Mae's Real Stories

Memories for Miriam, Alice, Theo, Delia, Tessa and anyone else who would like to be here

Tuesday, April 24, 2007



On the campus in Ann Arbor workers are demolishing a big building called the Frieze Building. The first parts of the building were built almost 100 years ago. First the building was the high school for all the students in Ann Arbor. Later, it was used for classes and offices for the university, and over the years new parts have been built onto it. After it has been torn down, other builders will build a big new dormitory. Maybe there were some good things about the old building, but its rooms wouldn't be good as dormitory rooms.

In the first picture, the work was just getting started, about 5 weeks ago:

Yesterday, the workers had already taken down all the parts that showed in the first picture, and were working on the back of the building:

Today, even more of the building is gone. It will be done very soon. The big trucks haul away the broken up stone, wood, plaster, and metal as the tearing-down proceeds:

Saturday, April 21, 2007


The Daffodil Mile

In the Arboretum here in Ann Arbor is a mile-long row of daffodils. For three years, the daffodils have been coming up. The long line is a little different every year. Some artists designed the daffodil line as a sort of big, outdoor artwork. A lot of people helped plant all the bulbs -- around 20,000 of them. The daffodil line begins in the woods, crosses the wide valley, goes up and down a few small hills, makes a couple of right-angle turns, and finally climbs into another wooded patch to end at the cemetery fence...

Friday, April 20, 2007


Another Theo

Theodor Herzl (1860-1904), sometimes called Theo, is a very famous man. He lived in the cities of Budapest, Vienna, and Paris, in Europe. Herzl was a writer of plays, novels, and newspaper articles. At the time he lived, there was no country called Israel, and Jewish people lived in many places all over the world. But he had an amazing idea.

Herzl's idea was that Jews could go back to the place where they had lived thousands of years earlier, during the time of the Bible, and could have a country of their own. He wrote about his idea, and he told people about it. He had a lot of practical ways for making his dream into a reality, and people became very excited about what he said. He was a great leader, and he influenced people to form organizations to work for a Jewish country.

About 50 years later, his dream did become a reality. Since 1948, there has been a real country named Israel where many Jewish people live. Of course some Jewish people still live in American cities as well, but they can visit Israel, as we did last year.

A city is named in honor of Herzl: Herzlia, Israel.


An Artist Named Delia

Here is someone named Delia: an artist named Delia Brown. She was born in 1969, and she lives and paints pictures in Los Angeles, California. Here are two of her paintings. I had not heard of her before but her paintings look very nice to me.

Monday, April 16, 2007


Johnny Appleseed

John Chapman, shown in the photo, is a friend of ours. He is a physicist like Grandpa. Everyone calls him just "J" -- you will see why in a little while.

J's great-great-great-grandfather was a seed farmer. That meant he grew seeds and dried them to sell to other farmers. The other farmers planted the seeds and grew crops. Great-great- ...grandfather's name was Frank.

Frank was born in Massachusetts. After he grew up, he moved to a new farm in Maryland. Frank had a brother who sometimes came to visit him in Maryland. His brother's name was John Chapman, just like our friend.

The brothers Frank and John Chapman lived a long time ago, when the American land was being turned into farms called homesteads. Farmers wanted to plant good things on their new farms. One of these good things was apple trees. John Chapman sometimes got apple seeds from his brother Frank's seed farm. He planted appleseeds on his own farms, and sold young trees to these homesteaders.

You can probably guess what everyone called John Chapman? He was known as Johnny Appleseed. The J. Chapman we know calls him Great-great-uncle John. The stories about Johnny Appleseed start on the frontier in the year 1797. (He lived from 1774 to 1847.)

When Johnny Appleseed was alive, more than 150 years ago, a lot of people were moving west from places like Maryland and Massachusetts. Frank's family moved west too. They kept on working as seed farmers, selling lots of kinds of seeds so that other farmers could plant crops. Our friend J's great-grandfather -- Johnny Appleseed's nephew -- lived in Indiana. He was also a seed farmer. Sometimes Johnny Appleseed came to see his nephew in Indiana.

