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9 December and it’s a record: the greeting cards are out the door, the gifts are purchased and waiting to be wrapped, the front door wreath is hung with care, the tree is installed but won’t be decorated until the weekend, lights and ornaments have been reviewed, revised and/or disposed of. I am in heaven between planning all sorts of goodies to bake for the holidays, making dinner and party menus and creating floral decorations and looking forward to Christmas like I haven’t done in years.

Vince and Julius went to buy the tree last Saturday. The Christmas tree guy was pointing out the jeep to some other customers when they drove in. “That’s the guy. That’s the guy that always wants the big tree.” He then walked all around the grove with Vince and Jules until they found this year’s perfect tree: 4 meters of piney freshness!


This is where the magic happens….


Ta daaa!


The front door wreath….


The “Game of Thrones Wreath” — Winter is Coming


The Nutcrackers 1e Battalion

Having all the battalions in formation in the kitchen was too much for Julius/Charlie Brown. They put him off his food.

Tomorrow: Recipes

9 December, Winter is Coming!


Kina Gecesi

I probably saw you then

from my balcony,

playing on the grass below.

We called that neighborhood

Little Ankara”.

Mothers, some in hijab, sought shadow

under chestnut trees in that last bake of September

while the little ones

laughed and chased the wind.

Then I was a new bride

in a strange land;

I wore no henna on my hand.


I didn’t know the word yet


my heart ached with it that day.

Tonight…the moon is high,

full to overflowing and white as a pail of milk.

We dance and eat and talk, and laugh

until the girls come in.

The same girls

from Little Ankara

grown up, singing to the bride you are

Yüksek, yüksek tepelere…

Asri, asri memlekete kiz vermesinler…

Your fist, compact as the chestnuts

that grew on the trees in Little Ankara

resolute in refusal

until the coin is offered.

Your hand falls open

like a white flower

and they paint your palm

with henna.

Ben annemi özledim

With eyes as full as the moon,

your mother lets you go.

* Hüzün – wistful melancholy. 

Kina Gecesi

Ik heb je waarschinlijk gezien,

spelend op het plein beneden.

Wij noemde onze eerst wijk

Kleine Ankara”.

De vrouwen in hijab, schaduw zoekend

onder kastanjebomen in dat nogal warm September

terwijl ‘t kleine grut

lachte en de wind opjagden.

Toen was ik een nieuwe bruid

in een vreemd land

geen henna vlek op mijn hand.

Ik had hüzün

maar kende het woord nog niet

en kon het niet eens uitspreken.

Stukje bij beetje was ik het vergeten.

Vanavond de maan is hoog

overvol and wit als een emmer melk.

Wij dansen en eten en praten, het is feest.

De meiden komen binnen.

Dezelfde meisjes waarschijnlijk

van kleine Ankara,

niet jagend achter de wind aan,

maar volwassen zingend om de bruid jij bent.

Yüksek, yüksek tepelere…

Asri, asri memlekete kiz vermesinler…

Doe je hand eens open,

maar je houd het vastgesloten

voor de henna

totdat het muntje komt tevoorschijn

en je laat je hand openvallen

als een bloem.

Ben annemi özledim

Je moeder kijkt je aan,

je ogen slaan neer.

Maar er valt geen traan.

Photo found at Google

Kina Gecesi


Mighty Mack passed the training course we’ve been going to with the “Gentelman’s D”. He is too cool to be sent to his place by me and far too cool to “fetch”. Sitting, laying down and “staying” on command earned top marks.

We’re going on to the next stage of training and Jan, the trainer told me “Good. I know what the problem is and we’re going to work on it together.” He advised me in the meantime to carry a stick with me on walks and give Mack a quick swat when he ignores me. Let me put this into context: Mack is a bull mastiff. He is approximately 120 lbs. of pure muscle with a phenomenal pain threshold. These dogs were bred to wrestle poachers to the ground and hold them there—-without biting them to death. They’re big, ornery and lovable creatures. I refuse to work with an electric shock collar or a spiked collar. He wears a choke-chain for training, but basically that’s like a bee sting to an elephant. The stick was to be a small, thin switch or a piece of bamboo and I was to give him a flick over the rump if he patently ignored my commands.

The gardeners were busy next door, so I found a thin switch on their pile of green detritus as I walked down the drive. Past the cul de sac, I gave the command to sit. Mack looked at something extremely interesting in the middle distance, showed off his profile and completely ignored me. I gave the command again and he turned away from me. This is what dogs in puberty do. They are a lot like boys in puberty, but you cannot control them by docking their allowence. I tried one more time, no joy. So I flicked him with the switch. That got his attention, he sat down but the switch broke– it was old, dry wood. I quickly found another and we continued on our walk.

