Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Adventure 1992

Adventure 1992

By Magic Bus from London town
To Greece we were transported,
With nothing but our canvas home
Thus speedily exported,

And so to Athens, there to ‘find
Ourselves’ and ancient glories,
To bathe in culture; steep our bones
In characters and stories,

But cold it was on Zeus’s hill,
And round his temple blowing,
Had he’d ‘a’ been a Scotsman he’d
‘a’ found his knees a glowing,

“It’s further south for us my gal,
Our bits are frozen rigid,
If we stay here for much longer,
It’s bound to make you frigid,

“My God!” I cried, “We must make haste
Before you too feel chilly,
May Zephyrus watch over us
And warm your freezing willy,”

Post haste and to the sea we went
Together with our spiti,*
And bought a one-way ticket out
To that fair isle of Kriti,

Now very soon we realized,
That man needs more than passion
If he wants to keep his body
And soul in the right fashion,

It’s true our little paradise
Could not have been much better,
We had fresh fish and oranges,
Tomatoes, oil, and feta,

The campsite had facilities:
A bird could not be free-er,
And yet our lives were incomplete,
Because we craved for be-er,

Now to us Yorkshire folk, real ale
Has fans, just like a showman,
It’s second only to the balls
Of Boycot, Lloyd or Trueman,

To have to go without a drop
Can prove to be quite testy,
We tried retsina, raki too,
But that made me so chesty,

We dreamed of pints with creamy heads,
Of mild and dark, and bitter,
The fruitiness of Samuels,
How Dent would make us fitter,

And so we walked towards the sounds
Of Sissi, and located,
The tiny bar of Harbour Lights,
Where Bill and Marie waited,

And there we put aside our quest
For stories, songs and dancing,
We listened to the tales of men
Of Cretan folk, romancing,

Michaelis Postman sang to us
A song with Eastern flavour,
And Costas danced, and plates were smashed,
It was a night to savour,

Our adventure had just started,
Now we’re twenty years down line,
We settled in the Cretan hills,
Where there’s plenty of sunshine,

So, if you ever pass our way
Look for us in Vrahassi,
In the area of oak trees,
It’s not exactly classy,

But we love it up the mountain,
Where the Griffin vultures nest,
Our adventure 1992
Proved undoubtedly the best!

*Spiti =house, in this case a tent.

©Jane Sharp 2012

Monday, February 27, 2012

Clean Monday in Malia and Sissi, Crete

Clean Monday, the day before Lent begins, and a 40 day fast leading up to Easter, for the devoted that is. Personally, beans for 40 days doesn't wash it.

This is how David and I spent the day. First we met Lydia and Mark in Malia, where we flew our kites. Great fun! Then back to Sissi and bean soup (very good bean soup I must say) on the harbour together with the locals. It was the first time David and I had spent a traditional Clean Monday together, and we had a lovely day out.

The boys at the end of the video, Zakharias, Stathis and Alex, looked great in their costumes. They sang, 'All we are saying, is give Greece a chance,' for me in English - great lads, thanks. Watch out for another video with them singing.

I missed cello practice today, but will make up for it tomorrow. The day was worth it.

Bye for now,
Love Jane x

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Two Strangers Off To See The World!

It is 20 years since David and I discovered Crete. Today we went back to the campsite at Sissi, to see if it had changed as much as we have. The story below is taken from my writings back in 1992. It was a time we shall never forget.

