shut down

So… no trip to Denmark.

It was really weird in fact. I left Paros on Wednesday morning last week thinking things were safe. Greece had 76 confirmed cases of coronavirus. Denmark had 34. Schools closed down all over Greece on Wedesday morning but I figured it was fine. I was still going on my trip. The risks were really low.

On Thursday Denmark’s cases were up to 250 or something. WTF? I began to rethink the trip. Friday the cases were up to 617. I cancelled my trip.

On the one hand I think I wish those figures had become available before Wednesday morning, I wouldn’t have left Paros at all. On the other hand I’m thankful I hadn’t left for Denmark last week… I’d have been suck there unable to come back!

In Greece the cases are currently in the early 220s. Not bad for a country like Greece with so many refugees (and others) flooding the islands from Turkey, Iran etc. Turkey seems set on starting a war with Greece in an underhanded way now – by sending over as many unwanted people as they can. They deny they have any problem with the virus, but how can that possibly be true when they are sending over Iranians and Iran is one of the top affected countries?

Its a mess.

In Greece all schools, unis and other educational facilities closed last Wednesday. Since then all shops except food stores and pharmacies are closed. All cafes, restaurants and other places where people gather are closed. I saw an anouncement that from tomorrow they’re stopping public transport. They had recommended people avoid buses and the metro but looks like they may be shutting them down entirely. The government is urging people to stay indoors, stay home and stay safe. There are huge fines and apparently jail time for those who don’t respect the restrictions. They keep saying its our own responsibility to keep ourselves and others safe. But of course there are those who think that doesn’t apply to them… young people are still gathering. I heard they will fine parents for letting their children out!

I was torn… stay in Athens to be there for my mom and elderly aunt, or go to my own home… In the end the decision was made by my mother. She’s afraid the ferries will be stopped so she wanted me to go to my own home. And I’d had a nightmare that I’d gotten the virus and while in Athens, in mom’s house, I cant self-isolate. She and my aunt need to stay as safe as possible.

So, I’m on the ferry on the way back home. Where I can work on my own projects and stick to my own space. Luckily I live close to a beach and can go for walks in the fine weather and I have tons of hobbies to keep me occupied.

And thank goodness for wifi and netflix is all I can say!

z

yeah yeah yeah…

I know. Bad blogger.

But things just happen… ya know?

Like I’ve had a lot to deal with. I might very well love adore living on Paros but in general there is SO much to adapt to about living in Greece vs living in Australia. I mean, for one thing, I lived in Aus most of my life and I knew how things worked there. Plus (until recently from what I read in the news) the government and tax system there actually made sense… it was a civilised country… People who wanted to start a new business or lived on low incomes weren’t pounded into the ground with no taxfree thresholds and a GST(FPA) of 24% on the first euro you made if you were self employed, and then income tax on top of that at the end of the year.

Being self employed apparently means that with insurance of 140e a month minimum (I hear the good news is its just gone up!) and 24% FPA, I get to keep 650 out of every 1000 euros I make, minus monthly accounting fees… and income tax where I can only claim 2000 untaxed receipts at the end of the year… that’s pretty daunting when you’re only starting!

Oh I miss Australia with its $24,000 tax free threshold! Heaven for a new business!

Its just felt like every time I got excited about something, starting something here, I got shot down. But I’ve decided I have to do it. I have to take the plunge, register a business number and start making it work. I can’t live on the pitiful pay here. I could subsist, maybe, but not live. I moved to Greece to be with family with the side benefit of being in Europe. I want to take advantage of being here to visit places I haven’t been before since a flight from here to another country could be as little as 1 hour. A bit different from living in Australia! Not to mention there are so many island in the Cyclades alone that I’ve lived my life hearing the romantic sounding names of but never been to visit… islands like Astipalea, Folegandros, Milos, Serifos, etc.

So, I am preparing get it started and make it work. Wish me luck.

I have a job lined up for summer. A very part time job so I can’t live on that, but it allows me time to build up a grooming business which is the way I want to go. And make things to sell cause making things makes me happy. The job is doing something I love too (painting art on ceramics), so theoretically I’ll be living the dream.

