This post is a day late, but its to be expected. Greek Easter is a huge thing, bigger than Christmas. It was a big day for me, my first swim for the year, a family get together, lots of food, a nap cause the weather continues to be unseasonally and oppressively hot, then we girls got together again with mom and an aunt to make more goodies. Paximadakia this time. Two different types. One was my aunt’s recipe, one my mom’s.
Who had time for blogging?
But today we wake up to a country where you can sit at a cafe or restaurant again. Restrictions still in place, but the lockdown is over and tourism opens officially on the 15th of this month.
I remain skeptical about it all as new cases in Greece remain well over 1000 per day, but hey, who am I anyway? Just a cynical blogger, not a government official…
I am so looking forward to having a coffee out with a friend or two over the next week. Its what I missed most – being able to have a coffee seated somewhere that isn’t my house or my car!
The eggs were dyed. And then some of them were hand-painted. Turns out the dye on the eggs isn’t very stable… Everything I painted white turned pink no matter how many layers I gave it. Live and learn. Next time I’ll try a white marker and see if that stays white.
Still, they turned out ok more or less. Please ignore the one I tried to do. That didn’t work well at all!
Meanwhile the cookies were a great hit. Here are the guys having a drink with the tray of finished cookies between them. So many cookies. Quite a few had already been gifted by then too.
The spanakopita turned out great, though I think I prefer it with less filling as it stays crunchier longer. Too much filling and it goes a bit soft. Me like crunchy pastry. Click here for the recipe.
Next time I make spinach pie I’ll make individual small ones. That way I can freeze some to bake at a later date instead of making a big tray and having to give most of it away cause how much spanakopita can one person eat? (In my case its A LOT, but maybe not the whole baking tray.)
Other than that it was a great day. I loved spending girl time with Zefi and her daughter cooking and chatting. I was even going to go for a swim with them but I discovered that I’d put three bikini tops in my bag and NO bottoms. Ooops.
Another memory from 2013. It seems like such a long time ago. Another lifetime with the way life has changed since then.
To read click here – impressions about Greece and stories about my family.
Today has been a very busy day. I took Zefi to the airport to return to Athens then I went to groom a friends dogs and ended up having lunch there and talking for hours.
All this after Zefi corrupted me.
Not that it took much to corrupt me.
She sent me a link to a vintage piece on FB and I promptly bought it without checking the measurements for my space. Then after dropping her off at the airport I stopped in at an antique store and bought another cabinet which will definitely fit. Both need work. And I will make space for both of them!
I blame Zefi for everything… for getting me in the mood to spend money and for getting me on the road to finding something I loved.
Eh. I gave her the power tool bug, its only fair she give me something in return…
I’m still galivanting around so nothing new to share – yet. I have some finished sculptures to share but need to take photos of them. Again. For some reason the photos I took a couple of months ago are crap (technical photography term).
Anyway, I’ve been revisiting my family posts from my old blog on Blogspot and enjoying them. I used to post a whole lot more about my family back then. I don’t want to repeat the posts but I figure I can share them.
Click here to enjoy a post about a visit to the family ossuary.
Mom and two aunts visited me today. Its a weekly thing, a nice way to catch up with aunts I don’t often see, and I enjoy having mom here.
Its really funny though. They come here and sit on the couch, turn on the TV and talk over the shows they want to watch, get on their phones (especially my mother who’s a social butterfly) but they enjoy their time together.
Meanwhile I make coffee, serve them some tsipouro (otherwise known as raki or home made rotgut) with nuts. I sit at the table and work on my sculptures or paintings and listen in to their discussions about people I know or don’t know but should know.
I enjoy it.
Being around mom this year has been good. Sure, she still drives me crazy at times, I think its her job, but I’ve also loved just getting to know her. We’d never been close when I was growing up but as an adult I appreciate mom a whole lot more.
Its been nice to hear her stories of life on Paros as a child or as a young woman in Athens and Australia. Even if I’ve heard them 500,000,000 times. Some stories never get old.
