Saturday, April 30, 2011

120:365 And While We Are Dreaming, Time Flies

My mother had a clock like this back in the early 1960's. This one is hanging on the wall at the funeral home where my Aunt's wake and funeral were held. It looks like new to me, and I'm reasonably sure it's been on the wall, in the same place, since at least 1961 - many of the furnishings seemed to be from about that time, and yet they were nice - not shabby, and comforting the way the oddly familiar often is.

It took me right back to another place and time . . . just as the song in the post title does. I looked for a YouTube of it, but didn't find the one I wanted.

119:365 Sure Signs of Spring

This magnolia is in my front yard - it puts on quite a show every spring. The trees are doing their best to leaf out, even though it has been quite chilly here.

This was yesterday's (Friday) photo, snapped as I walked to the car to drive to my Aunt's wake. It was a long day, 2 to 9, and the funeral is this morning. I was glad for my younger cousin that so many of his friends came out to support him in his loss.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

118:365 The Sun, the Moon and One Star

was the original name of this sculpture by Joan MirĂ³. It's now called MirĂ³'s Chicago. One of the things that Chicago does exceptionally well is public art. This sculpture has been in the courtyard between the old Brunswick Building and the Chicago Temple Building since 1981. It's made of steel, wire mesh, concrete, bronze and ceramic tile.

117:365 Monument With Standing Beast

That's the name of this sculpture by Jean Dubuffet. It has lived in front of the Thompson Center since 1984, and is one of only three of Dubuffet's sculpture commissions in the U.S. It's made of fiberglass and weighs 10 tons (Wow!).

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

116:365 Fernando and the Fern

That's my birthday Boston Fern. My cousin Kathryn gets me a fern every year for my birthday. One year she didn't and I moaned about it all summer long :-D

She also gave me Fernando. Fernando is the family flamingo. He travels around from person to person. He'll be with me as long as it takes me to get him to the next person in the family who has a birthday. I think I'm stuck with him until at least July, maybe August :-D

115:365 Springtime . . .

Been raining in Chicagoland for days now . . . Pansies are one of my very favorite flowers - they remind me of my grandmother.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

113:365 This is What 55 Looks Like

Today (April 23rd) is my birthday. I took this photo of myself this morning before I met my cousins M.E. and K.

We headed over to The Club to get 1/2-hour massages, and then went to Fresh Starts (Yum!!) for my birthday lunch. All in all, a lovely birthday.

And then it turned bittersweet . . .

I returned from Egypt on Tuesday, and my cousin, M.E. came over on Wednesday (my recovery day) to have lunch and catch up. She let me know that my aunt was not doing well and didn't have long. While I was away, she had stopped eating and drinking, and had gone a couple of weeks without food or water. In other words, she was actively dying.

And so after lunch, M.E. and I got in the car and went over to see her. When I got there, her son (another of my cousins) said that she had waited for me. She might have. She was unconscious and looked much different from the last time I had seen her. The hospice doctor happened to come by while we were there, and he advised that she had days rather than weeks. That was Wednesday.

Today, Saturday, as we were finishing up my birthday lunch, we got the call that she had just passed away. The rest of my day was spent over at the house, helping with a variety of things that her sons needed help with.

When someone is old (nearly 90) and has been so very ill and in major pain for some time, there is a sense of relief when their suffering is done. I will miss her, but I am glad she does not hurt anymore. She was quite a character - and I'm working on her eulogy now. I'm the writer in the family and when someone dies, I am the one the family turns to to write about them and deliver their eulogy. I'll write more about her after her funeral next Saturday.

Her passing means that I'm pretty much the matriarch of my clan now . . . an interesting development (on a significant birthday, no less) - I'm not quite sure how I feel about it.

112:365 At Prayer . . .

Imagine my chagrin when, in my jetlagged state (it's been just brutal this time) I apparently forgot to actually take even a photo of my foot for this 22nd of April. I feel like I've failed somehow . . . but it gives me a chance to share with you one more photo from Egypt.

This mosque in Cairo was so beautiful and so peaceful. It's the same mosque I shared for April 4th.

111:365 Home Again

I went back to work today (Thursday, April 21). This is, of course, the famous clock on the corner of State and Randolph on the store formerly known as Marshall Fields.

110:365 Queen of the Nile

This is a small bust of Nefertiti that I bought for my shadowbox. It's only about an inch and a half tall.

109:365 Fly Away Home

Out the window of my Egyptair flight from Cairo to Frankfurt - those are the Alps :-)

108:365 All Modes of Transportation

A common site - cars, bikes, pedestrians and donkeys, all at the same time.

107:365 In the Sand

Every day my shoes were full of the orange sands of the Sahara. These guys don't seem to mind it at all.

