Friday, July 30, 2010

Sky Watching

I spent several hours watching clouds as I waited for the movers to arrive at our storage room located just outside the city limits. One might think that Mount Olympus is located high above Edmonton, Alberta.

There were grand vistas from which to contemplate the gathering storm.

The boxes were safe inside the van before the rain hit.

Another storm approached at sunset with awesome black thunderheads billowing on the western horizon and catching the Sun's last glint.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Good Friends, Good Times

Today the space/time continuum of the Time Traveller and I merged into one. We celebrated with espressos, Italian pastries and Baci chocolates just as we did 15 years ago. Our favourite Italian grocery store has opened a new and bigger location and it was such fun wandering the aisles and gazing at all the meats, cheeses and olives on offer.

We then joined dear friends in their garden for a wonderful dinner full of much laughter and good food. Just like old times.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

The Comfort of Friends

Friendship is a sheltering tree.
Samuel Taylor Coleridge

I am cosseted in the home of friends. Like ChinChin, I am purrfectly content. I spent the afternoon talking up a storm with a friend not seen in 12 years. The distance of time past melted away, as did the hours of the afternoon.

For some reason I find driftwood comforting. Perhaps because its character is polished by time and water. Although surely found in other places, for me it embodies the homeland.

I may be halfway across the globe but I was roused by a familiar 'whoosh' this morning. Here, however, the balloon sailed through pine trees rather than date palms.

Last night, as I drove the rental car away from the airport at 10PM, I had the spectacular view of a full Moon rising on the eastern horizon with the Sun's afterglow still lighting the western horizon. Alberta's expansive space opens one's mind and soul. Possibilities become limitless.

This evening's pleasure was witnessing day's end through pine branches. For the comfort of friends, I am truly blessed.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Westward Ho!

Hurry up and wait. The joys of travel. The statue in front of Hamilton's international airport is good Canadian humor.

It was a beautiful day to head West. I was impressed by WestJet's service right from the start: the ramp to access the plane is so much easier than stairs.

Unfortunately the weather in Calgary included rain and lightening. I am sitting in the airport now, happy that I am not in the air. I have a two-hour wait until the flight to Edmonton departs (I hope).

But I am amused by the aero-display. Children turn a crank and the planes fly in circles. Great fun. And there's free WIFI. Bonus!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Fellow Travellers on the Road

As I child, if my Dad drove along a tree-covered road I would sing, "Around the corner, and under a tree, Sargent Major is waiting for me." I have no idea from where that little ditty comes, but it and the country drives are fondly remembered. Perhaps my favorite road in my hometown is Beckett Drive.

I joined Mom for Sunday service in the church where the Time Traveller and I took our vows.

A new (for me) hymn struck a chord and reverberates in my being:
We are pilgrims on a journey,
fellow travellers on the road,
we are here to help each other walk the mile
and bear the load.

I will weep when you are weeping,
when you laugh I'll laugh with you,
I will share your joy and sorrow,
till we've seen this journey through.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Past Present Continuous

Dad and I went to the small farmers' market that sets up in a church parking lot on Saturday mornings. It was quite a bit more sedate than the Gurna souk. But blueberries are not available in the souk and I scored the last two baskets today. Since the berry season arrived two weeks earlier than usual, I need to grab what I can when I see it.

When I came to make the crust I worked with Mom's mixing bowl and rolling pin that are (almost) as old as I am. The sense of past is a nice feeling -- particularly when baking.

And a piece of blueberry-apple pie with afternoon coffee heighten my contentment. We won't discuss its affect on my waistline. ;-)

Friday, July 23, 2010


Anyone who says sunshine brings happiness has never danced in the rain.

The tinkling of water falling in the downspout at the backdoor brought a smile. Rain! I don't see much of it in Egypt so this morning's shower was a delightful gift.

I soaked in the beauty of raindrops on Japanese cherries.

Only Mother Nature could create such beauty.

To one who searches for dragonflies and fairies, moss is magical.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Face to the Sun

Keep your face to the sunshine and you cannot see the shadow. It's what sunflowers do.
Helen Keller

Sunflowers are always so cheery. Imagine my delight at seeing fields of them.

Driving with my Dad on old Highway #6 we passed cheery acres of bright sunflowers. Is this Tuscany? Nope. It's Freelton, Ontario.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Garden Divine

I think that if ever a mortal heard the voice of God
it would be in a garden at the cool of the day.
F. Frankfort Moore, A Garden of Peace

I have always felt the numinous powers of birch trees. Jane Gifford writes in The Wisdom of Trees, "The birch promises new life and love, and is a potent symbol of purification and renewal, which focuses our attention on our potential for change and on the consideration of new directions and goals to be experienced in our lives." And so I sit under the boughs of the Triple White Birch and contemplate.

