beautiful decay

Its been a while since I last posted. I’m back home in Tasmania, back at work (flat out) and up to my elbows in chores to do… There really is no rest for the wicked – I must have been very naughty in a previous life!

So while I catch you up on everything that’s happening in a suitably vague way, I’ll share these photos I took on my last day on Paros.

As part of the Paros Festival there was the opportunity to visit a few of the old mansions in Parikia. Absolutely gorgeous… yet falling apart from lack of maintenance for most of them.

You know how much I love old places and old things.

You’ll notice a lot of window shots. There’s something extremely beautiful in these old windows with their damaged timber, chipped paint and the sunlight streaming through.

Not to mention the floorboards… I’d adore those floorboards in my home…

Even the old concrete sink. A bit more shallow than anything we’re used to these days, but so big and wide.

So, what’s been happening in my life?

Well, its cold… Got back from 30 plus degrees on Paros to single digits in Tasmania. A bit of a shock to system.

Meanwhile I’m mourning my tan, which is fading fast. By the time the weather is warm enough here to expose flesh I’ll be pastey white again. Sigh.

The dogs are all well and happy to see me. The horses, turkeys, ducks and chooks don’t care if I’m here or not, as long as they get fed.

Ungrateful sods…

Work has been flat out. Grooming daily. Of course that means so much less time to do housework and craft projects.

I miss the crafting.

Not so much the house cleaning…

Its good to be back home though. There’s nothing like being in your own space, surrounded by your own stuff and poodles!

Though I would seriously love some free time to create.

No worries. It’ll happen… one day I’ll start something and then I’ll start another thing and before you know it I’ll be sharing new projects!

z

the view of paradise

There is no place in the world where I love the view as much as from the back porch of my uncle’s house at Souvlia – a little hill that juts out into the water at the entrance to the bay of Parikia on Paros.

I always dreamed that one day I’d be able to have this view every day of my life. Its so peaceful, the cicadas, the sounds of the ferries coming and going from the port are dulled by the sea and sun. No wonder I sleep so well here.

When we were kids we used to see Souvlia as a type of prison. Its 3klm from the town of Parikia and there was nothing for tweenies and teens to do up here. We all wanted to be where the action was – the bars and clubs and boys!

Instead we felt we were exiled on this lonely little hill. Sure, we could swim in the bay below and we did that pretty much all day. But at night we wanted excitement and a social life.

Now all I really want is to sit here and enjoy the view with a good book or good company, both of which I have here.

The first week on Paros was full of catching up with old friends and the 2 cousins who live on Paros full time, the second week was just me and mom and now I have one cousin to hang out with and another arrives at the end of the week. I am having a great time.

Though as I mentioned before, I sleep well. I’ve never been able to nap in the afternoon – siesta time. When I was a kid it was the time I’d lie restlessly in bed reading books while mom slept. When we stayed in town at my grandmother’s house my brother and I would sneak out and explore the streets of Parikia.

Now I sleep every afternoon, and sometimes I sleep well into the evening. Unbelievable. Yesterday mom woke me up at 7pm and I thought it was 7am…. I’ve never slept so soundly in my life!

Those were the days… back then farmers would roam the streets in the early morning with their donkeys laden with produce or milk and call out their wares as they wound their way round town. I made friends with every single donkey, obviously.

As for the friends, its funny now to be friends with the guys I grew up around. The thing back then was to walk along the ‘paralia’ (esplanade) arm in arm with a girlfriend and walk past the group of guys who we secretly had our eyes on. They would call out to us to come join them, comment on our beauty and we’d hold our noses in the air and pretend not to hear them.

Back then my nickname was Australia for obvious reasons and so we’d stroll by and the boys would call out ‘Hello Australia! Come join us for a drink’.

Now I catch up with these guys I’ve known since I was 10 years old and they’re like old friends though we never really hung out together.

Its all one big family in a way, everyone knows everyone or knows your family. Like any small town. I used to want to move away from a small town where everyone knew who I was and what I was up do. Now I find comfort in it.

Plus now I just don’t care what anyone thinks of me. Not that I did back then, but my parents did, which meant I had to care too if I wanted to ever be allowed out again!

Hence quite a bit of sneaking around happend back then…

I think I better get going. The sea is as smooth as glass and it beckons…

z

i love my mother, i really do…

A typical little cobblestone street in Old Parikia, Paros

But seriously…

This is how conversations with her go:

“Have you seen Yianni yet?”

“Which Yianni?”

“Your cousin Dimitris son. He works at the bar next to the chemist owned by Fragisko’s daughter.”

“No. I haven’t had a chance to see him yet.”

