Thursday, December 25, 2008

white christmas

and in my not so humble opinion... it's highly over-rated!  there's at least 18 inches of it on the ground and more was drifting down from the sky when i got up this a.m.  At this point i've lost track of how long this weather event has been happening.... and how many times we've lost electricity, how many times it's come back on for how many short periods of time.  in other words i'm awfully damn tired of it.  i think probably even the weather forecasting guys have lost their enthusiasm for it.  i do get a laugh at how excited and into it they get when there is a "big weather event"!  but... enough already.

and all of this being snowed in for probably 2 weeks, and reaching serious cabin fever state has given me pause (i love that expression).  this was by far the strangest xmas day i've ever had... nothing bad in the whole scheme of the world... just unusual and strange.  i really missed the ritual and the usual conveniences (like electric power, for instance)... and most of all i missed spending the day preparing for the big gathering of the tribe, and their arrival, and the excitement of the kids.  i miss the kids and the mayhem and chaos and flying wrapping paper.  i had plenty to eat... warmed up on the woodstove left-over soup was tasty, i was warm enough,  and had a couple of gifts for Jim tho there are several still out there somewhere that the USPS and UPS haven't been able to deliver yet.  And i felt so bad for my dad.  when i called to wish him a merry xmas, he wasn't quite sure that today was the 25th.  sounded like life was very quiet and lonely at his assisted living place and not a thing i could do about it.  all i could do was assure him that a warming up is coming and i'm hoping for/planning on being able to get out of here by monday and i'll see him then!  

I talked to Chris and Kate while we still had power (and phone!) and they're very snowed in also!  mostly, it's quite lovely to live in a rural area with space and nature all around... but there are times when it's a pain in the ass.  but in the end, the lovely outweighs the pain.

and the dogs LOVE the snow (Huskies are like that).  this being a dome house, the accumulated snow finally slides off the roof into huge piles and there's a big hill of snow in their play yard. when i let them out there today, Meika went charging to the top of the hill and challenged Tasha with a bark and that stance that means "come on and play".  Tasha took the bait and they were off, with wrestling and racing around and charging back up the hill o' snow til they were both grinning and panting!  looked like great fun!!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

winter solstice

and we celebrate the coming of the light and longer days.  and here's the irony of the day... it's the longest night of the year, right?  our power went off at 3p.m.... meaning there was about 1 hour left of semi-daylight ("semi" because the sky was dark grey with snow clouds), making this certainly and literally the longest night of our year!  so, jim went out into the 12 or 14" of snow to bring in some firewood for the woodstove so we'd at least have heat, then built a warm and lovely fire, and i brought out a futon and quilts and pillows for naps in front of the fire (our living room is pretty sparse since we started - ummm - downsizing in preparation for moving).  we had pretty well resigned ourselves to being powerless... and lo and behold, after just 3 hours.. the power came back!!!!  and this is quite ok with me.  i'm totally happy with humming along to the not-so-longest night of the year.

i'm wishing everyone a bright and warm winter solstice, and joy as you dance naked around the bonfire.

Friday, December 19, 2008

it keeps on coming

just because it's there, i took some photos of the snow today!  there should be some lovely photo ops in the next few days... when we get more snow and then freezing rain.  it is just beautiful how it coats the trees and is all sparkley... and then the branches break and take down the power lines... and then we have no electricity or phone.  any guesses where i'd rather be right now?  like where the temperature is in the high 60s and it might be raining, but it's WARM dammit!
this is the view out the living room window.

Thursday, December 18, 2008


well, my macbook had its hard drive replaced, i had to stop feeling smug about having back up for all but the 2 months i was in Crete, all that back up doesn't seem to be available to transfer onto this empty macbook, after a couple of days back and forth to the mac store (45 min. each way and dealing with parking lots FULL of frantic people out shopping like crazy) i just gave up on transferring anything and started rebuilding my address book and book marks etc.  (do i get the prize for the longest run-on sentence???)

we have been snowed/frozen in for about 4 or 5 days, which doesn't really bother me much as i'm into a kind of hermit mood.  Jim got the snow tires on the little truck and made the adventurous trip to Banks to the supermarket and post office... with no problems.  so, really we haven't been totally house-bound.  it warmed up enough today to begin the melting process, and then the temp started the downward dive again heading for 18F tonight.  sure do hope the UPS guy makes it up the hills in the next couple of days.  i'm still expecting 4 more shipments of holiday online shopping goodies.  hoping that the warm comes back in the next week so the tribe can come for the big turkey dinner on friday.

