friday

Its been a stinker of a week. Today the temperature reached 35 degrees C and the worst is still to come with 38 over the next couple of days. What fun to be in Athens and not near the beach.

I continue to go not-so-quietly insane with all the crap that landed in my lap suddenly. I lived most of my life in Australia, thousands of miles from my family and all responsibility to anyone but myself. (I liked it that way!) Now I’m buried up to the eyeballs in it. Responsibility up the wazoo, decisions to make, paperwork to organise, you name it, I got it.

Making it worse of course is that I’m in a country that not only doesn’t make sense to me, having lived in a civilized country for most of my life, but that doesn’t make sense full stop! Add to that that the paperwork is all in greek and you enter a whole new dimension of f%”kuppery.

I speak greek fine, I read greek ok, I write greek badly. But forms in medical or legal language are doing my head in big time. And I’m in charge of finding, collecting, photocoping and putting together a ton of it to give to the nursing home and the solicitor. Oh boy, am I having fun!

Today the heat just about wiped me out. I got home from running around all morning and virtually passed out till Aunt 1 woke me up asking none of us cared at all and if we had all forgotten her. sigh. It was all I could do to walk Lainee and grab a frappe to wake myself up before coming to see her so I could open the windows and dust her bloody bedside table cause she’s well enough to be annoyed by the dust.

I did manage a couple of positive things for myself today though… I took Lainee for a long walk up the hill once it cooled down a bit which helped clear my mind a bit, and I reworked the latest two paintings.

The cut fig is still not quite right, but the others are much better. Overall I’m happier with it now.

I had a play with the sea urchins using the image transfer medium and some newsprint. I’m not entirely happy with the result. It didn’t transfer all that well and in some cases the paper wouldn’t come off as easily as they said it would and I ended up rubbing off the paint as well…. and almost made a hole in the paper at one stage!

Lesson: not a good idea to try to transfer over a painted image. Unless you seal it first. Maybe.

I love the look of the print on the urchins, don’t like where the medium wouldn’t come off and left marks. Still… for an experiment, not too bad.

I do love the print inside the image. If I can find a way to work that and incorporate it into my work without the globs of paper which refuses to leave I’ll be pleased. Then again, if I can’t find a way to do that I’ll find a way around it!

z

experimenting

Experimenting with drips, washes and general sloppiness that is.

Today I brought my paints downstairs to Aunt 1’s house so that I could work while I kept her company a while. Its not the ideal atmosphere in which to work, but at least I can try. Hence the experiment.

Once again, its on a small piece of paper using water colour paint and pencils. I’m not entirely happy with it but there are areas of it I do like. For instance I kinda like the fig on the left but I wouldn’t eat the one on the right… Maybe if I can get the colour and texture right it would be edible, but right now it looks downright sickly.

At least I have something creative to share, even if its a fail. Maybe if I keep working on it I’ll save it. Maybe not. You just never know… (queue mysterious music).

I mentioned buying some supplies, I bought image transfer medium and am playing around with that to see what it can do (or rather how I can incorporate it into stuff I do). I also bought a box cutter to sharpen the pastel pencils I brought with me cause the sharpener is useless… the pastel center keeps breaking! Maybe tomorrow I can have a go with those. That’s if I can sharpen them without ending up with nubs and a pile of pastel dust.

Other than that, its been HOT. Not lovely swim on the beach hot, but stinky Athens hot. And today I had to walk quite a way down the road to pay mom and Aunt 1’s mobile phone bills, up a hill cars struggle to get up and go to the laiki market and buy a ton of fruit and vegetables. Not something on my list of favourite things to do in the heat.

On the bright side, last night mom found her old electric fan and I put it in my room so no more stinky diesel smells, no heatstroke in a closed room and the noise covered the hoards of teenagers hanging out causing chaos in the park opposite. Mom said they kept her up till someone went out and told them off or threatened them or something at around 1.30am. I know he didn’t kill them cause I didn’t see any bodies when I took lainee out at 7am.

That’s one thing I will never understand… people who live in cities all their lives, surrounded by other people, sharing walls and breathing space with lots of others, yet have no respect whatsoever for other people’s peace. I don’t get it at all. When living in an apartment I’m always careful that my music or TV isn’t on too loud to disturb the neighbours. When I have visitors in summer and we sit outside I try to keep the noise down and never keep it going late into the night. If you wanna stay up chatting and laughing out loud all night go inside! And close the windows while you’re at it! Sheesh. What is it with people? And its not just the teens. One of the neighbours opposite does it all summer mom says.

