About zefiart

Blogger, DIY-er, poodle lover, graphic designer, dog groomer, recycler, artist, wonder woman in my spare time.

an update

So, you already know what I’ve been doing for the last week… emptying a house of half a century of belongings, finding homes for everything, organising the renovation of a bathroom and setting it up to rent. Enough said.

Right now I’m on the boat on my way to Paros cause it turned out I have enough work this week to justify the trip costs. I’m so glad. I’ve pretty much done all I can do in the house for now, so a break in my own home, some sea and sun will do me the world of good.Mom and Aunt 4 are with me on the ferry, they will both be staying on Paros while I have at least one trip ahead of me back to Athens.

I just spoke to the plumber, they will be starting earlier than planned, but that’s ok. I’ll be back in time for the finishing touches. I had a great time writing all over the bathroom tiles with instructions of where things will go. Its the kind of thing you can only do when you plan to rip out tiles and its so much fun!

I have a ‘Fuzz Day’ planned today.

Have I ever explained the ‘fuzzy’ thing? Way back when we were kids, my cousins PG and little Zefi came to stay with us in Athens for over a year. That meant we had 2 Peter Famelis and 2 Zefi Famelis living in the same house. Hence PG (Peter George), PE (Peter Emmanuel) and Little Zefi. Of course Big and Little was just not imaginative enough so my brother (PE) began calling me Ifez, and little Zefi Fezi… which morphed into Fuzzy… and eventually we both began calling eachother Fuzzy. My aunt (Zefi’s mother) still calls me Fuzz to this day.

Meanwhile we’ve been getting free and easy with it. FuzzFace, FuzzBucket, FuzzyWuzzy, you get the drift…

So… today after we arrive and settle mom in, its a Fuzz day: beach and chat and basically enjoy eachother’s company. She is the sister I never had. I’m so looking forward to it. Being close to my cousins was one reason I was happy to move to Greece. I keep telling them that since I’m older than them and don’t have kids, care of me in my dotage will fall to them! We’ve made pacts to shoot eachother if we ever become like Aunt 1.

Speaking of Aunt 1, she’s doing ok in the nursing home. The staff there tell me she’s settling in and doesn’t seem unhappy. She has made some friends etc. But if you talk to her its the same old story: what is this place? they keep the doors locked. I don’t know anyone. The staff ignore me. If you don’t come get me I’ll take a taxi home. If you don’t come soon I’ll kill myself and it’ll be all your fault.

(I don’t doubt the staff ignore her at times… It’s called self preservation: you have to in order to keep your sanity!)

Anyway, mom is ok, but she’s far from well. She’s not her usual self. She tires easily and she’s incredibly stressed all the time cause everyone calls her to tell her their problems and to ask about Aunt 1 and that upsets her. Aunt 2 now has a clogged artery and the first person she called was my mom. Not her son. So mom has been on the phone with doctors and her brothers and Aunt 2’s son trying to explain that its URGENT and that Aunt 2 needs to go to hospital and that its NOT her job to take this on.

sheesh.

Trying to protect mom from her family is a full time job.

Now more than ever I wish I had a bigger house so mom could come live with me. I could keep her from all this shit. At least a little bit.Of course she’d have to adapt to living with a poodle and a kitten. hehehe.

I did warn her that if she ever moved in with me and she saw a naked man in the bathroom in the morning I expected her reaction to be: Good morning. Can I make you a coffee?

On a different note, I found these little beauties in Aunt 1’s stuff. Does anyone know what they are? (Hint, they’re not little jars which is what I thought.)

And here’s Lainee, claiming her part of this post. She really is my heart and joy.

z

where am i at?

In Athens, obviously, but where in the scheme of things am I at?

Short answer: still facing a steep hill.

Long answer: well… its a long answer…

Let’s see… Aunt 1’s house is a mess but the painting is almost all finished and it looks amazing. Almost finished cause the bathroom renovation was decided after the painter was booked in so the bathroom door and ceiling have been left to be done later.

As has the dividing wall between the living room and dining room. That wasn’t organised beforehand cause a friend told me she had a niece who was definitely interested in renting the place and they were a couple and would love to have a dining room. Now, I need the house to have 2 bedrooms in order to appeal to uni students or professors, hence we need a wall.