At least now she’s driving again so I don’t have to take her everywhere cause driving with her still drives me crazy… every single time we get into a car together she tells me the same stuff, as if I’ve never been here before:
“Turn here. (Yes mom, I know. I’ve been here before. You bring me every year.) Here! Yes, next to that house with the blue shutters. That road leads to Pounda…Where the boats to Antiparos go. (I know mom) That’s where my father’s sister Evgenia used to live when I was a child. (Yes, I know.) You remember Spiridona? (No) He’s her grandson, you used to play with him as a baby. Surely you remember him. (Ummm, no…) Well, he married a girl from Marpissa and has 2 children, one is now studying in Italy, he’ll be a doctor. Pity about the other one, he was never right in the head… but then again, neither was Evgenia. We used to pick on her as kids. (You picked on your aunt?) No, not my aunt Evgenia, her grandaughter, her other son’s daughter. Now turn left after the barn. (Yes, I know. I’ve been here before…) There’s old barba Thodori checking his vines. He’s related to your cousin’s mother through marriage. (I won’t ask which cousin, I have 23 first cousins, countless second cousins…) His brother married Kyriaki, who’s father owned the bakery in the old town, the one next to the shoe shop that became a bar. He got cancer and died last year. (Who? Kyriaki’s husband?) No, the guy who owned the bar. This is the house, stop. (Yes, I know mom. I’ve been here before). Park here. (Yes mom)…”
Ah the joys of family!
But there are stories which I love to hear. About the old man who used to go out drinking and one night he was sneaking in late (or really early) and was taking off his pants quietly when his wife woke up and asked “Why are you getting up so early?”. He replied “I couldn’t sleep” and pulled his pants back on an went out again.
Or the old woman who set the table for her family and told her husband she’s slaughtered a chicken for lunch. The husband said “But did the chicken have 4 legs?” when he saw the meal, and she said “just eat and shut up”… an expression often used in our family when anyone comments on food: just eat and shut up.
Or about the woman who was a ‘working’ girl in a small town on a small island. Everyone knew it and many husbands visited her. Every now and then she’d get pregnant and have a child which she called by the father’s name. No use keeping secrets in such a small place.
And the sad story of the day germans bombed the school, killing the teacher and two children. My mom’s youngest brother was supposed to be in that classroom but he’d been sent to the principals office (sometimes being naughty does pay). Mom said that as children they were all curious and went in to see… she remembers seeing the teacher’s legs sticking out of the rubble. The plane went down in the port and boats rushed out to try to get the crew out. Days later bloated bodies washed up on shore and once again the kids ran down to take a look. Not the best of memories, but kids are curious and mom grew up during a war.
I love hearing about the old days on the island. Mind you, I have some ‘old days’ stories myself since we first came to Paros in 1970 and it was a totally different world back then.
We used to get woken by farmers with their donkeys crying out their wares in the cobblestone streets. One man and his donkey was my favourite and I’d always rush out to say hello and give the donkey, Pitsos, a treat. Another man would come by with goat milk and mom would send us out with pots to put it in and would put it on the stove boil it straight away.
We’d run down to the port and dive off the end of the pier with a ton of other kids. There used to be a small pebble beach next to the pier where mom and my aunts used to swim while we ran and jumped off the end. Back then there were only a few ferries a week, and all ferries to Paros stopped at Syros first. The port was clean and small. Now the beach is under concrete, the pier is huge and dozens of ferries come in every single day. There’s often a queue in the bay, ferries waiting to dock in summer. And traffic is impossible cause there are millions of cars on the island and not enough/wide enough roads, let alone parking. And more rentals are brought in every year for tourists, yet the infrastructure isn’t in place for that much traffic or such a huge rise in population.
Back then very few people lived on Paros all year round, most young people would leave for the cities and work, leaving the old on Paros. Most of our family had moved to Athens and only came to Paros for summer. The streets were quiet. We had quite a few foreigners living here – artists and writers. The hills around Parikia (and everywhere on the island for that matter) were dark at night – no houses.
Nothing like today where there are homes on every single hill and more are going up every day. Progress they call it. I call it destruction of natural beauty, but you can’t stop progress. I’m reminded of the Counting Crows lyrics:
Don’t it always seem to go That you don’t know what you got ’til it’s gone They paved paradise and put up a parking lot Hey now, they paved paradise to put up a parking lot Why not?
