Sunday, January 19, 2020

Elizabeth V Roach

"Who is this girl? She's on her way somewhere.  Didn't she have time to comb her hair?"
"Well, it's not tangled, so maybe it will settle down pretty when she stops running. She  has a mischievous, intent  look about her. She is going somewhere but her hair is going somewhere else!  I call her Two-way Tessie." 

Two-way Tessie
 sometimes looks messy.
but she also knows
how to be dressy,
when the days
are not too stressy.

Friday, August 31, 2018

Help a child choose good friends!

For ages  8 to 12
FROM FRIENDS TO SAINTS presents the stories of five Saints. Each one knew how to make friends. Some were  born to biracial parents.  Some were born in one country, and served in another.  Among them, some were well off; others were poor. One was an orphan, one a lawyer, one a barber, another a soldier. Some were immigrants.   Some had exciting travel experiences, others loved to dance and sing and play the guitar. All of them loved God and the poor.  Read the stories and discover where they found their friends.

Monday, August 27, 2018

Saturday, March 3, 2018

Boys and girls from 2 to 8 will delight in the pictures and antics of Elephant Joan and her adventures with a cell phone. The story by Elizabeth V. Roach and the illustrations by Peggy Dawson combine to provide a child with early experience of respect for the environment and its inhabitants.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Gift for America


“Good  Morning, Christopher!” the tutor in a Catholic school said.
Christopher was a new student, six years old, in First Grade. He needed help with English, his second language. This was his first meeting with the tutor.
Christopher didn’t answer the tutor. He looked unhappy.
The tutor greeted him in Spanish.  .
When he still didn’t answer, the teacher asked if something was the matter.
“Don’t you feel well?  Are you sick?  Does something hurt?” She asked in English and in Spanish.
Christopher’s bottom lip trembled. He tried hard to hold back the tears.
At last, the words burst out.
 “The teacher screamed at me because I can’t read,” he said. The teacher was not his regular teacher, but a  substitute who came occasionally.
Now, the new tutor promised she would never scream at him. Together they did the lesson. He seemed happier when she took him back to his classroom.
Each day, Christopher and the new tutor met. His English improved rapidly.
Then, one day, Christopher, didn’t seem to want to begin the class. He looked pensive.
The tutor asked, “Is something the matter?”
Christopher struggled to say  all the words correctly.  “You know that teacher who yelled at me? She doesn’t yell anymore, because I can read. I asked jesus to help me, and he did!”
As the tutor got to know Christopher, she came to love him. He was such a thoughtful six year old. 
One day, Christopher came to the class with a puzzled look on his little face. He had just come from Religion Class.  He looked up at the tutor and asked, “What was before God?”
The tutor tried to answer, but she was amazed at the profound question six-year-old Christopher asked.
When she got home that night, she had supper with her family.
She told them about Christopher and his question. 
Her husband said,  “How fortunate we are that so many people from other countries come to America. Christopher is a gift. If he can ask questions like this at six, imagine what he will contribute to our country as he learns more and more.
“We have a deep thinker in this little child. We need to give thanks to God that he has led him here.” 
The tutor’s children bowed their heads as their father and mother prayed and gave thanks for Christopher and the gifts immigrants bring to America.
Then, they played a game to see who could name famous immigrants who have been gifts to America. 

They named scientists, doctors, statespersons and many others.  Can you name some?

Leoh Ming Pei: architect of East Wing of National Gallery, Washinton DC
Madeline Albright, Secretary of State
Albert Einstein,  Physicist
John Muir,  Naturalist
Joseph Pulitzer,  newspaper publisher

Felix Frankfurter, Supreme Court Justice

©photo & story Elizabeth V Roach 2017

Friday, January 8, 2016

Keeping Track of Time

             Nobody wants to waste time. Some save time. Others buy time. Some kill time.
Older people will tell you time flies.  Others say, time is money. Teenagers find time hangs heavy on their hands.  What is time? Do you ever wonder how people came to say such strange things about time?

Astronomers, physicists, and many others have been trying to solve the mystery of time for thousands of years.  Astronomers study the stars. Physicists want to know how and when time began. Accurate timekeeping is important for everyone from athletes to heart surgeons.

Twenty-thousand years ago, when no one had ever heard of minutes, hours or seconds, people noticed that the sun came up every day and the moon every night. They scratched lines and made little holes on wood and even on bones to keep track of time. They were the first time detectives gathering evidence.

