This is the exhibit that started it all. I volunteer at the Armstrong Air and Space Museum. I was thinking about becoming a docent. That didn’t happen, but the experience led to a book idea.
In early 2018 I remembered seeing a remnant of Neil Armstrong’s original wind tunnel. I couldn’t believe he did it for his senior physics project. He was only 16. I don’t think I could have done it at age 18. Neil must have been incredible!
On the far left is what’s left of the wind tunnel . . . the cover to the motor and a piece of track. That’s it!
To the right is his Boy Scout Scarf from middle school. Neil was in a troop in Upper Sandusky. When he moved to Wapak, his whole troop signed it. The wooden square is part of a generator Neil built when he was still in Upper. It’s a different project, but a great story. Maybe someday I’ll write it.
Here’s a close up of the scarf and the generator.
In April of 2018 I started a class with Mira Reisburg and the Children’s Book Academy. In the first webinar Mira asked for two opposite ideas. She said they could lead to a story. I didn’t know it then, but she was right!
I told Mira the first thing that came into my head . . . Neil Armstrong built a wind tunnel in his basement, and his mom didn’t know the details until she came down and saw it in action. Mira liked the idea, and it wouldn’t leave me alone. It grew, and it grew until I knew I had to write the story of Neil Armstrong’s wind tunnel.
In May I started to research my idea with one of the museum volunteers. He asked me about this book. I thought my idea had been taken, and that I needed to let it go.
I talked to a friend who said, maybe, just maybe, my idea was different from this one. I bought the book and discovered it was a biography of Neil Armstrong. My idea was about the wind tunnel only! What a relief!
I went to work researching Neil and his wind tunnel. I checked out books from the library. I googled websites, and I read an interview Neil did for NASA.
I discovered Neil was inspired by the Wright Brothers. Their wind tunnel is to the left, but I never found a picture of Neil’s.
Here are the only three facts I could find: 1. Neil used stovepipe, a motor, a rheostat, and a propeller. He got the stovepipe at the junkyard. 2. Neil blew lots of fuses by adding in the rheostat. 3. When Neil showed his Mom the wind tunnel, he sent her robe flying and broke a basement window.
Photo Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wright_brothers#/media/File:WB_Wind_Tunnel.jpg
I used those 3 facts to start writing Neil’s story at the beginning of June. I also spent the summer looking for an illustrator and for a way to publish this story. It was a busy summer!
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 . . .
Who orbited the earth first?
Ham the Chimp John Glenn Yuri Gagarin Laika the Dog
Did you guess Laika? I did, and I was right. Laika was the first living creature to orbit the earth. She was launched on November 3, 1957, two years before I was born. Her achievement was also the beginning of the Space Race between the US and the USSR.
Spaceships back then weren’t well built. We have more than 60 years of experience so we build better spaceships now. We even have a space station where people can live for months at a time.
Poor Laika! She only lived a couple hours after launch. This is a model of Sputnik 2. It doesn’t look very comfortable. I hope Laika was treated well before becoming a dog-o-naut. Before that Laika was a stray living in the streets of Moscow. Russian scientists thought a stray dog would have an easier time living in the harsh conditions in space. If you visit Star City, Russia, you’ll find a statue and plaque that honors Laika and her contributions to space science. Her statue is next door to where she trained for her space adventure and where Russian cosmonauts still train today.
Now, can you guess who was 2nd to orbit the earth?
Ham or John or Yuri
I hope you guessed Ham. He won 2nd place, but only by a couple months. Ham was born in Cameroon in 1957, captured by trappers, and sent to a Rare Bird Farm in Florida. Really! The US Air Force bought him in 1959. He and 39 other chimps were sent to the Holloman Air Force Base. Ham made the top 18, then the top 6, then 1st prize. Back in 1959 he was known as #65 because the air force didn’t want a chimp, with a name, dying in space.
Ham blasted off January 31, 1961 and returned 17 minutes later. I was almost 2 by then. The biggest difference between Ham’s flight and those of previous chimps was his ability to push levers. Ham was a fraction of a second slower in space than on earth. That was a big deal because he showed scientists that astronauts could work in space. Ham’s flight led to the launch of the first American astronaut. Alan Shepherd blasted off May 5, 1961. Thanks, Ham!