haven't even got any photos to put here... quite pathetic really.  but i did finish a hat and a pair of mitts in the past few days.  maybe i'll take photos tomorrow.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

partying in Vamos

to celebrate our 30th wedding anniversary on november 23, we had a PARTY and invited a bunch of our friends.  we must have had good karma going, as the weather was mild and dry and most of the partying happened on the porch, leaving the whole kitchen free for dancing (Greek and Albanian dances).  there was lots of food and wine and raki and fun til quite late!  and again, there was an international group of people there... Dutch, French, Syrian, Albanian, Cretan... and all of them, by the way, were most happy for us and the whole planet that Barack Obama will be our new president!!!  bravo!

into december

and a lot has happened since that last post of november 21... beginning with the work stoppage of my beloved macbook.  yes, i know, macs don't crash. at least that's what i thought, but sadly it was true and now it has a new harddrive... a few days before the 1 year warranty expired.  it was one of my first adventures after returning home, following the trip to costco on a saturday (eeeekk) to replace the tv set which made popping noises when turned on and then started smoking.  oh, yeah, then there was the trip to the ER at St.Vincent Hospital where the ambulance took my dad straight from tgiving dinner at Bud's.  Pop stayed overnight for observation (he'd passed out at the dinner table and was unresponsive for 8 minutes) (thankfully, there were 2 nurses in attendance!!) and he was discharged the next day and seems to be back to his "normal".  we got the dogs back from boarding kennel and they were uncharacteristically quiet for a couple of days... maybe fearing they'd have to go back to doggie camp if they made any noise.  i'm happy to say they are back to normal now, and as usual,
Meika is projectile shedding everwhere she goes.... normal.

it was 70s F. when we left Crete and it's freezing here.  nothing more to say about that.

Friday, November 21, 2008


wow!! our lemon tree is multi-tasking again!  it has ripening juicy lemons... and has sweet blossoms opening up and creating that lovely aroma!  bravo indeed!

Monday, November 17, 2008


 well.... it's over!  talking about the honeymoon with our sweet house in Crete.  we had already made the decision that we would end the rental on the house because of the economic situation at home   and needing to get our house sold and prob. building a new one ... however, when there was a brief rain period a few days ago, resulting in rivulets coming thru the bathroom window onto the floor in quite significant puddles, then last night and today heavier rains with water coming in under the front door and thru the wood stove, and finally figuring out that there's probably a big black mold problem, which is probably why i've been wheezing lately.... well, the honeymoon is over.  oh, yeah... did i mention that slugs come into the house in the bathroom and in the kitchen, and that the limit was finding a slug on the toilet seat?  oh, yeah... did i mention that we've found scorpions in the house?  I'm really not a sissy and can put up with a lot without complaining.... however, slug on toilet seat is one thing up with which i will not put!!!  and this whole situation is sad, because i love so much about the house.... including the porch with lots of room for sittin' around, the abundance of roses, grape arbors, lemon tree, the location ... and so much more!  if i only had lots of $$, i'd love to do a lot of work on this house... sigh...

and next sunday is our 30th wedding anniversary, we're having a party at our house to celebrate and at this point i have no idea how many people will be there as we keep on inviting more and more and more people, and the Cretan way is that if you are going to a party, you bring along some of your friends.  could be a very interesting adventure!!!!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

we woke to rain today, but by the time we'd been up for an hour (well, ok... we didn't get up til almost 11).  but, anyway, we had to do some serious shopping at the.. um.. supermarket.. out of essentials like toilet paper, tomatoes, tonic, vodka.... oh, yeah and milk.  So, we made a walk the long way to the store and here are some of the sights.... a huge luscious palm tree, bougainvilla in contrast to a white stone wall and aged door.  

and the best.. a 3-wheel vehicle which was first made around WW2 here in Crete and is no longer being made.  it's still used by local farmers in their work and make the most god-awful noise imaginable... especially when laboring up hills.  i believe it is called mechani.  and i'd love to have one!!

and then there was friday... Kristy and her friend from school,  Mahar, came for a visit.  We met her the first year we came to Vamos and were at the Dourakis winery at the same time.  She is a friend of a woman from Portland that Jim used to work with.  Anyway... she has been in Crete for 2 years now working on her degree in agronomy.  We gave her the grand tour of Vamos, then went to Bloumosif for dinner, followed by a stop by Liakoto for the view.  Well, not surprisingly, since there was only one other person there at the time, plus the bartender, we lingered and were convinced to have just one raki.  Well... there really is no such thing as "one raki"... so after several hours (and a few raki) we left.  and by the way, Mahar had just one raki and was the designated driver.   luckily, it is a short stagger from there to our house.  did i mention that we will need some serious detox-ing when we get home?  this culture is quite heavy on eating and drinking and i guess we are fitting in quite well.  oh, yeah... back to Liakoto tonight for the live music.

