Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Mad cow walking

Yesterday as we were on the way back from dropping off more crap at our new house, an errant cow found its way onto the road. Up near our house, where there are lots of open fields, that wouldn’t be such a weird thing, but this actually happened in the village proper, where there are rows upon rows of buildings. Sure, just beyond the shops of the busy village center there are fields and farms, but this heifer had to stray pretty damn far on its own to get where it was.

We were patient as the errant cow made its way across our lane, but as it crossed to the oncoming lane, a guy in a sporty car decided it would make sense to blink his headlights at it. I am not in any way fluent in cow communications, but somehow I think the best cow whisperer would tell you this is probably not a good idea. Who knows what the cow actually sees, and what it thinks about what it sees? At any rate, this cow seemed to interpret the blinking headlights as a “come hither” thing and so it slowly made its way towards the sports car, at which point the guy proceeded to honk at it endlessly. I don’t know about you, but if I have a moon-eyed cow coming my way seductively I don’t think I would honk at it, because who knows, to a cow this honking could sound exactly like another cow wanting to mate. All I know is that when we decided we had seen enough of the spectacle the cow was still meandering towards its bleating lover.

A bit further down the road we were stopped again by a herd of goats crossing the road. At least now we know – we have to be aware of animals not just up around our house, but all the way down the mountain road. And whatever you do, never honk at a cow.

Monday, September 24, 2007


EllasDevil tagged me for his monthly meme, and I think I've done this one before, but oh well. It beats the hell out of packing.

Four Things:


1. P.R. for a relatively famous Nashville music venue
2. Dispatcher and then office manager for campus security
3. Scoring standardized tests
4. Assistant to violin maker


1. Annie Hall
2. All That Jazz
3. Hair
4. Just about any disaster movie, and I’m not sure why


1. The West Wing
2. X-Files
3. Twin Peaks
4. Anything cop or crime related


1. Los Angeles, CA
2. Amsterdam and Utrecht, the Netherlands
3. Camucia-Cortona, Italy
4. Beersheba, TN


1. Kolokithokeftedes (zucchini patties)
2. Pizza (yea, yea, I know)
3. My barbecued chicken
4. Crisp, cool salad with plump tomatoes


1. ERT
2. BBC
3. The Tennessean
4. Music City Bloggers


1. Anywhere that doesn’t involve boxes, packing, or moving
2. Anywhere politics aren’t news of the day
3. Anywhere that has all my family (including my in-laws, of course) and friends in one place
4. On a spaceship at warp speed

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Stating the obvious

We have too much stuff. You'd think since we moved three times in the last five years we wouldn't have managed to accumulate too much, but laws yes we did.

Of course, having too much stuff isn't a problem unless you are moving.

In less than a week it will all be over. I can't wait.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Even city girls get the blues

Well, the race towards moving day has officially begun. We’ve nailed down a mover and are ready to really start packing. Of course, the same old questions keep popping up as in every move. We bought some boxes, but will that be enough? Can we really get packed in time for the movers to arrive? Will the cats totally freak out? Will I ever be settled somewhere for more than two years? Will possessed wild bunnies with vampire teeth and a fifteen foot wingspan attack us on moving day? Who knows. I’ve never lived in the country before, so I am trying to be prepared for anything.

At least the house is basically ready. The kitchen never quite got all the way finished (ok, it is just a matter of hooking up the pipe to the stove hood and covering the horrible hole in the wall created for its insertion, but why couldn’t the kitchen place have finished that? oh, yeah, I forgot, it’s rocket science) and that is a major annoyance. We have some basics the electrician and plumber will take care of on moving day. Unfortunately, there will be no pictures, because our camera grew legs and disappeared mysteriously while my husband was in Wales. I think Voldemort got hold of it and put an Imperius curse on it or something. Who can ever tell about these things? The Muggle life is hard. Magic would definitely improve the moving process, that is for sure.

And for the cherry on top of this delicious treat we call Moving Into a New Home, it looks like there might be some underground digging in order for us to get a phone line, even though all the basic wirings so we could be connected right away were supposed to have been completed when they were building the house. I’m sure we’ll be in for a year of fun Alexander Graham Bell never considered when he invented the blasted thing. A phone I can live without, but I’m sure I will die of internet starvation. There are worse things I could die from, I suppose.

All I can say is: I frakkin’ hate moving. Gods help me.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

And the cow says moo

As I sit here listening to crowds chanting, horns honking, and various noisemakers making their various sounds, I can't help but notice the similarities between elections and sporting events.

