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:
I couldn’t share last year’s projects then, but I can now. Sorry, you’ll have to wait till next December to see what I did in 2018. Last year I did a moon theme for my kids. I made these ‘trivets to remember’ the moon landing in 1969. I know, corny, but I thought it was cute. I hope my kids liked their gifts. I added in NASA t shirts and a moon statue. In Wapakoneta, an artist makes a new one each year to honor the moon landing. I love this year’s version. Now, here’s last year’s project!
You need: stones, cork, Modge Podge, a brush, and a good glue. I made a set for all 3 of my kids, one dark and one light to represent both sides of the moon. They’re just dark and light stones that I glued onto a round piece of cork. I used E6000 to hold the stones in place. Then I painted the dark stones with Modge Podge to make them shiny.
On the back I wrote a little verse about the Moon Landing, then dated and signed it. My future son-in-law joked about their ‘trivet to remember.’ I know corny, but that was exactly what I was going for.
Another pointer…proofread your words before you write them in permanent ink. I had a couple of things wrong. But if you make a mistake, laugh it off. Mistakes like these make the projects homemade and special, at least that’s what I keep telling myself, after I laugh a little.
These are the final projects. I took pictures of them with my Santa vase, but my set are out all year. They sit underneath two pieces of table decorations. I also use them as trivets, not to remember, but to keep hot plates and pans off our dining room table.
1. What’s the author’s purpose?
2. What’s the main idea?
3. Which project would you try? Why?
Answers are at the end of this post.
Christmas is coming, and my favorite go-to gifts are photographs in one-of a kind frames. I like ideas that are simple . They don’t take forever, or cost a lot. I researched Pinterest for my first 2 projects. I tailored them to my materials, and to what I pictured for the end result. It never turns out the way I imagine, but I love the process of creating and letting a project “become.”
You need: a frame, construction paper (or cardstock), pictures, Modge Podge, and a brush. You could use this idea for a Christmas or dance program, maybe a special vacation, whatever you want to remember. Customize your frame with things you have (examples: a program, postcards, or souvenirs).
The Christmas after my father died, I wanted to do something to remember him. I wound up making 5 frames, for me, my mom, and my kids. Dad loved golf! I personalized the frame using his leftover cards. I cut them into strips and glued them to the frame with Modge Podge. I sealed it with 3 more coats. Inside I laid out the photos, tan construction strips, and his favorite poem. The glasses came later. Today it makes me happy to see Dad, and to remember him the way he was. I think he’d be happy too.
You need: a special object, a frame/shadowbox, construction paper/cardstock, ribbon/washi tape, and decoration (optional). Start with your object. Then look for things that help you remember your special day/event. Example: programs, pictures, postcards, or souvenirs.
This project started with a gift handkerchief from my son’s wedding. It says “Mother of the Groom.” I didn’t want it to sit in a drawer so I found a cool frame. I picked my favorite wedding pictures, glued them on an orange background, and framed them in blue ribbon. Cloth flowers added some color. I used Modge Podge to add their program to the back. I made 3 more handkerchief frames for my mother, my mother-in-law, and my new daughter-in-law. These were simple gifts. My biggest expense was the frame, and Hobby Lobby had them for 50% off.
This is last year’s project. You’ll need: cork, cardstock, Modge Podge, pictures, and lettering. Optional: nautical charms or buttons. I found lettering online and printed what I needed.
I did a lake photo project for my kids. The front and back are the same, just different pictures. I started with the photos and framed them in cardstock. I printed the lettering, then moved everything around, including the charms, until I liked the layout. I glued everything down with Modge Podge, except the charms. I added 2-3 layers on top to seal and finish the project. I glued the charms on last using a stronger glue, like Gorilla or E6000. The only downside to this project is you can’t use it as a trivet for hot dishes. But, if you’re looking for an unusual frame, this is it! It’s a simple, inexpensive way to remember events like vacations or dance recitals, and it’s kid-easy to make.
You need: colored stones, E6000.
This project started with a brand-new mirror…that dripped paint on itself on the way to the lake. I didn’t want to return it so I found a bag of dark blue, light blue, and white stones. I glued them down with E6000. Drip solved, and the mirror looks as good as new. If you have something old that needs a little freshening or updating, this is a great way to go!
