Word and Image

Archive for May, 2013

Grandma’s Courtyard

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It turns out I didn’t miss spring in New York. This opportunity arose when I waited for Grandma and took advantage of her courtyard in bloom. I’ve shot cherry blossoms every which way. You would think that I’ve exhausted the subject. But each and every time you try to get something different.

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Under different circumstances dandelions are weeds. For some they are food and others wine. Today it’s another spring flower.

Coffee Guy

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Here’s where I had a little scare. I was at lunch with Farid’s family, his cousin was seated to my left. I took a picture of the coffee guy. He mumbled something that even his cousin missed. She thought he was mad as he came around the table toward me. He wasn’t mad, he was being very accommodating to a tourist. The next thing you know, Farid is snapping a shot for me. By the way the watermelon is delicious and refreshing. I haven’t had a slice since leaving NY last summer.

Beat Your Rugs

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I watched this unfold. Three floors but were they different apartments? A woman on the second floor came out to scold another on the third to stop getting dust on her blue striped whatever. I didn’t think anyone took out their rugs to beat them anymore. And why suddenly all together on the same day?


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The family spoke about this outing for a few days before we went. I had been advised from Jeddah to be sure to pass by this club. You need a reservation many weeks in advance. What you cannot appreciate is the decibel level. I found my hearing impaired for hours after we left. Really!!! I couldn’t hear that it sounded like there was cotton in my ears. IMG_1426 copyThere’s entertainment, singing and dancing… that’s Farid and he’s not dancing with his wife… but in my story I leave out the part that she’s his cousin. The whole evening he had four alcoholic mixed drinks. I had two and was ‘feeling no pain.’ Then he tells me that he had the bar water down his drinks to pretty much fruit juice with a whiff of alcohol. That’s the last time we go ‘drinking.’IMG_1458 copy

Our Lady of Lebanon

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As it is in many places around the world, there is a statue high on the hills overlooking Beirut. Under construction is a very modern church. It has some complex curves so the scaffolding has been constructed without a straight line in sight. We came one afternoon to pray for Silva’s father who is very ill._DSC1110 copy

Downtown Beirut

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It’s the neighborhood where Farid’s parents live. I have to ask, but it looks like there are bullet holes in the walls. For sure those are bullet holes in the bathroom window at his mom’s apartment. The warring sides regularly shot back and forth with heavy weapons and bullets. No one has ever shot at me. It’s very sobering to see bullet holes right out the window where you are staying.IMG_1754 copy

Martyr Square

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This statue sits next to the bombed and rebuilt section of the old city. And if you look closely there are bullet holes where the statues were shot. The martyrs were from another time, not this recent war. The violence is always just at the edge. There was a time, while Farid was in medical school here when another student was shot by a sniper. Farid stopped and took him directly to the hospital. I have been indeed lucky not to have been exposed to such violence and chaos._DSC0994 copy

Shisha Sangria

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Water pipe…it’s not good for you. The amount of nicotine is the equivalent of many more cigarettes than are safe (not that any are). Well, this is novel to me. You smoke through a wine and fruit mixture to add pleasure to your experience.

Blue Mosque

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I’m sure there is a name but for the sake of my memory it is the blue mosque. It really should be plain and simple. But the mosque stands out in the rebuilt downtown. It sits among ancient Roman ruins and new churches and chapels. Though we didn’t hesitate to enter the churches, we didn’t try to go into the mosque. It just seems that there is still a little tension in the air.

Downtown Beirut

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It’s modern, clean, and chic. Twelve years ago there was major carnage here. Every building was shot up and blown up. It’s all been rebuilt and you’d never know it until, I saw the pictures of the devastation side by side with the new buildings. Considering the earlier destruction, it was a tremendous job to rebuild in such a short time. Without the ‘before’ images, you wouldn’t believe how much has changed.

Postal Service

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The guy on the right is police and the one on the left is an irate citizen protesting my photograph of the postal scooter. I didn’t know any of this. I shot the scooter thinking that it was a novel sun umbrella with which to keep shade riding around a hot city. Farid pointed out the irate citizen. Just a fraction of a second or a foot to the right or left and it would have been clearer. I was also probably about to offend the police as well. But we were moving too fast, and I had only intended to shoot the scooter. Who knew? It’s why Farid thinks that my time on earth may be limited with my camera in hand.


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The biggest difference for me to notice between Beirut and Jeddah was the Christian influence and tolerance in Lebanon. So religious icons were seen quite commonly as opposed to Jeddah where there is no sign of any other religion other than Muslim. Any discussion otherwise is not tolerated in Saudi Arabia. They may acknowledge that you are Christian but there can be no discussion. For me, I just keep it quiet and non-controversial, just to be safe._DSC1032 copy


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Sometimes I surprise myself. Farid was laughing and wondering what I was doing clicking away through his car window. The only hedge was that I was shooting at 1/250 sec and letting the ISO run. It gave me a reasonable number of sharp images. All I can say to this shot is that I was on auto-pilot and lifted the camera, shot, and forgot in the time it took to realize that there was a photo-op. Hey! I was pleasantly surprised as much as anyone else.

