Tuesday, September 30, 2014

A drive to the south

We drove south yesterday to revisit the area where our dear friend Jehane and Molly used to live. Enroute we stopped at St. George Valsimitis Monastery which is home to an ordained Greek Orthodox nun. She greeted us, invited us inside and explained some of the history.

This fresco dates back to the 1700's

The waters at St. George Valsimitis have provided prophecies
to be read by Oracles over the centuries. Bits of flotsam and jetsam
floating in the waters have created interesting readings!

After viewing the chapel we were invited into a sitting room to enjoy glasses of semeni raki and candied, syruped figs. The nun, an artist, had many of her paintings on display in this room.

One of her icon paintings sits above a piece of remaining fresco.

In Kolofana we found Jehane and Molly's little house, now occupied by strangers. Sophie's Cafe sat empty, just her father sitting outside, watching the clouds roll by overhead.

On the beach at Kato Maria there were the usual droppings from goats who had wandered through. Fishing boats bobbed in the small bay but no one else was in sight. The wind howled!!

We thoroughly enjoyed a light lunch at Marouso in Arkesini. Georgia, a young woman who helped Jehane & Molly during their last three years on Amorgos, was our server. She greeted us with smiles, remembering past visits.

In the evening we were happy to share a quiet, simple dinner with Kalliroi and her friend Demetra at the local cafenion. There have been more than enough group dinners in the past two weeks!

Have I mentioned that the wind continues to howl??...and it was a cold wind last night...had to wear my winter pants that I brought along for the month of November!!!!

Monday, September 29, 2014


 soft music soothes
sun in the air warms
cats weave between legs
nostrils twitch and seek

large white clouds
follow each other
like pregnant sheep
across the sky

I see a broken necklace
of small white houses
above abandoned terraces
zig-zagging the hillside

the "white-line" painter
made three attempts
creating a masterpiece
of blacktop graffiti

Today's collage

It is quieter on the island every day! 

There were frequent deliveries of supplies by donkey this morning....

....and Angie displayed her crazy feet!!

Kalliroi made a feline friend while on a walk this afternoon....

...and tonight we shared a farewell dinner for Bart & Victor from Amsterdam and Steve from Milan.

Still looking happy after 14 days abroad!

Sunday, September 28, 2014


No rain today...just strong winds! After our tradition of morning coffee and games of tavli (backgammon) we had a long walk past Xylokeratidi with the sun warming us despite the wind.

The ruins of several houses along the way 
show how these simple stone homes are constructed on the islands.

In the evening we gathered together for a trip to Aegiali where a new restaurant was closing for the season. The owners, who we have known for several years, were celebrating a successful inaugural year by hosting a free buffet meal for guests.

Nokie creating a variety of tasty dishes for us.

The restaurant does not serve traditional Greek food. Instead they tempt your palate with falafel, curries and mid-eastern dishes. Everything was delicious!!

Many friends left the island this morning and several more will leave tomorrow. Shops have closed, restaurants and tavernas are shuttering. Summer owners and employees will return to Athens or Thessaloniki for the winter. Soon there will be very few visitors left for the month of October, a favourite time for us. Island life changes dramatically when the locals have a chance to take a deep breath and rest after the tourist season ends.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Sept. 27 - my sister's birthday

Yesterday was quite a dramatic day with thunder storms occurring randomly throughout the day. It was impossible to guess when they would start or when they would end.

Trapped in the car as we waited for the storm to pass over!

The scene as we waited for a dry moment to run into the market.

During our shopping trip we found Hilde and Yens in this ferry ticket office/cafenion.
As usual the "No smoking" sign on the wall is countered by ashtrays on the tables!

Juliana and I shopped for dinner ingredients and spent part of the afternoon in the underground kitchen...chopping and refining the evening's meal. Tables were set for 18 guests. Our ethnic meal included tabouli, Moroccan chickpeas and curried eggplant mixed veggies.

Miraculously there was enough food for everyone to enjoy a full plate of mixed flavours.
We raised glasses to toast my sister Dorothy on her birthday!

These meals offer the opportunity to share time with people from around the world. It is wonderful to hear the variety and lilt of different languages. At one end of the gathering I could hear Dutch and occasional Flemish interrupted by a few German words. Two guests tried to be heard in French while our host chatted in Greek with a friend. Everyone speaks English!

Theo, our host, in a meditative moment.

Friday, September 26, 2014

A story

Today's story

Each day they come, lovers from the past.

