Friday, October 31, 2008

Tony Hillerman, Novelist, Dies at 83

Please excuse this detour from things Egyptian, but I was shocked and saddened to learn of the death of one of my all-time-favorite mystery writers. Whenever I would visit New Mexico I would re-read Death Comes for the Archbishop by Willa Cather and at least one of Tony's mysteries (my favorites are Dance Hall of the Dead, The Thief of Time and Skinwalker). It's hard to believe that we will no longer meet up with Joe Leaphorn and Jim Chee...

My last trip to New Mexico coincided with the opportunity to hear Tony speak and to chat briefly with him at Left Coast Crime, which was held in Alburquerque in 1999. He will be sorely missed!

Halloween Tradition Continues at Chicago House

We celebrated Halloween on October 30 this year--so "been there, done that" well before you've put your costumes on. CH hosts a major party for all the missions and any of our friends who are in town. Dr. Ray considerately scheduled the party for last night so that our guests would have all day Friday to recuperate (Fridays are the weekly holiday for everyone except us--we take Sundays)! Most of the preparations, decorating and the "pumpkin" carving (no pumpkins here, only squash) took place yesterday afternoon:

I'm not even going to try to identify all the pictures taken at the party:

And here's our youngest guest, Gioia:

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

On Your Mark...Get Set...GO!

I hit the ground running for my fifth season at Chicago House. Sam from American Express delivered me safely at about 3:40 a.m. on Sunday, October 19 (this middle-of-the-night arrival is the only downside of the direct flight from Paris to Luxor). Luckily, Sunday is our day off (unlike all the other missions that follow the Arabic custom of Friday holidays--we work Fridays so that the library can be open for our fellow egyptologists and Egyptian grad students)! But I was still up for traditional Sunday-morning pancakes! Sunday was also the day when I learned that the Mudhir wanted the library open for business on Wednesday!! But I'm nothing if not flexible and up for a challenge...

Here's a picture of the library before the grand opening:

This is the original library built in 1931 as part of the transfer of Chicago House from the West Bank (behind the Colossi of Memnon) to the East Bank (fronting on the Nile).

And the view from one of the windows in my new office:

Familiar sounds make me feel at home quickly. The first was early on Sunday morning when the call to prayer wafts from the nearby mosque. The second was the whoosh of the burner on one of the hot air balloons which frequently make their way across the Nile from their launch area on the West Bank:

This one seemed to be sinking quickly towards an unplanned landing!

I've already had visitors from Woodland! These are new friends (thanks to Gerry Flory) Kusum and Narayan Rau. They consulted with me about their trip to Egypt back in September and were excited to see Chicago House and the library firsthand. They are bringing lots of literature with them to share with mutual friends back home.

Wow! I'm exhausted just reading about all that's happened in just over a week....And there's more to come--reports on the betrothal ceremony I attended last night and the upcoming CH Halloween party. But enough for this post...

"Ahlan wa sahlan" from Luxor, Egypt!