Friday, October 31, 2008

Wildlife Refuge and Voting

I told you in my last post that Stanley had had a busy week, and he surely did. In addition to going to the pumpkin patch, we went to the Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge.

The refuge is really near us, and it was created out of citizen requests to save this important wildlife area. It reminds me of a quote by Margaret Mead who said "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it's the only thing that ever has." I love that idea! Every single one of us can help change the world!

Here's what it says on the wildlife Refuge's website: This special place is a refuge, a haven for wildlife and people. Born of a community's dream, and made possible by their support, a wildlife refuge now thrives in the backyard of a growing metropolis.

The Refuge is now home to nearly 200 species of birds, over 50 species of mammals, 25 species of reptiles and amphibians, and a wide variety of insects, fish and plants. The Refuge has also become a place where people can experience and learn about wildlife and the places they call home.

While we were there we saw lots of beautiful birds, including a pretty Western Scrub Jay and a Northern Flicker (a woodpecker). I've put links to pictures of those birds. Click on the bird name to go to the link. We also saw a ton of Canada Geese. Here's one of my photos of the geese. Look in the grass to see LOTS of heads!

It's a really lovely place and we enjoyed walking through it with Stanley. Stanley's favorite part was when he got to climb a tree and play in the moss while we were there! That Stanley is a wild guy...

Then on Monday night we got together with several friends - there were ten of us in addition to Stanley, and we talked about the election. I am sure you know this is a very important election because we're choosing a new president! I hope all your parents will go out and vote. Voting day is Tuesday for most of the country, but Oregon is kind of unique because we are the only state to do all of our voting by mail. Everyone gets a ballot in the mail and then we fill it out and mail it in. In many states you can vote by mail if you're going to be out of town or you need to vote early, but it's the only way we do it here. Oregon typically has a very high turnout for elections, due in part to this process.

At our party we had a lot of great discussion because we're voting for the president, but we also have many other things on the ballot. There are candidates for other offices and then there are measures to decide about laws. Some people knew a lot about some of the issues while some others did not, so we would share our ideas and opinions. I think everyone left with a better understanding of the important things on our ballot. Stanley thought it was very interesting and wished he were old enough to vote. When he turns 18 he promised he'd register to vote and get involved in the political process because it's so important.

Here are some pictures from our party

Hope you're having a great week at school. WORK hard and learn lots!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Pumpkin Patch fun!

Stanley got to enjoy some incredible Oregon fall weather this last weekend, and we made the most of it by going out to the pumpkin patch with the family. While we were there we went in a corn maze. We thought we were lost for sure a few times, but luckily we made it out! This is a picture of the maze - pretty cool, hey? The faces of John McCain and Barack Obabma make the maze! I really want to know how they do that...

Auntie Christy (L) and Auntie Shannon (R) were in the maze with us, too. They discussed whether having a GPS in the corn maze would have helped us. What do you think?

At the pumpkin patch they have some farm animals you can watch while you're waiting to get on the tractor. Rachel, you should really ask Sean about the time he took a goat to school. It's quite a story...
When we were waiting in line we also saw a whole bunch of seeing eye guide dogs in training. They were out on a little field trip. It was pretty funny to watch them when thy got out to the pumpkins. Their noses were going 100 miles a minute!
The tractor ride was pretty fun, but it was a little bumpy, And our pants got a bit covered with hay because we sat on bales of hay! Do they do this kind of thing in Mason? Willie was excited to go to the pumpkin patch for his first time, too!
Here you can see the kind of tractor we rode behind (LOOK at all those pumpkins!!), Uncle Jeff and Max in the pumpkin patch, and Stanley playing with the shadows in the glorious sunny day. Soon there won't be many sunny days for a long, long while because the winter rains are on their way. Of course they're supposed to arrive on Halloween, just in time for trick-or-treating. Stanley doesn't have a costume yet, so if you have a suggestion, post a comment. If I use your idea, you'll get a special mention in Stanley's next posting!

Stanley's got lots more to share from last week - all about his trip to the Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge and his first time voting for President, but it's bedtime here in Oregon now, so I'll have to post again later. Stay tuned for all the details!

I hope you're having a great week at school. WORK hard and learn lots!

