December 12, 2007

Thursday Thirteen # 33 - An obstruction of dons, a melody of harpists and other such phrasings . . .


Continuing my recent fascination with the names of things, I bring you thirteen MORE collective nouns for this week’s Thursday Thirteen.

1. An obstruction of dons

2. A talent of gamblers

3. A galaxy of governesses

4. A conjunction of grammarians

5. A herd of harlots

6. A melody of harpists

7. An observance of hermits

8. A neverthriving of jugglers

9. A banner of knights

10. An eloquence of lawyers

11. An illusion of magicians

12. A cortege of mourners

13. An illusion of painters

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November 29, 2007

Thursday Thirteen # 32: a collection of collective nouns, thirteen to be exact


In keeping with the recent trend of naming groups of things, I bring you a sampling of colourful collective nouns. Feel free to add your own!

1. A group of academics is a faculty

2. One of aldermen is called a bench

3. Of arsonists, a conflagration

4. Of Barmen, a promise

5. A group of boys is called a blush

6. Of barbers, a babble

7. A bevy or galaxy of beauties

8. A goring of butchers

9. A sneer of butlers

10. A group of capitalists are called a syndicate

11. A school of clerks

12. And a shrivel of critics

13. Finally, at least for this week’s Thursday Thirteen: A stalk of foresters.

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November 22, 2007

Thursday Thirteen #31 - Every saint has a past & every sinner a future: famous quotes by Oscar Wilde

Oscar Wilde’s observations always make me think. Below are thirteen of my favourites.

1. A cynic is a man who knows the price of everything but the value of nothing.

2. A little sincerity is a dangerous thing, and a great deal of it is absolutely fatal.

3. A man can’t be too careful in the choice of his enemies.

4. A man’s face is his autobiography. A woman’s face is her work of fiction.

5. A work of art is the unique result of a unique temperament.

6. All bad poetry springs from genuine feeling.

7. Art is the most intense mode of individualism that the world has known.

8. Beauty is a form of genius - is higher, indeed, than genius, as it needs no explanation. It is of the great facts in the world like sunlight, or springtime, or the reflection in dark water of that silver shell we call the moon.

9. Between men and women there is no friendship possible. There is passion, enmity, worship, love, but no friendship.

10. Children begin by loving their parents; after a time they judge them; rarely, if ever, do they forgive them.

11. Deceiving others. That is what the world calls a romance.

12. Every saint has a past and every sinner has a future.

13. Experience is simply the name we give our mistakes.

And, a small bonus gift for my writer friends:


Happy Thanksgiving to all my American friends, fellow bloggers, writers and readers!

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November 8, 2007

Thursday Thirteen # 30 - Because I could not stop for Death


For this week’s Thursday Thirteen, I post thirteen of my favourite quotes on death. As my regular readers know, I have been revisiting my beloved mama’s passing. It’ll be one year on November 26. I finally confirmed her memorial service with the Greek church here in Victoria. The service will take place on Sunday, November 18. To those of you who do leave comments, know that I read each and every one and cherish your responses. I will be visiting soon, I promise.

1. God pours life into death and death into life without a drop being spilled. ~Author Unknown

2. People do not die for us immediately, but remain bathed in a sort of aura of life which bears no relation to true immortality but through which they continue to occupy our thoughts in the same way as when they were alive. It is as though they were traveling abroad. ~Marcel Proust

3. Because I could not stop for Death,
He kindly stopped for me.
The Carriage held but just ourselves
And Immortality
~Emily Dickinson

4. While I thought that I was learning how to live, I have been learning how to die. ~Leonardo Da Vinci

5. Life is better than death, I believe, if only because it is less boring, and because it has fresh peaches in it. ~Alice Walker

6. The day which we fear as our last is but the birthday of eternity. ~Seneca

7.Our death is not an end if we can live on in our children and the younger generation. For they are us, our bodies are only wilted leaves on the tree of life. ~Albert Einstein

Mothers and Daughters.jpg

8.Death may be the greatest of all human blessings. ~Socrates

9. We understand death for the first time when he puts his hand upon one whom we love. ~Madame de Stael

10. People living deeply have no fear of death. ~Anais Nin, Diary, 1967

11. For what is it to die,
But to stand in the sun and melt into the wind?
~Kahlil Gibran, from “The Prophet”

12. Life and death are balanced on the edge of a razor. ~Homer, Iliad

13. Oh, for the time when I shall sleep
Without identity.
~Emily Bronte

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November 1, 2007

Thursday Thirteen # 29 - Where's Waldo?


Red did a similar Thursday Thirteen post some time ago and it was an eye-opener. Curious to learn where in the world readers are coming from I checked Google analytics and discovered the simple, startling truth that the blogosphere is a global village. Below are the top thirteen countries.

Where in the world are you from dear reader?

1. United States
2. Canada
3. Ukraine
4. Australia
5. Sweden
6. China
7. Spain
8. Germany
9. Great Britain
10. Mexico
11. Brazil
12. Japan
13. Netherlands

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October 25, 2007

Thursday Thirteen # 28 - Aloha from Kaua'i


Hard to believe that it’s been one week since my last post. It’s also hard to believe that we’re on the beautiful island of Kauai. Today is my 40th birthday and we’re celebrating by doing ABSOLUTELY nothing but enjoying the lush surroundings and taking advantage of all that the Grand Hyatt has to offer. We’ve taken so many photos that it was hard just to choose thirteen. We’ve managed to enjoy the sunny weather and the beaches without getting burnt … and I’ve managed to sneak in a couple of spa treatments, including a fabulous pedicure … Wish you were here enjoying a Mai Tai (or two) with us!

1. devandxinebalcony.jpg
The view from the bar (where children are allowed until 10:00 p.m.)

2. dev and EM in h20.jpg
Dev and our chicken enjoying the salt water lagoon.

3. xineredtoes.jpg
My birthday pedicure.

4. EMatseashore.jpg
EM at the seashore.

5. xine and EM terrace.jpg
A mother-daughter moment (at the Seaview Terrace)

6. welcome to hyatt.jpg
Children’s Hula show - our official welcome to the resort on Tuesday evening.

7. EM and Xine at waterfall.jpg
EM and Xine sightseeing.

8. seaview lounge.jpg
The view from here.

9. EM exhausted.jpg
A much needed nap.

10. salt water lagoons.jpg
Why would anyone want to leave the grounds?

11. EM at breakfast.jpg
Why do I have to eat breakfast? It’s not fair.

12. koi feeding at tidepools.jpg
Daily Koi feeding activity for children.

13. EM and Xine in water.jpg
More fun in the water.

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October 17, 2007

Thursday Thirteen # 27 - 13 tropes, schemes and figures of speech


We’re expecting a fierce wind-storm this evening. I’ve retired to my bedroom with a large cup of lavender earl gray tea and am listening to rain. I’m feeling rather words-y tonight … and so it’s my pleasure to bring you 13 tropes and schemes (figures of speech) for my 27th Thursday Thirteen. Enjoy!

