flowering plants and tiny feet

It took a while, and most of the seeds I planted either didn’t grow or died, but I finally got some flowers! Below is the lavatera my friend Ginny gave me in Tasmania a few years ago. They are by far the easiest seeds to grow and I got quite a few plants going. I gave most of them to friends to put in their gardens to ensure at least some of them make it. One of the ones I kept is now flowering on my porch.

The sweet peas I ordered from England (unfortunately I didn’t bring any from mine in Tassie) are doing well and starting to bloom. First came pink and purple, now I have one white flower as well.

As for the rest of the million and one seeds I planted, I have ONE foxglove and 4 snap dragons. Colours to be seen. And not a single granny’s bonnet. sigh.

I mentioned tiny feet though, didn’t I?

A couple of days ago I heard a tiny kitten miaowing loudly outside. So I checked it out, as I would. There was a tiny little orange and white kitten on the wall outside my neighbour’s place.

So, here’s the story so far… I picked him up and was blown away by his bright blue eyes. But he looked like he’d been injured, he had a couple of spots which looked like he’d been rubbed in the dirt… and the end of his tail was completely bald with a black tip which looked necrotic. Plus his tiny little paws were swollen and looked sore in a way that reminded me of my darling Billybear who had auto-immune issues.

I did what I do: I rushed him to the vet to be checked over. The vet said he had a fungal infection and the sores MIGHT be an injury but they MIGHT be caused by him chewing on himself. He said the swollen paws were probably from the same thing: licking them too much. And that he was about 2 months old.

He prescribed shampoo – said to wash him every second day. Said that it wasn’t toooo contagious, that Lainee would probably not get it, that I would probably not get it, we’d have to have open sores or a compromised immune system to get it. Just to wash him and feed him and that he’s playful and feisty so there isn’t much wrong with him other than that. It will clear up with time…

I then proceeded to spend 80+ euros on the shampoo, kitten food, a litter tray, kitty litter and a scoop. Cause how on earth was I going to look after a kitten without that stuff?

I know, I know… Why spend so much money on a kitten I wasn’t going to keep? Well… two answers really.

One (the sensible Zefi one) is that I should have kept the stuff I bought last time I cared for a kitten cause I know who I am.

Second (the not so sensible Zefi one) is saying ‘But he’s SOOOO cute!’ and ‘I’ve been thinking about getting a kitten’ and ‘he was meant for me’ and other such guff.

I can’t tell you which one is winning.

Yet.

I can tell you I’ve given him 3 baths in 3 days to kick start the healing cause I’m currently on the way to Athens to do some stuff and take mom to the doctor etc. I clipped his nails.* I’ve made him a little home in the back ‘yard’ where he can play and sleep and eat safely while I’m away. I’ve organised for my neighbour (the poor guy who always has to water my plants when I go) to feed and wash him.

*Nails. Clipped. Yep. Why? Have you ever tried to wash a kitten? Scratches. No open sores, right? sigh. I lathered myself with soap and pure alcohol and am keeping my fingers crossed. I’m pretty paranoid about skin infections and other little organisms that live on the skin. eeek.

But he’s so darn cute! And he purrs so loud! And Lainee won’t lie in my lap and watch TV…

Meanwhile Lainee isn’t too impressed. He’s not scared of her but she’s choosing to ignore him. So far he can’t jump on the couch (plus I’m not really allowing him the run of the house till his infection clears up) so she’s safe up there. She does think his food is pretty good though. Thankfully she’s shown no interest in ‘kitty crunchies’ yet.

He has no name yet. Maybe its cause I’m still not sure I should keep him.

I don’t NEED a cat. I don’t NEED another pet. I sure as hell don’t need cat hair on the couch.

But he purrs so loud and Lainee won’t cuddle while I watch TV…

z

art on marble – and selling

Its about time I got back into the groove!

