adventures in holistic care

Back in Athens again. Only for a couple of days this time… in theory. But I have to be back at work on Paros on Monday so I can’t stay long anyway.

So, today I went to get swabs/tests done to finally get a definitive answer to what the spots I had were. They’re gone now… just scars remain, but I wanted answers. Lainee’s tests came back positive for ringworm, the kitten had ringworm, I was sure mine were ringworm too given the situation… but they cleared up with antibiotics, non antifungals… so… I wanted answers.

Got to the hospital 20 min before my appointment with my mask on. The guard at the gate said come back 10 min before your appointment. I made some calls and went back. He let me in and told me to walk all the way around the building to the back.

I went round the back and followed the signs up two flights of stairs to exam room 8 where my appointment was. I was told to go down 2 flights of stairs and a ramp to the main office to check in, then go across to another desk to get a printout to confirm I was there.

Back up the ramp and 2 flights of stairs to the office and was taken in immediately. Three doctors looked at my spots, which had healed, and said ‘well, they’re better, we can’t test them’ (!!!!) which kind of made my entire trip unnecessary* but they agreed, it wasn’t ringworm, it had been some kind of infection. If it came back, go on antibiotics again… thank you for coming.

Go downstairs to the main office and follow the red line to the end, then up the stairs to another office and give them this paperwork. I followed the red line for about a mile to the office. They gave me another paper and said go up the first staircase to the end to another office to get a stamp, then go down the second staircase to the bottom to pay.

By the time I reached the office to pay I was out of breath and said this isn’t just a hospital, its a gym as well. The lady there laughed and said, “Yes, we take a holistic approach to health”.

I didn’t have to pay, which was welcome.

All up it took 1 hour. 5 minute consult and 55 minutes of exercise.

So… back in Athens.

The house is still not entirely finished. The tiler came back today to finish the shitty job he’d done and put in the fly screens he ordered for me.

The plumber is coming back on Saturday morning to put a tray under the water heater in the loft so that if it leaks it wont ruin the ceiling in the bathroom. And put in a shelf over the sink.

The electrician is coming tomorrow to adjust the position of the light.

The painter is coming back tomorrow to finish up the lasts of his touchups and collect his stuff.

I didn’t tell you about the shoddy work that was done by the tiler. I was too upset. It was a mess. There were tiles which weren’t flat/lined up on the walls in places. I did ask when I saw him putting tiles on a wall that was uneven and rough… surely the wall has to be even before you tile…? I mean, I only know what I’ve seen and done in Australia where you put up cement sheeting and waterproof it… but he said that’s not how its done here where the walls are brick… what do I know? There were gaps in the grout, he trimmed the bathroom door with what looked like an axe. The cornice quad looked like it had been done by a three year old. There was cement hard grout and stucco or whatever everywhere. He hadn’t centred the mirror over the sink and put it so high the light had to go even higher… it was ugly.

The poor painter had damage to fix in places he’d already painted. He had to fix up the really badly cut and placed quad cornice. Its not perfect but it will have to do. I’m shit at cutting 45 degree angles but I would have done a much better job of it. The tiler said ‘its the painter’s job but I can put it up for you.” Wish he’d left it alone!

Anyway, once those last things are finished, the cleaner can come clean up the place and its ready to let.

I’ve had people enquire. Mom has vetoed most of them. We’ll see. People are asking so there’s no shortage of interest at least. If I dont find the right people before I leave I’m putting it in the hands of a real estate agent. Its a nightmare I really dont want to deal with.

I really don’t want to have to come back to Athens again till after summer. I’m over the trips.

z

brown soap and other things to beware

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

Eeech.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Stay tuned and then you’ll know too!

z

a walk on the other side

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

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

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

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

There were hoons on jetskis zooming around under her bed.

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

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

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

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

The most iconic greek scene: boats and drying octopus.

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

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

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

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

z

island colours

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

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

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

A walk in Parikia produced these gems this morning:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Anyway. Off the soap box now…

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

z

on my way home

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

z

difficult days

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

Its been ‘those’ kind of few days.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

z

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

paros day 35: easter sunday walk

This morning Lainee and I got up early and went for a long walk. The walk we tried to do when the wind was howling about a week ago. Today we made it all the way to the little church I’d set as our destination. The weather was warm but not hot, there was very little traffic early on an Easter Sunday, ideal for a walk which needed us to walk on the road for a section.

The church at Korakia. You can see the Portes to the left in the distance.

