Good question

Efidice Absidal?

I’ve puzzled over this sign for many years. What does it mean? Is it some foreign language? Obviously ‘Efidice’ isn’t an English word.

Give up?

Its obviously a sign created by a dyslexic person. Obviously its meant to say “Edifice Apsidal”.

Or even Apsidal Edifice.

That sorts out the non-englishness of the matter, but what is absidal or apsidal you ask? I didn’t know either so I looked it up:

WHAT DOES APSIDAL MEAN IN ENGLISH

Apse

In architecture, the apse (Greek ἀψίς (apsis), then Latin absis: “arch, vault”; sometimes written apsis; plural apsides) is a semicircular recess covered with a hemispherical vault or semi-dome, also known as an Exedra. In Romanesque, Byzantine and Gothic Christian abbey, cathedral and church architecture, the term is applied to a semi-circular or polygonal termination of the main building at the liturgical east end (where the altar is), regardless of the shape of the roof, which may be flat, sloping, domed, or hemispherical.

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Aren’t you glad you read my blog? You learn something new every day!

z

my uncle’s portrait

My uncle George, pastel on paper, now hangs on the old fireplace.

A few years ago I promised my uncle George that I’d paint his portrait. I took photos of him sitting on the back porch at Souvlia (his home on Paros, more like a village than a home really) and lost them all when my external hard drive crashed.

This year I found an old photo of him and me taken years ago, and a photo of the house as it was back then. I removed me and the others in the photo and created a portrait.

Closer up

Not too bad considering I hate doing portraits of people. They aren’t as furry as dogs. Or as forgiving if you show their wrinkles.

I think he likes it. He’s at least 40 years younger in the painting… He now wants a portrait of the four brothers, 2 of whom are no longer with us. The Dynasty as he calls it.

Better get my pastels sorted.

(I’ll be sharing photos of Souvlia soon!)

z

today it rained on paros

This morning it poured. I was sitting outside my room with my coffee and a book (Yes, a real book. My brother gave it to me so I put the kindle aside for a day and went old school.) and I barely had time to pick my stuff up before it bucketed down. There was thunder and lightning. I’ve spent about half the summers of my life on Paros and had never seen rain like this. If at all… Tasmania eat your heart out.

My cousin picked me up to go swimming and we got lucky. We went to a beach on the other side of Paros and were able to have a decent swim. It may have been overcast but the rain stayed away. Till we left. It rained so heavy you could barely see to drive. Then we got back to this side and I had another swim cause the storm had moved on.

I’m turning into my mother – slowly but surely. I used to be able to go the beach at 9 or 10am and stay till 6pm or sometimes later. Now I get worn out. The other day I was at the beach from 10.30 am till 5.30pm and I’m sure I got sunstroke. And before you ask, I sat under an umbrella the whole time. But I did swim… and when I say swim, every time I get in the water I spend at least half an hour in there. I won’t get out till my fingers go all wrinkley and turn blue.

Mom never sits on the beach. She’ll go down, get straight into the water, swim till she’s a spec on the horizon (no sharks here) and stays out there for about an hour, gets out of the water, changes into dry clothes* and goes home.

After spending a whole day at the beach, visiting a cousin and going out for dinner, not getting home till 12.30am, I was so knocked out the next day I decided to stick close to home. I walked to the beach just down below us and swam for an hour before getting out and heading home for a nap.

Delphini Beach, a 5 minute walk from my uncle’s place.

In the afternoon I repeated the excerise. Cause what’s the point of a greek island if you can’t swim? In fact I’ve been having nightmares lately that I’m on Paros and can’t get into the water! Horrible.

To make matters worse (on the ‘just like my mother’ thing) I do two types of swimming. One where I wear goggles and swim like a normal person – involves putting my head under water. The other where I wear my sunglasses and a hat and swim like a little old lady. Why? Cause till now every summer I’ve come to Paros for a holiday I get an eye infection. Apparently the sun reflecting off the water can sunburn your eyeballs. Go figure.

Another view of Delphini Beach where we spent hours as kids.

