Thursday, November 22, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving has arrived with no turkeys in sight. At least not in Greece. It seems you can't usually get turkeys until closer to Christmas here. Ah well. When we go grocery shopping tomorrow I'll get us as fat a chicken as I can so we can break the pre-Christmas Greek Orthdox fast with a good simulacrum of a Thanksgiving dinner.

There are a lot of things I am grateful for this year, including our lovely new home. But the list includes a fabulous husband and two loving families (although both are far away from us today, with my in-laws on a Caribbean cruise).

I sure do miss my mom's Thanksgiving dinner though - no matter how hard I try, I don't think I'll ever do it as well as she does. I'm hoping I can convince them to come to Greece next Thanksgiving so she can do all the work and my in-laws can taste what a real Thanksgiving dinner tastes like.

I wish everyone feasts of plenty, including food, love, health and happiness.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

As the mountains feel the wind

The wind here on the mountain lives and breathes. Some days it wisps carefully through the trees, gentle kisses on the upturned palms, harboring its secret strength. Then there are days when it roars down the mountain, spitting hisses among the flora, throwing diaphanous arms around everything in its reach. It moans through the eaves and whistles through narrow cracks, calling to me in my dreams as a loud, monstrous bellow – a mythical creature never seen but harshly felt, with the strength of a thousand Herakles.

There is a dark and terrible history to this mountain village, and every time the wind blows with such might I hear the cries and prayers of the 149 villagers who were burned alive by Nazis in 1944. It is a haunting feeling, one of sorrow and regret, not only for my own mistakes but those of giants. There is so much grief hidden in this mountain, and even though the wind tries time and again to carry it out to sea, the memories of this place cannot be forgotten.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Woe is ADSL

We still don’t have ADSL, but for once, we can’t blame OTE. It seems our ISP (not OTE) hadn’t even processed our paperwork to request that our line be switched to ADSL because they wanted a phone bill first. Well, we haven’t even had our phone for a month yet, who knows when we will get a frakkin’ bill. When we called them on Monday they indicated they would go ahead and process our request but to please send them a copy of our phone bill as soon as we get it. I’m not holding my breath, because lord knows even after we send them the phone bill, we’ll have to do something else, like sacrifice twelve virgins while chanting the lyrics to Abbey Road backwards and hopping on one leg. Obviously, one of the requirements of getting ADSL in Greece is participation in the Eleusinian Mysteries, but since it was a mystery no one knows what to do. Actually, I’ll bet that was the secret of the Eleusinian ritual – it was actually a mass of people trying to accomplish something relatively simple but they all got stuck to a massive roll of red tape and were sworn to secrecy by the powers that be.

I guess the phrase of the day is wait and see. I seem to recall that patience is a virtue.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

The monster without a name

We’ve been here about six weeks now and I’m just now finishing up the process of unpacking all of our 46 boxes of crap. Of course, some crap is getting repackaged, because we don’t yet have places to put everything. But we have plenty of room to store boxes, so I guess it all works out.

The last things I’ve been unpacking have been books, mainly because it seems that half of our boxes were filled with books (to the grumblings of our movers, who just couldn’t fathom that anyone would have so many books), and partially because we haven’t had enough bookshelf space. My husband finished building the last bookshelf over the weekend and while there still isn’t enough space, it is doable (we’ll add lots more bookshelves downstairs once we plan our living/dining area). I can’t stand not to unpack all the books so I am double shelving them, which I hate to do, but what can you do? I can’t not unpack them all.

The good thing about unpacking books is you finally find those books you could never find while they were all mashed together on the shelves. I realize it would probably behoove us to alphabetize by author someday, but I’m a bit too lazy for that. Plus we add too many books to the collection on a regular basis not to make it annoying.

The bad thing about unpacking books is that you create a ginormous pile of books that you want to reread. Now, rereading books in itself isn’t a bad thing, I do it quite often, and there are some books I have read multiple times. But finding a good balance between reading books you’ve already read and reading new books is difficult, mainly because there are a seemingly limitless number of books I want to read and a limit to how much life I have left. And then what if I go blind for some reason? All this makes reading quite a stressful pastime. Sometimes I think I’d be better off without a brain.