...Now, some people go bankrupt and still seem to retain a basic standard of living. We were very naïve. With only a few pounds in our pocket we queued up at the office of the Social Security. We never made it to the desk. David’s pride would not let him resort to begging money from the state, and he dragged me out of the office, saying, “I won’t do it. I’ll find some other way.” I was angry with him. What were we going to eat? Where were we going to live? He was adamant; he would not become a dropout of society.
Ashamed of our situation we stayed a few days with my father. That’s when we made our plan of the future. We could have been very depressed at that point but instead we decided that what had happened was, in fact, the best thing that could have happened in our lives. For now we had no money worries, no mortgage, no having to get up and work nearly every hour God sent, no children to support. We were free – and how good was that?
My father leant us 500 pounds. We didn’t want to waste it. This was our plan: we would set off and see the world, and find employment to keep us doing that for as long as it took. It was an exciting thing to do. Some would say a stupid thing to do. We were determined to turn the bad situation into a good one, and a few days later whilst sitting in the Salvation Army coffee shop in Oxford Street, London, we tossed a coin, whether to go to Morocco or Athens, both destinations of the Magic Bus. The coin fell for Athens and our future was determined.
 This is an edited version of the account of our lives which I wrote in 1992.

As we said goodbye to our families and friends in England, we were neither sad nor regretful. We knew that the next few months would be a time to remember, and a time to forget. We had nothing left of worth except each other. Our bankruptcy had been traumatic. Too deep in the shit to crawl out, we had said, “Stuff it.” It wasn’t a bad deal really. The bank got the house and our slate was wiped clean. The financial slate that was, but I still owed David an awful lot!
               The coach pulled out with our rucksacks and small tent, bundled into the boot. After three days and nights of continuous travel, we arrived in Athens. It was February and knee deep in snow. At 6.30 a.m. in a very cold bus station cafeteria, we sipped strong, black, Greek coffee and warmed our fingers on the tiny hot cups. We had not expected snow in Athens. I felt like a homeless evacuee on some wartime film set.
                Our nerves were still a little frayed. The bus had made a mad dash through war-torn Yugoslavia, to avoid any trouble. We had been stopped twice by army patrols but the drivers had shouted, “All is touristic,” and we were allowed to pass. A woman teacher from Athens who was sitting across from us told us that her Professor had just returned from Yugoslavia with horrific pictures of the atrocities that were going on. Babies were being crucified; there was a mass slaughter of the Croatian people. Like day trippers to a safari park, we watched the world from our windowed cocoon, in the knowledge that we would be quite safe – after all, we were British! How pompous was that?
                On a budget of 3 pounds sterling a day we had to look for a very cheap hotel and then find a place to pitch our tent. It had to be somewhere warmer than Athens. In search of the sun we decided to head south as far as possible. The next evening we boarded a boat for Crete and by 7.30 the next morning we were standing on the harbour at Heraklion. As I gazed up at the mountainous skyline, I knew that I was going to like Crete.
                The sun was shining as we set up our small, two-man tent near to the little fishing village of Sissi, on the north coast. We were alone. It was out of season. There were no tourists. There, in our little paradise, we had nothing, yet we had everything. Perched on a sandy cliff-edge, with a view of the Aegean Sea and the occasional ferryboat on the horizon, we simply absorbed the total peace and harmony of the world. I built a bamboo wind shield while David made a campfire. We found an old table and chairs near the dustbins, even an old tattered parasol. Robinson Crusoe had been a good childhood teacher. I became queen of one-pot cooking, we ate spaghetti and wild greens that the locals picked. We read, and we reasoned. We had chance to talk to each other; to discuss those things that for almost twenty-five years we had kept deep inside ourselves - and the days became longer and warmer.
                Eventually, as the season approached, we found work. David helped out on the campsite; I got a job in a taverna. The local people were warm, open and smiling. We saw how people could live: without television, without cars, without washing machines, without expensive clothes, without all sorts of luxuries. Our new friends in Sissi showed us the kindness that Kings will seldom know and Christians often forget. When people have nothing, they need each other, and, what is more, they genuinely love each other. It took a journey of a thousand miles, and the abandonment of all material things, to make us realize what love really is.   
                Time is like the gentle lapping of the powerful waters, invisibly wearing smooth, rough-cut mortals. Time is for ever; people temporarily bathing in its permanence. If all I have learned is merely worn away by time, my existence means nothing. If my knowledge affects even the tiniest being, then time is worthwhile. If I respect time, then in the shade of a rocking olive branch, I will be happy. As we were leaving Crete, after spending three months in that little two-man tent, David said, “Jane, never forget this time.” We found love under a Cretan sky.  (Written in 1992)
We returned to England to be offered the wonderful opportunity of running a small guest house in the Lake District. After two years of hard work we returned to Crete to buy a small house in the mountains. That was eighteen years ago. Whatever setbacks we have had, we have just looked for the good side, and there has always been a good side. We never know where our next dollar is coming from, but while ever we can help someone out, we know that things will work out. David renovated our Cretan hovel and we now have a car, a washing machine, a television an inside bathroom, and yes, computers. We did it, and so can anyone else, but it didn’t all happen at once, the thing is, we never lost sight of the fact that one day we would have our own house again.  I know that God will provide and that all things are possible, once you accept that, life is such a joy.
                I have had several very vivid dreams; one in particular instructed me to read the book of Daniel in the bible; another prompted the story of Rhamu, a Minoan Prince. My book, Tears from the Sun – A Cretan Journey, is not an autobiography, it is a cameo of Cretan life taken from my experiences combined with esoteric knowledge. I am very proud of it, and I know that I was meant to write it. It has taken every penny I have to have it published and I’m back to eating wild greens from the mountain. But hey, I’m healthy; I have a wonderful loving relationship with David, and I have friends around me. I am definitely not poor. My goal is to share what I have learned with as many people as possible, and I want to build a guest lodge onto our one bedroom house so that my family and friends and anyone else can come and see what life half way up a mountain in Crete is really like.
             A great energy comes out of adversity doesn’t it? If people would only use that energy to some good, put hate behind them, forgive the wrongs of the past and concentrate on making a better world for themselves and others, then they would find a peace of mind that is eternal. Love is the key; always find the good in every situation. Just now, there will be many Greek people as short of money as David and I were back in 1992. I hope that they can find a way through their problems.

