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

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

paros day 26: tinned fish

Its weird that time both drags and rushes past during this surreal time of isolation. On the one hand it seems like days just fly past; suddenly its almost halfway through a month I don’t even remember starting; its almost the weekend and I barely noticed the week go by. I realise its Friday suddenly and I better go shopping before Sunday cause in Greece supermarkets are closed on Sundays.

On the other hand, time drags cause you’re home all the time, not seeing friends, not going to work, not living fast.

Actually, I rather like not living fast. I definitely like not spending a ton of money (mainly cause I don’t have it or I probably would be ordering take away food and buying stuff online all the time).

I’m not exercising as much as I told myself I would during this time. I’m rather lazy unless it comes to working on projects that I enjoy. When I’m deep into creating I forget to eat. When I’m watching Netflix or reading I tend to nibble. I enjoy nibbling. Its one of the great pleasures in life.

But I love being at home and working at my own pace on whatever I feel like making.

The wind has died down a bit today. Tomorrow is meant to be the start of another period of great weather. Tomorrow I go back to long walks every morning. I’ll go back to the garage and start on some workshop work.

Today I painted a bit but the whole morning was taken up by getting Winston to the courier, picking up more broken marble pieces, collecting my seedlings from the friend who was babysitting them while I went on the trip to Denmark that never happened, and shopping. I combined everything so I wouldn’t have to go out in the car more than once.

Some of the seedlings are doing great. Some are bashfully peeking out. Others have decided they won’t grow or maybe they’re just taking their sweet time about it. I re-potted some into larger pots and put them all out the back to nurture.

Unfortunately the labels I put on the plastic cups I used to grow the seeds have faded so now I won’t know what’s what till they grow and I can tell by looking at them.

I also visited the Post Office to enquire about anything that might have arrived for me since things shut down. No they say.

But do I believe them? Last summer a package arrived for me and they held it for 3 weeks, during which I had no idea it had arrived (and yes, they should have left a notice that I had a package), and they sent it back. I’m not happy.

I also asked about getting a post office box in the group of boxes on the nearest corner. No they say.

There are no free ones.

I suggested I might get together with a few people who live in this group of buildings all year round and see if they want to put together some letterboxes in our driveway. No they say.

In order to put out letterboxes we have to write to the council to apply for them to put a sheltered box there for us to put in letterboxes…

Ok… Is Greece the only country in the world where you need council approval for a letterbox? And for the council to actually put a box there for you to put letterboxes in?

sigh.

So, having wiped myself out doing nothing much most of today and not having any finished paintings or crafts to share, I thought I’d share something I made a couple of months ago that I forgot to post about.

A long time ago I’d bought these little tin cans in Athens thinking I’d like to make fabric sardines to go in them. So while I was in sewing mood one day I some small fabric scrap fish.

I then designed and printed out the labels:

I wanted to make my tin of sardines a little different from the ones I’ve seen elsewhere – mine aren’t just fish in a tin, they’re tiny mobiles.

I only had 4 tins, so I made 4 sets. They’re in my etsy shop for sale.

I think I’ll go make something to eat and maybe even have a nap. Cause I can!

I love being at home and having nothing I NEED to do.

Providing my creative mojo stays strong.

z

paros day 25: more walk photos

No creative stuff so far today. I think I’ll get there but I’m feeling a little lazy today. A little blah. I’m over this windy weather. Walks are shorter and not nearly as much fun. Still I managed to take a few nice pics when the sun broke out of the clouds. These photos were taken on a walk out behind the hill I live on, a little less windy when you head inland towards a valley rather to the sea.

I just adore crumbling old buildings, and sometimes you find beauties like this on country walks. An old farmhouse no one lives in anymore. So sad.

There are so many new flowers out too as well. But I couldn’t resist taking a photo of this little succulent growing on a rock, living on thin air!

Aren’t plants amazing? You plant something lovingly, coddle it, speak to it, love it, sing encouraging songs to it and it dies slowly. Yet something huge and healthy will grow in a crack… sigh. You just can’t win. Hence my gardening motto: If you grow despite me, you deserve to live.

Near the top of the hill, getting windier. Time to walk back down.

