Friday, August 8, 2008

A Glimpse into the Past...

Jim's eBook, Parish, was recently added to the Cleveland Memory Project, which is a showcase for some of the special collections at Cleveland State University. As anyone who has grown up in a Catholic family knows, the traditions impact all that you are and all that you grow to be.

In Jim's own words:

"This is a memoir about growing up Catholic but it has nothing to do, or everything to do, with religion. I was born in Cleveland, Ohio...last child in a family that was, as my father put it, two potatoes away from being dirt poor. For those days, at the beginning of the Great Depression, that was not too bad.

"Though my childhood was fenced in by poverty and I knew the ungenerous consequences of class, it was, to paraphrase from my favorite novel, 'the worst of times, it was the best of times.' I grew up in a cocoon, an Irish Catholic Parish."

The entire contents of the book are available at the Cleveland Memory Project for those wishing to take a look at the past of this fascinating guy.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Exciting News for the Heapheys


The Heapheys made their safe and triumphant return from Cyprus in mid-June and discovered, quite happily, that Jim's newest book How to Survive in an Organization had been released by History Publishing Company to favorable reviews. Jim equates How to Survive to a jungle survival guide for rational, reasonable, frustrated people stuck in the confines of an organization with no light at the end of a very long tunnel. It's chock full of strategies, tactics, and stories that will not only provide great advice and information, but also keep you engaged and entertained.

Jim has also recently completed work on his own website.

Since Pam has returned, she is working on more stories about their trip to Cyprus that could not be published while they were still traveling. Stay tuned...

Friday, May 23, 2008

Simple Beauty in a Chaotic World

Notes from Cyprus

The coast line North coast Paphos is becoming so overbuilt with seaside hotels and villas that one hardly ever looks anywhere but the road which is actually a good thing as they have the highest per capita accident rate in the world. Considering this, both the mind and the eye do a double take when the blue green of the Mediterranean suddenly appears framed by lush green plantings – a ribbon of color between the continuing beige of even the luxury hotels. The building this swath of color takes your eye to is noteworthy in its’ simplicity and its’ pure whiteness against the incredible blue of the sea and the sky.

It is the AEOKA MUSEAM and its’ centerpiece is the fishing Trawler that returned George Grivas, the militant super Hellenist and military leader, to Cyprus after years of exile. His mission was to set up a strong military and terrorist fighting force that could return the island
to the Greeks.

Hellenism is still a major issue here even after joining the EU. It is not surprising to see more Greek flags flying that those of the Republic of Cyprus. School children are still taught that Turks are evil and stupid. This indoctrination continues though compulsory military duty.

Inside the building is the boat. Now beautifully painted a shiny white with green trim, interesting because green is the Muslim color, it far from resembles the storm tossed purposefully inconspicuous gun runner working fishing craft it once was. It is about 40 feet long and some 12 feet wide. In 1955 she dropped Grivas and 5 others near the village of Chlorakas just north of Paphos which was then in the boondocks. They and 8 others were caught in January of 1955 and the Walls are covered with the Greek version of their trials etc.. No British versions allowed.

Just outside the rear of the building standing on the shoreline is and over sized statue of Grivas in full military regalia. Behind the statue is a stunning monument of gold and silver rods reaching for the sky with a horizontal crosspiece that parallels the horizon.

Even early on a Saturday morning there are many people here, mostly Greeks. They are all dressed up, young and old; grandfathers holding their grandchildren’s hands. They walk slowly around.

It is as quiet as a church.


Corrections from the Desk of Pam

First and Foremost: Alan is from Scotland and Liz from Wales. They are NOT English!! My apologies for the lapse to both!

Second: My blog about the ancient history of Cyprus makes it appear that it all began with the Greeks 3500 years ago and of course it is much more complex than that and extremely interesting but not really bloggy.

There will continue to be corrections as I learn more. How cool is that!!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

There's no place like...Iowa?