If you have a vase or container, use what’s new like stones and candles, or what’s old like seashells. Fill it with things that make you happy!
You need: cork coffee beans, and a strong glue.
This is the same project, with coffee beans instead of stones. I hoped to get that coffee smell, but didn’t, not till my nose was right on top of those beans. I’m bringing it home to brush on a little Modge Podge. On my last project I discovered it makes things darker and shinier, and I should still be able to use it under hot dishes.
DIY Your Own Christmas Projects
1. What’s the author’s purpose?
My author’s purpose was to inform/teach you how to make 7 Christmas projects.
2. What’s the main idea?
Example: It’s about 7 projects and how to make them.
3. Which project would your try? Why?
Example: I’d make the cork frame because it’s easy, and I want to remember my Christmas program.
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!
The last time I wrote about cruising we were enduring, OOPS, I mean enjoying the wind and waves from Hurricane Michael. We probably were somewhere below Cuba (in red). Sometime late Monday night we started sailing around the western end of Cuba, then east towards Havana, yes-yes-yes!
Welcome to Havana Harbor! Look at this map carefully. Feel free to come back to it. I’ll use it to give you some bearings for what you’re seeing.Do you see Central Havana? I think that’s where my pictures start as you head towards shore. Follow the coastline towards the 2 points of land. That’s your next landmark. Between those 2 points there’s a channel that leads to Old Havana. There where you’ll see more pictures. The last stop are those 3 rectangles to the right of old Havana. They look like an E sticking out in the water, and that’s where our ship docked. Now, climb aboard! Let’s cruise into Havana YES-YES-YES!!
This is my first view of the city. How can I tell? The city looks modern with tall blockish buildings. One of the things I remember was the sea wall. Water flies up and splashes over it. My sister-in-law said that movie makers use this backdrop for scenes set in Havana. One of the most famous…007...James Bond.
We’re getting close to the channel that leads to Old Havana. How can I tell?
Do you see the 2 points of land? That's the channel that leads to the heart of Havana.
This is an old Spanish fortress that’s on the eastern side of the Havana Bay. It’s in this picture and the next two. Here's its story: The Spanish arrived here in 1514. They named their settlement after an Indian chief, San Cristóbal de Habana. By 1538 they’d built a fortress, the Castillo de la Fuerza.
The Castillo wasn’t strong enough. In 1555 French pirate Jacques de Sores attacked and plundered Havana so the Spanish built a bigger, better fort. It took 40 years to finish. It looks pretty good to me.
But that fort still wasn’t strong enough. English ships raided Havana in 1622, 1623, and 1638. Here’s the link for my information: http://www.historyofcuba.com/history/funfacts/havana.ht
This is the western side of the harbor. It’s been settled since 1514, During its early years, it had to be moved repeatedly because of mosquitoes, and the diseases they carry. In 1519 the settlers found this spot away from those darn mosquitoes. They stayed!
This is the oldest part of Havana. I love the beautiful old buildings. Can you see the cruise ship in this picture? This is where our ship docked, by the E in the map of the channel.
Much better! BTW, this wasn’t our cruise ship. There was another one when we arrived, and a different one when we left. I’m glad people like to visit Havana!
I took this picture from the back of the boat looking across the harbor. It looks like wilderness, but it’s a special piece of land. Can you tell what’s in the middle of the picture? It reaches towards the sky. Try the next photo. Now it’s on the left side of the picture.
Can you tell who it is? Our cruise director said it’s Fun Jesus. I called him Party Jesus. Why? One hand looks like it’s holding a Cuban cigar. The other is holding a mojito, a famous Cuban drink. That’s not how Jilma Madera planned it. Jilma is the Cuban woman who designed it, and it’s the largest statue created by a woman in the world. Jilma has girl power! I’m glad she designed her Cuban Jesus!
PS- click on Jilma's name to read more about her.
I looked toward another part of the harbor to take these 2 pictures. It shows where the local boats go to work. I’m guessing they’re fishing boats, but I didn’t get close enough to see.
PS- I actually took all these pictures as I was leaving Havana. When we arrived, I couldn’t take any pictures because a bunch of ladies blocked my shot. On the way out, I was determined to get these pictures so when people, ladies, started coming to the back of the boat, I moved my chair forward so no one blocked my shot. Sometimes you have to be assertive, and polite, to get what you want and need. I’m glad I got the shot!
