zonewombat: (Default)
(Actually, I guess this isn't really a FWP, but it indicates a certain degree of FW Parenting, so it stands.) I may have mentioned that Mal would prefer to spend his entire life outside. However, some days, like today, I just don't feel like getting all presentable and standing in the park for several hours. So I try to compromise by letting him go out on the balcony while I either work inside or take my work out with him. However, because of the Feral Cat Colony that lives on our porch, the entire balcony smells like cat urine/spray, and after Mallory's been out there for a bit,
i he
smells like cat urine. I already can't let him play in the yard anymore because of the cat diarrhea all over it.

So I decided I would scrub the balcony to try and get rid of the smell. I had the door open and was going in and out with cleaning gear. I heard a cat yowl. Again. Really close. I went to check, and the Crack Ho cat (currently pregnant) AND her Mac Daddy had COME INSIDE!!! Legion was standing them off, but he has no claws or teeth and the tom was all muscle.

So it's back to living in prison with no doors/windows open.

Also, in the FWP column, I got a $20 gift cert to the Noble Collection for Xmas, and I can't find anything I want. You'd think with all the LOTR stuff...alas.
zonewombat: (Default)
So here's a question for you...

In 1975, Greece was being ruled by a fairly brutal regime referred to as the Junta. In the best Cold War fashion, dissidents were tortured, and it was generally a pretty ugly time. The US backed this government because they promised to be on our side against the USSR. The name of the CIA station chief in Greece was revealed, and one night, a group of three men and one woman surrounded him in front of his house and shot him at close range, with his wife standing right there. These assailants went on to become 17 November, a terror group that would kill Americans, Turks, Brits, and many Greeks, long after the Junta fell.

In 2002, an accident led to the arrest of many members of 17 November. Many confessed immediately upon being arrested. One man in particular confessed to membership in 17N and to participating in the murder of the CIA chief. He recanted his confession later on the advice of his attorney, and spent about 18 months in prison.

Once released, he sued Greece for imprisoning him. Last week, the European Union's Court of Human Rights determined that keeping him in prison prevented him from receiving treatment for his MS and was tantamount to torture. They directed Greece to pay him 15,000 euros in fines.

What are the ethics of this judgment? And how do they apply to the EU's stated commitment to fight terrorism?
zonewombat: (Default)
I think this is what I'm going to use for my holiday cards this year.  I'll do some serious designs also.
zonewombat: (miranda)
I think the reason they just decommissioned Pluto from planet status is because it's the new Guantanamo.  Realizing the jig was up, the government had to find some new secret prison to send people to.  They're sending them to Pluto, where they'll get Miranda-ized (either become so nice and calm they die, or jam silverware through their faces).  Making Pluto not-a-planet was the first step in having the rest of us forget it exists.

Also, and this is for [profile] casperflea and others familiar with Greece, a colleague of mine wrote a report about the many live music clubs in town, where bouzouki players perform.  He called them "bazookas."  Athens apparently has many bazookas.
zonewombat: (Default)
The following is from To Vima, one of the major Greek newspapers, by Yiannis Pretenderis:

"There is no other government in history that wasted so fast, so aimlessly, and so pointlessly the capital of unlimited sympathy that unexpectedly fell into is hands...The damage caused by the Bush government to U.S. interestes was not achieved by Al Qaeda or Bin Laden.  Trapped in Afghanistan and Iraq, hostage of a "war on terror" that it declared, a preferred target of international terrorism, which, (as specialists maintain) does not show signs of reduction or yielding, the scenario of post 9/11 American is that of a deafening failure.  Obviously, for every George Bush there is a Philip Roth and for every Donald Rumsfeld there is a Bill Gates.  There is always an America of inspiration, generosity, rights, and freedoms.  And unfortunately, it is this America that is done most of the injustice by its government.  If we do not fell American, it is minor damage.  I am afraid that soon more Americans will not feel citizens of their own country."
zonewombat: (Default)
Greece beat the USA for the World Championship in basketball about an hour ago.  The Charge d'Affaires bowed to the inevitable and called a 2-hour break from work so everybody in the embassy could head to the cafeteria to watch the game (plus he wanted to watch it).  I took Mallory in to root for both sides.

