Courage Undaunted by James Daughtery

American history is my love.

I found this excerpt in a children’s book Of Courage Undaunted by James Daughtery. One of the women I teach with collects old books and uses them in her classroom. I love to browse her shelves. As e-readers gain in popularity, books become curated items that show your values and your interests.

Sacagawea’s son Jean Baptiste Charbonneau, or “Pompy,”

Sacagawea’s son Jean Baptiste Charbonneau, or “Pompy,” was three months old when the Corps of Discovery left Fort Mandan. He lived a remarkable life, straddling two worlds.

The Corps of Discovery by James Daugherty

Done in the Open by Frederic Remington

There was nothing you could say that was special about them.
They chawed tobacco and cussed and caterwauled that
they were double jointed, fire-eating, leather-necked, half-horse
half-alligator men who could lick their weight in wildcats.
They were picked almost at random out of the Ohio Valley
of Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee, or New England stock,
merely a sample fistful of what American democracy turns out,
as you might pick up a handful of leaves and say, These are oak.

Owen Wister (1860 – 1938) was a friend of both Theodore Roosevelt and Frederic Remington. He was fascinated by the west and The Virginian is credited with being the first “cowboy” book.

Any state in the Union can give you 10,000 such
at any time or ten times ten thousand, if there is a call
to stand together in time of danger,
or hold the line on land, in sea or air,
not without bragging or grousing and a sour kind of humor,
sometimes terribly scared but never
broken by fear, of courage undaunted.

Ernie Pyle was the great war correspondent of the common soldier. He died in WWII. His books are a treasure.

Sweating and rank, coarse, muscular, lanky,
level-eyed, generous minded, free speaking, slangy-
you don’t have to go far in any city or town to find them;
no farther than any street corner
of factory bench, farmyard, filling station, public high school.
As Lincoln said, “God must have loved them or
he would not have made so many.”

I featured some of my favorite American stories. If you are interested in collecting books, Amazon has a primer for you. I like to visit college towns and browse the used book stores, building my collection that way. Do you have an unusual old book? Tell me about it. I’d love to know.

Houston, Tranquility Base here, the eagle has landed.

It suddenly struck me that that tiny pea, pretty and blue, was the Earth. I put up my thumb and shut one eye, and my thumb blotted out the planet Earth. I didn’t feel like a giant. I felt very, very small.

–Neil Armstrong

On August 25, 2012, Neil Armstrong joined the infinite. He was 82 years old.

There are 7 billion people on Earth today. Of the these, only 24 could tell you what it is like to visit the moon. Now there are 8. I watched the documentary on Saturday on my pc. Maybe you will watch it too.

LP Narrated by Charles Kuralt, audio clips of news events from 1968

When I was younger, I bought this LP at a garage sale. I listened to it scores of times, the way you listen to things over and over when you are young and have time to do things like that. It helped me fall in love with the thrilling story of the journey to the moon. I might not be able to get to the moon, but I can visit a moon rock on loan at the Arizona State University for free. Google the LROC for more information.

I saw this movie when it came out at the Harrisburg East Mall. I went with my dad. Later he gave me his copy of the book. I read it in one day.

On board the Apollo the astronauts read from the book of Genesis. No matter your belief, the poetry and message is beautiful. 
Bill Anders 
“We are now approaching lunar sunrise and, for all the people back on Earth, the crew of Apollo 8 has a message that we would like to send to you.
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.
And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep.
And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.
And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness.
Jim Lovell 
“And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day.
And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters.
And God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament: and it was so.
And God called the firmament Heaven. And the evening and the morning were the second day.
Frank Borman 
“And God said, Let the waters under the heavens be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry land appear: and it was so.
And God called the dry land Earth; and the gathering together of the waters called He Seas: and God saw that it was good.

Neil Armstrong, 2007

And from the crew of Apollo 8, we close with good night, good luck, a Merry Christmas – and God bless all of you, all of you on the good Earth.”

You can read the text of President Kennedy’s speech in Houston, Texas. I encourage you to read it in it’s entirety. Let me k now what you think of a big goal. What big goals do you have for yourself?

Godspeed,
Mrs. Kenney

The One Place I Cannot Afford to Go

Dear Students,

In New York City there is a Mecca for book lovers

The Strand advertises 18 miles of bookshelves. I would head directly to the rare books room, or the presidential memoirs, or the regency romances and park myself. I could spend a lifetime here. Where would you browse?

I’ve been to NYC many times but I’ve never been to the Strand.

In 1991, I went to the Paul Simon Concert in Central Park. I rode in a Honda Civic with 6 people from Pennsylvania. We did not have any money but we had time.

