02 July 2020

Signs and Symbols

The intriguing history of hobo signs/symbols | History 101

  At one point when I was talking with Mr. Matthews [see previous blog], I said to him, "There have been so many people come to the door lately, I am beginning to think my house has been marked.
    He said, "Yes, ma'am, it has."  I looked at him blankly.
    He took me down the back stairs, down the walk to the back of the garage where he pointed out a number of chalked signs. I was so stuck by them, and so excited, I forgot to ask him for an explanation. I was sure I would remember them, and of course, I didn't. I cannot say if any of my signs were on the list above collected in the Depression -- mine were 35 years younger.
    I was excited because my grandmother's house was marked in Depression Alabama, and because in a very small world I had now the honor of her status. My grandparents, my father's parents, lived near the railroad tracks, and every day close to eleven, my grandmother would listed for the whistle announcing that the Birmingham train was coming. My grandmother would go to her kitchen and start making sandwiches. They were poor enough that sometimes the sandwiches were bread and margarine, sometime bread and boloney, and sometimes there were just slices of bread, but there was always something to give the men who came along the fence and up the stairs to her back door.
    I think my grandfather did not formally know this was happening.  He would leave early every day with a sack lunch, and go to the hardware store which could no longer afford to employ him. He and several other men would go to the hardware store and sit around the iron stove, their work boots propped up on the fender, or if it was hot weather, sit in the dark rear of the store where a small breeze tunneled among stacks of pine planks.
    The men who rode the trains had to hide out for the rest of the day until the next train whistle announced a train going north or south -- there were two of each, each day. They had to hide because  local unemployed men who were members of the Klan -- my grandfather was one of them -- would look for them, beat them up, scare them so that they would never get off the train in that town again. My grandmother gave me very little information, but enough to let me know of her own fear every time she heard the train whistle. The Klan might avenge themselves on white women.
    My other grandmother, in Birmingham, had a reputation, too. Her house was not marked, but everyone knew she bought violins. Thin tired men with worn shoes and frayed trousers would come to her porch and offer her a violin.  She played the violin -- not terribly well though adequately for church solos -- but she led a small orchestra for workers at Avondale Mills who themselves were always thin and tired. The violins she bought on her porch for  $5 -- a lot if you realize that my mother's wedding dress cost $10 -- she would give to people who wanted to play in the orchestra and didn't have anything to play. Usually the violins did not come with bows, so she would have to find or buy a bow, and then rosin, and probably a couple of strings.  Also, she insisted on providing a square of velvet to go under the violin on the shoulder, and a piece of velvet to wrap the $5 violin in.
    I think often about the comfort my grandmothers provided to strangers.

25 June 2020

We is probably related


Fifty years ago when I was the young mother of small children, we lived in the family neighborhood of Chevy Chase, DC.  Over several months I had the occasional knock on the door, a man asking for food. It was odd in that neighborhood -- you had to go there deliberately. It was not where you came to leaving the train or bus or truck stop. I noticed that the knocks came shortly after my husband had left for the Capitol, but there was nothing disturbing about them, only that someone needed food.

    I fed people good Southern breakfasts, made conversations, gave them whatever I had available in the way of clothes. They called me "ma'am", bounced the little girls on their knee, offered to do yard work for me.

    The last person who knocked was quite tall, strikingly handsome, and looked exactly like my grandfather.  When I opened the door I asked him where he was from.

    "Ozark, Alabama, ma'am."  I said, "I have family from Ozark.  What is your name?"  He said, "Matthews, ma'am."  I said, "My family is Matthews from Ozark." He said, "Yes, ma'am, we is probably related."

    And I was too young and too self-conscious to question him further, to get names, addresses.   But during the demonstrations recently for Black Lives Matter I remembered "We is probably related" and began to weep.  A couple of days later, my daughter sent me two pages from the slave census from the 1860 US Census in Ozark, Alabama. We read over it together, several times, making sure we could translate the florid handwriting, and then trying to understand what the numbers meant.

    The first of the two pages is up above here.  The last name on the right is our concern. The name is Moses Matthews, the patriarch of the Matthews family, my great-great-grandfather. Now the two pages give a total of 20 slave owners, with 145 slaves. For these 145 slaves there are 24 houses: most owners have one house each with  2 to 10 slaves per house. Fifteen slaves are identified as mulattos. Five owners are identified as Matthews.

