Thursday, December 31, 2009

Once in a Blue Moon

Seems like an appropriate title for my next foray into blog posting.

Of course, the irony is, that tonight IS that "blue moon" night... an event that happens (on New Years Eve) only once every 20 years!

The term "blue moon" traditionally referred to an extra moon in a season: if a season had four full moons (rather than the more common three), then the third of the four moons was known as a blue moon. A season in this sense begins not with the months, but with the solstices and equinoxes.

However, personally, I like the mistaken definition of a Blue Moon being the second full Moon in a calendar month, just because it's easier to figure out and name.

A Variety of Meanings (a very clever article)

In fact, the very earliest uses of the term were remarkably like saying the Moon is made of green cheese. Both were obvious absurdities, about which there could be no doubt. "He would argue the Moon was blue" was taken by the average person of the 16th century as we take "He'd argue that black is white."
The concept that a blue Moon was absurd (the first meaning) led eventually to a second meaning, that of "never." The statement "I'll marry you, m'lady, when the Moon is blue!" would not have been taken as a betrothal in the 18th century.


Meanwhile, the life and times of my blog are at a crossroads!

Though there are many fascinating things about Corfu left to share, I am having a hard time buckling down and getting to writing about them!

So, what is wrong with me???

My trip to the US dislodged my patterns and that certainly made a difference. Coming home also meant reclaiming my life here, and that made a difference too. Getting back into the habit of writing "blog posts" like before, though, it seems is the harder part of this blogging thing.

Sigh. I will continue to post about Corfu, because I love the topic of Corfu, and we are constantly rediscovering wonderful things about living here. But...

There will however be moments of "blog fail" when the parallel universe of my 'other' life will overlap.

Currently, though we are happy as grigs (whatever grigs are) living on the magical island of Corfu, we are also concurrently trying to move my 84 year old mother from one side of the United States (New Mexico) to the middle of the United States (Chicago), all while pretty much being in Greece.

Except for the frantic bits that will come to pass this Spring, when we'll return to the US to physically pack up- the part with the actual move- we are keeping in touch with her by phone a couple of times a week as well as with my sons (through email as well as phone calls). We are also in contact with the lawyer in charge of her trust as well as the retirement community.

Juggling all this is sometimes NOT so easy to do. My mother is becoming more easily "distracted" and often she doesn't prioritize necessary things the way she used to, meaning that confusion results.

When we first decided to move to and remain in Greece, we recognized that there would be challenges regarding being so far away from family. We've encountered pretty much every one of them. We have had major surgeries, accidents, job losses, divorce, birth, and deaths (along with lingering illness requiring longer stays). We also sold a house.

We have moved a son to an new house, and my mother to a retirement community after her partner died, but now it seems we will need to move her one more time.

Fortunately, I am blessed with sons who relish the thought of having their grandmother near enough to visit weekly, which is what she needs now more than all the other things she might make use of in the place she's moving to in Chicago. Having her in Chicago means that she'll spend time with her great-grandson, which she will enjoy so much. It will also mean that T and I will be able to maximize our visits back to the US and spend more time with our sons (and of course grandchildren!) as well as my mother.

Having spent a month in the States, I recognize both the good things about living in the US, but also the good things about living here in Greece.

When I was a child growing up and going back and forth between my grandmother in Belgium and my mother in Michigan, I remember feeling homesick in both places, no matter where I was.

I feel the same thing now only it's all mixed up with adult things like worry and the stress of forgetting something important that needs doing. I call them mind squirrels. On top of that is the very real frustration that I want to just enjoy my life in my own home with my husband and enjoy my things!

That's sort of what has happened to the blog.

So I will leave on that note and say that I plan to have a very happy New Year- we are going to a neighbor party in Vatos, and T will be wearing a tux and I will be dressy too. Perhaps I will even post a picture of us in our elegance. Tomorrow I will fix a turkey, and perhaps bake an apple pie. (I may even take a picture of the apple pie, if it turns out!)

For now I will sign off and wish all who stop here a wonderful New Year. Thank you very, very much, for reading my posts and becoming a part of my life. I DO really appreciate all the input and comments you have made over the past six months.

Again, thank you and Happy Holidays!

PS... the soundtrack of my life is currently playing:

Blue Moon - The Marcels
Blue Moon Of Kentucky By Elvis Presley
Toby Keith - Does That Blue Moon Ever Shine On You
Richard Rodgers: Blue Moon
Once In A Blue Moon By Earl Thomas Conley

and for a change, a foray into the bizarre with a Japanese Bluegrass rendition of
Is The Blue Moon Still Shining

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Tuesday, December 22, 2009

'Tis the Season...

