Fighting the Lernaean Hydra

In Greek mythology, Lernaea Hydra, was a serpentine water monster that possessed many heads. The half-god and hero Hercules,  was sent to kill it as part of his 12 Labors. Only he could perform such a task, because for every head that was chopped off, the Hydra would regrow two heads.

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Oh my dear friends, for some months now, I feel that I am also fighting a monster like the Hydra that regenarates heads, without an end:

It all started in the beginning of the summer, when my parents decided to discontinue their internet connection at home. It took my mother several visits to the telephone company offices to have her request registered. Each time, she would go there (by bus, under high temperatures, in the town next to hers) they would send her away without giving her any proof that her request was registered.  I later realized that they were avoiding to do it, in order to keep on charging for the unwanted internet service! In order to send her away, they would tell her that they would call her on her mobile phone later in the day to confirm her request. And so, each time, they would ring her once and hang up! That obliged my mother to call them back so that she gets charged for the calls! “Things will be settled within 10 days” was what she was told every time. But things never did. My mother had to take several pills to tackle her high pressure throughout the summer. Her request was finally recorded at the end of July.

Nothing happened for weeks. One day in September, my parents told me, exasperated, that their fixed line had stopped working all together. I spent 3,5 hours talking (on my mobile phone) with the telephone company. They informed me that they had closed the case since they had discontinued the internet – 39 days after the application was registered. Their slow implementation meant extra months of charging! “But the phone is not working” I told the technician on the other line. “This is because your parents telephone line is damaged. I will register an official request to have it fixed” he responded. In the meantime, my parents have been receiving telephone bills with full charge. I requested a reversal of the charges. ” You have to call another department to discuss this” I was told. And the bills keep coming!

Two days later, someone called (always someone different) to inform me that the damage had been repaired. He hung up without waiting for verification. His claim wasn’t true since my parents phone still didn’t work! I had to make another call (again talking for hours – one “responsible” passing me to the other). To my surprise, they had closed the case “as solved”. I had to file a new request to ask for the damage – which was never repaired – to be repaired again! I also asked to register an official complaint. They didn’t like the idea and tried to lure me by offering some free time on my father’s mobile phone. They passed me on to talk to several people until I had my complaint registered. I told them what exactly to write and took the incident number.  Then, I heard nothing for days. My parents phone kept on being dead.

I have been calling every few days (of endless talking hours), using my mobile, to request the status of the repair. When I gave my compaint number, I felt that something was rong. I asked the person on the other line to read to me what was written on my complaint, To my surprise, they had not written what I had asked for! I therefore had to ask for a new compaint to be opened! By now, I have lost track of how many complaints and incident numbers we have opened!

This is because, every time I talk, a new Hydra head comes up:

First, I was told that it was due to a damage of the specific line. Another day the problem was due to a more general damage that affected an entire network of cables and impacted more telephone lines. (Needless to say that my mother asked in the neighbourhood: noone else seems to have any problems with their telephone lines). Later on, I was told that they had to get approval to order new cables. As of yesterday – 80 days on – I was told that they are waiting for approval from the archaelogists to be allowed to excavate!!!! My parents live in this house for the past 60 years – no arcaeologists have ever been involved in any cable excavation!! Why now?

Please, someone needs to find Hercules to kill this monster!!!

What really counts

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He knew I was too sad. He knew that words were too short to take my sorrow away.  He therefore said nothing with the mouth, only with the internal voice of his eyes. He hugged me, continuously, with the same intensity, for a long time. He dropped his tears next to mine. He swept them until they stopped falling. He tuned into my soul and transmitted his compassion and peacefulness to me.

He then came with a marble sculpture in his hands.”I made this for you” he said. “I named it “The Sleep”.

Off he jumped and disappeared…

” I never want to see him again” the vet said to me, when I went to pick him up. Ginger had stayed a full week in the vet hospital, following his operation. ” I have never seen a wilder cat” she said, relieved that  I was taking him away, for good.

They say that for each one, there is at least one other soul in the world, that loves and accepts him: I was that one soul for him!

Ginger came into my life, in the summerhouse, as a grown-up cat already. From the moment he arrived, he was determined to become the lion of “my jungle”, using all the force that nature had given him. He therefore did not allow the other cats of the neighbourhood to come any close to me and never left my site and side. At first, I ignored him thinking that I should let nature take its course, although  I have to admit that I made sure he had sufficient food and water.

