Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Brilliant Bursts of Light

Yesterday, January 27, was International Remembrance Day. It is a time set aside by the United Nations to honor the 11 million people - 6 million of them Jews - who perished in the Holocaust. January 27 is the day that Soviet troops liberated Auschwitz.

Many people don't know - or are only beginning to know - that among Hitler's first victims were gay men. More than 100,000 gay men from around Europe suffered imprisonment and torture, many died. At least 15,000 were sent to the camps (the number is an estimate because many men were imprisoned for other reasons as well.)

Because of the discussions about Greece during World War II at Saint Sophia, Gus has an idea of what happened. He'll be learning more in the next few years. As he does, I also hope he'll hear the stories of the brave men and women from every corner of Europe, who risked their own lives to save those of others.

The Greek island of Zakynthos is off the northern coast of the Peloponnese.
After the Nazis occupied the island paradise, they insisted on the names of all the Jews living there. Per their demand, they were presented a list. On it were just two names: Mayor Lukas Karrer and Greek Orthodox Metropolitan Chrysostom.

The two implored the islanders to hide their Jewish neighbors in the villages throughout the island. In retaliation, the Nazis took the children of the island as labor - thankfully, not slaughtering them. Yet, the people of Zakynthos stood strong. Not one Jew left the island during the occupation.

 Mayor Karrer
His Eminence, Metropolitan Chrysostom
For the generations born after the Holocaust, understanding it, relating to it can be difficult. With each passing year, more of the victims and heroes of this dark period of time pass on. It becomes as distant as any other part of history. But I wonder, as Gus continues to learn more about the Holocaust, and the various groups persecuted by the Nazis, will he ever stop to think, "That could be my dad."
 Gay prisoners were forced to wear pink triangles.
I hope that we are raising our children to understand that the world is a place of light and goodness. I hope that as he delves into this part of the human experience more deeply, he will hear the stories of the thousands and thousands of Germans, French, Danes, Italians, Poles, Greeks and every other nationality, who risked their own lives to protect others. 

We can never forget this horrible, dark period of our shared history. But we must also remember that even in the darkest times, there were brilliant bursts of light.
 The Wall of the Righteous Nations in Israel - Greek section.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Brotherly Support

A couple of months ago, Gus had the first in a series of three HPV vaccinations. One of the potential side effects of this vaccine is the immediate possibility of fainting. In true brotherly love and support, upon hearing his big brother might pass out, Niko burst into fits of laughter.

The shot was a doozy, and although no fainting occurred, Gus waited for the nurse to leave the room before bursting into tears.

Today we had the second installment. As we walked into the doctor's office, Niko asked if he could please wear his ear phones to listen to music on his phone. When I asked why, he replied, "So I don't have to hear Gus scream in agony."

Way to be supportive, little man.

Editor's Note: Today's shot wasn't nearly as bad. There was no fainting, no tears, and certainly no screams of agony!

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Guilt from the Great Beyond

A couple of weeks ago, I got a healthy dose of Jewish Mother Guilt from a dear, sweet friend of mine. I had to laugh off her attempts, however. I mean after nearly 50 years of Greek mother figures in my life, a little Jewish guilt didn't stand a chance.

Don't believe me? Well the other night I had a dream that I was attending some sort of religious lecture at a Protestant church. I walked in with my four Saltas cousins.

As we made our way through the church, I saw their mother sitting by herself in a pew about half way in the back. I was excited to see my aunt, who passed away nearly 5 years ago. Her daughters politely acknowledge their mom, but kept walking to sit in a different part of the church. Me? I squeezed in right next to Theia Sophie, put my arm around her and we started yacking away. The lecture ended, I left with my cousins, and that's when I woke up.

The next morning I told my cousin, Yvonne, about the dream:

- Yvonne: You had this dream the day you skipped church to sit in your hottub?
- Me: Yes.
- Yvonne: There ya go.
- Me: You mean your mom was guilting me about skipping church from the Great Beyond?
- Yvonne: Duh.

That sweet little Jewish woman didn't stand a chance!

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

I Blame Nick

When we moved to Los Angeles, I was in charge of buying a new house since Kelly and Gus had remained in Oakland. With the help of Sabine and Liesel, I hunted for just the right home. After seeing far too many places to count, we ended up buying our realtor Nick's house.

The house was pretty perfect expect that right off of the deck there was a hot tub.  Now that was an amenity wasted on us! Kelly agreed: we were never going to use that blasted spa.

What were we thinking? We lived in the hot tub. It was so good that during a friendly check-in call with Nick a few months later, I told him it had three settings: good, better, and who needs a man.

After our first harsh Utah winter, we were really missing that hot tub. So when we moved from our short term place into a longer-term rental, Kelly made sure it had a spa. The problem was that it was far from the caliber we had come to expect. This one was older, smaller, and broke down...a lot.

When we started looking to buy again, I guess a hot tub wasn't on our list of must haves, because we endured another 4, spa-less winters. But enough was enough for Kelly, and for his birthday he convinced me to let us buy a hot tub. It arrived, Friday.

Unlike with the spa in LA, there is no pretense that we aren't going to use it. I'm averaging 2.5 dips a day.
Personally, I blame Nick.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

So Long, Speedy

For Christmas 2008, my sister Sandra, Kelly and I gave the boys a pair of guinea pigs: Tom and Jerry. The two guinea pig brothers proved to be really special when Jerry gave birth to three pups two months later.

Their son, Speedy, was the last remaining member of their little cavy family. He passed quietly last night. At just shy of six, he lived a full year longer than they usually do, outliving his brother, Spotty, by 2-1/2 years.

The boys took his passing well - Speedy wasn't much for being held, so they weren't super close - and although he was sweet, I admit that I am happy for the space in the laundry room we're gaining with the departure of his habitat. I'm also grateful that we're having a warm January, so I am able to bury him without breaking a shovel!

Speedy, thanks for being a good guinea pig. Squeak, squeak!

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Gee, Thanks, Mom

This afternoon I called my mom to check in - as I am required to do every day. As we were chatting, I mentioned that Gus is entering a stage in his development where he's pushing boundaries and questioning his parents' authority.

I admitted that last night I lost my temper, completely wrecking my New Year's resolution of being more patient.

Mom's response? "Wow. I'm surprised it took you this long to break it."

Gee, thanks, Mom.

Monday, January 5, 2015


WHEREAS, it is the start of a new year; and
WHEREAS, although my aunts all believed I may be perfect: and
WHEREAS, I do have a smidgeon of room to improve;


1. I will go to bed earlier;
2. I will do a little yoga every morning;
3. I will work on being more patient;
4. I will work on being more patient (That one needs repeating);
5. I will read more;
6. I will run more; and
7. I will take two deep breaths for thinking about infanticide...maybe three!

Happy New Year! Hope your resolutions are achieved!