A Night on the Town
We finally got into Havana around 5, and we got off the boat by 5:30. It was so much easier in Havana than in Cienfuegos. There was a line, but it moved FAST! Customs was quick! Havana has newer equipment. The old stuff goes to places like Cienfuegos.
We had money leftover from Cienfuegos. Time to see Havana!
We hit the streets, and this is what we saw! The building above is the Terminal Sierra Maestra San Francisco, the boat terminal where people come and go from the ship. Look at the picture to the left. This is the terminal again, and the street in front of it. It was busy with cars like this one.
The Terminal San Francisco is named after this church. Its full name is the Basilica Menor de San Francisco de Asis. It’s across the street from the terminal.The bell tower is about 138 feet tall and contains the remains of important Havana citizens. The church also gave its name to the square, the Plaza de San Francisco.
That’s where we went when we left the boat. We looked around the plaza then took a walk down a street looking for a few souvenirs.
No souvenirs yet, but this is the inside of a hotel. Sorry, I forgot to take a picture of the outside. We went in because my husband and his brother were determined to buy Cuban cigars. While they talked prices, I took pictures. This place is beautiful! Unusually so. I saw so much poverty in Cuba, but not here. Someone has enough money to renovate, redecorate, and keep this place up. BTW…we didn’t buy cigars…they were too expensive…I’m sure some of the cost keeps this place looking great.
We kept exploring the streets of Havana, but I didn’t find any treasures. Either the shops were closed, or nothing called me. Nothing!
My sister-in-law’s bucket list wish for this trip was to visit the places in Havana where Ernest Hemingway hung out. This is one of them. The man in the stature is Ernest. The pictures on the wall are of him too.
Ernest is a famous writer. His books are for adults. He wrote The Old Man and the Sea, For Whom the Bell Tolls, The Sun Also Rises, and A Farewell to Arms.
This is one of Ernest’s hang-outs, Floridita. Can you guess what it’s named after…the state of Florida. Cuba reminds me of Florida. Ernest had a house in Florida and one near Havana. When he was in Havana, this is where he came for a good dinner and a daiquiri. That’s a slushy adult drink. The outside doesn’t look like much, but the inside has the most gorgeous woodwork, and it was packed with tourists! While we were there, they had a trio of singers. They were fantastic! When we got to Floridita, it was still light, but it was getting dark when we left. We hurried back to the boat, in time for dinner and a good night’s sleep.
Back to Square 1
We got into Havana a day late, but we were lucky. We could reschedule our tour. We met our guide at the Plaza de San Francisco, that’s where we went for our first night in Havana. The Plaza is the oldest square in the city. The basilica was started in 1580 and finished in 1591. It’s been in use ever since, for over 400 years.
The next building is on the square, just down from the church. Sorry, I can’t find its name. I’m guessing it’s one of the museums that are spread across the city.
Look down, and I'll introduce you to José María López Lledín. He was also known as El Caballero de París. In English he was called the gentleman of Paris. He looks pretty dapper to me. Would you believe he actually was a homeless man who had saw things that weren’t there? Poor man! It’s said his mind snapped when he was unfairly imprisoned. Jose doesn’t sound like statue material, but legend says that he was kind and generous, perfect for a statue.
Look up to see an aqueduct from Cuba’s colonial days. When Spain colonized Havana, they needed water. They brought it to the colonists, through stone channels built under the city. The aqueducts aren’t used anymore, but it’s nice to find history at your feet.
Look what else I found on my walk! Nestles! Something from home in Old Havana. When I explore another country, I look for what’s new and interesting, but I also look for pieces of home. Yum!
OOPS! I didn’t get get much of a shot of the outside of this building. It’s still in the old part of Havana, close to the next square.
Something else caught my eye. Do you know what it is?
(Hint-- it's not Darth Vader!)
This building once belonged to the monks who lived and worked here. They dressed in long robes with hoods. The statue of a monk stands guard outside
Inside is a beautiful painting of another monk, and now this building is a hotel that remembers its history. I'm glad!
To Square Two, Plaza Vieja
This is the Plaza Vieja. It means Old Square in Spanish, but when it was built in 1559 it was called the Plaza Nueva, the New Square. Really!
