Monday, March 31, 2008


O lost, and by the wind grieved – ghost, come back again.

Thomas Wolfe
Look Homeward, Angel

In loving memory of Jeff, Drew, and Sherri, and others all over the world who have had their precious lives cut short at the hands of drunk drivers.

Please, don’t drink and drive.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Fasting? Why suffer?

Last night I had the strangest dream. In it, I was eating the most moist, delicious chocolate cake I had ever had. In the middle of the cake was a thick layer of chocolate cream. I could taste every fabulous bite, and it was so good I didn’t want to wake up.

Nothing lets you know you’ve been fasting too long than dreaming about cake. I never dream about food, so I know it was a side-effect of an extreme lack of chocolate. Of course, the first thing I did online today was search for vegan chocolate cake recipes. I found one that had a high rating, and decided to try it. It may just be the dessert recipe that saves this fasting period. It definitely deserves the four and a half star rating, and it is easy enough to make I’ll probably make it instead of traditional cake even when we aren’t fasting.

God bless the internet. I've found so many delicious vegan recipes, fasting has become a fun way to try new things that become a regular part of our diet.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Happy Indepedence Day Ellada!*

Your freedom from the Ottoman Empire was a long time coming, so the start of the revolution in 1821 was a shining moment for Greece.


*For anyone who doesn't know much about the history of the War of Independence against Ottoman rule, go to EllasDevil's post about it here.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Go Bruins!

Well, my alma mater's basketball team has once again made it to the NCAA tournament (college basketball, for those who don't know). They are going against Duke tonight, which is a hard team to beat. Still, win or lose, they've done Belmont proud.


EDIT: Final score, 71-70 Duke. Must have been an exciting game! The Bruins had the win in their sights, and gave Duke a run for their money.

Happy Ostara (Vernal Equinox)!

The first day of spring has finally arrived after an ingloriously cold winter. Unfortunately, the weather up here on the mountain is 40 degrees (5 degrees Celsius), rainy, and foggy.

Still, we caught our first glimpse of the newborn sheep the other day, as they made their way with unsure steps up the mountain to graze. Still a little wobbly, most of them clung to their mothers, but several showed their playful sides. I was too mesmerized by all the cuteness to think to take a picture.

Here's hoping for a Spring full of bloom, peace, and wellbeing.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Greek bloggers against discrimination

As soon as I was old enough to understand the concept of sexuality and homosexuality, I was a proponent of gay rights. I had enough homosexual and lesbian friends to recognize that they were treated unfairly by the majority of society. We can hope the times have changed, but in Greece homosexuality seems to be dirtiest of dirty words, thanks to ignorance and religion.

Currently there is a lot of buzz in Greece about a domestic partnership law that would give certain rights to unmarried couples living together, however, it explicitly discounts same-sex couples. Greece is way behind in the European Union when it comes to rights for same-sex partnerships, and it is about time all these voices are heard.

From gaysuperhero and Devious Diva:

(English translation follows)

Στην Ελλάδα οι γκέι, οι λεσβίες και οι τρανσέξουαλ γνωρίζουν από διακρίσεις. Τις αντιμετωπίζουν καθημερινά στην οικογένεια, την κοινωνική ζωή και τον επαγγελματικό στίβο.

Καμιά φορά όμως φτάνει μια σταγόνα για να ξεχειλίσει το ποτήρι.

Σύμφωνα με δημοσιεύματα του τύπου το Υπουργείο Δικαιοσύνης ετοιμάζεται να καθιερώσει ένα "συμβόλαιο συμβίωσης" ΑΠΟΚΛΕΙΣΤΙΚΑ για τα ετερόφυλα ζευγάρια. Δεν θεωρούμε ότι ένα απλό "συμβόλαιο" μπορεί να λύσει τα ζητήματα των ζευγαριών ίδιου φύλου, ούτε να εξασφαλίσει την ισότιμη μεταχείρισή τους. Πιστεύουμε όμως ότι η προτεινόμενη διάκριση είναι κατάφωρα αντίθετη τόσο με το ελληνικό Σύνταγμα όσο και με τις ευρωπαϊκές συνθήκες για τα δικαιώματα του ανθρώπου. Πόσο μάλλον όταν 18 ευρωπαϊκές χώρες ήδη παρέχουν νομική κατοχύρωση στα ζευγάρια ίδιου φύλου.

