Flying High For Kids

Imagine if your child was in the hospital right now. While the rest of the world is decorating for the holidays, attending parties, shopping, baking, and wrapping presents, you are spending every minute in the hospital at the side of your sick child.

Yesterday, I had the privilege of being a part of a very special event at the Dallas Children’s Medical Center. Along with the Pilots for Kids Charitable Organization, I was able to sign and give my books as Christmas presents to children who are in the hospital.

While it was difficult to see sick children this time of year, it was heartwarming to see each of the children and their parents escorted personally by a pilot who helped them select several Christmas presents. I covered the lump in my throat with a smile and greeted each child as I told them about my books and let them choose one. The kids were very excited to be receiving gifts and the parents were so grateful for the outpouring of love toward their children.

If you haven’t heard of them, Pilots for Kids is an international, nonprofit 501 (c)(3) organization that was founded in 1983 by airline crewmembers to address the needs of hospitalized children.

Every year, members visit thousands of children in hospitals, shelters, orphanages and other facilities where there are children in need. While the visits occur throughout the year, the majority of them are during the month of December when members will visit and pass out toys to hospitalized children.

With Paul Brown, treasurer for Pilots for Kids

Holiday toys and other needed items such as wheelchairs and special beds are purchased for children through fundraising. The Dallas Pilots for Kids members hold an annual golf scramble every summer to fundraise for their holiday hospital visits. 100% of all donations are spent on items for children.

All Pilots for Kids members are volunteers and their administrative costs are covered by the $15 annual membership dues. The good news, is that anyone can join and support this wonderful organization that is making a positive difference in the lives of so many.  I did…how about you? www.pilotsforkids.org

Saint Nicholas To Santa Claus

So many of our holiday traditions were begun many years ago by people who had no idea that their actions would influence the behavior of future generations.  The last two days, I’ve spent Christmas shopping for my family and decorating our home for the holidays.

Today, as I found spots for our Santa Claus figurines, I remembered that December 6th is Saint Nicholas Day.  The official name is “Feast of Saint Nicholas Day” and this is an annual Christian celebration to honor the memory of Saint Nicholas on the anniversary of his death.

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We have affectionately nicknamed our modern-day Santa Claus “Jolly Old Saint Nicholas” because he is based on the real Saint Nicholas who had a legendary habit of secret gift giving.  In pictures, he even looks like Santa Claus!

The real Saint Nicholas was born in Asia Minor which is now Lycia, Turkey, in the year 270 A.D.  His parents were wealthy and were devout Christians.  They died when Nicholas was very young and he used his entire inheritance to help the needy and the sick.

Saint Nicholas dedicated his life to serving God and to helping people.  He was named the Bishop of Myra as a young man and there were many miracles attributed to him.  Because Nicholas was well known for his generosity, his love for children, and his concern for sailors and ships, he is the patron saint of sailors, merchants, archers, children, brewers and students.

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Image result for st nicholas

In European countries today, Saint Nicholas Day is celebrated by giving gifts and attending church services.  Just like our American Christmas Eve tradition, gifts are brought on the eve of Saint Nicholas Day and children put their shoes or boots in front of the fireplace or beside the front door for Saint Nicholas to fill with small presents.  Perhaps our tradition of hanging stockings evolved from the practice of putting shoes or boots out for Saint Nicholas?

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Image result for st nicholas

When I look at my Santa figurines now, I think of this man who lived so long ago and must have taken such delight in giving.  Sometimes the holidays can feel big and expensive and overwhelming. Hopefully, we will have joy in our hearts as we prepare to celebrate the miracle of His birth by giving to others.

 

The Silent Night Church

During the past few days, we’ve been getting our Christmas decorations out. Since we’re in a new home this year, it has taken longer than usual for us to find the right new spots for all of our Christmas finery. We keep moving decorations around until we find the place where they fit the best. But one decoration, our Silent Night Church, seems to belong under our tree this year.