He arrives first, climbs the stairs, chooses the same chair,
orders the same coffee, looks at the same scene.
The coffee sits unfinished when he leaves,
wandering down a familiar pathway in search of himself.

Not long after he leaves, she arrives, climbs the stairs
and sits in his still-warm chair, inhaling deeply.
A trace of his cologne lingers,
waiting to rekindle memories.

Each day she looks around, seeking her phantom lover.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

An early night

Sunny and hot again. Everyone keeps predicting a change in the weather...but...it is still summer here. The winds from the north cleared the air so we have a horizon again.

Breakfast Blue Jays update!

I enjoyed a second swim at Agia Anna this afternoon while John napped in preparation for his first visit to the gym. The sea was delicious. Unfortunately there are still too many visitors on the island so the beach was crowded...maybe 14 people!

John thoroughly enjoyed his first trip to the gym, working out alongside island boys. On the treadmill he looked out at the Aegean Bay and watched as the Skopelitis arrived in port. Meanwhile  I sat at Karamel, sipping an ouzo and chatting with Armelle.

We decided to abandon the group for an evening and shared a simple meal of meatballs (kefthedis) and Greek salad at our favourite Chora cafenion. An early night was much needed!

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

First hike

We tackled a short hike yesterday along a path that wraps around behind the windmills and finally meets up with the cemetery road. It was tricky in spots because of the prickly bushes that have grown over the pathway. The view out to sea was spectacular. A north wind had cleared the air overnight and made it possible to see many islands in the distance.

Looking down at Agia Anna while balancing on the pathway!

There is a small church at the cemetery that houses boxes of bones from the burial sites. After a predetermined length of time the bones are removed from the coffins, cleaned and stored in these boxes.

I am not sure what happened to many generations of bones that must have preceded these ones.

Later in the afternoon we visited the new fitness centre in Xylokeratidi. At the cost of 20 euros per month, John is now a member and will join several skinny 15 year olds on the equipment every other day!!

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

The Druid's birthday

We celebrated Andonis' birthday last night with two delicious desserts.

Andonis (also known as The Druid) has been the DJ at Jazzmin Cafe/Bar for many summers.
Like most summer employees, he will leave the island by the end of September.
Soon there will just be the locals and the Maxwells!

Spaghetti alla Puttanesca

It was another hot, humid day with winds blowing from the south…uncomfortable weather! A swim at Agia Anna felt wonderful although the sea was choppy. After a quick shower to rinse my salty body we drove down to Katapola for lunch. It looked like all of the sailboats from the Aegean Sea had decided to seek shelter in the port, tying up side by side.

Another group dinner, the sixth night in a row! This time it was prepared by Steven, an American violinist living in Milan Italy...spaghetti alls puttanesca! ...delicious!! OMG!!!

Of course the group multiplied from 10 to 18 people by the time dinner was served. Somehow Steven had prepared enough for 18 heaping plates full of the pasta. Theo made two large bowls of salad, we contributed wine and two guests brought birthday cake for Andonis, The Druid, our DJ at Jazzmin Cafe/Bar.

We returned to our apartment and read a "good news" email from my sister. Her ankle has healed well and she can start to put weight on her left food while using a walker. Bravo!!!

Sunset from Jazzmin...no horizon on these humid days.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Goat dinner in an abandoned village

A hot and humid day today (32 degrees+) with another one forecast for tomorrow. I will definitely be swimming at Agia Anna in the Big Blue tomorrow!!

Fourteen of us gathered at a tiny taverna in the abandoned village of Asfondalitis for dinner tonight. The taverna is solar powered for all the cooking with the exception of a wood fired oven built into the end of the building. This oven baked our delicious dinner of goat.

The skies darkened quickly after we arrived and we were soon enveloped in a blanket of stars. It was magical!

The owner explained that she grew up in the village which was home to about 40 people until electricity came to the island in 1981. Villagers moved into larger towns on the island and the village was soon abandoned. The taverna was a typical example of "build it and they will come".
There was nothing around except goats and hills.

Her kitchen

Recipes by lantern!

We consumed plates of horta, salad and roasted chickpeas before platters of goat and rice stuffing arrived on the table. It was wonderful.

No smoking?

Apparently this small sign,  
10 feet up on the Cafe/Bar wall
does not apply to Greeks!

OMG! We are Greek!

OMG! It took four days but we are finally Greek! Wrapped up our evening at 2:00am and fell into bed like typical Greeks after a late dinner with friends at Karamel. Armelle served us many delicious dishes that she had made earlier in the day.

