Friday, 31 August 2012

A dog's life

Look at Hara enjoying her new home. Her favorite place to sleep is on the bed, she likes chasing chickens and she is learning how to sit. What a star.

Here she is 'working' on the farm. 

Thursday, 30 August 2012

Settling nicely

I am pleased to report that Hara is settling beautifully into her new home.  She can walk with the lead now ( instead of dragging her extremely sand-daggy bottom across the ground) and asks for cuddles all the time. She won't need to be on a lead normally out there on the farm but while she is adjusting they want to make sure she doesn't run away. She is playing happily with the other animals and once she has had a bath and haircut she will probably be the most gorgeous dog on the island...if not the world. I have made a stone to give to her 'new' mummy.

It's interesting because a number of strangers have approached me on the beach asking me about 'my' dog. They are all happy and relieved when I tell then where she went. One very nice Greek lady said to me ' you and the dog had such a lovely connection and then I saw she was gone and I was afraid of what had happened.' I also met some English girls randomly and we were just talking about Skyros in general and then they mentioned the dog they had seen on the beach and how adorable she was. I told them where she was now and they said ' O you are that Joanna.' 

I feel ready to leave the island now.  I feel depleted in a way and I wish someone would pick me up in their arms and drop me off at my new home too.

Monday, 27 August 2012


So after a number of mad days (or has it been weeks) filled with phone calls, facebook messages, meetings, buckets of tears and sleepless doggie has a home. A beautiful new home out on a horse farm with paddocks to run in and chickens, cats, dog and horses to play with. It finally came together on Sunday afternoon when I scooped her matted hairy body into my arms and carried her to the car of a sweet Greek couple who had agreed to drive  her and me out to her wonderful new home.  She didn’t struggle at all. She knew she was safe and in the car she just leaned against me and nuzzled my ear. At the other end she wouldn’t get out of the car ...more carrying...then she sat in the farm yard while kittens and dogs came running up to greet her. She looked bewildered but calm as it all unfolded around her...I said goodbye to her under a table in the courtyard –she was stretched out, her heart beating wildly. I whispered in her ear just how much I loved her and she reached out one paw and put it into my hand.
Leaving her has been a bittersweet experience. I wanted to keep her desperately but I knew I had no home to offer her so to be able to find her a loving home out in the fields and away from the cars was both beautiful and painful. Painful only for the loss I feel not having her in my life but it's a beautiful pain when I think of where she is.
Her new name is Hara which means ‘joy’ in Greek. ( It actually means feces in Maltese but that does not lend itself to this story.)  And joy is exactly what she brings...what she brought to me over these past weeks together: painting circles, walking amongst the rocks, sitting paw on lap as I painted stones. It feels good to bring change into the life of someone you love.

Thursday, 23 August 2012

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Where is my home?

Yesterday I decided to drag myself down the beach to visit the port. ‘The port’ is probably  a generous word  as really it is just a little cove where a whole lot of very tiny fishing boats like to bob about  and do very little.  I have been feeling very lethargic of late even though to be fair I have been busy making/ selling stones and doing some other work up in town.  It’s my propensity for guilt no matter what I do, I believe.  Anyway doggie decided to join me and so we passed a lovely couple of hours swimming, lazing and watching the tiny fish dart between the rocks.  I met a very nice Athenian couple who loved doggie. ‘Take her,’ I said. ‘She needs a home.’  They shook their heads apologetically. ‘We live in a big city. She is a beach dog.’ And they are right you know. I have been vexing about doggie wondering if I should be the one to take her on. But I know I can’t. I don’t even have a home to offer her at present.  I always feel very sad when she leans on my and rests her paw on my shoulder but today when I watched her running across the rocks, chasing the birds, I realised this is her home and I couldn’t take her from it even if I had the means to do it. Unless I was offering her a beach home or a sizeable field at least it would be unfair. 

I wish I could guarantee her safety though. Guarantee her food and shelter in the winter months. I wish I could I could do that.  But I take heart from the fact that I know I am not her only buddy here. Sometimes I don’t even see her for days. She is self-reliant, clever and resourceful. She is going to be ok, right?
Ok I wrote that yesterday and this is today and now I feel very differently about doggie. Largely because I heard ghastly stories last night about how people sometimes poison the cats and dogs at the end of summer when all the visitors leave. They don’t want to animals begging for food over the winter.
Surely doggie will be too smart for that or too endearing...or both.
I feel sad.

Monday, 20 August 2012

Boo Hoo Barbur

Sometimes, I suspect, there is definitely merit in reading the last page of a book before investing in the whole thing.  Take the book I just finished about a Scotsman’s journey across Afghanistan*.  If I’d gone straight to the back; if I’d read the last lines...’ and then Barbur died...’ I would never have begun it. Never. Not the way I am feeling right now anyway.  

I feel particularly aggrieved because I had thought it was a travel-writing book (which in fairness it is) but then he had to go and put a big loping bear of a dog in it. Should have been on the blurb I think especially since the dog’s journey is probably what made the book the most interesting in the end... Now I feel sad and I don’t like crying by the ocean – there’s enough salt water there already.

Then again maybe it isn’t really Barbur I am crying about. 
Actually, yes I am.  But if you asked me to wring out a tissue box I could probably find a few other things to cry about too.

Boo to books.

·         * I don’t want to name the book at this point in case anyone decides to read it for themselves and likes a surprise...then again if a Scotsman meets a dog called Barbur you have been warned!!  

