Monday, October 16, 2023

Welcome To Nafplion To Do List

The tiny island of Bourtzi at night. 

After a week crossing Italy by car, we arrived in Greece. Anytime we get to Nafplion, we arrive to some new issues that need to be fixed.

The last few times (and years), among other things, it’s been the roof which leaked in various places. For a while, rainwater crept down the bedroom wall whenever a squall sailed its way across the Old Town. Once that was patched, water migrated to the kitchen where we could just perch a bucket precariously between the windowsill and the kitchen counter.

Bougainvillea still blooming in Greece

After finally replacing the roof, at nearly twice the cost of replacing our roof in the States, last year it was replacing the living room windows which had lost their seal and made the view of Palamidi, the 1700’s Venetian fortress just next to us, difficult to see, along with the hillside, the rooftops, and stairways. 


 I call it our Greek Money Pit. Ed, in response, says that it is our ‘Investment Property’ and please don’t call it that thing you call it. 

This time it’s the stairway lights not working (even though Ed climbed up on the ladder, replaced the bulbs, cleaned the sconces, etc.) Still not working. And we’re on the 4th floor. So, we have to call an electrician back in (after being here last time to fix a few light fixtures that simply would no longer work among other electrical issues.)

One of the things we awoke to the first morning (besides the sunrise over the bay at 7:30am and the smell of the peanut factory’s exhaust across the bay toward Argos) was what sounded like someone on the ceiling opening and closing something heavy. Ed said he could also hear it during the night so guessing we have an animal in the space between our ceiling and roof. Not sure how it could sound like it’s opening and closing a sliding door or window since there’s not one up there. Now we need to call the roofer back in to see if he can get up there, find out what it is and get it out. 

Walk around Akronafplia

We can’t drink the water in the Old Town (where our place is located) so we spend a lot of time either hauling bottled water up all the stairs (there are 3 flights of stairs up to our pedestrian street from the street below and then the four flights up in our building) or filtering, boiling, cooling and refiltering the tap water to use for coffee/tea and drinking water. We realized last time, after boiling it for coffee/tea water, just how much plastic is in bottled water (it sticks to the side of the pot after boiling like a white film and is frankly shocking) so sometimes we now even filter the bottled water. 

But the last two days have been sunny and crystal clear (the latter sometimes being few and far between here with the nearby factories), making the bay its otherwise indescribable Mediterranean blue just past the Old Town buildings in their varying shades of tan and pink, and the rolling waves of ochre rooftops with rounded clay tiles.

My To Do List includes cleaning windows, washing linens, replacing damaged things, and buying household items including a few pieces of furniture to make the downstairs apartment more livable. With guests coming in the spring, it still needs much work. Besides that, trying to get a few workouts in at a close-by gym along with writing time and submissions done. This does not include Ed's To Do List which is another ball game completely involving the attorney, tax payments, the engineer, roofer, electrician, water and electrical bills, repainting the terrace furniture and sanding and re-staining the terrace railing, which needs to be done nearly every other visit. 

The list of things to do here keeps my mind occupied from the unspeakable things in the news that are too horrific to describe or hold in one’s mind for too long. I know that we cannot look away and yet, I cannot look for long. I will make a point of watching more in-depth discussions to understand better and more deeply rather than the horrendous clips of unspeakable violence. They are meant to be watched with horror and fear and I won’t be a part of that aspect or help them fulfill that goal.

            Wishing you peace in your way of dealing with all you are seeing right now. May peace prevail at some point in the near future of our humanity. 


Saturday, September 23, 2023

Back in Paris

Back in Paris 
and it's been cool and rainy here. 
But nice to get some distance from the ad nauseam of US politics.
I've sent my guy down to the South of France
to help a friend look for real estate investments.
Looking at property is one of his favorite things to do
and they get some fun together which usually means eating much good food.
 I'm making the quiet time into a needed writing and reading retreat. 
Though most of my time has been spent sending out queries, also needed.  

Am including a few photos of one of my favorite buildings in the 15th,
the Art Nouveau gem by Jules Lavirotte built between 1899 and 1901.
I have to make a trip by it on every visit. 
To see a full blog post and more photos on the building,
click here:
Below are a couple of another of his buildings 
just around the corner on Square Rapp.  

Nice to be back on this forum after too much time away.
Wishing all a colorful and peaceful fall! 

