Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Greek Sunset~ Travelin' Tuesday

(Photograph copyright: Kirsten Steen)

This sunset walk along my favorite site for strolling
in Nafplion, Greece
makes me think of ancient eyes watching this same dramatic scenery
a thousand years ago.

It must have looked similar~
Even some of the tastes were the same,
the land of golden olive oil and grapey, fermented wines.

I wonder if the sage greenery
and red ochre cliffsides looked the same~
the blue water
like a giant mirror to the stars.

Myths were built amid such beauty~

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The Language of Baklava~ Teaser Tuesdays

Hosted by MizB at shouldbereading.

Here's how to play:

*Grab your current read,
*Open to a random page,
*Share a few “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page,
*Please no spoilers!
*Share the title & author.

This week's choice is Diana Abu-Jaber's "The Language of Baklava":

"Mrs. Manarelli travels around the neighborhood with covered bundles that at first I think are babies. Then she comes to our house and I find out that it's food: pasta slippery with fresh pesto, or a plate of grilled sausages, or a whole roasted chicken. She cooks and then she looks for people to feed, because Johnny is always on a diet and Marco is delicate and sensitive and allergic to everything. When she and Bud meet, it's as if they've found each other at last. She raps on the glass of the kitchen door as Bud fries some lentils and tomatoes and onions. 'Hey you?' she calls. 'Whatcha doing in there? What is that in the pan?'"

I recently heard Diana Abu-Jaber speak about her writing and was as enthralled with her voice, her personal storytelling and anecdotes, as I was with this book. While she writes fiction as well, this 'culinary memoir' is deliciously filled with mouth-watering descriptions of her father's Jordanian cooking (and colorful personality) and each chapter includes family recipes, several of which I plan to try. I highly recommend her book, as well as her way of describing the world, and wish you luck while reading it. Keep something to snack on nearby.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Constant Flux~ Buddhist Thought for the Day

(Photograph copyright: Kirsten Steen)

“Buddhism holds that everything is in constant flux. Thus the question is whether we are to accept change passively and be swept away by it or whether we are to take the lead and create positive changes on our own initiative. While conservatism and self-protection might be likened to winter, night, and death, the spirit of pioneering and attempting to realize ideals evokes images of spring, morning, and birth.” ~ Daisaku Ikeda

Needed to hear this today. And I'll take spring, morning and birth!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

'Nother Bourtzi Day~ Travelin' Tuesday

(Photo copyright Kirsten Steen)

Thought you might enjoy another shot of Bourtzi from a different angle.
And a different boat.

The older gentleman who owns this sailboat
takes tourists out for a spin by the hour or the day.
And one of these days,
I'm gonna take him up on it.

Care to join me?
You bring the shrimp
and I'll bring the champagne.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Bourtzi~ Travelin' Tuesday

(Photograph copyright Kirsten Steen)

Today let's travel back to Greece!

Specifically Nafplion, a favorite haunt of ours.

Out beyond the little boat is the tiny Venetian castle

known as Bourtzi

also once known as home of The Executioner.

(Long ago, the town didn't believe the executioner should live within the city

so he was relegated to this teensy island.)

In Nafplion, Bourtzi is boasted to be the consummation place of

one of actress Melina Mercouri's marriages

(when it served as a hotel).

Mercouri was famous for several things:
actress, political activist and the first female Minister for Culture of Greece.

She starred as Ilya in the 1960 film

"Never on Sunday"

for which she won Best Actress at the 1960 Cannes Film Festival.

The film also featured her future husband, Jules Dassin,

who wrote, directed and starred.

Think I'll be putting this one on my queue.
Time for more things Greek!

(Poster photo thanks to Wikipedia)

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Writing Re-Treat

This would probably be the best Trick-or-Treat costume for me this past week.
I left on Halloween for Colonyhouse, the Oregon Writers Colony
Writing Retreat in Rockaway Beach (a 3~1/2 hour drive for me)
and, for the most part, have been sucker-cupped to my computer this week
with a few breaks for showering, eating and visiting with my writing companions.
If I had visual artist/graphic capabilities,
I would insert pen, notebook and computer
to the above photo.

It's my third visit to Colonyhouse (for photos and more info, click here) and I've booked myself a few more weeks next year, the luxury of uninterrupted writing time being hard to come by in the real world.

Right now I dedicate one day a week to writing
~and whatever other little tidbits of time I can sneak in~
but hope one day in the future to be able to set aside 2 or 3 days.

The once-a-month writer's week at Colonyhouse is normally one full work-week (technically Mon-Fri.) but one of my writing companions had 2 extra days coming so ours has been a FULL week. Such a gift! (And thank you again!)

Our week started off stormy, with the first night's winds whipped so high
I was afraid the roof might venture away looking for a new home or an even better view.
But after that, things calmed and we were blessed with a little sun
and a relatively serene week.

My room upstairs looks out onto a windswept tree
but yields a little view of the ocean to the right
and Lake Lytle to the left.

The storm wreaked havoc with some of the local wildlife
and birds became a theme during our week.

My writing partner (we normally meet on Mondays to spend a full day writing)
ended up performing two bird rescues the day after the storm
and while delivering them to the local wildlife rehabilitation center
got a call about a third (which, luckily, someone else was able to bring in).

I've been rereading Jonathan Livingston Seagull and, while here, dreamed of a spiritual bird sanctuary/zen-like retreat which I later realized was only a few blocks from the (real-life) place I go in my mind for meditational/guided imagery sessions.

Not certain about the meaning of the all the bird symbolism this past week (there were even more references to birds) but I know it will all be revealed. The fun is in the magical path (the journey/process) leading to the answers (the destination).

The Stormy Weather Arts Festival is on this weekend in Cannon Beach (and as I sit writing in a little cafe in Manzanita, the weather is cooperating to resemble its name). I took a few hours in my last couple of days to venture into Manzanita and Wheeler for some book browsing, antiquing and chai sipping.

The Cloud & Leaf Bookstore came highly recommended by my writing partner

and right next door is the Bread and Ocean Bakery/Bistro which makes a sticky bun seasoned with cardamom (!) and their own homemade chai,

serves dinner in the evenings...

and also sells a coffee brand I hadn't seen before. Sleepy Monk Coffee (locally roasted in Cannon Beach), organic and fair-trade. Loved the logo and coffee roast names.

There isn't much that's not charming in Manzanita...

and I'm looking forward to my next writing re-treat
for days of intensive writing,
symbolic insights
and breaks spent exploring on the Northern Oregon Coast.

(All photographs copyright Kirsten Steen)

Monday, November 1, 2010

Double Decker Fun~Missing Paris Day

Did you try the Double Decker Bus when in Paris?

We found it fun and informative~
A treat when you have out-of-town guests who are new to Paris,
a driver with a little joie de vivre
and a few good jokes.

Pick your seat in the sun, don your headphones
and allow someone else to entertain your guests with Paris' good side,
pointing out all your favorite side-stories along the way.

I like being able to hop off and stop into a cathedral for a taste of ancient dust
or a cafe to breathe in and savor a favorite sud ouest recipe
and sample a glass of something rather ruby-esque,
then jump back on and continue onto the tour's next destination.
The metro is fun (when you don't live in Paris)
but everyday life in between the major sites
is every bit as stimulating.
Don't miss it!

(I'll be on the lookout for this party hat to wear on my next birthday!)