Saturday, June 24, 2017

Grecian cats--no, not a new, travel version of the musical

The interloper

During my recent trip to Greece I came in contact with cats, a lot of cats.  A quick Google search reveals that most Greeks feel that cats are not exactly house pets, but a wild species best left to their own devices.  As a result they wander the streets and ancient ruins with pretty much no human interference.

Even we Americans know that one doesn’t own a cat.  A cat owns us.  If a cat wants something, it gets it.  All the while plotting their happy little owner’s demise.  When we come home from work the dog greets us with gusto.  He jumps, yelps, and licks while his tail wags at 100 miles an hour.  The cat, on the other hand, stands aloof, as if to reprimand us for not being at her disposal all day.  She may, if it suits her, decide to saunter by and rub against our legs; simply to piss off the dog.  We hear her purr and we imagine it is for us, which in all reality may not be the case.

Grecian cats strolled around many of the outdoor restaurants and cafes.  They sunned themselves on walls and threaded their way through the crowded streets full of multi national tourists.  Most looked well fed and fairly healthy.  They were not pets but not exactly what we Americans would call feral.  They lay beside humans and begged with only their presence.  Who but a local could refuse their enormous staring eyes? These cats have perfected the art of begging.  They remind me of the squirrels and chipmunks in National parks that know just what cute little tricks to do to get the goofy human to toss them a few nuts. 

My husband who fancies himself a Dr. Dolittle tried to pet a docile looking black and white cat lounging on a path and was put in his place with a quick swat of the paw. That’ll teach you, lesson learned.  They are not house cats. 

Evenings in Greece are beautiful, cool and comfortable not even requiring an air conditioner, and there are very few bugs.  So as we went out to dinner in one of the many outdoor cafes, we chose to leave the windows to our hotel room open. Do you see where I am going with this?

Returning to our room after a delicious dinner, we turned on the lights and proceeded to get ready for bed.  A strange sound was coming from the sofa, and, to our surprise we saw a large ginger cat casually using the back of the couch as a scratching post.  It just stared, and not the sweet large eyed, begging stare.  It was a look that said we were the intruders and it was standing it’s ground.

Shaken, I turned to my husband with a look that said, “What should we do?”  "Should we call the desk?"  Or do we just wait and see if it’s friendly?

My husband tiptoed over to the door, and opened it. (Not really sure why he tiptoed since the cat already saw us and they can't fly)  Then he comically deepened his voice and said, “SHOO.”  Seriously?  Shoo?  This was steadily becoming a cartoon.  I almost expected Jerry from Tom and Jerry to jump out from behind the sofa.  My husband repeated his shooing while ridiculously flailing his arms. The cat jumped off the sofa and casually, with a regal toss of it’s head, walked out the front door, but not before I snapped his pic.

Maybe the Greeks have it right after all.  Cats should just be left to their own devices.  They can use people when they want.  They can walk around like they own the place, because in their minds they do.  And nature can take care of the rest.

Grecian cats and Mykonos
The beauty of Greece

Our beautiful hotel in Mykonos

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

What will be the most common names in the next century?

Greece the name of the destination

Today or rather, tonight I’d like to talk about names.  As I type, I sit in a darkened airplane on my way over the ocean.  London is the destination on my way to a vacation in Greece.  It is 12:26 in the morning and, as I look around in the darkness, I feel like the last living cell in a dead body.  I mean no one is awake!  Relax; my Vincent Price imitation is over it’s just a little creepy in a dark plane at this hour of the night. 

All is calm…and then eek, turbulence.  If I make a few typos I hope you understand.  My partner in crime, and life, is sleeping like a baby next to me.  I just don’t get how someone can sleep so happily sitting upright in a chair.  I mean this coach seat is no Laz-Z-Boy.  My knees rest up against the seat in front of me.  Still, he snores and clutches the scratchy military type blanket up to his chin.  Sweet dreams my love. 

I did say I was going to discuss names, but I digress.  I am an 8-hour a night gal.  If I get less than that my brain goes into hibernation.  If you ask my name in few hours I might not even remember.  So…here we go back to names. 

