs are also called K9 units. Did you get their joke? Policemen chose K9 because it’s a play on the word for dog…canine. LOL!
Military Dogs: They’re also known as War Dogs or the K9 Corps. Their newest name is Military Working Dogs. Whatever you want to call them, they do many of the same jobs that Police and Guard Dogs do, but these dogs also detect mines and wires. They track or scout for enemy soldiers. They stand guard as sentries. They also serve in search and rescue units. They are truly a soldier’s best friend.
Most military and police dogs are German shepherds, Dutch shepherds, and Malinois (Belgian shepherds). They look like they’re related. That’s probably because they come from the same part of the world.
re’s a map of Western Europe. The part that’s colored is Germany. Each color represents 1 of their 16 states, and that’s where the German Shepherd came from.
Find the northeastern corner of the map. Do you see the Niederlands? That’s the Netherlands where you find all things Dutch, including the Dutch Shepherd.
Go south. Do you see Belgien? That’s Belgium, home of the Belgian Shepherd.
Tao learn more, click or copy this link:
Search and Rescue Dogs: If you’re ever in trouble, you need a search and rescue dog out looking for you. Their sense of smell and hearing are incredible, and they’re so agile, they can find you no matter where you are. They’re trained to specialize in specific kinds of rescues. Read on to find out about these talented dogs.
Tracking Dogs: They track scents, of course! Their skills help them find both people and animals. They can even track down criminals before the police know who they’re looking for.
Detection Dogs: These dogs can sniff out a single ingredient or a mixture of them. Some of the common scents they look for are illegal drugs, bombs, blood, and dead bodies. They can even smell those things inside a suitcase or a trunk. They can also find live bedbugs, termites, or mice from the scent of their waste.
You can find detection dogs working for police departments, for biologists who study living things, and for medical departments.
Hunting truffles was one of the first detection jobs. Truffles are a special fungus that people like to eat, kind of like mushrooms. They’re harder to find because they’re buried underground, but detection dogs can sniff out this hidden treasure.
Cancer Detection Dogs: These dogs can detect certain forms of cancer by smelling your breath or your urine/pee. Research is promising, but it hasn’t been verified by enough studies. Maybe someday dogs will work for your local doctor or medical lab.
Cadaver Dogs: These dogs can find dead bodies or the parts of one. Whenever there’s a disaster like an earthquake or hurricane, dogs can find our loved ones faster than we can. They also work crime scenes and accidents.
This picture shows the site of a plane crash. A dog is looking for bodies that are buried under snow and ice. It’s sad work, but I’m glad dogs are there to help. If you’re looking for a search and rescue dog, these are the best ones around.
Service Dogs: As a retired teacher these dogs are close to my heart. They help you live with a disability, and they can also be your best friend. I researched five of them, and here’s what I discovered.
Seeing Eye Dogs/Guide Dogs: These are the most famous kind of service dogs. This picture is from 1941, but these dogs have been around even longer. They started work in Germany during WWI, about 1914. They were supposed to help veterans adjust to postwar life.
In 1927 Morris Frank brought a German dog home to Nashville, Tennessee. He started a Seeing Eye school for dogs that’s still working today. If you are blind or have trouble seeing, these dogs can guide you through life.
I was surprised to learn that dogs are red/green color blind, and that they don’t understand signs like stop signs. I wondered how they could help blind people with these 2 big disabilities.
Dog schools teach both people and dogs how to work as a team. You are trained to navigate by keeping a map in your head. You must know how many streets to your destination, which ones have stop signs, and which ones have traffic lights. The dog acts as your pilot and directs you around all the obstacles in your way.
Mobility Assistance Dogs: This is not a mobility dog, but it’s wearing a harness like mobility dogs do. Can you imagine how difficult life would be if you had trouble walking or were in a wheelchair?
These dogs are great, especially if your home is dog-ready. They push buttons for doors and lights. They get things that have fallen or are out of reach. They pull wheelchairs up ramps.
They bring family when you need help. They brace you if you have balance problems. A mobility dog could change your life.
Seizure Dog: This isn’t a seizure dog, but it could be. Seizure dogs are tuned into their humans. They detect seizures that are caused by epilepsy or something else.
Seizures are caused by an unexpected electrical charge in the brain. They show up in different ways, with different symptoms. Most are mild and last about 2 minutes, but if they last longer than 5, they can cause long term issues. Seizure dogs are for these patients.
Seizure dogs help in lots of ways. They summon help. They can start emergency response systems. They can help their human out of the seizure or into a better position. They can even help them stand.
Seizure dogs can also get phones or medication. If their human’s in danger like in the middle of the road, they can help them to safety. Some dogs even tell their humans that a seizure’s coming. Can you imagine what a difference these dogs make in the lives of their families?
These are the most common therapy dogs. They’re also the most common working dogs. Why? I think it’s because they’re all smart, obedient, and easily trainable. They’re perfect pets too!
Hearing Dogs: These dogs aren’t as famous, but if you have trouble hearing, a hearing dog would be a god-send. They are trained to nudge their owners and lead them towards a sound, like a doorbell, alarm clock, telephone, crying baby, a smoke alarm, even their human’s name. If you can hear, you’ve probably never thought of how difficult a hearing disability can be.
Therapy Dogs: They are the most common kind of service dog around, and any dog can be a therapy dog. They just have to have the right personality and the right training. Then they must pass a test to prove they have the right stuff.
If your dog passes, they earn a special vest. It tells everyone around that they’re a working dog. Then they can visit hospitals, nursing homes, libraries, schools, and even colleges, anywhere humans need a little TLC…tender loving care.
If you see a dog in a vest, they’re on the job. Always ask if you can greet them. Sometimes their humans will say yes. Other times no. It depends on the situation.
If you’d like to learn more about working dogs, here is the link that helped me get started: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Working_dog
Click on this one to learn more about the dog breeds that like to get to work:
This is a photo of George and Barbara Bush. George was our 41st president. Barbara was his wife and First Lady. They were married for 73 years. Barbara died last April. George died last Friday, November 30th.
