A Good Question

"How do you punish those whose remorse is already greater than their misdeeds?"

- Kahlil Gibran

My New Favorite Poet

This Is A Poem I Wrote At Night, Before The Dawn

This is a poem I wrote before I died and was reborn:
- After the years of the apples ripening and the eagles
After the festival here the small flowers gleamed like the
first stars,
And the horses cantered and romped away like the
experience of skill; mastered and serene
Power, grasped and governed by reins, lightly held by
knowing hands.

The horses had cantered away, far enough away
So that I saw the horses' heads farther and farther away
And saw that they had reached the black horizon on the
dusk of day
And were or seemed black thunderheads, massy and
ominous waves in the doomed sky:
And it was then, for the first time, then that I said as I
must always say
All through living death of night:
It is always darkness before delight!
The long night is always the beginning of the vivid blossom of day.

- by Delmore Schwartz

The Red Sea

Cairo's summers are plagued by such extreme temperatures that most of the city's privileged class flee the heat and find deliverance on the sandy edges of the Red Sea. Kasey, Bosaina, and I endured the swelter of Cairo for a day and a half before Bosaina, our lovely Egyptian hostess, insisted we join the exodus.

Since departure times aren't exactly guaranteed in Egypt, Bosaina got us up very very early so that we wait around for a very very long time for our flight to Hurghada. When we finally boarded the plane, Kasey and I immediately pulled out our flight nap gear - standard procedure for us, but Bosaina thought it was hilarious.

Should we decide we'd like to drive back to Cairo...

A glimpse of the Red Sea from Bosaina's cousin's backyard.

Sunshine girls, Kasey and Bosaina, taking a break in the shade.

Me with Egypt's accessory de rigueur . . . even on the beach.

Ha! Evidence of globalization: a margarita, pizza, and a hookah pipe on a lounge chair.

Waiting for our turn on the "molecule," a off-balance inflated tube pulled by a speed boat. Supposedly kid stuff, but we were traumatized by the harrowing ride that finished when we were flung into the painfully salty water.

Arabian Nights.

Unearthing Egypt

I know my foray into Egypt was months back, but I promised I'd eventually share a few bits and pieces of the trip with you, and that day has arrived! Consider these memories from the barely bearable heat of the Giza pyramids as a way of adding some warmth to your day as we plunge into the frigid temperatures of deep fall.

Um, how do you say, "I'd like one ticket please" in Arabic? Thankfully! Bosaina knows!

Yoshi tangling with the temperamental camel Kasey has been assigned to ride.

Yep, just Kasey and me. In Egypt. In front of pyramids. On camels - named Moses and Michael Jackson (the temperamental one).

Young Mohammad: "I have to lead you two?"

Me waiting for my camel to go from kneeling to standing position - perhaps the roughest part of the ride!

Kasey "leaning back" per instruction, as we head downhill . . .

Bosaina opted for the chariot.

A younger, far-more-expert young camel rider in front of a Giza pyramid.

The Joy of a Press Pass: (Inspiring) Free Art

As seen on a handkerchief embroidered by Louise Bourgeois (pictured above):

"I've been to hell and back.
And let me tell you, it was wonderful."

Stage Fright

Trembling in the wings, waiting to go on, to perform, to do what you intend to do - unsure whether you're going to nail your line or vomit - it will be one of the two.

I'm waiting. Terrified. I haven't felt this way in a long long time.

I don't know anything. The understudy was never there. The potential for failure seems more real than ever . . . and I think we're at my cue.

Fashion Forward

So while I'm . . . well, where I am . . . my darling sister Kasey has been working the crowd at London Fashion Week. Italy's Fashion FM has entrusted her with the demanding/any-fashionista-would-kill-for task of interviewing the whole lot of the Britannia's design divas. You can hear her talking to everyone from Henry Holland to Bora Aksu by clicking here.

