Friday, July 6, 2012

Summer in a Seaside Village in Greece

It's been very hot and humid in Greece this July. Summer in Greece is an experience that you tolerate... or...you wilt.
As the sun rises out of the sea, the village of Poulithra wakens.  The sound of the baker hawking baked goods from his truck is heard wafting over my balcony...
...as I take my cup of tsai apo tin vouno (wild mountain tea), read The International Herald Tribune, enjoy the regional sheep's milk yogurt with thyme honey and biscosti from the best bakery around.
The salty silky water beckons me to this secluded beach for a healing swim.
Then hunger beckons, which calls for a little horiataki salad, calamari and stuffed peppers and tomatoes by the seaside...
...with a good friend...
...under the shade of an olive tree...
...or umbrellas of the village taverna.
Then siesta time back at my room during the heat of midday...
...only to repeat this pattern in the evening at another beach...
...only to return to my room with a view of grandmother moon setting over the mountains and call it a night.
Kalinichta Poulithra.  Avrio will be another immersion course in relaxation.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Athens or London?

 Following your bliss isn't easy sometimes.  Sometimes it is downright difficult!

That's what I'm doing in London and Athens and further down into the villages of the Peloponnese...following a dream deferred that I didn't know I had until the dust of motherhood settled a little bit.

Forty plus years later, I've taken on the art of filmmaking in the digital age.
At my age, that ain't easy.  But it is said that the way to beat the onrush of old age dementia is to learn something new.

We're not talking crossword puzzles, (although they are an endless source of fun for my husband and me), but something new and difficult, to work your brain cell connections  in a way that forces growth of new neuro-pathways as in a foreign language or keeping up with the Kardashians...er...or in the wonders of micro technology...as in digital filmmaking.

So off to London I go to follow my favorite teacher Michael Rosenblum,  who teaches bootcamp courses in New York and London, on becoming a video journalist.  He believes that we all can report the news and journal about the world from wherever we may be, given we learn how to do it.

Much of what I spend time fumbling about with, is the techno stuff.  Drives me crazy. But I adore all the possibilities of telling a good story visually and audibly.  Makes my heart sing to bring to you some of the beauty I hear and see when I travel this lovely Mother Earth.  (Smell-a-vision must be just around the corner.)

Winston was right when he said it would be "blood, sweat and tears" shed for England.  I did all three while making this one-minute mini-doc, about a man I found 15 minutes before he went on stage to play his recorders, during a lunchtime concert at St. Pancras Church in central London.

The crush of the deadline met, the rush of the screening given two thumbs up by my favorite teacher and classmates, and the pleasure of meeting someone who was a stranger just minutes before and is now a very fond memory, is the cure for shyness that my inner doctor ordered.

Nothing ventured, nothing gained.  To push your limits just one step further than ever before, is living on the edge just a bit.  Enough for this goddess crone.

Friday, May 25, 2012

My sister from Travels with Persephone travelswithpersephone.blogspot.com 
awarded me a Versatile Blogger Honor - 
(I think that's what it is called)  

I'm suppose to rattle off seven random things about myself...so here goes...

1)    Looking through old photos on my old PC (which is why I have this old photo of me above taken somewhere in Peru)...in what else...a food market...look at my mona-lisa/cheshire-cat-smile...(and my very short haircut)...and you should be able to tell what makes me happy... shopping in produce markets all over the world...which gives me an idea to write a blog post with all the photos of me in markets...could be a big post though.

2)    I am a speaker and reader of several foreign languages, all mostly poorly, my English is getting worse and my  French is my best-est (and I now make up words), and one of my greatest faux pas was when I was 16 staying with a French family and they asked me if I had enough food.  I responded by saying, "Oui, je suis pleine", which means, "Yes, I am pregnant."  Most of the time now I am just confused and try everything...but I do understand menus very well.

3)    The schizo part of me is working on not having a total meltdown when the WiFi you were relying on doesn't work in that remote part of the world ...I know...very schizo of me.  Anyone have a solution?

4)    Did I ever tell you I am a flaming feminist environmentalist activist filmmaker educator traveler cultural addict?  Big time.

5)    Drumming with a group and dancing with the lights down low makes me happy happy.

6)    Bees, olive trees and roses and their elixers are my latest passions...

7)    I am a shaman (and YOU may be one too) ever on a spiritual path to balance the feminine and the masculine ways. Here I am (another very old photo) shopping in the shaman's market in one of my favorite cities in the world, Cusco, Peru.  Hanging in the doorway are some honkin' big dried llama fetuses, used in Despacho ceremonies.