Since Friday I’ve heard so many great stories about the Bushes, and I thought about my audience, the kids, teachers and parents who worked this week and couldn’t listen in. I started out with my 3 favorite stories, and now I’m up to 7. To me all these stories matter. They tell you something about George as a person. I hope they give you a great model for who you can become as you grow and learn. Most of all I hope these stories will matter to you too.
The picture below is of George as a very young man. I knew he was in World War II, but I didn’t know that he volunteered to join the Navy the day after he turned 18. His father tried to talk him out of it. George would have none of it. He believed in duty, honor, and country. Wow! I don’t know that I could have stood up to my father at 18. A year later George became the youngest Navy fighter pilot. He flew 58 missions, and he almost didn’t live to tell. This is Story #1--
On September 2, 1944, George and his two-man crew finished a dangerous mission aboard an Avenger bomber. George dropped his missiles on a Japanese radio tower on the island of Chichi Jima and headed out to sea. As he flew towards 8000 feet his plane was hit, and it caught fire. George ordered his radio operator and gunner out. He banked his plane so it was easier for them to jump. At 3000 feet George bailed out, hitting his head on the tail, landing deep in the ocean. He resurfaced, head bleeding and swallowing sea water. His crew was no where in site.
Another plane signaled the location of a life raft, and George swam for it as if his life depended on it. It did! George had time to wait and worry that the Japanese would come and capture him. To worry that his men were dead, a
nd that he hadn’t done enough to save them. With his head bleeding, his stomach churning, and his heart heavy, George cried. Then 2 hours later he spotted a periscope. George was sure he was done, that it was a Japanese submarine. It wasn’t. It was the USS submarine Finback. George was saved. He was even a hero! He won the Navy’s Distinguished Flying Cross, but George didn’t feel like a hero. From that September day of 1944 on George asked a question that followed him throughout his life, “Why me? Why did I live?” And from that moment on George answered by living a life true to his values of duty, honor, and country.
The Back Story for Story #2…
If you were born after 1989, you might not have heard of the Berlin Wall. I was born in May of 1959. The Berlin Wall dominated my life until I was 30.
Look at the map. The large one shows the city of Berlin after WWII. It was divided into 4 sectors that went to the French, British, Americans, and Soviets. By the time 1961 rolled around, basically the Americans and Soviets controlled Berlin. By then there was also an East and West Germany. If you look at the smaller map, you can see the countries that surrounded the two Germanies. Do you see Berlin? It’s the small blue area in the eastern section of East Germany. West Berlin was actually in East Germany. It made life complicated in those days, the days of the Cold War.
Why was the wall built? Because East Germans were escaping communism and socialism in the East, for a better life in the west. The wall was built in the middle of the night on August 13, 1961. I was 2 years old.
Why middle of the night? Because the Soviets were pulling a sneak attack, trying to stop people leaving. After the wall was built, guards were posted. If you tried to escape you were shot. If you went in legally from West Berlin to East, you went through Checkpoint Charlie. There were American guards on one side, Soviet guards on the other, and they all had guns. It was scary to go from East to West. One wrong word, and you could be imprisoned. If you watch old spy movies from the 1960’s to the late 1980’s, you’ll see what life was like back then. The Cold War was a scary time. We feared a nuclear war with the Soviets.
On November 9th, 1989, the wall came down. I was 30 years old, and home on maternity leave. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. The 1st picture was from those incredible days in 1989.
The 2nd picture was probably taken later. It’s Ronald Reagan, a famous American President. I’ve never seen this picture before, but I know Reagan’s role in the wall coming down, and his advisors told him not to do
it. Reagan ignored them. He held onto his principles. On June 12, 1987 he stood in front of the wall, and gave a famous speech. He called out to the Soviet leader, Mikhail Gorbachev. He said, “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall.” Gorbachev refused.
George H.W. Bush was Reagan’s vice president. He’d also been the US Ambassador to the UN, the CIA director, and the US Ambassador to China. He knew world leaders, and he worked behind the scenes to make things happen.
I stood in front of the wall for the 1st time in 2007. The wall looked a lot like this.
The 2nd mural wasn’t there yet. Do you recognize the 2 figures? They’re Mikhail Gorbachev and Ronald Reagan, but the most interesting thing is Bush is missing. That’s story #2, Bush’s part in this tale.
The wall came down in 1989. George H.W. Bush was now president, and his work with Gorbachev made it happen. He didn’t drop the ball, but he helped the wall come down. I think he should be there, but 41 wasn’t about taking credit. He was about duty, honor, and country.
41 was told by his advisors to get to the wall and get his picture taken there. It would show his success. It’d help him get re-elected. Bush refused. He thought it was more important to be a friend to Gorbachev and the Soviet people.
He was right! A year later on October 3, 1990 East and West Germany united after 45 years apart. I didn’t think it’d ever happen, and I never gave 41 credit. Neither did our press, but 2 people did after George died. Brian Mulroney, the Canadian Prime Minister, spoke at 41’s funeral and told the story of how Bush worked with his friends to help the German people. Angela Merkel, the German Chancellor, told reporters that Bush was one of the father’s of German Reunification. Wow! What a great compliment! She also paid her respects by attending his funeral.
This is a picture of the 20th anniversary of German reunification in 2008. Here are some of Germany’s fathers: Mikhail Gorbachev, George H.W. Bush, and Helmut Kohl. He was the Chancellor of West Germany back in 1988.
This is a picture of the same 3 leaders at the 25th anniversary, Gorbachev, Bush, and Kohl. I picked this picture because it features Angela chatting with Barbara Bush. It makes me happy to see these leaders celebrate making a difference. Here’s to duty, honor, and country!
Story Number 3 is about friendship. I have a few friends I made in college. That was 40 years ago, but none of them have lasted as long as George’s.