The second that the game was over, the honking started.  Even at home I can hear tons of honking, but it was really impressive at the embassy - every single car that passed by the front of the US Embassy honked.  (Even me on my way home, because heck, when in Athens....)

Sorta reminds me of the night Romania beat the US in the World Cup when we were living in Bucharest.  No point in trying to sleep.

So here's a question - in what circumstances would Americans drive by and honk at someone's embassy after beating them in a sport?  Beating the UK, India, or Australia at cricket?  Or would any American with a car care?
zonewombat: (jack sparrow)
Today was Assumption Day (celebrated by making wild assumptions?), a national holiday, so we had a four-day weekend.  We celebrated by having the nanny take Mallory to his friend D's house for the whole day yesterday.  It was great.  But man did these four days go fast!

Less than a year to go here, and it feels like we are short-timers.  We've both got the "two years, time to move" thing going on, and simultaneous with that is the countdown:  This is our last Assumption Day here.  This is our last summer here, and no concerts in the park this year.  The short-timer feeling is compounded by 4/5 of the embassy turning over this year.  I don't recognize anyone, and people keep saying things to me like, "You've been here *two years*?!?  Wwooowww." 

I feel like a high school senior.

OTOH, I finally know my way around the northern suburbs at least, and people don't automatically switch to English when I try to talk with them.
zonewombat: (Default)
Kind of a gross walk into work today.  Someone left a dead cat on top of the trash can across the street from us.  I guess it had been hit by a car.  There aren't street cleaner trucks, just a lady with a can and a broom who comes by mid-day, so I guess someone wanted to get the cat out of the street before the laiki market. 

A lot of the Americans are very critical of how the Greeks care for public areas, saying that inside a Greek's home, it's spotless, but once you cross out of that zone of ownership, no one takes care of anything.  I don't really see that.  Greeks don't litter, and the streets and parks are clean.  Yes, there's graffiti, but that's a different thing.  The reason that trash strikes are so noticeable is because otherwise trash doesn't pile up to the sky, unlike other places I've lived.  Greeks do expect the state to take care of public areas somewhat, but not to the degree that former Soviet cultures do, and there's still a village mentality of "this is our area, we take pride in it."

So anyway, dead cat in the middle of the road, woo-oop!

Then a big cicada hit me in the face and got caught in my hair.  I had the willies for a whole 'nother mile after that.  I hate cicadas.

And finally, the metro train I got didn't have air conditioning, and the smell was a little much.  This caused me and my cow-orker to compare "bad smells around the world."  Greece, even in the metro during the summer, doesn't even come close to topping the list.  For me, durian (in any form) is the winner.  The Carrefour here is in the top 5, because the sewage pipes are always broken and dripping into the carpark.  The paper mill in Antioch, CA and the meat packing plant in Roswell are also in the top 5.

Anyway, work was work.  We all had to leave the embassy "early" (at 6:00...but these freaks schedule meetings at 5:00 pm) due to yet another demonstration.  The Greeks have been demonstrating at the American Embassy since mid-June, showing solidarity with the Palestinians and Lebanese against Israel.  I'm not sure why they are demonstrating against us, but there you are.  A week or so ago, demonstrators pulled down the statue of Truman (erected downtown in honor of the Truman Doctrine, which most Greeks I talk to now have never heard of, just as they've never heard of the Marshall Plan) and then went on to assault a couple police officers, taking one's gun and putting two in the hospital.  Turns out Greek policemen aren't allowed to use deadly force when someone tries to take their weapon.

The Greeks' position on the Israeli-Hezbollah conflict is really annoying me.  If Macedonians came into Greece and kidnapped a couple Greek soliders, you can bet your bottom drachma that Greece would respond much as Israel has done, and tell anyone who said they shouldn't to get bent. 

