paros day 13: air dry clay bits

Today my washing finally dried! Yay. There is pleasure in the simple things…

I started on the sewing table but got delayed. I took it to the garage to start sanding, gap filled some more and planned to do the first coat of varnish on the top. But while sanding I broke a sliver off the top so had to glue that back in place. So instead of doing a coat of varnish today I’ll be doing that tomorrow. Hopefully the rain will stay away and we can walk there tomorrow.

While the sun was out I took Lainee and Spitha for a walk to the beach and collected some cuttings to pot up along the way. Also added to my collection of sea glass. I’ll have to start making stuff with it soon as its getting pretty big.

Once back home I continued work on the bulldog. I made his paws, nose and eyeballs out of some air dry clay I had. Once they’re dry (or mostly dry) I’ll add detail. For now they are just drying slowly…

bulldogfeet

I also added a few bits to the boy. He’s been neutered so there will be no balls, however he now has his other boy bits (hahaha!) and the beginnings of a head.

bulldoghead1

Once this layer of paper is dry I’ll continue building on the head to get it right. Not exactly sure how I’ll do it yet but I have some thoughts…

Anyway, another nice day working creatively at home this time listening to stand up comedy on Youtube. I have home made potato wedges in the oven for dinner and I think I’ve earned some netflix.

Tomorrow is another day to be filled with creativity.

z

paros day 7: being productive

It was a gorgeous overcast day today, warm, slight breeze, quiet… Just beautiful. Lainee and I walked to my uncle’s again this morning to continue work in his garage on the various projects I started. And this time I remembered to take my extension cord with the greek plug on the end so we had power!

I cut some odd bits of plywood to create shelves for this little stand thingy I got from what looks like a tip, acts like a tip shop but the owner treats like an antique store. Really. Its full of junk and he wants top euros for the crap.

Whatever. I picked this up on my last visit, it had only one half rotted basket in it, but I’m fixing it up. Details when I share the finished project, but what do you think… varnish the ply shelves or paint them? I like the look of plywood but don’t really like the edges.

I also continued with the painting. Right now everything is white as that’s pretty much the only colour I have. I can tint paint using my acrylics but am choosing to keep things simple for now.

My painting method is sloppy by design. The aim is to create a texture with the paint to make things look old, like they’ve been painted over 116 times in the last 6 decades. And treated badly to boot.

Since I had power and no curtain brackets, I made my own today. Of course I ran into problems. I always do. Sometimes its cause I don’t measure properly, can’t count, or am just a bit too carefree when I do things. As in ‘close enough is good enough’.

Let’s just say there was a bit of wastage involved. I obviously didn’t learn the lesson of measure twice, cut once. With me its more like measure twice, cut twice or more. Hopefully get it right second time. If not, sand and gap fill.

However today the problem wasn’t just with me. It was the tools.

Yeah. I know. A bad tradesperson always blames his tools, but in this case its true.

When I came over from Australia I brought all my tools… including my hole saw bits… When I was cutting a hole into the side of the kitchen cabinet to run the power cord through to the microwave, I bent the main bit which holds the round saw thingies. I did what you’d expect and rushed to the nearest hardware store and bought another set. Apparently I couldn’t just buy the drill bit holder thingy. I had the buy the whole kit.

This is what a hole saw kit looks like for those who don’t know. Except the one I have now is way thinner…

The kit I got is pathetic. I swear its made of tin. First time I used the smallest saw bit I bent it out of shape. Today I tried to cut a hole in a piece of plywood and this is what happened:

It just gnawed at the wood like a toothless beaver… Either this is the hardest ply on earth or that saw is pathetic. I’m going with the pathetic saw.

Of course I didn’t have my spade bits with me… man I miss having my own workshop where I have everything I ever needed and a lot I never did…

These are spade bits. Love spade bits… oooh yeah.

In the end I improvised. I used the jigsaw to cut out the crookedest semi circles you’d ever seen.

At least they fit the broom handle/curtain rod so I’m happy.

I mounted the brackets onto flat bits of ply so I can attach them easily to the wall, and voila. A couple of coats of paint and they’re ready to put on the wall.

Then I’ll have to figure out how to hang the curtain without rings, but I’ll work that out.

