Archive | June, 2016

Stunning Majesty of Glaciers

14 Jun

Each time I am in the presence of the stunning majesty of a glacier, I am aware that nature’s beauties outshine many man-made structures. 

The first waterfall as we traveled the fjord.

As we sailed into a fjord in Alaska early this morning I was watching for the signs that a massive glacier was near. First were the signs in the water:  the change in the color and texture. Once smooth, now choppier with thin ice. Then came the first, now tiny, ice floe making its way down the channel. 

Soon I heard the first sounds. The Wild Rush of water as the summertime waterfalls of gushing water streamed from the ice fields high in the mountains. I watched as the pounding water made its way into the fjord leaving swirls of water as it entered.  Later you can hear the moaning of the glacier as it moves forward down the mountain. Sometimes you can see and hear the crash as giant sections of glacier calve into the water. 

Ice floes traveled down the channel to greet us.

Soon larger and larger ice floes floated along side the ship. Not the size of an ice berg, but still sharp white and Aqua blue structures shimmering in the sunlight.  They can be dangerous and the ship shows respect by moving ever so slowly down the channel. 

I have been blessed to have seen glaciers in Alaska in 2002 and now today. Four years ago I traveled through the Straits of Magellan and experienced the cold of the glaciers there as well as we winded our way from Chile to Argentina. 

But now, in Alaska, I began to feel the cold wind that comes off the glacier. Even with a coat and gloves, even with the sun shining, I felt deeply chilled. 

My first view of Daws Glacier.

Then the ship made a small turn. Up ahead I saw the glacier filling my view. Its face jagged and tall as it met the water. White and blue with streaks of broken rock within that looked like stripes of dirt. But are really the crushed stone and silt pounded by the relentless force of the glacier. 

The glacier fills the end of the fjord.

Seeing a glacier in a bay is different then seeing it more inland ending in a lake like the Mendenhall Glacier in Juneau. I saw that glacier first in 2002 and then again two days ago. I was shocked by how much it had retreated!  There was even a time-lapse movie of how it has changed from 2007 until now. Imagine six years more of melting! Hundreds of feet of glacier has disappeared. Diminishing it!

The park ranger told us how global warming and the use of fossil fuels is changing the glacier and Ice fields in Alaska. There is hope as we move to renewable energy. But if you saw the glaciers, you would know the change is real. 

As the glaciers recede in Alaska another increase occurs. As the weight of the glacier diminished the land actually rises in rebound. 

When we first came to Alaska 14 years ago we took our children. My then 11 year-old son was impressed at first with the Mendenhall Glacier. But later in the trip when I woke him early in the morning to see the majestic glacier in Glacier Bay, he was a snarky pre-teen, who commented: “Seen one glacier, seen them all.” This became a major joke in our family, but it is not true. 

Each glacier has its own beauty. If you ever have the opportunity, come to see a glacier. The ones within the continental USA at Glacier National Park are almost gone. Only in Alaska can you still see them. 

Do not miss the stunning beauty of a glacier. 

Serenity In Alaska Fractured

13 Jun

Alaska. Serene. Snow topped mountains. Glaciers.  Abundance of trees. Clouds. Drizzle. The perfect spot for a serene, peaceful and relaxing cruise. 

The bad side of cruising now is unlimited wifi. The worse part of wifi is being connected to the world. When I first cruised, 36 years ago, there was no phone service; no television. My husband and I still do not watch television when cruising. 

But the Internet, emails, Facebook, and the world can now reach out and fracture the serenity. 

I am an advocate for gun control. I say all automatic and semi automatic weapons must be banned. I say the NRA and its lobby are killing us by allowing the mentally ill and terrorists get guns. 

The NRA members are not acting like patriots, as they support a way for terrorists to get guns. Especially loopholes for Internet and gun show sales. 

I say vote out all legislators who receive money from the NRA. There are many more of us then them. Support legislators who take a stand against gun violence!

I am tired of my vacations being destroyed by reports  of mass murders, this time senseless killings in Orlando. And week after week after week. Do not tell me guns don’t kill. 

You would think after Sandy Hook people would understand. But no. Instead across the country schools have become little fortresses.  Children learn by drills what to do if a killer enters their building. A sad reflection on our world. 

I am, like many others, praying for a return to serenity of a peaceful world. A world where a vacation cannot be destroyed by reports of mass murders.    Go to Ban the AR-15 From Civilian Ownership. 

Chihuly, Stunning

10 Jun

I love the glass art developed by Dale Chihuly. I have seen his art work throughout the United States in Florida, Nevada, Arizona, Arkansas   And finally in his home state of Washington when I visited the Chihuly Garden and Glass museum that shares his name next to the SpacecNeedle in Seattle, Washington. There is something about the vibrant colors and twisted shapes that cheers me. Each of his designs provide me a moment of childhood delights. 

Blues, teals, reds, lilac, violet, orange, gold, black, green, yellow; solids, stripes, mottled; tall, short, rotund, pointed, rounded, spiral, straight, curved.  Is there a descriptive word that cannot be used to describe his work?  I think not. 
For me the glass art of Chihuly is magical! Beautiful, fanciful.

Whether his displays be indoors, within the confines of an exhibition hall, or outside nestled alongside plants or sitting within a pond or creek, each installation is unique and intriguing.  

For those who have not seen his glass sculptures, I entreat you to make the effort. The sparkle of delight will bubble in your soul. At least I hope it will, as it does in mine. 