Thursday, 16 August 2012

just keep on praying

Right now I am sitting at Ferogia Bar (my current abode) listening to the crash of the waves and the glee of fish as they go weeeeeeee through the sea.  The bar here closed hours ago so it is very dark and yet even with my limited knowledge of astronomy I would definitely say the stars have won tonight.  It may be dark down here but the sky is positively gleaming. So many stars twinkling overhead it’s like they have gone ‘ Take that night! This sky is ours.'   
And yet in all this light I can still make out the steady flash of planes as they journey overhead. I wonder where they are going? I suppose some are heading for Greece and a lot to Turkey too. I wonder if some are heading for Syria too – it’s not that far from here you know. Not really.
It seems sort of crazy  (almost guilt-laden) that I can be sitting here so peacefully while my beloved country continues to spiral more and more deeply into such a bloody abyss. I joined a Facebook group (Humanity Movement to Protect Syrians) recently to show solidarity . Most days it inundates me with picture of maimed children, weeping mothers, lost brothers, fathers, daughters... even cats with bandages around their stomachs.  Often I want to turn away but I try not to. I try to see each person. I try to respect their life. 
There have been complaints that it is too visceral – too raw by western standards. This is for sure.  We tend to try and be hush hush about death and torture. We don’t want to know about it and we don’t want to to see it. We do it about sex too. We do it about love.
 I remember the night I spent in a Damascene hospital, oozing a delightful yellow substance across my less than pristine white sheets (which the handsome male nurses kindly never drew attention to.)  In the middle of the night there came this harrowing sound -  a haunting chorus of wailing- a guttural outcry of grief which I have never heard before.  No trying to control oneself at that moment, no stiff upper lip.
Yes this site is confronting. They confront death and torture head on. No euphemisms found here. They want us to see see pictures of the maimed and the lost. They want to wail as they bury and many times I do.  It is devastating. It is sickening. It is simply a vile horror.
 But I am not going to turn away. 
I’m just going to pray. I'm just going to keep on praying.
This if for Ayman ( second right) and his family.

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Circle Painter - non!

I did some work for the Skyros Centre the other day for a bit of nosh and dosh. I met doggy on the way up  so she came up to supervise my work.
My main task was to clean the attic room and do a little painting. Unfortunately I very quickly discovered that while I am ok at stone painting I am definitely not ok at painting big fat circles. I am way too messy and slapdash for such things. It was embarrassing. And yet in all my embarrassment I still couldn't paint between the lines.  Someone very kindly pointed out it just reflected my non-conformist spirit but honestly I think it was more down to general large paintbrush clumsiness and an inherent propensity for mess.
This picture makes it look ok-ish but believe me it wasn't.

Later I went into the Chora ( the town centre) with a couple of gals for some drinks.... actually quite  a few it turned out. At around 4 a.m. I decided to stagger down from the village to the beach again which involved a steep descent down a rocky path with very little light. Mother Nature then decided to put on a spectacular storm which lit the path downwards in a pelting rain, terrifying thunder, horror movie lightning kind of way. It really was quite wonderful to see the storm swallow up the island   but I have to say it was much more enjoyable once I was home and watching the sea from my shelter.

Friday, 10 August 2012

troppo bella

Tonight I was walking along the dark descent which leads from the town to the sea when I was informed by a fellow traveller that I was 'troppo bella.' Obviously he has not seen the inside of my throat (although maybe that was his plan) as I have been feeling lousy all week - like I swallowed a razor blade  or a set of kitchen knives. I left him at the crossroads as I wanted to go to the supermarket but I thanked him for his compliment and decided one should always be grateful for the kind words of others ( even when laced with a bit of Albanian horn.)

In the meantime I have been selling a few stones...


And I had dinner with a Swiss colleague of mine ( ok ex-colleague I suppose now) who is holidaying here on Skyros as well. Es war sehr schon.

Monday, 6 August 2012

lego magic

So I managed to watch Mr Bolt's bolt on the internet last night. By 'watch' I mean I waited for the BBC website to put up live updates of the event as it unfolded. Obviously the race was long finished by the time they managed to type the word 'winner' onto the screen.  I did enjoy The Guardian's lego re-enactment of the whole thing though.
Inspired by his athleticism I took myself on a short walk through the lovely rolling countryside so I could inspect the fig and olive trees as well as the odd donkey.

Fortunately, as with anywhere in Greece, there was a taverna at the end.

Thursday, 2 August 2012

Homeless heart-breaker

Look at this lovely doggy.  She spends her day wandering between people, sleeping in the sand and looking for hugs.  At night she goes to town for a bit of a passiagata. I'd love to give her a bath and a haircut and then maybe some nice Greek family would take her home.

Full Moon

Yesterday I clobbered my knee on the bedpost. No evidence as yet except that I spent the day hobbling around like a crippled horse. Didn't stop me from enjoying the full moon though.


Wednesday, 1 August 2012

Sale Sale Sale

I sold my first stones the other night. I felt a little sad to see them go but I can't carry them all round for the rest of my life. I should be lightening my load not heaving it. I discovered a few things from the experience though. (1) People do like my stones which is very humbling (2)  People all have different tastes so ones I wasn't necessary as keen on were loved by others (3) I am not a born saleswoman. I feel if I do it again I need to be a little more prepared ...and a bit more confident. (There's a shock.)


Despite my nouveau riche status I will, of course, continue to paint stones for children.

Until the fame gets to me.