Parenthood and Sesame Street

Parenthood and Sesame Street

Parenthood and Sesame Street

When I was raising my three children ( we have two daughters and a son), we were a nuclear family, not an extended family–no aunt or uncle or grandparent lived with us. For the time period we were pretty typical–I stayed home with the children and my husband commuted to his work in Chicago five days a week. I loved parenting, I thrived on it. That’s why as the girls got older, I convinced my husband to have another child and our son was born when I was in my forties. I believe having children keeps you young–but today I simply want to talk about and thank Sesame Street.

If I needed an extended hand of some sort to help me while raising my children–take a shower, finish a chore or have a few moments to myself–it was Sesame Street, offered by The Children’s Television Network, broadcast in those days on PBS Channel Eleven in Chicago. For years and even up to the present, all of my children can quote Ernie and Bert, Elmo and The Count or remember various film clips that taught them things–one of their favorite being “there goes another lobster trap.” Don’t ask me why–it was probably the accent of the speaker, but that’s what Sesame Street was–this world that came into our home and became a familiar friend, teaching and entertaining–often better than some babysitters.

Yes, Sesame Street taught ABCs and numbers, but it also taught how to write a story with a beginning middle and end, helped children travel to places they might never see–in our case from the plains of the Midwest to the Atlantic Ocean (lobster traps), mountains, the Arctic and more. The world came into our family room in the form of music of different cultures and dance forms (Savion Glover tapped away on Sesame Street while rhyming.My son was enthralled.

As a bonus, Sesame Street consistently created humor for any parent or guardian watching. There were jokes and puns that children might not get right away, but over the years when they themselves were parenting–that aha moment would come, making the experience joyful all over again. (Why are the two pals called Ernie and Bert? Maybe because of the two pals in the famous film It’s A Wonderful Life!)

Recently a documentary about Sesame Street was released: Muppet Guy Talking–Secrets Behind the Show the Whole World Watched. It provides an intimate view of Jim Henson, the brains and genius behind the Muppets. Though it wasn’t his goal, Henson got into puppeteering on a local television show while in college. Enamored of the skill, he finished college, studying art and theater design and then producing Sam and Friends (a puppet show) for six years. Assisting him was a fellow student named Jane Nebel, whom he married in 1959.

For thousands of years people have created various types of puppets–but Henson’s was the new kid on the block. At that time, most hand puppets had solid heads (think Kukla and Ollie) but Kermit’s face was made to be malleable so he could move his mouth in synchronization with his speech. He could also draw the viewer in because his arms were attached to rods that moved more like those of a marionette. Henson once said that in order for a puppet to work on television, it had to have “life and sensitivity.” Thus was born the Muppets.

Henson made period appearances with these puppets on the Today Show, until he was invited to work with creator Joan Ganz Cooney on Sesame Street. He hesitated, not certain that he wanted to become a children’s entertainer. But Bert, Ernie, Big Bird, Grover and all the other Sesame Street puppets became the core of the show. Children LOVED them. I loved them.

In the documentary, Frank Oz talks about Henson’s genius–and reminds us not to call them children’s shows. “I’m going to ask you a question, what is a children’s film versus an adult’s film? I maintain that kids can handle more than people think. I don’t know how to perform for kids. In my opinion what happens when one performs for kids is one talks down to kids. And kids, anybody, they want to reach up. So we just do what we as adults think is fun and it will come through!”

After Henson joined Sesame Street, few would disagree that it was primarily Bert and Ernie, Big Bird, Grover and the rest who made Sesame Street so captivating. Joan Ganz Cooney once remarked that the group involved had a collective genius but that Henson was the individual genius. “He was our era’s Charlie Chaplin, Mae West, W.C. Fields and Marx Brothers, and indeed he drew from all of them to create a new art form that influenced popular culture around the world.”

Fran Brill, a puppeteer in the documentary, talked about the joys of working with a Muppet. “…it’s easier in a way to become a completely different character when you have a puppet on your arm. I would never get cast in a lot of things, as a three-year-old princess or a lot of the characters we came up with. Which was the fun of it. You’re more flexible as a puppeteer, but I still think a lot of the best puppeteers are good actors.”

