22 June 2019

TOP Planning Meeting in Rockefeller Hall

—Painting by Susan Nulsen 2019
This work used a number of photographs taken over 2009/2010.

People portrayed, clockwise from bottom left:
Helen Barron, Joan Yates, Johanna Erickson, Martha Nielsen (standing), Angela Maffeo, Elizabeth Dodson Gray, David Dodson Gray (standing at window), Charlene Brotman, Anna Donovan, Pattie Derr, Dorianne Low (seated at back), Esther Scanlan, Sandy Wayne, Pat Morris, Susan Nulsen (back of head).

2019 Pooh Party to Celebrate Liz Dodson Gray's 90th Birthday

—Martha Nielsen

Twenty six TOP/WE members and friends and family gathered on Thursday June 20 to celebrate Liz’ 90th birthday with one of her beloved Pooh parties.  The guests included Liz’ daughter Lisa and grandson Sam; Margaret Studier, a friend from HDS; Avis Strong Parke and her daughter Robin Melavalin; Maria Behnke and her three year old daughter Maggie; and nineteen of us who gather regularly.

The day was dark and rainy, but we inside, all cozy in the Rosa Parks room, were surrounded in color and comfort and caring - enjoying a program that was flexible and fulfilling and fun!  
* Our individual sharings with Liz were intimate and loving and, taken all together, spoke poignantly to the meaning of TOP/WE over its forty plus years of history.
* Lunch was delicious and beautifully presented.  Complete with Pooh cake...
* Room decor was rich with special adornments for the occasion.
* Pooh stories and quotes provided a fitting entertainment
* And woven amongst the formal programming were multiple, ever re-forming informal groups of sharing.

MANY thank yous are in order.
* Lindsa, MaryMargaret, and Martha for planning the details of the party
* Lindsa for her lovely decor and incomparable and loving moderating
* Paula for providing the lovely and delicious Pooh cake
* Susan, Elaine, Carol for various (some historical) decor items
* Carol for the ingenious cake shaped group birthday card
* Mary Rose for organizing the Panera sandwiches entrée lunch, and all other contributors of accoutrements
* To all who came and shared themselves so lovingly
*** Lisa Gray for bringing Liz to the party, and for being such a loving caregiver for her mother

Ly Thai took some lovely photos — see below .  There were several others taking photos too.  If you have ones that folks would like to see (!!), please email them to me Martha and I will send them around. 

23 May 2019


One ribbon in the Story Quilt of:
How Do I Share My Money, Time and Love? — A Woman's Dilemma
—By Barbara V.