I’m sharing two transformations today… Firstly there are the little bedside tables my cousin Zefi had in her son’s room. Gorgeous little things, with detailed legs and some pretty old and discoloured varnish. Zefi decided it was time to update them so she borrowed my detail sander and got to work.
This is what they looked like before:
This is how they looked after sanding:
And this is how they looked after waxing. Amazing difference. They still look original, but so much cleaner and smoother. In this pic we were trialing different knobs.
The most amazing transformation however, isn’t a piece of furniture. Its the transformation of my little cousin Zefi from precious little princess:
She’s already working on another cabinet as we speak.
Of course I take full credit. Or blame. Whichever way you want to see it. Up till now Zefi’s done a few hand sanding projects, but now I’ve introduced her to the joys of power tools there’s no looking back. She said she fell in love with my sander. I say wait and see how much you’ll fall in love with your own sanders and saws and drills and angle grinders!
Welcome to the dark side cuz! Glad to have your company!
I spent most of the day, and all night at the hospital. I didn’t want to risk another night like the last where all hell broke loose. Fortunately Aunt 1 was slower and quieter thanks to the sedatives they are now giving her.
Not that she’s calm. Unless she’s actually asleep, she’s pulling off her covers, murming or giving the odd yell to keep you on your toes, and struggling to get out of bed. Still. I’m amazed at her strength, will and resistance to drugs. Even when drugged to the eyeballs, slurred speech, eyes half closed, her hands and legs are struggling towards freedom.
Since 2 ladies left there are empty beds so I helped myself to one using a blanket over the plastic sheet and yucky pillow. And my scarf to lay my face on. Ugh. Its not easy sleeping in hospital unless you’re actually sick or injurred and your body just wants to sleep. but I got a couple of hours at least. Once I se the doctor this morning and full nursing staff is back on I think I’ll go shower and see if I can nap. Doubtful but you can always hope.
I did see the orthopedic surgeon for about 1 minute yesterday… Aunt 1 has 3 broken vertebrae, she’s had broken vertebrae before but these are in a new spot. I actually counted her broken bones vs mine last night. I’m still ahead at 12 to her 9. Unless any of her breaks were multiple spots in one area as some of mine were.
Anyway, the doctor said that all going well Aunt 1 would be released. Perhaps with a back brace. I’ll see him today and we will find out.
That’s the good news.
The bad news is that its really rough out there and the ferries may not be allowed to travel. There’s a ferry to Paros tonight, none on Wednesday, another on Thursday. If we can’t get one tonight we’re here for another day and night.
Since its quiet around here I snuck around and took some photos just around the room…
Let me start this post with an update on Aunt 1, or the person I may start to refer to as my Cyborg. I’m convinced that that woman is invincible, beyond pain and impervious to drugs. She keeps going, no matter how many bullets are plugged into her.
Yesterday, the ferry got us here (to Syros) around 12ish. The ambulance brought us to the hospital where she was whisked in to have a CT scan while I was told to wait outside (despite being her designated ‘escort’*). I waited outside till 3.30pm when they finally let me in cause she was being unco-operative. That’s code for being a total uncontrollable pain in the ass.
So, in here, she was taken finally taken to a room on the first floor, shared with 4 other women. I felt sorry for them in advance.
I stayed here with my Cyborg till 10.00pm. She was calm for the most part… Going in and out of touch with reality. She wanted to go home cause her family was waiting for her and would be worried… Family? Yes, her mom and dad. Hm. She spent a couple of hours asking who I was, I was definitely not her niece, I didn’t even look like her. But what a coincidence that I had the same name! She spoke about people and places from her youth, saw people on the ceiling and then spoke to a cousin of mine on the phone and knew who she was, asked about her sister and parents. Made a total fool of me since she was lucid!
So I went and got a decent night’s sleep in a guest house provided by the church. I must say, that feels a bit weird to me since I’m not a church going person. I’m not religious at all… I feel rather hypocritical accepting their hospitality for free. Then again, my Cyborg is in a church owned nursing home and they arranged it for me as her ‘escort’. Plus, who can afford to pay for an air bnb (which looks like I may not use for sleeping in again, just a place to go, use the toilet** and keep my overnight bag).