Have you ever noticed how some names go through stages of popularity?  I mean, when did Brittany unseat Bertha?  I guess it must have been around the same time that Joshua was doing the same thing to Melvin.  One wonders, if, in 2049 will Brittany sound as outdated as Ethel and Myrtle.  Seriously don’t you think we have enough Jessica’s and Jennifer’s in the world?  Wouldn’t it be refreshing to come across an Irma or Eunice?

My mom, however, bucked tradition.  She named me Crystal.  When I was growing up my name was as rare as a three-dollar bill.  There was not another Crystal in sight!

All through school I spent my life repeating, spelling, and then repeating again.  I’ve been known as Krystal, Cristal, Kristil, Chrystal, and Christal. I’d plead and spell C-r-y-s-t-a-l!  Eventually, I’d give up and just say I was named for the fine crystal glassware my mother drank her champagne out of the night I was conceived.  The teachers would peg me as troublemaker and spell it the way they wanted.  My own grandmother never spelled my name correctly!  So I’d take my check for five dollars made out to Krystal and thank her.  Why fight it?

It’s 2017 and now you can’t swing a dead cat (meaning it’s everywhere) where I don’t run into a Crystal somewhere!  I mean even Hugh Hefner was engaged to a Crystal Harris, and boy did my blog blow up when they broke up!

I didn’t have enough fun trying to get my name across to people when I was growing up so I had to go and marry an Ogle.  Ogle, just like the word that means to stare at in a leering way.  Four simple letters and I’ve had to spell it thousands of times!  O-g-l-e.  How hard is that?

In my second marriage I married a Donnelly, you know the sweet slumbering fellow snoring next to me.  No it’s not Donelli, Irish, not Italian. 

You know I once dated a guy whose last name was Diamond.  Now, if we had continued to date, and, happened to marry, my name would have been Crystal Diamond.  Now, tell me with a straight face that doesn’t sound like a stripper or a porn star.  Thank god that didn’t work out. 

3 hours and 53 minutes to destination.

Monday, May 29, 2017

What happens when a land-lover goes boating

I admit that I am an unapologetic land lover.  My husband on the other hand lives and dies for boating.  So I go, unless I can find someone else who will take my place. 

So after the first few years or our marriage, I encouraged him to live his boating dream and buy a pleasure boat.  Heck I even went to the coast guard class with him that had me longing for my boring college history professor’s lectures.  Seriously, my requisite handbook is full of doodles of dozing women and eager men.  Still, I passed with flying colors because if nothing else I’m a good at cramming information in a locker in my head that I will never again open or need.

So when we go out on the marina that is near our home husband dear wades into greenish water that could contain all sorts of pathogens to launch the boat.  I wait on the shore until it is ready and I can jump off the dock and into the boat unscathed.  The smell of the brackish water is not exactly gag inducing but not particularly pleasant either.  Of course there are always a few bloated fish floating along the perimeter of the boat. 

I can swim but I won't be in the olympics any time soon.  And my husband swears that this boat is unsinkable.  Hmmm-- isn't that what they said about the Titanic?

For some reason it’s always windy out on the water, and I’m not a fan of hats.  Even if I was they would most likely end up in the water.  My hair is rather long and fine and the knots are impossible to get out without half a head of hair coming out with it. So I get a hat that has a string that tightens around the neck.  It kind of resembles a little kid’s cowboy hat. I tuck all my hair in the hat and tighten the string.  Don’t think I will make my debut in a fashion magazine, but it beats going bald from yanking out knots.

And then we head off, slow at first, until we pass the go ahead buoy where you are allowed to hit the gas.  I vaguely remember from my coast guard class that when you encounter a wave you have to angle the boat to cross it. My husband, however, likes to take the bull by the horns and hit-em full force.  Now being a woman, I have women parts.  And when one hits a wave head on like this it forces those two parts to bounce uncontrollably and painfully!  If you are not holding on to them it can black both your eyes!  And did you get the part that it hurts like the dickens?  So he throttles back at my insistence.

We move on at a slower pace and then decide to anchor awhile while we fish.  Our boat seats at least 6, but it doesn’t have a head.  What you may ask is a head?  It’s what seafarers call a bathroom.  And so we have another dilemma that men don’t have. We have no choice but to head back to the marina so I can use a porta potty.  I don’t use porta potties unless it is a strict emergency.  It's an emergency.  So after the pit stop we return to the water. This time I restrict my liquid intake and my thirst is kicking in since it is pretty hot, but we are pretty far from the shore now so I'm not taking any chances.  There is an irony about floating on water (even slimy green water) when you are just about dying of thirst.