When Johnny Appleseed was an old man, he came to see the Chapman family for the last time. A year later, Johnny Appleseed died in Ohio.

Many of the stories about Johnny Appleseed are true: throughout his life he traveled around, planting apple seeds, growing little trees, and selling the little apple trees to homesteading farmers. Johnny Appleseed didn't live in just one place, and he liked to wear old clothes. He made money, but he seems to have given it to people that needed it. He helped a lot of people. If he visited a farmer, sometimes he planted some apple trees or some seeds to say thank you for a good breakfast or dinner and a place to sleep. He also knew a lot of Indians who lived on the frontier, and he was their friend too.

Our friend J says that the oldest son in his family is always named John. Johnny Appleseed was the oldest son in his family -- his brother Frank and his many other brothers were younger. J's father and his son are also named John. So you see why he is called J -- that way he knows when people are talking to him, not to one of the other men and boys named John. But his real name is exactly the same as Johnny Appleseed. They are both named John Chapman.

Thursday, April 12, 2007


Another Alice

Another famous real person named Alice was in several books called Travels with Alice, Alice Let's Eat, and some other books by her husband Calvin Trillin. They are books for grownups, and I liked reading them. A lot of them are about different kinds of food like barbecue.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007


Two "Theos"


Theo Bikel was a famous actor and singer. He sang lots of really good songs and he wrote all about his life in a book called Theo. He knew a lot of famous people including leaders of countries like England and Israel. He was in some famous plays and movies. He sang Russian folk songs, gypsy songs, and Jewish and Israeli songs.

Theo Bikel was born in 1924 in Vienna, Austria. He has lived in the USA for a long time. Some famous movies he's been in are The African Queen (1951), My Fair Lady (1964), The Blue Angel (1959), The Russians Are Coming, The Russians Are Coming (1965).


Theo Geisel (1904-1991) was a children's author. Everyone has read books like Green Eggs and Ham and The Cat in the Hat. When he wrote his books, Theo Geisel called himself DR. SEUSS. For a few books he called himself Theo LeSieg. LeSieg is Geisel spelled backwards.

A few years ago I visited Springfield, Massachusetts, where Theo Geisel grew up. In this town is a big monument to Theodore Seuss Geisel -- Dr. Seuss -- and all his books. Here is a picture of a statue of him at his desk, with the Cat in the Hat, and pictures of some of the other statues in the monument. In a museum nearby, I learned about Theo Geisel's early life in the town.

Sunday, April 08, 2007


Two Famous "Alices"


A famous real person is named Alice Waters. She is famous because she is a wonderful cook, and everyone likes to go to her restaurant Chez Panisse which is in Berkeley, California. She has worked with the school children in Berkeley to plant vegetable gardens and to make their school lunches much better because they have fresh vegetables in them.


Alice in Wonderland is a great book, and was made into a wonderful movie by Walt Disney. The author of the book wrote an imagined story for a real girl named Alice more than 100 years ago.

In her adventures, Alice meets a Dodo bird who leads a strange event called a Caucas Race. She follows a talking rabbit to a tea party with a Mad Hatter and a Dormouse. She meets a magical caterpillar, TweedleDum and TweedleDee, Humpty Dumpty, and many other creatures.

Alice goes through many little doors from one part of Wonderland to another. She often changes her size: sometimes she's very big, sometimes very small. In the book are many wonderful pictures.

The movie makes them all come to life, including a lot of songs. At the end, Alice sees that the Queen of Hearts and all her men are really just a deck of cards. She wakes up and realizes that Wonderland was really a dream.

Alice in Wonderland was written by an author who was also a mathematician. He also wrote another book about Alice called Through the Looking Glass. And he wrote a lot of mathematics books and papers.