This is the little church I wanted to visit. It was built after the tragedy of September 2000 when the ferry Express Samina hit the Portes, two big rocks outside the port of Paros. The Portes are like the gateway to Paros and have always meant a lot to me. When I haven’t been to Paros for years and I see the Portes as the ferry approaches I get goosebumps and feel overwhelmed by emotion.

This is the view from the beach below my place.

Today seemed like a great day to pay respects to all those who lost their lives that night. There’s a plaque set into the stone wall in memory of the souls who died from drowning or by being tossed against the rocks below the church. It was late at night and the sea was really rough. Mom said that most bodies washed up on those rocks, which is why the church was built there.

Its a really rough coastline along there, getting the full blast of the southerly winds, but beautiful scenery. Lainee and I walked down to a couple of the little bays and over the rocky hills to explore and enjoy the fresh morning.

If there’s one thing I absolutely love about greek waters is the colour and clearness of them.

Lainee says “Why do I have to do this again?” when I ask her to pose for a photo at the church.

I’m not sure how long the walk is… Mainly cause I have a step counting app on my phone which has stopped working properly. We walked for about 1.5 hours, pausing to take photos now and then, collect a bit of driftwood… Got home and I’d apparently done something like 430 steps.

Ha.

I think I better remove the app and find another one which will work properly. If I’m going to go to the trouble of counting steps and klms walked, I want to feel proud of myself at the end of it!

z

paros day 34: greek easter

Tomorrow is Greek Easter. I wont be having any tsoureki (a sweet greek bread pictured above) cause I didn’t buy any and, really, I don’t like it that much. Funny how the smell of some things is way better than the actual taste.

I won’t be eating lamb on the spit or lamb cutlets or anything traditional like that either.

I also won’t be going to church and I won’t be cracking red eggs at midnight tonight to celebrate the resurrection.

The cracking of eggs at Easter symbolizes the breaking open of the tomb and Jesus Christ’s resurrection from the dead. The custom takes place after the resurrection on Easter Saturday at midnight or the following day during Easter feasts

Its going to be a very quiet Easter for us here in isolation. I am considering making some Easter greek cookies… koulourakia as they’re called in greek. Mainly cause I love them. But Easter isn’t the same without them.

Other than that, I spent the day making a thai green curry and doing some more painting on marble. I’ll share more marble paintings tomorrow and the next day and (all going well) the day after that and the one after that… I have a couple of commissions I need to work on too, so those have to come first.

Meanwhile hope all greek people have a great Easter, even if this one is in isolation!

z

paros day 28: the end is in sight

Apparently the end is in sight. At least that’s what I read in a post my cousin forwarded. Remember, I don’t have actual TV so I don’t get news. I learn what’s going on in the world through people sharing stuff on messenger or Facebook. And my mom who I speak to every day.

I heard that come early May the restrictions in Greece will be lifted in stages. Slowly. We’ve had very strict restrictions here – Things shut down fast when COVID-19 came to Greece only essential services remain open. Now every time you go out you have to text a number or have a statutory declaration on a piece of paper with your name, address and the reason you’re out (there is a choice of 6 reasons you’re allowed out). People not adhering to the restrictions get on the spot fines of 150 euros. You have to have your phone if you texted your reason and ID with you at all times. There haven’t been any riots at supermarkets and hoarding either. Supply continues and you can shop for your food and products like before – except now you rarely find hand sanitizer and when you do, you pay triple for it.

It seems Greece finally did something right.

However, apparently, from the beginning of May and over a period of time from then till the end of September everything starts going back to normal. Or the new normal after the dust settles and we all find out if we still have jobs, if businesses can survive and if airlines still fly.

I remain skeptical. My theory is that its all very well to ‘flatten the curve’ and minimize and control the spread of COVID-19, but once you go back to business as usual, crowds of people and open borders, won’t we all be back at square one?

I don’t get it.

Still, its spring and we’re all starting to feel a bit better. Happens once the cold, rain and strong wind fades into sunny days. You sit outside and you enjoy the warmth of the sun, admire wildflowers on your walks… and generally begin to feel a little healthier again.

What I’m really saying is that I haven’t done an awful lot of artwork the last two days. Yesterday was spent more or less doing my ‘garden’… today I enjoyed a little more sun. All I have to share today is one very fat hamster on a round stone.

He’s very round and very fat. But rather cute despite that.

Other than that, I’ve got some things I found which I’m looking forward to working with. I have a new stash of marble to work on, and a couple of new ideas of things to make. A friend of mine is back to his workshop and said I can use the space and equipment so maybe I can finally make that linen cupboard I’ve been wanting to make for ages.

Its so good to have things to look forward to and be excited about doing.

z