I’m sorting, packing, giving away stuff, putting what I have to in boxes to store. There’s always a ton of stuff in any home… so much that really just needs to go. Given Aunt 1 is in a nursing home and not dead, it feels awful to be going through her stuff and dividing it up among friends and relatives. But the reality is that she can’t come home again. She can’t live alone any more. It has to be done, the house must be rented to help pay for the nursing home.

And its my responsibility.

I got quotes to renovate the bathroom.

Good news: I chose the team I’m hiring to do the job and am pleased with my choice.

Bad news: they can’t start till June 26… That means an extra week away from home… not that I can’t use the time. I have tons to do, but I didn’t really want to spend so long in stinky Athens.

Thankfully my good neighbour is looking after my plants and the kitten. I’ve decided on a name for him: Spartacus. I love the idea of a HUGE ancient greek name for a tiny kitten.

I’ve also organised to start work after I return to Paros. I should have started next week, but its not worth going back and forth with the cost of ferry tickets.

More good news: I chose the tiles and bought the bathroom fixtures. All I have to do now is figure out the final bits and organise to have it all delivered.

I’m seeing a real estate agent tomorrow re renting the place but apparently its not the way its done here… most people don’t go through agents to find a rental I’m told. Everyone is advising me to just place ads in the paper and online and interview people and show the house myself while I’m here. Save money.

Sounds great… till I think of the tenants from hell I approved to let rent my place in Tasmania…

I dunno. I’m afraid to trust my own judgement, but on the other hand agents here are NOT like agents in Aus. Most agents here just find a tenant, take 1/2 to 1 whole month’s rent as payment for their service and then disappear. No responsibility to collect rent on time, no property management, no visits to check on your property. That is a service you can opt for for extra money, but its not part of the deal… strange. In Australia I paid an agent up to 10% (can’t remember) of the rent per month to manage the property but there was no up front finder fee. They did visits and made sure the rent was paid on time… Not sure I should pay someone to just find me a tenant… not when the house is in a very popuar area for students. We live very close to the universities and this is the time of year people are looking for places to live.

And Aunt 1’s house is gorgeous. Very 60s in style. I’d live in it any day. With a de-pinked bathroom and bedroom wallpaper removed its gorgeous, even with the original old kitchen. In fact if I was to live there I’d make a few changes and it would gorgeous…

The way the economy is going, and my finances, I may very well have to live in Athens this coming winter, but I can’t afford to pay the rent!

sigh

But let’s cross that bridge when we come to it. Cause who knows what will happen come September, let alone winter. The way things are going in Greece we’re heading into another lockdown. Greece is open for the summer and they’re actively promoting us as safe place to holiday… but with every tourists comes COVID19… I’m not gonna rant and rave now (though I reserve the right to revisit this at another time) but lets just say my feeling is that Greece will go from a great example of handling the COVID19 pandemic to a pitiful example of what not to do…

Later. Things to do now.
z

flowering plants and tiny feet

It took a while, and most of the seeds I planted either didn’t grow or died, but I finally got some flowers! Below is the lavatera my friend Ginny gave me in Tasmania a few years ago. They are by far the easiest seeds to grow and I got quite a few plants going. I gave most of them to friends to put in their gardens to ensure at least some of them make it. One of the ones I kept is now flowering on my porch.

The sweet peas I ordered from England (unfortunately I didn’t bring any from mine in Tassie) are doing well and starting to bloom. First came pink and purple, now I have one white flower as well.

As for the rest of the million and one seeds I planted, I have ONE foxglove and 4 snap dragons. Colours to be seen. And not a single granny’s bonnet. sigh.

I mentioned tiny feet though, didn’t I?

A couple of days ago I heard a tiny kitten miaowing loudly outside. So I checked it out, as I would. There was a tiny little orange and white kitten on the wall outside my neighbour’s place.

So, here’s the story so far… I picked him up and was blown away by his bright blue eyes. But he looked like he’d been injured, he had a couple of spots which looked like he’d been rubbed in the dirt… and the end of his tail was completely bald with a black tip which looked necrotic. Plus his tiny little paws were swollen and looked sore in a way that reminded me of my darling Billybear who had auto-immune issues.

I did what I do: I rushed him to the vet to be checked over. The vet said he had a fungal infection and the sores MIGHT be an injury but they MIGHT be caused by him chewing on himself. He said the swollen paws were probably from the same thing: licking them too much. And that he was about 2 months old.