Its not surprising to see chickens when you walk in the country. Spotted this gorgeous rooster with one of his girls…

What was surprising was seeing this white rabbit! Turns out there are two white bunnies living in this little field with the chickens. Apparently they never run away. How cool is that?

I haven’t been in a very bloggy mood today. Not very creative either. Today is one of those days where I do little artwork and more TV watching while I clean and tidy some of the accumulated mess. At least I got some things done. Like packed Winston in a box so he’s ready to ship. Spoke to friends on the phone or messenger. Feel asleep while reading on the couch. Not much else.

I had planned to go to the supermarket to buy ingredients to make cookies but I have to go out tomorrow so I think I’ll do all I have to do in one go. No use going out twice.

Ending this post with a great photo of a cactus. I’m not a huge fan of these things or their fruit, but I have to admit, they do make amazing shapes.

z

paros day 17 – i’m back

Yes, another day late post, but I had a good day yesterday. I didn’t do an awful lot creative wise, but I spent time outdoors which was great. Its spring here now and the fields are blooming and that’s always a pleasure.

I took Lainee out for 3 long walks yesterday, one by the sea, one in the country and one in town. Parikia is deserted. Its like the middle of winter, not a soul to be seen, not a single shop open except the bakery.

At this time of year people usually start freshening up the paint on the streets.

Leo, the market street cat, rests on the cobblestones probably wondering why its so quiet. This time of year is normally really busy with people getting their shops ready for summer. A lot also open for Easter at the end of this month, but I doubt we’ll be having much of an Easter this year. As far as I could see only one building was being renovated, the rest are all closed and waiting.

Meanwhile, back at home I did a bit more work on the bulldog and a lot of thinking of how to proceed. I didn’t sleep too well the other night trying to work out how to do the face. My mind wouldn’t stop niggling at it. Its not easy to do with paper, all those wrinkles which need molding… I think I’ve come up with some ideas. We’ll see when I tackle it today.

I also gave the table its last coat of DIY chalk paint on the legs and will be going to my uncle’s place today to bring it home this afternoon. I don’t have any wax to treat it with and I hope that will be ok. I really don’t want to spend the $$ they’re charging for stuff like that right now. Worse comes to worse, I’ll live with it as it is and give it another coat of paint and wax once I have some income.

I love the top though. I gave it three coats of gloss oil based varnish and its like glass. Good for a sewing table!

Of course bringing it home means I have to empty the spot where it lives… that spot has become a storage area for anything and everything I don’t have a spot for. Ugh. But I’ll be happy to have my sewing table back so I can do some sewing projects again.

Better go and get on with the day. I have things to do, places to go and people to see (not really!) I’m already halfway through Season 3 of Sons of Anarchy, so I can consider them friends to see… 🙂

z

slowly does it

It seems so long since I got my Ikea bookcase and thought about white washing it (or liming it or whatever you want to call it). I actually started on it about 3 weeks ago thinking “great, one evening to lime the entire bookcase, two to varnish, done in 3 days!”

Three weeks ago and this is all I’d done:

I’m ashamed of myself. Where is the Zefi I used to know? The one who works like a machine and gets things done? It seems she has some bad days at work and comes home to sit in front of Netflix all night eating chocolate… Not good. Especially after all the hard work I put in last year in Australia to lose weight and get fit…

Well, I finally got off my butt and did some painting the other day. Of course it went a whole lot faster once I pulled the whole thing apart to paint it… turns out shortcuts are longcuts… painting the bookcase without taking it apart was a stupid move.

I still have to do it in sections, but now I have the whole first section (ie half the bookcase) painted. I still need to varnish the bits I painted before I can put it back together and start on the next half. I can’t do it all at once cause I dont have the space. Its way too windy to varnish outside cause things will get stuck in the varnish. Liming was quick and I did that outside since I can sand any dead insects off anyway. Not that I need to… it dries so fast.

I wanted the wood grain to show through so I just used some white acrylic paint I found in the cabinet when I bought my place, watered it down and used a kitchen sponge to apply the paint, rubbing it in and spreading it over the timber. I found I needed two coats to achieve the look I wanted… but I’m halfway there on the first half now.

And then I hit a road bump. A big one.

