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Stories and green tips related to nature, adventure, placemaking, and food systems, written by a beginning farmer/gardener and seasoned sustainability educator who loves to grow, cook, ferment, and eat local and ecologically happy food.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Vegetable Soup

Yesterday after purchasing some lovely organic, local produce, I felt inspired to make some soup, something I'd never done before. My grandma had given me a recipe that my cousin had sent her for vegetable soup. It sounded delicious, so I followed the basic instructions but used whatever veggies we had in the house. My cousin had found the recipe for "Tuscan Vegetable Soup" here.


My vegetable soup (with the help of my step-mom) included:
- 2 organic carrots I purchased at the Farmers Market, sliced
- 1 small organic white onion (also from the Farmers Market), diced
- about a dozen organic new potatoes, sliced
- 3 handfuls of spinach
- 2 organic celery stalks, chopped
- 32 ounces of organic vegetable broth
- a can of organic Great Northern beans, drained and rinsed
- 2 cloves of garlic, minced
- a handful of chopped parsley
- some sprinkles of organic all purpose seasoning
- many dashes of salt until the soup was well-flavored
- 1 tablespoon organic olive oil
It was my first time making soup, as well as my first time chopping an onion. Fortunately, it didn't make my eyes water! I sliced up the carrots, celery, potato, and onion and heated the oil in the pot over medium-high heat, as per the instructions on the recipe.

I minced the garlic into the pot and added the onion. That sure made the kitchen smell yummy! Then we added the chopped carrots, celery and potatoes. I sprinkled some all purpose seasoning over the mix and let the vegetables cook. After the vegetables had gotten somewhat tender, we poured the vegetable broth in and let it boil. We added the beans and parsley. Once the potatoes and carrots were soft enough and I had added enough salt to my liking, I added the spinach and let the soup cook until dinner was ready a few minutes later.
The soup was delicious and reminded me of visiting my grandma's house--the same grandma who gave me the recipe. It tasted like something we'd eat at her house. Fortunately, we made enough for dinner and leftovers. I had some today for lunch and will have it again in my lunch tomorrow.
On another note, I have decided to keep a food journal to make myself more aware of what I'm eating. I will be keeping track of food origin, organic or not, genetically-modified or not (any tips for this one?), and the ingredients. I am continuing to follow the challenge that Reduce Footprints had a few weeks ago regarding ingredients to avoid and I have challenged myself to try and eat mostly local foods. The most important thing is that I make myself more aware so that down the road I can plan better to eat local, organic, nutritious foods. I started the journal this morning. Writing out ingredients takes awhile, so I will probably be making some food decisions based on ingredients list. Fortunately, the healthiest food tends to have the shortest ingredients list. I will periodically let you know how my journal is going and what I've learned to be more aware of. I may look up some ingredients to find out what they are and then I'll post that information here.

Have a nice week,
Green Gal

---

In order to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first create the universe.
-- Carl Sagan

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Saturday Morning Adventure

By 8:50 this morning, I was on my bike headed toward downtown. Last night's rainy residue lined my tires with a coat of water, and the crisp air flapped my long floral dress and my wavy hair. With two paniers attached to my bike and a "One Less Car" t-shirt over my dress, I made my way to sleepy Saturday morning Main Street and parked my bike near an Italian restaurant and Bank of America.

I walked across the street to where our Farmer's Market is held and began perusing the booths, looking for tasty food. I didn't really have any plan of what to buy, although I had seen some delicious-looking preserves last week and hoped to buy some today. There are these two guys (above, second tent down the street) who work at one of the stands who are always asking "Miss, would you like a sample?" Everytime I walked by, last week included, they called and asked this to everyone. "No thank you," I am always forced to say. Their sample has cheese. I wish I could say yes because their sample really does look delicious. Every time, "Miss would you like a sample?" He even said I could take his picture since I had my camera around my neck. Still, I had to say no thank you. Perhaps next week I'll see if they can make me a sample of something else that doesn't have cheese.

