Monday, February 10, 2020

Where did January go?


Happy 2020 everyone....January disappeared as we were semi hibernating, suddenly its February and almost halfway though the month. I promised to do more blogging in 2020, the onset of winter slowed us down, we loathe early afternoon darkness and darkish mornings in December. We then limped through January after a wonderful Christmas, probably just exhausted from all that talking and eating. We spent Christmas in BC, catching up with friends in Revelstoke and Kelowna and and a had a brief visit in AB as we flew in and out of the city. 

When we arrived home from Havari in October after battling crowded airports, long waits and delays.... we were rather frustrated.  I moaned to my tired and patient husband....why are we travelling back and forth,  we should just stay?  After mulling this thought..... during the past few months we have decided that we will be quite happy with village life and occasional forays into Europe. I haven't had any time to paint but have two canvases ready to go.  We are sorting through all of our 'stuff 'and deciding what goes east and what heads to the local Thrift Shop, I think we are almost there. We just need one second hand largish suitcase to contain a few wintery garments, it does get damp in Havari in winter so we will appreciate the comfort of warm Canadian coats, boots, hats and jackets in the rainy season.

It will be farewell to Oakville in the spring and back to Bouboulinas Street. How do you decide which treasures to take after almost 40 years of marriage?  Everything we are packing has we have discovered a happy story attached to it. The wooden plates above from a visit to the Calgary Zoo special exhibition with friend Hazel, platters and pottery made or acquired from wonderful potters over the years all now wait their next adventure. Anyway it turns out we have about 6 boxes of precious memories not including our art collection. We still have many trips to various thrift shops ahead of us, family will pick up the remaining chosen items, like furniture later. I think we have found homes for just about everything. Shipping overseas means everything must be carefully accounted for, a manifest for each box and I have recently decided that the shipping company can pack the artwork. 

And again we extend our invite to come and visit.

Friday, December 13, 2019

Glorious Ontario Autumn Colour

Autumn colours are one of the sights that you miss when you leave ON. We have really enjoyed them over the past twelve years since our return, its still fun to run through rustling dry leaves.  We have a panoramic view from our Oakville condo of the forest between us and the QEW. The picture above is one I took near Kinmount. Once the leaves fall and seemed it happened overnight when we had a fierce windstorm, we see the rush of traffic going east and west, not such a pretty sight!  However there are days when seeing a traffic jam from our window before we head to the garage is a bonus and we can reroute, highway 2 maybe slower but less harrowing. Everyone in ON is in a huge hurry and transport trucks drive more safely than most drivers.

We finally adjusted to the time changes and the cold is slowly creeping into Ontario. No serious snow yet but a few furious flurries over the past few days.  We have done a major clean out and still are working on it, we realize we are just do not need a lot of what we moved. Clothes and some kitchen stuff are off the local thrift shops tomorrow. Our trip to Kinmount to visit family for a few days was busy, a snow free highway there and back, we are departing for the west over the festive season.

I haven't started painting yet but I have some couple of supports which I will prepare and sketch out over the next few days in readiness for January. Below my studio in Havari with prepared boards drying, ready for next summer.  Have a great Christmas and I hope to blog more frequently next year. 

Friday, September 20, 2019


We woke this morning about 7:30 and I opened the shutters to let in the sunshine.....
had my usual perusal of Bouboulinas Street and noticed that the street surface looked wet. The first rain we have had since we arrived, the garden has been hand watered for months. It got a good soak in the night which is great at least it didn’t all evaporate in the sun.

The last of the figs :( until next year. The salad above is Greek style, restaurants here make green salad and add
thinly sliced cabbage to to fill it out. Cabbage is cheaper than lettuce but it also makes for an interesting crunch when you are eating it. We have adopted the cabbage addition and added sliced kumquats for a zing.....they taste great especially when pinched from a neighbors shrub.

Our trip is winding down and we will be picking up friends at the airport tomorrow morning. When I moved to Calgary Kathy was one of the first people I met, a skiing buddy. We all eventually moved to Invermere and she was the only person we knew in the village with a wide circle of friends whom we met, including her future husband Mark. We are excited to host them and introduce them to the beauty and also the frustration of everyday Greece.

In the meantime I have been painting. Something new was added the other day when Nick presented me with a clay roof tile. Interesting to paint on and scary to drill holes in....we discovered you can soak the area of the tile in water for an hour which makes drilling hanging holes a breeze.

 My obsession with order has been defeated the damn program seems to have mind of its own doing the photo layout. Drives me nuts and I am not going to mess around any longer.

Still working on this one....needs more of the vine leaves hanging over the front and the sidewalk has blood red and cream tiles and of course the ubiquitous security gates, which are quite complicated to paint. I must remember to bring detail brushes next year.



Thursday, September 5, 2019

September Already 

July and August were the hottest ever, even Nick was complaining. It didn’t help that we had no AC until August 29, we have a hard time remembering that the world moves at a snails pace here. A week ago we took a great trip up to a monastery in the mountains north of Kalamata. A few elderly nuns still live there and protect the icon which was hidden in the cave where their monastery is built, once the Turks finished pillaging the country.

The bell tower

The beautiful entrance and exit rack

The monastery build into the cave behind

The bell tower

The ant wars are over, we resorted to finally poisoning them....none of the natural solutions worked.

On the food front....our nephews delish beans and produce from the garden, today the last of the figs...:-(.