It was a farewell dinner for Asimakis, Alexandros, Christiana, Jenny and Mary Elena. With eleven around the table, there were many discussions about life in Greece. One young man with dual Greek/American citizenship had been trying to visit Greece for longer than one month at a time. He finally acquired the necessary papers. Apparently there is not always a logical reason for legalities.

Kalliroi arrived today and joined our group.

Armelle tallied the bill.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Lazy day in Chora

After hanging the exhibition this morning we followed the familiar pathways of Chora. Along the route we visited Angie in her shop and heard about the loss of her beloved dog last winter. She adopted a rescue dog named Sarah who continues the tradition of daily walks to the Cafe and positions herself on Angie's feet while she is creating beautiful pieces of jewelry.

Further along we spotted this recycled fish hanging from a crab shell

At the end of our rambling we rested at Parvas for a lunch of fava and horiatiki (Greek salad) with glasses of Amorgian wine. Inside the Cafe several older men were engaged in a heated debate. Outside we wrote "upside down" poetry on the table cloth while enjoying our meal.

This evening we were invited to a small party that was hosted by a Cypriot guest on the island. The setting was in a Hotel garden and the delicious food was catered by a nearby taverna. Our conversation group included visitors from Norway, Holland, Germany, France, Italy, Canada and a few Greeks! Plans were made for future meals, beach trips, shopping and the planting of Oak acorns on the island. Life is good and interesting!!

First International Exhibition at Jazzmin in Chora, Amorgos

I was invited to exhibit several of my new pieces at Jazzmin Cafe/Bar in Chora on Amorgos. 
This morning we faced the challenge of hanging the pieces on a stone wall!!

Theo hanging the first piece depicting Jehane & Molly
with Irini from Kolofana.

The artist after installation.

Thirteen images depicting people and places from Amorgos on display.
The balance of this collection will be on exhibition at the Salmon Arm Art Gallery
during the month of June 2015.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Wind and rest

It was a strange wind buffeted day yesterday. The wind has been relentless since we arrived but the days gradually warm up to t-shirt weather. Morning coffee always includes a tavli (backgammon) competition. 

Morning coffee competition

We wandered through the morning in a sleep deprived state, finally accepting the fact that we needed a nap. 

Rested and showered we ventured out again around 6:30pm to enjoy the sunset with a glass of wine at Jazzmin. It is a daily challenge to remember the names of familiar faces. It is doubly embarrassing when the familiar face remembers our names!! Juliana was one of those faces!! The sun set as we caught up on our lives and shared stories.

Later (9:30pm) we joined several others for a dinner prepared by Theo at his apartment. It was a delicious garlicky, mint risotto served with an arugala and tomato salad. The salad ingredients, freshly harvested in the morning, were from Nonda’s Organic Garden in Katapola. Local wine, also bottled by Nonda, was wonderful!!

Dinner conversation included descriptions of a photography project that depicts heroes/heroines from Fairy Tales after their stories end.  This creative pursuit will take years to complete but the young photographer remains undaunted. He has accomplished two photos complete with models, make-up, costumes, setting (one was shot underwater). Bravo!!

Following dessert and a taste of sweet wine we walked back to the apartment and fell into bed after midnight. Hopefully our bodies will adjust soon to the 10 hour time difference and the late nights because we have been invited to parties tonight and tomorrow night!!

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Jetlag and the sunrise

Unable to sleep, we tossed and turned until 5:30am. A bleary decision was made to climb up to the windmills for sunrise. With flashlight in hand we climbed to the highest windmill, fighting against the wind all the way. The day slowly brightened as clouds raced across the sky.

We were finally rewarded with a brilliant sunrise.

Sept. 18 - we're here!

 Well, the car was waiting for us, it wasn't raining and there were only 5 or 6 goats resting on the centre line enroute to Chora. It was after 3:00am when we climbed into bed after removing the elephants...proudly crafted towel arrangements by Maria, our landlady.

There was a bowl of fruit on the table beside a vase of weird flowers and a carafe of semeni raki, a sweetened concoction of fermented grapes which we enjoyed before hitting the pillow!

It was 11am before we felt motivated to lift our weary bodies out of bed and hike up to Jazzmin for morning coffee and tea. Theo welcomed us with warm hugs and we soaked up the aura of this special place, greeting familiar faces. The usual number of cats circulated, different only is coloured coats from previous years. Local eggs, poached to perfection, were served for breakfast before we wandered over to Evi's, owner of our rental car. Somehow we always manage to understand each other although she speaks no English and my Greek is "under review".