In the beginning, he often attacked my feet- without any apparent reason, it seemed to me. I realized that his aggressiveness had nothing to do with me. It was the remain of how he was brought up as a stray cat. Gradually, we started building trust toward each other. He became my protector. He always sat next to where I was, taking a posture similar to the one of those lion statues that guard the old roman empire buildings. He was ready to observe and attack anyone that would come my way. Eventually, his attacks towards me, consisted of wrapping his claws around my feet, in a fast manner, avoiding to put his nails in my flesh.

IMG_4473And so, little by little, I wanted the best for my Ginger and  started bying him special treats. I would feed him, daily,  ham pieces, directly in his mouth. I also bought him a hairbrush, when he expressed the need to be caressed. This brush became a crucial code of communication between us: whenever he saw me holding it, he would come running! He simply adored to feel it on his fur – not his whiskers though which he kept at a distance for the brush not to catch them!

During the last weeks, Ginger had shown signs of pain in his mouth which intensified; he had difficulty eating and more and more he run away shouting. I decided to take him to the vet, although I knew that this would be a big challenge. It was a huge task to put a lion in a cage! So, I asked my mother, who has a lot of experience with cats,  to come to the summer house for help. The plan was not to feed him for a day and to place some food inside the cage the following morning, as bait. That morning, I used the hairbrush to make him approach the cage. He looked at it reluctantly  but then he turned and looked at me straight in the eyes, with the usual look of full trust. Then, he entered the cage to get the food I had placed inside, at the very end of it. I closed the door behind him. That’s when the trust broke between us irreversibly!

I placed the cage on the back seats of my car. My mother was holding it while Ginger was shouting with the wildest voice. He was making great efforts to open the door. After I drove for some 15 kilometres to reach the vet, I prepared myself to take the cage out of the car and bring it to the vet’s premises. My mother told me that the cage door was open. We made several attempts to close it, but the door corners were impossible to stabilize and stay still. There can be many maybes on what exactly happened and what not, but what importance do they now have? My Ginger proved stronger … he got out, jumped off and disappeared in front of my eyes…

My third year in the 50’s

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Here I am: swimming in the sea. Can you spot me? Maybe not, but for me, I consider it a great achievement to reach 53 today and be able to be this miniscule, negligible drop in the immensity of the sea… I am grateful to still be part of this wonderful  living world in full consciousness and health…

Today, I complete one more year of a fullfilled life; I just love the magic of it all!

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Eight scoops of ice cream

She came to pick me up. Our plan was to drive a few blocks away to the center of town, leave the car and go walking.  “I want to get an ice cream” I told her. “I have gained too much weight recently” she said “so I will just get something to drink”.

We parked the car near a square and got out. Without talking, we looked at each other with meaning: “There is a new ice cream shop that opened in this square; they use buffalo milk to make it. Shall we try it?” we both said to each other. I can’t remember if we actually said it in words or if we read each other’s mind. Whatever it was, off we walked to the buffalo ice cream place forgetting anything else in our lives! We just needed to have this ice cream in our vains!

We orderded 3 scoops each and sat down to eat it. It tasted like heaven! I quickly finished eating mine. Oh! That’s when my torture started: how could I bear seeing my friend and all the other people around me eating and enjoying their ice cream and me not having one in my hands and mouth? I had to take part in this pleasure again! So, I went to get some more ice cream. This time, I decided I would try 2 new flavours: strawberry and dark chocolate.

While I was waiting in line for my second order, a woman walked by who had just tasted a cone with two scoops. “Aaaah! It’s delicious” she said with her lips dug in the cone. “What flavours are you having?” I asked her. “Tryyyyy the banoffee” she mumbled. … And so, when my turn came, apart from the strawberry and the chocolate flavours, I also asked for the banoffee! That made it 3 scoops in total…In the meantime, my friend who had finished her first round, also decided to order  some new flavours for herself, too!

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After finishing our second round of pleasure and having had 6 scoops already, we decided to stick to our original plan and go walking “to help the ice cream burn”. We walked about 1,5 hours before we reached another ice cream shop. “Have you tried their ice cream here?” I asked my friend with a devilish voice. “They make very special flavours! I particularly love the lemongrass one”. We looked at each other again, with compassion. There was no need to talk to each other, our palates did the talk! And so, we each ordered two  scoops of ice cream of different flavours… We ate them while walking, until we reached our car. and drove back home.

