Tuesday, January 26, 2010

The Pleasures of an Ordinary Life

Sometimes you just have to stop and take stock of things, and recognize how fortunate you are...

The Pleasures of Ordinary Life

I've had my share of necessary losses,
Of dreams I know no longer can come true.
I'm done now with the whys and the becauses.
It's time to make things good, not just make do.
It's time to stop complaining and pursue
The pleasures of an ordinary life.

I used to rail against my compromises.
I yearned for the wild music, the swift race.
But happiness arrived in new disguises:
Sun lighting a child's hair. A friend's embrace.
Slow dancing in a safe and quiet place.
The pleasures of an ordinary life.

I'll have no trumpets, triumphs, trails of glory.
It seems the woman I've turned out to be
Is not the heroine of some grand story.
But I have learned to find the poetry
In what my hands can touch, my eyes can see.
The pleasures of an ordinary life.

Young fantasies of magic and of mystery
Are over. But they really can't compete
With all we've built together: A long history.
Connections that help render us complete.
Ties that hold and heal us. And the sweet,
Sweet pleasures of an ordinary life.

Judith Viorst [Ms. Viorst was born in Newark, New Jersey, in 1931. She is the author of several works of fiction and nonfiction, for children as well as adults.]

I love this poem by Judith Viorst. I'd forgotten it and accidentally stumbled across it this morning. I figure it was well worthy of posting, so that anyone who read this could share in the simple pleasure.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Ionian winter fashion

Not that I can speak universally of course but this was my spin on the weather, which was cold but very sunny...

Note the special "lama hat" (Made in Tibet!) that is ver-ry warm. Large decorative black flower on the side makes a statement: either it looks like one earmuff has fallen off or simply that your head is tilted charmingly to one side because of the weight.

And, of course, the faux UGG boots (pictured in previous post) that can be worn with everything including pajamas! (am wearing special fingerless gloves (see previous post) as they keep hands very hot, once they've started working, all the while allowing you to actually use your fingers while getting all the benefits of "wearing" gloves!)

T thinks I look like a large cookie.

(In fact, it gave him a great idea! He's baked a batch of chocolate chip cookies this morning! YAY!)

Oatmeal Raisin Chocolate chip cookies

This recipe started out as an accident, when T initially crossed two recipes, side by side in the Fanny Farmer cook book. This is (sort of) the new "working" version:

1/2 lb (200-230 g -ish) butter
1/2 c (100 g) dark brown sugar
1/2 c (100 g) sugar
1 egg
1 t vanilla essence
1 c (200 g) flour
1/2 c (100 g) oatmeal (uncooked)
1/2 t salt
1 t baking soda
1/4 c (50 g) finely chopped walnuts
1 c (1/4 L, 6 ounces) semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 handful of raisins (may have been soaked in something good- like whiskey! or something good for you like orange juice... DRAIN before adding.)

Preheat oven to 375 F (190 C) and grease cookie sheets.
Cream butter and sugars together til light and smooth, then beat in egg and add vanilla.
Mix dry ingredients together (not nuts or chocolate chips) and add to the first mixture. (if too dry add a bit of plain yogurt)

Stir in nuts, chocolate chips and raisins. Drop by teaspoonfuls on the cookie sheets (leave a little space they spread a bit and rise), and bake for 8 to 10 minutes til lightly browned. (closer to 8 they're soft and chewy, 10 they're soft and crisp at the same time.)

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Everday humdrum.

It seems like a long time with no post.. when in reality, time speeds past in my little everyday world!  I just realized that I haven't posted since Friday.  With the non-events of my life piling up I would think everyone would be grateful I haven't posted anything!

Still everyday, I have this feeling I should be writing something, no matter how boring and humdrum my existence may actually be, it still seems like I should be clever enough to think up a post!  I wonder if I am all clevered out.

Currently I am "cold".  That is a relative term, as the sun is shining and it's quite gorgeous outside.  I have on my special purchase (from Chicago) - hand made "mittens" - so I can type and keep my hands warm at the same time! (I got them from Shebang, my son's lady's place of business)

These, plus my son's 'skater' (foursquare outerwear) jacket (I have merely borrowed - indefinitely) and my faux UGG boots from Cosco, seem to be the major fashion statements I am making this year.

