Ancient Olympics

While we were watching the Olympic events, Smokey and I talked about the first Olympic Games. Started over 2,700 years ago as part of a religious festival, it was a short sprint from one end of the stadium to another. Gradually more events were added to make four days of competitions including wrestling, boxing, and long jump, throwing the javelin, discus and chariot racing. There were no winter sports. The ancient Games were held in Olympia, Greece for over 1,100 years until they were outlawed by invaders of Greece. The modern Olympics were started in Athens, Greece, in 1896. Winter sports were added in 1924. In 2004 the Summer Olympics returned to Greece where 11,000 athletes from 201 countries competed. Purrs, Gulliver

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Here is the stadium where the first race took place:

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2018 Olympics

Woo hoo! My friend Smokey took me to the Winter Olympics in South Korea. The original Olympics were held in Greece during the ancient times. The modern Olympics move from country to country with athletes from all over the world competing for bronze, silver and gold medals. This is the second time South Korea has been host. The first time was the summer Olympics in 1988 in the capital, Seoul. I wanted to see the downhill skiing, speed and figure skating and hockey events. Smokey chose curling, alpine skiing, biathlon, hockey, luge and snowboarding. We had to compromise to see events together. The host city this time was PyeongChang, South Korea, and they used a mascot called Soohorang, who is a white tiger. The tiger represents trust, strength and protection in the Korean culture. Purrs, Gulliver

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Tulips

If only flowers could talk, what interesting stories they could tell! The tulip is not only a good traveler, but a migrant as well. Originally found growing wild in Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan, tulip bulbs were brought to Istanbul, Turkey for the gardens there. Tulips were prized flowers, and became a symbol of the Ottoman sultans. One sultan had 12 gardens of tulips with 920 gardeners to take care of them. As a gift, tulip bulbs were sent to the Netherlands, where people fell in love with the flower and spent a lot of money to buy bulbs. One bulb could cost as much as $1,500 in today’s money!

Tulip colors have different meanings assigned to them. Yellow tulips symbolize cheerful thoughts, white express forgiveness and purple represents royalty. A red tulip, similar to the red rose, means perfect love. Now tulips can be found in many countries. I would like to go to a tulip festival one spring and see the acres of flowers blooming. There are festivals in the Netherlands which are very popular, but also in Mt. Vernon, Washington; Ottawa, Canada; Kashmir, India; Albany, New York and Holland, Michigan to name a few places. That would be a lot of flowers to see! Purrs, Gulliver

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Williamsburg

I wish I could travel back and forwards through time.   Going to Williamsburg, Virginia is like traveling through time to when the original United States were still colonies of England. Williamsburg was the capital of the Virginia Colony from 1699 to 1780 In the 1600’s and 1700’s, there were no airplanes, telephones, refrigerators or cars. People grew their own food, made candles for light (electricity had not been discovered yet), made their own clothes and tools. Kitchens and toilets (privies) were separate buildings from the living and sleeping rooms and there was no running water to the house. Everyone had to work hard- even the cats that caught rodents and kept them from eating people’s food.  Wow, I didn’t realize how lucky I am – I don’t have to go hunting for my dinner! Purrs, Gulliver

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An Irish Birthday

Would you like a cuppa? A cuppa what? Why a cup of tea, of course! The Irish drink an average of 1,184 cups per person per year. Tea in the morning, noon and night, for any reason or none at all. And always black tea, never green or herbal. A good thing I like tea. My host family speak both English and Irish (Gaelic), and it is fun to listen to them sing Irish songs together accompanied by a Celtic harp. They are celebrating my friend Shelagh’s birthday – she just turned 10. Her father treated her to an old custom by turning her upside down, and holding her by the ankles, gently bumped her head on the floor 11 times for good luck. They then told me of another old custom. Farmers would often have the family pig live in the house like a pet. The pig was called “the gentleman who pays rent” because at the end of his stay he became sausage, bacon and pork chops which were sold at market! Purrs, Gulliver

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Passports

 

Whew, I am sorry I have been behind in sending postcards. I was delayed in customs and immigration. They didn’t believe a cat could have a passport! A passport is a travel document given out by the government that proves a person’s identity. Like a birth certificate, it has my name, place and date of birth, photograph, and signature (a paw print in my case). Each country has a special stamp they use when I enter the country. Here are some stamps from my passport. Purrs, Gulliver passport stamps

Mouse in Portland

My friend Mouse, who is a cat so I never understood her name, moved from Salinas, California to Portland, Oregon last year. Now she has invited me to come for a visit! I think I will go when the iris are in bloom, and maybe some of the roses that Portland grows in its famous garden. I love visiting gardens and looking at pretty flowers.

Maybe Mouse and I will take a day trip to Mount Hood. It is about 100 miles away, but as the tallest point in Oregon, it can be seen from Portland. I called it a mountain, but Mouse explained it is an active volcano, though not likely to erupt in an explosion. There are several ski resorts and lodges on the mountain, and 12 different glaciers, or ice fields. We had better take some snow boots to avoid frost bitten paws. Purrs, Gulliver

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Camels

One hump or two?  The single hump is a camel from the Middle East or upper Africa. The camel with two humps is native to Asia.   Camels are suited to the desert because their eyes have three eyelids and two rows of eyelashes to keep sand from entering their eyes.  They are also able to close their nostrils and lips to keep out the dust. I wish I had that kind of super-power! The camel is a symbol of patience, tolerance and strength.  Camels are usually very peaceful.  Just don’t get a camel mad – they can “spit” a stinky green fluid from their stomach all over you – it is as bad as a skunk smell!   Purrs, Gulliver

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Baby Tiger!

Vietnam food is considered very healthy because they use a lot of fruits, vegetables, fish, herbs and rice.  Traditionally, each meal has something spicy, sour, bitter, salty and sweet.  While I was visiting Vietnam, I asked what a specialty dish would be, and the chef said “Baby Tiger!”  They eat tigers here? No, it is actually cats!  If a cat is a pet, it is usually walked on a leash to keep it from disappearing. Potbellied pigs are also kept as pets, where at home pigs are eaten as bacon and pork chops.  I started daydreaming about what people eat around the world. People from India revere the cow and would not dream of eating a hamburger made of beef.  Before I realized it, the chef was chasing me through the village market, waiving a knife and calling “Here kitty kitty!” Because the Vietnamese language uses different tones to make meanings of a word change to something new, it was hard to understand the chef, but his meaning was clear!  Whew, I felt like I barely escaped with my life!  Purrs, Gulliver

 
And here is a comment from one of the teachers:

My kids get such a kick out of Gully’s adventures! The cat-hunting Vietnamese cook had the exact response I hoped for….a discussion of differences, not judgments of cultures. Sushi, Tajin, escargots and nopales were all loved by some and considered really weird by others….but after a talk, we decided it’s a decision, not a judgment. “I don’t like sushi” or “I’ve never had sushi” is different from “Sushi is disgusting”.    Thanks again for all you do!


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King of the Mountain!

I’m the King of the Mountain! I got to cross the Continental Divide, where rivers on the west flow to the Pacific Ocean, and rivers on the east flow to the Atlantic Ocean. The Blackfeet tribes originally settled Glacier National Park, and still consider this place sacred to this day. They call it “The Backbone of the World”.  I took a bus on the Going to the Sun Road to Lake McDonald, and saw glaciers. A glacier forms when more snow falls each winter than melts the next summer. The addition of snow above presses down on the layers below, and makes them into ice. This ice will move down a mountain, making peaks, canyons and valleys.  It is a beautiful place!

 

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Purrs, Gulliver