1. Anaphora: A scheme in which the same word or phrase is repeated at the beginning of successive phrases, clauses, or sentences. “I will fight for you. I will fight to save Social Security. I will fight to raise the minimum wage.”

2. Anastrophe: A scheme in which normal word order is changed for emphasis. “Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country.”

3. Apostrophe: A scheme in which a person or an abstract quality is directly addressed, whether present or not. “Freedom! You are a beguiling mistress.”

4. Epistrophe: A scheme in which the same word is repeated at the end of successive phrases, clauses, or sentences. “I believe we should fight for justice. You believe we should fight for justice. How can we not, then, fight for justice?”

5. Hyperbole: A trope composed of exaggerated words or ideals used for emphasis and not to be taken literally. “I’ve told you a million times not to call me a liar!”

6. Irony: A trope in which a word or phrase is used to mean the opposite of its literal meaning. “I just love scrubbing the floor.”


7. Litotes: A trope in which one makes a deliberate understatement for emphasis. Example: Young lovers are kissing and an observer says: “I think they like each other.”

8. Metonymy: A trope that substitutes an associated word for one that is meant. Example: Using “top brass” to refer to military officers.

9. Oxymoron: A trope that connects two contradictory terms. “Bill is a cheerful pessimist.”

10. Periphrasis: A trope in which one substitutes a descriptive word or phrase for a proper noun. “The big man upstairs hears your prayers.”

11. Rhetorical Question: A trope in which the one asks a leading question. “With all the violence on TV today, is it any wonder kids bring guns to school?”

12. Synecdoche: A trope in which a part stands for the whole. “Tom just bought a fancy new set of wheels.”

13. Zeugma: A trope in which one verb governs several words, or clauses, each in a different sense. “He stiffened his drink and his spine.”

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October 10, 2007

Thursday Thirteen # 26 – 13 creative writing prompts to fuel your imagination.


Use these prompts to create stories, poems and generate creative content for your blog.

1. Imagine your life is now a book blurb. In 100 words or less, tell us why we should buy your book.
2. Write about the “fickle finger of fate.”
3. In 200 words describe a hot day.
4. Write about a task, job or chore you dislike.
5. List 15 simple pleasures. Pick one and write about it.
6. Write about a memory related to a holiday.

waning summer.jpg

7. What is your greatest fear?
8. Write about a habit that’s hard to break.
9. Write about what you do on a rainy day in 250 words or less.
10. List 9 good reasons to break off an engagement or call off a wedding.
11. List 10 things you would buy with your last $20.
12. Come up with 10 reasons you should skip bathing this week.
13. Write from the point of view of a freshly scrubbed floor.

For hundreds more creative writing prompts, go here.

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October 3, 2007

Thursday Thirteen # 25 - 13 quotes from The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery


Whenever I feel the need to reassess my life, I turn inward and pick up one of my favourite books: The Little Prince. For this week’s Thursday Thirteen, I bring you 13 quotes in French and English from this priceless gem.

1. Les grandes personnes ne comprennent jamais rien toutes seules, et c’est fatigant, pour les enfants, de toujours et toujours leur donner des explications.

Grown-ups never understand anything by themselves, and it is tiresome for children to be always and forever explaining things to them.

2. Quand le mystère est trop impressionnant, on n’ose pas désobéir.

When a mystery is too overpowering, one dare not disobey.

3. La preuve que le petit prince a existé c’est qu’il était ravissant, qu’il riait, et qu’il voulait un mouton. Quand on veut un mouton, c’est la preuve qu’on existe.

The proof that the little prince existed is that he was charming, that he laughed, and that he was looking for a sheep. If anybody wants a sheep, that is a proof that he exists.

4. Mais les graines sont invisibles. Elles dorment dans le secret de la terre jusqu’à ce qu’il prenne fantaisie à l’une d’elles de se réveiller…

But seeds are invisible. They sleep deep in the heart of the earth’s darkness, until some one among them is seized with the desire to awaken.

5. Il ne faut jamais écouter les fleures. Il faut les regarder et les respirer. La mienne embaumait ma planète, mais je ne savais pas m’en réjouir.

One never ought to listen to the flowers. One should simply look at them and breathe their fragrance. Mine perfumed all my planet. But I did not know how to take pleasure in all her grace.

6. Tu as des cheveux couleur d’or. Alors ce sera merveilleux quand tu m’aura apprivoisé! Le blé, qui est doré, me fera souvenir de toi. Et j’aimerai le bruit du vent dans le blé…

You have hair that is the color of gold. Think how wonderful that will be when you have tamed me! The grain, which is also golden, will bring me back the thought of you. And I shall love to listen to the wind in the wheat…


7. On ne connaît que les choses que l’on apprivoise, dit le renard. Les hommes n’ont plus le temps de rien connaître. Il achètent des choses toutes faites chez les marchands. Mais comme il n’existe point de marchands d’amis, les hommes n’ont plus d’amis. Si tu veux un ami, apprivoise-moi!

“One only understands the things that one tames,” said the fox. “Men have no more time to understand anything. They buy things all ready made at the shops. But there is no shop anywhere where one can buy friendship, and so men have no friends any more. If you want a friend, tame me…”

8. Le langage est source de malentendus.

Words are the source of misunderstandings.

9. Voici mon secret. Il est très simple : on ne voit bien qu’avec le coeur. L’essentiel est invisible pour les yeux.

And now here is my secret, a very simple secret: It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.

10. C’est le temps que tu as perdu pour ta rose qui fait ta rose si importante.

It is the time you have wasted for your rose that makes your rose so important.

11. Tu deviens responsable pour toujours de ce que tu as apprivoisé. Tu es responsable de ta rose…

You become responsible, forever, for what you have tamed. You are responsible for your rose…

12. - Les enfants seuls savent ce qu’ils cherchent, fit le petit prince. Ils perdent du temps pour une poupée de chiffons, et elle devient très importante, et si on la leur enlève, ils pleurent…

“Only the children know what they are looking for,” said the little prince. “They waste their time over a rag doll and it becomes very important to them; and if anybody takes it away from them, they cry…”

13. Ce qui embellit le désert, dit le petit prince, c’est qu’il cache un puits quelque part…

“What makes the desert beautiful,” said the little prince, “is that somewhere it hides a well…”

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September 19, 2007

Still at work, so no Thursday Thirteen this week . . .

where I'd rather be.jpg

We have a saying here at work: EMBRACE THE SUCK

It helps keep us laughing and motivated through our 12 hours days. And there have been a lot of those 12 hours days these past two weeks. Things should get back to normal by mid-October. (Fingers and toes crossed.)

And the photo above? WELL IT’S MY HAPPY PLACE. It’s where I’d rather be RIGHT NOW.