A Brief History of Where We Think We Are
A Note from the Desk of Pam

All of a sudden I realized that here we are an the island about which people know little. It just isn’t in the news much. So my “notes” etc. might mean more if I provided a framework.
Here goes:

Cyprus is the easternmost island in the Mediterranean, very close to Turkey, some 40 miles to the north. You can actually see Turkey on a clear day from Mt. Olympus, the highest point on the island.
It is roughly the size of Long Island. The southern two-thirds is Greek with a population of around 650,000 plus some 100,000 immigrants many of whom are British expatriates.
There are some 80,000 Turks in the northern one-third. They are divided from the Greeks by a UN-patrolled “Green Line.” The area between the two sides is known as “The Dead Zone.”
The British military have three sovereign bases on the island because its location provides unparalleled opportunities for electronic spying on the Middle East, Northern Africa, and Russia. The Americans use the three sovereign areas – for example, U2 flights are from a British air base – and have two of their own in the northern panhandle of the island.
There are two mountain ranges – the Troodos and the Kyrenian – which are green and lovely, while the much more heavily-populated coast is very arid, very Middle Eastern, with signs of ancient mining, terracing for vineyards etc.
The island was first settled by Greeks about 3500 years ago. Despite having been ruled by Phoenecians, Lusignians, Venetians, Turks and Brits over the centuries, which has undoubtedly affected the gene pool, southern Cypriots consider themselves Greek. The Greek flag is flown everywhere and more than the Cypriot flag.
Hellenism – the idea that all Greeks, wherever they live, belong to the same world, culturally, politically, and religiously has been around since Alexander the Great. In the 1950s this idea took a violent turn with a militant group called EOKA which was committed to ENOSIS, union with Greece. The enemy was the British military because at that time Cyprus was a British colony.
ENOSIS is anathema to Turkish-Cypriots. They believe that if Cyprus were part of Greece they would be annihilated. This conflict over ENOSIS led to the Turkish invasion and subsequent occupation of 1974. The occupation forced a number of Greeks to leave their homes and live further south. Likewise, those Turks who lived in the south were forced to leave their homes and live in what is now controlled by the Turkish Army. One of the grim results is villages emptied of people on both sides of the Green Line.
When the dust settled, the south became an internationally-recognized Republic and was admitted into the European Union. The Turks established their own Republic but it is not recognized by any country other than Turkey.
I might leave the wrong impression saying “when the dust settled.” The bullets and bombs have been set aside but the animosities are as alive as they have ever been. For the Greek-Cypriots this island is and will always be part of the Hellenic world. For the Turkish-Cypriots this island was meant geologically to be part of Turkey. If one looks at a map one can see why.
So you have an island split by beliefs that are so ancient the hope of an amicable settlement is just about nil.

But then again maybe we’re in Iowa.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Pam's View

At first you don’t notice it. Like so many things beige, muted, dusty in color – they melt into the background. This is especially true in a new country that was formerly a British colony where one tends to concentrate on the mechanics of getting from here to there while driving on the wrong side of the road.
It is amazing how long it takes to start noticing the absence of things! At first it is groups of empty lots amidst construction of new buildings advancing at a ferocious pace. Then it is an old square stone house tightly shuttered, but progressively being taken over by nature, grass growing from its roof.
Next you notice several such houses clustered together; slowly being covered by vines, cyclamen, fennel, and other wild growths. Once they had been homes and businesses of Turkish or Greek Cypriots, depending on which side of the Green Line you are on. Legally they still are, but while the owners await decisions on the thorny issues of an unresolved conflict decisions to be made by people who have never seen them -- they sit unattended. Sometimes whole villages lie as if discarded – dust where lemons, flowers, and children should be growing.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Like Two Peas in a Pod

A note from Pam about Friends

Friday morning Sue and Alan took us to meet a couple they thought we would enjoy – Hugh, who is a writer, antique car enthusiast, and general good guy around town, and his wife, Elizabeth, who is a bird watcher, good golfer, bridge player, and cook.

They are charming. Jim and Hugh hit it off right away. We will go to a book “launching” April 8 for his latest book, and he to Jim’s book-signing in May. In addition, he has gotten Jim involved with the Paphos Writers Club.

We thought we were just going for coffee, but we were feted with four savories, four sweets, and, oh, did I mention the champagne? All of this took place in a spectacular setting right above Coral Bay. Their property has pools and fountains and flowers galore. It is somewhat like a stage setting for a Greek Great Gatsby with a view to die for.

They are very English – the kind of English who have spent most of their career lives abroad can be the best kind. The kind who taught me the English way. Are you there, Miss Vickerey?

That day we found ourselves in a little piece of England that floated towards the warm sunny sky of the Mediterranean. In this place, much of the classic reserve has melted in the sun; we are not only accepted, we are welcomed as “American cousins.”

Since that day we have found Hugh and Liz extraordinarily kind, as are Sue and Alan. They have taken us under wing and check up on us to be sure we are well and have what we need. Hugh has come over a couple of times. It is such a drive. There is always a polite pretext of some sort, a smile, some kidding around; the sincerity and warmth of these two couples really touches the heart.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

To market, to market...

