Wednesday, October 31, 2012

A NEW FRIEND AND NEIGHBOUR

Crete Family Villas
This summer I had the pleasure of meeting Jocelyne Sireilles Kerrigan. Jocelyne lives in Washington, D.C. She is the proud co-owner/operator of Crete Family Villas, three beautiful luxury villas located in our picturesque little village. 

On a breezy summer’s eve, our neighbour, a stately judge, was having coffee with my husband and myself on our patio, when, in between small sips, he suggested that I meet the American woman who owned the Crete Family Villas in the village. He felt that, besides the North American connection, we had a lot in common. For instance, he noticed that she was very friendly and energetic, adding that she had taken a special interest in organizing cultural events for the village folk. Wow! That’s exactly what our little hamlet needed. Yes, we live in a most charming of authentic Cretan villages, but we lack creative and cultural outlets. Needless to say, I was intrigued.
"What does she look like?" I inquired, wondering if I had seen her around the village.

"Well, she’s a petite woman with dark hair," the judge answered.

 Half the women in Greece fit this description! In any event, a few days later, my husband and I were taking a drive to the grocery store. We had just turned the corner, when I spotted a slim figure in the distance. For some reason, I was certain it was Jocelyne! Perhaps it was her confident walk and bluntly cut black hair. Her skin was bronzed from days spent gardening and swimming, and simply being out and about. I called out to her as if we were long lost friends. Slightly startled, she slowly approached the car, while we slowed down. As I proceeded to explain who I was, the confused look on her gentle face began to fade into an enthusiastic warmth and acceptance.  We agreed that a visit was needed to exchange stories, but no definite date was set.
Jocelyne
About a month or so later, my mom and sister were visiting from Toronto. We were inside the house, unpacking from an excursion, when I heard a woman’s voice greeting us good evening at the front gate.  Immediately, I recognized it as Jocelyne’s – friendly and American, with a touch of French flair. While my husband began showing her around the property, the women in the clan scrambled to make the house look presentable, in case Jocelyne wanted a tour! Finally, we all took our seats under a starlit sky, where we chatted and chuckled for hours, and became fast friends.
Crete Family Villas

Stay tuned for Part 2: 
Crete Family Villas and an Interview with Jocelyne!

Thanks for visiting.

Poppy

Saturday, October 27, 2012

THE NATURE OF INSTINCT

My Bedroom

Sometimes I can’t believe that I actually live in a little Mediterranean village in the countryside.
Our Neighbours
  I was born in a big North American city, grew up there, and that’s what I knew, and loved! But, I always had a strong feeling that I’d live in a house in the country one day.
 Not simply buy a house, but build one! Quite ambitious of me, since I was about eight years old at the time, don’t you think?
The first time I was aware of this notion was back in second grade.  It was library time and we had about fifteen minutes to choose a book or two for the week.
 While most of the other girls huddled around the Nancy Drew series, I gravitated towards the bigger, heavier books and anything that featured a house on its cover, very similar to your typical coffee table book of today, wouldn't you say?
Even then, I was drawn to all things ‘home’, whether that meant baking mini, single layer cakes in my Easy Bake Oven, or rearranging my bedroom according to the season. 
 For me, it was all about being cozy, nestling in little nooks with my girlfriends, braiding macramé bracelets and indulging in homemade delights.
                                            
So, forty years later, here I am, in a house we built in the Cretan countryside, among vineyards and orange groves, surrounded by mountains, and overlooking valleys, where the view from my bedroom balcony takes my breath away, moves me to stillness, each and every day, in its seasonal attire, regardless of my mood, and inconsiderate of my time. It is always there, a quiet, constant presence, like the instinct that never left, in all its natural wonder.

Thanks for visiting.

Poppy



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Tuesday, October 23, 2012

(PART 2) ATHENS: ACADEMIA, ANTIQUITY AND ARCHITECTURE

Temple of Poseidon, Cape Sounion
High above the Aegean Sea, at Cape Sounion (43 miles SSE of Athens), the southernmost tip of the Attica Peninsula, the Temple of Poseidon (444-400 BC) was erected by the ancient Athenians, under the reign of Pericles.
Poseidon, God of the Sea
Cape Sounion is famous for a very popular Greek myth. In accordance to the legend, believing his son, Theseus, had been killed in a competition with the Minotaur of Crete, King Aegeus, of Athens, took his own life, and jumped into the sea that bears his name, after spotting the black sails on the returning ship, as Theseus had forgotten to hoist white ones, signifying his victory.
The Aegean Sea
A more recent 'legend’ states that the Romantic poet, Lord Byron, carved his name on one of the temple’s marble columns, when he visited Sounion twice, from 1810 to 1811, on his Grand Tour of Europe. The poet’s name is, indeed, engraved on the stone, but it has yet to be proven that the inscription was, in fact, his own.
Lord Byron's Inscription


Heading back towards the capital, this outdoor mall, near Spata, boasts a neoclassical style, complete with pastel hues and shady pergolas, a perfect spot to cool off with a refreshing drink, after some serious power shopping! 



On a thickly forested hilltop in Athens, we visited a beautiful monastery, with panoramic views of the city below.



 Hanging in the hot, mid-morning sun, the church bells, still and silent, were off duty until evening mass.

 As we took our last stroll through the downtown core, we were delighted to stumble upon a fall flower exhibit, which dotted the wide city square with rich, bright blooms and enthusiastic admirers.
Well, that was our trip to the capital and it was a nice distraction from the regular routine. Back on the island, the temperature has dropped and the layering of clothes has increased. So, light the fire, bake the cake and let the cocooning begin! 
Varkiza, a suburb, south of Athens
Thanks for visiting!

