Thursday, December 25, 2008

deep into the nog blog

One of my favorite columnists, Al Martinez of the LA Times has coined a phrase in describing what happens to people caught during times of shared difficulties; We huddle together in bad times, he writes. The spirits snuggle.

I love the descriptive aptness of that phrase, the spirits snuggle. It conjures up images of sleeping puppies, all cuddly and tossed together in soft furry heaps of companionship and warmth. Sometimes, we all just need to feel one another's heart beat. A reminder of our shared humanity, that we reach out to each other with hope, comfort and kindness because without it, there is nothing.

I wish you all the joys of the season. I wish you love and laughter and a cherished memory or two to hold close in the flickering of the candlelight. Most of all I wish you peace, from the bottom of my heart. Happy holidays to you all. May your spirits snuggle.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

jager angels

Black leather boots and bustiers. Fishnet stockings, DayGlo orange wigs and more tattoos and eyeliner than Amy Winehouse at a biker rally, it was an unlikely getup for a couple of angels. Yet for all its sexy outrageousness, the Jagermeister shooter girls managed to look innocently adorable.

We were sitting at the bar waiting for our table to open up in the dining room. Turk had talked me into going out to dinner in spite of my reluctance ~ frankly, I am not at all happy with the creeping frumpiness
of my appearance. I just want to stay home and hide.

I know. I should be bigger than this. I'm not. I shouldn't care, but I do. I'm supposed to love myself and embrace the older, wiser, more beautiful goddess within. I really can't.

I am, if anything, annoyed with her. It was never my intention to live long enough to look this old in the first place. While all my friends were busy becoming doctors, lawyers and engineers I was working on my 10 year plan to live hard, die young and leave a beautiful corpse. Typically, in this, as in so many things, I failed to apply myself and wound up here, in a nondescript middle age, dealing with this frumpiness, this encroaching Elmer Fuddliness.
Fat, furrowed and befuddled am I.

The girls came up to give their pitch regarding the exemplary qualities of Jagermeister. They laughed good-naturedly when Turk, clearly dazzled by such bodacious attention, claimed to be a German prince in exile, pining away for Jager, the milk of his youth. They were really very sweet. Then, leaving us with a smile and the gift of an orange paper-flower lei, they were moving on toward the next customer when suddenly they turned back and one girl exclaimed, "We just have to tell you how pretty you are!" Her friend nodded, beaming.

And so help me Aphrodite, just for a while I felt lighter.

See what I mean? Angels.

My angels carry shot glasses. Like I always knew they would.

Friday, December 05, 2008

is our children learning?

I found this one at Girlyshoes and had to do it because I feel the need to prove that I'm not as dumb as my cartoon looks. I have too read stuff! Just, you know, not a lot of stuff on the list. Also, I don't actually remember all the stuff that I did read, not to mention...

Wait, what was this about again? Oh, yeah ~ me is sure smart! For a toon.


  • Look at the list and bold those you have read.

  • Underline those you intend to read. I didn't do this. I don't know how to underline things. Or even un-underline from a quick cut and paste job (see above re: toony smartness.) Let's just assume I plan to read all of them, and will get to Ulysses and Jude the Obscure as soon as I finish the English cozy currently on my nightstand.

  • Italicise the books you LOVE.

  • Reprint this list so we can try and track down these people who’ve read number 6 and force real books upon them. (Miz Shoes added that last bit but it made me laugh so it stays in. I'll do a whole 'nother meme on stealing other people's blog stuff later.)

