Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Tide Pools (Day 2 - Monterey Bay)

On our 2nd day in California, we went to see the tide pools at Monterey Bay. We were fortunate that there was a low tide just about the time it fit in our schedule - around 9:30 am.

We met another mom and her 2 children who live in California and come here a few times a year. The mom was very helpful with identifying things for us.

periwinkles - a type of snail

goose-necked barnacles

green sea anemones

sea star (possibly ochre sea star - we were told there were many around here)

tiny crab hiding


and, a large sea star... eating! don't you love its little tube feet?

We were going to study sea stars before our trip, but didn't get around to it. We might do that now. There is a great looking lapbook at Homeschool Share.

Also, I was thrilled to see so many of the "critters" that we'd seen last year in San Diego! I felt like I knew more this time since I'd already learned about some of our "finds" last year.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Sunset Cruise (Day 1 - Monterey Bay)

On our first evening, we went on a private sunset cruise in Monterey Bay. It was amazing!!!

I had used TripAdvisor and found that Captain Christian with Bella Monterey Bay was highly recommended as the number one attraction. We totally agree! It was an amazing sailing experience.

You can see that Alex was having lots of fun. My brother got to join us for the first 3 days of our trip, so it was just Captain Christian, my brother, my mom, Alex and myself in the beautiful bay. My brother has sailed quite a bit and he got to sail for part of the evening. And, I got to sail (under motor power) for about the last 45 minutes or so. I was getting a little sea sick and it really helped. I couldn't believe that he let me sail right up to the end - even around docked boats! (I was worried, but I didn't hit anything.) He just took over at the very end. (I know my brother has some pictures of me, so I'll try to post them when I get them.)

As we were first sailing,we got to see lots of sea lions who were lying out on the rocks near the docks. I loved it!

Then, you should have heard me scream when we saw our first otter!!! How neat! We ended up seeing quite a few otters, though we were never really close. We even saw (& heard!!) a baby otter with its momma. 

This is Captain Christian. He was so great with all of us and really helped us to have a wonderful time. He ended pulling up 2 crab traps (with my brother at the helm). One trap was empty, but there was one crab in the other (and a sea cucumber, but it fell off and we didn't get to see it up close... too bad!) Anyway, the biggest surprise was that Captain Christian cooked us dinner! We ate that crab and another he had on ice. Oh, it was so yummy! Then, he prepared us some calamari from some squid he'd recently caught. He hammered it out really thin and put some seasoning on it. It was so amazing!!! What a wonderful way to end our beautiful evening.

We're Home from San Francisco!!!

On Saturday night, we got home from our week-long trip to San Francisco and Monterey Bay, California. What an amazing trip! We were worn out, but we had so much fun and saw and did so many wonderful things!!! It was hard to come home, but we are glad to BE home!

So, I have about 1,400 photos!!! Where do I begin??? :-)

Friday, March 19, 2010

Chinatown in San Francisco

While preparing for our trip to San Francisco, we have been looking through and reading articles from  National Geographic Traveler: San Francisco. It is the first time I've used one of their travel guides, and I am really enjoying it! They have lots of articles... and lots of photos!

We will be taking a tour while we are in San Francisco and will be passing through Chinatown. We read an interesting article in the book about Chinatown.

One event we found really interesting was the funeral procession.  In Chinatown, the procession is led by a small marching band. Then, there is a convertible with a large photo of the deceased followed by the hearse. The funeral procession goes through the area and often stops at the deceased's house to stop and play one song and move on. I found this video that shows an example and explanation of a funeral procession. (I think you'll have to watch a 15 second commercial first.)

Used with permission from Jimmie at Jimmie's Collage

A place we found interesting was the Chinese pharmacy. I'd actually read about these on Jimmie's Collage. The Chinese pharmacy has hundreds of little drawers filled with potential medicines - herbs, roots, etc. To fill a prescription, the pharmacy finds the ingredients they need, measure and weigh them, then boils them together to make a bitter liquid medicine.