Once I was ready to move onto part 2 of the first half of the bookcase (varnishing) I went and bought some varnish. I went to my favourite hardware store (favourite cause its owned and run by a woman) and selected the varnish I thought I needed – it was water based, in gloss (a new thing for me! I’ve always done satin before) and said protection and varnish on it in Greek and English… Then along came the MAN who works there and said, no, this is what you need. I didn’t even read the label well – mainly cause 1. it was all in greek and 2. I couldn’t see the fine print without my glasses.

I did what I knew better than to do… I just got what someone recommended like some newbie.

In fact, I feel like an ignorant newbie a lot here cause I don’t know the words for things in greek and the greek writing on packaging sometimes stumps me. You’ll see me at hardware stores going ‘buzz buzz’ to indicate a drill, doing little spirals in the air to indicate drill bits, etc…

So I got home during my break (split shift day yesterday) and got to work sanding everything. Then I dusted it all off and started painting on the varnish…

It had a bit of a smell. It was sticky on my fingers. It was quite thick. I had a quick read of the instructions, not really letting them sink in. I just worked away thinking that one liter of the stuff wouldn’t be enough – but they don’t sell it in bigger sizes…

I was just about to start on the shelves when I decided to re-read the instructions just to be on the safe side. Something just didn’t feel right…

Yep. It was oil based, not water based. A low odour oil based product. It was the five hour drying time that really woke me up. But the worldwide icon for dummies on how to clean up wasn’t on the tin, and the greek word for turps was nowhere to be seen. They recommended ‘brush cleaner’ for cleanup… I was thinking it was some kind of SOAP.

Sigh.

I was pretty annoyed at myself for being such an idiot and not realising soon as I opened the tin…

By the time I stopped I’d done three uprights and the only shelves I didnt remove – the ones that hold the drawers cause they are a pain to do cause they have those little lugs that hold them in place. I’m not that lazy, but when I removed them last time I ended up breaking one shelf end bracket thingy… I didnt want to risk making it worse.

Meanwhile I hated the look… the varnish went on dark, a yellowish tinge to it even though its clear varnish. It didnt seem as clear as the polyurethane I used on stuff in Australia. I was thinking that I’d get water based varnish to finish the bookcase and hope that the difference isn’t really visible.

Last night I had to sleep with the bedroom door closed cause low odour or not, it bothered me. But the good news is that this morning I liked the way it looked and felt. It dried lighter than it went on and I’m loving the gloss finish.

So now I’ve started I just gotta keep the momentum going.

Mind you, you’d think that would be easy… I can’t really be moved in till the bookcase is finished cause I can’t bring my stuff out of storage till I can put things where I want them. So I gotta get it done. I will get it done.

Just keep me away from Netflix and chocolate…

z

suck it up sunshine

I miss having a garden.

A yard.

A workshop.

But enough about what I don’t have. Lets concentrate on what I do… I have a carmine bougainvillea which I’m looking forward to enjoying once it grows up my back wall and flowers. (The one above is not mine but I have my eye on one I would like to take a cutting off which is paler pink and white…)

I have some bright pink flowers in pots and some succulents growing in a variety of containers not originally intended for plants. Of course.

I have a small courtyard at the back where I will create a little relaxing/reading nook one day. And to hang my washing. And to make things and use power tools…

I have a patio out front with a sea view and eucalyptus trees blocking most of the view. But that’s ok cause I love eucalyptus trees. They remind me of home… My real home. Or my other home.

Being from two countries really sucks. I’ve always felt Australia was my real home, but who am I kidding? I’m greeker than I am Australian, but its that Australia has always been where I chose to live. Till recently.

Anyway, adjusting to life in Greece hasn’t been easy. I have issues with so much here, from the way people behave, the way they drive, the way they manage their environment, the tax system, etc etc. But I chose to come here to live so I have to suck it up and move on.

Adjusting to living in a single bedroom unit has been hard too. I love my little home but its not easy going from having 4 bedrooms, a huge living room, spacious kitchen, a yard, paddocks, and more outbuildings than you can poke a stick at to a little unit where I can literally see everything I own at one glance.

I mean I’ve always loved the idea of living in a one open space type of place, but in my fantasies the place was a warehouse, not a small unit!

Yesterday mom said a friend of hers was giving away a beautiful old wardrobe. Do I want it? Hell yeah, I want it. I want to refinish it and sell it… but where would I do that exactly?

sigh.