George met Alan Simpson back in 1962. They were friends for 56 years. In 2011 George asked Alan to speak at his funeral. Alan did. He told stories about their friendship. Most people are fair weather friends. They’re only there for the good times, but not George!
This story stuck with me. Alan was the senator from Wyoming. People were mad because he pushed for cuts in popular programs like Social Security and Medicare. He believed the government needed to save money to cut the national debt. Alan laughed that his popularity rating was less than 1%.
George was at the height of his popularity, at 93%. As president, he put together a group of countries, and they fought together to free Kuwait from Iraq. George was a hero!
Most people wouldn’t have invited the Simpsons to dinner, but George invited them to spend a weekend at Camp David. As they headed off to the helicopter, George laughed and told Alan to smile and wave to the reporters. No one waved back. The pictures landed in the Sunday papers, but the Bushes and the Simpsons didn't care. They had a great weekend anyway.
Story Number 4— three stories in one. Before I write, I always search for pictures. Today I found two new stories while looking for those pictures so I’ll share all 3.
When you’re president or vice president, the Secret Service is a big perk. They’re there to protect you. They’re there to serve you. This picture was taken in 2011 when the Secret Service helped 41 leave the ball park after watching the Houston Astros play baseball.
George was a favorite of the Secret Service. It’s because he treated them as people. He didn’t see himself as more important. I didn’t know either of these 2 small stories until I searched for those pictures. Are you ready? This is really yummy! George and the Secret Service agents often got the munchies in the middle of the night. They’d raid the kitchen for milk and cookies together. YUM! My kind of president!
This is even sweeter! George and his family stayed in DC for Christmas Eve so their agents could spend Christmas with their families. The day after Christmas they’d head to Texas. What a great boss! Unfortunately, not all former presidents or vice presidents are this nice. You can google to find out who’s nice and who’s not.
I was searching for the picture above. It was taken in 2013. It shows 41 with a toddler on his lap. The second picture is 41’s security detail. They shaved their heads to show support for a fellow agent whose toddler had leukemia. George found out and refused to sit this picture out. He shaved his head to support his security guys. I think that’s incredible. Another sweet detail, leukemia is the same disease that took his daughter Robin in 1953. George never forgot Robin, ever.
BTW, I didn’t look this one up, but George and the toddler took another picture together 3 years later. I’m glad to report they both had hair!
Story Number 5— Lost and Found, Argument and Forgiveness. Do you remember 41’s first story, about his plane going down just off the island of Chichi Jima? He was lucky. He lived to tell, but he never forgot his crew.
Time passed. 41 became president. His son George did too. Another son Jeb wanted to run, but Donald Trump beat him for the Republican nomination. It wasn’t pretty, and the Bushes were mad.
Trump went on to become president. The Bushes voted against Trump, but they forgave him. They went on to work with him on one special project. This is that story.
Barbara reached out to Donald in a letter in January of 2018. She wrote about a plane that went down during World War II. Barbara asked for help in searching the ocean floor to bring that crew home. I thought the plane was George’s from Chichi Jima, but I searched and found only this report for the Palau Islands.
Here’s a map to show both crashes. Find the P in Japan. That’s close to Tokyo. Go straight south down to Iwo Jima. Chichi Jima is somewhere in the middle, to the southeast of Japan. That’s where 41’s plane went down. Neither the plane nor its crew have been found.
Continue south past Iwo Jima down to the line that says Central Pacific Area. Go west, and you’ll see the Palau Islands. That’s where the most recent wreckage was found.
The job was finished in 2 months. It was hard with 1-6 divers working 12-hour days at the bottom of the sea. The Army, Navy, and Air Force worked as a team to complete the mission. This is what one plane looked like after over 70 years on the ocean floor. YIKES!
Work started in January, 2018 to remove 70 years of sand and ocean life. It was finished by the end of February/early March, Donald called George to report 2 men were found, but not 41’s crew. Trump expected him to be disappointed, but George was glad that 2 more Americans were coming home.
I found these 2 links for the Palau Island story. They both reported that more than one body was found, but no identification had been made. That takes more time. Here are the links if you’d like to read more of this story.
Story Number 6— Generosity of Spirit and Word Power. I didn’t get any pictures of 41 this time. That’s because George did everything privately, for the Pence family. This story wasn’t supposed to be told, and those are the best kinds of stories!
Do you recognize this man? He’s the Vice President, Mike Pence. He was one of the speakers for 41 when he laid in state in the Capital Dome. Mike spoke for 11 minutes, but I remember this story. It’s a personal story about Mike, his son, and 41.
Mike’s son is a 1st lieutenant in the marines. He had someone take a picture of his first tail-hook landing on an aircraft carrier. The name of the carrier, the USS George H.W. Bush.
Mike has known 41 for years. He knew Bush had stopped doing autographs, but he sent the picture and a note, just in case, hoping for that autograph. Not only did Bush sign the picture, he sent a note too. Here’s what 41 wrote, “Though we have not met, I share the pride your father has for you during this momentous occasion. And I wish you many CAVU days ahead.”
CAVU, I think everyone in the room said CAVU, then what’s that. CAVU stands for Ceiling and Visibility Unlimited. Mike’s son knew what it meant. It’s a Navy pilot’s term to describe the best kind of weather for flying off an aircraft carrier. I bet it’s what they want when they land too. BTW tailhook is something attached to the wings of the fighter jet. It catches the plane when it lands so that it can slow down and stop before it runs off the edge of the carrier. The plane has 1092 feet to stop. That’s 364 yards or about 3.5 football fields. That sounds like enough till you discover a plane gets 13,123 feet for a typical runway. That’s 4,374 yards or about 44 football fields. Navy pilots are great!
I’ve read that George thought CAVU described his life. Pence thought it was the vision 41 had for his children, his grandchildren, and his country. That’s what I want for all of us too, lots of CAVU days ahead!
