30 September 2007

Another Wedding

We have been invited to several weddings, but this was the second one that I have gone to. The first one was in February if you would like to look it up and read about it. The others were during my morning sickness phase and I don't think I would have been able to hold up. Speaking of holding up we had some fun experiences at this wedding the sister-in-law to the bride fainted during the ceremony, we either think she is pregnant, hadn't eaten anything all day or is hypoglycemic or a combination of any of those three.
We didn't take any photos at this one unfortunately we forgot the camera so we will just have to explain things via words.
We started at the brides home and had a cookie and water while we waited for the single men to come and bring the bride her shoes. This is were the bride can have some fun, the single guys fill the shoes with money until they fit her feet. So I would go a size up on my shoes, I think I saw the guys put in about 300euros, that's quick money. Then the bride comes out with a small bouquet and throws it at all of the single women, see I told you the Greeks do everything backwards compared to American weddings. We then followed the bride to the church and honked our horns the whole way, there were probably 30-40 cars driving along. I thought this was a large group, but when we got to the wedding there were over 600 people there.
After the wedding ceremony we did a quick escape through the side door in order to get to the reception hall for the after party. We made it safely after driving behind a Mercedes driver who didn't know how to turn corners and went inside to enjoy the party. At the door they hand you a card with the bride and grooms names, thank goodness they do that because we were at the wrong party hall. Of course I would have kept going not knowing the difference until the bride and groom showed up and realized they weren't the same people I had just seen getting married, but Arthur looked at the cards and realized that the names were not correct. Our wedding was located at the summer tent located in the back of the building, same location just two different wedding and two different building. Although to save money the couples should have just gotten together the food was the same and the music was the same. Speaking of music, in order for the music to be called Greek music the two requirements are that it be very loud, ear drum piercing loud, and that there should be a clarino player there. I think Greek music might actually be pretty nice to listen to if you are a mile away or have earmuffs on, but to be in the same room and to enjoy the people you are with you have to be deaf. Speaking of being deaf, our table mates were Katerina's deaf cousin and his deaf wife, so we had a grand time trying to communicate and we actually did a fairly good job at it. They understood I was American and pregnant and we understood they had 100 milking sheep and cotton.
Going back to the backwards way of doing weddings, when the groom and bride finally made it in, we had been there for a hour and half, they cut the cake and danced for an hour. Once again making us what to eat, I was famished, they give you little appetizers, but really I wanted sustenance. The food finally arrived after they sat down and we enjoyed beef and potatoes from the oven and rice.
Ohh I didn't tell you how many people were at the wedding reception, OVER 500 PEOPLE, (20euros a person, that's 10,000euros or 15,000 dollars) when we first arrived Arthur and I counted the tables and chairs, there were 50 tables and 10 chairs at each table this was not including the wedding table, but they brought in more tables and chairs as we sat there so I think another 30-50 people showed up. UNBELIEVABLE
This is why Arthur and I really have decided against having a church wedding, we would rather go to Australia for a honeymoon.
So January 2009 will be a baptism, these are much smaller only about 100 people and only close relatives and friends. We wont have to invite the butcher or our plumber for a baptism, but for a wedding we would.

29 September 2007

I am an Official Greek Citizen

or very close to being one.
I now have my five year visa and can enter and exit Greece at will. We are very excited because this has been a long thing coming, but the bureaucracy is a little slow (Arthur got a 10 year American visa in 2 days). So I have the 5 year visa and then I will get another 5 year visa and then after 10 years I will get my own Greek Passport, yippee! Our next exciting activity concerning passports will be getting little Nick his American and Greek passports for dual citizenship. I wonder if they will require baby pictures, he will be awfully young to get fingerprinted and photographed, oh well. I will probably be stuck at the computer my whole ninth month of pregnancy and can learn all about it then.

27 September 2007

Brain Damage

Our mechanic informed us that our car had a brain stroke and that we needed to be careful with the battery or it could have brain damage.
We had to replace the temperature valve since it was not working properly and the communication between it and the electrical chip was faulty and wouldn't let the car start.
This is why I enjoy old fashioned cars, you know the ones where you have to manually roll down the windows. If it doesn't start you just push it down the road and then boom it starts up again.
Our car is fine now, it was a good thing we were at home when we tried to start it and not at the beach or in the next town.

