Sign Language: Don’t Shoot the Messenger!


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?

Sounds Right: Griniazee


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!

Whitewashing (the truth)


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…


..and this…..



….turns into this! (At least until next year!)


A Word A Week Photo Challenge – Transport

As this blog (and its owner) continues to take a much needed hiatus from all things Nepali, I thought I’d focus on Greek transportation for this week’s challenge.  In particular the local ferry, which is a much needed lifeline between our island and the mainland, carrying produce, meat and dairy in refrigerated trucks as well as building supplies, gasoline– – you name it — to the local economy.

And so 6-8 times a day, its a game of “everybody off, everybody on” as the ferry disembarks and reloads on each side.  Full trucks come onto the island, and empty trucks leave. Then there’s the motorbikes, three-wheelers, miscellaneous freight and pedestrians that travel back and forth too. I tried to capture a little of the chaos on the dock:


The motorcycles are made to wait for the trucks to unload….


….but once they’re on, its a free-for-all as the bikes and pedestrians head up the ramp.


…then on comes the next load.


Of course, it would be so much more civilized if they didn’t let drivers park on the dock. I couldn’t take this picture until they had let me embark. By then all the trucks had left, so it doesn’t look so chaotic. A few minutes before it was a madhouse of badly maneuvering trucks, parked cars, and jostling motorbikes.


And then for the umpteenth time, the ramp goes up and the ferry heads back across. Suddenly everything is calm and picturesque again. (Almost) like all the chaos never happened.


Sometimes it feels like this guy has the best job in the world.

Cactus Flower


When we saw two rapidly growing asparagus-like sprouts protruding from one of our faithful old cacti, we knew it was going to flower. During the last week, every morning the shoots grew at least one inch longer. We’d never seen this plant bloom before so it was kind of exciting to watch. Last night, at midnight, Latham called us into the garden to show us that the flowers were in bloom. I didn’t know flowers bloomed at night!  By morning, one of the flowers was already past its best. This afternoon they are fading fast. Rare, briefly-lived flowers, caught on film. Aren’t they pretty?!