Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Fuzzy Goes Cajun

Bon jour, kids,
     That's French for "good day." I just recently visited Louisiana. In a small part of Louisiana, some people still speak a kind of French. Here's why.
     French people settled at the mouth of the Mississippi River and founded the city of New Orleans. This was in the early 1700s when there was no United States. (There were English colonies on the east coast of the country but other countries claimed different parts of the continent.)
     There were also French people who settled in the northeast -- in what would become Canada. Then the French and the English had a war over who would claim the territory. The English won and they kicked the French out of their homes.
     They had called their area Acadia and they were called Acadians. Many of them knew that there were French people in the south -- in what is now Louisiana. So they moved to that area. Now we call those people Cajuns -- an easier way of pronouncing Acadians.
     I learned all this when I visited a historic park called Vermilionville. You can go there and learn about how the Cajuns lived, what they ate, what their houses looked like -- lots of things!
     Here are some of the things I saw:
     This is La Maison Broussard. Maison means house in French. It is the oldest house in the village. It was built in 1790 - that's over 200 years ago. It was moved here from its original location.
     This little building was built in the 1830s and was used as the schoolhouse for the children of the plantation owner. 
     This little church looks like the kind of churches people in the area went to in the late 1700s. There was only one kind of church -- everyone was Catholic. Now, of course, there are all kinds of churches. Louisiana is not divided into counties like Oklahoma and other states. They have parishes -- these were originally church divisions.
     I got to ride across this little bayou (a slow creek or river or, sometimes, just a marshy lake). It was like a big raft. Men pulled it across the water by pulling on heavy ropes.
     I liked listening to Cajun music. This man is playing an accordion. One of his friends played the guitar and another played the violin.
     I got to taste some gumbo. It's sort of a soup or stew made from broth, chicken, sausage, peppers, onion, celery and green peppers. It was really good.
     Vermilionville was a very nice place. It is built on the edge of Bayou Vermilion. I thought this was a pretty picture.

Your friend,


Monday, March 2, 2020

Fuzzy Visits His Cousin

Hi Kids,
     It's almost time for spring break and I want to show you one of my favorite things to do in Oklahoma City. Did you know we have one of the best zoos in the country?
     I made a special trip to the zoo a few weeks ago and the zoo people announced that one of the Indian rhinoceroses is going to have a baby next fall. They are very excited because Indian rhinos are rare and they are trying to keep the species from disappearing.
     The rhinos were taking a nap when I was there. It was also a very cold day so we made a short visit. Spring break will be warmer -- the perfect time to visit.
     This is a komodo dragon. It isn't really a dragon -- it's a lizard. But it is so big if it were standing up straight, balancing on the tip of its tail, it would be taller than your classroom door. It's also mean. Its bite is poisonous. It's big enough and strong enough to kill a cow for dinner. 

      When it gets warm enough, the lorikeet exhibit opens. Lorikeets are small parrots from Australia. They eat insects, berries and soft fruits and they like nectar. That's a sugary liquid. You can buy a small cup of nectar and feed them.

     The zoo has lots of different areas. One of my favorite is Oklahoma Trails. I like it because all the animals can be found in Oklahoma. And I like it because there is a statue of a bear in front of the exhibit. 
     This is a cougar. It is very unusual to see a cougar in the wild. They are very secretive and are more likely to hunt in the late afternoon or after dark. This animal is called by a number of names -- cougar, mountain lion, puma, panther, painter or catamount. They are not as large as African lions or tigers but they are much bigger than their house cat cousins.
     You'll only find alligators in the very tip of southeast Oklahoma. I have seen alligator egg shells there, but fortunately I didn't see a real alligator when I was there. I think I would have looked like a nice snack for them.
     And here is my cousin -- a black bear. Did you know black bears can be black, brown, even blond? Maybe most of them are black. They live in the woods in eastern Oklahoma.               These are just a few of the animals you can see at the zoo. There are also elephants, giraffes, bison, giant turtles, fish, snakes and even more. I love to go to the zoo. I hope you get to go on your spring break.    
Your friend,

Wednesday, February 5, 2020


Hi Kids,
     We had a snow day in Oklahoma today! It looks really pretty but it's really cold. Miss Elaine and I stayed in the house. I know people in other parts of the country are more used to snow and cold weather. Here are some of the things they do when it gets cold.
     A couple of years ago, Miss Elaine and one of my cousins went to Minnesota. He got to ride in a dog sled.
     He said it was a lot of fun. The dogs were really fast. Once when they went around a corner, the sled tipped over and Miss Elaine and Teddy got dumped into the snow. It didn't hurt but it was cold. 
     There are lots of lakes in Minnesota and when they freeze, people go fishing through the ice. Sometime they have contests.
     The ice is so thick they can drive trucks on them. Every fisherman cuts a little hole in the ice. This nice man visited with Teddy. He had a little electric heater. And he's dressed very warmly. Can you see his little fishing pole? He has it on a little orange stand. 
     People there also like to ride snow mobiles. Here's Miss Elaine on one. They rode up and down hills and through trees and even across a lake. It was fun.