The premiere of the film and the interviews with Oz, Brill and others took place a few days before the proposed federal budget was announced that would slash funding to the arts and public broadcasting. I am sure Jim Henson would be devastated. The core values that Sesame Street taught my children and millions of others are necessary for creating good citizens of our country–kindness, empathy and understanding. Try teaching or controlling ten, twenty, hundreds, thousands of human beings who don’t have ANY or few of those qualities. CHAOS. And in our world today when many families must have both parents work, Sesame Street can be that extension, that helper for growing children.

Jim Henson’s death at an early age was a great loss for all children and for adults as well. A TIME article about his life states: Henson was a kind, infinitely patient man. Those who worked for him say he literally never raised his voice. Frank Oz, the puppeteer behind Bert, Miss Piggy and many others, was Henson’s partner for 27 years. “Jim was not perfect, but I’ll tell you something–he was as close to how you’re supposed to behave toward other people as anyone I’ve ever known.” In 1990, at age 53, Henson died very suddenly after contracting an aggressive form of pneumonia.

Jim Henson and all the Muppets and their puppeteers gave my family hours of laughter, education and just profound good feelings. Children soak up what they are exposed to–the quality and gifts of Sesame Street have helped form good friends, students, lovers and parents. The lessons taught on Sesame Street were potent and unforgettable. Quoting TIME again: Henson may influence the next century as much as this one, as his viewers grow up carrying his vision.

Thanks to TIME MAGAZINE, Jim Henson: The TV Creator

Photo Credits: Muppet Wiki, Good Housekeeping

Michelle Obama with Elmo and can anyone help me with the name of the other Muppet??

Parenthood and Sesame Street

How To Unstick Those File Drawers of Memory

How To Unstick Those File Drawers of Memory

When traveling to certain places, we move forward with our bodies and backwards in our memories. In other words, we advance into the past. These are the words of essayist Andres Neuman. Sometimes when I am reading, a sentence like this will strike me and I just want to explore it. Haven’t you found that going to a place, eating a certain food, encountering an old piece of clothing sparks and charges your memory? Suddenly you are in a place, looking at the past from where you stand in the present. It has to be the place, food, clothing etc that quickly opens the file drawer where your memory was stored.

Today John and I took a very familiar walk to the duck pond near our home. Maybe because I was thinking about this post, I was suddenly transported back to the ducks swimming on Dolphin Lake in Homewood, Illinois. The visit that stands out was one my husband captured in photographs–our two daughters feeding the ducks. Did that help store the memory? I think so.

Profound feelings of satisfaction filled me during that duck pond visit long ago. The sun was disappearing in the west, the water changing colors because of time of day and the ripples the ducks created in their excitement–food!  As parents we knew we were doing something ordinary, but the faces of our children told us that these were moments they would remember.

(I need to mention at this point that memory is a double-edged sword. I’m very aware of that. Recent research reveals that post-traumatic-stress-disorder,  PTSD, is all about memory–a very negative experience of being dragged back to a place a person does not want to be. It’s powerful and hard to cure. The file drawers of bad memory easily open and there are reasons for that.)

But today, let’s focus on the positive things we can all do to improve memory. Again, the brain is a powerful file cabinet that stores all of our experience. Often being in a new environment can get our synapses to spark even more–so that the storage of memory is enhanced. The drawer opens quickly and the memory is spread out before us–like my vision of our daughters feeding the ducks.

According to Carolyn Gregoire who writes for the Huffington Post, there are other things we can do to keep those file drawers from sticking (takes time for the memory to come) or from opening all together (we totally forget).

