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Tuesday, November 30, 2010

O Pioneer! William Morris Lace

 I went through my lace curtain phase in the 1990s but this new design from Cooper's Cottage Lace might just make me reconsider!  It would look right at home in my Morris Chrysanthemum dining room.  Great stuff Dan!

Monday, November 29, 2010

The Works of Geoffrey Chaucer

Kelmscott Chaucer (1896)

On display in the Buffalo and Erie County Public Library through January 30, 2011, “The Ideal Book - William Morris and the Kelmscott Press”.  Your chance to see one of the most famous books in the world, regarded by many as the greatest publication ever issued by a modern private press.

An older post about Morris and the private press movement (which he founded) here.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Jane's addiction?

Rossetti?  A previously unknown portrait of Jane Morris, William Morris's wife, drawn by Dante Gabriel Rossetti, her lover, goes on display at the Birmingham Museum in Great Britain in January.  More details here.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

M. S. Eugenie, Jewel of the Nile

While hundreds of passenger vessels ply the Nile between Aswan and Luxor, a distance of less than 200 km, only a few boats carry tourists on Lake Nassar above the High Dam.  The first was the M.S. Eugenie, built in 1993 in the style of a early 20th century Art Deco steamship.  The Eugenie feels so perfect I was initially uncertain whether it was a replica or a restored vessel.  It was named after the Empress Eugenie of France who traveled to Egypt in 1869 to celebrate the opening of the Suez Canal.

The top deck (Eugenie is parked behind a large rock island)

 Fifty cabins, about 100 guests, average age probably around 55 (lots of retired folks living life to its fullest).  Four days, three nights cost ~$650 per person including all expenses except alcohol and tips.  Each day included expertly guided expeditions to amazing ruins in the morning and late afternoon.  Food and service was impeccable.  I want to return with my parents and children--it was that special.

 Back dining deck

Dining Room

One of the many cool seating areas at dusk.... 

top deck combo plunge and lounging pool

And of course it wouldn't be a cruise without towel-folding!  Here raised to a fine art.....


Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving! *

(* Dear foreign readers....A secular holiday with the only requirement that you have a long bountiful feast with family and friends, typically built around a roast turkey, and be thankful for the things you might take for granted the rest of the year.)

I apologize to everyone who's enjoyment of today's turkey I ruined by the last post!  I will state for the record that I will be eating turkey today.  I buy very expensive, special order turkeys that lived happy, carefree lives in rural Vermont, possibly roaming their neighborhoods and woods, flirting and making turkey-babies like my local bird above (see this post).  I am happy to pay double for the humane narrative, hope it is somewhat true, and recognize how fortunate I am that I can make such a financial choice.  Beccacowster came to her vegetarianism through her love of cows, other social action groups try to get Americans to choose "Meatless Mondays".  I eat meat about once a week and try to buy local/regional farm-raised animals rather than factory-grown produce (this is harder in America than it should be).  The best book I ever read about food and the choices we make was The Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael Pollan.....I think everyone should read this thoughtful book which celebrates food.


Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Please don't eat me!

Just in time for Thanksgiving....this moving YouTube video (link here) made by my friend's twelve year old daughter Rebecca, aka beccacowster, using iMovie on a Mac.  I am in awe!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Temples at Abu Simbel

Abu Simbel just above the Sudanese border

When a new larger dam was built by the Egyptians and Russians in Aswan in the 1960s it was clear than many archeological treasures would be lost as the waters rose in the new Lake Nasser.  A global collection was taken up and with $40 million contributed by many nations, UNESCO organized a multinational team of archeologists, engineers, and heavy equipment operators to move some, but not all of the drowning temples.  The most famous of these were the two Temples of Abu Simbel.

 approach from the lake...

Over four years (1964-1968), the temple was carefully deconstructed, cut into large 20-30 ton blocks, dismantled, and moved to its new location 65 meters higher and 200 meters back from the river.  The undertaking is widely considered to be one of the greatest archaeological engineering feats in history.  In appreciation of help from the U.S. the Egyptian government later gave the New York Metropolitan Museum the Temple of Dendur which was also saved from the rising waters.

A great pic (from wikipedia) showing a model of the old (under water) and new locations of the temples.