Jane Sharp

To find out more about Jane’s life in Vrahassi and her book Tears from the Sun – A Cretan Journey see:
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Saturday, February 25, 2012

In Memorium

I woke up this morning thinking about Syria and the terrible destruction that is happening over there. Thousands have been killed in the uprising, including two very brave journalists. Here is the poem I wrote while thinking about them.

In Memory of Marie Colvin and Remi Ochlik,
Killed in Syria, February 2012

In a bunker,
Covered in grey dust,
And grazed,
Eyes glazed over with
Tears of Homs,
The battle-crack
Of Somme
Blasting history
To oblivion,
Heads clamped in palms,
Unarmed, brave,
Strands of DNA
Standing defiant,
Waiting for angels
In God’s garden,
In the slant of Spring rain,
In the same slant of Spring rain
That grows orchids.

©Jane Sharp
February 25, 2012

Friday, February 24, 2012

Report of Council Meeting in Vrahassi

Met yesterday Vrachasiou Local Council dealt with a number of issues in our village.Unanimously decided to grant part of the plot in Sissi parking for construction of multipurpose Surgery, proposed by the Governor of the DOE and City Councilor Crete Agios Nikolaos Panicos Mr. Karatzas.Subject to the operation of the company by its Regional Director Chris Mamaloukos, who asked to join the Company with 20% of the sports club Vrachasiou.President of Operations and Regional Director Vrachasiou C. Fthenakis referred to the municipality for the participation of AO Vrachasiou essentially disagreeing with the possibility to join the team at the company's share capital.Also negative were the C. Fthenakis and the creation of RES in our region. In the same wavelength on this issue was Chris Mamaloukos while President Michael Petsalakis expressed the view that any investments of this kind should be made with absolute protection of the environment with respect to areas under a special law NATURA.The President also noted that in any case would be provided economic benefits to local communities and the City and agreed to the proposal by Mayor Nicholas St. to create a special zoning plan to regulate the installation of such units.The President of the Local Council asked for extensive information both by stakeholders involved (City, Region, Forest Service, etc.) and the Company to be informed in detail about the plans.
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Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Second Hand Charity Shop in Agios Nikolaos, Crete.

