Monday, January 30, 2006

another monday mumble

it's a sunny day. the cats are asleep. this morning i baked chocolate chip cookies.

it was a fine weekend. saturday morning we ate breakfast at an infamous greasy spoon on "the corner" called the white spot. it was cheap and good and friendly. its name, by the way, has nothing to do with the color of your skin. there were plenty of brothers sharing the counter with us eating eggs & bacon & homefries & ham & sausage & toast. we took a little walk afterwards and felt like tourists in our own town. we're still getting used to being here.

we came home and undertook a variety of tasks, the best one being the enclosure dan built for loki on our deck. there is a little rectangular offshoot on our deck which dan surrounded and covered with chicken wire. so now loki has space outdoors to walk around and stretch and maybe even climb. the cage he was hanging out in before was just too small.

with each passing day we find his "quarantine" more and more absurd yet we are only a month into it with five more to go.

on saturday night we went to a nice dinner party at marga's house. marga is the director of studies at uva's international residential college. she is also a painter and an all around great person. we met some nice folks, ate delicious food and raised our glasses to the chinese new year.

i worked on sunday and so did dan. tashi spent half the day with me at the barnswallow and the other half of the day with dan on campus. poor kid. she did well though.

last night i watched a sad documentary by michael cacoyannis called Attila 74 -- The Rape of Cyprus. it was a compendium of testimonials from various greek cypriot refugees about the 1974 coup in cyprus followed by the brutal turkish invasion. it included some amazing footage of huge demonstrations that took place in greece and cyprus at the time, and some lengthy interviews with the very decent former president of cyprus (and coup survivor), archbishop makarios. it also included interviews with several of the greek nationalists who really fucked it up for everyone. i highly recommend it to anyone who is interested in the cyprus problem and wants to learn more about the events leading to the turkish invasion. be prepared to shed tears with the refugees.

i picked up the documentary at an amazing film rental shop here in charlottesville called sneak reviews. this place rocks. it is a film lovers paradise, plastered with film posters from the kitschy to the historical, with great lighting and furniture and flags and enclaves and a toy box for the kids. the best part is that the films are arranged by director. i really have no reason to go there because dan can rent most films for free from the university library, but every once in a while i'll stop into sneak reviews for the pure joy of it.

Friday, January 27, 2006

tell google "don't be evil!"

this shocking news just in:

Tibetans and supporters were outraged this week at Google's
decision to join hands with the Chinese Government in its
propaganda efforts. Google has launched a web search engine
custom-built to the Chinese authorities' specifications that
blocks access to information about Tibet, human rights, and
other topics sensitive to Beijing.

Tell Google how you feel about its part in spreading Chinese
government propaganda and repressing free access to truthful
information on the internet. You can take action on this alert by clicking here.

We encourage you to take action by February 24, 2006

Tell Google "Don't Be Evil!"

Please visit the SFT blog, Tibet Will Be Free, to see news coverage of
SFT's actions and to find out more about how Google is actively
blocking people in Tibet and China from finding true

Thursday, January 26, 2006

attic rag doll

iris with the red hair: there is snow in dharamsala

lavendar cat: there is wind in the blue ridge

iris with the red hair: i long for momo's and thenthuk

lavendar cat: the himalayan mice are scrawny

iris with the red hair: where are the long horns, the drone of monks chanting

lavendar cat: where is the dog with mange, the monkey sitting on the railing picking his toes

iris with the red hair: the baby green wheat grass in the valley

lavendar cat: the monk clearing his throat next door

iris with the red hair: i'm glad people here don't pinch my cheeks

lavendar cat: i'm glad people here give me catnip toys and organic wet food

iris with the red hair: but maybe a little chillum would be fine for chillin'

lavendar cat: and maybe i wouldn't mind curling up amongst the tridents in a shiva shrine

iris with the red hair: or jumping each time the pressure cooker whistles

lavendar cat: or prostating to avalokiteshvara

iris with the red hair: i know, i'll dress up as durga

lavendar cat: and i'll act as her tiger

iris with the red hair: and we'll ride out into the day

lavendar cat: with a mission to conquer the villain

iris with the red hair: and practice religion

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

morning minutiae

it is a bright, brisk and breezy day in albemarle county. dramatic cloud formations fill the sky.

