athens: 5 days too many

Lainee making herself comfortable in my aunt’s home.

What can I say? It isn’t easy being here at the moment. Thankfully mom is good. She’s still a bit weak and has dizzy spells but she’s pretty much back to normal. We have a million test and doctor appointments lined up over the next two weeks but fingers crossed, all is well with her.

Better than that is the fact that my mom is such a lovely person. This from someone who never had a great relationship with her mother. I’m thankful that my mom is who she is: easy going, pleasant, much loved by everyone.

Lainee makes herself comfortable in the armchair while mom sits on a stool! Love this photo. Mom looks so happy.

My aunt on the other hand is a totally different story. Looking after her is what drove mom to have a stroke. I love my aunt very much, but she is one of the most difficult people in the world when she’s well. Now that she’s more or less laid up with bad sciatica after a fall, she’s almost impossible.

I got her to the hospital yesterday for xrays to rule out a fracture and have lined up an osteopath to come visit her again tomorrow. She needs to be up walking and not lying in bed too long, but she is in pain and that’s hard to do.

That’s not the worst of it though. Its the constant complaining that drains you of all your energy. She’s got age related memory issues and forgets a lot so she asks the same questions and repeats the same things all the time, asking for a doctor or pain meds repeatedly, and mumbling about how much pain she’s in. I get it. Its a horrible thing. She’s in pain and she’s alone in her home. But now I’m here I am down there for 1-2 hours four times a day, assisting her to get around, eat etc. She must get up and walk if she wants to get better.

If it wasn’t sad it would actually be funny. At times it is funny actually cause I can’t help myself. When she was begging me to kill her the other day I offered to go get a brick.

Among other mutterings: why was I born to suffer so, why didn’t my mother just throw me in the trash instead of raising me to suffer, why is God punishing me when I was always so good, I was strong as an ox, I’ve never been sick in my life before yada yada yada

Of course she’s been sick before. Two years ago she broke her leg, a year or so before that she broke both wrists and mom had to be nursemaid full time. Mom is 87 years old now and my aunt is 92.

I am trying to get her into a nursing home on Paros (the only one as far as I know) so I can visit her there, but its a process and at these times of COVID 19 its even harder than ever to get in. I live in hope. I want to get back home to Paros and to my life and the job I have lined up. I don’t want to lose that.

I’m not complaining about looking after my aunt. I want her to get better and on her feet so I can get back to my own life, including caring for her and mom but not as a full time job. I am staying positive but am being worn down by the lack of time to paint cause I was getting used to painting almost daily.

Hopefully I’ll get a chance this week… who knows. Let’s keep our fingers crossed.

z

athens – a different story

This little wooden painting was something I did many many years ago. My aunt has had it on her wall since I did it. I love the lamb on the ground!

The blog used to be a blog on all the wonderful stuff I’ve been doing during the lockdown. I’m now in Athens… How life can change in a minute…

Thankfully, mom is fine. She’s back to normal, still has dizzy spells and needs to take it easy but the stroke was very light and she’s recovered completely. The dizzy spells are due to her low iron levels. Now she needs to be much more careful about stress and doing too much. That’s all fine. She’s been in lockdown and has had her shopping delivered till now so I’ll do that, which is fine. She is happy I’m here with her so thats all good.

My aunt on the other hand is a totally different story. She had a fall and is unable to do much on her own at all. She needs constant attention and care… I have to divide my time between both old ladies.

I brought my watercolours with me and a water colour pad and I HOPE to be able to do some painting while I’m here. I haven’t had time to yet but I hope I manage… For my own sanity.

I’ll try to blog about positive stuff on a daily basis still, but I won’t promise to. Cause you never know. Right now I’m on an ‘I hate Athens’ binge due to the fact that they are lifting restrictions slowly as of Monday and yesterday, May 1st, EVERYONE and his uncle (cause people were already taking dogs out) were out, kids running wild, I can just see the new spike on COVID 19 cases… sigh

I’m also not impressed by the idiots across the road who sat on their verandah in a group of 4 men, talking ALL night. And they don’t have to be LOUD to be loud when houses are so close as they are here… UGH.

As far as I’m concerned Athens is great when there’s less traffic and pollution you can go out to shop and have coffee with friends, but best in winter when you can close the doors and windows to keep out the hoise a well.

z

paros day 46: started on Paros…

Today is May 1st and I’m in Athens. Day 45 was a normal day till about 6pm when I got a call from two very upset aunts telling me my mom had had a stroke and was in hospital.

Of course that sent me into a spin and matters weren’t made any better when I couldn’t get ahold of anyone at the hospital who could tell me how she was.

A very quiet port as the ferry prepares to leave.

