Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Boxing Day Party

We don't really have boxing day here in the US, but my house was clean from Mom and Katerina having just been here, or relatively so. I decided to have some people in. But I forgot to take pictures!

On that rainy evening, we had the kind of simple food I love the best. Since it was kind of Greek Night, everyone else liked it, too. We had mezedes of dolmadakia, tsadziki, olives, etc., then I pulled out a pot of lentil soup with chard. My secret ingredient is to finish it with lemon juice, fresh meyer juice from the tree. Everyone perked up and enjoyed it.

Dave laughed when I said it--but it is true: I am at heart a peasant, a rustic. This is the food I want to give my guests. Then I told some stories in the dining room of my things. They all have a memory, mostly of love. Look up there, that painting was bought at a tag sale for $1! The lady who painted it was shy. Why would someone want it? It is beautiful, simple, true. A haunting yet lyrical landscape. Like a Corot. "Father Corot," as Vincent called him. And to me of course it is priceless.

George had dropped his glasses in the street, drove off, then called me and I went out to find them in the dark. But they were broken. Sorry Yiorgo, those lentils ended up costing you a lot!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving

We had such a nice time at Lee's in October that we readily said Yes when invited for Thanksgiving. So tomorrow it is off to Glen Ellen, with the traditional pumpkin pies in hand. I hope to get back on the road at a decent hour, and avoid any drunk drivers. Alas, it is the most dangerous driving day of the year in America.

We usually spend Thanksgiving on our own, cooking on Wednesday and finding something fun to do on Thursday and eating leftovers that day.

Now I am going to tell a story about quince. If you want to see it, you can look on my other blog, which you can access through my profile.


Tuesday, November 10, 2009

The old fort

This is the old Venetian fort at Palaiochora, Crete. The photo was taken on a very hot June day in 2003.

I am cleaning out my little home office in my spare time and found a floppy disk of photos. (The format is almost obsolete by now.) There were 24 photos and this one brought back memories of the day for me. I walked up there on a lonely, hot siesta afternoon. There is so little left of the fort but what remains is so massive, speaking silently of occupation, war, of time itself: flowing yet stolid.

Wikipedia has a page on Palaiochora now. (Or is it that I never thought to look?)

Friday, October 23, 2009

the blazons of autumn

Yes, we do have fall here in the Bay Area, although it is not nearly as dramatic as the ones back East. However, it lasts LONGER. And for that I am grateful.
There are some liquidamber trees lining a road I drive sometimes at the end of the day, and they are starting to show their stuff. It's fun, surprising, enlivening to see the change.
You see, my favorite part of the Wizard of Oz is the Horse of a Different Color. For those of you who do not remember, every time Dorothy looked at the horse its coat had changed. I guess you call that whimsy. For me, it's an indispensable part of life.
On the other hand, I wish the mornings were not so dark just now. I dislike getting up before the sunrise.
Dave and I were at Vines in Alameda having coffee and I discovered the most amazing art magazine. It is called Works and Conversations. Let me know what you think of it. Hugs to all my lovely lurkers.

Thursday, September 17, 2009


We did not make it over the water in 2009. This is the longest I have been away from Greece since I first went. Away 2 years now. But it will happen next year, we hope, and it will be wonderful.

Boston was a pleasure. Good weather. Scrod. Lobster. Accents. Friends. Biscotti. And the museum. I got to spend two wonderful mornings at the MFA. The first was spent with the Greeks and Romans, the second on American painting. This is the land of Sargent, Whistler, Homer, Eakins. What a joy to look at such beautiful paintings! Somehow it is ennobling. Or it feels that way.

For a side trip, D and I stayed at a beach shack at a motel just outside Provincetown, in Truro. There was not enough time. Provincetown is one of my favorite places on the planet. The street scene at the centre has been called Fellini-esque, but as you move out there is that end-of-land calm, permeating the place. In Provincetown there is no artificial barrier between the people and the environment. They are suffused--one with the other.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Hello World (Again)

Summer always goes by in a flash of brilliant light and sound; even the lazy beautiful vacation days have a hint of elegy, because it all must end.

Here in Northern California there is a variation on the theme. We have fog all summer till about now, and as hints of autumn show up, it ironically becomes hotter than the previous months. Outdoor activities are more attractive than ever. Meanwhile there is needed preparation for the fall. For me, that involves work in the garden, and usually some painting. This year I will repair the window trim that only lasted a few years. And--surprise!--we need a new water lateral from the street. Getting bids for that now.

Even with all that, I love August. Back East it was always a time to suffer through, too too hot. Here it is sublime.

Hugs to all.

