Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Still here, Honest!

It does seem like an exceptionally long time since last I posted.

Update on T's eye- he's back and it's working- tho not without some healing still taking place. (Still has a little distortion and the pupil is STILL a wee bit dilated.)

Nevertheless, he's back in the safe haven of home.

Between my last post and his return, end of January, I discovered there was a new hoop to jump through regarding property ownership in Greece and had to frantically find an engineer to make new and accurate blueprints of our house.  It was also necessary to survey our property before the end of December (at the time) as there was a deadline and mega fines to face if it wasn't done properly.

And yes, Merry Christmas, Happy New Year etc.  The deadline originally was the 29th December!

The whole process was of course massively expensive and "financial son" in Chicago, had to transfer funds, the Tuesday after Christmas, so I could go on Wednesday to the bank (and stand there while they found the transaction and then go away for 1/2 hour while they made it all magically appear in our account!) then across the street, to engineer with wads of euros (who thankfully waited in line at government offices for proper stamps and payments, bless) to come in under the deadline wire.

Of course because so many people were caught out as it was the holidays, they extended the deadline til the end of February.

Then the television died, exactly 10 days before T came home.

According to the three television people I spoke with (all trying to sell me their choices of televisions) the power fluctuations on the island and many parts of Greece in general, make the average lifespan of a flat screen tv (no matter what size, and no matter how many UPS boxes and special shut off switches) to be no longer than 5 years.  For that reason I had to shop carefully to pay the least amount for the best product available.

I got a nice Korean one for a good price (the brand name is FU.  I'm not sure if I didn't favor it simply because in my mind those two letters summed up how I felt about having to buy another television 4 years after we bought the last one....)

It works well and it's way more intelligent than our last television as it discovered how to work the dvd player and the video recorder with almost no help from me!

I meanwhile have been going through photo albums and memories and scanning pictures into the void of my computer, hoping to get something together for my mother's memorial in April.  I'll be spending some time flying out west to Santa Fe for a special memorial with all her friends, then I'll be flying to South Carolina, to hug my university graduating granddaughter!!  (then I'll come back to Chicago and face the dentist before returning to Corfu.)


I've obviously come to terms with my mother's passing, but there are moments where the tide of grief is sometimes higher and sometimes lower. I am coping.  It's hard, but there are no other alternatives.

Sometimes, for me, going though these albums and photos going back to cover her life seem to make parts of my life, tho long past, SO vivid.

Maybe part of this is because things are so dire in the news and reality is filled with so many more unknowns.  At least the past is a known.  (well, tempered of course by memory which is subjective.)

Certainly, with all my mother's photo albums, MY past is a visible photographic timeline, as there are photographs not just of me growing up but pictures of my parents and grandparents, aunts, cousins, as children and then as adults.  There is such a great continuity with my present and the past.

My mother won a beauty pageant when she was two years old.

She was so cute.  (and according to my grandmother, she was so well behaved for the photographer, he wanted to make her his child model.  That didn't happen.)

This is also the only photo where in  my mother claimed to be a natural blonde.  We all spent a lot of time remarking that the photo was NOT in color...

She always used to talk about this picture and so did my grandmother.

My aunt used to just roll her eyes.

I found the certificate that gave her first prize.  She kept it in a box with her other little bits of special memories.

November 1927, and she was first prize - special mention!


So to all who slogged back to check out the blog, I welcome you to another erratic year...

Meanwhile, I will continue digging through the piles of albums and continue scanning scanning scanning...

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Getting into the Christmas spirit

Today, in spite of the rain, my friend Samantha and I went into town to see the shops and get into the sights and sounds of Christmas time in Corfu.  Monday is a Corfu public holiday (St Spiridion's Day) and sort of officially the start of Corfu's Christmas Holiday Season.

We decided to meet for a coffee and then do some serious window shopping, followed by a nice lunch.

For years Sammy's been telling me where the best places to shop are, with me finding my way mostly by accident.  Today, finally we decided to do a first hand run though of place and meeting people.  (in case you are reading this dear T, I didn't spend too much... honest!)  It was just a fun, silly day and we had a marvelous time.

Apropos to nothing at all, there was a lovely performance in the old  town in the square by St Spiridion's Church.  Here are some pictures...

Everyone seemed to be having a good time and there were lots of people in the square...

From what we gathered, it was a gathering of local folk dancers as well as dancers representing other parts of Greece.

Some of the costumed dancers were from Macedonia (GREEK Macedonia, not the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia...)

There was much laughter and fun by everyone in between dances and folk songs.  They were all accompanied by guitar and fiddles and tambourines, as well as triangles and handclapping. 

lovely voices and dancers of all ages.

The men were well represented as well, but they were so drab next to the ladies that I just cropped and put the photos up that pleased me most and best represented the whole surprise...

