Top: World's first 360-degree Panorama of Ushguli, Svaneti, Georgia, Feb 24/2009, from 12 separate photos...

Saturday, 12 May 2007

Winter, Ladreri, March 2007

Several more which didn't qualify as haiku but are favourites nonetheless.

Bottom, fences.
Middle, the barn roof's edge.
Next up, entrance to ANOTHER ruined house.
Above, leaves slowly melting their way down by virtue of their darkness attracting slightly more of the sun's heat than the snow around them.

Mt Ushba and Etseri, March 2007

Unlike my recent haiku postings, this one may be worth a thousand words. It's certainly worth a few megapixels, being stitched together from FIVE scanned frames. Etseri is below and to the right of Ushba, which - as in my blog's title bar photo - is the sharp peak, at right here.

the W()RD

Today's W()RD comes in the form of a picture, showing the first two of Georgia's three alphabets: the oldest at the top of each set of four lines, the middle one under it, followed by pronunciation helps. (The current alphabet can be seen at the top of my blog's title bar photograph.)

There is considerable literature on the subject of the first alphabet, with its geometric forms, attempting via it to link Georgian to Sumerian, amongst other languages.

Friday, 11 May 2007

Ladreri, March 2007

Three more frames from the ruined house across from Nodar's.

Tree reflected in pond ice, Raspberry Ridge, nr Spokane, WA, USA, November 2005

Another haiku.
Winter, nr Etseri, March 2007

From the same excursion as the haiku pictures of yesterday, but not in the haiku category, I think.

Winter in the mountains seems to call for black and white. There's so little colour anyway, why not eliminate it as a distraction?

the W()RD

I think I'll start posting the W()RD before each day's graphics from now on, so that when you, the viewer, open the blog you see a picture at the top instead of words.

The W()RD today is tongue-twister.

The Georgians' favourite way of showing off the pronunciatory devilry of their language is to whip out "Baqaqi ts'qalshi qiqinebs" ("The frog in the water is croaking"). In this, the letter q is a guttural choking throaty kind of a thing, and the ts' is like a normal Georgian ts but is a different letter in Georgian. This phrase takes a good while for any non-Semitic-language speaker to master. (Not that Georgian is a Semitic language, but Hebrew and Arabic have at least one sound similar to that q.)

My retaliation has been to come up with tongue-twisters which address specific Georgian difficulties with English pronunciation, especially th and v/w. First I invented "This is very wavy weather", then "I am very wary to vary my way". All you foreign readers in Georgia, copy these two phrases and innocently ask your English-speaking Georgian friends to say them out loud. Then watch the fun - laughing with them, of course, not at them.

Thursday, 10 May 2007

the W()RD

New snow
on fences
Worth a Haiku...?

The old saying is that a picture is worth a thousand words.

Yes, but what if a thousand words are much too much?

Haiku is a Japanese form of poem which uses only three lines, in the form of 5-7-5 syllables. Very tight and restricted, but so... Japanese in its approach, so minimal and clean and to the point, like most of Japanese art. (See an article on haiku in English at if you're seriously interested in the form.)

Here are some photographs from March 2007 in Svaneti, black and white, each of which I consider to be worth "only" a haiku. But this doesn't mean that they're worth less than thousand-word pictures! Just that I compare them to my ordinary, often dense colour photographs as a haiku to a thousand words.

Now I've said enough.

Wednesday, 9 May 2007

the W()RD

While we're on an anagram thing, here are a few more I've discovered, from names of famous people:

Shota Rustaveli = author saves lit
(He was the Shakespeare of Georgia in its Golden Age, author of The Knight in the Panther Skin. How many languages are there whose poetry can have *6* rhyming syllables at the end of so many lines?! Of course, this feature dosn't translate into any other language; but the available translated versions are nonetheless treasures.)

Sir Isaac Newton = raw sciensation

Josef Stalin = jails soften

Benoit B Mandelbrot = ornamented blob bit
Champion of all things fractal, including the Mandelbrot Set, which his anagram reflects.

(Yes, I use software in my anagram searches.)
Sheep, Ladreri, March 2007

Going back a month to my 16th visit to Svaneti, the rolls of film from which I'm still scanning. Family portraits of this somewhat rough bunch.

Frames, Ladreri, May 2007

A couple more views of the mountains south of Etseri from Valya's windows. The last shots for now from my cellphone camera. These are typical examples of my desire to show several realities, or layers, in the same photograph.

Tuesday, 8 May 2007

the w()rd (taking over from TOTD)

My daily feature, Typo of the Day (TOTD) is in need of expansion to include other linguistic games and points of interest. So I'm relaunching it as "the w()rd".