    Moses Matthews has the most slaves on the two pages: he has 24 slaves in three houses, though another ancestor, Dempsey Dowling, has 20 in three houses.. Three of the Matthews slaves are identified as mulattos.  One is a man older than he, but the other two are twin boys, four years old.It is what I think Mr. Matthews meant by "we is probably related."   I have no documents that can prove anything, but I see these small twins in the shadows behind Mr. Matthews, and I can imagine that his own family had a story about them.

    That's all. Maybe. Perhaps. 

    Black Lives Matter.

NOTE: Google no longer permits editing of the blog format.  So I am unable to correct the address of my web site which is now NAUPLION.ORG. I would like to remove the blurbs for other blogs from the side. I do not know how well this is going to work after a 5-year absence.

23 December 2016

The Word becomes flesh

What is wanted here is silence.

That the young woman is pregnant is suggested by her unlaced gown, shorter in front than in back. Her labor has begun, and her right hand both indicates her pregnancy and feels the movement of the contraction, while her other hand presses into her back to relieve the discomfort. She has moved deep within herself into silence.

The angels, mirror images, their colors inverted, are closing the tent to give her privacy. Inevitably these angels are described as pulling back the curtains to reveal her: this would be the convention, and innumerable putti pull back draperies to uncover lovers or other important events. But Piero is never conventional when he follows conventions, and an understanding of the young woman's posture and the way in which they shield her with their wings makes it clear that they are protecting her, giving her privacy.

This tent, though is even less conventional.

Exodus 25-26-27 describes the making of the tent of the Ark of the Covenant. Piero gives us an imperial tent of his day and here the red-dyed rams' skins and the gold of Exodus have become heavy red brocade woven with gold roses. Where Exodus constructs the tent of skins, Piero lines the young woman's enclosure with fur. The King James Version reads the skins as badger skins, but the word may actually refer to sealskins (there were and are seals in the eastern Mediterranean), and Piero's furs have that softness. So this young woman standing in the Tent of the Ark of the Covenant, flanked by two angels as was the Ark, becomes herself the Ark and the Covenant will be present among us this winter night in the protective quiet and warmth of the enclosing fur. 

The first chapter of the Gospel of John, which nearly every church will read tomorrow night at midnight or Sunday morning, says, "And the Word became Flesh and pitched his tent -- ἐσκήνωσεν --
among us." Translators make that say that he lived, or dwelt with us. But John meant what he wrote: the tent of the Ark of the Covenant was pitched in our midst, and Piero has taken John's words and translated them into fresco.

Piero always paints silence, whatever the images, the silence between notes, and the silence of this young woman about to give birth brings to mind a poem that ends:

She's crowning, someone says,
but there's no one royal here.
just me quite barefoot
greeting my barefoot child.

The poem is by Linda Pastan, from A Perfect Circle of Sun.
A larger version of the painting.

04 December 2016

Emperor or Sultan?

I have been exchanging notes with a Byzantine art historian who recently found this painting although she has never actually seen it. Fundamentally unknown, it was sold at Christie's in 1995 as a portrait of John VIII, and then disappeared into some collector's private world. Christie's dated it to the early 1500s, maybe as late as the 1520s. The few scholars who have mentioned it assign it to a school or follower of Gentile Bellini.

When I saw the picture, I immediately saw it as Mehmed II. Mehmed -- and later Suleiman the Magnificent -- were sometimes portrayed as Byzantines, which is, I think, shorthand for "the ruler in Constantinople."  

Here, for example is a woodcut of John VIII serving as a representation of Mehmed II in the 1493 Nuremburg Chronicle. 

She -- the art historian -- believes the painting is John VIII, and feels details closely resemble those of John in the Sinaii portrait: 

One problem with either identification is the late date of the portrait. Mehmed died in 1481, John in 1448. Was someone making a collection of Byzantine emperors or Ottoman sultans?

The main problem, though, is that the location of the portrait is unknown.  I am writing this entry on the off-chance that someone our there reading has seen the portrait and can give more information about it. Where is it? Who was the painter? Are there similar paintings out there? Would the collector make himself known to the art historian and allow her to see it?