Σκοπός αυτής της πρωτοβουλίας είναι να ενημερωθούν σχετικά οι ευρωπαϊκοί θεσμοί, οι οργανώσεις για τα ανθρώπινα δικαιώματα, ιστοσελίδες και ιστολόγια σε όλο τον κόσμο. Αυτό που ζητάμε είναι ίσα δικαιώματα για όλους. Τίποτα παραπάνω, τίποτα λιγότερο.

Αυτή τη φορά δεν θα μείνουμε σιωπηλοί. Αυτή τη φορά δεν θα κάτσουμε με σταυρωμένα χέρια.


In Greece gays, lesbians and transexuals know about discrimination. They face it daily from their families, in their social lives and in the professional field.

But sometimes, all it takes is a single straw to break the camel's back.

According to press reports, the greek government is preparing to introduce a domestic partnership "contract" EXCLUSIVELY for unmarried heterosexual couples. We do not believe that a mere "contract" can resolve the issues same-sex couples face or ensure their fair treatment under the law. However this discriminatory proposal is a direct contravention of the greek Constitution, as well as european human rights treaties. Especially since same-sex couples already enjoy legal rights in 18 european nations.

The aim of this intervention is to make sure that european institutions, human rights organisations, websites and weblogs from around the world learn about these proposals. What we ask for is equal rights for all. Nothing more and nothing less.

This time around we will not sit idly by. This time around we will not keep silent.


Στην πρωτουβουλία ΕΛΛΗΝΕΣ ΜΠΛΟΓΚΕΡ ΕΝΑΝΤΙΟΝ ΤΩΝ ΔΙΑΚΡΙΣΕΩΝ συμμετέχουν το εξής ιστολόγια / the following weblogs participate in this initiative:

Όποια ή όποιος δεν βλέπει το ιστολόγιό του στη λίστα παρακαλώ ας επικοινωνήσει μαζί μας!

Τα θερμά μου συγχαρητήρια σε όλες και όλους! Είστε απλά ανεπανάληπτοι!

Για την πρωτοβουλία μας και την αντίστοιχη πρωτοβουλία της οργάνωσης ΟΛΚΕ για τον πολιτικό γάμο έχουν ενημερωθεί (με την πολύτιμη βοήθεια του Πολύχρωμου Πλανήτη) οι εξής οργανώσεις και ιστοσελίδες του εξωτερικού:

Human Rights Watch
International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission
All Different All Equal
The Task Force
Washington Blade
COC Nederland
Gay Middle East

Επίσης τα περιοδικά Advocate, Tetu, Gay Times και Gay City News, το Υπουργείο Δικαιοσύνης, όλες οι μεγάλες ελληνικές εφημερίδες και όλοι οι βουλευτές του ευρωκοινοβουλίου.

'Οποια ή όποιος έχει κάποια άλλη πρόταση για οργανώσεις ή ιστοσελίδες, ας επικοινωνήσει (υπάρχει τυποποιημένο κείμενο επιστολής).

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

The entertainer

On Sunday I am fixing my first official meal for my in-laws (hmm, at least I didn’t mistakenly type “of” instead of “for”). It seems like a long time – five years – to invite them over for dinner, but I’ve had pretty good excuses until now, including not living in Thessaloniki and not having a proper eating area. Finally, we have dining and living room furniture, so I can actually play hostess again.

What was my mother-in-law’s initial response to the invitation? “I don’t want to have you cooking for so many people, let’s just go out somewhere” (the number of people will be 8 if my brother-in-law and his wife come). Yes, of course, after we’ve spent some money on an eight seater dining room table our intent is to invite people over to go out to dinner. I like cooking, and I think I’m relatively good at it (as long as I pay attention and don’t use twice as much butter as a recipe calls for), so I’m thrilled to finally be able to fix a good meal for my in-laws, especially after countless delicious dinners at their house. It will be a bit more challenging to come up with an interesting menu, since we are all fasting, but I figure you can’t go wrong with tofu lasagna.