“The poor thing. He’s suffered so much these last few years.”

“Who, Yianni?”

“No, Fragisko. His daughter got married and divorced and her aunt got sick and now they’re all living out of town. But he’s lost all his money you know.”

“Who? Fragisko?”

“No. His aunt’s son.”

(names have been changed to protect the innoncent)

The Evinos bar overlooks the water

How on earth am I supposed to follow an entire conversation with the woman?

Firstly, she knows everyone on Paros. Secondly, she’s related to half of them by blood and the other half through marriage or divorce or proximity. Which means I’m related to them all and therefore I should not only know them all, remember them all, but care about what they’re doing, what their children and grandchildren and cousins and neighbours are doing.

While some houses have been restored, some are falling apart

Sigh. My father had his own way of dealing with it. When out with mom and she’d start her extensive explanations:

“Did you see that guy over in the corner with the blue cap on? That’s Anna’s husband. You remember Anna, she brought us some figs last week. They live on the same street as Marina, opposite Vassili and Filio, you know, the big house with the blue windows and the palm tree in their yard. Well… Strati, Anna’s husband had heart surgery last year and he was forced to retire. Now he spends his days fishing. He gave Artemisia the biggest fish to cook for dinner last night. You remember Artemisia, she’s the one you met when we got married, of course she was only a girl then, now she’s got grandkids. Two of them are studying in university now. I think one is studying to be a lawyer, like his father. Artemisia’s oldest son. He’s the one that helped my brother Nicko with his troubles with the land he owned. The land on St Peter’s, next door to the area where my 2nd cousin Stellios grows olives. And they’re such great olives! I must remember to ask his daughter Maritsa for some. She works at the bakery on the top road. The one next door to Babi’s shop…. you know the one…

Dad would say “may god be with him” before mom could get too far into her ramblings and cut her off. Yeah, rude, but I think I get it…

The Castro in Parikia

I swear I can’t keep track of the people and its impossible to follow cause she jumps from one subject to another, from one person to another without warning.

I’ve always been able to talk “woman”. That’s when you get together with girlfriends and you talk incessantly, changing subjects back and forth as you go. No problem. But even I can’t keep up with mom.

Taking the boat across the port to the beach

But… she IS my mother and I love her. And she makes me fried red peppers, which I love, and she bought me the best home made cottage cheese (mizithra) in the world. I really wish she hadn’t. I just ate a ton of it on Elite rusks (a greek brand) with honey. I’m so full…

Sunset at the Meltemi Bar on Paros

My favourite beach, Krios

And another thing. Its been 5 years since my last trip, and 8 since the one before. My blog from that first trip has disappeared cause it was with Shine and I wasn’t able to save it. But there was a whole section on that about the clothes being on the line.

Mom loves to remind me about things. Like the clothes I washed and left on the line to dry. She’ll tell me to put them on the line. Then she’ll tell me to take them off the line later. At least 5 times.

“Don’t forget to take the clothes off the line” must be one of her favourite sentences in the world. Well, at least it was 8 years ago.

I’m happy to report that its still her favourite sentence. I washed one load of washing yesterday and heard the sentence at least three times.

Good to see mom is still in fine form!

z

syros for 3 days

This is not a pool, its the mediteranean sea!

One of the best things about coming to Greece this year is that I’ve been able to catch up with my old school friends from high school. I’m one of the luckiest people in the world to have gone to Campion School (an English school in Athens) and that our group has been having reunions once every couple of years on the greek islands.

How many high schools do you know that do that?

Galissas beach on Syros

Of course, living in Australia (and Tasmania no less) I’ve only been able to make it to 2 of the reunions so far. I believe the first was in 2007 on Egina, and its been a different island for each one since. I first found out about the reunions on FB just in time to miss the one on Paros. Bummer.

But I was able to put in my 2 cents worth and the next one was on Naxos where my cousin Zefi (the non-Famelis one) had the Mojito Bar. We had the best time ever. We spent our time on the beach out the front of the bar, or in the bar. I remember one particular night, drinking mojitos and dancing on tables with a bunch of Norwegian guys. Actually, I don’t remember all that much about that night, but I do have photos…

Anyway, when I found out there was a reunion planned on Syros this year, and that I’d be in Greece at the time, it was GREAT! I’m there!

Saint Stephano – a church built in a cave

I’d never been to Syros before and I was curious. Syros is a unique island for one of the Cyclades as its half catholic and half greek orthodox. Its also got the most amazing history and architecture in the old city of Ermoupolis as it was settled by the rich who built beautiful venetian style mansions. Ermoupolis is the capital of the Cyclades islands.