Do you remember the Plaza de San Francisco? It was the original square back when Spanish galleons first sailed into Havana. The Franciscan monks from the Basilica wanted a new square because they had trouble celebrating Mass. They said the shopkeepers made so much noise they needed to move. I didn’t know there was noise pollution in the sixteenth century. I thought it was a modern problem.
Plaza Vieja is pretty colorful. That’s something new. In the 1980’s Old Havana became a UNESCO cultural heritage site. People found money to renovate and repaint the old buildings. Our guide said the building in the next picture is in the old Spanish style. I love it, but I wonder how they made arches out of stone.
This is the last picture from the plaza. I couldn’t find the name of the sculptor, but our guide talked about the French influence that dates back to Napoleon. He was short but powerful, like a bantam rooster. Did you know there's a rooster on the French soccer uniform?
The 2nd picture is the street that leads to the next square. It’s all cobblestones and buildings. The only trees are in pots.
Down the street is the Hogar Materno Infantil Doña Leonor Pérez Cabrera.
Translation: It’s the hospital for women who are pregnant and expecting babies. It’s named after Dona Leonor Perez Cabrera. That’s Jose Marti’s mother. Remember him, from the park in Cienfuegos?
Farther down is the CIA. Armera De Cuba. S.A. Efectos De Caceria Y Explosivos.
I thought it was a fireworks place. Nope! It started as a private gun shop, but on April 9, 1958 some of Fidel Castro’s revolutionaries broke in to get guns. Four guys died that night. Years later it became a museum for guns and knives that date back to the 1700’s.
This is another Hemingway favorite. It’s the Hotel Ambos Mundos, which means both worlds.
Hemingway lived here for 7 years during the 1930’s. It was cheap, $1.50 a day!. This picture and the one below are from the ground floor. It looks pretty nice!
The last picture is the hotel elevator. When Ernest stayed in Room 511 on the top floor, he would have used this elevator. Room 511 is no longer available. It’s a mini-museum, but you can book other rooms in the Ambos Mundos.
Meet the working dogs of Havana! They look much better than the dogs of Cienfuegos.
They wear name tags. That means they get fed every day. Then they take a nap on the warm pavement. They may have skin problems like fleas and the mange, but having food, a place to sleep, are 2 very good things for my canine friends.
Welcome to the Oficina Del Historiador De La Ciudad. I think that translates to the Office of History of Cuba. It sounds like another museum. We didn’t go inside. We kept on walking.
Three Squared, The Plaza De Armas This is the Plaza De Armas. Today it’s a park where you can relax in the shade of palm trees and tropical plants. The edges are lined with beautiful old buildings.
Like the other Plazas, it once had another name, the Plaza de la Iglesia. Iglesia was a small neighborhood church. In the 1600’s the Spanish government built the governor's palace and an armory in this square. The name was changed to the Plaza De Armas, which means ‘Weapons’ Square or Parade Ground.’ The rich people of Havana came here to enjoy carriage rides and military parades. It was the place to be and to be seen!
The building in the background is the Palace of the General Captains or the Spanish governor. The Spanish started building in 1776, the same year America declared its independence from England. The west side of the plaza has a wooden floor because a governor’s wife got tired of carriage wheels waking her up. She got her husband to get rid of the stone and replace it with wood. From 1791-1898, it was the home for the Spanish governor of Cuba. It later became the presidential palace. Today it’s Havana's Museum of history.
BTW- The Iglesia church was destroyed in 1741 when the HMS Invincible blew up. Its mast flew into the church and destroyed it.
This statue is at the center of the plaza, at the center of the park. It's another Cuban hero, Carlos Manuel de Céspedes. The park is named Parque Céspedes. Carlos freed his slaves, started the Cuban wars for Independence, and is considered the Father of the Cuban Homeland.
The statue’s base is inscribed with Carlos’ name and his service to Cuba. It’s protected by a gate and decorated with flowers. The ribbon’s inscribed with a message, but I can’t read Spanish, and I couldn’t find anything online. Sorry!
This is El Templete. It was built in 1827 to honor Queen Josefa Amalia. It commemorates the 1st mass and the first town council that was held at the foot of a ceiba tree that once grew there. The square eventually grew into the Plaza de Armas.