I was way too tired to post last night.
Anyway, I got to the hospital at 9.15am this morning to find Cyborg tied to the bed by one hand and one foot. And to the complaints of all her room mates for her behaviour during the night. Luckily they like me and are nice ladies cause they were really angry. Apparently Cyborg, feeling no pain and having no sense of her condition, tried to get out of bed all night. Almost managed it a few times till she was tied down. She swore like a trooper, called on satan to curse on those around her and generally kept everyone awake all night. All the poor women are on headache pills this morning. One of them put crosses all over herself to ward off evil.
Meanhile, Cyborg was still in fine form despite having been given pain meds and something to calm her down. She struggled against the restraints, was constantly trying to get off the bed, twisting about in ways which reminded me uncomfortably of Linda Blair minus the pea soup vomit, swore at me and anyone nearby and even hit the nurse who brought her another dose of anti anxiety stuff. Ha. I think she needs a horse tranquilizer. Where’s a vet when you need him?
Maybe they shouldn’t give her pain meds… like they don’t give them to dogs cause if a dog doesn’t feel pain it will do things which will cause further damage…I’m not comparing my good ol’ Cyborg to a dog, but hey… the theory fits!
The second pill has finally kicked in or I wouldn’t be able to write this. A moment of breathing as she drifts in and out of sleep, muttering the whole while.
So…. now its time for the rant on the hospital… but before the general rant, let me address those asterisks.
*An escort is a person who is designated as THE person who accompanies someone in hospital. Pre COVID days this chore was split among family members who would take shifts. Now an escort is ONE person who has had a COVID test and has the paperwork to prove it and their role. Escorts are necessary cause greek public hospitals are either lacking in nursing staff. nursing staff don’t have actual ‘caring for patients beyond the very basics’ in their job description, or think certain aspects of care are beneath them. From what I gather, if Cyborg needs a bath I’m it. If Cyborg soils herself, I’m the one to change her pad (unless I’m not here, in which case someone will take care of it reluctantly). Anything she needs, I’m it.
Boy am I glad I’m here.
Yet despite the rules, two women in here have had more than the one person with them. One of them had 3 visitors last night. Another has two with her today. Go figure. Its Greece. Maybe its all about who you know. As always. A good friend’s son died yesterday in an Athens hospital and his mother was not allowed to go see him. His wife was his ‘escort’, no one else was allowed in. He was positive for COVID after spending weeks in hospital, but he died of cancer and she wasn’t allowed to see him even before he contracted COVID.
**The toilets… Another whole rant just on this one subject. The toilet in the room is for patients only. It has toilet paper and hand soap. No toilet paper. No soap should someone need a shower. No towels are provided that I can see. When I mentioned that to a nurse she actually snorted. Maybe if a patient is well enough to have a shower and bring their own soap, they can ask for a towel. Maybe. I don’t know. Since Cyborg is unlikely to be allowed upright to shower I’m not going to find out any time soon.
The toilet for the public has no toilet seats. The one I braved didn’t flush. The hand soap pump didn’t work. There are no hand towels. Hands must be drip dried or wiped on pants apparently. Hygiene at its best.
Oh great. Cyborg is awake again and complaining that someone stole her glasses.
Greek public hospital. Wonderful places. I highly recommend them to anyone without self respect. And to those with a self sacrificing need to do for others. Great places where you have to provide your own tissues, hand towels, and who knows what else.
Apparently the doctors in Greece are great… but the hospitals? I think I’ll go back to Australia when my time comes as I don’t have a daughter to be my designated escort.
That’s all for now. The tablet batter is running low. It didn’t charge up properly last night. I’m sure I’ll have more to complain about later.
It seems things got too quiet here on Paros so the universe decided it was time to shake me out of my comfortable little groove.
Aunt 1, the one who’s in the nursing home, fell and fractured a vertebrae. Apparently, from what I can gather, she’s broken one of the thoracic vertebrae and its causing some neurological issues. Such as her abiity to urinate. Till she has a CT scan they won’t know exactly what’s going on and what treatment she may need, including surgery. She needs to go to Syros to the hospital cause Paros only has a very basic health center.
