Follow by Email

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Stone Soup page one

Once upon a time--not so VERY long ago--a young soldier finished his military duty and was walking back to his home village.

This story took place in a time before railroad trains or buses and the soldier was going to walk the entire distance home--a walk of many days.

He was happy to be out of the army and on his own again and he was quite healthy--but he was absolutely penniless!

This fact did not bother him because he had a lot of self confidence--and he had always had good luck!

And he looked forward to seeing his friends and his old parents who were waiting for him in his home village.

But he WAS hungry!

In fact he was VERY hungry!!

He was about to walk into a small village and he was sort of wondering HOW he was going to BUY something to eat with NO money--when he saw, right on the path in front of him --a small stone--exactly like the thousands of other stones he had passed that morning--but because he was SO HUNGRY and had NO MONEY----THIS stone gave him a GOOD IDEA!


Wednesday, July 30, 2008



Hello again!

Time for another STORY--and this is one of my favorites!

I know you will like it too!

It is the tale of a soldier making his way back to his home village by foot--tired, hungry and broke--and how he is able to cook up a wonderful bowl of delicious soup with nothing but his only possession--a small stone!

Sounds like a miracle, doesn't it?

It sort of IS!

Tomorrow we'll begin the story as it has always been told...

See you then!

Uncle Tom


Tuesday, July 29, 2008


Monument Valley, USA

Nice you could come today!

Be sure to THANK the adult who is reading this to you!

They are being responsible and helping you to grow into the best person you can be!

Good luck to them AND good luck to you!

Last week I mentioned WATER how important it is to life and I said that PLANET EARTH is the only place we know of that has it!

You know that there are other planets circling around our SUN (like MARS and VENUS and JUPITER) but none of them has any WATER for certain.

There is something else we have here on our home planet EARTH that none of the other planets we know about have--something you breathe all day every day--that's right!



Take a big deep breath right now!!!!

Bye for now.

Uncle Tom


Saturday, July 26, 2008



Today I am sending you a very easy way to write "PLANET EARTH".

The above symbol is one people use to quickly write the planet's name.

The picture (pictogram) means PLANET EARTH in every language on earth.

Now you can write the name of our home planet!

See you next Tuesday!

Uncle Tom

Friday, July 25, 2008

Death Valley

Death Valley, California


Glad you are here again!

We are discussing PLANET EARTH, our home.

There are many different places on PLANET EARTH.

Some are very dry--like in today's photograph.

Some are rainy and wet.

But every kind of life we know about on PLANET EARTH needs WATER.

And as far as we know right now, PLANET EARTH is the ONLY place where there is WATER!

There are other PLANETS circling around our own STAR, the SUN, but they don't have any WATER.

They don't seem to have any LIFE either--though they are very interesting!

Our MOON doesn't either though it is a very nice MOON! It is dry!

Without WATER we could not live!

NOTE: A few days after this BLOG was published, NASA announced that it's robot space probe Phoenix has shown evidence of water (as ice) on the planet Mars. July 31, 2008. TW

Thursday, July 24, 2008


Lake Murray San Diego, CA USA


I am writing this BLOG to you from my home: PLANET EARTH.

PLANET EARTH is YOUR home too!

All of us human beings like your mother and father, and sister and brother (if you have any) live here with you.

Out of all the planets which may exist in all the GALAXIES and STARS in the universe--PLANET EARTH--our very own home planet--is the only one we know about that has people on it!

In fact our very own home, PLANET EARTH is the only place in the whole universe--of all the suns and stars and other planets--that we know about--where LIFE exists.

You are alive on this planet in space and so am I and so are all the other people and plants and animals and insects and so forth on PLANET EARTH--but, so far as we know for sure--this is the only place where things


Our good old "mother", PLANET EARTH!!!


Wednesday, July 23, 2008


Photograph of a globe of PLANET EARTH


Look around you.

Where do you live?

Oh, yes, in a house or apartment in some town or city and in some country or other--

BUT you also really live on our nice, big world called: PLANET EARTH!

I live on PLANET EARTH too!

And except for a very few astronauts who live on a space station in space very near near PLANET EARTH--every man, woman and child now living is your neighbor--next-door neighbor or far from you neighbor--on our big PLANET EARTH!

Tomorrow I'll talk to you some more about our home planet.


Tuesday, July 22, 2008


Bits of paper--a cartoony spiral galaxy


Use your imagination again, please.