He prescribed shampoo – said to wash him every second day. Said that it wasn’t toooo contagious, that Lainee would probably not get it, that I would probably not get it, we’d have to have open sores or a compromised immune system to get it. Just to wash him and feed him and that he’s playful and feisty so there isn’t much wrong with him other than that. It will clear up with time…

I then proceeded to spend 80+ euros on the shampoo, kitten food, a litter tray, kitty litter and a scoop. Cause how on earth was I going to look after a kitten without that stuff?

I know, I know… Why spend so much money on a kitten I wasn’t going to keep? Well… two answers really.

One (the sensible Zefi one) is that I should have kept the stuff I bought last time I cared for a kitten cause I know who I am.

Second (the not so sensible Zefi one) is saying ‘But he’s SOOOO cute!’ and ‘I’ve been thinking about getting a kitten’ and ‘he was meant for me’ and other such guff.

I can’t tell you which one is winning.

Yet.

I can tell you I’ve given him 3 baths in 3 days to kick start the healing cause I’m currently on the way to Athens to do some stuff and take mom to the doctor etc. I clipped his nails.* I’ve made him a little home in the back ‘yard’ where he can play and sleep and eat safely while I’m away. I’ve organised for my neighbour (the poor guy who always has to water my plants when I go) to feed and wash him.

*Nails. Clipped. Yep. Why? Have you ever tried to wash a kitten? Scratches. No open sores, right? sigh. I lathered myself with soap and pure alcohol and am keeping my fingers crossed. I’m pretty paranoid about skin infections and other little organisms that live on the skin. eeek.

But he’s so darn cute! And he purrs so loud! And Lainee won’t lie in my lap and watch TV…

Meanwhile Lainee isn’t too impressed. He’s not scared of her but she’s choosing to ignore him. So far he can’t jump on the couch (plus I’m not really allowing him the run of the house till his infection clears up) so she’s safe up there. She does think his food is pretty good though. Thankfully she’s shown no interest in ‘kitty crunchies’ yet.

He has no name yet. Maybe its cause I’m still not sure I should keep him.

I don’t NEED a cat. I don’t NEED another pet. I sure as hell don’t need cat hair on the couch.

But he purrs so loud and Lainee won’t cuddle while I watch TV…

z

art on marble – and selling

Its about time I got back into the groove!

I’ve finally tidied up the house (enough), sorted paperwork, filed stuff, set up corners with various projects awaiting my attention, and got back to painting. On marble to start with though I have some upcoming paper projects too.

Today I’ll share the newest marble paintings before I step outside and decide if its warm enough to go for a swim. The sun is out. No wind to speak of. I think its warm enough.

Not sure the white background (in my tiny photo box) works well with white marble items… I’ll try black next or go back to the table top and radiator background.

Anyway, as I said, I’ve spent a ton of time on the phone today trying to work out stuff for Aunt 1 but turns out I can’t do a lot of it on the phone. I need to go into town. Today is the only day this week when I don’t have to go into town so I’m putting it off till tomorrow. Don’t they say ‘don’t do today what you can put off till tomorrow’? No? I got it backwards? eh. I’m on a greek island… give me a break.

I mentioned I got my paperwork underway to get a business license in Greece so I can start advertising my dog grooming and artwork, I just can’t give tax receipts till I get my receipt booklet or whatever its called. However, I’ve already started looking at ways I can sell stuff online as well as starting to talk to people with shops who might be interested in selling for me.

Today is the day I try out the WordPress Simple Payment method. Bear with me while I try to get this thing to work…

SOLD

125mm x 115mm Original watercolour on paper. Special low introductory price. Free postage.

€8.00

Ok… the block only shows a small version which doesn’t look like it opens the original image, so here it is:

Maybe I’ll have to put in a large photo with the payment block underneath it… I’ll give that a go next time.

I also just found out that these new blocks aren’t supported by Android, so they don’t appear when I look at my blog on the phone… Wonder who else can’t see them?

Of course, selling work on marble online is tricky cause its not really the kind of thing you can post easily. Its heavy. And postage is expensive… so I’ll most likely only sell those pieces locally (unless someone really wants something and is willing to pay postage for it. Let me know if that’s the case).