     Regina and I met in 1980 when we both worked at Shawmut Bank.  We found ourselves in the same master’s program at Simmons College.  We shared a love for exploring new ideas, we both enjoyed working, and we both loved Boston. She told me about her family, and I told her about mine.  She was my biggest supporter, a conscientious listener, a real girlfriend who enjoyed a shopping trip to Chestnut Hill.  She instilled in me a confidence that I would not have had without her.  We didn’t always see everything the same way, but we never argued.  She would explain her position and would listen while I explained mine.  Rarely did either of us win the other over, but we always had a healthy exchange of ideas.  Regina introduced me to Tanglewood, the Christmas Pops, the Peterborough Players, and dinner at The Ritz.  
    When I began teaching public speaking at UNH, Regina thought she would like to do the same, so I took Regina’s resume to the department chair, and soon, we were both working as adjunct faculty.  
     Every evening before class, we would meet at a little restaurant in downtown Durham for dinner.  The first class was always a bit chaotic, and Regina had a lot of students at her door who were not registered.  Each had a compelling story as to why they needed the class.  Regina admitted all of them.  How she handled a public speaking class that was double the usual size, I’m not sure, but she figured it out in true Regina fashion.  The students loved her! 
  When I moved to Hesser College in Manchester, Regina called and asked if there was a job for her.  I took her resume to the dean, and Regina was hired as an adjunct instructor teaching a variety of business courses.  A few years later, she was brought in as a full-time consultant. 
     Every morning around 10, Regina would come in with her cup of coffee, and we’d sit and catch up. There were other instructors and staff who she also checked in with during the day.  Regina loved to focus on a project.  She could churn out more work than anyone I knew, but she also enjoyed the relationships she developed in the workplace.  She cared about people.  She cared about what was going on in their lives. She believed in education, both for herself and others.  
     Regina was a wonderful story teller, and I’ve never known anyone who knew so much trivia.  She was a voracious reader, and that could include serious books, fiction, and pop culture magazines.  She watched a lot of television, surviving on very little sleep.  She was always reading more than one book at a time.
     Mornings were a magical time for her.  She always said that when she heard the birds chirping, she knew it was ok to get out of bed. 
     One night on the way home from work, Regina stopped at the animal shelter and asked to see the cat that nobody was interested in adopting.  They brought out an older cat which Regina said she would take. Then they brought out two other cats that no one was interested in.  Regina adopted all three of them.  And then there was Pyewacket: the kitty that turned up on Regina’s doorstep during a raging blizzard.  Regina opened the door, and the rest, as they say, is history.  
After her mom died, Regina began hiking up and down the mountain near her home by herself.  I was concerned that she was hiking alone, but those hikes helped Regina deal with her grief.  I was always impressed with how Regina would simply rise to the occasion and deal with whatever the issue was.  She did that at work, and she did that at home, often relying on her faith, which was an important part of her life
     Regina’s solution to everything has always been hard work and acquiring more education.  She enrolled in a Master’s program at Boston College in Administrative Studies.  She was commuting to BC from Hancock and living in the college library when she wasn’t in class.  I’d rarely hear from her because she was putting her usual 150% effort into her studies.  Once she completed her degree, she said she was going to look at employment opportunities in the D.C. area, and went to visit Ginny in Virginia.  
     Regina told me stories about her family. I knew Ginny and Dave had a passion for the hunt. I knew about Arthur and his family’s move from the cold north to sunny Scottsdale. I knew that Peter could answer all my gardening questions.  Regina kept me up to date on the lives of her nieces and nephews, their weddings and their children.
         The family house and barn in Hancock where Regina had grown up was her refuge.  She loved working the property in the summer and shoveling snow in the winter.  When a stranger asked to take a picture of the barn and the picture appeared in a calendar of barns, Regina was as proud as could be.  She gave me one of the calendars for Christmas. 
      I worried about Regina in the winter when she would lose power and the sump pumps would stop working, and the basement flooded. When the power went out, the house would have no heat. One winter storm left her without heat for two weeks.  I begged Regina to come stay at our house, but she wouldn’t budge.  I can’t imagine how she survived living in that cold, but she did, more than once.  When Regina needed professional help maintaining the property or her car, the professionals she called were all friends whose families she knew. I think she had them all on speed dial. 
     As often as she talked about selling her home in Hancock, I knew that in her heart of hearts, she never wanted to leave the place she grew up.  As willing as Regina was to take on new jobs and new educational challenges, that same sense of adventure wasn’t in play when it came to making changes that involved her personal life.  Those decisions were much more difficult for her.  
     When we would discuss the future, Regina was absolutely convinced that she wanted to keep working.  Working provided a routine and a focus.  I think it also provided social interaction which was important to her.  In typical Regina style, she enrolled in a weekend Doctor of Education Program at Regis to prepare herself for the next step in her career.  I don’t think Regina understood how she could possibly fill her time without a job to go to every day
 Regina almost always spent Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s Day and Easter having dinner with my husband, Larry, and myself, but last year, even though we tried, we were only able to get together for Easter.  I always made an Easter basket for Regina filled with lots of chocolate which I optimistically hoped would carry her through the year.
     Over the decades, Regina and I spent a lot of time together.  Not enough, but a lot.  One New Year’s Day, we headed into Boston for lunch.  The day was unusually warm.  I found a parking place on the street in Boston.  We walked through Copley Square looking at the melting ice sculptures from First Night.  We ate in Copley Plaza’s Oak Room, and we talked and talked and talked.  Before we left the city, we drove around the Common to see the Christmas lights.  We had a perfectly charmed day.  
     When I remember Regina, I want to remember that day with a wonderful friend who enjoyed life, who loved her family and friends, whose religion was her strength.  A woman who dedicated herself to being a good person who could make a difference in the world.  A person who touched people’s lives.  

