Thank Goodness for Daddy

We are spending a lot of days apart from Chris this year.  Most days it’s tough to be a family separated, but it makes us really appreciate the time we have Chris here with us.  That couldn’t be more true tonight.  I must say that I am usually asking, “Who is Murphy and why are his laws always right?”  The last time Chris was here we had ordered wood from Zacharias, the local shepherd and butcher.  It was October and Zacharias commented that it was early in the year to order wood.  We knew we wouldn’t need it for a few months, but told him that since Chris was here, it’d be a good time to have it delivered.  Chris would be able to stack it for me.  Two weeks later, as I returned from dropping Chris off at the airport, I was greeted by a large stack of wood.

photo

Really?  He had two weeks to deliver it, and it arrived the hour Chris left?  As I was thinking “Murphy’s Law!” and “Time is such an irrelevant concept here,” there was a knock at the door.  I opened it to find Zacharias standing there.  He was back to help me!  He had seen my cousin Stella at the gas station, and she  informed him that Chris had just left that morning.  Thank goodness for a small village where everyone knows everyone and everything!

So, there are many times when I question the timing of events.  Whether it’s something big like that, or  something small, such as one of the kids spilling a bowl of cereal on the floor 5 minutes after it was just scrubbed, I always let out a sigh.  However, tonight my sigh was a sigh of relief.

The kids were at a friend’s house playing, and I had just returned from my Friday night Greek dancing class.  I hadn’t made dinner, so Chris and I decided to walk to the platia to buy “take-out.”  I called the kids, told them to head home, and let them know we’d be right back with souvlaki.  On the way up the hill my phone rang, and I heard Elias say, “Mom, we need you.  Zach fell and his head is bleeding.”  The kids were at the house, so Chris handed me the bag of food and sprinted up the hill.   The roads were wet and slippery, and Zach had taken a fall not far from home.  Usually when the kids come rushing to tell me Zach’s fallen (again), it isn’t that bad.  He’s a pretty tough kid and has taken more falls on his head than anyone else I know.  He’s usually able to brush it off and doesn’t complain–even if the bump is the size of a small goose egg or he’s bruised up like a prized-fighter.  Well, it  turns out that tonight he needed stitches!

Thank goodness for Daddy!

Thank goodness for Daddy!

My kids are pretty amazing.  Zach was tough.  He barely made a peep when Chris numbed him up.  Rea and Elias did an excellent job of staying calm, bringing him back to the house and taking care of him. Rea held his hand the whole way home, despite the fact that blood was pouring down his face, onto his shirt and all over both of them.   Elias called us and then told Zach how to stop the blood (with his white shirt).   Me, on the other hand, I’m not so brave and wouldn’t have made it if Chris wasn’t here. I tried to let Zach rest his head against my shoulder as Chris stitched him up and almost fainted…felt all the blood leave my head and turned a funny shade of green. I had to sit down–twice–and then was sick in my stomach. I felt like I had just been on a roller coaster and didn’t get off the floor for the next 20 minutes.  Meanwhile, Zach finished getting stitched up and enjoyed his souvlaki and fries.

The evening didn’t end there though.  After they finished eating, Chris broke out an orange, cut a slice in the peel and taught the kids how to stitch!  I guess he knows that if he’s not here he can’t count on me to fix the kids up!

DSC_2556

By The Numbers

Distance from my front door:  75 steps

Hours open:  24

Number of rooms:  2

Pieces of equipment:  5

Classes per week:  0

Cost to belong:  Free

Months it took to gain access:  4

Getting my own key to the village gym:  PRICELESS

A Visit to Athens

This post is not in the correct place chronologically, but I didn’t want to omit it from our journey.  When my mother and mother-in-law flew to Greece, their first stop was Athens.  Instead of having them immediately hop on another plane for the island, we met them in Athens for the weekend.  It was a welcome treat to leave the island and to head to the big city.  We were looking forward to seeing “the grandmothers” after three and a half months, but the kids were equally excited to eat at McDonald’s!