Poppy

All images: Poppy View, 
except where otherwise noted



Thursday, October 18, 2012

ATHENS: ACADEMIA, ANTIQUITY AND ARCHITECTURE

The Propylaea, ceremony hall
Last week we travelled to the capital to attend our daughter’s commencement. It seemed most fitting that Libby receive her bachelor’s degree in Classical Philology at the Propylaea, the beautiful headquarters of the University of Athens, which also serves as a ceremony hall and rectory.
The National Library
It was quite an emotional day with speeches, family and friends, and of course, a hearty Greek meal of traditional meze, local wine and rich dessert.

Plaka
Plaka
And coffee, lots of coffee. Brewed strong, Greek coffee is thick and aromatic, with a signature frothy topping, called 'kaimaki', served in an espresso sized cup, thus, café hopping is a must if one is to skip siesta in favour of sightseeing and a swim!
Plaka, perhaps the birthplace of the original chalk paint? :)
The Temple of Hephaestus
Surrounding Plaka

Whether they date from as early as antiquity (8th century BC to 600 AD), or the last 200 years, the city’s impressive architecture is appreciated both by tourists, who travel the world to visit and study mystical ancient temples, and the Greeks themselves, who, especially in these times, need to be reminded of the admirable accomplishments of their ancestors.
Plaka
Plaka
Plaka

Wandering the narrow labyrinth-like streets of Plaka, also referred to as the ‘Neighbourhood of the Gods’, as it is situated directly below the Acropolis, we were enchanted by its unmistakable neoclassical style of geometrical finery and chalky palette.


Plaka, and the Acropolis above
Plaka
Plaka


Plaka

Plaka


Among all the residential beauty, the restored Stoa of Attalos (159 -138 BC) can be found, with its impressive columns of marble and limestone.

Stoa of Attalos

One might say that this ancient stoa, which is basically a covered promenade, can be compared to a modern day outdoor mall, as it housed a shopping centre, offices, and galleries, as well as a space for religious gatherings.

Stoa of Attalos
The masterpiece of the ancient agora, or marketplace of Athens, has to be the Temple of Hephaestus, or Theseion, as it stands strong and tall on Agoraios Kolonos hill, still looking very much like it did when it was erected (449-415 BC), in honour of Hephaestus, the patron god of metal work and craftsmanship.
Temple of Hephaestus
Stay tuned for part two of our trip, as we trek up to the clouds, where myth meets mystery, and a British poet of the past, who penned his love for this land and its people, kept company with Poseidon, leaving his own traces of immortality, high above the sea. 



Athens

Thanks for visiting!

Poppy

All images: Poppy View

Monday, October 8, 2012

MORNING LIGHT

There's something about the soft morning light that makes everything prettier, more serene.
Fresh autumn flowers from the garden seem more cheery, promising a day full of fun.
An unset table, the stillness of the early hour and quiet moments, soon to shift scenes,
as the light wakes the day, wandering through the silent space, gently notifying a new start,
a clear vision, a deep aspiration, a strong need to fill the day with 
soul and spirit and truth.

Happy Thanksgiving to all my Canadian friends.

Thanks for visiting.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

BOVINE BULLIES AND HUMBLE HENS


Back in high school, in the suburbs of 1980s Toronto, when trends came and went faster than gobbled up Pac-Man pellets, I always remained true to my heart. 
 As far as fashion went, when the most popular girls showed up on Mondays after jackpot finds at the mall, decked out in faded ripped jeans and Roo tennis shoes, I relied on my flowery A-line skirts and wedgy espadrilles. 
gardenhouseflags.com
 And when Walkmans arrived on the music scene and headphones became the new teenage tiaras, I could be found in my room, animatedly lip-syncing to Ella in front of the mirror, where my mom’s old turntable magically emitted the sweet sounds of 1950s jazz gems.  A true romantic I was.  A true romantic I will remain.


What is a trend anyway? A trend is the hit of the party one day and a wallowing wallflower the next, thus, my deep and lasting devotion to my all time favourite, albeit, universally overdone motif of choice, concerning all things domestically decorative: the humble hen! 

kids.nationalgeographic.com

Who can resist this beauty and boldness all wrapped up in such feathery finery?  Who can admit that they haven’t, at least once, pictured themselves living in a quaint little farmhouse in the country, tending to these wonderful gals, who, in turn, provide the family fare?
fineartamerica.com
wisegeek.com



Few, I’m afraid. That is why this gorgeous bird is so vastly popular and treasured by many decorating styles, from French country, where it supposedly originated, to shabby chic and an array of cottage blends. 



 
So then, what’s my ‘beef’, you ask? Lately, it seems that a feisty farm animal of the bovine kind has managed to craftily maneuver its way into the blogosphere at stampede speed! 

admixnet.com
Bloggers from all across the land are proudly posting pictures of their precious herd, lazily lounging in places previously held by feminine fowls-on clocks and plates, in paintings and hallways-everywhere, I tell you! Everywhere!
colorfulchildhoodstore.com

Except here.  No sir! My little ladies will NOT be bullied out of their comfy nesting nooks by a gang of overbearing beasts! Although I have to admit, they are kinda cute and they, too, grant us essential things like our daily dose of dairy. 
kids.nationalgeographic.com
Nevertheless, my charming chicks are safe and secure under my little coop of a roof. And, whatever their kind, chickens or turkeys, ducks or geese, pheasants... heck, even those arrogant roosters, one thing’s for sure: this gallinaceous group of lovelies is here to stay.
                           

What about you? What's your favourite animal motif? Does it change with the seasons? I'd love to know!

Thanks for visiting.

Take care.

Poppy

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