Tuesday, August 27, 2013



purple and yellow pansies grow in the patio
brown ivy climbs the red brick walls
hopeful for green leaves and stems

sit out there
and read and

glimpses of sun shine among
the tall buildings and slanted roofs
bare trees waiting for Spring

the sky grey/blue
the wind took everything away yesterday
a dried-up gourd rolls around

a pair of doves comes to visit

Monday, August 26, 2013


I confess: I'm addicted to books, to reading.  I'm obsessed.  I can't stop myself from browsing, looking, sampling, purchasing, reading.  Every Sunday the New York Times Book Review brings me a whole new shopping list.  Then I go to the Kindle Store and wham! every other book sounds so interesting, so much like what I want to write, that I have to try a sample at least.  From there to buying with one click is a short road to perdition.   Not to mention the frequent visits to bookstores where my willpower not to buy at least one book or two often fails me.

Books accumulate in my reader.  They pile up on the desk and the bedside table.  I start one and read.  But the other ones beckon; they call my name with tiny voices: read me, read me.  Ok, ok, I say, I will.  And I start another one.  Not a good habit by any means.  

In this way I have a book I read in bed, before falling asleep.  I have a book (or two) I read as a writer: take notes, jot down ideas for my own writing.  And there is a book (or more) I read for entertainment, for the sheer pleasure of reading.  

At the present I'm reading "Film Night" as entertainment, having left "The Obituary Writer" halfway read and waiting.  

"Blue Plate Special" I'm reading and taking notes for my own essay, having just finished "Farther Away." 

At my bedside I just finished "There Will Be Apricots" and reading "The Faraway Nearby."

What are you reading?


Monday, August 19, 2013


A field of zinnias - dark red, yellow, orange, lavender, purple - surprised us among the raspberries, watermelons, tomatoes, green beans, gourds, peaches that greeted us Saturday evening when  David and I went for a ride around Southwestern Michigan near Bridgman.  

Such a joy to rest our eyes on the colorful flowers!

Our friend's house, where we stayed, faced Lake Michigan.  I walked down the dune and dipped my toes in the cold water.  Then I sat on the sand and read and read listening to the lake lapping on the stones, small waves greeting me.

I've missed going to Michigan in the summers.  Over the years, David and I have stayed in Lakeside, Harbert, Union Pier, Sawyer, Bridgman, South Haven, and even way north in the Leelanau peninsula.  In early Spring of 1995 we addressed and mailed our wedding invitations from Lakeside, Michigan.  Later, we spent our honeymoon in Harbert Woods at a friend's house.  
That year we met Ibrahim - owner of Cafe Gulistan - in Harbert and have enjoyed visiting him every time we go to Michigan.  In the early years we'd take mom and dad to meet him and speak Turkish with him.  Ibrahim still remembers mom and dad and asks about them.

In 2000 we rented a cottage in Union Pier for a month where I wrote my series of poems "Union Pier."  I set myself the task of writing a poem every day and the result is a collection of 11 poems. A few have been published but they are still looking for a home as a group.

In 2008 and 2009 we rented houses to spend a week in the summer with Oliver - our first grandchild.  Those were some fun days!

This weekend we dined in Tabor Hill winery, lunched at the Swedish bakery, and visited our friend George Badonsky - former owner of famed Chicago restaurants (Tango, The Brewery, Maxim's, George's, and others).  This stay has reignited my desire to spend more time in SW Michigan, perhaps to rent a cottage for a few weeks and write and read and meditate.  Perhaps this autumn...perhaps...

Sunday, August 11, 2013


A Creative Writing Workshop
Beatriz Badikian-Gartler, Ph.D.

    This workshop is designed for the beginning writer as well as the more experienced author.  We will begin each session with a series of exercises to open up our minds and cajole memories or ideas that can serve us as springboards for essays or stories.  Free writing with prompts, making lists, using photos or pictures, how to find an original subject, organizing an essay or short story, how to create or depict a character, using dialogue, how to start and how to end an essay or story, and many other techniques and subjects will be discussed and practiced during our sessions. 
    Reading and learning from published writers is another important component of our workshops.  We learn to read like a writer; in other words, to learn how to write from others who do it well.  Critiques of participants’ works are an essential element of our workshops.  However, you are not obligated to bring your writing to be workshopped.  It is totally up to you.  Homework is also provided as well to stimulate creation and keep you writing during the off-week.  This is also not mandatory.  All genres are accepted. 
    Join us for an exciting, instruction-filled, practical workshop to develop your creative life or to continue your artistic life in an encouraging, positive atmosphere.