Five thousand years ago Sumerians were a people who lived in what is present day Iraq. They watched the sun, the moon and the stars. From their studies they made a calendar with thirty-day months. Instead of twenty-four hour days, they divided the daylight into twelve parts.

Later, in Egypt, other people noticed a special star. It appeared every year, when the Nile River began to overflow and flood their land.  They invented a calendar with 365 days. The year they did that is called the first year of recorded history. Today we call that 4326 B.C.

Egyptians around 3500 B.C. built four-sided, tall, slender posts that tapered to a point at the top. We call these obelisks. The Egyptians watched the shadows their obelisks cast. The shadow moved from one side of the obelisk to the other as the day went on. Time detectives had discovered noon. At one time of year, the shadow was longer. At another time, the shadow was shorter. That longest shadow fell on the shortest day.  The shortest shadow fell on the longest day..
By the year 2000 B.C. the Sumerians and their culture had disappeared. Babylonians then living in Iraq knew nothing of the Sumerian inventions. They didn’t know about the thirty-day months the Sumerians had developed. So, the Babylonians divided the year into twelve alternating months. One month had 29 days and the next one had 30 days. Their calendar had 354 days.
Even before the Babylonians made their calendar, the Mayan people, in Central America, were watching Venus, the morning star. They had two different systems for measuring a year. For some, the year had 260 days. For others, a year had 365 days. Mayans kept detailed records of their studies. They came to believe that time began in the year 3113 B.C.  Eventually, their time studies became part of the Aztec System. The Aztecs became famous as time detectives. They recorded important events on large stones.  Some of these stones still exist.
Having a calendar helped a lot. Farmers could predict the times of the year when certain crops should be planted. Celebrations could be scheduled, and plans could be made for special occasions during the year.
 Soon people also wanted to plan their day as well as the year. So, they invented sundials. Egyptians probably made the first one.  It was made of a bar of wood or stone with a slightly higher crossbar at one end. The higher crossbar cast a shadow on the lower, longer bar.
Time detectives marked the places where the sun’s shadow fell for each hour, and even the minutes. Some sundials were very elegantly carved in stone. Even today sundials are used in many places.  They come in all shapes and sizes.

A sundial has two main parts. The face and the gnomon. The face is the flat part. The gnomon is the element that casts the shadow. To correctly tell the time, the gnomon has to point to the North Pole, or in the Southern Hemisphere to the South Pole.
Some sundials are huge and built in town squares. Others can be seen on the walls of buildings. A famous one in Milan has the form of a ship. 
In Frankfort, Kentucky, a sundial honors the veterans from Kentucky who lost their lives in the Vietnam War.  It is built so that, the shadow falls on the name and date of each war hero’s  anniversary of death. Located in a plaza that overlooks the State Capitol, it also tells time and serves as a huge solar calendar.
Over the centuries, time detectives worked hard to calculate the correct time.  Eventually,  they invented clocks. They tried water clocks, and. mechanical clocks with pendulums. Today we have quartz, computer chip, and even atomic clocks.

. For centuries, time was measured according to the earth’s movements around the sun, but clocks always had to be corrected. The “detectives” found the clocks could be slightly ahead or behind the sun’s time.  This is because the earth’s axis is slightly tilted and our planet follows an elliptical  route around the sun. Today, international agreements determine what time it is all over the world

Atomic clocks give us a very precise time. They depend on the natural frequency of the Cesium atom. Time detectives at the U.S. Naval Observatory say atomic clocks are still off by one millionth of a second per year.

Physicists have discovered many things about time. The Big Bang Theory tells us that the world is about 14 billion years old. But is that when time began?

The earth continues to twirl through the heavens. Astronomers discover black holes, new particles, and many other wonderful aspects of our world.  Physicists calculate their meaning; geologists examine the earth, and astronauts take photos. Yet, time still holds many mysteries! Do you think about time?  What is it for? Do you like time to yourself? Do you spend time with others? How do you use time?
To learn more about sundials: Look for the North American Sundial Society on the Internet.