Well, things will eventually get better because Dev, the chicken and I will be heading off to the lush, tropical, pampering paradise that is KAUAI. And, did I mention where we’re staying?

So, if you’re participating in Thursday Thirteen, drop me a note and I’ll visit you in the coming days! I’m always interested in learning new things and catching up with my blogging buddies and friends.

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September 5, 2007

Thursday Thirteen # 24 - 13 weird & wonderful names for things


As a self-professed word-nerd, I have a large repository of weird and wonderful words I’ve been collecting over the years. For this week’s Thursday Thirteen, I bring you 13 (unusual) names for things found on Canongate.

How many of these were you familiar with?


1. AGLET - The covering on the end of a shoelace.

2. ARMSAYE - The armhole in clothing.

3. CHANKING - Spat-out food, such as rinds or pits.

4. FEAT - A dangling curl of hair.

5. FERRULE - The metal band on a pencil that holds the eraser in place.

6. HARP - The small metal hoop that supports a lampshade.

10. and QUIMP - Various squiggles used to denote profanity in comics.

11. KEEPER - The loop on a belt that keeps the end in place after it has passed through the buckle.

12. MINIMUS - The little finger or toe.

13. SCROOP - The rustle of silk.

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August 8, 2007

Thursday Thirteen # 23 - eye(s) of the beholder


You can’t depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus.

- Mark Twain

For this week’s Thursday Thirteen, I bring you 13 images of eyes. What do you see?

1. eye1.jpg

2. eye2.jpg

3. eye3.jpg

4. eye4.jpg

5. eye5.jpg

6. neweye.jpg

7. eye6.jpg

8. eye8.jpg

9. eye9.jpg

10. eye10.jpg

11. eye11.jpg

12. eye12.jpg

13. eye13.jpg

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July 25, 2007

Thursday Thirteen # 22 - There's a nym/name for it


For this week’s Thursday Thirteen, I bring you 13 words containing the root “nym,” which comes from the Greek onoma meaning name.

1. acronym : word formed from initial letters of another word

2. allonym : other person’s name used by an author

3. autonym : a writer’s real name; work published under writer’s own name

4. caconym : wrongly derived name

5. eponym : personal name from which another name is derived

6. euonym : a pleasing or beautiful name

7. exonym: name for a town or country in a foreign language

8. heteronym: word having same spelling but different sound and meaning

9. metonymy: figurative use of word to name an attribute of its subject

10. metronymy: system of naming after the mother’s or female line

11. onymous: bearing the author’s name

12. paedonymic: name taken from one’s child

13. patronym: name derived from father’s name

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July 11, 2007

Thursday Thirteen # 21 - 13 recent book purchases



I admit it: I am obsessed with books.

Our home is littered with them. Crammed bookshelves; piles of books deemed requisite bathroom reading; stacks of books that need to be entered into my library thing; tall columns of books that are used as reference beside my writing table; and, new books purchased from a recent bookstore run, still in bags … shameful, isn’t it?

For this week’s Thursday Thirteen, I bring you, in no particular order, 13 recent book purchases.

When I’ll read them is any one’s guess.

1. Alexandria: In Which the Extraordinary Correspondence of Griffin & Sabine Unfolds, Nick Bantock

2. The Morning Star: In Which the Extraordinary Correspondence of Griffin & Sabine is Illuminated, Nick Bantock

3. Fallen, David Maine

4. The Anxiety of Everyday Objects, Aurelie Sheehan

5. When She was Queen, MG Vassanji

6. The Memory Keeper’s Daughter, Kim Edwards

7. The McSweeney’s Book of Poets Picking Poets, edited by Dominic Luxford

8. Housekeeping Vs. the Dirt, Nick Hornby

9. The Polysyllabic Spree, Nick Hornby

10. Robbing the Bees: A Biography of Honey - The Sweet Liquid Gold that Seduced the World, Holley Bishop

11. A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian, Marina Lewycka

12. Eats, Shoots & Leaves - The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation, Lynne Truss

13. Elle, Douglas Glover

Which one do you think I should read first?

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July 5, 2007

Thursday Thirteen # 20 - 13 random blogs I enjoy


In an effort to break-through

my writer’s block (!)

, I visit tons of blogs on a semi-regular basis. The thirteen below range from

the literary to the risqué.

The list is by no means exhaustive, it’s just mean to give you a glimpse into how I spend my time when I’m not visiting other Thursday Thirteeners!

Which blogs do you frequent?

1. Margaret Cho - Comedienne and actress

Margaret Cho

uses her blog to post long entries on everything from politics to music to her new tattoo.

2. Boing Boing - a directory of

wonderful things

3. Bookslut - Jessica Crispin oversees a

constant stream

of reviews, interviews and industry news.

4. Old Hag - Arts and culture,

book reviews


5. Post Secret - An ongoing community art project. People mail in their secrets and they’re posted anonymously. Often used as

a writing prompt


6. Dooce - Famously fired for maintaining a blog, Heather Armstrong consistently wins accolades for her


and writing.

7. Greek Tragedy - Stephanie Klein’s running commentary on her dating life got her a book deal for

“Straight Up and Dirty.”

She’s now married, no longer living in New York and is a new mom to two beautiful twin babies.

8. Huffington Post - Part news aggregator and part group blog, Arianna Huffington’s blog features entries from the likes of John Cusack,

Norman Mailer

, and more.

9. Life Hacker - Computer downloads, websites,


: all designed to make life easier.

10. A Beautiful Revolution - Andre is a minimalist. His

elegant line drawings

and precise comments/observations on life - are jolts of electricity.

11. Mental Floss - “you know you can

feel smart


12. Confessions of a Pioneer Woman - Ree is plowing through life in the country and describes herself as a desperate housewife who channels

Scarlett O’Hara, Ethel Merman, and Sylvia Plath


13. The Saddest Thing I Own - Ongoing net art project, similar to Post Secret. ” A collection of

life’s saddest objects

, their sad stories, and our reasons for holding onto these sad things.”

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June 27, 2007

Thursday Thirteen # 19 - Latin Maxims for Beginners


Sententiae Latinae

Impress your friends and coworkers with your grasp of Latin with these 13 maxims.

My goal: to use as many of these during my conversations with family at our upcoming Canada Day barbecue on July 1.

1. Ab ovo usque ad mala.
From beginning to end.

2. Amicus verus est rara avis.
A true friend is a rare bird.

3. Ars longa, vita brevis.
Art is long, life is short.

4. Audentes fortuna iuvat.
Fortune favours the brave.

5. Aurora Musis amica.
Dawn is friend of the muses. Or, the early bird catches the worm.

6. Deus nobiscum, quis contra?
If God is for us, who can be against us?

7. Dictum, factum.
Said and done.

8. Dum spiro, spero.
While I breathe, I hope.

9. Ecce homo!
Behold the man!

10. Fama volat.
The rumour has wings.

11. Homo novus
A new (self-made) man

12. In aere aedificare.
Build (castles) in the air.

13. Licentia poetica.
Poetic licence.



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June 20, 2007

Thursday Thirteen # 18 - 13 pairs of contradictory proverbs


As humans, we tend to contradict ourselves on a regular basis. Case in point: the 13 pairs of proverbs below, researched by yours truly, for this week’s Thursday Thirteen. Enjoy!