Despite that, getting here was a whole lot of trouble. Since I’d booked the hotel well in advance – like 5 or 6 months ago – I figured I could get ferry tickets from Paros to Syros easily. I mean you can see Syros quite clearly from Parikia, how hard can it be!

Well… turns out there are only 3 direct ferries from Paros to Syros a week. Even in summer. And not on the day I needed to travel. Naturally.

See the blue rocks? Its called Serpentine. Click on the image to read about it.

Syros is the seat of the local government, where the big hospitals are, where the court is… you get the picture. Yet, if you want to go to Syros from Paros (1 hour trip by ferry) you have to take a ferry to Mykonos or Tinos (the ferries stop at both, its up to you where you want to get off and wait to catch another ferry) and from there to Syros. A one hour trip, which would cost you about 7.5 euros direct, ends up costing a minimum of 32 euros (cause we found the cheapest option) and taking a minimum of 4 hours including your stopover.

Only in Greece.

Maybe. I can’t speak for India, Egypt or Uzbekistan.

Speaking of Uzbekistan… I did an Ancestry DNA test! I was so excited cause I’m convinced that my mother is a decendant of Ghengkis Khan. (I’m not talking about her child rearing methods, mind you, just her ancestry). And I was right! But I’ll tell you more about that in another post…

So, back to the fun in the sun and crazy antics of middle aged high school buddies.

Firstly, I was joined on the reunion by my good friend Inge from the Netherlands. And her daughter. They have now been given honorary Campionite status and are welcome to join in future reunions, which is great cause they really enjoyed it.

The best part of the Syros reunion (apart from seeing friends and all the catching up) was the day we chartered a boat to visit some of the beaches only accessible by boat. We had a floating bar and a BBQ on the beach. What more can you ask for?

The incredible blue waters of the Aegean Sea.

The hotel we stayed at was great, really pretty decor, great breakfast buffet and a lovely pool where we spent quite a lot of time.

Unfortunately we didn’t get a chance to explore Ermoupolis due to bad timing and forgetfulness (mine) so I’ll have to visit another day. Quel dommage! (showing off my high school French…)

Oh, and you know how the world is going to hell in a plastic bucket? Its true. There is so much plastic rubbish in the sea that it seems that even on the most pristine beaches, you’ll fish out the odd bit of plastic bag. It really sucks. It makes it so much more obvious that we really need to make an effort to recycle and consider our choices.

One of the bars on Paros is using spaghetti with holes in it instead of plastic straws. What a brilliant idea. You can drink your cocktail through it, then eat it… We bought ourselves a packet and carried it everywhere with us.

We found there’s one minor flaw in our plan. You actually have to remember to order your drink without a straw. Otherwise you may as well just use the plastic one they give you and save your pasta for another time… We’ll get better at it, I’m sure.

z

bedside wings

bedsidewings2

Welcome to another ‘here’s one I prepared earlier’ DIY upcycled project post.

As I pointed out before, amidst the chaos of work and preparing for my trip to Greece, I found the time to create or finish a few projects. Just to make myself feel better!

So, I had this old chair. It had a broken back. But the seat and legs were in perfectly good order.

I did what any self respecting DIYer would do – I cut the back off.

Then I painted it many layers of different chalk paints I mixed up myself.

bedsidewings3

Between coats I gave it a bit of a sanding, to expose the various colours and add interest.

This chair used to have a padded seat so the seat area itself was a big hole. I put in a bit of masonite cut to the right shape. My plan was to buy a thick perspex sheet cut to fit on top and fill the recess with photos and other bits and pieces.

bedsidewings4

You know how you sometimes order things online that you think you want for a particular project only to change your mind? These glittery angel wings are one of those purchases. I had planned on putting them on my jean jacket but I’m not really a glittery girl… They were sitting in the craft room when I was making up the guest room for friends before my trip.

It was obvious they belonged on the chair/bedside table in the guest room!

besidewings1

The bluey green tones of the chair suit the room perfectly and the wings are just perfect in there.

I’m loving it.

Now back to the beach.

z

chicken rolls and other beach stuff

This is a photo of my view as I sat here this afternoon, after a nice lunch with the ‘oldies’. That’s the aunts and uncles, though now they don’t feel as old as they did when we were all younger… when they were my current age and younger.

I’d done my ‘auntie’ dip – an hour or so in the water swimming and meeting people, cause of course you strike up friendships in the sea. Or at least I do. Then I came home, had lunch and sat a while to enjoy the view. After that I went to bed to read again and fell asleep…

And woke up at 8.30pm.

Just in time for dinner.