BTW—Queen Josefa’s husband was King Fernanando VII. In 1834 his statue was moved to make room for Carlos Manuel de Céspedes.
The Plaza De Armas is full of history, but it’s also a park where you can relax under a shade tree and enjoy the view.
If you want to stay here, try the Hotel Santa Isabel. It’s a 5 star hotel, and, it used to be a palace, the Palacio de los Condes de Santovenia. When I go back, I want to stay at the palace!
Just down the street is the most beautiful old house, the Casa del Conde Jaruco. It was finished in 1737 for the Countess de Merlin who was a countess and a Cuban novelists. It’s famous for its meiopuntos, those gorgeous half-moon stained glass windows. It doesn’t house people anymore. It houses art exhibits.
These painting are not in the Casa del Conde Jaruco. They’re photographs outside another building, the Cuban Museum of Natural History.
All these plants and animals are native to Cuba. I didn’t see them inside the museum, but I’m glad I caught them on the outside.
I took this picture but couldn't confirm its identity. I googled but couldn’t find the statue. I can’t read the plaque either, but I’m pretty sure it’s Miguel de Cervantes. Our guide pointed him out, and I remember taking his picture. Here’s his story…
Miguel was born in 1547 in Madrid, Spain. He became a poet and a soldier who published his first book in 1569 at age 22, but he didn’t become famous until 1605. That’s when he wrote Part 1 of Don Quixote. Miguel was 58. He finished the 2nd part in 1615, at age 68. Thanks, Miguel, for the encouragement. I still have time to write and publish a story.
Don Quixote fits Miguel, the poet-soldier. Don is an old man who’s so fascinated with the knights of old that he sets out in search of adventure. Miguel fought against the Turks and lost his left hand. Then he spent 5 years in a Turkish prison. Miguel went on to write the world’s first best seller. He died in poverty but never gave up.
In Miguel’s most famous scene Don thinks he’s fighting a giant. It’s really a windmill, but he keeps fighting, determined to fight the impossible battle. Miguel wrote this story in 1615. It’s now a classic that’s been translated into 60 languages. It’s also been renamed The Man of La Mancha and turned into a Broadway play, and into a movie. Its best song, To Dream the Impossible Dream. Miguel has 3 statues in Havana, Cuba. I wish he knew how powerful his words are, 400 years later. Talk about an impossible dream!
This mural is incredible. It covers over 300 square meters on Mercaders Street (360 square yards). It’s made of 52 panels that depict 67 famous figures from Cuban history.
Andres Carrillo is the artist. He researched all 67 people to find out what they looked like, how they dressed. It’s amazing!
Andres also used a new material to paint his mural. He picked a natural rock from Cuba and soaked it in acrylic resin. It came out as small tiles. He picked 4 colors (brown, coral rose, black, and beige) and mixed them together to create his 13 shades. It is incredible to look at this huge mural and to know how much work is in it. It is so life-like that I felt like I could step out on a balcony or open a window. They look like they’re physically there. Andres is incredibly talented!
I had to work to report on this! I blew up the picture and copied its name: Correspondencia Interior Y Peninsular.
That meant nothing to me so I went to Google and pasted in that name. I hit pay-dirt! That is the oldest mailbox in Cuba. It’s part of the original stonework for the old mansion of the Marqueses deArcos (some rich guy). It’s in the plaza of the Cathedral of Havana. I didn’t think we’d made it to the next plaza, but I guess we did.
The stone mailbox is the Greek mask of tragedy. Its mouth is where you put your letter. The inscription is a nod to the colonial era when mailbox was made. Who knew mail could be so tragic!
I googled, but couldn’t find anything about this, so I enlarged the sign, and here’s what it says, in English…Invitation to the people of Havana and foreign visitors to discover the new shop and manufacture of miniature tin soldiers. Placed at Number 164 Muralla Street, Havana.
I don’t remember anything about tin soldiers because I would have bought a couple. (I love to shop!) I thought it was something about soldiers mustering for duty back in the 1700 or 1800’s.