I am afraid if I went, my head might explode.

I am not kidding.

James Franco signing books at The Strand. I like how he decorated the book end papers. Except I would not like that if he came to our library and did that. I’m sure that is his own book, right Mr. Franco?

This man can go to the Strand, after you read his story, you can see that only the bravest bookworm can go to the Strand.

Excerpted from Humans of New York: “In November of 42, my unit was building airstrips in Scotland when we received an order to pack up our things. They put us on ships in the middle of the night. You couldn’t see anything, and they didn’t tell us where we were going. When  the sun came up, we saw that we were part of a giant convoy. There were hundreds of ships, all across the horizon: cruisers, destroyers, transport ships. It looked just like a movie. Turns out we were headed to Algeria. When we hit the Strait of Gibraltar, all the ships had to come together, which made us vulnerable to air attacks. So suddenly the sky was filled with British fighters giving us cover. Tons of them. When we landed, we built runways so that the Allies could supply their North African operations. I was behind the lines because I was an engineer, but the Germans were hitting us pretty hard in North Africa. I remember all the boys heading toward the front on tanks. Lines and lines of them. They knew it was the real thing this time, so their faces looked pretty grim. “

photo from Humans in New York

Do you like people-watching? Do you like big cities? New York might be the place for you. I like to read the blog Humans of New York to catch a glimpse into the life in the Big Apple.

Photo by Humans in New York

Have you ever been to New York? What did you do?

Like a big apple,
Mrs. Kenney

Celebrity booksighting: Paris Jackson and Pure

Dear Students,

I came across this paparazzi picture of the pretty Paris Jackson exiting a Barnes and Noble.

She has a new book to read. Pure.

I added Pure to my to-read list on Goodreads. Do you use Goodreads to keep track of your books? I think you should.

These are my dachshunds, Billie Jean (under the sweater) and Michael.

Pure Summary:

We know you are here, our brothers and sisters . . .
Pressia barely remembers the Detonations or much about life during the Before. In her sleeping cabinet behind the rubble of an old barbershop where she lives with her grandfather, she thinks about what is lost-how the world went from amusement parks, movie theaters, birthday parties, fathers and mothers . . . to ash and dust, scars, permanent burns, and fused, damaged bodies. And now, at an age when everyone is required to turn themselves over to the militia to either be trained as a soldier or, if they are too damaged and weak, to be used as live targets, Pressia can no longer pretend to be small. Pressia is on the run.

Burn a Pure and Breathe the Ash . . .
There are those who escaped the apocalypse unmarked. Pures. They are tucked safely inside the Dome that protects their healthy, superior bodies. Yet Partridge, whose father is one of the most influential men in the Dome, feels isolated and lonely. Different. He thinks about loss-maybe just because his family is broken; his father is emotionally distant; his brother killed himself; and his mother never made it inside their shelter. Or maybe it’s his claustrophobia: his feeling that this Dome has become a swaddling of intensely rigid order. So when a slipped phrase suggests his mother might still be alive, Partridge risks his life to leave the Dome to find her.

When Pressia meets Partridge, their worlds shatter all over again.

MJ 4Ever

If you like Dystopian books like The Hunger Games or Matched, you would probably enjoy Pure. Have you read it? What do you think of it?

Moonwalking,
Mrs. Kenney

A trip to the Biosphere II

Dear Students,

On the way home from Tucson, I took the long way and stopped by the Biosphere II in Oracle, Arizona. This is a photo heavy post today. I want to give you an idea of how much there was to see and do at the Biosphere.

The drive to Oracle from Tucson was very pretty. We loved the mountains, the cloudy summer sky. On Biosphere Road beyond the cattle guard were cattle grazing freely. Moooooo.

The Biosphere is a science campus nestled in the foothills of the Santa Catalina mountains. The countryside is gorgeous.

I took this picture with my phone, so multiply this picture by 10000 and you have how pretty it was. This is a shot from the campus to the mountains.

Biosphere II is a science wonderland. It is a place for researchers to study the water cycle, biomes, climate change and imagine colonizing outer space. It is hard to explain which is why you should visit and tell me what you think the Biosphere is.

We visited at noon on a Saturday so our tour was crowded. Next time I will go during off peak times because part of the fun was running around outside.

You start at the visitor’s center, walk through a tiny neighborhood of colorfully painted houses with pretty landscaping.

I pointed out to Brady how concrete the language they used here was “our tour would be 1 hour and 15 minutes long, cover one mile and 200 steps”. We talked about how simple and beautiful the design was.

Everything has clean lines and simple shapes. The grounds are dotted with petrified wood and boulders striped with blue green ores.