You can write me at the e-mail address up at the right.

25 November 2016

Pray for the soul of Michelis Fantalouris

I have written before about Ag. Metamorphosis near Asine -- here and here. I am writing again because I want to call attention to Micheli Fantalouris -- that is his name in the third and fourth lines of the inscription in the church. 

This is the way the inscription looked when I first saw it in the 70s. Now some idiot has installed a glaring electric light in the lower part of it.

Michelis Fantalouris was a member of one of the very few Greek land-holding families that we know of from the Venetian occupation, and the only one where we actually know the precise piece of land -- the land which surrounds Ag. Metamorphosis. The family was involved in trade and owned a ship. (There is a reference for the family in footnote 43 here.) Probably not a very large ship. Down the hill from the church is a hidden cove, barely large enough for a 
grippo or a light galley. The inscription asks us to pray for the souls of Michelis Fantalouris and his children, and is dated 1570, thirty years into the Turkish occupation. I make the final bit of the inscription November 28, which would make this November 1569 in our calendar system.

No matter, Micheli paid for the little church to be frescoed again. Here are a couple of the 1569/70 frescos.  Several of them have been varnished over and photograph poorly. The painter was very fond of diagonal lines. 

This bit of fresco, though is different. Here the painter has preserved some of the previous fresco -- from about 1400.  This is at the top right, as soon as you enter the church. 

This detail shows a group of Westerners, Latins -- there is a small child at the left edge -- following the direction of a young man to look at the crucifix appearing in the sky. It seems to have been painted by a Greek, but the image is more Western.  I think it is of Franciscan influence, and have tried to get opinions on this, but without any luck. It is one of the very very few -- about four -- Western frescos I have found surviving in the Argolid. I would be so pleased to be proved wrong and shown that there are more.

 In 1569/70 Michelis Fantalouris was an older man. What is most remarkable is that he did not live in Nauplion, or out near Ag. Metamorphosis, but in Venice.  My friend Ersie Burke* has found him listed in the register for the scuole of S. Giorgio dei Greci in 1575. It appears that he continued his trading in Venice, was considered a worthy member of the Greek community, and so that he sent money back to Nauplion to have his family chapel refrescoed. From this entry in the scuole membership book,  it looks as if Michelis died in 1579.  

That is all there is to say about Michelis. Sathas, V. 8, 363-64, mentions the brothers Cosmas and Nicolò Fantalouris, and a woman, Cali,being provided Venetian jobs in 1542, but we don't know their relationship to Michelis. We don't know when Michelis went to Venice.

Pray for the soul of Michelis Fantalouris.  

Ersie Burke has an important book coming out soon from Brepols -- The Greeks of Venice, 1498-1600: Immigration, Settlement, and Integration.

01 March 2016

Sam and Argos

I was crossing Connecticut Avenue this afternoon behind a fluffy white table-dog, the kind a daughter of mine would call a “kick-me dog,” and I thought I should check to see if Homer had actually said "table-dog".  The charming Maltese whelp was a table dog.  Was I only remembering a translation?

You will recall that when Odysseus first returns to his house, the first living creature to greet him is his old dog Argos. Odysseus tears up, and says that clearly used to be a fine dog, not like those “table dogs”. Homer does say that: τραπεζῇες κΰνες. 

When my husband and I honeymooned in Paris in 1988, we took a barge trip from the north of the city down to the Seine. There was a table on the barge, surrounded by all the characters from Renoir's Boating Party (which lives two blocks from me), especially the young woman ignoring her date and talking baby-talk to her dog. I was enchanted with the living painting, as I had been enchanted the previous afternoon on the train through fields of living Monet's.

The first time I visited Ireland, in the mid-90s, I was taken to the farm of my daughter's in-laws. The first thing I really noticed as we drove up the hill to the house was a large pile of cattle manure with an old dog lying on top – it was an icy day. We parked beside the manure. I got out of the car, and the old dog staggered towards me. “Argos!” I gasped, burst into tears, and put my arms around him.