Friday, July 3, 2009


Just got back from the East Coast. Delays in both directions but safe home now with just a bit of jet lag remaining. Will post photos later.
Boston is smaller than the Bay Area, less transient, just as expensive, less hip.I like the South End, which has a huge swathe (the largest in US) of Victorian houses.It is like "the city" as I imagined it as a boy and which I first experienced in NYC. Walking down canyon-like streets bordered with roiling brick sidewalks, thinking of Henry James, Edith Wharton, E.A. Poe. I also loved the wharfs off the North End and thought of Elizabeth Bishop, who lived her last days, I think, on Lewis Wharf.
First time in Maine in 25 years. It has been raining and all of New England is an unadulterated green green green. Ogunquit quiet and charming, the beach, dunes and river, Marginal Way all ready for the summer season which starts late and ends early.
There is a Greek confectioner/chocolateer family there. Did you know there is a tradition of that in the Eastern US? My father's uncles were chocolateers in the late 1930's in Pennsylvania and their business is still there, although with new owners.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Summer Planning

This photo is from Cape Cod, last year.
I have been hearing through the grapevine that people DO read my blog to keep up with me, although many are shy to comment. Well, thanks for caring, and look for more fun stuff here since summer is on.
Summer is bliss and stress. The bliss is obvious. The stress is wanting to pack so many things into it that you know you'll fail. But if you do fail, fail with a sense of style, with aplomb. Sing at the top of your lungs as the ship of summer sinks into the foam!
Where to go this summer, in straightened circumstances? I just found out I will probably have an additional pay cut on top of the 10% I already have. Luckily I am a saver. My dream summer trip, which will probably be edited, is as follows:
  • Oakland to Boston. Hang out in Boston and take day trips to Maine and Provincetown.
  • Boston to Paris. Have never been to Paris.
  • Paris to Athens. I could write a book on Athens. My beloved despoiled Athina. I love to walk in your streets and find ancient faces.
  • Athens to Santorini, Mykonos, etc.on the boats.
  • Boat to Chania, Crete. Stay in Chania for 4-5 days.
  • Drive to Paleochora. Stay 1 week.
  • Boat from Chania to Athens.
  • Athens to London.
  • Back home.

Well, hopefully some of that will happen.

Ciao, babies.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

My mother was (and still is) a cutie

My nephew sent this image along. He is working on an archive of family photographs.
My mother and father and their friends were typical of their 1940's peers. They loved madcap photos! Both of my parents were blessed with good looks and they loved hamming it up for the camera, although I think they really were modest people. By the time we kids got around to looking at all these black and whites they seemed to be tokens of another existence. Mom was always patient with us and she encouraged our curiosity about how she had grown up "in town" in Wheeling, WV. (I grew up in the country and will always be grateful for that. It was beautiful.)
In this photo I think I recognize the wall behind her. I think it is the Wheeling Park pool.
I had a wonderful birthday. We went to Kokkari Estiatorio in the City. The grilled octopus was perfect. Mom had sent me a check in her perfect handwriting as my big 50 gift. Thank you, Mom. You are always an inspiration.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Monterey and Monarchs

We went to Monterey to celebrate my birthday a little early this year.
Of course being addicted to coffee shops, I found this very posh one attached to a hotel in the Cannery area. Good cappuchinos and decent chairs to sit on. I will be back!
The beach photo is at Carmel. Did you notice the monarch butterfly in the upper left of the photo? This is the migration season and the area is famous as a stop-over. There were thousands of butterflies in some areas, none in others. Actually, it is not really a stop-over. I have read that more than one generation is born and dies in each direction of the semi-annual migration. There is some kind of lesson in there, don't you think?
Thanks for sticking with my blog. I've been occupied with other things this whole winter but now hope to be a regular contributor to the blogosphere again.
Happy happy spring. Don't forget to stop and enjoy the miracles of the season.

Monday, March 9, 2009

My new cool/hot in/out boxes

This is a recession/depression special. I got these day-glo in/out boxes at the Bay Area Center for Creative Reuse, in Oakland. No website but they can be found on the website for the Ecology Center. These boxes remind me of the mercurochrome we slathered over cuts as kids. Now that is gone because it contained mercury.

I am in a happy mood. I was walking in Lake Merritt Park at lunch, passing by the community gardens, admiring a family's garden. They insisted I take two heads of lettuce, which they promptly dug up and handed to me! I have one to keep and one to share.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

A Mysterious House

Sorry for the lapse. You know how life can sometimes take you and swing you by the tail? I'm OK, although January wasn't the best month I've had in a while.

The guv has ordered a furlough, and the courts have upheld it. I am going to tighten my belt and continue working on my new blog.

For a few years I have wanted to do a Greek food blog. Meanwhile, I have been scooped by several wonderful bloggers. I am so glad to have discovered their blogs and my jealousy has abated. I am going to do a special post on my favorite three very early in my blog, which is going to be called..."Kouzina: my East Bay Kitchen.".And that is just what it is going to be. Whatever is going on in my kitchen and the immediate world beyond. I'm very sure that there are folks who would like to hear about what is happening just this side of San Francisco in the food realm. With a Greek twist, of course. Look for a special post on Morphi's Simple Syrup and other yummies from my family and friends. I'll let you know when I launch it.


This mysterious house never fails to draw my attention as I walk down MLK in Berkeley on Saturday mornings, before or after the farmers' market. In December, the lady living there has dozens of Christmas cacti on the porch. By now, they're almost gone.

The once beautiful house has been left to the elements. It looks like there has been no real maintenance for over 40 years. Still, people are living there and seemingly making do in their own, I presume, Grey Gardens kind of way.

Friday, January 9, 2009


Mirmy and I both wore black vests to the office on Thursday. The photo is too cute...has to go up.
This was our quiet happy moment after the anxiety of Wednesday night. Oakland had a night of rioting after a fatal shooting by a BART police officer on New Years Morning. Sounds a little like Athens a month ago. The details are on SF Gate.