As for the house, all we really need now is a couple of rugs for the living and dining room floors (ok, that dark African wood is gorgeous, but even the cleanest foot leaves a print and drives me crazy) and curtains (the rods are being installed this week). We haven’t gotten furniture for the guest bedroom yet, but that is something that can be accomplished relatively quickly at IKEA. After that, it is all cosmetic, putting up pictures, combing through boxes, organizing storage closets, etc.

I’m finally home. And I’m loving it (crap, I hope McDonald’s doesn’t sue me for stealing their slogan there).

One week down, six more to go

Humorous Pictures
see more crazy cat pics

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Got blackmail? Apparently, it works!

I don’t pretend to know as much about strike action as Europeans do because, let’s face it, I’m American. However, I do have some concept about what constitutes mistreatment of labor and what is right. Yes, the pension system in Greece is all kinds of effed up. Yes, a big part of the blame is on the government, but in my mind it is because they didn’t adopt a single system of benefits for pensions years ago. But striking for weeks, causing consistent power outages throughout the country, letting trash pile up on the streets – not because you want the government to do what is right, but because you just don’t want them to mess with YOUR stash - is pretty messed up. To add to it, striking workers are throwing trash at police, making filthy streets even filthier, and I have to wonder if the human race isn’t devolving a bit here. Greeks have a wonderful propensity for giving when tragedies occur, but when it comes to working rights and pensions (and the workings of the government in general), they seem to be very egocentric.

And so, in the thick of this political quagmire, the government is caving and looking at reforms. Hey, people might be able to retire after 37 years on the job even if they haven’t yet reached the ripe, entirely useless to society age of 57. Fifty-seven. If only hard working Americans could retire at such a young age. When people can retire so young, no wonder money is running out in some pension accounts! God forbid workers strike for golden toilets, feather beds, and houses made of cheese, they might just get it. When you hold the country hostage, the government has to comply to your demands.

I do think people should have the right to strike, but holding out on crucial services, putting your country at risk of a blackout, or a public health hazard – basically keeping other hard working people from living and enjoying their lives – is nothing but cold hard blackmail. These unions won’t even offer an alternative solution to the pension reforms the government is proposing. That is because these unions want what they want with no compromises. Greece is never going to get anywhere when people have this kind of attitude. If your pay is below poverty level and you haven’t had a raise in two years – then strike. If you aren’t allowed any breaks in an eight hour shift – then strike. If you are forced to work overtime with no extra pay – then strike.

God bless Greece. I hope she comes out of this alive.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

One time only

My husband actually changed the bag in the bathroom trash can.

Life is good.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Bye, bye cheese

Today is “Clean Monday”, which means everyone in Greece goes out and flies kites into power lines. Unfortunately, it also means the start of the 48 day very strict fasting period before Easter. We’ll be going vegan again, and the first day is always the hardest. I’m grumpy, I’m sad, and I’m going to miss my beloved cheese. In honor of my depression, I’m stealing EllasDevil’s monthly meme, since I’m too sore to talk about anything else.

Have You Ever…(everything in bold is something I have done)

01. Bought everyone in the bar a drink
02. Swam with wild dolphins
03. Climbed a mountain
04. Taken a Ferrari for a test drive
05. Been inside the Great Pyramid
06. Held a tarantula
07. Taken a candlelit bath with someone
08. Said 'I love you' and meant it
09. Hugged a tree
10. Bungee jumped.
11. Visited Paris
12. Watched a lightning storm at sea
13. Stayed up all night long and saw the sun rise (ok, I do this ALL THE TIME)
14. Seen the Northern Lights
15. Gone to a huge sports game
16. Walked the stairs to the top of the leaning Tower of Pisa (the damn thing was being worked on when I was there! Not that I would have climbed the stairs anyway)
17. Grown and eaten my own vegetables (ok, well, my parents were the official growers)
18. Touched an iceberg
19. Slept under the stars
20. Changed a baby's diaper
21. Taken a trip in a hot air balloon
22. Watched a meteor shower
23. Gotten drunk on champagne
24. Given more than I could afford to charity
25. Looked up at the night sky through a telescope
26. Had an uncontrollable giggling fit at the worst possible moment
27. Had a food fight
28. Bet on a winning horse
29. Asked out a stranger
30. Had a snowball fight
31. Screamed as loudly as I possibly could