Inside the house was a table dog, a fluffy King Charles spaniel, Sam, who won prizes in dog shows. And this is where the story turns somewhat tragic.  A couple of years later, my son-in-law, Sean, was working on the farm with a tractor.  Sam ran under the tractor. Sean had to take his mother the news and the remains of Sam. 

The next weekend there was a family wedding. When my daughter and Sean arrived, the various children ran up crying out, "Sean, you killed Sam!"  Of course, he felt wretched. When they had lost interest and gone off, a ten-year old sidled up, not quite looking at Sean. "Sean, Sean! " he hissed.  "How flat was Sam?"

21 December 2015

Nauplion Christmas

This was our Christmas in Nauplion 38 years ago, when my children were younger than my grandchildren are now, and when Greece was an endearingly different world: when most people had little money instead of being attacked by incompetent government, when the old town was full of homes instead of little pink hotels, when the ringing we heard was the hourly bell instead of cell phones, when the voices of children were heard in the streets, and when we met neighbors taking their lunches to be cooked in the bakery ovens. It is a world that has disappeared more completely than Dicken's London, because that world is good for seasonal merchandise and Nauplion of the 70s has had no literary genius.  Greeks will remember a different Christmas: this was ours seen from the culture of Washington, DC.

* * * * * * * *

It rained relentlessly for the first three weeks of December, and during those same three, there was no mail. We felt abandoned.  There were no Christmas carols played in Nauplion stores, no crass commercialization, no blatant attempts to blackmail us into buying presents we did not need, no cranberries, no cider, no fireplaces. No anticipating the Christmas Eve party where the grownups wore evening dress, or Vespers at the cathedral, no driving around the North Capitol Street neighborhood to look at lights. And no Christmas trees.

As far as we had been able to learn, Christmas trees were available only in Athens and there at high prices. Then the younger girls ran up the stairs crying out that one of the tourist hotels had just brought a tree in its front door. At the hotel, the desk clerk said the tree had come from the florist shop in Argos opposite the bus stop. We were on the next bus to Argos. The florist said to come back after 2:30, when his tree delivery was to arrive. We had lunch in one of the venerable old restaurants on the town square, a cavernous grey room, hung with enormous fading photographs of stern Greek royalties. The other patrons seemed to all be very old men who smoked a great deal and watched us closely. We ate hurriedly and went out to see the newest diggings.

It is the misfortune of the residents of Argos to live on a site inhabited without interruption for six thousand years, and given special attention by the Romans. Every time someone wanted to build a house, add an extra room or storage shed, or do something to the garage, they dug up another Roman relic. Legally, all such discoveries were to be reported to the Ephor of Antiquities and the site properly investigated before any more building. A proper investigation might not come for years, and the land could then be appropriated by the government at its own evaluation. Anyone with any sense at all, of course, followed the advice of the Duke of Wellington and buried the damn thing immediately. Still, it did happen that something was embroiled in official attention, and every visit to Argos turned up a dig or two worth looking at.

Just after 2:30, the florist had a load of trees, each of them perfect, each bearing a lead government seal. Christmas trees in Greece came from government plantations. Those approved for sale were marked, and possession of an unmarked tree could mean a year in jail. The previous Christmas, Jorn and Erika, from South Africa, had  suggested we go in their van to a tree plantation and liberate our own trees. We went to a ski resort down in the Peloponnesos on the slopes of Menelaion. It was a splendid day, the snow was knee-deep and the children raced about throwing snowballs with Erika, and watching for approaching traffic. Jorn and I, stumbling with saws and implements hidden in our boots and sleeves, slid into snow-covered crevices looking for trees. Sawing through tree trunks was more difficult than we had anticipated, and after we had slipped into more crevices taking the trees back to the road, we crouched behind rocks until Erika signaled that it was safe to dash to the van with our trees. Crossing the plain of Tripolis coming home, we bought large sacks of potatoes and walnuts. That was last year.

