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Since candles were "expensive, the glowing fire in the fireplace was often the only source of light. People cooked meals in the fireplace, and smoke drifted around the room. Sometimes it was hard to breathe, and the walls became covered with black soot.

Tortoises from the Galapagos Islands have tailormade shells. On lush green islands, the tortoises have gently curving shells that don't get in the way when they're eating. But on islands where food is high up a branch, their shells have grooves behind the neck for easier high-rise eating.

Books were always part of her childhood memories. The whole family loved to read, either aloud to others or to themselves. In Atchison, there was a large library in the judge's house. Meely spent hours reading the novels of Scott and Dickens, as well as bound volumes of magazines for young people and children's books.

Oxygen and nitrogen together make 99 percent of the atmosphere. Only the top two to three centimeters (about one inch) of our room is left for other gases. These are called trace gases. They include methane, neon, helium, hydrogen, ozone, argon and, most important, carbon dioxide, which plants absorb and use for growth.

I went to the window to see if Grandfather was in the garden. This garden was the pride and joy of his life. It was he who gave the gardeners their orders, scolded when a tree had not been properly pruned, was lavish with his praise when an ailing plant was saved. "Remember, children," he would say to my cousins and me, "remember that there is always some good in people who love flowers."