  • 1. Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen
    2. The Lord of the Rings - JRR Tolkien
    3. Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte
    4. Harry Potter series - JK Rowling. That's right; I'm the one.
    5. To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee
    6. The Bible
    7. Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte
    8. Nineteen Eighty Four - George Orwell
    9. His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman
    10. Great Expectations - Charles Dickens
    11. Little Women - Louisa M Alcott
    12. Tess of the D’Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy
    13. Catch 22 - Joseph Heller
    14. Complete Works of Shakespeare
    15. Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier
    16. The Hobbit - JRR Tolkien
    17. Birdsong - Sebastian Faulks
    18. Catcher in the Rye - J D Salinger
    19. The Time Traveller’s Wife - Audrey Niffenegger
    20. Middlemarch - George Eliot
    21. Gone With The Wind - Margaret Mitchell
    22. The Great Gatsby - F Scott Fitzgerald
    23. Bleak House - Charles Dickens
    24. War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy
    25. The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams
    26. Brideshead Revisited - Evelyn Waugh
    27. Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky
    28. Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck
    29. Alice in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll
    30. The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame
    31. Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy
    32. David Copperfield - Charles Dickens
    33. Chronicles of Narnia - CS Lewis
    34. Emma - Jane Austen
    35. Persuasion - Jane Austen
    36. The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe - CS Lewis (See 33.)
    37. The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini
    38. Captain Corelli’s Mandolin - Louis De Bernieres
    39. Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden
    40. Winnie the Pooh - AA Milne
    41. Animal Farm - George Orwell
    42. The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown
    43. One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
    44. A Prayer for Owen Meaney - John Irving
    45. The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins
    46. Anne of Green Gables - LM Montgomery
    47. Far From The Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy
    48. The Handmaid’s Tale - Margaret Atwood
    49. Lord of the Flies - William Golding
    50. Atonement - Ian McEwan
    51. Life of Pi - Yann Martel
    52. Dune - Frank Herbert
    53. Cold Comfort Farm - Stella Gibbons
    54. Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen
    55. A Suitable Boy - Vikram Seth
    56. The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon
    57. A Tale Of Two Cities - Charles Dickens
    58. Brave New World - Aldous Huxley
    59. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time - Mark Haddon
    60. Love In The Time Of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
    61. Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck
    62. Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov
    63. The Secret History - Donna Tartt
    64. The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold
    65. Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas
    66. On The Road - Jack Kerouac
    67. Jude the Obscure - Thomas Hardy
    68. Bridget Jones’ Diary - Helen Fielding
    69. Midnight’s Children - Salman Rushdie
    70. Moby Dick - Herman Melville
    71. Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens
    72. Dracula - Bram Stoker
    73.The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett
    74. Notes From A Small Island - Bill Bryson
    75. Ulysses - James Joyce
    76. The Bell Jar - Sylvia Plath
    77. Swallows and Amazons - Arthur Ransome
    78. Germinal - Emile Zola
    79. Vanity Fair - William Makepeace Thackeray
    80. Possession - AS Byatt
    81. A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens. Enjoyed it, but loved what Mr. Magoo did with the role of Scrooge in the film version.
    82. Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell
    83. The Color Purple - Alice Walker
    84. The Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro
    85. Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert
    86. A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry
    87. Charlotte’s Web - EB White
    88. The Five People You Meet In Heaven - Mitch Albom Seriously. Never.
    89. Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
    90. The Faraway Tree Collection - Enid Blyton
    91. Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad
    92. The Little Prince - Antoine De Saint-Exupery
    93. The Wasp Factory - Iain Banks
    94. Watership Down - Richard Adams
    95. A Confederacy of Dunces - John Kennedy Toole
    96. A Town Like Alice - Nevil Shute
    97. The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas
    98. Hamlet - William Shakespeare
    99. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Roald Dahl
    100. Les Miserables - Victor Hugo

    Sunday, November 30, 2008


    When no amount of begging, pleading and outright bribery could keep us in our cozy Oia cavern for even one more night we reluctantly headed to the tourist agency to book a couple of flights from Santorini to Rhodes. Or, as the handsome young ticket agent corrected me with a twinkle in his eye but a firmness in his tone, Rodos. And so shall it ever be.

    The next morning when we arrived at the tiny airport and stood before our plane I actually laughed out loud. Suddenly, I understood the 15 kilo weight limit on luggage. And wished I'd skipped breakfast.

    As we climbed aboard the 18 seater we were graciously welcomed by one of the most stunningly beautiful flight attendants I have ever seen in my life. As it turned out, every flight attendant on a Greek airline was female, friendly and absolutely breathtaking.

