Monday, May 08, 2006

Woodland One Day at a Time

Now that I'm back in California I'm putting my Luxor blog into "estivation" (the summertime equivalent of hibernation). Clicking on the title of this post will take you to "Woodland One Day at a Time". Until October...

In Memoriam...

(Following is the "remembrance" that I shared at Dad's memorial service on April 29 at St. Anthony's Catholic Church in Challenge, CA.)

My Dad was a wonderful man.

He was never sorry that his firstborn was ONLY a girl. He treated me as if I were the best thing that could have happened to him.

He took me fishing on the Berkeley Marina and Mom was good enough to actually cook the results!

When he had to pick me up from school to take me for eye doctor appointments or to Children’s Hospital for eye therapy, I’d get to go and visit his shop at the Lawrence Berkeley Lab. I still remember the great little robot with the glowing red eyes that the guys there had built.

I still remember him comforting me after a science fair at which I had not succeeded in winning a ribbon.

Mom and Dad were serious about seeing we had a good education. Not only did they pay to allow us all to attend parochial elementary school, but they really came up with the big bucks to send us to parochial high schools. And on top of that, they worked for long hours to fill out the required financial forms every year to see to it that I was able to keep my full scholarship to Holy Names College. Mom recently told me that, compared to those forms, filling out stuff for the IRS was a piece of cake!

He always shared what he knew with us kids or we would learn something together—we tried lost wax casting and copper enameling, etc. etc. etc.

And he was really interested in my education, went the extra yard. My favorite memory of this goes back to Library School at UC Berkeley. I was taking a course in bibliography and I chose to do one of my bibliographies on Ancient Egypt (isn’t THAT ironic, considering what I’m doing now?!). At the time, I believe Louis Alvarez was working at LBL or at Cal. In any case, Dad had some contact with him and mentioned my project. Dr. Alvarez offered to loan me one of the plexiglass models of the Great Pyramid that he was using for the research they were doing to use lasers to investigate for hidden chambers!

We shared a quirky sense of humor. I’m going to miss the regular exchange when he answered the phone, based on a routine by Lily Tomlin on Laugh-In where she played Josephine the telephone operator (one ringy dingy...), always some variation of “Have I reached the party to whom I am speaking?”

He was a gentle, unassuming man, but a man with great strength of character. I found this out when he, who had always smoked cigarettes, pipe and the occasional cigar, quit both the cigarettes and cigars “cold turkey” when I was about ten. A while later he also quit the pipe because he thought it might make him take up cigarettes and cigars again. As far as I know he never smoked again.

Peanut brittle—he love peanut brittle and as a joke just after he’d had his teeth taken out we gave him some as a gift. Of course, forever after that it became known as “peanut brutal”.

I think I inherited his love of trains: from riding the live steam trains at Redwood Park and then at Tilden, I graduated to riding the trains of the world. That’s included trains in England, Scotland, Ireland, France, Spain, Italy, Switzerland, and now Egypt. I’ll always choose a train over a plane if at all possible!

And his printing! He was so enchanted by being able to print. When I was in library school he got to know one of my professors who was also a printer. He printed my wedding invitations. He printed for the Sacramento Book Collectors Club. And of course he printed for your museum. I know that he was delighted to be part of living history! And I still remember vividly the perilous relocation of the linotype from the Bay Area to Forbestown!!

There are so many things I remember now that I’m putting this down on paper—going camping and using all his handmade camping equipment and reading Just So stories around the campfire; and his cooking and BBQing and baking...But we would be here forever!

Yes, Dad was a special man, and I know that he is in a special place (perhaps printing God’s weekly newsletter?). I know it’s selfish of me, but I wish he were still here...

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Sad News...

I'm very sorry to have to announce my beloved father's death as the reason for not having posted here for so long. Joseph W. Bryan "passed into the West" on Tuesday, April 11, 2006 at the age of 85. I have arranged to fly home early and will be arriving in Woodland on Saturday evening. At some point after that I will post an appreciation of my sweet daddy to this blog. Please pray for those of us who are left behind...

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Meet Dr. Franky!

Dr. François Gaudard (Dr. Franky) is the smaller ;-> of the two figures in this photo (left) taken at the Ramesseum in February of this year.

How to describe him?? Well, he's a Swiss UofC doctoral graduate-with-honors-demoticist-rockabilly-pianist-swing dancer-epigrapher-teacher-author (have I left anything out?)

The photo below shows the Doctor swinging with

Tonight (Wednesday, April 5) we celebrated his birthday. And thank you to all who have sent or who will send him birthday e-greetings! He has been quite touched by your best wishes. And I was mightily relieved to find out today that I am NOT old enough to be his mother!!