I always feel better when I’ve done stuff. Happy Zefi.

z

what a year 2019 was

Inside a small cafe near Ermou Street in Athens.

December 23, 2018 I came back to live in Greece. A year ago at this time I was right where I am now. In Athens. A year ago next week I went to Paros to begin my new life there.

2019 was a big year. So was 2018 of course since that was the year I decided to move back to Greece and had to sell everything I owned… but I’ve been thinking about how much my life has changed in one year.

Same cafe, gorgeous decorations.

So much has happened in a year. Most people tell me I’ve achieved tons though I always expect more of myself and I tend to focus on what I haven’t achieved. Still, I figure I should be grateful for everything I have done in that time.

I found work. More than one job in fact. I’ve become known as a good groomer by word of mouth. I bought my own piece of Paros to call home. I’ve made great friends and I’ve spent time with family. I got a poodle to warm my heart. I joined the animal welfare organisations on Paros and have helped animals in need. I’ve been adopted by a cat. I’ve done some of my own work and made things to sell. I bought a car. I’m learning to live in Greece. I’ve set up an art class to start this coming year.

Little Kook is a work of art. Three shops, owned by the same person, an entire street decorated for each season.

Sure, there’s still a ton of things to do. To work out, to decide upon, to set up. A workshop/studio for one thing… sigh. I miss that most of all. Having a dedicated space I can go out to to work on making anything I feel like.

But the possibilities for life here are endless… with all the choices and decisions I’m feeling overwhelmed and (to coin a friend’s expression) I’ve been ‘lost sheeping’ a lot. Which means I stand in the middle of a room thinking ‘what do I do now?’

However, all in all, its been good to come back to Greece. Mom is so happy to have me near by, or living at home as I am now while I’m in Athens. She’s always cooking my favourite meals. Its nice to have my mother near and I like to see her happy.

A local cafe bar called Button. Of course.

I miss Paros and can’t wait to get back to my home and friends, but to be honest, I’m also enjoying my time in Athens. When the weather isn’t too bad I go into the city center and wander around. Its amazing down there.

Elize, a cafe full of flowers.

One of the things the greeks do best is the cafes… We have great cafes in Australia sure, but here they are inspired! They do the ‘themed’ cafes so well. And they are always packed despite charging 7e or more for a slice of cake. Unbelievable. I went out yesterday and ate a meal in Psiri for 20e for two people, then a cafe for a small cappucino and cake for 2 people and paid 23.30e. Highway robbery. And yet, the places are always full.

Pink and red cakes.
Even pink cappucino.

Life in Greece is contradictory. So many homeless. Crime. Yet people enjoy their lives and somehow can afford to go out as well. Beats me how they do it, but they do.

Anyway, I’ll leave it at that today. I had planned on writing more and sharing more, but I can’t concentrate with all thats happening in Australia right now. My heart is aching for all the animals lost and all the people who lost everything they own…

z

the next installment

First up, a work in progress photo of the Ikea bookcase. Love the Ivar system. So easy and adaptable.

This is where I had planned to put the bookcase. Notice the powerpoint I had added on the wall where I thought I needed it… See the light fittings. Now look at how things are now:

Ok, maybe its not that easy to see. Basically I first bought a 32in TV thinking I didn’t need anything bigger… I got it home and from the couch it was like “where is the TV?”… so I had to swape it for a larger one. 50in. Much better.

Of course that lead to a lot of changes. The TV needed to be opposite the couch, so I had to move the whole bookcase down. Not to mention the bigger TV wouldn’t fit in the bookcase as it was. I needed to cut the bookcase to adapt it to fit a larger TV. I did that by cutting the front upright in the middle section. I have a bracket I plan to put there for added support for the shelves above. I’ll do that when I start painting the bookcase as I dont really want to be moving the TV twice.

I had planned on adding a narrow section to the end near the door, now I added it to the end by the wall. That meant I had to move the power point as it was now in the way. That was one of those 5 minute jobs that took 2 weeks cause I kept forgetting to buy the right drill bit with the right screws and plastic sleevey things. THEN it took 5 minutes to do.

The bookcase is all secured to the wall at the to so there’s no moving it now.

I ordered my narrow section and realised I forgot to get the little black feet… and didn’t order enough shelves… so now I wait to get those bits to finish the bookcase.

