Thursday, February 6, 2014

Reminding You Again!! Walking Out of Eden, now near Petra, Jordan.

I want to remind all of my blog readers again about Paul Slopeck's Walking Out of Eden, a six year journey by foot around the world following the migratory paths of our ancient human ancestors. It started on January 10, 2013. Now just over a year later, Paul and his guides, his pack camels and/or mules have walked through the Afar valley of Ethiopia, crossed the Red Sea by boat, walked through Saudi Arabia and now he is near Petra, Jordan. His journey is funded by National Geographic. The first article in that magazine based on this journey was in December, 2013. He has recently run into a camp of Syrian refugees within Jordan near the old ruins of Petra. His posts are particularly moving. After all of my husband's an my travel, Petra is still my favorite single place in the world, so I am so happy he has reached this spot. I posted first about this website on Dec 28, 2013. I am posting the links again here. You MUST access these phenomenal sites. The whole idea is amazing.

At the National Geographic site there are many other links, maps, the path Paul and his small group is walking, photos, videos, sound bites that he has recorded. For example the Petra posting has a long audio of desert music that is very eerie. Also it is entertaining to read the many comments as more and more people learn of his journey. There is a time line of his walk with the various sites of his postings marked.

I strongly recommend you get on board. And for any of you who are teachers, or educators in any fashion, one of the links is for teachers providing lesson plans and more structured ways to access and follow Paul Slopeck's phenomenal journey. I am thinking of school children who could start following this journey and follow it through now 5 years of their elementary or even high school education. What a wonderful opportunity. I am letting all teachers that I know about this journey.

Other related links:

Sunday, February 2, 2014

A Happy Birthday:

     Recently I celebrated a big birthday! 70 years. It is hard to believe that I am 70 years old. In many ways, I still picture my thinking patterns as those of 40 or so years ago. I don't picture that I have changed that much from then. I am sure I have but I can't feel the change. I know that our upbringing, our education, our experiences as the years have passed, and the vast influence of the various medias that surround and inundate our lives all have affected our objectivity and influenced our thinking patterns in a very subtle way that we are not even aware of. Nevertheless, I would hope that our basic values shine on and continue us on in the manner in which we have formed.
     I was talking to my 96 year old mother. She called me on the phone to wish me Happy Birthday. She had been to the hairdresser to get her hair done that morning. There she announced that her oldest daughter was 70 years old that day. There were some natural questions asked that she had to try to remember the answer:
     In view of our recent terrible weather across the whole country, she was asked: What was the weather like then? Well, she can't exactly remember that now, but the weather didn't stand out in her memory. Indeed, my mother had learned again and again the story of her birth on October 23, 1917. She had been told that there was a terrible blizzard the 24 or so hours before her birth. Her father had to ride the horse from the farm into Seward, IL,  the next little town to get the country doctor. He came back out to the farm by riding the horse right across the open fields because you couldn't tell the difference between the road and the open fields with all the snow. But my birth day, she didn't think the weather was that bad. My paternal grandparents lived on the farm next door to my mother's folks and she recalls having walked over to see them in the week preceeding my birth. Though this was not a long walk, it must not have been exceedingly cold or very snowy or she would not have done it since she was so close to delivery.
     On the phone, my mother went on reminiscing: She recalled that she began feeling early labor pains and she reported this to her mother. Her father then started up the old Model T Ford and her parents drove my mother the 12 miles to Swedish American Hospital in Rockford, IL where after a time I was born. She didn't recall that it was a difficult birth. The immediate problem seemed to me deciding upon my name. My mother wanted to use the middle name, Lee, because it was her father's middle name. She had told the nurse my name would be Ann Lee Surname. But then Dr. Schnell came in and asked how she was feeling an asked about the baby's name. Mom told him her decision and he made the belittling comment: "Lee? Oh, that's a man's name." This threw my mother completely off and now she didn't know what to do. She thought that the decision she had made and now regretted about my middle name was irrevocable. My paternal grandmother and my father's sister showed up to visit in the hospital and Mom told them her dilemma. So Grandpa pulled out the newspaper and they began scanning for names that would work with Ann. I don't know if someone found the name of Rae as a middle name in the newspaper or what but that's how I became Ann Rae.  I can't say that I was very fond of my name but likewise I didn't hate it either.
     I can picture my mother's agonizing over my middle name as just a symptom of a much greater anxiety that must have permeated much of her pregnancy and postpartum time period. She had married my father 2 years before while he was training at Camp Forrest, near Tullahoma, TN. She had lived for a time in housing for wives of the army trainees. But at times, Dad went on maneuvers with the 181st Army Engineers, learning to build ponton bridges across rivers. When he would be gone on maneuvers, Mom would come back home to northern Illinois, living with her parents on the farm. When she was 8 months pregnant with me, she saw my Dad during his last leave before shipping out for England. She drove him to the train station in December of 1943. He actually arrived in England on January 10, 1944, the day I was born. I know there are lots of such couples living and working in the US today, but I can't imagine sending my spouse off to war while carrying his child. The anxiety must have been tremendous.
     Then there was my maternal grandmother. She was a very strong woman of German descent and she had very definite opinions about everything. I would imagine that she also had strong ideas about how a pregnant woman should take care of her own and the baby's health and how she should behave. I would imagine that a great deal of anxiety had built up by the time that I decided to be born.
     But I am sure that the concerns didn't end with the delivery. I am told that I was a colicy and difficult baby. I no doubt felt the anxiety around me. My mother tells me that I cried a lot. One time my grandfather drove out after dark and the milking was done to try to find a drugstore open in Rockford in order to purchase some prescription drops that were supposed to calm me and relieve digestive cramps. I don't know whether it helped the situation or not. My mother thinks that part of the problem was that I was too warm much of the time. My grandmother insisted that I be kept in the living room of their big square farmhouse. And in the corner of that living room was the large main heating register directly coming from the furnace in the basement. There I was swaddled in a bassinet probably roasting because the heat from that register had to be enough to diffuse through the rest of the house.
    Then just think of the concern; reading about the war in the newspapers, hearing from friends and neighbors about the casualties, waiting on edge for the infrequent letters to arrive and sometimes having hiatuses in communcations, wondering if the worst had happened. Think of it! There is not doubt but that a baby would pick up on these worries.
     But I survived, and my parents both survived. My father returned home in June of 1945 when I was a year and a half old. I was a little afraid of him at first, but we made up soon and our little family thrived.
     All of these thoughts were crowding my mother's mine and mine on that day in January when I turned 70. It's just difficult to believe that was 70 years ago. Here's to the next decade!!