The Strawberry Statement

Today is election day in Greece, and by far the most impressive thing about it is the fact that in the short span of a month, early elections were called, Parliament was dissolved, campaigning took place, and at 7pm today it will be all over. Meanwhile, Americans are having to deal with the Longest Presidential Election Campaign Ever, and I have to say I am a little bit jealous that the Greeks can get things done so lickety split.

Greek elections are still a bit of a novelty to me. It is amazing to see SIX parties all vying for parliamentary seats (of course, there are still two main parties that seem to get most of the votes, and there are several more smaller parties in play all over the country). It would be nice to have a real choice of who to vote for in America, instead of choosing between two parties who oftentimes straddle the middle line. Sure, I don’t know that of the six parties here in Greece there is one I’d really want to vote for, but at least there are options. Talking with my mother-in-law about it today, I learned that she feels satisfied that she can vote for someone who actually speaks for her, and I don’t think I ever felt that in a U.S. election.

The other novelty about Greek politics is the presence of the Communist party. See, I grew up in Cold War America, and it was ingrained into my head at an early age that Communism is evil and all Communists are Very Bad People. I don’t really know how or when I was brainwashed to such an extent, because my parents are the least judgmental people I know, but I’m guessing somehow between my education and the media I learned to regard Communists the same way Buffy regards vampires, only without the slaying.

Once the Cold War was over, I didn’t give much thought to Communism. As I got older and learned more about it, I knew it wasn’t a belief system I could support, but there are a lot of political beliefs I disapprove of, so that doesn’t mean much. Sure, I suppose I regard Communism with much more distaste than say, Republicanism, but I certainly didn’t think my Cold War-era brainwashing was still an issue, that is, until I moved to Greece, and started meeting bona fide Communists that looked just like normal people. Even so, I lacked enthusiasm when shaking their hands, and spent my time in their company eyeing them quizzically.

It just so happens that one of the Communist headquarters in Thessaloniki is in our neighborhood, and I regard it with open-mouthed incredulity. A red curtain always shields the inside from the peering eyes of onlookers, which I find suspicious and tempting at the same time. It is as if the possibility existed that the grand figure of Oz might lurk behind that curtain, or perhaps the dark image of Beelzebub. It wasn’t until early elections were called and activity mounted there that the full extent of my anti-Communist brainwashing sunk in.

I was coming up the street the Communist headquarters was on with my shopping. A flock of people, presumably Communists, were out on the sidewalk in front of the office, spilling out of the door. As I walked up the street my instinct told me to cross to the other side of the street to avoid the throng of Communists, at which point reason kicked in, and I realized it was ridiculous not to proceed on course. I even managed a faltering smile at the people as I passed, which was returned amiably. My initial instinct surprised me though, because I have never, in my entire life, thought to cross the street to avoid people because of who or what they were. My parents raised me to be without prejudice and here I was, subconsciously, regarding a group of Communists with extreme prejudice. It seems the American “machine” had done a fine job with their brainwashing, and I was horrified with myself. It is one thing to not agree with Communism and not subscribe to it, but it is another thing altogether to purposefully avoid Communists on the street because you don’t want close contact with them.

At least now I am aware of my problem, and instead of being derisive towards my Communist friends and relatives here in Greece, I can simply argue politics with them. I don’t know if I will ever get over the novelty factor of having Communists all around me, but at least I can learn to tolerate them.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

TV for the homesick

A new reality show set in Nashville started Friday night, and although it looks insanely stupid, I wish I could watch it just to get glimpses of home. It’ll remind me of all my experiences on the fringes of the music biz (although I did enjoy working at the Bluebird Café for the short time I was there) and my college days at Belmont before I came to my senses and switched my major from Music Business to English (I’m just not willing to kiss enough ass to be in the music industry). Maybe I’ll get lucky and some day STAR channel (the Greek station most likely to pick up newer cheesy T.V. shows) will get hold of it.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Nervous nelly

My husband left today to accompany his youngest brother to university in Wales, and I think if I reload the British Airways arrival/departure page one more time they might ban me from the website. The plane just took off, I know it took off, the website gives me the actual time of take off, yet somehow my subconscious seems to think if I keep checking I'll get a personal message from the pilot or something, because I CAN'T STOP CLICKING.

It is a good thing my husband is a psychiatrist, although I don't know if it is good for a shrink to have a crazy wife.

I must be the stupidest person alive

Ok, so I've heard all these things about how Facebook is so wonderful, so I thought I would check it out.

I don't get it. I mean, I get it, but I don't get it. What do you do with it? What makes it different from MySpace or any other virtual community? What makes it so awesome? I feel like the kid in the group who doesn't get the joke, because I really don't get it.

