spring – lockdown 2 day 138

My first lupin! I bought a packet of seeds, of which only 3 survived. This is one, the smaller one next to it is the other, and I gave an aunt one which is still tiny.

Its officially spring. Our second spring in lockdown. Its a whole year since our first lockdown, with a few breaks – the yoyo of the greek government restrictions: on – off, on – off, semi on – semi off, and on it goes, round and round.

They’re already touting the greek islands as COVID free, cause the plan is vaccinate all residents (or the majority at least) before tourist season opens mid May. Sure. That’ll happen. Meanwhile, we’re open for business. Open season on the greek islands.

Lainee looking furry before her haircut, tired of all the lockdown stuff.
Lainee after her haircut, looking darn cute.

Its almost like the weather knew its now officially spring cause we had the most glorious day. Not a skerrick of wind, calm seas, warm sun. I’d be tempted to swim if I didn’t have a bandage on my stomach…

I took advantage of the nice day and gave Lainee a good haircut. Opted for a show puppy trim on her since she had so much hair. Its been ages since I’ve done a show trim that I felt I needed practice. Mind you, I didn’t wash and dry her, just brushed her out, so its not perfect. Then again, she’s not a show dog any more! But I put in a training band and ordered more so I can put little bows in her hair… I mean, she’s a poodle… why not?

The guy who delivered our coffees was floored when he saw her. He was like ‘what breed of dog is that? who grooms like that on Paros?’.

It was gratifying. Most of the time I’m only doing utility trims on dogs without washing them as I don’t have the space to set up a proper grooming room. I can still make dogs look cute but without the finesse of a full wash, dry and finish.

Anyway, back to the weather and the need for flowers and playing with dirt. Given I only have paved areas here, all my dirt comes in pots. Winter is hard on plants out the front of my place here cause it gets the worst of the wind. The back area is way more protected with its high walls. I had most of my plants in the back over winter. I only left a few out the front, mainly succulents, and even some of them have wind damage.

I’d ordered a Hyliss shelf unit from Ikea a month ago, with a cover, and I’ve put that out the back to grow seeds in. Yesterday I put that out the back and filled small pots and seedling trays with a variety of seeds… I still have tons more to plant so I think I may need to order another shelf unit. I’ve tried growing seeds with a plastic sheet over them before and that worked ok for some… Lets see how this ‘greenhouse’ goes.

I need to buy more potting mix and repot some stuff I’ve been growing from cuttings. I have another huge pot like the one with the lupins that I want to put other tall growing flowers in. That takes a lot of potting mix. I’ll need to get someone to lift and carry for me.

I dream of a back courtyard full of flowers…

But I get ahead of myself. At least I got started on some of my seeds today!

z

moving right along – lockdown 2 day 52

This is to prove that I have been doing SOME work. Not a ton, but some.

I’ve cleaned and tidied though… and made another apple cake. Mainly cause I had a friend come over for the first time today and another is coming over for breakfast tomorrow and I’ve run out of Christmas sweets. I either gave them away or ate them…. Plus I needed to clear the table of projects so I put things away. Not entirely organised as I’d like, but thats a project I’ll have to get onto soon..

The recipe for the apple cake is here in a very old post. I no longer put the apples in the middle of the cake, I cut them up smaller and mix them in through and I like it much better. It might look complicated cause the list seems long, but its really easy.

Meanwhile there’s a lot of colour around my place at the moment. Mainly from these three plants:

My bougainvillea which obviously thinks its spring and has begun flowering for the first time. The little chrysanthemum to the right of it has the right idea: its winter so die.
The hibiscus I’m babysitting for a neighbour, also a little confused I think. Its been flowering since November.
This was a gift for Christmas and is the only one which is flowering at the right time.

That’s about it for now. Things to do, people to talk to on the phone since I can’t go out.

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

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

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

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

paros day 45: art and cages

I’ve finished the poodle portrait I’ve been working on and tomorrow it will be on its way to its new owner.

I have to admit I was really nervous about this one because the last poodle portrait I worked on the owner hated. I’d sent her a picture of it ‘in progress’ and she was really rude about it, totally ignoring my explanation that it was unfinished, so my confidence was quite low. To be honest I’m not sure I’ll ever finish that one…

Anyway, today I put up the bird cages. They’ve only got starter plants in them for now but I got them up on the wall. Only one minor incident to report: one cage came off the hook and landed on my head covering me in potting mix… But all good now.

I had some mossy stuff I’d bought to do craft projects with (real moss) so I lined the bottom of the cages with that. The idea being that the moss will be alive and also hold in some potting mix for the succulents to grow in. Two birds.

At least that’s my theory.

