getting there

The carport has been cleared of the ivy jungle and the metal pipes holding it in place. Here is the before, and below is the after.

So much better, wouldn’t you agree? No more dirty car!

Of course, with every step forward there are new surprises… removing the ivy has exposed damage to the wall and under the front window – things the ivy and metal trellis was hiding. ugh. More expenses.

We are officially broke. From now on its all about making do and finding ways to do things without spending more money.

You know what? Its cost more to fix up the house than my aunt made having it rented to that one guy for 30 years. He never paid a realistic rent anyway, but he totally destroyed the apartment. I’ve had issues with tenants before, but now I understand why so many people in Greece would rather keep a place empty than put in tenants. You might not make money keeping it empty, but if you rent it you pay taxes on earnings and in the end it costs you everything you earned and more to fix it up after… what’s the point of renting it?

Sure, a good tenant will hopefully not destroy a house, and any house would need renovation after 30 years, but you get my point. It wouldn’t necessarily need to be totally gutted.

In an attempt to lift my spirits I did some dirt therapy. I weeded the tiny front garden, removed the knee high clover and weeds and cut the ancient rose bushes right back. Its a miracle they’re even still alive cause it looks like when washing out paint or plaster from buckets people were emptying them on the rose bushes! The only thing still ‘thriving’ in the garden is the white daisy bush dad planted over Timmy’s grave.

Since I can’t buy new plants to put in, I bought some foxglove seeds on ebay. Hopefully they will take, grow well and fill the garden with colour! From my experience they’re pretty low maintenance and self seed, so perpetual colour.

Mom’s back home since yesterday and she’s been cooking like there’s no tomorrow (so her darling daughter doesn’t starve!) and I’ve managed to get her to part with a few things. I keep dragging bags of clothes, linen etc into the kitchen and asking her to decide what goes where.

Today I began taking stuff downstairs and putting them in their place in mom’s new home. Sure, she probably wont be able to move in till late February at the earliest, but I can set up the place with everything I can till then… summer clothes, extra towels and sheets, a set of dishes, glasses, etc.

If the world was fair I’d be fit and thin by now!

z

knob rescue and general progress

Since I decided to add knobs to the bedsides tables and chest of drawers – 14 of them – I had to find something cheap. After looking all over the place I found some small wooden knobs for 1.50e for a pack of 4. Perfect price, not ideal in the looks department.

So I did what anyone with an ounce of creativity would do, I bought some spray paint and sprayed them.

Only one problem. Despite giving them tons of time to dry, once I flipped them over to cover the backs, I ended up getting some that stuck to the cardboard, leaving blobs on the top of the knob.

No worries. When the unexpected (mistake) happens, make it look like it was done on purpose.

I gave them all a dot of white paint and voila. Cute knobs instead of ooops knobs.

The other issue was the reddish brown stripe at the bottom of the drawers. Ick.

Out came the grey paint. This time I used a slightly lighter version of chalk paint I had on hand.

And now, despite minor chips and scuff marks which stubbornly won’t come off, we have cuter bedroom furniture for mom! (Ignore the throw over the bed, its to keep dust off the mattress.)

The mirror is currently undergoing its own makeover. Meanwhile today I found and bought the castor wheels I wanted to put under the bedside tables so that mom can easily move them out of the way when she wants to get into the underbed drawers. That’s on tomorrow’s to do list.

While out I finally got the shower curtain I loved first time I saw it and put it up today.

Another thing to tick off my list is the ivy. Its gone! I had a guy come over and remove it today. Don’t ask how much it cost. Let’s just say I should have done it myself. sigh. But its done now and there’s one less thing I have to worry about. He’ll be back tomorrow to remove the bars and wires.

And mom has a microwave downstairs. Its Aunt 1’s old microwave but it’ll do.

What I didn’t manage to do today was call the electricity company again. On tomorrow’s list:

continue sanding buffet
finish painting mirror
hassle electricity company

It never ends.

z

a bit more furniture moves downstairs

Things have been moving along slowly. I haven’t done a ton of stuff but I did some more packing, gave away another load of stuff and moved a couple of bits of furniture downstairs. Not on my own – they gypsy family I’ve ‘adopted’ helped. Basically there’s a young couple with 3 little children who I met when clearning out Aunt 1’s house. I have their number and call them when I have things to give away. Last time I called the guy came with his nephew, and since there were 2 guys, I asked them to move a few things down for me once they had loaded up the stuff I gave them.