Today was also the day the gas truck visited to make a deposit in our giant propane repository behind the apothiki. It would seem that either we didn't use as much fuel as we thought or the price went down since last we had a fuel visit. 

We are delighted and will no doubt frivolously spend the leftover heating money on food.

I note that thus far I have not included any really NICE pictures of Corfu, so I will add the view from the driveway:  snow capped Pindus mountains. (This is a very nice picture blog by some people who walked the mountains- I do not know them, but I recognise some of the places they photographed)

In spite of it being winter (and me being cold) the yard is filled with different blooming plants, apparently unaware they are supposed to be sleeping through the the season.

I will finish with a selection of blooming things all over the garden. (yes that can be taken two ways! and no T will not be included in the garden pictures... tho he's out there, currently hacking through the over and undergrowth...)

Friday, January 15, 2010

The case of the Mysterious Cinema Schedule

We have been going to the Orpheus Cinema since before we moved here.

When we first came for our get-away weekends, 15 years ago, we'd stay at a little place just around the corner from the movie house. It was an interesting experience back then as the theatre was sadly run down and in real need of renovations.

Well, the renovations finally came to pass and now it's beautiful! For us, since we live out of town, it's a 15 drive into downtown. The theater itself is quite easy to get to and it's still not "too" expensive. (Of course we have to find a place to park, but depending on the night and the movie, that's not too hard to do, either.

Over the years we have had a hit or miss relationship with what currently might be playing at the cinema.

There would be weeks we'd drive into town, slowly cruising past, in order to try and read the indoor "showing times" sign. Or perhaps we'd find ourselves downtown, and check the movie house direct or even on some occasions, look at the ONE "now playing" movie ad poster near the department store near the old town. Mostly though, it would be friends who would mention they'd seen "thus and such" and did we manage to get to see it as well? At which point we'd kick ourselves as that would have been the week we'd not gone into town.

But now they have a website (click on "home" for the schedule of films AND the time!) and with the miracle of google, it can even be translated (tho sometimes with some humorous and unintended misses) I only found out about it last night at the movies as it was advertised on the wall next to the screen.

Last night we had a "date night", and in the grand tradition of simplicity, we were infinitely down-market.

We drove into town early to take care of a couple of errands (bank, post office), parked in the lot and then we went to the new improved McDonalds on the Liston, which has just undergone a two month facelift and though it looks more streamlined, is much less like a restaurant and much more like a McDonald's. Still there are no giant golden arches to mar the looks of the Liston.

For sure, the double meat cheeseburgers were just as good as I remembered! and the last one I had was at least 6 months ago! Yes, I know it's totally politically incorrect to enjoy a McDonalds hamburger, but once in a while, I do.

When we first came to Corfu, we were delighted to be able to tell our friends that there was no insidious McDonalds to be found on the island. Immediately after moving here, however, one was constructed. I looked on it as fate, and made a point to visit at least once a year (but no more than 3 times a year!).

After our dinner we slowly made our way to the cinema for the 7pm show of Sherlock Holmes.

It was great. We enjoyed it immensely. I'd read some reviews before I went, just to give me an idea of how it was received. (the same range shows up on the Sherlock Holmes Society website! view results of opinions...)

We liked the movie much more than we expected to like it. It's been years since I've read all the stories, but in many ways the other movie versions (and of course the wonderful Jeremy Brett's portrayal by Granada TV - 36 episodes and 4 films in 6 series from 1984 to 1994) had fixed the character in stone.

Robert Downey Jr. broke the mold and I think, and his characterization went back to something closer to the original in the Arthur Conan Doyle books. Downey's Sherlock Holmes (see Weapons and Marital Arts) was a much more physical Holmes, but nevertheless within the range of a younger Sherlock. Jude Law's Watson was wonderful, and much more human that any portrayal on either TV or film. The two characters enjoyed each other and and the same time drove each other crazy sometimes. Still they were friends and they shared some great moments of humor together. The only real "sign of the times" with this movie is the violence and the special effects. This is not a 'drawing room mystery' movie.

Afterward we slowly ambled through the park downtown back to the car park in front of the Liston. It gave us just enough time to remember all the highlights and great lines with some laughter. All in all it was an evening well spent.

I would recommend it, as both T and I found it a very enjoyable movie that was good escapist fun.

So. That was our low key evening adventure but just a little bit of normal life here on Corfu...