I’d had plans for tonight, but I was still feeling too dopey to go into town. Its about a 3klm walk which is great exercise but I’m still feeling zonked and now its fully dark and the view is still great with all the glittering lights of town and distant Syros visible. I think I might just stay here…

So much for going for an afternoon swim. I mustn’t ever go to bed in the afternoon again!

Meanwhile I’m sunburnt and itching like I have fleas. Thankfully I didn’t get the painful sunburn, I skipped straight to itchy. Its really annoying as scratching hurts but oh man, I need to scratch badly.

I got a call from my cousin, Zefi* this afternoon saying “Hey Fuzz**, next time you blog don’t forget to mention chicken rolls”. Well, I’m nothing if not responsive to the demands of my readers. At least it proves that someone reads my blog, even if it is just family and people I guilt into it…

But before I tell you about chicken rolls and what on earth they’re doing on the beach, let me deal with the pesky asterixes.

*There are only 3 Zefis in our family, unlike the amount of Peters, or the amount of Nicks in My Big Fat Greek Wedding. I’m the original Zefi, there’s one living on Crete currently who has a different last name, and then there’s the little usurper, aka newspaper reporter, aka Little Zefi. When we lived in Griffith, NSW, I was THE Zefi till the little usurper came along and took over my name and peed in my shoes cause we wouldn’t play with her.

A few years later she came to live with us in Athens and earned the nickname ‘newspaper reporter’ cause everything she heard or saw she’d report back to my mom. As you can see, she really knew how to make friends and influence people.

**Two Zefi Famelis sharing a room (and two Peter Famelis sharing a caravan on the roof (that’s a whole other story) in the house in Athens got a bit confusing. So I was big Zef and she was little Zef. I never liked what big Zef implied, but what can you do?

Anyway, we played around with our names, as you do, and for a while I was Ifez and my brother was Retep. In the spirit on backwardness I went through our room while little Zef was out reporting on some other unsuspecting person and played a joke on her.

I went through every single thing she owned and every bit of her side of the room and switched things around. The order of her drawers was swapped. The sides of her desk were swapped. Her books were reversed on the shelves. I even went through and undid all her neatly folded socks (cause she was an annoyingly good little girl) and did them up again with unmatched partners. I left a note saying ‘beware, Ifez was here’.

She was still finding mixed up things months later. Best practical joke ever.

Anyway, Ifez morphed into Fuzz and my aunt still calls me Fuzz now. In fact when Zefi and I get together we call eachother Fuzz and Fuzzywuzzy. I love that girl.

Now back to the beach and who put out the chicken rolls.

While in Athens Zefi took me tankini shopping cause I don’t wear bikinis any more. As you may remember if you read a previous post on the subject. During that time she introduced me to the strappy bikini, aka, the chicken roll.

Look:

You can see the similarities.

Anyway, rest assured I did not get anything like that. Though now I’m thinking about getting a bikini. Those tankinis are nice but they sure take a long time to dry! And they’re so hard to change when you’re wet.

I am now convinced that there are three stages in life: 1. when we’re young and pretty and wear bikinis, 2. when we get older and care what people think so we hide our imperfect bodies with full swimsuits (or burkas), and 3. when we no longer care what anyone thinks and go buy another bikini.

I’m at stage 3. I think. Its a close call.

z

voodoo dolls

voodoo

It’s been a while since I shared any projects so here’s one I prepared earlier. I know you’ve had withdrawals.

I’m sure you’ve lived through this… the last minute rush to get everything done before a trip. Packing, making lists, tying up loose ends, organising… chaotic stuff.

And through it all my brain was still thinking about things to create. I need to be creative. It makes me feel good. So despite the long list of things I needed to do, I sat in the office to make something. Like I made the little sewing pouch.

I made these little voodoo dolls.

Aren’t they cute? In an ugly monstery voodoo way of course. They come complete with three pins each, you can always add more if you have a greater need.

Wayne put them to good use. Soon after he saw them he claimed one and would stick pins in it any time I said something mean.

“What’s for dinner?”

“Nothing.”

Pin in the head.

“Can you make me a cup of coffee please?”

“No.”

Pin in the stomach.

I was getting really worried…

z

Good question

Efidice Absidal?

I’ve puzzled over this sign for many years. What does it mean? Is it some foreign language? Obviously ‘Efidice’ isn’t an English word.

Give up?

Its obviously a sign created by a dyslexic person. Obviously its meant to say “Edifice Apsidal”.

Or even Apsidal Edifice.