While I can celebrate the end of our boxes, there is a monster I dare not think of lurking in the downstairs closet. This monster is composed entirely of boxes, mostly from when I first moved to Greece, that have been sitting up here getting dusty for five years. It is all crap we didn’t want to keep moving around with us, and some additional crap we dumped up here over the years. I don’t know if I have the strength to tackle this beast, but alas, it must be done, because I want our downstairs closet back. Plus I will have the joy of discovering how much of my grandmother’s china has been broken in transit. Again, it is all stuff that will have to remain stored for now, but I’ll rebox it and some things will go in permanent storage while other things will wait until we have more places to put stuff. We’re taking bets on how long it will take me to do all this, since I have a habit of working very slowly. I’m hoping for the end of the year. We’ll see.

Thursday, November 08, 2007


We’ve been in our new house a little over a month now, so I’ve had some time to assess the things I like about living here and the things I miss about living in the city.

What I love:

The view. I’ve never lived in a place with such a spectacular view. I’ve visited plenty of places with nice views, but have never been lucky enough to live in such a place until now. I can’t decide which I love more – the day view with the sea glistening and the mountains in the background or the nighttime view with the lights of Thessaloniki glittering around the bay.

The quiet. You really cannot appreciate peace and quiet until you get out of the city. I can actually think up here.

The isolation. Yep, I like being semi-isolated up here, with a couple of exceptions (as in when I get into my whole “hero in the wilderness facing himself” mode and get depressed about the fact that not only am I not a hero but I don’t like what I’m facing). I really don’t mind not seeing people very often. I’ve never denied being a bit of a misanthropist.

The space. It is really nice having enough space for all our crap and having even more space for all the additional crap we will acquire over the years.

The kitchen. Finally – my dream kitchen. I love cooking in my dream kitchen. My husband is once again enjoying home cooked meals.

Not having the litterbox in the bedroom. I think that one is self-explanatory.

What I miss:

Being able to walk everywhere. We can’t really walk anywhere here. I mean, I guess we could, but with my hip it probably wouldn’t be a good idea. It is maybe a kilometer into the village proper and the trip home is very, very uphill. Not to mention it is a two-way road that barely accommodates one-way and for the pedestrian the choices for getting out of the way would be smacked up against a rock wall or leaping to your death into a vast precipice. No thanks.

Takeout. Ok, so we have a gyros/souvlaki place that is pretty good and a couple of pizza places (tried one – no good), but we had variety in the city. I could be lazy in the city. At least I have my good kitchen!

Neighbors to spy on. Yea, I like being alone, but I love spying on people and making little stories up about their lives.

ADSL. Someday we’ll have it again, if our ISP will quit requesting different documents proving what our phone number is. Like anyone would sign up someone else’s number for ADSL and pay for it.

Flushing toilet paper. I really hope there are plans in the future to get this part of the mountain hooked up to city sewage.

So far, so good. I am enjoying life up here, and it is nice having a home of our own. The things I miss will drift away eventually, kinda like the things I miss about living in the U.S. The great thing about being human is that we can adapt. Usually.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Never take anything for granted. Especially net access.

The internet situation here at the new house is dire. We’ve discovered that it may be a very long time before we get ADSL because while the technology is available in our area (whatever in the hell that means) they don’t have gates for it (so much for the OTE campaign “ADSL for everyone!”). I could live with dialup (we couldn’t even get ISDN on Kos when we lived there for a year) if we could get connection speeds over 24kbps. Well, sometimes we can get up to 48kbps if we are lucky and have the patience to redial ten million times. Now, generally speaking I can live without the internet, except it is my primary source of communication with friends and family back home and in various places around the world, and it is my main resource for news. Not to mention I can’t really catch up on my favorite blogs because my patience wears out after just a few minutes online.

To make things even worse we paid for six months of ADSL we aren’t even getting when we renewed our account. So basically, OTE better install the damn gates and anything else they need to do to get me ADSL as soon as possible before I go completely insane. This isn’t the frakkin’ third world here people. And last I heard, some third world countries are getting ADSL, so this is simply pathetic.

Yes, this seems like a silly thing to bitch about in a world filled with real problems, but I just had to get it off my chest. I do feel a little better now. Now get me my ADSL!