  • if you are a visual learner, take advantage of that; visualize the FOUR BEATLES if you have to be somewhere at 4:00 o’clock; I don’t have a photographic memory, but when studying in nursing school I could often remember details of a disease process, let’s say, by remembering where that list was on the printed page.
  • brain games like Lumosity, Suduko and crossword puzzles are credited with their ability to make memory more supple and fine tuned.
  • the Method of Loci or the “memory palace” was Cicero’s tool for enhancing memory. In this technique, you memorize the layout of some building or geographical entity and then assign to each place a memory. (if it were a street of shops, each shop holds one memory) Retrieval of items is achieved by ‘walking’ through the places you have established. Visualizing those places will activate what you need to remember.
  • Baker-Baker. Remembering a person’s name won’t work as well as remembering what he or she does for a living. The test case was used with the name, BAKER. People associated images of baking like pans and measuring cups–more things to help remember the name. A med student applied this principle using the story of Lance Armstrong to remember complex and detailed information about chemotherapy; Armstrong was the “hook” that helped him retrieve the medical details. When trying to remember paragraphs of information, create a “hook” that will act as a strong association to bring up the information more clearly.
  • take a nap; after storing information, resting the brain boosts storage and memory.
  • eat omega-3s that heighten working memory and fight against the risk of Alzheimer’s.
  • label people. FDR was able to remember the names of all of his staff, because he literately pictured their names printed on their foreheads. Another researcher suggests assigning a color to that name makes it even easier.
  • and the last one goes without saying and needs little research to back it up: pay attention and avoid distraction. You cannot remember complicated information for an exam if you are also listening to music or watching You-Tube.

At the end of each day, I always run through a list that I created years ago to organize tasks that I need to complete–maybe not every day, but certainly over time. This helps me keep things lined up and I can then have a working schedule of the next day’s tasks or events in my mind. It works. What do you do, Readers, to keep those file drawers sliding open in a flash??  Happy memory.

Thanks to: gailgilette.com; visualspatial.org

How To Unstick Those File Drawers of Memory

Safe Travel Helps Your Wanderlust

Safe Travel Helps Your Wanderlust

Ah the wanderlust of travel. It creeps upon us and we throw up our hands and say YES, YES, let’s explore this amazing earth.

But before you head out the door, if you are planning on International Travel, you need to think about health and illness prevention. Being ill when you are miles away from home and familiar doctors does not fulfill any part of the desire for wanderlust.

On the Plane 

If you are flying to far off places, your flight will most probably be long. Some airlines serve food and others will sell you boxes of snacks. Either way, find out if you can request meals and snacks that are healthy—think low in salt and sugar. If it’s possible to bring a snack bag of low-fat, low cholesterol and low salt foods on board, do so. You probably have to purchase these snacks after going through security.

During a long flight it’s best to avoid alcohol and caffeine as both of these can hasten dehydration. Some folks even experience head congestion, caused by poor air circulation as well as alcohol consumption. Drinking a glass of water or fruit juice per hour will keep you hydrated and make you get up and use the bathroom—which is good for you and fights against the effects of prolonged sitting. And if you are prone to swelling in the feet and legs, compression socks or hose should be part of your travel outfit.

Get Your Shots

Immunization is the other key to travel—you have to prepare your body as it doesn’t want to deal with viruses and bacteria it is not familiar with and won’t be able to handle.

Think of immunizations as part of your prep for travel. Maybe even more important than your suitcase, immunizations are something you carry with you to protect you from very serious illnesses.

Contact your local health department and ask to speak to an RN about your travel plans. Health departments have charts which indicate what immunizations you will need depending on the country you are traveling to.

For example: if you are going to India, the following immunizations fall under the category Recommended/Required: Hepatitis A and Hepatitis B, and Typhoid. The following fall under recommended: Japanese encephalitis, polio and rabies. And Yellow Fever is required!

While researching immunizations, I was extremely impressed by the following website Passport Health USA. Not only does it cover immunizations but weather, the locations of U.S. Embassies, safety and security tips and if you do need medical attention, what processes to follow. Travel agents often have access to similar information, but if you do all of your reservations online, a site like this one is extremely valuable. To find a Passport Health near you check out this link.

Plan Ahead for Immunizations

Don’t wait until a few weeks before your departure to check on immunizations. Some require a few weeks within your body to be effective and some health departments might not be able to take you stat! So call ahead and talk to someone who knows what immunizations you will need and can set up an appointment that will work with your schedule.

More Travel Tips Below are some more ways to stay healthy while traveling.