Last night we drove into Corfu town to see it all lit up with holiday lights. Last year the municipality needed to trim some large trees in the park and near the Liston. In doing so they had to finally cut down the branches that had all the lovely lights stuck in them for the last 8 years or so. When we got there the park and Liston were dark! We were surprised that they didn't replace them at all this year. Ah austerity, it bites in the strangest places.

Still the walkways and the shopping area streets were well decked out.

And the good news for all the merchants, was there were a fair amount of people out shopping.

On the way home we stopped in Agios Ioannis to see what the village had done. The decorating committee had chosen the bandstand as their staging ground. The only thing missing was snow... and I don't miss that at all!

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Monday, December 21, 2009

Happy Winter Solstice Day

Today is officially the shortest day of the year.

The Winter Solstice occurs exactly when the earth's axial tilt is farthest away from the sun at its maximum of 23° 26'. Though the Winter Solstice lasts an instant in time, the term is also colloquially used like Midwinter to refer to the day on which it occurs. For most people in the high latitudes this is commonly known as the shortest day and the sun's daily maximum position in the sky is the lowest. The seasonal significance of the Winter Solstice is in the reversal of the gradual lengthening of nights and shortening of days.

Watching the sun rise across the eastern sky over the course of the year is fascinating. This morning it seems to rise almost from the south east.

A lovely morning sky.

Welcome to Winter!

In ancient Greece there were celebrations at this time of year.

The exclusively female midwinter ritual, Lenaea or Lenaia, was the Festival of the Wild Women. In the forest, a man or bull representing the god Dionysus was torn to pieces and eaten by Maenads. Later in the ritual a baby, representing Dionysus reborn, was presented.

Lenaion, the first month of the Delian calendar, derived its name from the festival's name. By classical times, the human sacrifice had been replaced by that of a goat, and the women's role had changed to that of funeral mourners and observers of the birth. Wine miracles were performed by the priests, in which priests would seal water or juice in a room overnight and the next day they would have turned into wine. The miracle was said to have been performed by Dionysus and the Lenaians.

By the 5th century BCE the ritual had become a Gamelion festival for theatrical competitions, often held in Athens in the Lenaion theater.


And so. I am returned from Chicago and parts West. It's good to be back home though I feel a bit of a fish out of water. I am not nearly "up to speed" for this holiday.

Fortunately I don't have to do too much preparation as we are graciously invited to spend Christmas dinner with our good friends. (all I have to bring is a cheesecake!) We're also covered for Boxing Day and will be spending a lovely afternoon with good friends and their family members. (I get to bring quiches...)

I am still assimilating all the changes of the last couple of months. I am still a bit out of synch with "my world" whatever that may be!

Alls well that ends well though, and it's great to be home.

[I include a selection of traditional soothing Christmas music to inspire a holiday feeling.....]

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Saturday, December 5, 2009

Car Shoes

They have become the new "Bear Shoes" ...

Which may be an inexplicable concept to most people reading this blog. Dearest baby grandson had become fixated on his "bear slippers" which his parents had dutifully bought to the largest size possible. Sadly tho they were getting worn and they didn't come in a larger size than his foot was rapidly growing into!

When my mother arrived she brought him a gift - unbeknowst to her, his most favorite cartoon character of "all time" (how long IS all time to a two year old??) is the red car in the movie Cars (Lightening McQueen voiced by Owen Wilson).

So here are a few rapid shots of grandson speeding around in his new CarShoes...

note the sadly ignored regular shoes now left behind to keep the bear shoes company...

grandmother- great grandmother and of course elmo muppet grandson...

The yankee doodle dandy gets ready for bed...

And blows a kiss to his many fans...

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Sunday, November 29, 2009

Random photos of life and times...

Lake Michigan calm as a pond... NOT typical in November...

miles and miles of empty sandy beaches- of course the temps were a bit nippy!

Amazingly clear fresh water lake.

Stopped to stretch our legs at the beautiful Sarett Nature Center on the way back to Chicago.

We surprised a beautiful white tailed deer just a few feet from us, but she was long gone by the time I got the camera focused...

Back to the city though in time for Thanksgiving holiday preparations!

Everyone enjoyed the turkey!

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Friday, November 20, 2009

Day in the Life...

I am so happy to finally be settling in here. Still there are so many things to get used to again! Seems like there's an awful lot of driving one does in the USA.

After Corfu, this is a bit of a shock.

We went hunting, today, for some furniture and draperies for middle son- meaning of course, we spent some quality time at IKEA (in Schaumburg Mall) and walked about 4 miles through the interior of the store!!

We decided to drive to Oak Park for lunch, and found a nice place to eat there. Bar Louis is a nice comfortable place that serves a HUGE amount of food and calls it lunch...

The simple cheeseburger that made me reconsider becoming a vegetarian...

We then made a few more stops before finally coming home and putting our feet up for a couple of hours.