If I was in Australia I’d have had a series of garage sales, but that’s not done in Greece. And selling stuff through Facebook is a pain in the butt. I did list a few things, but most aren’t worth the trouble. People in Greece don’t tend to buy second hand stuff. Its easier to give it away.

So now I have the chest of drawers, bedside tables and two cabinets mom wanted from the living room downstairs. I already have another stack of things on the staircase for them so next time they come I’ll get them to move a few more things for me…

The living room cabinets mom wanted me to take down, but refuses to let me paint them.
The bedroom furniture is old and very scuffed around the bottom, but taking it out and painting now is too much work! I’ll just try to clean it up as best I can.
The chest of drawers is especially heavy. These drawers all open from the side, not so easy, so I drilled holes in all drawers to add knobs. That’s a work in progress.

Among stuff upstairs I found more than 3 boxes of new glasses – including crystal tumblers – so I kept the best, washed them and put them in a kitchen cupboard. Mom may as well use her good stuff, why keep it stored away any more?

I put batteries in a wall clock I found which must have belonged to my brother. That’s now in the kitchen and I love it.

All in all its coming together. Now if we can get electricity and gas connected we’ll be on fire!

Seriously though, I’ve still got a ton of work ahead of me, both in sorting and moving and I’m not always in the mood to work. Despite my ‘got it under control’ and ‘I’m an expert at this’ crap, I do often feel overwhelmed – but its just a matter of getting started. Once I start I’m fine, I can go on and get a ton done.

That said, its time to get off my butt and and get to work on something!

z

still no power, but who’s counting?

I’ve done very little over the last few days. I’ve collected, stacked and given away a pile of stuff and have another waiting to go. I took a few loads of stuff to the rubbish and to recycling. I took the big rug downstairs and put it in the living room to see how it fit and to help me decide what colour to paint the sideboard I plan to update. Good thing I did too as it was how I saved my knees while putting together the Ikea shoe storage unit and the underbed drawers. I bagged up and threw out some of the ivy I’d cut down and groomed Lainee for Christmas.

It might sound like a lot, but trust me, its not by my standards. Then again I do treat my body with the same disrespect as a 20yr old, refusing to accept the fact that I’m getting old…

Still, the list of things I haven’t got around to is way longer than the items crossed off the list. Since realising my body will no longer put up with my brain’s expectations, I’ve worked in small increments, not big chunks of time as before. Partly cause I got sore and tired and partly cause it was Christmas and after visiting friends, walking dogs and being sociable, I just got lazy.

So, needing to do something today, without overdoing it and killing myself in the process, I took down the huge extension cord I found, plugged it in upstairs, then unravelled it all the way down to the apartment so I could use my drill.

I attached the Ikea shoe storage unit to the wall behind the front door and put in the drawers so thats finished. I hung my grandmother’s old coat rack on the wall above, and the small key rack I made in the corner.

I had a small Ikea coat rack I’d bought off FB a while ago so I put that on the small wall between the living room and kitchen for extra place to hang things. Longer things since this has nothing underneath. There’s never too much space to hang things in my opinion.

Other than that its been quiet as it usually is between Christmas and New Year. Nothing from the electric company, not that I was expecting to hear from them yet. They didn’t act in all the months since August, why would they suddenly bust a gut to fix our problem now? I’m not kidding myself. If we get power by the end of January I’ll celebrate. Maybe my next call should be to a TV ‘expose all’ program…

z

the bed saga

Today was a nice day. Not too cloudy, not too cold, not windy. I figured it was a good day to head on downstairs to put together the 2 Ikea items I’d bought: mom’s bed and the shoe storage cabinet.

Well, I got the bed put together. Not without casualties.

First thing I noticed when I opened the boxes was the instructions said it was a 2 person job. Still, I persisted on my own using the new ‘elevator clap thingies’ I got online and some bits of timber to hold up the ‘other end’ of the side bits.

I have no idea how long Ikea experts are meant to take to do this, but it took me about 3 hours. And things didn’t go so smoothly.

The casualty was the footboard. It was so hard attaching the side bits to the head and footboard I had to use brute force. By that I mean I used a hammer and some cardboard and pounded the crap out of it to bring the bits close enough to ‘screw’ together.

The cardboard was meant to protect the baseboard from the hammer. It didn’t work as effectively as I hoped…

By the time I was ‘this close’ to finishing I was so frustrated I hit quite a bit harder than was necessary and this is the result.

Mom’s pristine new bed isn’t as pristine as it was meant to be. I can hide the damage with a bit of filler and a bit of paint, but sheesh. I am so annoyed at myself.