The photo below shows Dr. Franky enjoying the candles on his birthday cake in the company of Dr. Ray (the Mudhir).

Thursday, March 30, 2006


Yesterday was a very unusual day for us here at CH. Luxor was treated to a 65%-of-total solar eclipse and we acted just like little kids during our lunch hour. We had smoked glass and double negatives for direct viewing, as well as binoculars for reflecting the eclipse onto paper. We also had great fun with the shadows cast by the eclipse.

And just to show you how lush our garden is right now, check out this bougainvillea:

Sunday, March 26, 2006

High Noon at the Tomb...

Just a quick note to report that I have now been in KV 63! We had a house trip today and got to see the new discoveries at Amenhotep III's mortuary temple (west of the Colossi of Memnon) with the enthusiastic guidance of Mudhira Hourig Sourouzian. And then on to the Valley of the Kings and our encounter with the most recently discovered tomb in the valley. Photography was not allowed at either site, but I will do my best to paint word pictures for you in the next few days. I DO have some photos of the finches coming to drink from a bowl set on the wall surrounding the dig and some other shots from the valley.

I know this is a little snobbish, but it was great fun being on the inside looking out at all the poor tourists who will never have the opportunity to see these objects in situ ;-> But let me tell you--they need some fashion police around here!

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

In Love with Slovenia...

Are YOU in love with Slovenia yet? From Ljubljana in the center (top) to Planica near the Italian and Austrian borders in the north (center) and on to Piran on the Adriatic in the south (bottom) it's an absolutely lovely country...
Rather than distract from things Luxorian by posting more pictures on this blog, I will be uploading more of my Slovenian shots to my space at where I am known as Gibna Kebira! I'll provide a link once I've completed that process.
Na zdrovje!

Monday, March 13, 2006

Slovenia Calling!

I certainly didn't expect to be going to Slovenia anytime soon when the season started, but I have been invited to the opening of a photographic exhibit in Ljubljana, after which I will be shown the country by my hosts, Dina and Matjaž. I will not be posting until after I return on March 20. Check out the announcement of the exhibit by clicking on the title of this post...

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Carpet-Bagging It

Just about three weeks ago I became the proud owner of two marvelous kilim rugs. When Sue O. and I set out for Badr's shop in Luxor's suq I only intended to purchase one kilim--for my room here at CH (see photo at left). Well, "the best laid plans", as they say! Shopping here (in Luxor and in Egypt in general) is an art and as such requires time and attention to the niceties of the process.
One chats, in this case about the Africa Cup results and bird flu, as well as Badr's family (Sue has known them for at least two decades), while sipping hot karkaday. We are then asked to give our opinion about some rugs he may or may not buy from a customer. This gets us into the rug room and very circumspectly brings us to the object of tonight's visit--purchasing a rug for me. Based on my comments about the customer's rugs, the brothers start to bring a variety of rugs out. I say yes to this one and no to that one and maybe to some others. Each successive rug which is brought out comes closer to the image I have in my mind's eye. Only after they have built up a more precise image of my preferences do we get to the subject of size. I have limited space in the bedroom. But once that is settled, the perfect kilim appears!
Of course, I should buy another one, too! Or at least so the brothers think...They can make me a much better deal on two (or even three?) than they can on one...Actually, a much larger one had caught my eye earlier in the process...Perhaps I should buy one for my living room in Woodland? Or for my eventual house in France? Oh, why not, it's only money--and coming out of my Egyptian pound bank account to boot! But I did resist the siren calls of several other kilims and kept my purchase to two.
So, who is to begin the bargaining process? Sue had clued me in before our arrival that I should insist that Badr go first. Then, I could either agree that his price was a fair one and end the bargaining right there, or I could make another offer somewhat lower than what I was actually willing to pay. So when he asked me what I thought a good price was I immediately suggested that he go first. When he did, I was so pleased and surprised with the reasonable amount that, although I pondered a while just to "play the game", I accepted his terms (after all, it included a great multi-use striped canvas duffle bag to transport them in!). I paid him half of what I owed him right then, but he was more than happy to wait for the rest of his money, and I could take the rugs with me--imagine most American merchants doing that!
All in all, it was a marvelous cultural and social experience. Oh, and yes, the brothers noted my silver-and-lapis jewelry, approved my taste, and suggested I return to look at their stock of the same. Hmm! What a difficult decision to have to make...
(Be sure to click on the title of this post for more info about kilims.)

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Bird "Flew"?