At least I’m looking after my skin and won’t get sunburn… That’s what I tell myself.

*On the changing after swimming. A lot of greek women/girls have learned the art of dressing and undressing with a towel wrapped around them. I’m at a disadvantage there. Not only am I not used to it, I’m wearing a tankini which has to up over my shoulders to put on or off. No handy clasps at the back. Try changing those with salty wet skin. I was hopping around trying to change this morning and dropped my towel to remove my bottom and mooned the entire beachfront.

At least they don’t know me…

Why you might ask again? Can’t you just dry off in the sun? Well for one, I don’t like being in the sun for too long. And those tankinis are thick – double panels in front and padded bras. And why am I wearing a tankini? Cause I’m too embarassed to wear a bikini now I’m older and fatter. Though to be honest I’m so over the cold/wet thing I’m seriously tempted to buy a bikini top and not worry about scarring the retinas of anyone who sees me.

The benefit of being older. You just don’t give a damn.

Don’t they say middle aged women are invisible? Well I may as well wear a bikini.

Now… where to get one…

z

a day at the beach

Its great to be back on Paros. In my heart this place is where I want to spend the rest of my life. I’ve been dreaming of living here all year round for many years – part of the live in the country thing I have going. But with me its always been the mountain not the sea, hence Tasmania inland, not beachside. I like green: trees, rolling hills, dirt not rocks. And yet, this island is a huge part of me.

In an ideal world I’d have a place here and be able to spend summer on Paros every year. One day I might be able to move back to Greece and live on Paros, on a mountain side somewhere, less trees, more rocks, less dirt, and a view of the sea with another 3-4 islands in the distance. Till then I’ll live in Tasmania, another glorious island, and dream of the greek islands.

Friends and family in Athens listen to me talk about living on Paros and say things like ‘You won’t be able to stand it, its so quiet there in winter. Nothing goes on.’ To which I reply how could Paros in winter possibly have less to do than New Norfolk in Tasmania?

I mean really.

I have my grooming work. I have my workshop and my craft room where I create things. I have my painting. We have the dogs and the horses. I have TV, books and the internet. I have friends and I go out one evening a week for drinks or dinner, twice at most but not often. I go to the odd market if I’m not working. I have the occasional catch up with friends over coffee. Sometimes I even have brunch out. I do a show on the local radio.

I could have all that here, except the radio. Probably. I have family here too. Plus the beach. And the joys of greek civil servants, politicians, laws and traffic. What more could a person want?

Ok, the family thing is a bit of a double edged sword. Living half a world away means I never get involved in the small dramas that seem to plague our family. I’m switzerland. I flit in, hear the gossip and flit out. That’s the good thing. The bad thing is I live far from my family. I’ve been living far from them for so many years I almost never feel like I’m missing them, its just how my life has always been. I’m the long lost black sheep… though not looking so black any more. Which brings me to another point:

Seriously younger generation – all you nephews and nieces with your tattoos and piercings and alternative lifestyles. Who do you think did the groundwork so you could live your life without sneaking out of windows in the middle of the night?? Huh? Me, that’s who. I was the first in our family to get tatts, pierce my nose, make sieves out of my earlobes or dye my hair pink. I was the first to break curfew and rules and the first (and only, to this day) to get kicked out of the house.

So a thank you is way overdue. I’ll also accept cocktails in lieu of gratitude.

But back to the matter at hand… Paros vs Tasmania. Its something that comes up for me every time I come to Greece and its kinda depressing. I love my life in Tassie, yet I still have this yearning. What can I do about it?

Nothing right now. The economy in Greece still sucks though things are looking up a bit since my last trip 4 years ago. Moving here to start a grooming business or even get a job would be stupid. And I don’t actually have a house on Paros. That’s a bit of a fly in the ointment too. So I’ll go back home and work hard and maybe one day… who knows? I might end up being that crazy wrinkley poodle lady on the mountain overlooking the sea.

z

places in athens…

My days in Athens are over. I’m on my way to Paros finally. The last couple of days in Athens weren’t too bad, we had some rain the odd cool breeze. Thank goodness. I thought I was going to melt with the heat the last few days.

