Saturday, December 13, 2008

Sorryful week

Sometimes I have days where the only word I seem to use is Sorry. Full sentences, even conversations, consisting only of this word.


I'm sooooooo sorry.

whoa - sorry!

and my daughter's favorite - SAH-REE! (flip your shoulders and squiggle your eyebrows together)

This week was a "Sorry" week. You know it'll be a doozy when you start off on Monday morning with a 'sorry I burned your toast' AND a 'sorry there's no clean socks' AND a 'No, sorry, you can't dance on the table with the bread knife and the mustard spoon'.

So 'sorry' comes freely and truthfully to my tongue, and looking back on the last few days I see that I used it quite often. But it's also a feeling, a sense of let-down-ness, of 'ugck' in the pit of one's stomach, or a pause in one's breath.

I called a friend on Thursday evening, just for a chat. Her husband answered the phone and, to my "hey Kosta, how's it goin?" he answered that one of their friends, the godfather of their youngest daughter,

had died that morning.

He was 35. A fisherman, pretty fit, active, a really nice guy. He came home from the boat as usual, kissed his wife and kids, and went to bed. But never woke up.

"I am SO sorry" is nothing in the wake of such news, but it was the only thing I had to offer. I have thought of the family all week, with a catch in my throat and an 'ungck' in my stomach.

Last weekend another friend lost her father, and had to fly to Germany one day too late to see him.

And of course the riots (here and in Athens) have been on our minds all week, truly
a sorry state of affairs.


I look up sorry in the online dictionary and the usual meanings are displayed: sad, mournful, expressing regret, a bad state of being. Those references all take me to "source materials." Hoping for some insightful quotation or archaic philosophical clue, I click -

and the Amazon website comes up with about 500 books on word origins.

Commerce, one is relieved to know, will always find a way.


Just now I got off the phone with my friend. After a long day of post-funeral coffee making and cake-serving she managed to get back to her own family just in time for her angry relatives (they had been watching the kids) to scream about why she was so late and how they'd never make it back home on time now with the rain and all.

I hope she just looked at them, and didn't say sorry.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

thank you

I think we spend a lot of time whining. and complaining. and generally being dissatisfied.

I noticed this evening that it's been a really long time since


-- see? I was just about to complain! --


start over.

Every year around the holidays, we hear endless stories and testimonials from folks who have decided (instead of falling victim to the great Capitalist Christmas Machine, hereafter known as the CCM) to direct their money, time, and etc. to a Good Cause.

the SPCA.
Doctors Without Borders.
Soup Kitchens, Charity Auctions, Rotary, Big Brothers, Clinics in Nepal, Housing in New Orleans, AIDS in East Oakland, Refugees in West Thessaloniki.

Well, this year for Christmas I don't have much extra money (and what there is is going to my kids). And I certainly don't have much extra time. So while I'd like nothing better (and this is really not an exaggeration) than to grab a white coat, a water bottle, and a thousand vials of quinine and take off for Darfur, I can't.

Last year at the Mavericks surf contest a spectator mom was quoted "Yeah, I'd love to do that! But I have a family, and someone has to make them lunch..."

Yup. Me too.

This year for Christmas, I will try to give myself, and my family, the gift of thanks, and the gift of grace. I will try to put aside my reactive, crabby, self-righteous self, and instead revel in the smell of my son's freshly-washed hair while he squirms in my grip and smears honey on the sofa. I will watch my daughter in dance class and marvel at the miracle of her perfect timing and intuitive movements. I will laugh at the 10 euro Parachute Santa who turns somersaults in my living room window and sings a canned "Better Watch Out!" while my son sits awestruck below. I will see my daughter's homework as an opportunity to learn something from her, and not the other way 'round.

I will try to.

I will try to actually enjoy doing the dishes and the laundry and the shopping and the cooking.

I will try to.

I will try to say thank you and please only when I mean them and not as the prelude to a demand or criticism --

will you PLEASE put your clothes away before I step on them again!


We are so fortunate. The luxury of complaining is the greatest measure of wealth, and the greatest waste of life.

OH MY GOD, I"M SO BUSY. - be thankful you are working.

EEEEEEW - gross! CHICKEN AGAIN? - be thankful you aren't hungry. really hungry.

TIMEOUT AGAIN!! - be thankful your children are able to go a bit wild.


This Christmas, I will try to say thanks to the world, and my family, and my friends, for the fact of my existence. For all the strange and beautiful and funny and mundane moments which fill my life now, and which will make up my memories later on.

I will not complain.

I will say thanks.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008



I love this word. I love the way it can cover just about everything, with a slightly sweet, disarming twist that makes whatever happened seem not quite so - well, so SO.


(raised eyebrows, slight upturn of the mouth)

oops, uh, oops?

(shrug shoulders and hunch down all at once)


(giggle nervously, and hope the others join in)

Children are the undisputed masters of oops, but I confess to employing it many times a day. That letter you thought got mailed 3 weeks ago?


the accidental defrosting of the fridge?


the face of Mother Teresa lovingly and faithfully drawn in strawberry yogurt on the back of your freshly ironed shirt (well, you should have put it away in the closet where it belongs!!)

ooo ooooo oooooops.


the fact that I've been too busy to blog in over 6 months?

yup -


Tuesday, July 22, 2008

June II

So lets see, the second half of June -

Lia's ballet performance at the National Theater (see #4 previous post): Thanks to Veroniki for the company and the help!

backstage 1 (technically the moms weren't supposed to be there - (multiply the number of girls by 40, and the number of moms, grandmas, godmothers and other well-intentioned but highly freaky interested parties by 50, and you get, in a nutshell, pandemonium) but we eluded the steely-eyed door monitors and made a break for the elevator to get upstairs and help with final lipstick adjustments...

backstage 2) note the improved lips!

on stage (there's lots more photos coming - I just decided to leave the snapping to the professionals and enjoy the show.) We think Lia is the second from the left, but who knows? Must wait for the 8x10s to tell for sure. We did shoot some good video - if I can figure out how to get it uploaded I'll post it. The bald guy right in front of us spent the whole night playing video games on his mobile - we never did figure out who his daughter was cause he never really watched the show!

after the show - love the crazy night-vision effect! Nothing like sodium lights to make you look your best!!

