Professor Sharon

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Quote of the week: “… dive in.”

March 13th, 2015 · Books, Musings, Quote of the Week

“Ask yourself what you’re not doing now that you’d do on the last day of your life.  Take the time you have now to look at your priorities through new eyes before reality forces you to.  Imagine yourself in that last year, six months, month, day.  Listen to your longings.  Ask yourself, What am I waiting for?  And when you realize the correct answer is, Nothing, dive in.”

Women, Food & God  Geneen Roth  (no relation to the blog author)

floating in the Dead Sea on a cool January day in 2008

floating in the Dead Sea on a cool January day in 2008

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River Cruising in France

March 12th, 2015 · photo of the week, travel, Website of the Week

I noticed a new posting by a great travel site, Gonomad, on river cruising in 2015.   In 2008, hubby and I took a river cruise in France with the Avalon company.  It was our first river cruise, and part of our four month sabbatical.  And the most expensive part of our sabbatical, and a bit of a splurge on our part!  But in planning the entire trip, we found ourselves at the bottom of France, near Figueres, Spain needing to get to Paris to find our way back to the US on the Queen Mary, and a river cruise seemed a delightful way to go there.

Our ship -- don't remember its name...

Our ship — don’t remember its name…

We were told, then, that this particular river cruise was new to Avalon as well as it was only the second time the ship had made the cruise.  We enjoyed it on the whole.  We were not fans of being served German food on a French river cruise, and found the many “extras” we had to pay for a bit over the top.  The staff were great, the captain delightful and very accessible, the accommodations very nice.

A portion of our room, and a great view....

A portion of our room, and a great view….

Although on the first night, our room became full of a noxious odor and we had to go to the main lobby and get someone to air it out while we sat on deck – noone ever apologized for that.  ALthough as we were still a month or more from reaching home, we didn’t complain either, so who knows.  I always wonder, however, why it’s the only company that has never sent us any sales literature!  And, we even signed a form on that cruise and had a film crew on board most of the time because supposedly they were creating a sales video.

A sight from one of the excursions on land...

A sight from one of the excursions on land…

But from the Gonomad article, it looks as though they have in the ensuing years refined their food, and excursions and created themes.  Small ships are definitely lovely ways to meet new people and see the world.

My advice to you, and myself, is to do more research next time.  Four months of living in other countries involves a lot of planning, and so I was relieved to spend a week or more on a small ship and let others plan.  But, in hindsight, I wish I had done some more research into companies, cost of extras, and more.

I don’t know when, or what company, but I do want to try another river cruise somewhere in the world.

Evening entertainment on board one night...

Evening entertainment on board one night…

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Life Lesson: Laughter and life and enjoyment

March 9th, 2015 · Lesson Learned

Mom & Dad at Halloween one year

Mom & Dad at Halloween one year

They did have fun. It usually involved other adults. Friends, male friends of my father’s, or if it was women, their wives. Mostly the women were a certain one or two of my mother’s five sisters.

Drinking was always involved, music on the turntable – the turntable was part of the large piece of furniture-besides a couch and an overstuffed arm chair – Dad’s of course – in the room. It had a television in it and fancy things on top that always seemed to need dusting.

The fun was often – at least that’s what it seemed to a kid – in our parlor. An apartment with one bathroom, a kitchen with a table for six, three bedrooms and a parlor was it. If the numbers of adults was big enough, the women hung out in the kitchen, and the men in the parlor with the women obeying orders to keep the beers and chips coming.

The children were shooed out of doors in good weather and during the day, off to the kitchen or bedrooms, or even to bed otherwise. Why did they think we couldn’t hear them? Some of our beds weren’t more than a dozen or so feet away through a strange fabric accordion door. Maybe they knew that enough of their talk wasn’t understandable by us. Most of the time, they were probably right, and so too, they knew we wouldn’t even pay attention. I didn’t – except for the laughter.