Best of all, Ham lived to tell, another 22 years, first at the National Zoo in Washington DC, then at a zoo in North Carolina. If you’d like to visit Ham, go to the International Space Hall of Fame in Alamogordo, New Mexico.
So, who was 3rd? Was it John Glenn, the American?
Or was it Yuri Gagaran, the Russian? Good Luck!
Yuri came in 3rd. He orbited the Earth on April 12, 1961 in Vostok 1. He instantly became a world-wide celebrity, winning both medals and titles. Yuri never made it back into space again. He died in 1968 when his training jet crashed. It was only 7 years after his historic flight.
I didn’t know that in 1969 Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin honored Yuri. They left a memorial satchel with Yuri Gagarin and Vladimir Komarov’s medals on the moon. In 1971 David Scott and James Irwin from Apollo 15 left the Fallen Angel Memorial behind. They didn’t tell anyone until they returned to earth.
This is the Fallen Angel Memorial. It honors 14 American and Russian astronauts.
Theodore C. Freeman - 1964 aircraft accident
Charles A. Bassett III and Elliott M. See Jr. - 1966 aircraft accident
Virgil I. Grissom, Roger B. Chaffee, and Edward H. White II - 1967 Apollo 1 fire
Vladimir M. Komarov - 1967 Soyuz I re-entry parachute failure
Edward G. Givens Jr. - 1967 car accident
Cliffton C. Williams Jr - 1967 aircraft accident
Yuri Gagarin - 1968 aircraft accident
Pavel I Belyayev - 1970 illness
Georgily T Dobrovolsky, Viktor I. Patsayev, and Vladislav N Volkov – 1971 Soyuz 11 re-entry pressurization failure
And, last but not least, John Glenn. Sometimes it’s good to be last . . . John lived to the age of 95.
Meet John Glenn, the 4th to orbit the earth, but the first American. John was ready to go in January of 1962, but his flight was delayed 11 times because of equipment malfunctions, improvements, and the weather. John didn’t worry. He flew 70 more missions in the simulator and reacted to 189 simulation system failures. John was ready to go!
Finally on February 20, 1962, Friendship 7 lifted off. Would you believe there were two failures during the flight? The automatic control system had problems. John had to manually control the 2nd and 3rd orbit and the reentry into the earth’s atmosphere. Sensors also said that the heat shield was loose. John talked with the ground controllers at NASA. They decided to leave a retrorocket pack in place, and John lived to tell. If the shield had been loose, Friendship 7 would have burned up on the way into the atmosphere, but John returned a national hero. He got a ticker tape parade in New York City. Confetti rained down on John to celebrate his 4 hour and 55-minute flight.
John was such a hero he wasn’t allowed to go up into space again. After he retired from the military, John got interested in politics. He served Ohio in the United States Senate from 1974 until 1999. He ran for president once but didn’t win the Democratic nomination.
But he was successful in returning to space. In 1995 John read a book by NASA doctors about bone and muscle mass loss in space. That happens to older people too so John started lobbying NASA to let him return to space. He said they could experiment on him. NASA agreed, but John had to have a scientific reason to go, and he had to pass the same physical exam that the younger astronauts did.
John did the research and passed the exam. In January of 1998 John got the announcement that at 77, he’d be the oldest person to fly in space. On October 29, 1998 John blasted off as a payload specialist on the Space Shuttle Discovery. In 2012 John said his biggest regret was that NASA didn’t continue to research aging by sending additional senior citizens into space.
John died on December 8, 2016. The phrase, “Godspeed, John Glenn,” was given to him by Scott Carpenter back in 1962. It followed him through his life and was part of his funeral too. When John died, he was the last of the Mercury Seven Astronauts. They were NASA’s founding space team.
Here are the Mercury 7 from their photo taken on April 9, 1959. That was a month before I was born.
Front row, left to right: Walter M. Schirra, Jr., Donald K. "Deke" Slayton, John H. Glenn, Jr., and M. Scott Carpenter;
Back row, Alan B. Shepard, Jr., Virgil I. "Gus" Grissom, and L. Gordon Cooper, Jr.
Last February I found a post about treats and what kind of people like them. It caught my eye. With Valentines Day coming up, I decided to share what I read, then tell what I think. Here’s the link. It’s no longer up, but I wanted to give it credit.