Research link for this post: https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2018/12/03/george-h-w-bush-honored-vice-president-pence-acronym-cavu/2197158002/
Story Number 7— The Final Story, Remembering the Past, Seeking the Future.
This story got my attention. It’s what made me want to write this post.
In his last year George talked about death, and life after death with his pastor. He wanted to know if he’d see Robin again, and he wondered what she’d look like. Would she be the 3-year-old he remembered, or a 65-year-old woman he didn’t recognize?
I’d forgotten about Robin till this week. She had leukemia and died in 1953. She never got to turn 4 or ride a school bus. I can’t imagine losing a child, but the Bushes had to. They never forgot their little girl, but life had to go on. They already had a son George W and would go on to have 3 boys and another girl. Dorothy was born 6 years later, the same year I was born.
For both George and Barbara, there was one thing they looked forward to in death, and that was seeing Robin again. I listened to 43’s eulogy about his father, and I remember how it closed. I think that’s the way this post should too. George W said, “And in our grief, let us smile knowing that dad is hugging Robin and holding Mom’s hand again.” I hope so too.
Research links for this storry: https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2018/12/03/george-hw-bush-loss-daughter-robin-would-thread-through-his-life/2183444002/
I'm starting with a map to show you where the ship was supposed to go on Sunday after we left Cienfuegos, and where the ship actually went. We were supposed to spend a day sailing west around Cuba, and then head east towards Havana.
That didn't happen! Hurricane Michael had already popped up on the western end of Cuba. When there’s a hurricane, a captain takes his ship out to sea away from the storm. So instead of going west Sunday night, our captain took us south toward the Cayman Islands. Not all the way there, but far enough to avoid high seas.
Here’s what the weather map looked like Monday night. I found this after I got home to Ohio. Michael was a Category 1 storm with winds of 74-95 mph (miles per hour). That’s faster than your parents drive down interstate.
Michael was sitting where we were supposed to go, but I’m glad we didn’t go. His Category 1 waves were big enough for me. By Wednesday when Michael moved north to the Gulf Coast of Florida, he was a Category 3 hurricane with winds of 111-129 mph. That's hide in the basement fast! Y-I-K-E-S!!!
Sometime Tuesday the captain started sailing west on our original course to Havana. We were supposed to get there Tuesday morning, but we made it off the ship by 5PM Tuesday night. That gave us a little time to explore that night, then on Wednesday we had till 5PM. Not as much time in Havana as scheduled, but enough to time to meet and love Havana. Enough time to want to return again.
I took these pictures on Monday from the deck on the 6th floor. The ship was rocking and rolling, literally! The waves don’t look too bad, but they’re higher than they look…15-19 feet tall. The wind was blowing, about 20-30 knots. Not sure what those numbers mean? Wait for it…I’ll explain the numbers like I did back in the day when I was a 2nd grade teacher.
Why pinball? I told you the ship was rocking and rolling, but no one could walk, unless wobbling counts. I felt like I was a pinball bouncing back and forth across the passage. It was the oddest feeling. I didn’t fall over, but I didn’t wind up walking where I’d planned. The rocking sent us from one side of the hallway to the other.
Do you know what’s hanging from the rail in the 2nd picture? Yes, ‘barf’ bags! I prefer sick bags! I was blessed…I enjoyed the out-of-control sensation. I’m a retired teacher, and I prefer to be in control. This is one of the few situations where I had no control, so I decided to enjoy.
Plus as a writer, I got to ‘enjoy’ storm force wind and waves. We don’t have that in Ohio. And someone from California told me it was like an earthquake, just a lot longer. An earthquake is only about 30 seconds. We don’t have those in Ohio either. I think it’s fabulous that I got to experience a stormy sea and hyper-extended earthquake, and I didn’t have to pay a dime for the extra experience.
Remember the wind blowing 20-30 knots? I didn’t know what that meant. This link help me…
That’s about 23-34.5 mph, the speed your mom or dad drives in town, or on the edges of town. Not super fast.
If you’re wondering why an elephant’s here, it’s because my second graders had trouble figure out what measurements really mean. This is an African elephant. If you measure one from its shoulder to its toe, it’s about 8 to 13 feet tall.
Look at the side chart, it’s in meters. If a wave is 15- 20 feet tall, it’s 4.5-6 meters tall. If you don’t want to check my math, here’s a link to help you… https://www.calculateme.com/length/feet/to-meters/
Here’s another way to think of 15 feet. Take a look at your mom. I’m a mom, and I’m 5’5”. If I wanted to stand as tall as that wave, it would take 3 of me/your mom. 4 to be 20 feet tall.
A final way to look a 15 feet is to look at a classroom. In my last room, each block was 1 square foot. Walk 15 blocks forward and look back. That’s what 15 feet looks like. In my classroom, it was half my room. That’s big!
My husband found this shot on his phone. He wanted to get rid of it, and I can’t believe how happy I am to see these. It’s like pulling up great memories. I spent almost 10 years in this room. Good times!
PS- I think I'll take a travel break and take a trip down Memory Lane before I head to Havana Na Na Na!
This is a map of Cuba. Can you see Cienfuegos? Look for Cuba in red. Cienfuegos is right above it.
Welcome to Cienfuegos! This is a shot of the harbor as we sailed in, but that is not my ship. The Empress of the Sea is much bigger.
This is another shot of the harbor. Can you see the boats up front? The mountains in the distance?
I didn’t know Cuba had mountains. When we sailed around the island on the way to Grand Cayman, we saw them in the distance. It was my first view of Cuba.
Here’s one last shot. It looks beautiful from the boat, not touristy, Just land and water and nature. Beautiful!
Let’s Go Ashore
This is the tender we took to ferry us into Grand Cayman and back. It took about an an hour or two for everyone to get off the boat. Easy peasy!