Regina, you defined for me what friendship is, and I will be forever grateful for the time we shared together.

09 May 2019

Memory Loss: Coping and Caring

Carol Goldman’s Focus Talk in the Spring 2019 WomenExplore Series “Am I My Sister’s Keeper”, May 9, 2019 on the topic "Memory Loss: Coping and Caring".
Bio: Carol Goldman discovered WomenExplore in 1986 when someone referred her to a lecture entitled “Why There Are No Women in Jewish Mysticism”. She was drawn to the group by the creativity, intelligence, and friendliness of the participants, the wonderful series, and the leadership of Elizabeth Dodson Gray aided by her late husband, David Dodson Gray. Carol has participated in the group even since. She has served on the board, given several focus presentations, created rituals, and written about the WomenExplore process for publication. She currently facilitates the planning sessions for developing next year’s series and assists with our bold visioning initiative. Carol is a visual artist, a storyteller, and a mental health advocate. At Logan International Airport, if you go to the gallery on the departure level between terminals B and C, you will find a picture of Carol on a 6-foot-high banner as part of the Deconstructing Stigma exhibit. One can also access the exhibit online at DeconstructingStigma.org.
     Julie Magid Brody, right, and Carol Goldman, left,
      in front of the program-themed arrangement by WE member, Lindsa Vallee
When the planning committee of WomenExplore selected the topic  “Memory Loss: Coping and Caring” for this series “Am I my Sister’s Keeper?”, I volunteered to focus.  I thought I would talk about my sister-in-law who died recently at age 61 after 8 years of living in a nursing home because Alzheimer’s had impaired her functioning.  I would talk about my mother-in-law who died at age 97 in a locked unit in a nursing home because her dementia impeded her from staying in the more independent settings she had known.  In each case, the women had lost their memory and most of their ability to communicate with others.  It was upsetting for me to see their deterioration.  I felt sadness and loss.  When I was with them, talking to them, and showing them photos of events in their lives, I felt I was doing what I could.  But I was not responsible for the complex decisions about their health care.
Then something totally unexpected happened which brought this topic home in a radical way.  I want to tell a true story to address the complexity of “Am I My Sister’s Keeper?”
Ten years ago, a dear friend asked me to be her health care proxy.  She said she did not have family or friends in the area who could take it on.   I agreed.  I did not ask her what it involved or what her concerns were if she were to get very sick.  She did not document her wishes.  I agreed because I wanted to help my friend. I had known her for over 45 years.  She introduced me to the man who became my second husband.  He helped me raise my two young children from my first marriage.  My friend and I celebrated many special events together. She was well educated, healthy, living alone in low income senior housing, and highly functional when I signed the proxy.  I imagined we would discuss her wishes at a later point.  
Then two months ago I was at the helm of a disaster.
I got a call from a prominent hospital in the area saying my friend had fallen.  When she came to the hospital, she listed me as her health care proxy.  She seemed confused and the doctor wanted me to sign off on the place they would send her for rehab.  I did that.  I visited her in rehab.  She was disoriented but recognized me, sat up, and engaged in physical therapy.  A week later when I visited, her memory was gone, and she said few words.  I met with my friend and the social worker regarding discharge.  The social worker stated that the only option was to send my friend home with supports in the community.  The social worker said my friend would have to pay out of pocket to stay in the current rehab or a nursing facility.  I knew my friend had limited funds.
I wanted the rehab to send my friend for a physical test. She could not be alone.  She had no memory and could barely speak.  I felt frustrated.
Finally, the day before she was to go home, the rehab sent her for a brain scan.  After the scan, she was rushed by ambulance back to the emergency room of the prominent hospital.  Apparently, the tumor had been there a long time, but had grown.  A doctor called me to say that my consent was needed for immediate invasive brain surgery for my friend to survive.  She hoped my friend would recover her functioning but did not specify what that meant.
During my decision-making, my friend’s brother called me. He had called his sister but had not gotten an answer.  He had my number.  I told him what was happening.  He said he did not want to be involved because he lived far away and had serious medical problems.  He trusted my judgment and appreciated what I was doing.  He was not able to be his sister’s keeper.  I agreed to keep him informed.  
I talked to the doctor about the risks and benefits of the brain surgery.  Given what I learned, I consented to the surgery over the phone.  I also consulted with the anesthesiologist who needed my permission to proceed. The doctor then called me to inform me my friend made it through the nine-hour surgery and was in intensive care.  I visited my friend there.   She was hooked up to tubes and machines.  A few days later, I was told she needed an invasive brain procedure to heal. I researched, talked to the specialist, and gave my consent.  Then a doctor stated my friend lost the ability to swallow.  I agreed to another lifesaving procedure.  I called the nurses in charge of her care regularly to get updates.  I spoke with social workers, doctors, and care managers about next steps. 
I recently consented for my friend to be treated in a temporary acute rehab.  I was contacted by professionals about her background and options for treatment.  I visited her.  I could not tell if she recognized me.  She did not talk. Last week, the doctor told me he that he is pleased that she is saying a few words in an appropriate manner.
Some of her friends found my number and contacted me.  I updated them. They agreed to visit.  Some of her relatives who lived out of state contacted me and want to be updated.   
I feel obligated to be my friend’s keeper because I agreed to be her proxy.  I inhabit this profound sense of responsibility. The constant whirl of urgent decisions is stressful.  I trust my friend would agree with the decisions I made on her behalf.  I wish she had memory and communication skills so she could reassure me.  
My middle-aged children live far away.  My husband relies on me to help with his serious medical and emotional needs.   
 In going through these decisions, I have concluded that I want to view myself as if I were my own sister.  I would take care of my sister and make her a priority.  I would assess trade-offs between my schedule and hers.  This is the path I followed in responding to my friend Thelma.  
I now claim this perspective for myself.  My life is important.  I establish clear boundaries.  For example, I stated, when asked, that I could not pay my friends's bills or accompany her to appointments outside the rehab.  I moderate the conflicts between the needs of my friend and the needs of myself.  I am 79 years old.  I have a mood disorder and various physical vulnerabilities.  I want to be my keeper while I am able.  I want to avoid resentment and battle fatigue. 
I honor the support systems for body and spirit that I have lovingly put in place such as participating in WomenExplore, getting massages, traveling to far-away destinations, and participating in religious retreats. 
I have come to the painful understanding that I cannot be my sister’s keeper without being my own keeper as well.
The main lecture was given by Julie Brody Magid, clinical director of the McLean
 Memory Disorders Assessment
 Clinic and instructor in psychology at
 the Harvard Medical School.