I did find the stand with the preserves and decided to purchase raspberry preserves from Fontana Farms (Ceres, California, $4.00). Then I wandered all the way to the end of the street and found a woman selling jarred jams and jellies. Over the summer when I was at my aunt's house, I had seen jalapeño pepper jelly at a small fruit stand in Gilroy. We hadn't purchased any because my aunt said she had some at her house. I forgot to try it when we got to her house and ever since have been wondering what such an intriguing food might taste like. Fortunately, the woman was selling some green jalapeño pepper jelly. I asked for a sample and it was delicious and spicy and perfect, so I bought a small jar. (Sister Sara's, Pleasanton, California, $7).I proceeded to purchase blackberries from Cortez Farms (Santa Maria, California, $4) and organic carrots and an organic onion from J&M Ibarra Organic Farms (Reedley, California, $4.50). I brought my own bags to hold the various things I purchased. I took a lot of pictures at the market and then walked into The Berry Patch, a great boutique to find local art, jewelry, children's clothing, honey, and greeting cards. I was looking at some lovely necklaces that have butterflies and lady bugs on them when I realized I had ten minutes to get over to the library for a meeting.I walked, since the library is only two blocks away, and made it to the workshop room (where I've been numerous times for different events: book sales, book readings, author discussions, SAT practice test) with about seven minutes to spare before the presentation began.

The meeting was a community workshop for our city's Youth Master Plan. My name tag said my name and underneath, "Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee." I hadn't realized that it said that until after the presenter mentioned my name as a representative for the committee, along with the names of many others present who were on various committees and commissions. I was surprised to hear my name announced and gave an awkward sort of wave, wondering how many people in the audience knew my dad or step-mom, who are both very active in the community.

After an overview of what the plan is and what its vision statement and proposed values and goals are, we broke into three discussion groups. My group was all middle school to high school students. The discussion was led by two teen Youth Master Plan Implementation Committee members with the help of one adult. Each group's task was to come up with some ideas of what we thought the vision and goals did well and what could be changed. We offered suggestions on how to make the community more supportive of its youth, meaning everyone aged 0-19 years old. We talked about how to get youth more involved in safe, fun activities and local government. We talked about prevention of unsafe activities or ways to make certain activities safer.

I suggested that there be more environmental awareness education for the elementary school aged students to help them become more conscious and to develop "greener" habits that they will take with them as they grow up. A girl next to me mentioned that 4-H has a piece of land on which they plan to create a community farm where youth could keep animals or learn about raising animals and farms. I was enthusiastic about that idea and talked to her afterward about it. A guy from my school who is president of the B-Boy Club (breakdancing, basically) suggested that existing facilities be available to his group and groups like his so that others in the community can join the club and learn to dance and become a part of a supportive environment that encourages friendship and self-confidence.

Communication is definitely an issue in getting event and activity information out to the youth. I suggested a Facebook page or putting a calendar of all events pertaining to youth in the schools' bulletins. Someone else suggested there be a central location, like the library, where a comprehensive list of activities will be available. A weekly or monthly calendar of activities could be posted in visible places like Starbucks and local restaurants or hangout places. Honestly, for those youth who are not already involved, the information needs to be brought to them. They aren't going to come looking for the information; those that look were at the meeting today and are updated by email lists and the network of people they know who are involved in the community. We really need to get these activities out to those students who have nothing else to do and who are bored and eventually end up doing nothing better than spending time with their bored friends and drugs or alcohol. There are always going to be those kids who don't want to get involved in something. But plenty of those who aren't involved now could find something they'd be interested in; it's just a matter of reaching out to them.

After our discussions, a person from each group reported back to the workshop. Our notes and discussions will be organized and submitted to the Youth Master Plan Implementation Committee, the City staff, School District and those who will help organize our input into the master plan. I suggested that ideas be prioritized and that in implementing them, smaller focus groups be created for each age group for the activities. That way, those who will be utilizing the outcome of the project and who have knowledge about it can sit down with planners to figure out how to implement it effectively. Rather than try to implement everything or plan everything, they should start small with one new idea for each age group and get further input from those who are involved, and go from there. There are so many wonderful ideas, but each needs to be taken one step at a time.

It was interesting and fun to hear others' ideas and to submit my own thoughts. I've had such a great experience being involved in my community, so I'm glad there's a way for me to give back and to help others have a similarly rewarding experience.

It was a lovely Saturday morning in my hometown, which feels smalltown despite being considered a "city." On my way home while riding past my high school, I saw that there was a wheelchair and crutches drive to donate to Haiti. There is so much going on in our community at all times--I'm so fortunate to have been raised in such a wonderful place.

See those carrots? I bought mine from that bunch. There's a basket of onions next to it from which I chose one. J&M Ibarra Organic Farm, Reedley, California. Unfortunately, that's 180 miles away from where I live, so it doesn't exactly meet the criteria for that 100-Mile diet. Fortunately, it's organic.

