Saturday, January 7, 2017

Egyptian Wing-Metropolitan Museum of Art

No need to say, again, how much the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City means to me. It's such an oasis of culture where I've come to enrich myself since my college years.

 The Egyptian wing is one of the iconic permanent exhibits of the Museum.
The Ancient Egyptian preoccupation with death has always fascinated me. The mummies and the process of creating them is all laid out in the Museum's storied halls in the expansive Egyptian wing.
One of the most beautifully somber exhibits is the hall with the Fayum mummy face masks. The mummy masks are named after the Fayum Basin where most of them were found. The style dates to the Coptic period and belongs to the tradition of panel painting.
What always impresses me is how young the subjects of these paintings are, and knowing that they are dead, I wonder whether they were idealized in death or whether they indeed had died so young and beautiful.

The Greek lettering on the mummy attests to how important the Greek language and culture were in the entire region at the time. It was called the Ptolemaic period and was created after the death of Alexander the Great by Ptolemy I. The Ptolemaic Kingdom fell to the Romans after the death of Kleopatra VII in 30 BC.

The small masks and statue are made in the style of Faience, which is this distinct shade of blue colored ceramics. Amazingly vivid after so many centuries!

The big brown eyes are alive and seem to be looking directly at me. I did not see any artist signature but the unknown artists of Egypt's death culture were some of the most talented portrait painters I have seen.

This artful gold jewelry is also part of the display in that hall. I am awed at the mastery of those ancient artisans who created these masterpieces that survived time and could very easily be worn today, as their style is also eternal.

I guess eternal is the important concept here, because through this massive industry of death-art the people in these death portraits are forever enshrined in our minds.

It doesn't feel gloomy at all when I walk through those halls, it is more a celebration of the circle of life and death. I come here again and again and gaze into those brown eyes wondering who they were.



Saturday, December 17, 2016

Erskine Lakes Women's Club Cookie Exchange

Every year, around the Holidays, the Erskine Lakes Women's Club organizes a Cookie Exchange.
The variety of cookies is dizzying and the number of cookies present at the same table at one time is astronomical. A friend recently did some math when I told him about the event. Every member must bring four dozen cookies to exchange and one dozen to share. That's 5 dozen cookies per person, times the number of participants.
 This year we had 34 participants. 60 cookies X 34=2,040 cookies!
I had never thought about it like that. That's a HUGE number of cookies!
 It was a cold night, we had a wood burning in fireplace, lots of cookies and a lot of good cheer.

Then, we come to the gift exchange part of the night. The tradition is that you bring a wrapped gift and get a number. When your number is called you may choose a gift from the table, or if you wish, take someone else's gift that had previously been picked and unwrapped by another participant. Each gift can be stolen twice. After that the gift is safe with the last person who chose it.
This made for a lot of laughs as members proceeded to "steal" gifts from other members. Mostly everyone went home happy. My gifts had been stolen from me FOUR times, until I finally ended up"stealing"(oh, yes, I do it too!) a nice mug from Jenn(sorry Jenn!)

After lots of sugar, camaraderie and laughs, the Erskine Lakes Women's Club took a group photo and went home to recover!.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Delphi, the Center of the World

The Ancients selected the rugged side of a mountain with expansive views for one of their holiest of holies, Delphi.

It was considered the Center of the World by the Greeks, as represented by the Omphalos(navel as demonstrated here by Stelios.)
Leaders of the classical world flocked to Delphi, the seat of the Oracle, seeking advice on important matters. This resulted in great wealth for Delphi.
The splendid ruins of this ancient place are one of my favorite ancient sites to visit. There is so much that still remains intact.
Built on the side of the Parnassus Mountain, Delphi rewards the visitor with every new meter of height climbed.
The ancient amphitheater.

The top of the site is crowned by an enormous stadium where the games took place. There are seats set into the hill surrounding it for the spectators to rest.
I found the views of the mountains very profound and spiritual. I can see how the ancient Greeks chose this location for one of their most important sanctuaries.
The Temple of Apollo, the patron god of Delphi.

As I walk the ancient paths of this extraordinary place of worship, I can't help but feel awe for those Hellenes of so long ago.
There is a certain aura at Delphi that can not be explained in words but needs to be experienced. Next time you are thinking about where to visit next, put Delphi on your list. One of the best times to visit is during spring and fall. The summer is very hot and it becomes more of a challenge to explore the outdoor site under the sun. Go,you won't regret it!



Saturday, September 24, 2016

Galaxidi, Greece

Galaxidi is a small port city on the northern coast of the Corinthian Gulf. 
It has a very picturesque double harbor, one of the narrowest harbor I've seen. Across the way is a pine forest planted by the local schoolchildren at least fifty years ago.
 Beautiful beaches with crystal clear waters are inviting and serene.

The preserved traditional city center consists of small winding roads connecting the homes.
It's fun to get lost among the narrow streets and find yourself at picturesque view points. I have found the local people to be friendly and hospitable. We were treated to a round of drinks by a local gentleman, because he felt badly after he warned us we were driving the wrong way up a local road.
The city flourished as a maritime center in the 19th century. In recent years they are mostly involved in tourism, turning the traditional wealthy captains homes into small lodgings.
 The views of the gulf are expansive and breathtaking.
 Yachts and fishing boats docked on the quay.
Restaurants and cafes line the harbor and it's worth a stroll along the path. If you are in Greece, take a side trip off the beaten path and spend a day or two at Galaxidi.