  • Frequently clean your hands with a gel cleanser kept in your purse or pocket; remember to buy a size less than 3 oz. that can go through security.
  • Use the hand sanitizer often, especially after trips to washrooms.
  • If on an airplane, turn off the overhead vent; you don’t need the draft and you don’t know what the air contains that it blowing on you.
  • Swab a small amount of an antibiotic cream like Bactroban inside your nostrils before leaving home; the cream will help fight viruses that want to make a home in your nose.
  • If you are immunocompromised from a chronic illness, purchase a N-95 mask to wear on a plane or train, especially if the people around you are coughing or sneezing;
  • Clean the seatbelt, tray table and arms of your plane seat with sanitary wipes;
    you might think to swab your suitcase handle when you pull it off the belt on arrival.
  • Try not to touch your face as you travel and if someone sneezes, close your eyes. Viruses love to enter through our eyes, mouth and nose.
  • Some travelers flush their noses with saline solution once they arrive at the hotel etc. You can try NeilMed Sinus Rinse that is available at drug stores.
  • Always have plenty of tissue with you.
  • Finally, wearing ear plugs protects you from sinus pressure as you take-off and land on airplanes and can provide a quieter environment if you happen to be around noisy passengers.

So BON  VOYAGE!!!!!!! With these travel tips you will stay healthy, arrive feeling good, and avoid getting some disease that is endemic to the place you are visiting. You’ll be ready to have fun and fulfill those longings for wanderlust.

Thanks to Barbara Barzoloski-O’Connor MSN RN CIC in nurse.com

Photo: Pro Profs Quiz Maker

 

Dear Paris, We Love You

Dear Paris, We Love You

St. Lazare Train Station by Claude Monet

The weekend attacks perpetrated by terrorists in the amazing, beautiful, culturally-impressive city of Paris, France at first makes me feel that anything I might write today will have little meaning in the face of tragedy, violence and brutal disregard for life as we know it. But the more I thought about it, the opposite seemed right: celebrate the things that PARIS stands for. Shout out its history and vibrancy. And most of all, celebrate the culture that it has given us through books, music, art, architecture and the beauty of the French language. Dear Paris, Je t’aime, nous vows aimons. Vive Paris!

Dear Paris, We Love You

In the U.S. many children are first introduced to Paris via the lovely story of Madeline. With it’s amazing illustrations and it’s rhyming story line, the book by Ludwig Bemelmans started a series of stories about the smallest of the girls that live in a Catholic boarding school in Paris. Madeline might be tiny in stature, but she seeks adventure and encourages children who read about her to do the same. She emulates strength, a Parisian characteristic. French literature has given us writers such as Honore de Balzac, Gustave Flaubert, Georges Sand, Simone de Beauvoir, Moliere, Guy De Maupassant. Certainly Victor Hugo’s Les Misérables champions the strength of the common man and his strength in the face of evil. Below is a statue of Balzac done by Auguste Rodin, a French sculptor whose work is know world-wide and whose work is often considered the spark of modern sculpture.

Dear Paris, We Love You

Statue of Balzac, Paris

For centuries French artists have gifted the world with innovative movements in painting and sculpture. The French impressionist movement brought to all art lovers scenes of Paris and the surrounding countryside. (See painting at the head of this piece.) A large metropolitan American art museum is simply not complete unless it has the works of Claude Monet for viewing. Considered the founder of the French Impressionist movement, Claude Monet often painted outdoors in nature, his goal to capture the changes and the movement that light provides a chosen subject. He would often paint the same subject many times–only the time of day or the season changing–and thus the work itself changing. His perceptions of nature heralded the importance of plein-air landscape painting.

Dear Paris, We Love You

Parisian Boulevard by Claude Monet

This picture of a Parisian Boulevard shows Paris’s fascinating architecture, rows and rows of buildings with the famous French mansard roof. This roof style  allows for more interior or attic space, thus allowing a builder to add another storey without using masonry. The design was often used by Francois Mansart (1598-1666) a French architect. A popular tale that has been refuted is that this roof style served to shelter it’s owners against taxes as well as rain. But some historians say the Fench window tax for a full storey in a building did not exist until 1798, years after Mansart’s death and did not exempt mansard windows.