Meanwhile I just wanted to say the reason I haven’t posted in so long is basically cause I felt I had nothing positive to share. I do have some projects and I plan to start sharing them soon and hopefully get back on track with the blog and in my own mind.

So hang in there. I haven’t disappeared forever. I just to sort things out. Till then sharing good stuff will help keep me positive. 🙂

z

Work

I’m back. I did promise to tell you about my new job. Well, till a week ago and hopefully again starting in March.

I have been painting on porcelain clay items for Yria Ceramics on Paros.

I love the job. Its very fine work as most items are small and require working with brushes I have successfully avoided working with for many years. In fact I was working with brushes with about 3 hairs on them for the insects, especially the butterflies.

It takes a bit of getting used to – working on unfired clay – as the water is absorbed really fast, but I’m getting it. I love learning new things and this is interesting and fun too.

I work on my own in a tiny little studio where I can listen to music or audio books as I work and Lainee comes along to keep me company.

What more can a person ask for?

I’m hoping to buy some clay of my own to make a few things for myself. Little sculptures and ornaments and whatever I feel like. I am so enjoying the clay.

Its Christmas Eve now and I’m in the grooming shop with Grumpy on my lap, Lainee on a chair next to me and Pacquaio on a rug next to me. Gato the kitten is in his bed. Its quiet now but someone wanted to bring his dog in after 4pm so I wait… Maybe he will come, maybe he wont. You never know with people. They want you to do something for them when they want you to, but never think to call if they don’t plan to come. Don’t consider that they might be putting you out…

Ok, give him the benefit of the doubt. I had one no-show yesterday, maybe this guy will turn up…

The weather is still not what I’d call winter, but we’ve had some rain which only manages to make things annoying when you want to walk dogs.

Tomorrow is Christmas and a day to spend with family. Hope everyone has a great Christmas!

z

athens… again

All roads lead to Athens it seems.

I love being on Paros but there’s always some reason to come back to Athens. This time its Christmas and mom, but its also dogsitting and looking after a grooming salon. ie, doing any dogs who happen to need grooming while the owner is away. I mean, I’m here anyway…

The dogs I’m dog sitting are Grumpy, a tiny 17 year old yorkie who is deaf and blind, and Pacquiao, an american staffie. And a kitten called Gato. They are all gorgeous of course.

I managed to go see a rockabilly band on Saturday night and have a few dances. That was fun. There’s tons happening in that scene here – not so much the REAL rockabilly scene maybe, but the swing dance scene. Seems its become extremely popular and there are tons of people dancing in various degrees of success and rhythm. I plan/hope to get to quite a few more.

And I’ve organised to get to a big dog show in mid January. That should be super fun too…. I’ve missed the smell of hairspray!

Other than that, you know… the usual. I’m binge watching Vikings cause it must be done. And so far I’ve successfully avoided doing any craft or artwork. I will get to it though. I brought my art supplies cause I have a poodle portrait commission, and some fabrics and sewing supplies for an etsy project I have in mind.

More later!

z

athens again

I’ve been in Athens for 5 days. I’ve had a headache for 4.5 days…

Ok, not quite so bad, but it did take a couple of days to acclimatize to the noise and traffic here. Not that we don’t have those captivating attractions on Paros… but at least you can step away from that easier on an island.

I had such plans for my time here. I did manage to tick stuff off the list but I also spent more than my fair share of time watching a new series on Netflix and being a sloth. I’ve been watching Mindhunters and enjoying it. So much stuff to watch, so little time.

I’ve also driven more in Athens on this trip than I have in years. And I’ve managed to pay tolls twice on every trip I made. Me and Google Maps obviously don’t speak the same language. When she says ‘ in 100 metres lean right (or left)’ I end up exiting the toll road and have to get back on. Sheesh. Sort of defeats the purpose of being on the toll road to start with.

I brought the car over to get some work done on it and cause I needed to bring things from Paros to keep in the Athens house. I have a store room on Paros but its too damp for me to risk my paintings etc. So a full car came to Athens and a full car will return to Paros cause I have things to collect from here and things people give me…

I am a well known collector of things which could be useful.

Not that I have the room to collect things to do stuff with at the moment in my tiny house, but I figure I can give away stuff I don’t want.