But maybe it's just summer and the kids are bored, and at a demonstration you get to listen to music and hang with your friends.
zonewombat: (Default)
...property development time in Attica.

Coming back from yet another doctor visit (and that's another post), driving around Mt. Ymittos, I noticed a couple big fires on the side away from Athens and one in the neighborhood next to mine in Athens.  The two on the less developed side were quite big, burning a lot of cypress and olive trees.  Everyone I mentioned these fires to has said, "Yeah, well, it's property development time."

Here's the deal:  The Greek government says some land can't be "developed" (I hate the use of that word for "used to support ugly buildings") because it's protected forest.  So the developers set fire to it, et voila, it's not protected forest anymore.  That's Stage 1.  Now, it can be developed, but the developer still doesn't have legal rights and those cost money and paperwork and time.  But the law in Greece says that if you've already built a certain amount of structure on some land, it's yours to develop.  So Stage 2 is the developers working overnight to erect a wall or something on the burnt land.  And that's it - now previously-protected forest becomes high-density apartments or a house for the wealthy.

There are a couple reasons for doing this in August - the fires burn faster and spread faster (not always a good thing - last year one got out of control and burned over 100 acres and a lot of other homes), and many of the authorities are on vacation on the islands or elsewhere in Europe, so you have a slightly longer window to build your wildcat wall.

Of course, there are accidental fires this time of year as well.  A friend of mine lives on the side of a hill, at the limit of the buildings.  Above her house is bare hill, and it's surrounded by a chain link fence to prevent people setting it on fire.  It caught fire anyway last week, and a big crowd gathered to watch - hundreds of people pressed up against the fence, in danger of getting immolated if the fire jumped.  My friend was watching from her balcony, ready to evacuate with her pets, when she saw the firefighting plane fly over and dump its load of seawater...on the people.  They were all swept down the hillside, washed ass-over-teakettle away from the fire.  There may have been casualties - the water rolled a car over - but although it's the talk of her neighborhood, nothing's been in the paper.  We're wondering if the plane dropped the water on the people on purpose.  Either way, everyone finds this extremely funny and laughs like a drain when they hear about it.

This same hillside burnt during the Olympics.  The woman who organized the Olympics lives on the same hill, and had a party at her house, with fireworks, to celebrate the successful Games.  One of the fireworks came down on the hill and set fire to it.  The firetrucks arrived, but the gate in the chainlink fence had a padlock and chain on it, so the firemen proceeded no further, leaning on their trucks and smoking.
zonewombat: (real world overrated)
Well, as much as I'd like to believe Athens is breeding super-mosquitoes, the article is from Ta Nea, which doesn't have the best track record of accuracy.

And I'm getting way conspiracy-theorist in my dotage.  My first reaction on hearing that Kenneth Lay died out from under his jail sentence was to doubt that he's actually dead.

Bummed that England's out of the World Cup - they could use a win.  I'm still quite OD'd on the whole thing, close to having a Cayce-Pollard-style allergic reaction if I pull another FIFA toy out of my cereal, but I did see a very pregnant woman the other day who had painted her stomach like a football.  Soccer ball. Futbol.

And finally, any recommendations for buying makeup online?  I can't order from Sephora, the Smashbox site is out of stock on the thing I'm looking for, and I'm not sure where else to look.

good day

Jun. 23rd, 2006 09:20 pm
zonewombat: (wallis)
So I had a Me Day today.  The nanny came here, rather than me taking Mal there, as currently there are 4 people living in her 420-sq-ft apartment.  One of her roommates sits another embassy baby (who is a month younger than Mal and already walking, grrr), and when both babies are there they usually spend the day in the park, but it's just too hot for that.  So she came here.  So no lazing around in bed or tub like I'd planned, but that was okay.

