Every summer for about the last ten years, I’ve tried to retrace steps to the other side of the island where we usually don’t visit very often. The reason is that getting back is difficult because there’s no bus to take you back and its usually too hot or too dark to walk both ways in August.
This year we worked out the logistics with motorbikes and Latham and set off early evening to find an old abandoned house that I remember from years back, Hara. It’s distinctive gate has its name written above in rusting letters, “Xara” (Hara) meaning “joy” in Greek. I hadn’t seen it for about fifteen years and remembered little except that distinctive gate. I did recall though that it had an intact roof and locked doors and windows, which wasn’t the case when we visited this time.
The roof had collapsed in many places, some rooms were filled with broken rafters and tiles, but a few still remained recognizable as their original function. We wandered around, exploring the nooks and crannies of what was once someone’s home. The house once belonged to the poet sisters Mary and Irene Botassi, and Irene’s husband Herman, after they retired from living in Switzerland. As far as I can figure, the house has been abandoned for over fifty years. It was both fascinating and sad to see it slowly crumble.
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“Xara” in pebble mosiac, buried under years of pine cones.
The fraying roots of a Banyan Tree, Chitwan, Nepal.
Greek architecture is full of arches – especially churches. Here’s my collection of wonderful doors, windows, ceilings and bell towers from my recent trip:
Looking down from a hike on a hazy day. I loved the silhouette of the birds on the wire. They almost look drawn on against the washed out colours of the sea and sky.
Fire is a serious hazard on a island covered with pine trees in the hot, dry summer. And Spetses has had its share of massive, destructive fires in the last fifteen years.
The message προσοχe κίνδυνος πυρκαγιάς στο δάσος means “Warning. Danger of Forest Fires.” The signs, posted all over the island, are a reminder that human carelessness is a major cause of forest fires. However, not many signs remain. Most are fallen, rusted beyond recognition or — ironically — burned in one of the many forest fires over recent years. On a recent hike, we spotted this rare example of one that is still in relatively good condition. To add to the neglect, this sign is peppered with bullet holes. I’m guessing this is not as a statement of dissent from pyromaniacs, just winter hunters carelessly using them as target practice. Not very a respectful gesture towards an important environmental message. As we finally watch the baby pines regrow after the great fire of 2000, which destroyed 2/3’s of the trees on the island, perhaps its time to get some new signs up?
A potter operating a manual stone wheel in Pottery Square, Bhaktapur, Nepal. Everything is handmade there. You can see the whole medieval pottery process in action. See here for the original post.
A Word A Week Photo Challenge: Create
Favourite textures from a walk through a Spetses pine forest:
The fascinating texture of sticky pine tree bark
Lichens growing on stone walls in the shade
The crispy crunch of dried pine needles underfoot
Daily Prompt: This is clearly subjective, but some words really sound like the thing they describe (personal favorites: puffin; bulbous; fidgeting). Do you have an example of such a word (or, alternatively, of a word that sounds like the exact opposite of what it refers to)? What do you think creates this effect?
Griniazee (γκρινιάζei) Greek word meaning to moan, complain, gripe, whine
In the supermarket, little Dimitri wants to buy something his mom won’t give him. He has a melt down right there and then. He’s frustrated mom makes an angled chopping motion with her hand, and steps back looking at him incredulously. She stamps her foot back, and yells, “Mi Grinaizee, Dimitri!” (Don’t whine, Dimitri).
“Den Grinaizo!” (I’m not whining…), he complains back, sounding more whiny then ever.
How can a word which starts with “grin” sound so whiny? Yet it does. At least to me. I think its the way its delivered with a long frustrated “yaaa zeee”. So moany!
Waving at dad while he worked at the whitewash. (Ha ha…little did he know that in a few years he would have to take care of the wall too….)
Our long, white wall is a big feature of our property. Literally, and figuratively. And it’s old. If you look carefully you can see layers of wall that have increased its height over the years. I’m guessing the bottom part is as old as the house – that’s about 150 years. If you whitewashed the wall every year, that would be 150 layers of whitewash that would annually have brightened it, and then faded, and peeled off years later in crumbling strips. Last week we decided it was time to freshen things up again:
If you have never whitewashed before, but have experience painting, you might be tempted to treat whitewash like paint. Its not. It behaves very differently. The mixture of lime and water is very thin, and a special round brush is used to hold as much of the liquid as possible as you attempt to place it on the wall. And you do “place” it…you don’t paint it on. It takes a slow light touch of the brush to the wall, with minimal flicking and spreading. It can take a long time to whitewash rugged textures like stone walls. Even if you are slow and careful, you always come away sprayed with the stuff. And, as it goes on translucent and dries to a white colour, it can be hard to spot your mistakes until it is too late.
….and the legs. (These legs look like they belong to two different people, don’t they?!)
Oops…a little on the face..
A few hours of systematic whitewashing…
….turns into this! (At least until next year!)
Late afternoon light creates zig zag shadows for this week’s photo challenge at the abandoned monastery of Panagia Elona, Spetses.