I spent the morning in Agios Nikolaos today. My mission was to locate the Charity Shop, which I had heard about. As you see, I did find it, in a very convenient position, just up the side of the big church on the road to the square at the top of the town. I also asked if there was a soup-kitchen in Agios, apparently not, but above the charity shop there is the KAPI (I hope I have spelled that correctly), anyway, the KAPI is an organization run for older people. It is a place where pensioners can go for a cup of coffee, and a chat with other pensioners. I am sure there are activities and the like organised for these people too. I was also informed that above the KAPI there is the office of Social Security, where those people who are desperate, i.e. have no money for food, clothing etc., can go and talk to someone who will help them.

Proceeds from the shop will go towards the social needs of the area of Agios Nikolaos, so, if you do have something to donate towards this good cause, or if you are looking for something to buy, do visit the shop - it is the only one of its kind in the town. And some things have been given by shops, and are brand new. I picked up a children's book, in Greek, but there are English books too, and videos and DVD's. Go and take a look next time you are in Agios.

Charity Shop opening hours: 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. every day except Wednesday, when it is 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. (Weekdays, I'm not sure about Sunday).

Information supplied by my Greek teacher, Manolis. Thank you Manoli.

KAPI = Open Care Center Elderly

  The institution of KAPI created in 1984 by a legislative initiative funded by the Ministry of Health and Welfare. The institution has gradually evolved through local government, developed and expanded throughout the country which now reaches more than 900 work centers. The basic philosophy of the institution is to defend the social rights of the elderly. The services of the center aimed at men and women over 60 who live in the area of operation regardless of the economic and social situation.

Κ.Α.Π.Η. = Κέντρο Ανοικτης Προστασίας Ηλικιωμένων
 Ο θεσμός των ΚΑΠΗ δημιουργήθηκε το 1984 με νομοθετική πρωτοβουλία και χρηματοδότηση του Υπουργείου Υγείας και Προνοίας. Ο Θεσμός εξελίχθηκε σταδιακά μέσω των οργανισμών τοπικής αυτοδιοίκησης, αναπτύχθηκε και διευρύνθηκε σε όλη τη χώρα όπου φθάνει μέχρι σήμερα να λειτουργούν περισσότερα από 900 κέντρα. Βασική φιλοσοφία του θεσμού είναι η προάσπιση των κοινωνικών δικαιωμάτων των ηλικιωμένων. Οι υπηρεσίες του κέντρου απευθύνονται σε άντρες και γυναίκες άνω των 60 ετών που κατοικούν στην περιοχή λειτουργίας τους ανεξάρτητα από την οικονομική και κοινωνική τους κατάσταση.

Bye for now,
Love Jane x

Monday, February 20, 2012

Apokries Party in Vrahassi, Crete. 2012

I enjoyed seeing the children of Vrahassi, dressed up for Carnival, but it made me miss my three grandchildren so very much. David and I went to Yannis' in the centre, with a crowd of English friends, where we discussed the economic problems and the proposed wind farm on the top of Selena, and the hills across from Vrahassi. Apparently a French company has been given the first permissions to build a hydroelectric plant, and erect wind turbines in our hills. Will they go ahead? We shall have to wait and see.

The cold weather continues but there are blue skies, and tomorrow temperatures of 15 degrees are forcast. I clipped the shag-pile hair from little Maisie today, so hope she doesn't catch cold.

And now I am going to have a nice hot cup of tea, and take a look at FaceBook. Have a good evening blog-watchers, wherever you may be.

Love Jane x

Friday, February 17, 2012

Neapolis Carnival Sunday 19th Feb

Απόκριες 2012 στην Νεάπολη

'Οταν στη Νεάπολη λέμε αποκριές το εννούμε. μια μερα για ολους μικρους και μεγάλους με εκπληξεις πολλές πάρα πολλές, λουναπαρκ, ξυλοποδαροι, κλοουν, παιχνίδια, χορό, μουσική και κέφι για όλους μικρούς και μεγάλους! Για την μεταφορά απο την κεντρική πλατεία θα υπάρχει το τρενάκι, αντε παρκινκ στο ΕΠΑΛ και ΠΑΜΕ ΑΠΟΚΡΙΕΣ
When Neapoli says 'apokries' they mean a day for adults and children with many surprizes, fairground, clowns, games, music and entertainment for all!