I’ve finally tidied up the house (enough), sorted paperwork, filed stuff, set up corners with various projects awaiting my attention, and got back to painting. On marble to start with though I have some upcoming paper projects too.

Today I’ll share the newest marble paintings before I step outside and decide if its warm enough to go for a swim. The sun is out. No wind to speak of. I think its warm enough.

Not sure the white background (in my tiny photo box) works well with white marble items… I’ll try black next or go back to the table top and radiator background.

Anyway, as I said, I’ve spent a ton of time on the phone today trying to work out stuff for Aunt 1 but turns out I can’t do a lot of it on the phone. I need to go into town. Today is the only day this week when I don’t have to go into town so I’m putting it off till tomorrow. Don’t they say ‘don’t do today what you can put off till tomorrow’? No? I got it backwards? eh. I’m on a greek island… give me a break.

I mentioned I got my paperwork underway to get a business license in Greece so I can start advertising my dog grooming and artwork, I just can’t give tax receipts till I get my receipt booklet or whatever its called. However, I’ve already started looking at ways I can sell stuff online as well as starting to talk to people with shops who might be interested in selling for me.

Today is the day I try out the WordPress Simple Payment method. Bear with me while I try to get this thing to work…

SOLD

125mm x 115mm Original watercolour on paper. Special low introductory price. Free postage.

€8.00

Ok… the block only shows a small version which doesn’t look like it opens the original image, so here it is:

Maybe I’ll have to put in a large photo with the payment block underneath it… I’ll give that a go next time.

I also just found out that these new blocks aren’t supported by Android, so they don’t appear when I look at my blog on the phone… Wonder who else can’t see them?

Of course, selling work on marble online is tricky cause its not really the kind of thing you can post easily. Its heavy. And postage is expensive… so I’ll most likely only sell those pieces locally (unless someone really wants something and is willing to pay postage for it. Let me know if that’s the case).

Below is a contact form I thought I’d try out… It also doesn’t work on Android.

All this new stuff to try out… And as always, half of it doesn’t work.

Anyway, the day’s a wasting. Time to get off this chair and move to another chair. Or better yet, walk to the beach with Lainee!

z

brown soap and other things to beware

I have no idea what I was thinking when I bought a handmade bar of soap in BROWN. With bits in it. I mean, it smelled nice… a kind of hippie/patchouli kind of smell. But brown? Really? At best after using it it looks like I have rust stains in the bathtub. At worst it looks like I rinsed a diaper in there and didn’t clean up afterwards.

Eeech.

And its one of those last forever bars… I swear I’ve been using it since early this year and it just won’t wear out! I don’t think I’ll be buying brown soap again, no matter how nice it smells. Learn from me people.

I’ve learned a lot of things about plants in the last couple of days. It all started with me wanting to identify a plant that grows all over Paros (and Greece) despite the summer heat and dryness. Turns out its oleander. Who knew? Mom calls it by the greek name ‘pikrodafni’ which suggests its a daphne, but its not. Its everywhere and comes in tons of colours from a pale butter yellowy-creamy-white through different shades of pink to red. And its poisonous.

Oleander, lantana, rhododendrons and azaleas are all part of the dogbane family which includes hemlock.

There is tons of this stuff growing on roadsides on Paros and it looks a lot like hemlock:

Luckily, I’m pretty sure its Queen Anne’s Lace or carrotweed and not poisonous. Apparently ‘Queen Anne has hairy legs’ so I have to get up close and personal to see if the stems are hairy or smooth. If it was hemlock I think we’d be seeing a lot more deaths on the island, especially during lockdown…

I knew rhododendrons, azaleas and foxgloves are poisonous and I’ve had those in my garden before, but for those who don’t know the most deadly plants here is a webpage you can read about them. You’ll want to know if you have pets or little kids who like to eat plants.