Today: Anagrams on the title of the blog, geosynchronicity -

Cryogenic shin toy
Hot iconic synergy
Noisy coy retching
He's got cynic irony
They scorn icing, yo!
Recoin cosy thingy
In icons they go cry
Yogis on ethnic cry
Stern, icy hog? Icy, no!
Cony, tigerish cony
Ostrich eying cony
Oh, it's no grey cynic
Sit yon on chic grey
Honing society cry
NYC is itchy Oregon
NYC is hectoring, yo!
O, isn't he coy, crying!
or he's toying, cynic
O sing! Echo tiny cry!
His cry: "No city -- gone!"
Scary Green Stuff, Ladreri, May 2007

Made from NETTLES. Interesting. I did drink it but did not immediately either expire or turn into Popeye.
The Dadeshkeliani Watchtower, Etseri, May 2007

Reputed to be the tallest watchtower in Svaneti, and the only one basically complete in Etseri, though it's mising a roof.

(Okay, so I'm having some colour balance issues with the new camera. Whatever. You should see what this shot looked like BEFORE.)
Farm implements, Ladreri, May 2007

A sled - used all year round for transporting heavy loads - and a "thing for working the ground", pulled by a beast of burden, as described by this non-specialist.

More from my new phone camera.

Abandoned, Ladreri, May 2007

This (below) is the roof of the house right next to Nodar's. Soon the place will look like the one across the road, the windows of which I love to shoot through for natural frames - roofless and completely ruined, a tragedy. The built-in cupboard is another shot from that house.

Monday, 7 May 2007

Above: First ever picture using my new cellphone, bathroom mirror, Tbilisi, May 2, 2007

Giorgoba, Ladreri, Svaneti, May 2007

Well, I actually did manage to acquire a new cellphone just before heading out to the mountains. This journey is also notable for my not taking a single roll of film with me, though I did have all of my 35mm camera equipment. A last-minute request to buy and take some medical supplies, made the evening before my departure, after I had been to the bank and it had closed, meant that I didn't have enough money for my return journey to Tbilisi - let alone for such frivolities as film! Just as well, it turned out, that I had splashed out on the new cellphone, a necessity anyway as my old one has been expiring. The 4-day trip was to be an experience of getting to know my new phone's multimedia capabilities, both photo- and videographic. While its 2 MegaPixel limit is quite small, its ability to handle contrast quite limited, it does offer the advantage of great speed in getting one's material from shoot to blog - soon I will be able to post straight from the phone itself.

This time I was travelling by local transport, on the ubiquitous marshroutka (a word which the French "marcheroute" lent to Russian for the name of its set-route taxi-vans, and from that language travelled into all of the languages of the former USSR, and thence by this tortuous way slipped into local English). Nodar was detained by another funeral, this one not in Svaneti, and found himself unable at all to go home for the event to which which he had invited me in the first place. I count this trip, my 17th into Svaneti since 1999, as a milestone in independence from my big Svan brother and in freedom to come and go more as I please.

The 6th of May, Giorgoba, the festival of St George, is a major day all over Georgia. In Svaneti there is an outdoor feast, weather permitting. Ours was in a beautiful clearing in a small forested knoll which contains one of the oldest churches in all of Georgia, the ruined, purportedly 6th-century Church of St Barbara. It is tiny, able to hold no more than 15 or so non-claustrophobic people shoulder to shoulder; but at least the crowding isn't vertical, as there is no roof at all but the sky.

The village's women had baked bread in small round loaves. Three men chosen for their ability to say the required prayers each took the loaves in threes and, holding them up to the east-facing front of the church, prayed all together to God for each male in each family in the village in turn. The women lit thin candles and stuck them against the stone block walls of the church as this was happening. Their turn to be prayed for, along with that of the cows, I am told, is on another special day...

A chicken was brought into the ceremony as well. Presented to God, it was then released into the woods to be chased and caught before being sacrificed and added to the huge cauldron of calf meat which was already boiling away.

As I was taking all of this in, one thing which stood out to me was the beautiful setting of the church, open to the sky and to nature which is crowding its walls and reentering via its floor. All right, it's a ruin needing restoration; but it is also a very natural-seeming place to worship the Artist of the creation mingling with it.

Sacrifices and prayers done, the 30 or so people present were ready for the feast. This consisted of the boiled meat, along with the bread and some tqemali, sour plum jam; toasting was with either araqi (local moonshine) or wine, presided over by Nodar's brother, Sergo. It was over in about 5 hours, and all were able to walk away from it under their own power, making their way home to the village below to end the evening peacefully. I had participated in this major religious festival in Svaneti for the first time. I am still processing what I witnessed.

Giorgoba 2007, Ladreri

Views and details of St Barbara's Church (c. 6th century)

Giorgoba 2007, Ladreri

Above - me carrying a young ewe to its end the day before;
Middle - chopping the meat of the calf for the cauldron on the day;
Bottom - soup for 30 boiling, and liver/kidneys roasting

Giorgoba 2007, Ladreri

The feast itself.