Maybe I'm too old to get it.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007


Today is H.L. Mencken's birthday - a day I honor every year in the memory of a man whose wit and wisdom surpassed many. I suppose there are some things some people might not have liked about him, but his words have accompanied me well through the years, and so I leave you with this quote, in honor of the upcoming Greek (and next year's U.S.) elections:

Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard.

Monday, September 10, 2007

My continuing education in bucolic living

My metamorphosis into a country girl is continuing slowly. Yesterday, we went to the house to build yet more IKEA furniture (this is what you can afford when you spend way too much on your dream kitchen). In my continuing battle with all things scatological, it seems that it isn’t only goats who parade their way past our front gate littering our lawn with their devil turds, but also cows and at least one lone horse (that we’ve seen). The road (and it is a paved road, not that you would believe it based on how I’ve described the place) has become a mine field of various types of animal crap, and since rain doesn’t come along too often in the summer I’m guessing it doesn’t get washed away very often. Honestly, I think it would be easier to avoid getting blown to bits in a real mine field than to actually dodge the massive piles of poo on our road. Being acquainted with the eating habits and irritable bowels of our cloven hoofed friends isn’t something I take a shine to, and I like smelling it from my front porch even less. It wouldn’t be so bad if we didn’t have to get out of the car to open the gate, although doing the little hoppy dance trying to avoid stepping in it might prove to be good exercise.

Looking out the window and seeing a cow in front of our place is definitely going to take some getting used to. I think the poor thing was a bit confused, though, because we were blasting The Cure from the stereo. No doubt the animals around us will get a bit of an education too, or at least an appreciation of 80’s goth bands.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Damn, that is an abnormally large cat

You know you are a little too freaked out about the possibility of an earthquake when you get absolutely terrified that you are feeling tremors only to find out it is your 20+ pound cat scratching himself and moving the couch.


EDIT: Added picture of ginormous, earthquake-inducing cat

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

My my, how can I resist you?

I grew up in a house that was almost always filled with music, from my parents’ love for soulful singers like Billie Holiday and Ella Fitzgerald and jazz greats like Thelonious Monk and George Shearing to my brothers’ love for modern rock. Then there was the constant practicing of some instrument or another – from one brother’s love for horn instruments to the other’s love for all instruments, but most especially the saxophone. My parents had to eventually soundproof the den from the nonstop notes of my musically inclined brothers, which made it very difficult for my academically inclined head to study.

Not that I didn’t have my own musical strengths. I was a whiz at the piano from my early years, although at a difficult age I feigned indifference and eventually hatred for the ivory-keyed behemoth in our living room. My Achilles heel was that I never wanted to practice – for all the time I was willing to spend on homework and reading books, I just never could give the same commitment to my music. By the time I took my first theory class I knew I didn’t have the patience to be a real musician. And so that was that. Aside from some lessons for enjoyment in college, some meetings with a local a cappella group (singing was rather fun) and a brief stint in the medieval collegium musicum (recorders, harpsichord and guitar, it was a blast), I never performed music again.

But when it came to listening to music, I was sold from the minute I heard my first song. Music was constantly the background to my life, I could never leave home without a way to hear music. I started out heavily influenced by my brothers, who were much older than me, with favorites including Jethro Tull, The Who, Elton John, and David Bowie (who was, incidentally, one of my first crushes). By the time I was eight years old I was determined to find my own musical style, and while listening to the radio one night I found it in Abba’s Take a Chance on Me. I quickly became an Abba fanatic, and even though I didn’t give up listening to my brothers’ fare, I steeled myself against their teasing over my own musical choice and kept buying Abba albums. My best friend also loved Abba, and so we spent hours upon hours listening to them, talking about them, debating our favorite songs, and making their music the soundtrack to our lives.

A couple of years after my purchase of my last Abba album (The Visitors, which had sort of dark undertones) I moved on to a different genre of music, falling in love with the sounds of Bauhaus and the Cure. Even though my musical tastes turned to goth, I never got over my love for Abba.

So it is with great excitement that I discovered that the filming for outdoor scenes of the movie version of the musical Mamma Mia is taking place here in Greece, on the islands of Skiathos and Skopelos. I have been wanting to see the musical ever since it started, but never had an opportunity, and I am looking forward to the movie. Not to mention it is a boon for Greece, movie productions are always nice for boosting local economy. No doubt all of this is thanks to the fact that the movie is being produced by Rita Wilson’s (who is half-Greek) production company. My husband’s cousin had actually been chosen to be an extra in the movie, but alas, she couldn’t get the day off work. If you want to hear the latest news about the filming, this blog by some Skopelos locals is keeping us all up to date.

Monday, September 03, 2007

More on donations for Greek fires

A site, I Help Greece, has been set up to handle international donations via credit card directly into the fund to aid fire-stricken areas set up by the Ministry of Economy and Finance. This account is intended to assist fire victims and restore materials damaged.

