Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Back from Vacation

My wife, Frances, and I are back from our vacation in the California wine country. Frances is a Ph.D. candidate in cultural anthropology, and she is getting ready to move to Jordan for a year to do her dissertation fieldwork. I will not be able to go with her, because I have my big exams to become ABD (all but dissertation) in the fall, so I’m tethered to the university. We’ve been to Jordan many times and I look forward to visiting her over the winter break. It’s beautiful there – hands down the kindest, safest, most hospitable place we’ve ever been to. To convince you that you should go, here are some pictures.

This is the treasury in Petra. The entire façade is carved from rose sandstone, and though this is the most famous building in the ancient Nabatian city, there are hundreds of such structures notched into the winding canyon walls.

This is our favorite restaurant, Harat Jdoudna, in Madaba, a small town outside of Amman famous for its archaeological parks, ancient mosaics, and mosaic school. The food in Jordan is absolutely wonderful, however Jordanian wine is far less than spectacular.

For great wine, you should try visiting the California wine country. We left with no plans, but to travel north; maybe to Portland, we thought. The whole trip was chance: no reservations in advance, no idea where we would end up. We serendipitously discovered great little bed and breakfasts, wineries, good food, and saw whales playing in the ocean along the way. Sonoma was so pretty that we decided to stay there…

And we bought a lot of wine.

Of course, we also stopped in the bay area to shop for sentimental jewelry. At one little shop, we found an eye miniature surrounded by garnets. The miniature was priced reasonably, in the mid two thousand, but upon inspection under a loop, I could see that the piece was actually a marriage of two separate pieces of antique jewelry. The eye miniature was real, but it had formerly been a ring and the shank was now missing, and the garnet border was actually a separate brooch, which had been superglued onto the miniature! I wish people wouldn’t abuse such rare works of art. At any rate, here are two new additions to my collection.

Mourning sepia on ivory with chopped hair forming the ground and part of the weeping willow. The plinth reads, “In Memory of a Beloved Father, JB” and the reverse is inscribed with the initials, “C.M.B.”

Ivory box with hairwork on the lid and gold initials, “C.P.M.” The box is slightly curved to fit comfortably in a pocket.


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