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

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

hot and i’m not talking about the weather

A wet Lainee as relief from the heat.

I really am about to explode. My patience has worn beyond thin and with this heat, I’m warning you, I take no responsibility for my actions.

The weekend at Artemis was ok, at least there were three of us there to share the care of Aunt 1, and it wasn’t quite so hot as Athens. Back here though… its back to the same old grind. I settle Aunt 1 in, take my stuff upstairs, take Lainee for a walk and come back to find she’s been out on the street calling that she’s been abandoned cause I didn’t answer the house phone.

I spent most of today on the phone. Mom and I agreed to put Aunt 1 in a nursing home not far out of Athens, at least till she is accepted into the nursing home on Paros. The two I singled out in the Athens area (from friend recommendations) said they would take her without having to provide everything from her birth certifcate, her tax returns, health reports and shoe size. The one we chose wants us to do a COVID19 test before they take her. Fair enough.

I asked where I could call to get the test done, ‘look it up’… sure. Ok. I figured I’d ask her doctor when I speak to him.

I had an appointment for a call from her doctor this afternoon. I’d gotten all the tests done last week – after another phone appointment where I told him what the nursing home wanted and he said he’d call today. I figured he’d call to make another appointment to take her in or for me to take in the results. He did NOT say, bring the results in for me to see them prior to the call. I guess he thought that was understood. But I’m not greek enough to know that… so he called today and told me that I should have taken in the results and now we have another phone date on thursday morning. This is how it goes and I’ll still be stuck in this shit of a life for another 6 months at this rate!

When I asked him where would I get the COVID19 test done he said I’d need to call the government health line or whatever its called. Which I did. They don’t do tests on healthy people. They have teams that go out to places to do tests when people are sick or have been in contact with others who are sick. Great. Who can I call to get a test done privately? He didn’t know.

So I call the nursing home again. They only know one place I can call, its outside Athens of course. Near the nursing home. Wonderful.

So now I’m scouring the internet to find where I can do the test at great cost.

Meanwhile, I’m running around in the heat taking stuff upstairs, downstairs, doing laundry, getting meals and medication for Aunt 1 hanging out and bringing in washing, making calls that go in circles without achieving anything, and I get a call from Aunt 1 to go turn on her air conditioner. I tell her I’m getting the clothes off the line for mom and will be right down when I hear commotion downstairs. She’s outside calling some guys in off the steet to turn it on for her!

If you hear about some crazy woman in Greece who killed an elderly woman before driving her car through a building killing dozens of people it’ll be me.

For the predictable future I’ll be called downstairs every 5 minutes to adjust the air conditioner cause its too cold or too hot, turn it off, turn it back on.

I really don’t know how much more of this I can take. I’m already taking pills in order to relax enough to sleep at night. I have people waiting for me to do their poor dogs on Paros as they’re suffering from the heat just like Lainee is here. I want my life back.

I know life will never be the same again. I will always be the one responsible for my aunt and my mother from now on, but I just can’t take this stress much longer. I love my mother, but when I’m running up and down stairs and she says ‘don’t take long cause I want us to eat together cause I’m tired and want to rest’ I just snap.. Eat! Don’t wait. I don’t need that pressure as well.

I am not a good person.

At least you got a cute pict

z

athens day 17 but who’s counting

Today, with temperatures of about 36-38 degrees C in Athens, I find myself in Loutsa with mom and Aunts 1 and 4.

It wasn’t my idea but what the heck, figured it wouldn’t hurt. At least Aunt 1 would have company all around her all day and maybe would stop complaining. Well, that didn’t happen. She complained in the car all the way down (yeah, she was sore and uncomfortable) but then she never let anyone rest once we got here. She went straight to bed while we did stuff and got lunch ready. Then we all wanted to rest and suddenly Aunt 1 was full of beans and wanted to walk around and chat.