From the site, on the magnitude of the disaster:

73 human lives and 2,5 million square meters of land turned to ashes are the casualties of this summer’s 6.000 fires. The fires in Peloponnesus and Evia have caused the death of 63 and injuries in tens of others, while the number of missing people still remains unknown. 1,5 million square meters of land have been burnt in Peloponnesus according to conservative estimations, while hundreds of houses have been burnt to the ground and local economy has collapsed. Previous fires in Ahaia, Rethymnon, Larisa and Evia resulted to the death of 10 people. Massive fires in Parnitha, Grammos, and Egialia have burnt hundred thousand square meters of agricultural and forest land. Pilio, Crete, Skiathos, Kefallonia, Korinthia, Pieria, Kozani, Fthiotida and Kilkis have also suffered severely by fires.

Hat tip to EllasDevil for the info.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Things I might not have known had I not moved to Greece

  • Being able to walk almost everywhere you need to go is an awesome thing. Of course, that awesomeness is reduced a bit each time you need to schlep something heavy around, but that is what beasts of burden husbands are for
  • I'd rather give a constipated pig an enema than have to park in the city without a dedicated parking spot. I have a whole new appreciation for folks that live and drive and have to park in big cities. I've heard stories about how parking places are like real estate in Manhattan, with some people paying thousands of dollars a month for a space. I don't blame them. I think I would sell my soul to the devil for a dedicated parking spot in the city. Except I don't believe in the devil and in less than a month we'll have our very own parking place.
  • Not having a choice to use self service in gas stations is both annoying and pleasing. Of course, there is something to be said for pulling up to the pump, sliding your credit card through, pumping your own gas and never having to deal with another human being.
  • Turning right on red is not a universal practice. Oops.
  • I love French thriller/horror movies
  • I love Italian pop music, it may be cheesy but it is in Italian so it doesn't matter
  • Rap music in languages other than English sounds really weird and kinda funny. Now I'm not saying that rapping should only be in English, it is just that German/Greek/Polish rap sounds a bit undignified.
  • Dubbing movies and television shows, unless for children, is really awful and embarrassing for everyone involved, especially the viewer
  • The names and faces of a number of world leaders and their cabinet members
  • Longer commercial breaks less often are much better than short commercial breaks. You can actually get random tasks done during longer commercials. Of course, in this world of TiVo no one watches commercials anymore, but we do not yet have the Greek equivalent of TiVo in our household (hopefully soon).
  • What goat poo looks like
  • That living near the sea actually has disadvantages, like high humidity at night
  • Bad drivers are a universal reality
  • You can't flush toilet paper down the toilet if you have a septic tank
  • politicians suck no matter where you go

Saturday, September 01, 2007

International donations for Greek fires

Several folks have been wondering about how to donate from abroad to help provide relief assistance for the Greek fires. The following U.S.-based organizations have programs directly benefiting fire victims and reforestation efforts in Greece:

International Orthodox Christian Charities – a Baltimore, MD based organization that is providing emergency relief supplies and technical assistance to the fire victims.

The American Hellenic Educational Progressive Association (a Washington, D.C. based organization) has set up the AHEPA emergency Greek fire relief fund to channel donations directly to the local relief efforts in Greece.

The World Council of Hellenes Abroad (a Chicago, IL based organization) has set up a fund to provide for reforestation of burnt regions in Greece.

Many thanks to the people and countries all over the world who have expressed their concern, condolences, and who have provided assistance in fighting the fires and sending aid to the victims.

EDIT: I Help Greece has been set up to handle international donations via credit card directly into the fund to aid fire-stricken areas set up by the Ministry of Economy and Finance. This account is intended to assist fire victims and restore materials damaged.

From within Greece you can make donations at any bank into account number 2341103053.

If only I knew it all

I wish I had the ability to help internet searchers looking for answers for the following things:

  • what brand of pasta does the Pope eat (I bet he has his pasta hand made, actually, but I could be wrong)
  • which vegetables come from a pod (the bane of my existence - peas, for sure, but as to the rest, I couldn't care less. Green beans, are they pod vegetables? How can I not know this?)
  • puns about goats (nope, I don't know any, but if anyone has any to share...)
  • don't flush it down the toilet septic tank poem (boy, I'd really like to hear this one)
Another person thought he (or she) could find in me an accomplice for "let's decapitate Barbie", but that just isn't my thing. I'll be happy to bury alive a few Cabbage Patch dolls though (I mean, they are from the cabbage patch, right? They probably prefer being underground).

And today marks the first day for the "Halloween porn" searches. Two months ahead, somebody is really on the ball for their holiday porn needs.