Friday, November 26, 2010


I finally finished a bag I made from some crocheted granny squares. I wanted to have it photographed at a special place. This Roman Mausoleum is located very near to our home. So here you have a wonderful antique edifice and my bag adorning it! :-)
Please zoom in at the sign and you will be able to read the explanation about this site. We stopped there on our way home this afternoon and the late sun was just wonderful.
 Beautiful chiseled out decoration high up on the capitals of the columns.
The columbarium.
Linen fabric, cotton print lining, two inside pockets, 
15 inch x 17 inch
So wonderfully photographed by my husband, 
Uri Eshkar.

Thursday, November 25, 2010


250.000 years back - in the Pleistocene - Malta was not yet an island but still attached to the European mainland. Various kinds of animals roamed the land. Imagine prehistoric mammals, like dwarf elephants and pygmy hippopotamus, giant dormice, very big turtles and many species of birds living there undisturbed. Those animals became extinct and large deposits of fossilized bones were found in Malta at different locations. In one of them extra vast quantities have been discovered - in a cave, hollowed out of the limestone by a river over the course of millions of years, in the cave Ghar Dalam near Birzebbugia. 
Excavated in the beginning of the 20th century it was opened to the public in 1933. It bears the oldest witness to animal and human life in Malta. Being 144 m deep, only a third from the entrance can be visited. The bones were carried by the flood of the water and accumulated at the bottom of the cave. In five layers material of different times was found. In the upper layer, around the Neolithic period, about 5000 BCE, proof of human habitation, like tools made of flint stone and pottery sherds, was located. The lowest level contained bones, teeth and tasks of long extinct species, the hippopotamus being extinct about 180.000 years ago. In the more upper levels bones and fragments of bones give evidence of red deer, bear, fox and wolf, dating back to about 8000 to 10.000 BCE. That was about the time when the island was detached from the continent.
The entrance to the cave is through a small museum which showcases a remarkable wealth of bones detected right there. Some full scale models of the animals are also displayed, like a juvenile elephant, but they are animals of modern times, created to help the imagination going!
Another place of great interest to explore in Malta, providing a very fascinating experience! 

Monday, November 22, 2010


glorious moments
peacefully drifting in the soul
the heart rejoicing

Friday, November 19, 2010

URI - אורי

My husband's name means HaOr sheli האור שלי - My Light! Yes that's about right - he is my light!  Without him I would be much less and without his wonderful photos this blog would be nothing! Thank you Uri sheli!
Honeymoon 1981

