Tuesday, May 28, 2013

My Driving Adventures

For sundry administrative reasons, my U.S. driver's license expired and I couldn't renew it without being in the States in person and I have been unable to travel. So I decided to go for a Tunisian driver's license. Easier said than done.
     After passing the written test second time 'round, I discovered that lessons at a driving school are necessary (at about $20/hr) because you need to be in a special car equipped with the pedals on the right side as well as the left to take the test (only stick shift, mind you), and you need to practice in the area where the driving test is given--with an instructor (the system of a learner's permit does not exist). 
Ultimately, this creates employment. There are 3000 auto-écoles (driving schools) in Tunisia. The cute white KIA that I drove was brand new. Another student took the test first and told me afterwards that he was so nervous his legs trembled the whole time. He flunked right away, missed a priority on the right. Easily done as the area is mostly residential with narrow streets, lots of blind corners, few road signs, low hills, and a couple of busy and tricky intersections. There was a long line-up of waiting auto-école cars, which are always recognizable by the white sign with red writing on top.
In the future, I will be more patient with these cars when driving, knowing that the students will suffer greatly. I felt like I was 16 again (not a pleasant feeling) and had nightmares about cars and inspectors the night before. 

While waiting in line, I pulled out my sketchbook (hardly the place to haul out your stitching). 

Rather full of anxiety.

During the test, the driving instructor sat in back--I suppose this is a policy to stop corruption. I showed the inspector my ID before we got underway and joked about my American driver's license, which was visible in my wallet. I also played up the fact that I had a loved one who had been in the hospital and I might need to be able to get to the hospital again under dire circumstances--I milked it for what it was worth. One must be tactical in situations like this. 

We got underway and as the inspector gave directions to drive we chatted, about dogs of all things, and I could tell he was giving me all the easy turns. After about 10 minutes he said to stop and he signed my papers and congratulated me. Afterwards, my driving instructor said that the inspector was always very nasty and that I was very lucky. I could see how the inspector could increase the difficulty of the test. Personally, I think I charmed him with my white hair and US nationality. I bet the woe-is-me story helped as well. In any case, I was thankful.

My husband says I'm the only person he knows who has taken the driving test just once--and he knows a lot of people. Before the test, he told me he would get me a present if I passed, something that I desired.
Yup, a couple of big pots to mosaic.

And driving, dear readers, is one of the reasons that I have had trouble keeping up with blogging. I was jumping through hoops.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Another Year Gone By

This week was my second blog anniversary. Time has whizzed by and yet MulticoloredPieces marks the passage of time and records it for Memory thus creating a chronicle of life, my life, the bits that have come together. I see continuity, balance, a whole. So I propose a couple of before-and-afters, a couple of two-years-ago-and-today shots to celebrate. 

Two years ago, I showed a border along my entrance alley to introduce my recycling theme.

The broken 1950s cement irrigation pipes found out in the fields made interesting pots alongside the thin trunk of a wild olive tree. Some plants worked, some didn’t, yet this spot looks almost lush now.

Looking from the other direction, I’ve found a few more pipes to add to the lineup along with some succulents and geraniums.

Furniture has been recycled as well. My old bedroom set was solid, comfortable, and useful, but dark. So I gave it to the neighbor (my daughter). The Before:

Then there was a bench that had a broken rail underneath. For years, my husband made half-hearted attempts to fix it and it would break again. In addition, the straight back on it made it very uncomfortable to sit upon. When my husband wasn't looking, I sawed off the broken part and the back. 

I lightened it all up. Shabby chic to the rescue. Et voilà! The After:
The Egyptian Tentmaker's quilt that I have shown before may visit my daughter awhile. Her collections deserve mention. The clay animals are from Sejnen, a small town in Tunisia known for its unusual pottery. 

The tin boxes belonged to her Tunisian grandmother and date from the 1930s and 1940s.
Of course,  I must thank all the readers who stop by, those names and statistics that appear within the magic box we call a computer, virtual presences that represent very real people. Without you, a blog would be a dreary exercise, however, with you I am able to confront life and construct a vision of what I think life should be. When I write a post, I say to myself, "Now I will make something good happen."  

Although a pileup of work has cut into the time I spend visiting blog friends for the last several months, I will soon be back because the world of MulticoloredPieces provides a window on the world, expansion, mental exhilaration, creativity, and friendship. 

Thank you for your virtual presence on this best of birthdays!

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Old Rocks Anyone? Part 2

Speaking of rock piles, even the rubble at Uthina deserves attention.
The combination of carved forms, various rocks and marbles, 
and bits of mosaics sparks the imagination.
The elegant lines…
Interesting carvings may be seen here and there.

And mosaics...
And then there’s the jewel of this site, which archeologists continue to reconstruct, the amphitheater. It looked like this about six years ago:
And today:
Two thousand years ago, it could contain a capacity crowd of around 16,000, making it the third largest amphitheater in Tunisia. Here’s the other end about six years ago.

It has been dug out now and the lower level has been restored.
I imagined myself down there with the lions—very exciting ! 
And what masonry!