One always seems to be driving with the city always in view out of the corner of your eye.

I love the city but I really do forget how car dependent you can be here! Public transportation takes you into the city, but for the neighborhoods really need a car... unless you're just going to stay in YOUR neighborhood. Otherwise you really have to know how to get around to navigate the buses and the el. (I am not that good at it!)

You also need REALLY comfortable shoes because walking is what you do here, as you never find a parking space close to where you are going.


Finally we decided to get ourselves organized for supper. Middle son had a birthday date (hers!) with his lady this evening, so youngest son swung by the house, picked me up, and we went to his house for a very nice dinner.

Ah the concentration of it all!! My darling baby Gabriel -
SUCH focus! (on a balloon actually...)

I have settled into Chicago, but I do not feel very articulate. In catching up with my children, I am mentally filing away their stories and my memory pictures of them and all the while there's a little voice saying "Yoo- Hoo! The blog! Write something! Post pictures!" (which by the way I am doing courtesy of my dear middle son, whose camera I begged to borrow- as I cleverly left my camera on my desk at home in Corfu!!)

This weekend we'll be going to Michigan to visit my oldest son who has just moved into a new house. So again there will no doubt be disjointed ramblings when I return.

The blues remain the soundtrack of my life- so that hasn't changed yet.

I will update you all to one important fact however... The huge HOLE/ABYSS in the front yard in Corfu, is filled in!! T has managed to slog through the process fairly well and only parted with 2500 euro.

(I will post pictures of the process, when I return, as T has informed me he took photos from the roof - where he continued toiling to try and seal its little clay pot surface for potential problems, during the "great filling" of the abyss.)
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Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Poem: Chicago by Carl Sandburg


HOG Butcher for the World,
Tool Maker, Stacker of Wheat,
Player with Railroads and the Nation's Freight Handler;
Stormy, husky, brawling,
City of the Big Shoulders:

They tell me you are wicked and I believe them, for I
have seen your painted women under the gas lamps
luring the farm boys.
And they tell me you are crooked and I answer: Yes, it
is true I have seen the gunman kill and go free to
kill again.
And they tell me you are brutal and my reply is: On the
faces of women and children I have seen the marks
of wanton hunger.
And having answered so I turn once more to those who
sneer at this my city, and I give them back the sneer
and say to them:
Come and show me another city with lifted head singing
so proud to be alive and coarse and strong and cunning.
Flinging magnetic curses amid the toil of piling job on
job, here is a tall bold slugger set vivid against the
little soft cities;

Fierce as a dog with tongue lapping for action, cunning
as a savage pitted against the wilderness,
Building, breaking, rebuilding,
Under the smoke, dust all over his mouth, laughing with
white teeth,
Under the terrible burden of destiny laughing as a young
man laughs,
Laughing even as an ignorant fighter laughs who has
never lost a battle,
Bragging and laughing that under his wrist is the pulse.
and under his ribs the heart of the people,
Laughing the stormy, husky, brawling laughter of
Youth, half-naked, sweating, proud to be Hog
Butcher, Tool Maker, Stacker of Wheat, Player with
Railroads and Freight Handler to the Nation.

by Carl Sandburg (1878- 1967)

Carl Sandburg was born in Galesburg, Illinois, on January 6, 1878. He became an editorial writer for the Chicago Daily News. Sandburg was recognized as a member of the Chicago literary renaissance, which included Ben Hecht, Theodore Dreiser, Sherwood Anderson, and Edgar Lee Masters. Sandburg became known for his free verse poems celebrating industrial and agricultural America, American geography and landscape, and the American common people. In the 1930s, Sandburg continued his celebration of America with the second part of his Lincoln biography, Abraham Lincoln: The War Years (1939), for which he was awarded the Pulitzer Prize. He received a second Pulitzer Prize for his Complete Poems in 1950. Carl Sandburg died in 1967.


I am here safe and sound and getting my bearings. I will update soon. Welcome to Chicago!
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Friday, November 13, 2009

What I am looking forward to when I get to the USA...

I am REALLY looking forward to seeing my Chicago sons and their ladies.

Of course, I totally want to hug him, but I will have to wait until my darling baby grandson gets used to me... (he doesn't remember me, as I was there when he was born and again when he was a wee one who napped in my arms!)

I looked forward to reconnecting with now licensed (a learners permit! AHGG!) and driving grandson in Michigan, and of course, his father, my number one and firstborn son.

I look forward to dropping into assorted bookstores in the Chicago area, both new and used, and wrapping myself up in books again.

[As an ex-librarian, that is the hardest thing to separate myself from... all the books I used to have at my fingertips!]

I will relish the delights of whiling away several hours, just book browsing! I so look forward to the smell of new books in the big bookstores, and I relish the thought of the quiet hush of concentration in the used bookstores.