My bag-loaded bike after the meeting, next to our city's newest mural depicting a snapshot in time of our city's history. I suppose my photographs will some day be considered snapshots in history, as well.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Environmental Awareness Committee

This evening, from 4:30 to 6:00, I attended my school district's Environmental Awareness Committee meeting. It is the second time I've attended one of their meetings and was inspired to write about tonight's experience.

The first item on the agenda after introductions was to have one of our local middle schools present about what their environmental club has been doing on campus. Two girls from the club attended, and one read a well-written account of her school's green experiences over the past semester. They have a garden, a compost system and food scrapping program, modeling after another middle school in the district. The representatives from the middle school were wearing the neatest t-shirts: a design of a tree and its branches that spelled out the name of the school. The twisting branches spelled "ecology club." The woman who drew the design was at the meeting, too. Our environmental club needs to get some of those!

The committee is comprised of teachers, parents, a school board member (my dad), PTA members, and students. Tonight's meeting included ideas of what to do for Earth Week in April, grant opportunities, and updates from different school sites on what they are doing.

I updated the committee on the garden project taking place at one of the elementary schools that our Environmental Club is helping with. Check out my club's post about it here. One school is creating an event to have a used clothing drive to donate to Haiti, and later they plan on having a shoe drive through an organization called Soles4Souls, as well as a drive for used blankets and towels to donate to a local animal rescue organization. The overriding theme of the ongoing project is to raise awareness for the fact that we often have things in our homes that we no longer use or need that can be used by someone else who is not as fortunate. It's all about Reusing and Reducing!

A retired elementary school principal, Mr. Radulovich (mentioned here), who is very involved in making the world a greener place, brought up a new book called Sustainable Communities (edited by Woodrow Clark) that includes an entire chapter on how introducing and teaching certain concepts to children during kindergarten through high school can help create a more "sustainable community." Radulovich wrote the chapter, which is titled "Building Sustainability: The Role of K-12 Education" and which uses the city we live in as a case study. It's great that he was able to publish the chapter in the book and that the book will hopefully be useful for other communities looking to develop more eco-friendly practices. I totally agree that to create a culture of compassion for the Earth, we have to begin at the first levels of education, when children are still developing their opinions. College is too late, Radulovich mentioned. By that point, opinions are already established for the most part. To get kids inspired to care, you've got to show them the beauty of the natural world when they're younger.
The discussion also generated a lot of creative ideas for various activities the schools can do for Earth Week. Some were even potentially applicable at the high school level, like "No Litter Lunches," recycled art projects, and having the lights out for an hour during the school day. I will be discussing these awesome ideas at our Environmental Club's meeting this Friday.

And now I must go do my homework, watch Obama's State of the Union address, and create the committee's blog.

Thanks for reading!
Green Gal

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If we want children to flourish, to become truly empowered, then let us allow them to love the earth before we ask them to save it. Perhaps this is what Thoreau had in mind when he said, “the more slowly trees grow at first, the sounder they are at the core, and I think the same is true of human beings.”
--David Sobel, Beyond Ecophobia

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Reduce Bad Food Decisions, Reuse Materials

Last week for Reduce Footprints' Change the World Wednesday challenge, I agreed to the following:

This week, for seven whole days, read food labels and refuse to buy anything containing the following:
  • Hydrogenated or partially-hydrogenated oils
  • High fructose corn syrup
  • Artificial colors, flavors, sweeteners or preservatives
  • Bleached or bromated flour
  • Any ingredients that you aren't familiar with and/or can't pronounce
So maybe the first day I held true to my word. Then, according to my everyday routine, I purchased an "everything" bagel from Noah's New York Bagels (bleached flour) and a hazelnut soy misto Starbucks drink (artificial flavors & sweeteners) and proceeded to eat them, without being aware that I had violated the challenge. I wasn't really thinking and proceeded to buy another set the next day. It's a habit. A poor habit, I suppose.Then I realized that I'd completely gone against the challenge and pretty much gave up for the week. I commented on the blog and promised to live up to the challenge this week. I also took on this week's challenge, which was:

