Tuesday, June 28, 2011

A Trip to the Beach

Last week was the annual judges' conference. Which meant that there was no court for me. And no court means... beach week! Well, okay, beach extended weekend. But still, nice and relaxing! Mom and Dad have a time share in North Myrtle Beach, and, fortunately, they were more than willing to let me use the second bedroom for a few days. While it wasn't directly on the beach, it was across the road. You could still open the balcony door and listen to the surf. And here's our view of the ocean:

One of the great things about North Myrtle Beach is that the beachfront road area is soooo much calmer and quieter than Myrtle Beach itself (and it's maybe 5 miles up the shore, with much of the shopping and dining located on the king's highway). If our hotel had been on the shore road in Myrtle Beach, we would have had to deal with things like stoplights and cruising and inching forward a car's length at a time in the evenings. Instead, our road looks like this:

And that is probably why I could enjoy the sound of the ocean from our balcony despite being across the road!

Other things that I love about beach 'extended weekend':
1- visiting with my parents (of course!) and any other family members who happen to make it down. This year, my sister was there for two days, but my brother and sil were not able to make it.
2- yummy, yummy dining! If you visit the area and have never been to the Chesapeake House. YOU MUST GO. Seriously. Go.
3- outlet shopping. Wheee! I scored a new travel purse, and four (yes, I said 4) new pairs of shoes, all desperately needed. Oh yeah, and a new dress, some candles, my semi-annual stash of pantyhose (ick), and a few new shirts and a sweater. Love it, love it, love it!
4- walks on the beach. I didn't make it out early enough to get the freshest pickings, but I thought what I did find was pretty enough:

5- finally, there's the chance to get in some major stitch time, using the fabulous natural light coming in from the balcony window. I know, I know, this part would be much better with progress photos! Sorry. It's too dark to take the photos now, and I wanted to post while the mood was on me. I ended up taking Jenny Bean's Creation Sampler with me. It's about half finished. I'll post a photo next time around. I've also been inspired by all the patriotic pieces everyone has been sharing in blog world. I found a cute little freebie from The Sampler Girl over the weekend, and have almost finished stitching it. Ideally, I would do the finishing this weekend, but I think that I'm going to need to pay a visit to my favorite 'shop' (aka, Mom's house) before I can do that. I could back it with red felt, but I want some trim, and that, I do not have.

Til next time, keep creating and stay cool!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Progress in stitching, scrapping, and being annoyed by my cats!

I finally took a photo of my sampler progress! She's certainly a colorful little thing:

Rachel was definitely a big fan of birds, and I'm having a good time stitching them. But what was she thinking with those bright turqoise feet??? They are quite odd. I'm going to get a good chunk of stitchy time next week. I can't decide whether to just focus on pushing through on this sampler, or if I should switch over to something new. Hmmm... guess we'll see what kind of mood I'm in when I assemble my 'to do' bag Friday after work.

Speaking of work, there are days when it is a challenge to make it to work bright eyed and well put together. Those days typically go something like this: "Crash!" I am startled from a blissful slumber an hour before my alarm is due to go off. I stumble into the living room, no cats are in sight, but I do see my ottomon...

How did they manage to flip the thing completely on its back?!?! Flash forward a bit later in the morning. I pulled my clothes out for the day as I was brushing my teeth and laid them out on my bed. I quickly finished in the bathroom and came back to find this:

I must GENTLY remove Princess from my suit and then roll it with a lint brush to remove her little furs. Sigh. And then I come home from work, and I find Lucky, looking like all he needs to finish his day is a good strong drink and the channel changer:

Darned cats.

I also found some time since my last post to make a little more progress on my Egyptian album. After touring Dendera in the morning, we returned to our boat and sailed back to Luxor. It was late afternoon when we docked, and we headed over to Luxor Temple:

The first large courtyard of the temple was full of statues of Ramses II, all of varying sizes. Our guide explained to us the significance of the posture the pharoah was posed in. I'll be darned if I can remember the meanings now, though. I'll have to see if I can dig that up somewhere. Anyway, on the second page of this layout, you see photos of 3 things: a mosque, a painting of Christian apostles, and the cartouche of Ramses (yes, I can 'read' that it says Ramses. At least something stuck in my head!). The Christians and the Muslims took over the ancient Egyptians' place of worship and converted it for their own use. I saw a couple of other places where crosses had been carved inside of temples at some of the other sites we visited.

As we were wandering around the temple, the sun eventually set completely. This is the only temple we saw in the complete dark. It was nice to escape the extreme heat... not that it was actually cool or anything. And it was fun to soak up some nighttime atmosphere within the temple walls. I thought it was absolutely gorgeous, all lit up against the night sky.

The row of sphinxes that you see at the bottom right of the second page of this layout are the other end of the avenue that began at Karnak Temple. That's a lot of statues all lined up!

Luxor certainly did not become less busy during the night. Since its so hot during the day, the local population becomes more active during the cooler evening hours. We drove from the temple to a papyrus store/museum. We watched a demonstration of the process of making papyrus sheets, and I ended up buying several beautiful, hand painted pieces of art there. I'm sure no one will be surprised to learn that the piece I bought for myself was of Bastet, the cat god. I still haven't gotten it framed, but it's sitting at my parents' house right now, so I can't take a photo of it to share tonight.

Well, that's all for now. I hope everyone is enjoying their summer so far, and finding plenty of time to exercise their creative muscles!