(Photos copyright: Kirsten Steen)

Thursday, November 18, 2021

Journal Entry~ San Francisco

I'm back after a bit of a hiatus. 
Been traveling quite a bit this year 
 finally somewhat post-Covid,
and it's not as easy to write on the road as one might think. 
At least not for me. 

I've been going back and forth between ideas for the new novel
(or trying to sketch it out)
and my memoir. 
I reread a journal entry from my memoir notebook this morning 
that I'll share further down the page. 

When I was 12, my mother moved my sister and me, against our will, 
to San Francisco for five years. 
In our younger (read: less wise) days,
we tend to spend a fair amount of time blaming our parents for our shortcomings. 
(Again, can't speak for you, but I did.) 

While I felt I had plenty to blame my mother for,
as I was entering San Francisco one day not long after my mother died,
in the middle of crossing the Bay Bridge
admiring the gorgeous skyline of my favorite City, 
it occurred to me that I had not considered that I had her to thank 
for this stunning, uber-cool, sparkly, knock-your-socks-off City. 

My every bit of love for it, every memory, 
my almost painful feelings of nostalgia and missing it
and the feeling of coming home and going on vacation at the same time
every single time I return. 
I had her to thank for all of it. 
And I will never be able to thank her enough! 


"… It was no mistake. She was yours for a reason. You chose her just as she chose you. You were each other’s gifts. You were her gift to her world, the essence of herself to live beyond her limited time. She was your painful and difficult yet chosen, highly necessary and magical gift. Your gift to yourself.

… She gave you San Francisco, which means every single memory, person, feeling, thought you have about it. She gave them all to you. All the love for it. 

Jasmine (the 4 yr old who lived next door and became your first paying babysitting job), that adorable little soul who barely remembers you now, but you will never forget. 

Ghirardelli Square. Golden Gate Park. Union Square.

Riding up and down with her in the glass elevators of the St. Francis Hotel. 

Sundays on Mt. Tamalpais (Family Day- which we didn't want but Mom insisted on) with our blankets in the grass, French bread and Jack cheese, our comics and books and THE most stunning views of the City ever. 

  Liz. Which also means your first painful death experience in this life. She gave you that too. And she was there for it and comforted you and took care of you afterward.

… Land’s End with your favorite gorgeous, heartbreaking views of the Bay. 

 The haunting Marin headlands and the Golden Gate Bridge.

Picnics and family barbecues at Baker Beach.

Mountain Lake Park.

… Liz. And John and Patti and Susan and Wayne. Your unsurpassed high school view of the bridge.

… She gave you all these things and these people. Your love for Marin, your fond memories of holidays in Kentfield. Your dream of living there someday. Even your love for Pompeii, a gift from the book given to you by the patriarch (not long for this world) at those family gatherings. 

It all has to do with your heart, your writing, your evolution. 

There was absolutely no mistake... "

This entry came from a beautiful writing prompt from 

the writer and feminist theologian:

Meggan Watterson. 

The prompt is to connect with (think of) a being of your choosing:

Spirit, ancestor, a deceased loved one, a patron saint,

and begin the page with the phrase:

"What I want you to know is..." 

And write from there. 

Give it a try. 

You won't be sorry. 

(Photos copyright: Kirsten Steen) 


Wednesday, February 17, 2021

La Baguette Machines

My niece sent me this photo from a tiny village
near Bar le Duc in the Meuse area of France. 
It feels like a sign of the times. 
I thought maybe it was due to Covid 
but another friend saw my post about it on Instagram
and sent me this NYTimes article .  
Bakeries in France are closing at a sadly rapid rate
particularly in small villages. 
Young people aren't interested in the work's long hours
and many people are no longer eating as much bread. 
And when the boulangerie closes and people have to go elsewhere to shop for their bread, 
often the butcher (boucherie) or caterer (traiteur) next to them must close as well. 
As much as I hate this change, 
If I was in a hurry and had to drive miles to another village to buy bread
and one of these was within walking distance of my house,
guess where I'd sometimes get my bread. 
But also probably try to make sure I made errands in the next village 
and stopped at their bakery as often as possible. 
So many changes these days.
Another version of the Buy Locally idea. 

Have you shopped at your little neighborhood market lately?! 

(Photo credit: Victoria Delon)


Monday, November 2, 2020

Mini Writing Retreat


I'm on writing retreat this week... of my own making. 