Paris has gifted the world with opera, ballet and orchestral music,  jazz and piano music. Parisian artists walked the streets of Paris and were inspired by its beauty and the lovely cadence of the French language: Debussy, Ravel, Saint Saens, Bizet, Berlioz, Satie, Poulenc, Franck, Faure and Gounod–to name only a very few.

And in today’s creative world, novelists and screenwriters, playwrights and poets write about Paris–its people, its culture, its history. American women long to look and dress like Parisians and the perfumes and cosmetics that come from Paris have been prized by women since Catherine de Medicis, wife of King Henri II, was said to have introduced the use of perfumes to the French.

So this post celebrates and honors French culture and the people of Paris. May their rich heritage which has brought so much beauty to the world continue to inspire us. Let us all wish them peace and safety today and always. Dear Paris, Je t’aime, nous vows aimons. Vive Paris!

Dear Paris, We Love You

The Louvre, Paris

 

Dear Paris, We Love You

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thanks to: www.ala.org, impressionists1877.tripod.com, www.dreamtime.com, www.entertainment.howstuffworks.com, www.e-architect.couk

Also posted on betterafter50.com

Dear Paris, We Love You

California Art: From Nature and from Human Hands

California Art: From Nature and from Human Hands

URBAN LIGHT (see below)

We Californians may have to save water: never let the water just run, plant dessert cultivars, time our showers. But the up-side of our continual good weather is that we can almost always walk out the door and fulfill a plan to experience works of art: art from nature and art from human hands.

Today my husband and I were up for trail walking at Wildwood in Thousand Oaks. And wow, did we get a taste of covering the miles and I’m talking not only the 5.7 miles we covered but the elevation and descent which was 606 or the equivalent of going up and down 60 stories. We burned 934 calories, but quickly replenished some of them when we got home. The photo above and the ones below are sights we saw today at Wildwood Park. There is lots of history here, as many of the wild west shows that aired in the 50’s were filmed in these hills. And yes the falls were still flowing, fed by underground springs. Nature supplies many gifts.

California Art: From Nature and from Human Hands

Paradise Falls

California Art: From Nature and from Human Hands

 

California Art: From Nature and from Human Hands

California Art: From Nature and from Human Hands

A little shade on this trail.

And when you are hungry for art that was sculpted or painted with a brush or was first California Art: From Nature and from Human Handssimply found objects now placed and arranged in unusual and compelling ways, there is always LACMA, Los Angles County Museum of Art. We visited there ten days ago and were delighted with what we found. URBAN LIGHT is a large-scale assemblage sculpture by Chris Burden located at the Wilshire Boulevard entrance to LACMA. The installation consists of 202 restored street lamps from the 1920s and 1930s. Most of them once lit the streets of Southern California. The cast iron street lamps are of 17 styles, which vary depending on the municipality that commissioned them. They range from about 20 to 30 feet (6 to 9 meters), are painted a uniform gray and placed, forest-like, in a near grid. The lights are solar powered and switched on at dusk. (above, URBAN LIGHT AT NIGHT. Top of the post: URBAN LIGHT, midday.)

We also experienced a work of art that my son-in-law was eager to see. It was a brilliant afternoon when we encountered and explored from all angles LEVITATED MASS. This is a 2012 large-scale sculpture by Michael Heizer. The installation consists of a 340-ton boulder affixed above a concrete trench through which visitors can walk. The nature, expense and scale of the installation made it an instant topic of discussion within the art world. Tongue in cheek comments: Let’s start with the numbers, which are impressive: a 150 million-year-old granite boulder more than 21 feet high and weighing in at 340 tons. It took 11 days to transport that boulder, via a 206-wheeled trailer, the 105 miles from Riverside, CA to the campus of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art at a cost of $10 million, to be put in place as part of a massive and controversial artwork. (from levitatedmassthefilm.com)

California Art: From Nature and from Human Hands

Looking up from the front side.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

California Art: From Nature and from Human Hands

This reveals the amazing scale of the project.