That sorts out the non-englishness of the matter, but what is absidal or apsidal you ask? I didn’t know either so I looked it up:

WHAT DOES APSIDAL MEAN IN ENGLISH

Apse

In architecture, the apse (Greek ἀψίς (apsis), then Latin absis: “arch, vault”; sometimes written apsis; plural apsides) is a semicircular recess covered with a hemispherical vault or semi-dome, also known as an Exedra. In Romanesque, Byzantine and Gothic Christian abbey, cathedral and church architecture, the term is applied to a semi-circular or polygonal termination of the main building at the liturgical east end (where the altar is), regardless of the shape of the roof, which may be flat, sloping, domed, or hemispherical.

—–

Aren’t you glad you read my blog? You learn something new every day!

z

my uncle’s portrait

My uncle George, pastel on paper, now hangs on the old fireplace.

A few years ago I promised my uncle George that I’d paint his portrait. I took photos of him sitting on the back porch at Souvlia (his home on Paros, more like a village than a home really) and lost them all when my external hard drive crashed.

This year I found an old photo of him and me taken years ago, and a photo of the house as it was back then. I removed me and the others in the photo and created a portrait.

Closer up

Not too bad considering I hate doing portraits of people. They aren’t as furry as dogs. Or as forgiving if you show their wrinkles.

I think he likes it. He’s at least 40 years younger in the painting… He now wants a portrait of the four brothers, 2 of whom are no longer with us. The Dynasty as he calls it.

Better get my pastels sorted.

(I’ll be sharing photos of Souvlia soon!)

z

today it rained on paros

This morning it poured. I was sitting outside my room with my coffee and a book (Yes, a real book. My brother gave it to me so I put the kindle aside for a day and went old school.) and I barely had time to pick my stuff up before it bucketed down. There was thunder and lightning. I’ve spent about half the summers of my life on Paros and had never seen rain like this. If at all… Tasmania eat your heart out.

My cousin picked me up to go swimming and we got lucky. We went to a beach on the other side of Paros and were able to have a decent swim. It may have been overcast but the rain stayed away. Till we left. It rained so heavy you could barely see to drive. Then we got back to this side and I had another swim cause the storm had moved on.

I’m turning into my mother – slowly but surely. I used to be able to go the beach at 9 or 10am and stay till 6pm or sometimes later. Now I get worn out. The other day I was at the beach from 10.30 am till 5.30pm and I’m sure I got sunstroke. And before you ask, I sat under an umbrella the whole time. But I did swim… and when I say swim, every time I get in the water I spend at least half an hour in there. I won’t get out till my fingers go all wrinkley and turn blue.

Mom never sits on the beach. She’ll go down, get straight into the water, swim till she’s a spec on the horizon (no sharks here) and stays out there for about an hour, gets out of the water, changes into dry clothes* and goes home.

After spending a whole day at the beach, visiting a cousin and going out for dinner, not getting home till 12.30am, I was so knocked out the next day I decided to stick close to home. I walked to the beach just down below us and swam for an hour before getting out and heading home for a nap.

Delphini Beach, a 5 minute walk from my uncle’s place.

In the afternoon I repeated the excerise. Cause what’s the point of a greek island if you can’t swim? In fact I’ve been having nightmares lately that I’m on Paros and can’t get into the water! Horrible.

To make matters worse (on the ‘just like my mother’ thing) I do two types of swimming. One where I wear goggles and swim like a normal person – involves putting my head under water. The other where I wear my sunglasses and a hat and swim like a little old lady. Why? Cause till now every summer I’ve come to Paros for a holiday I get an eye infection. Apparently the sun reflecting off the water can sunburn your eyeballs. Go figure.

Another view of Delphini Beach where we spent hours as kids.

At least I’m looking after my skin and won’t get sunburn… That’s what I tell myself.

*On the changing after swimming. A lot of greek women/girls have learned the art of dressing and undressing with a towel wrapped around them. I’m at a disadvantage there. Not only am I not used to it, I’m wearing a tankini which has to up over my shoulders to put on or off. No handy clasps at the back. Try changing those with salty wet skin. I was hopping around trying to change this morning and dropped my towel to remove my bottom and mooned the entire beachfront.

At least they don’t know me…

Why you might ask again? Can’t you just dry off in the sun? Well for one, I don’t like being in the sun for too long. And those tankinis are thick – double panels in front and padded bras. And why am I wearing a tankini? Cause I’m too embarassed to wear a bikini now I’m older and fatter. Though to be honest I’m so over the cold/wet thing I’m seriously tempted to buy a bikini top and not worry about scarring the retinas of anyone who sees me.

The benefit of being older. You just don’t give a damn.

Don’t they say middle aged women are invisible? Well I may as well wear a bikini.

Now… where to get one…

z