These were the times they laughed the loudest. The small toddler and young children’s antics would sometimes evoke laugh, but I knew it was different from the belly guffawing, slapping each other’s arms and doing jigs laughter. There were times that the laughter frightened me more than made me smile. The laughter I liked was when I could scoot out there and ask, “What’s so funny?” Depending on their moods, I might get a “Get back to bed!” Or someone would explain. I didn’t always get it, but it was information I would more or less figure out and add to my store of knowledge about life.

This night, though, they actually giggled as they got dressed to go to the Halloween party at the veteran’s club. Dad was sure the wig would completely tell anyone who was unsure that he was Tiny Tim. Mom, being Mom, took care with her outfit to be Tiny Tim’s girlfriend – the one he married on Johnny Carson’s Tonight Show. She knew love beads and jewelry would set her apart. Mom loved a good party, Dad enjoyed the company of people – don’t think he cared one way or other what the gathering was called. He made no bones about the idea that working hard put you in the right way to play hard.

I always wanted to know them as teenagers before five children made them work harder than they wanted to.

Today, the remembrance of the laughter of two people who had hard lives, the sunshine and warmer temperature outdoors after a really harsh winter, and a temporary disappointment of a canceled fun event remind me – remind my heart, my mind and my soul that these are the sweets of life.

Dad was right – you can’t have it all, but when you’ve got it, enjoy it like hell, because it’ll be a while before you get it again!

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Spring, hope, peace, walk…

March 6th, 2015 · Quote of the Week

“Hope is like a road in the country; there wasn’t ever a road, but when many people walk on it, the road comes into existence.”  Lin Yutang


Here in New England, we hope for spring’s arrival.  We know it will come, yet when new corners of the house leak because the ice dam won’t give, and we didn’t pound the snow often enough to make getting to the compost easier, and the children are overly noisy because even they want to be out without fourteen layers of clothing on, and another dinner of hot soup just doesn’t seem appealing, we work hard to remember.

Here in New England, we hope for world peace.  We worry about our world wide neighbors who don’t have enough silence, smiles and food, about the children down the road living in hotels because our state can’t seem to find them housing, about our government because most of our legislators seem to have forgotten they work for us and we’re too tired to remind them, we work hard to remember.

Here in New England, and elsewhere, we need to bring that soup to someone who needs it, write a letter to our legislators to remind them, and smile at everyone – and I mean everyone – you walk by.

Make the road.  Walk the road.  In its own way, spring and peace will come.



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Photo of the week: grammas and board games

March 4th, 2015 · Grandparents, Musings, photo of the week

Gramma Donlon - around 1961

Gramma Donlon – around 1961

I posted recently about one grandmother; here’s the other – my father’s mother.  We shared a birthday date, and I realized recently that on several occasions a gift was given that the two of us would share.  This, I think, was one of a few board games I remember playing with her.  She and I particularly enjoyed Chinese checkers (Here’s a blog that seems a fairly accurate compilation of what this game is, in case you don’t know!).

She was an interesting woman.  Very tall, thick glasses, and what seemed, at times to a little girl, a bit harsh.  She wanted, as mothers are wont, the best for her children.  She had two sons and a daughter.  In retrospect, I believe she is the person who taught me a lot about manners and courtesy.

I learned as an adult that her daughter was jilted at the altar – I don’t really know if that’s true; although one photo exists of her standing with a soldier gentleman.  My aunt lived with gramma until she was moved to a nursing home at her life’s end.  She then helped my father raise my two brothers when my mother choose to live a different lifestyle.

One of her sons, my father, married a woman she didn’t care for at all.  And, she left us all know it — but even so, she welcomed our visits and we slept there several times when our parents were having rough times.  She only lived about two blocks from us.

We always thought her Irish, but there is some proof that she was, in fact, English; but that’s another many hours of research for me to pursue, and I hope to complete it one day.

Last night I played “Go, Fish” with my own granddaughter.  Most of us who are grandparents remark frequently about the quick passage of time.  This little child who was feeling the effects of a bad cold was delighted to sit and play this game for nearly an hour.  As I followed her lead and enjoyed her smiles and laughter when she beat me (and I didn’t let her), looked outside at the falling snow, and remembered my own little girlness…..that’s what is life, isn’t it?

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