I googled once more and discovered it really is a shop! A tiny one on a side street. Each soldier is 3 inches tall, dressed in period costumes, and made of solid lead. The price, as little as 8 CUC a soldier. If you decide to visit, bring the address with you, 163 not 164 Muralla. Even the locals don’t know about this place. You can watch from the window as each soldier is painted, under a magnifying glass. When I go back to Havana, and I will, I’m visiting Muralla Street!
The link for this information: http://www.visitcuba.com/2014/12/big-battles-tiny-soldiers/
I got this email from my friend Mark when I wrote last year's post about Veterans Day. I thought it’d make the perfect post for this year. Thanks, Mark! This post will write itself!
"Thank you Rinda, it was a perfect reading for me none of us do this looking for appreciation. You met me after I had already served 3 years in the Marines, but I remember at Lima Senior looking around after Graduation wondering what do I do now? The Marines found me and kept hounding me for months I’m Thankful I listened, and earned the rights to be called a Marine. The most important life skill I learned was self-esteem trust me before than I lacked that, but becoming a Marine I learned these 14 Marine Corps Leadership Traits that I used throughout my lifetime:"
Definition: Justice is defined as the practice of being fair and consistent. A just person gives consideration to each side of a situation and bases rewards or punishments on merit.
Suggestions for Improvement: Be honest with yourself about why you make a particular decision. Avoid favoritism. Try to be fair at all times and treat all things and people in an equal manner.
FYI- Lady Justice is an ancient symbol that goes back to Greek and Roman mythology. She’s pictured blindfolded to show she’s fair and impartial. She holds a scale to show that she balances the strengths and weaknesses of a case. Finally she carries a sword to show her authority, and to show that justice should be swift and final.
Definition: Judgment is your ability to think about things clearly, calmly, and in an orderly fashion so that you can make good decisions.
Suggestions for Improvement: You can improve your judgment if you avoid making rash decisions. Approach problems with a common-sense attitude.
FYI- You don’t have to be a judge to make good decisions. If you don’t want to make rash decisions, slow down! Breathe. Sleep on it. Talk to friends and family. Do any or all of these, and you’ll make better decisions. Don’t worry. If you do your best, that’s enough. There is no more, plus, you can learn from your mistakes.
Definition: Dependability means that you can be relied upon to perform your duties properly. It means that you can be trusted to complete a job. It is the willing and voluntary support of the policies and orders of the chain of command. Dependability also means consistently putting forth your best effort in an attempt to achieve the highest standards of performance.
Suggestions for Improvement: You can increase your dependability by forming the habit of being where you're supposed to be on time, by not making excuses and by carrying out every task to the best of your ability regardless of whether you like it or agree with it.
FYI- If you’re dependable, you're like solid gold. You will never be the weakest link.
Definition: Initiative is taking action even though you haven't been given orders. It means meeting new and unexpected situations with prompt action. It includes using resourcefulness to get something done without the normal material or methods being available to you.
Suggestions for Improvement: To improve your initiative, work on staying mentally and physically alert. Be aware of things that need to be done and then to do them without having to be told.
FYI- When you take the initiative, you could be raising your hand or sharing an idea. You’re being brave because you’re daring to be wrong. Think about this...you’ll never be right unless you dare to be wrong.
Definition: Decisiveness means that you are able to make good decisions without delay. Get all the facts and weight them against each other. By acting calmly and quickly, you should arrive at a sound decision. You announce your decisions in a clear, firm, professional manner.
Suggestions for Improvement: Practice being positive in your actions instead of acting half-heartedly or changing your mind on an issue.
FYI- Sometimes it’s hard to make a decision. When that happens, I write down the pluses and minuses. Then I decide, and I give it time. If it’s a bad decision, no problem! I look at the new facts and make a better one. The worst decision...is no decision. Then life will choose for you. Decide! Be brave!
Definition: Tact means that you can deal with people in a manner that will maintain good relations and avoid problems. It means that you are polite, calm, and firm.
Suggestions for Improvement: Begin to develop your tact by trying to be courteous and cheerful at all times. Treat others as you would like to be treated.
FYI- It’s hard to say that just right thing, especially if you’re angry. Don’t be afraid to take your time to breathe, to think, to plan. Sometimes in tricky situations I even write down what I want to say. It’s worth taking the time to keep a friend.
Definition: Integrity means that you are honest and truthful in what you say or do. You put honesty, sense of duty, and sound moral principles above all else.
