"I can't carry a tune in a bucket!"
"I'm not at all musically talented."
"I'm too old to learn to play music."
I've heard these laments from people, young and old, for as long as I can remember. I'm so lucky my Mom took me seriously when I said I wanted to learn to play the piano. I was trained to read music. It's like learning a foreign language, but one that is more universally spoken than any other in the world. The ability to perform music in any form is a true gift. And it's just that - a gift. That means both that it can be received and that it can be passed on. People who think they can't be musical simply haven't learned yet.
It's so rewarding to take someone who thinks they can't, and show them that they can. It's why so many musicians and singers love to pass along the gift of music. But don't just take my word for it. You have to hear it from Albert Einstein. Yes, truly. This story has been around for years, but I just read it in Reader's Digest. My new favorite story:
The Night I Met Einstein
Saturday, April 14, 2012
|Hanford workers lined up to get their paychecks.|
Is there a significant event that happened in your town? Was your community impacted by some historical event?
Maybe when you did the Vulture Tour lesson, you identified something interesting you'd like to investigate further. Now you need to identify a person who either lived there then or knows a lot about that particular moment in history. The most immediate way to learn about a significant event is to talk to someone who lived through it. You can get facts from reading a history book, but you can get impressions, feelings, and real impact from someone who was there.
Interviewing someone about something that happened in the past is oral history.
During the Great Depression, Franklin D. Roosevelt's administration sought many creative ways to put Americans back to work. During this time, thousands of young men worked on construction projects that, to this day, benefit our state and national parks. Artists were employed to create murals for public buildings. Musicians sought out folk singers and recorded their traditional tunes. And writers were called to record histories with ex-slaves and pioneers. This marked one of the largest efforts to record oral history in our nation's history.
Today, the emphasis is on recording histories of World War II veterans and civilians who worked in the war effort. That generation is disappearing quickly, so their stories need to be preserved.
In studying the history of our town, we found that the most significant thing it's known for is its role in the development of the atomic bomb during World War II. Men and women moved here from all over the country to work at the Hanford site - it was good, steady work, with a good paycheck; but very few of them knew what it was they were working on. Only the senior army officers and researchers knew that the giant construction projects in the middle of the desert were nuclear reactors, built to separate plutonium to be used in atomic weapons. The mission was top-secret, a matter of our national security; and these men and women wanted to perform their patriotic duty to their country's war effort.
In the years since, many of those workers have stayed in Richland. Some of them serve as docents at the Hanford B Reactor, on the occasions it can be opened up for tours. Some serve at the Columbia River Exhibition of History, Science, and Technology (The CREHST Museum) where there are excellent exhibits about life here in the 1940's. CREHST is one of the local organizations that's trying to preserve the oral histories of the Hanford "old-timers."
That brings me, finally, to our third Investigative History lesson plan, Living Out Loud. I hope it will inspire you to make a new friend that you can talk to about the past.
|Billboards cautioned Hanford workers to keep their work secret during the Cold War era|
Tuesday, April 10, 2012
Yes, it's all her fault. My sweet, sweet-toothed southern sister-in-law innocently (or not?) posted her facebook status a couple of weeks ago: "Eating a pink lemonade cake square from Dewey's. I really think there should be as much icing on the top as there is cake on the bottom! :)"
Had I ever in my life heard of pink lemonade cake before? No, I had not. Maybe it was raging hormones, maybe it was homesickness for some decadent southern treat, maybe it was the fact that I had been fasting from desserts for about 40 days . . .
At any rate, I became obsessed with finding out how to recreate that cake. Now, I'm a long way from Dewey's, which is in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, so I started combing the 'net for a receipt. I found this one by Paula Deen, which just had to be on the right track, right, y'all? And I decided it would be the perfect thing for our Easter Dinner with friends. I watched the video of Paula and her son making the cake, I dreamed about it, I made my grocery list and checked it twice.
Then I decided that I just wouldn't be satisfied if I wasn't making the same cake my sister-in-law enjoyed in North Carolina. I had my husband quiz her about it when they were talking on the phone. Here's what he found out: the cake is pink with yellow icing (perfect for Easter, I thought); EVERYbody has one of these cakes for every baby shower, wedding shower, birthday, you name it - definitely a local favorite.
Ok, just one more week. I could make it that long.
Since I'm pretty messy at baking and frosting cakes, I decided I'd better spend Saturday afternoon concentrating on getting the cake ready for Sunday. I did decide to do it just like Paula's so I wouldn't mess it up too badly. It was very, very easy. My cake was light pink and the frosting, a shade darker pink.
I really wish I had taken a picture. It was lovely to behold. Probably should have put some marshmallow chicks or bunnies on it or something, but I just served it naked (the cake, not me). Geez!
There were fourteen of us there for dinner. And that cake was pretty much wiped out! So good with a cup of coffee or tea. And such a refreshing lemony flavor - sorta tart, sorta sweet.
This will definitely go down as a family favorite.
And next time we're all home, Tina, dear, I'd appreciate a taste of the Dewey's version!
|Photo Credit: www.deweys.com/info/about-us/|
Monday, April 9, 2012
|My Dad, age 75, at Olympic National Park, Washington|
Who is the most peaceful person you know? I asked my girls this question a few months ago. We decided that my Dad, Papa Huff, fit the description best. Why do you think he's so peaceful? I wanted to know. Well, probably because of his faith and because he stays outdoors all the time.
Good point! There's no doubt Papa is right with God, so he's a very peaceful soul. But he's also very easy-going. I've hardly ever seen him flustered. And I think that's because he is a lifelong observer and lover of the great outdoors. It's just impossible to be uptight when you spend a lot of time outside. His fascination with every living and every inanimate thing outdoors is childlike. And his excitement is contagious.
When we moved to the Pacific Northwest, he and my Mom came out for their first visit a few months later. He was like a kid in a candy store observing the rock formations, rivers, wide-open spaces, ducks . . . everything was so different from his native Virginia. On one of his visits with us, he insisted on buying a pair of binoculars to keep in my kitchen drawer so they'd be handy for him. He was content to sit on our back deck and look for miles toward White Bluffs on the Columbia River. There's not too many places back home you can see that far.
Some of my best memories with my preschool daughters are days we spent outdoors exploring. In East Tennessee, we had an abundance of mild weather and loads of farms, parks, mountains, zoos, ponds, orchards, berry patches, and trails to discover. Even if all was chaotic in the house, the minute I stepped outside, I could feel myself relaxing.
Pay attention to what gets your child's attention. Ants, rocks, butterflies, birds, shells, tadpoles. Kids are naturally drawn to them. We were always on the lookout for good resources to extend the fun into more learning. I always checked out the gift or bookstore at every zoo, state or national park, or where ever we happened to be visiting. Look for good local field guides and even stories written about local topics. Often the setting of a story will help you learn and remember even more. Here are my top picks:
- A blank book to use as a nature journal
- Audubon field guides (Pictured is Familiar Butterflies of North America, A National Audubon Society Pocket Guide, ISBN 0-679-72981-X)
- Flower Press (Pictured is Wildflower Field Guide and Press for Kids, Carol Anne Campbell, ISBN 1-56305-242-3)
- A good nature journal how-to book. (Pictured is Keeping a Nature Journal: Discover a Whole New Way of Seeing the World Around You, Clare Walker Leslie and Charles E. Roth, ISBN 1-58017-493-0)