We did a number of things in the two days we were in Athens, and the photo gallery below is somewhat of a self guiding tour.   We shopped (often) and ate a few dinners in the plaka.  We went to the Acropolis and saw the Parthenon and famous Porch of Maidens.  The last time we were there was on Rea’s 5th birthday.  I have a photo of her holding up her hands with “5”.  We took a similar photo this trip now that she’s “10,” and Elias and Zach got their own age shot as well.  We spent one morning at the Athen’s Market, where you can buy everything from pigs feet and sheep heads to antiques, fighting chickens, and olives.  Walking through the meat market was enough to make Elias and my mom sick.  I thought, for sure, we had just converted Elias into a vegetarian.  However he was more than happy to eat souvlaki for dinner that night.  One evening we hired a private driver to take us along the coast to the town of Sounion (about an hour and a half south of Athens) where we saw the Temple of Poseidon.  This site was exceptionally beautiful because we saw the sunset in the west while the almost full moon was high in the evening sky.  We ate dinner at the base of the temple, where we had the restaurant to ourselves and the illuminated temple as our backdrop.  Another morning we walked around Athens, went to Syntagma Square to see the Tomb of the Unknown soldier and, of course, have our lunch at McDonald’s.  And although I don’t have photos of the museum, we visited the new Acropolis Museum that houses many of the original marble sculptures from the temples situated on the hill.  Of course not all of the pieces of the Parthenon are there, as some were taken to Britain in the early 1800’s by Lord Elgin, who received permission from the Ottoman Empire to remove them.  In the Acropolis Museum there are designated spaces for all of the pieces that are currently in the British Museum, with the hopes that someday they will be returned to their home.

Thank you

My Mothers

Fall and winter are quiet times in Ikaria.  Many of the houses are empty and the population drops drastically from summer.  Most of the leaves are off of the trees and branches are cut way back.  The canopy of leaves that shaded the porches and tavernas have disappeared, and the sun sits low in the sky.  The majority of stores are closed and quiet during the day time hours, and the gardens are starting to die off.  The furniture has been taken off of the balconies and porches, and the villages look deserted.   This is the time of year that my mother and mother-in-law came to visit.

It is now well past midnight on Wednesday, and as I type, my mother and mother-in-law are asleep–spending their final night with us in Ikaria.  They leave here in the morning for Athens and return to the US on Friday.  Our two weeks together have been full.  I haven’t had time to write and share our stories.  Then again, there haven’t been many exciting stories to tell.  We didn’t climb to the top of any mountains, and this isn’t the season to visit the beautiful beaches.  There aren’t any panagiris this time of year or any weddings to attend.  We didn’t spend our evenings in the platia sitting under the stars, as most of the tables have been put away for the windy winter weather.  Nor did we sit for hours and share a drink and socialize with the many people.  But I wouldn’t wish a minute of our time together to have been any different.  My mothers spent hours cooking and cleaning.  They spoiled and loved my children.  They played games with us and kept us company.  They walked to the school at lunchtime and delivered hot soup to the kids, and they walked the trash down to the dumpsters (but not at the same time as they carried the lunches!).  They shared a loaf or two of bread with me every afternoon, and they made pies, cookies, and cupcakes for the kids.  They filled our freezer with love, in the form of fresh squeezed orange juice, zucchini bread, homemade applesauce, and clean, cut winter squash.  They made us feel more connected to those of you in America and filled us in on the happenings of everyone at home.  We talked about Hurricane Sandy and the election as we followed along as best we could via the internet.  They folded my laundry and made me dinner every night.  They tagged along as we did errands and tended to our daily activities.  I took them to meet my relatives, so they would get to know my “new” family.  They were able to try a Greek coffee and eat Greek specialties like tiropitas–cheese pies–and suvlaki kalamaki–otherwise known as “meat on a stick.”  I took them to a few villages and monasteries and the small reservoir.  Although nothing we did was “spectacular,”  they were able to see the beauty of Ikaria in the local people and the unadorned land.  They were able to see why we love it here and that we are happy, and they aren’t disappointed that they didn’t tour and sight-see.  They did exactly what the came here to do–to be a mother and a grandmother.  It was perfect.  And for that, I thank them.