Thankfully one of my aunts was able to speak to a doctor that evening so I knew mom was alert and speaking and that it was only a light stroke.

So I got onto the first (and only) ferry to Athens armed with a note from the doctor explaining why I had to travel and a Blue Star Ferries form declaring I had not been in contact with the virus.

Not even mid winter is this quiet.

It was a very long day, got home, saw my aunt who is 92, lives downstairs, has recently had a fall and needs constant attention, made sure she wouldn’t be alone for hours and went to see mom at the hospital. Spent time with her then back to my aunt to get her dinner, meds and put her back to bed.

Thankfully this hospital isn’t a COVID 19 treatment center and mom was sitting up when I got there.

She is fine

It was a light stroke, and while she’d been unable to talk for a few hours she has no issues remaining from it. The best possible outcome.

I’m in Athens now, for how long I don’t know. Cause once mom is home and even if she’s 100% she can no longer do anything at all for her sister. She is not to even go downstairs to visit. It will be my job.

So till I know what’s happening, what I can organise for both mom and my aunt, I have no idea what I will do or when I can go back home. I ideally want to take mom back to Paros with me… but what of my aunt?

Mom is fine. That’s all that matters right now

z

dedication to my grandparents

Its been a long time since I shared a creative project (yeah, Christmas crafts don’t count).

This is something I’d been planning to do for ages. I started it in Australia and brought the bits with me to Greece to finish it.

Basically its a memory box type of photo display dedicated to mom’s parents.

My grandmother was a seamstress and my grandfather was a fisherman. Since I already had tons of vintage sewing bits and pieces, it was easier to work with the seamstress theme.

I printed some old photos, going back to 1932 for the first one where my grandparents only had 3 of their 7 children, then a photo of my grandmother with 5 children. I didn’t have a photo with all 7 children…

On the left, my grandmother is the one on the right and grandfather is the one sitting at her feet with 3 children (my mother is the baby in his arms). On the right my grandmother is surrounded by her 3 daughters (mom on the right) with one son on the left and one in her lap.

My favourite photo of my grandparents is the one below where they are mending fishing nets together. Thats how I first remember them.

I lined the back of the box with a vintage sewing pattern and added various bits and pieces from my mother’s old sewing box.

The only thing missing is the vintage little pair of sewing scissors I have… I know they’re are here somewhere but they’re obviously packed in a craft box. When I find them I will add them to the box.

This is the first frame for my gallery wall.

z

life is full of adventures

Its been an action packed weeks since I last posted. First there was the Easter disaster we managed to come out of ‘almost’ unscathed…

Then there was a whole lot of other things which just happened…

Here’s a small taste of how the entire last week went:

One day I had a plan – I was meeting my mom at 5pm to take her and the 3 aunts (her sisters, aunts # 1-3) to visit another aunt (a sister in law, aunt #4).

(I have a build-up of elderly aunts here…)

Anyway, I set off to meet mom, the 3 aunts and another aunt (another sister in law, aunt #5) is at the bottom of my stairs, limping… She’d fallen down some stairs and needed a lift to the health centre. Please can I take her? Sure, but I have to go get the car (too far for her to limp) and take mom and aunts 1-3 (full car) to aunt 4, but I’d return to get her. Only ‘don’t tell my mom, she’ll worry’. Fine.

Off I go, pick up the mom and aunts 1-3, drop them off at the aunt 4, amidst the flurry of hellos I zip off ‘on an errand, be right back!’ and dash back to pick up aunt 5. Take her to the health centre. Wait a while. She gets bandaged up, nothing broken, rest etc etc. Take her back home. Rush back to where I’d left mom and aunts 1-3 with aunt 4.

Ah. Life is full of little adventures, isn’t it?

Then there was the whole ‘get the dog spayed’ adventure.

See, my uncle (and entire family) has fallen in love with a little mutt which has chosen them to be her family. She’s the sweetest little thing, big body, tiny legs… Anyway, she was in season and I suggested (urged, convinced) them to get her spayed for her own good as well as for the good of my own mental health. I’ve become the defacto keeper of the dog’s health, being, as I am, the family dog expert.

So I booked her in and me and my cousin Peter took her to the vet and waited to pick her up. Took in a frightened little girl, took home a sleepy frightened little girl. She’s fine now btw… she’s fine when the cone of shame is off, but when its on she’s a pitiful bundle of fear. Poor little thing. Still, better than puppies we’d have to find homes for!

While waiting to pick her up my aunt called (another aunt, lets call her #6) to see how she was. A worried mother, you know. Peter said ‘Listen theia (aunt in greek), we went in to pick her up but they have another little girl dog there that’s much prettier. We’re thinking of bringing her back with us instead’…

He’s a cruel man that cousin of mine!