I read lollipop lovers are reserved. They take their time with lollipops, with other things too.
I think they’re just young. I loved lollipops when I was little. So did my second graders. Why? I think it’s because they love sweets that last a while.
Most adults don’t eat lollipops. Me neither. There are other sweets I’d rather eat.
I read dark chocolate lovers tend to be health nuts. They’re mature with a good head on their shoulders.
I think they’re just older. My second graders never brought in dark chocolate candy bars for a Halloween party, but my friends have it around. Me too! I started buying it when I needed to eat less sugar. Now I just like how it tastes.
I read that M&M’s are perfect for travelers, for people on the go. They’re ready to eat anytime, and they’re colorful like you.
I think they’re the perfect candy. I’ve loved them since I was a kid. I bought them to treat my 2nd graders, but teachers would also come in and leave with a few. I think kids love their color. They also love eating one, or a whole handful. Now that I’m grown-up, I still like M&M’s, but I don’t love them like I used to. Taste changes as you age. You discover new flavors, and that’s a great thing!
I read gumball lovers are full of energy and ambition. They spring out of bed no matter how little sleep they’ve had. They lack only patience.
I think gumball lovers are full of energy because they’re young. When I was a kid, I loved them. You crunched them open and chewed them up like bubble gum. Now when I see gumball machines, I see kids. Adults get their gum by the checkout stand at the grocery store. No crunch necessary.
I read Reese Cup lovers are bold. They know what they want and go after it. Sometimes they’re called intimidating, but they’re a friend for life.
Wow! That’s a lot to get from peanut butter and chocolate. I’ve loved Reese’s Cups since I was a kid, and they’re still one of my favorites. Sometimes I’m bold. Sometimes I’m shy, but I think it boils down to Reese’s taste great, and they’re fun to eat. My take-away – they’re a life-long friend!
I read Starburst people are vibrant, yet easy going. People turn to you for advice, and you were a cool kid back in the day.
Frankly, I’ve never liked Starbursts. I thought they were boring, with their sweet fruit taste. Maybe that makes you easy going, but vibrant? Those are opposites. Maybe a Starburst lover can explain this to me because I just don’t get it.
I read licorice lovers are old school. They love black-and-white movies, hard-cover books, and following rules. They have a work ethic and discipline.
I should be a licorice lover. I’m into work and discipline, but not licorice. I don’t even know what it tastes like, but my kids do. They’re new school and modern technology. They love Twizzlers. Go figure! Maybe licorice is just a great mix of old and new.
I read Raisinettes bring out buttoned-up people who keep their personal and work life separate. They’re quiet till they’re ready to open up and have fun.
Raisinettes are chocolate-covered raisins. They’re traditional, and they’ve been around forever. I like them, but it’s not love. They’re sweet because they’re part fruit, part chocolate. Maybe that’s why when I eat one, I might eat ten.
I read people who eat Sour Gummies are impulsive, outgoing, and fearless. They live on the edge. They’re the life of the party.
Really? Just because you eat Sour Gummies! But I think you just might be fearless. You are eating something sour. And gummies, they stick to your teeth. YUCK! I’m not a fan of sour or gummy, and I’m definitely not impulsive, outgoing, or fearless. Maybe there is something to this candy stuff after all.
Are you an athlete or into sports? If you are, you might be a Snicker lover. I read Snicker people are also dog lovers.
I like Snickers, but I don’t love them. I’m not an athlete, but I like to watch sports. I love dogs, big time! Maybe I like Snickers more than I think. I’ll have to try one the next time I’m at the grocery store.
I read caramel lovers love learning. They’re the smart ones in your circle of friends. They like to learn from you. They’re shy in big groups, but outgoing with close friends.
Oh my gosh! I’m a caramel lover. I do trivia questions online. I don’t mind missing a question or two because I learn something new. Back in college I used to play down my grades. I didn’t want to seem too smart. I’m shy in a new or big group, but I love to laugh with friends. I think I’d better buy some caramels next time I’m at the store.
Lots of things have left the shop, but there are still some treasures to be found. Here’s a few pieces of furniture and accessories that she’s discounting at 75% off. Her last day will be next Sunday the 27th.