Rental cars in Greece are always picked up with empty gas tanks and returned for the next customer with just a drop of fuel. The first few kilometres are a bit scary...never knowing if you'll make it to the only gas station on the island! 

Needless to say we were is desperate need of a nap after grocery shopping and a bite of lunch so we set the alarm for 6:30pm and drifted off. Back at Jazzmin later we enjoyed the sunset before joining a group for dinner at Parvas. As usual the tables were laden with salads, cheeses, meat, fish, pasta and wine. It was great to taste all of the local flavours and share conversations with people from around the globe. Now it's midnight...time for bed again!

Sept. 17th enroute

We are sailing away from Naxos toward our final destination of Amorgos as I write this. In our cabin onboard the Blue Star Paros we have ample room to sleep, shower and rest after 54 hours of transit…with another four hours before reaching the Port of Aegiali. From there we will find our rental car (key under the floor mat) and drive another half hour to the village of Chora. After searching for a parking spot we will drag our bags up the aged stone steps (26) to our small apartment (more steps) which will (hopefully) be unlocked and ready for us. By the time our heads hit the pillows it will be 60 hours since our heads lifted from the pillows at my sister’s home in Burnaby!!

Waiting to leave Piraeus

Of course we did have an overnight respite near Heathrow airport at the Park Inn Hotel. John managed about six hours of sleep there while I dozed fitfully after the first four hours. He also slept on both flights!!! How is that possible?!

Entry into England was challenging. Along with about 1500 people we slowly snaked our way toward passport control officials. It took 1 1/2 hours to have our passports stamped! Of course if we held any of the Platinum or Titanium flight statuses…we would have been “fast tracked”! It was a much easier process when John qualified for “handicapped” status but since he refused to carry his cane and limp we were forced to join the other 1500 plebeians!!

The seas are rough and rain is falling so the drive to Chora could be interesting. It will probably involve a combination of low hanging clouds (FOG) and goats standing mid-road. More later.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Family visits

We are almost ready for take-off! 
Over the past few days we have enjoyed tasty meals and great visits with family.

Augie loves having a "tickle-fest" with Nana and Papa. It is more delicious than dinner!

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Have you ever...?

Have you ever tried to pack for five days in Vancouver followed by two months in Greece followed by four winter days in Vancouver then five weeks in Mexico followed by one week in Vancouver over Christmas before returning to Mexico for two months? It is a nightmare!!

Georgia O'Keefe looks down on the drama of packing!

Packing for John is easy...six t-shirts, two pair of pants, a fleecie, bathing suit, six gaunch and six socks.

For some reason there is nothing in my closet and drawers that matches anything else. This is the direct result of shopping at Thrift stores and Value Village. Odd items always catch my eye. So, I have a rich collection of every colour, every pattern and every texture. It is impossible to match a skirt with a top! Then there are the seven pair of shoes! Women have to choose between skirts, dresses, tops, shorts, pants, capris, shawls, jewelry, hats and shoes. Maybe I should just buy what I need when I get there?

Will we need winter boots and coats at Christmas?...gloves, touques, scarves??

Of course there are all of the other necessities too...medications, toothbrushes, toothpaste, shampoo, cameras, computers, chargers, clock, books, passports, money, pens, earplugs, money belts.....the list is never ending!

A further complication is the need to leave our house in decent shape for our tenant (ie) room in the closet for her clothes, in the bathroom drawers for her stuff....clean towels and sheets...snow shovels in the carport!!

There is a box required for Christmas stuff...gift wrap, cards, small gifts purchased in advance and a box for groceries that would be stale dated by our return. Then there are the prune plums waiting to be harvested (for my sister's enjoyment) in our friend's garden....

...and, a final decision to be made about taking paintings to exhibit in Greece. How will I fit them into our small rolling bags? Argghh!!!

Monday, September 1, 2014

Otters and osprey

Days have become much shorter in the Shuswap. Evening walks are abbreviated by earlier sunsets. Today we had a midday walk around McGuire Lake and out to the wharf. To our delight there were two families of otters playing on the dock.

This group was rolling around, playing with their mother before finally settling down for an afternoon nap. The other group found a hiding place underneath the ramp. Wonderful to see wildlife doing well in our lake!

Enroute to our car we spotted a parent osprey sharing a fish feed with its offspring. 

Parents and offspring will leave soon but they continue to share food and a nest until departure.

We hope to see the beaver family this week.