Loutsa is an area outside Athens – the official name is Artemisia which is a much nicer name, but its not that much of a nice area. Too built up for me, too crowded. But its close to the sea so there’s a breeze and that in itself is so much better than Athens. Mom and Aunt 4 have convinced us to stay the night and return home tomorrow. I dread spending the night with pacing mumbling Aunt 1… We need some serious sleeping pills… Mind you, she’s walking with a cane now, still saying she can’t walk, but she’s getting around pretty well.

I just got a bonus chunk of data so I’m set… I just wish I’d brought my paints with me. Seems such a waste to be sitting here without working on something.

Meanwhile let me share some pretty pictures of Aunt 4’s flowers. Here are a couple of pretty pelargoniums.

And a gorgeous bougainvillea… maybe one day mine will be as full of blooms.

And the most amazing cactus flowers. They only last one day so I’m lucky to be here to see these.

Hope you enjoyed the flowers. Not sure what time we might leave for Athens. Morning will be cooler and less traffic and I’ll be home in time to hopefully do some painting… but it would be cooler to stay here all day and leave in the evening – but that means we’ll be fighting traffic all the way home…

z

friday

Its been a stinker of a week. Today the temperature reached 35 degrees C and the worst is still to come with 38 over the next couple of days. What fun to be in Athens and not near the beach.

I continue to go not-so-quietly insane with all the crap that landed in my lap suddenly. I lived most of my life in Australia, thousands of miles from my family and all responsibility to anyone but myself. (I liked it that way!) Now I’m buried up to the eyeballs in it. Responsibility up the wazoo, decisions to make, paperwork to organise, you name it, I got it.

Making it worse of course is that I’m in a country that not only doesn’t make sense to me, having lived in a civilized country for most of my life, but that doesn’t make sense full stop! Add to that that the paperwork is all in greek and you enter a whole new dimension of f%”kuppery.

I speak greek fine, I read greek ok, I write greek badly. But forms in medical or legal language are doing my head in big time. And I’m in charge of finding, collecting, photocoping and putting together a ton of it to give to the nursing home and the solicitor. Oh boy, am I having fun!

Today the heat just about wiped me out. I got home from running around all morning and virtually passed out till Aunt 1 woke me up asking none of us cared at all and if we had all forgotten her. sigh. It was all I could do to walk Lainee and grab a frappe to wake myself up before coming to see her so I could open the windows and dust her bloody bedside table cause she’s well enough to be annoyed by the dust.

I did manage a couple of positive things for myself today though… I took Lainee for a long walk up the hill once it cooled down a bit which helped clear my mind a bit, and I reworked the latest two paintings.

The cut fig is still not quite right, but the others are much better. Overall I’m happier with it now.

I had a play with the sea urchins using the image transfer medium and some newsprint. I’m not entirely happy with the result. It didn’t transfer all that well and in some cases the paper wouldn’t come off as easily as they said it would and I ended up rubbing off the paint as well…. and almost made a hole in the paper at one stage!

Lesson: not a good idea to try to transfer over a painted image. Unless you seal it first. Maybe.

I love the look of the print on the urchins, don’t like where the medium wouldn’t come off and left marks. Still… for an experiment, not too bad.

I do love the print inside the image. If I can find a way to work that and incorporate it into my work without the globs of paper which refuses to leave I’ll be pleased. Then again, if I can’t find a way to do that I’ll find a way around it!

z

a bottlebrush in athens

Have I ever mentioned how much I hate Athens?

Only about a million times. Except lately I’d decided I didn’t hate it quite as much as I thought I did. Cause I was here in winter when the weather was cold, windows were mostly shut, cafes were bursting with people and energy and it was a vibrant city to be in.

Compared to now: Hot and stinky. There’s been a very strong smell in the entire neighbourhood of diesel fuel for the last week. It actually wakes me up at night so I have to sleep with the windows closed. No idea where its coming from. It just IS.

The noise of course… cause now you have to have windows open most of the time so you can hear everything that happens in the neighbourhood. Including the buses on the main road and the angry motorbikes doing coffee deliveries.

Restrictions have been loosened so now people are out en masse and only some of them take social distancing seriously. The little ‘park’ opposite our house and the one on the next street over are full of parents with children playing. Kids are at the closed primary school playing forbidden ball games all day and into the night. Young children are out on their bikes or in the park with their parents till 11pm or later.

