Saturday, December 31, 2011

December Scenes - Updated

I started off December with a trip to Washington D.C. for a committee meeting (dealing with reliability , and the lack thereof, of military systems).  Got there the evening that the Christmas tree across from the White House was lighted, but after the program attended by the First Family and others was over, and just as the area was being closed.  Here's one picture I got with the Washington Monument in background.  The national tree is surrounded by a ring of state trees.

Went back the next evening for some more pictures.  I thought this shot of the scaffolding used for the previous night's program being disassembled was kind of artsy.

Several train sets were set up around the tree.  Not long after the above shot there was a terrible accident.

Oh, No!  Thomas the Train derailed!  Homeland Security rushed to the scene.

I stayed in the famous Willard Hotel (your tax dollars at work).  Here's their Christmas tree in the lobby.

 The weather story of the month was snow in Cedar Crest.  Three episodes in two weeks of 10-11 inches of snow.  Some scenes around the house.


Saturday, eight days before Christmas, I flew (thank you SW Airlines) over to Oklahoma City (by way of Phoenix) to see UNM play Oklahoma State U. 

Late in the game I got a picture message from Susie.  Here's the picture.

That's me at the game, upper left with cap on (had on an OSU cap and a red UNM sweater to show my conflicted self, but I was glad that UNM won).  That's my nephew Sterling on my left, my brother-in-law Tom on my right, with his hand up to his face.  Nephew Peter was to Tom's right.  Wow! I thought.  How did Susie capture that picture and send it?  Well, it turned out that Son Matt and grandson Tony were watching the game on TV.  They spotted me, backed up the DVR and took this picture of the screen, then sent it to Susie, who forwarded it to me.  Ain't technology wonderful?

Christmas is for the children and we were fortunate to have some of our extended brood here for Christmas.  Here are grandkids Andrew, Tony, and Kaci Hinkle enjoying the candy canes and Christmas headbands.

And here are Joey and Heidi, who will be adding two more grandchildren to the brood next May.

To top off the Christmas season, here is a link to the year's worst nativity scenes.  As a collector of nativity scenes, I've got some that are a little offbeat, but not to rival these.

Happy New Year 2012!  Hope it's a good 'un.

Susie and Rob

Update.  Wednesday after Christmas we drove to Las Cruces to see the Lobos play the Aggies.  Beautiful drive down the Rio Grande Valley with snow-covered hills and mountains lining the way.

Lobos won big, avenging an earlier defeat on our home court.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Thanksgiving Trip to Colorado

Scenes from our Thanksgiving week trip to Colorado:

Macy, all dolled up for her baptism.

Two dolls.

 The children's choir at the Highlands Ranch Community Church sang during the baptism ceremony.

Side trip.  Susie and I celebrated our 12th anniversary at the Broadmoor Hotel in Colorado Springs:

The view from the deck adjoining our room.

Thanksgiving program by Malia's kindergarten class.

 The Pilgrim women did a particularly fine job of acting and singing.

Valerie works for Air Methods, a company that provides emergency medical helicopter transport.  The company had a drawing contest for employees' kids, age six and under, for the company's Christmas card.  Malia won!

All her creation.  No parental coaching.  She won a Nintendo DSi device - game player, digital camera, drawing tablet, wi-fi, who knows what else.  She's showing it here (sorry, cut Jeff's head off).

She took some great pictures of Nei-Nei and Grandpa that we may be able to pay her to destroy.

Hanging out with Malia and Macy.

 Pine cone art that Malia and I made in the park behind their house.

Good timing - we managed to stop twice in Las Vegas - breakfast on the way north, lunch on the way south.  Here is a really nice book store, with a cute title, in Old Town Las Vegas.  Stop in next time you're in the area.

Rob and Susie

Friday, November 18, 2011

Israel - 4 - Old City

Thursday, Nov. 10.  Last day in Israel.  We spent the time exploring the Old City.

Here's a map: Jerusalem at the Time of the Second Temple (which included the time of King Herod's reign).


North is to the left.  The temple was in the upper rectangle, which was a leveled area called the Temple Mount.  The Western Wall of the Temple Mount is also known as the Wailing Wall.  Pictures to come.

Here's one of the gates into the Old City, used by both cars and people.

Inside there are many places for worship, including: a church, a synagogue, and a mosque.

Here's the Dome of the Rock.  It is maintained by a Jordanian agency.  Access, via the covered ramp in this picture, by non-Muslims is very limited so we did not go there.

The wall in this picture, running to your right from the center of the picture, is the Western Wall.  As mentioned above, it is also known as the Wailing Wall.  There is a discussion in the link I just inserted of the naming issue.  Also, the Dome of the Rock is within the bounds of the Temple Mount, probably built on top of remains of earlier temples (the writer of this article says it "stands on the place where Solomon’s temple once stood"), hence a contentious issue. 