We've been offered the use of a lovely penthouse apartment with a large terrace

and stunning views in the Vista/Washington Park area of Portland for a few months.

So besides taking a few long weekends this fall/winter with my sweetie,

I'm also taking a few days to myself as a writing retreat and starting a new writing project. 

Since we can't do our usual coast retreats this year, the use of the apartment is such a blessing  

so I'm extremely grateful. 

Sharing a few photos of the park within walking distance. 

Above is a zoom-in shot of the full moon setting this week

taken of the entrance of Washington Park from the terrace just before the sun rose.

And below is the entrance walking on foot. 

One day while on a break,
I walked up to the International Rose Garden just to see if there were any left. 

And while there was lots of gorgeous fall color,
there were only a handful of roses. 

 I did find a rhodie in full bloom in November. 

And a few blue hydrangeas left.

Below is part of the terrace view.

My sweet work space. 

And more of the terrace.

My favorite view!

So as we are soon to learn the news of who will lead our country,
remember to take good care of yourselves. 
Especially tomorrow. 
It's most likely going to be a bumpy ride. 
So save your despair or elation for the final count. 
And breathe! 

(All Photos copyright Kirsten Steen)

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Feast Day for MM

(Photo from Pinterest)

Today is Mary Magdalene's Feast Day.
And within this torn world on the brink of transformation, I always try to find a way to celebrate Mary and her message especially on this day. I'll probably go back and reread some of Harvard-trained theologian Meggan Watterson's book Mary Magdalene Revealed as well as some passages from the Gospel of Mary (found at an antiquities market in Cairo in 1896 rather than Nag Hammadi where many of the other newer ones were found.)

I think some of my family and friends wonder at my fascination with Mary Magdalene, having come from almost zero religious background, not being taught the Bible, and having a lifelong resistance to any notion of organized religion.

In the last several years, Mary has had a spiritual resurgence, a renaissance. She's been given a reprieve. After centuries of being labeled a prostitute, she is now known as the Apostle to the Apostles. As I began to see her as the embodiment of the Divine Feminine and learn more about what this meant, I was guided to put her into my novel. I did meditations requesting her presence and in 2015, I physically traveled to the South of France to visit her cave near Aix-en-Provence.

In both her book and her blog post for this Feast Day, Meggan Watterson discusses the passage in the Gospel of Mary where she asks Christ, "Does a person who sees a vision see it with the soul or with the spirit?"
Christ answers, "A person does not see with the soul or with the spirit. Rather the mind, which exists between the two, sees the vision..."

Of the three copies of the 3rd century Gospels of Mary recovered, two are written in ancient Greek, one in Coptic (an ancient Egyptian). In ancient Greek, the word for mind is nous and means The Spiritual Eye of the Heart.

According to Cynthia Bourgeault in The Meaning of Mary Magdalene, as the disciples are mourning, Mary tries to console them, reminding them that Christ has "... prepared us so that we might become fully human." The modern translation of the words 'to become fully human' is Anthropos: A completed human being, or generally interpreted as the integration of the opposites of oneself, specifically integrating the male and female aspects of the human psyche.  Bourgeault believes that in both the Gospel of Mary and the Gospel of Thomas, this is the heart of Christ's vision of transformation.

Several years ago, while on a writing retreat, I did a meditation requesting Mary Magdalene's presence and guidance before having read either of these books. I had sat in meditation several times over months with my request without hearing any real message. But on this day, I did a few things differently and a message came through loud and clear. It said, Look to what is in your heart. I understood that it meant that each of us need to look deeply at the motivation behind our actions and determine if they come from the ego or the heart.

It's my belief that our current political state of affairs and White House resident are symbolic of our collective energy of the ego run amok. We're seeing what happens when the masculine is given free reign without the feminine being integrated, accepted, cherished. It's the balance we're missing. So when I revere the Divine Feminine, it's not meant to cancel out the masculine but to bring more of a balance between the two.

So I will continue to try to look at my own motivations, to see things from the eye of the heart, from the eye of love, as Meggan describes it, "a love that transforms everything."

Monday, June 15, 2020

Paris Writing Spot... and Reopening

What a difference a few months make! 
Global Pandemic! Civil Rights Movement! Rioting in the streets. 
It's a whole new world. 
And all leading up to the election of our lifetimes. 
Time for a short Paris break! 