1. Look before you leap
He who hesitates is lost

2. If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again
Don’t beat your head against a brick wall

3. Absence makes the heart grow fonder
Out of sight, out of mind

4. Never put off until tomorrow what you can do today
Don’t cross the bridge until you come to it

5. More haste less speed
Time waits for no man

You’re never too old to learn
You can’t teach an old dog new tricks

7. A word to the wise is sufficient
Talk is cheap

8. It’s better to be safe than sorry
Nothing ventured, nothing gained

9. Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth
Beware of Greeks bearing gifts

10. Hitch your wagon to a star
Don’t bite off more than you can chew

11. Don’t judge a book by its cover
Clothes make the man

12. Birds of a feather flock together
Opposites attract

The pen is mightier than the sword
Actions speak louder than words


Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Be sure to update your Thirteen with links that are left for you, as well! I will link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 13 things. Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

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June 13, 2007

Thursday Thirteen # 17 - Cool Writing Tips from Jack Kerouac


For this week’s Thursday Thirteen, I bring you 13 gems (of the 30 in total) from Jack Kerouac’s “Belief and Technique for Modern Prose.” I have no clue what many of these writing tips really mean but they certainly have had a liberating effect on my prose. Maybe that’s the point. Enjoy!

1. Scribbled secret notebooks, and wild typewritten pages, for yr own joy

2. Submissive to everything, open, listening

3. Be in love with yr life

4. Write what you want bottomless from bottom of the mind

5. The unspeakable visions of the individual

6. No time for poetry but exactly what is


7. In tranced fixation dreaming upon object before you

8. Remove literary, grammatical and syntactical inhibition

9. Like Proust be an old teahead of time

10.Telling the true story of the world in interior monologue

11. Write in recollection and amazement for yourself

12. Work from pithy middle eye out, swimming in language sea

13. Believe in the holy contour of life

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Be sure to update your Thirteen with links that are left for you, as well! I will link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 13 things. Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

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June 6, 2007

Thursday Thirteen # 16: There's a word for it


The English language has a host of words to describe our fears, some of them more familiar than others. For this week, I bring you 13 phobias that piqued my interest.

1. Oneirophobia: fear of dreams

2. Ornithophobia: fear of birds

3. Ouranophobia: fear of heaven

4. Octophobia: fear of the number 8


5. Oikophobia: fear of home surroundings

6. Onomatophobia: fear of hearing a certain word or of names

7. Ophidiophobia: fear of snakes

8. Opiophobia: fear of prescribing needed pain medications for patients

9. Ochlophobia: fear of crowds or mobs

10. Odontophobia: fear of teeth or dental surgery

11. Pagophobia: fear of ice or frost

12. Pantophobia: fear of everything

13. Paraskavedekatriaphobia: fear of Friday the 13th


Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Be sure to update your Thirteen with links that are left for you, as well! I will link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 13 things. Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

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May 30, 2007

Thursday Thirteen #15 - Of Angels, Icons and Byzantium


For this week’s Thursday Thirteen, I bring you 13 images of angels, prophets and saints, inspired by Byzantine Iconography.

In Greek, the word icon simply means “image.” Icons are painted according to specific guidelines by iconographers, or icon-writers who have studied the canons and carry out their work in a prayerful manner.

The icon is outside of time in space. Iconographers do not paint, but rather write the images as dictated by God. Byzantine icons are stylized images depicting significant events in both the Old and New Testament. In the Eastern Orthodox Church, icons are used to depict the world between life and death.

My most treasured possession is an icon passed down from my maternal grandmother to my mother and now, me. It is an icon of the Annunciation. You can read more about the icon and my grandmother in Smyrna, the beginning.

Many of the beautiful icons in today’s Thursday Thirteen are from Sister Kathleen’s site.

From Sailing to Byzantium

Once out of nature I shall never take
My bodily form from any natural thing,
But such a form as Grecian goldsmiths make
Of hammered gold and gold enamelling
To keep a drowsy Emperor awake;
Or set upon a golden bough to sing
To lords and ladies of Byzantium
Of what is past, or passing, or to come.

~ William Butler Yeats

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2. St.Catherine.jpg

3. Icon.ArchAngelMichael-2.jpg

4. mariaegypt.jpg

5. St.John.jpg

6. St.Jonah.jpg

7. item1658_guardian_icon.jpg

8. BGRi.jpg

9. catherine.jpg

10. Bogorodica 1.jpg

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12. IC_Nymphios.jpg

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Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Be sure to update your Thirteen with links that are left for you, as well! I will link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 13 things. Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

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May 23, 2007

Thursday Thirteen # 14 - Snapshots from Ellas


In an effort to motivate myself and continue organizing the photos from our trip to Greece last May, I bring you 13 (more) of my favourite images.

If you happen to visit Athens, might I suggest a stroll through the First Cemetery. It is a deeply beautiful and serene place to escape the chaos of this dynamic metropolis.


Ideal and dearly beloved voices
of those who are dead
or of those who are lost to us like the dead.

Sometimes they speak to us in our dreams;
sometimes in thought the mind hears them.

And for a moment with their echo
other echoes return from the first poetry of our lives-
like music that extinguishes the far off night.


1. cemetary1.jpg

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We did the usual sightseeing while in Athens, viewing the Acropolis and walking around Constitution Square.

5. yiayia on the acropolis.jpg

6. evsonemarching.jpg

Our chicken was 9 mos old; catnaps and frequent water breaks were part of the equation.

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8. EM closeup.jpg

As a tourist, there are so many images to shoot: the doorways, the bougainvillea and the buildings - to list a few.

9. brokenwindow.jpg

10. salhaldeffsign.jpg

11. abandonedbeach.jpg

12. hyrdadoor.jpg

13. doordetail.jpg

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May 16, 2007

Thursday Thirteen # 13 - 13 ways to "Turn It Off"


On May 16 turn off your unnecessary lights, TV and other appliances to help save electricity and a whole lot more. Think globally, act locally.

1. Turn off all lights when you leave the room.
2. Switch to compact fluorescent light bulbs. They use 75 percent less energy and last up to eight times longer than incandescent light bulbs.
3. Use dimmers with your incandescent light bulbs to extend the life of the bulb.
4. Use holiday light emitting diode (LED) strings. They use 95 percent less electricity and last ten times longer than standard incandescent strings.