Rochelle still has magnets and cards in stock, and they’re both big sellers. I love her magnets! They’re on my refrigerator, and I’ve given them as gifts. The magnets are $1.50 each or 8 for $10. I have a trip to Rovals on my calendar for Wednesday. They open at 11 am and close at 6 pm.
The card pack is from her pet portrait line, but smaller. They’re cute outside and blank inside. Her deal this week… 6 packs of cards for $10. I definitely need these too!
This is one of Rochelle’s full-size pet portraits. She has a set of pets and farm animals that you can order from her web site. She has cards, like those above, or larger ones that you can frame.
If you have a special pet you want in paint, you can order a portrait from the web site too. Here’s her link: https://www.rovalspip.com
This is one last look at Rovals…I’ll miss shopping here, but I’ll miss my friend, Rochelle, even more.
But, there’s a bright side…there always is. Rochelle’s a Facebook friend so we can stay in touch, but it won’t be the same. Eventually there’ll be a Rovals in Illinois, and I hope I can shop there online. Fingers crossed!
If you want to shop Rovals, it’s open Wednesday through Saturday from 11 - 6. The last day will be Sunday from 12 – 5. Rochelle and Rovals is still open, but I miss them already.
I had never heard about King Day. A writer friend, Keila Dawson, published this book 2 years ago. I read it and thought it was just a funny story. Thanks to Keila, this year I put king cake together with the holiday. It’s the reason for the season, for cake and for babies.
If you’re like me, read on and discover King Day. If you’re hungry, make one for yourself. And if you’re adventurous, take a trip down to New Orleans and meet one of its best traditions…King Cake!
Can you guess what King Day is about now? Google pulled up Martin Luther King, but that’s wrong.
King Day is about the 3 kings, the 3 wise men. Yesterday in church I finally put it all together. I knew King Day was January 6th. So is Epiphany. Our church sermon said it’s always January 6th, this year, next year, and in 2040. Epiphany and King Day are always January 6th. They’re the same holiday.
Here’s a link for more information:
I always think of the 3 kings arriving with the shepherds at about the time Baby Jesus was born. That was the Nativity scene I grew up with.
Now I’m wondering. Maybe the shepherds stuck around for the kings, maybe not. I know from my research and from sitting in church, that the kings followed the star from their own countries. They went to see King Herod. He asked them to find out about the new baby king and to report back. Then the kings continued on, following the star till they came to Bethlehem, to Mary, Joseph, and Jesus. It would have taken a while to get there since they traveled by camel. It doesn’t matter if the shepherds were there. What’s important is that the kings gave him kingly gifts—gold, frankincense, myrrh.
We all know gold is perfect for a king. Frankincense and myrrh I’d never thought about. I googled them for you! Frankincense is a gum or resin. It’s used in making perfume and incense. People wear perfume and it smells good, but incense also burns. Back in Old Testament times, frankincense was part of the sacrifices burned for God, for Yahweh. That made it a perfect gift for baby Jesus, part God, part man.
Myrrh is a gum resin. It was used for making perfume, incense, medicine, and for annoiting the dead. Back in Old Testament times, myrrh was a popular perfume, perfect for a king. After crucifixion, Jesus’ body was annointed with myrrh. Symbolically it points towards Jesus’ death.
Check out these links to see Frankincense and myrrh, and to learn more about them.
This is King Cake! I can tell because it’s yellow, purple, and green. Those are Mardi Gras colors. It looks like someone already found the baby in the center. Do you see him?
You can make your own King Cake. Google a recipe, or try this one from Keila Dawson. It’s easy enough that a preschooler can make it with you, easy enough that a classroom could make one too. Keila once made 50 cakes with her son’s class. They sent them off to some wounded warriers in Germany. I bet they loved them!
This is Keila’s king baby, but this isn’t King Day, and there’s no King Cake. Keila’s baby travels everywhere with her, to places like tennis tournaments and restaurants. Lucky baby! Keila gave me permission to share these pictures. I wonder where they’ll go next. I hope it’s New Orleans!
Do you remember the King Cake colors, purple, green, and gold? They’re the colors of Mardi Gras in New Orleans. They come out for King Day and hang around till Fat Tuesday. This year that’s March 5th, but it changes every year. King Day is always January 6th.
