Sunday, October 31, 2010

A pause

When we left for Hawaii, I planned to rest but I didn't plan to leave technology behind.

But that's what happened, and why I haven't blogged.

I didn't realize how overly plugged in I'd become. But in Hawaii, we didn't have much internet access and were forced to do what we needed so much: to leave the world for a while and simply rest.

It was good to pause and simply gaze at the sunset.

How wonderful the tropical fruits tasted! 
Candy for the eye as well as the mouth.
Snorkeling and playing in the waves made me feel six years old again.

This was the first time we have found ourselves on the beaches alone.
What pleasure to sit in silence and listen to the surf.

Imagine thinking you were kicking your toes in the sand, thinking yourselves alone.
Then you almost trip over a baby Hawaiian monk seal sunning himself!

Yes, we barely noticed in time, and thank goodness the little fellow never knew we were there.

You can see how hard he was to spot, over near a fishing buoy that had washed up on shore.

Have you seen the giant Hawaiian green sea turtles? 

The bodies of animals fascinate me, and it's such fun to be able to photograph them for reference later.

Are you interested in the details, too? Do you revel in the infinite creativity you see in nature, as I do?

Tomorrow I will show you some of the birds I watched in Hawaii. 
What fun to be able to share these things with you!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Emily's face

Are there faces you love?
Ones you would love to find peeking over the garden gate, smiling at you?

I was delighted to see my sweet niece Emily's face all weekend.
She made me grin.

We got crafty. 
We fed the horses.
We shopped til we dropped at the thrift store.

There is just nothing like someone you love, visiting for the weekend.

Emily, come back. 
I miss you already and it's only Monday.

Friday, October 8, 2010

What I saw today...

As wonderful as other places are, there is still nothing like home for comfort and beauty.

It's autumn in the Pacific Northwest and I grabbed the camera when I ran out.

Seed pods are ripening. Leaves are turning in that subtle way that is so very northwest.

Pumpkins lay ripe in the fields.

A cow in the field across the road seemed to smile back at me.

There is something so satisfying about the seasons. Do you feel it, too?

Time to put a pot of soup on to simmer, to think about an autumn bonfire with the neighbors all zipped up in parkas while we roast hot dogs and marshmallows one last time.
A storm is moving in and we are rejoicing in autumn at our house. 

How about you?

Thursday, October 7, 2010

The beauty of detail

Everywhere I go I find myself savoring the details more than the big picture.

This last trip I stopped arguing with myself and allowed myself to rejoice in the pleasure of being close up. 

And oh, the delicious details I found!
Stone scrolls circling like a snail's back...

...silvery little fresh anchovies in a fish market.
Details that vanish immediately in a shimmer of water.

And more gorgeous metalwork than I'd dreamed of.

 Oh, yes, details are beautiful things.

I love carved stone.
Anything architectural.
Old stuff.

Joy truly is in the details.
Don't you agree?

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Kittens and comfort

Sometimes the dog throws up, the contractor cuts down your favorite rhododendron leaving nothing but an ugly stump and work is just not working.

The computer glitches and you burn the cookies.
The files you sent are lost in cyberspace and your voice is gone for a whole week with no end in sight.

Time to think of pleasanter things.

Kittens, for example.
I noticed the sweetest kittens on my recent trip to Europe.

This darling peeked out at me in Greece.

And how about this beauty, sitting by the entrance to the Acropolis in Athens?

In a park in Venice I found this cat. Aren't her eyes gorgeous?

All over Greece I noticed little cups for resident pets to drink in cool shady spots. It made me love the Greeks even more.

And if cats are sweet, dogs are over the top.

All over Europe they dozed in the sun, right in the middle of walkways, trusting people not to kick their noses or step on their feet...

This fellow was asleep at the Acropolis...

and I wished I could take this one home

or at least stop for a scratch behind the ears.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Ephesus at last

Pinch me.
I still can't believe I actually got to go to Ephesus.

We stepped off the boat and there we were in Turkey.

A little gallop over to a taxi stand, we trundled down a road and there we were: 
the old, old city that was Ephesus.

Because I have so enjoyed the book of Ephesus in the Bible I was thrilled to see it first hand.
Ephesus was a thriving city of 250,000 people at one time. When its population died of malaria, the city was deserted, which is why we can see the remarkably well preserved ruins of Ephesus today and get a snapshot of life in that place and time.

The city was built around Artemis, goddess of fertility. When we walked in and I saw her name inscribed in stone (see it above) I could hardly believe my eyes. 
You can walk around Ephesus today freely, touch the stones and see everything without any boundaries. 

I was surprised to at how contemporary life was. For example, Ephesus had plumbing throughout the city, fed by four aqueducts. The elite had hot and cold water plumbed into their indoor bathrooms.

The clay pipes that carried their water were visible around the city, some in the ground or in the walls, and some laying at the city's edge, like these.

We had read our Bibles before getting to Ephesus and were alert for signs of the early Christians who lived there. We saw some crosses carved in stone and walked through amphitheatres where they walked, looked at the places where they'd struggled and laughed and lived lives much like our own.
 And the beauty! 
Oh my goodness, I had not imagined I'd see the level of intricate craftsmanship we observed in Ephesus. As an artist I was completely blown away.

I took an embarrassingly large number of photographs. 

Carved stone, mosaics, even original painted frescoes...

Who, I wondered, were the artists who made these things?

What were their tools?

How did they reproduce things so exactly? Their techniques would interest us so much today.

I wished I could look over their shoulders, and found myself musing over ways I might incorporate this inspiration into my own work, to bring the flavor of ancient times into a contemporary form.

Before leaving, we wanted to see the Terrace Houses, ancient condos inhabited by the wealthiest citizens. There's an extra charge for this, and we didn't have Turkish dinars. I still can't believe I did it, but I bribed the men to let us in with Euros.
The walls were painted beautifully, mosaics gilded their floors, and faux marble paintings lined the hallways. I can't show it to you very well because the lighting was poor, but if you should ever find yourself considering a visit to Turkey, you must not miss this treasure.

Leaving the terrace houses we were astonished at the big agora, or marketplace. The vast and heavily decorated construction is staggering.

I was stunned at the intricacy and the sheer size of the place. 
(That's me on the lower left in a pink shirt and pale blue pants.)

Here is the top part of the agora- I tried to close in on it so you could see the details but sadly it's still very hard to see.

And then a glance to the right and I saw names I recognized: Agrippa, Caesar Augustus, Julia.
Another surprise.

And thought I have at least five or six hundred more photos of Ephesus (no, I am not joking) I am afraid you may not be quite as captivated as I am by all this. 

So I will simply say I was stunned and delighted. As the afternoon light faded on this timeless place I walked through one last arch and climbed into the cab with a sigh.