Thursday, April 05, 2007


Snow on the Violets

Monday, April 02, 2007


Passover People

The king of Egypt a long time ago was called the Pharoah. Egypt is a very old country, and still is a real place. The Passover story tells a myth about things that happened there a long time ago. Israel, where the Jews lived, is also a real place quite near to Egypt. The Jews and the Egyptians are real, and the Pharoah is real, but many of the details of the story are myths. There is some history and some imagination in the story.

About 3000 years ago, the Jewish people left their homeland Israel and went to Egypt. At first the Jews in Egypt were ok, but after a while, the Pharoah made them work as slaves, and he would not let them leave Egypt. They had to build buildings with bricks and mortar. Maybe they built pyramids or palaces like the ones that you could still see in Egypt now. We eat pretend mortar called charoses at the Seder, and we have salt water to remember their tears and bitter herbs to remember their hard lives.

Moses was born in a Jewish family in Egypt at the time when Pharoah was making the Jews become slaves. (Remember, that was a very long time ago.) At the beginning of his life, Moses was adopted by Pharoah's family, and he grew up as a prince. But then Moses became a leader of the Jews and began to ask Pharoah to let the Jews be free and return to Israel. Pharoah kept saying NO.

Finally, after Moses kept asking for the Jews to be free, God made 10 plagues to force Pharoah to let the Jews leave Egypt. Plagues are very bad things like grasshoppers that eat all the crops, darkness in the daytime, and diseases that make everybody sick.

When the Jews were leaving, Pharoah and his army of Egyptian soldiers chased them. But the Red Sea parted, which meant that the Jews could get away between two big walls of water. Then Pharoah went back to Egypt and the Jews were free.

After they all escaped, Moses and the Jews were in the Sinai desert for 40 years, until they were able to get back to the land of Israel. Moses was a kind of magician, and he saw lots of magical things, like a bush that was on fire but didn't burn up. He went up a big mountain where he received an important law and history book for the Jewish people. The story of how Moses convinced Pharoah to let the Jews go free, led the Jews, and received the book is the Passover story we tell at the Seder. Freedom is the important idea of the Passover story. At the Seder, people sit on a cushion and lean back to show that they are free and not slaves.

Miriam was Moses's older sister. It was her idea to put baby Moses in a basket in the Nile River where the princesses went swimming. As Miriam had planned, the princess found Moses and decided to adopt him and raise him as a prince. Then Miriam told the princess that she had a nurse for Moses: it was their own mother. So his real mother and sister took care of him even though he was adopted.

When the Jewish people went through the Red Sea escaping from Pharoah, Miriam sang and played on her tambourine. Then Moses, Miriam, and all the Jews were in the desert for 40 years, and had to wander from place to place. Miriam had a magic well that gave them water to drink wherever they stopped. With the water from the magic well they also ate magic food called manna, which came from the sky.

Miriam and Moses had a brother named Aaron. He also helped Moses lead the Jewish people out of Egypt and through the desert to Israel. He helped them when they were baking the first matzohs to carry with them out of Egypt when they escaped, and he helped them when they were wandering around. When Moses was on the mountain, Aaron was their leader.

Elijah the Prophet
Many years after Moses, another great leader in Israel was named Elijah. He told the people a lot of important things so he is called a Prophet. The myth about Elijah is that he never died, but stays alive forever. He walks around everywhere in the world, and he checks if people are doing good deeds. At the end of the Seder we put a cup of wine on the table for Elijah and go and open the door. Maybe he will come in and drink the wine. If he does there will be peace on earth.

Sunday, April 01, 2007


Bicycles and Ballet

Miriam is learning new skills, and we saw her doing lots of things when we visited this weekend. In tap and ballet class she practiced a lot of steps with her class. Alice also takes ballet and tap, but we didn't get to visit her class this trip.

After class, we all went to Dairy Queen for lunch. Miriam, Alice, Gabi, Zion, and Kelley had their own table.

Miriam also made lots of progress on her bike, and can ride all the way around the playground.

It was fun to visit Miriam and Alice all weekend.


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