Instead I went to work.  I know, I know, lame.  But I had a brainwave about this database I'm designing.  While there, I called my credit card company using the tie line, since once again they've forgotten I live in Greece and have freaked out about charges to my card from Greece.  Which they do every 3 months or so.  Not off to a great start for a Me Day, but there was only me and one other guy in the whole office suite, so I shut my door and curled up on the couch in my office and had a nap anyway.  Normally I wouldn't have done so, but Mal had nightmares last night - literally woke up with a shriek at one point - so I brought him into bed with me and got next to no sleep.  Even if we'd wanted to co-sleep, Mal's not a good candidate for it.  He Never. Stops. Moving.  While lightly asleep he constantly works his feet and hands, feeling anything around (which means pulling my hair if we're sleeping together, and always means kicking all covers off).  He must have his head wedged against something, and scooches until he does.  When deeply asleep, random tiny muscles twitch all over his body as random nerves fire.  Only rarely does he do the baby coma thing.  I'd had enough of being roughed up by him all night BEFORE giving birth, let me tell you.

So yeah, I was exhausted.  It wasn't the best nap ever, but restored me to a functional state.

I dropped by to tell the other guy I was leaving, and he showed me a trinket he'd picked up.  Several stores here sell these small clay figurines of Greek Orthodox priests doing various things - giving sermons, playing backgammon, stuff like that.  He'd found one that was a priest blessing a woman...who is kneeling in front of him with her head buried in the folds of his robe at his groin.  He's got one hand on her head.  Yeah.  SOMEONE's getting blessed.

After that I headed to the kafenio, got a freddo and sat near a fountain, drinking caffiene and reading a book.  From there I wandered by a couple stores.  There's no real point to shopping just now, as summer sales can't start until July 17, but I checked in a few of the Chinese stores and got a couple t-shirts.  I poked my head in to say hi to my hairdresser, who had no clients and was eager to chat, so I ended up talking with her for an hour.  I am now seriously jealous of her god-daughter, who is working on a wildlife preserve in Kenya.  There were photos of the GD giving a baby giraffe a bottle and grooming a cheetah.  Since I was just hanging out, my hairdresser trimmed my hair up also (for free!), so it's a bit shorter and straight across the bottom, rather than longer in back.  It's cute, and summery.

Then I wandered over to my usual place and got a souvlaki and chatted with the people who run the souvlaki shop, and took a fairly rambling route home.  I was pouring sweat by the time I got to my house, and the heat and pollution had started to set off my asthma, so the hike up the last hill was tough, but I felt wrung out and relaxed and it was good.

And when I came back, we all sat on the back porch and ate cherries and blew bubbles.  Mal would dip the wand into the liquid, then hand it to me or the nanny, we'd blow the bubbles, he'd watch them and laugh, then demand the wand back.  And the nanny pointed out that Mal says "Yeah" just like I do.
zonewombat: (athens)
I speak Greek better now than when I left on R&R. Actually, I don't think that's true, I think I just can focus on how much more I understand and can say than the last time I got off a plane in Athens.

R mentioned that a disconnect of being in the States is seeing minorities. Athens is extremely homogenous, and even knowing that I stand out, I tend to forget how homogenous it is. I really noticed when I got back, how much everybody looks the same.

I hung bird feeders on the back porch. Two weeks with no action on them. Plenty of birds in the back yard, and I did my research for the feeders and seed type to match the birds...but the birds here have no clue what a bird feeder is.

OTOH, we did see a pair of hoopoes! So very cool. They were grazing in the park across the street. I thought they were woodpeckers at first.

I've also gotten very comfortable with eating at 8:30 pm, and having dinner last longer than an hour (usually two). It's not quite Greek style (10:30 pm - 2:00 am dinner), but it's not US style (6:30 at the latest, and the wait staff will run you out at the 45 minute mark). Once again I realize I'm not really USian, but not really European or anything else.
zonewombat: (Default)
Mal and I made it back safe and sound, and with no more "luggage irregularities." (Two lost bags in one trip - I'm getting a complex). We even got to go through the poofy air thing at Dulles, which checked us out for Chemicals of Doom.