32. Held a lamb
33. Seen a total eclipse
34. Ridden a roller coaster
35. Hit a home run
36. Danced like a fool and not cared who was looking.
37. Adopted an accent for an entire day
38. Actually felt happy about my life, even for just a moment
39. Had two hard drives for my computer
(um, I do now…)
40. Visited all 50 states
41. Taken care of someone who was drunk.
42. Had amazing friends
43. Danced with a stranger in a foreign country
44. Watched wild whales
45. Stolen a sign
46. Backpacked in Europe
47. Taken a road-trip.
48. Gone rock climbing.
49. Taken a midnight walk on the beach.
50. Gone sky diving.
51. Visited Ireland.
52. Been heartbroken longer then I was actually in love with the person.
53. In a restaurant, sat at a stranger's table and had a meal with them.
54. Visited Japan.
55. Milked a cow.
56. Alphabetized my CDs.
57. Pretended to be a superhero.
58. Sung karaoke.
59. Lounged around in bed all day.
60. Posed nude in front of strangers.
61. Gone scuba diving.
62. Kissed in the rain.
63. Played in the mud.
64. Played in the rain.
65. Gone to a drive-in theater.

66. Visited the Great Wall of China.
67. Started a business.
68. Fallen in love with someone and not had my heart broken.
69. Toured ancient sites.
70. Taken a martial arts class.
71. Played D&D for more than six hours straight.
72. Gotten married.
73. Been in a movie.
74. Crashed a party.
75. Gotten divorced.
76. Gone without food for 5 days.
77. Made cookies from scratch.
78. Won first prize in a costume contest.
79. Ridden a gondola in Venice.
80. Gotten a tattoo.
81. Rafted the Snake River.
82. Been on a television news program.
83. Received flowers for no reason.
84. Performed on stage.
85. Been to Las Vegas.
86. Recorded music.
87. Eaten shark.
88. Had a one-night stand.
89. Gone to Thailand.
90. Bought a house.
91. Been in a combat zone.
92. Buried one of my parents.
93. Been on a cruise ship.
94. Spoken more than one language fluently.
95. Performed in Rocky Horror Picture Show.
96. Raised children.
97. Followed your favorite band/singer on tour. (well, they didn’t really have a tour, per se, and I went more for moral support than anything else)
98. Created and named my own constellation of stars.
99. Taken an exotic bicycle tour in a foreign country.
100. Picked up and moved to another city to just start over.
101. Walked the Golden Gate Bridge.
102. Sang loudly in the car, and didn't stop when I knew someone was looking.
103. Had plastic surgery.
104. Survived an illness that I shouldn't have survived.
105. Written articles for a large publication.
106. Lost over 100 pounds.
107. Held someone while they were having a flashback.
108. Piloted an airplane.
109. Petted a stingray.
110. Broken someone's heart.
111. Helped an animal give birth.
112. Won money on a T.V. game show.
113. Broken a bone.
114. Gone on an African photo safari.
115. Had a body part of mine below the neck pierced.
116. Fired a rifle, shotgun or pistol.
117. Eaten mushrooms that were gathered in the wild.
118. Ridden a horse.
119. Had major surgery.
120. Had a snake as a pet.
121. Hiked to the bottom of the Grand Canyon.
122. Slept for more than 30 hours over the course of 48 hours.
123. Visited more foreign countries than U.S. states.
124. Visited all 7 continents.
125. Taken a canoe trip that lasted more than 2 days.
126. Eaten kangaroo meat.
127. Eaten sushi.
128. Had my picture in the newspaper.
129. Changed someone's mind about something I care deeply about.
130. Gone back to school.
131. Parasailed.
132. Petted a cockroach.
133. Eaten fried green tomatoes.
134. Read The Iliad.
135. Selected one "important" author who I missed in school, and read.
136. Killed and prepared and animal for eating.
137. Skipped all my school reunions.
138. Communicated with someone without sharing a common spoken language.
139. Been elected to public office.
140. Written my own computer language.
141. Thought to myself that I'm living my dream.
142. Had to put someone I love into hospice care.
143. Built my own PC from parts. (ok, well sort of, in that the actual building was done by whatever man happened to be in my life at the time)
144. Sold my own artwork to someone who didn't know me.
145. Had a booth at a street fair.
146: Dyed my hair.
147: Been a DJ.
148: Shaved my head. (Not quite shaved, but as short as it could possibly be without shaving, since I was losing my hair)
149: Caused a car accident.
150: Saved someone's life.