See you there!
Jane x

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Apokries Party in Vrahassi 19/2/12 at 6 p.m.

Αποκριάτικη Γιορτή για μικρούς και μεγάλους του Πολιτιστικού Συλλόγου Βραχασίου ο Αναύλοχος την Κυριακή 19/2/12 στις 6.00 το απόγευμα

Ο πολιτιστικός Σύλλογος Βραασίου "ο Αναύλοχος" διοργανώνει Αποκριάτικη Γιορτή για μικρούς και μεγάλους, την Κυριακή 19/2/12 στις 6.00 του απόγευμα στην αίθουσα του πολιτιστικού συλλόγου στο Βραχάσι. Είσοδος Ελεύθερη.
That is this Sunday at 6 p.m. Get out your masks and join in!
Love Jane x

Celebrate Clean Monday on Sissi Harbour

"Φασολάδα στο λιμάνι που ο νους σου δεν το βάνει" την Καθαρή Δευτέρα 27 Φλεβάρη από τον Αναπτυξιακό Σύλλογο Σισίου

You are invited to celebrate Clean Monday, 27th February, on Sissi Harbour, where there will be live music, dancing and frivolity! Hope to see you there. Jane x

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

The Best Valentine's Gift Ever!

Do You Remember Your First Valentine

by Dave on February 14, 2012 · 1 comment
I met my first valentine aThe swinging sixtiest a Boxing Night dance in a small Yorkshire village close to where I lived called Long Preston, in fact I first noticed this girl in the local pub a little earlier that evening. She was only 14 years old, I was 17 at the time and she was the first girl I had plucked up the courage to ask for a dance. I have to admit that a modicum of alcohol did help in the courage department, and I remember walking her home as her older cousin came looking for her, he didn’t stop me giving that beautiful young girl a goodnight kiss though.
That was over 46 years ago but it was over a year later before we started dating, as I look back I wonder what happened to those two young people who went on to get married, against my parents wishes, a year later, Jane was just 17 and I was a month short of being 20.
We had no money and a week before the wedding no home but we managed to rent a run down terraced property off a local farmer just a few days before the wedding, in fact I was the only one missing at my bachelor party the night before the wedding. I was busy painting our new home but my mates said it was a great party.
There wasn’t much money about at the time and we only had 26 guests at the wedding and for our honeymoon we went to stop with my Aunty Anne and her family for a few days as I had to be back at work mid-week.  On the train down to Coventry, yes we were honeymooning in the industrial heartland of England, we sat next to another couple of newlyweds and they were going to the Caribbean for their honeymoon – enough said!
Our parents and most of our friends didn’t give us a cat in hells chance of making a go of our marriage but what they didn’t realise was that apart from the lust, and thankfully we had plenty of that, we had a deep love, passion and desire to start our own family.
Jane and David Sharp
Those youngsters are still in there.....somewhere!
Like any couple we have had our ups and downs, our highs and lows, our tragedies and our triumphs, we survived bankruptcy and triumphed but our greatest achievement can be seen in our son David Jnr and his two girls Star and Jade, our daughter Joanne and her son Jack! Of all our achievements you lot are the greatest.
Jane once again I’m sorry I missed the red roses but who knows…one day you’ll get them! We have had one heck of an adventure together and right now I feel as though it’s just beginning, in fact I know it’s just beginning.
So finally let me draw a parallel between our story and your story as a budding home business owner. Our friends and family did not give us a chance, nor will your friends or family, do not worry about it you know what you want, have the love passion and desire for it and you will make it happen.
Never give up and never stop working towards your goals and whilst your at it check out my marketing system that will give you all the training and tools necessary for you success. Click here:

I couldn't resist sharing this beautiful post on my blog. What a journey we are having! This is the success of life, love, it is truly the most important thing. My wonderful David, I am so lucky.
Jane x

Valentine's Day Water Marble Nail Art Tutorial

You probably all knew how to do this, but I've been living up a mountain for almost as long as Sleeping Beauty slept, and I found it fascinating.
It's always good to try something new!