It looks like Paris is starting to open up. 
With fewer cases, Macron is easing restrictions on cafes and restaurants,
including travel bans from European countries.
Schools will open next week. 

My last post was a photo of a place I wrote in the Pacific Northwest. 
This photo is a place I've spent time writing in Paris. 
Just across the Champ de Mars from us near the Eiffel Tower,
it's a cafe/resto of the same name,
Le Champ de Mars.
This photo seemed appropriate for the opening of restaurants and bars. 
I also just realized that it was on this date in 2004,
that we began our year off to live in Paris. 
What an adventure that was! 

So the big news from here
is that I am finally querying New York literary agents 
with my novel. Wish me luck!
And in the meantime, during the lock down here, 
I've been taking more online writing classes, journal writing,
more cooking, and thinking about the next book in the series. 

We were supposed to be in Paris (and Greece) this spring
but the pandemic and travel bans put a halt to that. 
So I'm trying to make good use of my time
but oh how I wish I was sitting at a cafe
writing and people watching 
in the City of Light!
Hopefully soon!

Hope you are healthy and well!
It's a painful, excruciating time.
It's a time of loss but also of growth and soul stretching....
which are all painful. 
But good things come from seeds underground. 
May you find exactly what you need.  

(Photo copyright: Kirsten Steen)

Friday, December 13, 2019

Brightening it up

Happy December!
It's already dark, drab and dreary here in the Pacific Northwest. 
At least it's not snowing. 
So I'm trying to find ways to brighten things up. 
Thank goodness for Christmas which adds lots of lights and cheer to everything. 
I told The Ed the other day that I can't wait for winter to be over
and he reminded me that it hasn't begun yet. 
 So I told him I'm just pretending that we live in Scotland
and he says we're enjoying a lovely Scottish summer! 
I've gotten out my happy light.

I've started making one of my writing days at this charming place,
the recently revamped Coburg Pizza Company
(which is also Nana's Cafe with a full list of coffee & tea drinks).
It's like a giant upscale barn with a stone fireplace
and old Betty Boop cartoons or Charlie Chaplin movies 
on the big screen above the fireplace. 
I'll try to come back another time with more photos of the interior. 

Just wanted to wish you a happy end of 2019
and a joyous beginning to the new decade. 
This year was by far better than last year
and things are looking up. 

Hope you're finding ways to brighten your Scottish summer!


Coburg Pizza Company
(Nana's Cafe)
90999 S. Willamette St. 
Coburg, OR 97408
Open weekdays 6:30-9
Fri-Sat 6:30-10
Sun 7:30-9

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Nepenthe at Big Sur

Seems so long ago and far away now.
But here are a few promised photos of 
one of our stops in Big Sur. 

The lovely Nepenthe
where we had lunch overlooking the California coastline...

...and its spectacular views. 

Open since 1949,
it's basic pub fare

with a sweet interior

even a fireplace in the middle of the room
(surrounded by windows)
for those foggy, cool coast days. 

Since it's always busy

they have plenty to keep you occupied outdoors 
while you wait, 

including a chess square and ping pong table
so you can play while waiting for a table
and tiered stone seats covered with colorful pillows
for basking in the sun with something from the bar. 

The definition of Nepenthe:
"A drug described in Homer's Odyssey 
as banishing grief or trouble from a person's mind." 
"A fictional medicine for sorrow."
"A drug of forgetfulness."

Um... I'd say so! 

My photos don't do justice to the breathtaking views. 
Click the link below to see the website's photos. 
And stop in for a little medicine for your sorrow. 

Open Daily 11:30am-10pm

Friday, August 23, 2019

Big Sur beauty

I just recalled that I promised a few photos 
of the gorgeous Big Sur coastline. 
So here are a few more 
from the beginning of summer. 

A beautiful day for our drive
and we started early enough 
that it wasn't as crowded as in the afternoon. 

Some friends had mentioned a place in Big Sur
where you can sit in the river and sip your wine.
And THIS is the place. 
Big Sur River Inn. 

Does that not look inviting?! 
It was a bit too cool this day for it.

Some day will come back to stay
and do just that! 

And from the road is a view
up to our lunch spot

Will save this treasure for next time. 
It was well worth the stop. 

Hope you've all had a lovely summer
and looking forward to the final big weekend.