It was a lovely charming interlude and it totally made us forget we were going to the store on the other side of the square they were dancing on!!

Ah well...

We discovered a charming "new" second hand bookstore next to the Cavalieri Hotel, and had an excellent cappuccino (OK, Samantha had an excellent cup of hot chocolate!) with it we had - between the two of us-  one slice of apple tart, that was very very good.

Then we wandered the back streets, hither and yon, to seek out brilliant little shops that sold a bit of everything.  (I found a gorgeous fresh water pearl ring, that would suit me admirably... that I didn't buy- hint hint)  I bought a inexpensive belt (seriously needed one for dipping pants), a loaf of amazing bread, a small bottle of Grand Marinier (tis the season), a great present for my granddaughter, and two hand-blown colored glass bowels (in the Venetian style) for 7 euros each.  They'll look lovely with tea candles in them, during the next power failure.

On our way, we came across this window display

It wasn't so much the chicken, as the fact of the TOTAL chicken....

We kept thinking that we'd never see something like this in a shop window in say London or even Chicago!

Then Sammy and I wandered down to the new market (in the place of the old market but finally finished and re-inhabited at last after 4 years) where Sam bought two sea bass for her Sunday lunch.

From there we went to our respective vehicles and were off to lunch at the Navigators in Kontokoli, where we had a lovely restoring glass of wine, and a marvelous homemade hamburger;  for dessert we had a slice of warm  gooey chocolate cake and a small scoop of ice cream (- and two forks)!  A lovely end to a very very pleasant day.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Everything re-attached. The patient survived.

Just a quick post to update that surgery went well and everyone seems pleased.

The detached retina is now attached and the surgery went well and very quickly.  I just got off the phone with both my son and my husband and they too seemed surprised, pleased, but surprised, that they were home a good two hours earlier than expected.

T is in excellent health- except for the eye thing- and takes no medications but over the counter stuff on occasion.  This seemed to take most of the health providers a bit aback, but his blood pressure and heart rate confirmed that he was in really good shape.

He said he started to come around about ten minutes before they were finished to mention to them that he was having a bit of trouble breathing as their set up for surgery was making it difficult for him to get enough air, there at the end.  They were kind enough to ratchet up the oxygen feed in his nose, so he felt much better.  Except for after it was done he was parched and drank about a liter of water and a big glass of apple juice.

Still he sounded pretty good and not too drugged up.

They go back to the doctor tomorrow morning, early, to make sure everything is still holding and in the right position.

As I thought I'd have a bit more time on my hands and sleep was pretty much out of the question til I knew everything was ok, I decided to make soup.

This actually goes back to the Pease Pudding recipe idea I had for tomorrow.

This idea is still out there but, just NOT until I find yellow split peas... and not ORANGE LENTILS.

Yes, I bought lentils instead of split peas.  Duh.  I'd like to blame it on worry over the eye surgery, but I think it's just me.

So in time honored tradition ... instead of making lemonade out of life's lemons- I made Orange Lentil Soup (Shorabat Adas).

Well, ok, I made it with only a very few variations.  The first one was I didn't measure, because, soup is soup.  Meaning I used about a pound of lentils, my own homemade chicken broth cut with water (it's all jellied, so you have to cut it), 2/3 of a huge onion I had in the fridge, and black pepper. (also haven't done the croutons yet either).

I added to the recipe, 2 carrots (chopped into small pieces), one stick of celery (again chopped), about a teaspoon of celery seed, and I didn't completely liquidize the soup, I left a few bits of carrots for color and texture.

I also will add a lot of finely chopped fresh flat leafed parsley tomorrow, but it's too dark outside so I can't go get it in the garden tonight.

So all is well for now and if you decide to make it, enjoy the soup!  It's really REALLY good.  I will go to sleep now with a warm glow from a cup of lentil soup, and the good news that T's on the mend.

Monday, December 5, 2011

The "eye's" have it...

So.  T's appointment was this morning (US time) in Michigan, and, sadly, after a thorough eye exam, the conclusion was: it was not a false alarm.  Indeed the symptoms told the story and it IS a detached retina.

I read somewhere, online, that strongly nearsighted people have weak retinas.  Who knew??  Supposedly it affects about 1 in 10,000 people.

Some lottery...

Surgery will go ahead tomorrow morning, and by tomorrow evening everything will be done.

For a detached retina, it was good news as it was still partially attached.  Still it's disconcerting, uncomfortable and serious.  Big deal to make sure you keep your sight!

And the recovery time will again be six weeks with no airplane travel due to the gas bubble placed in to reattach the retina.

As Pooh says, "Oh Bother."

The good news is that there are some medical aids available, that we didn't know about the last time, so hopefully, it will be less of an annoyance, (and strain on the neck!) and the recovery will pass a bit less slowly.