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Monday, January 11, 2010

Rainy day picnic and swim

The day was not an auspicious one considering the gale force gusts of rainy wind we were having.

But we had a plan. T dug out the picnic basket and picnicking bits, while I prepared a Quiche Lorraine, and a banana bread (all with handy kitchen ingredients lying about), filled a "spare" water bottle with a bit of leftover red wine, and we were all set! Our friends would meet us there and everything was ready to go!

Earlier, we'd gone to the north of the island to the small town of Acharavi, and discovered a new spa had opened this past October.

Located in St Georges Country Club Hotel grounds, is a very lovely tourist spot that includes all sorts of things- including a gorgeous beach, several tennis courts and a couple of really nice swimming pools. (we also noticed, that apropos to nothing, off season the place seems to have a large number of chickens wandering freely about!)

It is mostly patronized by the German visitors (which is why the website is predominately in German with an English translation page.) Their latest addition is a beautiful spa - the Ivi- with all sorts of wonderful spa type therapies and massages.

We were very impressed when we arrived. We were warmly greeted and welcomed. For a mere 19 euros per person, we could spend the day at this lovely spa doing all sorts of wonderful things.

"Yes, yes, we said, but where's the indoor/outdoor heated salt-water pool?"
.......and by all that is special in the universe, there it was! A lovely thing with beautiful trompe d'oeil murals painted on all the walls, making it feel like a wonderful Roman garden!

It didn't seem too busy as we mostly had the lovely 25 meter pool (heated to a comfortable 28C/82F), a California jacuzzi, a tepidarium, a Nordic sauna, a sanarium (bio sauna 60% humidity), a Mediterranean steam bath (100% humidity), and brine grotto steam bath with a waterfall! (the pictures on the right are from the brochure... no one WE know...) all to ourselves! [The Brine Grotto and tepidarium are pictured on the right]

There were also several special different showers - for instance a great Arctic shower wherein you could stand and let a bucket of ice cold water fall on you, to cool you down from the high heat of the sauna. (our friend tried it and we could hear his yelp through the walls to the steam room we were sitting in! We laughed at him of course.) My favorite shower was the tropical rain shower that had a warm/cool rain smelling of eucalyptus.

You can also work out in the palestra (large fitness room) with the excellent TechnoGym equipment and when you're finished, eat your homemade lunch at the little glass tables in the front entry.

So that's what we did. (only first we exercised, then we swam, then we went and did the saunas and the steam rooms. Of course we showered a few times along the way, and then had our lunch before we were ready for the drive home.)

[For more detail, click on pictures to enlarge]

As we got there shortly before noon, we had a late lunch and were on our way home (45 minute drive) just past three ...

- and a totally great day was had by all.

We have all decided that this will make the rest of the winter grey days speed past as we now have a lovely treat to look forward to!

[Sammy and I have decided that all in all, this is the perfect date, and it's far cheaper than dinner out making it a great idea- "maybe" once a week (?)!]
Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Power 'off-ages' and 'on-ages'

I started writing a post yesterday, to share our marvelous rainy day picnic adventure with you all, but was beset by the Electricity Pixies... not a new girl band but rather the little mythological creatures that toy with the Greek Electrical Power Grid, and will, with no apparent reason, flick all the power off for as little as 10 seconds to as long as 5 minutes.

(For many years, T was convinced that it was the cleaning ladies doing the vacuuming after the staff left, unplugging the power to the city while they plugged their vacuums into the socket, then when they were finished, plugging the city's power back into the socket. I however believe rather that it's the mythological beasties of the island at work.)

As we are also blessed with power cuts that can last up to 6 hours, candles and matches are placed in key locations throughout the house and used regularly.

Unfortunately, when the power goes, the internet, the cordless telephones and my USB back up battery power supply are also affected.

My current USB backup instead of giving me 1/2 hour of electric cover, is so worn down by the constant abuse, I am lucky to get 5 minutes to shut everything down and unplug! (all the while being serenaded with a loud "BEEP---BEEP---BEEP...")

So no internet, as after the fifth time of sitting in darkness for 2 minutes [Me, slowly getting up and lighting two or three candles, while starting to save and shut down programs on my laptop- POOF! The power would come back on! Ha-ha. Me, remembering new years resolution made less than ten days ago, trying NOT to laugh cynically here...] So, I just decided, "enough is enough", and just shut everything down, got a book out and read.