Another note from Pam as she ventures out into the streets of Cyprus...

I was looking for the supermarket. I had been assured the other shops I needed are just a few meters away from the supermarket. On the map, the supermarket street is marked as a wide avenue, neither far nor harrowing.

It was both! A potholed, mostly unposted, old street on a hill where nothing was where it was supposed to be. I kept going back to the beginning, certain I would get it on the next try! I am, after all, a geographer.

Wrong!!! Cars were parked facing all four directions on both sides of the street or no side at all. Large Lorries came down at me holding down their horns, oblivious to the fact that there was no place for me to go. At one point I was backing up so fast in sheer terror that I paid no notice to what the people behind me were doing!

It was after this that I decided to go back and start over one last time. That meant crossing traffic (a vast understatement) and trying to go ‘round the block and back down the hill.

On the corner of the first block in was, lo and behold, a stationery store. We had been searching for one since our arrival and here it was. Knowing I would never find it again, I hadn’t the slightest notion where I was, I decided to take advantage of fate’s largesse.

There was a group of a dozen or so young and middle-aged men standing around the entrance, apparently arguing, perhaps about football or politics, but I have been here long enough to know that it is part of their conversational behavior, no matter what the subject is – hands and arms and head movements, and eye rolls, are as important as the words. I held my head high and marched through the group in my best Kathryn Hepburn style.

One of the men, obviously the owner, followed me into the store. He spoke no English, I no Greek, but we managed to find what Jim needed.

Then, feeling daring after this unexpected success, I asked him where the supermarket was. Up went the eyebrows, the palms went up with the shoulders. I read the body as sign language for “What are you talking about?”

So, I used my own body language. I pushed an imaginary shopping cart, took things off shelves, and so on.

A little glimmer on his face. Encouraged, I said that universal word, “Post,” because the post office, I’d been told, is across from the supermarket.

His eyes shine. He claps his hands and runs out to tell the others. They nod, they chatter and grin. Then they walk me back to the car, carrying my parcel, holding my door open, as they repeat and repeat, “Is OK, is OK.”

“Post,” I love that word!

They help me back out with all the gestures they can think of. . .then literally walk me in my car back to that dreaded street. . .My heart starts pounding. No, I have ten Greek men protecting me. They stand in the road stopping traffic both ways by standing there in the middle of the street. They point me on my way with ruffles and flourishes. They grin. I grin. Life is good!

But I will stay off dragon street as much as I can.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008


A note from Pam...

This is a journal that I meant to begin a week or perhaps even a month before we left on our three month adventure. I now find myself somewhat shamefacedly, starting a week after our arrival.

I would like to start this journal at the beginning as all good books begin. That is impossible in this case as the true beginnings lies somewhere between the Neolithic beginnings of the inhabitants, and the time that my husband first set foot on Cyprus in 1952. It was then occupied by the English and a hot spot of the cold war. Somewhere along the line he decided we should return to work on the follow-up book to Legerdemain and to show me the Island. We had been thinking about it for sometime- the costs in money, time, and health when we got this wonderful e-mail from Cyprus Sue suggesting a house exchange, their home in Paphos for ours in Williamsburg during the month of May.

We leapt at it!!!

Then come the questions: How to manage three months there. We surfed the net in an effort to find an affordable home in a good Location, and surfed, and surfed….

Again Cyprus Sue to our rescue! Would we be interested in their next door neighbor’s smaller unit? The people wouldn’t be using it in March and April And probably wouldn’t charge much. At first some hesitation on our part, How much was “much”? their “much” to our “much”. Villas nearby were renting for 2000 pounds a week. TOO MUCH.

Aha! Their “not much” was indeed our “not much”. 150 Cypriot pounds a month which came to about $450 for the two months AND we got the use of Sue’s second car in May.

We are again Leaping.

Now tickets… very expensive. Approximately $10,000 each for business Class. Enter Mileage plus.. 2 business class tickets on Lufthansa.. This one was more of an actual bound that a mere leap.

Now the biggest question was driving British style with a stick on the Left side where I had just had rotary cuff surgery. Turns out to be not as much a problem as we had thought; the rate change not costing nearly as much as in England.

We are back to leaping!... but there was still much to be dome before hand.

