Archive for the ‘People’ Category

Today I visited the workshop of Pandelis and Constantinos Kyriakis. I was invited by Pandelis’s wife Barbara whom I know from the days I worked in tourism.
Pandelis left the elementary school at the end of the 70’s and started working for the carpenter and wood carver Skopelitan Jannis Kritsilis. After a couple of years Pandelis left Skopelos and lived in Athens. When he returned to Skopelos he worked as a carpenter and woodcarver but also as a fisherman.
The last couple of years he has focused on woodcarving mainly and his son Constantinos joined him last year.

A lot of woodcarving are based on drawings. Pandelis has quite a few and some are over 40 years old. He inherited most of them from Mr. Kritsilis.

At the moment Pandelis and Constantantinos are working on a church iconostasis. A framework of wood meant for icons and elaborate woodwork in a church.
Here you see the frame, the woodcarvings that will go on the lowest part of the frame and the doors. Pandelis and Constantinos are discussing what goes where and how.

Other things that they make are chandeliers, head boards for beds and chests.
I like the carvings of mermaids, sea horses and octopuses on the chest!

It is wonderful to see that a trade like woodcarving is not lost on Skopelos and that the younger generation continues in the footsteps of their parents. Pandelis his Facebook page is here: If you are interested to visit their workplace let me know.

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For K.

(View over the Karya area towards Glysteri beach, September 2020)

Recently I have dedicated some of my posts to people who love Skopelos and have been here, like Anna. There are more people who cannot be here for one or another reason.It is not only because of the Corona virus. Other things happen suddenly in our and their lives too. Todays post and this song is for K. She is unable to spend time on her favorite island and she misses Skopelos very much. I want to wish her well and hope she and her family can come back soon.

(Love is I think and on the day of love” sung by Jannis parios and his son Harris)

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(photo received from his daughter Keri)

The forty days of the soul begin on the morning after death. That first night, before its forty days begin, the soul lies still against sweated-on pillows and watches the living fold the hands and close the eyes, choke the room with smoke and silence to keep the new soul from the doors and the windows and the cracks in the floor so that it does not run out of the house like a river.

The living know that, at daybreak, the soul will leave them and make its way to the places of its past — the schools and dormitories of its youth, army barracks and tenements, houses razed to the ground and rebuilt, places that recall love and guilt, difficulties and unbridled happiness, optimism and ecstasy, memories of grace meaningless to anyone else — and sometimes this journey will carry it so far for so long that it will forget to come back.

For this reason, the living bring their own rituals to a standstill: to welcome the newly loosed spirit, the living will not clean, will not wash or tidy, will not remove the soul’s belongings for forty days, hoping that sentiment and longing will bring it home again, encourage it to return with a message, with a sign, or with forgiveness.
(The tiger’s wife by Tea Obreht)

(photo received from his daughter Keri)

Tomorrow, in the saint Michaels church the 40 days passing away of Mr. Dimitri Koutsomitis will be remembered. In Greece it is a custom to have a church ceremony. It is important to recognize this time.
Mr. Dimitri was born in 1919, right after the first world. He studied for engineer and simultaneously worked in an aircraft factory but when the Germans confiscated the factory during World war two mr. Dimitri did not want to help the German invaders so he left. He returned to Skopelos with great difficulty.

He joined the resistance and fought in the Pillion area and elsewhere. He was imprisoned in the Greek civil war on Makronisos, an island that was used as a military prison.

After the Greek civil mr. Dimitri found work on a boat and finally ended up in Australia. He married and has two children. In 1988 he returned to Skopelos. He would visit the municipal cafe/kafenion every day and talk about the news, politics etc. He was always well dressed. We will remember him as a kind person who was well informed about what was going on in the world. A person who suffered during his life but never became bitter about it. Always polite, always thankful for what he had. May he rest in peace.

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We great sadness we announce that today , our beloved, Mr. Dimitri Koutsomiti has died. He was 101 years old. Today, Thursday his funeral will be held in the Agios Michael church at 18.00 hours. The church is close to the police station. Mr. Dimitri has had a full life and has done a great serice to Greece in the second World War. We will together with his family tell his story soon.

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R.I.P miss Maria Garofalis

This morning my landlady and friend miss Maria Garfolis passed away after a short sickbed.

I met miss Maria for the first time at least 15 years ago when I started to do town walks in Skopelos town. I had the idea to show a Greek orthodox church to visitors and I knew a lady who held keys to the Saint Michael church. She was not immediately overjoyed when I first asked her because she was so protective of “her” church. She had keys so she could light candles, clean when necessary and do anything that the priest needed for the services held there.