24 September 2007

Blog help from Auntie Jeanie

Aunt Jeanie sent me the web site for the cool little ticker above counting down the days. As you can see there are a lot more days left, but I am so proud of my internet blogging capabilities. I was unable to center it, but it still looks cool.

California Packages

Arthur is modeling our packages from California. First we got a gag gift from Eric and Leslie of a T-shirt with the British flag and written underneath is Greece, Arthur thought it was very funny. But we will be unable to wear it here, we will wear it when we fly into London on our trip to the States.
Next package was from Dad and Rhonda with a book about Greek Orthodoxy and the bear is wearing a cloth diaper. I will be using cloth diapers for the baby and am trying out different companies to find the right kind that I like and then I will sew my own using their diaper as a template. If you haven't ever investigated the internet about cloth diapers you will be suprised at how many different kinds there are nowadays. You don't have to use pins that stick you fingers and there are diapers that will grow with your baby so you only have to buy about 36 diapers and at a cost of $20 (the most expensive kind) each that is $720. If you compare this to diapering a kid in disposables and your kid is potty trained by the age of two (Andrew has passed this) you will spend $2,000 in diapers for just one kid, plus you have created enough trash to fill half of a dumster truck. So I will be doing this more for economy than really anything else and it will save us from having to fork over so much money for something that is so easy to do.

Grape Stomping

We didn't need to clean our feet for this project, the grapes were stomped by a machine. Nick and Arthur placed the grapes in the machine and it squashed the grapes but pretty much left the whole fruit intact. The reason for keeping the grapes fairly intact is because later they will take out the grapes skins and use them to make ouzo and the juice that comes out will be wine. As you can see from the last photo the alcohol content is already at 13 and we haven't even started the fermenting action yet.
Stay tuned for more homemade wine making stories.

19 September 2007

5 month appointment

Okay this is the 5 month check-up (technically I am at 21 weeks, 5 mo. and 1 week) but it sounds better to go by months than by weeks. This week we checked out my heart, I love the Greek medicine system, they used a machine that was probably created in the 70's or 80's. They placed clam shell like metal objects around my breast and rib cage, then they placed what looked like the things you use to charge you car battery when it dies on my wrists and ankles. I thought for sure I would feel an electrical charge especially since she put water on my skin first, but I didn't feel a thing when they turned it on. My heart looks great said the doctor, so that's one more thing looking good. Then we went to a doctor that had a machine that I am sure even doctors in the States would envy, a high tech GE 3-D baby monitor. We measured every possible thing to measure on the baby from bones (nose, arms and legs) we counted fingers and toes, we checked the blood flow to the kidneys, heart and legs, we measured the brain, heart, stomach, bladder and different arteries. It was very educational, the baby is very healthy and has everything in the right place, and he is definitely a boy. We are also running another battery of blood test to check up on everything, the doctors here in Greece are very good and are really into preventative medicine, making sure everything is going good before there is a problem. I even got a prescription for stomach and nipple cream (non-toxic) to prepare my body for the growing baby and so I wont get stretch marks, yippee.
And here's the fun part, while we were waiting to see the doctor two hand-cuffed prisoners came to see the dentist (his office is next to the ob-gyn), and man did they look like they needed to be in prison. They came one at a time and had 3 escorts only one carrying a gun in his holster and standing back several paces the other two had his arms and were carrying fanny packs around their waist probably with guns inside just harder to reach. When the first guy came out of the dentist office his smile was so creepy it definitely belonged on America's most wanted list ( it gave me the creeps). So this is socialized free medicine I see the same doctors that prisoners see, no special standards, although they did get in faster than the other people waiting to see the dentist, but I don't think anyone minded that they didn't wait in the waiting room.

14 September 2007

A murder in Greece

Following a fight between a couple that was living apart, the wife fell into a coma and was taken to AHEPA hospital, while her husband was later murdered in the hospital corridor.

All started at a bar in Ampelokipi, Thessaloniki, on Wednesday evening when the couple began quarreling. The 26-year-old husband might have hit his wife, who lost her balance and hit seriously on the head when she fell.

