Tuesday, February 26, 2008

we crossed the green line

i have just uploaded one million pictures on flickr, and my head is about to explode from multi tasking on the internet while breathing in the awful smoke of a disgusting cigar in this cafe. so, i'm afraid there will not be much of a written summary today. but do visit my photos for the visual piece!

yesterday we made the very exciting journey into the north side of cyprus, turkish occupied territory. i had very mixed feelings about doing this. i was concerned about wiping away my pre-1974 idyllic memories of the north side, and i was also simply afraid, as i am both an american and a greek cypriot citizen. but there was nothing to fear. as for memories, those are mostly of my early childhood hometown of kyrenia, which we are going to visit on wednesday.

it was actually wonderful to see some of the incredible sites that we saw yesterday: old famagusta, kantara castle and ancient salamis. also, despite the blight, which is happening on both sides of the island, there were some breathtaking views and gorgeous meadows carpeted in wildflowers.

mostly i felt a lot of sadness, especially sitting in famagusta and looking into the friendly/happy/sad/grumpy faces of the turkish people there. i will never understand why humans, who all have brains and hearts, can't get over their ridiculous differences and just respect each other, human to human. it is the ordinary people who are caught in the middle of this fierce governmental dispute about who the land belongs to. it is the ordinary people, on both sides of the line, who suffer most from this division.

today is a leisure day, though we may yet manage to go to the donkey sanctuary. we plan to lounge on the beach too.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Monasteries, Mosques and Stray Cats, Oh My!

A summary of our two full days in Aphrodite country thus far.

The flat where we are residing is in an area called Oroklini, just a short drive from Larnaca. It is a tourist strip comprised of all that is disturbing about tourist strips, and reminds me of a combination of Virginia beach and some unknown outskirt of Delhi, India. Yet I am somehow able to find charm in the Bingo Hall, Bowling Alley, fake Irish pubs, and weird glitzy beach culture restaurants, and am grateful for the few Cypriot grocery stores that sell delicious fresh yogurt in clay pots, or breads stuffed with olives and Halloumi. The somewhat decrepit nature of the place (despite its newness) is made even more spooky by the fact that is fairly deserted right now in the off season. Thankfully, our flat is a few blocks behind the main drag and is incredibly quiet.

i'm glad we are not staying here!

On Friday we took a walk on our littered local beach which is lined with a mix of luxury and crumbling hotels. Despite the plastic bags and tin cans in the sand, the water is crystal clear. Tashi was beside herself with joy, collecting small shells and rocks that looked like they may have once been a part of some ancient temple. After our brief spell on the beach, we met a clan of stray cats and then waited for the bus that never came. We took a taxi instead to the airport to pick up our rental car, and I kissed goodbye my first 15 Euros.

We immediately drove our brand new compact Kia to the Hala Sultan Tekke Mosque on the salt lake, across from the airport. That was pretty cool. The mosque was built on the spot where Mohammad's aunt, Um Haram, had reputedly fell from a mule and broke her neck. She was buried on the spot. Her sarcophagus is now housed inside the mosque. I am really glad the Cypriots have chosen to preserve this special place. On the way out we saw a praying mantis who was paying his respects. We also saw some flamingos, if only through the car window while passing by the salt lake.

After that we spent some time in Larnaca. Larnaca has the likes of KFC, McDonalds, TGI Fridays and Starbucks (where I sit now) on its beachside promenade, but its Cypriot-European mixy-matchy charm shines through the back streets and old city. We spent some time at the Church of Saint Lazarus, built on the site where he was buried. They even have a piece of his skull under glass to prove it.

Yesterday I arose early and took a power walk along our local beach. I enjoyed the splish of the waves as they came to shore, the stray cats and the colorful stones below my feet. Midday we drove to Nicosia to visit my uncle Lonia and his wife, Hara. Hara is taking great care of Lonia, and he is responding well the Chemo. He was in good humor and was relatively energetic. He took us to a Chinese Restaurant he loves. It was a clean, hip, modern place, and a novelty to eat Chinese food in Cyprus. Cyprus has become very international since it has become a member of the EU.

Here is Lonia, looking quite the gentleman. And a few of his paintings.

Today we plan to have Kleftiko (Lamb slow cooked in the clay oven) in town, and then drive part way up the mountains in search of the Donkey Sanctuary. We’re also going to check out an old archeological site, Choirokitia. After that we hope to drop down to one of the prettier beaches that remain, and perhaps catch the sunset.