You can see I’ve got one section set up as my laptop station. I’m still not sure if I’ll extend that with a fold down section for a keyboard… We’ll see.

Meanwhile its just a general storage area till I get myself sorted. But there are pockets of pretty. Like this one with the little cactuses I bought a couple of weeks ago. Real ones!

The little stool is something I picked up at an antique store. They are something every greek house on the island had in various sizes – my grandfather made 3 of them for his grandkids. This was a dark green which I painted white. Of course. Its so Paros.

And this is me, right? Brushes and tools, the industrial light fitting, an antique photo frame…

The little table Barbara gave me (thanks again) is my sewing table while it waits for its makeover. It will always be my sewing table, but it will be painted and mended where Petey (her dog) snacked on it.

Another Zefi touch is the covered shoe (and other) boxes. I mean I couldn’t just have ugly boxes holding stuff on my shelves. I used brown paper bags from shops to cover those 3 and an old table cloth to temporarily cover the large one. The bigger shoe box holds the power cables cause who wants to see those?

Outside the front things happened for a while… My uncle and his buddies came over to install a sail for me. A nice big rectangle one. To keep the resin off the pine tree off any furniture I put out the front. They also did a few things out the back for me. The triangle sail to stop the hot afternoon sun from coming into my bedroom and provide some privacy, a washing line (no one seems to have those here… like, what? there is only so much you can fit onto a clothes airer!) And they put up a bamboo screen to the yard next door which does get occupied at times.

Well, in theory the front sail was a great idea. Till the wind grabbed it and ripped the post out of the wall.

Back to square one on that…. Now I’m thinking I’ll put the small triangle sail out the front and see how that goes and move the big rectangle one to the back where its protected from the wind. And next year, before things get busy, I’ll organise to build a pergola for the front. A real one. Built from timber. The wind shouldn’t take that one!

Meanwhile the coffee table is a craft station. I still haven’t recovered the dark brown cushions, I want to cheer the place up a bit. I did make the round cushion cover removable using fabric scraps I had on hand so it can be washed.

And Lainee keeps me company no matter what I’m doing. She’s settled in really well. Still very shy around people but loves other dogs and gets so excited when she sees one.

She’s begun to wag her tail for me, not often, and play short bursts of happy poodle. But the moment I try to join the game she stops… Its so sad. I don’t know why she’s like that. She doesn’t seem to get playing. She’s glued to me like a siamese twin, yet if I call her she will cower at my feet. And if anyone approaches her she just looks really worried.

Still… she’s improving all the time and I’m so glad to have her. She is the sweetest dog in the world and she’s helped to heal my aching heart from losing Montana and Romeo. And not being there when Montana died. She was such a special girl and I adored her. And Romeo was my boy from the day he took his first breath. Leaving them was one of the hardest things I ever had to do in my life. But they both found amazing homes with people who adore them. Its all I could want for them. It was just unfortunate that Montana only had a few months to enjoy the love of her new family.

Enough of that. It will make me cry.

I’m off to work now. No rest for the wicked. I hope that come off season I can get into a better routine and start making things again. Then I’ll have more stuff to share.

z

learning to live on a greek island

OMG!!!! I found this unpublished post when I sat down to write today… I’m so embarassed! LOL Actually, I’m not surprised. Things just get away from me…

So anyway… here is a post from over a month ago! I’m adding updates in italics to make it more current.

Meanwhile I’ll get to work on the next post…

Even prickley weeds have beauty.

Things have been busy lately. As if you hadn’t guessed given the resounding silence of late…

All good though. Only the odd minor drama…

I’ve moved into my new place. That’s if you don’t count the boxes I still have in storage, but since I haven’t yet had the energy to tackle the storage space in the basement I can’t bring them over yet. Its the thought of creepy crawlies or mouse droppings that’s keeping me from the task. And the heat. Then there’s the fact that I’m expecting visitors and 47 boxes in the middle of my living/dining/kitchen area will make life a tad difficult.

My visitors have come and gone. The boxes are still in storage but I’m counting the days till I can bring my stuff home. And my brother cleaned out the creepy stuff in the basement store room so its clean at least.

