November Blog: Clap Hands, Grow my Hair

My hair is now officially an art project. I am not going to cut it until the pandemic is over - at least by my own definition and I don’t know what that is yet. Sometimes I wear it in a ponytail although I think that really makes me look like someone living in a midwest trailer park. Make mine a double wide. I just had to say that. I try a sort of man-bun by tucking the end under and catching it in the elastic band (special, grippy) but this really tears at my hair when I take the band out after swimming. The best solution has been to plait it - although this prompts Al to call me Gudrun! It takes me back to being 6 years old.

A Room of One’s Own

I seem to have the best blog thoughts when I am out and about, shopping, driving, walking dogs. Then when I sit down to write, they quickly and quietly vanish away. The place where I write in this house (actually in every house we have occupied) is at the table in the kitchen-living-dining room, and I guess this state of affairs will continue. Actually, I like it. Al has a table in one corner and I have a corner of the ‘everything table’ diagonally opposite. Right now he’s playing his mandola, a weird double-necked weird Nordic instrument. I also have a view of the hills to the west and if I come around a bit, I can see Polyrinia, my favourite Minoan hilltop site. Living with a view like this is a new experience for me. Our previous house here (the village house) had no view to speak of until you went outside and walked to the edge of the concrete ‘patio’. In August and September we lived with the door open in the cooler parts of the day and closed up as the sun came around. This house (Gareth & Liz’s house) has big sliding patio doors facing North and windows facing West, so the view is near panoramic. In the summer I am sure that these doors would be open all day. At the moment, we don’t, since if we are mainly sitting or, in my case, doing yoga, the temperature is just a bit too cool, at around 15ºC. Also we have a young cat - probably more about him soon.

Our Cat

So he’s called Our Cat, not because we are too lazy to find him a name but because when he first approached us at the village house, we kept saying - no, you’re not our cat, go AWAY. But of course he didn’t, and of course, we started to feed him - he was a scrawny little thing.

He would hang out with us, take off for a while, come to the rattle of cat biscuits. We fed him at night and then firmly shut the door. In the morning he would be sleeping on the mat outside the door. Then we went to Kythira for 5 days, and a strange thing happened. Our neighbours made sure he was fed, and things were fine. Before we went away he seemed to hold his own with other cats, they would not try to take his food even when we fed him outside. When we got back, we had moved out of the village house, but were still going to go and feed him every day. We walked up to the house, fed him as usual in his own little dish. Again, no interference from another cat close by, a female, about the same age. But as soon as he finished eating she attacked him. He was absolutely terrorised, no fight back, a quick retreat then she cornered him again, even though he was bigger and stronger. Al’s theory - as soon as he was without his human protectors, he was an easy target. It really looked as though he had strong pet cat genes. Anyway - we walked away, to go to our new home, and the little cat followed us, and followed, and followed down the track. When we got to the ‘main’ road, the little cat was still with us. What could we do?

Now he has his paws comfortably under the table, 60 grammes a day of quality cat biscuits and 2 visits to the vet, for vaccinations. Now he’s filled out, looks like an adult cat, and is due another visit to the vet on December 9th for microchip & snip, so to speak. At the moment his hormones are kicking in, and there’s a bit of disconsolate yowling as he asks to go and check out the wider world. The vet says, for his own sake, keep him inside until he’s ‘done’. Male cats that are intact have a short and sometimes ugly life as the testosterone imperative renders them run over, injured and unpopular. He’s growing into a handsome cat, loves body contact, favourite toys are pieces of nautical string. He sleeps on my hoodie, loosely folded outside our bedroom door. He’s discovered that the computer keyboard is warm and recently took a bath whilst sitting there during a yoga Zoom class. Made Lois Steinberg laugh, she loves yoga pets.


It’s funny to hear people debating how to say ‘ομικρον’ but not at all funny to consider why it matters. Well, of course it doesn’t in the context of the virus. In the context of the Greek language, it is interesting that the sound of the name of the letter in the Greek alphabet always reflects that the sound the letter makes. I will try to watch the unwatchable Greek news and report back.