Note to self (and other pounders): use a bit of wood, not cardboard to stop damage. Too late for me now. I’ll keep it in mind for next time. Then again, surely it wasn’t meant to be so hard to put the two pieces together…

Needless to say, I didn’t get to the drawers that fit under the bed, nor the shoe storage unit. Tomorrow is another day.

z

attacking the ivy and other adventures

Today I can actually say I got a few things done so I’m proud of myself. And sore.

Yesterday mom went off with her youngest sister to her country place for a few days. It’s easier to work without her here… I just put on some rockin’ music and get to it. Today it was Johnny Cash. On the other hand I can’t ask mom what to keep and what to get rid of. Mind you… that’s probably a blessing. Mom would want to hang on to just about everything… cause we might need it, someone in the family might want it, etc.

I started the day by sorting through a few more cabinets and lining up crockery and glasses to see what she wants to keep and what to give away. There’s a LOT to sort through. Back in the old days family gatherings and parties often included up to 50 people – so you can imagine the amount of crockery and cutlery needed for that. And most of it’s still here, in cupboards.

I started boxing up my brother’s photos, souvenirs and posters for storage. Those were easy.

I made up bags and boxes of things to give away and a bag for rubbish and put them in the stairwell for easy access to ‘outside’.

I measured and ordered a shoe storage unit for behind the front door downstairs and a couple of other small things from Ikea. I won’t be going overboard with shopping as mom wants to keep and use as much as possible what she already ad.

I then tackled the ivy. It was a lovely sunny day so I figured best to move outside while the weather allows. Dad made a carport way back when and put metal across the top and grew ivy over it. That ivy is like a tree now, its so thick in placs. It’s time for it to go. Once its all cleared away I can get the railing repainted and can start planting pretty things in the garden.

The thing is, since there are wires everywhere holding the ivy in place you can’t just hack away at it with a hand or electric saw. I decided the way to tackle it was to cut and break off as much as I could by hand to enable me to see the wire and metal. That way I can attack the thicker bits with my reciprocating saw later.

While fighting ivy, a gypsy drove by shouting out about taking away old metal things people don’t want so I called him over. We get that a lot here. Guys in trucks and utes go around neighbourhoods playing recordings saying they will clean out basements, rooftops, yards etc and take away anything you don’t want. Some will take furniture and just about any household items. Others will only collect metal. Sometimes they charge you for doing it, other times they will only take things which have resale value for them. The guy today took some old metal chairs I needed to get rid of, some old radiators, some odds and ends, plus the bags and boxes I’d already put on the staircase.

As a favour, he took a load of things down to the rubbish for me, heavy stuff I couldn’t move myself. He wasn’t interested in furniture so I’ll be calling another guy about that later.

I called the electricity company again and put in a complaint about them taking so long. Not a thing back from them yet. Again. And still no news from the natural gas people either.

All in all a pretty productive day. Meanwhile enjoy some pics from today.

Stage 1. After removing SOME ivy. This is what it looked like from the gate to the renovated apartment looking toward the carport.
Tossing ivy cuttings into the run-down little garden as I go.
Stage 2: you can see into the carport now.
Stage 3: light inside the dark and damp carport! Still tons of ivy to remove.
The bathroom is finished!
A bar for mom to hold onto.
The smaller window. Greeks and windows in showers… I don’t know…
The bathroom really is tiny. Still need to get and put up a shower curtain, but love the hooks for added hanging space.
Kitchen finished. Dishwasher in place.

So that’s about it for today. Tomorrow is a new day and I’ve barely made a dent in the things that need doing.

z

house progress

Most things are moving along well in the house. All windows and doors are in, the wardrobes are finished, the kitchen is coming together nicely.

Now if we could get power connected we’d be fine. See below for pics and further below for a rant.

We have a window in the main bedroom finally. And all flyscreens are in.
The wardrobe in the main bedroom.
The wardrobe in the tiny bedroom.
A small cupboard in the tiny bedroom.
The kitchen taking shape.
The oven is in!

As I said, things are coming together. The dishwasher and oven which I ordered online on Monday have arrived from Thessaloniki in northern Greece, but the power which was supposedly connected on August 26 by a ‘local’ company has still not arrived.

Its a sad sad and oft-repeated story for Greece where no one seems to communicate with anyone else, even within the same organisation let alone across different ones.

Remember the envelope saga? (You can read that here…)

It all started a long long time ago, in a land right here… An innocent little girl who’d spent her whole life in a country far far away where things seemed to make sense, moved to a country where they didn’t.