I know I’ll sort my life out eventually, I know it takes time to settle into a place and find my niche (my space, my work). It just gets me down at times… I had just gotten my life in Australia to a nice place: working from home doing something I love (grooming dogs), with the space to work on any project I got into my head, my radio show, friends to go out dancing with, a gym I loved and actually wanted to attend…

Figures I’d want to change it all just when I got it right. Its the same principle as meeting a dreamy guy the day before you move interstate…

I love change and starting over, but doing it all at once can be as exhausting as it is exciting.

z

plugging along. kind of.

1

Well, I enjoyed a clean home for about a week. I cleaned and tidied after finishing work on Part 1 of the bookcase so I could I invite mom and her sisters over for a drink to see my new house now that I actually live in it (they saw it before I moved in to give me their approval of course).

I tried to kill two birds with one stone (ie one clean house, more than one visit – obligations doncha know) but I failed.

So be it. Mess wins.

A couple of days ago I pulled apart the second half of the bookcase and began to the process of white washing, aka known as Part 2 of the bookcase saga.

I say ‘began’ cause that’s all I’ve done.

My house now looks like a store room/workshop… again.

There are shelves on every flat surface with only the first coat of paint on them. I need one more white coat, then 2 of the varnish, so I have some work ahead of me. Not that it takes a long time to do. The layers dry quickly and if I had time at home* I would get it all done in a day. But I don’t have a day till my next day off. In a few days. Maybe.

Then I won’t have a day off for more than a week as the other girl who works in the office is going away…

Have I mentioned how tired I am?

*Time. That elusive thing… Wish I had more of it. And more energy to use the time I do have at home constructively and not just lying around sleepily groaning about how tired I am. And how sore my back is. Don’t ask. I have no idea what I did to it…

Mind you, the weather has been spectacular and its the end of summer so I find it hard to miss beach days doing things like working on my home or other projects. It just doesn’t feel right, knowing that soon enough the weather will turn again and I wont want to go to the beach and can dedicate all the time I want to HOME.

Still… I haven’t been entirely useless.

I took down the sail from the back courtyard. It needs a wash before I can put it away for winter cause it rained red dirt and its filthy. I had to buy a new tap adapter thingy cause the one I had broke so I couldn’t use the hose…

I bought hinges to make a keyboard shelf for the bookcase and screws to put in the bracket over the TV where I cut the bookcase to fit it. Then I can put the bookcase together again. After I finish painting it of course…

The antique couch is still sitting out the back wrapped in cling film, waiting for another coat of termite treatment before I can begin working on it… but before I do anything on that I want to be totally moved in… ie bring my stuff from storage…

Which means finishing the bookcase.

You know how getting one thing done requires a lot of steps beforehand, and leads to a hundred more after?

I feel like a mouse on a wheel…

The removalists who brought my stuff from Athens don’t do local deliveries so I either have to get someone else to do it ** or bite the bullet and try to do as much as I can on my own in my little car.

In order to get things in my little car I need to get the little knob thingies in the car fixed (they broke off pretty much soon as I bought the car) so I can drop the back seats…

I bought a trolley so I can move stuff without lifting it. I’ll need it not only to get stuff to my house, but also to get stuff into my basement storage unit.

** It would be great to be able to just afford to hire people and buy things, wouldn’t it? But when you work for the equivalent of an over-priced coffee an hour, you have to rethink things.

Like did I need a hand trolley? Yes I certainly did. Two days pay.

Do I need phone and internet? Yes, I do. Two days pay per month.

Ate out the other night… One day’s pay.

Had brunch out this morning: half a day’s pay.

I like those sandals… do I want to work for over 2 days to buy them? I think not baby puppy.

Its rather depressing that life is so expensive here yet wages are so low. I really don’t know how people manage, I really don’t. And instead of making it easier for people, encouraging small business which provides jobs and brings money back into the community and economy, the government thinks the solution is more taxes – driving businesses to bankruptcy and reducing people’s disposable income…

What a joke.

But I’m not qualified to discuss such matters and this isn’t a blog on the state of Greece’s economy or lack thereof. If you want to know more about all that find someone else to tell you. I can only tell you things that affect my life.

At least I can still afford chocolate.

z