I went into the center of Athens once on this trip so far to buy crafting supplies for a project I’ll share later. My cousin and I happened to go into Athens on the day of a demonstration and walked down to Syntagma Square to find it empty and barricaded by police.

I do love Athens without traffic…

It was also the day the weather changed from summer to winter. We were totally unprepared for the storm and got soaked. But despite that, a visit into the center of Athens is always fun. There are so many great shops, so many wonderful cafes, so much to explore.

We found the best button shop in the world. How cool is this tiny place filled from top to bottom with any button you might ever need? This shop has been here since the 50s and I bet they still have stock from then too!

I think I need a bulletin board at home to pin all the business cards from the shops I discovered so I know how to find them again or to be able to order stuff from them. Great sources for all kinds of things. So much fun!

Meanwhile, I’ve caught up with friends and relatives and generally have had a nice time relaxing in the family home and enjoying mom’s cooking.

I met a greek australian guy who owns a grooming shop locally and will dog sit for him over Xmas and look after his dogs. He let me wash and groom Lainee there which was nice as I haven’t yet set up a space to use dryers and stuff at home on Paros. She’s all fluffed up now and looks wonderful. Fat but wonderful…

Thats all the news on Athens for now but despite my quietness there are tons of things going on I’ll share when I can.

Stay tuned.

z

learning to live in greece

Every time you get your head up someone tries to get you down? Maybe you are a part of a Wack-a-Mole game!

That’s exactly how life feels now.

Seriously. You have no idea how complicated everything has to be here. I spend my time thinking about how I’ll make a living/survive and I’ll get an idea and get all excited about the potential and sure enough, something/someone will come along and wack me back under my rock.

Its really depressing.

I’ll give you an example. The town council advertised for a fine art teacher. Its a part time job, on contract for 9 months, they have funding for up to xxx amount of hours and would run classes depending on how many people joined up for them.

The perfect job for me I thought. I had the qualifications… so I applied. Its apparently based on a point system: a degree in Fine Art is worth 15 points. Every year in a related job is worth 1 point. Etc. I figured I had a shot…

I spent time re-writing my resume, translating it into greek, got together what they asked for: a letter of application, a photocopy of my ID card and the declarations they wanted (that I had never been fired from a council position in the past and that I wasn’t precluded from a job with the council under some code, paragraph, subsection etc. I figured I was probably ok, not having worked in Greece in a public servant capacity ever, and took them to the town council building in person.

The woman who took my envelope looked at it and said “where are your supporting documents?”.

I’m like “what supporting documents? I brought what you asked for asked for to apply for the job”.

She said, “where is your degree and your high school diploma and …(whatever)?”

I said, “this is my application. I’d be bringing that stuff (including a folio of work) to the interview…”

“Oh, there is no interview. Its a point system. Whoever has the most points gets the job.”

HUH?

You mean some creepy guy with slimy hands and dog breath, no personality and a total lack of ability to relate to people and actually teach them anything might have more points so he gets the job over someone who may have a few less points but can teach and create enthusiasm in a class or make it fun misses out?

Yep. I can see the sense in that.

Needless to say I didn’t apply for that job. Mainly cause she said take this and come back with your supporting documents or you’ll lose points. So off I went to look for my documents and after searching for over an hour I gave up. Not finding them meant I wouldn’t have enough points, but not leaving my application meant zero points anyway!

Stuff it.

And what about the post office debacle? Seems one of the postmen quit or left or ran off to join the circus or something, so mail (in parts of the island) hasn’t been delivered for almost 2 months. Okay… my house and my first delivery address of choice wasn’t in the affected areas but work is. But never once did I hear anything about mail not being delivered so I could make it a habit of going past the PO once a week to check on mail.

Let me explain Paros to you…

This is a greek island. So, not only is it in GREECE, its an island so things are doubly backward.

Up till the last few years there were no names on any streets or roads on this island. Then names began appearing cause apparently the local postman, who knew everyone, was retiring and no new postman stood a chance of learning how to deliver mail.

There are still plenty of streets with no name and buildings with no number. I have no address at my home. When I wanted a phone line put into my place I had to give them a neighbouring phone number so they could figure out where I was.