Anyway, I’ve upgraded my WordPress account to premium which will allow me to put a Simple Payment button on a page so I can sell my creations through my blog. The only problem is I’m not quite sure how it works. Apparently you have to mark things sold manually so I need to run a test to see what happens after an item there is only one of sells… Does the button remain? Does it simply stop working after an item is sold? Does it disappear? Who knows… I will I guess, once I put something online and buy it myself to see what happens.

Stay tuned and then you’ll know too!

z

a walk on the other side

I had my first swim of the year yesterday. As it turned out, I’d missed the heatwave last week cause I was in Athens, but yesterday was warm enough to swim and I never can resist the water when its flat and calm like that.

Its been an adventurous couple of days. On Thursday my cousin was arriving so I went by her house to open it up and air it out a bit, leave her the marble paintings she’d bought off me and found her bedroom was under water.

Turns out the dehumidifier she had running (standard and very necessary piece of equipment when you live on a Greek island) had lost its hose and filled the room with water. If there wasn’t a rubber strip at the bottom of the door for the flyscreen it would have flooded the whole house.

There was so much water in there Turkish fighter planes were flying over Greek waters just to stir up trouble.

There were hoons on jetskis zooming around under her bed.

The good news was there were no dead cockroaches floating around. Apparently they’d called in a natural disaster and the coast guard went in and got them out.

Seriously though. It was pretty bad. Took me over 1.5hrs to mop it up. My poor cousin has had her wooden furniture out in the sun drying the last couple of days. Ugh.

So, what do you do? You take a drive to Naousa to see what’s going on there. First thing we saw was the geese that live on the streets there have babies! Unlike when we (on the farm in Tassie) had baby geese, these guys had two. Only. I’d have to steal eggs, boil eggs and replace eggs just to keep the population down around our place. Seriously. One nest would easily hold 20 eggs! If I didn’t replace stolen eggs they just lay more. Maybe the stray cats got hundry enough to risk angry geese this year…

Naousa looks lovely when its quiet. Its the only time I like to go there actually. Before it fills up with crowds of people.

The most iconic greek scene: boats and drying octopus.

The most beautiful bar in Naousa with its bright pink bougainvilleas and doors… Turns out the flowers are fake! I sure didn’t know that. But still… it works. Its gorgeous.

Anyway, life goes on at its normally slow ‘getting back to normal’ pace. I’ve gotten my paperwork underway to start working for myself (the greek equivalent of getting an ABN – Australian Business Number, only a lot more costly in perpetuity) as I see its my only choice. I can’t do anything as a hobby here in Greece. Every cent you earn must be declared and taxed and people WILL dob you in if they see you selling or working without a permit. People really are awful. There was the story in the paper about 1-2 years ago when the tax department busted an old lady who sold hand knitted booties on her stoop to supplement her pathetic pension (cause the government has cut, trimmed and taxed the pension so no one can live on it alone). How low is that?

So, I’m not fighting it. I’m going to try to work within the system. Hell, if all else fails I’ll just return to Oz!

But I said I’d give it a chance and I will. Keep your fingers crossed that I actually make enough to pay the taxes and still afford to live.

z

island colours

Home at last. That’s my place above… the junky looking one with the millions of pots on the wall. It will soon (hopefully) be an oasis of flowers. Meanwhile, the poodle in residence was complaining that she wasn’t getting enough blog-time so today she got a clip and tidy in order to face her fans:

Being back home is great. Just the sea airm the quiet and the view makes it worth it. Not to mention being in my own space. Although things are way busier here than they were before I left for Athens. Here are some pics of my neighbourhood:

Sorry some of the pics are out of focus. When its bright out its hard to see what kind of pics I’ve taken…

A walk in Parikia produced these gems this morning:

That last is the best colourwise I think, though I do love old crumbly buildings…

So, what have I done since getting back? Some grooming, some catching up with people (that’s an ongoing thing!) some tidying around the house, some plant care (dead-heading, repotting etc), some washing, some general laziness.

