Thursday, August 30, 2007

how to put it

Some fires are still smoldering, but they’re far from here. It's hard to maintain a sense of proportion, when happiness is so directly a product of your environment.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

wild fires

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AP photo

You’ve seen it on the news. Greece is ablaze. Fires are set in the countryside. The winds pick up. The flames find the villages, and people die. It happens every year. But this year, almost fifty people lost their lives in a day. There have been nearly three thousand fires since June. It’s sensational, for sure. A mother, her four children in arms, burned alive and buried in ash. The drama of wind. The intrigue of arson. Europe is rallying, sending reinforcements. Time is of the element. People are trapped, tourists among them. Others are being evacuated. Nuns.

It’s also sad.

It’s summer, and very hot. Imagine the air quality, and the cost to the environment generally --here in a dry country where “forests” are only so green to begin with. There are national elections in two weeks. There may be a political aspect to all this. I don’t vote here, but I love my adopted country. I hate to see it burn.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

the easy rider

Another cool thing about a holiday where everybody is on holiday is that the supermarkets are stocked with strange foods the tourists will like: German sausage-flavored potato chips, Cheddar cheese from Cheddar, product of America peanut butter!

(click for Nick)

Sunday, August 19, 2007

holiday in august

We went to a quiet village, on a bay, sheltered by mountains in the back, and a long, rocky ridge of peninsula in the front. It gets windy there -- sometimes, turning a corner, you get an unexpected faceful of sand -- but the sea is always calm. It’s a good place for swimming.

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And for windmills.

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We drove up the mountain past countless old abandoned windmills, one or more on every peak. We parked near one, and trudged around it, me with a buka on my hip, trying to keep my footing in my loopy sandals on all the loose rock. There were lovely stone walls all around us, chest high, striping the slopes; something had to be done with all that rock, to cultivate the land. Walls were a good enough idea, windmills even better. Suddenly, out of nowhere, an old woman appeared. She was working on a bag of something. I struck up a conversation, starting with the wind. Her hat had a helpful strap under her chin. The buka’s did not.

She offered us some eggs. It was so windy up there, I hadn’t smelled the henhouse, or heard the sounds of any animals. I could barely hear her. The eggs she produced were huge and fresh -- and filthy. I asked her for a plastic bag. I don’t have a bag, she said, but I can wash them. So she dunked them in a bucket of water and handed them back, still filthy, still huge, still fresh. I wonder if she lived there, if she had running water at all.

Is that your only child? she asked. Yes, I said, my one and only. It’s a point of pride for me. That’s okay, she said, apparently not as satisfied with the buka as I am, you’ll have another.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007


Devoted apprentice, AND extremely talented swimmer!


Saturday, August 11, 2007

The door

At some point I decided I had enough of kids jumping over fences. So it was time to build a door.

I got the wood and constructed the door, but that was the easy part. My devoted apprentice P decided to help out by cutting a cardboard box into pieces with a saw, while I was deciding the best place for the door. He was about as much help as any other time.

Demolishing the fence took some skill and most importantly some power tools that a friend lent me. The result wasn't as bad as I had feared.

But by the end, my hands brought different memories to mind. Still, the worst was behind me.

The result was acceptable. "Snap!", and then on to...

... some local landscaping...

... some annoying effort to get the tiles right...

...and the final artistic touches. Voila'!

Friday, August 10, 2007


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The baby had two babies. Aftakia!

Thursday, August 09, 2007


P always had a thing about masks...

... but this is too much!

Tuesday, August 07, 2007


It was time for sissoula to clean up her act. Thus the new name -- ha ha. It’s been a long summer in some respects, a flash in the pan in others. I’ve worn my swimming suit only once, the buka twice. She cuts a stunning figure in her sexy Nemo one-piece. My parents came in May. They left. My friends came in June. Then they left. It was July, and I taught a little bit, even having lost my nerd. Now it’s August, and I stay up all night thinking about September: a real job, maybe tickets, a toddler.