Saturday, May 22, 2010

I'll Be Comin' Round the Mountain

Hi Kids,

I've been to the mountains of northern Georgia -- the tail-end of the Blue Ridge Mountains which are the southern end of the Appalachian range. This area -- around Dawsonville -- is where stock car racing (NASCAR) was born. I went to the Georgia Racing Hall of Fame and they let me sit in some of the racing cars. Here I'm sitting on the wheel -- when I sat in the seat Miss Elaine couldn't see me!

This is me in front of the highest waterfall east of the Mississippi. It's higher than Niagara Falls -- but not nearly as wide. It's called Amicalola Falls. Isn't is pretty? We were standing on a bridge about two-thirds of the way down the falls. There's a nice state park here -- we spent the night at the lodge in the park.

The next night we stayed at Forrest Hills Resort. We took a wagon ride behind two beautiful Belgian horses named Thelma and Louise. We went a long way to a spot by a little stream where we had a great dinner. One of the owners -- David Kraft -- fixed me a barbecued chicken leg. Brandi Littlejohn is holding me. She and her husband work at the resort.

I made a new friend. Her name is Lea Marie Littlejohn and she's five and a half years old.

I had a really good time.



Thursday, May 13, 2010

Vanilla Loves a Little Lamb

Hi Kids,

Wow, last week was really exciting. I got to go to a dairy farm -- but, guess what, it didn't have cows. It had sheep! Kim McGarr, her husband Lee and their two daughters Sarah and Ashley live on a farm near Comanche, Oklahoma. Can you find that on the map? It's almost as far south as Texas.

Miss Kim milks the sheep and makes cheese. She makes a kind of cheese called blue cheese because it has blue-y veins in it. The blue part is actually mold -- but a really good kind. It takes a lot of work to make cheese. First Miss Kim has to milk the sheep, then she has to heat the milk -- called Pasteurizing -- to make sure it's safe to use. It takes about three days to get it from the sheep to looking like a wheel of cheese. Then it has to "age" for about 4 months. In the picture you can see Miss Kim with a young cheese and a cheese that is almost through aging. Some of the liquid in the old cheese has evaporated so it looks smaller. When it's done, it's kind of fuzzy on the outside and all crickley looking inside. Miss Elaine says it tastes great.
The McGarrs have about 300 sheep but Miss Kim only has to milk 103 (some are boys and some aren't old enough) twice a day! That takes a long time!

I got to meet a little lamb named Paco. He minds Miss Kim when she calls him -- just like a puppy. I think he really liked me.


Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Meeting a Hero

Dear Kids,

I had a really special treat today. Miss Elaine and I went with some friends from Respect Diversity to take flowers and a birthday card to Mrs. Clara Luper. Mrs. Luper is 87 years old. And she played a very important part in Oklahoma history.

Mrs. Luper was a history teacher. She wrote a play about Martin Luther King and took some of her students to New York City to present it. The students had a great time -- they saw the sights and ate anywhere they wanted.

This was in the 1950s and in many parts of the United States, including Oklahoma, black people were not allowed to stay or eat in certain places. They weren't allowed to swim with white people in public pools. Mrs. Luper and her students knew that this wasn't right -- in America all people are supposed to be equal.

She and her students decided to go to the Katz Drugstore in downtown Oklahoma City. In those days, drug stores often had lunch counters. They sat down on the stools. They were told to leave. The students were very polite, but they didn't move. The people who worked in the store wouldn't take their orders or serve them.

Even though Mrs. Luper and her students were thrown out of many places, they kept coming back and, eventually, they won.

Do you know what a coincidence is? It's sort of when two things happen that you don't think are related -- but then they turn out to be. While we were visiting, Miss Elaine got a phone call from a man she was going to interview for a newspaper article. When she told him that she was at Mrs. Luper's, he said, "Oh, she was one of my grandfather's favorite people. He threw her out of his building. But, you know what? When he died, Mrs. Luper came to his funeral."

That's another thing that makes Mrs. Luper a hero. She disagreed with people and stood up for herself but she was never mean about it. She just felt sorry of people who acted badly toward her -- she thought they just didn't know better and, with patience, she tried to teach them a better way to behave.

I felt really honored to get to meet her. And I think she liked me, too.