This week only use reusable mugs/glasses. Yep ... for seven whole days, refuse anything that isn't reusable. Bring your own mug to your favorite coffee shop ... haul your own glass to the soda dispenser at the corner convenience store ... carry your own mug/glass to fast-food restaurants. If a drink comes in something that will be tossed out ... either don't buy it or use your own vessel.
Since Wednesday, I have not had a bagel (which for those who know me is pretty insane, considering I eat bagels daily, sometimes twice!). I have not gotten a sweetened drink at Starbucks (I got one Starbucks this week, yesterday, and I left out the hazelnut and of course used a reusable mug). I avoided white bread, Oreos, bleached flour spaghetti, white bread rolls, Gatorade, sugary cereals and many other challenge-violating foods this week. It feels really freeing to have gone without a Noah's bagel or my daily Starbucks this week. I am definitely going to make my daily habit into a once-a-week habit for now. I'm sure my parents' wallets are feeling better about this, too.

It's rare that I do not use a reusable mug at Starbucks, so for me that challenge was not difficult. I think one day this week my mom brought some food home from a restaurant in a Styrofoam container they supplied, but because it wasn't me bringing it home (and I hadn't planned to bring anything home), I couldn't do much about it. Other than that, this week's challenge didn't really affect me. For some tips on how I make reusing a habit, check out this post.

I'm really glad I took on last week's challenge this week because it reminded me that I should be more aware of what I'm eating and spending money on. Though I will miss seeing my friends at Noah's and Starbucks every day, I know they'll be there on Saturday morning when I visit for my weekly treat.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Agriculture

In my AP Human Geography class the past couple of weeks, we've been learning about agriculture. It is fascinating and, interestingly, is one of those topics that directly affects everyone. We learned about cattle being raised in feedlots, genetically modified foods like corn and soybeans, and the many issues surrounding unsustainable agricultural practices in more developed countries, specifically the United States. We also learned about pastoral nomadism, rice, wheat, climate and other agricultural factors, the agricultural revolutions, the Green Revolution, and various agricultural practices from around the world.I'm really glad my teacher decided to expose us to the current issues surrounding agriculture, as when we watched Food, Inc. Many students hadn't ever had a desire or reason to learn about these issues and probably wouldn't have if it weren't for the class. I have the book so I began reading it the same day we began watching the movie. If you haven't seen Food, Inc., I highly recommend renting it or watching it On Demand. The weekend after we watched the movie in class, my family and I sat down to watch it together. It definitely raises your awareness level about where and how your food is being grown and prepared and what companies are actually behind the false advertisement of a purely small farmer, rural agriculture America that is still being perpetuated despite its largely unrealistic image.Since my family was in a documentary mood after watching Food, Inc., we decided to watch The Cove the following evening and were shocked and upset by learning about the atrocities taking place in Taiji, Japan where dolphins are captured for use in places like Seaworld or are slaughtered to be eaten by unsuspecting citizens of Japan. For more information about the movie, check out Conservation Nation's discussion about it here. It is another movie I recommend watching because it raises awareness about the terrible things governments can do without their citizens' knowledge or suspicion.

So this morning, in response to the lessons learned from Food, Inc. and various articles my teacher had us read about where our food comes from, my family headed to the farmer's market in our downtown. We bought vegetables and fruits for the week and enjoyed the morning sunshine, which has been lacking the past couple of days with all these storms we've been having. I hope to make it a weekly outing, so we can become less dependent on Safeway and support our local farmers. There's a CSA program through a farm located in our city, and we've been thinking about joining. At this point, though, we can at least begin by getting the majority of our veggies and fruits from local farmers on Saturday mornings.Have a lovely Saturday!
Green Gal

---

Heaven is under our feet as well as over our heads.
-- Henry David Thoreau

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Quote of the Day: Water


All water has a perfect memory and is forever trying to get back to where it was. -- Toni Morrison

I love the rainy weather we've been having, the constant pitter-pat on the roof and the swaying trees dripping water from their leaves. We really need it here in California.

I think I'm going to periodically have quotes of the day, considering I've come across many lovely quotes with nowhere to share them except here.

Have a nice evening, and if it's raining where you are, enjoy the poetry it brings to your day.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Avatar

If you haven't yet seen Avatar, you really should. It's a well-made film with a deep, vital message. Keep your eye out for different references to indigenous tribes of planet Earth that help make up the Pandora tribe of Na'vi--I noticed a few. Think about the movie afterward (how can you not?), and keep the messages about protecting mother Earth in your mind. I didn't see it in 3D, but I heard it's even more incredible if you do. Either way, try to see it. It's definitely worth it.