Later, her parents and ex-husband visited her at AHEPA Hospital and at about 15:30, the husband was found dead in the hospital corridor.

All happened so quickly that at first the doctors spoke of a sudden death. However, the coroner proved that the man had suffered multiple blows with a pointed object on the left side of his head.

13 September 2007

Busy Week

What a busy week, first I had a visitor from San Francisco come and stay for 3 days. I worked with Jessica's mother, cousin and aunt at the Fountain of Health and she was on a whirl-wind tour through Europe and Israel and did a little stop over here before going on to Israel. I am so glad she stopped by, even though I only met her twice in the states by the time she left I felt like we had known each other for a while, she took all of the photos, so unfortunately I have none with the two of us.

Arthur's cousin Kostas had the baptism for his baby boy on Saturday, the whole family came out for the event.
Me, Uncle Bill (Dads brother), Aunt Maria, second Uncle Viron, cousin-in-law Christos, second Aunt Irini, Aunt Maria (Dads sister, Kostas's mother), second Aunt Boula, cousin Dora.
Kostas, Christos, and Maria, first there is a speech by the priest outside and the Nonos (godfather) names the child. Then we go inside the church and the priest talks some more and then the Nonos covers the child in oil and the priest dips the naked baby in water 3 times. Poor Christos was pretty much screaming the whole entire time and finally fell asleep at the end of the event. We then went to a restaurant for the baptism party they served salad, lamb and potatoes.

On Sunday we went to Thessaloniki, this was my first visit to the second largest city in Greece. We were there for the International Exhibition, it was great fun but very exhausting, the expo was held behind this tower like building and it was like walking around our California State Fair. We ate hot dogs, french fries and soda and purchased caramelized nuts.
We also saw some of the sights while there in Thessaloniki, even though it is only a 3 hour trip we probably won't be going again any time soon. Here is the famous White Tower, it's actually kind of grey, but perhaps at one time it was white (Wikipedia it).
Pictures of the monument for Alexander the Great.

Next on our list of things we did this week was visit a vineyard to pick up grapes to make our own homemade wine.
We ate some grapes.

We picked some grapes.

We loaded the truck up and we weighed it. You weigh your empty truck coming in and you weight it on the way out, this is how they know how much you have picked.
People come from all over Greece to pick the grapes here, we are so lucky that it is only an hour away. Most of the grapes grown in this region are muscat (sweet red) which just so happens to be my favorite wine. Whenever I went to vineyards in California I would normally purchase the dessert wine which is normally made from Muscat.

We also had a visitor from Sacramento, Stephen taught a class about Greece that I had gone too. So when I moved here I e-mailed him to let him know that I had married and was living in Greece, since he had never been to Kalampaka (and has been to Greece many times) he came to visit me and check out the famous Meteora. I think he will be back, he enjoyed it very much.

02 September 2007

This Week

This week we went to the beach and got sick from the food.
We went to my 5 year Visa Interview, 7 people in the room (a judge, 2 cops, and some other unknown people). They asked questions like "Do you like Greece?" I understood the word Greece and thought they were asking me if I spoke Greek, so I said "λιγο" (a little). What can I say I was nervous, after that I let Arthur translate for me, two of the women spoke English to me but I think the whole group understood English. The Judge told me if Arthur wasn't nice to me to come see her, she is the second person in higher authority to let me know that they do not allow spousal abuse in Greece (the mayor also told me the same thing). I will receive my Visa in 2 weeks, I passed the test, being pregnant helped a little since I am increasing the Greek population, which is very important.
We purchased the crib and changing table for the baby room, pictures forthcoming.
Our godchild Anastasia came to visit, what a fireball, I am now thinking maybe only one child for me. Whew! my body was so tired last night but my brain kept going, I didn't fall asleep till after 3 and woke up at 7. We will see them again next Sunday when we go to Thessaloniki for the International Exhibition. Anastasia's brother Stavros asked Arthur "why is your wife working she has a baby in the belly?" he's 8 what a cutie. They left today, ahhh!! blessed silence.
Today is cooler 30F, we had a small rain storm yesterday New Mexico style, so we have some relief from the heat and no fires.