I’ve ordered my Ivar bookcase from Ikea (now that was a nightmare with their site taking turns recognising me or telling me I didn’t exist or I didn’t have a valid phone number??). It should arrive right when I have my brother staying. I can see it now… “hey bro, since you’re not doing anything…” hahaha

Somehow I don’t think that’ll work…

I got my bookcase up, decided I needed more bits. Its a work in progress.

I got a new coat of paint on the interior before moving in. And already have one scratch on the wall.

New light fitting with entirely the wrong globe. I hadn’t bought globes and the electrician picked these… hm…

The electrician came and changed the wall light fittings to ones I bought and put in some extra power points. He also put a couple of lights under the kitchen cupboards so I can see to burn food and wash dishes.

I got more appropriate light bulbs and I like it so much better now.

I bought a rickety rusty old bench for outside as a work bench and moved the outdoor setting to out the back cause the front is impossible to use.

So far all I’ve used the bench for is potting plants, but thats ok. And what you can see is actually the neighbour’s back patio space. The unit is unoccupied and while its in bank repossession limbo I’m spreading out that way… the area beyond the fence you can see with all the pretty plants is the other neighbours. Much bigger than my patio… I’ve now put up a bamboo screen for some privacy.

I borrowed my uncle’s water pressure cleaner and cleaned the worst off the front porch. On the negative side: the resin coming off the pine tree next door is unbelievable. That space is unusable without a sail or a pergola. I’m opting for the sail this year and see how it goes. Till I get a sail up I can’t even clean out there cause its a waste of time and effort. Not to mention white spirit, which I’d rather not throw around on a regular basis.

The lock on my bedroom window broke so its either open or closed, no in-between…

Thankfully that fixed now and I’m waiting on a quote to get security screens on the front door and window…

My suitcases are here… feels like home!

My car still runs but the back driver side door stopped opening. The knobs on the back seats both broke so I can’t lay the seats down to put big things inside. And I live to transport big things… Occasionally the radio turns itself on out of the blue… I’m sure that one day the lock and/or door handles will come off in my hands… eh. My car has character, what can I say?

The back door is fixed. Thanks to my brother. But the back seat issue remains.

I miss my Amarok. The quiet of WindDancer Farm. My poodles. Working from home.

Pay that matches cost of living – more or less.

Bureaucracy that makes sense.

Sigh.

Still, living on a greek island has its good points.

Like the sea. The views of the sea. Life by the sea. Swimming in the sea. And did I mention the sea?

I’ve got the most romantic mosquito net over my bed thanks to a good friend. Thank you Barbara!

Thats it for this post.

More coming. Soon I hope…

z

old houses

So, I’m back on Paros for the Paros Festival again this year. Three days of tours, dancing, bands, performances and open houses.

Last year I just managed to scrape in a visit to a couple of houses, an exhibition and a tour of the old church. This year so far its just been old houses… I absolutely love old houses.

These old places are old mansions belonging to the aristocratic island families of the past. They are either lived in and kept more or less in original condition, or left empty and are slowly falling apart cause the owners can no longer afford to maintain them.

They contain original collectables and furniture and are more like museums than homes.

They’re beautiful old places, and man, would I love to have the money to buy and restore one… sigh… not in this lifetime!

Meanwhile life goes on at a breakneck pace… whereas things crawled along for ages, a while lotta stuff happened all at once this last week.

For one thing, I now have wifi at home! Which is great cause I had my new 50in TV for a week with no internet access…

I also now have a bamboo screen, a clothes line and a sail in my back patio area. And 4 new plants…

My Ikea shelving unit (aka the bookcase) has been fixed to the wall and most of the stuff sitting on my kitchen bench have gone back to living on shelves… till I sort them out…

I have a washing machine (…maybe… long story…) but no connections for it AND it won’t fit under the kitchen bench… sigh…

There have been broken pipe incidents all over the place at the little community I live in. Apparently, they tell me, when the desalination plant went operational and we were connected to the service, pipes began to burst all over the place. Two reasons for this…. up till now the water was always pumped into a tank and the water ran on gravity feed. Plus they’re old pipes. They couldn’t take the new whiz bang mains pressure. Ugh. The first pipe to burst was next door above me. I came home to no water as they worked to fix that till late evening. Next was a place up the hill from me. And yesterday the place on the corner of my floor had a leaking ceiling cause the unoccupied place above was flooded. That was particularly bad as it wasn’t an outside leak, this one has done more damage.