Back on August 3 I called Protergia, the power company which mom and aunt 1 have been customers of for years. I requested they reconnect power to the apartment which had been vacated by the loser tenant. I have a copy of the application/contract.

Work on the house began in September. We had no power so I called to ask how the application was going. I was told that there was an issue with the electricity meter, something about a fire, that the man from the national electricity authority (DEI) had come, seen the meter, couldn’t connect power, and left. He had supposdely referred the matter to DEDDIE – the DEI maintenance section or whatever they are. The ones that fix things basically. I was to wait, it would be fixed.

Meanwhile we ran a LONG extension cord from upstairs so that the crew could work.

In October I began calling again to see if anything had been done cause we still had no power.

I got my first bill. For electricity I didn’t have. 58 euros worth of it.

I started a game of telephone ping pong. I’d call Protergia to complain that I still had no power, they would refer me to DEDDIE to register a fault. DEDDIE would refer me back to Protergia. I’ve spent countless hours on hold with one company or the other only to be referred back to ‘the other guy’ cause ‘its not our responsibility’.

Meanwhile in all the calls I’ve made I got about 53 different stories as to what the problem was and what I needed to do. Not a single person agreed on anything. Apparently there was a fire in the meter box, a cut cable, a burnt cable, a new cable was put in without permission or the meter is locked. Which is is. Sealed. By who? When? I don’t know. I presume by the first guy who came to check it out. I even had a guy from DEDDIE come out yesterday who said the meter box has been sealed, yeah, we get that, but was so confusing in his explanation of what to do about it – something about paying money for something… I don’t bloody know – even the contractor didn’t understand.

Today I got another bill for electricity I don’t have. 140 euros worth.

This morning I had a marathon calling session, sent emails, filled in online forms, yelled at people, told the power company to take their contract and shove it and am still pretty much nowhere.

This is how I see it: I chose to go with a power provider which was known to us, and we’ve been customers of for years. I made a simple request to have power connected to a house that used to have power before the tenant moved out and disconnected it. Its the power company’s job to connect me. They gave the ‘order’ to DEI and DEI supposedly reported back that power was not reinstated due to some fault. DEI suposedly referred the job on to DEDDIE.

At some point shouldn’t Protergia have notified me that there was an issue and connection couldn’t be done? Shouldn’t THEY follow it up? Apparently not. Cause apparently all they’re responsible for is ‘supplying’ power and billing for it!!!! Not making sure we actually HAVE power! According to them we’ve had power since August 26!!! You’d have thought that the 000s on the counter would be some kind of indication that something was amiss…

And now the law has changed. Since 06/10/21 in fact. I no longer need ONE electrician’s certificate of compliance for my electricity board but TWO. ie I now have to pay twice. If I’d been connected on August 26 I’d have been able to get my ONE certificate and be done with it.

So where am I at now? Besides bald in spots from pulling out my hair and losing my voice from screaming at people? Well, the contractor has to make up a plan of all new outlets in the house and send it to the electrician in order for him to get us a ‘temporary’ certificate, then he has to come inspect the power board and meter to get us a ‘proper’ certificate within 30 days of applying for the temporary one. And somewhere in there I presume someone from somewhere on this planet will come and fix the bloody electricity meter

Sometime this century.

‘I need the letter to open the envelope.’

‘The letter is IN the envelope.

‘I can’t open the envelope without the letter.’

z

…progress

In Athens the apartment is moving along nicely. Not without the unavoidable delays of course… I’d given an optimistic/unrealistic deadline of end of October, but theoretically, all going well it will be ready by the end of November. Not too bad really.

I say theoretically cause I applied to connect electricity on August 3rd via mom’s (and aunt 1’s) usual provider and I’m still waiting. I’ve been bounced around from provider to the greek electrical authority for weeks now, no one can give me a definitive answer of when we will have power. Apparently they sent someone out to connect power in August, found there was a problem with the electricity meter – so the guy left and no one informed me, and as far as I know nothing further was done!

Now, I know I keep comparing Greece to Australia and it’s proably not fair, but I presumed that when you ask to have your electricity connected with a certain provider, they do all the running around to make sure its done… ha.

Here we are, the entire renovation till now has been done with a LOOONG extension cord. And the nerve:

We’ve already got our first bill!!!!

I wonder how long it will be for the landline to get moved downstairs once we’re ready to do that…

Meanwhile, here are a few pics of the house as it is now.

The living room is storage for all the wardrobe bits.
The huge wardrobe in the tiny bedroom.
Kitchen cabinets will be put in today once the wardrobes are finished.
A couple of cabinets in position.
The colour of the kitchen cabinets on the left.
The wardrobe in the main bedroom is coming together.
The bathroom is still an empty shell.

