Friday, December 31, 2010

Meet Ozzie!

When a young Polish egyptologist was returning to Poland after a lengthy stay in Luxor she asked me to help find a home for her young cat, Ozymandias*. We managed to identify a new home for the little guy, but his new "owner" (or should that be "servant" or even "slave"?) was going to be out of town for a while, first at Esna and then in Cameroon for the holidays. So guess who ended up fostering Ozzie (we obviously had to shorten the name, since it was bigger than he was)?

Well, one thing I discovered right away was that his appetite was at least as big as his name! K. had said to me when she first approached me to assist with the adoption that he ate very little. NOT! He's now got a cute little pot belly...

And absolutely everything and everybody is a toy, as far as he is concerned. Two of his favorite non-toy toys are my laundry basket (above) and my bath towel (below). It is the funniest thing to see him lying on his side and spinning the basket using both his hind and front paws!
He wrestles the bath towel around the floor of the bath-
room and can often be found completely hidden under-
neath--just an Ozzie- sized lump!
He does the same thing with the bath mat, but I don't have any photos of that.

And he's a real "snuggle-bug"--such an affectionate cat, often to the point of waking me up in the night for some nose-rubbing! I can truthfully say that I will miss him when he goes to his new home, but it will be a bit of relief as well!

*The reference in the poem (below) is to the ruins at the Ramses II mortuary temple, or Ramesseum, on the west bank at Luxor:
    I MET a Traveler from an antique land,
    Who said, "Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
    Stand in the desart. Near them, on the sand,
    Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
    And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
    Tell that its sculptor well those passions read,
    Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
    The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed:
    And on the pedestal these words appear:
    "My name is OZYMANDIAS, King of Kings."
    Look on my works ye Mighty, and despair!
    No thing beside remains. Round the decay
    Of that Colossal Wreck, boundless and bare,
    The lone and level sands stretch far away.                
              --Percy Bysshe Shelley, Ozymandias

Friday, December 24, 2010

Seasons Greetings! Happy Holidays! Merry Christmas!

I couldn't decide between these two cards this year, so I decided to post both! 

This sunset photo was taken from the roof of CH looking towards the West Bank.
I couldn't resist taking a picture of this great graffito on a door in Porto (Portugal) when I was there in July. It's the Barcelos rooster (galo de Barcelos), often used as a symbol of Portugal.

Be well...Be at peace...Be loved...

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Back in Luxor Again!

It's hard to believe that I've been back in town for just a little over a week now. Last Saturday I left behind a beautifully crisp and sunny fall day in Paris and ended up in an unseasonably "warm" Luxor. I always feel a little ridiculous landing here with my Turkish leather jacket, but it came in very handy in France, so that's the trade-off.

Except for one trip to Vodafone, the pharmacy and the bank by a very circuitous route--thanks to all the destruction, construction and reconstruction--it's been too hot and I have been too concerned about what I am likely to see to take my initial walkabout. But now that the weather is starting to cool down a bit, I won't be able to put it off too much longer. Maybe next weekend.

Here are a few of the images that greeted me this week.

Buttons was eager to help me with my unpacking last Saturday night:
A street scene across from the Vodafone store:
These scarecrows mean business as they stand guard over our vegetable garden:
Extended families of sawhorses:
Our white bougainvillea is starting to turn a little pink:
This is what it looked like when it was still pure white:
Despite the heat and the changes it's good to be back. As I have said to members of the Egyptian staff: Ana hena wi ana mabsuta! I'm here and I'm happy! Stay tuned for a post with photos from a wedding held last Thursday night...

Monday, May 10, 2010

Conserving Egypt’s past at the Hearst

If you will be in the Oakland/Berkeley/San Francisco area at any time over the next few months, you might want to check out this exhibit at the Hearst Museum of Anthropology--The Conservator's Art: Preserving Egypt's Past.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Second Day

There was a possibility of a double visit today--Musée du quai Branly and Musée Rodin--but it did not come to pass. I tend to spend too much time in a museum when I get there to be able to manage two in one day. So, Musée du quai Branly won out over Rodin today.

I took the métro to Invalides and walked from there up to the quai d'Orsay and headed west. It was another glorious day, and all the gilt was shining brightly!
Here is one of the entrances to the museum, advertising one of the special exhibitions that I particularly wanted to see:
The museum's website describes the permanent collections in this way: "An unpartitioned geographical itinerary comprising 5,450 artefacts from all four corners of the world. At the end of the ‘ramp’, the long winding walkway that spirals up from the reception hall, the permanent collections area presents the great geographical regions in which the Musée du quai Branly’s remarkable collections originated: Oceania, Asia, Africa and the Americas. The visitor makes his way fluidly across them, taking in the major crossroads between civilisations and cultures: Asia-Oceania, Insulindia, and Mashreck-Maghreb".

I have to admit that after about ninety minutes I began to go into MEGO (My Eyes Glaze Over) mode! This museum is worth several return visits.