this morning i picked up a set of speakers i scored from freecyle. our current speakers have a hole in one of the woofers which causes a terrible rattling noise, especially when there is any sort of deep bass. the free speakers are ancient and rather banged up, but the woman giving them away said they work well. we shall see.

i decided to take a drive after picking up the speakers, since i was north west of charlottesville and have been wanting to explore that territory. i didn't have my local map with me but it's pretty easy to maintain your sense of direction with the westward blue ridge as your guide. i followed dirt roads and found myself in a village called earlysville. i meandered through the foothills and passed many estates with names like fox haven, cool stream, solitude, seven gables and cricket's heaven. i passed by roads called boondock and goose call and bleak house. i felt exhilarated by the lumpy lump roads and the thickety thick woods and the sunny sun sunshine. i also appreciated the occasional appalachian household sporting several layers of junk piled on the front porch, about a half dozen cars scattered about the muddy yard, a couple of laundry lines flapping bright fabrics, and a goodly quantity of loose trash scattered about the nearby wilds. and then i found myself beside a glorious meeting of the sparkling forks in the rivanna river.

then i went to the grocery store and purchased several packages of butter that were on special.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

needs and knees

today is a good day. i had my three month evaluation at work and along with it came a raise. it was not a typical raise either, it was an extra big one. i was shocked, relieved and ever so happy. i needed that raise more than you can believe.

i'm also determined to heal my knees. what's wrong with your knees dear child of the vale, you might be asking? well this is what's wrong with my knees: i want to scream every time i bend them. they completely fell apart on me after that free yoga class i took two weeks ago. they became stiff and excrutiatingly painful. i have never had knee problems, so this came as quite a shock. i saw my good doctor and he thinks i have weak muscles supporting the ligaments (all of a sudden?). he recommends leg extensions with weights. and then i visited the wise woman forum at the herbalist susun weed's site. this is an excellent forum to find answers to your herbal and nutritional questions. the wise women of the forum reminded me that i should be drinking infusions of nettles, oatstraw and comfrey. that i should be chomping on chickweed. that i should use homemade chicken broth in everything. that i should ride a bike. that i might want to lose some weight. and that taking glucosamine and fish oil is good. so tonight after popping a couple of supplements i pulled out that pound of nettles i ordered a month ago, and finally made an infusion. it is already so green it's almost black. and i sat on my counter and did leg extensions with a lunch box full of canned soup dangling from ankle. i will not let my knees cripple me before i even turn 40. it is unacceptable.

on other fronts, windflower botanicals is rolling along. i delivered a second batch of teas and dream pillows to rebecca's natural foods. i sold a few jars of tea at the waldorf school store. my website sits idle and many gaps need to be filled in. but isn't the artwork by tashi ever so sweet?

our semi-quarantined cat loki is doing just fine. his tail is healing up and he is a sweetheart except for when he beats up his sister luna (typical). we still have to put him in a cage when he goes outside but he is very patient and tolerant and seems grateful to just be able to sniff at the fresh air and twitch his ears at the sound of birdsong. today i let him snuffle around the lawn a little bit and it was as if he was meeting up with an old lover. he nibbled on the grass and turned circles in it and nuzzled his nose against it and seemed very, very pleased. really it broke my heart. that and the cats that roam around the yard taunting him when he's stuck in the cage. i'm sure the neighbors think we're really crazy when they walk by and see our poor cat sitting in a cage in our front yard.

ok, time to go lounge on the couch and continue reading the extremely amusing book about bhutan while dan practices surf bass. did i tell you he and a coworker are starting a surf band? they hope to make it big on virginia beach. could be an interesting summer. . .