That’s why I like living in the country.

z

a bottlebrush in athens

Have I ever mentioned how much I hate Athens?

Only about a million times. Except lately I’d decided I didn’t hate it quite as much as I thought I did. Cause I was here in winter when the weather was cold, windows were mostly shut, cafes were bursting with people and energy and it was a vibrant city to be in.

Compared to now: Hot and stinky. There’s been a very strong smell in the entire neighbourhood of diesel fuel for the last week. It actually wakes me up at night so I have to sleep with the windows closed. No idea where its coming from. It just IS.

The noise of course… cause now you have to have windows open most of the time so you can hear everything that happens in the neighbourhood. Including the buses on the main road and the angry motorbikes doing coffee deliveries.

Restrictions have been loosened so now people are out en masse and only some of them take social distancing seriously. The little ‘park’ opposite our house and the one on the next street over are full of parents with children playing. Kids are at the closed primary school playing forbidden ball games all day and into the night. Young children are out on their bikes or in the park with their parents till 11pm or later.

Greeks don’t believe in putting their kids to bed early the way I grew up.

The traffic is awful and, believe it or not, its less than normal cause not everything is open and not everyone is out yet! I’m spending quite a bit of time driving round the area taking mom and Aunt 1 to doctors appointments and for tests so I know. Roads are narrow, cars are parked on both sides, trucks, cars and anyone who feels like it double parks and you have to dodge traffic and risk life and limb every time you go out. then again, some people like the challenge.

A guy on a motorbike trying to overtake me yesterday was looking at his mobile!

Yeah I’m whining. Let me rant and get it out of my system. I’m tired and I’m over it. I wanna go home!!!

On the plus side, two afternoons now Aunt 1 has been getting up and shuffle walking and sitting on an armchair and not constantly complaining about the pain and how she can’t walk and her right side is all stiff. And this morning I took her to have some tests and she walked with a walking stick instead of the walker!

MOST IMPORTANTLY: SHE HASN’T ASKED FOR PAIN MEDS ONCE TODAY SO FAR!!!

She did, however, tell every doctor, nurse, passerby she saw that she couldn’t poop and could they help her… sigh…

This afternoon we saw the orthopedic surgeon again and he looked at the CT scan (or MRI, I’m not sure which it is as its in greek) and he gave me the final diagnosis and prognosis. My aunt had a fracture after all!!! It wasn’t visible on the xray but was on the CT… she fractured her pelvis in 2 places (I have no idea what its called, but its the bones that join the spine to the pelvis right at the bottom), also the little endy bits on her last vertebrae. No wonder she was in so much pain. So now, given its already been 6 weeks and the bones are held in place by the pelvis itself so the area was stable, there is nothing to do but wait it out, wean her off pain meds and at the end of May begin physio…. There’s no reason for her to not be able to walk again like she used to.

So all in all things are looking up. But you know me, nothing is easy for me. I’m a worrier. I worry about what to do about her. I can’t get someone to come live in to care for her cause I’ll be on Paros and mom will have to deal with any issues. And if the person I get up and quits I’m u. The nursing home on Paros isn’t a sure thing… they may not accept her… so I’m looking into places in Athens. Its a mindf£%k. Excuse the french…

There’s been no time for art though I did buy the bits I was after. I’m just too tired! Lets see what I can do between the next few appointments…

z

what is it with fish?

Yep. Another fish. So what is it with fish anyway?

I dunno. I just like them I guess. I like their big flat eyes, their shape and the colours. Plus they kind of suit island life and I am working towards selling them through a shop on Paros… as well as online.

This last fish was done using ink pencils and watercolour an I’m liking the crispness. So was the one below.

The sea urchins look a little bit too colourful, like candy, but the photo I was working on had them in all colours. I don’t know if that’s natural or if they were dyed. Here in Greece I’ve only seen black, green and grey ones.

So sea urchin candy it is.

When I get back to Paros I will be going back to my paintings on marble as I love the way paints sits on that surface. However working on paper has its benefits too… for one thing paper is much easier to post overseas. Cause all my work is for sale unless otherwise stated.

