Wednesday, August 31, 2005

totting up

Image Hosted by

Attended a baptism in a village called Thousand Heads.

This day, one culmination of eleven years of marriage, eight heroic attempts, too many losses to count or bear, and one (precious) reward:

A daughter, with a dark and unfortunate name, and a dress of lacy synthetics no one should have to wear in August.

Down between the mountains, there was drinking and dancing, waterfalls and ducks. I watched a kid wearing nothing but brands. He had arresting sapphire eyes, in a perpetual state of surprise or joy. We were equally enthralled, I in him, and he in two Smart cars.

I didn't see much of the baby, but her name was on all the balloons -- three of which got caught in the trees, while most of the others, unloosed by little fingers, went straight to the sky.

Sunday, August 28, 2005


2.5 hours on Saturday, and another 2 hours on Sunday (not what you think!).

Wind perfect (not overpowered this time, my 4.7m2 Neil Pryde Raf Jet did the job!), waves just a little too choppy for comfort but nothing serious.

It was fabulous!

Friday, August 26, 2005

Αφού λοιπόν ξεχάστηκα

Αφού λοιπόν ξεχάστηκα και τ' όμορφο καράβι,
καιρό πια ταξιδεύει μακρυά χωρίς εμένα,
εσύ που πίνεις χρόνια από του χρόνου το πηγάδι,
πιές ένα ποτήρι και για 'μένα,

αφού λοιπόν ξεχάστηκα στην όμορφή σας πόλη,
που πλέει μες στη νύχτα με τα φώτα αναμένα,
θα βγώ να περπατήσω θα βρώ που πήγαν όλοι,
όσοι ξεχάστηκαν απόψε σαν εμένα,

αφού λοιπόν ξεχάστηκα και πρέπει να τα σβήσω,
τα φώτα του θεάτρου που αφήσατε αναμένα,
θα πάω στην τελευταία σειρά και θα καθήσω,
στη θέση που κρατήσατε για 'μένα,

και τότε ίσως μπορέσω να θυμηθώ τα λόγια,
που ακόμα κιτρινίζουν σε συρτάρια κλειδωμένα,
πείτε μου επιτέλους τι δείχνουν τα ρολόγια,
πείτε το επιτέλους και σε 'μένα,

αφού λοιπόν ξεχάστηκα και πέρασε σα τρένο,
η ζωή από μπροστά μου με τα βλέφαρα κλεισμένα,
θα κάτσω λίγο ακόμη εδώ να περιμένω,
απόψε ίσως δε λείψω σε κανένα

-- "Αφού λοιπόν ξεχάστηκα", Παύλος Παυλίδης, 2004

PS. Apologies to our non-greek audience (yes, both of you)

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Open for business...

After doing a lot of that (with him) on the mountaintops of the Greek mainland, I am back.

And I know that Siss is also back from her vacations around the seas of her isla bonita.

So, I guess... we're back to the good old status quo (or thereabout)!

Sunday, August 21, 2005

la isla bonita

Image Hosted by
by air*

Image Hosted by
by land

Image Hosted by
by sea

It took me a long time to see the beauty here. I thought I should keep my eyes on the sea, the one beautiful thing, but I had a mountain view, or a city view, and I wasn’t used to Europe. I was Ariadne, stranded on this island, searching desperately for a thread to tie me to anything: a person, a name, myself. I looked for it in books. The Marriage of Cadmus and Harmony. Freedom or Death. Red Dyed Hair.

Now I’ve learned the lay of her land; I am one with the terrain. It’s a stripped, dry, barren beauty. A negative beauty, a sublime terror of being abandoned on a precipice, or worse, on a treeless shore, on her changeable sea.

There’s a small white church on every promontory, a fortress, a cave, a gulch or a gully. Herds of goats and sheep wear paths through groves both cultivated and wild; their bells make eerie music beyond the line of sight. The trees assume the shape of the wind; vegetation lies low to avoid it, maintaining impossible purchase on sheer, vertiginous rock. Green is a relative term; every leaf shines silver in the sun. There are two seasons, multiple harvests, weather wild, if mild. Summer is a splendor.