Mal, who had been a pleasure to travel with the whole trip, melted down in a big way shortly after takeoff from DC. I Benadryl'd him and then a lovely Indian woman and her 3 lovely daughters took him and played with him for about 30 minutes. He quieted right down, and slept the sleep of the drugged for the rest of the flight.

On the Frankfurt to Athens leg, a Greek woman sitting next to me offered to hold him while I ate, and when I looked up she had introduced him to the people behind, who had given him a jam croissant and some cookies - he had food clutched in both fists and was grinning at me.

Robert had been hit by a motorcycle (he was turning left from our one-way street, and the motorcycle was on the sidewalk and tried to go straight, bouncing off the middle of our car) the day before I got back, resulting in no real damage to the car. But as you know, car issues come in bunches. The car died on me halfway to the store today, about 45 minutes from home. While I was driving. It just stopped.

Picture the most congested urban area you've ever seen - Times Square, Hollywood and Vine, Foggy Bottom - and then take away 2/3 of the space for that much traffic, and that's about where the car quit. Just died. I had to pump the brakes feverishly to not hit someone, and then try to push the car off onto a side street. This was a one-lane road with traffic in both directions, and people were honking and gesticulating at me to get out of their way...as I'm PUSHING MY CAR. Finally an old man helped me, and then a guy got off his motorcycle and between us we got it onto the curb. Naturally I hadn't put my cellphone back in my purse after returning to Greece, so I had to walk .5 mile to the major street, with Mal, in the 100 degree sun, to try to get a taxi. About 14 refused to pick me up, as it's not convenient to get to my neighborhood. I gave the 15th a nice tip, and Mallory (standing on my lap, as no car seat) made friends with all the people in cars next to us, who smiled and waved back at him.

So the rest of my day involved getting the car towed, taxiing back to it and back home, paying a lot of cash for the towing, and generally not getting groceries. All with a jet-lagging baby.

REALLY looking forward to going into work tomorrow, where it's safe and calm.
zonewombat: (wasteland)
I left the window in Mal's room cracked open last night, and sat there a bit even after he'd fallen asleep, listening to the carillion and the Easter liturgical singing. The liturgy is often broadcast on loudspeakers. Always at Easter, as attendance exceeds the church's capacity and many worshippers stand outside, on the plaza around the church, but sometimes weekly as well, so that the elderly and handicapped who can't get to church can partake. It sounds a bit like the muezzin's call to prayer, but of course that's just me being an ignorant westerner, because it's NOT and how dare I compare it and there's NO WAY that 400 years of occupation left any sort of cultural mark, got it? Okay then.

Our neighbors started grilling their lamb yesterday. It smelled absolutely disgusting, but today it's smelling pretty yummy. I have a slight problem with the run-up to Easter, as I like my meat to look as little like its origin as possible, and shopping before Easter is all about lamb carcasses. And suckling pig carcasses. Even if you don't go near the butcher, the grocery stores clear out their meat section, remove the shelves, and hang the lamb carcasses there. But I did get a candle shaped like a red egg as a lagniappe from shopping at Alpha Beta yesterday.

I bought Easter candles for a couple people, but we aren't doing anything for the holiday other than preparing for the Secretary's visit. (I feel like compiling my own list of "25 Things Raq Isn't Allowed To Do," including offering to take the Secretary shoe shopping, or playing this song in the official vehicle.) I got Robert an Easter candle as well, one with a big resin pirate attached to it. It boggled me at first that you can get Easter candles with fairies, pirates, clowns, cowboys, even a Sioux with a teepee, but then I realized that Easter, while very religious, is also the analog of American Christmas. I mean, if you can get Christmas ornaments shaped like Superman, a grey alien, a gargoyle, or a dressage rider (all of which we have), why not have the same for Easter candles?

