Wednesday, July 22, 2009

‘Bye, Liz

I think we’ve lost the dog.

Every morning without fail, her cheerful, optimistic grin has met me at the door when I get up. This morning, silence greeted me. No whines, no wiggles of joy, no rushed clicking of nails on stone.

Usually I feed her before I feed Alex, then when he’s gone off to work I potter in the field – weeding here, cutting there, picking for an order if there’s one due – and scolding Lizzie when she rolls in the flat leaf parsley or pounces on a lizard in the chard. This morning I, alone, chased the goats out of the roses.

I called her, and when Zenon got up, I sent him out to scour the area, but silence met his calls as well.

Perhaps she ran off, though I don’t think so; she was happy here and seldom strayed far from the verandah. Perhaps someone nicked her, but I don’t think so; who’d want a silly yellow bitch with little brain but a sweet nature and a big smile? I heard hunters pass this morning – at least the yelping of a dog that I assumed to be a hunter’s woke me just as dawn was breaking – but she was no hunting dog, and I doubt very much that she got swept up by a passing pack of hounds.

No, I think that she took poison – or ate a poisoned animal, a rat or a bird – and crawled off somewhere to die a miserable death alone. Not that anywhere near here we have the plague that has carried off so many pets – a vindictive neighbour that doesn’t like barking, someone who’s fed up with cats turning out their garbage – who puts down Lanate-baited meat.

We put rat poison in the carob tree a month ago when Sophia , while cleaning her room, found a rat in her drawer. (Snakes usually provide adequate rat control outside – this is the first time we have used poison – but finding one in the house was a symptom of a situation out of control, and I took it to the local snake farm, but that’s another story), and some people in the area poison fruit to get rid of magpies (we shoot them), so I think that Lizzie ate a dead or dying animal. A cat won’t, and Stumpy was what I had in mind when we tacked the bait to the carob tree well out of reach of pets and children. But a dog is less discriminatory in what it eats, and my brother-in-law found Mili’s dog vomiting the other day and rushed her to the vet in time to save her. It didn’t occur to me to worry about Lizzie, and now regrets are too late.

She was with us only a short time, but she filled a space that now echoes.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009


I heard the sirens this morning. They cut across my consciousness as I sat at the computer at 8.15 after coming in from the field. “What’s that?” I thought. Then dismissed them.

When I picked up Alex from work (a summer job sorting newspapers for distribution), Alex said casually. “Auntie Lia reminded me that it’s What’s-his-name’s birthday today…”

“Whose?” I asked, my mind half on the road and half on the lunch that I’d left Sophia responsible for removing from the oven.


Ooops. This is the second time in sixteen years of marriage that I’ve forgotten my husband’s birthday. Lucky he doesn’t put a big store on things like that…

Alex called him at once: “Mum has something to tell you!”

Best Beloved could scarcely talk for laughter. “I’ve been peeing myself each time you called this morning” (I’ve spoken to him twice about inconsequential things) “and wondering if someone was going to tell you…”

And the sirens? They sound every year on July 15, to commemorate the 1974 coup when Makarios was toppled by right-wingers who favoured union with Greece. It started the chain of events and diplomatic collusion (the American records of which still remain sealed) that lead to the Turkish invasion shortly after.

“I woke up on my eleventh birthday to the sound of gunfire and explosions,” Best Beloved told me shortly after we met. “Celebrating never seemed too important after that.”

But I must remember a cake for when he comes back tomorrow.

Thursday, July 2, 2009


I was in traffic today beside a double-cabin pick-up truck. Stuck to the rear window was a small blue and white sticker that depicted an outline of the island of Cyprus super-imposed on a Greek flag. Underneath (in Greek) was the sentence ‘I am proud to be a Greek Orthodox Christian’. “Hmmm,” I thought, as I translated the words (one of my ways of practising Greek is to attempt translation of any signs I see). “That doesn’t make much sense…”

The Cypriot church is auto-cephalos, meaning that it has its own Patriarch, the Archbishop. Therefore, any one baptised into the Orthodox faith in Cyprus is not Greek Orthodox, but Cypriot Orthodox – a minor technicality, I suppose, but ‘the devil is in the details’… Then I started wondering what on Earth the middle-aged male driver had to be ‘proud’ of with regards to his faith.

The Cypriot Church is the largest landowner and the richest corporation in the country. It is notoriously corrupt and has recently enjoyed several juicy sex scandals. Unlike churches of other denominations that have a policy of good works within the community, charitable works by the Church of Cyprus are confined to individual priests and their personal interests and compassion -- religious spending here seems to go on Soviet made tanks (love thy neighbour) and cold concrete cathedrals in communities too small to justify more than a parish hall (kickbacks to cronies and profit for the Church-owned cement works).

Oh well, excuse my cynicism.

Further down the road, I found myself behind a little red run-about. The sticker on the rear bumper read: Caution. Blonde Thinking. “Keep your distance!” I thought, glad that I’m now going grey.