In winter, I’ve watched a hailstorm prostrate a priest in the street. I’ve seen waves hit houses 50 meters inland, forcing their waters under watertight doors. I’ve spent cool hours in the moonlight on a quiet beach. And on the same beach, one hot afternoon, alone, a rogue wave came out of nowhere, crashed over me, destroyed me, before I could scramble away. I thought it had carried off the key to my bicycle, stranding me for real, but after a panicked search, I found it, magically, safe inside my shoe.

The beauty of Crete is simple: it’s earth and sea and sky. It’s tremendous, isolating, glorious. It’s almost home.

*air by steph
land and sea by sissoula

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Sea Mountain

Sea-Mountain, by Sarah Hopkin

This blog is on vacation. Back soon...

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

mug shots

steph's mug

This is my mug. I dont use it much, because I dont like coffee much (and when I drink coffee it's espresso, so I use a small espresso cup instead). Lately I used it to drink tea (jasmine green or earl gray, my favorites), but in the summer it's too hot for that.

Someone gave it to me as a birthday present, I dont even remember who... When I saw it I thought "Now, that's a boring birthday present...".

Still I kind of like it because it's shiny white in the outside and pinkish in the inside, which is kind of weird, in an inside-out way. It also has some "(cheap) minimalist designer" quality to it, I think, the lines are more straight than you'd expect or something...

Overall I'd say that it is nothing to write home about, but hey, it's my mug so... whatever...

Image Hosted by
sissy's mug

This is my coffee mug. It’s not the only one I have or the only one I use; it remains my favorite precisely because I betray it on occasion (familiarity breeds contempt and all that). I’ve had it for at least seven years. I don’t remember exactly when I got it, nor is there any quaint or sentimental story behind its acquisition. I must have bought it in a thrift shop (where else?) because I liked it.

I like its subtle colors -- neither brown nor blue, somehow slate gray and not gray at all, neither bright nor dark in natural light -- and its overall irregularity, of shape, of glaze, of execution. It’s so obviously handmade, so human. It has no false front.

Ceramics would have been my art, if I were any good at art. It’s thrown on a wheel; its clay walls are controlled, thin, and relatively even -- it’s better than most beginners can do. But its foot is unfinished, unsigned, unglazed, thick, totally amateur.

It’s squat. It’s sturdy. It has a low center of gravity. Its handle allows for a solid, steady two-fingered grip. Its round belly holds more than you’d think and keeps the contents hot. But its thin lip is always cool
upon contact
with mine.

Monday, August 15, 2005

obscene cheese

Image Hosted by

I post this picture -- an admittedly vulgar and gratuitous deviation from our blog's heretofore solidly established standard of decency -- in solemn observation of the fact that, a mere three months and ten days after its purchase, the above Metsovone cheese has been consumed in its (insert any number of apposite adjectives here) entirety.

Plane crashes, assumptions (of the Virgin and others). There are more serious things to write about than cheese.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Cypraea #2

This one's for me!

Friday, August 12, 2005

strange luck

Image Hosted by

This kid has always been precocious. He finished his test in a flash and then he started doodling, not daydreaming. The result is this tourist (drawn in the white space of the test and then submitted to me), with his prominent chin, his bulging backpack, his fanciful hat. Intrepid, ready to go… into the mouth of the wolf.

I researched the phrase (I knew who to ask) and I asked the kid later if he knows Italian. No, he said modestly, just a few words. But he really liked this phrase (“In bocca al lupo”) because, as he explained, it reminds him of the superstition in Greece that it’s bad luck to tell a fisherman to “have a good fishing.” For good luck, he said, it’s better to wish the opposite. It’s counterintuitive, the same way no sane person would ever wish you to go into the mouth of a wolf if he really wanted something good to happen to you.

The kid’s right, I thought, and I told him how we say “break a leg” for the same reason, which he really liked but hardly believed. I also told him that the appropriate response to the thing about the wolf -- which I have on good authority -- is “Crepi il lupo.”