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Monastiraki Square with the Acropolis in the background.

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My brother returned from Paros and is probably already back home in Canberrra. Three weeks in Greece is just not enough. Its ironic that I see more of my brother in Greece than I ever do in Australia… Wierd huh?

I find myself in the same situation I was in while at home in Tasmania. Getting behind on my blog posts. So I thought I’d share some thoughts and adventures while I sit in a lounge on the ferry.

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A gorgeous whimsical street in Monatiraki where there are lightshades hanging as lighting in the street. I love it!

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Thats it. I want to do this at home!!!

Last time I was in Greece I noticed all the dogs. It seems everyone owns a dog in Athens now, and we’re not talking pocket sized dogs. Most of them are mid to large sizes. People are always out walking them… of course they have to cause they all live in apartments. And yet, I only saw one tiny dry bit of dog shit in 10 days walking the neigbhourhood streets. I see more uncollected dog poop on the streets in New Norfolk than I did in Athens. That’s saying something!

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Beautifully graffitied wall and shutters.

Am went down to Plaka and Monastiraki again. Man I love that area of Athens. Its so alive and colourful and there are so many gorgeous bars and cafes. This time I went down with my beloved cousin Zefi yes, there are three Zefis in the family. Give it time. There’ll be more once their kids start breeding…)

 

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We had a drink at a bar and art gallery called TAF which is located in the yard of King Othona’s stables. It was lovely. But then, I adore old stuff…

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We had an ice cream at the best gelato place in Athens, and they took me past a café of old floor lamps. So cute!

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Would you believe these are ice creams?

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YUM

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How cute are the lamps?

The best thing ever was the street with the pendant lights all over the road (see photos above) and a café called Little Kook. I’m having internet issues on and off so there’ll be more photos on my FB page.

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I’m in love with that place. Apparently they change the décor with the seasons. Right now it’s a pirate theme and their Christmas décor is over the top. It was like stepping into wonderland. I took tons of photos so enjoy.

z

the oldest parts of athens

 

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Crumbling old building in Plaka.

Last night was a trip down memory lane with my old boyfriend, aka Petro the Punk. I met Petro at an alternative night club in Athens called The Mad Club and we spent most of 3 years going there to listen to music and pogo all over the dance floor.

I met Petro at Syntagma Square and we walked through the oldest parts of Athens, undoubtedly the best parts. First to Monastiraki where we had a souvlaki at Thanasis, apparently the best souvlaki joint in Athens, and from there on to Plaka where the Mad used to be.

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Monastiraki at night with the Acropolis in the  background.

Its still there of course, a very old crumbling now, now an art studio for a couple of artists. We went in and it was amazing how small the place was, the dance floor was still there, the DJ booth, the bar.

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The old Mad Club.

What was even more amazing was that its located right at the feet of Acropolis. I spent three years going there at least one night a week and I never noticed the ruins on one side of the street or the Acropolis above. My goodness did we laugh at that… we just didn’t care. It was THERE, you know, nothing special, taken for granted and not worth noticing. Amazing huh?

 

We had a great night, we just walked and talked, around the base of the Acropolis, past the ancient theatre at the base, going back to Syntagma Square where we sat down for a few minutes to have an ice cream.

A few minutes during which Petro’s bag was stolen!!!

We sat alone on a bench next to the stage where they’re having a gay pride festival, and chatted, no one around us, and yet someone managed to go past unnoticed and take his backpack! Unbelievable. And he lives here, he’s aware of things like that. I’d had the fear of God put in my by my aunts and I had my bag slung messenger bag style around my neck and shoulder and had my hand on it the entire time. I’d even check my wallet was still in there every now and then.

Sheesh.

Kinda puts a damper on a great evening.

I took some photos but it was night time. Not the best but they’ll do. I didn’t bring a camera on this trip. Firstly cause my camera is big and heavy and I frankly have no desire to lug it all over the countryside, and secondly cause both the tablet and phone have decent cameras these days. I figured I’ll be taking the phone, tablet and kindle with me pretty much everytime I go out… that’s enough to carry!