P.S. Mrs. Kelly asked me the other day if Stanley liked going out on the wing of the airplane on our Chicago trip. I have to tell you that he really did, but the pilot cautions all children not to try this at home!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Stanley meets Grandpa and Grandma Fitz

Although this picture of Stanley in the Japanese Maple tree seems to indicate he may have visited Japan this week...

and this picture seems to indicate he may have visited St. Petersburg, Russia, this week...he didn't. He hung out in Tigard, Oregon!

He got to meet two new cousins, Elizabeth and Max

AND he got to meet Grandpa and Grandma Fitz!

They were all very excited to get to know Stanley.

While we were there visiting, Stanley got to do all sorts of fun things, like ride a horse (not real) and go down the slide. He also got to play scarecrow and hang out in a tipi!

The Native American cultures are very important in the Pacific Northwest, although not all Native Americans lived in tipis. Many Northwest Indians lived in dwellings made of cedar bark which is quite plentiful here. Below you'll find a traditional Native American story about the Raven.

Raven and Crow's Potlatch
A Skagit Raven Tale as told by Eldrbarry

I found this story in a collection entitled Longhouse Legends by Emerson N. Matson. He describes it as a children's story used to entertain adults at a potlatch, and it appears to be a Skagit (Salish) tale from western Washington State. Be sure and read my notes at the end on the custom of the Potlatch in the Pacific coastal peoples.

Raven used to live high up in the upper Skagit River country. He was very lazy. In the summer when the other animals were busy gathering food for winter, he would be flying from rock to stump and stump to rock making fun of them. Raven just laughed when Crow (his cousin) urged him to follow squirrel's example - but Raven never prepared for the cold months, when the snow would drift over the ground and cover all the remaining food.

But now Raven was in trouble. Winter had come and the snows were deep. He was hungry - and Raven loved to eat. He had to find someone who would share their food with him.

Raven went to see Squirrel. He had a huge supply of pine nuts and seeds and other food hidden all over the place. Raven poked his head in squirrel's nest in a old fir tree. Squirrel had lots to eat. Raven politely begged for some food. Squirrel scolded him - that was always Squirrel's way - "You refused to work and save for winter - and you poked much fun at me - you deserve to starve!"

Raven went looking for Bear. But Bear was sound asleep in his cave and could not be wakened. Raven looked around for some food, but it was all in Bear's belly - Bear had already eaten it all and was sleeping till spring.

Raven was now very hungry. He thought: "Who can give me something to eat? Everyone is either stingy like Squirrel or sleeping like Bear and Marmot, or they have gone South for winter like the snowbirds." Then he thought of Crow - he would be easy to fool!

Raven flew to Crow's nest. "Cousin Crow, we must talk about your coming potlatch!" Crow answered. "I have not planned a potlatch"

Raven ignored his response. "Crow, everyone is talking about your potlatch - will you sing at it?" "Sing?" Crow had not known that anybody really cared for his singing voice - though in those days, Crow's song was much more like that of Wood Thrush than it is today.

Raven continued to talk of Crow's potlatch. "You are very talented and possess a beautiful voice - everyone will be so disappointed if you don't sing at your potlatch!"

"What potlatch? . . . You really like my singing?"

"We love your singing, Crow," Raven answered. "The Winter's cold has chilled the forest and we're cold and hungry and singing will help us forget our cold feet and empty stomachs. Now you get started fixing the food - looks like you have plenty here - and I will go invite the guests to your potlatch. You can practice your songs as you cook!"

Crow's hesitation now overcome, he began to prepare all the food he had collected for winter, and as he prepared it, he practiced his songs. The more he thought the feast and how everyone wanted to hear him sing, the more excited he got about it.

Meanwhile Raven was offering invitations to all the animals of the forest. (Of course Marmot and Beaver were sleeping like Bear, and Robin and Goose were gone South) To each he said the same thing: "Come to My potlatch! I have worked hard to prepare it. There will be much food at Raven's potlatch and Crow is helping and will sing for us. There will be fern roots and wild potatoes, dried berries, fish and meat. Come to My potlatch! It will be a great occaision." Raven did not invite Squirrel however since he had refused to share his food with Raven. But all the rest of the animals were invited to Raven's Potlatch.

When he returned to Crow - he was busy singing and cooking. Raven told him - "Everyone is coming - be sure and fix all your food - they will be hungry after their journey. And your songs are sounding so good! Crow's potlatch will be a great feast!"