When I tell people where I live I say “You know the road that turns right to XXX Hotel? Well, you go past that but just after it there’s a road that heads up a hill on the opposite side…. thats where I live. There are a ton of building up there, but the first building is at a right angle to the road, then another is parallel to the road. That’s my building, my place is the xth unit with number x on the door.”

Putting that on an envelope imposes a challenge…

So instead I opted to have stuff delivered to my a hotel my uncles co-own, but since I was living in my grandmother’s old house and the postman knew me, he would just deliver stuff to my door. Then when I began working I asked him to bring mail to my work cause its very close to the post office. He passed that info on to his replacement but we won’t mention the parcels that got left on the doorstep of the old, unoccupied, house…

So, about a week ago two things happened simultaneously. A friend asked if I’d gotten my replacement credit card in the mail, which she’d sent ages ago. No… I hadn’t.

And I checked on the status of an ebay purchase which had never arrived. I’d given it extra time just in case. Turns out it arrived, sat in the PO for 2 weeks and got sent back to China!

When I went in to the PO to yell at people that this was unforgivable, that NO ONE notified me that my mail was in the PO, that if I hadn’t overheard my boss telling someone mail wasn’t being delivered, I wouldn’t have had any idea!!! You know what the guy behind the counter said? He said he’d seen my parcel sitting there for ages and wondered why I never went to pick it up!

(insert swear word of your choice here)!!!

There’s more… but I won’t bore you with it. Well, at least not in this post. I’m sure I’ll be sharing more in later posts…

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

my new job as a mule…

Paros Parikia cobblestone streets Greek Islands

Its been a while, hasn’t it? Typical of me. I start off all keen and eager and promise I’ll post regularly, then things just run me over.

On the good news front, things are moving along on the house purchase. I hope to be able to get in there before the end of the month cause there’s work I want to do on the place – ideally before I move in.

Paros Parikia cobblestone streets Greek Islands

You know… essentials like air conditioning, making sure there are enough power points for a power hungry lifestyle, figuring out how I can update the bathroom economically so I can fit in a washing machine… buy stuff for my new place… spending money is always such great therapy… making stuff for my new home is even better!

Its exciting and I just can’t wait to have my own space again so I can do things like make the doily curtains I’ve wanted to make for the last 10 years or so… create a private back patio retreat, just nest

Work is going ok. Its still a mystery to me how a lot of stuff works there… its not like there are hard and fast procedures and it does my head in. But I’m managing. So far… Soon the candy store next door will open and I’ll be able to hype myself up on sugar.

Paros Parikia cobblestone streets Greek Islands

My cousin Zefi and her family, plus more uncles, aunts and mom are all on Paros now for Easter (that’s Greek Easter – next Sunday) so my life has become a bit more fun, full and complicated.

I’ve been having lunch with mom and her sisters every day – the only real meal I eat so that’s good. And now that Zefi is here I spend a fair bit of time up at her place just catching up and enjoying the company.

Paros Parikia cobblestone streets Greek Islands

Its been a bit cold here lately (again). We had a bout of gorgeous spring weather which lulled us all into a sense of security, then it turned cold and windy again. I almost packed away my coats! Eh. That’s ok. It’ll be HOT soon enough. Enjoy it while i lasts.

Paros Parikia cobblestone streets Greek Islands

Other than that I’ve been busy making stuff on the days when I’m inspired and not too tired to do much of anything but take naps in the afternoon. And let me just mention how great it is to nap in the afternoon… I’d never been able to do it before this last year. Maybe its a sign of getting old, but I love having a lie down if not a nap in the afternoon.

I’ll be sharing some of my finished projects on here so beware!

As for the new job I mentioned in the title, now that I have a car and Zefi is up at Souvlia* I’ve become the mule for my aunt. Its like ‘I’ve got some STUFF for you to take to Zefi’. ‘Here’s the STUFF.’.. Its like doing drug deals on the cobblestoned streets of Parikia. ‘Did you get the STUFF?’