Mallory, for his part, wants us to start observing Passover. We told him that we're not Jewish, but he pointed out that as the first-born son, he's in favor of this holiday.
zonewombat: (athens)
We ran into a demonstration at lunch today, marching down the street. At first I thought it was the garbage collectors (on strike AGAIN), and then I thought it was maybe people protesting the fact that garbage hasn't been picked up in a week and the city is nasty. You can't even drive down some streets because the trash has spilled into them.

They handed us a flyer, which I really wasn't able to translate, although the waitress at lunch helped some. Apparently they were demonstrating in sympathy with the French protesters. The prominent line was "THE RIGHT TO UNEMPLOYMENT."

*********************

In other news, there's a film festival in the States (Philadelphia, I think) that's showing, among other things, Greece's first-ever zombie movie.

Greece is clearly way behind in the zombie race. I'm not sure why it took them so long to make a zombie movie. All I can figure is that what with the anarchists torching all the traffic and security cameras around town, they were hard pressed to come up with the original footage.

The plague

Apr. 10th, 2006 08:56 pm
zonewombat: (athens)
I have been freaking caterpillared.

I'm guessing I got caterpillared on Saturday at the Easter party, because I've been assiduously cleaning them off our porches...and I didn't go outside between the party and the first welts showing up at around 3:00 am this morning.

Now I have red welts and blisters on my ankles, my neck, the insides of both arms, and disturbingly, my palms. I scratched one on my left palm open during the night (which is how I discovered all of this). Fuckity fuck fuck itchitchitchitchitch. I am swathed in cortizone.

So yeah, caterpillars, or possibly bubonic plague.

And to make my life more surreal, Steve Dallas' mother just walked by my house.

Surfing

Apr. 5th, 2006 02:59 pm
zonewombat: (family)
I was supposed to have my annual ob/gyn kenobi exam today, but I couldn't get a babysitter. So cancelled. It turns out Robert is really bored at work and could have watched Mal for an hour (my doctor is a couple blocks from the embassy) but we couldn't know that in advance.

So I played with Mal all day until he crashed for a long nap, during which I worked on revising this short story.

I'm probably not the first woman to forego a PAP in favor of writing.

Playing with Mallory was good too. I had to clean the balconies, as pollen was about an inch deep on them. Not to mention a few random poisonous caterpillars that had wound up on our balconies. (These caterpillars are very odd. They huddle in bunches of 50 of so on the ground, and when they go somewhere they line up nose to tail - not that caterpillars have either - and trundle along in a line. You'd think they'd be prime picking for birds, but they are highly caustic. Contact with them results in something almost indistinguishable from chicken pox.)

So I put Mal in his wetsuit and he splashed about in the water as I hosed down and squeegeed the upstairs balcony. Downstairs was dirtier, so he sat in his stroller under the trees and watched me and the kitties and the birds. Of course, the nasty feral cats are the main reason why the balcony is so gross, but to Mal they are kitties.

After that we strolled over to the park and played on the swings. One of the tortoises who lives in the park was running around (for a tortoise) and we watched her searching for particularly succulent plants while we had lunch. It was a gorgeous day to be outside, the best kind of day to not work full-time.
zonewombat: (travel)
I'm going to guess Athens wasn't even a choice, but I wouldn't have gotten it anyway as lord knows I don't belong here. This answer is actually pretty good, although I would prefer to live in Yorkshire and visit London.

European cities I don't want to live in: Amsterdam, Paris, Berlin, Rome. Cities I'd consider: Munich, Prague, Lisbon, Milan, Venice.

You Belong in London

You belong in London, but you belong in many cities... Hong Kong, San Francisco, Sidney. You fit in almost anywhere.
And London is diverse and international enough to satisfy many of your tastes. From curry to Shakespeare, London (almost) has it all!

Killer App

Mar. 9th, 2006 07:41 am
zonewombat: (Default)
I've discovered a new use for my phone camera.