It got Hotter

and hotter

and hotter,

so we went to the beach a few times, and got a pool for the balcony (all that's missing are the soft breezes and umbrella drinks ;-)

Finally we retreated to the Peristera (our soon-to-be village) for a break from the city. It's actually quite a nice little village, with a sweet (very old) church and some lovely springs that bring wonderful fresh cool water down from the mountains. This will come in handy if we ever build a house and move out there, as there is currently a bit of a guerilla warfare campaign going on over the water main down the hill from the village. Just so happens to involve our plot of land, and all our neighbors. More on this later...

Thursday, July 10, 2008

the Sound of Music

June recap - so here's a brief play-by-play for the first half of June: (Yeah, I know its July and all, but I'm trying!)

1. You know about the land (see previous post) - still ours, still the greatest thing since forever.

2. Helen left for Athens - we threw a fab surprise party for her, excellent food, company and weather (massive lightning storm, no less) - limited edition video and recipes still to come...

3. Lia's end-of-year school performance - check her out as "pouli loco loco" (crazy crazy bird) Note also the emergency make-up job done with oil pastels and lipstick - always handy items to carry in one's purse...

4. Lia's Ballet School Review at the National Theater - pix and video to come.

5. Our big trip to Athens - was originally intended as an anniversary getaway without kids, but turned into a family-free-for-all when the Mark Knopfler concert was moved 2 days later and we lost our babysitting! A great time nonetheless, the photos speak for themselves.

On the train down - the ipod and play area made up for our 6:30 wake-up call.

Perfect weather in the afternoon - not too many tourists and a good walk before dinner.

In our hotel room - a great chance to play trampoline (didn't you always wonder why hotel beds sag in the middle?)

The view from the breakfast room of the Astor Hotel - a great place to stay in the center of the city

On a clear day, Athens is gorgeous

Especially seen from the Acropolis

On the way back to the hotel, we found a beautiful park

then it was off to the show!

During the first song

During the fourth song

(here the videos were intended to wow you, but after 20 minutes of uploading - during which i managed to brush my teeth, get ready for bed, and wait, sweating and swatting mosquitoes - there's nothing but an error message. Humph. Will have to refine my video technique. Oh, well, I'll keep trying. Off to bed - nighty night!

Monday, June 2, 2008


signed, sealed, and delivered on Friday...

and check out the road!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Rethinking BioDiesel

Rumble rumble rumble - I woke up this morning to the familiar sound of deisel trucks idling in the street downstairs. The good news is that the petrol strike is over. The bad news is that it will take a while for the gas station tanks to fill up, and the profiteering impulse to slow down.

After Orienteering last Sunday I went looking for gas and found - nothing. As I don't tend to pay much attention to the Greek papers (it's usually the same soap opera for months at a time), and can't bear to watch the news, I neglected to understand the gravity of a trucker's strike. Yup - those long lines of trucks backed up onto the freeway actually
did signal something - the end of deliveries, for a while at least, of just about everything. And while we are pretty well stocked with toilet paper, frozen peas, diapers and beer, the gas tank had plunged to reserve. (All those trips back and forth to "our tree" (see post about carnival etc.) have made our weekly gas consumption double, but I'm not used to thinking about filling it up so often.) 

Imagine my surprise when eco-friendly Ado & Chris suddenly find that they are just as dependent on petroleum as the rest of the world! No gas, no travel, at least not anywhere outside the city.

When we lived in Berkeley, Chris started musing about converting our car to biodiesel with a kit that allows your engine to run on used cooking oil. (I think the Ecology Center uses it for it's Recycling trucks, and there were a couple of other folks who had started to promote it as well.) Cute, I thought, and a bit weird, but when gas prices hit $2 a gallon it didn't sound so bad after all. Then we moved here, and didn't have a car for the first year, which was kind of nice in itself, especially when you consider the parking problems in the city. But for the last four years we've watched gas prices go up up up (they're still 20% higher than in the US - even at $4/gallon!) - the average price before the strike last week was 1.07 euros / liter, which translates to about 45 euros to fill the tank on our Toyota. The weekend saw the price shoot up - I saw 1.30 in some places - as the stations took advantage of the get-out-of-town-at-any-cost Saturday morning rush. (So maybe it's a good thing I didn't get the seriousness of it and fill up!) Anyhow, things are suddenly starting to look a little, well, different. And our hippy Berkeley roots are starting to seem a bit, well (dare I say it??) forward thinking...

For now, the pumps are back on again, and as our neighbor gas-guy said this morning, "if people hadn't panicked so much, the supply would have lasted at least a week longer"  (go figure!!). But I am beginning to wonder if  maybe those used-oil-in-your-engine-kits aren't such a bad idea. Just think - a town that smells not of diesel and exhaust fumes, but calamari! Sit in traffic and breath in the ripeness of cheese fritters! Pull up to the back of any friendly taverna and tell 'em to fill it up - and eat lunch while you're waiting!! 'Cause while the lorry drivers may go on strike, the french fry cookers never will...