Every Christmas when I was a girl, I waited excitedly for my mom to put out the Silent Night Church. The church was my favorite family Christmas decoration and I loved to turn the switch that lit up the cellophane stained glass windows. After that, I would wind the music box and then sit back and admire the magical wintery church scene as the melody of Silent Night filled our living room.

The little, steepled church sat on a 23” by 15” pine slat base that had been covered with plaster snow and painted white. Some kind of crystals…possibly salt or sugar…had been sprinkled over the white paint to make the whole scene glisten.

On the front of the church was a wreath, and placed around it were pine trees. The entire scene was surrounded by a fence that had been fashioned from small tree branches and painted white to match the rest of the scene. Standing in front of the church and under the bell tower, were two ceramic carolers dressed in choir robes.

Our Silent Night Church had been made many years earlier by my inventor great-grandfather. At his “day” job, he had invented machine parts and lathes for his brother-in-law’s machine shop. But at home, he delighted in creating fun and beautiful things for his family. Since my great-grandfather died in the 1940’s, my mom thinks the church could be almost 100 years old.

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There is an actual Silent Night Chapel located in Austria that stands in the location of the former St. Nicholas Parish Church where the Christmas carol, Silent Night, was first performed on December 24, 1818.

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St. Nicholas Parish Church

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Silent Night Chapel

A young assistant priest named Father Joseph Mohr, had written the lyrics for Silent Night in 1816. In 1818, he asked the schoolmaster and church organist, Franz Saver Gruber, to compose a melody and guitar accompaniment to go with his song lyrics. Together, they performed the new carol during the Christmas Eve mass in the village of Oberndorf.

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All of these many years later, this very old church which was hand made by a great-grandfather that I never knew, is still very special to me and my family. I hope all of you have favorite Christmas decorations that you look forward to seeing each December!

 

Thankful…Grateful…Blessed

Last weekend, my husband and I drove to Terrell, Texas to talk with the owners of a gift shop there about carrying my books. Along the way, we stopped at a Jack in the Box fast food restaurant to use the restroom. The place was buzzing with people and activity and we were in the restaurant for perhaps five minutes.

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When we arrived at the gift shop in Terrell, I realized that I was no longer wearing the bracelet I had put on that morning at home. Instantly, I became very upset. You see, that bracelet had very special meaning for me and I feared I had lost it.

About 15 years ago when writing books was just a distant dream for me, I had ordered an antique typewriter key pendant necklace from a catalog. I often wore the necklace as I typed out my stories in my little writing room which overlooked the perennial garden in my backyard. I think I secretly hoped that antique typewriter key pendant held some kind of magical inspiration.

My first book, The Button Box, was published in August of 2014. That year for Christmas, my niece, Jessica, sent me a package.

In the package was a bracelet and inside the box with the bracelet was a note:

“My dad got this for me a long time ago. I think he would want you to have it now since you’re an author! Pretend this is from him.”

I held the bracelet close to my heart and whispered “thank you.” My brother, Jessica’s dad, had died very suddenly in 2006. He had always encouraged my writing and would be excited about reading whatever story I was working on at the time. It felt as if I had received a very special Christmas gift from him eight years after his passing.

Then, the next surprise was that the bracelet matched the necklace I had been wearing for so many years. A special gift indeed. And, I had lost it somewhere between Hickory Creek and Terrell, Texas.

We searched the inside of the car and didn’t find the bracelet. My heart sank. As many of you know, when a loved one dies, we have a finite number of tangible things that are connected to their memory.

One of my favorite Thanksgiving pictures of my brother and our parents.  This one always makes me laugh!

Then, my husband suggested that we go back to the Jack in the Box restaurant where we had made our pit stop. He said that maybe it had fallen off while we were there and some kind soul had turned it in.