Wednesday, November 17, 2010


"What is there to see in Malta?" A friend of us asked contemptuously when we told him we visited there. A lot is to see, to explore and to experience in Malta and I would love to travel there again!
The modern Malta has a very charming character  - the painted doors, the old buses, the colorful boats with the Maltese Eye pictured on them, the busy bustling markets, the glass blowers studios and workshops, the cliffs and beaches, the blue sea - to name only the most obvious ones! We have been there in spring and nature was splendid, with a huge variety of wildflowers, very similar to those we have in Israel, and we had a wonderful half day walk through the Dingli Cliffs along the sea and through blooming meadows. The food is delicious, Hobz biz-zejt (a kind of tuna sandwich with tomatoes and olive oil) and fenek (rabbit) with pasta, together with a glass of cool Cisk, the local brewn beer, were our favorites! 
It is a beautiful little country with a very interesting history. Composed of two small islands in the Mediterranean sea, Malta and Gozo, and a third tiny one, Comino, it is located less than 100 km south of Sicily, with a population of about 370.000 very friendly people. Its capital is Valletta, a city with heavy buildings, many stairways and filigree balconies, a city with baroque character. The Museum of History is very rich on artifacts found at the temples and a place to linger at for hours. We saw "Werther" in the most enchanting Manoel Theatre. The Maltese ladies were dressed in their best fur coats - and we smiled at the overwhelming smell of naphthalene mixed with perfume!
The climate at the islands is mild, with not much rain, and dry hot summers. Malta is without mountains and has no rivers.  Maltese and English as well is spoken. Maltese is a Semitic language interspersed with many Arabic and Italian words, and my husband had most fun with understanding some of it. Most of the Maltese of today belong to the Roman-Catholic Church and there is a lot of Christian history to be found on and off the last 2000 years, especially in Valletta.
But we were mostly interested in the ancient history, of Malta, going back to prehistoric times when the megalithic temples were built. Those are 500 till 1000 years older than the pyramids of Gizeh in Egypt. The Maltese islands probably were first settled in  the Neolithic, the New Stone Age, about 5200 BCE by humans who had arrived from Sicily, likely on rafts, then establishing and building a life there as farmers and hunters.
The megalithic temples in Malta are the oldest known standing stone structures, rediscovered by archeologists, beginning in the 19th century. The most important of the complexes are recognized by UNESCO as world heritage. The temples are constructed from limestone in a clover leaf form (trefoil) out of huge slabs of stone, weighing mega tons. How were those colossal boulders transported and piled up? Maybe like it is told in this nice legend about a giant woman with the pretty name Sansuna who is said to have carried the stone blocks to their destinations on her head,  from far away.
The entrance gates are constructed of two large vertical stone slabs on each side, with a horizontal third slab on top, which reminds a bit of a dolmen. Inside the temples are smaller examples of these gates, leading to small niches and rooms believed to be oracle enclosures and sacred sanctuaries. The temples were roofed with animal hides over wooden poles.  
Embellishments are chiseled into the stones and altars, the spiral motif recurring all over. We saw reliefs of animals, sheep and goats, a sow with seven young piggies and a bull. Plants show up on the stones and many of the slabs are decorated with hundreds of small holes. 
Big stone vessels were found and of course the gorgeous Maltese stone sculptures, some of them very large and voluptuous in size. The headless one from Tarxien, which would have been about 2 m in height with the upper parts.
And the "Venus of Malta", found in Hagar Qim, also headless, opulent but petty, 13 cm in height.
And several more statues were found in Hagar Qim, this one is 21 cm high.
The so called "Fat Lady" is the most famous, found in the Hagar Qim temple too, carved from limestone she has a hollow socket at the top, which suggests that a separately worked head was inserted. She is 51 cm high and sold as reproductions to the tourists, as you can evidently see! :-)
Very little is known about the people who built these temples. They worshiped a Mother Goddess and sacrificed animals, which was proofed by finds of bones. But only guessing can really be made about their religious rites and ceremonies. 
As I already said, the interior chambers of the temples are small and could hold only a few people, therefore big public worship would not have been possible. Maybe those ceremonies of reverencing the Mother Goddess were intended only for the priestesses and non cleric population did not participate. Fertility rites are usually associated with women and were assumable carried out by female priests, but statues of male priests have been found in the temples as well. 
Malta was mysteriously left by its people around 2500 BCE, they just disappeared - no explanation of this can be thought of till now, there are only speculations. They left nothing in writing, only those impressive stone structures, the temples, who have been surely a very important or maybe even the key element in practicing their religious culture and in living their daily life.
There could be so much more told about this sunny country. We visited many of the small cities and villages, the market in Marsaxlokk, Birzebbuga, which has a marvelous sandy beach, but also a big  port for container ships, the quiet Mdina with the medieval flair,  the catacombs in Rabat, the biggest and very touristic city Sliema with its wonderful and much frequented beach promenade. Of course we went with the ferry to Gozo, a fascinating gem of an island,  and adored the Azure Window, a giant, 50m high natural scenic rock arch, with the blue "azure" sea below and behind it! 
We strolled through Mgarr, Ghajnsielem, and walked around in the temples of Ggantija near Xaghra, they are the most ancient. In Xaghra itself we searched out the Ta'Kola Windmill. High up the Calypso cave is overlooking the beach of Ramla I-Hamra. It is said to be the cave where the beautiful nymph Calypso held Odysseus as a 'prisoner of love' for seven years. Well Homer can not be asked anymore about the exact location, but of course we had to have a look inside, and what we saw was not very impressive! 

There is much more to report about Malta, but somehow I have to end this post!

About the marvelous Hypogeum in Paola and the cave in Ghar Dalam I still will write the next days.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010


"A tattoo is a marking made by inserting indelible ink into the dermis layer of the skin to change the pigment for decorative or other reasons. Tattoos on humans are a type of decorative body modification." Wikipedia
Our son got a tattoo and I love it! It is taken from Raphael's "The school of Athens" and depicts the Greek philosopher Plato and the Greek philosopher Aristotle, a former student of Plato. It includes the Owl of Athens, the Ohm symbol, the Peace sign intertwined with the Greek letter Phi, which stands for Philosophy, the character for Yin and Yang and the sign for Geometry.

