Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Cruising South on the Nile

Hello everyone! Time for another story from my Egyptian adventures. After leaving the Valley of the Kings and the alabaster store, our tour group made its way to the reconstructed temple of Hatshepsut, the queen who would be Pharoah.

My first, most striking impression of the temple is that it was a long, long walk from where the bus dropped us off to the temple itself. And hot. Really hot. Thankfully, there was a little trolly that we could ride for most of the distance. But I could really feel the heat as we climbed up the steps of the temple.

Our guide told us to pronounce the queen's name "hat cheap suit." Alton and I both thought that was pretty funny, especially since pronouncing her name didn't seem all that difficult to either of us. But the funny pronunciation stuck with us, which is why I chose to title my layout with the odd pronunciation:

There isn't too much else to say about our visit to this temple. It was interesting to see images of the queen portrayed as a man. And I was grateful to Alton for buying me a hat at one of the ever-present kiosks at the exit to the temple. The temple is stunning to see.

When we returned to our boat, we set sail south, towards Aswan. As evening approached, our boat slowed on the approach to the Esna Lock. I was looking forward to watching the process of moving through a lock, something I'd read about in history books, but never seen myself. But the real show happened before we entered the lock. We had to wait our turn to enter the lock, so we slowed down a good deal. Still, we were moving much faster than a little row boat could move. Which is why it was simply stunning to watch these brave merchants in their little boats push off from shore and rope themselves to the side of our boat. As the sailors on our boat caught the ropes from the merchants and tied them down, the little rowboats would jerk around as the rope drew taught and they were drug up to our speed. They would then attach to one another, creating a tail of rowboats, weaving alongside our cruise boat. The merchants would then throw plastic bags with scarves or caftans or other merchandise at those of us on the upper deck (or occasionally, people with open windows). Sometimes, they threw their product up even when no one had asked for it, causing some rather hilarious moments as people were assaulted by flying bags. If anyone reached a shouted bargain with them, they put their money in the plastic bag and threw it back down. Otherwise, we returned the unwanted merchandise. The men in the rowboats were very good at catching the bags. And when they missed, the bag would float long enough for them to retrieve it. It was truly a stunning thing to watch.

The next morning began with a trip to Edfu Temple. This is supposed to be the best preserved temple in Egypt. I really liked the bird statues guarding the entrance to the temple (which is why I posed for a picture with one). We wandered all over the site, and even got to see a hint of what the 'holy of holies' would have looked like in ancient times... a darkened room in the innermost part of the temple, with a golden statue inside that would have shined at certain times of day when a shaft of light shone through.
The temple was begun by one of the Ptolemies, and continued to be worked on up through the time of Cleopatra. Our guide pointed out Cleopatra's cartouche on one of the temple walls, and went through the symbols phonetically with us. I've used that cartouche as an embellishment next to the title on my layout:

The little guy went to the vet's this afternoon for an unscheduled checkup. His little mouth had a funny bulge on one side, and I wanted to be sure that there wasn't an infection or something going on. The vet took a quick look, even gave it a little squeeze, and pronounced the little guy to be in fine shape. Turns out, the funny bulge is just a callous, which could or could not be a result of the injury, could or could not go away, but was DEFINITELY not anything to worry about. The little guy showed his appreciation of my care and concern for my well being by helping me snap a photo of my most recent layout:

Sigh, he's cute, but he has so much energy! I hope everyone else has plenty of energy as well, whether it's for stitching, scrapping, or just plain living. Have a great rest of the week!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Some stitching and "the little guy"

Some time ago, I finished stitching "Getting Away" by the Sampler Girl. I stitched it on hand dyed fabric from Picture This Plus (I forget the name of the fabric, maybe doubloon?) with overdyed floss. But it's taken me FOREVER to get around to finishing it into a pin pillow.

I have such a love of traveling, that I knew I had to stitch this pattern as soon as I saw it!

I have also found the time to stitch up a little patriotic freebie, also from The Sampler Girl. I pulled from my stash of overdyed threads, and stitched it up on the same Picture This Plus fabric that I used for the travel pillow above. I was going to wait til I got to Mom's house and raid her fabric stash for a backing, but then I found this little stall at the flea market at the State Fairgrounds two weekends ago. She had such beautiful fabrics! I picked up 3 that I thought might work for this design, but I still need some trim. Guess I'll be pouncing on Mom's stash after all! Anyway, here's the three backing options along with the stitching. Which one do you like?

That same weekend we visited the flea market, A and I also browsed the Antiques show. There were several samplers there, but a lot of them were a bit pricey for me. But this Spanish sampler was in my price range, and I think it's rather pretty (if you can tell from the crapola picture). It's kind of cool, she names her teacher and the school!

In baby kitty news, Scout is doing well as best I can tell. He certainly has settled right in, and he has soooo much energy! I woke up this morning because he was gnawing on my toes, and I came home from work to find him sitting on the kitchen table. Grrrr. He doesn't need to be right on top of me all of the time (just half the time), but I am required to stay in eyesight. He was helping with this post a minute ago. Thankfully, he got bored with that pretty quickly, because he was just typing a bunch of gobbledy gook! Here's hoping that recovery continues to go well with no complications. It scares me to be responsible for such a little guy after such a big injury.

Next post, I'll be sharing some of the layouts I've finished in the past few weeks, and, of course, blabbing on about my Egyptian adventures. Til then, try to stay cool everyone. This is one of those rare times when I actually dread my walks back and forth to work... especially in a suit! Hope everyone's a/c is at least coming close to keeping up!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

What am I thinking?!?!?