Saturday, August 17, 2019

Finally our Temperature has Dropped... was a balmy 30 degrees. We are still without AC...not heard from the technician, his wife says part is on order. We are coping with cool showers and late nights reading in bed until we finally get to sleep. We headed to Athens and Ikea last week for a cool shopping spree and an even cooler lunch...a nice treat. Havari is rather like Invermere...we get cabin fever and a three and half hour drive to Athens for retail therapy works. This week we are having ant problems the heat and dryness....we finally found a solution after experimenting with a few treatments.....Vim Clorox cleaning powider works instantly. Looks a bit messy around the baseboards but at least we can't see trails of ants heading to the kitchen.

A few pictures from our morning walks below.

Another gate to paint.....

Gorgeous blue jasmine growing up the wall.

If you don't have land around your house for a garden,   most houses in the village do not have gardens.....then you garden in pots on your balcony.  The most unusual plant I have seen hanging on the balcony rail is allium, it looks rather tall and vulnerable. 

A new home with wood scaffolding....we are watching it grow with curiosity.  Old fashioned building techniques. 

Saturday, August 3, 2019

Combatting the Heat

My plan was to post a blog offering every couple of weeks, however the excessive heat put a kibosh on that plan. Nick being a native seems to cope, me being a northern girl spends a lot of time finding shade and cool. I have spent most of July inside in the AC. We can’t imagine what our electric bill will be this period but it was worth every Euro.  Today 37 again we have done our early morning dash around the village and I am on my second latte.

Combatting the heat strategy. All the shutters at the back of the house are closed against the sun in the morning and as it slowly moves to the west we close front shutter, finally we drop the blinds in the west windows in mid afternoon.  It really helps to just block out the sun. We also close the bedroom doors and bathroom door and just cool the main living area. Nick does any gardening in early morning. We spend most of the afternoon laying on the bed reading or me playing Words with Friends with partners in all parts of the world.

My view as I am hanging out laundry, which in this heat is daily and it dries faster in this hot sun than my dryer. To the left the taverna where we eat if we do not feel like cooking. Directly in front our neighbor Voula’s garden, her beautiful veggie garden to the right is not visible. We enjoyed some young eggplant courtesy of Voula for lunch the other day, delish and no seeds when they are little. The tall house in the middle is on the other side of the main street we pass it on our way home from out morning walk. This picture was taken in the afternoon when fat fluffy clouds start rolling in, they look like sheep some days.

Speaking of gardens Nick planted seeds from Canada mid June....

The Kentucky Wonder beans are shaded by Butternut squash and zucchini. We are already eating the zucchini and I stuffed some with my leftover spaghetti sauce the other night. We brought a spiralator  with us to cut down on carbs, spaghetti sauce on raw zucchini spirals is wonderful healthy meal.

My muse came back this week and I am back in the studio. The finished Garden Gate 1 below and I have three more canvasses blocked in ready to go.

What attracted me when I took the picture were the paper flowers, so vivid. I have failed to capture the brightness, still trying various colour mixes, however the gates (and there are many more in Chavari, all different designs) became a challenge. The dark stuff along the wall is a black mold and the omnipresent white paint (lime) is an ant prevention measure. Speaking of ants forget poison powders, a local told us AJAX Window cleaner kills them dead. We are ant free right now after two weeks of the pesky things but we have our AJAX ready. Signing off for now.

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Normal Summer Days

For the past two weeks we have been enduring above thirty temperatures which make it impossible to think straight let alone actually do anything. A couple of days ago we dropped down to around 25 degrees again...what a relief.

During the heatwave we had a glut of tomatoes which I turned into various dishes, the jar above is a wonderful tomato sauce for pasta which will keep in the fridge for a week or so, delicious. Over the years I have brought various cookbooks from Canada and left them here. The pasta sauce came from a great book;  Put a Lid on It.....thanks Georgi I think about you every time I use the book. I also have a couple of vegetarian cookbooks as we have gluts of veggies from the garden. This week it was zucchini which ended up being made into veggie fritters along with corn, onions, eggs and a little flour and herbs and seasonings.....they were yummy. The new potatoes are coming in and these became Greek potato salad.

The first few weeks we were a mix of getting acclimatized and me getting over various ailments.  Once all of that was over with, I am very healthy again, we fell into a routine. Up early while it’s still cool and off around the village to wake up the dogs, greet the chickens in various houses along the way, they think we are coming to feed them and surprise a few locals who are warming up their tractors ready to work their plots for the day. On our way home we stop for milk or freshly baked bread 🥖 for breakfast. We do a second walk in the evening when it’s cooler just as it gets dusky.

Nick does gardening first thing while it’s cool I tidy up the house and toss in laundry any grocery shopping in Amaliada happens in the morning or around 6:30pm when the stores are practically empty. We had cicadas on our bedroom screen door this morning, a small and a medium sized one, they have been very loud this week I guess the temperature is perfect for them. We were serenaded while making coffee, as soon as the sun came round they took off. There is also a huge cicada which I like, it looks like a multicolored jewel, quite spectacular. I will try for a picture but they mostly are in the trees and I only have my tablet.

I started painting again this week in the mornings as it’s much cooler. I am continuing with the painting roughed in in the last post. Today it look like this....tomorrow I will fill in details, the details, like the iron work on the balcony and gate and the wonderful brightly coloured paper flowers in the bottom right which caught my eye originally. I have 4 more boards gessoed ready to go and photos of a few more village gates. 

I don’t think I have ever explained the lime white washed pathways etc. to keep the ants at bay. They are omnipresent, we were waging war on them in our bedroom this week.