Sunday, November 24, 2019

The calm a half hour from the storm

St George’s Monastery in Wadi Qelt
Charlene Brown

Wadi Qelt, said to be the 'valley of the shadow of death' mentioned in Psalm 23, parallels the old Roman road to Jericho, the backdrop of the Parable of the Good Samaritan.

St George’s Monastery was originally built in about 500 CE, destroyed by the Persians 140 years later, then rebuilt by Crusaders but abandoned after their defeat.  Restored by Greek monks in the twentieth century, it is now a site of intense Greek Orthodox pilgrimage.

We may visit briefly sites such as Jericho where the action was in Biblical times, during a University of Victoria travel study program in November 2020.  However, as we are unlikely to spend much time in picturesque and now-peaceful locations like Wadi Qelt, I thought I’d paint some of them now. 

Sunday, November 17, 2019

Missing from 2001

Watercolour and oil pastel
©2019 Charlene Brown

Our Christmas letter in 2001 contained this sentence – In mid-September we went on a long-planned cruise which turned out to be a timely retreat from reality to the wilderness of Alaska to try to regain perspective on a changed world… referring of course to the aftermath of September 11, 2001.

At the Skagway stop we left our ship at the foot of the main street and took the White Pass & Yukon Railway Summit excursion to the Canadian border, where the half-staff flags reminded us of the terrible events in the ‘Lower 48.’

Sunday, November 10, 2019

Missing from 2000

Petit St Bernard Pass
Watercolour and oil pastel
©2019 Charlene Brown

When my husband retired from Emirates Airline in 2000, we picked up a new car in Sweden and drove around Europe for two months.  Half-way through this Grand Tour, we crossed from Italy into France. The following is excerpted from email we sent at the time.

As we made our way west, then north from Turin, it was like driving up out of a mauve sea of murk. The air got suddenly clearer, the highway got better and better, and the traffic got thinner and thinner. It was just amazing!

Then we discovered when we wheeled off our private autostrada for lunch at Morgex that we were probably the only people in Europe who didn’t know the Mont Blanc Tunnel was still closed because of the March 1999 fire.  The closest alternate route involved heading up a narrow road to the Petit St. Bernard Pass, said to be open at the time, though not guaranteed to stay that way.  As we approached the Italian/French border at the top of the pass, stretches of the road were carved out of three-metre snow banks, but the gentians and violas in the snow-free areas were brilliant, the glaciers dazzling, and there were (unsurprisingly) NO TRUCKS! Also no guardrails.

PS  We’re still driving that Volvo. And we still refer to it as our new car.

Sunday, November 3, 2019

Missing from 1993

Caracal Lynx
Acrylic, gouache and latex
©1993 Charlene Brown

I produced this painting and several others at a workshop on mixed media overlay techniques presented at the British Council in Dubai by American painter, Douglas Walton.

A few of these paintings actually found their way into my 1993 Christmas letter (in the photo shown below) but I’m going to add the Caracal Lynx anyway.