Friday, June 30, 2017
Friday, June 23, 2017
Not all transitions are major life events. Some are minor, maybe not even noted or casually mentioned in passing.
Transition is what occurred in my life last week, best described in the following pictures. Recovering from both events (and still in the midst of event #2) most of my brain cells have yet to work properly, mired in a fog of exhaustion. Pictures tell the story.
Thursday, June 15, 2017
There are occasions when time drags, seconds and minutes tick by slowly while waiting for something - an event, an announcement, or perhaps we just feel sick. Other times we cannot believe how quickly the hours pass. Each day of my Israel adventure is packed with touring sites, bus rides, walks in the blistering hot sun, and of course eating. Evening arrives and my bones and my mind barely function. I am physically and mentally exhausted.
On the other hand today hub and I pack and endure a 12 hour plane ride home.
Each long day left little time for relaxation. Every night I prepared for the following day, turned the TV on, searched for something to watch and fell asleep to the drone of CNN news reports, too tired to pay attention. Hotels offered free wifi, so evenings and mornings I checked email and messages. I turned off cell data and silenced my phone, opting not to pay Verizon $10 a day for overseas service. The company gets enough of my $$. Every month.
Israel is approximately the size of the state of New Jersey, but the geographic diversity is dramatic. Desert, rolling hills and mountains, miles of flat seaside lined with beautiful beaches, farmlands, forests, lush river valleys and dry scrubland all squeeze within the borders of this small country.
Our tour group included six children between the ages of 5 and 13, so many activities geared towards the young ones tested the physical endurance of hub and me. But we survived! Nature hikes, river walks, rafting, tunnel explorations, boating, walking. Steps seem to be everywhere - steep, high, often slippery ones.
Here are a few pictures of our Israel adventure.
Climbing stairs in the old city of Safed
Sunday, June 11, 2017
Thursday, June 8, 2017
Sunday, June 4, 2017
Round Four of this season's travels begins. Our home will temporarily be inhabited by a couple enjoying a trip to the states, American ex-pats who have made France their home for decades. Hub and I travel east, spending two weeks in a Middle Eastern country (despite what our esteemed - note the sarcasm here - Prez might think. Look at a map. Or globe.) - Israel.
Travels began with a two hour ride to the airport - not the closest to home, but offering non-stop service to our destination. Mid-week, no holiday, check-in and security proceeded smoothly. Plenty of time for dinner in the airport. The toughest part of the embarkation process was staying awake until settling on the plane.
Our 11:30 pm flight was airborne close to the scheduled time.
What do you do at midnight on a plane? Sleep, or attempt to sleep.
Lots of empty seats surrounded us. I relocated from my assigned aisle spot with two people next to me to an extra row. Hub sat on an aisle with an empty next to him.
Reclining seats, some leg room, a pillow and blanket provided, traveling economy. Air travel heaven!
Ten hours in a seat, no matter how comfortable - or not - is a long time. I slept fitfully. Everybody slept, or tried. About two hours before landing people began to stir. Lights went on, shades rose, and breakfast carts appeared. Mid-afternoon at our destination, it was morning back home. Stomachs urged nourishment.
Old bones rebelled, demanding movement. I walked off the plane scrunched over, unable to straighten, a couple of days of exercises needed before standing upright again. Exhausted, irritated waiting on airport lines, we finally exited the airport and officially entered Israel, a country I visited once. Fifty years ago. The thought is almost more than I can imagine. Fifty years is a long span in one's lifetime.
On the other hand memories of my six weeks in this foreign country when 17 years old bombard me as hub and I enter the country - experiences and people not thought about in years.
I tried reconnecting with cousins not seen or heard from since the 1970s, with no luck. I would like to see the house where I stayed in Jerusalem, but do not know the address. I am guessing the place still exists, a part of the history of a city reaching back thousands of years.
But my trip is not a nostalgic one. We come for a family celebration, the Bar Mitzvah of our oldest grandchild.
Almost two weeks touring with two generations younger, stronger and more energetic than my aging body will be challenging, but worth it for a trip of a lifetime. Assuming, of course, I survive to tell the story...
Friday, June 2, 2017
I see my elementary school classroom. I don’t know exactly which year, but it doesn’t matter. It is the 1950s. The rooms are all similar. Large spaces, high ceilings, a wall of windows with beige shades tilted at different angles, the room filled with straight rows of square wooden desks with a shelf underneath for books and papers and a wooden chair under each desk. A blackboard covers almost the entire front wall. Posters hang all around - maps, pictures of animals and people, class worksheets…
What is missing?
Computers. Headphones. Electronic gadgets.
I did not use a computer until grad school in the 1980s.
Today classrooms still contain colorful posters, mobiles hang from the ceiling, desks and tables (no longer made of wood) fill the room. Cubicles with computers line a wall.
I have incorporated technology into my life. I sit on a couch in a coffee shop writing on my Mac. My iPhone lies next to me. I wonder how I would find places without a GPS…or rendezvous with a friend at the last minute without a cell phone…or answer a question during a heated discussion without instant access to Google or Wikipedia.
I have come a long way, baby, metaphorically speaking.
Kids nowadays grow up tech-savvy, viewing gadgets from infancy, fingering them as toddlers, using them easily as they play games on the devices, take pictures, text, talk...in comparison to younger folks, I am technologically impaired.
I know what I need to know to do what I want to do.
The younger generation loves reading books on an electronic device. I enjoy holding a real book, a physical object.
Connectedness created the flexibility of working from home. On the other hand being connected has drawbacks. Companies expect employees to be available hours after they would otherwise be ‘off the clock’. Yet isolated home-based work has limitations. IBM is bringing employees back into the corporate building, setting regular work hours, with expectations that increased people-to-people contact will enhance productivity.
I love the fact that we can travel anywhere and read favorite newspapers and magazines anytime, everyplace, and stay in contact with work, friends and family. People today enjoy the opportunity of deciding where to live, no longer waiting until retirement to move to a dream location.
What happens when super-connected souls – my grandkids come to mind – become unconnected? On vacation Mom and Dad may encourage limited connectedness, and gadget-addicts somehow survive. However if a storm knocks out cell and wifi service howls of despair pierce the air from gadget-geeks of all ages, and people find themselves lost (metaphorically speaking, of course).
I get annoyed at people texting and doing who knows what on their devices in restaurants, not paying attention to the people they presumably came to socialize with. Kids of various ages text across the room rather than talk to each other. Will the art of verbal and written communication soon be lost skills, replaced by abbreviated text and emojis?
Technology offers an important advantage to seniors and others with limited mobility. Unable to leave home, folks can maintain contact with friends and family scattered everywhere. Isolation due to physical restrictions is minimized thanks to technology.
Change is inevitable and life marches on. All change offers advantages and disadvantages, and we cope as best we can.