We're excited about our trip and can't wait to visit Chinatown! And, we have a lot more reading to do!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Happy St. Patrick's Day!!!

Happy St. Patrick's Day! It reminds me of our trip to Ireland this summer,
so I thought I'd re-post a few photos.

The "real", Irish Leprechaun she found.

At the beach in Dingle. (very cold!)

An ancient beehive hut.

Alex at the beautiful Cliffs of Moher.

The incredible harpist we listened to at Cliffs of Moher. (I now own 3 of her CDs.)

Happy St. Patrick's Day!!!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Birdman of Alcatraz

In preparing for our trip to San Francisco and the Monterey Bay area, my brother suggested we watch Birdman of Alcatraz. The 1962 film stars Burt Lancaster and was filmed while the birdman of Alcatraz, Robert Stroud, was still living and imprisoned. He was in prison from 1909 until his death in 1963.

The film tells his amazing story and only about the last third takes place at Alcatraz. Much of the film describes how he became an expert on birds and their diseases, with only a 3rd grade education. I was amazed at Robert Stroud's level of dedication and learning while imprisoned. What an amazing story! And, there is a lot of "nature" woven into the story... you even get to watch a canary hatch! (And, though Alex and I really enjoyed it, I wouldn't recommend it for everyone. It does get violent at times and there are other parts you might want to monitor.)

Monday, March 15, 2010

What are Kosher Scrolls?

We've had an incredible weekend, and I have quite a few posts to share! But, I'm also busy preparing for our trip to San Francisco and getting back to school after our Spring Break. So, it might take awhile to write all of my posts!

I thought I'd start with a little "lesson." My extended family spent the weekend together up near Ft. Worth. On Saturday afternoon, my sister and I went to a lecture at the Creation Evidence Museum in Glen Rose. The guest speaker was Gary Zimmerman who was speaking about ancient Hebrew scrolls. (I can't find the link online now, so I'm not sure of the title.)
Zimmerman (in jacket) getting ready for lecture. The scrolls covering the 39 books of OT are in cases around him.
There are not 39 scrolls, because some are combined. For example, the first 5 books or the Torah, are on one scroll. Also, they don't have 1 & 2 Samuel, etc - they only have one of each 'book.'

Over a 10 year period, Zimmerman helped collect scrolls which covered all 39 books of the Old Testament. This collection is now housed at the Creation Evidence Museum - the only complete collection of its kind.

Most of these scrolls were bought from "genizas", which are Jewish graveyards where scrolls which are damaged beyond repair are placed. Online I found that "the term geniza, from the Hebrew word for “storage,” is used to describe a collection of writings that were deemed too important to destroy and thus stored away."

Scrolls can be described as either kosher or not kosher. I believe the kosher ones are the ones that get put in a geniza. The following 3 things make a scroll not kosher:
  1. ink falling off or fading
  2. blemishes - like water or fire damage
  3. holes
The scrolls are written on different types of parchment - like sheep, goat, or cow. To be kosher, the letters must be 100% (which can include repairs).

The ink is iron gall ink. (I have talked before about oak gall ink.) Iron gall ink is made of 3 substances:
  1. iron gall nut (which is the gall that is made to house the tiny wasp) - the gall is rich in tannic acid
  2. gum arabic - from acacia tree (this is the sap)
  3. soot

When this ink is pure and uses the best ingredients (for example, different galls can have different concentrations of tannic acid), the ink can last 2,000 years in a cave! The Declaration of Independence was written with this type of ink, but it is already badly faded. If you Google "iron gall ink degradation", you will find a wealth of research on the topic.
This is a new scroll (12 years old) of the book of Esther.

A Sofar is one who writes scrolls. Sofar means "one who counts letters." They used to literally count the letters as they hand-copied the scripture passages. A Sofar must to through a mikvah, which is like a baptismal, and be ceremonially clean to write the scriptures. (My notes arent' clear - it might be just to write the Lord's name.)