Before I go, here’s a little joke my brother shared, from one of his favourite greek stand up comedians.

“People complain about the smog in Athens. Smog is no problem for me. In fact I like it. I like to see what I’m breathing!”

z

The local market

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Turns out I’m not spending enough time sitting in cafes to use their free wifi and as a result I’ve used up most of the data allowance on my greek SIM card in two days. 1GB in two days and all I did was check FB, messenger, write a post and reply to emails. I looked at data usage… turns out Google Playstore runs in the background constantly and its usage was off the charts.

So, for now I’m trying to (being forced to) not be online till I have access to wifi otherwise this will get very expensive.

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I’ve been busy and in some ways I’m already feeling like I’m getting used to Athens. After all, I did live here for 14 years solidly, then twice for one year each time, even if I’ve avoided it like the plague since then.

I worry about myself actually…

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Its not the same Athens I knew however. Crime is incredible now. Friends and relatives have been robbed, some more than once, and now most houses I know are locked up more securely than the most bank vaults. I have to use a key to get out of the house. I don’t just mean the front door… I mean the gate to the tiny space that passes as a front garden downstairs. My aunt, who lives on the ground floor here, has become the gate keeper and I’m getting too old to climb fences.

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Not that I wouldn’t try if I had to, but lets hope it doesn’t come to that. A broken bone wouldn’t look good with my bathing suit. Ok, a bathing suit won’t be improved with a cast, its going to be bad enough exposing my pasty flesh as it is…

So, what have I done since I last posted? I’ve caught up with some cousins and a few friends. Once I went to school with in 4th grade. I feel so old…

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I’ve had a souvlaki and found I couldn’t finish it. Interesting. I remember them being smaller…

I went to the local market. That was great fun. Growing up here there was a market every Thursday and it was basically a farmers market with some homeware stalls. You know, doily type tablecloths, colanders, rugs, etc. Cheap stuff. Back then it ran for the length of a street parallel to the main road through our suburb, from the ‘town center’.
Its now fanned out from that one road like an octupus, encompassing many more neighbourhoods. Mom said it comes almost as far up as our house now. That’s 3 bus stops up the main road. Needless to say I didn’t explore that far. I was only there looking for some lightweight, cool (need I even say sleeveless) tops so I wouldn’t feel like I’m dressed for winter.

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Naturally you can buy almost anything there now – and every stall has canopies over it and they even put tarps over the middle of the road so the entire market is now covered. It was amazing! I loved it.

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What on earth was I thinking when I packed? Seriously. Its not like this is my first trip here! I packed 4 pretty blouses I’d bought for my trip – all with ¾ to full sleeves and none of them particularly lightweight. Cotton, but wow…

At the last minute I added a black tshirt cause, well… you always need one of those, and after all, I’ll need something to sleep in, and the only lightweight cheesecloth type of fabric top I had which I brought along to throw over my bathing suit. Demis Rousos would feel comfortable in it. And yes, it has three quarter sleeves. But its light. I’m living in it.

At least now I have choices!

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On the plus side, I brought two demin pants with me, one just under the knee short one and one capri. I hadn’t worn either of those for years… they fit! Woohoo.
We’ll discuss the fear of flab at another time as I discover that my body has been one size (round) for too long to suddenly find it has curves that aren’t all convex… I dread learning just how elastic my skin is…

But that’s another subject for another time… hopefully one I’ll avoid facing… I wonder if swimming will help tone…

Anyway, lets not dwell…

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I’ll be in Athens till next Wednesday, that’s another 5 days and I’m already feeling like I wont have time to catch up with everyone I’d like to, let alone should. Am I being selfish when I think that ‘hey, I made the effort to come from the other side of the world and I’m only in the city for 10 days (that’s way more than usual)… I know you work but, hey, make an effort to see ME somewhere I can get to easily. Don’t expect me to find my way around a city I haven’t lived in for over 20 years.’

Perhaps I’m just a lazy bitch. I can live with that.