Kitchen Appliances
5. Run the dishwasher only with a full load of dishes. Let the dishwasher air-dry or use the economy setting.
6. Use small appliances to cook meals or BBQ outside.
7. Keep your fridge or freezer away from heat sources.

8. Turn off your computer, printer and photocopiers when not in use.
9. If you must leave your computer on for network applications or other purposes, turn off the monitor to reduce electricity consumption.
10. Unplug any electrical equipment that is not in use as many appliances consume power even when they’re “off”.

Space Heating
11. Set your thermostat to no higher than 21 degrees Celsius (70 Fahrenheit) for heating and no lower than 26 degrees Celsius (78 Fahrenheit) for cooling. Set the heating temperature to 16 degrees Celsius (60 Fahrenheit) when you’re away or asleep.
12. Put on a sweater instead of turning up the thermostat.
13. Reduce heat loss through your home’s exterior by adding insulation to floors, walls, crawlspaces, basements and attics.

I'm turning off on May 16 - you can too!

The Pledge

I believe

that we can and must make real changes in the way we live, for the sake of a livable, sustainable future.

I believe

that individual actions, taken in concert, can send a powerful message as well as making a real difference.

And I hereby pledge

that, on May 16th, I will do my part by turning off my lights and non-essential electronic and electrical devices, and doing my best to reduce my energy consumption.

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May 9, 2007

Thursday Thirteen # 12 - Linky Love & Tagging Bonanza


I had originally planned to do a Thursday Thirteen list of famous Greek Americans (but the blogging universe has made other plans), you see I was tagged twice today - by Red and Kuanyin, so in the interest of efficiency, I bring you 13 things about me: Eight facts (from Red’s tag) and five answers (from Kuanyin) AND just to make things a little more interesting … 5 people that I visit regularly (for Linky Love) - SURPRISE, they have now been tagged by me.


1. I shaved off my eye-brows in sixth grade with my dad’s razor. To my astonishment, my parents never said a word about my new look. Neither did any of my elementary school teachers. I’m amazed at their restraint. I know that if my daughter does something similar, I’ll be hard-pressed to not ask why!

2. I became really close friends with a dark, brooding senior when I was in eighth grade. We spent a lot of time in the darkroom (I was a budding photographer and a member of the yearbook club, as was she.) When she graduated, she sent me a beautifully written love letter (that was intercepted by the headmistress). The headmistress wanted to make sure I was OK and that nothing funny had gone on. I had no clue what she meant until I was a senior and a clandestine, dog-eared copy of My Secret Garden by Nancy Friday was being passed around the class.

3. In case you haven’t guessed by now, I attended an all girls private high school. I had my first kiss while away on an overnight debating tournament. The boy’s name was David. I was 16.

4. English isn’t my first language. I learned English by watching Sesame Street. Inside our home, it was Greece.

5. In the second grade, my reading and writing skills were so advanced, my parents were asked to consider placing me in the fourth grade. Afraid that I wouldn’t fit in with the older kids, my parents moved me to a small private Catholic school with extracurricular activities like Friday mass and catechism classes. It’s no wonder I became a writer - all that extra stimulation.

6. My first period arrived when I was 10 and a 1/2. Not fun.

7. My favourite Aunt died of cancer when I was 10 and a 1/2. Not fun.

8. My first short story about a girl walking home from school enjoying the autumn air and sound of the leaves crunching underfoot was published in the school newsletter when I was in the sixth grade. After that, each time I was given a creative writing assignment, I wrote about leaves. Leaves in the spring, in the fall, in the dead of winter.

INTERMISSION - a how to from Rhian - who tagged Red, who tagged me:

Here are the rules according to whomever likes to makeup rules (not me): • Each player starts with eight random facts/habits about themselves. (blah, blah blah) • People who are tagged need to write their own blog about their eight things and post these rules. (Duh.) • At the end of your blog, you need to choose eight (five for me) people to get tagged and list their names. (All’s fair in Lurv and bloggin’) • Don’t forget to leave them a comment telling them they’re tagged, and to read your blog. (Duh, again)


9. What do you hope to accomplish with your blog?

I started this blog to give voice to my writing that hadn’t yet found a home. In the short time I’ve been blogging, I’ve branched out and discovered a larger, creative community. Writing and publishing online is immediate and mutable. I am currently re-working my novel and love the motivation and inspiration I get from the positive to-ing and fro-ing with other blog authors. I don’t have a definitive answer, I am currently in the exploration phase.

10. Are you a spiritual person?

Yes, spiritual. I love that I grew up in the Greek Orthodox Church. It’s given me a very strong foundation. We are making a conscious effort to expose our little chicken to the same values, language, and traditions.

11. If you were stranded on a deserted island, what three things would you want to have with you?

• An unlimited supply of paper and pens to write, draw, create.
• The Kings James Bible.
• The complete poems of Emily Dickinson.

12. What’s your favorite childhood memory? Travelling with my parents (road trip) to San Fransisco, Sacramento, Los Angeles (Disneyland), San Diego and Tijuana when I was 12.

13. Are these your first (tagging) memes? Yes.

Inside voice: There’s a small part of me that thinks this an online version of a chain letter - I’m hoping the people I tag, will play along - fingers crossed.


I’m now tagging the following folks:
(I’ll write a postscript in the coming days about why, I promise)

Tennessee Text Wrestling

Nota Bene

The Hidden Side of a Leaf

A La Grecque

Loose Leaf Notes

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May 2, 2007

Thursday Thirteen #11 - Grammar is a Piano


The emcee for the upcoming Literary Shift event asked the participants to respond to the following question: “If you were a punctuation mark, which one would you be and why?”

That got me to thinking about writing and grammar in general. (I chose a semi-colon - but that’s for another posting … )

And so, for this week’s Thursday Thirteen, I bring you 13 grammar-related quotes:

1. Grammar is a piano I play by ear. All I know about grammar is its power. ~ Joan Didion

2. Like everything metaphysical the harmony between thought and reality is to be found in the grammar of the language. ~ Ludwig Wittgenstein

3. Writing is an act of faith, not a trick of grammar. ~ E. B. White

4. My spelling is wobbly. It’s good spelling but it wobbles, and the letters get in the wrong places. ~A.A. Milne

5. Only in grammar can you be more than perfect. ~William Safire

6. Grammar is the logic of speech, even as logic is the grammar of reason. ~Richard C. Trench

7. Cut out all the exclamation points. An exclamation point is like laughing at your own joke. ~ Author unknown

8. No iron can pierce the heart with such force as a period put just at the right place. ~ Isaac Babel

9. Damn the subjunctive. It brings all our writers to shame. ~ Mark Twain

10. Some editors are failed writers, but so are most writers. ~ T. S. Eliot

11. You can be a little ungrammatical if you come from the right part of the country. ~ Robert Frost

12. At painful times, when composition is impossible and reading is not enough, grammars and dictionaries are excellent for distraction. ~ Elizabeth Barrett Browning

13. When a thought takes one’s breath away, a lesson in grammar seems an impertinence. ~ Thomas W. Higginson

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April 25, 2007

Thursday Thirteen # 10 - Cows on Parade


Milk the cow, but do not pull off the udder. ~Greek Proverb

Almost a year later, I have begun organizing the 1,702 photos we took during our European Adventure last May. We were in Greece during the launch of the Cow Parade art installation. This public exhibition in Athens featured 77 sculptures and ran from May through September 2006.