California Art: From Nature and from Human Hands

Visitors can walk under the rock to experience every angle. We did.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Though art is all around us and we are soaking up as much as we can, I do miss the change of seasons and I know right now in my old haunts there is art all around. Yes, the colors of those brilliant autumn leaves are painting pictures as they toss in the wind or create colorful piles in the grass. So here’s a photo–simply to remember them. But YAY, I don’t have to rake them up!

Photos credits: Beth Havey, hikespeak.com, www.toaks.org, jessiestrails.blogspot, David Stillman, Wildwood Park, Thousand Oaks Thanks to Wikipedia.

One of my oak trees from the house in Des Moines.

Autumn: A Time of Atonement and Bounty

Travel: The Magic Carpet of Self-Discovery

Travel: The Magic Carpet of Self-Discovery

Here is the Magic Carpet.
photo by John Havey

Traveling is about discovery. But along with seeing the Grand Canyon for the first time or realizing that the glaciers are truly melting is the process of self-discovery. Travel takes a person out of routine and in many cases away from comfort. Travel can teach about humanity and open fascinating and different worlds for questioning. Travel can challenge a person’s beliefs and change their understanding of how life is lived. The sheer variety travel can provide is a kind of magic carpet.

Travel and Comfort

As an over-fifty person, travel for me works really well if sameness is attached to newness. What do I mean by that? I like traveling on cruise ships because my hotel room goes along with me—it becomes my home away from home and I feel comfort and a sense of belonging when I go back to it. But in the very same vein, I liked camping in my thirties with my family. We would establish that comfort zone in our tent and then go off to explore and hike and exhaust ourselves. Then the tent awaited.

I have friends that currently are traveling across the country in an RV after selling their home. I think that’s amazing considering weather, long trips between gas stations and the necessity of finding the right spot to hook up their traveling home for electricity and a hot shower.

Where Are You on the Adventure Scale?

Of course there are people on this planet that are totally adventurous. We could put them on an adventure scale that might look like this:

Risky, total adventuring    looking for a few thrills    no thrills, just simple viewing    watching travel videos at home!

I’m still looking for a few thrills. When we went whitewater rafting, some persuasion was needed after I read the release form. But the guy who ran the ride at the Kicking Horse River in Canada rode with me in the back of the raft and there’s only one word for the experience–AWESOME.

Travel takes you away from your familiar life and activities, but never from responsibility. As a member of humanity living on this planet, travel should open our hearts and minds to things we need to know, people we need to care about. Traveling is the portable classroom that teaches us about the world and OURSELVES. Examples–

  • I like meeting people and discovering what they do, how they live
  • I am willing to try new things–new foods, methods of transportation
  • I can hold back at times and be uncertain
  • I am always eager to purchase the art and crafts of different countries, but practice self-restraint
  • I like imaging what it would be like to live on the canals of Venice or in the rainy city of Juneau, Alaska

Place Is Memory

This last idea relates to the act of living. Because wherever you dwell, place becomes memory. I’ve lived in 3 U.S. cities and recently traveled back to Chicago, where I was born, where we raised our children. Wow. For me, that city has a memory on every block. It bears the weight of my history–it opens up my early life, once caught in the passage of time. Example: “Remember? On my 21st birthday, you and I sat in that corner of the pizzeria and you bought me my first alcoholic drink. But a 7 And 7. Ugh.”

Thoughts on Recent Travel

So on a recent visit to Chicago, it came down to not just reliving the old and familiar in that city, but to reveling in the new. Many changes have occured along the lakeshore. Walking through Chicago’s Museum Campus reveals restructuring of roads and gardens so that bikers and strollers can access the Planetarium, Field Museum and Aquarium with no car and parking stress needed. It’s wonderful.

And on Michigan Avenue we spent a purposeful period of time viewing a work of art, a  metaphor for the power of difference and possibly the shame of finding fault with the spectrum of those differences.

It is AGORA, the work of Magdalena Abakanawitz, the Polish sculptor who has explained her work saying: “They must be like one body that represents so many different meanings. It’s the self against the whole world.”