    Another year she took my cousin Vanilla to Quebec. They have a big carnival there every winter. There are lots of things to do. There are even buildings made of ice like this one.
     There are hills to ski on.
     And a hockey rink for kids.
     There are horse and sleigh races.
    And they drag big rubber rafts to the top of a hill, then slide down.
     They carve sculptures out of ice. Here is Vanilla with a sculpture of a mother and baby dinosaur.
    She liked making maple popsicles. You dig a little hole in the snow and pour maple syrup in it. Then you stick a popsicle stick in the syrup. When it gets really cold, it is hard like a popsicle. I like maple syrup on pancakes but this sounds good, too.

     Some people -- I think they are silly -- take snow baths. What do you think?
    I think a lot of these things would be fun. But it was nice staying inside and being warm and reading books. I hope you had a good day.
Your friend,

Monday, January 13, 2020

Fuzzy Meets Mongolia

Hi Kids,
     Can you see me in the picture above? Look at the bottom in the middle. I'm sitting in front of a really big picture of a very important historical figure.
     His name was Genghis Khan (Ching-us or Ging-us Kahn)
and many, many years ago he ruled over a huge part of the world. He was born in the place we now call Mongolia. It's far away from here. Miss Elaine took me to an exhibition about Genghis Khan and Mongolia. 
     Genghis had a great army. They were pretty scary. This is what his soldiers looked like.

     Mongolia is a high, dry country. Mongolian people have always been famous for their skill with horses. Even today horses are important in Mongolia. In olden days, most Mongolians were nomads -- that means they didn't have a permanent home. They lived in special tents called yurts. They moved from place to place taking their tents with them. 
      There are still many Mongolians who live that way -- following their herds from feeding areas to other feeding areas. This is what the inside of their tents look like.

     Other Mongolians live in cities like ours. I got to meet some people from Ulan Bator, the largest city in the country -- and the capital city. This lady's name is Solongo Gankhuyag. I don't even know how to say it! She is a talented musician and she was very nice to me.

     Solongo and her partner played Mongolian instruments and sang for us. I hope you can hear this -- but I have been having problems getting it to work.

     Their music doesn't sound like the music we listen to but it's very popular in Mongolia. Listen carefully to the man. When he starts singing, his voice is low and growl-y. Later he sings in a higher voice. The first part is called throat singing. It is very difficult to do. The second part is his normal voice. I loved watching Solongo play the yatga -- her hands are so pretty. I couldn't do that with my paws.

     I think it's fun learning about people in other parts of the world. I hope you do, too.

Your friend,

Monday, December 2, 2019

Oklahoma Indians

Hi Kids,
     Have you seen this building? It's the Oklahoma History Center in Oklahoma City. Miss Elaine and I visited recently because she is working on a story about Oklahoma Indians.
     Did you know there are members of 39 different Indian tribes living in Oklahoma? Here's a map that shows all the different parts of the United States that they came from.
     There have been Native Americans living in Oklahoma for thousands of years. At the History Center we saw sandals and a moccasin that are very old.
     The two flat things on the top shelf were sandals maybe made 10,000 years ago! On the bottom is a newer sandal, about 6,000 years old. The lumpy one is a moccasin made from buffalo hide. It's the newest one -- perhaps less than 1000 years old.
     Many native tribes traveled around following the buffalo others settled more permanently and farmed. There were several tribes in Oklahoma who lived here most of the time. Many other tribes came through the area for hunting.
     So how did all those other tribes get here? When European explorers discovered this country, they went back to Europe and told stories about what an amazing land this was. Some people decided they wanted to move to this new land.
     The country started to get a little crowded so pioneers began to move west. The Indians who had roamed freely got pushed out of their lands. By that time, the country had a government. The government made many of the tribes move to our part of the country. It's a long and unhappy story which you will learn in history class when you are a bit older.
     The tribes had their own cultures and traditions. In the History Center you will learn about them. I'll show you some of my favorite exhibits.
     Did you know that different tribes lived in different kinds of houses? Some lived in tepees, but others built homes of wood, bark, clay or rushes. Here are examples of two different kinds of native houses.
     Look at the ceiling in this picture:
     It's a copy of a star chart made several hundred years ago by Pawnee Indians. They were known as the star people of the plains. They mapped the sky and used the information on the movement of planets and positions of stars to help them in traveling, hunting, farming and war.
     I loved this dress. It was made for a little Cheyenne girl by her grandmother over 100 years ago. It is made out of deer skin and decorated with thousands of tiny beads. She must have been proud of this dress and took very good care of it.
     I like horses, too. The Comanche Indians were famous for their horses. I don't think that saddle looks very comfortable, do you?