For this week’s Thursday Thirteen, I bring you 13 of my favourite images:

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4. blackandfushia.jpg

5. butterflies.jpg

6. cowllywood.jpg

7. evzone.jpg

8. flowerpots.jpg

9. greekmyth.jpg

10. stockexchange.jpg

11. green floral.jpg

12. DSC_8828-big.jpg

13. DSC_8598-big.jpg

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April 11, 2007

Thursday Thirteen #9 - Lessons from Mom & Dad


From my mother:

1. How to ward off the evil eye.
2. How to argue without saying a word.
3. How to dress well.
4. How to wear red lipstick.
5. To relish the pain that life sometimes brings as this makes you stronger, wiser and more resilient.
6. To always bring extra tissues in your handbag (they always come in handy).
7. Always wear clean underwear.
8. Speak first of the good characteristics in people (this makes you gracious).
9. How to make green beans (fasolakia), lentils (fa-kes) and stuffed tomatoes (yemista) ~ always use freshest of ingredients and make garlic your friend.
10. Always cross yourself when you leave the house or get into a car.
11. To say the Lord’s Prayer under my breath whenever I’m scared.
12. To ignore gossip and trust my instinct.
13. To pay attention to the world seen and unseen.

funeral monument.jpg

From my father:

1. To be a good storyteller.
2. To laugh out loud – everyday.
3. To be fearless and believe in myself.
4. To see the humor in the most tragic of circumstances.
5. That life can be beautiful and ugly at the same time because we are Greek.
6. To never say “poor me” and “if only.”
7. One day, I’ll be thankful for the piano and ballet lessons.
8. To be quick on my feet – and not just physically.
9. To choose a man who looks good in a tuxedo.
10. Always be the first one to apologize, as you never know tomorrow …
11. There’s no shame in hard work.
12. To never look at a price tag when purchasing clothes: if you love it and it’s well made – consider it an investment.
13. Always say “I love you” to those close to your heart; to say it often and with abandon.


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March 28, 2007

Thursday Thirteen #8 - And now a word (or two) about facial hair


Beards in particular.

This week’s Thursday Thirteen entry was inspired by a word of the day entry on

1. Pogonotrophy - is the act of cultivating, or growing and grooming, a mustache, beard, sideburns or other facial hair.

Pogonotrophy (po-guh-NAW-truh-fee) noun

[From Greek pogon (beard) + -trophy (nourishment, growth).]

2. Pogonology is the study of beards

3. And pogonotomy is a fancy word for shaving.

4. Did you know that facial hair is a secondary sex characteristic in human males? Most men develop facial hair in the later years of puberty, approximately between 15-18 years old.

5. There are blog postings devoted to the art of growing one’s beard. Two with the same title: Adventures in Pogonotrophy - go here and here.

6. There’s also an annual mustache contest. I am not clear on what the Grand Prize is but the entries are entertaining. Here’s the winner:


7. This guy won for the most extreme makeover:


8. This was the winner for the most pathetic mustache category:


9. I wonder which category Sean Connery would have won had he entered?


10. There also an annual beard growing contest called Whiskerino. Here’s their motto:

“We are alienated from our own facial hair.

Society tells us that full beards are unacceptable. Businessmen, politicians, bankers, and the like are all clean shaven; all demonstrating the standards that middle class society expects us to maintain.”

11. Beards, it seems, have a troubled history. Did you know that both Henry VIII and Elizabeth I taxed Englishmen with beards?

12. If you’d like to grow a beard, may I suggest going to . They have been “growing better beards worldwide - since 1996.

13. And finally, there’s a Beard Community Bulletin Board where its free to post images of beardedness, as long as they’re family friendly. Go there to find images like this one:


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March 21, 2007

Thursday Thirteen # 7 - "Of zaftig zaddicks drinking coffee with zarfs"


Of zaftig zaddicks drinking coffee with zarfs … 13 weird and wonderful words beginning with the letter Z:

1. zaddik
a just and virtuous person

2. zaftig
pleasingly plump


3. zarf
an ornamental metal holder for a handle-less coffee cup

4. zemblanity
[fr. Zembla, an Arctic island to the N. of Russia once used for nuclear testing]
the inexorable discovery of what we don’t want to know (contrast serendipity)

5. zenzizenzizenzic
the eighth power of a number

6. zerk
[fr. Oscar U. Zerk, American inventor] a grease fitting

7. zetetic
a skeptic

8. zoanthropy
the delusion that one is an animal

9. zob
a weak or contemptible person; a fool

10. zomotherapy
the treatment of disease with a diet of raw meat

11. zucchetto
[It.] (R.C. Church) (also zucchetta, -etto)
the skullcap of an ecclesiastic; the pope’s is white, a cardinal’s red, a bishop’s purple and a priest’s black

RTS 5-5-04 912am.jpg

12. zugzwang
[G.] in chess, when all possible moves weaken the position

13. zumbooruk
a small cannon fired from the back of a camel


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March 14, 2007

Thursday Thirteen # 6 - Yoga for Chickens and Other Things


Before chicken-scratch and little chick press, I never thought much about chickens and their influence on our modern culture. So for this week’s Thursday Thirteen , I share with you thirteen poultry-related things to feed your imagination:

1. It seems that chicken are fitness gurus. For your reading pleasure, I bring you: Yoga for Chickens


2. It seems that chickens are prognosticators. Let me introduce you to Ruprecht, the psychic chicken:


3. We’re all familiar with the ubiquitous rubber chicken. The new kid on the block is the flingshot flying chicken:


4. Chickens, it seems, make wonderful pets:

My bride thinks it would be fun to have a pet chicken.

She wants one that she could put on a leash with a rhinestone collar to make it look cute, and she was wondering if she could take it for walks and how well it would travel should she decide to take it with us when we go on trips. I can just see us going through airport security .

You can read Henry Wolff Jr’s charming article in its entirety here.

6. Perhaps, Henry Wolff Jr’s bride would want to own a White Silkie Hen - like this one:


7. Chickens come in all shapes and sizes. Read all about these Extraordinary Chickens here.


8. Artists draw inspiration from chickens. Katherine Plumer has an entire series of fine art prints, like the ones below:


9. Red Chickens by Govinder Nazran


10. Chicken Run by Elena Gomez


11. Even Picasso was seduced by the majestic Rooster:


12. Chickens have inspired an entire art movement in Dubuque, Iowa. Check out: Operation Chicken Art

13. Sadly, chickens can also be the cause of marital strife: Man shoots chicken, wife shoots man

Man shoots chicken, wife shoots man By Rebecca Nolan The Register-Guard Published: Wednesday, September 6, 2006

CHESHIRE - A woman was charged Tuesday for shooting her husband in the back after he shot her pet chicken, the Lane County Sheriff’s Office said.