As the guest arrived, Raven welcomed each one to his potlatch. There was deer and mountain goat and mouse, rabbit, ptarmigan and jay. The guests were seated and the food was brought out. Crow started to sit and eat - but Raven asked him for a song first. "It's not good to sing on a full stomach, Crow". So crow began to sing. Every time he would stop to eat - Raven would insist he sing another song. "You can't sing with your mouth full, Crow!" Encouraged again and again by the guests - who were busy stuffing themselves with Crow's food - Crow sang song after song after song - all day until night - and Crow's voice became hoarser and hoarser until all he could do was "Caw - caw".

As was the custom - the left over food was collected by the guests and taken by them for their homeward journey. Even Raven had taken his share and left as Crow was cleaning up. Crow had nothing left to eat. " At least," Crow thought, "I won't go hungry - I will be invited to their feasts." For it was the custom that having been entertained, each guest was now obliged to return the favor and invite the host for a return potlatch.

But the invitations never came. Since all the guests thought it was Raven who hosted the feast, Raven was invited to enough dinners to keep his stomach full for several winters - and he never went hungry.

But Crow, who had been fooled, had been reduced to starving, and never regained his singing voice either. He was destined to spend his winters begging in the camps of men for scraps of food. And that's where we find him today - squabbling over scraps in grocery store parking lots - Caw! Caw! Caw!"

The Potlatch is an important custom among the nations of the North Pacific coasts, as tribal communities gather to feast and celebrate with singing, dancing and storytelling. The preparations are extensive, often taking a couple of years. The occasion of the Potlatch might be to honor the dead (which required two feasts a year apart), to celebrate a marriage or a birth, or to establish the host's claim to names, rank and privileges. Often the raising of a totem pole or the dedication of a house (which usually housed several extended families) would be the occasion for the feast. Always the Potlatch included lavish gift giving to the guests. In fact, the name "potlatch" comes from the Chinook word for "giving".

There would be special dance masks and costumes, and elaborate ceremonies often lasting for days. There would be much singing and storytelling - the right to tell those stories being considered the property of the host as well. Because of the expense - only ranking wealthy chiefs could afford to host a potlatch - and guests would travel from great distances to attend - usually by canoe - to be welcomed at the beach with celebration and singing.

The potlatch was an important part of all social life - being a combination of a town hall - where property rights and status were recognized - hunting and fishing rights confirmed - and inheritances established - and a cultural center where ancestors were honored - coming of age celebrated - marriages confirmed - rights to personal crests and property confirmed by the many witnesses gathered. Status was very important - seating arrangements and value of gifts received depended upon positions in the social and political hierarchy. Sometimes a potlatch would even be given to shame someone for failing to meet an obligation.

I found this information on a website called Eldrbarry's Raven Tales. You can go there if you want to read more Raven tales and learn more about Pacific Northwest Indians.

Next week we'll be back with pictures from the pumpkin patch!

Have a great week at school. WORK hard and learn lots!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Stanley takes flight!

Well, Stanley had a pretty exciting week. He went on his first plane trip, and it was really fun! He tried dancing on the wing, but we told him that was a no-no! We went to Illinois to visit Jeff's family. They live near Chicago, which is the biggest city in Illinois. It's called the Windy City, and it can get pretty windy there.

Here's a photo of Stanley with the flight attendants on one of our flights! They were excited to meet Stanley.

On the way to Illinois we stopped in Denver's airport. We were hoping to see the beautiful Rocky Mountains, but it was getting dark when we arrived, so we didn't get to see them. But we did see an incredible sunset which I wish I could've gotten a picture of to show you. The sky at the top was the colors of a summer peach - russet red and golden orange - and got bluer and bluer until it was a deep indigo at the bottom. Amazing!

In the Denver airport we did some playing around. We met former astronaut John L. "Jack" Swigert, Jr. (well, OK, we saw a statue of him, but still it was cool!).

We almost got to ride on a Harley, too, but we had to catch our next plane.

In the Chicago airport we got to see a Brachiosaurus skeleton replica. The real skeleton is in the Chicago Field Museum which is a great place. Have any of you been there? You can see some of the Field Museum's online exhibits by clicking HERE.