I really felt quite wiped out by the whole Athens thing so I’m allowing myself a couple of days of taking it easy in order to get back into things. Well, sort of… I’m still following up on Aunt 1’s application to the local nursing home, getting the paperwork ready, sorting some legal/tax stuff for myself, basically all boring stuff. But after doing a bit of all that I spend the rest of the days immitating a lump. On the couch. In front of Netflix. I’m almost at Olympic competition level at that now!

I finished watching Homeland (love that show, can’t wait for it to come back!), rewatched the last few episodes of The Walking Dead (when is that coming back?) and the latest Outlander episodes. I’m now watching The Tiger King cause people kept saying it was great… not sure… the jury’s still out on that one.

So far lets say its so out there American reality TV/documentary that I’m not particularly into it. However I can see both sides of the arguement: the rescue side that claims they’re ‘saving’ the big cats from being bred and sold as pets or to private collectors and zoos (- but the saved cats are still being kept in a private ‘zoo-like’ place…) and the collectors and breeders side that claims they are doing the world a favour by not letting species die out as they are in the wild, and that by letting people get up close and personal with them brings the reality of their plight into people’s lives in a way that makes where reading about it or seeing it on TV doesn’t.

I know that playing with 6 month old white lion cubs in Tasmania was an experience of a lifetime and I will never forget how it made me feel to be able to touch, cuddle and play with them. I can see why young women would work in a place like that for next to nothing just to be able to spend time with them. I would have done it in a flash!

At the end of the day I believe wild animals should be free, living as nature intended… but not when their habitats are being destroyed and they are being hunted and killed for trophies or fur or tusks or whatever. And I don’t believe that every idiot should own a wild animal, knowing nothing about caring for them properly… So many animals (domestic as well as wild) are abused all over the world daily… the idea of big cats or other wild animals being bred and sold for ‘canned hunts’ and stuff like that makes me sick. I’d rather see a wild animal in a good zoo, with the right space and environment and cared for by people who love them than in any situation like that.

Anyway. Off the soap box now…

I hope to get back to art tomorrow. I’m itching to but time really does fly!

z

on my way home

The good news is Aunt 1 has settled in the nursing home. I haven’t visited cause they don’t allow visitors due to coronavirus, for another I didn’t want to set her off. However, I called daily and once her COVID19 tests came back clear and she was allowed into the lounge area she calmed right down. I knew the company would be exactly what she wanted and needed. She sounds ok there. Thank goodness.

… Cause I really had had enough of aunts and every Tom Dick and Harry calling to say ‘its criminal to put her in a nursing home. Couldn’t you just get a carer at home?’ Obviously NO, but even those who know my aunt really well gave me and mom a hard time over it. I’ve been telling people off quite severely over the last few days. I never expected to become like a bear protecting her cub over my mom! But here I am…

Now Aunt 1 has settled and is no longer threatening suicide or a jailbreak and is seeing the private ‘clinic’ she’s in as a kind of holiday with carers at her beck and call all day, things will hopefully calm down with all the do-gooders.

The best news is that I’m on the fery on my way back home!

Of course, its chaos on the ferry with the new rules… 1 person per 2 meters unless you’re travelling together, that means that most tables have 1 person on them even if they seat 4. Tempers are flaring. Greeks… ya’ know… There is still only one ferry a day to Paros and back, and now that they’re allowing travel within Greece people have started moving around. A lot. Even at 50% capacity, the ferry feels full. Masks must be worn at all times, but that makes it hard to drink a coffee or eat… hm…

Anyway, I’m so looking forward to being back on Paros and in my own home! Lainee looks like a beddraggled orphan… A disgrace to her groomer mother! Time for a good groom! (Me too before I can wear a bathing suit again!)

This summer is going to be a challenge, though. I expect quite a bit of back and forthing to Athens. First trip back will be in about 3-4 weeks to take mom to her next doctor’s appointment and then hopefully to Paros. I have to oversee the renovation work on Aunt 1’s house. And of course I have to take care of all Aunt 1’s affairs and go back to Athens to pick her up if and when they accept her in the Paros nursing home.