Monday, February 13, 2012

It's Carnival Time - Time to Party!

Greek Carnival Celebrations Across Greece

The Triodion is open… as they say in Greece, and along with it comes joy, fun and lots of kefi in each town of Greece. The Carnival is considered to be a hyper national celebration, since it has become an attraction for more and more people despite their financial status or age over the years.
The celebrations of music, masquerade, dance and colors mark a unique three-week-long period in Greece that dates back to antiquity and the worship of the god Bacchus, or Dionysus, god of wine and celebration in the Eleusinian Mysteries.
Today, there are many different carnival parades going on all over Greece. Hundreds of groups take part in those parades, and anyone who wishes to participate can just join a group.
Patras Carnival
The biggest festival has taken place in the city of Patras for the past 180 years, and the regular attendance of young people in the great parade is approximately 40,000. That’s why this festival is considered to be one of the greatest in Europe and is a meeting point for all carnival enthusiasts around Greece.
Just like in Rio de Janeiro, people in Patras spend the whole year preparing for the coming Carnival celebrations.
Bearing the strong influences of the Italian traditions, the carnival of Patras has already begun. With the “Treasure Hunt”, the restless dancing, the music bands strolling the city, the famous chocolate war in the city centre and the night parades, the Carnival will reach its peak on February 26 at 3pm, with the biggest chariots parade and the burning of King Carnival at night.
Xanthi Carnival
Xanthi’s Carnival is the biggest festival of Northern Greece, and has been taking place yearly since 1926. Approximately 20,000 visitors go there every year to get a taste of fun, imagination, creativity and music.
Among other common Carnival celebrations and games, Xanthi’s carnival participants burn the King of the Carnival on the Kosinthos river waters, while children have to grab a piece of the kris pudding pie with their mouths (their hands are tied behind their backs) before joining the celebrations.
Moreover, there is the famous Baldafun, which is actually a disco club just for kids, who eagerly wait for it all year.
Naousa Carnival
In Naousa, Northern Greece, Apokries are a time of enthusiasm, spontaneity and warm welcomes to all visitors with unorganized satiric carnival celebrations.
The custom of Giannitsaros and Boula is the most renowned happening in Naousa, which is only performed by young men. One of them plays the part of Giannitsaros and another man the female part of Boula, while the parade is accompanied by the music of traditional instruments.
During the custom a lot of famous Naousa wine flows in the cups of the participants and on the last Sunday a big feast is held at the Alonia Square.
Corfu Carnival
The famous Carnival of Corfu is 450 years old and has its roots in the Middle Ages, when the Venetian conquerors of the island brought this custom back from their homeland. Today, the Carnival of Corfu closely resembles the Carnival of Venice and includes many fun happenings.
The most famous happening of the Carnival is the Great Parade that takes place in Liston and Spianada square. People dressed in strange customs join groups and spread to the entire island a spirit of festivity. The parade is accompanied by local music and dancing.
At the end of the parade, there follows the burning of King Carnival, which is said to carry the sins of the locals. The King Carnival is burnt in a bonfire among great partying and dancing. An interesting custom associated with the Carnival is the enactment of the Corfu Petegoletsia, which means “the Gossip”. This is a form of a street theater, where actors sit in windows overlooking the alley of the Old Town and exchange gossip, in local dialect. This gossip might refer to political authorities or local scandals.
Rethymno Carnival
During the Carnival of Rethymno, Crete, the city gets in a festive mood with its young people dancing in the streets from dusk to dawn. The Carnival dates back to 1914 and reminds the residents of a former era, when the island used to welcome “the King”.
The King Carnival, however, is also surrendered to the flames on the last Sunday of the Apokries.
The Carnival of Rethymno includes the Treasure Hunt, night parades, chariots and dance groups joining the big parade on February 26.
On the following morning of Kathara Deftera, Greeks tend to go fly their kites in hills and beaches across Greece, while they enjoy the delicacies of taramas, lagana and beans.