I’m really looking forward to trying a few different techniques but I have to buy a couple of things… I had planned to do that today but time just flies when you’re having fun. I have to take mom to the doctor tomorrow so I’ll pick them up while I’m out. I try to combine trips as much as possible.

Other than that, nothing earth shattering to report. No new gems from Aunt 1. Just the same ol’ stuff.

I’m sure she’s improving physically though the whining continues at Olympic level. Pity there isn’t an event in that cause she’s a sure thing for gold.

Ok I’m off. Rest and some more painting as time allows.

z

OFFS and a little art

If you don’t know what OFFS is don’t worry… I’ll give you a hint: Oh for f^&£ sake.

So, you know how you think things are getting better but they slide right back to crap again?

Since yesterday I’d noticed Aunt 1 getting better. She no longer cries out when she gets in and out of bed, sits on the toilet or on the stool to eat. She still whines and moans but things were looking up. Or so I thought…

Then she called me three times today, each time starting the call with something along the lines of: ‘don’t you pity me at all?’ or ‘come down here or I’ll fall over and kill myself’ or similar.

Once down here I have the pleasure of hearing how no one cares for her, God no longer loves her, she can’t take it any more, none of us understand pain, why can’t we call a doctor, she will pay whatever it takes (it took 100 euros for one to visit the house – she’s on a 400 euro a month pension to put that into perspective), why can’t we take her to a hospital, are there no decent doctors in this country, what kind of government is this anyway? why don’t I have someone who can take me to a doctor? If only my dear husband was still alive, but died young (he died at 82) he would have taken care of me, why couldn’t I have fallen and died, where can I fall from to kill myself…

The obvious answer to that is ‘from the roof… think you can make it up two flights of stairs?’

I really am not cut out for this but there’s no way I can let mom have anything to do with Aunt 1 ever again. I’m younger and healthier and I’m already on the brink of losing it.

I just wish I didn’t feel guilty and sad that she’s in pain and has dementia otherwise what I really want to do is leave her a note saying ‘you pissed off Zefi and she left.’

You know, it wouldn’t be so hard caring for her if it wasn’t for the accusations. She never asks something, she accuses. If she simply said ‘Did you give me my meds this morning?’ or ‘Did you call the doctor’ I could handle it. but its always ‘You never give me my pills’ and ‘No one cares enough to call a doctor.’ I kind of can’t help but lose it.

I did notice that while she wore a mask at the medical center she was quiet… think she mask trick will work a home?

I’m sorry to bore you with it. I’m simply not cut out to be a nurse. Just ask Wayne. When he had surgery I sent him to friends to recouperate. I couldn’t handle the abuse people in pain hand out. I am a bitch!

I’ve tried painting again. So far I’ve done 4 small watercolours on paper. I’m only sharing 2 of them cause the others are woeful and talentless!

I’m so not used to working on paper at the moment. The marble and rocks I’ve been working on the last month or so aren’t porous and don’t absorb the paint so I can work in layers, even with watercolour. The paper sucks it all up and I have less time to play with colours. This is one I did yesterday. Its flat and dull.

The second one I did this afternoon is better. Its on acrylic paper rather than watercolour paper and maybe that’s better for the way I’ve been working. I think that if I’m going to work on paper I’ll have to start using acryics again. Or pastels which is my preference.

I love the way the watercolour pools on the acrylic paper. It gives it a crisper more vibrant look. Much better.

Stay tuned for more experimental art! (hopefully)

z

aunt 1 was a spunk

I love old photos, the ones my aunt has around her house and the ones mom has in boxes. Though I’ve already collected mom’s and scanned them.

Since I’m in my aunt’s house so much I thought I’d share a couple of great photos she has framed. This one is of her and her father in the early 60s, most likely taken in Athens.

Aunt 1 looks really snooty in this photo. I think she was like that… Kind of all propriety and stiff upper lip with a touch of holier than thou. She’d fallen in love in her teens with a young man on Paros and for whatever reason that didn’t pan out. After that no one else was good enough for her till she was married at age 36 through match making. I think by then she realised she would be an old maid (in fact she was already considered an old maid) so she married the first semi decent man they brought her.