He was right. One of the workers had found my bracelet and had given it to her manager. When I described the bracelet to the store manager, he said he would be right back. He came back a couple of minutes later with my bracelet and a big smile. Then he introduced me to the woman who had found it. I fought the urge to kiss her right then and there!

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I thanked her and told her how much the bracelet meant to me. She smiled and nodded. I asked if she had any grandchildren and she said she had two…a girl who was eight and a boy who was seven. I told her I would be right back and I selected two books from the back of our car. I gave them to her for her grandchildren. I hope my books will be a blessing for her family as she has been for me.

As we all pause to give thanks and to count our blessings tomorrow, I am so very thankful for that little bracelet with letters and symbols from my brother. I am thankful for the grandmother who found it when it was lost. But I am most thankful for the people in my life both living and gone. For those who have passed, I am thankful for the time I had with them in this life.

Wishing you all a happy and thankful Thanksgiving Day!

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Let’s Talk Turkey!

I once decided to become a vegetarian. My meatless journey began on January 1st of the new year and I did just fine as month after month passed. I learned how to order in restaurants and how to cook at home so that I would get the right amounts of the nutrients I needed to stay healthy.

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But then, Thanksgiving rolled around and I suddenly became a carnivore again. I simply couldn’t resist the mouth-watering smell and taste of the oven-roasted turkey on Thanksgiving Day.

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And, I’m not alone. According to yesterday’s Smithsonianmag.com website, 90% of American dinner tables will serve turkey this Thanksgiving. Total turkey production for Thanksgiving 2017 is 245 million birds, with the average weight of the turkeys purchased at 15 pounds.

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In case you are wondering where all those turkeys come from, Minnesota is the top turkey-producing state in America followed by North Carolina, Arkansas, Missouri, Virginia, and my home state of Indiana.

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Thanksgiving (or as it’s commonly called, “turkey day”) is our thankful holiday and a day when Americans gather together with family and friends for an afternoon of food and football to celebrate the blessings of the year. Usually, a roasted, smoked, or even a fried turkey, is the centerpiece of the celebration meal.

It was 70o in Texas last night so we took a bike ride in our neighborhood. It seems like a lot of people have gone straight from Halloween decorations to Christmas ones and have forgotten that Thanksgiving is actually next week. But not at our house. Right now, the turkey rules!

Thanksgiving might be my favorite holiday. I believe it’s important to pay attention to our blessings so we don’t take them for granted. This helps us to be thankful for the people and things we have in our lives every day and not just on Thanksgiving.

I’m very thankful that I’ve been blessed with the ability to write and publish books. During the past week, I’ve had the privilege of reading “The Day The Turkey Came To School” to children at two libraries and at an elementary school. They’ve been excited to hear my story about a turkey and about being thankful for the people in our lives.

Who are you most thankful for this Thanksgiving season? Perhaps you should tell them!

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Author’s note: Four towns in the United States take their name from our traditional Thanksgiving bird. These are Turkey, Texas (pop. 465), Turkey Creek, Louisiana (pop. 363), Turkey Creek, Arizona (pop. 294) and Turkey, North Carolina (pop. 270).

Look For The Value

Those of you who read my blog regularly, may remember a post from last June called “The Golden Chairs”. http://www.walkdownthelane.com/the-golden-chairs/

It was about a pair of 50-year-old chairs that my parents gave me recently. They were covered in a golden fabric originally but had been recovered in more recent years in pink.  I was delighted to receive them even though they were old and stained and smelled heavily of cigarette smoke. I knew they would require new fabric and padding but it was a labor of love for me to have them redone.

It took me an entire month of working to remove the 50-year-old varnish from the wooden legs of the chairs and then I sanded them before adding three coats of new stain. After the legs were finished, I took the chairs, along with six yards of fabric, to a local upholstery shop to be recovered.

When we got the call that they were finished and ready for pick up, I was excited but a little apprehensive too. Sometimes a fabric can look different in our hands than it does on furniture. I hoped I had chosen the right colors to update the golden chairs that I had loved so much as a child.