Eh. (greek expression) Its ok. I’m used to it. I have mom who’s always giving me stuff – lemons, eggs, home made ricotta, small yogurt or butter containers filled with leftover food… ‘Here, eat this. It can’t go to waste’ and ‘Here’s a little cake I got at a funeral/memorial.’

Then later ‘Don’t eat too much. You’ll get fat.’ and ‘ Don’t eat sweets. They’re bad for you.’

Ah the joys of greek mothers!

Its great to have my mom here. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it!

z

*Souvlia is home to the Famelis family on Paros. Its more a village or commune that a home as it consists of a whole lot of separate houses or rooms for all the people who go there every summer.

a little walk and a little talk

I did it again. I disappeared for a while. I always think I’m going to post regularly but then things happen. You know. Life. Relatives. Coffee out with friends…

Or rather not coffee. This morning I had my first coffee in 3 days. I’ve been avoiding it. Tea too. Not voluntarily I might add.

It seems like lately coffee decided it doesn’t like me any more. Neither does tea. Or milk. Or chocolate.

Or just about everything. I’ve been reduced to eating bread sticks, bread and, strangely enough, panetone… So many other things just come straight back up.

Life sucks.

And no, I’m not pregnant. (I have been asked!)

Its this whole stomach/hiatus hernia/GERD thing I have going on. I’d rather have gorgeousness going on but what are you gonna do? You get dealt the cards, you gotta play them.

Other than that whats been going on?

Well my dearest darlingiest cousin Little Zefi (aka known as the Little Usurper who came along and stole my name) came to Paros for a long weekend. We went for a lovely long walk to the other side of Parikia bay, and spent hours just talking which is always lovely.

Since she left I’ve been up to my ears in creating stuff. I’ve been inspired to make Easter and spring themed items to sell. I’ll share those when they’re done, but suffice it to say the place looks like a herd of rampaging dogs went through, pulling everything out of cupboards and spreading it around the living room/kitchen area.

My aunt came up to look at my teabag dress with a friend of hers yesterday and I heard her explaining as she came up the stairs: “Zefi is creative, so when she works she has everything out”… ie don’t get offended by the mess!

My teabag dress at the Art From Trash exhibition a few years ago.

Over the last few days, due to being newly inspired to create, I also visited an antique shop, a junk yard shop and various general stores and bought bits and pieces I need (or want or think I need or can use one day). Its always good to visit all the stores in a new place just to know where you can buy what.

I really can’t wait to get into my own home. All this accumulating and nesting in someone else’s house is getting too much. I buy stuff, lug it up the steep stairs, all the while knowing that at some stage I’ll have to lug it all back down and into my car to take to my own place.

Things are moving slowly on that. The sellers of the apartment I’m buying will be in Greece at the end of April for Easter so I hope we can settle things then. Fingers crossed. It would be good to be in there before summer and I have to work longer hours.

z

roundabouts and driving on the wrong side

Well, I survived my first two drives in Athens. On my own. With google maps in the passenger seat.

Yes, I’ve done it before, but somehow this time it seemed like a bigger step. It had been so long. I mean I drive mom’s car on Paros when I’m on holiday, but its been years since I drove in Athens. And let me tell you, Athens is a whole different kettle of fish to Australia.

Narrow roads, people driving up and down at full speed. Cars parked on both sides and in wierd spots, odd angles, all over the road and footpaths. Traffic signals are merely a suggestion.

And the area I picked up the car from seems to have its own rules for roundabouts which defy logic. Apparently, its the only place in Greece where the people entering the roundabout have the right of way.

Uhuh.

You heard right.

Certain words come to mind: illogical, irrational, idiotic, foolish, impractical, unreasonable, ignorant, stupid…

You enter the roundabout, then get stuck there cause no one will let you out, and the more people who enter the roundabout the more packed it becomes till in the end no one can move.

Wonder who thought that would work?

As for me, I’m getting there slowly. I still get into the car on the wrong side and reach for a steering wheel that’s not there, but I’ll get used to it. I did look like an idiot the first few times it happened though.

I’m also back to a manual car after many years with automatics. Not that that’s a problem. I had manual cars for most of my life. Its just another thing to get used to. Gears on the right…

Anyway, I’m back on Paros again and life can start to get sane again. Its good to be back on the island.

z