Here’s a link if you’d like to learn more about king cake:
King Cake has been around a long time, for over 300 years in France. The cake was made with French bread-dough. Sugar was sprinkled on top, and a bean was hidden somewhere inside. Whoever found the bean got to be king for the day. Tomorrow he/she was expected to buy or make the next cake.
This painting is from 1774. Its name— Le gateau des Rois. That’s French. In English that means the cake of the king. Click this link to learn more about the history of king cake:
King Day and King Cake are New Orleans traditions. Did you know that it was once a French colony? If you go to New Orleans you’ll meet a lot of French culture.
One of the traditions still around is celebrating Joan of Arc’s birthday. It’s January 6th. To the left is a statue of Joan. She’s famous because she liberated France from English rule.
The first parade of the Mardi Gras season is for Joan of Arc. It’s always on her birthday, January 6th. Here’s the link for the 2019 parade schedule: http://www.mardigrasneworleans.com/schedule.html
King Day dates back to the old French and English holiday, Twelfth Night. In 567 the Catholic Church established The Twelve Days of Christmas, and they let you decide when to start your count, December 25th or 26th. That meant you celebrated Twelfth Night on either January 5th or 6th.
Twelfth Night is part of our culture. Shakespeare wrote about it in a play that was first performed in 1602. The song, The Twelve Days of Christmas, was published in 1780, but its roots go farther back into French and English history.
If you celebrated Twelfth Night in 2019 you probably ate king cake, and you probably took down your Christmas decorations. I hope so…it’s bad luck if you didn’t.
Here are two links if you’d like to read more about Twelfth Night:
Here’s a Mardi Gras question from Traveltrivia.com. Only 41% of those who answered got it right. I didn’t. Maybe you will! The answer’s at the bottom of this post. Good luck!
Which city hosted the 1st Mardi Gras celebration in the US?
The first parades of Mardi Gras were on January 6th, King Day. There were 3 of them in 2019. This float wasn’t there, but it helps you picture what might have been.
The Joan of Arc parade was first. It’s a walking parade. If you want to join in, dress in gold, and bring lots of king cake to share.
The Société Des Champs Elysée parade is one of the newest ones. It’s named after a famous street in Paris, France. 40 people will ride in this parade. I wonder if their float will look anything like the famous French street.
The third parade is the Phunny Phorty Phellows. What a name! They’re one of the oldest krewes (crews) around. The Fellows believe in fun so they dress accordingly.
Bands and dance teams are also part of the parade. If you want to march, check the link below. Then apply between August and November.
There are 3 ways to watch the parade. It’s free if you pick a place along the street. If you want a balcony or grand stand seat, you can buy your spot. The better it is, the more it costs. The best place is aboard a float. It’s the most expensive, but you’re part of the parade. Start searching after Easter if you want to float down the street.
This site has the parade schedule, plus more information:
One of the best parts of the parade is all the free stuff. The people riding aboard the floats buy bags of cheap treasures. They throw out necklaces and toys. Always catch them. Don’t reach down to pick up them up. Your fingers might be caught. If it’s on the ground, put a foot on it. Then pick it up between floats.
Here’s one last link from New Orleans:
Here’s your answer from Traveltrivia.com correctly. Which city hosted the first Mardi Gras celebration?
Mobile, Alabama, hosted the first Mardi Gras festival in the U.S. back in 1703. Mardi Gras originated as a Christian celebration between the Feast of the Epiphany and Ash Wednesday. The very first Mardi Gras parade was held in 1711 and featured a papier-maché cow head.
I started by doing 3 things to my blank canvas. I drew lines for 3 trees, that’s the white areas. I painted the sky blue and the trees white using the biggest brush.
This is what I used to give the trees color. I was given white, black, and brown. I mixed white and black to get gray. Then white and brown to get tan.
I picked up three colors at a time on my knife. I pushed them from one side of the tree to the middle. Then I repeated it on the other side. Sometimes I loaded my knife with white, gray, and black. Other times I used white, tan, and brown.
And that’s how I shaded the trees. All 3 are different, depending on the colors I put on the knife.
The next step was to add brown branches to the painting. I laid the cardinal on the right where that big empty space is. Then I sketched in lines and painted them brown. This time I used the green handled brush.
I painted the branches bigger, and I added smaller twigs, all in brown. With the yellow brush I swept in black lines to give the trees more definition.
