Showing posts from September, 2021

Arc de Triomphe: Wrapped!

Several years ago, during a visit to Paris, France, we saw the famous L'Arc de Triomphe on the Champs-Elysees. (Incidentally, Monique's grandmother was the proprietor of a quaint little dress shop nearby.) This national monument towering 50 meters stands in honor of those who served and died in the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars from 1792-1815. It has the names of all the victories and generals inscribed on its outer and inner surfaces. Underneath the structure is a vault that commemorates an Unknown Soldier from World War I. As you could expect, this memorial is a much treasured reminder for the French and a must-see work of art for visiting tourists. Photo Credit: Sylvan Chervin This prominent landmark has been the scene of an unusually creative project in these past weeks! All this effort fulfills the dream of a couple of avant-garde artists named Christo and his wife, Jeanne-Claude, who died in 2020 and 2009 respectively. Since 1961, this married couple had planne

Tangrams and Water Towers

What do these two things have in common?  Monique is resourcing our daughter who is home-schooling her children this year. Some of the supplies and practice sheets were on a unit of study utilizing “tangrams” and “pattern blocks.”  What do the use of manipulatives like these teach a child? We might need to ask first of all, what is a “tangram?” Image Credit: tangram.template.ALSCBlog A tangram is a Chinese geometric puzzle that uses seven polygons, called tans, to form shapes: 5 triangles (2 large, a medium and 2 small), a square and a parallelogram. The objective is to replicate a pattern usually from a puzzle book. All seven tans must be used and kept flat at all times, although they may be rotated or flipped when necessary to complete the shape.  This deceptively easy exercise builds skills in puzzling, problem solving and understanding "window spatial" relationships. Some believe it also enhances student performance in mathematics and engineering! I had a most engaging as

Humming While at Work!

I had a delightful experience this week standing at my front door and looking at the pots of petunias that I had planted back in the spring. They were doing fairly well even after the stresses of this summer's dry spells. While enjoying the vibrancy of their assorted colors, I looked more closely at the dozens of blooms and immediately noticed a hummingbird busily working to harvest the abundance of nectar. It was an amazing lesson in productivity! Image Credit: Did you know that there are over three hundred and sixty species of hummingbirds in North America? These ambitious little creatures are known for their intelligence, spatial memory, geographic predictability, and even social interactions with humans. With skill and dexterity, they hover over and alongside the trumpet and tubular-shaped flowers of our neighborhoods while using their elongated beaks to draw out nectar and small insects as a food source. In addition to resourcing the flowers for food, they are also

The Talk Behind Our Backs!

During our recent Texas vacation to visit family, we took a day trip northwest of Austin to Marble Falls. This attractive little community of 6,000 is situated on the Colorado River and attracts visitors and prospective residents seeking the slower pace of hill country living. The shelf of limestone cutting diagonally across the town's lake has a brownish exterior on its upper layer that could easily be mistaken for marble. Back in the days before the damming of the river, this waterway created a natural waterfall giving the town its distinctive name, Marble Falls. After passing through the downtown area with its restaurants, shops and art galleries, we drove up to Lakeside Park where we stopped, got out of our car and walked around to take it all in. Standing just above the beach of Lake Marble Falls, we looked out at a modern bridge spanning the bluffs in the distance. While standing there, Marc, our son who is a graphic design artist at his core, loves to capture moments using

Making Sense of Information

I grew up in a small rural town culture where raccoons were hunted for sport. My dad and our next door neighbor, Jim, had highly trained dogs that were bred to detect the scent and movements of raccoons. The guys and their hounds would hunt their prey in the evening hours throughout river bottoms, fields and creeks, and heavily wooded areas around Vandalia. As an adolescent, I was fascinated by the whole matter and wanted to accompany the hunters each time I could. But what I loved even more was the gathering the next morning at the local eatery, affectionately known as “Road Kill.” Photo Credit: Alan Alquist I relished hearing the morning recap of the night's events in that setting! The laughter was captivating along with the good-natured bantering. I leaned forward to take in every detail and description of the dogs competing to pick up the scent and follow the trail as their owners trudged over “hill and dale” to keep up with them!   The incredible stories shared at