Monday, January 23, 2006

on the civil war trail

yesterday we took a little road trip to fredericksburg, a town that lies between washington and richmond, along the rappahannock river.

fredericksburg, in the county of spotsylvania, became part of the white man's map when it was established in 1728 as a riverport for the shipment of tobbaco. george washington lived there from the age of 6 to 19. it was in fredericksburg that our first president chopped down the mythical yet infamous cherry tree and didn't lie about it. thomas jefferson hung out there too and drafted the "bill for establishing religious freedom" which became the basis for the first ammendment to the constitution. fredericksburg was devastated during the civil war where four huge battles resulted in the loss of over 100,000 lives. clara barton and walt whitman nursed wounded federal soldiers in a mansion across the river. and there is a huge cemetary full of dead men to attest to the glories of war. apparently the city changed hands ten times during this period and was under military rule until 1871, when it slowly started to rebuild itself.

we thought fredericksburg had a pretty cool historic district, well preserved and full of stores, eateries, and beautiful houses. there are antique shops at every turn, historic mansions, museums, taverns and an old apothecary full of horror stories. someday we might even embark on the historic tour, but yesterday we just walked around and browsed.

we ended our afternoon with a pretty bad dinner at a place called sammy t's. everything i read about it was positive, and they offered vegetarian and vegan fare. but we give it two thumbs and one big toe down. twice i had to watch dan spit out inedible portions of his pulled pork barbecue sandwich. that's what he gets for ordering pulled pork, but really, it should have been edible.

we drove home on a curvy country road in the pitch black night past historic battlefield sights under a thick rainstorm. was that mist between the trees? or the ghost of a dead civil war soldier?

(painting of a fredericksburg scene from she seems pretty cool.)

cats & dogs are pets, not pelts

happy monday folks.

stop the awful slaughter of cats and dogs in china! stop the domestic animal fur trade from china to europe!

clickety click to sign this petition, please!

Thursday, January 19, 2006


i'm developing a thing for travelogues. it might be because i've written one, but it is also because i like to be transported to other lands. currently i'm reading Beyond the Earth and Sky: A Journey into Bhutan, by Jamie Zeppa. i'm not very far into it, but it seems to be well written, and i'm very excited about it.

the last book i read was Tantrika, by asra nomani. i found it at discount bookstore and thought it was going to be amazing. while she has a great story to tell, she doesn't do a great job of telling it. i was so disappointed. she can't seem to keep any focus, and is incredibly disorganized in presenting her journey. in a single paragraph she writes about a and z without any connection between the two. i was always left with the question, "what was the point?" the book was also littered with type-o's. did her publisher think that because she is a journalist she didn't need an editor? the thing that gets me is that she is a writer for the wall street journal. how can a writer for the wall street journal do such a poor job at writing her own story? it would be one thing if you could call her style avant garde, but it wasn't. it was just unfortunate.

anyhow, i don't regret reading it. as i was painfully approaching the end of the book i found that the last three chapters or so had some of the focus and insight that the rest of the book lacked. so it was worth it for that much. she is a fascinating woman regardless of her loopy writing style, a very courageous muslim feminist. she just needs a good editor. check out her website.

do any of you, dear blog friends, have any good travelogues to recommend?

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

did the kalikatzaroi visit you over the holidays?

i have had an itchy hand for days but i won't even go into the details of how it is fueling my rabies paranoia.

rabies aside, trying to figure out why the itchiness, i entered "itchy hand" into google. the first site that came up was, "You're Guide to Greece and Cyprus". go figure.

this is a very silly site! it has greek superstitions and quotes, bits of mythology and history, jokes and recipes. i'm learning very useful information from it, like the following:


In Greek superstition these are little demons or goblins that come on the earth for twelve days beginning on Christmas and ending their visit on Epiphany. They are thought to not commit any major harm to humanity other than carrying on mischievous pranks. The crimes that they commit are usually quite minor such as riding on a persons back, or extinguishing fires. Around this time period scratches on the walls or fire places are considered to foretell the presence of these little men.

As the Kalikatzaroi are demons in order to prevent them from entering a household during this twelve day period some people dip crosses into basil and holy water and sprinkle the rooms of their home. It is believed that the Kalikatzaroi are fearful of holy water and will not enter a house that is blessed.

The Kalikatzaroi are said to enter a house from the chimney in a similar manner as "Santa Claus", to prevent the Kalikatzaroi from entering a house during this period fire places are kept burning all day long.