And so, that is it for now! More pictures on flickr of course!

Friday, February 22, 2008

we are in larnaca, cyprus

we are here. it is spring. internet costs money. so this is going to be short and sweet. i am trying to update my flickr as i write. please check back there for visual updates, as i might not be posting to the blog all that often.

today we picked up our rental car. visited a mosque and a salt lake. ate souvlaki. and walked around larnaca. it is lovely, sunny, temperate, and the flowers are in bloom.

we are even mostly caught up to the jet lag, after the nearly 48 hour journey here.

ok, back to flickr. more soon. i hope!

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

topsy turvy

tomorrow, we depart for cyprus. from dc to detroit to amsterdam to cyprus. it's gonna be grueling. we'll be landing in amsterdam at about 7:30am, though our body clocks will think it 1:30am. ok, i've stayed out that late, no big deal. but tashi might feel a little differently about it. in amsterdam, we have a seven hour stop over. while it might be tempting to take a quick train into the city, i have a feeling we'll be finding some nice cozy benches in schiphol airport for a snooze or two. we'll arrive in cyprus around 8pm thursday night.

we are going to stay a few days in larnaca, a seaside town that was once a sleepy village. it has grown exponentially since the turkish occupation began, as have most sleepy seaside villages in cyprus. but still, it will be a good place to catch up on our sleep, stare at the sea and prepare ourselves for nicosia, the capitol city, where we will spend the majority of our stay.

i don't think i will have connectivity at the flat we'll be staying at in larnaca, and the cyber cafe will not be the main attraction of the day. i hope to get connected in nicosia. stay tuned; hopefully there will at least some flickr updates.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

fairy paint

tashi has a nice new giant header on her blog.

the weekend, it has been a churn. but not without:

* a nice walk (where we discovered in our neighborhood the left over remains of the huge fallen tree that brought our power down for nearly 24 hours at the beginning of the week)

* the honor of an amazing home-cooked south-indian lunch

* a beneficial yoga session

* the packing of {most} my trip toiletries

* a musical jam

* lots of special moments with tashi, including:
discussion of the lord of the lord rings triology, of which she is on the second book; the selection of softies for the trip ahead; a panel discussion on how to get into motion, c.l.e.a.n., tashi's environmental action group (more on this exciting breaking news to come); a hearty round of kasha varnishke for dinner-a tashi favorite; solar system saturday; several rounds of boggle; and tonight's extra-snuggly bedtime song.

now, we have reached the point where we are counting down the hours before our departure on wednesday morning, when we begin our journey to the mediterranean sea.

Friday, February 15, 2008

step by step

it is a lovely friday. my computer is still at the repair shop, so i'm pulling photos off of my flickr stream while stealing moments with dan's computer.

not much to report really, except that i've been fighting some sort of malaise. better to do it now, rather than on our trip. this weekend will be about last minute errands, checking things off the list and putting things in the suitcase(s). i hope that i can get some much need rest and relaxation while in cyprus.

yesterday i made this bread in our freecycled bread machine and it turned out quite lovely. i highly recommend it.

happy friday!

Thursday, February 14, 2008

sweets for the sweet

we made chocolates with the nifty candy kit nanna gave to tashi.

bread gone wild. popped it out of the bread machine and had to make it special for tashi's morning. i think i got carried away. look at how thick that glaze is. it looks like a gothic cathedral. or something.

chocolates ready for the classmates.

a last minute late night valentine created for my sweet daughter.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

a little airport security factoid for your benefit

snow globes, and like decorations regardless of size or amount of liquid inside, even with documentation, are not permitted in your carry on luggage.

bibety bopety boo

i can show these bibs now because my my dear friend laura has received them. i made them for her darling baby girl who was born in december, around solstice. perhaps we'll get a sneak peek on blissblog of sylvia in her new duds. i received a picture in the mail yesterday and almost melted. the patterns are from bend the rules sewing, a fantastic book for beginning and experienced sewers alike.

