The Sultanate of Oman

The Sultanate of Oman is on the southeast tip of the Arabian Peninsula, bordering the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, and the war-torn Yemen. Despite Oman’s proximity to that war, there was very little evidence of the humanitarian catastrophe so nearby. Oman’s oil wealth and use of imported labor is evident. Nevertheless, Oman does not exhibit the overwhelming urbanization and development of either Dubai…

The Instant City

It isn’t exactly instant, but in the space of a few decades, Abu Dhabi has gone from a desert town to a metropolis. Skyscrapers are sprouting from the ground, and the camel’s nose of oil wealth is much more than just under the tent. Development may be a strategy to diversify the economy and reduce dependence on oil, but it is hard to imagine…

A View of the Vue at Sarasota Bay

Ballerina on the Wall

The City of Sarasota commissioned artists to paint murals on the walls in each elevator lobby in the new Palm Avenue Garage. “Ballerina on the Wall” is my impression of a small part of “Dance” by Brazilian artist Eduardo Kobra. The ballerina was waiting demurely in the stairwell, a surprise and contrast to the mottled concrete walls. There are many more pictures of the…

A Pink Pelican and a Line to Cross

A pink pelican seems to dance atop the turquoise-green water, while in town those in charge have installed a line that begs to be crossed, yet no one does. Such is life in this well-behaved coastal town.

Bromeliad Beauties

These are two of over 3,000 species of bromeliads, a family that includes plants as diverse as spanish moss, the air plant well known by indoor gardeners, and the pineapple. Many, such as the spanish moss, are epiphytes that can subsist on nutrients in the air, rain and debris that fall around them, and do not need to be rooted to the ground. Others,…

Graffiti and a Crown of Thorns

There are ruins, both old and new, on the old site of Fort Louise Augusta high above the point that guards the entrance to Christiansted harbor. Some of these ruins are decorated with graffiti that are not likely to be innocent. Just to the left of the graffiti are the remains of an old building covered in the thorny cactus-like stalks of the night-blooming…

Faded places

Every community has its empty places, faded and overgrown. Some of these, when there had been no design or charm to begin with, become a blight on the landscape. But others have personality and become a part of the character of a place, in their decline adding a patina of charm and history. How do the well-intentioned and civic-minded learn to tell the difference,…

For the Ghouls and Goblins

A creature was lying on the beach, dead and half covered with sand and dried seagrass. I tried to breathe some life into him and he opened his eyes and looked at me sadly. Or was that just a dream? A bit further on was the shell of a sailboat — someone’s home — that had blown ashore. Holed by the coral stone at…

Flaming Hibiscus

I saw this beautiful yellow hibiscus while walking in the neighborhood. It seemed to be just crackling and sizzling with energy, a physical manifestation of the sunshine we get here each day.