When Stanley stood next to that dinosaur at the airport, would you believe he was not even as tall as his/her ankle bone?!? That dino was enormous! It looks like like a "she" to me and that she was a pretty nice dinosaur, don't you think? If dinosaurs lived now do you think people would have them as pets? I guess they'd eat a lot, so maybe not.

The weather in Illinois was really warm - I think it was warm in Mason last weekend, too, wasn't it? It was so warm we got to ride with the top down on the convertible. Stanley thought that was super cool! Of course he put on his seatbelt a soon as he got in the car!

And then on the way home we looked out the window and saw the ground across a lot of the country covered with SNOW! I guess winter's coming after all. I was kind of enjoying the sun myself!

We're back in Oregon now, and looking forward to more adventures here. I think this weekend we'll go look for pretty fall leaves.

Have a great week at school. WORK hard and learn lots!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Welcome Ms. Work and class!

It was great to hear from you all today! I'm glad you're excited about hearing what Stanley's up to. Can I just say that your teacher's last name is the ULTIMATE teacher name? You are going to learn some stuff in Ms. WORK's class, I have no doubt! Awesome!

To answer your questions:

Stanley did NOT get stuck to the bowling ball. He beat me at bowling...

He also did not fall off the cheetah, luckily! Although if he does go on any more cheetah rides, I think he should probably have a helmet, just in case.

I hope you all have a great week at school. Stanley will be back online next week with his adventures from his first airline flight! He's pretty excited.

Talk to you soon!

Monday, October 6, 2008

Welcome to Stanley's Blog!

Hello! I'm Auntie Erin, and I'm a librarian at a middle school in Oregon. Rachel sent her Flat Stanley to me, and I thought it might be fun to keep the class updated about Stanley's adventures here in Oregon through a blog. A blog, in case you're not sure what that means, is just an online diary. People write blogs about all sorts of topics. I have another blog about books, and other people have them about cooking, art, animals, politics, fashion, everything under the sun. Some people even blog about blogging! Most blogs have periodic entries, but some people blog every day. I'll probably write about once a week. If you have any questions or comments, you can click the comments button. I hope you learn a lot about Oregon and enjoy Stanley's journey through this blog.

First I'll tell you a little bit about Oregon, and then you can see some pictures of Stanley's adventures so far.

Oregon is on the Pacific Ocean, just south of Washington state and just north of California. Oregon also borders two other states, Idaho and Nevada. Oregon is a state with lots of incredible natural beauty. We have many mountains here, and Mt. Hood is the tallest of them at nearly 11,000 feet high. Multnomah Falls is near Portland and is the second tallest year-round waterfall in the country. Our one national park is Crater Lake National Park. Crater Lake is the United State's deepest lake and the 7th deepest in the world! I think it's surely the bluest lake, too! Since Oregon's so beautiful, tourism is one of our main industries.

Other industries in Oregon include high tech, like Intel and others, timber processing, and agriculture and seafood. Nike's world headquarters are here in Oregon, too. Oregon leads the nation in the production of Christmas trees! We'll have to take Stanley to a Christmas tree farm to check that out this year!

Oregon became a state on Valentine's Day in 1859. We're the only state with a state nut, the hazelnut. And we're the only state that has a flag with something different on each side!

Learn more about Oregon by going to this Internet Public Library website(approved by this school librarian as safe and reliable). If you learn something new and leave me a comment about it, you'll get your name in my next entry. Be sure you only leave your first name, to make sure we're safe.

And now for Stanley's adventures so far...

Last weekend Stanley met his cousin Willie who is six months old.

This weekend Stanley went bowling. He had a little trouble with lifting that heavy ball, so his new friend Kate graciously helped him.

His friend Olivia let Stanley ride her Cheetah. It was kind of dangerous, but Stanley held on really tightly...oh wait, it looks like he didn't hang on at all. That crazy Stanley!

Stanley has decided after a visit to Ben and Jerry's that he LOVES ice cream! Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough was his favorite. What's yours?

We'll be back next week, so check back for more updates on Stanley's adventures. He's going on an airplane ride this weekend, so that should be pretty fun!

I know there are other Stanleys from Rachel's class all around the country, too,so if you'd like YOUR Stanley's adventures to be posted here, leave me a comment and we'll get his adventures from other places added to this blog!