The face of the second Ramesses fell off in an ancient earthquake.  The decision was made to leave it as it had fallen although some repairs were made to other parts of the statues as can be seen below.

The complex consists of two temples; the larger one (above) dedicated to three of Egypt's gods of the time, Ra-Harakhty, Ptah, and Amun, and featuring four large statues of Ramesses II guarding the entrance to both the temple and Egypt (don't even think about trying to invade oh Nubians of the south!  I will crush you with my superior might and godliness).  The smaller temple is dedicated to the goddess Hathor and Nefertari, most favored wife of Ramesses. 

The temple of Nefartari (if you click to enlarge you can see all the "cutting lines" of the blocks).


 The insides of the temples are amazing, seemingly acres of wall covered with carved and painted hieroglyphics and bas-reliefs telling the stories of Ramesses' exploits and accomplishments.  Unfortunately, no photography.  And, if you ever happen to be in Abu Simbel, I highly recommend the light show, unlike the one at Giza which is cheeeeezy....

Next, how I got here....the totally awesome boat M. S. Eugenie.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Some perspective, Stonehenge

So last night I'm pondering Egypt and I think of Stonehenge, a place I first visited as a child, later brought my own children to, and have always thought of with wonder and awe.   Who made this ancient monument?  How were these massive stones lifted into place?  Where were they transported from?  It all seemed so monumentally impressive (pardon the pun).  So I look up the age of Stonehenge this morning to discover they date to ~2500 B.C., younger than the pyramids, tombs and carved temples at Saqqara and about the same age as the Giza Pyramids (and all their accompanying wall carvings, paintings, wooden funerary boats, treasure, etc.).

Suddenly Stonehenge didn't seem quite so impressive!

(pic from wikipedia)

Friday, November 19, 2010

Al Moudira, magic bubble, part II

These rattan (?) chairs were being sold in Luxor so I assume they are made locally.  Incredibly beautiful.

the added painting really makes this fountain "pop"...

In a country with near zero rainfall you don't have to worry about the magic holes in your ceiling leaking....


and so much more: food, pool, nearby wonders of the world....Al Moudira, au revoir....

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Temple of Luxor

Luxor, the ancient city of Thebes, one of the greatest cities of the ancient world and the capital of Egypt during the New Kingdom (~1550-1070 B.C.), was founded in 1400 B.C.   Statues of Ramesses II, Egypt's greatest Pharaoh abound.

The avenue lined with sphinxes connected the temples of Luxor and Karnak.

The matching granite obelisk on the other side of the gate was carted away to the Place de la Concorde in Paris, given to the French by the Ottoman viceroy of Egypt in 1829.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Al Moudira, A pocket of loveliness...

...on the Nile.

For two nights we stayed at the Hotel Al Moudira, a labor of love which opened about ten years ago and is situated "in the middle of nowhere" on the west bank of the Nile near the Valley of the Kings.  All the other tourist hotels are on the east bank in the nearby city of Luxor.  Seldom does one find a place that is so perfect, so lovely, so intoxicating...not one false note.  And yes, the fountain is filled with rose petals. 

I'm posting two sets of pics from here as the place is so inspiring....I want to go home and start stenciling.

the entrance hall and reception desk....(the metal detector and armed guards being a discrete distance behind across a courtyard ;-)

Morris chairs!!!  looking right at home in the Ottoman Palace decor.

Beyond the breakfast patio (first pic) is this uber-alcove....what a great place to loll with a nightcap on a hot night.

detail of stenciling

There are numerous things I love about this pic.  First, the seed pods stuck in sand as a "bouquet".  Second, these wrought iron coffee tables are all over Egypt, often painted with designs on top...seems like a perfect idea for Pottery Barn to rip off.  Third, the cotton fabrics in the bold colors and designs are sold in all the souks.  Supposedly they are traditional Nubian designs but I haven't been able to find any validation of this. I bought many pieces in the souks for about $5/yard which I'm sure is five times what the locals pay.  On the construction sites, they hang huge curtains of this fabric to keep dust in (or out?), the same way we would use tarps.

A fabulous stained glass window.  I love the studied randomness of the colors.