My original “golden chairs” blog post was inspired by my cousin, Jon, who messaged me one day with some ideas for my blog. He suggested I write about finding value in some of the old and broken things in our lives.

He said, “We don’t always have to throw things away just because they are old or worn out. You have to look for the value. Sometimes things can be repaired and repurposed for continued use.” And then he added, “This applies to people too.” Just because people in our lives might be old or difficult to deal with, doesn’t mean we have to give up on them.

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I knew he spoke from personal experience about a challenging relationship with his father. I also knew that instead of giving up on the relationship, my cousin kept trying no matter how bleak things seemed to be between the two of them. And ultimately, they reached a point where their relationship was in a good place.

Jon told a story at his father’s funeral last week about how he would practice baseball as a boy with his dad. No matter how the practice time went, his dad always made him end on a “good play” because that was the feeling he would carry with him. I’m so thankful that their relationship ended on a good play.

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It takes real work to find the value in things and in people who may not appear to be worth our time or effort. It isn’t always easy and sometimes it may be an impossibility. But what if our efforts pay off in the form of a better relationship or a refurbished family treasure?

As we head toward the holiday season where we will come together with our families, perhaps we too, can find value in each person and in the time we have with them. There is so much divisiveness and strife in our world today.  How wonderful it would be to reach the end of the year and know that we ended our festive time with our families on a good play.

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I Was His Favorite…Really

I’m traveling back to my home state of Indiana tomorrow for a funeral. It’s a trip I didn’t expect to make so soon. My uncle would have turned 70 in two weeks and I have a gift I was going to mail to him. It’s a three-book series by one of my author friends. I thought my uncle would really enjoy reading them. I’m not sure what to do with them now.

Uncles and aunts are special people. Like grandparents, they are the closest thing we have to our own parents but they don’t parent us. They simply love us unconditionally and are fun and part of our personal fan club.

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My Uncle Ken was my mom’s younger brother.  She was seven when he was born and after he arrived, my mom asked her parents to trade him in for a sister. She wanted a little sister, not a little brother.

He was 13 years older than me and just older enough to be the rock star uncle that I adored. As a little girl, I thought he was beyond handsome in his senior class picture and I used to think he looked like a prince.

He loved to tease me and my girl cousins. He would say, “I hate nieces to pieces but not you, you’re my favorite.” Of course, he said this to all of us. We all thought we were his favorite. When one of us heard him tell another niece that she was his favorite, he would wink and whisper, “But you are really my favorite.”

On my 7th birthday, the United States Army sent my Uncle Ken to Germany. I was so upset that he had to leave on my birthday that I told him I was going to call President Johnson and give him a piece of my mind. My uncle just chuckled and told me it would be “okay” and that he would send me a German doll.

For weeks, I waited for that doll to come in the mail. Every afternoon  I ran off the yellow school bus and burst into the kitchen saying, “Did it come today?” And one day, there she was…the most beautiful doll I had ever seen. She had brown hair just like mine and she was wearing a traditional German dress. I treasured that doll for decades and just a few years ago, I took it to a family Christmas to show my uncle I had kept it all these years.

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After he returned from the army, Uncle Ken taught me to play chess. I then taught my younger brother, Jeff, to play. Until my brother died 11 years ago, he and my uncle would play chess together regularly. I didn’t know until much later, that Uncle Ken was a rated chess player.

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When I was a teenager, my uncle introduced me to the music of the Beatles and the Eagles and Jackson Browne and Neil Young. As we listened to his vinyl records together, he taught me to pay attention to the lyrics, the words, and to try and figure out what the artists were trying to say. Perhaps that was the beginning of my life-long love affair with words and the fun of stringing them together into many meanings.

Over the years, Uncle Ken always remembered my birthday. Some years, I would receive a note or a hand-written card from him. Those notes always included a picture of his original character, Safety Cat. Other years, he would call and remind me that it was a special day for us both because that was the day he had left home for the army and his grand adventure in Germany.