To write on a scroll, the score it with lines to hang the letters from - just like we "sit" our letters on lines. If they make a mistake, they can just cross it out and keep going, but NOT if they make a mistake with God's name. (I'm not sure what they do, though!)

This is also Esther. This is the ENTIRE text of Esther on one scroll.

Writing God's name is holy. I had heard that they had to get a fresh quill each time they wrote God's name. That isn't really true. Some Sofars just skip a space each time they need to fill in His name. Then, they go to the mikvah, or baptismal, and get cermonially clean and then come back and write all of the names. But, usually, they just keep on going! But, they must say a blessing as they write this Holiest of names.

I was also very interested in seeing the philacteries that Zimmerman brought. If you remember from the Bible, they are little boxes which are worn on both the head and arm. They contain scriptures and are fulfilling certain Bible passages.
A close up of some of the Hebrew scrolls. Many of these scrolls are about 800 years old.

But, I learned some new things. There are 4 scriptures inside of the philacteries, which are also called "tefillin." The scriptures are Exodus 13:1-10; 13: 11-17; Deut 6:4-9; and 11:13-22. Some of the philacteries, or tefillin, have one large chamber that holds all of the scriptures while others have 4 little chambers that each hold one passage. They are sealed shut and are normally never opened again. They also go to the genzia, or Jewish cemetery, when they are not being used anymore.

A few more things about the scrolls. Hebrew scrolls are written from right to left with NO punctuation or ending to sentences. The only breaks are the paragraph breaks. Also, the Jewish order of the books of the Bible is different than our traditional Bibles.

If you have any corrections or additions to my post, please let me know! I took notes, but I may have misunderstood something. I hope you enjoyed this topic! I found it fascinating and would love to learn Hebrew now!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

In Honor of Texas Independence Day...

...I'm posting about our trip last weekend to San Jacinto, where Texas won its independence.

This is a photo I took of the San Jacinto monument. The battle of San Jacinto is where Texas won its independence from Mexico in 1836. About 10 years later, it would become the 28th state in the Union. This would lead to the Mexican War (1846-1848) which resulted in the acquisition of Arizona, California, New Mexico, and parts of Utah, Nevada, and Colorado.

On April 20th, General Sam Houston chose this area, where the Buffalo Bayou meets the San Jacinto River, to fight Santa Anna. Hours later, Santa Anna and his troops arrived. The next morning, another Mexican general arrived with 500 troops. Houston ordered a bridge destroyed to prevent more Mexican reinforcements, but this also isolated Houston's troops from additional troops, too. (Photo: Alex at the San Jacinto monument.)

Houston decided to attack that afternoon. The Texans charged across the prairie separating them from the Mexicans, but they were not seen as they were screened by trees and the rise of the ground between the two enemies. (Photo: Alex & I on nature walk near monument.)

The Mexican army wasn't expecting to fight until the following day. They had not posted sentries and were caught off guard. The Texans swarmed into the Mexican camp with cries of "Remember the Alamo" and "Remember Goliad." (Photo from top of monument showing the river.)

The Mexicans never implemented their battle plan and the battle ended in only 18 minutes. About 600 Mexican troops were killed while only nine Texans died in the battle. (Photo from top of monument. You can see the Houston skyline a little left of center.)

"General Santa Anna was captured the next day and forced to sign a treaty that recognized Texas independence and opened the gateways for America's continuing westward expansion." (Quote from San Jacinto Battleground State Historic Site brochure printed by Texas Parks and Wildlife. I also used information from this brochure to write this post.)  (Photo of top of monument.)
This is a photo from one side of the monument. It begins, Texas declared her independence at Washington-on-the-Brazos March 2. For nearly two months her armies met disaster and defeat."

Measured by its results, San Jacinto was one of the decisive battles of the world. The freedom of Texas won here led to annexation and to the Mexican War, resulting in the aquisition by the United States of the states of Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada, California, Utah and parts of Colorado, Wyoming, Kansas and Oklahoma almost one-third of the present area of the American nation, nearly a million square miles of territory, changed soverignty.