“Let the wolf die,” they say, the ones who are brave enough to answer.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

then comes the cleanup

Image Hosted by

The guy in the red overalls came back today, with a different sidekick this time, to install a new (old) air conditioner on the wall between the living room and the kitchen. This involved drilling (digging, he called it) and filling the living room and the kitchen with all the concrete that came out from the wall, some in heavy, sweepable chunks, and some in the form of fine (i.e. not fine) floaty powder.

He asked me twice to turn on the light. He told me twice to cover the TV. (My response: But I can't move the TV.)

Somehow, rather uneventfully, he did his work while I did mine. We are two adults (it happens all the time) who have an understanding.

Sunday, August 07, 2005


Inspired by my highly esteemed blog-partner’s post regarding cats, I decided to post something about “my” Sounio-based dogs.

So, meet the canines!


Aris lives with my parents. They found him in the streets, hit by a car, and took him in. The vet had to amputate one of his front legs. He’s doing ok. He’s good, shy, and has a very distinctive deep and loud bark. Apparently he has shepherd’s blood!


Penelope is the oldest of the gang. She is scruffy looking, reserved, friendly but less cuddly than you’d expect. She likes her privacy…


Notis is plain good. He’s a nice little dog, loves company, always pleasant and affectionate.


Arapina is terrible. She is in serious need of psychiatric help. She is obsessed with food, she will eat anything she can. And she is a thief. Don’t leave her in the kitchen unattended, or forget lunch. But she’s also very very funny!

Well, those are the Sounio dogs. Nice guys (and girls) all of them...

Friday, August 05, 2005

beautiful wigglish

(awful) etching by Paul Bloomer (deleted)

"Words," he said, "is oh such a twitch-tickling problem to me all my life. So you must simply try to be patient and stop squibbling. As I am telling you before, I know exactly what words I am wanting to say, but somehow or other they is always getting squffs-quiddled around."

"That happens to everyone," Sophie said.

"Not like it happens to me," the B.F.G. said. "I is speaking the most terrible wigglish."

"I think you speak beautifully," Sophie said.

"You do?" cried the B.F.G., suddenly brightening. "You really do?"

"Simply beautifully," Sophie repeated.

"Well that is the nicest present anyone is ever giving me in my whole life!" cried the B.F.G. "Are you sure you is not twiddling my leg?"

"Of course not," Sophie said. "I just love the way you talk."

"How wondercrump!" cried the B.F.G., still beaming. "How whoopsy-splunkers. How absolutely squiffling! I is all of a stutter."

-- Roald Dahl, The B.F.G.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

it takes a village (to eat so much)

Image Hosted by

They love me in the village. I smile a lot and talk very little. I’m good with names. They give me food. A lot of food. Here’s the list of everything I brought home on Sunday, in numerical order:

½ a cucumber
½ a green pepper
½ a wheel of Gruyere cheese
1 honeydew melon
1 Tupperware bowl of baked okra, zucchini, and red peppers (pictured)
1 Tupperware bowl of rabbit stifado
1 Tupperware bowl of rice pudding (with milk from a neighbor's goat)
2 lemons
4 onions
4 sweet buns (from granny)
5 kalitsounia (from Uncle Babis and his wife, Battle)
7 eggs
8 peaches
10 cheese pies with honey
12 tomatoes

Everyone should have a village.

Monday, August 01, 2005

Ε = Επιτυχία

Image Hosted by
very nice poem project, translated in many languages

I passed the test. It’s not false modesty to say I’m sure it was graded on a curve. I know my abilities. They plateaued years ago. But I’m proud of my successes. I am prouder, in fact, of learning Greek than I am of anything I ever did at university.

Learning the alphabet wasn’t so bad; finding a good teacher was. So many times I wanted to give up. I had no choice but to persist, to do most of the work myself. I plodded through grammar and tears. I wrote countless compositions. I knew what I had to do. My first conversations were painfully slow; I struggled for every single word.

I hate making mistakes. I stayed mute for three years to avoid it; I still do sometimes. I let others do the talking. And then I regret it, because speaking Greek really is a pleasure, and the rewards, the double-takes, the comments, the compliments, are usually worth the risks.