Sandwich Place

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This is what Farid calls these joints. I suppose when I refer to delis and coffee shops, it calls ‘something’ to mind. Anyway, the sandwiches are more like gyros but they taste different in the Middle East. His brother in law told us about a new place and here we are for lunch. The décor color scheme is lime green and pink. I asked, but did not get an answer as to whether the cashier had color coordinated her dress to the restaurant’s décor.

Fava Beans

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Fava bean season is in the spring. At least that is what I believe. Those are the long pods piled upon one another. People come and buy a shopping bag full. The bean pods are tossed upon the table and the family gathers around to shell the pods and eat the tender new beans. IMG_0584 copyIt’s also sugar snap pea time. And, we had something that were called young almonds. Family, food, conversation, it’s a wonderful thing.


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It’s a pretty good bet that this is not Saudi Arabia… no rain (to speak of) in nine months and counting. My first morning in Beirut and it’s rainy and chilly. I almost welcome the change… just a bit too chilly. Here’s one instance in which the car window can help set the mood. I recall a photo by Grandma’s close friend Maggie Sherwood taken from a cab in a pouring rainstorm. Here’s to you ‘Mickie’ wherever you are.


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It’s the side of the road in the hills of Beirut. I’m shooting through the moving car window in the passenger seat. It seems that I never really get the ideal shooting situation. But if I did, perhaps we’d never get to where we’re headed. It really was not countryside but city. So to me this is a novelty… unexpected as much as cows would be unexpected on a  New York City street.


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One more…. It’s great to get a window seat on an airplane. Even better, I was in row 2. It means I get off the plane first. In the Middle East everyone crowds, so you will easily find yourself ten back from the front, but that’s another story. What I have to say, is that it is just a shame to waste a perfectly good sunset just because the airplane glass is a little scratched. One more time, I had a great opportunity… and I took it.


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Well, street photography has become a recent specialty for me. It’s a matter of taking a photograph when you’re too shy or too wary that the subject might object. To cut the point finer, it is said that anyone in a public space is fair game. I suppose it also comes down to if you’re caught, it could be a long explanation as to why you were detained. Anyway, this can be done, just don’t be obvious in focusing and definitely don’t be obnoxious. Go wide angle, use auto focus, and you’re good to go. And the main issue, don’t get caught. Or as Desi said, “Lucy, you have some ‘splanin to do!”


IMG_0216 copyI’ve been trying to get a shot of a school of fish. In my mind’s eye it has been a favorite shot of underwater photographers to get that swirling mass of biologic frenzy under the sea. It’s not as easy as I thought. Fish don’t swirl around that much. And mostly the masses stay well away from anything as large as me trailing a large burst of bubbles and likely as not to eat them. Maybe they liked Julia better and were closer just to see what she was up to.

Electric Stingray

IMG_0271 copyI would have to say that it doesn’t look like much. In fact this is another find that Julia made. Really, I’m beginning to think that my mind wanders when we dive. It looked like a flounder on the move. When we surfaced and showed this photo around, the experienced divers were convinced that this is an electric stingray. They congratulated us for not getting shocked. I was not going to touch it anyway. It’s a rule. “Don’t touch anything, it may bite.”

Jump, Don’t Look

IMG_0273 copyWe were diving at this resort. All the resorts are close set and the next door neighbor is just a stone’s toss away. It was abandoned. So these three girls, who were snorkeling, had clambered onto the empty structure and were jumping into the sea. It wasn’t exactly safe. There’s a reef and you can miss and land on a rock. If you’re willing to do something stupid, I’m equally willing to photograph it. As I snapped, one of the father’s (I didn’t know till he told me) stopped me and said, ‘No photo.’ Then he corrected and said not for advertising or commercial use. Hmmm…. anyway he let me keep what I had and from this distance, I defy you to identify any of the sillies jumping. More ‘street photography’ and luckily Julia was not there at the time to roll her eyes in disapproval.

Self Portrait

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We did this shot in the old town. It’s not as though you can see how hot we had become. It was about a minute later that we made a break for the car and the A/C. You really can’t walk around in the late afternoon. It’s why I believe everyone is out and about at late night.

Mayrig Restaurant

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Even though I have been in Jeddah for nine months, I have barely gotten around due to transportation limitations. Here is a ‘find.’ I had passed this place many times but it is a bit too far to walk. We stopped in and checked the menu. Julia loved it so much we ate there twice. IMG_0920 copyThe dish you see is cherries covering kabob meatballs and crisp flatbread chips. IMG_0922 copyThe other is phyllo wrapped meatballs that will be covered by yogurt. The pictures don’t do justice to the fun that we had. And it is cherry juice that we drank. No alcohol, it was very good indeed.