I have already got my list of books by my favorite authors, and I know which one's have just published their latest!

I am totally looking forward to seeing both the ever changing Lake Michigan and the amazing skyline of downtown Chicago.

I know it will be cold and blustery but that too has it own charms.

I hope I am lucky enough to catch the last bit of fall colours as it can be a most spectacular show in the Midwest of the United States.

I know I'll get a chance to roam around downtown, and I look forward to State Street and Michigan Avenue. I plan on doing a lot of window shopping (O.K., with a few serious shopping moments) but I know I'll enjoy the hustle and bustle on the streets and I really DO enjoy riding the El train into the "Loop".!

I know I'll meet my sons for lunch downtown. I'll walk down LaSalle Street and enjoy the marvelous architecture and design of the Art Deco touches on so many buildings.

I might even find time to leave the city and head out to one of those marvelous outlet malls, that seem like self-contained foreign shopping countries...

I am looking forward to seeing my mother again, as she will be flying to Chicago for a week midway through my visit. We will scope out a few retirement places and I am even (sort of) looking forward to it, though I know it will be difficult with my mother not really wanting to move from New Mexico, but needing to. The great news will be that my mother, myself and her grandsons, will be able to enjoy a bit of the weekend together and share a couple of meals all together as a family, and make some new memories.

I have a lot to be thankful for.

But I am not looking forward to the snow, which will certainly put in an appearance and inspire me to purchase boots and a warmer coat, so I can navigate in it!

I am glad that I have sons, as at least I will not have to shovel it away!

I am currently booked to leave Corfu this Sunday morning so I am guessing, what with packing and last minute things (like getting my hair cut tomorrow!), my next post will be from the USA, and lovely Chicago.

I will try to keep the blog updated on the fate of T and the large hole (or "the abyss" as we refer to it... not fondly.) I will try and post pictures and give you a view into what I am babbling about. Sadly, T is not too technical (hahahahaha) so there won't be any good pictures of Corfu for about a month.

Sigh. I will miss this my Corfu home but I have been blessed with many places I can call home!

[The "soundtrack of my life" is currently set on Chicago Blues Music. I hope you enjoy it. If not just click it off.]

POSTSCRIPT: I will also miss my beautiful and only granddaughter Alexa, who just turned 21 years old this month, BUT as she's living in South Carolina and going to University there, I won't be able to see her. She decided to spend Thanksgiving in Washington DC, before she knew about my visit- and I am happy for her (but very sad for me!!!) The good news is that of course, being in the US will make phone calls easier. Alexa will have her own post one of these days...

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Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Two November Roses

They managed to stand up to all the weather we've been having - AND they smell Divine!

(the "heartbeat song" goes well with the roses!)

Monday, November 9, 2009

"Better to reign in Hell, than serve in Heav'n."

excerpts from Milton seems appropriate today:
Thou from the first
Wast present, and with mighty wings outspread [ 20 ]
Dove-like satst brooding on the vast Abyss
The dismal Situation waste and wilde, [ 60 ]
A Dungeon horrible, on all sides round
How overcome this dire Calamity,
What reinforcement we may gain from Hope, [ 190 ]
If not what resolution from despare.

Paradise Lost: John Milton

So. Moving right along, we've had two different "experts" come and survey the abyss and determine the fix-abilty factor and we are awaiting the dreaded (or dratted) "estimates". The probability is high that it will cost a bundle.

Part 2 of our Paradise Lost, was the roof leak. T spent the day Friday patching and fixing and Friday night it leaked again like a sieve. So Saturday he got the BIG stuff out, and spent a good part of the day redoing it yet again, but with better goop.

(All this doesn't preclude the need for a new roof, it only gives us a modicum of hope that we'll make it through this winter and the winter rains without too much inside damage.)

Part 3 of our "horrible terrible no good very bad day" was our phone problem that lasted all last week. A friend called and reported our phone was STILL out of order this morning (she speaks Greek) and she did NOT mention that the DSL line still was working.

Thankfully, someone came to fix the downed line, downed I might add because the pole was not buried deeply enough, so that the gale force winds caused it to sway and pull at the line until it broke.

A single guy alone worked on digging the hole deeper and reseated the pole, then scrambled up the post to reconnect the wires! T watched him work from our front yard and called out to him, wondering if he could check out our phone as it wasn't working.

So the guy who spoke a little English, was very nice and he came over did something, and fiddled with the phone connection to the house and ... TA-DA two minutes! and the phone was fixed.

All in all two out of three ain't too bad, right?

[Today's three songs are Adiemus: Song of Tears (tho where it went I do not know), Penguin Cafe Orch.: Perpetum Mobile and Robbie Richardson: Mahk Ichi (Heartbeat Drum Song)]
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