In Argos we selected an elegant silver fir which cost three times what I had ever paid for a tree, and walked it to the bus stop where it waited in line with us for tickets. The other passengers and the passers-by admired it so generously that we began to feel we were performing a social service. The bus driver, however, adamantly refused to put the tree into his empty luggage compartment. Should I have had any doubts on the matter, he explained that he had never transported trees and never would. I shoved the children on the bus where two of them immediately began to cry with a moderate degree of sincerity. In those days Greeks could not abide seeing children cry, especially blond children. The passengers on the bus began shouting at the driver. He shouted at the bystanders on the sidewalk and pointed at me and the tree. I fancied I bore a certain resemblance to Joan of Arc carrying her own stake. The bystanders shouted at each other and the tree and the bus, and I had the hopeful impression that the driver was very close to being lynched. He must have had a similar impression, for he abruptly decided the tree could ride in the luggage carrier on top of the bus.

For the twenty minutes back to Nauplion, I watched the shadow of the tree in the low afternoon light ripple along the side of the road. The shadow rippled over the reed thatch on the roadside stands hung with bunches of oranges, it rippled across the great stones of Tiryns, and it rippled over the yellow prison walls. In Nauplion, we walked our tree home, supporting it with arms through the branches as if it were an unsteady friend, pausing constantly for it to be admired. 

We have always collected decorations, each decoration bearing a memory to be recounted every year during the decorating: a china bell from Irene's godmother; the gold birds from the Christmas I was pregnant with Kathleen; the straw stars made by my father's German POWs; a glass unicorn made one Midsummer's Eve on the Boardwalk at Ocean City; a Robert Kennedy button, Jan's red paper dolls from Denmark (the last remnants above). We added tiny Greek dolls and icons, and Diana Stravouradis brought a dozen sugar mice from Wales. Elias, Arete, Apostolos, Evangelitsa,Yannis, Sophia, Michaelis, Costas, Maritsa, all saw the lights from the street and came up to admire. "Afto inai oreio. Inai kalo." It is beautiful, it is good. Strangers knocked on the door and asked if they might bring their children who had never seen a Christmas tree before. The next day we cycled to the far side of Palamidi – now gnawed up by roads and houses – to collect armfuls of heather, narcissus and pine. We put tall beeswax candles and crêches in the window alcoves – Irene's from Nigeria (still with us this Christmas), Kathleen's from Mexico, Rosalind's from Germany.

Abruptly, Nauplion prepared for Christmas. Soldiers from the local army base set up a life-sized crêche with Byzantine-style figures in the main square, in front of the Venetian armory. Beside it they put a fishing boat hung with colored lights: there was always a competition to have one's boat chosen. Agios Vasilios brings gifts at New Year's in his boat. The windows on the main streets were heaped with sweets in shiny colored papers and boxes. The dark, narrow shops on the side streets smelling of chocolate and oranges – now all become boutiques – were crammed with shiny things piled on the counters and hanging from the ceiling like stalagtites.

The hunchbacked fiddler from across the bay strolled up and down the main streets, fiddling a carol over and over. We went over to him, he said the children were beautiful, then spat to protect them from the Evil Eye. The gypsies came to town.  An aged woman sat near the post office asking for contributions, her grown idiot son sprawled inertly across her lap, the two making a hideous pietà, . A man led a muzzled bear cub about on a rope. When he bashed its feet with a stick, it lifted them up and down: this was dancing. When poked with a stick, it growled: this demonstrated ferocity, and observers squealed. A teen-aged gypsy boy leaned against a pillar of the church porch under our window. He played "St. James Infirmary" on his clarinet in a dozen styles and variations. He was an artist. I wanted to know his name, to hear him play more, but the old man near him spoke sharply and set him to playing a proper carol The old man talked to me for a bit, anxious that I know him to be a "real Christian," that is, one baptized in church, unlike most gypsies. He said the boy was rebellious, and did not know his place.

On December 23, the mail finally arrived. It took three trips to the post office to retrieve all the packages. Phillipa, a graceful Australian, came up the stairs and asked if she could visit. She had been traveling alone for a month and wanted to see someone at Christmas who spoke English. The morning of Christmas Eve, we were awakened by the fire house band, composed mostly of drums, clarinets and tubas. Rosalind ran down to join the horde of small children who danced behind, up and down all the streets of the old town collecting contributions of small change and candy. More packages arrived. The children went out to deliver fruit cakes – I had brought bourbon and pecans for this, and we baked them in the bakery oven next to Evangelitsa's shop (now a bank) – and small gifts to our friends. They returned with more cakes and gifts than they had taken. We made tablecloths from lengths of blue and white material, and set out the silverware, and blue and white china we had brought with us.