The most notable story of the Kalikatzaroi is the "Story of the Tree of Life." The tree of life is considered as the base of the world, "The support which the world is build on" if the tree is cut down the world will come to an end. The Kalikatzaroi for the span of the whole year can be found chopping at the tree of life trying to cut it down and bring an end to the world. When the Kalikatzaroi have almost succeeded in their task and the world stands on the support of merely a strand of wood Christmas arrives. The Kalikatzaroi then run up to the earth to cause their mischief.

The Kalikatzaroi arrive with their leader Koutsavli who rides on a crippled horse the day before Christmas. When the Kalikatzaroi see the priest begin the blessing of the waters on Epiphany their mischief comes to an end as they run back to the depths of the earth in a panic. When back in the depths of the earth they are shocked to find that the tree of life has replenished itself. The Kalikatzaroi then begin the task of cutting down the tree once again, only to have the same thing happen to them year after year.

In the past Kalikatzaroi were used mostly as a fairy tale to scare little children. Though they were considered to commit pranks such as messing up a house some of the pranks were not always bad. In some areas of Greece nuts would be thrown into the houses only to be picked up by the children. Little pranks such as this and other weird occurrences were considered actions of these little men!

* * * * *

so anyway, i still don't know why i have an itchy hand or why the vet has turned my life into paranoid misery, but perhaps it's all because the kalikatzaroi pulled some pranks over the holidays.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

shocking statistic of the hour

"UVA has experienced turbulent times over sexual assaults recently. In March 2004, Susan Russell, the mother of a victimized UVA student launched the website Although nearly 60 rapes had been reported at the school over the previous five years, no predator had been expelled or even suspended from the school for sexual assault, while 38 had been expelled for 'honor' offenses such as cheating or stealing. 'You get kicked out for stealing a pencil, but you can stay if you rape someone?' asked Russell. 'It just makes no sense.'"

from this weeks the hook, a Charlottesville weekly.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

do not shrink

last night i watched ingmar bergman's fanny and alexander. my favorite line came out of the grandmother -- a widow, a mother, and a former stage actress -- when she was talking to the ghost of her son, "some roles are nice, others not so nice. i played a mother. i played juliet and margarita. then suddenly i played a widow or a grandmother. one role follows the other. the thing is to not shrink from them."

Monday, January 09, 2006

monday musings

on saturday dan, tashi and i took a hike on the rivanna trail which has an access point just up the road from our neighborhood. tashi received a walking stick and some hiking boots for her birthday, all in an effort to get her more psyched about exploring our new mountainous surround. she did pretty well and when she started to complain we launched into a game of follow the leader. it was a gorgeous sunny day and we had many a fine view of the lumpy blue ridge looking particularly blue. we also discovered the mccormick observatory, which was closed.

today loki had a tail check-up and was liberated once and for all from his cone-head. when we got home i let him sit outside in the sun in his cat-cage. he seemed pretty blissed out, observing the world, ears twitching, licking his entire body, rolling around, batting at the little jingling mouse the vet assistant gave him. not even the confines of a cage could dampen the joy of being released from the cone.

we have plans to make a loki love den in dan's office, and to build a tunnel-bridge leading to an enclosed area on the deck from the office window. just some wood planks and chicken wire should do the trick. we're viewing it as a sculptural art project and are trying to make the most of loki's quarantine status. my feelings have been swinging constantly in this situation, from thoughts that there is no way our cat could have rabies, to paranoid terror. so we will take the middle path and do our best to stay safe while treating our cat with love and compassion.

today is a gorgeous 60 degree day. i sat outside in my t-shirt, eating my lunch. i started the day with a free iyengar yoga class at the blue ridge yoga center. and now tashi is begging me to read calvin and hobbes, with which she is obsessed.

Friday, January 06, 2006

The Princess and the Helper

by Tashi

(this is a story my daughter wrote last night. the original spelling adds a special sort of charm to it, but she told me she wants me to correct the spelling errors. only the spelling has been corrected and some periods added to distinguish the sentence breaks.)