Suggestions for Improvement: Be absolutely honest and truthful at all times. Stand up for what you believe to be right.
FYI- This Venn Diagram explains it perfectly. If your beliefs, words, and actions match, you have integrity. It’s something to hang onto. If I had to lose everything, but could keep only 1 thing, I’d keep my integrity. I hope you do too.
Definition: Enthusiasm is defined as a sincere interest and exuberance in the performance of your duties. If you are enthusiastic, you are optimistic, cheerful, and willing to accept the challenges.
Suggestions for Improvement: Understanding and belief in your mission will add to your enthusiasm for your job. Try to understand why even uninteresting jobs must be done.
FYI- Be a cheerleader! Find a cheerleader! I did this for my 2nd graders…I cheered them on, but you can be your own cheerleader. Say words that build you up. Do your best because there is no more. Go, go, go!
Definition: Bearing is the way you conduct and carry yourself. Your manner should reflect alertness, competence, confidence, and control.
Suggestions for Improvement: To develop bearing, you should hold yourself to the highest standards of personal conduct. Never be content with meeting only the minimum requirements.
FYI- It’s not about the bear, but look at both pictures. Each girl is telling you something with her body. Here's a tip, if you get up on the wrong side of the bed, put on your favorite outfit. Sometimes when you look good, you'll start to feel good. I always do this on bad days.
Definition: Unselfishness means that you avoid making yourself comfortable at the expense of others. Be considerate of others. Give credit to those who deserve it.
Suggestions for Improvement: Avoid using your position or rank for personal gain, safety, or pleasure at the expensive of others. Be considerate of others.
FYI- This is what you learn in preschool and Kindergarten, how to share, whether it’s snack, a toy, or a game. It’s one of the most important things in life to learn.
Definition: Courage is what allows you to remain calm while recognizing fear. Moral courage means having the inner strength to stand up for what is right and to accept blame when something is your fault. Physical courage means that you can continue to function effectively when there is physical danger present.
Suggestions for Improvement: You can begin to control fear by practicing self-discipline and calmness. If you fear doing certain things required in your daily life, force yourself to do them until you can control your reaction.
FYI- Being brave is hardest when you’re afraid. The first step to more courage, slow down your breathing. Inhale and think ‘I breathe in courage.’ Exhale and think, ‘I exhale fear.’ It helps! Really! Last week I was struggling with self-doubt so I breathed in faith and exhaled hope. It helped me, and it can help you too. Really!
Definition: Knowledge is the understanding of a science or art. Knowledge means that you have acquired information and that you understand people. Your knowledge should be broad, and in addition to knowing your job, you should know your unit's policies and keep up with current events.
Suggestions for Improvement: Increase your knowledge by remaining alert. Listen, observe, and find out about things you don't understand. Study field manuals and other military literature.
FYI- Knowledge is power. The more you listen, observe, read, and discover the world around you, the better you’ll do now, and in the future.
Definition: Loyalty means that you are devoted to your country, the Corps, and to your seniors, peers, and subordinates. The motto of our Corps is Semper Fidelis!, (Always Faithful). You owe unwavering loyalty up and down the chain of command, to seniors, subordinates, and peers.
Suggestions for Improvement: To improve your loyalty you should show your loyalty by never discussing the problems of the Marine Corps or your unit with outsiders. Never talk about seniors unfavorably in front of your subordinates. Once a decision is made and the order is given to execute it, carry out that order willingly as if it were your own.
FYI- This image reminds me of the 3 Musketeers, not the candy bar, but the 3 French soldiers from a classic movie/novel. Their motto…all for one, and one for all. I’m loyal to my friends and family. Who are you loyal to?
Definition: Endurance is the mental and physical stamina that is measured by your ability to withstand pain, fatigue, stress, and hardship. For example, enduring pain during a conditioning march in order to improve stamina is crucial in the development of leadership.
Suggestions for Improvement: Develop your endurance by engaging in physical training that will strengthen your body. Finish every task to the best of your ability by forcing yourself to continue when you are physically tired and your mind is sluggish.
FYI- This is a real military training exercise, the Teamwork Log Training Exercise. It looks hard, but if you have endurance, you can lift that log off the ground and move it into position. How do you develop endurance? By training! Each time try to last a minute/half minute longer, and you’ll build endurance.