The Mysterious Kalsbad Photos: Who Are They?

6 Jun

June 26, 1931. My Grandmother was in Europe with my Mother and my Uncle. She left them at the farm owned by my great grandparents in Poland while she went to Karlsbad (Karlovy Vary), Czechoslovia to take the waters and revive her health.

The doctors in the United States told her that she was going to die. She had been pregnant again in the USA. But doctors terminated the pregnancy through a very illegal abortion in an effort to save her life. But still she was sick. So she decided she would not burden my Grandfather with two young children, 5 and 2. She would take them to Europe to live with his parents and she would die there. He, then, would be free to continue his life.

I once asked my Grandfather, why he let her go. “She was a sick woman,” he told me. “I had to let her do what she thought was best.”

“Would you have left Mom and Uncle Stanley in Europe?” I asked. This was a very important question. His entire family perished. If he had left them, I would not be here.

He looked me in the eye, and said, “As soon as she died I was going to get on a boat and return with my children. I would never leave them there. “

His words made me feel a bit better. But if Grandma had died the world my Mom and Uncle lived in would have been very different. But at least I know my grandfather would not have abandoned them in Poland.

Luckily Grandma did get well. She stayed in Europe for six to eight months and then returned to the USA with my Mom and Uncle. She saw the rise of Hitler coming and now had a new purpose: get the family out. She could not save as many as she wanted. But she tried.

Grandma Thelam, Carlsbad

Grandma is sitting in the front. The date and place were added by my Mom. I think the two women are related. This is the photo we knew about.

We have several items from that trip to Europe. We have a ceramic vase that stays in her breakfront/curio cabinet in our Catskills’ home. We have stories about the trip.  We have a few photos. We knew of one. Grandma is with two other women. We have no ideal who they are. But I think they are related to her, one women sort of looks like her sister-in-law. We are not sure. There is no identifications on the back.

But I recently found another.

FullSizeRender (10)

Grandma is in back row on the left wearing a white hat.

It is a group photo. In the very back row, near the center is a woman in a white hat, that is my grandmother. She is 26 years old.

I do not know the other people. Are they family members who perished? Or are they just other people who are in Karlsbad? Sometimes I imagine that they are just other people at the resort who were pulled together for a group photo that the photographer would then sell to tourists.   Other times I imagine that people in the photo look like family, especially the man in the front on the left. But I honestly do not know.

This photo is different from the others we have from that trip. There is writing in Yiddish and English. The English is easy, her name and the address where she stayed in Karlsbad. Or is it a place she visited?

The Yiddish is more exciting to me. It is the only letter I have seen that she wrote to my Grandfather. (Thank you members of the Tracing the Tribe Facebook Group for translations!)

It says: “As a souvenir from your faithful wife, who hopes, to meet you again in good health.” Another translated it as “A souvenir from your devoted wife, who hopes to return to you in good health.”

Either makes sense. She was sick. She was away from my grandfather. She wanted to be reunited with her family and be healthy.

And that all happened. She returned to the US and lived an additional 50 years. And 80 years later, I keep finding treasures in her photo album!

Remembering Our Bodies, Ourselves Thanks to an NPR report

2 Jun
My original Our Bodies, Ourselves Books

My original Our Bodies, Ourselves Books

Listening to NPR while driving in my car is a joy. Almost every day I find out something new. Today while driving I listened to a program about Our Bodies OurSelves, and how it was saved through internet crowd funding. Robin Young, of “Here & Now,” spoke to the new executive director, Julie Childers, who went to college in Tulsa, Oklahoma.   That made me laugh. The new ED of  the “Our Bodies Ourselves” organization went to college in what is now a state worse than Kansas. Ugh! Oklahoma has not been very good to women’s issues. Maybe that is why she is working on this important book.

In any case, when I got home, I pulled out my 1976, second edition copy of Our Bodies, Ourselves and my 1978 first edition of Ourselves And Our Children.   There was still a paper napkin marking a spot in the book that I obviously felt was important.  I was 21, and a college junior when I purchased my copy.

For those of you who might not know, before Our Bodies, Ourselves there was a dearth of information for women about their own health issues. The medical field seemed to be ruled by men, who did not really understand women’s health issues. I, personally, had horrible time during my menstrual cycles. And was told as a young girl that it just me. And I should get over it.

Years later, when I was in my mid 20s, I found out I had endometriosis, which was causing my horrible periods. I only found out when I was going to an infertility doctor who, even though was a man, truly helped women.  (There were some!)

To be honest, now I only go to women doctors for my major health needs. I grew up in a time when men really did not get it!

It was Our Bodies, Ourselves that helped me. I know I am one of millions, who must thank the Boston Women’s Health Book Collective and their work to help women learn about their own bodies, their sexuality and their health care.

Although I have not taken to the streets, I have been a strong supporter of women’s rights, and their reproductive rights, throughout my adult years. Our Bodies, Ourselves was my second awakening to women’s rights issues. My first occurred the day before my 18th birthday, when the “Roe Vs Wade” decision was announced.

The young women today have lived their lives not knowing the battles of the 70s and early 80s.   They do not have the workplace issues we faced. But most important, with the rise in so many more women doctors, they no longer face the condescending attitudes to our health care needs that we often faced.

I thank Our Bodies, Ourselves for this awakening of women’s health needs and the evolution of medical care.,_Ourselves