Once upon a time there was a princess and she had an very boring life until a strange noise went off. She was not very tidy but when she came back to her room it was tidy. This was very odd. She asked a servant if she had picked up her room. When her servant said no she was confused. Who could this helper be? She wondered perhaps it's the noise that's helping me. But how can a noise help? She didn't know. This was the oddest thing that she had experienced in her life. The noise went on helping her when she was married.

The day of her wedding she met a person who was very helpful and only made bizzing sounds. Then she realized that was the mystery helper. She married him instead.

She lived a long life and happy life as a queen and had children and lived happily ever after.

The end.

cat update

loki has been outfitted with a fashionable head cone. last night we took it off so he could be himself for a while. he spent the entire time giving himself a bath and restoring his dignity. we put the cone back on when he reached his injured tail.

yesterday i received a second call from public health concerning our sad cat. the woman i talked to was much more reasonable than the first woman who called me. she said that because we don't know if the animal that bit loki was actually rabid, they can't force us to do anything. they are just offering us recommendations. that was a relief because we had a certain amount of fear that the gestapo would come and take our cat away if we didn't have him in a double walled pen. she also confirmed the brighter side of things, that rabies in charlottesville is rare, that most likely it was another cat or perhaps a dog that bit loki, that we would see signs of rabies sooner than six months, and that right now we are safe to handle loki because it takes a long time for rabies to reach the saliva, and by that time he would be showing clear signs of being rabid. she also confirmed that, even though overdue on his booster, the booster he did receive two days ago would probably do the trick of averting rabies should it be present. she even said we could take him outside, as long as we kept in him in sight.

just writing this all feels so absurd, because i don't think he is actually infected w/ rabies. he is still recovering from his bite, but today is much more himself, beginning to mewel sadly at being sequestered to one room, eating his food, purring loudly when i scratch his neck and sitting on his cat tower longingly staring out the window. we are going to keep him and luna separate until luna gets her booster on saturday, we are going to wash our hands each time we handle him or his food dishes, and otherwise we are just going to observe him for the next few months. if he starts to foam at the mouth or have seizures or appear to be completely disoriented, well, that's the worst case scenario. that would be the end of our loki and we would have to immediately get immuno-globin treatments.

almost everyone i've talked to, experts, friends and family, have said that they really don't think we have anything to worry about. my vet in ann arbor thought the whole situation was absurd. she said they get cats in there all the time that are behind on vaccines and have been bit by unknown critters. she says they just give them a booster and send them home.

being at all cautious w/ loki is actually a major pain the ass. but i think we should be as cautious as reasonably possible until we feel confident that this is all a ruse. i'm hoping to talk to a couple of other vets in the area to see if they would have reported this to public health. i just think the vet we took loki to is a young republican.

i just feel so bad for our little fellow. he seems so forlorn. i think it's mostly the cone around his head that's bumming him out, but i also think he's really bewildered as to why he can't roam freely around his house. it's torturous.

Thursday, January 05, 2006


when i chose the name windflower botanicals for my cottage industry, i did so because i found the name evocative. the combination of wind and flower speaks volumes to me. but i knew virtually nothing about the plant.

windflowers are anemones, bright long lasting flowers native to my birthplace, cyprus!!! there is even a car rental business in cyprus called windflower.

there are many different kinds of windflowers from bright fuschia to white, from soft lavendar to alarming azure. some look like daisies and some look like stars. to learn about the grecian windflower, read this.

and windflowers play prominently in greek mythology. i found this little summary:

"While his rival was hunting alone, Ares disguised himself as a boar and attacked Adonis causing him lethal injuries. Adonis used his spear to strike back to Ares, but was soon gored to death by the boar's great tusks. Aphrodite hurried to Adonis in
her chariot, but his soul had already descended into the Underworld. In despair, she sprinkled nectar on Adonis’ wounds. As Aphrodite bore her lover's body out of the woods, crimson anemones sprung up where each drop of blood and nectar fell onto the earth. It is said that the wind which blows the blossoms open, will soon afterwards blow the petals away; so it is called the Anemone, or Wind Flower, for that which brings forth its life, ends it."

it would appear that anemone is not often used as a medicine, and in fact is sometimes considered a poison, though it was of use in olden times.