     This is one of the most valuable pieces in the museum. It is a friendship certificate given to Chief Big Axe of the Otoe-Missouria tribe by Meriwether Lewis and William Clark in 1804. 

     Several European countries had explored parts of what would become the United States. They claimed ownership of the land. In 1803, President Jefferson bought a big bunch of it for the U.S. This was called the Louisiana Purchase. He sent Lewis and Clark to explore the land he had just bought. He knew they would meet Indians and gave them papers to give to the tribe's leaders saying they would be friends. Only two of these certificates are known to exist. And we have one here in Oklahoma. It was saved by Chief Big Axe's family and now, 200 years later, they gave it to the museum so we all can see it.
     This is a long letter -- but there's so much to see in the Oklahoma History Center. And the Native American part is just one part. Miss Elaine and I were there for hours and we didn't even get to see the rest of the museum!
     Here is a picture of me on another of my favorite things:
     This is a travois (say: tra-vwah). The poles are from a teepee and it was pulled by a horse. When some of the tribes moved around, they just took their tepees down and turned them into a kind of trailer. Wasn't that smart?
     I hope you will get to visit this museum yourself. It's fun to see how people lived in the past. 
Your friend,

Thursday, October 17, 2019

Wonderful Copenhagen

Hi Kids,
     Here I am in Copenhagen, the capital of the country of Denmark. I loved this city so much, I had to write THREE posts about it!  See the little figure on the rock behind me? That's the Little Mermaid. People come from all over the world to see this little statue.
     I took this picture from a boat. She always looks out toward the sea. You probably know her story from the Disney movie. But her story was written long ago by this man:
     This is a statue of Hans Christian Anderson. He wrote many stories. Maybe you know the story of the Ugly Duckling. He wrote that, too. When Miss Elaine was little, there was a movie about him. One of the best songs in that movie was "Wonderful, Wonderful Copenhagen." And that song is right.
     There is a lot of water in and around the city. One of the best ways to see things is by boat. 
     There are many beautiful buildings in Copenhagen. Behind the yellow building, you can see the spire of Our Savior's Church. The church is over 300 years old. That's older than the United States! I think it's really cool the way the spire is twisted. You can climb to the top of the tower. I'll bet the view is really good. We didn't go up all those stairs because Miss Elaine said she would get too tired of carrying me. There are 398 stairs. I don't think she could have climbed all those stairs even without carrying me!
     A lot of the old buildings in Copenhagen are painted bright colors. The buildings here are over 300 years old, too. But this area is called New Harbor. That's not very new!
     I took this picture from a boat, too. Do you see the round-topped building? This is the Royal Palace where the King and Queen of Denmark live. I think they are lucky to live in Copenhagen. 
     In my next post, I'll tell you about another castle. And in the third post, I'll show you pictures of a beautiful park right in the middle of the city.
     I hope you have time to scroll down and see more of my visit to Copenhagen.
Your friend,
P.S. (Did you know that's short for "postscriptum," which is Latin for "written after. You use it when you want to add a note after you thought you were finished.) My postscript: look at the next two posts for more of my trip to Copenhagen!

Fuzzy Visits a Castle

Hi Kids,
     There are several castles in Denmark but Kronborg Castle may be one of the most well-known. The castle is hundreds of years old. It was old when Shakespeare wrote a famous play, Hamlet, about a Danish prince who lived in the castle. When you get older, you may read, or, even better, see the play. This statue of Hamlet is outside the train station.
     It was a long walk to the castle. We had to cross a moat.  Lots of time, castle builders surrounded castles with water so invaders couldn't get close to the castle walls.

     The castle is protected by tall walls. The castle has a big courtyard in the middle.
     One of the coolest thing about our visit was that actors performed scenes from Hamlet in different parts of the castle. The first scene we saw was in the courtyard. Yorick, the court jester, came out and sang a song about the wicked king. Long ago, when there was no TV and no cell phones, kings hired entertainers -- jesters. The king did not like the song and Yorick got in trouble.
     I was visiting with him, but I didn't get in trouble. Remember, this is all just for fun. We got to throw wet sponges at Yorick for his punishment.
     Later, we listened to him tell stories to the pretend Queen and her companion.
     In between parts of the play, we got to look at a lot of the rooms in the castle.  This was the ballroom -- where they had parties. You could have a REALLY big party in this room. 
     The last part of the play is exciting -- and sad. Hamlet and his friend get mad at each other and have a sword fight. As you can imagine, the play does not have a happy ending.
     I was glad it was just a play. I had a good day seeing Kronborg Castle. And I got to ride on a train to get back to our hotel. 
Your friend,
P.S. There's more in the next post.