Not exactly how I saw this year unfolding. Then again, none of us saw COVID19 coming either.

z

difficult days

The cat above was meant to look surprised… instead it looks sad and kinda lost. Not to mention ugly…

Its been ‘those’ kind of few days.

I’ve been run off my feet as always, but I’ve also moved Aunt 1 into a nursing home so there has been less of that responsibility. I know it was the only solution, I know its for the best, but I still feel like a gigantic heel for doing it.

Of course she hates it. She began calling me the same afternoon, asking where she was, could I go get her and take her home, where was she, she didn’t know anyone, she wanted to go home, if I didn’t come pick her up she would kill herself and it would be my fault, if I wasn’t there by tomorrow she would take a taxi and come home. Naturally she doesn’t remember begging me to take her somewhere to be cared for and ‘made better’.

She managed to speak to my mom who’s been very upset over it all and its not doing her any good. I got calls from one of my uncles and Aunt 4 telling me she’d called them too and hinting that Aunt 1 should never have been allowed to keep her mobile or a phone book cause she will (if she hasn’t already) be calling people outside the family telling them we’ve locked her up and abandoned her to be tortured.

I’ve spoken to the staff numerous times. She is fine. The doctor saw her already, she had her COVID19 test yesterday and as such is still in quarantine which is probably what’s making it worse. Once she’s able to mix with others my hope is she’ll be much happier. She loves company. You know… more people to complain to!

And I had to ask the nurses to ‘misplace’ her phone and phone book. That when she wants to make a call, they are to make sure she only calls me.

Meanwhile I’ve been tidying her house, putting away all the nicknacks that gather dust, washing everything to put away and generally starting to think of the daunting task of renting it out. We need the rent to pay for the nursing home. I’ve already spoken to an agent and have someone (a good friend’s niece and her husband) coming to see the place tomorrow… I obviously want someone in asap as we need the rent, but I have to find somewhere to put the furniture or sell it. The niece has her own stuff.. If she doesn’t take it then we’ll look at renting to students and they may want to keep some of the furniture. We live close to the university and there are always students looking to rent.

Either way, I have a ton of quotes to get and work to organise – from a distance as I’m leaving for Paros on Monday.

I’ll end this post with the finished picture of a pretty cat. All I did was add a bit of detail to the eye and add whiskers. I love the fluidity of this one.

z

not another whiney post

I won’t bore you with the goings on around here lately. Suffice to say its not changed. Same old routine, same old complaints. Nothing new to add.

However I did find time to do a little painting to get out of my own head for a bit. Problem is I picture something I want to try, have a go t it, but it never works out quite the way I want it to.

For instance the angel. Not quite right…

The cat however is looking good. Its not finished yet, but it could stand on its own without another brushstroke. I’m happy with it.

I am so much better at doing animals. Maybe I should stick to that.

z

hot and i’m not talking about the weather

A wet Lainee as relief from the heat.

I really am about to explode. My patience has worn beyond thin and with this heat, I’m warning you, I take no responsibility for my actions.

The weekend at Artemis was ok, at least there were three of us there to share the care of Aunt 1, and it wasn’t quite so hot as Athens. Back here though… its back to the same old grind. I settle Aunt 1 in, take my stuff upstairs, take Lainee for a walk and come back to find she’s been out on the street calling that she’s been abandoned cause I didn’t answer the house phone.

I spent most of today on the phone. Mom and I agreed to put Aunt 1 in a nursing home not far out of Athens, at least till she is accepted into the nursing home on Paros. The two I singled out in the Athens area (from friend recommendations) said they would take her without having to provide everything from her birth certifcate, her tax returns, health reports and shoe size. The one we chose wants us to do a COVID19 test before they take her. Fair enough.

I asked where I could call to get the test done, ‘look it up’… sure. Ok. I figured I’d ask her doctor when I speak to him.