I re-arranged some cartoon bits of paper "STARS" on a black "space" background to look like a twisty loop of STARS.

This swirling group of STARS represents a GALAXY of STARS. (And remember every STAR is REALLY a SUN--just like our sun except very, very, very far away.

The MILKY WAY is our GALAXY--and our SUN is one of the many, many, many STARS in our GALAXY.

You can see LOTS of other GALAXIES when you look into space on a dark night, but they are SO FAR AWAY that usually they look just like tiny points of light--in fact--they look just like STARS .

Curious scientists have built powerful TELESCOPES to look at some of these other GALAXIES and they have discovered that there are thousands and millions of them.

They have never seen the end of them.

So there does not seem to be any end to space.

There are more galaxies and stars than anyone can count!

And they all SUNS and some other dark stuff that not even the smartest scientists know much about!

Maybe the adult reading you this will take you outside to show you some of the most interesting things about the night sky and maybe you will even look at some of the STARS and galaxies in a telescope!



Saturday, July 19, 2008

The Milky Way

Our imaginary Milky Way.


Today you are going to have to pretend really hard!

Look at today's cartoon and pretend that it is NOT some little bits of cut paper on a black background!

Instead IMAGINE that you are standing outside at night looking up at the starry sky!

(And I hope you live somewhere where you can see the starry night sky!!)

You will see a cloudy path of pale light going right across the sky and some other bright star and planets scattered around.

Pretty, huh?

That path of pale light is called the Milky Way and it is made up of LOTS of stars just like our SUN except VERY far away.

That pale path of light, the famous Milky Way is our very own GALAXY.


Isn't that a cool word?

Next Tuesday I will explain what our GALAXY is!

WOW! I can hardly wait!!


Uncle Tom


Friday, July 18, 2008

kid size

Hi there!

Glad you could be with me again today!

I have another question for you.

Look at the above cartoon I drew for today.

Is the boy bigger than the house?

(answers vary)

He sure LOOKS bigger, but maybe he is standing closer to the artist!

He could even be a skateboarding cartoon kid who lives in the house behind him!

There is also a cartoon SUN in the picture and a cartoon STAR.

Next question: Which is BIGGER--the SUN or the STAR?

In the cartoon drawing, the SUN is lots bigger-- BUT a STAR is MUCH farther away from us than our sun!

A STAR is SO FAR AWAY that it looks like a tiny sparkle of light in the night sky--but it could be MUCH bigger than our sun!

In fact, the tiny star you see at night COULD be a WHOLE LOT OF VERY DISTANT SUNS--so far away they just look like a single star!

Isn't that interesting?

See you tomorrow!

Uncle Tom


Thursday, July 17, 2008

Chimayo, New Mexico dog

Tanya and friendly dog in Chimayo.


I want to tell you more about the sun and moon and stars, but I also thought you would like to see a very nice old dog Tanya and I met when we visited the cool little church in the little town of Chimayo in the state of New Mexico last October.

This lucky dog lives near a very popular pilgrimage church where people like to go and make a quiet visit.

And this dog--who really likes people--greets everybody and makes new friends all day long!


See you tomorrow!

Uncle Tom


Wednesday, July 16, 2008


You can travel to anyplace you can imagine at the SPEED OF THOUGHT!


Yesterday we had some fun talking in print about how FAST you can go!

You can RUN, you can RIDE a horse or in a car and you can FLY in a plane and maybe someday fly in a spaceship--BUT your body CAN'T Go FASTER than the SPEED OF LIGHT!


Have you ever wanted to be somewhere so bad you imagined you were there?

This is a like a trick, because your body can't go, but it may be a REAL way to travel FASTER THAN THE SPEED OF LIGHT!

Right now--today--a little kid like you or a grown-up like me can travel----



Now that's really FAST!!!


Tuesday, July 15, 2008


Hello there.

I'll bet you are FAST!


But I know YOU know other things that are faster!

If you have a dog or know a dog-- that animal can probably run even faster than YOU.

When you ride in a car you go even faster!

Faster than a very fast dog!

Any when you fly in a plane you go faster still!

Space rockets can go even FASTER!

BUT--do you know what goes fastest of all?

(Pause for answers.)



LIGHT is the fastest thing we know about.

When you turn on a light-- the light from the lightbulb gets to you eye so fast you can't even think about it before it is in your eye!

Now look at the picture of the cartoon star I drew for you.

As fast as light goes--it still takes light YEARS to get from the star to your eye!