Here's the plaza next to the Western Wall.

On certain days of the week, including the Thursday we were there, many freshly-turned 13-year old boys have their Bar Mitzvah ceremonies here.

As Herb Geller explained to me, for years young Jewish boys study the Torah and learn how to sing the text.  In this ceremony, they are being tested on it.  If they make a mistake, they have to correct it.

Just behind the wall, female family members watch and throw candy at appropriate pauses in the ceremony.


A couple more scenes at the Western Wall.

A large group of African men were present.  I don't know if that's typical or if there was some special occasion, or tour, that brought them here this day.  If you want, you write prayers on pieces of paper and tuck them into crevices in the wall as you pray.

The gentlemen in this picture are set up for the long haul.  This is in a portion of the wall access that is underground.

Quickly changing religions, here are some scenes along the Via Dolorosa that commemorates the journey Jesus took, carrying his cross, from where he was tried to Golgotha, where his crucifixion took place. 

Some groups stage their own Via Dolorosa:

The present Old City is built on top of ruins of the city in Jesus' time, so today's route is not the actual place where Jesus walked.  However, Irit showed us some paving rocks that had been excavated from the ruins of that period and embedded in the present walkway. 

The Via Dolorosa ends at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, said to be built on not only the site where Jesus died, but where he was buried.  Here's the plaza at one entrance.  There's a story about that ladder outside one window, but I've forgotten it.

A couple of interior scenes.

There were large crowds in this Church and I must admit it was a little hard to experience a feeling of awe and reverence.  I'm very glad, though, that I got a chance to visit these holy sites.

We took some time for shopping.  Here are some street scenes.

We finished our day looking at an area outside the Temple Mount's southern wall where excavation is ongoing.  Here's a grand staircase into what once was a gate into the Temple Mount, just above the excavation area (which does not now make for an interesting picture, at least I didn't get one).

After all of this, nearing sundown, Nancy and Herb Geller and I decided to walk back to the hotel.  The route took us through a swanky, modern mall (which people may have trouble interpreting 2000 years from now when it is excavated).  I had come here two nights earlier looking for something to eat.  A shop featuring art by David Gerstein caught the Gellers' eye, so we went in.  Gerstein is a famous Israeli artist.  The Gellers have a couple of Gerstein pieces.  You can read more about his art than you would ever want to at this site.  You can also see examples.

One of his metal "cut-outs" (probably the cheapest thing in the store), described as follows, caught my eye - I think, in hindsight, that it was the "variational freedom," which sounds statistical.

Until the late eighties - when the large body of his works called "cut-outs" appeared, along with the process of reproducing them in series of up to 295 signed and numbered copies, hand-painted in industrial paints with some variational freedom - Gerstein went through different expressive phases, yet in all of them he brought together the biographical with the local. Over the years his image reservoir grew to include local trees and birds, and his painting technique improved until it reached the formulation of handwriting, line and coloring which are uniquely his own. His images were treated again and again, his funny figures internalized their slight stammer, their innocent absurdity and their kindness, until they became more and more graphic, automatic, spontaneous, immediate, schematic, direct, with no double-lining. Merely a smiling gaze. Before the metal cut-outs with their industrial-like process of production, Gerstein created works in painted wood-cuts. He painted the first of these objects in the exact same manner as his canvases - with conventional oil paints. However, the transition to another medium and material called for relevant paints and painting techniques: super-lacquer, stencils, tapes, air brushes, etc. He tried to liberate the "statues" cut in wood from the flatness of the plywood. In order to achieve an expressive, tangible effect he covered the image's surface with a mixture of glue, sand and paint, and added acrylic paint on top of the resulting rough texture. However, it seems that even this did not satisfy him. His quest for a suitable personal language led him to metal, forcing him to give up acrylic paint and adopt industrial paint, since acrylic does not take to metal.

I didn't buy anything, but when I got back to the hotel, I decided to go back and do it.  So, here's my Gerstein cow.

How could you say No to a face like that?  And, because one good cow deserves another, here's another one (actually the reverse side).

I was pretty proud of my excursion into art collecting, so I was shocked, shocked to hear Susie telling people at church about his cow and laughing.  Actually, she (Susie, not the cow) says she does make you smile, which is not a bad thing for art to do.

That night we had a group dinner a short walk from the hotel.  Returning, one of our group spotted this intersection sign.  "Take a picture.  That symbolizes the cross-cultural nature of our trip."

The next morning, Friday, it was back to the Tel Aviv airport and 24 hours later I was back in Cedar Crest.  Hope you enjoyed the journey.