My phone was on silent cause I’d been messing with settings and put it on silent accidentally so I didn’t get the calls till this afternoon. I had to come down to the health center to see what was going on. I was told the above, that it was a matter of urgency, that the small fast boat used for emergencies would be leaving for Syros in about an hour and someone (me) had to go with her, for most likely more than just one night.
Wasn’t there a CT scan anywhere on the island, in one of the private clinics I ask stupidly? Not today I was told. Not till Monday. I didn’t get that then, but I do now…
So I scrambled. Organised mom and an aunt to go to my house and pick up Lainee and all her stuff to stay with them and to pack me an overnight bag. I got the neighbour to look after Eric. There was a lot of running around for people to get things together for me.
Meanwhile people from the nursing home ran around getting Aunt 1’s stuff together.
An hour passed. Then another hour. The boat wasn’t coming, the weather was too rough. And it was going to be rougher tomorrow. Aunt 1 could have her CT scan up the road here at 6.30. PM.
What? Its urgent, but she can wait 24 hours for a CT scan?
Yep. Cause the doctor that does it isn’t on Paros till 5.30pm tomorrow. Now I get it… Just like a pet will always need the vet on a Sunday night, so will an aunt have an accident when no clinics are open.
So, if she needs surgery and needs to get to Syros, when does she go there?
The nursing home manager was here and he did some running around and organised us to take the ferry to Syros in the morning.
At this point let me explain: Syros is right across from here. One hour away by ferry. You can see it. Its the capital of the Cyclades Islands, of which Paros is a member. Its where the closest hospital is. Its where the courthouse is. Its where local government is. Yet there is no daily ferry to and from there. You can only go to Syros on whatever day the ferry goes there and return 1-3 days later when it does the route again.
So its settled. Aunt 1 (and I) will take the ferry at around 10.15am tomorrow morning. I had a very long Q tip stuck up my nostril (I wasn’t aware my nostril went that deep) cause I need to show a COVID19 test in order to go into the hospital. Since no one came running in here to kick me out I presume it was negative.
Aunt 1 is as annoying as ever. She’s not in pain for he most part, just confused. Not so many references to why God didn’t just take her so she wouldn’t suffer, but constant restlessness and repeated questions. She recognised me, most of the time, but didn’t know where she was, what that thing on her wrist was (IV) or what the tube in her stomach was (catheter) and asked what they were every 2 minutes. Also tried to remove them every 2.2 minutes. I had to sit and hold her hands.
She’s finally off the stretcher where she’s spent all day and into a bed. There is another bed in the room but not a single chair.
Every 2 minutes she’s fussing. She wants to turn over but it hurts. She’s too hot, throws the covers on the floor. She wants to get up and go to bed. She wants to pull the tubes out. The IV hanging over her head bothers her, etc etc. She sleeps, wakes up and starts again.
I fall asleep. I wake up when hear her tossing and turning, repeating the same words: You can’t turn over cause it hurts. You fell. You can’t get out of bed cause you hurt your back. You are in bed. You’re sleeping here tonight. You’re in hospital cause you fell. You hurt your back. That’s why it hurts. You can’t turn over, yada ada yada.
It’s hard not to yell at her to stop it and settle down. The bed has no sides, and I don’t think to ask for them. I mean, how was I to know they could ‘clip on’ sides? I’ve repeatedly asked for sleeping pills or something for her to stop the fussing over her drips and the restlessness and anxiety.
I am woken up suddenly by a loud crash. Yep. She’s falled out of bed. Or she tried to get up and fell. Either way, she’s lying on the floor with a split eyebrow and pathetically asking how she fell out of bed.
I run to get help and get yelled at by the doctor. How did she fall out of bed? Where was I? What good was I if I wasn’t watching her. F^%&. I fell asleep!
She’s got the bedside manner of a bull in a china shop, yelling and carrying on about how now my aunt needs xrays again and its the middle of the night, prodding her roughly ‘does it hurt here? what about here?’ Now I’m afraid to fall asleep again, though NOW, they pushed the bed up against the wall on side and put a rail up on the other.
Do I sound angry, frustrated, tired, fed up?
And joy… today is only the beginning of this adventure!