Monday, June 6, 2011

A visit to Dendera and my secret life as Amelia Peabody

Hello, dear readers. When last I left you, I believe I was in the middle of creating my layouts about our visit to the town and temple of Dendera. We docked at Dendera in the night. There was a club, or bar, near our berth, and I could hear music coming from it late into the night. Our guide told us that the region was well known for its bananas, which are slightly smaller than the version that we have here in the US. I'm afraid I don't remember whether we actually ate any of the bananas, or how the taste compared to what we were used to.

The next morning, we debarked and boarded a bus for the temple. Although there has been a temple on this site for far longer, the current structure dates from the Greco-Roman period. Here's my temple layout:

As you can see, the temple is set in a fairly open space. The woman at the top of all of the columns is the goddess Hathor. Her face, along with most of the faces on all the carvings in this temple (and most of the other temples we visited), has been chiseled away, either by Christians or Muslims trying to eradicate worship of the ancient gods. I didn't include a photo that shows this in my layout, but much of the interior of the great hall was blackened from the soot of campfires from visitors once the temple fell into disuse as a place of worship. At the top of the right-hand page, you can see a photo of the temple ceiling, with original paint still plainly visible. The sky was covered in stars to imitate the night sky. Isn't it beautiful?

I put my journaling about our visit to the temple in the little pink envelope tucked under the photos of the Hathor columns:

I also added two of my favorite elements for a layout: glimmer misting and a flower and button cluster:

I should explain a little bit about what it was like to visit any of the temples in Egypt. It was hot anywhere you went, but as long as you were out in the open air, you would have a breeze. The air was never still. However, if you went into an enclosed space, there was simply no circulation, and the heat would become stifling. Add in the humidity of a few dozen tourists' breath, and MAYBE you can imagine how uncomfortable some of these temple interiors could be. I do not consider myself to be a heavy sweater, but in places like the Dendera crypt, the Valley of the Kings, and Abu Simbel, the back of my linen shirts would positively wet. Ugh.

Returning to our tour of Dendera temple, we made our way into the interior of the Dendera temple, where our guide Mohammed offered us the opportunity to climb into the crypt and view some artwork that vandals never discovered. One of the temple guards lifted the hatch to a hole in the ground and we descended a steep ladder down into the ground. Then we crawled through a low, narrow hole in the wall and found ourselves in a long hallway, covered in carvings, with a ceiling only about 6 1/2 feet tall. No air moved down there, so we were drenched in sweat. And the exit route was one-way, meaning people had to stop coming down before you could come back out. Stuffy and claustrophobic, and one of the funnest things I did during the trip! Why? Well because it fit in with my fantasy that I was reliving the adventures of Amelia Peabody!

If you have never read about Miss Peabody, you really should. She is the heroine of a series of mystery novels set in early 20th century Egypt, during the height of the most romanticized period of Egyptian archaeology. The novels are written by Elizabeth Peters, and are always about the adventures of Amelia and her growing family as they search for ancient treasure and defeat the bad guy that threatens them. I've been reading these novels since I was in middle school, and they have been one of the big reasons that I was so anxious to visit Egypt in the first place. Amelia Peabody has a great love for crawling into low, dank underground spots to search for mummies, so the crypt in Dendera temple was the perfect place to wax a little nostalgic about my fictional heroine. And to make things even more delicious, consider this: Amelia's leading man is a tall, strong man, with a bit of a temper... just like my Alton! Hee hee. I don't think I even tried to explain to him that he was my Emerson on this vacation, but he really was. Swoon! Anyway, here's my layout about the crypt. The arrow is pointing straight to the hole we had to crawl through:

If you look up above the yellow paper where the title is, you may see some other papers poking out. Those are holding three photos that I tucked behind the paper because I wanted to include them without taking the focus away from that little hole we had to crawl through. There is a photo of Alton, who is looking rather creepy and mummy-like in the dim light, a photo of some of the pristine carvings, and finally, a photo of my foot, which I scraped up a bit crawling around underground:

The city of Dendera itself was filled with beautiful works of art. I took photos of some of it from the bus, and we actually stopped to snap photos of a few of the mosaics outside of the bus. The round mosaic you see here is the Egyptian zodiac. This mosaic is inspired by the zodiac carved in the upper reaches of Dendera temple. The long woman stretching across the lower photo is the goddess Mut, and her body is the sky, stretching above the earth.

On the home front, I know I keep promising more photos of my sampler. And one of these days, it's actually going to happen, I swear! Meanwhile, progress is being made. I had to take a little time off today over the lunch hour to meet up with the a/c guys at my apartment. This place has never been very good at keeping up when the temperatures soar, and with so many 90 plus days already this year, it's just exhausting to think of dealing with an overheated apartment all summer long. I can't tell yet whether things are really fixed, but it definitely seems better now that they've paid their visit. Here's Spike testing one of the living room vents to see if things have improved:

I told her it might actually be cooler if she didn't sit on top of the vent. She ignored me, of course. I hope everyone else is staying cool and getting lots of creative time. Til we meet again!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Sometimes I'm jealous

I'm sure my cats all have really rough lives. For example, check out this photo of Lucky, exhausted from a day of... well, napping, I suppose:

No wait, here we go. This is Lucky, working hard at flying? No, just stretching.

And then there's Princess holding a cardboard box down:

Please believe me when I say the other 3 cats are just as sorry. And some days I am completely jealous of them. Rotten little things.

Stitching on the sampler is coming along. I'll try to snap another photo in the morning when the lighting is better. And I'm about halfway through my next layout from my Egypt vacation. Next up is our visit to the temple at Dendera and my opportunity to channel Amelia Peabody (I'll explain all about it next post).

Hope everyone has a great weekend and stays cool!