All in all I’m thrilled with how its coming along. The wardrobes will be finished today.

HOPEFULLY the plumber will be here this morning to put through the natural gas pipe BEFORE the kitchen cabinets need to go in. He was meant to come yesterday…

HOPEFULLY the electricity will be connected this week (dare I hope they come today or tomorrow? don’t hold your breath)

The gas cooktop I ordered should be delivered tomorrow. Long story – there was a mix up and they delivered it to Paros so mom has sent it back… my mix up. Oops. The benchtop can be cut once we have that. We already have the sink.

I should get a call today regarding delivery of the oven and dishwasher I ordered. Ideally they’ll be delivered while I’m still here… otherwise a neighbour who is almost always home has offered to accept delivery.

So basically, its moving along nicely. More or less. Then the big job of moving mom downstairs will start…

z

house reno update

The house is progressing. I’m off to Athens next week to have a look at where we’re at, organise some stuff, run around like an idiot as usual.

…I’m having a little trouble with a few things. The electricity connection mostly. But I won’t bore you with that right now… its a whole post in itself…

Yes, there is light in the photo above, but its only a jerry-rigged connection to show me how the lights look. Pretty cool. Not entirely me (who likes shabby, vintage and rustic) but a nice clean modern look.

So, enjoy some photos of a house which looks entirely different to the disgusting place I took possession of after kicking out the deadbeat tenant. If you want to remember that mess, click here.

The balcony door is in place in the new kitchen. The little balcony is being tiled with the same tiles as inside.
TIles on the bathroom walls and a new smaller window.
New back door and window in the small room that used to be the kitchen. Where the window is now used to be glass bricks to let in light. Now we can get air in as well!
The window in the main bedroom isn’t in yet cause the window guys broke it… We await a replacement…
I’ve gone with the same floor tiles throughout the house.
Spots embedded in the lowered ceiling.
All new doors and frames. I didn’t pick the doors… hm… I’d have gone with all white.
There will be a new door on the storage space above the bathroom. That’s where the hot water cylinder normally sits but we no longer need one in there as we are connecting to natural gas.

I’ve already ordered mom’s bed (Ikea), one with drawers underneath, the single bed for the small room and mattresses. I’ve ordered and bought most of the appliances needed and all bathroom fixtures. The kitchen cupboards and wardrobes will be ready later this week I believe.

When I get there on Monday I think all that will need doing is making sure all is under control and buying anything I haven’t yet bought – eg. oven and dishwasher.

And…. providing we actually have electricity and a window – I will be able to start cleaning and moving stuff downstairs for mom!

Other than that I’ve been pretty flat out with a ton of stuff which needs it own post.

later!

z

reno 2 update

I’ve been back in Athens for almost a week now and I’ve been organising things for the apartment downstairs. I did post about getting rid of the deadbeat tenant and the condition of the place after he left it. That post is here.

So for the last week I’ve been talking to the guy doing the reno work, choosing tiles for the floor throughout and the bathroom walls, picking a vanity and rearranging the kitchen and bathroom layouts to make it all better and compromising where things didn’t need to be as complicated or expensive.

I’m pretty happy with how things are going and feel confident with the guy I gave the job to. I’ll do one more run through today before I leave for Paros to make sure I didn’t forget anything or want any more power points. Cause you can never have too many power points but too few is definitely a thing!

Here are some pics of the progress so far: most demo has been done, old wardrobes and kitchen ripped out, electrical cables in place.

The balcony door from the new kitchen.
The cute balcony which opens up to the small garden – the main reason I loved the kitchen to the front of the house.
The wardrobe recess which I am including in the kitchen to take advantage of a bit of extra space.
The living room.
The main bedroom.
My floor tile choices – I’m going with the bigger/lighter floor tile throughout and the matt white wall tiles in the bathroom.
This is the vanity/sink I like. I like the green but it will be rather limiting in accessory colours.
My first choice is the dark grey. Very classy. I think white would be too stark with the pale grey tiles and the white walls.

I can order things like taps and shower heads online, maybe even the cooktop, oven and rangehood. But I may be back in Athens to choose those in person, who knows? I have no idea from week to week how things will pan out. I think that’s the major stress everyone has in these COVID times.

Posting on the tablet is a pain in the butt, the app is slow to repond and drives me crazy. I’m going to publish this now so forgive any typos as I’m not wasting time trying to read and correct stuff!

z