Cienfuegos wasn’t! Imagine that Grand Cayman tender cut in half. That’s the boat we climbed aboard. It had one deck that held about 40 people. It took 35 trips (3-4 hours) to unload everyone from the ship. The first 15 trips took forever! Really! But we weren’t in any rush. By the time we slept in and ate breakfast we were waiting for Tender 28 out of the 35. Sleeping in is always a good thing!
This is a paper reminder that you need to get a special Cuban passport before you can set foot on the island. It’s $75 a person, $150 for my husband and me. We paid for it before we even climbed aboard the ship in Miami. In return we each received two documents to fill in.
One was from the American government. We had to pick a reason why we wanted to go to Cuba. We marked we were there to support the Cuban people. Correction- we took a third party tour from a local group.
The other document was from the Cuban government. It was much shorter and asked for basic information like our names, address, birth-dates, passport numbers, and why we were there, at least that’s what I remember. We were told that we’d have to show that document at Cuban customs, and that they would take it from us either in Cienfuegos or Havana.
When we landed in Cienfuegos, we went into the old customs building. We were packed in like sardines, waiting our turn with the customs officers who’d look over our paperwork. My husband and I each carried an American passport, a Cuban passport, a key card from the ship, and a questionnaire for the American government. The official looked over my documents and sent me through the gate. I waited for my husband to follow. Next up, getting some Cuban money! They don’t accept American dollars or credit cards in Cuba. On to the next line!
At the next gate there were 4 sets of cargo containers that worked as bank offices. We waited in line, again, to exchange our money. It was a great deal for the Cuban government. They got 13% when we traded our dollars into CUCS, and then another 13% when we trade the CUCS back into dollars. That’s 26% total, or like $26 out of every $100 in American money. Like I said, a great deal for the Cuban government.
Look at the money carefully because there are 2 kinds of bills floating around Cuba. One kind has people on it. The other has places. You want places on yours because it’s worth more. Be careful when you buy from a street vendor. Make sure you get back bills with places, not people. I took a picture of the front and back of my bills and coins. I had a 1, 5, 10, and 20 in CUCS. Those were the bills we used. Thank goodness they were all places! I’d hate to have money troubles…I have so much fun spending it!
The coins above were hard to see so they got a close-up. Sorry, I didn’t have a 1 cent coin left, but I still had 5’s, a 10, and 25’s. The coin on the top left is worth 5 cents. The bottom left coin is worth 25. The middle one is worth 10 cents. Look at the coins on the top and bottom right. They always have the same picture, on the back, the Cuban coat of arms.
Once we finished exchanging money we headed out for an adventure. This is the 1st thing we found was a train, like the ones you find at an amusement park. It costs 5 CUCS a person to ride the train. I’m in the middle with my brother-in-law on the left and my husband on the right. We’re ready to take a tour down Main Street of Cienfuegos, Cuba. All aboard!
Main Street, Cienfuegos Style
When we climbed aboard, I had no idea where we were going, but I soon discovered that we were taking a trip down Main Street. Time to explore, Cienfuegos style!
This was the 1st building to catch my eye. It was built in 1920 as someone’s house. Later it became a hotel. Ready for the name…The Green Hotel. Really! In the states, it’d probably a bed and breakfast.
Take a look at the cars parked in front. They look like they’re from the 50’s and 60’s. That’s because Cuba used to be an American territory, like Puerto Rico. In 1959, Fidel Castro started a revolution, and the US and Cuba became enemies. The Americans put an embargo on products going in and out of Cuba. It’s still in effect today.
The picture beside the red car reminds me of a road in Florida with its palm-lined center strip and 2 lanes on either side. The difference…in Florida the road would be packed full of cars.
Both of these buildings started as private homes. Both were built in the early 1900’s, The first, the Cienfuegos Yacht Club now sits next to the marina and houses a restaurant. BTW…I didn’t remember all of this. I googled it to write this post.
The second, the Palacio de Valle was designed and built by a wealthy Spaniard. It’s a little small for a palace...only 8 bedrooms. In the 50’s someone wanted to turn it into a casino, but the 1959 Revolution stopped that. Now you can take a tour and stop in for lunch.
The building above is the Palicio Azul, The Blue Palace. Why? It’s painted powder blue. I love blue! It was built in 1921 and was owned by a rich tobacco baron. Cuba is known for its tobacco and its cigars. In 2004 it was renovated and became The Hotel Encanto Palacio Azul. With only 6 bedrooms, book early to stay here.
Beside the Palacio is a more modern hotel, well modern for the 1950’s. The Hotel Jagua is one of the most famous hotels in Cuba. It looks like a great place to stay!
Let’s Go to the Park…Parque Jose Marti
Look where the train dropped me off at…Jose Marti Park. Jose was a Cuban poet and journalist who fought for independence. He died on the battlefield, a hero.
Today Jose has a park in the heart of Cienfuegos. It’s a great place to sit, relax, and enjoy the greenery. For the Cuban people it’s where they remember a hero.
I had an hour to take pictures and shop before the train returned. There are statues scattered throughout the park. The lion, above, caught my eye. He’s on a marble pedestal. When I googled, I discovered lion statues mark the entrance to the park. Find a lion, and you’ll find a statue of Jose Marti nearby. If only I’d known!
As for the other statue above, I don’t know who it is. I searched google and found this same silhouette facing the Ferrer Palace. If you visit this palace, please look up this statue and send me its name.
This building, the Antiguo Ayuntamiento, is across the street from the park. Antiguo means old, and Ayuntamiento means municipal council. It doesn’t look old, but it’s still the home of Cienfuegos provincial government. Cienfuegos is both a city and a province. The only thing I could learn about this building is that it’s supposed to look like the Capaitolio in Havana.
The Teatro Tomas Terry is also across from the park. Tomas Terry Adams owned a sugar factory back in the day. Later he became Cienfuegos’ mayor. Sorry, this wasn’t his house, but it was built after his death all because Tomas put aside to money build an Italian-style theatre in Cienfuegos. Here it is! Famous singers like Enrico Caruso performed here. I wish Tomas could have seen and heard it during his lifetime!