Ciao bellos

Friday, March 2, 2012

Our Big COSTA Cruise

A couple of fall cruising seasons ago, my husband and I did something we've never done before...we went cruising...and we chose a cruise with COSTA Cruise lines, out of Genoa, Italy to the Western Mediterranean.  It seemed like a good idea at the time.
The idea of seeing Mediterranean ports from a ship felt appropriate, after all, these ports grew out of days of ocean travel.  The itinerary that I liked was the one that hit upon all the ancient highlights, starting from the port of departure where Christoph Colombo left Italia to sail the oceans blue, through the straits of Gibraltar and back.  We docked in Malaga, Casablanca, Cadiz, Lisbon, Valencia and Barcelona.
These ships are big. How big you ask?  The COSTA Magica, which was our vessel for 10 days, holds 3500 passengers plus double that in crew to serve you.  And they serve you and serve you 24/7.  We also became students during the cruise, filling our wise old heads with more information than our elder bodies could absorb.  Sitting for hours, listening to even the most scintillating presenters, is difficult for seniors and juniors alike.  Throw in a few buffets between sessions...you get the picture.
Dining can be casual, buffet, snack bar, small fancy restaurant or big group dining with layers of seatings, in the main dining room, as seen in this photo above. You choose your menu and your table mates and order your beverages at each meal- all six of them!  It is a virtual floating feeding trough.
When in ports of call, your can choose from various optional day tours, which can be relatively short or up to 10 hours, based on length of stay in each port.  Arriving in Casablanca for instance, a long bus ride to the interior cities, such as Fez or Marrakesh, may take 4 hours each way on a bus with walking tours lasting a couple of hours at your destination.
Our draw to the cruise in the first place, was the added attraction of a fascinating Scientific American line-up of professors at the top in their fields of specialty, on topics of current scientific interest.  Here we are enjoying Dr. Jeannette Norden discuss Parkinson's disease of the human brain.
The very first gathering on board the COSTA Magica was an evacuation drill, complete with your personal flotation devices, found in the closet in your cabin.  You must read all the rules and regulations right after finding your cabin, and before you even unpack.  How to put on the vest, secure it, lights and whistles, and which stairway and deck position you dutifully go directly to, and stand in a line with your group... and listen up!  These will be your 158 fellow passengers in an emergency.
Here I am looking out over old Lisbon warehouses, as we find our berth in port for a long day. As I remember, there were a dozen stories on our ship with multiple elevators extending the heights, as well as 3 pools, 8 bars, a huge theater, several dance floors,  and a casino.  
As we were crossing the opening of the Mediterranean to the Atlantic, from Morocco to Portugal, we had rough water, and I clearly remember wondering if these floating cities ever flounder...how do they stay afloat?  But then, I know now that they can flounder at the helm of an idiot pilot.
Remember to say I love you... often... to your loved ones.  And buy travel insurance. 
Blessings to the families of the COSTA Concordia victims and survivors.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Modern Neanderthals in Rome

Neanderthals had been wandering around Europe and Italy more than 20,000 - 40,000 years ago, but by the start of the Bronze Age around 2000 BCE, there are archaeologic records of several Italic tribes spread throughout Italy.
Neanderthal Child
Image by Google
Last November this modern day Neanderthal spent her 60th birthday in Rome (yes, I have the large brow and claim that lineage.)  Looking through all the photos, I see again what I saw then, and what drew our ancient ancestors to this fantastically bella citta on the banks of the Tevere River (Tiber).  While pondering the layers of "civilization" heaped upon Rome, I wondered if we have come very far from the peak of the Roman Empire.  So sit back and take an armchair scroll through my reckoning of some of our ancestors who journeyed on the Apennine Peninsula - from a feminine perspective.

Around 900 BCE (BCE= before common era, latest terminology) the Etruscans settled and controlled the area between the Arno River in Tuscany and the Tevere River in Rome. The Etruscans continued to develop alongside the founding of Rome only to be eventually overwhelmed by the Roman Republic. 

Apennine Peninsula

The last Etruscan City fell to Rome around 300 BCE.  Etruscan women have had sordid stories written about them and their behaviors, which today are disputed for their slanted point of view, all written by men - and so I count this time as a starting point when misogyny was found to exist.
Estruscan Woman

Romulus and Remus suckled by a she-wolf
Legend has it that Rome was founded on seven hills and the twins Romulus and Remus, born into a disputed patriarchal lineage, were sentenced to be murdered.  So off they were sent in a basket downstream, only to be found and suckled by a she-wolf.  Romulus killed Remus and became the first of kings in the kingdoms of rulers, succeeded by a republic governed by  republican consuls and finally an empire of emperors. 
Somehow this story is awfully similar to baby Moses in the basket down the Nile, Cain and Abel and Mogli.  Our myths do repeat themselves! 
Greek colonies were scattered throughout the southwest coast of Italy and became known as Magna Graecia.