    "I'd like to be the guy who does the hiring for this job," remarked Turk. I couldn't blame him. The requirements for this position must start with a goddess gene in the DNA sequence. In fact, one of the things one can't help notice of is how strikingly attractive the Greeks are as a people ~ young men and women stride the plakas and plazas with the casual insouciance of youth and a beauty that is a pleasure to behold and a tribute to the healthy Mediterranean lifestyle. Aphrodite and Adonis are not just mythology here ~ they're riding vespas and smoking Santes'. I silently regret my own luppen and questionable ancestry.

    If Mykonos is an amiable Hedonist, welcoming with open arms the weary voyager and Santorini a winsome, pastel-drenched fantasy carved into the land by fey but determined cave dwellers with a surprisingly sunny aesthetic, the architecture of Rodos embodies a heavier, masculine and somewhat more conflicted history, for all it's inherent beauty. Located at an intersection between East and West, it is an island molded by commerce and conflict as over the centuries knights, Turks and Italians have fought for and controlled the island. All have left their mark and their stories. We stayed within the walled fortress of Old Town for 4 fascinating days and rarely felt the need to leave this thriving city.

    To stay in the Old Town is to have one foot in the modern world of cellphones and cycles, nightclubs and credit cards, and the other in the shadows of its very present medieval past.

    Upon our arrival we followed the cab driver's instructions through the massive fortress gate and, turning onto the main square, found ourselves in the midst of another bazaar, an explosion of color, sight and sound. As we pulled our cases behind us, searching for the tiny alleyway that held our hotel, taverna hosts beckoned passersby to their tables and shopkeepers into their stores, as travelers fingered fabrics of blue and gold and tentatively inquired about price. It was a moment of timelessness, that feeling that this plaza, this market, this moment has existed just so for hundreds of years ~ travelers arrive, open-mouthed with awe and delight, hawkers flog their wares, children play, money changes hands, life goes on. To experience it is to be conscious of one's own transient role in a continuous flow of humanity. It is marvelous.

    We stayed in a charming, traditional hotel perfectly located in a quiet lane just off the main square. Our hostess, 'Irina' was the sole proprietor of the establishment and had done much of the massive restoration on her own. Staying with Irina is a lot like staying with family, in this case, your kind, energetic and slightly bossy aunt ~ the breakfasts are homemade and generous, the wine flows freely. But do not forget to lock up after yourself at night or, as I did, leave your key in the lock inside your room when you come down for coffee. Locksmiths will be called. Irina will be sternly disappointed but forgiving. And you will not do it again.

    This being Greece, the gods of the ancient are represented in the ruins and archaeological museums of the town, as well as the religion of the conquering Turks. We did take an afternoon trip out to lovely Lindos to visit the Temple of Athena. Our cab driver/tour guide (they call me George the American!) proved to be an entertaining and colorful companion ~ twice decorated in the Korean War, he was featured on the cover of Time Magazine for his heroism as a soldier. He returned to Rodos, the island of his birth because his wife pined for her home and family here and because her doctor insisted it was the only way to relieve her sadness. She has been happy now for over 30 years. So, I believe, has George.

    But it is The Knights of St John who dominate the landscape and the imagination within the fortress walls, heavy with the trappings of a very muscular mysticism and might.

    On a whim, after strolling Mandraki Harbor and seeing the many sightseeing boats offering passage, we boarded the King Sauron ferry for a sail to Marmaris, Turkey, feeling rather intrepid and Ernest Hemingway about ourselves.

    I don't really know what I expected; after being warned off by our new friends, a couple from Dundee, Scotland who we met staying at 'Auntie' Irina's, I was picturing something just slightly more civilized than the Black Hole of Calcutta, full of thieves and beggars and shifty-eyed men of dubious intent.

    What we found was a relaxed and westernized resort town, one of the most beautiful harbors I've ever seen, and some of the warmest, friendliest, most courteous people I've ever had the pleasure to meet.
    In this one brief encounter, I found myself so loving this place and touched by these people, of whom I had previously been suspect that I was ashamed of myself. It was as though a film had been lifted from my eyes. If there is one thing I will take away from this entire trip it is that ~ that when we let our prejudices and fears dictate our actions we limit our universe and deprive ourselves of the all the wonder therein. An open mind is gloriously selfish thing. It is a key to universal treasure.

    I wouldn't have missed it for the world.

    We returned to Rodos just in time for sunset. And happy hour in the square.