Three months ago, he called me on August 1st to tell me “happy birthday” and to say that this year was our 50th anniversary of the birthday he left for Germany. It was the last time we talked on the phone. I mailed him a letter and my latest book in September. He was a big fan of my books.

So, I will travel to Indiana tomorrow to say “goodbye” to my beloved uncle and to hug his son and his daughter. I take comfort in the fact that he isn’t suffering any longer and I wonder if he and my brother might be playing chess again together. Heavenly chess.

And, no matter what my girl cousins might think, I know that I was his favorite. Really.

 

 

Happy Halloween!

The majority of my blog posts are completely new and written the same day they are posted.  Sometimes however, I like to rework previous information when it is topical or especially interesting. This is a rewritten post from two years ago at Halloween so some of it may sound familiar to my regular readers.   For those of you who are new to my blog, I hope you enjoy this one!

My sister-in-law likes to call this time of year from now until January, “the eating season”. Halloween candy, turkey and pumpkin pie, Christmas cookies…the food during October, November and December certainly gets my attention. On January 1st we can make our new year’s resolutions to eat less and exercise more, but for now, let’s enjoy the season!

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Halloween is next week. Passing out candy to all the trick-or-treaters is one of my favorite fall activities.  Last October, I mentioned our tradition of buying full size candy to pass out on Halloween. The Sour Skittles we had last year were a big hit, so we bought them again along with Sour Patch Kids and Hershey Bars.

When I was a girl, Halloween wasn’t quite the big time holiday that it is now. You could buy costumes in the store that were made out of inexpensive fabric and had a plastic mask, but many kids just came up with their own.

I liked to dress up as a witch or a gypsy or a hobo. The gypsy costume was my favorite and it was easy and fun to put together. I would find a pretty dress (usually from my cousin’s closet) wrap a scarf around my head, wear big hoop earrings and lots of bracelets and my mom’s bright red lipstick.

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Years ago, we also used pillowcases to collect our candy. Every now and then, someone comes to my door on Halloween with a pillowcase and it always takes me back. The things that were given out when I was young were a bit different too. Chocolate has always been a favorite to pass out, but we used to get a lot of apples and homemade items too. Some people would drop coins in our bags. When I was growing up, my mom always gave out homemade popcorn balls. Do people make those anymore?

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In the Middle Ages (the 5th to 15th century) in Europe, there was an early tradition called mumming. It involved wearing a costume on holidays and going door to door to perform short plays in exchange for food and drinks.

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Halloween was originally called “Hallowmas” and in the 15th century it was thought that the souls of the dead roamed the earth on this night. Poor people would dress up in costumes representing the dead and visit houses to collect soul cakes in return for praying for the souls of deceased family members. This was called “souling” and was practiced in Britain, Germany and Austria on Hallowmas night. Later, children adopted this practice and would visit homes for food and drinks and coins.

Image result for collecting soul cakes on hallowmas

Image result for collecting soul cakes on hallowmas

Trick-or-treating or begging on Halloween originated in England, Ireland and Scotland during the 16th Century. At that time, the tradition of wearing costumes or “guising” by children and going door to door for apples, nuts, cakes or coins was commonplace. In the early days of guising in Scotland, turnips were scooped out and made into lanterns for the guising children to carry. This may have later evolved into our tradition of hollowing out and lighting pumpkins.

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Guising on Halloween is still practiced today in Scotland and Ireland, although the food received is more likely to be chocolate. There is still an expectation that the children will perform for the treats. This performance might be singing a song or reciting a joke or a funny poem. Some children take it a step further and do card tricks or play an instrument for treats. The North American traditions of saying “trick-or-treat” while guising has also become common in recent years.