(I read VERY well by candlelight.)

Today I have several times started to write this post only to be plagued with thunder and lightening - and had to stop.

Yes, I know, that probably got a blank look from many of you.

Here on Corfu, when we have thunder/lightening we can have MASSIVE power surges, for why, we do not know. Over the past 10 years, personally, I have had 3 stereos, 1 answering machine, 2 sky boxes, 1 VCR player, 2 televisions, 1 USB back-up power battery, countless cordless phones and 2 laptops murdered by those "thunder/lightening surges". And that was even after we had the whole house grounded!

When we moved in, all the power points (plugs) looked grounded - how can you tell??- but we would get nasty shocks turning on lights or, particularly in the kitchen, doing anything with an electrical appliance and having damp hands and bare feet... (personally I'm convinced that all those little shocks did my heart good, keeping me pumped with tiny surges of adrenalin to regulate my heartbeat!) We had each and every electricity point grounded over the course of 4 full days with an electrician several years ago. We have never regretted that particular expenditure!

We were told once, by someone who also had fried a lot of expensive electricals, that you must be wary of electrical things tied to your telephone line (for instance: your laptop!), as the telephone lines are not grounded and will zap directly into whatever the phone lead is plugged into. (Yet another reason not to dawdle on the phone when it's raining!)

We do not sneer and shake our fists at the sky come storm time.

[I will post more tomorrow, or whenever this little storm front moves out of reach! Of course as I am finishing this short post, the sky appears to be clearing.

My "trying and failing to make herself into a very small" weather-vane dog however continues to cower with her face tucked under my bed (well til I took the picture), so she obviously still hears faint rumbles coming from some far off 'somewhere'.]

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Old business, or What happened to the Hades hole in the front yard?

I suppose I should probably finish off some old business from last year, as poor T spent the better part of the four weeks I was away in the States, dealing with it.

Before (when I left...):

After (when I returned!):

It was not "cheap". Basically the cost was about the same as two full price round trip tickets to the states!

So here it is, the "thing in the middle"- (click on picture for detailed view)

and (notice how serious the team is...) fortunately they connected the first septic field to the third septic field. This is what happens when you have an "embarras de champs septique" (or too many septic fields!)

12 to 14 (T lost count) trucks, each poured 4 cubic meters of "fill" into the hole. Then it was topped with "good dirt" so we could grow some grass. (Needless to say, now that the grass is growing the dirt has settled and we'll probably need at least another 4 cubic meters of "good dirt"

Poor T, of course, at the same time, also had to deal with the leaking roof:

that included him spending GREAT quantities of time up there basically repairing all the fissures and holes with 25 tubs of cement (40 kilos each!) and then painting all the tiles with a sort of rubberized sealant (5 tubs of 20 kilos each) to make it as waterproof as possible: for a while, anyway.

Sadly, he's not done yet, meaning there's more to haul up to the roof. (Should I mention at this point that he is NOT fond of heights?)

Anyway, at least things are mostly back together and as we've had two huge storms (with gale force winds!) since I've been back, the roof has not leaked, and there are no new chasms.

We give thanks that currently, the household gods (or demons) are holding off any mischievous new repair challenges!

As for my new years suggested 'evolutions', I have managed to dance to my music every day, without anyone laughing (mostly because I do it when T is otherwise occupied!)

I have also managed to listen to OM for at least a few minutes every afternoon - thus far, the mind squirrels are at bay!

Tomorrow I will be baking - SOMETHING - as we are going to go to a really nice place on Saturday with friends and bringing a picnic lunch along. I will write more about where we're going probably in my next post.

For now, Ciao.

I have included a little app for free web radio (Shoutcast) as the current soundtrack of my life.

Piano music is just lovely and currently playing for me right now... there are a few other channels in the favorites file. (so far this app works well, tho not all the channels seem to be available all the time.)

Monday, January 4, 2010

A few resolute New Years suggestions...

Well, I'm narrowing things down in my mind, from a vast course in self-improvement to wider, gentler, more generic overview type suggestions of an improving nature. So far, after picking the brains of many OTHER bloggers (I've been catching up - slowly-slowly with my vast backlog of blogs I enjoy) I've narrowed the field.

