Professor Sharon

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A sneak peek at some of our recent hikes in the UK

October 10th, 2016 · photo of the week, retirement, Site Seeing, travel, Walking

We just returned from a trip with Road Scholar hiking some of the UK – the Cotswolds and Cornwall in particular. It was challenging and wonderful. With 3000 pictures to sort out, I can only provide a sneak peek for now!

The first three photos are along the Coast Path in Cornwall. Stunning scenery, challenging ups and downs, and the smell of the sea. hike1



This is in the Cotswolds where we often walked through sheep fields, horse fields, cow fields, along village streets, over stiles and through some woods. hike4


Any BBC fans out there? You might recognize this house! Hint: has to do with a certain Doc! hike7

Tintagel — the supposed birthplace of King Arthur — what a huge climb this was…this is just part of the stairs and the hills…hike8

My hiking hubby….hike6

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Van Gogh sleeps…

March 9th, 2016 · Art, Museums, Site Seeing, travel

Cross posted from

Or at least his bedroom is in Chicago…   On the last Thursday of February, hubby and I stopped by the Art Institute of Chicago.

I say stopped by because we were on a break between trains on our way from San Francisco to Springfield, MA via Amtrak.   What a great opportunity to spend a few hours in a museum instead of a lounge.  (P.S.  Think about it — when’s the last time you decided it was “easy” to get out of and back into the airport when you had a layover of three or more hours?)  When you ride Amtrak, you can come and go pretty easily.  We were in a sleeper car, so there’s a nice lounge with bag check, restrooms, and free non-alcoholic drinks.  Although, next time you are in Union Station, check out the new lounge they have for others riding Amtrak through Chicago.  We went to look it over and were welcomed in and given a tour – great publicity by the way.

But, back to Van Gogh.

As the museum site recommends, try to go see this amazing exhibit at a slower time.  We just happened to be there on a Thursday afternoon, from about 3 or so to just about 5:30 and the exhibit had no line to get in.  And while there were plenty of folks in the exhibit, it really was slower and you were able to see the works, the videos and the information posted very easily.

The exhibit, titled Van Gogh’s Bedrooms, explores, in particular, the three paintings of his bedroom in Arles.  They are united for the first time.  Although, I don’t recall if the exhibit mentions whether they were ever, in fact, in one place since they were painted over the course of a year in two different locations.

There is a life size reproduction of his bedroom to stand near (although not quite in) to both give you perspective on the room and the view from which he painted it.   There have been several articles that on Airbnb you could rent his bedroom, but my search on Airbnb didn’t turn it up.   When we were in the exhibit, we thought perhaps you could rent that one, although it didn’t seem that really would be possible, or that pleasant!

The exhibit is well laid out, with videos of the scientific results of closely looking at all three and what that revealed.  There are 36 other works of his on display related to his life and these three versions of his painting.  There is adequate, but not overwhelming information alongside the items on display.   The curators have included a great timeline of his whole life, and how many places, and beds, he slept in.  Although I’ve seen many of his pieces before, in other museums or special exhibitions, I was really struck by the fact that he picked up a brush at 27, and died 10 years later!  What  a mark he made in his short life as an artist!

Also on display are a few of his tools of the tradeDSCN9585 for those interested.

Even if you are unable to get there – and I would highly recommend try to as this is its only venue in the United States — at least explore what the Art Institute has posted online of the exhibit. It’s family friendly – and actually, I think children would find it very interesting to see the versions of the pieces and the full size bedroom.

A fascinating look into the workings of one artist who seems to always fascinate us.

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With a camel at the San Francisco at the Asian Art Museum…….

March 2nd, 2016 · Art, Museums, photo of the week, retirement, Site Seeing, travel

I owe so many posts to my blog!  I’ve traveled quite a bit since retirement – and boy do I need to talk about retirement – and haven’t written much up.  But recently, we spent a good deal of February in San Francisco with our son, and this is one of the stops we always make when we are there.

Although we have visited this museum several times when in San Francisco, it’s too bad I didn’t get a review here until now — because you’ve been missing out on a wonderful place to spend a few hours or the whole day.

Their permanent exhibits explain what “Asia” is, divides the rooms – on two floors – into geographical areas, and contains items large and small and all magnificent to look and learn.

Their temporary exhibits are just exceptional.  In the past we’ve seen some amazing items.  The curators put up just enough signage to teach you something but not too much to keep you from enjoying the item on its own.  And, I always say just enjoy them on your own – it’s okay not to read everything posted in a museum!

On our recent visit in late February, the museum was in between temporary exhibits and getting ready to celebrate their 50th anniversary.   So we spent the whole afternoon wandering the permanent exhibits.  One of my absolute favorite pieces in every museum I have been in (and that’s a lot of them folks!) is this….unfortunately, once again I forgot to take a picture of the note explaining its origins.

A gorgeous camel

We haven’t tried the cafe in several visits, as a few years ago, during our first try, we did not enjoy it.  A very long line, inefficient service, and high price for the food.  But, please, if you’ve recently enjoyed the cafe, please make a comment here and let others know, or check TripAdvisor for current feedback.

It’s easy to get to this museum, especially with Uber or a taxi.  We’ve even walked there or taken a bus.  On a nice day, there’s places to sit in the surrounds to soak in some sun and picnic on a sandwich you brought with you, or just people watch.

Do check out the gift shop!  It’s a lovely collection of buyable art – large and small, very expensive to little trinkets for the children.

If you’re in San Francisco with or without flowers in your hair, stop by.


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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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