Tuesday, October 31, 2006


Happy birthday, P!

PS. And happy Halloween, Tristan!

happy halloweeen

It's my little nephew Tristan's first Halloween. (And they say these holidays are for the kids...)

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Here in Greece, it's just a typical rainy day. It might seem we have nothing to celebrate. But that's not true.

Steph's little boy turned two today! Happy birthday, P. Here's wishing you all the best, and a hundred more.

Thursday, October 26, 2006


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Just shy of two months old, the buka finally (finally!) has a name. The delay was something of a curiosity for the Americans.

Greeks tend to take these things as they come.

Lots of names were considered, but few seriously. At some point, well after the birth, I decided I wanted a daughter named Stone, a girl as strong and solid as her name, a force to be reckoned with. I liked the possibilities: a stone could be rough or polished, even precious, an emerald, a ruby. I made the mistake of asking what people thought. Stone is too hard, they said, too abrupt, too Germanic.

Here in Crete there is no love lost for the Germans.

I wanted to stay within the general category of nature names. There were flowers. Then there were trees.

Then there was a specific tree, whose name in Latin is liquid and hard to say, and whose name in Greek has an element of humor it’s best to avoid. But if you think of that name, you think of another. A classical reference, an opera. A love story. A peasant girl carried off by a pirate.

So instead of a daughter named Stone, I’ve got a daughter named Grass. It’s a vegetable name for sure, “Young Verdure” the more poetic interpretation. The girl is pure poetry, it’s true. And growing like a weed.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006


Southern Sicily

Eastern Sicily

Central Sicily

There, and not

Monday, October 23, 2006


This scene, that I witnessed on my way to work today, somehow came closer to describing how I was feeling than words could. And I tried most of the afternoon.

a random walk in a random environment

I took the buka for a walk in the park. I found a girl

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with a very skinny head.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Mamma mia!

Mom's back... :-)

Friday, October 13, 2006

It. And her. And you.

Thursday, October 12, 2006


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The mil started her campaign about a week before my mother left. She started calling every day, feeling me out. She had the perfect pretext to come and stay, a doctor’s visit she’d been postponing for six years. Suddenly she was in a hurry. She showed up last Tuesday and went to the doctor that night. The story could have ended there, except that the doctor went out of town for a week, so the mil stayed on. She wore out her welcome in a hurry. When she wasn’t dominating the baby for hours on end (and then complaining that she hadn’t had time to eat, or sleep, or take her medicine), she sat, on the couch, silent, in the same stiff, sad pose she’d seen in church a thousand times -- hands folded, head angled, an exact Virgin Mary. A patient saint, a selfless martyr, an icon that could make even the hardest heart, or the most innocent, feel guilty.

But that was the least of the guilt induction. First thing she said when she came in was that the baby’s hands were “frozen” and she felt so sorry for her (the standard refrain) that she wrapped her up in 25 blankets til she was sweating buckets. Then the cat sat on the mil’s pillows. I changed the pillow cases. The mil repeats the story seven thousand times -- how lucky she was that she noticed the cat before she put her face where the cat had been, how deeply disgusted she is by animals.

She asked me if the baby was eating well and reprimanded me for saying yes. “If anybody asks,” she said, “you tell them she eats very little.” Otherwise, she’ll get the evil eye. Greeks are sly, she says, too sly for a foreigner for me to understand.

She said a lot of things about foreigners like me.

I tried to be hospitable. I told her I had put some blue towels in the bathroom for her to use. “Mind your own business,” she said. “I brought my own towel.” She also brought towels for the kitchen because she thought I “didn’t have any.”

The criticism was constant. I spoiled the baby, I neglected the baby, I washed the baby in cold water. But the worst, worst thing was how she’d grab the baby and take her right out of my arms. There were two major blowouts over this. The first time, I slammed the door like a teenager, and we both sulked all night. The second time, I put her in her place, which was on the bus, and back to the village.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Pass this on

I'm in love with your brother
What's his name?
I thought I'd come by
To see him again
When you two danced
Oh what a dance
When you two laughed
Oh what a laugh
Has he mentioned my age love?
Or is he more into young girls with dyed black hair?
I'm in love with your brother
I thought I'd come by

I'm in love with your brother
Yes I am
But maybe I shouldn't ask for his name
And you danced
Oh what a dance
And you laughed
Oh what a laugh
Does he know what I do?
And you'll pass this on, wont you?
And if I ask him once what would he say?
Is he willing?
Can he play?

-- The Knife, Deep Cuts, 2003

Sunday, October 08, 2006

code red

Things had to get really bad

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before they got better.

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(Anybody want to play “what’s wrong with this picture”?)

The man from Atlantis

That's me (but only for about two more weeks...).

Friday, October 06, 2006

What the limbo!

I ask you... are they TOTALLY nuts? I mean, have they lost it altogether? What the hell are they doing to people? When will they stop?!

I read on the BBC news site:

Catholic experts are expected to advise Pope Benedict XVI that teachings on the state of limbo - somewhere between heaven and hell - should be amended.
For centuries many Roman Catholics have believed that the souls of babies who die before baptism remain in limbo.
The Pope has been quoted as dismissing the notion as a mere "hypothesis".

Catholic experts?! The state of limbo?! A mere hypothesis?! How can they have the nerve to talk about these things, as if they have any idea... How do they know? Do they conduct experiments? Take measurements? Compare notebooks? Experts my ass...

Don't they have anything better to do than continue terrifying people into giving them money and power, for centuries? Don't they have any decency?

Apparently not. I've said it before, and I'll say it again. Screw the church. This kind of church, anyway... They are just a big bunch of shameless power-thirsty crooks, just like you will find in any corrupt government anywhere in the world. Only they deal in the hope stock-market, and that makes them much more dangerous.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Tubular gardening

A simple transplantation attempt, the other day, ended up in a minor gardening disaster, as I punctured the sprinkler systems main water tube. I dug it up, cleared it and located the problem:

My first attempt at a quick-and-dirty patch with duct tape failed miserably...

I decided to do it right, by cutting the tube around the puncture, and replacing the part with a double joint thingy I found lying somewhere in the gardening closet.

A few minutes (and blisters) later I had screwed in the joint, and the tube seemed ready for a prova generale.

It worked like a charm, and soon after the garden was restored to it's original state, and the transplantation was completed:

In all these efforts, I had close to me my devoted apprentice, who in this case turned out to be from totally useless (witness him plucking out the grass)...

... to thoroughly destructive (watch him trying to demolish the wall with a hammer).

Still, he felt he deserved a few minutes' rest in his swing...

... followed by a nice nap in his stroller. He was so exhausted by the effort that he fell asleep with a half-chewed-on piece of bread in his right hand and his cap on his head.

All is well that ends well.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Song to the siren

Long afloat on shipless oceans
I did all my best to smile
'Til your singing eyes and fingers
Drew me loving to your isle
And you sang
Sail to me
Sail to me
Let me enfold you
Here I am
Here I am
Waiting to hold you

Did I dream you dreamed about me?
Were you hare when I was fox?
Now my foolish boat is leaning
Broken lovelorn on your rocks,
For you sing, "Touch me not, touch me not, come back tomorrow:
O my heart, O my heart shies from the sorrow"

I am puzzled as the newborn child
I am troubled at the tide:
Should I stand amid the breakers?
Should I lie with Death my bride?
Hear me sing, "Swim to me, Swim to me, Let me enfold you:
Here I am, Here I am, Waiting to hold you"

-- Tim Buckley, Starsailor, 1970