Oh heavens to Murgatroyds! The girls from the stable had been out hacking earlier in the morning. Fresh horse manure! Mack loves fresh horse manure. He wouldn’t listen when I told him “No!” and I managed to break another stick. Something told me the stick wasn’t really working out for us.

A little further along the way I reached down to give Mack a friendly pat on the chest and he flinched. He gave me a look:

Babe,” it said, “I don’t trust you since you hit me with that stick.”

I understand Mack’s looks perfectly.

I promised no more sticks, gave him a treat, he licked me all up my coat sleeve and I was pretty sure we were ok.

But he saw a nice pile of horse manure on the other side of the road and pulled me, flying like a kite over there. This was not cool. I jerked his chain, he looked at me, I thought “what now?” and had a brain wave. I stamped my foot, showed him my teeth and growled at him. He walked away from the manure with out even trying to eat any. A little further up, same story. He walked away without a taste. He tried a third time and all I had to do was stamp my foot. He ignored that manure pile and any other poop we came across on the rest of our walk. Even nicer, he engaged with me instead of snuffling for things to eat the whole way home.

I can’t believe I tried to train my dog by hitting him with a stick. What was I thinking?

All those months of jerking his chain (and almost dislocating my shoulder in the process), telling him “No!’ in a stern tone of voice was for naught. The problem was that “No!” means nothing to a dog. I might as well tell my boys to clean their room in Swahili! All I had to do was communicate with Mack in his own language. I hope he’ll be patient with me. 

* crossposted from my primary blog:

Do You Spikka My Language?



When all the talk is done,

when everything that can be allowed

is said,

only poetry


Metaphor to express

caress, a breezy kiss of

water skeeters skimming

the surface of

a deeper

sentimental pond.

Adjectives, light butterflies

flitting shadows over

the page,

dusting the words with


making them bloom

opulent colors,

scented with the dreams

of my heart.

Cicada rhythm,

apian melody,

orchestral strings hidden


cherry blossom,



the honesuckle,



the wisteria

of my thoughts.

You have the key

to this garden.

Hang it on the hook

by the gate

when you leave.

Come back soon,

as often as you like.

Maybe I will discover

your dewy footprint

on the path

one day.

* Image from Google

Only Poetry Remains


Yesterday I saw 7 am. for the first time in a long time. Anne, Scheherezade’s daughter was competing in the group class for the Bellydance World Championship in Duisberg, Germany (of all places) and we were going along to support our team. I shook myself awake, got dressed and got busy putting together the picnic I’d promised to bring. Being that the competition was taking place in Germany, and being that German’s serve bratwurst and beer at any and all events, I packed a big halal lunch, in case some of the dancers got hungry and couldn’t eat pork. Good thing I did, but more on that later. I was nicely on time for once in my life and enjoying a cup of coffee when they pulled into my driveway at 8:30.

Despite the fog, we made good time and were at the theater in Duisberg 2 hours later. We dropped Anne off at the door, tore ourselves away from all the glitz being set up for the market, then Scheherezade, her firecracker of an 85 year-old mother-in-law and I headed toward the nearest Konditorei for kaffe and küchen to kill time before the contest was to begin. Anne phoned about an hour later because she was starving and there was nothing to eat at the theater yet and we made our way back to the car where I’d stashed the picnic, still talking nonstop about “50 Shades of Grey” and how awful it was compared to “9 ½ Weeks”.

We set up our picnic in the foyer, Anne met us and we sent her back to the greenroom with sandwiches, some bottled water and a box of Celebrations. We’d just had cake and didn’t need chocolate on top of that. After our nosh, the market was open and it was time to shop.

Scheherezade was on the lookout for a kaftan to wear when she’s performing. She really is a professional storyteller and is fully booked for the holiday season. You don’t want to show up in the same outfit to every gig. We thought this one was fabulous: 

The jewelery was interesting, but I was hoping to score a new pair of harem pants and belt. Dickering is not my strong point, but I paid below the normal asking price so I think the merchant and I both went away happy.

The WK started at 2pm. Oma went ahead to the theater while we were shopping and secured good seats for us.

I don’t have a video camera, so the photos are limited in that they only give a hint of the spectacle. It was clear after the first few acts that this was more of an EK (European Championship) than a WK, but the competition was impressive.