A wonderful image (NOT!) to tide you over until I have time to catch up with my posting. A not-very-appetizing-but-definitely-hilarious anecdote. I was sitting in the courtyard today eating my usual dessert--a fruit melange topped with plain yoghurt. I had turned my head to make a comment to my lunch companion. All of a sudden there was a splash, well, more like a plop...and yes, you guessed it...when I looked back at my delectable bowl, it wasn't so delectable anymore! I had been the victim of a stealth bird poop attack!! I'm just grateful that they aimed for the bowl and not my head. All part of a day in the life of a CH librarian...

Friday, February 17, 2006

"Arch"itecture and Archaeology

Ya gotta love it! The juxtaposition of the "very old" (Luxor Temple) and the "new and tacky" (can you see the Golden Arches?) is incredibly surreal, but it's also what life in Luxor is all about--the new and the old jockeying for position and co-existing a bit uncomfortably at times...

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Of Birds and Love and Other Things...

How do the birds know? Today is Valentine's Day and they're busy building nests in preparation for a new generation. According to the Catholic Encyclopedia: "The popular customs associated with Saint Valentine's Day undoubtedly had their origin in a conventional belief generally received in England and France during the Middle Ages, that on 14 February, i.e. half way through the second month of the year, the birds began to pair. Thus in Chaucer's Parliament of Foules we read:
For this was sent on Seynt Valentyne's day 
Whan every foul cometh ther to choose his mate."
In any's been a busy few days, which is my excuse for no postings! First, the announcement of the tomb discovered in the Valley of the Kings (KV 63) by our friends from University of Memphis; next, the final game of the African Cup of Nations on Friday night where the "Pharaohs" beat the team from Côte d'Ivoire in overtime; third, a big party here for the KV 63 team on Saturday night (I've included a picture of some of the team - Betty, Heather, Roxie, Alistair and Sharon - and one of the cake - "Mabruk" means "Congratulations");
and finally, a Sunday morning expedition to the West Bank to visit some of the tombs of the nobles (Sennefer, Rekhmire, and Ramose). You can find out more about Sennefer's tomb, called "The Tomb of the Vineyards" because of its marvelous painted ceiling, by clicking on the title of this post.
Whew! Just writing about all this excitement wears me out...

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Breaking News from the Valley...

...and this is the place! Just outside of KV10, the tomb of Amenmesse. And I was there on the day of the initial discovery!! "Ancient Egypt" is still alive and kicking...

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

The Mystery Librarian

Fridays are usually pretty busy here in the CH Library. Since it's the equivalent of our "Sunday" here in Egypt, the other missions don't work. To accommodate their research needs we are open all day, closing only for lunch, which users are invited to partake of with us in the residence. So sometimes I wish I could disguise myself on Fridays as self-preservation!

This is Sue O.'s (CH artist) take on what my disguise and my website might consist of. She gave me this as a birthday card! Don't try to access the URL--it doesn't exist (at least not yet).

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

The Usual Suspects

We celebrated my birthday a day early this year--on January 20. This picture was taken in the courtyard of the CH residence and includes CH denizens as well as visitors. Front row (l. to r.): Krisztian (CH artist) and Marga (Spanish – Egyptian Mission at Dra Abu el-Naga Tombs of Djehuty and Hery (TT 11 – 12)). Back row (l. to r.): Barbara Mertz (aka Elizabeth Peters of "Amelia Peabody" fame--you can visit her website by clicking the title of this post); Dany (standing; CH stonecutter); MOI; Yarko (CH photographer) and Frankie (CH epigrapher). Y'all missed a great party!

Monday, February 06, 2006

Super Sunday in the Valley...

...of the Kings, that is. One of the joys of living where we do is the ease with which we can hop a ferry and then a taxi to sites on the West Bank, all in a morning or an afternoon. Yesterday it was an afternoon jaunt to the Valley of the Kings. My first picture shows the path to and the cliffs surrounding the tomb of Thutmose III. The second one is a dramatic view back down the steps one must climb to reach the entrance. It was well worth the effort, however! You can learn more about this tomb by clicking on the title of this post.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Kitten Kaboodle

Please meet the three newest members of the Chicago "Cat" House family: Sophie, Pele, and Leroy. We've been raising them since they were tiny babies and they seem to be thriving. This makes 13 cats...I think it's a lucky number!

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Into the Sunset...

It was Friday in Luxor--time for a "Sunset Party"! So across the Nile we went to the West Bank to celebrate on the rooftop of a CH friend who is giving up his flat this weekend. Malesh! The presence of some of our Spanish, Italian, Canadian, American, Egyptian and Slovenian colleagues guaranteed good conversation by the cartload. Of course, a little wine, a little beer, a little gin and winding down from a busy week loosened tongues. The view was spectacular! And the evening was graced with echoing shouts from all over Luxor when the Egyptian team scored another goal (they beat Congo to advance to the quarter finals!!).