I added dots of snow to the top of the branches. Do you see the wisp of white in the top right corner? It was a mistake. I asked Melanie about covering it up. I decided to keep it. Take a look at the picture below…she was right. It blends right in!
Let it snow! I dotted and swirled in more snow to the branches with the green and yellow brushes.
I used the biggest brush to add snow to the sky. How? It’s called dry brush. I dried off the brush, dipped it in white, and dotted my plate till I was happy with the snow. Then I repeated the technique on my canvas till my sky filled with snow.
At last! The cardinal’s here! I drew it in first. Then I outlined it in red, except for the beak. Three coats of red covered the background.
And of course, I did the beak with the same procedure…outline, then 3 coats of orange.
The finale! It was all about the bird! I added a black mask for his face and a white dot for his eye. Then I outlined his wings with brown. It reminded me of making ( )’s. Then I swept in more feather lines with brown. I added orange accents for the feathers.
Confession—I didn’t like his beak or his mask so I fixed them with sharpie markers. Of my 3 paintings, this is my favorite.
My take-away, relax and enjoy! This time I didn’t worry about every line. I didn’t worry about what everyone else’s painting looked like. I trusted the process, and my teacher. It worked so don’t worry! Be happy! Enjoy the journey!
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/
Meet my teacher, Melanie Sunderland Fullenkamp, owner of Full He’ART Paint and Sip. It’s the second painting I’ve done with her. It’s also the 2nd time I’ve painted since elementary school. That was a long time ago!
Beside Melanie, in the next picture is her daughter, Renae. She helps her mom with painting events. She also teaches classes for kids.
This event was named Winter Moon, and that’s what I was supposed to paint. Melanie painted all 4 of these canvases. Each one is a tiny bit different.
Here are the supplies Melanie set up at each painter. A glass of water, a rag, an easel, 3 paint brushes, 3 plastic plates, a quarter, a pencil, and an easel. On the 1st plate I started with white, light blue, and dark blue. A lot of people used purple and pink. They did Melanie’s original picture. I did it in blue.
Melanie modeled how to paint. I copied her. Light blue in the center. Darker blue around it, and onto the edges of the canvas. I brushed in some white to give it texture and movement. It worked just like Melanie said, even for an amateur like me. I drew in 3 lines for the trees and a triangle for the biggest tree. Sorry, you can’t see them!
Then I painted white down to the bottom and onto the sides. Melanie modeled how to make snow drifts by adding black to her brush. It showed up as gray. To make darker lines, use more black. Whiter, use more white.
The hard part, not using too much paint. That makes it look like dirty slush. When in doubt, ask Melanie. I did, and I stopped here. Do you see the dark gray triangle in the middle? That’s the shadow for the biggest tree.
Remember the 3 lines? Melanie turned them into tree trunks with black and hunter green. I copied her and dotted my way down. I can’t paint a straight line. I’m afraid to make mistakes so I dot my way through.
Then Melanie modeled how to make branches with the same colors. I dotted them in. Next, a little snow. I switched to white, and I dotted that snow in too.
Now time to add in the biggest tree, same colors, same techniques, except this tree is darker. Melanie said that’s because it’s closer to the front of the picture than the other trees.
I added snow to that big tree using the same technique, but I added more white and more snow than I did to the other trees. That’s because it’s in front again.
I added in the moon by tracing a quarter, then painting it white. I tried adding shadows on the moon, but mine wound up all gray. Too much paint! Melanie saved the moon by suggesting that I make it bigger and paint a white ring around it. It worked! My moon looks like it has a white halo.
The next step was to give that big tree colored lights. I used red, yellow, orange, and green. They looked great. I tried blue and purple, but they were too dark.
Here’s the final painting! I followed directions and added white to the dried canvas either in lines for snow banks, or in dots for falling snow.
Do I like my work? It depends. If I’m standing close, I see every flaw. Far away it looks better. When I look at Melanie’s, I know mine is different. It’s fuzzier, more impressionistic. Other people in class liked mine, and so did Facebook friends. I’m learning from painting to like myself, Rinda the impressionist.
Here’s my next painting with Melanie. My goal: To allow myself to be different. To check when I’m feeling insecure. I’m not a painter so I don’t know when to stop painting or to add one more brush stroke. It’s good to be able to ask a teacher. Here’s to my impression of that cardinal!
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!