Below is a contact form I thought I’d try out… It also doesn’t work on Android.

All this new stuff to try out… And as always, half of it doesn’t work.

Anyway, the day’s a wasting. Time to get off this chair and move to another chair. Or better yet, walk to the beach with Lainee!

z

brown soap and other things to beware

I have no idea what I was thinking when I bought a handmade bar of soap in BROWN. With bits in it. I mean, it smelled nice… a kind of hippie/patchouli kind of smell. But brown? Really? At best after using it it looks like I have rust stains in the bathtub. At worst it looks like I rinsed a diaper in there and didn’t clean up afterwards.

Eeech.

And its one of those last forever bars… I swear I’ve been using it since early this year and it just won’t wear out! I don’t think I’ll be buying brown soap again, no matter how nice it smells. Learn from me people.

I’ve learned a lot of things about plants in the last couple of days. It all started with me wanting to identify a plant that grows all over Paros (and Greece) despite the summer heat and dryness. Turns out its oleander. Who knew? Mom calls it by the greek name ‘pikrodafni’ which suggests its a daphne, but its not. Its everywhere and comes in tons of colours from a pale butter yellowy-creamy-white through different shades of pink to red. And its poisonous.

Oleander, lantana, rhododendrons and azaleas are all part of the dogbane family which includes hemlock.

There is tons of this stuff growing on roadsides on Paros and it looks a lot like hemlock:

Luckily, I’m pretty sure its Queen Anne’s Lace or carrotweed and not poisonous. Apparently ‘Queen Anne has hairy legs’ so I have to get up close and personal to see if the stems are hairy or smooth. If it was hemlock I think we’d be seeing a lot more deaths on the island, especially during lockdown…

I knew rhododendrons, azaleas and foxgloves are poisonous and I’ve had those in my garden before, but for those who don’t know the most deadly plants here is a webpage you can read about them. You’ll want to know if you have pets or little kids who like to eat plants.

Anyway, I’ve upgraded my WordPress account to premium which will allow me to put a Simple Payment button on a page so I can sell my creations through my blog. The only problem is I’m not quite sure how it works. Apparently you have to mark things sold manually so I need to run a test to see what happens after an item there is only one of sells… Does the button remain? Does it simply stop working after an item is sold? Does it disappear? Who knows… I will I guess, once I put something online and buy it myself to see what happens.

Stay tuned and then you’ll know too!

z

a walk on the other side

I had my first swim of the year yesterday. As it turned out, I’d missed the heatwave last week cause I was in Athens, but yesterday was warm enough to swim and I never can resist the water when its flat and calm like that.

Its been an adventurous couple of days. On Thursday my cousin was arriving so I went by her house to open it up and air it out a bit, leave her the marble paintings she’d bought off me and found her bedroom was under water.

Turns out the dehumidifier she had running (standard and very necessary piece of equipment when you live on a Greek island) had lost its hose and filled the room with water. If there wasn’t a rubber strip at the bottom of the door for the flyscreen it would have flooded the whole house.

There was so much water in there Turkish fighter planes were flying over Greek waters just to stir up trouble.

There were hoons on jetskis zooming around under her bed.

The good news was there were no dead cockroaches floating around. Apparently they’d called in a natural disaster and the coast guard went in and got them out.

Seriously though. It was pretty bad. Took me over 1.5hrs to mop it up. My poor cousin has had her wooden furniture out in the sun drying the last couple of days. Ugh.

So, what do you do? You take a drive to Naousa to see what’s going on there. First thing we saw was the geese that live on the streets there have babies! Unlike when we (on the farm in Tassie) had baby geese, these guys had two. Only. I’d have to steal eggs, boil eggs and replace eggs just to keep the population down around our place. Seriously. One nest would easily hold 20 eggs! If I didn’t replace stolen eggs they just lay more. Maybe the stray cats got hundry enough to risk angry geese this year…

Naousa looks lovely when its quiet. Its the only time I like to go there actually. Before it fills up with crowds of people.

The most iconic greek scene: boats and drying octopus.

The most beautiful bar in Naousa with its bright pink bougainvilleas and doors… Turns out the flowers are fake! I sure didn’t know that. But still… it works. Its gorgeous.