Now all I gotta do is get a couple of droopy succulents and wait for them to grow.

z

paros day 44: just thinking…

As promised, here is a photo of the two bird cages I found rubbish bin adjacent. Great find! I’m still working on how and where I’ll use them. I think I need a couple more fine ‘leafed’ dangly succulents for them. I’m picturing them on the rock wall behind my place with succulents trailing out of them…

Other than that I had a busy yet non-productive day. I took Lainee and Spitha (my uncle’s dog) for a long walk on the beach. I went for a long drive. I visited a nursery where I bought this pretty succulent for the one of the little nooks in the rock wall:

I also bought another basil plant. This time I went for a much bigger specimen and hope it survives. I’m not re-potting it yet to be sure. I also put it in the shade of the pine tree in case it doesn’t do well in the sun.

Its getting hotter now. Much more like summer is on the way. Walks are best in the early morning or late afternoon.

Its time to take the summer clothes out and put away the winter woollies. That’s something I never really did in Australia. Here in Greece its a bi-annual thing. Its kinda nice cause you see clothes you haven’t seen for 6 months and its almost like you have a new wardrobe.

I’m doing spring cleaning now, a bit of work in the house, a bit in the potted garden.

I was really tired so I took a nice long nap. Again. I don’t think I bounced back after that sleepless night and getting up at 7am the next morning.

I’ve also been thinking a lot about this situation we find ourselves in. Specifically I’ve been thinking about how COVID 19 compares to the Spanish Flu of 1918. The thing is, no matter how much research I do there are no definitive answers or numbers… There’s a huge disagreement on the number of fatalities from the 1918 flu and the deaths attributed to the flu itself or the bad treatment of the disease (aspirin given in deadly doses). Which in turn brings into question the fatality rate… its somewhere between 1-2% depending on who you believe as to the number of deaths all over the world – ie similar to COVID 19…

There’s also the fact that there was a war on in 1918, the disease was spread by soldiers and there were a lot of people living in cramped conditions with poor hygience.

On the other hand we have airplanes and more people travel these days enabling the spread of the virus to all parts of the world much quicker.

If COVID 19 had hit then, would it had killed at the same rate? More? Less? If we had the Spanish Flu now, how would that have affected the world in spread rate and death toll? Would it be similar, better or worse?

Both spread fast. Both can kill. Both are novel so there is no immunity in the population. We still have large populations living in cramped conditions with poor hygience…

One killed young healthy people, the other mainly kills older people or those with underlying issues. One is a flu the other is a sort of pneumonia.

Is it really that different or is the world different?

Its a really interesting subject and one I’m not in the least qualified to answer. I’d love to see experts talk on this subject cause right now, in 2020, we had information on the virus and its DNA mapped within weeks of learning of its existence. We know about personal hygiene and how to keep safe, We know how it spreads and most governments put into effect social distancing, cancelling large group events, shutting down businesses etc in order to slow the spread. We are in a much better position than the world was in in 1918.

If we’d done nothing and just let the virus spread naturally, infecting almost the entire population, overwhelming the health care systems of the world, would we be in the same position as 1918, with tens of millions dead?

I’m not a paranoid type, but I do think about things like that. I know that it can kill, but I’m not overly worried. I figure most of us will get it and recover unless a vaccine is found to stop it.

Maybe that’s why I can’t sleep some nights.

Then other times I’m just too busy building things in my mind to sleep.

z

paros day 43: sea rope basket

I’ve had a quiet but productive day today. In a low key kinda way.

I spent the morning working on the poodle portrait and so far so good. It looks like a poodle.

At lunchtime I did some odds and ends around the place, and took Lainee for a walk in the afternoon. Along the way I collected a couple of cuttings from this geranium which was really leggy and unruly, but had the most vibrant red balls of blooms. I thought it was worth collecting. I can probably keep it from getting leggy by pruning it.

I also came across the biggest dandelion I’ve ever seen. Well, I took a photo of the biggest dandelion I’ve ever seen, cause I have seen them before. Isn’t it amazing?

Oh, wait. You need to see my hand so you can get the size!

See? I told you its big!

Tonight I’m working on a basket using bits of rope I found while walking on the beach. Its kinda fun. A craft project I can work on while watching Homeland even! No wasting time tonight.

I’ve now used up all the bits of rope I had and am left with pieces of net. I’m no sure how I’ll incorporate them into the basket, if and how I’ll weave them in, or what shape the basket will end up being. Its one of those things that just develops as you work on it. I’ll just keep going and it will keep growing till I feel its finished.

I think I need more rope. I may need to walk on the beach again… Oh such hard work!

Meanwhile it must be spring. Its warm, the mosquitoes are out in force and I’m itchy all over. That happens when bugs land on me. I’m allergic to pollen so I think that any bug that’s walked through pollen and lands on me makes me itchy. Its my theory anyway. Ugh. I need a shower!!! Better turn on the hot water boiler!

On that note I think its time to say bye, till next time!

z