This is not turquoise, but I did not write the name down. What kind of ore do you think this is? We saw at least 10 boulders like this on the way to the Biosphere entrance.

Our tour guide was Mr. Claudio. Our tour was crowded because we came at mid day on a Saturday.

The size of the tour and the uncertain acoustics in the different rooms meant we couldn’t understand the guided tour. Some of the ideas were a over the head of the boys. We got by just fine by looking around at the plants, the different rooms and talking about savannah, rain forests, deserts. So even without understanding anything he said, we still had fun.

What makes the biosphere fun is the scale and the materials they use to build. These look like toys we have, but look how they use them.

We liked the giant plants.

What kind of plant is this? It has beautiful glossy leaves.

We liked the sound of water and wind inside the great space.

Conducting experiments on breaking down waste.

This was a very sensory place. In a good way.

This passage way descended 200 feet and culminated in a half size triangle portal, no problem for the boys. Very fun.

The passage opened into the South Lung a giant echo chamber. Picture a giant white barrel. Giant. that is what we were inside. No way to convey the scale with my camera phone so I just captured moment of Mr. Claudio using a mike in an echo chamber. (he had it turned down)

Oh my I thought this was funny. He kept up his tour but within an echo chamber it was so echoey. Awesome!!

Last bit, the wind machines in the basement. They had another name but I have no idea what that was. They were fun! And windy!

There was a bank of giant wind machines which I would love to understand what that was all about. It was enough to be at the tail end of the tour and enjoy the great gusts of air. Awesome.

After the tour we had a lunch in the cafeteria and then home via the Pinal Pioneer Highway.

Draped over the hillside are solar panels. It is easy to talk about carbon footprint and using the Earth’s resources gently in a place like this. It makes sense.

Under a glass dome,
Mrs. Kenney

P.S. We used a groupon to buy a one year family membership to Biosphere. (It is no longer available but I link to it so you can see what the deal was). It was offered near the beginning of summer as a way to pump up attendance. I hope they offer it again next year. I follow groupons for Phoenix and Tucson and I notice that the deals repeat. Do you have a favorite way to save on family outings?

A Day out in Tucson

Dear Students,

We visit Tucson every month. My husband’s family lives there and we love to see our family and friends.

In the desert shade is valuable. My MIL has a small yard. She turned it into a beautiful outdoor room by planting an orange tree, lemon tree, tree I don’t know, and palo verde. She planted ground cover and butterfly friendly plants. It is my favorite place to sit and read.

It was an overcast day so we took a trip downtown to Sentinel “A” Mountain to climb it with the boys. We drive by it all the time, we had the day free so off we went.

We put on sunblock, packed water and food. 

Do you know what kind of bird made this nest? I would like to know!

It is a short hike from the parking lot. In ten minutes, we made it to the A.

We chose to hike overland but you can also walk along the road. I recommend a drive by to get the lay of the land first. This is a very easy hike.

Sentinel Peak - Tucson

photo by Bill Morrow (Bill8704 Flickr)

On the way down, we decided to walk on the road, instead of going back the way we came. That was a mistake. We missed the turn for the parking lot and had to send Papa to get the car. Thank you  Papa!!

Rattlesnake Bridge, Downtown Tucson, Arizona

Rattlesnake Pedestrian Bridget at night. Photo by Paul & Kelly on Flickr.

Near Sentinel Mountain is the Rattlesnake Foot Bridge. We drive under it all the time. I wanted to take the boys for a closer look.  It has a head.


It has a tail. When you enter the bridge it makes a sound. Can you guess what it is?

Rattle Snake Bridge in Tucson 2

Photo by Tara Goodell Flickr

And it has a playground at the end, a great place to recharge after our mountain misadventure.

The park had two swing sets (one for toddlers), one climbing structure and benches. Nice little park.

What do I like best about our day so far? The 4 A-10 Warthogs that made repeated passes over Iron Horse park.

We saw 4 warthogs flying in formation over the city while we were at the Iron Horse Park. They train at the nearby Davis Monthan AFB. Several trains passed us and you could see them rattling and enjoy the long whistling. Truly the best park ever.

Sssssssssssssssincerely,
Mrs. Kenney

p.s. If you are looking for family friendly or budget friendly places to eat in Tucson, I suggest Feast and Little Anthony’s Diner.  If you followed this plan, your day was free (assuming no hotel) and now you can have a nice family dinner out. The menu at feast is affordable for a family and the food is fresh, outrageously good.  We love Little Anthony’s too. If you have lots of kids that is a fun place to go.

Tempura figs with saffron ice cream