I’m tossing in this photo of the oldest brother in the family (Uncle 1) cause he was gorgeous. Generally that family was very good looking. Pity I took from dad’s side… they also have great genes, being a healthy family who live long lives.

This is one of my favourite photos of Aunt 1… on the beach in her ‘bikini’. Gotta love the bloomers!!! And what about those glasses. She sure was a trendsetter!

I’m passing the time best I can. Took Lainee for a long walk up to the hill behind us and wore the poor little girlie out and now I’m watching my aunt do her little exercise walking to the living room and back before I put her to bed again.

Then I’m going upstairs and to get out my watercolours!!!

z

a matter of attitude

No news. Nothing has changed. I’ve now officially seen and spoken to more doctors in one week than in my entire life. But I do have another gem from my aunt.

But first a quick family tree:

The aunt I’m caring for is Aunt 1, the eldest. Next is Aunt 2, mom is 3 and last is Aunt 4. Aunt 1 is sweet when she wants to be, a total PIA when unwell and has dementia which is the only thing which keeps me from strangling her for some of the things she says. Aunt 2 is bent over double and in a race would come second to a snail but she’s a sweetheart. Mom (3) is mom, mostly the best mom in the world. Aunt 4 has a bung knee, a bad temper and a loud mouth but always been nice to me.

So, I was on the phone with Aunt 2 while downstairs with Aunt 1. She was telling me to be very careful of falls and not to climb on ladders or chairs. She had a bad fall a few years ago, hence the paperclip shaped spine. I told her I know. I’ve had my own experience with a chair I’d rather not repeat.

I told her about an incident I heard about today – a man from Paros was on the roof of a 2 storey house and fell to his death.

Picture this. Me in the middle. Aunt 1 standing in front of me, Aunt 2 on the phone. Same story. Two totally different reactions.

Aunt 2 on the phone: Oh the poor man. His poor family. How tragic.

Aunt 1 in front of me: I wish I would fall and kill myself. Why can’t I fall and die?

Me (in wise ass mode): Just a minute, I’ll go get the ladder!

z

adventures in Athens

One good thing that’s come from the Corona virus is that greeks have learned to queue and respect personal space… something I was sure was absent on a genetic level.

In the past you’d go to the bank or an office or anywhere really, and there wasn’t a queue so much as a mob of people which moved as one, pushing, shoving and generally breathing down your neck. There was no way to get anything done ‘privately’ as they would lean into you as you did whatever it was you needed to do.

Today I went to the laiki, the fresh food market in our local area, and a lady actually told me off cause I stepped within one meter of her to read a sign. Ooops. Sorry. I WAS wearing a mask…

My life has become a drudgery of caring for my aunt about 4 times a day, doing stuff for her, giving her meds and generally keeping her company for hours in the day while she plods painfully from the kitchen to the bathroom to the bedroom. And trying not to listen to her moaning.

New installment: besides the usual “God why are you torturing me” and the “why didn’t my mother throw me in the rubbish” is the “what kind of doctors are these who can’t make a person better? Are they totally useless?” To which I can’t help reply: “He gave you a set of tests to take. He gave you shots I administer twice a day. He gave you meds. What else can he do? Remove your hip?”

Then there’s keeping mom company (which I fall woefully short on) and doing the shopping and any calls needed to book appointments and get information… And of course taking them both to the myriad of tests they have to do.

The most fun of all is making the calls. Every time I’ve tried to make an appointment follow-up for mom after her discharge from the hospital I’ve been sent on wild goose chases….

Here is a typical call:

“Hello, I’d like to make an appointment for my mother as a follow up to her hospital visit as recommended by the doctor (proceed to read what the Dr had written in my bad greek)”

Get put through to the department.

Repeat what I said.

“Where was your mother? What’s her name? That’s not here. You must call downstairs again and they will put you through to the right department. No we can’t put you through, you must call them again.”

Call again.

Repeat what I said.

Get put through.

Repeat what I said.

“I just spoke to you. This is not the right department.”

Repeat the entire procedure about 2 more times till finally someone gives me another number to call and finally I’m able to make the appointment!

I take Lainee for short walks (usually on an errand run) and try to get some rest to keep my sanity. Even the WordPress app is trying to drive me insane as its working so slowly and not right!

I remain optimistic that I will one day be able to use the watercolours I brought with me. Hopefully while I still remember how to use them.

z

athens: 5 days too many

Lainee making herself comfortable in my aunt’s home.