Friday, March 07, 2008

Always after I'm gone

Anyone who lives anywhere remotely close to Tennessee who doesn't attend Bonnaroo on June 14th just to hear Sigur Rós live doesn't know what they are missing. Why does everything good happen in a place after I leave?

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Have a stamp?

Barney's stories are frequently told on Pitcherlady's blog. His health is failing, but he always loves to get a postcard. Check the details, and make his day.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Monday, March 03, 2008

Dogs in the 'hood

Villages in Greece tend to be either dog villages or cat villages. While that doesn’t mean that you won’t find a cat or two in a dog village (or vice versa), it does mean that one or the other is obviously the dominant animal of that particular hamlet.

When we lived on Kos, our little village of Pyli belonged to the felines. Cats were the queens of the tavernas, where they were always assured a few treats. Up here, dogs rule – and there are several different factions of doggy gangs constantly at war with one another. On our street there are four or five dogs that take up guard duties. The dogs around here are basically good dogs, they obey people, don’t get in too much trouble, and are very grateful for any scraps you can send their way. You get attached quite easily, and I’ve even named our neighborhood dogs: Jack, Joe, Fat Boy, Scruffy, and Barcley. Jack and Joe appear to be brothers - mostly black with some white patches, Labrador-esque dogs –and they are the rulers of the ‘hood, taking turns sitting at strategic points along the road watching out for their main rivals, the shepherd dogs.

Now I realize that the shepherd dogs are working stiffs, and messing with our dogs is probably the only fun they get to have, but these dogs are the biggest assholes. The herd is rather large, so there are a lot of dogs, maybe a dozen or so, and they come up here even when the flock is way down the road and start aggravating our gang. Thankfully it is usually just a barking match and almost never devolves into fisticuffs, but it seems to cause some major stress among the local boys, and the incessant noise irritates our cats to no end, causing them to turn to me with a look as if to say “are those Neanderthals ever going to shut up?” It usually doesn’t take too long before the shepherd dogs have to go back to work, but if those jerks ever injure one of our ‘hood dogs, I’ll have to have a few words with the shepherd.

Further down in the village there are a variety of Very Weird Dogs™. There is one who barks at headlights – he gets in front of cars and goes mad with rage at the devil rays, to the point that you have to turn your headlights off if you actually want to get anywhere without running over the freak. Then there are a couple of dogs who seem to think lying in the middle of the road is the best place to be, and stubbornly refuse to move even when a car is bearing down on them. I’ve seen people actually get out of their cars and physically pick up the dogs and move them out of the way, and the dogs don’t really seem to mind this, as long as they don’t have to move themselves. Of course, five seconds later they always decide they want to go somewhere else, but for those few moments it is dog’s will against man.

Despite the extreme distaste our cats have for dogs, I like living in a dog village. I’ve always wanted a dog but the responsibility seems too much, so having such friendly dogs around the house now and then is a pleasure. I can’t pet them or let them too close though, because if the cats were to smell dog on me I can’t imagine the consequences. But to say hello and get a happily wagging tail in response puts a smile on my face.