Flying an airplane

What is this thing called gravity?  When I am in the airplane it floats in the clouds as if it is a feather, but when I leap off a table, I land on the ground with a thump! My friend Jackie is learning how to fly airplanes.  Flying a plane is very different from driving a car. There are no stop signs and traffic lanes are not marked in the air.  Even the controls are different. The yoke works like a steering wheel in a car. Push the yoke to go down, pull to go up, and use left and right to roll.  Most pilots don’t want to roll the airplane upside down, but it is important to know how to straighten the plane if winds are strong.  One of the hardest things about flying a plane is putting it on the ground again.  The day you fly solo is like getting your driver’s license.  There is custom when you pass your test to cut the back of your shirt off and write the date and plane identification on the shirt.  With no instructor to guide you it is a scary experience so the shirt if often soaked in sweat. Still, it is a treasure to those who earn it. “Better to be on the ground wanting to be in the air than in the air wanting to be on the ground” is the motto of experienced pilots.       Purrs, Gulliver

Flat Stanley Visits

I guess I should stay home once in a while. There are adventures to be found even in my backyard!  While I was out exploring, Mom’s friend Ezekiel asked her to show his Flat Stanley around Missoula.  Flat Stanley wanted to play in the snow, but found he needed warmer clothes. Mom crocheted a hat and scarf one evening, and the next morning they built a snowman.  When the weekend came, they explored downtown Missoula, riding the Carousel.  It was too cold for the kayakers to be out in the Clark Fork River, and the colorful piano that is usually in a parking lot was put way in storage. Not too cold for ice cream though, they walked to the Big Dipper and enjoyed Huckleberry ice cream.  Huckleberries grow wild and are very tart, but make a good pie, jam or ice cream. They thought about hiking up to the “M” a concrete landmark on the side of Mount Sentinel.  Although it’s just 3/4 mile to “M,” it seems much further with its steep incline and 11 switchbacks. Good sense and tired feet kept them from trying that challenge! Last I heard, they are going contra dancing, which is an old form of line dancing.  I really missed out on a fun visit with Flat Stanley!  Purrs, Gulliver

Badlands

What makes the Badlands bad? The term was first used by the Lakota people who called the region in eastern Montana and South Dakota “mako sica” or “land bad’. The French Canadian fur trappers agreed in the early 1900s, saying it was “les mauvais terres pour traverse, “or bad land to travel through” because the temperatures were harsh, water was scarce and the land was difficult to cross by foot or horseback.  Outlaws made use of these features to hide after committing crimes.  Famous outlaws like Kid Curry, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, Dutch Henry and the Hole in the Wall Gang would take refuge in the barren land escaping into Canada or to remote hideouts. There is now a Badlands National Park in South Dakota where buffalo and big horn sheep live.  The Park has a wonderful fossil exhibit – it turns out that long before humans and modern day animals arrived, dinosaurs lived here and their bones are now fossils!  Purrs, Gulliver

Mardi Gras

“Laissez les Bons Temps Rouler” said the sweet kitten Josephine when she begged me to stay in Paris for Mardi Gras. I found the English translation to that phrase is “Let the Good Times Roll”.  Sadly, I had already promised Smokey I would meet him in Alabama to see the celebration in Mobile. So I said goodbye to Josephine and flew to America. Mobile claims to have the oldest Mardi Gras in the New World A. French-Canadian explorer arrived in what is now modern day Mobile, Alabama on Fat Tuesday, 1699. He named the location Point du Mardi Gras and celebrated the end of Carnival.  Carnival actually runs from January 6 until the day before Ash Wednesday. Ash Wednesday is the start of 40 days of fasting which in that time meant no meat, sugar, fats, eggs and dairy products.  So to use up all the banned food the people had parties with rich food.. Over the years communities have added parades, balls and other forms of entertainment. Smokey and I really enjoyed the Carnival museum later in the week, and learned a lot of history.  Purrs, Gulliver

Photo by Marc Vandecasteele on Unsplash

Money, money money

What would it be like to be a quarter, a dollar, or even $5.00? We might sit in a piggy bank for a long time, waiting to be spent. Then one day, we jump into a pocket, go out for a walk and stop in at a store to buy a book or a piece of fruit. In the cash register we could meet new friends, and before long we join someone new as change for a larger bill.  Off to the laundromat where we are put in machines, and out come clean clothes. It is crowded in that little box, and it is a sigh of relief when we are taken out and deposited at the bank.  There are many coins and bills there, and it is wonderful to see many like us. It is quite a reunion, and we even get to meet money from other nations.  Maybe our next trip will be to another state, or even another country!  Purrs, Gulliver