I had an appointment for a call from her doctor this afternoon. I’d gotten all the tests done last week – after another phone appointment where I told him what the nursing home wanted and he said he’d call today. I figured he’d call to make another appointment to take her in or for me to take in the results. He did NOT say, bring the results in for me to see them prior to the call. I guess he thought that was understood. But I’m not greek enough to know that… so he called today and told me that I should have taken in the results and now we have another phone date on thursday morning. This is how it goes and I’ll still be stuck in this shit of a life for another 6 months at this rate!

When I asked him where would I get the COVID19 test done he said I’d need to call the government health line or whatever its called. Which I did. They don’t do tests on healthy people. They have teams that go out to places to do tests when people are sick or have been in contact with others who are sick. Great. Who can I call to get a test done privately? He didn’t know.

So I call the nursing home again. They only know one place I can call, its outside Athens of course. Near the nursing home. Wonderful.

So now I’m scouring the internet to find where I can do the test at great cost.

Meanwhile, I’m running around in the heat taking stuff upstairs, downstairs, doing laundry, getting meals and medication for Aunt 1 hanging out and bringing in washing, making calls that go in circles without achieving anything, and I get a call from Aunt 1 to go turn on her air conditioner. I tell her I’m getting the clothes off the line for mom and will be right down when I hear commotion downstairs. She’s outside calling some guys in off the steet to turn it on for her!

If you hear about some crazy woman in Greece who killed an elderly woman before driving her car through a building killing dozens of people it’ll be me.

For the predictable future I’ll be called downstairs every 5 minutes to adjust the air conditioner cause its too cold or too hot, turn it off, turn it back on.

I really don’t know how much more of this I can take. I’m already taking pills in order to relax enough to sleep at night. I have people waiting for me to do their poor dogs on Paros as they’re suffering from the heat just like Lainee is here. I want my life back.

I know life will never be the same again. I will always be the one responsible for my aunt and my mother from now on, but I just can’t take this stress much longer. I love my mother, but when I’m running up and down stairs and she says ‘don’t take long cause I want us to eat together cause I’m tired and want to rest’ I just snap.. Eat! Don’t wait. I don’t need that pressure as well.

I am not a good person.

At least you got a cute pict

z

athens day 17 but who’s counting

Today, with temperatures of about 36-38 degrees C in Athens, I find myself in Loutsa with mom and Aunts 1 and 4.

It wasn’t my idea but what the heck, figured it wouldn’t hurt. At least Aunt 1 would have company all around her all day and maybe would stop complaining. Well, that didn’t happen. She complained in the car all the way down (yeah, she was sore and uncomfortable) but then she never let anyone rest once we got here. She went straight to bed while we did stuff and got lunch ready. Then we all wanted to rest and suddenly Aunt 1 was full of beans and wanted to walk around and chat.

Loutsa is an area outside Athens – the official name is Artemisia which is a much nicer name, but its not that much of a nice area. Too built up for me, too crowded. But its close to the sea so there’s a breeze and that in itself is so much better than Athens. Mom and Aunt 4 have convinced us to stay the night and return home tomorrow. I dread spending the night with pacing mumbling Aunt 1… We need some serious sleeping pills… Mind you, she’s walking with a cane now, still saying she can’t walk, but she’s getting around pretty well.

I just got a bonus chunk of data so I’m set… I just wish I’d brought my paints with me. Seems such a waste to be sitting here without working on something.

Meanwhile let me share some pretty pictures of Aunt 4’s flowers. Here are a couple of pretty pelargoniums.

And a gorgeous bougainvillea… maybe one day mine will be as full of blooms.

And the most amazing cactus flowers. They only last one day so I’m lucky to be here to see these.

Hope you enjoyed the flowers. Not sure what time we might leave for Athens. Morning will be cooler and less traffic and I’ll be home in time to hopefully do some painting… but it would be cooler to stay here all day and leave in the evening – but that means we’ll be fighting traffic all the way home…

z