The silver had nearly got us into trouble. When we packed to come to Greece, I put household supplies in containers that were carried in the ship's hold, but the sterling I put into my hiking boots in one of the suitcases, thinking we might want to use it before we had access to the containers. We arrived at customs with six suitcases, a trunk, two musical instruments and assorted bags. With stunning intuition, the customs inspector only opened the suitcase with the hiking boots stuffed with silver. No one at customs spoke English, nor did any of us speak Greek. After a long period in a smoke-filled room where several men shouted at each other and at me, I tearfully managed to get one of them to notice the scratches, bent tines and tarnish that might indicate the silver had been in our possession for a while.

We hadn't enough plates to set out all we had cooked, and when guests began arriving with their contributions, there wasn't enough room for all the food, either. Everyone we had invited had found a foreigner who wanted an American Christmas -- two Australian families in the campground, an Irishwoman camping on the beach, an American schoolteacher, a German couple, two Englishwomen who had married Naupliots, several Greeks who had lived in America, and they all brought bottles of drinks and more food. As soon as the first guests appeared, the kitchen sink detached itself from all of its pipes and fell off the wall. We tried to ignore this.

We were interrupted several times by shouts from the Hotel Otto across the street for phone calls from the States, and at the hotel we acquired two solitary salesmen morosely watching television. At midnight, the church bells rang and the ships blew their whistles.
Christmas morning we woke to the bells and incense of Panagia and the warm tones of the priest's chanting. Phillipa breakfasted with us on leftover ham and Roquefort, and then we took the bus to Argos.

Argos has a conical hill crowned with a castle, described in a medieval chronicle as spreading down into the plain like a tent. We climbed up the long way and sat in the arched casements and looked over the snow-covered mountains deep in the Peloponnesos. A troup of merry little boys joined us. They found great amusement in snatching at sweaters and purses and Kathleen's long hair. It seemed best to go back down, but we were looking for what the Blue Guide said was a carving of a Thracian horseman. We had no idea of where to look or what a Thracian horseman might look like. Phillipa asked the boys, but we were saying hippos, which was classical, when we should have said alogos. Phillipa tried sketching a series of men-on-horseback. One of the boys pointed to one and showed us, not ten feet away, a disappointingly small, grubby bas-relief of a man on a horse with a snake. The church on the hill above is a Ag. Georgios. Ag. Georgios is always shown with a dragon. Centuries ago someone thought this carving of a horseman and serpent was he. Bored with archeology, the boys threw stones at us the rest of the way down the hill. Back home at dusk, there was just enough time to start the Franklin stove before we wrapped in blankets and lay across the bed in the firelight to listen to the Queen's Christmas message. We cried a lot and said it was the best Christmas we had ever had. The next morning we were up at six to begin two weeks of being migrant workers picking mandarinis.


29 October 2015

The Rev. Hartley views the Morea

From Researches in Greece & the Levant by the Rev. John Hartley, M.A., 1833. 
The Rev. Hartley's route in 1828 from Napoli to Kakovouni, then Napoli to 
Tripolitza, Mistra, Leondari, Karitena, Demitzani, Megaspelaion, and back 
to Napoli are shown by a very pale dotted line.

From the Rev. John Hartley, English missionary to Greece and Asia Minor.

March 29, 1828 – for the second time, I find myself in this celebrated fortress. We sailed from the Port of Kranidi at eight o'clock, and in six hours arrived here.
March 30 – I have distributed several copies of Lord Lyttleton on St. Paul, and of Bishop Porteus's Evidences – books which I find of great value in the present crisis.
March 31 – Since I was in Napoli, our Agent has sold all the Scriptures with which he was entrusted: viz. 30 small Testaments, 17 large, and one Hellenic; and he has paid me, deducting the per-centage, 124 piastres, 30 paras. I hope soon to send him a much larger supply. Visited with much pleasure the Lancasterian School: it has 170 scholars, and is in excellent order: many Boys repeated, at length, passages of Scripture History. . . . Valled on N. Skuphas and conversed with his sisters. They shewed me the “Pilgrim's Progress” . . . which their father had sent them from Smyrna.
April 1 – I presented a supply of books, for the School of Demitzani, to Niketas Kallas, one of the Managing Committee; and others for the Lancasterian School in Napoli.

