summer days continue

It’s been the best October ever. Like September used to be. Warm weather, not too hot, no wind at all most days. The sea is still warm and the beaches are no longer crowded. We still have more people on the island than is usual for this time of year, partly cause a lot of people who have houses here and no jobs to rush back to are chosing to remain rather than return to a big city rife with COVID 19 risks. There are also still tourists on the island, though not tons.

My routine continues much as it has all summer. I wake up, walk Lainee, take her to work with me, come home, change into my swim suit and go for a swim. Spend the afternoon doing something while watching Netflix or else doing nothing and watching Netflix.

Twice a week I bring mom up to my place for a visit. Twice a week or so I have lunch or dinner at mom’s. Every now and then I meet friends for a coffee somewhere. This last week Lainee and I had breakfast at an outdoor cafe and on Sunday I went to Alyki with mom for a swim and lunch. Its a little custom mom and I started a few years ago: lunch, just the two of us, at Alyki. A taverna right on the water. Just the way I like to eat: tzatziki, taramosalata, fried potatoes and fried zucchini. Yum.

There is so much uncertainty about almost everything right now. I have work till the end of October for sure, but if we get another big order maybe longer. I just keep turning up till I’m told there’s no more work for me. Then I wait till they’re ready for me to start work again some time next year…

Mom and my aunts are all still here, thinking of staying at least till the end of October. Why go back to Athens and lock themselves up in houses or apartments? Looks like at least half of them will winter on Paros this year. Puts a bit of a crimp on my workshop at my uncle’s place if he’s using his garage…

I’m really hanging out to use my power tools again. I’ve missed them all these months. I have some pallets I want to pull apart and make my shoe storage and the cupboard to keep linen in. Itching to get to work on the antique wooden couch too… at least paint it so its ready whenever I am to finish it off.

Travel is also iffy… my plans to visit my friends in Denmark and Norway keep getting put off to some vague date in the future. First it was to be March, then October, now… Christmas? Christmas in Germany for the markets with my dutch friend was cancelled for this year. Maybe next year… Who knows? If we get hit with another lockdown (entirely possible) I doubt I’ll be going anywhere. I mean, I might be willing to risk myself, taking all precautions while travelling etc, but what about mom and the others once I return? It really sucks.

Anyway, you know I love being on Paros and in my own home, surrounded by my own work, projects and hobbies. The problem isn’t there. Its that I have no idea what the future holds – with things the way they are its impossible to make plans in advance. Everthing is up in the air. And I really don’t like so much lack of direction in my life.

So I’ve made one goal for myself: soon as I stop working for someone else I will start working on my own projects full time. I’ll go back to painting on marble, making mixed media art, making art from trash, sculpture, and whatever else takes my fancy. I might even make a few new dolls. I’ll find a place to work and I’ll start working on projects which require space and power tools.

I might even start cooking for myself on a regular basis again! I made thai green curry last night. Its been so long!

And next summer I’ll plan an exhibition of my work, all the different kinds of things I like to do.

But first I need to find out if I need a registered business to exhibit.

Sigh.

Greek bureaucracy.

Wonderful.

z

labels on cubbies

The other day I finally got around to making up some labels for the little boxes and cubblies I store odds and ends in. You may remember the hotel key box I made little drawers for, and the little boxes I bought from a bargain store in Athens. The idea being that I’d get my bits and pieces out of the suitcases in my bedroom and into spots that I could get at them easily (without having to lug suitcases out and dig through tons of stuff).

I basically wanted something similar to the cheap little cubby drawers I had in Australia. They were SO handy, so cute. Its one of the things I regret not keeping, but at the time I thought “they’re just chipboard and cardboard… why ship them to Greece?” … Well… cause you can’t get them here, that’s why! sigh…

The idea was great, till I realised I now have too many little drawers to memorise where things were. Its pretty time consuming to open every single little drawer to find what I’m looking for.

So I made up labels in an old typewriter font on my computer, printed them on plain white paper… glued the paper onto a thin sheet of cardboard, stained them with a used tea bag, then cut them into small tags. I then used a single hole punch to enable me to hang them off the drawers. I needed to be able to change tags when/if I changed contents of a drawer, but also didn’t want to hide the old magazines glued on the little cubby drawers.