The first was medical… between us we use some 42 prescriptions, some twice a day for three months and many controlled substances. A challenge! Also Jim’s neuropathy is cyclical and some airports are just huge! To our rescue, The Airlines! Yes you heard it right, The Airlines!!! If you sign up as needing a wheel chair they will have you met by an attendant with that or some other form of assistance….also by international law, anything needed for medical reasons must fly free. Walker, yes. Breathing thing, yes. Medicines, yes!!! At LAST an international program I approve of ! !!

Check two!

Now baggage.. All the rules are changing as we chat. Lufthansa wants $381 per overweight bag!!!! NOOO shrieks Pam. Out of the bags come X,Y, and even Z. Weights of checked bags down, carry-ons up!

Check three!

Next challenge… preparing the house and car to look lived in for the two months it will not be and to have the house truly clean for Cyprus Sue and Alan. Enter a new cast of fairies! This time in the form of friends and neighbors. Steve, who is our handyman, now friend, is the fall back person forbeverything from checking lights to looking for leaks. Laura, big house next door, will drive the car, get gas and be sure it is clean. Mary Jean, other next door, will see that her son, Peter, mows and blows and that her daughter Sara, waters, cleans the deck furniture etc..

Check four!

Mary Jean will be sure there is fresh food and flowers. As for friends Tanya and Sid.. Who can say enough! They have arranged for Alan, a Scotchman who spends a lot of time on the golf course, to have custom-fitted golf clubs and to go golfing with them, AND arrange for Sue to go birding with them. They are also picking them up at the Richmond airport.

We are so very glad we set it up this carefully as we thought they were very nice people before we met them. Now we’ve met them and enjoyed their hospitality, we realize that we underestimated their largesse. They are doing everything for us, including introducing us to writer friends who belong to the Paphos Writers Association. Jim has been invited to their next meeting…. But I digress…

The day of departure arrives with one last look about… and off we go! Our coach is a Williamsburg Taxi Van. The van because of so much luggage! 10 bags all together, 2 large, 2 medium, a walker, a c-pap machine, an attaché, 1 Pam’s carry on, 1 Pam’s purse which seems to be a somewhat smaller version of Pam’s closet. We are met and assisted through Richmond airport… the plane is late but Not too late to be a problem. We arrive in Phili and find that the plane is “Late but not too late to cause a problem.” We are taken to the Business Lounge where we await the next leg of our journey to Frankfort… All is well!!!

We are assisted on the plane to our phenomenal seats which do everything, upright to flat, and everything in between including massages. A private video that shows 12 movies, 10 TV shoes, including Bonanza, (the Japanese favorite), some 100 CD’s and a huge manual that dares you to figure it out before you arrive. We have a pampered meal, with pampered wine, and dessert wine…. I LOVE being pampered. In Frankfurt we are met by a greeter and a golf cart…. Thank goodness! I have never seen a more confusing airport or a larger one. We share our cart with a pair of married trolls, not 4’8”, suspicious of all and certain that we had nothing better to do than steal two more suitcases. Impossible to describe. The driver was a lovely young lady who took us to “our” lounge with a promise that we would be picked up in adequate time to catch leg 3 to Larnaca.

We were but here is where we started to enter the twilight zone between Modern Europe and the other world. The girl pushing Jim’s chair was an Olympic runner who soon left me panting in their dust. She and Jim sailed Through the security checkpoint but I hit the “go ahead make my day man”. He checked everything twice. I finally find Jim and we get ready to board a plane that has clearly been fitted together from parts of other old planes. They even had to fix the Pilot’s door before we could leave. Duct tape.

We arrive in Larnaca… no nothing, but it will come, oh yes most certainly!!! Finally a wheel chair shows up with no one to push it leaving Jim with Two bags on his lap, one between his knees and two on the handles as I push and pull a suitcase at the same time. What a vision of The Sophisticated Travelers we were.

We arrive at the auto rental place and the woman who was just there to eat lunch saves our day. She goes to get the car, larger than we paid for, pulls it into an illegal but convenient spot for us and then loads it!!! She should be given wings. Or at least a job with the rental company.

We found our hotel, eventually, which was not too clean but the 2nd in Command, who did everything, was very nice and the view was terrific.

Off we go Tuesday morning to be met by Cyprus Sue who takes immediate pity on us, plops our weary bones on the sofa, pours us wine while Alan cooks a wonderful meal and somehow manages to get our suitcases next door and up the stairs. We remember little of it all.

This brings us to our home for the Cyprus Trip…begun by Neolithic wanderers, touched by Aphrodite and Saint Paul, possessed by the Turks and the British, and shaping Jim’s life along the way.

More when I catch my breath.