Here’s the last building I captured on camera. It’s the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception. It’s old, finished in 1819. Next year will be its 200th birthday. The Cathedral was the first church built in Cienfuegos, and it’s now a national monument. It’s a beautiful old building with its 2 bell towers, 3 arched doorways, and French stained-glass windows of the Twelve Apostles.
I found several factoids when I was googling information for this post. Cienfuegos means100 fires, but I didn’t read anything about fire in its history. The true story— it was named after Jose Cienfuegos who was the Captain General of Cuba from 1816-1819. Maybe someone in his family lit 100 fires. I hope not! Cienfuegos is also called the Pearl of the South, and it’s the only city in Cuba founded by France. The rest of the island belonged to Spain.
Shopping, Street Style This is the only picture I didn’t take. It’s the street market off Jose Marti Park. The vendors stretch 3 or 4 blocks down the street.
When I was there it was sprinkling. I shop by walking from booth to booth scanning for treasures, but a treasure must call me back. There was a toy jeep made out of recycled Coke cans that made me laugh. I was planning to go back for it.
A block or two later the rain poured down, and I’d somehow wandered away from my family. That’s scary when you’re in a foreign country, even if you’re an adult. I found my sister-in-law, who said my husband was looking for me. Ruh-roh! I’d hurried past him. I walked back slower, heart pounding, rain pouring down. Thank goodness we found each other! By then the vendors closed up to keep things dry. The Coke Can Car, gone! We waited on a covered porch till the rain stopped. We boarded the train, and luckily back at the dock, I found shopping and something to buy!
I found these booths in front of customs when we got off the train. They’d closed up for the rain and were reopening again. This time I took pictures. No Coke Can Car, but souvenir cars for kids were for sale. Next door was a booth of wooden things like statues, drums, and fans. They were touristy-cute, but nothing called me.
Next up jewelry. I glanced at the necklaces and earrings, but nothing called me here nor next door at the leather stand. Shoes, purses, baseballs, and wall hangings. When I wrote this post I thought I missed something to the right of the Chevrolet Legendario, I thought it said Buckeye, and I was wishing I’d bought it. Happily it says Bucanero so nothing was missed after all.
Finally, a treasure, something that called me back! It was a necklace made from seeds. I’d never seen anything like it so I walked back again.
The newspaper was my shopping bag. Cienfuegos is a very poor place. The street vendors don’t buy bags. They make them from recycled newspaper.
One last thing I remember from Cienfuegos were the dogs. They were thin like Greyhounds, but they were Mutts. I didn’t take a picture because I didn’t want to remember. I'm not used to seeing animals who aren't cared for.
Leaving, on a Tender
This is where I waited to leave. I was bored so I tried to take a picture of our ship. It’s not the big cruise ship. It’s off in the distance. Can you see it? Look at bow and follow it back. I can barely make it out, but I blew it up for you. Look!
See! Hello, Empress! Good-bye, Cienfuegos! Here’s to a one day sail tomorrow. Then it’s Havana Na Na Na!
This was Gomer Elementary. Back in May of 1983 I was hired to teach kindergarten half day, title 1 reading the other half. By the time school started, I was doing reading all day with 1st and 2nd graders. It was my first full time job, and I was the youngest teacher in the building. For years! The primary teachers, K-3, became my mentors, my friends, my school family. I couldn’t have asked for a better place to begin my career, to grow into adulthood.
When I got an interview at Gomer, I was single. I’d never heard of Gomer Elementary. Really! But I learned where it was! I drove there 183 days a year from 1983-1999. That’s 2880 round trips…I did the math! Gomer is in Allen County, northwest of Lima, Ohio, southwest of Toledo It’s on old 30, Old Lincoln Highway. Back in 1914 when it was built, it was the main east/west highway across the USA.
This picture shows the oldest part of Gomer. In 1914 the building was brand-new, and it was named the Sugar Creek Township High School. That’s when seven tiny schools came together to make a new, larger one. As time passed the name changed to Gomer. The last superintendent was Ed Sandy. In 1969 Gomer became part of Elida Schools, and Ed became Elida's new assistant superintendent. When I arrived in 1983, he was still there, still involved with Gomer.
Find the power lines in the picture and follow them to the tallest tree. My first classroom was behind that tree, on the top floor. The room felt like it was carved out of an attic, just big enough for me, 5 students, a table, and a few cupboards. That was my school home till 1986. Every half hour, I would lead my group from the 3rd floor, down the stairs, through a long hallway, from the oldest part of the building to the newest section that was built in 1981. I’d drop off my group, pick a new one, and repeat. I worked with 5 students at a time for 30 minutes. It was a great job, but I wanted my own classroom. I wanted to teach more than just reading.
Do you see the section of the building that’s 3 stories high? The bottom set of windows was mine. I moved in and into second grade in 1986. By that time, I was married and was expecting my first baby. It was quite a year!
The best part of my room was the view, the parking lot. My students were never distracted, all they could see were tires.
Look at the picture again. Do you see the main doors? To the right was the office. That’s where I had my interview back in 1983.
The picture above was another view of the parking lot. The section sticking out was the library. It’s where I ate lunch with my school family for 16 years, 2880 days. Gomer was home!
The picture beside it was the playground and the middle section of the building. I’m not sure when it was built, but long after 1914. Do you see the last set of windows? I moved in across the hall from them, but I’m not sure when. I had my 2nd son in 1989, my daughter in 1992. I wasn’t pregnant, so 1990 is a good guess. In the late 80’s and 90’s I measured time by my kids. In 1990 my boys were 3 and 1. They kept me busy!
I spent 9 years in that classroom. It was my favorite because it was HUGE! Perfect for teaching, and for indoor recess! The rooms down the hall were new, but tiny. I'll take big and old every time.