02 May 2019

Living with Our Global Sisters: Embracing and Resisting Change

— Text of focus talk given on 3rd May 2019 by Susan Nulsen
Bio: Susan was born and educated in Australia. During her childhood the family moved around the country and she attended eight different schools before she went to university. Shortly after she married she went to England where she stayed for about nine years from the late 70s to the mid 80s and then also spent another year there in two different stretches during the 90s. She has now spent about fifteen years in the US.

As you can see from my bio, I moved around a lot as a child, and not quite as much as an adult. Every time I moved I had to leave my friends behind and start all over again. I heartily resisted that change! Now I am here to talk about the interactions of immigrants with the society they are coming into. I can speak both from the point of view of an immigrant myself and as a member of a society welcoming immigrants.
My Journey
The first case of welcoming an immigrant came when I was eleven living in Mt Isa, a small remote copper mining town in Queensland. At that time a new Finnish girl came into my class at school. She could not speak a word of English and none of us spoke Finnish, but she was welcomed with open arms by the girls in the class. It was my first encounter with someone who could not speak my language. We were eager to learn all we could about this exotic girl and spent a lot of time trading words with her. The handful of Finnish words I vaguely remember come from that time, “mitta” meaning “what” being her most common utterance. I left Mt Isa shortly after that but visited about six months later when I discovered her speaking fluent English. It was stunning.