Check out the trailer here.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Yosemite Ahwahnichi - Miwok or Paiute?

If you've ever been to Yosemite, you've probably been to the recreation Miwok village. You've probably seen the displays about acorn harvesting and how the Ahwahnichi lived in the Valley.
A "Miwok" hut in the recreation village. Some of the styles in the village are actually Paiute.

What you probably didn't know is that many of the photographs, recreations, and objects on display are actually Paiute (from Mono Lake), not Miwok (Southern Sierra Miwok).

It is a disputed issue between Yosemite National Park and the Paiute people as to whether Yosemite Valley was inhabited by Miwok or Paiute people. The Paiute insist--and have a large amount of evidence to suggest--that the Ahwahnichi of the Valley were Mono Lake Paiutes.

I'm not an expert, but the evidence I've seen points to the Ahwahnichi being mostly Paiute. The photographs the Park posts and label as Miwok are actually Paiute--this is a fact the families of these people state repeatedly to the Park. The Park hasn't listened to them and has instead believed the Park's now-retired ethnologist Craig Bates, who may have been a force behind the eradication of Paiute commemoration in the Park. He changed labels on photos, calling any Native American in photographs at Yosemite "Miwok," when in fact most of the photos clearly show Paiute (clear to the Paiute, not so clear to white people like me or those unfamiliar with the distinct characteristics of the Paiute). When Paiute artifacts have been found in the Valley, Bates would say they must have been traded from the Mono Lake Paiutes--Miwok enemies. Why would the Miwok trade with their Paiute enemies? And if they did, it isn't reasonable to assume every artifact found in the area was traded, especially not with the other evidence that supports Paiute settlements in the Valley.
Tom Hutchings, Yosemite's first mailman, was actually a Mono Lake Paiute.

Photographs in the Park's archives that are considered Miwok have missing labels. Found in other places, the labels clearly state "Mono" or "Paiute." The photographs used to recreate the Miwok village behind the Indian Museum were of Paiute homes and people, taken by Eadweard Muybridge in the 1870s. The Park labels the village as "Miwok."
One of the photos taken by Muybridge in the Valley. This shows a Paiute ceremony in which someone is talking to the group. The houses and cultural aspects of these photos were used to recreate the "Miwok" village behind the museum. They weren't Miwok, though, so the village is misnamed.

The Ahwahnichi were forced to leave the Valley after a disease wiped out most of its people. The survivors went to the Mono Lake Paiute and asked to live with them. A man from the Ahwahnichi married a Mono Lake Paiute woman and their son became the famous Chief Tenaya. He married a Mono Lake Paiute woman and had three sons. Fifty years later, Tenaya was told by a medicine man that it was safe to return to Ahwahnee (Yosemite Valley). He brought 200 or so people with him to live as Ahwahnichi once more. He is a hero and respected chief to the Ahwahnichi and Paiute people. Surprisingly, this story is not represented in Yosemite National Park, while it is a very important part of the Ahwahnichi history (there is mention of this story here, although it isn't given great recognition or significance).

Tenaya was 1/2 Mono Lake Paiute and his children were 3/4 Paiute. One of them married a woman who was most likely Paiute and they had a daughter named Maria. Maria is mentioned at the Park, but she is labeled as a Miwok with no mention of her grandfather's place in Yosemite Valley history. To make matters worse, instead of being commemorated as leader of the Yosemite people, Tenaya has been replaced in recognition by Chief Cowchitti, who was an enemy to the Ahwahnichi and helped James Savage and the Mariposa Battalion find them (the Battalion was created to enforce the relocation of Natives to reservations) when Tenaya was reluctant to sign a treaty that would place his people on Reservations. While on his way to the Fresno reservation, some of his people returned to the Valley and were tracked down with the help of Miwok scouts. Tenaya's youngest son was killed in the encounter with the Battalion. They would not have been found if it were not for the Miwok scouts.
"Sign in Yosemite's Indian Village that mentions Kau'tcitti, an Indian scout for the white militia and enemy of original Yosemite Indian people, but there is no mention of Chief Tenaya in the village."

In case you're wondering what happened to Tanaya, it is reported that he left the reservation after some time, promising to be civil with non-Natives. Tenaya returned to the Mono Lake Paiutes, and at one point he and his band stole horses from the Paiutes they were living with. They fled to Ahwahnee in 1853. The Paiutes found them and stoned Tenaya to death. The survivors were taken back to Mono Lake to live among the Paiutes.