Meanwhile, the "girls" and I have been taking long walks in the rain.

It would seem that whenever I plan to go for a walk with the dogs, the sky opens up just when I'm at the furthest point from the house.  (ha-ha, the gods of weather apparently have a sense of humor.)   The dogs don't really mind getting wet. I, however, really mind going back into the house with a couple of wet smelly dogs!  (tomorrow is dog towel washing day.)

I made a quiche for lunch, today.  My best friend (and masseuse!) stopped by to give my frozen shoulder a work out.  ouch.  

But back to the quiche:  It was a pretty standard one, with bacon, onions and cheese, but I added mushrooms because T wasn't here.  I rarely add them to food, as he doesn't care for them.

I had the end cut crusts from a couple of pies I made last week and gathered them together to make a sort of franken-crust.  It turned out pretty good- still light and flaky if a tad misshapen.  (I gave my friend a "doggie bag" of half the quiche, so that she and her mother  could have it for dinner tonight.)

Tomorrow I'm thinking about making Pease Pudding after watching a program on how to make it last night.  Everyone was so enjoying it, I figured I'd give it a whirl.  I'll try and take some pics and do a post on how I made it.

Meanwhile, it's good evening from Corfu!

Friday, December 2, 2011

Happy December!

And how time flies away from me!

T is currently winging his way to Chicago to have his eye fixed in the US as opposed to here in Greece.

It seems he may have another detached retina.  (ah genetics)

He had one in 2005, and had it taken care of in New Mexico, where I was at the time staying with my mother.  T had his surgery the day before Christmas 2005.

It would seem he'll be having surgery again at the same time of year- just six years later- in his other eye.  This time it will be in Michigan, and he'll stay with Oldest son and oldest grandson, in "all guy" splendor.  It's hard that we'll be apart for this as most of all the big things that happen to us we somehow manage to share. Still I know he'll be in good hands, both with his doctors and with his sons to take care of him.

I'm staying back here, to hold down the fortress of solitude, better known as Villa Methavrio. The dogs, cats and I will be carousing and living a high life for the next several weeks, and as a bonus we'll be keeping better notes in the blog!


ON another note, I am really amazed at how easy and free Skype is.  It's a shame it took me so long.   With next to no effort, and no cost at all,  I've managed to have several conversations with the Belgian family, (keeping updated on my cousins wife's surgery that took place the day before yesterday) and I just finished catching a quick update with my best friend while I lived in Turkey many years ago.  She's a brilliant painter now, currently living in Florida, and it was delightful to chat for a few minutes, albeit just as I'm about to go to bed and she's all perky, awake and organizing a party for today...

The greatest drawback is that I'm all self conscious I feel I look horrible on the small screen, and I feel very awkward  at seeing what I look like when I'm talking to people.   You can see yourself in a small corner of the screen and note what you look like during the call, and if you have any spinach on your teeth... (note to self, give up spinach forever.)  I find myself sitting up straighter and trying to make my hair look better, a hopeless task.  Mostly it makes me wonder what I look like to other people, like when I go to the store or something.  (I also don't recognize my voice!) This whole process is a sort of good news/bad news thing.


So that's it for today.  The puppies are telling me it's time to turn off the computer.  (they're SO bossy.)

G'night all

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Ah that "thing in the middle"...

This is the blog post I should have made last week!

Due to an unforeseen and totally annoying HUGE head cold (as rudely shared by passengers seated behind us in the airplane) T and I spent a miserable week (last) recovering and trying to sleep through most of it! (I am SO over air travel.)

Flanders on the way to beach
T and I flew to Brussels for an long weekend last week (Depart Corfu 3 November; Return 7 November).  It was long time overdue to catch up with my cousins and my 93 year old Aunt Marie-Louise, (my mother's elder and only sister).

along the brislam
I also had a little "bit of my mother" that I wanted to leave in Belgium, preferably in the North Sea, which she loved, near her favorite childhood seaside resort, Blankenberge.

iconic pier in Blankenberge
                                                                                                                            Needless to say it was also a fine opportunity to savor Belgian cooking as well as catch up with the newest family addition baby Simon, born on the 29th of July while I was in the USA.

We had a surprisingly good time, with many shared and funny memories of our childhoods - my cousin and me from our first meeting when I was 5 and he was 8, through all the years in between.
me and my cousin

After my father died in 1959, I would fly to Belgium every summer after the school term ended and spend the three months of summer vacation living in the brownstone in Anderlecht with my Grandmother and Grandfather, while my aunt and uncle and cousin lived in the apartment upstairs and another great-aunt lived on the top floor apartment.