I’m liking my little dangly tags. I put them on everything. Well, ok, not everything, there are still some drawers with nothing in them and some without tags cause I forgot to make a tag for that particular drawer…

But I’m getting there. That’s the take away I’m holding onto for this. I did something constructive.

Cause lord knows I needed to feel I achieved something some days. Every time I try to do something most of the time I get knocked back to square one. For instance:

I went to get money out of the bank for mom and discovered I hadn’t activated the card I got for her. Back to the start on that. A visit to the bank is necessary.

I went to pay my rates and found I need to change my PIN. All very well and thankyouverymuch greek bank for forcing people to change their pins every month… but when you can’t get it done easily on your phone using the app cause you need to go into a bank, log onto web banking (but haven’t set it up) or whatever… yep. Back to the drawing board on that too. A visit to the bank necessary.

I went to apply for a new greek passport. I need stuff I haven’t got. Still waiting on getting all that sorted.

I went to book a new ticket to Denmark (the trip that seems will never happen) cause they cancelled my flight, only to discover I needed to apply for a voucher. Did that. Got it. Now I’m not sure I’m going, or if I am, when…

Sigh.

Is it any wonder I need the occasional win?

z

a new sea rope basket

Remember the last sea rope basket?

It was only tiny and is now living in Norway.

This time I decided to tackle something a little bigger, more practical in size. I began with a piece of rope which was longer than the 5-6 inch pieces I normally find on the beach. I was lucky a couple of months ago to find two longer lengths of grey, so I began this one with one of those pieces to create the bottom of the basket.

By doing a little every night while watching Netflix I continued to build up the basket, adding in my small pieces as I went, adding colour as each piece was different.

The predominant colours are usually blues and greens, but you never know what you’ll find buried in the sand.

This time I’d been lucky enough to find some netting as well, which I decided to add to the top of the basket to add that whimsical feel.

Its not a huge basket. about 22cm diameter, but its about the same size as the first basket I ever made out of new cotton rope… (which I can’t seem to find on the blog, which means I probably never shared it… hm… must fix that.)

Its a handy size, I’ve used my first one to hold sunnies, makeup, all kinds of odds and ends. Only difference is this one is stiffer as this rope is harder than the cotton rope. Holds its shape better.

I’m actually very pleased with it. This little fella will be going into the art exhibition I’m planning/hoping to have next summer. A mix of art from trash, recycling and mixed media art. I’m excited by the idea of it and actually very eager to start working on ideas that keep me awake at night.

(If only my buzzing mind translated into more action…)

So. Other than this little creation, what have I been doing lately?

Well some small artworks on stone and marble by commission. Day to day living. Working. Swimming. Attempting to keep my home neat and tidy for when mom visits and failing miserably.

And Netflix.

I’m currently watching Salvation – just started last night. I like end of the world type stuff, call me crazy…

I watched The Glitch (wierd and sort of unsatisfying in its conclusion), The Code (which I enjoyed) and The Let Down (loved it). These three are Australian series and maybe part of the reason I loved them so much was that they’re Australian and I got to wallow in aussie accents and sense of humour again for a while. The Let Down is hilarious and SO Australian!

I watched Away (enjoyed), Snowpiercer (yep, end of the world stuff) and…

I know there were more since I last blogged about my Netflix habit… but right now my mind is blank. Aren’t you glad?

z

summer in october

Its been seriously wonderful here for the last two weeks.

The weather has been perfect. A bit hot some days, a bit humid on the odd occasion, but generally its been just perfect.

When there’s been any wind its been from the south which means the sea on this side of the island is flat as a pancake, though most days we have no wind at all.

Swimming in the sea is like swimming in a pool… still, warm, and clear.

Its the kind of weather where you really can’t justify NOT going for a swim. It feels like a sin against life to stay home and watch Netflix or have a nap. In fact, I think it should be made illegal. Its October and the beaches are lovelier than they were in summer.

