The Virtual Pilgrim

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  • There are all sorts of stories.  Some are written to educate us - full of facts and details, maybe about a different time or place, a different way of life, a different set of beliefs that the author wants to share.  Some are written to entertain us – they allow us to unravel a mystery, or take us on a nail-biting ride of twists and turns.  Some stories warm our hearts – they encourage us, make us feel warm and fuzzy.  Some stories make us laugh, and others make us cry.  But the best st... more »
  • There are epics, and then there are Epics. The Gilgamesh epic is in the latter category. It is the earliest surviving story of its kind. Written over 4,000 years ago, the epic is a cautionary tale of wisdom on the subject of life, death, and the folly of trying to outrun death, of seeking immortality. First, a little background on Gilgamesh (I am trying to refrain from referring to him affectionately as Gilgy). Gilgamesh was a king of Uruk, an early Mesopotamian city, and according to tra... more »
  • Overnight trains are a lovely form of transportation. I loved going to sleep in one city and waking up just outside of another. It wasn't a very smooth ride, but there is something about all of the little bumps and the click, clack, clickity, clack that lulls you right back to sleep each time you wake up. And it was so nice to be able to completely stretch out in a bed, especially after our flight to Beijing that gave me sore hips and knees from so much sitting. By the time we figur... more »
  • Can you tell I love reading to my kids?  I have posted a couple times about the history reading we have done together.  We usually read these books around the dinner table (my kids are slow eaters and they are good listeners when their mouths are full ;-)).  But we also read many nights at bedtime, and I try to reserve this time for stories.  And by stories, I mean stories, and if you are a lover of stories and sharing them with people, you know what I mean.  Bedtime is for stories that mak... more »
  • Day two I woke up at 4:30 am, either due to the effects of jet lag or my excitement about seeing the Great Wall (probably both). We met our guide and our driver downstairs at 6:00 am and ate our breakfast in the car. The drive out to the wall was a little under three hours and wow, was it action packed! After driving on two-lane country roads and passing an average of five vehicles a minute for three hours straight, we realized exactly why our driver had a crucifix hanging from his rearv... more »
  • The Babylonian flood story dates to 1600 BC.  The version that I read is a compilation of several different versions, which have been pieced together to form a more cohesive narrative. The story is more about the background of the gods' decision to bring about the flood rather than the flood itself.  And it brings a lot of light to the view that Mesopotamians held of their deities: that they considered humans a necessary nuisance.  They were necessary because they kept them fed and labored fo... more »
  • Three years ago my husband and I went to China for a business trip/vacation.  On a now defunct blog, I started a travel journal of the trip and made it through the first three days before I abandoned the blog forever (yet another failed writing attempt).  Lately I have been feeling a lot of regret that I never finished writing down my experience, and so I decided to repost the three entries I finished and go through my trip photos and finish writing about the rest of the trip.  I'm hoping tha... more »
  • From February - August of this year at home, we immersed ourselves in the Middle Ages.  My then first grader read quite a few books independently, and I also chose several titles for family read-alouds.  We enjoyed all of them, with many standing out as favorites, and I learned a lot (which is slightly embarrassing, considering that these are all children's books).  I have bolded the titles that we enjoyed the most (RA=read aloud, IR=independently read by my 7 year old): 1.  Leif the Luck... more »
  • Mesopotamian literature is an interesting beast.  I'm not completely sure how to describe it.  It's the opposite of hopeful and uplifting, but at the same time it's too outlandish to take at face value so it ends up being kind of humorous in a depressing sort of way.    Even the gods (the heroes, if you can call them that) come across as whiny, immoral, and at times just....dense.  Only Ea, the god of wisdom, seems to have much sense at all, and he is mostly painted as a sneaky guy who is a... more »
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