When I moved to Alice Springs, in the central desert of Australia, I discovered that it was really I who was the immigrant. The Australian aborigines have the oldest continuous culture on earth, around 50 thousand years old (older than can be determined easily with carbon dating). When the aborigines entered the uninhabited land, as all peoples do, they changed the landscape. They managed the flora by regular burning and, probably, brought about the extinction off the large land animals, such as the diprotodon a giant wombat. However, by the time European settlers arrived it appears that they had reached a steady population and lived a sustainable nomadic lifestyle. They had no wars, although crimes still took place incurring punishments such as ritual spearing and in extreme cases “pointing the bone” which amounted to a death sentence. As late as the 60s there were still tribes in the central desert who had not encountered Europeans. The British declared Australia “terra nullius” which means it was owned by no-one so they were free take what they like! And that they did. In fact the aborigines didn't own the land; the land owned them. Naturally enough the aborigines resisted the British and did take farm animals. The consequences were a number of massacres by the British. These shameful events are not what we learnt about in school when I was young. 

My class contained a number of aboriginal and part-aboriginal children. Again I was eager to learn about another culture, but these kids were not quick to embrace a stranger. However a few of the girls, my sisters on this globe, would talk to me. They would hide their broad smiles behind their hands and regarded it as very important to avoid shame. Aborigines are very generous with their belongings and do not see the need to seek praise for their achievements. Even though the original people are now only an extremely small percent of the total population I see echos of their culture amongst Australians in general. I think it is partially (though only partially because I blame the British too! More about that later) responsible for Australia's “cultural cringe” – anything or anyone from overseas should be regarded more highly than the local product. An example of this was when my husband Paul said he was going to the UK to do a PhD in astrophysics. His father asked him what he thought he could do that someone else hadn't already done. Even in the physics department at the time, promising students were always advised to spend time overseas. Also Australians subscribe to what is known as the “tall poppy syndrome” – Australians like to cut down the tall poppies, those who put on airs and regard themselves as better than others because of their accomplishments. It is not that Australians don't strive for everyone to achieve as much as they can. Our (relatively) egalitarian society has ensured that Australia achieves more than its population would suggest on the global stage. I would like to think we make full use of all our people. I needed to experience other cultures before I came to the realization that the tall poppy syndrome was another example of society at large incorporating elements of the indigenous culture, without even being aware of what is happening. I attribute much of the difference in culture between Australia and its sister nation New Zealand to the differences between the indigenous aboriginal and the Polynesian Maori cultures. The Maoris, by the way, had only been in New Zealand about five or six hundred years when the Europeans settled there (1840). By that stage the Maori were facing ecological disaster. I believe this is one of the reasons that the Maori are much more warlike than the aborigines. (The British had to win a war to gain control of New Zealand.)
Grade 7,  Ross Park Primary School,  Alice Springs

In Alice Springs I had friends who were Italian, British and Chinese. And when I think back to the places I lived as a child my friends included people with many different national backgrounds (mainly European) but mostly we just didn't think about it at the time. Yet even so there was certainly an amount of cultural exchange taking place. I even had an American friend when I lived in Darwin. 

The United States prides itself on being a melting pot, but it is not the only one. Now 13.7% of the US population is foreign born. This compares with Canada which has close to one and a half times as many at 20.6% while Australia has 28.6% foreign born, more than twice as many as the US per capita. Almost one third of Australians are born overseas and less than half would have both parents born in Australia. One difference that stands out starkly is how readily many Americans relate to their ancestral nationality whereas most Australians who were brought up in Australia, certainly those that were born there, don't regard themselves as anything other than Australian. My mother's mother was English and her father a Welsh speaking Welshman but my mother would be puzzled and horrified if anyone referred to her as an English Australian or a Welsh Australian. Those were adjectives that could only appropriately be applied to her parents.

After I was married I moved to England with my husband. We lived in the cosy academic environment of Cambridge (the one on the River Cam) where we made friends with people of many nations and many cultures. For example, it was there that I first met a couple with an arranged marriage and came to appreciate how well such an arrangement could work and create just as loving a relationship as the love matches that I took for granted.