I continue to work at the ceramic workshop and every day I think I’m so lucky to have a job where I can paint all day. I love the atmosphere of the place, I enjoy being there even when I have days where time drags, my back hurts and I feel uninspired. Its more me than any other job I’ve ever had. Well, except for dog grooming, cause I just adore dogs and love meeting new dogs all day.

Generally, I love being on Paros even if things can be hard financially here – partly cause of COVID 19 and partly cause its Greece with all its strange enterprise-strangling ways.

I have been working on another sea rope basket, just needs a couple of finishing touches and it will be ready to share. Tomorrow I hope.

Surely the weather will change soon and I will feel more like staying in and doing something!

z

i am not a cat person…

I’m not a cat person.

That doesn’t mean I don’t like, or even love cats. It just means I don’t want to actually OWN a cat. I don’t want one in my house, leaving hair on my couch or pillow or walking on my table and benchtops.

It apparently means that I’ll have cats living all around me, feed cats, look after sick kittens, take cats to be neutered etc…

This is what I see when I come home from work every day:

My neighour’s cats enjoying some sun or shade on my porch wall. Yes, I put the little rugs out there for them. I mean, I want them to be comfortable… I put them on my director chairs, and on the wall… I even provide a box for them to sleep in…

That tricolour cat has managed to sneak into my house and hide a couple of times. I come home to be greeted by her coming out of my bedroom stretching, saying “Thanks. That was a great nap.”

One of them, Gringia (which means Whiney), also enjoys my lemongrass.

So, for a non-cat person, I sure have a lot of cats around…

Anyway, we’ve had the most wonderful weather for the last two weeks. Amazing. Its now October and we’re still swimming!! Glorious weather, no wind, swimming pool calm beaches…

Obviously, with weather like that projects and housework take a back seat. This weather won’t last long… I’m gonna enjoy the quiet beaches for a long as I can.

z

folding stool upcycle

I found this little folding stool in Aunt 1’s store room. Cute huh? I couldn’t resist it. Then again, I have no need of a little stool like that.

What I do have use for is a beach bed for Lainee…

Lainee is too much of a person to lie on the sand when at the beach. Till now she uses my beach chair when I’m in the water and then has a towel on the sand or the second beach chair I got for her…

She’s also been known to use my beach bag as a bed…

Last night I made a new top for the little stool out of an old pair of jeans. Making the top longer so that it would be lower to the ground as well.

I wish I could have re-used the fabric on the stool but I couldn’t think of a way to do it… there is no way to get the stool itself under the sewing needle in order to sew the fabric onto the metal frame.

I used laces from the jeans themselves (at the waist and legs) as ties for the back cause there was no other way to fit the top to the stool. This makes it more likely to loosen with use, but thats ok. I can retighten the laces as needed.

Not sure Lainee likes it yet. I put her on it for a bit last night and she was off it and back to the couch in a flash. However I will try it on the beach. I bet she likes it there.

z

PS. She likes it!

something small in grey

I was given this little salt pig, or container or whatever you want to call it, by my french neighbours complete with natural sea salt they collected themselves here on Paros. Cute huh?

Only thing is, I didn’t really like the colour of the wood. So… I painted it grey.

The grey isn’t totally perfect with the cream, beige and brass fittings in my kitchen, but its one of my favourite colours. I have throws for the couch in grey… Plus I had it already mixed up in chalk paint for the wreaths I made for my cousin early in the summer.

And since I had the paint out, and I had some wooden spoons which were really plain and I love the painted handle look, I went ahead and painted them.

Much better don’t you think? Some of the wooden spoons are very old. Can you tell?

Of course now the problem becomes how do you store these in a way that shows off the painted bits? Without cluttering up the entire kitchen (which is cluttered enough already with a stack of marble waiting to be painted and my iron and a towel which acts as my ironing board).

This little project is something I did a couple of weeks ago but only just getting around to sharing. Its one of the few creative things I did for myself in a while. But it always feels good to do creative things, even small ones like this.

Being creative is good for my soul.

I am so looking forward to some creative time. Both for my home and art. Tons of ideas. Not enough time to do it all.

(Well there might be enough time if I didn’t laze around on the couch eating ice cream in the evenings.)

z

speaking of pandemics (and where the hell have I been?)