My summer would pass spending my days waiting for my cousin, Ray to finish school so we could "play" (mostly we tried to understand eachother as I spent a great deal of time trying to figure out what everyone was saying- in French!), driving my grandmother crazy, and reading American novels left by my mother on previous trips, until I discovered the bookstore in the city that sold English books and blew through all my pocket money!

ON the weekends, we'd all of us, go to the local cafe, to meet with friends and more distant family members,, and my cousin and I would play cards or as we got older, go to the movies.

one of the three apartments I remember
Some time over the weekend, usually Sunday, my aunt and uncle would take my cousin and me for an educational drive, to see the sights of Belgium, and of course have a good meal along the way!

Always for the month of August the family would rent an apartment in Blankenberge and every day would be spent "taking the air" bathing in the sea, and enjoying the seaside atmosphere.

lovely view to eat by!
In the great tradition of "all that came before", we had a great lunch in a super seaside restaurant built on the same (used to be a bit more humble) spot.

oh the yum...
Of course we had to have fish and I had to have Sole Meuniere with Frites.

T had cabillaud (fresh cod) with a marvelous and very traditional Belgian butter and cream sauce. (yes the arteries groan, but the taste is putting you at the gate of heaven!)

After lunch we had to walk a bit and wandered to the opposite side of the beach away from the pier to the channel that goes to the port.

no more fishing boats
There were more childhood memories, of my cousin and I getting up early to meet the fishing boats and talking the fisherman into sharing a couple of freshly cooked crabs wrapped in newspapers. (they'd boil them in a big pot, right in the boat for their fisherman's  breakfast!)

Now there are almost no more fishing boats, just luxury yachts and power boats.

Still lovely but not the same.

the cheeses
the charcuterie
We came home to my cousins house,  just in time to sit down for another, simpler, but amazingly delicious meal then went back (groaning) to our little hotel.

We stayed at the quirky little Hotel Centrum in Beersel .

the breakfast room
the coffee tea corner

It's a very odd little place, but it was clean enough, the room was big and we had a small ensuite bathroom. Breakfast was OK and the coffee was freshly made and my tea was hot.  Best of all, it was close (5 minutes!) to my cousins house.

The rest of the weekend passed in a haze of exchanging wonderful memories, eating excellent food and all the while with a warm family all around.  (Oh.   And there was wine.  I didn't talk about the wine and it was delicious and plentiful.  Did I mention the wine?  My liver is still recovering.)
taking in La Grand-Place
Taverne du Passage

We went into the city on Saturday, and shopped a bit and had a beer on the Grand Place then went on to a classic and favorite restaurant Taverne du Passage, in the Galeries Royales St Hubert.

There we again ate and drank marvelously (but we were having such a good time I forgot to take pictures!)  served by excellent and long time waiters.  I had a simple Steak-Frites and it was amazing.  T had a Sole, my cousins had Choucroute, an Alsatian dish of Sauerkraut, sausages and ham, made with a Belgian twist.

Sunday we had a big family gathering and my cousin Maryse prepared a wonderful Carbonnade - a  great Belgian Beef and Beer stew. (which I make several times every winter!)  We finished it off with delicacies from the bakery...  After which, I almost fell asleep in my coffee!
Ray and Arsène
my aunt and Simon (& me)
Benoit, Jenny and Melissa
Jeremy and Jenny
La Dessert
wherein I almost fell asleep
saying au revior

We flew out of Brussels at around noon and were home again in Corfu by 7 pm.

Then we got sick and went to bed for a few days and didn't remember to call my granddaughter on her birthday on Tuesday.

Again, with the belated birthday greetings!!!  Happy 23!

In the end, that's why this post is a week late!  (clicking on the pictures should make them larger)

So until the next peripatetic post... ta!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

The return of the great pumpkin,...

Well, O.K.

This year our pumpkins were not SO great, but we had a fun time anyway carving them and being silly with our favorite substitute grandchildren.

Our friend, E,  who now lives in Holland comes to visit family a couple of times a year.  (we're extended family, particularly near Halloween!)

So T carved away, whilst the little ones designed their ideas and tweaked their finished product.

 There was great concentration and much ooh-ing and ahh-ing for the finished results.

I was not a participant as someone needed to document the proceedings...

[Meanwhile, Mr. Pumpkin Head is choosing to remain anonymous. ]

In spite of the weather periodically spitting and dripping on us, (there were bouts of sunshine as well) we all had a marvelous time.

The pumpkin family seemed content as well.

We got a little carried away with "costumes" as we had brought a "bag O' animal noses" back from the States, for everyone to try on, which certainly helped the festive Halloween atmosphere.

There was much silliness and miming of animal behaviors....

and noises!

really cute faces all around

Though as T mentioned, "An ornament finds its own tree"...                  

(And yes, it WAS a bad hair day...)         


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