Greeks don’t believe in putting their kids to bed early the way I grew up.

The traffic is awful and, believe it or not, its less than normal cause not everything is open and not everyone is out yet! I’m spending quite a bit of time driving round the area taking mom and Aunt 1 to doctors appointments and for tests so I know. Roads are narrow, cars are parked on both sides, trucks, cars and anyone who feels like it double parks and you have to dodge traffic and risk life and limb every time you go out. then again, some people like the challenge.

A guy on a motorbike trying to overtake me yesterday was looking at his mobile!

Yeah I’m whining. Let me rant and get it out of my system. I’m tired and I’m over it. I wanna go home!!!

On the plus side, two afternoons now Aunt 1 has been getting up and shuffle walking and sitting on an armchair and not constantly complaining about the pain and how she can’t walk and her right side is all stiff. And this morning I took her to have some tests and she walked with a walking stick instead of the walker!

MOST IMPORTANTLY: SHE HASN’T ASKED FOR PAIN MEDS ONCE TODAY SO FAR!!!

She did, however, tell every doctor, nurse, passerby she saw that she couldn’t poop and could they help her… sigh…

This afternoon we saw the orthopedic surgeon again and he looked at the CT scan (or MRI, I’m not sure which it is as its in greek) and he gave me the final diagnosis and prognosis. My aunt had a fracture after all!!! It wasn’t visible on the xray but was on the CT… she fractured her pelvis in 2 places (I have no idea what its called, but its the bones that join the spine to the pelvis right at the bottom), also the little endy bits on her last vertebrae. No wonder she was in so much pain. So now, given its already been 6 weeks and the bones are held in place by the pelvis itself so the area was stable, there is nothing to do but wait it out, wean her off pain meds and at the end of May begin physio…. There’s no reason for her to not be able to walk again like she used to.

So all in all things are looking up. But you know me, nothing is easy for me. I’m a worrier. I worry about what to do about her. I can’t get someone to come live in to care for her cause I’ll be on Paros and mom will have to deal with any issues. And if the person I get up and quits I’m u. The nursing home on Paros isn’t a sure thing… they may not accept her… so I’m looking into places in Athens. Its a mindf£%k. Excuse the french…

There’s been no time for art though I did buy the bits I was after. I’m just too tired! Lets see what I can do between the next few appointments…

z

OFFS and a little art

If you don’t know what OFFS is don’t worry… I’ll give you a hint: Oh for f^&£ sake.

So, you know how you think things are getting better but they slide right back to crap again?

Since yesterday I’d noticed Aunt 1 getting better. She no longer cries out when she gets in and out of bed, sits on the toilet or on the stool to eat. She still whines and moans but things were looking up. Or so I thought…

Then she called me three times today, each time starting the call with something along the lines of: ‘don’t you pity me at all?’ or ‘come down here or I’ll fall over and kill myself’ or similar.

Once down here I have the pleasure of hearing how no one cares for her, God no longer loves her, she can’t take it any more, none of us understand pain, why can’t we call a doctor, she will pay whatever it takes (it took 100 euros for one to visit the house – she’s on a 400 euro a month pension to put that into perspective), why can’t we take her to a hospital, are there no decent doctors in this country, what kind of government is this anyway? why don’t I have someone who can take me to a doctor? If only my dear husband was still alive, but died young (he died at 82) he would have taken care of me, why couldn’t I have fallen and died, where can I fall from to kill myself…

The obvious answer to that is ‘from the roof… think you can make it up two flights of stairs?’

I really am not cut out for this but there’s no way I can let mom have anything to do with Aunt 1 ever again. I’m younger and healthier and I’m already on the brink of losing it.

I just wish I didn’t feel guilty and sad that she’s in pain and has dementia otherwise what I really want to do is leave her a note saying ‘you pissed off Zefi and she left.’