I have a plumber coming today to put in the necessary plumbing for a washing machine and I was told to ask him to put some kind of pressure limiting gadget on my water line.

Ah… adventures….

Other than that, things move at their usual rushed pace. Get up early to walk Lainee and go to work each morning. Hurry home then to the beach or a grooming appointment. Go home for a shower and change to go out with friends or meet family.

Where is that slow paced life people talk about on a Greek island?

z

unbelievable… then again, maybe not…

Today my Ikea Ivar bookcase was delivered. I was so excited. I’ve been so looking forward to this. After the beach I got stuck into it. Unpacking boxes, lifting out bits and pieces and leaning them against the wall I’d already cleared so I could put it up tonight. Having decided that it was easier to just put it up now and worry about painting it later, like after the summer season, when I wasn’t busy with a job and the beach and all that…

So I opened up all the boxes, creating a pile of stuff to put together, only to find there were no lugs or pegs or bolt-like thingies to hold the shelves onto the sides. I thought maybe I got it wrong… maybe there’s some hidden trick to attaching the shelves. I looked it up on Youtube (as you do) and nope… there are supposed to be lugs or pegs or whatever and there were NONE. One guy on Youtube said they’d all fallen out in the packaging when he got his, but I looked through every bit of cardboard and not a single lug to be found anywhere.

Wonderful.

Now first thing on my to do list for tomorrow is ‘call Ikea and have them send me the lugs’. Then wait a week till I get them so I can put the damn bookcase together and get stuff out of the way.

And I thought I was on the home stretch…

I still haven’t got my sails or outdoor cupboard. I’ve gotten as far as speaking to the transport company which is shipping it but they haven’t located my order to inform me when it will be delivered.

Wonderfuller.

Sigh.

And while I’m whining and complaining… why is it that light switches are never on the right side in Greece? I don’t mean on the right wall, I mean the one on the right turns on the light on the left and the one on the left turns on the light on the right. I mean… how hard can it be to get that right? How about why some light switches are on when they’re up while others are on when they’re down… sometimes even in the same house…

Not to mention the fly screen on my front door … it opens the wrong way entirely. Its a double door, a narrow double door which means that you can walk through if you leave one side of the door closed (the side with the bolt top and bottom), but if you’re carrying stuff you really need to open both sides. Any NORMAL human being would put a sliding flyscreen on the ‘fixed’ side of the door so you can push it half open to get in and out when you’re only using half the doorway. But no. The bright spark who installed the one in my place put it on so you either have to open both sides of the door in order to open or close the flyscreen, or you have to contort and twist to reach around and slide it open or shut with half the door closed.

Really stupid obvious things to anyone with a brain… You’d think.

Ignore me. I’m just in a shitty mood cause I’ve spent the last 3 hours getting ready to set up a bookcase with nothing to show for it but a bigger mess than I started with.

I’m tired.

I’m going to bed!

z

getting there

It seems I have a house! Well, a unit to be exact. A one bedroom unit with a nice livingroom/ kitchen area, a decent sized bathroom and a tiny back courtyard I need to partition off if I want privacy. Plus a shared porch out front with a sea view (not the one pictured), providing you’re happy to ignore the traffic on the road below.

All in all, its a nice little place and its MINE. That in itself goes a long way to making up for its shortfalls: the fact that its not a detached house with a yard on a quiet hillside with views for miles and the sound of cicadas instead of cars…

I’m signing the paperwork this Monday but the bank cheques have already been drawn up. Yay for me.

This where the long wait and wading through red tape to buy a place end, and the adventures of setting up a place begin.

Fun things like getting internet – a 5 week wait apparently. If the legal crap hadn’t taken months, this and getting tradies to do work on the place would have been easy. Now, as peak season breathes down our necks, there’s buckleys to none chance of getting a tradie to do a job at a reasonable price… and I want air conditioning!

Plus getting power switched on in my name… theoretically that should be easy, but I’m in Greece… Water… do I need that turned on and in my name also or is the mains just turned off? I have no idea.

This and many new and exciting things await me as I learn all about being a home owner on one of the most popular islands in Greece.

z

Time flies…

Or drags. It really depends on where you are and what you’re doing.