106:365 Dreamscape

Once we were on the ship on Lake Nasser, a great haze moved in and for all three days I felt like we were on the Ship of Fools, cruising along in the fog.

105:365 Abu Simbel

Yes, it really is as amazing as you might have heard.

104:365 Friends

Me, Fatima and Hiba, whose nickname is Bob! I met these two lovely teenagers in the Botanic Gardens in Aswan. They both spoke excellent English. They were very curious as to why I was alone in the gardens - a woman alone is not a common occurrence in Egypt - and struck up a conversation with me.

They were at the gardens with their school class, and Bob's mom was also there and she was anxious for me to meet her. It was no mean feat to get all three of us in this photo, which is why Bob and I look a little cut off.

Not such a great photo technically, but this is also a chronicle of my life, and I loved meeting these two!

I'm not as sunburned as I look - it was hot in Aswan and I was very warm.

103:365 The Wet and the Dry

The green band between the Nile and the desert is not always very large.

102:365 The Camel Market


101:365 Abdullah

A face of Egypt . . .

He was one of the sailors on our dahabeya. He accompanied us on a number of our excursions off the ship. As I'm sure you can tell, none of the women minded his presence ;-)

100:365 Horus

At Edfu.

Horus was one of my favorites of all the gods. This is at his temple in Edfu. Another favorite shot from the trip.

99:365 Felluca

Shot from our dahabeya at the end of the day.

98:365 Luxor on the Nile

The view from my hotel room in Luxor.

I didn't have a lot of photos to choose from this day because I was sick. :-S I was so careful, but still, I ate something that caused me intestinal distress for the rest of trip. I spent this day in our hotel, the Sonesta St. George in Luxor, while everyone else went to Abydos and Dendara.

97:365 A Good Book . . .

This man is actually a guard - there is a machine gun on the bench next to him - at Karnak Temple in Luxor. One of my favorite photos of the trip.

96:365 On the Rocks

I saw these women making their way down the hillside through these massive boulders, on their way to St. Catherine's Monastery.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

95:365 Desert Rose

I don't think this what Sting and Cheb Mami were talking about, but the Bougainvillea was everywhere. This was my last day in Cairo.

94:365 At the Mosque

Don't know that this needs any description at all . . .

93:365 After the Storm

I saw them daily in Northern Ireland - I never expected to see one in Cairo . . .

92:365 Giza

As you can see, we were virtually alone in seeing one of the great wonders of the ancient world. A storm was coming in - very rare for Cairo.

Friday, April 22, 2011

91:365 View from a Balcony

My balcony, to be precise. This interesting apartment building, the Nile, and in the background, the back end of Tahrir Square - that's the government administration building that burned during the Revolution.

I took so many photos every day that it's going to be challenging to pick just one for 365 for each day.

Our hotel - the Cairo Marriott was once a palace. It was very beautiful! We had a room with a view of the Nile - which is unheard of - but because there are so few tourists in Egypt right now, we really had the best of everything, everywhere we went.

If you have been thinking about traveling to Egypt - NOW is the time to go. My friends and I traveled with Spiekermann Travel (AWESOME - I cannot recommend them highly enough). Everywhere we went the Egyptian people were gracious and welcoming. The conversations usually went something like this:
Where are you from?
America! Where in America?
Chicago! Welcome! You are welcome here! Welcome to Egypt! (always accompanied by an amazing smile :-) )

Traveling in the Middle East is very different from anyplace else I have been. Two of my traveling companions had traveled to Egypt before, but I and my roommate had not. Thus, I was surprised to see a very visible police and military presence pretty much everywhere. I didn't know it is standard practice to have armed security everywhere - every hotel has a metal detector and armed security at the door. Every monument has the same with members of the Antiquities Police. In Cairo we had a plainclothes security man (with a sidearm) with us daily. This is standard. I wondered if we needed it because I was never fearful, never afraid. And once we were in Luxor, our guide gave us the option for the daily security - which we declined -
and because there are so few tourists there at this time, I saw the wonders of the ancient world on what amounted to a private tour.

There were only four of us in the group - I am now very, very spoiled. First, Gap Adventures to Morocco last year with only 15, and now Egypt with four. I will not take a big-bus tour again.

90:365 Chicago/Frankfurt Frankfurt/Cairo

A half-day of work, a ride on the L out to O'Hare, and that giant plane was the one we boarded - it took us to Frankfurt, Germany where we caught our Egyptair flight to Cairo.

(Got a little window glare going on.)

89:365 Packing

Trying to get ready for the trip of a lifetime . . . Egypt, here I come!

That's why the radio silence for nearly a month! It was an amazing trip and I took a huge number of photos - they will be up on Flickr soon for those of you who don't want to see one a day :-)