            I extract from a former Journal the following Narrative:

Oct. 17, 1827 – I have been highly interested by a visit, which we have just paid to Griva, Commandant of the Palamidi. This Chief, after having held possession of that important fortress for more than a year, found himself unwilling to give it up; and, impelled by his vindictive feelings, actually wged war on his countrymen. About two months ago he commenced firing on the lower castle and on the town, and even proceeded to throw bombs. No less than one hundred and fifty persons became the victims of this outrage.

On reaching the summit of the remendous rock on which the fortress is built, I was surprised to find Griva himself, waiting to receive us. He is a fine-looking young man; and, apparelled as he was in a magnificent Albanian dress, he presented such a noble and warlike figure as I had never before seen. After receiving us with a friendly Greek welcome, he introduced us to his quarters; where his wife, a young lady of elegant appearance, arrayed in a handsome Turkish costume, exhibited herself for a few moments, and then suddenly disappeared; -- this Mussulman retirement of females still existing among some of the Greek Clans. With Griva we had much conversation. I told him, as I do many others, the history of the Bible Society; and left with him, for the use of the Garrison, two copies of the New Testament. Judge of our surprise at his answer: --”they are a good thing for those who can read: but I do not know how to read.” . . . I was thunder-struck, to fina a man, so prince-like in demeanor, and Commandant of the famous fortress of Palamidi, making such a discovery. He expressed, however, his regret --”His father had never profided such an advantage for him.” Our conversation turned chiefly on the politics of the day: he threw out hints, which he evidently meant as a justification of his recent conduct: “Men,” he said, “who possess no merit, who have never fought for their country, are preferred to offices of importance; while those who have distinguished themselves to the utmost are passed by with disregard.” He also intimated, that he waiting the coming of Count Capo d”Istria, in order to give up the fortress to him.

After accompanying us, with one of his brothers, to the various works of the fortification, he introduced us to another brother, who was laid up with sickness. They described to us the warlike habits of the family. They told us that they never lived on the three articles of bread, meat, and win together: if they had bread, they had no meat: if they had meat, they had no bread. For months in succession, they never changed their dress: they were accustomed to heat, cold, rains, and snows-- to wade rivers up to the neck – and to encounter many other appalling hardships. If they were tow months without an expedition, they grew sick. They had never paid tribute to the Grand Signor: -- when they could not find Turks to fight, they attacked their own countrymen!

More to come from Rev. Hartley.

02 September 2015

Time ages in a hurry

Μετὰ τὴν σσιάν τάχιστα χρόνος. After the shadow time ages in a hurry.

Time Ages in a Hurry is the title of a marvelous book of short stories by Antonio Tabucchi, published by archipelagobooks.org. The line, attributed in the book to the Critias, is from a late antique commentary.

Time surprises. Time ages in a hurry. I have never been so aware of time. I am currently making plans for moving in December from Seattle -- after twelve years in this wonderful house, back to Washington, DC.  I will be going back to the apartment where I have lived longer than any place in my life, taking it over from the daughter who took it over when I moved here.

This will be my 15th move as an adult, and the first I have not wanted. This house is full of light: it faces due east and on sunny mornings, I begin my day by coming down the stairs into pools of liquid light. I have never before lived where I could have a garden but I have grown roses here, and developed my own garden.  There is a grape arbor -- I've mentioned that before.  And there have been the birds!  The smaller ones follow me around the yard and when I go on walks. The crows track me from room to room in the house, and a member of the third generation I have fed informs me quietly when their food pan is empty. His parents below -- a pairing that lasted only for a year -- would come sit near us when we would sit in the yard.   This small corner lot is overflowing with gratitude.

Meanwhile, I find I am not able to maintain this blog reliably.  There will be erratic posts while I try to decide what to do about it.  I am grateful for my readers -- there have been nearly half a million individual looks at material here, and especially for you who have taken the trouble to comment or write me. If Time permits, I would love to continue writing.