The market was great and tonight my favourite ex-boyfriend (the one I left behind when I decided to move back to Australia many years ago and the one I felt I really grew up with) is going to take me to Plaka in the oldest part of Athens to revisit our haunts and the site of the old Mad Club where we spent so much of our misspent youth. Back when we were punks. I’m very excited about that! I don’t even want to think about how long its been since I was down there…

Things are good right and I’ve even stopped clenching my jaw in my sleep!

z

another day in Athens

Ok, its more than a day. I’ll be here another week in fact. But despite my historic dislike of the place and the heat, I’m enjoying catching up with some old school friends and family.

When I say old school friends I mean old as in junior school! That was quite a long time ago. Isn’t Facebook great sometimes?

As for family, I moved away from my home and family and have lived a ‘separate’ life for many years. I’m used to not having any family around in my daily life. But when I come to Greece and spend time with my cousins and people I pretty much grew up with I realise just how much I miss seeing them.

Its the never ending dilema of a person who grows up in two countries – compounded by the fact that they’re on opposite sides of the globe. Life would have been so much easier if dad had chosen to emigrate to England…

Anyway, I just wanted to touch base to let you know I’m alive and well, haven’t been run over by a bus cause I was walking on the road and looked the wrong way and I still haven’t given in to temptation. I did have a souvlaki tonight but still no sweets or sugar so that’s success in my book.

Pat myself on the back…

I have photos to share and I have some small projects I finished before I left to share too so the blog doesn’t turn into a total trip and diet thing. Don’t despair.

z

one last paros project – shabby photo frame

This is one of the smaller projects I worked on while on holiday in Greece. I had a huge collection of old buttons (I really wish I had them here!), a large collection of old doilies, ribbons, lace…
Then there were the other odds and ends my aunt Marisa found for me. One of which was this little heart shaped basket. 
She said “Do you want this? Can you do something with it?”
I said, “Sure, I can do something with it.”
My standard reply. 
Never say no to ‘stuff’… it will always come in handy one day.
In order to prevent becoming a hoarder featured on one of those awful reality tv shows “Buried Under A Ton Of Crap” however, you have to actually USE the stuff you’re given/collect to make more stuff which you can either sell, give away or display prominently in places like your kitchen, toilet or garage.
I decided the little basket would make the best photo frame for Marouso’s bedroom… she has a little alcove in there which is bare and desperately needed something pretty. So between working on the light fitting for Zefi and some small hearts like these for my aunt, I started putting together this little baby.
I used some old buttons, some still on the card, some old curtain lace, a bit of rusty wire and a bead… plus a little bow and icon pin from a christening. You can’t see it well, but at greek christenings they hand these little pins out as a memorial. My aunt had (of course) a collection of them.
Zefi, I’m sure you’re reading this… you promised you’ll collect me some!
Next step was a photo… Marouso had a few really nice ones she’d taken with her kitten, and I had a great one I’d taken of her and her ‘titini’… a bodyless stuffed toy cat which she’s had since she was a baby. Its sort of like Linus’ security blanket. No one knows what ‘titini’ actually means, its what she called it back when she couldn’t talk. For all we know it means “Get that stupid cat toy out of my cot right now!”
Marouso and her ‘titini’.
I had a play with the photos on picmonkey.com – I don’t have Photoshop on the netbook so I had no other way of altering the images. I wanted to go with an old fashioned black and white look but when I got them printed I decided to go with the photo above.
Great photos though. I love the one above where the kitty is all eyes.
I slotted the photo in behind the buttons where I’d left a ‘photo tucking’ gap, tied a ribbon to it for hanging and voila. Done.
z