It seems that many countries have been shocked into the precautionary principle, and this might turn out to be the right thing. Greece has taken a big step, with cases already rising, the Government from mid-January has decided to fine over 60s 100 euros a month if they don’t choose to be vaccinated. We show ID and vaccination certificates at all public indoor spaces, except food shops.

A Fridge Freezer, a Washing Machine and a Dishwasher

I spent a fat hour yesterday in the basement of a Chania store looking at ‘white goods’ - actually brushed stainless steel in one case. Our last FF was still going strong after 20 years in our Bristol kitchen. We wish it another 20! So I found that the decision weighed quite heavily, bearing in mind that this one might outlive me! You might know that the energy rating system has recently changed, so your AAA fridge has now sunk down to a C or D. Maybe manufacturers are currently trying to up their games to claw their way up the eco ladder, but we have to ‘sail on the wind we have’ and buy one now. Ditto the washing machine, but that seems an easier call. Our rented house has a modest Bosch that used to have a great energy rating, so I’m happy to go for a similar model. Interestingly the glossy brochure from the store majors on machines that cost a thick end of 1K euros. Seems to me you only need to pay that if you actually want to devolve some of your decision making /brain space to the thing. It’s the FF decision that has been stressing me. Buy a cheap one that I’m not going to want to live with for the next 2 decades (Imshalla) and sell it or donate it when the new lower energy models arrive or go for one that is much more expensive, looks better, has more space for veg and might be out of date in 5 years. I suppose that because I spend a lot of time in or near the kitchen, the appearance of the thing seems to matter! OK , rich world problem, I know. I am grateful every day to have food to put in it!


Fortunately or otherwise, can’t fit the 4-door FF into the kitchen at the apartment, so have gone for a more standard 2 door Grundig on the grounds that it might play AM radio as well. Bosch for washing machine at around 450 Euros, not the 1K jobs. I guess they make lunch and feed the cat as well. Dishwasher, also Bosch. Has the word ‘Silence’ on its front, let’s see. More on domestic machines in future blogs, I’m sure.

You say oh-mikron, I say om-ikron

I’m not going to get too embroiled here, but for excellent up-to-date information, research and explanation, Indie Sage has it. This week a really clear exposition of how vaccines work, really helpful for those trying to understand immunity, natural and via vaccination.  Indie Sage on You Tube Watch today’s episode (3 December). Some interesting news for immune compromised people and those who have vaccinations following natural infection.

Also I have had an email from a friend posing the following question:

I've always been taught Oh-MIKE-ron. Virtually the whole of the USA, including Gayle, says OH-mick-ron.

How do the Cretans say it?

My reply: So far haven’t heard it, but I checked Greek dictionary and found that the letter omicron seems to be pronounced as in ode. The first O is stressed, but not the second. There is always an indication which is the stressed vowel. So Gayle is right! Όμικρον. Greek is obligingly phonetic.

Like Knitting a Scarf

I really need to put this blog to bed. That’s the thing if I leave it too long, processes of free association take over and I keep thinking I’ll just put in one more colour.

I haven’t even told you about our visit to Antikithera and the Pangea project. Here’s a tease:


I liked The Power of the Dog directed by Jane Campion. Slow burn but delicious photography. Also Stray - a lovely documentary with no commentary on life as seen by a Turkish street dog. Reminded me of White God, another doggy film from Hungary.


The Reith Lectures

Stuart Russell - Living With Artificial Intelligence


Apparently the most popular recipe in the world (or the world of TikTok: One-Pan Feta Pasta With Cherry Tomatoes. I used the New York Times recipe. Hit’s lots of taste receptors. And I forgot to pick the herbs, so used dried oregano instead.

1800 EEST, it’s a rainy afternoon. More soon as we gear up for our next move.


  1. I was under the impression that the Greek government issues everyone a stray cat once they declare their intention to stay. Isn’t that so?

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