And not just four or five years--but HUNDREDS of years!!

Isn't that interesting?

See you tomorrow!

Uncle Tom


Saturday, July 12, 2008



I have another puzzle for you today.

Take a look at today's picture.

It is a drawing I made of an astronaut's famous photograph.

Guess what it is!

(Various guesses...)

If you were on the moon---and you may be on the moon someday---you would see something like this in the morning.

Because this is a picture of the earth coming up in the morning!

When you are ON the moon, the EARTH rises!

And you can see the earth--our very own "Mother Earth" rising like a blue ball over the dry moon rocks.

(There are no trees or grass growing on the moon because there is no water!)

Isn't this interesting?

See you tomorrow!

Uncle Tom


Friday, July 11, 2008



Here is a question for you.

Here is a picture I made for today's blog--it shows a "SUN" and a "STAR".

To make the picture more fun I gave the sun and the star faces.

Of course there are no faces on the sun in the sky or the stars you see at night!

NOW--Here's your question:

What is the difference between the sun and a star?

(You can see the sun in the daytime and a star only at night--and other possible answers...)

Here is a good answer:

The sun and a star are the same kind of thing!

The sun is much closer to our "mother" earth than any other star!

So it looks different to us.

But OUR SUN and the little stars you see at night are really the same kind of thing!

Isn't that interesting?

See you tomorrow!

Uncle Tom


Thursday, July 10, 2008


The Farmer's Market WORM MAN does tricks for kids on a hot day!


As you noticed, I have taken a few days off from writing to you.

The weather is very hot and there have been LOTS of wildfires near here so the air is filled with smoke and doesn't smell as fresh and clean as it should!

Lots of the kids who live near us go swimming-- and if they can they stay the whole day playing in the water which is a VERY GOOD IDEA.

The problem is that the earth, our big MOTHER PLANET is getting hotter and hotter all the time because we people live so carelessly.

I hope you are thinking about that.

But the problem is NOT to
WORRY about.

The solution is to change the way we live!

Your parents and adult friends can help you understand our problem--because it is everybody's problem--kids and grownups.

Mine too!

Best wishes--and BE HAPPY!

Uncle Tom


Saturday, July 5, 2008

Tanya and Crampus


Here I am wearing the finished Crampus mask and sitting on a park bench with Tanya.

That is good!!


Friday, July 4, 2008

Crampus mask unpainted

The Crampus mask before painting.

Here is the mask of one of my favorite characters before the final painting.

It is called "The Crampus" and it is a familiar character
in the folk tales of Bavaria.

The Crampus comes around with Saint Nickolaus on Saint Nickolaus night in December.

Crampus is a very hairy and frightening monster who is kept on a chain by Bishop Nickolaus who is always dressed in a white robe with a tall Bishop's hat and a gold shepherd's crook-staff.

Bishop Nickolaus also carries a book with all the children in the world in it.

These two visit every household where there are children and when the children sing a song or recite a nice poem, Nickolaus gives them a simple gift such as candy or a piece of fruit.

Nickolaus controls Crampus, whispering "Peace, Crampus." when Crampus snarls and wants to escape his chain leash.

I like the team of Nickolaus and Crampus.

If you are ever in Bavaria or Austria in December, you may see them in action.


Thursday, July 3, 2008

Uncle Tom making FROG mask

Uncle Tom making the FROG mask.
Tanya photo


I am making masks and it is a lot of fun!

I start with a brown paper grocery bag and fill it with wadded newspaper.

Then I tape some features on it (like bulgy eyes on the FROG) and then I cover the whole thing with strips of newspaper dipped in flour paste.

When the strips are dry, I take the wadded newspaper out, cut a hole for my head and holes for my eyes and then paint the mask.

Thats all there is to it!

You could do it yourself with just a little help from a grown-up and I hope you do!

Yo! Uncle Tom


Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Fish mask

Tanya photo

It's me again!

I'm wearing another mask I made.

This time I am pretending I am a ----!


I like to be a fish sometimes, don't you?



Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Wise Woman mask

Hello again.

Do you like to wear masks?

People seem to like them--and I like to make them--AND to wear them sometimes.

I introduced you to our part-time cat Maggie a few weeks ago and today you see Maggie laying next to one of my masks.

This mask is The Wise Woman.

She is one of my favorite characters and I have always learned a lot from people like her!

I will show you another mask tomorrow!

Uncle Tom