Mary Kay Gray, 58, was arraigned Tuesday in Lane County Circuit Court on a charge of felony assault. She was being held in the Lane County Jail.

Her husband, Stanley Edward Gray, 43, was recovering from a single gunshot wound to the shoulder. The chicken died at the scene.

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March 7, 2007

Thursday Thirteen #5 - The Writing Life


If you do not breathe through writing, if you do not cry out in writing, or sing in writing, then don’t write, because our culture has no use for it. ~ Anais Nin

13 techniques to nurture your writing life:

1. Find the Music: If you are writing about a specific period, spend time listening to the music from that era. If you are writing about a foreign place, surround yourself in the sounds of the particular culture.

2. Make a List: List-making is valuable at any stage of the creative process. If you are writing a book and feeling stuck, start a list of chapter titles.

3. Study a Photograph:

Like this one:


Or this one:


Let the picture inspire you to write about the time, incidents or emotions the image evokes.

4. Eavesdrop: Many writers are notorious eavesdroppers. When standing in line at the grocery store, coffee shop or post office, have a notebook with you so you can jot down the odd things you overhear. Pay attention to the rhythms of speech, the vernacular and tone.

5. Explore a Dictionary: Pick a page at random and spend the next five to ten minutes reading every word. Make a list of odd words that you would like to incorporate into your writing. Gain new insight by learning the etymology. See my recent post on navel-gazing.

6. Build a History: Make your characters come to life. Imagine the 13 most significant events in his/her life starting with birth and ending with death. Describe your character’s favourite music and food. Add information on all their health, financial and relationship issues. Where do they live, work, play? What stage of their lives are they at when your reader encounters them?

7. Write a Letter: Many books start out as letters to loved ones. Many of my poems, or longer prose pieces have started out as letters or journal entries. I find writing a letter gives me permission to explore new ideas without worrying about creating a perfect piece of prose.

8. Get Specific: Take a look at something you’ve written and highlight any sections that are vague. You want readers to see the same things that you see. The more details you provide, the more your writing will ring true. A reader can always tell when the writer doesn’t understand his/her topic. Don’t be afraid of research; and, don’t be afraid to write down what you know.

9. Eliminate Words: Bad writing is part of the creative process. Give yourself the freedom to write really bad first drafts. Get it all out. Put it away in a drawer for a week or two. Give your writing time to settle. Then, revise, revise, revise. Circle places where your writing is vague - either delve deeper, cross it out or move it someplace else. A beautiful phrase or sentence may be just that - it may not fit the piece you’re working on. Save the phrase, sentence, paragraph, even character for another day.

10. Slow Down: Always read your writing aloud, slowly. Listen to the rhythms of your prose. Give your writing a chance to expand, to breathe. Does the format you’ve selected match what you’re trying to say? Allow yourself the quiet that you need to really pay attention to your work. It’s amazing what you’ll discover in 20 minutes of quiet time.

11. Feed the Senses: The main character in my novel-in-progress is an artist named Magda. I was having difficulty describing her paintings because the last time I attempted to paint something was in high-school. So I took a painting course at a local college. I also have a membership to our local art gallery.

Magda’s also single (I am not). She’s having a tough time in her relationships. Whenever I want to conjure up some dating angst, I pop in one of my “Sex in the City” DVDs.

Writing doesn’t exist in a vacuum - it is directly related to our other senses.

12. Read, Read, Read: Newspapers, periodicals, books and other blog sites are often good sources of information and inspiration. You may find inspiration in the classifieds or obituaries (not than I’m obsessed with death).

Here are three site that I visit daily: Salon; Arts and Letters Daily; and, Slate.

What are yours?

13. Act Successful: To be a writer, act like a writer. Give your writing the respect it deserves. Give yourself time to write and then do it!

Find out the reason that commands you to write; see whether it has spread its roots into the very depth of your heart; confess to yourself you would have to die if you were forbidden to write. ~Rainer Maria Rilke

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February 28, 2007

Thursday Thirteen # 4


All about Spirals

The spiral is the most widely recognized and repeated symbol. across cultures. Jung wrote extensively about spirals, as did Joseph Campbell.

A common design element in the natural world, spirals can symbolize our journey to our higher self or the ebb and flow of energy.

Spirals are a prominent symbol in early Christianity. Take the floor of the Chartres Cathedral in France, for example. It is here that the pilgrim can use the labyrinth as a form of meditative prayer, tracing the spiral by slowly walking or crawling its length.

“Your sacred space is where you can find yourself again and again.” Joseph Campbell

This week, I bring you 13 captivating images of spirals:

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2. 65594480_8dade7658b.jpg

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6. 233811902_aa0fbc1ec9.jpg

7. 149085581_dd9938000f.jpg

Continue reading "Thursday Thirteen # 4" »

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February 21, 2007

Thursday Thirteen #3


Presenting, in alphabetical order, thirteen books that have influenced me as a poet/writer:

1. 0676973655.01._SCMZZZZZZZ_.jpgA Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius – Dave Eggers. Is this a memoir? A novel? This Guardian Book review titled A staggeringly post-modern work of literary trickery tries to explain this wondrous feat.

2. By Grand Central Station I Sat Down and Wept – Elizabeth Smart. A semi-autobiographical prose work the novel is concerned with the narrator’s love for a married man (paralleling Smart’s affair with the married George Barker). The simple plot – a woman yearns for a man she has not yet met; meets him, and his wife; falls in love; follows him to Ottawa and New York. The narrator-as-writer includes in her arsenal characters and events from myth, fable, literature, and the Bible.

3. 0771058837.01._SCMZZZZZZZ_.jpgFugitive Pieces – Anne Michaels. This startlingly beautiful novel tells the interlocking stories of two men from different generations whose lives have been transformed by war. Written in richly poetic language, studded with striking images, Fugitive Pieces is a profound meditation upon the nature of loss, love and the healing power of words.

4. Gut Symmetries – Jeannette Winterson. “This is a story of time, universe, love affair and New York. The ship of Fools, a Jew, a diamond, a dream. A working class boy, a baby, a river. “ A strange, wonderful book. For more information go here.

5. 0676975658.01._SCMZZZZZZZ_.jpgMiddlesex – Jeffrey Eugenides. When this book first came out, I read an interview with the author, who stated that this novel of epic proportions took 9 years to complete. Like Midnight’s Children, this novel contains a daunting array of historical facts seamlessly blended into the story about Cal and his/her journey. Through the main character’s story, I learned a great deal about the great Ford Motor Company plant in Detroit called River Rouge, about the burning of Smyrna by Turkish troops in 1922 (and the burning of Detroit by angry African-Americans in 1967), about the Nation of Islam, and finally, about genetic anomalies and hermaphroditism.