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Trick-or-treating as we know it has only been around in America since the late 1920’s or early 1930’s. Before that time, there were many problems with tricks and vandalism occurring on Halloween. Gates would be removed from fences, outhouses would be overturned, pumpkins would be smashed, cabbages would be taken from gardens and tossed around, wagons were dismantled or moved to other places, and house and car windows were soaped or egged.

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Image result for vandalism on halloween

Community trick-or-treating was organized in an effort to stop the vandalism and to make Halloween a fun night for everyone.
In some parts of our country, trick-or-treaters are expected to tell a Halloween joke or riddle or to recite a poem in exchange for a treat. In other places, people simply leave the porch light on so that children will ring the doorbell and say “trick-or-treat” for candy.

Many people decorate their yards and porches for Halloween. The best decoration I saw this year was of a blow up pumpkin Pacman trying to eat three ghosts. We couldn’t find one of those but we do  have a giant spider web out front to add to the scary fun!Image result for pac man and three ghost halloween decoration

Another variation of trick-or-treating that has become popular in our country in recent years is “trunk-or-treating” where shopping malls, schools or churches sponsor a trick-or-treat event or festival all in one place for families. This is thought to be safer than going to stranger’s doors and also easier for parents.

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According to a recent article in Parade Magazine, Americans will spend a lot of money on Halloween. Estimates are that we will spend $2.9 billion on costumes, $2.1 billion on candy, $1.9 billion on decorations, and $550 million on costumes for our pets.

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Image result for pet costumes

Surprisingly enough, this $7.4 billion expenditure is dwarfed by the $616.9 billion we will spend on the “winter holidays” which include Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah and New Year’s. So, Happy Halloween and happy spending!

 

 

Elephants…Who Knew?

So, when’s the last time you saw a real live elephant? Or got to pet one and feed it a treat? We had these delightful pleasures earlier this month during a trip to Hugo, Oklahoma to visit a potential new store for my books.


When we were planning our trip, I did a Google search to see if there were any interesting spots to visit while we were in the area. I happened upon the Endangered Ark Foundation, which was founded in 1993 and is the second largest Asian Elephant refuge in North America. (The largest one is in Florida.)

Photo by Jeff Hull
Photo by Jeff Hull

According to their website, the Endangered Ark Foundation “is a private non-profit dedicated to ensuring the future of Asian elephants in North America, providing a retirement ranch for circus elephants, and educating the public about this endangered species.”

They recently began offering public tours for individuals twice a day on Friday and Saturday, and group tours Monday through Thursday to help to support their organization. Cost of the tour is $30 for adults, $15 for ages 4-12, and 3 and under are free.

The tours last about an hour and include an educational presentation about Asian Elephants, a guided tour of the facility, and an opportunity to see an elephant have a bath. The guide told us that the elephants love their baths so much, that they sometimes get very relaxed and fall asleep while being bathed.

Photo by Jeff Hull
Photo by Jeff Hull

My favorite part of the tour, was the chance to pet and hand feed the elephants. I expected their skin to feel smooth but it was just the opposite. It felt very rough and leathery. And, for being the Earth’s largest land animals, they were surprisingly sweet and gentle and didn’t seem to mind having humans touch and pat them.

Photo by Jeff Hull

We were able to feed two different elephants a snack of carrots and bananas. The caretakers instructed us to let the elephants take the food out of our hands with their trunks, which are actually long noses with a lot of functions. They use their trunks to breathe, smell, trumpet, drink and for grabbing things. Asian Elephants have a finger-like feature at the end of their trunks for grabbing food, toys, and various things.

Here are some other fun facts we learned about Asian Elephants during our visit to the Endangered Ark Foundation:

Asian Elephants are a bit smaller than their pachyderm cousins, the African Elephants.

Female elephants are called “cows” and male elephants are called “bulls”.

Elephants are pregnant for almost two years. It takes 22 months for a baby elephant to be born.

Asian Elephants reach adulthood at 17 years of age and live about as long as humans. In the wild their life expectancy is 60 years while they can live as long as 80 years in captivity.