There is such a long history of settlement in the area we now call Rome, that it boggles the mind.  So I am cherry-picking tidbits that may not be so well known to everyone - "Deborah's Pics."

Great spectacles were held for hundreds of years at this colosseum.  Wealthy Romans funded the events, ever practicing "one-ups-manship" with each successive performance.  At one point the arena was flooded to stage battleship fights and at another event hundreds of wild animals were brought in to compete with gladiators.  All very bizarre, until you think of today's Super Bowl football championships.  Have we really progressed in civility?
Inside the colosseum, you can view the rooms beneath the stage where wild animals, human gladiators and religious cultists, like the Christians, were held, before various entertainment exhibitions.  Sun canopies extended out over the bleachers for sections for seating of the wealthy Romans, such as the senators and their women.  Yes, at this point in history, women were possessions and became co-conspiritors to wield influence.

I am a "big picture" type thinker,  although I can focus on specific issues from time to time.  In the past few years I've been fascinated by the works of my 3 favorite authors: Layne Redmond, Craig Barnes and Leonard Shlain.  All of these authors write about the time in human evolution when we lost our love and respect for women in society.

Layne Redmond, in her book When the Drummers Were the Women, A Spiritual History of Women, offers proof that rhythm is our mother tongue, buried in the beat and burned at the stake, evoking a hunger for our true pre-written word roots.  Throughout pre-Christian history, drumming was used by Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cultures as a medium of communication and spirituality and as a way of exploring human consciousness in connection to the surrounding world.  Growing out of a powerful feminine and goddess tradition, these mystical practices flourished in temples and secular life until they were forcibly suppressed by the advent of Christianity.
Cybele the Mother Goddess with her drum
Image by Google

Craig Barnes explains in his book, In Search of the Lost Feminine, the mysterious disappearance of ancient cultures in which women and the environment were at the center and how it came to be that societal forces shaped our current culture of misogyny and glorification of war. His focus is on the Minoan culture, cities linked around the Aegean Sea rim, centered on the islands of Crete and Akrotiri on Thera and most likely covered up for millennia by the volcanic shock wave and ash from the huge eruption of the volcano which blew apart the island of Thera, otherwise known today as Santorini.
Minoan Woman
Image by Google

Leonard Shlain, in his groundbreaking books, The Alphabet Versus the Goddess, (The Conflict Between Word and Image), and Sex, Time and Power, (How Women's Sexuality Shaped Human Evolution), he proposes that the rise of alphabetic literacy - the process of reading and writing - fundamentally reconfigured the human brain, and brought about profound changes in history, religion, and gender relations.  Examining the cultures of the Israelites, Greeks, Christians, and Muslims, he reinterprets many myths and parables in light of his theory.  Shlain traces the effect of literacy on the Dark Ages, Mary, Gutenberg, the Reformation, and the witch hunts. 

Famous "Pieta" Statue in St. Peter's Basilica by Michaelangelo
Mary, mother of Jesus, mourns the death of her only child, a son, by crucifixion.  Mothers throughout time have worried about their children's health and well-being.  This particular visit to Rome struck a motherly chord for me.
So I studied Italian and wandered around Rome during my two week stay, with my son, who put up with me and my choices of things to do and places to visit.  Thank you sweetie!
Here I am facing the inside of St. Peter's on Sunday, searching for the section of the basilica where la messa is said by men, and sung by choirs of angels.  "Il Papa" wasn't saying mass, but "uno cardinale" was.  You press to the back of the expansive interior with all the others, beyond a gate, and act like a Roman Catholic.  It is one of the benefits of being raised a Roman Catholic, to understand what is going on, no matter where in the world you are attending the service.  It is a ritual I thoroughly enjoy.  Even though today mass is said in the native language of each country, I make the effort to recite and sing in the native voice whenever I can.
Molti bambini are baptized after Mass.  This was the first of many that Sunday.  Notice the huge baptismal font behind the mama and nonna and bambina.
The faithful come and go through the massive front doors and walk over the colorful marble floors that have felt many a footstep.

Under this red marble is buried the beloved Pope John XXIII.
The magnificent canopy where the Popes have said Masses for eons.
Outside after Mass were musicians and dancers, dancing dances of peace.  Of course I had to join in!  This short video of 13 seconds gives a taste of the action.
Once a month on a Sunday, the Vatican Museum is open for free.  It is just one complex of buildings that make up Vatican City.  Imagine the Louvre full of Catholic Church treasures.  Recognize this Chagall above?  There are numerous versions of "The Pieta" which means "the pity" in Italiano.
This above is a huge mural in one room of the Vatican Museum which was painted by Raphael Sanzio (1483 - 1520) depicting all the "movers and shakers and thinkers" of that time, hanging out in a fantasy time together, in the Roman Forum.  It's in the Room of Segnatura, which explains the room's function as the Papal library where official acts were signed.  Men, men and more men.  Where were the women?  