Below its boughs, stone spirits also seem reflective and radiate contentment.

While from above, the male House Finch remained as watchful of me as I was of him. I am enjoying all the avian visitors to my parents' garden.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Good Morning Canada

That virgin, vital, beautiful day: today.
Stéphane Mallarmé

God provided a spectacular impetus for getting out of bed this morning: the sunrise from my bedroom window.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Across the Planet in a Blur

I calculate that I have been up for 43 hours and I have 3 more to go before bedtime. My journey across the planet began on Sunday. Just before dawn all was quiet on the Nile.

Cat joined me on the balcony for our ritual coffee and sunrise. We then scrambled to put everything in order in the flat before our flight to Cairo.

When last seen, Cat was settled in her Cairo 'hotel' room. She traveled very well. I was very proud of her.

Then I went to my favourite treasure shop in the Khan el Khalili for some last minute gifts for family.

Two of the "Three (Crazy) Brothers" searched for exactly what I needed and then engraved the brass ornaments while I waited. There are actually 8 brothers and on this trip I had the pleasure to meet their baba ("father") and receive an Arabic lesson. The shop is above and away from the tourist gauntlet. It is such fun to explore their shop with its myriad of old and new brass and copper lamps and stamps, boxes and locks, jugs and mugs, planters and knockers. I've always known them as the 3 Crazy Brothers but I notice that their business card leaves out the adjective. FYI: they are located up a narrow staircase at #5 Rabeh El Selhidar Street; tel: 25918774; mobile: 0129934727.

One of my favourite Cairo sights: floodlit minarets. These medieval beacons of prayer stand atop of Al Azhar mosque.

Early the next morning the long haul across the planet began. The westward journey began 'today' . . . I think . . . although it might have been 'yesterday' according to Cairo time. I'm a little confused. Much of the time I was wondering, "Where am I?"

I am certainly in a different land, as evidenced by the BIG fluffy clouds overhead. And the sky is a different shade of blue than in Egypt. I think I will take the time to contemplate these heavenly creations. It's good to be back!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Farewell Paradise

Parting is such sweet sorrow.

Tomorrow I begin a journey back to the homeland, so I took my camera out to record my farewells.

The camels weren't too interested in me. I never paid attention to their fringed tail before, so there is still much to learn about these beasts. I suspect that they will travel to market soon and will not be here when I return. I will miss them.

I will also miss my beloved palms. Just look at that fruit! I see lots of date squares in my future.

I will miss my kind neighbours. I had tea this afternoon with Younis (aka el Mudir). He introduced me to his family and his newest addition: a 4-day-old calf (with her very protective mother). After gathering lemons and climbing his fig tree to send me with a bag of the freshest fruit, he walked me home. Along the way he solved the mystery of my "White Bell" plant: it is sesame (simsim). I have much to learn.

I will miss all the activity along our road. Some day I want to sit with the camera pointed at the road and just capture the variety. Here is an itinerant home goods salesman.

And finally, I will miss the sunsets over the magical Theban hills. It is a thrill to catch the very last arc before the Sun disappears for another day. Farewell Ra.

Good night, good night! parting is such
sweet sorrow,
That I shall say good night till it be morrow.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Saints and Cherubs

The weather today was very 'heavy'. With no breeze, the low clouds socked in the valley and held in the heat and humidity.

A friend took me to the Coptic shrine of St. Yoanes. Unlike the weather, it was very bright inside -- literally and figuratively speaking. Yoanes was a local boy who was martyred in Roman times. Within the brightly lit and modern martyrium, the faithful stand before his appliqued reliquary to ask for his help. Requests are also written on slips of paper and inserted into the glass case.

Prayers are also made before large images of Yoanes and other saints that line the walls.

There is also an area to sit and chat or contemplate or simply pass time in a comforting environment.

Returning home I caught the crescent moon over Abu el-Haggag mosque.

And spotted this little cherub buying candy floss for 25 piastres (about 5 cents). And so the end of the day is sweet.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Details Over Tea

A modern Sennedjem: Younes Hussein Abdel Raheem, who will always be "El mudir" to me. Ploughman is not his job but he wanted to strike the pose.

The ploughs are, in fact, on contract and the ploughman took the care of his animals very seriously . . . although he did like to dance any time he thought the camera was pointed at him.

While the men took a short tea break, I was able to catch a detail of the ploughshare.

The donkey struck a pose with the "grader". (I'm unsure about its technical name.)

Friday morning UPDATE: A friend wrote, "When I was a kid they called it a 'float'. It would float over the newly seeded crop and flatten the soil into the furrows." So there we go. I learn something new every day! Thanks ME!