yesterday we went with Artemi and Xanathippi to see an area up in the hills east of here which is abundant with springs... and i mean lots and lots of water just pouring up out of the ground all over the place.  it is evidently a very popular tourist destination in the spring and summer months.  then we found a wonderful restaurant/taverna at the bottom of a small gorge, nested among a bunch of trees and lush growth... including banana trees!  great food!  whenever we eat with these two, we let them order most of the meal and it's never been disappointing.   2 of the arches pictured here have a sheet of water spilling down inside the arch.. it's amazing looking!!

Also, in this area is a small village up in the hills which celebrates the village's "name day" soon after Easter each year with a sheep festival.... shearing, sheep milk and cheese for sale, and generally a raucous event in celebration of their patron saint (whose name i cannot remember right now)  I think the village is called AsiGonia, but i need to check the map.  wondering if it even appears on the map...  Anyway, if we are here for Easter next spring, i really really want to go to this event.

Driving on these roads up in the hills is an adventure and not for the weak-of-heart!  my understanding of "hair-pin curves" is quite clear now.  and i live on to see another adventure!

Sunday, November 09, 2008


and today's adventure was with the Brit ex-pat community in Vamos and surrounding area.  there is an amphitheater of sorts up on the hill in Vamos... and there is a "theater group" comprised of mostly these Brits.  they had their 6th annual theater fest today in which they performed an assortment of entertainment... which included some satirical drama loosely following the adventures of Odysseus, interspersed with  music--  electric guitar, Greek bousuki (sp??), beattles songs, Greek poetry, some original music and overall a very entertaining afternoon!!  oh, and the costumes were outstandingly perfectly appropriate!!

(Terry - it's actually now 7pm here and i've finished my ouzo, Greek salad and raki and am ready to stagger home to eat our left-over lamb chops and grilled chicken from last night's adventure).

....and on

one of the new waiters at Bloumosifi... it's Gianni, from Syria and really a sweet young man!!  (he's blushing now)... 

Friday, November 07, 2008

it is so damn difficult to arrange photos and text on my blog that it is making me flipping crazy!!
but this is kind of like a journal for me and i want to get as much text and photos on as possible.
maybe blogger does not work well with mac... i don't know!  anyway, i'll put all the photos up on my flickr account (link in rt. column) if you want to see 'em.  i haven't been able to figure out how to write it out in IPages then copy and paste here.  it WON"T paste here.  gonna take a deep breath now and quit for awhile.  more ouzo and maybe some food is in order here.
the raki maker at work.  and, for what it's worth... if there is a Public Health Department here, i just don't know where they are!!!  this wouldn't pass any inspection i can imagine.  i take comfort in the idea that this raki is so high in alcohol it is able to kill any pathogens in the vicinity!  hope springs eternal, eh?

Berend helping with carrying wood for the CRM.

the top photo is where we took the fermenting grapes to be distilled into raki, then a photo inside the "distillery".  the round dome shaped thing is the lid over the pot where the juice is poured, then that lid is sealed with some kind of doughy stuff and the fire stoked up.  the gourd ladle is actually used  for dipping excess juice out of the pot.  and this dude has a government permit to make raki by distillation for the public!  hhmmmmm!  The 3 guys are lifting the barrel into Toine's van by putting a large towel under it and the 3 of them lifting...  And when we got the barrel to the distillery, they ladled the juice out and the CRM (cranky raki maker) poured it into the pot.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

o frabjous day!!!

thanks to Lewis Carroll:  "And, has thou slain the Jabberwock?  Come to my arms, by beamish boy!  O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!  He chortled in his joy!"  and a joyous day it is... for everyone on the planet.  After we took over the sofa and tv at Elena and Toine's house, we spent the entire night watching the election returns on CNN.  Finally, at 6am 11/5 here, Barack Obama was declared the winner... we are all winners now!  We walked home about 9a.m. and slept for a few hours.  there's joy ... and hope in my heart!  

the phot0 and note above came from our friends Elena and Toine, in congratulations on our presidential election!  Barack Obama was the choice of everyone we've talked to in Europe!  they are happy, too!!

