Tuesday, June 30, 2009

A few minutes of blue sky and sun between squalls.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Forty years Stonewall!

Who could have imagined then how far we'd come in just two score years? But then the Bible already tells us that forty years is how long it takes to really change a culture...

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Winter day's outing

We went to the nearby spa town Daylesford for a few hours today today - it was a chilly 7 degrees C but we walked around its pretty little lake, tried some of the naturally carbonated and vaguely sulfurous water, and noticed leftover autumn foliage on trees from the northern hemisphere. On the way home we drove through woods which had been singed in the recent fires.

Saturday, June 27, 2009


Snugglepot and Cuddlepie are gumnuts. In 1918 they had a great adventure rescuing their friend Little Ragged Blossom and saving Mr. Lizard from the wicked Mrs. Snake and the Bad Banksia Men. I heard about them once when I enthused about their contemporary Bunyip Bluegum in The Magic Pudding and some of their descendants, but have only just made their acquaintance (via my nephews of course). Apparently they are so beloved a part of Australian tradition that Richard Mills wrote a ballet about them!

Friday, June 26, 2009

Four seasons in one day

Greetings from Oz, where it's late winter. Chilly temps, but a bright southern sun like summer within the winter within my summer.

Monday, June 22, 2009


This afternoon it's back to JFK for me and off to Australia. Insanity which will doubtless produce a many-layered jetlag!


Fascinating to see Roth's very writerly novel Hiob (Job) turned into contemporary theater, and to be able to follow each decision of the adapter...

Sunday, June 21, 2009


My last day in Switzerland was a treat. First we drove down to two churches, one very old and one very new. The church of St. Martin at Zillis has one of only three surviving Romanesque painted ceilings in Europe - at nearly nine hundred years old, it's the oldest too. Inside a boundary of imaginary sea creatures (notice the elephant on the left!) are cycles of the life and miracles of Jesus, the life of Mary, and of the church's patron saint St. Martin. 153 panels in all! It's like a vision of higher time just above.
The Steinkirche (Stone Church) of the Reformed congregation at Cazis, barely a decade old, made a nice contrast. This church is designed to convey a sense of safety and also of freedom. Safety is conveyed through its light-filled womblike chambers with no hard edges, no front or back, east or west; freedom is felt through the constantly changing light from the windows, which reach out to sky, horizon and the human world. Aside from a small abstract cross and two vases of flowers, no decoration - and none needed.

Saturday, June 20, 2009


Our week in Flims has flown by. Today it's back to Zurich, a dramatic adaptation of Joseph Roth's 1930 novel Hiob (Job), part of the Zürcher Festspiele, then onward tomorrow morning for NYC for a day and a half before heading for the next continent, already peering over the horizon like this cow's partner.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Troy lost again

I don't have my computer with me, so all my photos of my travels are on a single 2 gigabyte memory card. Amazing they could all fit! But also dangerous. As I was sifting through them last night to offer you some pictures of Islamic arts, I accidentally hit "Delete All." Panic. Happily there's an "Image Recovery" function, too - whew! - but it didn't bring back all. Lost are all my photos of my first day in Istanbul (including the Rustem Mosque, my favorite!), Gallipoli (lovely weather and blazing yellow canola bushes), Troy (overflowing with bright red poppies), Cannakale, Eceabat and the erstwhile Greek town of Ayvalik (Orthodox were resettled to Greece in accordance with the 1924 Treaty of Lausanne), some of whose churches are now mosques; the others are ruins. Besides these you know (bless you!), the dome and tiles of the Rustem Mosque you see here are all that survived. Boohoo! Now I have to remember the old-fashioned way!

Monday, June 15, 2009

Falera love again

Went this afternoon to the little village of Falera, a neolithic site which has also long been the site of a church. It's a place whose special energy I remember fondly from the last time I was here four years ago; it's beloved of Swiss New Agers too, apparently, who find it a place of enduring power. There is a tangle of smallish megaliths and menhirs, which line up to define the start and end of farmer's winter, as well
as other movements of sun and moon, but Falera's best known prehistoric carving is the figure above. 3500 years old and still smiling! The little church of Saint Remigius - gothic but with baroque fixings, and missals in Switzerland's fourth language, Rumantsch - is charming, too.