Taj Majal

Have you ever heard of the Seven Wonders of the World?  They are sights that ancient Greeks wrote about as they explored their world.  In 2007 a new list was made, which includes The Taj Mahal. In the 1600’s, one ruler in India loved his wife so much he built a memorial to her after she died.  The Taj Majal  means The Crown of the Palace and is the burial site of both the ruler and his wife.  The Taj Mahal has beautiful gardens, a reflection pool and mosque (place of prayer). The buildings are made of marble stone from many different countries, and depending on the time of day, the buildings reflect different colors in addition to white. It is said 1,000 elephants carried the building materials to the site. It took over 20 years to build, and there are rare and semi-precious stones such as jade, sapphires, turquoise and lapis lazuli used in decoration of the buildings. Over 2 million people from all over the world visit every year, and I spent a lot of time just watching them as they explored the palace.

Purrs, Gulliver

Pergamon, Turkey

Sometimes I need a local guide to help me find my way around a new place. My tour guide was Bas, a Turkish Van Kedisi cat. Bas is typical of his clan with an all-white coat of fur and one blue eye and one light brown eye. He was full of energy and enjoyed being the center of attention. We explored the ancient city of Pergamon, which is now called Bergama, looking at all the ancient monuments which were once theaters, temples, a stadium and even a spa! There were beautiful pieces of art which had been carved on walls as well as 2, 300 year old columns which once held up the roofs of buildings. The tour had lots of hills and stairs to climb which made my poor paws sore. Bas took pity on me and we went to his cousin’s house. The Turkish people are very family oriented and love having company. Bas’s cousin made kebabs and served them with pilaf and pita bread. For dessert we had both kadayif, a sweet, crispy treat made with dough, nuts and lemon juice, and baklava, which is similar, but includes honey. I was stuffed! Purrs, Gulliver

Spring Break

For spring break my sister Sasha and I are going to Washington, DC. This is the capital of the United States, so we will have a tour of the White House and the Senate building. There is a lot of history here, so we are going to visit the Washington and Lincoln monuments and the Smithsonian, affectionately known as “the nation’s attic” because it has so many old treasures. There are actually 19 museums, nine research centers and the National Zoo as part of the Smithsonian. They collect everything from dinosaur bones to airplanes. Why keep a hundred year old octopus? So we can use it to compare to what an octopus looks like today and measure changes in size, diet and . It will take me more than one spring break to explore everything in the District of Columbia! Purrs, Gulliver

IMG_0864 (1)

The Roaring Twenties

“The Roaring Twenties” was my favorite decade, reminisced my great-grandmother. She was talking about a time almost 100 years ago. “I was a Flapper with bobbed hair and short skirts who loved to party. Your namesake, Mr. G, taught me how to drive his brand new car. It had 3 gears plus reverse but no review mirror, no seatbelts, no air conditioning or heat, and certainly no radio in the car! We drove all the way to Long Beach, California to see the Pacific Southwest Exposition. We had only 3 tires blow out on the trip, and really thought we were the “Cat’s Meow”! Purrs, Gulliver

IMG_5345

A full moon rising

Mom has “cabin fever” from being stuck inside away from her friends and usual activities.  To try and cheer her up, I am going to show her the super moon on April 6th.  What is a super moon?  It is a full moon which is closer to Earth than usual which makes it appear larger and more brilliant than usual.  The moon’s orbit around the earth is not round, but oval, so the dates of full moons vary from month to month. There are only two super moons in 2020; one was last month on March 9th, called a worm moon.  Tuesday’s moon has a number of names  – pink moon, sprouting grass moon, full fish moon and egg moon are a few of the names I found.   Another moon to celebrate will be on October 31, and it is called a Blue Moon.  These are rare moons, where two full moons appear in a single month, which happens every two and a half to three years. Having a full moon on Halloween is also uncommon, usually occurring every 19 years or so.  Maybe I can even get mom to dance in the moonlight!  Purrs, Gulliver

picture from Neven Krcmarek found in the Unsplash app. copyright free.