it's an icy morning with school delayed by two hours. yesterday i finally started the process of packing for cyprus, or perhaps i should say piling. toiletries on the dresser. electronics on the spare bed. all possibilities of clothing stacked up on the bench. there is the question of which books to take, what presents to purchase, and should i start over with my forever unfinished knitted scarf, so that i can make it thinner and therefore longer (and so i can knit with that lovely wool on the airplane. are you allowed to take knitting needles on airplanes? only if they're three ounces?).

recently our old washing machine bit the dust and our landlord was kind enough to order a new one immediately. i was so relieved that i wasn't going to have to enter the world of laundromats. but since the new one was installed our sump pump has been getting stuck and running on and on. this tends to blow the fuse. yesterday i blew a fuse at least five times on one load of laundry. it was a real bi$#!@$!%tch to say the least.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

for the love of bread

i'm stealing a moment with dan's computer while he takes tashi to school.

the above photo was taken over the weekend when we used our freecycled bread machine for the first time. it worked like a charm. i have a guilty voice speaking inside me for using a bread machine. i know the bread isn't quite as good as hand made bread, that it lacks soul. but i never seem to think ahead enough to make bread by hand, and i've had some bad luck with yeast. so when the bread machine came up on freecycle, i successfully pounced on it. i'm looking forward to making whole grain breads. our first test run was a basic white bread. i have to admit, it was pretty magical to pour the ingredients in, and, in a couple of hours, pull out a nice warm loaf. tashi was pleased.

Monday, February 11, 2008

upsy datesy

our power has been out since noon on sunday. it was a breezy day indeed. and this morning i finally took my cracked macbook to the shop. i will try to make an occasional update (photo or otherwise) from dan's computer, but it may well be quiet here for a while.

departure for cyprus next wednesday, wooo hooo!

Friday, February 08, 2008

headed for the stage

"Walking is entwined with waiting, a delivery, the deisre to set out." From Pollen Memoryby Laynie Brown

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

here comes the sun

with two weeks left before our departure to cyprus, i'm not sure how much i'll be updating the blog. but i will try out visual blogging, and try to post a photo per day. i still have to take my computer to the shop, so there may be a lag during that time. today it is like spring here, a nice taste of what's to come.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

imbolg blessings

on friday tashi asked me to lay a white cloth in the back yard. a teacher had told her that on imbolg eve brigid is about and will pass over the white cloth. the cloth is then yours, infused with her power.

on saturday tashi completed her dove pillow. the embroidery is hers, upon a transfer. she sewed the pillow's three & a half sides together at the sewing machine, stuffed it, and hand stitched the finish. is it not the most beautiful little pillow you have ever seen?

she then claimed, "must keep sewing," and so found a project in her felt book to complete. she named him wally. he is already beaded up with love.

my heart is so full.

and that is not all that saturday was.

it was a day that turned warm.

so we took a hike. on a segment of the rivanna trail, off of stribling, running along a few creeks and the rail line. i took about a million pictures that all disappeared when plugged into my mac to be uploaded. the camera battery died which [improper device removal] always ends in the disasterous loss of photos.

and so.
i. will. not. dwell.
on that.

i will however, dwell, on how much water i saw on this hike.

the creek was swelling with run off. it was high and deep. the tributary was full of magical pools, the song of water spilling over rock. it was just lovely to gaze down the misty riven hollow of a lively foothill stream. blessed be the water. may it continue.

from there we took a "spur" trail that circles the upper buildings of fontaine research park. it was strange mixture of woodlands, switchbacks, arboretum, cowfarm, wetlands, parking lot, highway view point, and creek side jaunt. we were thoroughly entertained. tashi collected samples for her microscope kit.

when we returned from our hike we had "bananas a la brigid," bananas fried in butter and brown sugar and then set aflaim with the aid of a brandy and a match. this is an imbolg recipe/ritual found in circle round. the bananas can be served on top of ice cream (our preference is vanilla bean, by ben & jerry). it is a delicious tribute to the light, to the coming of the warmth and the ebbing of the cold, to the playful nature of existence, to the sweet and the sharp and the fruity. we drank hot chocolate, dan's and mine spiked with a shot of brandy!

what kind of dinner could you have after that? while dan ran off to play a gig, tashi and i had breakfast before bed. omelette, bacon and toast. it couldn't have been a more perfect imbolg.

today arrived with a walk. i now begin my every sunday with a three mile walk to the grocery store. it's a fine way to begin a sunday. my kind of church. i walk up and down dale, cross waterway, pass clever houses and end up in a well lit shop that i'm actually developing a fondness for.

at home. laundry. eating. playing. laundry. the unveiling of tashi's pitch back net. laundry. successfully fulfilling a quest in the dreaded shopping mall. eating. super bowl rarrrrring. staring at the computer. and staring. and staring.

goodnight. sorry about the loss of photos. i would have loved to share all the shots i took of the water. but brigid decided that the holy well cannot be captured on screen.