I found out the other day that my dad’s grandfather and an uncle died of dengue fever when it hit greece back in 1927-28. Who knew? And obviously, a lot of people were lost during the Spanish Flu pandemic in the early 1900s. I guess we should count our blessings despite all the inconvenience and problems COVID 19 is causing us…

That said, this whole COVID 19 thing is really wearing thin isn’t it? Greece had done so well during the first phase. We had strict lockdowns, you needed to send a text explaining why you were out every time you ventured out of your home. You were only allowed to go out to shop, assist an elderly person, walk a pet or exercise, or go shopping or to a medical appointment.

Then they lifted restrictions and opened the borders.

Welcome to phase 2 of COVID 19. We are now heading back to strict lockdowns as the daily cases rise to levels never seen before in Greece.

Great job guys. Well done. And its not like opening borders helped struggling businesses… tourism was low, too many businesses suffered – so many places didn’t open at all cause the cost of opening was more than they stood to make.

Yet Paros was busy. Okay, perhaps not 2019 summer busy, but busy nonetheless. August only. I rarely went out in the evenings but there were people around when I did, and beaches were busy.

Having become somewhat of a hermit, I’m looking forward to some more quiet times ahead when lockdowns are put in place.

So what have I been doing that’s kept me away from the blog?

Well… in bullet points:

  • I started a job at Yria ceramics and have been working more or less 8am-2pm 6 days a week for the last month.
  • Aunt 1 has been moved to the nursing home on Paros. I went to Athens to pick her up in person. She is very happy and grateful and isn’t complaining a bit. Right. And pigs might fly.
  • I have a tenant in Aunt 1s house and so far all is well with that.
  • The bathroom apparently works.
  • I still have to sort out the issue with the other loser tenant who doesn’t pay his rent till he feels like it. I may have a solicitor lined up to begin proceedings to evict him.
  • I am currently on the mainland, having come here to attend some dog shows in the south of Greece with a friends. Fun was had, awards were won. Then there was an airport strike which only affected 6 airports in Greece… Paros being one of them. So a 5 day trip is now an 8 day trip.
  • When at home on Paros my days consisted of work, accompanied by Lainee, a swim, a rest, Netflix and the odd bit of socializing.
  • And mom. Taking her places, helping her with shopping. Eating the food she prepared for me when I could keep up with it. Thankfully Lainee and the neighbourhood cats helped with that.

So there you have what I did do. What I didn’t do was get online much, hence the silence. I guess I just didn’t feel like I had much to say so I didn’t say anything at all.

Hopefully now the summer season is over things will go back to normal and I can be creative (for myself!) again.

z

not happy jan!

Now its all over and done with I think I can share the bathroom reno saga. I was just too upset about it and too stressed over everything to face it before.

To recap: I was renovating Aunt 1’s house in order to rent it out. The bathroom was the biggest project. I got three quotes and decided to go with one of them, a father son team, who came highly recommended by the lady who owned the shop I bought all the tiles and fixtures from. The shop came highly recommended by my cousin who’s always bought from them.

So, I was there when the bathroom started, then again when it was ‘finished’. Feast your eyes on the ‘finished’ pics below.

When i got the chance to actually LOOK at the ‘finished’ bathroom I was upset and pissed off. First thing I noticed was that the light ‘backplate’ was touching the mirror. AND the mirror was off centre. It looked squished together and awful. I tried to remove the mirror so it could be set lower and found that it was almost impossible to do. And that you can see the hole and wires behind the light/under the backplate. I spoke to the electrician, why on earth would put the light there like that? He said the mirror was already in place and he set the light as far as he could from the mirror and still hide the hole. I asked him to go back and fix the light. The mirror needed to be moved down and the light backplate moved to cover the wires/hole.

But that was the least of it…

The builder/tiler (ha) didn’t corner the tiles properly and ‘fixed it’ by painting the exposed edge when I complained. And take a look at the quad on the ceiling!!! I could have done a better job with my eyes closed. At the time he told me ‘thats the painter’s job, but I can do it for you’. I should have said no thanks.

He ‘trimmed the door’ using an axe. Or at least thats how it looks!!!!