Sure, dashing around in stilettos without wincing, paying attention to round after round of garment parades, and looking stunning while holding a microphone and asking intelligent questions is tough - but she pulls it off - and still makes it to the after-parties.

Russia: Signs

This is just a small collection of graphic moments in Cyrillic that caught my eye. Enjoy! The timing on the one above was practically perfect. It feels something like a Magritte to me - minus the bowler cap.

Muscovites and their Big Macs . . . tour guides in Moscow are still talking about McDonald's and those infamous lines. This is supposedly one of the busiest.

Such a happy little sign. "Step right up" it chirps - a mere 50 Rubles (about 2 USD) to ride the Merry-Go-Round!

An old-fashioned coffee advert towering over a small town's main square? (At least I think that's what the hand-cranked coffee mill implies - although the burly-bearded man in his crooked cap kind of throws me).

Russia: Pushkin Fairytale Forest

In the village of Mandrogi, there lies an enchanted pathway dedicated to Pushkin, a Russian poet exalted for his artistic spinning of fantastical tales.

One must forge a river to reach this forest of apparitions.

Kasey pitched in her woman-power to get us there.

Once we reached the other side, we wandered through woods where Pushkin's prologue to "Ruslan and Ludmila," his first and most lionized poem, was brought to life:

There on trails past knowing are tracks of beasts you never met . . .

A hut on chicken feet,
Without a door, without a window,
An evil witch's lone retreat

A grieving princess in a cell, and faithful wolf that serves her well . . .

There pines Koshchei
(and Kasey!) and lusts for gold....

What marvels there! A mermaid sitting (and my mom gazing!)

The woods and valleys there are teeming
With strange things....

Here I am at the mercy of Baba Yaga.

And making my escape . . .

Pushkin knew we were coming! He surely wrote the passage below for us:

For you, queens of my soul, my treasured
Young beauties, for your sake did I
Devote my golden hours of leisure
To writing down, I'll not deny,
With faithful hand of long past ages
The whispered fables.... Take them, pray,
Accept these playful lines, these pages
For which I ask no praise.... But stay!

Alas, despite his asking so prettily, we could not stay . . .

And in our abandonment . . .

. . . left only wooden figures for company.

But our lyricist was not deterred:

And there I stayed, and drank of mead;
That oak tree greening by the shore
I sat beneath, and of his lore
The learned cat would chant and read.
One tale of these I kept in mind,
And tell it now to all my kind…

The below verse isn't related to the tale Pushkin was gearing up to tell, but it's a lovely accompaniment for the parting shot . . .

Dawn brings waves that, gleaming . . .
There’s Russian spirit! Russia’s scent!

Russia: Kizhi Island

Kizhi is a wild and pristine and grassy little island floating on sea-like lake in the far far north of Russia. What draws people to this remote place is a unique church, made entirely of wood; an idyllic relic that completes the setting's refreshing and restorative atmosphere.

This church compound is considered one of the world's architectural wonders - not just for the ingenious use of lumber, but because it was constructed without a single nail.

The shingles' silver sheen is because of Aspen. Apparently the domes can also take on a pinkish tone when the season is right and there's a sufficiently overcast sky.

The intricately mixed artistry of this structure has the sense of an elegant jigsaw.

One cupola, barely visible, poking through the middle of the fence.

A view from the island's historic wooden manor. (Do you see the young boy enthusiastically swinging his arms near the water's edge?)

Kasey humoring me by standing in the doorway for an exterior shot of the manor's entry.

Cute girl in old-fashioned garb demonstrating the old-fashioned way to make tea on Kizhi island.

Expensive wood-carved toy with loads of personality - he just reeks of being fresh from an adventure in a children's picture book.

Impressive needlework done by hand.

Supposedly wearing a belt, like the one spilling out of the little purse hanging on this post, encircles a person with protection from . . . just general bad luck I guess.

Parting shot: a flawless summer day in picture-form.