"Though this species of Anemone has practically fallen out of use, the older herbalists recommended application of various parts of the plant for headaches, tertian agues and rheumatic gout. Culpepper practically copies verbatim the some half-dozen uses of the Anemone that Gerard gives, saying:

'The body being bathed with the decoction of the leaves cures the leprosy: the leaves being stamped and the juice snuffed up the nose purgeth the head mightily; so doth the root, being chewed in the mouth, for it procureth much spitting and bringeth away many watery and phlegmatic humours, and is therefore excellent for the lethargy.... Being made into an ointment and the eyelids annointed with it, it helps inflammation of the eyes. The same ointment is excellent good to cleanse malignant and corroding ulcers.'

Culpepper also advises the roots to be chewed because it 'purgeth the head mightily'; he adds, 'And when all is done let physicians prate what they please, all the pills in the dispensary purge not the head like to hot things held in the mouth.'

Parkinson writes:
'there is little use of these (the Anemones) in physic in our days, either for inward or outward diseases; only the leaves are used in the ointment called Marciatum, which is composed of many other hot herbs.... The root by reason of the sharpness is apt to draw down rheum if it be tasted or chewed in the mouth.'

Modern authorities would, however, hesitate to recommend the chewing of the root on account of the acrid, irritant poison known to be present in it."

happy rabid new year

ok, time for a little catch up.

today my mother departed on the amtrak after a 12 day visit. it was good fun with lots of eating, many drives, a visit to some historic sites (including monticello) and a venture into "first night virginia". the latter was quite a good time, many kids activities including a magician, a couple of witty swordsmen, and a procession that ended with kids dancing on a giant sheet of bubblewrap. lots of good folky mostly local music including the celtibillies, the vulgar bulgars, john mccutcheon, and robin & linda williams. and then some groovy fireworks at midnight.

unfortunately our first week of the new year is not shaping up so well. i discovered yesterday that our orange stripe tabby cat (loki) had a bite on his tail and was displaying signs of infection. i took him to a vet that i chose because he was close by and had a "payment plan." hundreds of dollars and no payment plan later the abcess has been drained, loki drugged and outfitted with a head cone to prevent his chewing at the wound. the really horrible news is that because we were a few months behind on loki's rabies booster, and because we didn't (and still don't) know what bit him, the vet reported the incident to public health. i received a call from said gov dept this afternoon, telling me i have two choices, to quarantine loki for six months with no human or animal contact, or euthanize him.

this is not what anyone who loves their cat wants to hear.

i was relieved to learn that i can actually quarantine him in my own home, though we are supposed to build some insane double walled pen for him. in the mean time he's stuck in one room with a cone on his head. our other cat luna is completely freaked and hiding upstairs (she caught sight of him in his cone and i believe she thinks he's an alien). i'm researching the actual possibility of rabies, which is close to nil. there were four reported cases of raccoon rabies in all of albemarle county in 2005. also, loki has been vaccinated against rabies, twice in his three and a half year life. we were just behind on the booster by a few months because we moved and hadn't gotten our act together yet to deal with their vaccinations. huge mistake. we're paying for it in cat suffering and incredible loads of concern.

loki seems really depressed, though he'll still purr like a motorboat if you even glance at him. a cat really loses his dignity when he can't clean his butt.

the previous attic rag doll entry seems somehow slightly prophetic. it was written before i was aware of loki's bite.

and that is the f*@!ed up news from charlottesville.

Monday, January 02, 2006

attic rag doll

iris with the red hair: pine scent, red hint, an impending maw

lavender cat: bright white berries

iris with the red hair: broken wet limb, thimble work, ripped hip of rose

lavender cat: swinging wooden sigil, etchings on stone

iris with the red hair: a hollow called home

lavender cat: pillow a little patter, tatters on yellow

iris with the red hair: blink and sink, the swinging hammock caused panic

lavender cat: skittish itch, a seedy vetch

iris with the red hair: sudden sequence of sequins

lavender cat: dazzle my intention to delight

iris with the red hair: oh the light, oh the light

lavender cat: silver sheen upon silhouette, this darkest night, this darkest night