However after several years I began to notice a dark side to the British culture – the extreme classism with which it is afflicted. I should say that this classism is mitigated by the sense of “noblesse oblige” of the British upper classes. They feel that they have a duty to ensure the welfare of the lower classes. Nevertheless there is a definite social rank and Australians are at the very bottom, the most uncultured of all. Australia was, after all, founded as a penal colony when the American Revolution meant that no more convicts could be sent to the plantations of Virginia. This was brought home to me when I pointed out a good job opportunity in Melbourne to a physicist friend. His wife was a scholar of British literature and his immediate response to me was, “But what would Cathy do?” My jaw dropped. Now you can see why I place a large part of the blame for Australia's cultural cringe on the British. We decided that we did not want to bring up children in such a culture – one where your accent and the school you went to mark you for life. We returned to Australia before our daughter was one.

We did go back briefly for a couple of sabbaticals so our children had a chance to experience the British culture briefly for themselves. We also came here, to the US, for six months when the x-ray satellite Chandra was launched in 1999. As a result of that visit Paul was later offered a job at the Center for Astrophysics. We left our university-student children behind sharing a house in Sydney and I arrived at the end of 2003.

I found that a very difficult transition. I had been working as a research fellow in the engineering department at the University of Wollongong but now I was no longer allowed to work. I was unsuccessful in finding any group of Harvard spouses that met. I did do a couple of things. One was to take some art classes at the Cambridge Center for Adult Education. Another was to come along to the Theological Opportunities Program. It took Ann Wiseman, who was also my art teacher, quite some persuasion to convince me that I wasn't going to a religious meeting. TOP was of course WomenExplore and I enjoyed Liz Dodson Gray's process of planning the lectures. I was able to make myself useful because could google. I was able to find suggestions for speakers and often I could get contact information for speakers others suggested. And most importantly I also made friends with all of you! 

Ten years ago TOP wanted to reach out to other groups of women, so I searched once again and found that there was now a group of Harvard spouses known as HSSPA [pronounced “Hespa” ]. H.S.S.P.A. stands for Harvard Students' Spouses and Partners Association and was mainly made up of the wives of post-docs but also included wives of PhD students and visitors to the university in a variety of positions, plus the occasional husband. They did not prove to be a great source of participants for TOP/WomenExplore. However I found another home with this group. Although I was older than most, but not all of them, I was another foreigner displaced from life in her own country, community and family and unable to work. Without HSSPA most of these young women would have been extremely isolated.

I did not realize at the time that there was deep connection between HSSPA and TOP/WE.

In 1896 Anna Parker Lowell, the wife of a Harvard professor, started a group called the Society of Harvard Dames. This group was open to the mothers, sisters and wives of Harvard students who were only temporarily resident in the area. These were women who had come to look after the young men while they were studying at Harvard. The Harvard Dames met on Thursday afternoons for a talk followed by afternoon tea. The group lasted into the 30's and probably longer before it petered out. Maybe the war interrupted it. In the late 50's the Dean of the Harvard Divinity School decided to resurrect the Society of Harvard Dames as Ladies' Lectures for the wives of HDS students. In 1973 Brita Stendahl with a small advisory committee reformulated these lectures as the Theological Opportunities Program. Like the Ladies Lectures they weren't just open to wives but to any women who were interested. TOP/WomenExplore only became the organization we know when Elizabeth Dodson Gray became coordinator in 1978. She opened the Advisory Committee up to all who attended, developing our unique method of devising a lecture series through the topics that are on our minds. She then introduced the idea of an existential focus to ground the topic of the day in the experiences of one of the women who attended. These two features are what distinguish WE from the myriad of other lectures that are available to us.

Meanwhile some time after I had arrived, another woman turned up looking for a Harvard spouse group. She wasn't happy to find nothing and with the help of the Harvard International Office discovered the Society of Harvard Dames and resurrected it for the second time, this time as HSSPA.

It was a culture shock for me arriving here. I think foreigners feel they know what the US is like from the bombardment of American culture that we receive, but it is never what anyone expects.

I was incredibly shocked the first time I came to Boston to see beggars on the street! In the richest country in the world! It was additionally amazing to see that numbers of them are military veterans. I had NEVER seen a beggar in Wollongong! 