Some of my favorite exhibits were the textiles:
But the Christian paintings from Ethiopia were great, too:
And the exposition "Autres Maîtres de l'Inde" was wonderful.
Perhaps my favorite artist was Jivya Soma Mashe, with his fascinating depictions of village life and mythology in white on brown:
The museum building itself is pretty cool:
After a nice lunch at the Café Branly, I wandered back to the Right Bank and took the métro back to the hotel.
En effet, I was a tired but happy girl!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

First Day, Continued

After I left the church, I had every intention of going directly to the Orangerie, but the best laid plans must be put aside when one notices that the bright green facade of E. Dehillerin is right on the corner of rue du Louvre! One of my longterm goals has always been to visit this family enterprise frequented by Julia Child. Since 1820, as their website says, "Dehillerin distributes high quality kitchen and pastry utensils for the catering professionnals, as well as hobby cookers." I only ventured a short way into the shop, crowded with people and product, and never descended to the sous-sol. But at least I have now been inside and I even purchased a small memento: an Eiffel Tower cookie cutter.
Well, then it was time to visit the Orangerie, n'est-ce pas? Not! I got as far as the Palais Royal and felt the urge to stroll in the gardens. Many other people had the same idea since the day was so beautiful.
This fellow is quite attractive to the plump pigeons who call the gardens home:
Isn't this a wonderful position for reading?
After the gardens, I wandered into another bookstore! But finally I returned to my neighborhood and took an early dinner at Les Cascades. A very good start to the Paris sojourn!

Saturday, April 24, 2010

First Day

Beautiful! Paris is always magnificent, but especially under a sunny sky, and that is exactly what I had yesterday. This glorious weather is expected to continue through the weekend at least. The only problem this presents is that one doesn't want to spend too much of one's days indoors. I tried to balance indoors and outdoors. I started at the Forum des Halles, where I picked up my ticket for the Louvre at FNAC Spectacle. Of course, I couldn't just leave this massive bookstore without browsing! An hour later... Here is a photo from the Forum:
My ultimate goal for the day was the Orangerie, so I headed in that direction but never got there. Instead I spent some time in the church of Saint-Eustache, previously the parish church of the market of Les Halles (the vendors were moved to Rungis in 1969).

Here are just a few of the many photos I took at this magnificent church:
Colbert is buried here:
There's some wonderful stained glass:
I marveled at the grace of the stonework:
The organ is imposing:
And the painted columns and ceilings are beautiful:
And here is a representation of the removal of the vendors to Rungis:
Oops! I just noticed that my second day in Paris is getting away from me, so this post will have to be continued...

Friday, April 23, 2010

Me voilà à Paris!

No photos yet, but I am firmly established at my hotel of choice (Hotel de la Porte Dorée) here in the 12th arrondissement of Paris. It took a few days but I managed (thanks go to M. Emile at Amex in Luxor) to get a Business Class seat yesterday from Cairo. The best part was that I was upgraded to First Class! Un vrai luxe!

The weather here is wonderful--nippy but sunny--and I plan to do a lot of walking. Visits to the Louvre, the Orangerie, Musée Rodin, Musée du quai Branly, bois de Vincennes, perhaps the Musée Guimet are on the agenda. And of course a rendezvous with the coiffeur! And lots of good French wine, cheese, and bread!!

Here are a couple of photos from my sojourn in Cairo to tide you over until I've taken some photos of Paris. A cat in a window in the Eastern Cemetery:
Moi in the courtyard of the tomb complex of Barquq (also in the Eastern Cemetery):
And the Coptic Museum by night:

Sunday, April 04, 2010

Easter Rituals

I can't remember the last time I attended Easter Mass; it was certainly well before I started coming to Luxor for the season. But last night Christian and I walked over to the Franciscan church (built in 1895) near Luxor Temple for the 9:30 service. It began as we all went out to the courtyard to light our candles from the Paschal candle (the "Holy Fire"). We re-entered the lovely little church and Mass began. It was quadrilingual--no, make that quintilingual (is that a word? maybe quinquelingual?): Latin, Italian, French, German and English! Shades of my childhood: incense (I do love incense!), blessing of the holy water and recital of our Baptismal vows, the unveiling of the Christ statue (which has been covered since Good Friday)...

And children never change: two rows ahead of us there were three little girls sitting with two nuns. The girls were all dressed in pink-and-white frocks and each one had donned a pair of either gleaming gold or silver sandals. Of course, they were much more interested in the people attending Mass than they were in the ritual itself!

Here is a photo of the church and courtyard taken just after the service ended:
Afterward, enjoying the slightly cooler night air (103 F yesterday, folks!), we strolled to the Oasis Café only to find it closed for the night. So we decided to try the Metropolitan on the lower Corniche, where we would have Nile-side seating. The cappuccino was decent, although not as good as the Oasis's iced version, and the view was extraordinary:
As we were preparing to make the short trip back to CH, we both noticed a rather bizarre life-size poster showing Sarko and Carla during their visit to Luxor a couple of years ago:
Not quite sure what that's all about but..."Smile, you are in Luxor!"

Saturday, April 03, 2010

Cat-a-combing Cairo

There are lots of cats in the streets of Islamic Cairo but they were usually moving too quickly for me to "capture" them!

These two were quite hopeful about getting some lunch:
Welcome cat?
Shopping for "antiques":
"On the bricks" in the courtyard at the Blue Mosque:
And one "ringer" at the Gayer-Anderson Museum next door to the Ibn Tulun Mosque:

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Wake-up Call!

Ah, yes! That unmistakable whoosh as the burner of a hot air balloon flares in the early morning sky overhead. I hadn't heard it for a while and it took a minute for my fuzzy morning brain to identify it. It was very loud so I knew it had to be very close. I threw on a wrap and some shoes and headed out with my camera. There it was--heading north directly over the property and almost alarmingly low. But that meant I could get some great shots. Here it is as it appears at the south end:
And as it nears my position:
Right overhead! (I have to admit I used the zoom; it wasn't really this low)
And as it drifts off to the north towards Karnak:
A truly astonishing wake-up call...