Athens Burns While the Politicians Vote

Athens reeling from latest riots

Firefighters were dousing smoldering buildings and cleanup crews were sweeping rubble on Monday morning following a night of rioting in central Athens after Greek lawmakers approved tough new austerity measures demanded by foreign creditors to prevent default.
At least 45 buildings were burned -- including the neo-classical home to the Attikon cinema dating from 1870 -- while dozens of stores and cafes were smashed and looted.
The stench of tear gas hung in the air on Monday morning, chocking passers-by. More than 120 people were hurt in the rioting which also broke out in cities across the country, including Greece's second-largest city Thessaloniki and the islands of Corfu and Crete.
Police said 150 shops were looted in the capital and 48 buildings set ablaze. Some 100 people -- including 68 police -- were wounded and 130 detained, a police official told AP on Monday.
Lili Bertsou, a 35-year-old teacher who took part at the demonstration, told Kathimerini English Edition, the police had blatantly failed to protect peaceful demonstrators as well as the city.
“Police must finally nab those who cause the mess. They are no more than 100 people,” she said of the groups of self-styled anarchists. She said she had joined the Sunday protests because she was “disgusted” with the fresh austerity measures.
Citizens' Protection Minister Christos Papoutsis has come under fire for failing to contain the violence. PASOK spokesman Panos Beglitis earlier Monday defended the socialist minister against calls to resign from his post.
The rioting began ahead of a tense vote in Parliament on a fresh package of austerity measures requested by the European Union and the International Monetary Fund in exchange for a second bailout loan. Lawmakers approved the agreement in the early hours of Monday despite more than 40 PASOK and New Democracy deputies voting against the terms of the deal.
Out of 300 lawmakers, 278 cast their ballot following several hours of intense debate. Of those, 199 voted “yes” in principle, while 74 voted “no” and five voted “present.” The rest did not vote.
Twenty two PASOK MPs and 21 New Democracy deputies voted against the bill. In both cases, those lawmakers were expelled from their parties.
Former Transport Minister Makis Voridis and Deputy Mercant Marine Minister Adonis Georgiadis went against the line of their party, Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS), by voting for the bill. Both were expelled.
It was the first time in Greek parliamentary history that so many lawmakers were ousted from their parties on the same night.
The vote followed a heated debate in Parliament about the terms of the agreement, which include unpopular measures such as a 22 percent cut to the minimum wage and further reductions in pensions.
Prime Minister Lucas Papademos repeated his warning that if Greece did not take up the new loan agreement, it would face a “catastrophic” disorderly default.
“We are looking the Greek people straight in the eye with full knowledge of our historical responsibility,” he said in a televised address. “The social costs that come with these measures are contained in comparison to the economic and social catastrophe that will follow if we don’t adopt them.”
Eurozone finance ministers will convene in Brussels on Wednesday in an extraordinary meeting that was set after they declined in a special session on February 9 to ratify the 130 billion-euro ($172 billion) package. [Combined reports]

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Waiting For Spring - A Poem by Jane Sharp

Waiting For Spring 

I have moved through the hours, a leafless tree,
Through the cold dark hopeless days of winter,
Waiting for a sun-kiss to warm my cheek,
To rid the meloncholy from my rings,

My drooping limbs, bowed boughs of December,
Like the arms of desperate ballerinas
Wanting to be swans, wanting to be swans
In that soft-cygnet white of virgin maids,

I am ready for the company of spring,
With its chattering sparrows, and rainbows,
And those tingling roots that make me want to
Reach out and touch the sky with my blossom.

Jane Sharp