Then there was the Two Lunch day.

Let me explain… Having a ton of elderly aunts on the island means that I have a ton of people I ‘should’ vist. Most years I come to Paros I don’t visit. Who has the time? I mean they’re like mom’s second cousins or her third cousin’s daughters sister in law or something obscure that, frankly, means nothing to me. I won’t even recognise most of them if I see then on the street. Yet mom (and they) expect me to visit and not just once…

So, now I’m living on Paros I thought it only fair to drop in and visit this one particular aunt (#7) I haven’t seen in over 15 years. Now of course she calls me to invite me for lunch or just to stop in for a coffee. Which is understandable. But its like just another obligation in an already busy life, right?

Well, this aunt invited me over for lunch on Saturday. I put it in my calendar and, now I’m not grooming full time and don’t live by my calendar, I promplty forgot about it. Come Saturday I went and picked up a friend to visit the Tao Centre for their clothing swap meet (great idea, take in things you no longer want or need and pick up something new someone else no longer needs. Great recycling). We went, then sat to have some lunch – green curry, YUM.

And the phone rings. My aunt is like ‘where are you? we’re waiting.’

Oh crap!

Two lunches that day.

Now I’m in Hollad. I just love Holland. It was always a place I wanted to live in but never really made the committment to do it. It was always Australia (for my heart) and Greece (for family).

I’m in Holland to visit my bestest friend Inge and her family and to pick up a toy poodle. Yay! I’ll no longer be poodle free!!! I so miss having a snuggle buddy of my own. More on that later!

z

its true. i’m moving

I haven’t been on the blog for ages. Some of you may have noticed. For those that didn’t, not to worry. You didn’t miss much. Mainly cause I didn’t post for months.

Well, I’m back. At least I’m sort of back. In a whole new direction.

While I was in Greece I realised that my heart was on Paros, with my mom and my family. I missed them and I missed Paros. I’d always dreamed of living on Paros and now I’m ready to make it a reality.

I’d always planned to retire on Paros, but I realised that I really didn’t want to wait that long. I want to spend quality time with my mom and more time with family. I chose to live far from my family from the age of 23… its time to be back with them.

I knew I was in trouble when I didn’t hate Athens the way I usually do…

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When I got back from Greece I had to make some really hard decisions, have some really hard conversations with Wayne, and look into my heart and make the decision which would be best for me.

Its been a really stressful and difficult time, hence the blog silence. I just didn’t know what to write. Things were confusing and I couldn’t plan anything since every single move depended on something else to fall into place first. It was like the goalposts were constantly being moved. Exhausting. Depressing.

Yet also exciting.

I love Paros. My heart has been there for years. Paros IS Greece to me… to all of us in our family. So the prospect of living there full time is like a dream come true.

Most of my family and friends in Athens have their doubts… Paros? In winter? There’s nothing to do there! You’ll be bored and lonely!

Ha. They obviously haven’t lived in the country in Tasmania…

I look forward to spending a few quiet months ‘finding myself’… making friends, reconnecting with my creative side… living quietly and just being. I believe its the right decision for me at this stage of my life. A new life.

Of course it won’t be easy. I need to earn a living so I’ll have to find a job. I’ll do anything till I find my place.

Then there are the heartbreaking bits to moving. Mom doesn’t want me to take a dog over. Montana is too old for such a trip but I had planned to take Romeo – my living, breathing, poodle security blanket. My support. My very own family.

But with mom not wanting a dog in her house, with me not having my own place (yet) and no job (yet) and not knowing where I’ll be for the next few months… I had to concede that she has a point. It will be better for the dogs to find a new home in Australia and not have to face change after change.

I’m heartbroken. I never planned to be without my dogs…

Ok. Well. I’m trying very hard to think positive right now.

We sold our house. That in itself was a horrible experience. It was quick, but it wasn’t without a ton of stress. The buyers from hell. That’s all I have to say about that. But its done now. And we have a settlement date of November 16.

30 days.

Can you say RUSH?

Can you say exhausted?

I’ve been photographing and listing stuff for sale for weeks but now I’m stepping it up a notch. Or four. I’m having a huge garage sale on the weekend (part of the garage sale trail) and of COURSE today its been thundering and pelting down with rain.

Always happens. I’m a weather system all of my own. Need rain? I’ll move there and bring it with me. All I need to do is plan an outdoor activity. Guaranteed to bucket down.

So… I have 4 weeks to pack up, sell up, clean up and move out.

I’m getting there but there’s still so much to do.

The plan is to move out of here, find a home for my babies (the poodles!), go to Melbourne for a while, visit family and friends in Canberra, maybe even Sydney, sell the car, go to Greece.

