Sunday, February 27, 2011


Ann and her beloved dog, Julie.  They had many wonderful years together in Phoenix.

I was Country when Country wasn't cool .......
One of Ann's favorite female singers .....

This week my good friend, Ann, died.  We shared a friendship and a common love that Ann did not share with others.  Ann was well known in the International folk dance circles in New York City and she was a superb dancer.  However, Ann had a passion for country music and lets face it, country music is frowned on by many people.  It is de rigueur to belittle country music and lovers of country music, it happens all the time.  As soon as a country artist has a song that is enjoyed outside of country, then of course, these folks call the artist ..... CROSSOVER!  By calling a country artist a crossover artist people can justify the fact that they like the song. Are you guilty?

There was no question which artist was Ann's favorite and she would travel miles to one of his concerts and never missed an opportunity to speak with him at his booth.  It was the Rajun Cajun himself, Doug Kershaw.

Doug Kershaw - Louisiana Man
Doug Kershaw - Diggy Liggy Lo

In  1987 Ann and I joined forces and attended country concerts when they came to the city.  We went to Nashville for Fan Fair which is a week of country concerts and a chance to meet the artists in their booths for photograph or autograph.  I enjoyed the concerts, not the booths.  Ann loved to meet the artists and get their signatures, nothing made her happier than speaking with a beloved artist.  Being a High School teacher Ann could not always get the vacation time to travel to Nashville.  Meanwhile I continued going to Fan Fair for ten wonderful years and formed fantastic friendships with folks there.

As we were approaching Winchester, VA (while driving to Nashville for our second Fan Fair) Ann asked if we could please stop by Patsy's grave.  Ann loved Patsy's music and she did not want to pass by without stopping at the Shenandoah Memorial Park to give her respects.  Ann was a Country Music encyclopedia, she knew all the old artists, their songs, their career and family history her knowledge on all things country was phenominal.

Patsy Cline - Sweet Dreams

Willie Nelson and Johnny Cash ...... Crazy

Thank you Ann for all those years of friendship, I will miss you.

Saturday, February 26, 2011


Malta is proving to be a safe haven for those fleeing Libya.  Malta is a beautiful little island north of Libya.  Centuries ago Malta was also a safe haven for the Saint John Hospitallers now known as the Knights Hospitallers of the Order of Saint John, Knights of Malta.

A Mediterranean island all white and sunny ...... thank you Malta for allowing those Libyan planes to land therefore saving the people of Tripoli from bombs and/or gunfire.
I see a statue of Saint James and I cannot resist photographing it, his statue or a yellow arrow remind me that I am a pilgrim.
Maltese Cross in stone at a Valletta church.

Hal Tarxien: The Tarxien Temples
The different levels at the site are dated to about 3,100-2,500 BC and 5,500 BC
The reconstructed lower portion of the earth-mother-earth figure.  The original is in the museum in Valletta.
The Trilithon entrance to the temple, now entirely restored in concrete.
 Spirals on the stonework ....
A huge stone cut 'libation' bowl, these have been found at other megalithic sites such as Newgrange and Knowth in Ireland.

Valletta, Malta
Valletta is a pretty town to walk around with its golden stone brick buildings.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Bulla Regia, Tunisia

Tunisia is where it all started.  When twenty-eight year old Mohamed Bouazizi set himself on fire in Sidi Bouzid after authorities took away his vegetable cart saying he did not have a licence for it.  This lead to the protests that caused a countrywide uprising and the downfall of President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, who was Tunisian President for twenty-three years.  Since then the people of Egypt, Yemen, Bahrain, and Libya have all protested for freedom and democracy with differing results.  Today there are reports that Tunisia is taking in Libyans as they cross the border to escape the bullets fired by the foreign mercenaries and goons of Muammar Gadhafi.  Gadhafi is holding on to a small section of Tripoli with the use of force and is firing on his own people showing he will not leave office without a bloody battle.

Malta is playing a big part in helping the Libyans.  Planes ordered to fire on the people by Gadhafi have flown to Malta to avoid orders.  Today a ferry with foreign passengers from Tripoli is on its way to Malta.  Tomorrow I will revisit Malta on this Blog.

One way to get the horses where they need to be however, it does not look too safe for the horses.

Bulla Regia ...... hiding from the sun.
Bulla Regia has fine underground dwellings that the Romans used to escape the summer heat.  There is a theater and baths at the site and some superb mosaic tiling in the underground rooms.
Portrait mosaic in the House of Fishing.
The mosaics in the House of Amphritrite is of Amphtirite the sea goddess, featuring Venus flanked by two strong centaurs.  Cupids ride dolphins one while looking at himself in a mirror.  There is not a problem with the tiling, our guide put water on the tiles so they would photograph better.
Venus with two stern faced centaurs.
No water on this underfed bear.
The theater is small but does have mosaics on the flooring in the galleries.

Dougga, Tunisia looks out over the valleys below and it has spectacular views.  I have a love for the olive growing areas .....

Below is the Capitol with its six columns. 
The view across the valley shows the Libyo-punic Mausoleum set amongst the olive trees.

Thursday, February 24, 2011


Reciprocity's a B#@$*
Garry felt the effects of reciprocity from when we first knew we were headed to Tunis.  No matter how hard he tried, even making a special trip to the Tunisian Embassy in Washington, D.C., there was NO WAY the Tunisians were giving an Australian a visa to enter the country except at the Port of Entry.  So all other nationalities me included (USA) were released for entry.  When and, ONLY when, the tour buses left the area did they start to process Garry's visa for entry into Tunisia.  I waited for him on the street outside the Immigration Office and when he finally emerged we took a taxi to the Bardo Museum to rejoin the group.

The BARDO MUSEUM in the suburbs of Tunis holds a magnificent collection of mosaics from the Roman ruins of the country and it is also a beautiful tiled building.
The beautiful golden mosaic tile dome is breathtaking, it is stunning.
After the BARDO we went for a walk through the medina/souk where once again there was a colorful variety of goods for sale.
We finished the day on a roof looking at Tunis as the sun set over the city.
What next but a delicious meal at the Restaurant Dar Hamouda Pacha on the street for the best restaurants, Rue Dar El Djeld.