The sun beats down on us even with the top up as it reflects off the water.  Did I mention that I sunburn at even the slightest exposure? 

We anchor and fish a little.  We catch a few, mostly we throw them back because the only thing less fun than being stuck on a boat is cleaning fish. After a hour or so we head for home. Land ho! As we dock my husband is smiling from ear to ear, happy and sun kissed.  Me-- I’m surveying my reddened face and legs thinking that I will be applying Aloe Vera for the next few days as I sprint to the porta potty.

And so another day on the water comes to an end.  I can only hope that someone will take my place the next time.  I can only hope. 

For a land-loving boating diversion why not hop on over to my crafting blog and follow the tutorial to make a wiggle sailboat magnet from a recycled soda can. (which I didn't drink on the boat) 


Thursday, April 27, 2017

Have you ever been caught in a lone star dilemma?

Ok so maybe the heading is a little confusing, but I'll get to the dilemma in a minute.  First a little background information.  Years ago when I visited Texas I noticed how proud everyone was of the state flag.  The lone star flag was proudly on display just about everywhere. When I asked about it I was brusquely told to get with the program, It's the lone star state.

Today I had my dilemma (Told you I'd get to it) brought on by a tiny little bug called a lone star tick.  I am wondering if those proud Texans are aware of the lone star tick, a creepy, crawly, and vampire-like insect.  To be fair the name does not refer to Texas and this bug does not originate in Texas.  It only bears that name due to the prominent white spot on it’s back that resembles a star.

Now I'd like to mention that I am basically an indoor type girl.  I hate camping.  I don’t like the summer heat and while I enjoy walking and hiking at times, I stick to the well-defined paths. So after four days of steady pouring rain and me barely walking off the porch it caught me completely by surprise that somehow a lone star tick decided I would be a tasty treat. I mean seriously my husband constantly works in the yard, mowing, trimming bushes and trees and has never, ever had a tick. 
Growing up in rural Virginia and owning many pets, I’ve seen ticks before. This, however, is my first encounter with a lone star tick.

So yesterday, I felt an itch on my lower back.  It felt like a tiny lump.  I twisted and turned and tried to get a better view.  It is virtually impossible to twist in that way at my age.  Heck it's hard to do that at any age unless you do a heck of a lot of yoga.  I was, however, starting to think that it might be a tick.  Ewwwww!  I know you are saying that and believe me I was too!

I dug in the magic Hermione Granger like sack I call a purse and came up with a magnifying glass. Still no luck.  I searched my purse for a mirror and I tried to get a better look with the reflection, and I bombed on that as well. I was coming to the conclusion that in order to identify what was causing the itch I had to work in a circus as the amazing rubber woman.  It was situated in just a spot that was really hard to get a handle on. And I was at work.  I was ready to close the store and head to the doctors when luckily a familiar female customer came in the store and I explained the situation.  She offered to take a look.

She looked and, yes, it was a tick.  I got a pair of tweezers from my purse (Told you it was a magic bag) and she promptly removed the offending insect.  That is when we noticed the white dot.  Thanks to Google, we quickly identified the Lone star tick.  Fortunately it doesn’t carry Lyme disease.  It does, however, carry a disease that is a bit unsettling.  And I had to check it twice to see if I read it right.

The lone star tick can cause an allergy to red meat!  Are you kidding me?  That had to be a misprint.  So let me get this straight.  I will never be able to eat a burger, have a steak or a pork chop ever?  Of all the off the wall things in this world a tiny insect that can cause a person to be allergic to meat!

After a little more research I found that evidently it is true.  Seriously, though,  I don’t eat a lot of red meat, but making it a big giant taboo makes it all the more desirable.  Still, not every tick is a carrier and It couldn’t have been in me for very long. So I guess it's just wait and see. 

I visited the doctor that very afternoon and got a prescription for antibiotic salve.  So unless I develop this life-threatening allergy to meat, I will go on a little older and wiser, imagine something crawling on me every second,  and continue to be indoor girl. 

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