You know, it wouldn’t be so hard caring for her if it wasn’t for the accusations. She never asks something, she accuses. If she simply said ‘Did you give me my meds this morning?’ or ‘Did you call the doctor’ I could handle it. but its always ‘You never give me my pills’ and ‘No one cares enough to call a doctor.’ I kind of can’t help but lose it.

I did notice that while she wore a mask at the medical center she was quiet… think she mask trick will work a home?

I’m sorry to bore you with it. I’m simply not cut out to be a nurse. Just ask Wayne. When he had surgery I sent him to friends to recouperate. I couldn’t handle the abuse people in pain hand out. I am a bitch!

I’ve tried painting again. So far I’ve done 4 small watercolours on paper. I’m only sharing 2 of them cause the others are woeful and talentless!

I’m so not used to working on paper at the moment. The marble and rocks I’ve been working on the last month or so aren’t porous and don’t absorb the paint so I can work in layers, even with watercolour. The paper sucks it all up and I have less time to play with colours. This is one I did yesterday. Its flat and dull.

The second one I did this afternoon is better. Its on acrylic paper rather than watercolour paper and maybe that’s better for the way I’ve been working. I think that if I’m going to work on paper I’ll have to start using acryics again. Or pastels which is my preference.

I love the way the watercolour pools on the acrylic paper. It gives it a crisper more vibrant look. Much better.

Stay tuned for more experimental art! (hopefully)

z

aunt 1 was a spunk

I love old photos, the ones my aunt has around her house and the ones mom has in boxes. Though I’ve already collected mom’s and scanned them.

Since I’m in my aunt’s house so much I thought I’d share a couple of great photos she has framed. This one is of her and her father in the early 60s, most likely taken in Athens.

Aunt 1 looks really snooty in this photo. I think she was like that… Kind of all propriety and stiff upper lip with a touch of holier than thou. She’d fallen in love in her teens with a young man on Paros and for whatever reason that didn’t pan out. After that no one else was good enough for her till she was married at age 36 through match making. I think by then she realised she would be an old maid (in fact she was already considered an old maid) so she married the first semi decent man they brought her.

I’m tossing in this photo of the oldest brother in the family (Uncle 1) cause he was gorgeous. Generally that family was very good looking. Pity I took from dad’s side… they also have great genes, being a healthy family who live long lives.

This is one of my favourite photos of Aunt 1… on the beach in her ‘bikini’. Gotta love the bloomers!!! And what about those glasses. She sure was a trendsetter!

I’m passing the time best I can. Took Lainee for a long walk up to the hill behind us and wore the poor little girlie out and now I’m watching my aunt do her little exercise walking to the living room and back before I put her to bed again.

Then I’m going upstairs and to get out my watercolours!!!

z

a matter of attitude

No news. Nothing has changed. I’ve now officially seen and spoken to more doctors in one week than in my entire life. But I do have another gem from my aunt.

But first a quick family tree:

The aunt I’m caring for is Aunt 1, the eldest. Next is Aunt 2, mom is 3 and last is Aunt 4. Aunt 1 is sweet when she wants to be, a total PIA when unwell and has dementia which is the only thing which keeps me from strangling her for some of the things she says. Aunt 2 is bent over double and in a race would come second to a snail but she’s a sweetheart. Mom (3) is mom, mostly the best mom in the world. Aunt 4 has a bung knee, a bad temper and a loud mouth but always been nice to me.

So, I was on the phone with Aunt 2 while downstairs with Aunt 1. She was telling me to be very careful of falls and not to climb on ladders or chairs. She had a bad fall a few years ago, hence the paperclip shaped spine. I told her I know. I’ve had my own experience with a chair I’d rather not repeat.

I told her about an incident I heard about today – a man from Paros was on the roof of a 2 storey house and fell to his death.

Picture this. Me in the middle. Aunt 1 standing in front of me, Aunt 2 on the phone. Same story. Two totally different reactions.

Aunt 2 on the phone: Oh the poor man. His poor family. How tragic.

Aunt 1 in front of me: I wish I would fall and kill myself. Why can’t I fall and die?

Me (in wise ass mode): Just a minute, I’ll go get the ladder!

z