About once a week, I will be in a traffic altercation. This is when nobody gets hit, nobody gets hurt, but at least one person slams on their brakes, jumps out of their car, and starts screaming at the other person, with many gesticulations.

So far, every time this has happened, it's because the other driver did something stupid and I either didn't let them or called them on it. Yesterday, a car on the cross street forced its way in between me and the car in front of me (my street has right of way, the cross street has a stop), and the car behind him rolled through the stop and tried to sneak in also, while I was stopped. I hadn't stopped, though, just slowed enough to clear the first car and not let another in. But the sneaky car hadn't looked (because then he couldn't have gone), so he got stuck, unable to complete his manuever without scraping along my grill, and I was stuck, unable to go forward without hitting him. So I honked.

Last week, I was walking across the street (empty, no cars), when a guy came flying around the corner two blocks up (incidentally he'd been going the wrong way on that one-way street), ran two stop signs, and nearly ran me down. I hadn't bolted, because I thought surely, with a ped in the way, he'd stop at the second sign. And it's a wide street; running flat out is the only way I might have made it. So I flung myself aside, and I sorta kinda let my bag hit the back of his car. He SLAMS on his brakes, starts screaming at me, yadda yadda yadda.

That's the kind of thing that is a "traffic altercation." My unscientific survey of the embassy community indicates that women are the victims 2-to-1 over men, but every man has had an out-of-car experience also.

It's frustrating, because I can't speak Greek well enough to say, "Look, you were clearly in a hurry. It's costing you way more time to yell at me than it would've cost you to FUCKING STOP AT THE FUCKING STOP SIGN, ASSHOLE!!!!" I mean, I only know how to say "FUCKING ASSHOLE!!!" Which, admittedly, goes a long way.

So I've developed the habit of staring at the guy with the same expression I use in staff meetings. The obviously artfully neutral one that says, "You gonna be wrapping up soon? Coz I need to rearrange my post-it notes."

Yesterday I got bored with that, so I reached into my purse and pulled out my phone, and started taking photos of the guy, still with the same bored expression, looking for particularly good facial contortions. He was startled, then scared, and left.

I figure the responses will be much like that, or a particular bully will try to grab for the phone. But then I have been attacked, and can start breaking his bones.
zonewombat: (Default)
Today is Clean Monday. We don't normally get it as a holiday at the Embassy, as we normally hit our federally-mandated maximum holiday allowance with just the national-secular and big Orthodoxidays. However, we're not getting March 25th this year (dagnabbit) and getting Clean Monday instead.

CM is an Orthodox-only holiday, as I understand it, along the lines of Fat, Ash, Shrove, and Good days in the run-up to Christ's Resurrection. On Clean Monday you purify yourself by eating nothing with blood in it (which includes olive oil in this house, but that's a whole 'nother post), drinking no alcohol, consuming no tobacco.

Unsurprisingly, pretty much every Athenian has fled town. I can't even imagine alcohol-free, smoke-free, meat-free Greeks, and I'm sure they can't either...I think everyone understands that no one will be good company today.

Seriously, most folks have headed to their villages or islands, which makes traffic GREAT.

Not smoking or drinking much, we've observed Clean Monday by eating only strawberry shortcake and cleaning the house. I rescrubbed the oven after setting fire to it last night. I still don't know where the grease came from; maybe the nanny had finally had enough of the feral cats at the back door.

Oh okay, I'll throw the olive oil story in here, rather than spamming LJ. I broke a bottle of (really good) olive oil yesterday. When it hit the marble floor, it became smithereens, some of which punctured my feet. I was wearing my flip-flops. The worst was a goodly-sized puncture about 3 mm from the big vein on the side of my arch. I discovered while standing there that when blood flows into olive oil, it works just like a lava lamp.

So yeah, it wasn't the daily-use oil, but that's okay as that's a 2-liter bottle. Nor was it the special Gold Label Special Reserve Oilgasm stuff. But I'm still crabby.

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