What can I say? It isn’t easy being here at the moment. Thankfully mom is good. She’s still a bit weak and has dizzy spells but she’s pretty much back to normal. We have a million test and doctor appointments lined up over the next two weeks but fingers crossed, all is well with her.

Better than that is the fact that my mom is such a lovely person. This from someone who never had a great relationship with her mother. I’m thankful that my mom is who she is: easy going, pleasant, much loved by everyone.

Lainee makes herself comfortable in the armchair while mom sits on a stool! Love this photo. Mom looks so happy.

My aunt on the other hand is a totally different story. Looking after her is what drove mom to have a stroke. I love my aunt very much, but she is one of the most difficult people in the world when she’s well. Now that she’s more or less laid up with bad sciatica after a fall, she’s almost impossible.

I got her to the hospital yesterday for xrays to rule out a fracture and have lined up an osteopath to come visit her again tomorrow. She needs to be up walking and not lying in bed too long, but she is in pain and that’s hard to do.

That’s not the worst of it though. Its the constant complaining that drains you of all your energy. She’s got age related memory issues and forgets a lot so she asks the same questions and repeats the same things all the time, asking for a doctor or pain meds repeatedly, and mumbling about how much pain she’s in. I get it. Its a horrible thing. She’s in pain and she’s alone in her home. But now I’m here I am down there for 1-2 hours four times a day, assisting her to get around, eat etc. She must get up and walk if she wants to get better.

If it wasn’t sad it would actually be funny. At times it is funny actually cause I can’t help myself. When she was begging me to kill her the other day I offered to go get a brick.

Among other mutterings: why was I born to suffer so, why didn’t my mother just throw me in the trash instead of raising me to suffer, why is God punishing me when I was always so good, I was strong as an ox, I’ve never been sick in my life before yada yada yada

Of course she’s been sick before. Two years ago she broke her leg, a year or so before that she broke both wrists and mom had to be nursemaid full time. Mom is 87 years old now and my aunt is 92.

I am trying to get her into a nursing home on Paros (the only one as far as I know) so I can visit her there, but its a process and at these times of COVID 19 its even harder than ever to get in. I live in hope. I want to get back home to Paros and to my life and the job I have lined up. I don’t want to lose that.

I’m not complaining about looking after my aunt. I want her to get better and on her feet so I can get back to my own life, including caring for her and mom but not as a full time job. I am staying positive but am being worn down by the lack of time to paint cause I was getting used to painting almost daily.

Hopefully I’ll get a chance this week… who knows. Let’s keep our fingers crossed.

z

athens – a different story

This little wooden painting was something I did many many years ago. My aunt has had it on her wall since I did it. I love the lamb on the ground!

The blog used to be a blog on all the wonderful stuff I’ve been doing during the lockdown. I’m now in Athens… How life can change in a minute…

Thankfully, mom is fine. She’s back to normal, still has dizzy spells and needs to take it easy but the stroke was very light and she’s recovered completely. The dizzy spells are due to her low iron levels. Now she needs to be much more careful about stress and doing too much. That’s all fine. She’s been in lockdown and has had her shopping delivered till now so I’ll do that, which is fine. She is happy I’m here with her so thats all good.

My aunt on the other hand is a totally different story. She had a fall and is unable to do much on her own at all. She needs constant attention and care… I have to divide my time between both old ladies.

I brought my watercolours with me and a water colour pad and I HOPE to be able to do some painting while I’m here. I haven’t had time to yet but I hope I manage… For my own sanity.

I’ll try to blog about positive stuff on a daily basis still, but I won’t promise to. Cause you never know. Right now I’m on an ‘I hate Athens’ binge due to the fact that they are lifting restrictions slowly as of Monday and yesterday, May 1st, EVERYONE and his uncle (cause people were already taking dogs out) were out, kids running wild, I can just see the new spike on COVID 19 cases… sigh

I’m also not impressed by the idiots across the road who sat on their verandah in a group of 4 men, talking ALL night. And they don’t have to be LOUD to be loud when houses are so close as they are here… UGH.

As far as I’m concerned Athens is great when there’s less traffic and pollution you can go out to shop and have coffee with friends, but best in winter when you can close the doors and windows to keep out the hoise a well.

z