Elephants have their own distinct personalities and ways of communicating.

An adult elephant can eat up to 300 pounds of food a day and weighs 6000 to 9000 pounds.

Photo by Jeff Hull

Asian elephants are herbivores and while they eat a lot of hay, they really like to eat fruits and vegetables. While we were on the tour, we were able to see the youngest elephant, (Dori Marie, who was born in July of 2015) really enjoy eating a watermelon.

Photo by Jeff Hull
Photo by Jeff Hull

Asian Elephants are an endangered species and there are between 35,000 and 45,000 of them on Earth. As of 2000, there were only 285 captive elephants in North America and today, there are approximately 500.

If you would like more information about the Endangered Ark Foundation, check out their website at www.endangeredarkfoundation.org.

Photo by Jeff Hull

Author’s note: Something I learned while researching this post, is that there is something called an “IUCN Red List” which is a system of assessing the global conservation status of different species. You can see which animals are listed in each category on their website at www.iucnredlist.org. Here are the categories:

1.Extinct (EX)
There is no living population.

2.Extinct in the wild (EW)
Captive individuals survive, but there is no free-living, natural population.

3.Critically endangered (CR)
Faces an extremely high risk of extinction in the immediate future.

4.Endangered (EN)
Faces a high risk of extinction in the near future. (The Asian Elephant is on this list.)

5.Vulnerable (VU)
Faces a high risk of endangerment in the medium term.

6.Near-threatened (NT)
May be considered threatened in the near future.

7.Least concern (LC)
No immediate threat to species’ survival.

Memories That Mean Something

“There’s no such thing as a long time ago. There’s only memories that mean something, and memories that don’t.”  –William, This is Us

This quote from last night in the network television show, This Is Us, really resonated with me. As a writer, I often reach back in time to those memories that mean something to me and I write about them.

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All of my books are based on true stories that are also treasured memories. When I wrote the original story of “The Button Box” in 2001, my intention was to write about my family’s button box so that my children would know about it and also know some of our family history. Little did I realize when I submitted it for the local community literary awards competition, that it would win first place in the “Personal Memoir” category and touch the hearts of so many people.

After “The Button Box” was printed in the Kalamazoo Gazette newspaper (in Kalamazoo, Michigan) on Christmas Day of 2001, people shared my story of my memories of our button box with family and friends across the country. One local shop owner loved it so much that she had a framed copy of the newspaper story in her antique store for years!

People wrote me letters and cards for four years after the story ran in the newspaper. Remember, this was back before everyone had personal computers and cell phones and when letter writing was still commonplace.

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They wrote in their letters about how my little story had made them remember special times with their own mothers and grandmothers. They told me how “The Button Box” evoked memories of looking through their family button boxes and how reading the story motivated them to talk with other family members about their memories. Many people encouraged me to turn my story into a book.

My second book, “Which Came First?” was written as a tribute to my maternal grandmother. She had passed away and writing about her was a part of my grieving process. I kept writing and writing as thoughts and memories of her flooded my heart and mind.

During the year that we worked on “Which Came First?”, illustrator Vicki Guess and I would meet and I would tell her about my grandmother and the farm. I painted word pictures for Vicki from my memories of my grandmother. From those word pictures, she was able to create illustrations for our second book which were not only fun, but included many details from my memories…those memories that meant something to me.

My new book, “The Day The Turkey Came To School”, is also based on my memories of something that really happened. This story is different from the others because it is about a more recent memory of something special that happened one day when my daughter was a little girl and I was driving her to school. While part of the story is fiction, my daughter and I both remember the day there actually was a turkey who came to school!

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Memories are powerful…especially the good ones. Perhaps that’s why we hold onto them for so long. I love that I have written stories which bring back memories for people and also give them the opportunity to create new ones with their children and grandchildren.

Author’s note:  Books may be ordered on my author website at janetseverhull.com and on amazon.com