Meet Scout, 3 pounds of furry love that turned up on my back porch day before yesterday. He will be making his home here in my apartment for the next month or so while he recovers from reconstructive surgery on his lower jaw. You can't really see it in the pictures, but he's obviously been through the ringer. He's got healing injuries on his forehead, tail, around his eyes, and his front legs. The worst injury was to his lower lip, which had been completely pulled back from his jaw (yeah, about as gross as it sounds). He had a little operation to fix the injury yesterday evening. Hopefully, he will recover with no complications and enjoy a full and healthy life.

In the meantime, he's a pretty happy little guy. He has the loudest purr you've ever heard, and he loves his new people person (that's me). And he's enjoyed playing with my cats' toys:

Now all he needs is a forever home. I'm working on that part.

Meanwhile, my cats would happily pitch the little guy out the door. Especially after he had the nerve to curl up in my lap. I've never heard such foolish racket from a pack of spoiled rotten animals! And I think Miss Priss and Lucky were a little cranky to begin with because I busted them the other day. They are always growling at each other and chasing one another around the apartment. For the first time ever, I caught them doing this:

Bwah ha ha ha. I think they might secretly like one another!

Have a crafty week guys. Hopefully, I'll back in a day or two with some stitchy finishes and more layouts from my Egyptian vacation.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

The Valley of the Kings

Hi! I know it's been a little while since I talked about my vacation in Egypt. My camera and I have been having a little disagreement. I'm still not sure that I've won the battle, but at least I was able to upload photos of some of the layouts I've created recently.

This first layout I created shows the view of Luxor as we approached from the river. In the top photo, you can see the ruins of Luxor Temple on the banks of the Nile. Can you imagine how majestic that sight must have been for ancient Egyptians sailing in to worship their gods? The second photo shows the Winter Palace. Opened in the 1880's, this hotel was THE place for the European tourists of the era to gather and socialize. The Winter Palace features frequently in the adventures of my fictional heroine, Amelia Peabody, so once again, I enjoyed putting a physical image to the imaginary one in my head. We weren't allowed to go into the building, but it was great to see it all the same.

The day after our return to Luxor, we woke before the sun rose to prepare for our visit to the west bank of the Nile. It was a struggle to be up so early, but we needed/wanted to be at the Valley of the Kings as early as possible so as to avoid the hottest part of the day. We began the morning with a quick stop at the Colossi of Memnon. These two statues are just sitting there, surrounded by nothing particular (except a few tourist kiosks, of course). We left the bus, took a few quick photos, and continued on our way:

Unfortunately, we were not allowed to bring cameras into the Valley of the Kings, and it was one of only two places that we visited during our vacation that actually strictly enforced their photography policy. So, I have no photos of the actual valley. It was a hot, dry, rather miserable place, with almost no shade. As we wandered up and down through the valleys, we could see large, gated entrances to the tombs. Many were open for exploration, but several were not. You had to pay extra to visit King Tut's tomb, and Alton and I opted not to go inside that one. Our general admission allowed us to visit three other tombs. We chose to visit the tombs of Ramses III, Ramses IX, and Thutmose IV. That last tomb required a long, hot climb up a tall hill to reach the entrance. As we approached the tomb, we could see workers on the other side of the rise, working on excavations at another tomb. Oh how I wish I could have taken photos of that!

Inside the tombs, it was still hot, but with absolutely no moving air. And the more popular the tomb, the more crowded it was. And the more crowded it was, the higher the humidity inside the passageways. So we ended up drenched in sweat as we slowly followed the crowds through the tombs. But, oh, what beautiful artwork on the walls! And I should mention that the tomb of Thutmose IV, which was so much work to get to, was not so crowded inside. In fact, it was quite empty, except for our little group, which was kind of disturbing in its own little way. Each tomb would wind down, down, down inside the mountain, to the burial chamber, often with various little rooms tucked on each side of the passageway. It was truly an amazing thing to see what the ancient Egyptians were able to create without any modern technology.

I ended up using some images that Alton bought at the Valley in order to create my layout about the Valley of the Kings. Neither are from tombs that we actually visited, but they do give an idea of what we were getting to see:

We left the Valley of the Kings feeling hot and exhausted. But of course the day wasn't over yet! We next stopped at an alabaster store and factory. We watched a short demonstration of how they shaped the stone into beautiful vases and other vessels, and then had a chance to purchase some gifts (of course there was a chance to spend some money!). There were many beautiful pieces for sale inside the store. I got several pieces as gifts for friends and family, included some little Bastet statuettes made of moonstone, which glows in the dark, and pretty little alabaster vase for my mother. I didn't end up with any alabaster for myself, which I kind of regret. Instead, I'll just have to admire Mom's piece when I go to visit her. I took some photos of the workers through the bus window. Why didn't I take them outside? Because I was grumpy and didn't want to have to pay money for the privilege of taking photos! So some of my pictures look rather crappy. Here's the layout:

I made this layout with the July challenge over at Websters Pages ning site, Inspire Me! . The challenge was to create a layout using Bloomers, which are one of my favorite products from the company. I used some older WP papers, and filled the center of the upper Bloomer with some WP trim and a hat pin:

I created the butterflies by punching them out of WP paper, inking up the edges, and adding some bling down the center of the bodies.

Okay, this post is long enough already, so I think I'll save the rest of the day's adventures for another time. And maybe the camera and I will get along long enough to take photos of some of my stitching finishes as well! Until then, happy creating everyone!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

I LOVE this time of year

I LOVE surfing the net and drooling over all the pretty new scrapbook products that are going to be released at CHA. And I especially love getting to the chance to win some of the new product! If you want to see some of the new products coming from one of my favorite scrapbook designers, hop on over to Webster's Pages and check things out!