19 February 2014


Iris by Jacopo Bellini

This is the 341st post for Surprised by Time since we began in June 2008 and there is a finite amount of material for the fifteenth-century Morea, the focus of Surprised by Time. I have been finding it more and more difficult to identify topics, and long-time readers will have noticed recent repetitions. Today I thought I had written a satisfactory entry, until something made me look back and I found I had already published it a month ago.  Circumstances have made it difficult to have the time to research topics not in my direct line of writing, and there is a dearth of art catalogs that excite me.

I have decided to take a leave of absence until early April. Perhaps more material will come to hand, perhaps it will be time to end, but time will continue to be surprising. I am grateful to my readers. Many of you have made yourselves known to me, and some of you have become close friends.

As of writing this, Google tells me I have had 256,669 page views. Google started counting some months after I began, while the counter I have used from the beginning tells me I have had 226,043 page views. That is a difference of 30,000-plus. Either way, Surprised by Time has had a generous share of the viewers who have a choice of some 239,000,000 blogs.  I average more than 150 viewers a day. The blog with the most viewers as been "Nick the Greek," mostly because of searches for Magellan's ship Victoria.  Because Nick was from Nauplion and a survivor of the first sailing to circle the globe, I had hoped Nauplion might be prompted to make a gesture in his honor.  Nauplion has so far appeared impervious to any of the many entries I have written about this small city I love.  The second most-viewed blog has been "Africans in Renaissance Europe: Black as Accessory, Black as Human." The third is "Rooms with a View," one to which I return weekly for the exceptional lyricism of those paintings.

Meanwhile, spring is coming in Seattle. A surprise iris has been blooming for two weeks. The front yard has a mass of yellow crocuses to the left, purple to the right. The south-west corner is dense with snowdrops, and all the flowerbeds are crowded with the green shoots of bulbs. There are minute buds on the grape vines, and the olive tree has new leaves the size of eyelashes.

A pair of young crows has been courting beside the house, and the crow-calls have become more musical. A brilliant Townsend's warbler has reappeared at the feeder. The Bewick's wren has been singing his heart out from the tops of the two hawthorn trees. We are deeply concerned because the Anna's hummingbird has not appeared for a month. We saw her daily during the weeks when the temperatures never got above freezing, but since it has been warming, we have missed her.

Pierre is having a birthday party.  I am making a Reine de Saba cake and an onion tarte.  

This wonderful Bellini iris seems to represent a great question-mark.  I don't know what the question is, but it is much more profound than just what happens to this blog.  I will return in April.  I welcome any ideas and questions you want to offer.


  1. καλή ξεκούραση, και σ' ευχαριστούμε για τα ώς τώρα :)

  2. Have a good leave of absence--you will be missed. I follow many blogs, and this has risen to the top! Love Bellini's bearded Iris--bearded iris of this section should be blooming in my garden when you return in April!

  3. There is nothing wrong with repeating topics. New Information always shows up that gives an added perspective. New readers show up (me), that don't have a clue about anything!

  4. You are very encouraging. Thank you.


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