Lately it just feels like there isnt enough time in the day to get anything done. Partly its cause I’ve been working the 1-7-but-more-like-7.30pm+-shift at work.

It sucks. I always have things to do in the mornings and even though Lainee makes sure I’m up by 8am every day, I never seem to have time to just relax… let alone do the stuff on my to do list.

I really have no idea where time goes, but it just goes.

There are pills to take (for both us girls), then errands to run, not to mention walks to take. If I can squeeze in a quick swim I do it. I’m on greek island for petes sake! I’ve taken to wearing my swim suit when I leave home cause you never know… there’s nothing worse than finding yourself near a great beach on a gorgeous day without swimmers. In fact being on Paros and not being able to swim is my worst nightmare…

After work its rush home to walk the girlie, grab something to eat before its too late according to my stomach’s schedule, then its socialize and chat and drinks till at least 11pm… cause I’m on a greek island for petes sake!

So what keeps me so busy you ask? Well, there are always things that need doing, you know, normal living things like washing, grocery shopping, chasing up lawyers regarding buying my own place, stopping to chat with every person I meet, pat every dog I see… and dog grooming.

The middle of the day work thing is kinda annoying. But its only for this month apparently… then I go to morning shift.

I’m eager to get to the 9am start so I can have an uninterrupted afternoon to myself.

And as if that wasn’t enough I found a sick little kitten on the road and picked him up. No one could take him on for 3 days. The animal welfare societies on the island are volunteer run and everyone is already up to their armpits in kittens. Its that time of year when kittens are born to stray cats or are dumped in dumpsters by uncaring cat owners.

So I had this tiny little man who needs antibiotics once a day and eye drops twice a day for a while. And he’s so cute… and he and Lainee were ok together… but I DO NOT WANT A CAT.

I love all animals but I don’t necessarily want to live with or care for them all. And cats are too sheddy. And they jump on surfaces I’d rather not have decorated with cat hair. And I don’t need another pet to feed or vet. Right now its still a toss up as to whether I can afford to support myself, let alone a pet or two.

When a dinner out costs as much or more than you earn in a day… well… it doesn’t look promising.

z

finding myself through art

One of the things I really want to do with this big move is to find the artist in me again. I’m an artist but I’ve never really worked at it. I feel its time I spent more time creating art at this stage of my life than all the other things I put my energies into.

Don’t get me wrong. I will continue to make stuff cause I love doing it. I’ll still repaint dolls and sew and revamp old furniture and make things out of found objects…

But I really want to paint more.

I realised a while ago that when I paint (in any medium) I feel good about myself. Sure, I often start something, hate it, stop, then go back later, rework it and finish it and love it. And then I get the most incredible feeling inside – achievement, pride, amazement that something I admire came out of my own hands.

So here I am, in Athens for almost 2 weeks now… without my art supplies. So I went out to find pastels (always my first choice of mediums to work with) and I couldn’t find what I wanted. I bought acrylic paints instead and gave them a try.

This is my first attempt with straight acrylics in years.

Its Phaedra, a toy poodle that used to belong to our neighour. I never met her but naturally I’d start with a poodle! I tried to loosed up and make it more painterly than is my normal style. Its something I love when I look at other works of art and always wish I could paint like that. But I’m not totally happy with it, its not really me. I’m not a loaded brush type of person. I tend to work best with washes and less paint than with more…

This is my second attempt.

This is a friend’s cat. For her I used a mix of dry brush and watered down acrylics. She’s not finished yet but I like it much better. I think I found the way I like to work best.

More than that, I realised that what I really want is to mix my media. I want to go and buy myself the soft pastels I didn’t find last time I looked for them (I found a shop which sells them!) and to get some pastel pencils as well. Then I can finish this little cat with charcoal and pastels. That way I can get both the texture and the detail and depth I’m used to getting in my work.

I’m pleased.

A painting a day keeps the depression at bay!

Now I want to go find mom’s old Singer and see if it still works! Cause I feel the urge to make some of my little critters…

Other than that, I’m slowly learning to live in Greece though it not easy. I have friends and family and that helps. I’m still very eager to get to Paros and start sorting out my life there. Till then, I’ll do what I need to do here.

z