I find that I resist some American traits such as: 
Kowtowing to the boss
Rugged individualism
The belief that everyone is capable of achieving the American dream if it weren't for their own failures.
Philanthropy, which equals giving back a small fraction of what you stole to salve your conscience
The poor state of the democratic system, the democratic system which once led the world.
Tipping at restaurants
The lack of a living wage – tantamount to slavery. If the government needs to support your workers it is subsidizing your business.
It is a very sad fact that America is an extremely unequal society and it is only becoming more unequal, despite the efforts of many good people.

On the other hand there are other characteristics I seek to embrace such as:
The willingness to give praise
The real generosity of many individuals.

Thank you.

The main lecture was given by Roslyn Negrón, socio-cultural anthropologist from UMass, Boston, author of Ethnic Identification Among Urban Latinos: Language and Flexibility.

25 April 2019

Caring for Women Around the World

—From a focus talk given by Luis Ramirez on 25th April 2019
Luis was involved in implementing World Bank projects in some of the poorest regions of the world to raise people out of poverty.

Argentina: Goats

Argentina: Goats

Farming a large type of guinea pig produces furs as well as meat.

Ghana: Working cassava

Ghana: Processing cassava.
They produced so much cassava that the price of cassava went down
and we needed to find ways to process more refined products. 

Ghana: Women were taught how to make and sell soaps

Ghana: We help them sell their crafts

Ghana: Better equipment for processing cassava

Ghana: These women were maliciously accused of being witches

Ghana: Luis dancing with the "witches"

Ghana: Luis dancing with the "witches"

Ghana: The long walk to the river to collect water

Ghana: Even the smallest children could carry some water
Ghana: Luis pumping water from the new well
Ghana: There was no school for these girls
Ghana: The wonderful teacher for the new school, sitting in the center

The main lecture was given by Elizebeth Tucker, principal of Philanthropy & Strategic Engagement for the Grameen Foundation USA which takes a broad approach to tackling the multiple dimensions of the complex problems of poverty.

24 April 2019

Thanks for your writing gift.

For a Christmas gift, Ian gave his step-mother-in-law an essay he had written about walking, biking and canoeing in and around the Nornalup/Walpole inlets.  It brought back memories of her childhood to Elaine.
Karri forest
27thJan 2019

Dear Ian,
Made a mess of all I wished to tell you in thanks for your Christmas gift, your writing gift.
So euphoric for me.
From Manjimup to Tinglewood Lodge when my first ride through the old road – crowea in full bloom and karri trees sheltering on either side. Do you have an email address? My mind slips away to all the memories.
Elaine, her sister and her brother, 1941
The later years as we grew older and Dad had an outboard motor. Across the inlet to what is a national park now. My father's friends made a summer campsite and we were able to book our time each year. Swimming, fishing. Herring mostly and a smouldering fire to smoke them to take home with us.
Ron's Camp
Later from my school in Manjimup. We hired a boat from Swarbricks. Picnic on the inlet and on our return Mr Swarbrick cut the engine and one of our teachers, with a beautiful voice, sang 'Oh, Danny Boy'. The banks on either side so close to us as we drifted. The last year for me. My mother very ill and my sister and I went to board with the Mercy Nuns in Bunbury. When my mother's health did not improve we finished our education at Santa Maria College. A very hard time for us.
Years passed and when our children were teenagers my brother bought a small farm on a road north of Walpole. My sister and our children, also his, spent the summer school holidays there. A small creek tumbling down and through. A few cows and back to paradise.
Had a break now and then from family and found a track north to a point where water tumbled down over and through fallen logs and rocks. My favourite place to sit and rest and watch the movement of the water.
On another day found a small path frequently used.  Climbed up and when at the top, high above the karri trees, a view east, west and round. Summer time and bushes with flowers. A rock to sit awhile.
Then down and back to my brother's farm. Meals and children and a patient old horse to ride.
Story book memories.
Now no longer in the family. However my sister and I loved all of that time.
So, thank you Ian.
Did I ever speak to you of any of this time?
I have read what you gave me more than once. You have a fantastic skill.

Happy New Year.
My love to you,