Anyway, life goes on at its normally slow ‘getting back to normal’ pace. I’ve gotten my paperwork underway to start working for myself (the greek equivalent of getting an ABN – Australian Business Number, only a lot more costly in perpetuity) as I see its my only choice. I can’t do anything as a hobby here in Greece. Every cent you earn must be declared and taxed and people WILL dob you in if they see you selling or working without a permit. People really are awful. There was the story in the paper about 1-2 years ago when the tax department busted an old lady who sold hand knitted booties on her stoop to supplement her pathetic pension (cause the government has cut, trimmed and taxed the pension so no one can live on it alone). How low is that?

So, I’m not fighting it. I’m going to try to work within the system. Hell, if all else fails I’ll just return to Oz!

But I said I’d give it a chance and I will. Keep your fingers crossed that I actually make enough to pay the taxes and still afford to live.

z

island colours

Home at last. That’s my place above… the junky looking one with the millions of pots on the wall. It will soon (hopefully) be an oasis of flowers. Meanwhile, the poodle in residence was complaining that she wasn’t getting enough blog-time so today she got a clip and tidy in order to face her fans:

Being back home is great. Just the sea airm the quiet and the view makes it worth it. Not to mention being in my own space. Although things are way busier here than they were before I left for Athens. Here are some pics of my neighbourhood:

Sorry some of the pics are out of focus. When its bright out its hard to see what kind of pics I’ve taken…

A walk in Parikia produced these gems this morning:

That last is the best colourwise I think, though I do love old crumbly buildings…

So, what have I done since getting back? Some grooming, some catching up with people (that’s an ongoing thing!) some tidying around the house, some plant care (dead-heading, repotting etc), some washing, some general laziness.

I really felt quite wiped out by the whole Athens thing so I’m allowing myself a couple of days of taking it easy in order to get back into things. Well, sort of… I’m still following up on Aunt 1’s application to the local nursing home, getting the paperwork ready, sorting some legal/tax stuff for myself, basically all boring stuff. But after doing a bit of all that I spend the rest of the days immitating a lump. On the couch. In front of Netflix. I’m almost at Olympic competition level at that now!

I finished watching Homeland (love that show, can’t wait for it to come back!), rewatched the last few episodes of The Walking Dead (when is that coming back?) and the latest Outlander episodes. I’m now watching The Tiger King cause people kept saying it was great… not sure… the jury’s still out on that one.

So far lets say its so out there American reality TV/documentary that I’m not particularly into it. However I can see both sides of the arguement: the rescue side that claims they’re ‘saving’ the big cats from being bred and sold as pets or to private collectors and zoos (- but the saved cats are still being kept in a private ‘zoo-like’ place…) and the collectors and breeders side that claims they are doing the world a favour by not letting species die out as they are in the wild, and that by letting people get up close and personal with them brings the reality of their plight into people’s lives in a way that makes where reading about it or seeing it on TV doesn’t.

I know that playing with 6 month old white lion cubs in Tasmania was an experience of a lifetime and I will never forget how it made me feel to be able to touch, cuddle and play with them. I can see why young women would work in a place like that for next to nothing just to be able to spend time with them. I would have done it in a flash!

At the end of the day I believe wild animals should be free, living as nature intended… but not when their habitats are being destroyed and they are being hunted and killed for trophies or fur or tusks or whatever. And I don’t believe that every idiot should own a wild animal, knowing nothing about caring for them properly… So many animals (domestic as well as wild) are abused all over the world daily… the idea of big cats or other wild animals being bred and sold for ‘canned hunts’ and stuff like that makes me sick. I’d rather see a wild animal in a good zoo, with the right space and environment and cared for by people who love them than in any situation like that.

Anyway. Off the soap box now…

I hope to get back to art tomorrow. I’m itching to but time really does fly!

z

on my way home

The good news is Aunt 1 has settled in the nursing home. I haven’t visited cause they don’t allow visitors due to coronavirus, for another I didn’t want to set her off. However, I called daily and once her COVID19 tests came back clear and she was allowed into the lounge area she calmed right down. I knew the company would be exactly what she wanted and needed. She sounds ok there. Thank goodness.