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DIY Show Off

lace doily light fitting for a cousin

Well, I’m back home. Back to Wind Dancer Farm, back in Tasmania, back to my own little family. Its good to be home despite the fact that it means no more lying around on a beach, no more Paros, no more mom and cousins around me.
The trip was good, considering it was LONG and the seats on airplanes these days are made for height challenged individuals with eating disorders.
Seriously.
Have you ever tried sitting in one of those seats for 14 hours straight?
If you’re of ‘average’ height and you try to slouch in your seat you end up kneeing the seat in front of you. They used to have foot rests under the seat in front but they’re gone, ensuring that if you stretch out your legs, the seat has a sort of tourniquet effect, cutting off circulation to your lower legs. The new, improved individual monitors are a great idea… till you realize that you don’t actually enjoy having a screen 12in from your face. And that if the person in front of you leans his seat back, the monitor barely misses scraping your nose. You used to be able to say “excuse me” and sort of squeeze past the people sitting beside you if you needed to get up, all they had to do was sit up and pull their legs back. Now you have to get everyone to get up and pile into the aisle, or what passes as an aisle, so you can get out. Heck, even getting in and out of your own seat required contortions reminiscent of a pretzel if the person in front of you has the seat laid back. I remember being able to get up and walk the aisles during a long trip and loiter near the back of the plane doing stretches. This trip four of us were standing in line near the toilets and had to dodge stewardesses and serving carts… Bet they were pleased to have us in their tiny work area.
Hey. I know I’m older. I know I’m no longer as flexible as I was, but even if I still had the figure of my 20s, I still wouldn’t be able to squeeze past my co-sardines’ legs or lean back without touching the seat in front of me.
On the positive side, the food is a whole lot better than I remember.
So, I’m back home. The tan is fading fast and jet lag is keeping me up when I should be asleep… thought I’d share my last big project on Paros before life goes back to normal and the blog goes back to being about living on a farm with poodles and other critters. (I don’t mean Wayne.)
The lace doily light fitting in little Zef’s bedroom.
When I first got to Paros my aunt Marisa was all set on getting me to make a lace doily lightshade for Zefi’s bedroom. She had seen one of these in a shop and wanted one badly. Only difference was, the one my aunt loved had a wire frame inside.
Great idea if you have a wire frame. A very round balloon and tons of glue could also make this but it wouldn’t hold well in damp conditions I was betting. I started looking for alternatives.
I saw a rusty trap similar to this at Souvlia but it was bent beyond repair. I did find a new one for sale eventually (in a fishing shop, go figure!) but by then I’d moved on…
What I decided to do was build a kind of chandelier doily and lace light using 2 of the sieves I’d seen previously at a grocery store.
I went and bought a couple of these little beauties, limed them white and got a friendly uncle with a drill to make holes for chains.
I then started planning how to place and sew on the doilies and lace without cutting or ruining them, as per aunt Marisa’s instructions, and without aunt Marisa watching my every move and making suggestions as to how to do it better…

I ended up using quite a bit of old curtain (since I was allowed to cut that) as an under-layer, then layered and joined the doilies over that. I embellished it with ribbons and buttons and pieces of lace.
Only one doily was hurt in the making of this light shade… it was just too big and I really wanted to use it.
I was working in Zefi’s place, hiding from aunt Marisa… when she walked past and saw me. First words out of her mouth were “Oh, you cut that doily” before Zefi hustled her off with threats to her life if she said another word.
Zefi and I searched every hardware store on Paros to find the right chain. She was the one who found the perfect one – large links in bronze.
We’d also asked Andreas (Zef’s husband) to see what he could find in Athens and he’d brought us some silver chain. In the vein of waste not want not, I thought we should use the silver chain as well. I secured the chains to the sieves with wire and hid the silver chain with lace ‘sleeves’ made from the old curtain hems.
That way I didn’t have to sew any more than necessary!
I had to buy a pair of wire cutters to cut the sieve for the light fitting to go through, but that was easy enough.
Lastly, while Zefi was at the beach I climbed on her bed, and with her daughter Marouso’s help, put the light up on the hook already in the ceiling, fed the light through and replaced the globe.
Let there be light!
It came up pretty good even if it does look like an upside down wedding cake!
Payment for this: some very old doilies and a gorgeous old cut lace curtain.
Thanks guys! My next trip will be longer so I can plan on working for part of it! 🙂

z

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The Girl Creative

Keeping It Simple