This was the Gomer Gym where my kids went for PE, assemblies, and programs. Every year for 13 years I brought my kids here for Christmas program practice and performances. It was the most wonderful time of year!
In May 1999 I left Gomer. Elida consolidated buildings and sent grades K-3, and me, into Elida. Grades 4-5 stayed out at Gomer. I heard Gomer was heaven. It made me wonder where I'd gone, no LOL! When the intermediate grades returned to Elida 2 years later, I heard that 4th/5th graders were sobbing. OK, they were girls, but they were crying, about leaving. That's when Kindergarten was sent to Gomer, and once more I heard Gomer was heaven. It was!
Gomer almost hit the century mark. It closed 2 years early, in May of 2012, at 98 years old. So sad.
This was my last trip to Gomer. I was there for a staff reunion in 2013 or 2014. I don’t remember when, but I remember empty rooms and hallways where there once was so much life, my life. It was so sad, and so happy. I saw many of the people who helped me grow from single to married to mother of 3. They mentored me, became my family. A few became new Facebook friends. There’s no place like home!
I drove out through the alley that ran beside the playground one last time. Gomer was beautiful, with old trees and a perfectly groomed baseball diamond, Ed Sandy Field. Ed loved that diamond so much that kids had to ask permission to chase down their recess balls. Really!
In my memory I can see my 2nd graders jogging down that alley singing a marine chant that Gomer kids who were as good as gold. They loved our gym teacher, a former Marine and avid bodybuilder. There really was no place like Gomer!
This is what my playground looked like before demolition. It's where I did recess duty for 16 years, but the equipment was already gone. The picture beside it is the beginning of the end. The trees are down, and so is the building behind it.
Demolition on Gomer Elementary started July 25, 2018. This is what it looked like that day. A day later I took some German kids on a tour of Wapak’s Courthouse, but it was renovated, even though it’s over 100, That’s young compared to buildings in Germany. It’s sad that it’s cheaper to tear down old buildings and build new ones, than it is to renovate them, but…it’s the American way.
So Goodbye Gomer. Thank you for 16 great years, for the friends I made, the kids I taught, and for being a place my own children loved to visit. There was no place like Gomer. I'll buy a brick or two to help me remember my Gomer family and friends.
When you look at a mountain, do you think volcano? Me, never! But if you lived in Guatemala, you might…The 2nd picture's an ad for a trio of volcanoes that you can hike, if you travel to Guatemala. They're known as The Central Highlands Trilogy. One is Agua (water), another’s Fuego (fire), and the third's Acatenango. Why, I don't know! You can hike all 3 volcanoes, 26 miles in 36 hours. Me, no thanks! That’s too much walking!
When you look at these volcanoes, do you wonder what stage they’re in…active, dormant, or extinct? When I look at them, I want to say dormant or extinct, and 2 of them are…but one’s active. Can you guess which one…Fuego? I’d never, ever, hike anywhere near it!
Below are 2 maps of Guatemala. It’s in Central America. That’s the land that connects North and South America. I picked the 1st map because it shows where Guatemala is, next door to Mexico. Do you see the red triangle? It’s my favorite active volcano, Fuego.
I picked the 2nd map because it shows Guatemala’s major volcanoes. Can you find the 3 we could hike together, Agua, Fuego, and Acatenango? I’d be happy to use a map to find them. I might take a walk around them, but not a 36 hour hike. No thanks!
The pictures below are beautiful, but deadly. That’s because the volcano is awake. How can you tell? Steam. Mountains don’t steam...volcanoes do.
An eruption starts with magma flowing deep underground. That flow starts earthquakes that make fissures, cracks in the earth. Then the volcano spews steam, carbon dioxide, sulfur, and other poisonous gases. It’s pretty, but dangerous.
Can you see the fissures on Fuego? Magma’s lighting them up in the first picture. Ash and dust blew out in the second one. How hot is that magma? Ready, 1300-2400 degrees Fahrenheit. That’s 1000 degrees hotter than boiling water. Ouch!
Fuego is literally building up steam, but not like a rain cloud. That’s a pyroclastic flow of hot gas and rock. At 450 mph you can’t outrun it, and its temperature is 1830 degrees Fahrenheit. Double ouch!
The second picture was taken at night, but that’s not fire. It’s hot magma, lava. Can you imagine being hit by a bit of lava, ash, or rock? I read about someone was struck by a piece…it burned right through their leg and broke the bone. Triple ouch!
If you are anywhere near an active volcano like Fuego, you’d want some kind of head gear to help you breath good air, not air poisoned by volcanic gases. It’ll kill you first. You’ll also find yourself surrounded by ash, like in the second picture shows. Would you want to walk across it? Me, no thanks! I see red in that picture, and it’s probably red hot lava. YIKES!!!
These 2 pictures are post-eruption. In the first nothing’s left, except a burned-up tree. Can you imagine returning home to find this? Awful! And when you return, you’re going to spend time each day sweeping away ash because you’re still under an ash advisory.
The picture below shows the ash that’s still erupting. It’s from my last source. You can check it anytime to see what’s happening with the volcano
Fuego volcano Volcanic Ash Advisory: RPRTS OF VA EM
Thu, 28 Jun 2018, 16:15
Volcanic Ash Advisory Center Washington (VAAC) issued the following report: ...more [read all]
Fuego is not the only active volcano right now. Look at the map to see what’s happening on the big island of Hawaii. It has two volcanes but only Kilauea is active. It erupted Thursday, May 17th, throwing an ash plume 30,000 feet above the island. Wow, that’s 5.68 miles above the earth. Incredible!
Volcanoes are a force of nature. They can make ash go airbourne, or create new land, like in the middle picture. I can’t believe people are actually standing on that lava cliff. I see red, and that means hot lava to me. Ouch! Magma is also beautiful! That’s why I picked the last picture.
Here’s the latest notice on Kilauea:
(BIVN) – The USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory has issued a new Volcanic Activity Notice that changes the current Aviation Color Code for Kīlauea from RED to ORANGE. The current Volcano Alert Level remains at WARNING.