Friday, February 01, 2008

a week ago today

it's a week later and i realize i never talked about the concert i saw last friday in the uva chapel: six organs of admittance and grand banks. the question is, how do i talk about it? i had never heard of grand banks before, and i was vaguely acquainted with six organs of admittance through my pandora radio stream.

first, the venue.

the uva chapel might be one of the most beautiful western churches i've ever set foot in. it was humble yet elegant. the colorful glass, combined with the dark wood and the lofty vaulted ceilings, created a space of possibility. i felt like i was in a grand hobbit house, or an enchanted woodland castle.

it certainly was a great vessel for sound.

and there was just enough weird. like the huge organ pipes that filled a corner. rich wood trimmings and latticework spidering across the interior. windows of clever geometry.

the deeply colored stained glass depicted some scenes that, to my relief, transcended one particular dogma. most of the crosses were embedded in mandalas. no thorns or blood or dead man.

and all around me were people who came out to see this mysterious music; i wanted to meet everyone there for that reason alone.

grand banks bordered on sound assault. it was really loud at times, but when i shut my eyes, there were at least one thousand things going on. just two guys, creating this huge tide of music. and tide it was, ebbing and flowing and crashing to shore. i was impressed. one of the guys was playing a keyboard. and a horn. and a few toys, i believe. and the other, he was doing something crazy with a bow. i thought he had some sort of homemade musical contraption set up, but dan thought it was a cello lying flat on a table. what ever it was, he was making a massive trance inducing wave of sound. it reminded me very much of pauline oliveros and her deep listening institute. i was left slightly drop jawed when they'd finished their set.

after a bathroom run across the road and down the way, we returned to the chapel just in time for ben chasny's entrance. ben chasny is six organs of admittance. anything might happen.

he was seeming a little like he'd just crawled out of the warm bed of a vw bus. he mumbled between songs. he stumbled over some chords. but his vocals and guitar work were quiet and brooding and mesmerizing. he took me to places i wanted to go. i was caught in the wind of an intricate, dreamy, rolling, echo. at one point i heard him ask what everyone was doing after the show. no one answered. i wanted to know too.

just when i was beginning to despair a little that we weren't going to get the full on band experience, a girl in a hoody named elisa ambrogio joined him on stage. her clear voice was a great balance to his moody whisper. at first i thought her guitar was a prop, or that she wasn't properly amped, because not much was coming out of it. but at some point she tore into it with her whole body, playing loud, fast and with wild amounts of feedback. pure girl guitar power.

names of songs? sorry. like i said, it was all new to me. but a welcome reminder that rock and roll is not dead, and that the troubadors are returning.

i didn't want it to end.

who's next, and when?

fried day

today is a messy day to follow two nights of messy sleep. i've had insomnia and so am not fully present. outside there is freezing rain. school was delayed for two hours this morning, which allowed for a little more snoozing. but now i'm looking at icy branches and steely sky.

here is a bend the rules project i've been working on. sew fun.

the other day while out on a walk, i had to ease by this fierce beast.

and things are falling apart. first our clothes washer broke for good. our landlord was kind enough to order a new washer immediately, but now the sump pump is having issues. and then tashi dropped her violin. some pieces popped off of it, but we think it can be easily fixed. one of our cats has an upset tummy and has been leaving us stinky gifts. my digital camera is being wonky. we're out of milk. and my mac laptop has developed a crack. it's not even a year old.

i'm sure i'm forgetting a few things. oh, and the milk, i just threw that in for fun.

i think i'll take my laptop into the shop on monday, so that i don't have to be without it this weekend. but then it might be gone a whole week. what is an internet addict to do? a lot of other things, for sure.

oh, and dan and i are starting a band. or a duet. maybe we'll play at an open mic sometime. but we've been jamming on three specific songs, he on guitar and me on djimbay. i think it could be good. perhaps tashi will join in on violin. what should we call ourselves?