Professor Sharon

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Be a traveler, not a tourist.

December 7th, 2015 · Art, Education, Museums, Musings, Teaching & Learning, travel

“The traveler sees what he sees. The tourist sees what he has come to see.”  G.K. Chesterton


Just a couple of months ago, in September, hubby and I enjoyed an amazing trip with Odysseys Unlimited to Eastern Europe.  I had wanted to post each day while on our trip, but evening tiredness, and really slow connections put me off the project on a regular basis during the first few days, so I decided to just wait until the doldrums of winter here in New England set in to get some postings up!

As we usually do, we enjoyed several museums in the countries we visited, some with the organized tour, and whenever possible, we would go off on our own to visit others.

However, some of the best art is often out of doors!  And, in Prague, we found two (of many) very interesting sculptures.  One pretty large and obvious; and the other not so obvious.

Lots of people strolling by would stop and look for a moment or two at this fascinating every moving head — never longer.  Kafka’s Head


The other, although the street below was pretty busy with foot traffic, did not create much looking up until they noticed we were looking up!   “Hanging Out”

DSCN2277Search a bit on your own, and the internet offers many articles about outdoor sculptures in whatever city you might be touring, including these two pieces.

My point?  That I am always fascinated by the tourist who walks about the area – any area they are sightseeing in, and by the way, have generally paid a good deal of money to walk about in — who doesn’t stop to really enjoy the art.  Discuss it, wonder at it, ponder the message, argue the silliness or effectiveness of the message you think the artist might want you to understand, form an opinion.

Please do more than walk by, look for a second, and declare it “stupid,” “interesting,” or “weird.”  Try thinking – it’s a fascinating thing to do while you are a tourist.


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Children and electronics

November 30th, 2015 · Children, Education, family, Grandparents, Musings, Play

I’d like to get a longer post together with some research supporting why it’s really important for parents to control the amount of screen time their young children are exposed to in their early learning years.

In the meantime, please consider listening to or reading this excellent opinion piece from Paula Poundstone on

Electronics and kids’ brains don’t mix


Stay tuned!


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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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