Saturday, November 01, 2008

the gauntlet

here's another case of when i started out making some entrelac before i had any idea what it would become!  i had some handspun from fiber i bought from Lori Lawson at BSG, plus a little bit of my own fiber thrown (well... spun in) and wanted to see how it would look knitted up in entrelac.  finished making them into gauntlet mitts while listening to David Sedaris on tape, then got Klio to model them for me.  cute, huh??

so there is actually fiber content today!!  bravo..

Friday, October 31, 2008


this is a photo of the town square, where we had dinner last night.

life is sweet and it's kinda strange, too.  I'm sitting in the Bloumosifi taverna at 4pm local time, drinking ouzo, connected by some wireless magic to the internet, having enjoyed a sunny day in the low 80's (which is really unusual for end of Oct. even in the hills in NW Crete).  On my computer i'm tuned in to Rachel Maddow's interview (yesterday) with Barack Obama.  I'm happy here.... and i'm homesick for my nest (which is up for sale!) and my kids and grandkids and family and friends and sweet dogs.  hmmm... perhaps the ouzo has taken over some of my brain cells...

Thursday, October 30, 2008

local fruits

lemons from our tree and the pom-fruits from a neighbor.  and here are
lemons and pomagranet (wrong sp! oh well...) freshly harvested, followed by a photo op for the in-progress Audacity socks. 

oh, come on... wouldn't you drape your knitting across some fruit if you had the opportunity??? of course you would!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Greek cooking class

this class was really fun, inspiring and filling... from beginning to end.  Jim and I went shopping with Toine (Koula, the teacher's assistant) before the class then helped him get stuff set up.  Koula is a really good teacher!  She had us involved from the beginning, so we really learned how to do it.  i was even inspired to take home the left-over dough and make more Kalitsounia (little cheese pies) the next day.  Toine made sure everyone had some Raki to start out with, then brought out the wine... so we were well-lubricated early on!  We made rooster with noodles and that was one honkin' big rooster.  she says that rooster is much better eating than hens... more tender, meatier.  Also fixed courgette/zucchini fritters, Greek salad, the little cheese pies, tzitiski (sp?), had lots of fresh bread, olives, wine and raki... and Koula had fixed halvah for dessert.  All in all... a great experience!  Koula has published one cookbook which we bought last spring and use often... and she has another one in the works.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

yesterday Socrates, who is 6 years old, celebrated his "name day"... as big a celebration as the birthday in Greece.  The name day is the celebration of the saint for whom the person is named (I don't know about the Socrates thing and i'll look into that!)  Anyway, his mom, Stella, invited us to their home for cake.  then to make his day complete, Jim went outside and played football/soccer/whatever with him... til Jim's toes got ruined.  Then we went to Elena and Toine's home for a raki-tasting party.  This is the raki that was made last Saturday, made from the crushed grapes without making wine first.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

more photos from around the village.  there are many very old and deserted properties which have fallen into disrepair due to many reasons, including wars, economy... being a small village many of the young people have left seeking jobs in bigger cities.  There are a few people who have taken some of these old deserted places and renovated them, keeping the style and feeling of the past with the updates we're used to... like plumbing! etc.!  We went with a local friend to see a very large property which has been renovated to a beautiful place which is rented out to tourists (mostly Europeans) and has 8 houses that they rent.  it has many of those amenities which appeal to tourists... large swimming pool, a building with massage facilities and huge sauna room, bar, eating area... etc.  Looking at all the many deserted places makes me really wish we had the funds to buy one and renovate it!  sigh... ain't gonna happen!

Friday, October 17, 2008

while the raki is distilling, the party group dines on much delicious Greek dinner dishes!  and at the end, they bring plates of real Greek yoghurt with fruit preserves over it... yum!  

  at the end of the process of distilling, where the raki drips out thru a pipe, is filtered thru cotton cloth and collects in the bucket. (last photo)

Thursday, October 16, 2008

labor of love??

"crushing" the grapes which will then be put in that big barrel.  what's in there now comes up to about that first "ring thing" from the bottom.  the thinking now is to arrange to have it made into raki/tsikoudia.  We are going to a raki-making party tonight, so Jim will see what kind of arrangements he can make.  In Crete there are only a certain number of folks who are licensed to make raki (a distilling process), so anyone who wants raki from their grapes must arrange with those who have licenses.  if you don't know what raki is... my descriptive is "fire water".  it's like ouzo without the licorice.  (raki)

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

in the neighborhood

some photos from around our neighborhood