Another blow to Ahwahnichi history is that Chief Bautista of the Miwok is commemorated at the Park, as well. He allied with James Savage and his people helped the white miners dig gold. The Miwok were more peaceful than the Paiutes and probably agreed to do this in order to avoid violence and relocation. Perhaps Bautista believed that siding with the whites would mean they'd eventually leave them alone, which never happened, unfortunately. Because the Miwok were enemies of the Ahwahnichi and because the Ahwahnichi were violent, they called Ahwahnee Yosemite, meaning "killers live there." Bautista used the phrase often, and whites believed it was the Valley's name. It stuck. It is unclear why these enemies to the original Ahwahnee Indians are commemorated, and is further unjust that the Park will not listen to the Paiute when they try to show them how this is incorrect.

It doesn't seem to me that there really ever were Miwoks native to the Valley. The Ahwahnichi, and later the Paiute from Mono Lake led by Tenaya were the ones who settled the Valley. Miwok may have lived there at some point, but they were not the Ahwahnichi. If you have information to the contrary, please let me know. Most of this information has come directly from Paiute people via Indian Country Today and Yosemite Campers, so some of it is undoubtedly valid. Historical accounts can often be mixed up, which is probably (and hopefully) the cause for these inaccuracies. However, it does appear that something beyond innocent mistakes has been and is occurring. A post on Yosemite Campers here (scroll to the post that was posted by Pomogo on Sunday, July 09, 2006 - 03:38 am) gives some possible reasons that Bates, the retired ethnologist, would support a false history of Miwok in Yosemite.

I just wanted to share this information with you, as I find it very disturbing. It makes me want to study the Miwok and Paiutes, get a degree to become an ethnologist and go work for Yosemite National Park to set the record straight. I love visiting Yosemite, but now I wonder how much the Park is biased toward the Miwok, for whatever reasons, or if it was just the action of Craig Bates that caused these issues. It isn't fair that the Paiute should be left out from the history of Yosemite, as they were most definitely a part of it. I read in one of the articles I've been researching that to commemorate the Miwok in Yosemite National Park is like honoring "the Indian scouts at the massacre at Wounded Knee, instead of those who died."
Ahwahnichi/Mono Lake Paiute word of the day: Ahwahnee, "like a gaping bear's mouth"

If you want to learn more, scroll through the articles on the sites I've linked above. It is truly eye-opening that this has happened. It is as though the Paiutes are being erased from Yosemite's history, which is scary. One would think those kinds of things were only something done in the past, when racism toward the Natives was common. It's important to remember that these things still happen today and in the most unlikely places.

I would love to hear your comments on the issue.

Happy Sunday,
Green Gal

Friday, January 1, 2010

Me-Wuk Word of the Day: Fun-ah-wah

Happy New Year! I hope you have all had a wonderful first day of the new year and that your resolutions have been put in action!

This morning, my family saw Sherlock Holmes at the movie theater. It was awesome! I can't wait to see it again to catch all the details I missed the first time. A lot of action and violence, but Robert Downey Jr. was a splendid Holmes and Jude Law a superb Watson. I highly recommend it!

Now for my second word of the day: In Me-Wuk (the spelling given by the Tuolumne Band of Me-Wuk Indians), "laughter" is fun-ah-wah, as in "May 2010 be filled with new wisdom, adventure and lots of fun-ah-wah."I have been researching Native Americans non-stop this week and creating PowerPoint slide shows to present to my sister and family. After learning some Me-Wuk words, I was hooked on learning more about the culture and history of the first inhabitants of the place I call home.

My younger sister loves to present slide shows about animals, particularly mammals. It's such a great way to learn while teaching others. This evening, she and I each presented a slide show. Mine was on the native people of North America. I spoke about the different time periods of Native American habitation, starting with the Paleoindians 10,000+ years ago and continuing until the current Historic period, which began with European contact in 1600. My sister presented about the mongoose; I learned that they are native to Africa and that mummified mongoose remains have been found in ancient Egyptian tombs with their human owner mummies.After dinner tonight, we're presenting again. This time I'll be discussing the Miwok people of California--Valley and Coast Miwok--and my sister will be presenting about wombats. An animal fact game show is planned after her presentation. It's gonna be a night full of knowledge and learning! I love not being a Facebook-fiend.

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