Travel: The Magic Carpet of Self-Discovery

The name Agora refers to the urban meeting places of the Ancient Greek city-states. The artist portrays these figures as  visibly hollow, suggesting that despite their strong physical presence, they might be shells of people who have become lost. They are genderless and ageless. They invoke humanity on a very affecting level. You walk through them and wonder about their connectedness and disconnectedness–they move as one yet they move apart. Isn’t that similar to how you feel walking down a busy metropolitan street? Isn’t that how you feel when watching the current news and seeing scores of displaced peoples moving down miles of road? Abakanowitz compares this work to nature, where herds of animals or leaves on trees are a metaphor for an overwhelming number of objects being the same and yet different. Like people.

The artist, who was a youth during World War II, has said that her art draws on her fear of crowds, which she once described as “brainless organisms acting on command, worshiping on command and hating on command.” Some critics have said that if you give the figures the right intent, and if you think of them as whole with brains and hearts, then maybe you are looking at an emblem of democracy instead of the emblem of her memories fraught with real fears.

Concluding Thoughts

But again, through video and the internet, through reading and awareness–we all are traveling every day. We all can become vessels of self-discovery. And I have one last powerful suggestion.  It comes from knowing that when many of us who constantly know comfort–when we discuss traveling, we are talking about vacations, suitcases and airplane tickets. We are not talking about what is happening at this very moment to millions of people on our planet. They are also traveling because they are escaping governments or environmental conditions that predict death or suffering for their families. They seek the comfort of sameness, of home. If each one of us could do something through donations, volunteering or CHANGING THE WAY WE THINK about those who have less than we have, we can make life more positive for the people of AGORA, the people of the communities and city states on our earth.

Travel: The Magic Carpet of Self-Discovery

A glacier near Juneau, Alaska      John Havey photo

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Travel: The Magic Carpet of Self-Discovery

 

Thanks to Google Images

Going to the Olympic Games? Don’t Forget to Tour London

The London Eye overlooking the Thames with Westminster in the background.

The 2012

Olympic Games will be taking place in London between July 27th and August 12th. If you are planning on flying across the pond for these amazing events, make sure you also see some of the iconic sights London has to offer. A recent visit there proved that seeing London on foot, or occasionally using the underground (tube) or the big red buses, is totally doable.

Start your walking tour in Westminster, at the Thames with Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament. It’s an easy stroll to Westminster Abbey (there is a fee to enter). Then proceed down Birdcage Walk viewing the Royal Mews on one side of the road and St. James Park on the other. This takes you right to Buckingham Palace and the Queen Victoria Memorial, recent site of the Jubilee Concert.

Westminster, the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben on the Thames

The gates of Buckingham Palace.

 

Walk down the mall, a broad avenue that flows from the Victoria Memorial and is often the scene of royal parades. You’ll pass royal residences on the left (St. James Palace, Clarence House and Marlborough House) and proceed through the Admiralty Arch to Trafalgar Square. There amid many red buses you’ll find the National Gallery and the Portrait Gallery. It’s just a short walk back down Northumberland near Whitehall, the Horse Guards Parade Grounds, and pleasant gardens along the Thames. You can cross the Golden Jubilee bridge to the southbank and go up in the London Eye, a giant wheel that provides great aerial views of the city. On another day, walk along the southbank, where there is much to see, to the notable Tower Bridge. Across the Thames at the Tower Bridge is the Tower of London where Beefeater guides provide interesting history of the Traitor’s Gate and the Bloody Tower.

The Tower Bridge

The Tower of London

From Tower Bridge you can easily see The Shard, a 1,016 ft. vertical city, London’s tallest building. Still being constructed, it will house offices, a hotel, residences and shops. Don’t miss the dome of St. Paul’s and the Memorial to the London Fire which can also be seen from the Tower Bridge.

The Shard

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Olympic events will take place throughout London in the main Olympic park in Stratford as well as such iconic locations as Hyde Park, the Millenium Dome, and Horse Guards Parade. The interactive map (link below) of the main Olympics site in Stratford will be updated regularly as building work continues. So check it out. And have an amazing time in an historic and wonderful city.  http://www.mylondonmap.com/london-olympics-map.php

Photos courtesy of John M. Havey

Another post for London Lovers  http://boomerhighway.org/can-boomer-anglophiles-keep-the-love-going/