One of my daughter’s friends, Kayla commented on this post saying, “Such a tragedy for the Guatemalans and Hawaiians. I remember hiking at the Pacaya volcano almost one year before Fuego’s eruption “ I asked if she had any pictures to share, and she sent these, taken before the eruption. I’m glad I can share them with you!
Look at those clouds! I’m glad Kayla had good air for her trip!
Look at the dirt. It looks like volcanic ash to me. And the town, I wonder how much they’ve ash swept away since last year.
This is The Jerrie Mock Story. I didn’t know that she was the first woman to fly solo around the world. I only discovered this because I met Nancy Roe Pimm. She wrote this book to help people to learn about Jerrie.
I’m writing this post because I want to help Nancy. Her latest mission— to see Jerrie Mock selected for the National Aviation Hall of Fame. I hope you’ll read her one-page letter of nomination. Please read all the way to the end to discover how you can help Jerrie too.
Jerrie Mock is the first woman to cross both the Atlantic and the Pacific Ocean, the first woman to land a plane in Saudi Arabia, the first to fly across the Pacific Ocean in both directions, the first to fly across the Pacific Ocean in a single-engine airplane, the first woman to fly from the United States to Africa via the North Atlantic, and on April 17, 1964 Jerrie Mock became the first woman to fly solo around the world.
Geraldine (Jerrie) Lois, the daughter of Timothy and Blanche Fredritz, was born in Newark, Ohio on November 22, 1925. Jerrie took her first airplane ride in a Ford Trimotor at age seven and declared, “I’m going to be a pilot when I grow up.” As Jerrie grew, so did her dream. In middle school she announced to her friends, “I’m going to be a pilot, and I’m going to fly around the world.” As a young girl she followed the flying adventures of Amelia Earhart. Jerrie was devastated when Amelia disappeared in an attempt to circumnavigate the globe. Jerrie studied aeronautical engineering at The Ohio State University before she married Russell Mock in 1945. Jerrie earned her private pilot’s license in 1958, and she managed Price Field airport in 1961, making her the first woman to manage an airport. In 1962, Jerrie and Russell Mock purchased a nine-year-old Cessna 180. As she planned and prepared to follow her childhood dream, Jerrie discovered that if successful, she would be the first woman to fly solo around the world. Brigadier General Richard Lassiter and Capitan Art Weiner from the United States Air Force helped Jerrie prepare navigation maps, check weather forecasts, and get the necessary clearances from embassies around the world. Jerrie accomplished her dream in a single engine plane with no GPS. She relied on a Bendix VHF radio, dual short-range radios, long-range radio, twin radio-direction finders, maps, compasses, and a plane with added gas tanks capable of carrying 183 gallons of aviation fuel.
She earned the Aero Classic Aviation Progress Award, Amelia Earhart Memorial Award, the American Institute of Aeronautics Distinguished Service Award, Experimental Aircraft Association Special Award, Louis Bleriot Silver Medal, Milestones in Manned Flight Trophy, National Aviation Trades Association Special Award, Ohio Governor’s Award, Women in Aviation Pioneer Hall of Fame, and the National Pilot’s Association Pilot of the Year Award. After her historic flight, President Lyndon Johnson invited Jerrie Mock to the White House to receive the Federal Aviation Agency Gold Medal for Exceptional Service. The United States Air Force invited Jerrie to fly in a supersonic F-101 Vodoo Fighter and they named a street at Rickenbacker Air Force Base in her honor (Jerrie Mock Avenue). When Jerrie learned that the three Russian women, Marina Raskova, Polina Osipenko, and Valentina Grizodubova had taken the international record for straight -line distance from her childhood hero Amelia Earhart on September 24-25, 1938, Jerrie vowed to take it back. Jerrie Mock shattered the Russian record when she flew for thirty-one hours non-stop (4,528 miles), on April 9-10, 1966, to bring the record back to the United States! She went on to set a many more records: non-stop flight over a closed-course on July 1-2, 1966, 500-kilometer closed-course speed record on September 28, 1966, and a world closed-course record for speed over a recognized course on June 28-29, 1966. When Jerrie Mock delivered and donated her Cessna P-206 on October 30, 1969 to missionaries in Papua, New Guinea, she set nine records in eleven days. A bronze statue of Jerrie Mock was unveiled on April 17, 2014 at Port Columbus International Airport. On December 17, 2015, Jerrie Mock was honored as a person outstanding in the field of aviation, nationally and internationally, with an induction into the First Flight Society at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. An American-Afghan refugee met with Jerrie Mock in 2014. Jerrie gave Shaesta Waiz advice and encouragement to fly around the world. In September 2017, Shaesta followed her dream and became the first woman from Afghanistan, and the youngest woman to fly around the world. Shaesta considers Jerrie Mock her hero and mentor. Jerrie Mock inspires us all to believe that ordinary people can do extraordinary things, girls and women included!
Shaesta Waiz is in the first photo. The second is her hero and mentor, Jerrie Mock. If you agree with Shaesta and Nancy, please go to the The National Aviation Hall of Fame by JUNE 1st and send a message in support of Jerrie. With your help, I hope we get Jerrie into the Aviation Hall of fame.
1. Copy, paste, and go to this link on the internet by June 1st: www.nationalaviation.org
2. Find the HOME bar. Scan across to Nominations and click on it.
3. Scroll to the bottom to: Contact NAHF. Then fill in Name, Email, and Message.
4. Click Submit, and you will have helped Jerrie Mock find her place in the National Aviation Hall of Fame.
Thanks for using your words to help Jerrie Mock find her place in the Hall of Fame. Any person who’s the first to fly solo around the world, certainly deserves a spot there.
When I write, I can only have one voice in my head, mine. A little noise is fine. But too much, or worse yet, WORDS, and I must change rooms or pull out headphones. Then I can write on!