Our evening of the  8 scoops of ice cream was completed!

The season has started!

Oh! My dear friends, the cultural season has started in Epidavros, my second home!

The small coastal village has two ancient theaters; both were built in the 4th century B.C. and hosted music, singing and dramatic games.  In modern times, high quality performances are held there, during the months of July and August, as part of the annual “Athens and Epidaurus Festival”. For an artist to perform in one of these two locations, it is considered to be a priviledge and a peak in their career.

The first one, the Great Theater, has capacity for ~13,000 spectators and it is considered to be an architectural achievement for its integration into the surrounding nature, its proportions, symmetry and acoustics. It is the most beautiful and best preserved from all Greek ancient theaters. It mostly hosts performances of ancient greek dramas written by Sophocles, Euripides, Aeschylus,  Aristophanes. People drive for kilometres to come and live this experience.

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The second one, the Little Theater, hosts ~ 2,000 spectators and has an amazing view to the bay and …my house :-). During the festival, music, dance and theater performances are also held there. The experience already starts as you make your way to the theater following the ancient path and you walk among the orange trees… you get the feeling that you follow a ritual that prepares you for what you will see and hear…

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For a spectator, it is a unique experience to sit in the exact same place and watch the exact same plays like our ancestors did centuries ago. Every year, I am eagerly  waiting for the season to start to sit there, to listen to the timeless ideas, principles and the basic questions of life that remain constant as long as human beings exist. It makes me reflect on the essence of life and put things and my life into perspective.

Ancient Greeks believed that the observation of dramatic shows had positive effects on mental and physical health.  If I judge from the effect it has on me, I can confess, without any doubt, that I have found my physical remedy 🙂

The bullying is over!

Although friends had warned me that learning to play bridge requires devotion and a lot of studying,  I felt that I had the eagerness for both, so I happily threw myself at it, last autumn. I became a member of a club and I registered for a weekly class that would last the entire scholar year. I made sure I set sufficient time aside to study seriously. Little did I know that I had put myself into a bullying experience  generated by the bridge teacher:

During the first day, the teacher told us that he would be available, 30 minutes prior to every class,  to discuss one-to-one, any questions we might have. How great I thought! This is my way of learning. And so, after our first lesson already, I read the relevant chapter in the book, solved some of the practical examples and full of enthusiasm I went to ask him the questions that I had underlined. He was staring at me as if I was the biggest fool that has ever appeared on planet earth; I wasn’t even worthy of his saliva! He did not give me an answer. Instead he gave me a feeling that I was unwelcomed.  I tried a second time to go to him but the pattern was the same. For a moment, I started questioning myself and my intelligence,  but we had just started; he didn’t know me yet in order to be able to draw any reliable conclusions about my intellectual capabilities or my value. So, I stopped going to ask him questions privately.

During the class, whenever anyone would raise their hand to ask a question, he would look at the person (who had the question) right in the eyes persistently and stop talking.  His face and body language expressed great annoyance. Then, he would continue his teaching from where he had stopped prior to being disturbed! In the very rare times that he would take a question, his immediate reaction was to say: “I have already taught this in class, how can you pose such a question now?” and he moved on. So, I stopped raising my hand in class to ask any questions!

He allowed nobody to talk in the class – if ever he would hear a noise other than his, he would make a big fuss about it. And so, the entire class (the majority in the 60-75 age group) kept quiet each showing their frustration and disapproval through exchange of glances, keeping their movement to a minimum so that they do not get noticed by him. I found that unbelievable!

Even at the simple gesture of someone greeting him “hello or goodbye”, he would never respond; he just kept a stone face!

Later on, when we started going to the club an extra day in the week in order to play bridge (so that we put the theory into practice),  our teacher was acting as the referee of the games. We had to call him whenever something was debatable. Of course, he attacked with words anyone that called him! So, I stopped going to the games.

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And so, I tolerated these bullying conditions for the entire scholar year! Why did you have to go through this, you might ask? I am a survivor who tries to find ways to achieve my goals: in this case, to learn the basic principles of bridge during this year!

Since I have never been bullied before, at first I thought that I disliked bridge and of quitting all together. But when I realized that the teacher  was the problem, I decided to minimize his bullying by limiting my interactions with him.

Now, I can proudly say that my goal was achieved and that I am glad I will never have to deal with this person again! From now on, I can start enjoying the game playing in a non-toxic environment in the club near my summer house 🙂