Sunday, June 14, 2009


I'll keep posting Turkey photos, but I'm actually now in Flims in southeast-central Switzerland, site of a lovely hiking-skiing resort today but the site 15,000 years ago of the biggest rockslide in the Alps - so big they call it a mountain fall! Like Yosemite's Half Dome. The Flimserstein (which we see from our balcony and which changes aspect every few minutes as the shadows move across it) is the half of the mountain which didn't collapse...

Critters of Turkey

Saw a fair number of animals in Turkey. Here are some I caught on film. This stray cat came up to me outside the Kariye Museum in Istanbul (Turkey is full of stray cats, most looking rather less well fed than this one). The frog below was the only one of the scores who inhabit the ruins of the Basilica of StJohn at Selcuk (named Ayios Theologos/Ayaslug after John until 1914) who let me pick him up.

The lizard makes a home in the amphitheater of Ephesus, which accommodates 24,000 people and many more reptiles. In nearby Selcuk, young storks awaited feeding atop every available site...The magnificent if somewhat gawky bug below, known apparently as a Prophet's Camel and considered auspicious, posed for me at the nearly perfectly preserved theater at Hierapolis above Pamukkale. The birds below live inside the monument at Lone Pine, Gallipoli. The butterfly calls a big fig tree at the excavations at Troy home.And to close (since it would be altogether too corny to show you the fiberglass horse on the harbor walk at Pamukkale from the recent Hollywood film "Troy") here's a stork family atop all that remains of the once world renowned temple of Artemis at Ephesus, some of Artemis' companion animals in the Selcuk Museum, and an ant making off with the gossamer wing of some other animal (spolia!).

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Faces of Switzerland

Three days in uber-expensive Zurich have made me feel like a pauper, even though I didn't eat at a restaurant once and walked everywhere! Nonetheless I scored some cheap tickets to the opera (an absolutely first-rate "Ariadne auf Naxos," probably the most satisfying evening I've had at the opera in years) and even cheaper for the state theater (thank goodness, as their "Dreigroschenoper" was tedious). And in the central library I found a bunch of things very useful for my research. And in bookstores and used book stores, I made all sorts of discoveries. Don't know whether you'd be more edified by Kafka-Kahlo-Romy Schneider-Beckett-Elisabeth of Austria-Dalai Lama or by Callas-Liszt-Elvis-unknown beauty-Mao.I'm off now for a week's hiking in Flims. I might have internet access there or not. We'll see.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009


And now I'm in Zürich for a few days before heading for the hills...

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Faces of Turkey

I usually take pictures of buildings and landscapes rather than people, but there are by now so many it seems easier to show you some people I've seen. Not actual people, you'll notice: I'm not sure of the ethics of that (since I scrupulously avoid posting pictures of people I care about, it seems only right to extend this care to strangers). It may also be that the aniconic tradition of Islam is affecting me ... though I suspect it's mainly Orhan Pamuk, whose wondrous The Black Book describes a mannequin maker who decides o make mannequins who look like Turks. Stores want nothing to do with them so he keeps them in a basement, and then documenting the disappearing visages of the city becomes an obsession... And Pamuk in turn is surely shaped by the sense it's hard to escape here that people (indeed peoples) come and go but objects and images have ways of surviving...

What you've seen: Turkish Doritos hipsters, Constantine's column, dervish trinkets, Gallipoli's Mehmet statue, images from a printer's window in Ayvalik - who knew that Golum was Turkish, though given Tolkien's proclivities it makes a certain sense!, frieze from Ephesus and an Eros from the Selcuk Museum, 12th century fresco and mosaics from two Byzantine churches in the north of Istanbul, mannequins from a part of town where many women are covered except for their eyes, some of the many faces of the inescapable Atatürk, and rental costumes for circumcisions in the Covered Market. There's a story or two begging to be told about each of them...