Monday, December 31, 2012

Something Cheery

Cache Pot with Pansies, 16" x 12"

 Dear Imaginary Friends,

I don't know about you, but winter makes me feel sluggish, tired and blah. I find that it helps me to surround myself with bright colors, in warm hues. The painting above is just what Dr. Happy ordered! Something that reminds us of Spring. Art therapy has real value. You don't have to paint the art in question; you can just hang it. :)  

Sunday, December 30, 2012

My Most Recent Sale, from my Sedona Series

Bell and Courthouse Rock, Oil, 8 x 10", Oil
This painting sold last week at River Farm. I have two pieces left from this series.

This one is called Coffeepot Rock, and is a tiny 5" x 7", Oil.

Never a Dull Moment

Dear imaginary friends,
Here is how our trip to Egypt began-
There was a slight scary moment when the ticket agent at Dulles
said you must show us proof of your yellow fever shot. What 
yellow fever shot?? First we heard of that.  Then the lady
said have you been to Zambia?
Luckily no. Cuz that is when you need the shot!
(Now why did she assume we just came from Zambia??) 
As much as we love a major adventure, we planned to
nonetheless avoid Tahrir Square. 
You only need so much excitement!
Pinching Ourselves
Everyone Wore This Garb Outside of Cairo

Such Balance!
 We feel extremely safe here in Cairo. The only 
violence we have seen is two women arguing. Today I rode a camel, 
saw the pyramids, climbed up inside the tallest pyramid, Cheops, saw 
the sphinx, was accosted by a zillion vendors, and ate lunch
at a yummy country inn. Tonight is dinner here at the hotel. 
We are sore and exhausted, not to mention sleep deprived. It was
the equivalent of climbing beaucoup flights of stairs
to go up inside the pyramid. 
And we were bent over like trolls some of the time, hanging on to 
dubious handrails, climbing rung ladders, etc. 
It was about 100 degrees inside at the top. Outside, 
it is in the seventies during the day, with a lot 
of smoggy haze in the morning and evening. There is such bad air 
pollution here.

We are in room 2120 of the Sofitel Elgezirah on the Nile on a little island. We have a tiny balcony, with great panoramic views of the city and the river. It is a large, beautiful hotel. We were originally supposed to stay in the InterContinental Semiramis, but it's off Tahrir Square, and the last tour groups complained of tear gas getting in their eyes when they went outside. Not fun. The protests are killing the tourist economy here.

Only seven people were brave enough to show up for this tour, as the news makes things sound far worse than they really are. Just Carlo and I are doing the Jordan extension. Can you imagine seven people on a 75 cabin Nile boat? Crazy. But not as crazy as a tour group of two people in Jordan. We have every meal at the same table with the other five people and the tour guide.

Egypt is less Westernized than I expected. Many men are walking around in turbans and galibiyahs (long gowns) The ones from southern Egypt, also know as Upper Egypt, are  more fundamentalist. Modes of transportation include donkeys, carts, bicycles and tiny mini cars called tut-tuts, because they sputter. There are no front doors on them and no seat belts. Also, this country is not handicap friendly nor OSHA compliant!
There are really long lines at all the gas stations in Upper Egypt. The supply line is terrible outside of Cairo.

There is much litter along the roads, and no shortage of car exhaust. 15 million people live in Cairo,  the largest city in Africa, sited on the longest river in the world. The Nile floods, making agriculture possible. Today we drove past farms growing gigantic cabbage, farms with buffaloes, goats and sheep, none of which looked well-fed.

Tomorrow is the Egyptian Museum, a market, a view of Cairo's medieval quarter, and Muhammed Ali mosque and citadel. I am required to wear a head scarf, long sleeves, and no shoes in the mosque, just like when we went to the Blue Mosque in Istanbul.

I really am glad that I came. It is a fascinating country and older and a better history lesson than any class I have ever taken.
We are very well taken care of by Viking. Our guide is an encyclopedia of Egyptian history. He does free lance tours for all the good tour companies, including Uniworld and Abercrombie and Kent. His English is great. His name is Ehab.

All of the camels have names. The one I rode was Michael Douglas (!) I could not see the resemblance. It was very scary when he stood up and laid down, and his gait lurched from one side to the other. I was hoping to survive and did. He was pretty cute. For a camel. (Don't want my cat to be jealous!)

This is not a clean country! Many people keep covers over their cars and air conditioners to keep the sand and dust out. Maybe that is the true reason for wearing the long gowns?
An enigma: why do the people walk in the roads, even freeways, even at night, eschewing the sidewalks? Tradition! 

Your Imaginary Friend,


I Love Camels and Camels Love Me

I Ride "Michael Douglas" in Giza, in front of the Pyramids

Camel Taxi Stand

I Think They Are Flirting with Me!
Dear Imaginary Friends,

Carlo and I recently went to Egypt and Jordan, and we absolutely loved our trip! To stand in front of the Great Pyramids, outside Cairo, ride camels, walk the Sahara Desert, is nothing short of amazing, when you are a couple of regular old peeps. We had a cool opportunity and grabbed it, to climb inside the Great Pyramid, where Ramses II was once buried. It was like walking up eight flights of stairs, sometimes while hunched over, and sometimes on a rung ladder, straight up. All I can say is, we did it, and can hardly believe we had such an experience.
You should really consider visiting Egypt. We loved it. And the camels are pretty cute.

Your Imaginary Friend,