You know what plans are, don’t you? Those things we make which we have to change again and again.

I’ve moved back and forth from Greece to Australia and back many times but it never seemed so hard before. Maybe its cause this time I have my own home and years of accumulated possessions to sort through. The last times I’d been a student or living in rentals so never had so much.

Whatever.

Its happening.

Stay tuned for the new adventure.

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

step by step, we’re getting there

Our home may not be beautiful and neat, but one thing I can say for it… it has character. Like the side of the garage where some previous owner thought ‘what the hell, you can’t see this side from the gate’ and stopped painting it blue. And all the rusty bits of metal leaned up against the corner to stop the dogs from excavating all my plants in pursuit of some critter burrowed under the shed.

The foxgloves Ginny gave me are so tall I’ve had to stake them, and the lobelia and alyssum are looking great…

I hadn’t posted for a few days as I haven’t really had much to share. I’ve been busy with work and haven’t put any time into doing anything creative worth sharing. However, things are slowly moving along. I’ve had my trusty helper come out and do some of the heavy lifting for me so things are coming together in the yard.

For one thing, he’s put a brick border along the footpath to stop the blue metal (gravel) from falling onto the path and then into the ‘lawn’.

(I use the word loosely.)

I love the neat new look. Maybe it needs a brick border on the other side too?

You can see the tyre wall is coming along too.

Another view of the tyre wall from the garage to the front gate and our wonky wood shed. We figure about 3 more loads of tyres and we’re onto the next phase: soil and pinebark. I’ve already got some plants in the tyres down the front end, I need a whole lot more to fill the whole wall.

I’ve had my trusty helper put carpet down along the path between the house and driveway retaining wall. That area has always been a problem. Some of it has blue metal and the rest had weeds… almost impossible to mow with all the gravel mixed into the grass. This way no more weeds and I can buy more gravel to put on top of the carpet. You can’t really see it in the pic but there’s another brick border to hold in the gravel at the far end of the walkway.

We put carpet skirts around the trees we planted in the paddock as well. I told Wayne I was over weeds and planned to carpet the entire yard. He was not impressed.

We also put up a bit more wire for the potato vine and sweet peas to grow up. The garden is beginning to look really nice.

Well… except for the weeds where the lawn should be and the bare patches where I poisoned weeds…

I got a pleasant surprise the other day. This plant grew in one of the garden beds and I had no idea what it was. I wasn’t even sure if it was a weed or not. But since I didn’t recognise it as a weed I let it grow and voila! Its a delphinium!

I’d bought delphinium seeds a couple of years ago and not a single one grew. I think I tossed the soil from the empty pots in this area and look what grew!

I’m loving the way gardens can surprise you like that. This is a new thing for me. Mostly things I put in the garden surprise me by disappearing.

Meanwhile we had to do an emergency operation on the hardenbergia and azalea corner… another critter living behind them I guess, cause I came home to find dirty dogs and the plants almost ripped out. Its a pity cause both of them had just started to take off.

When I bought the azalea Patrice was all ‘oh, you’ll kill it’ and I was on track to prove her wrong. Hopefully no permanent damage was done.

A rickety cage made of a dog pen side, some old trellis, bits of wood and tied together with hay bale twine… add the tyre wall… a bit white trashy huh?

Oh well.

I’ll just call it the ‘Make Do’ culture. I’m recycling and using what I have on hand.

And I have a LOT of hay bale twine…

z

we have goslings!

For the last few weeks Anabelle (our goose) has been sitting on a nest. We had no idea how many eggs she had as she wouldn’t let us near her. And the boys, Hank and Jethro, were really protective of her.

Yesterday Wayne came back from feeding the ducks and told me we had goslings!

This morning I went out myself, to see them. There are three little guys. There are three eggs as well.

The boys and Anabelle circled the little guys and tried to hide them from me. I hope they do as good a job with the crows and hawks. At least the goslings are bigger than the baby ducks are when they first hatch.

Hank and Anabelle told me in no uncertain terms that the babies were theirs and I had to keep my distance.

A very muddy Chipmunk kept an eye on me in case I dropped some grain that he could scoff up.

Isn’t the little brat a disgrace? He hates being brushed. I think I’ll corner him and brush him anyway… and look at that tummy!

z

romeo and juliet

 
This is Romeo with Juliet.
I did mention that an old friend and her family visited us on New Year’s day, right? Well I’ve finally got around to sharing the photos.
The girls are gorgeous, but best of all was the look on Juliet’s face when I introduced her to Romeo. 
It was a match made in heaven!
Of course Montana and Barney got their share of cuddles too!
Our kids. Mine just happen to be furry!
z