… Cause I really had had enough of aunts and every Tom Dick and Harry calling to say ‘its criminal to put her in a nursing home. Couldn’t you just get a carer at home?’ Obviously NO, but even those who know my aunt really well gave me and mom a hard time over it. I’ve been telling people off quite severely over the last few days. I never expected to become like a bear protecting her cub over my mom! But here I am…

Now Aunt 1 has settled and is no longer threatening suicide or a jailbreak and is seeing the private ‘clinic’ she’s in as a kind of holiday with carers at her beck and call all day, things will hopefully calm down with all the do-gooders.

The best news is that I’m on the fery on my way back home!

Of course, its chaos on the ferry with the new rules… 1 person per 2 meters unless you’re travelling together, that means that most tables have 1 person on them even if they seat 4. Tempers are flaring. Greeks… ya’ know… There is still only one ferry a day to Paros and back, and now that they’re allowing travel within Greece people have started moving around. A lot. Even at 50% capacity, the ferry feels full. Masks must be worn at all times, but that makes it hard to drink a coffee or eat… hm…

Anyway, I’m so looking forward to being back on Paros and in my own home! Lainee looks like a beddraggled orphan… A disgrace to her groomer mother! Time for a good groom! (Me too before I can wear a bathing suit again!)

This summer is going to be a challenge, though. I expect quite a bit of back and forthing to Athens. First trip back will be in about 3-4 weeks to take mom to her next doctor’s appointment and then hopefully to Paros. I have to oversee the renovation work on Aunt 1’s house. And of course I have to take care of all Aunt 1’s affairs and go back to Athens to pick her up if and when they accept her in the Paros nursing home.

Not exactly how I saw this year unfolding. Then again, none of us saw COVID19 coming either.

z

difficult days

The cat above was meant to look surprised… instead it looks sad and kinda lost. Not to mention ugly…

Its been ‘those’ kind of few days.

I’ve been run off my feet as always, but I’ve also moved Aunt 1 into a nursing home so there has been less of that responsibility. I know it was the only solution, I know its for the best, but I still feel like a gigantic heel for doing it.

Of course she hates it. She began calling me the same afternoon, asking where she was, could I go get her and take her home, where was she, she didn’t know anyone, she wanted to go home, if I didn’t come pick her up she would kill herself and it would be my fault, if I wasn’t there by tomorrow she would take a taxi and come home. Naturally she doesn’t remember begging me to take her somewhere to be cared for and ‘made better’.

She managed to speak to my mom who’s been very upset over it all and its not doing her any good. I got calls from one of my uncles and Aunt 4 telling me she’d called them too and hinting that Aunt 1 should never have been allowed to keep her mobile or a phone book cause she will (if she hasn’t already) be calling people outside the family telling them we’ve locked her up and abandoned her to be tortured.

I’ve spoken to the staff numerous times. She is fine. The doctor saw her already, she had her COVID19 test yesterday and as such is still in quarantine which is probably what’s making it worse. Once she’s able to mix with others my hope is she’ll be much happier. She loves company. You know… more people to complain to!

And I had to ask the nurses to ‘misplace’ her phone and phone book. That when she wants to make a call, they are to make sure she only calls me.

Meanwhile I’ve been tidying her house, putting away all the nicknacks that gather dust, washing everything to put away and generally starting to think of the daunting task of renting it out. We need the rent to pay for the nursing home. I’ve already spoken to an agent and have someone (a good friend’s niece and her husband) coming to see the place tomorrow… I obviously want someone in asap as we need the rent, but I have to find somewhere to put the furniture or sell it. The niece has her own stuff.. If she doesn’t take it then we’ll look at renting to students and they may want to keep some of the furniture. We live close to the university and there are always students looking to rent.

Either way, I have a ton of quotes to get and work to organise – from a distance as I’m leaving for Paros on Monday.

I’ll end this post with the finished picture of a pretty cat. All I did was add a bit of detail to the eye and add whiskers. I love the fluidity of this one.

z

not another whiney post

I won’t bore you with the goings on around here lately. Suffice to say its not changed. Same old routine, same old complaints. Nothing new to add.

However I did find time to do a little painting to get out of my own head for a bit. Problem is I picture something I want to try, have a go t it, but it never works out quite the way I want it to.

For instance the angel. Not quite right…

The cat however is looking good. Its not finished yet, but it could stand on its own without another brushstroke. I’m happy with it.

I am so much better at doing animals. Maybe I should stick to that.

z