The contest consisted of a number of disciplines including:

  • Classical oriental (what most people know as bellydancing)
  • Folkloric (gypsy dance, sword dances, flamenco…etc)
  • Tribal and Tribal Fusion (hard to explain, watch the video)
  • Oriental Mix (Isis Wings, fan dances etc.)
  • Bollywood

As a member of the audience, I found these categories confusing, despite being familiar with many of the dance disciplines on stage. We agreed that the judges did not have an enviable task ahead of them. Anne was competing in the Classical Oriental group competition, and Koh-i-Noor (aka Karina and Noor) were in the duo competition. 

This group opened the show—they were spectacular.

and then we got stuff like this. I call it “The Kardashians do Folklore”.

I must get a video camera–this dance was exquisite, incorporating fans and color.

Tribal costumes–a feast for the eyes!

My favorite costumes of the day—for the headdresses alone.


Our girls (Sheba) wouldn’t get onstage until after 8 pm. In the meantime, the picnic (concealed in a large shopping bag) had been raided and demolished, numerous coffee runs had been made and I was overwhelmed by all the dances. I managed to worm my way into a better spot for these pix.

Sheila’s beautiful baby belly

None of our dancers won any prizes (we was robbed!) but Kim, daughter of Diva Joke (from the Thursday morning bellydance class) and her group walked away with first place at least twice.


 One  of the drum solos we didn’t hear yesterday!

 The fabulous Tribalways dance group.

Originally posted at my primary blog:

Bellydance WK 24 Nov.


Just for Fun…The Proust Questionnaire

I’m sure some of you are as pretentious as I am are familiar with this from the back page of “Vanity Fair”. I’d come across it as an Open Call at Open Salon a year or two ago and thought it would be fun to do a similar open call here.


The principle aspect of my personality is….

a tendency to believe 5 impossible things before breakfast

The quality that I desire in a man is….

a deep brown voice, hairy chest and outstanding culinary skills

The quality that I desire in a woman is…

panache, a wicked sense of humor and the ability to hold her liquor

What I most appreciate about my friends is …

their quirky minds

My favorite occupation is ….

making love (as opposed to just sex), writing, taking a country walk

My dream of happiness is…

I’m living the dream…

What would be my greatest misfortune?

I hate this question. I’m superstitious, it doesn’t bear thinking about. 

What I should like to be is…

A high-end florist

The country where I should like to live is…

The grass is always greener, isn’t it?  I’ll stay where I am, thanks.

My favorite color is….

Today my favorite color is deep forest green.

My favorite bird is…

The falcon.

My favorite prose author(s) is/ are …

William Faulkner, Anthony Winkler, Bill Bryson, Barbara Pym, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, J.K. Rowling, Armistead Maupin, Rebecca Wells, P.G. Wodehouse, Mazo de la Roche,  Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Joanne Harris…lots more

My favorite poet(s) is/are…

Derek Walcott, Alexander Pope, Tess Gallagher (met her), Robert Bly (met him) Etheridge Knight (I met him too), Nydia Ecury, William Blake (didn’t meet him)…lots more

My heroes in fiction include…

Ron Weasley, Severus Snape, Rodolfo (la Boheme), Sindbad, Perseus, Huck Finn, Ford Prefect, Jeeves, Michael Tolliver, Dr. Sheldon Cooper…lots more

My favroite heroines in fiction…

Francie Nolan, Tosca, Vivian Abbott, Hermione Granger, Adeline Whiteoak, the faithful Morgana, Nokomis…lots more

My favorite composer(s) is/are…

Debussy, Satie, Conte, Quincey Jones, Verdi, Puccini….lots more

My favorite painter(s) is/are…

Frida Kahlo, Shag, Jean Grigori, Marc Chagall….lots more

My hero(es) in real life is/are …

Fire fighters

My heroines in history is/are …

Boudicca, Mme. Curie, Madeline Albright, Anne Frank, Dr. Margaret Sanger, Pocohantas, Maria Tallchief, Phyllis Diller…lots more

My favorite food is…

Today it is minestrone soup.

What I hate most of all….

I don’t hate. Life is too short.

Historical figures I most despise…

See above.

The military event which I admire most…

The “Miracle of the Marne”

The gift of nature that I would like to have…

To be able to throw a ball properly…

How I want to die…

I don’t really. If I have to, then at a ripe old age, calmly, in my sleep.

Present state of mind…


Faults for which I have the most indulgence…

Bad dress sense.

My motto…

Every day I write the book…

Just for Fun……