6. Midnight’s Children – Salman Rushdie. I first encountered this book in my second year post-colonial English class at university. Rushdie is a master story-teller, fusing history with myth. At the stroke of midnight on August 15, 1947, the date on which India proclaimed itself independent from Great Britain, 1,001 children are born with supernatural powers. Two are switched at birth, the illegitimate son of a poor Hindu woman and the offspring of wealthy Muslims. Rushdie follows them through 30 years of partition, violence and Indira Gandhi’s iron-fisted rule.

7. 0374199779.01._SCMZZZZZZZ_.jpgMilosz’s ABC’s – Czeslaw Milosz . I am intrigued that an entire Polish genre of A B C books exist. This book was written by Milosz when he was 89. It’s a quirky memoir/meditation, consisting of short, associatively shaped prose entries - arranged in alphabetical order. I read a couple of entries whenever I need inspiration. Under A, for example, you’ll find entries on: Adamites (nudists), Admiration, After all and Alchemy.

8. Obasan – Joy Kogawa. Winning both the Books in Canada First Novel Award and the Canadian Authors’ Association Book of the Year Award, Obasan was the first novel to deal with the Canadian internment of its Japanese citizens during and after World War II. The autobiographical work tells the story of a schoolteacher, Naomi, remembering the struggle to grow up as a third generation Japanese Canadian amid the hysteria of World War II.

9. Running in the Family – Michael Ondaatje. This memoir is largely constructed through second-hand stories and these stories are filtered by memory and gossip. Funny, poignant and heart-breaking.

10. The Colussos of Marousi.jpgThe Colossus of Maroussi– Henry Miller ~ The book is a love letter to Greece, both a travelogue and a character study. After living in Paris for several years, Greece seemed to Miller a place where he felt the most intensely alive, peaceful, and balanced.

11. The Liar’s Club – Mary Karr This memoir, published in 1995, describes a childhood that many people would wish to avoid. Her mother’s alcoholism and addiction to diet pills lead to many strange episodes. Mary’s father is a rough-and-ready, quarrelsome native Texan with Native-American blood who excels as a teller of tall tales. Beautifully written and very accessible.

12. To the Lighthouse – Virginia Woolf . Mrs. Ramsay is a housewife and hostess; her husband is a cold, analytical philosopher; drawn in their wake are, among others, a struggling young painter named Lily Briscoe and their little son James, whose dearest wish is to take a boat ride to a nearby lighthouse.

Quickly, as if she were recalled by something over there, she turned to her canvas. There it was—her picture. Yes, with all its greens and blues, its lines running up and across, its attempt at something. It would be hung in the attics, she thought; it would be destroyed. But what did that matter? she asked herself, taking up her brush again. She looked at the steps; they were empty; she looked at her canvas; it was blurred. With a sudden intensity, as if she saw it clear for a second, she drew a line there, in the centre. It was done; it was finished. Yes, she thought, laying down her brush in extreme fatigue, I have had my vision.

13. The Woman Warrior: Memoirs of a Girlhood Among Ghosts – Maxine Hong Kingston. As a first-generation Chinese American, the author struggles to reconcile her Chinese cultural heritage with her emerging sense of herself as an American. A clever blend of fantasy, childhood memories, folklore, and family history, Kingston’s work, first published in 1975, transcends genres. I am forever indebted to my modern American Literature professor, Peter Quartermain, for sharing this amazing book. And, one of the reasons I became a writer is due to Maxine Hong Kingston.

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February 15, 2007

Thursday Thirteen #2


Presenting, in alphabetical order, thirteen of my favourite films :

1. Amélie ~ An imaginative and exhilarating love letter to the romantic in all of us.




3. Chinese Ghost Story ~ A supernatural-action genre complete with ghosts, humour, romance and amazing special effects.

4.Chocolat ~ What happens to a small rural French town when a woman decides to open up a chocolate shop during lent?

5. Europa Europa ~ This complex film is set between 1938 and 1945. Based on the memoirs of Solomon Perel who survived the war through a chain of extraordinary events.


6. Kung Fu Hustle~ Mind boggling special effects, deadpan physical humour and the gleeful mayhem of action movies. Stephen Chow at his best.

7. Like Water for Chocolate~ Based on the best-selling book. In Tita’s kitchen, ordinary spices become a recipe for passion.

like water for chocolate.jpg

8. Mediterraneo~ Won the Best Foreign Language Film Academy Award in 1992. During World War II, an Italian platoon arrives on a small Greek island.

9. My Life as a Dog ~ Young Ingemar survives all of life’s knocks by comparing himself to those who are worse off—such as Laika, the little Russian space dog who was rocketed to his death and had nothing to say in the matter. Based on the autobiographical novel by Reidar Jonsson.

10. Rembetiko ~ Based on a true story, this film chronicles 40 years of a popular singers life, starting with the singer’s birth in Smyrna, Turkey in 1917. The history of modern Greece runs parallel to the story.

11. The Pillow Book ~ This film is divided into 10 (book like) chapters. Visually hypnotic. Peter Greenaway at his best.

the pillow book.jpg

12. Wedding in Galilee ~ A Palestinian seeks Israeli permission to waive curfew to give his son a fine wedding. The military governor’s condition is that he and his officers attend. The groom berates his father for agreeing. Women ritually prepare the bride; men prepare the groom. Guests gather. The Arab youths plot violence.

wedding in galilee.jpg

13. Zorba the Greek ~ Basil, a young English writer of Greek ancestry, meets an older, free-spirited Greek peasant named Zorba (Anthony Quinn) on the island of Crete. “A man needs a little madness or else … he never dares to cut the rope and be free.”

zorba the greek.jpg

* A special thank you goes to Novelist in Training for designing such great TT banners.

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February 8, 2007

Thursday Thirteen #1

Chicken-Scratch - An introduction:

1. The first chapter published from my novel in progress is called “A Lesson in Calligraphy.” In it Magda reflects back on her father, George, teaching her to write Greek when she was a little girl. ~ Want to learn to write beautifully? Pay attention to what a chicken scratches.

When it came to naming my writing blog, the name Chicken-Scratch seemed a natural fit.

2. August 2005 — soon after the birth of our beautiful daughter, we had to find a nick-name for her. Greek custom dictates that a baby be officially named at his/her baptism. We began calling EM Kotopoulo (chicken). My beloved Mama was called chicken by her mother (my yia-yia) as a term of endearment.

We are carrying on the tradition.

3. I am a founding member of Little Chick Press. As part of the Hatch Collective, I am developing an online magazine for new and emerging writers called Egg.

Continue reading "Thursday Thirteen #1" »

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