You will find a list of sundials in most USA States and some other countries, too.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Story Telling

photo by Shirley King


             Many eons ago, people  sat around a fire on a cold winter nights. They listened to a story. On summer evenings they did the same. On lakeside, beach, mountain, desert  or river bank, it didn’t matter. Stories were remembered, invented, created. Young and old enjoyed listening.
             People have gathered to hear stories for thousands of years.  The first storytellers had only their voices, their memories, and their imagination, but their stories were cherished, remembered and passed on.  Stories were told before pencils, books, television, radio, computers, tablets or cell phones were even imagined.
.           The Story Teller was a special person in the community. His or her task was not only to entertain, but to answer big questions. Humans have always had big questions to wonder about.
            They wondered about the big fireball in the sky. Why did it appear every day and go away every night?  They watched that other light, too. They wondered why that big silver light came in the night. Why did it come sometimes as a silver crescent, and other times as a complete round disk?
            Whenever people wondered about mysterious events in their lives, they hoped the storyteller would help them understand it. 
            Story Tellers were special. They had to remember every detail of the story and be able to invent new stories. To be a story teller was a special calling.
            As time went on, story tellers, discovered they could draw their stories on the walls of caves. Later, people who wanted to remember stories made paper from papyrus. Papyrus was a plant with fibers that could be woven together. Story tellers learned to use thorns, and tips of feathers to write on paper with vegetable dyes,
            Other story tellers used clay tablets. Papyrus and clay tablets could be carried and shared with others.  Stories were passed on for hundreds of years in this way.     
            Then, in 1440, a German man, named Johannes Gutenberg, invented a machine that printed letters on paper. The first dated book known had been printed in China, but Gutenberg’s  Press launched modern printing. Stories were available for reading by many, many people. More and more people learned not only to tell stories, but to read then, too.
            Later, radio and television brought stories to even more people.
            Today, we have computers, tablets, cell phones and many varieties of these. Many more people have access to stories.
            Now we know many facts about that fireball, the sun, and the night light, we call the moon. But there are still many big questions which scientists still wonder about. Story tellers still try to answer them.  In fact, some of our modern inventions were first spoken of by story tellers and then invented by others who thought about the ideas of the story tellers.
            Leonardo Da Vinci, a famous artist, in the 1480’s, watched how birds flew. He thought there was a way for people to fly. He put his thoughts and drawings in notebooks which are still read today.
Chester Greenwood, a 13-year old boy in Farmington, Maine, thought about how cold his ears got while he ice skated. He made little ear covers for his ears. At first, his friends laughed at him. Then, they noticed that, he played outside long after their cold ears sent them inside. Later, Chester obtained a patent and made his fortune on ear muffs
Many people tell stories today. Sports announcers tell us the stories of games and athletes. News reporters tell us stories of what is happening in our world.
Authors and writers create stories to entertain us. These stories are called fiction.
Stories can be about things that are going on right now or that have happened in the past. When the story is about one of these events or people, or things, they are called Nonfiction.
While fiction may not mention the name or tell the details of an event as it happened, fiction often tells us very important truths.  For example, if you want to read a story about how life actually was when Charles Dickens, a great writer, was alive, read A Christmas Carol, or David Copperfield.   Mr. Dickens lived then. Terrible things happened to poor people. He might have gotten into trouble, been put in jail or even put to death if he gave the names and addresses of people who were responsible for the awful things that happened.  Instead he created fiction stories. Everybody understood what he was writing, even though he did not mention actual names and addresses.
In the United States of America we are very fortunate because we have freedom of the press. Mr. Gutenberg made the first “press.”  Since then there have been many new kinds of printing presses. However, when we refer to the freedom to write, we call it freedom of the press. That is any type of written material that anyone distributes.
If the story, news report or whatever is spoken, then the person is exercising freedom of speech, too.
These rights are very important. What is said to be nonfiction must be factually true. We cannot use our freedom of speech to lie about anyone, or misrepresent what has happened.
Fiction writers can create a story about actual events, but they may not name actual people or cite events, actions, or situations. They have to change names, addresses, and sometimes even the event.  Nevertheless, they can tell the story, just as Mr. Dickens and many other authors have by creating names, places, events.
My book SECRET MELODY is an example of fiction based on actual events. I could create the story because it is well known that people are fleeing from terrorists, that child immigrants are being brought across borders, I told the story of a boy and girl who were separated from their parents by terrorists, how it happened and what happened to them. I did not name the terrorists. The children had fictional names. Their adventures were described without giving names of actual people.
I like being a storyteller.  Storytelling continues today as it began eons ago. Let’s create stories that will entertain and inspire others on cold winter nights and on warm summer days. Stories can delight us, cheer us up when we are sad, and help us think about this wonderful world. Write a story today!