The Island of Love

Ia ora na (hello)!  I am on one of the many Tahitian Islands.  Moorea means “yellow lizard” which is a name taken from a family of chiefs that governed the island.  It is also known as “The Island of Love”.  The Tahitian alphabet contains only 13 letters: the vowels a, e, i, o, u and the consonants f, h, m, n, p, r, t and v.  did you know the word tattoo came from the Tahitian word tatau?  I heard some wonderful stories about Tohu, the god of tattoo who painted all the ocean fish in beautiful colors and patterns.  In Polynesian culture, tattoos are signs of beauty.  In earlier times, tattoos were ceremoniously applied when reaching adolescence.

I tried to put this postcard in the mailbox outside my friends house, but he laughed and said “that is not for mail, it is four our French bread deliveries!”  they get fresh loaves of bread twice a day, but to get their mail they have to go to the post office.  What an interesting custom!  Purrs, Gulliver

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Sacramento

Sacramento is California’s State Capitol. It became a city in 1850, following a gold rush which brought many people to the area looking for gold. Sacramento was built between two rivers – the Sacramento River and the American River.  In 1861 there were floods, and the Governor had to attend his inauguration in a row boat.  The flood waters were so bad, the legend says, that when he returned to his house, he had to enter it through the second floor window!  Here is a postcard of the State Capitol.  Purrs, Gulliver

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Ukraine

Last summer I attended a wedding in Ukraine.  Many old traditions were used.  To become engaged, the man must take his parents and friends to the girl’s family home and have his father ask for the girl’s hand for him. If the answer is no, the poor man is given a pumpkin!  In Ukraine, a wedding is a three day celebration.  There is a civil ceremony where the marriage is registered. Then the couple goes to a church to be crowned. This ceremony is sung rather than spoken as the maid of honor and best man hold crowns over the couple’s heads.  Instead of cake, Ukrainians serve a special bread called Korovai.  It is made by the married women from both families as a symbol of two families becoming one.  We all sang “Mnohaya Lita” which means “many happy years” to the newlyweds.  Purrs, Gulliver

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Big Horn Sheep

Don’t look down – it’s a long way to the bottom of that cliff! Big Horn Sheep are famous for their ability to climb high, steep, rocky mountain areas.  Their name is obvious – the male’s horns can weigh up to 30 pounds (14 kilograms) or 10 percent of the overall body weight.  The horns can be used as weapons when the males fight. They charge each other at a speed up to 32 km per hour and crash head to head. Because their skulls are thick, this rarely causes serious injury!   Purrs, Gulliver

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Solvang

“Melting pot”: a place (such as a city or country) where different types of people live together and gradually create one community. USA is a land of immigrants, with many cities having a neighborhood or area that reminds immigrants and their families of food , arts and music of the places they left. Think Chinatown, little Italy, and even Solvang, which is an entire city built to look like Denmark did 100 years ago. There are copies of Danish windmills, statues of Hans Christian Andersen and the Little Mermaid, and homes that look like they are from Denmark. In addition, several restaurants and pastry shops serve Danish specialties like Æbleskiver “Pancake Puffs” which are traditional pancakes in a shape of an apple. The name literally means apple slices in Danish, and applesauce or bits of apple may be used in making the pancakes. What traditions, foods or sayings were passed down from your grandparents?

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Smokejumpers

Kip laughed when I asked him what his mother thought of his job as a smokejumper. “She thinks I am crazy… truly nuts and need my head examined.”  Kip and his co-workers have a dangerous job jumping out of an airplane to fight fires in remote areas where there are no roads.   There are only 450 smokejumpers in the USA who attend special schools like the one in Missoula, Montana which has been around for 75 years. The school trains smokejumpers how to jump out of airplanes and use parachutes, fight the fires by hand, and then carry out equipment that can weigh up to 120 – 140 pounds.  This has been a busy year, with 81 fires going on around the Western United States, and I told Kip I admired his dedication to keeping people and property safe.  “I love the outdoors” he simply said.  Purrs, Gulliver

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