Frequency: every other Monday – 7-9 pm / starting September 9
Duration: 8 sessions
Cost: $20/hour
Location: 1867 N. Bissell – plenty of free parking or one block from the Brown Line or three blocks from the Red Line
Maximum enrollment: 8
For more information: email me at bgartler@yahoo.com
To take a look at my work go to my website: www.bbgartler.com  or check out my blog: www.gartlerwritingstudio.blogspot.com.
To reserve a spot send a deposit of $100.00 or the entire amount to my home address, Chicago, 60614.


Sunday, August 4, 2013


The return journey was long and tiring.  It took me almost a whole day to come home.  I left my mother's apartment at 7 in the morning for the Athens airport. The Aegean Airlines check-in process is supposed to be faster but it takes longer because the passenger has to check-in at a machine first and then, boarding pass in hand, take the luggage to the counter.  Lines at both were long and customers became frustrated.  If you don't know how to work a computer-type screen it can take a long time to get a boarding pass.  Multiply that by any number of families with 3 or 4 members.  After all that and after saying goodbye to David who was flying separately I had to go through security.  

My San Miguel shoes apparently have metal in them.  Who knew!  Put your foot one at a time in a contraption.  Beep! Take shoes off.  Sit and wait barefoot while shoes are checked thoroughly.  Ok, you can go.  Should not have worn them to fly.  On the approach to London turbulence got the best of me.  We had to circle for 30 minutes because the air traffic was heavy.  Get me out of here!

At Heathrow I had to go through immigration - another long line - and collect my suitcase, then find the Departures level and check in at United - another line (or cue as they say).  Time for lunch.  And a respite.  The long layover came in handy however because after lunch and in search of the gate I walked for half an hour (no joke) to find it.  Security check again: this time I took my shoes off to avoid the same delay but...didn't know I had to take the iPad out of the bag.  

Wait for someone to go through it.  Three people in front of me whose bags had to be checked too. Finally the nice man took my backpack and went through everything - every little thing.  And the bathroom was calling me.  Sit at the gate and wait but not before I have to get a seat.  The counter clerk was not happy but she agreed to give me a seat.  The last one on the plane as it turned out.  The last row but a man who was there with his family wanted my seat and asked me to trade.  He had a window seat in Economy Plus which means a smidgen more legroom.  I said sure and walked back to the front of the plane.  

The flight was smooth and I managed to kind-of sleep throughout as well as have some dinner and watch pieces of "42", the movie.  Easy landing and I'm in Chicago.  I get my suitcase again and look for a taxi.  I thought of waiting for David who was supposed to arrive about an hour later but I decided to go home.  Fortunately, earlier in Athens, I had changed my leftover Euros into dollars and had enough cash for a cab.  Walked in at 7:30 in the evening.  Which means 3 in the morning in Athens.  Almost 24 hours later.

As it turns out, David's flight from Toronto was delayed and he didn't make it home until 10:00.  

It takes too long to fly to Greece.  And you have to wait and wait.  And you have to stand in one line after another.  Flying ain't fun no more.  I'm staying put for a while.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

BACK IN THE TRENCHES and almost back home

This week in Athens we went out every day despite the unbearable heat.  David and I visited the Acropolis Museum, the City of Athens Museum, Aegli, Glyfada, Monastiraki, among others.  We also went to see a movie one night.

The heat, though dry, renders me unable to do much, at least during the middle of the day.  Today fortunately it has abated and a strong breeze helps to keep me cooler.  As a matter of fact, this is a windy place.  In Sifnos, the wind blew table clothes and napkins into the sea, tumbled glasses and signs.  In Athens, it blows curtains out off balconies and slams doors.  The wind is an important element in daily life.  It is measured in "bofors"  and spoken about by everyone - from taxi drivers to housewives.  I suspect "bofors" are a measurement called "Beaufort", but I have to research that.

David was very impressed with the Acropolis Museum and coined it the best he's ever seen.  It is a grand structure with ruins underfoot you can look at while walking.  The glass floors allow you to see the excavated sections left intact.  The same is true with the Metro.  There is a whole other city underneath this one.  An old, venerable city that was probably a lot more livable.  

Today the demonstrations came back to Athens.  We were in Syntagma after our visit to Monastiraki and Public (a store that combines books, electronics, music, etc.) and the streets were closed, no trolleys or cars, can't go home.  Fortunately we walked a few blocks and caught a taxi that went around and brought us back.  The demonstrations can be a big nuisance.  Although I sympathize with the marchers and support their cause, they make it difficult to maneuver for a visitor.  Tens of tour buses were parked alongside the streets waiting to deliver their passengers back to their cruise ships.  I wonder if they made it on time.

Tonight we'll go somewhere with mother.  Tomorrow morning we leave for the USA.  It has been a month of experiences, lessons learned, fun times, difficult times, worthwhile times.