Monday, November 15, 2010


As I have already mentioned we do not have flaming fall colors here in Israel. Our autumn can not be compared to the trees and forests in Europe or in America. What I saw in New England, Maine and Utah can scarcely be topped. And I remember very well the marvelous colors of fall - die Herbstfarben - in Germany. But we do have some gentle and sweet changing of the foliage at this time of the year, and the vine yards even excel, they surely rejoice, look!
And the hills at the Hermon display their beautiful fall foliage as well!
Photos by Uri Eshkar

Sunday, November 14, 2010


This mosque at the Golan Heights was damaged during the 1967 war. We passed it many times on our excursions to the Golan and I always admired the still evident modest beauty of the building.  This Friday I asked my husband to stop, so we could have a closer look at it.
The walls inside are covered with Graffiti - some very gruel outbursts were written on them. But this one which my husband photographed secretly I noticed only at home when he showed me the picture. It says: Ani ohev otach Yaela - אני אוהב אותך יעלה - I love you Yaela!

Saturday, November 13, 2010


What is a Dolmen? Basically two large upright huge stones with a third horizontal stone covering it - like a giant table, depicting a rectangle or trapeze. Sometimes more than two vertical stones support the capstone. 
Dolmens can be found all over the world - in Europe, the Middle east and in Korea. 
They are called in German Huenengrab, Huene, meaning "giant", which in itself could be interesting to research.
There is a bit of disagreement about the origins of the word dolmen. It seems to be of Celtic/Bretonic roots, "men", meaning stone and "tol", which could mean "table", but also "hole". There is not much knowledge of the purpose of these megalithic structures. Ritual facilities? Prehistoric tombs? Astronomical grounds? Spiritual places?

Here in Israel hundreds of dolmens have been found in the Golan Heights. Many have collapsed but a lot of them can be seen exactly the way they were erected about up to 4000 years ago, starting roughly at the Bronze Age through the Neolithic and Iron Age.
At the Golan the dolmens are built from local large slabs of basalt stones and they are thought to have covered burial chambers for nomadic tribes that wandered the region, although no skeletal remains were evident. Some of them are encircled by rocks, others are covered by piles of earth and stones (tumuli), most of them stand free.
There are several clusters of dolmens throughout the Golan. We visited yesterday the one east of ancient Gamla. Between the Wadi Gamla  and the Wadi Daliyot more than 150 Dolmens can be seen on both sides of the road.
Dolmens have a very mystical flair about them and they attract not only scientists and historians, but also spiritual people...
Photos by Uri Eshkar. 

I did explain the barren ground in the region around Gamla at comments, have a look.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010


I always had cats in my life and sometimes they enchanted me so much I would make a poem - hm, a long long time ago... This one is from 1978 and it sounds like I wrote it for Golda. Since English is not my mother language I wouldn't dare to translate it - so this is to enjoy - I hope - for my German friends!

Mir gehoert ein kleines Kaetzchen
mit weichen schwarzen Taetzchen
mit Kugelknoepfchenaugen gross und fein
und einem reizenden winzigen Stupsnaeselein.

Es tappelt und zappelt, es huepft und springt,
es schnurrt und miaut
mal leise, mal laut.
Manchmal kratzt es und faucht -
klettert wuetend auf einen Baum hinauf -
ist der Zorn dann verraucht,
kann es nicht mehr weiter -
ich hole die Leiter.

Mein Kaetzchen ist rund und mollig
und so drollig.
Sein Fellchen ist weich und seidig
die Bewegungen geschmeidig
und wenn ich's recht bitte, ist es so nett
und tanzt fuer mich ein Ballett.

Die kleine rosa Zunge muesstet ihr mal sehn
und die Zaehnchen, die weiss und spitz
im Maeulchen drin stehn.
Sein Baertchen ist ja noch spaerlich,
doch wenn es mit dem Schwaenzchen peitscht,
wird es gefaehrlich!

Ich haette noch vieles zu sagen bereit:
ueber seine Ohren und wie es geboren
und... doch ich hab' keine Zeit,
schaut, mein Kaetzchen oeffnet die Augen,
gaehnt und streckt sich wonniglich
gleich stupst es mich an und will seine Milch.

Monday, November 8, 2010