When Marines recruit, they say “They’re looking for a few good men.” They call themselves, “The few. The proud. The Marines.” When I look at Marine values, I can see why they’re so respected. They build good character.
I also think it’s interesting that those are the same values I tried to instill in my 2nd graders, and that my school guidance counselors worked on with them. Most of my FYI comments came from the things those counselors taught me and my students. I’m not a Marine, but I’m a proud retired elementary teacher of 33 years.
I asked my husband for his pictures of Cienfuegos, and he sent me this. It’s my last classroom. I retired from 2nd grade in June of 2015. The picture below reminds me of how much I loved teaching. It also shows what I valued as a teacher. It's displayed around the room.
I cut that picture into 4 pieces. They’re below, the 4 corners of my classroom. Let’s take a trip down Memory Lane.
This is the back of my classroom where you’d find my word wall chart and the kids’ lockers. Do you see the ice cream on them? They’re charts for mastery of addition/subtraction facts. On the last day of school everyone got ice cream, but the kids who passed the most time tests got to put their ice cream sundae together first. YUM!
This was the left side of my classroom. I kept half my curtains closed, and I used the curtains as a bulletin board. That’s where I put the “I can” learning statements.
My favorite place in the room was my library shelf. This was the last week of school, I still had books out, and yes, I was still teaching.
This is the front of my room. It’s where I taught, where the magic happened… learning! I taught with ‘stuff’ and after 33 years I had a lot of it.
That front wall was one BIG bulletin board. If it was important, it was on that wall. On the top, my number line, counting up to 110. Kids have trouble writing numbers after 109. They want to write 1010, 1011, year after year. Really!
Below them are my Disney character/ punctuation marks. They were a gift from another teacher when we traded jobs. She went to title reading. I went to 2nd grade. They helped my kids remember what to use for 30 years. When we did daily oral language, those classic characters still helped my kids!
Start on the left wall and follow me across the room. First you’ll find my calendar. No primary classroom is without one. It matches to science and math skill standards, the things that teachers can’t teach without. I’m not sure what posters are beside it, but I think they’re math. The shelf below it was full of math and science supplies. Things like calculators and clocks, magnifying glasses and magnets, It’s amazing what I collected over 33 years.
The spelling chart came next and the smartboard. I didn’t think I was smart enough for one, but with help from younger teachers I discovered how smart it was for my students. The two tables below it were full of basic supplies I needed every day. Things like Kleenexes and pencils, student names and a tub of worksheets.
Keep going right and you’ll find a behavior chart and a workshop to keep my kids busy and learning when they had spare time And yes, I used my cupboards too! They held cards that helped kids with phonics, like OW for blow or OW for cow. I paired them up with whatever skills I was teaching in spelling. There’s also another table. My favorite things that last year…a German calendar and my last ants. Back in the day I raised ants, butterflies, hermit crabs, and frogs. I loved my critters!
Last, look at the desks. I only did this for my last year. Yes, I tried something new that year! Before putting a unit of books away, I sorted them into tubs of difficult/medium/easy. My kids had baggies with dots on them. The dots told them which tub held the Just Right Books for them. If they didn’t do workshop, they could read a book that fit their reading level. I’m glad I tried this, even if it was only for 1 year.
Wow! I taught with a lot of stuff, 6 paragraphs worth! This is the last wall. Promise! BTW- that’s what I looked like that last year.
My last 3 bulletin boards…above the computers were my classroom rules, consequences, and rewards. Next came my author bulletin board, and my last author, George Ella Lyon, is a relative. I met her when she came for a school visit in the 90’s and discovered we have ancestors who were brothers. I still I can’t believe I’m related to a real, live, published author! The last bulletin board, above the sink, was the job’s bulletin board. My kids loved having jobs!
Interesting, as I write this, I miss teaching, my kids, and my colleagues. But would I go back to daily duty? Never! I love subbing once a week, every other week. I get my kid fix, and I stay connected to my market, teachers and kids. I love having 6 days a week to write. Even though I’m retired, I usually don’t get to write all 6 days. I get pulled away for appointments or whatever comes up. Subbing that one day gives me the best of both worlds, for now.
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!