There was grout missing in tons of places, cause he ‘wasn’t finished yet’.


I also noticed how many places the tiles weren’t straight on the wall. I DID query the lack preparing and smoothing the wall before laying tiles… also the lack of of waterproofing of the bathroom walls. But whenever I asked a question he was ready with an explanation – and of course never having renovated in Greece before and never having dealt with brick walls, I didnt feel condifent enough to say NO, this is wrong, do it properly… so now I have tiles in places where they are just NOT level. Oh, and he didnt use spacers either. he said he didn’t need them on the wall, you wanted the tiles as close as possile to eachother.

He got plaster or white goop or whatever its called all over the place. He obviously never heard of a damp rag to wipe it off before it dried to concrete.

He did a particularly great job on the window. I mean, metal strips are a great idea, but they dont meet! And look at that quad! And dried goop everywhere!

Where he put the styrofoam quad between the wall and ceiling he left fingerprints in the quad and tons of dried plaster everywhere. He never did put quad above the door.

Where the toilet joins the wall there is a small hole. there are places between tiles missing grout and places in the grout where there are holes.

Almost every wall he came into contact with has dings and marks, footprints or scrapes. Ditto some of the casings. Lets not talk about the cement like crap on the floor everywhere. Again, never heard of a damp rag…

The wall he built to divide the living room from the dining room was plastered over really roughly so the painter had a job of smoothing it.

I spoke to the lady who recommended – she said they must fix it at their expense. She showed them the photos and was really angry at the job that was done as its her reputation on the line too…  That would mean they come back and rip out tiles and start over. No thanks. That would have added another week or so to the house being finished and I couldn’t keep travelling back and forth.

I just got the painter to fix it as best he could. I know he does a good job. Even he couldn’t really fix it to my standards but at least it was passable.

I now dread the time when water gets through the grout and underneath and tiles start to pop off walls cause there was no waterproofing…

I blame myself for not being tough enough, but its hard to be tough unless you KNOW things for sure and I’ve never tiled or done renovation work on brick walls.

Anyway, its done now, finished to the point where its acceptable. And the house is rented. So at least MOST of my headaches are gone. Well… some of them. Getting the house rented was/is a nightmare in itself. Not the tenants. They’ve been great (so far, fingers crossed) but the paperwork required to rent the house. I’ve never seen anything as impossible as this. I swear…

Sigh.

Enough complaining for now. I have positive things to do today. Like repotting some of my plants.

z

the kitten


This is Spartacus. He’s the tiny kitten I found outside my place, covered in ringworm.

I got him treated. I got him vaccinated. I washed him in special shampoo. I fed and cared for him while keeping him in isolation in my tiny back enclosed yard.

He got better, but not before infecting Lainee with ringworm which she is only now getting over. As for my ‘spots’… a staph infection, I can’t totally blame Spartacus as I could have got that anywhere from scratching at a mosquito bite and infecting it.

Anyway, mom was dead set against a cat and more upset due to him spreading his ringworm to us. In her mind he’s a filthy animal and needs to go.

When I found him I thought for sure I’d keep him. He was so tiny and helpless and cute. Of course as he grew and got stronger and healthier he turned into hell on wheels… due mostly of course to having spent weeks in isolation without enough human interaction.

So, I thought it was a sign for me to get a cat… an indoor house cat at that. Then I realised that he’d have to be an outside cat cause I often go away for weeks or months at a time. I can’t leave him in the house or in the yard even if my neighbour is good enough to feed him for me. He needed to be a free cat. After neutering of course.

Then one day my mom told me a neighbour told her that his brother was looking for a cat. Theirs had died and they wanted another… I was wary at first… but it turned out to be the best home Spartacus could wish for!

He now lives on a farm with an older retired couple who adore their animals. They live on Paros all year round and Sparky will be an indoor/outdoor cat. He’s now got playmates in all shapes and sizes. There are sheep, goats, chickens, a dog, a donkey and 2 cows. And he’s already chasing mice. They are besotted with him.

I’m so pleased. And really incredibly lucky. There are so many abandoned cats and kittens on the island, they could have gotten one anywhere, but Sparky was the lucky one.

z