So, I think I have found a few things that may work for me. To date, these "suggestions" (or "evolutions", thank you Lee!) are seeming to resonate within:

- Laugh more - (but try for less cynically)

- Embrace change and the unexpected (re: when it comes from my mother)

- Bake things I've never made, like cream puffs and custard tarts -and try not to eat them all

- Dance way more - shoot for maybe about 15 minutes/day with the headphones and my clever little SanDisk player.

- Go to places that make me feel happy.

- Eat only when hungry, not when curious or bored.

- Spend time with people I really like and less time with people who make me anxious or drained [note to self: Interact more with people.]

Interspersed in there as well are the "suggested resolutions" pushed forward by my tedious conscience (that interior hall monitor with the stern look over the half glasses, and the impatient tapping foot) ie:

- JUST GO THROUGH the bloody boxes, already; yes, in the box room- the ones from our last move ten years ago!
a) speaking of boxes- go through the boxes and look for photographs that are loose and do something with them.
b) (do not burn unflattering photographs of self)

- really clean the kitchen [especially the bookshelves and all the italian tiles behind everything]

- meditate on nothing 15 minutes a day (head off neurotic mind squirrels with Dalai Lama "OM" on SanDisk player!)

- go through the Learning Greek Textbook and listen to the CD's again. (well, give it a shot anyway!)

As for any other things that are needed for self improvement, if I manage to accomplish any of the above I should be well ahead of the game.


Meanwhile, I lifted a great family Christmas shot from Facebook after perusing the Christmas albums of my son and granddaughter:

a great gathering including all the usual suspects. Missing, of course, is us! (boo-hoo)

... then there's this great shot I couldn't NOT include...

and this one with the 'lion king' obviously taking orders at the restaurant:

So. Peace and resolve to all til the next post...


[re: 'Soundtrack of my life' and i are currently disagreeing so the only soundtrack I have, are the voices in my head (my HEADPHONES, ok?)

Perhaps we'll manage to reorganize ourselves and insert mixpod back again, but currently it's suspended as it's choosing malaysian music which i am not so fond of...

Friday, January 1, 2010


For the sake of old times, I suppose thinking about New Year's resolutions is a good idea. Any resolution I have made for the new year has generally been easy to keep, as I had pretty much decided to do that thing anyway. [For instance: the year I decided to quit smoking, I'd already had a two month "trial" period wherein I HAD actually quit smoking, thereby making it much easier to fulfill the terms of the resolution, as I knew I could do it.]

This year I think I will need to actually think about what it is I need to resolve (whoa! OK, limiting it to a few things I may be able to resolve) and accomplish this year while at the same time maintaining a level of well-being I will enjoy and appreciate.

I am guessing this will play out over the next few weeks. I am not rushing into just any fly by night resolution! I sort of like the idea of choosing a physical resolution, a mental resolution and a spiritual resolution. (Except of course I can think of eleventy million physical ones and NO mental or spiritual ones right this minute.)

So. Thinking cap is on... project 'figure out the resolutions' is on the drawing board. (I am open to suggestions!)


Meanwhile, our Blue Moon evening was delightful. We danced to good live music, and had a meal with good friend and neighbors and toasted the new year in with much enthusiasm.

This morning we woke up without a headache! I can only say "Yay!" and really mean it.

The moon last night was lovely!

We got dressed up and enjoyed ourselves. This is the first time in two years I have actually "danced the night away". My knee behaved and I only have a few little twangs to remind me of last night.

Today I made a turkey and a potato-spinach mash for our holiday lunch (with friends coming later this evening to enjoy a cold turkey and leftovers meal as well!) I made a lovely apple pie... unfortunately we cut it up before I took a picture of it... whine. (But at least you have an idea...)

Last but not least it rained for a while but just before our friends arrived it cleared up with big gusts of wind and suddenly the sun broke through, and we had a marvelous rainbow to launch our new year!

For what it's worth, I'm taking this rainbow as a sign. It's going to be a good year... because I really want it to be!

[Our friends arrived just as I was about to finish this entry. They've only just left which is why I am finally finishing this post a little bit late! I couldn't very well say "Excuse me, I'm writing a blog post about you coming by, and I need to finish it!"]


the soundtrack of my life remains the same - we still have a blue moon and I'm still singing along with Elvis...

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]


Related Posts with Thumbnails