The painting above is called "School of Athens", and includes a multitude of philosophers surrounding the two greatest thinkers by this time, Plato in the center pointing up and Aristotle next to him pointing down.  Plato points up to remind us that mathematics and pure ideas are the source of truth, while Aristotle points down showing his preference for scientific study of the material world.  The bearded figure of Plato is none other than Leonardo da Vinci  - Raphael's tribute to the aging master.  Michelangelo is shown meditating, sitting with his head in his hand in the foreground.

Other thinkers of the world are depicted including Heracleitus, Euclid, Diogenes, Ptolomy, Zoroaster, Apollo surrounded by Muses, famous poets and men of letters, including Homer, Dante on the left in profile and Raphael himself second from the right in the green cap.
All the rooms in the Vatican apartments painted by Raphael lead up to the even more famous Sistine Chapel, painted over the lifetime of Michelangelo Buonarroti (1475 - 1564). 
Finally you get to the Sistine Chapel, after hours of wandering through room after room in the Vatican.  The Vatican City is actually considered a country.  Trust me - it feels like it when you are attempting to absorb it all in one afternoon.  Photos are not allowed in the Sistine Chapel, so this shot was taken surreptitiously when the guards weren't watching me.  I know for a fact that others are taking photos too - and the guards know it too - it's just a cat and mouse game.  Of course, it's for a couple of reasons:  flash photography over time can fade the colors  (they say, even though they are way up above you) and the second reason is that they want you to buy postcards in the gift shop.  What's so amazing about this ceiling art is all the three-dimensional optical illusions of depth and breadth, while it is all painted on a flat surface.  The whole chapel is a flat, vaulted room that Michelangelo created into a visual wonder of storytelling.

So it dawns on me around every corner of this masculine city with layers of stony testaments to men, hundreds of feet deep, that women were second class citizens, followed by the slaves.

But my feet are tired now...I will continue my Roman birthday ramblings in another posting with multi fotografia.  Buona Notte!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Angel of God, My Guardian Dear

Angel of God
My Guardian Dear
To Whom God's Love
Commits Me Here

Ever this Day
Be at My Side
To Light
To Guard
To Teach
To Guide

Thank you for the miracle you delivered to Mother Nature recently - you know which one I mean!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

All Hallow's Eve in My Hometown

As the sunsets over the Crazies, All Hallow's Eve is just setting in.  The wild and wooly are dressed to howl, and anything goes, nothing that made news during the year is sacred.

In Celtic roots, this season of darkness ushers in the lanterns of light, carved and carried inside squash and pumpkins in shapes intended to scare away evil and invite in the spirits.
Take a large pumpkin, wield a big knife and have at it.
Scrape out the seeds, (save for later to roast and salt and eat)...
...resulting in one gnarly Jack O' Lantern.

A few talented artists... and some not so much.

When out of pumpkins a squash will do.  
Cute smile!

Jack O' Lanterns defensive line-up.

Holy ghosts and poltergeists, deceased relations, saints and sinners mingle and merge.  Here are some notables in my hometown village, known for celebrating Halloween outrageously.  
Some of the most honorable citizens can play other roles less upright and way out there in left field during this ancient celebration.  From mayors to emergency response medical teams, from CEOs and teachers to lawyers and writers, hallow dolly!
The Mad Hatter,says, "It's my right to breathe mercury fumes and Down with the EPA!" (It was the devil that made her do it.)
One day this past summer brought golfball size hail balls that damaged roofs all over the village.  What became the roofer business boon was certainly the insurance companies loss. That's a twist!
 Yaqui Deer Dancer & Pirate were an odd couple.
Princess Beatrice took the sartorial cake at the royal wedding and won first prize in the best dressed category, of course.
      Who doesn't love Dorothy and Toto?
The latest version of the three stooges: 
Dr. Evil, Fat Bastard and Rep. Anthony Weiner, who tweeted his twitter.  Oops!
Just another man in high office behaving badly a la Dominique Strauss Kahn, Senator John Edwards, and Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger this past year.
 Repo Banker Man - No Joker!
Wise Witch of the West & the Devil's Temptress.
The Lone Ranger's date was Minnie the maid from The Help.  Chocolate pie m'am?
Must have a blond vixen with pink boa and silver bullet nipples at every party...
... & Corporate Sleeze sucking up to Uncle Sam.
Justin you are too cute!  What do you do?
Presto magic ~ please #$@&%* save us from ourselves!
The veil is the thinnest at this twilight wrinkle in time.  Let evil be gone and goodness reign.  Keep us safe and divinely guided. And thank you for a sense of humor.