Wednesday, July 23, 2008

View From A Bus

The picture to the right was taken from the side window I hoped to catch the reflection I was seeing and the magazine stand and I was thrilled to get this picture the way I really saw it. The beauty of a great camera!

In case you were wondering if I only took pictures of European men I decided to post some pictures from my bus seat. Since I get bus sick I had the best seat in the house.... sometimes it pays to have a sensitive motion sensor. Much of the driving we did was downright scary from the front seat of a bus.... all those near misses.

I really thought this couple was sweet if you look you will see she is sitting side saddle pretty difficult considering the way these scooters are driven in traffic. Frankly it would scare the heck out of me. The heavy traffic was everywhere. In Athens circle they alternate even and odd days with even and odd license plate numbers to try to keep traffic down.

Hosting the Olympics forced Athens to put in a mass transit system which has made a difference in the pollution levels there. The pollution was so high it was causing damage to the Acropolis. Pollution is still visible to the eye but our guide said it is greatly improved. He also said that some people will buy two cars to get around the even and odd day system... go figure.

I am far from done with the European traffic report... I was amazed, horrified, alarmed, mesmerized and somewhat in awe of the driving I saw from the front seat of a tour bus.

Time for me to go do the dance of life... work today ...waitressing at a wonderful local restaurant. The Gathering Place.

I am also learning to be a Barista for my new job at the Oregon Trail Roasting Co. Here is a link to an article in the local paper with a picture of THE MACHINE and my boss Davis.

Let me tell you being a coffee barista is no easy job making the perfect cappuccino foam takes a lot of practice! After experiencing the perfect cappuccino in Italy I came home pining for one. Life is funny that way pine long enough for a real cappuccino and you get hired to make them....ha ha... life is rich!

In case you are wondering.... YES... I am still doing art!
Are people still buying art ? Good question!

Be well and dance if you get a chance ....whatever the dance might look like.... these are the Sweet Years.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Sweet Hot Years

Okay... I couldn't resist but this title refers MOSTLY to the temperature in Athens the day I took this series of pictures. These hot men were doing the traditional changing of the guard ceremony in 112 degree temperatures. They guard the tomb of the unknown soldier. Their shoes had taps on them so the sound they made while they did this march was wonderful.

The ceremony took about 8 minutes and when they finished there many tourist lined up to take pictures standing next to these soldiers who were not allowed to show any facial expression.

This tourist behaviour bothered me so you won't see any of those pictures. I think they look dignified until someone in shorts goes up to stand next to them. Iwas told if you get to close to them or the tomb they will slam their gun butt down on the ground to warn you away.

They stood in the sun completely still with sweat pouring down their faces. I was brought to tears when one of the soldiers who was not at guard took a towel and very gently wiped the sweat from their faces. His job was also to keep the crowds from being disruptive and interfering with the men who were at guard. This small act of kindness was overwhelming in it's tenderness. That kind of thing will get me every time.

I loved this ceremony and the tomb has been there being guarded since 1932 and is guarded around the clock by soldiers called Evzones. It is a great honor for them to do this and they are punished if they do something wrong. They are not paid but each greek male must do 1 year military service and they must qualify.

These shoes were really amazing... I plan to investigate why they look the way they do...what is the deal with the pom poms I wonder. They sold copies of the shoes in the tourist shops ...go figure.
The Evzones have to be a certain height so all Greek men cannot do this.

This was a very tightly choreographed ceremeony all movements are done in unison ... high stepping ...arm swinging, and guns changing position. I am sure there are technical terms for these movements but I care more for their beauty and majesty than the correct term to call them.
In Greece young men do a a mandatory year of military service and they compete to do this ceremony.
Each change of guard spends 1 hour standing guard this was a brutal temperature to be doing this. I hope they freeze their underclothing before they head out. The 2 guards who marched away at the end of their hour were drenched with sweat.
Did I mention it was hot???
They hold this leg raised position for quite a long time it was impressive. I am not sure how many times they repeat it.
See how high he lifts his feet it is very striking when the foot comes town there is a loud tapping sound as the metal cleats on his shoes touch the ground.
There are many ways to dance .
I hope you enjoyed these pictures of very hot soldiers doing a very tough job.
If your Sweet Years are heating up as we reach the best of summer be glad you aren't dressed like this!

Be well ... remember if there is an opportunity to dance.... high step it!

Friday, July 11, 2008

Sweet Years continued

I decided to investigate the phrase Sweet Years because I like it and my Italian bus driver oozing with machismo was wearing it and I wondered why. Clearly, this man is interesting! So many of you have commented about him I must of not been the only one to notice.

I did a Google search and came up with these bits of information.

There is a clothing line in Italy that is very popular and I am guessing this is where the watch band came from. Here is a link to their site .

I warn those of you who have wrote me telling me of your wee bit of crush on my bus driver the guy on the front page of this link is pretty darn cute in a certain swarthy Italian way.

I also discovered a you tube with an Italian beauty singing the link is below. Perhaps my bus driver loves this woman I can certainly see him dancing to the song she sings.

The wonder of it is I'll never know which makes the mystery rather grand ... don't you think?

In any case I think the Sweet Years is a commendable message aren't we all living the Sweet Years right now no matter what our age may be.

In my case I like to think they have all been Sweet even the more trying years.

So here's wishing you many Sweet Years in the future and the acceptance of the Sweet Years that you have already lived.

Have a wonderful weekend.

Let the Sweet Years unfold!

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Art in Athens

This mural covered the whole side of a building in downtown Athens it was really spectacular and the subtle colors were very beautiful. I suppose it is possible that it was once a much brighter color palette but has faded over time. I went to and found the artists website. His name is Alexandros Vasmoulakis and his work is interesting. I like his faces and the colors he uses.

Right Side Bird
These birds were painted by hand on each side of a door into a home decorating business in Athens. They were very intricate and the colors were wonderful. I wanted to hire this company to paint my kitchen. I was unable to read the Greek so I do not know the artist. They were a great addition to the bustling downtown area where there was quite a bit of building repair being done with lots of boarded up areas and netting to cover work areas.

We had free time and wandered the flea markets and discovered mostly tourist crap. A common occurrence for much of my trip something I found frustrating. I wanted to wander the off the beaten track places looking for treasures.But hey if I was going to feel frustrated I might as well do it in the beauty of Greece and Italy.

Left Side Bird
Near downtown on the plaza I loved the Nigerian street vendors selling Prada bags most likely stolen or knock offs they kept up a steady flow "Hello lady" in a lovely accent trying to get and keep my attention. One elderly Greek lady with a lovely smile and an armful of handmade textiles followed me for a block or more trying to sell me a particular tablecloth. I kept saying no... no... no she kept trying and when I pulled my arm out of her hand she started screaming something that sounded a lot like the word failure. Who knew what she was yelling Greek blessings or curses either way it was fascinating. I would of taken her picture but it would of meant buying a tablecloth I didn't want for far too much money.
While in this same plaza I stopped inside a a beautiful old Greek Orthodox church and spent some quiet time and lit a candle in honor of my friend Kent as it was the anniversary of his death. There were just a few candles lit when I entered but by the time I left there were 20 or more it was a very busy church lots of people coming and going saying a quick prayer and lighting a candle. I liked these plazas centered around the old churches they were really very beautiful and most had lovely shade trees.
Dance if you get a chance... remember these are the Sweet Years!