Miss Maria never married. She used to work in the family business and when she got older she was asked to tend to the church and that “job” was what her life was about. She also helped a lot of people. I know she cooked for an older bachelor, she helped out many people as much as she could without asking anything in return. Only if it meant she could not help out in the church she would say no.

Almost three years ago she also became my landlady and the blessings to me, my husband, my sister, my children and my clients were an everyday phenomenon. She was glad we were in her life and we were even happier. I will never forget the warm summer evenings I used to work in my office and she and her sister would sit outside and talk to everybody that would pass by. She was not able to speak everybody’s language but she made sure, in her own language, that a sweet word was passed on. She thanked people for visiting Skopelos, she blessed the babies in the strollers and encouraged young people.

The fact that her street was filling up with shops the last couple of years was a great joy to her. She will be missed terribly by all of us.

Miss Maria’s funeral will be held tomorrow in the Saint Michael’s church at 11 o’clock.

Kαλό ταξίδι και καλό παράδεισο Μαρία.

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Happy birthday Mr. Dimitri

Today Mr. Dimitris Koutsomitis’s has his 101st birthday.

I think he is the oldest resident of Skopelos. Mr. Koutsomitis was part of the Greek resistance in the Second World War and he is usually the one that lays a wrath of flowers on the war monument in Skopelos harbor. Some friends, keeping the right distance of course, presented him with a cake and sang happy birthday to him this morning. What a great gesture!!

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(the photo is from a couple of days ago when there was a beautiful sun shining on Alonissos and mount Palouki)

I have realized that in the weeks that we have been in quarantine now that communication is very important and really making an effort to get in touch with friends, family and relative strangers is vital for both sides. If others reach out to you need to stay in contact with them. They are making an effort and I should too! I try to think about someone who is single and might be alone at home. I will give them a call or send a message. Someone with children in an apartment somewhere in a big city. Somebody who is still working and worrying she might get infected.

I just wanted to thank the people who reached out to our family the last couple of weeks with their news, whether positive or negative. All the news was welcome. Here on this island we have no corona patients recorded and I have said it before, we have the beautiful nature around us, that is part of our lives and which we can use to refuel our batteries. So here it goes….

Thank you!
-all the readers of the blog who read and comment on the posts. Sorry I cannot name you all.
-Elisa from Italy who told me about what is happening in Italy. The song below I will always associate with you and your family and the tragedy that has hit Italy. The hospital of the city of Bergamo that was hit very hard is supported here.
-Alessandra in London who told me what is happening there and how she spends her days creatively with her two daughters but also her anguish about her family in the south of Europe.
-Sofia who sends me funny videos about how people spend time at home during the epidemic and who I saw outside her house, a couple of days ago with five meters apart. I am glad she is okay,
-Henk for sharing his family life and his daughters perils with choosing a new school,
-Anne Lize who shares what is happening in France,
-Helene for trusting me to write about her beloved husband Klaus,
-H. for sharing the news of the birth of his daughter
-Daphne for updating me on her family life with two strong sons in the house,
-Conny and Stefan who send me interesting articles about how the epidemic evolves in Germany,
-Sascha in Amsterdam who needs to run her catering business during this difficult time,
-N in Australia with updates about how she and her husband are doing,
-A. in England who apart from taking care of her family also works in an elderly home,
-A and M who run a toy store in the Netherlands and are still open although it is very tough to do so
-Christina K. who could not give a birthday party but was still very happy with a small cake that was brought to her,
-Nelly in Athens who I always thank when she calls me and she makes fun of me because of that,
-My elementary girlfriends from Holland who have their own things going on but who still keep in touch,
and many more

Heavy rains in the Sporades the last one and a half days. Skiathos has a lot of damage. Skopelos has also some damage but so far only some sand slides and fallen trees have been reported. The municipality was busy with taming the huge amount of water that came down streets, gutters and gorges. The weather will continue and very strong winds will emerge too!

The quarantine measures in Greece have been extended until the 27th of April. Tomorrow more news about that. Stay safe, stay home.

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We heard with great sadness from Helene Schellhofer that on Monday the 31st of March 2020, her husband and longtime Skopelos lover, Klaus has died.

Klaus died from the effects of the disease Progressive Supranuclear Palsy (PSP)
It is an uncommon brain disorder that affects movement, control of walking and balance,speech, swallowing, vision, mood and behavior and thinking. The disease causes damage to nerve cells in the brain.

When Klaus heard he had to be taken to a home to be treated there the first thing he asked was: ‘’but how can I go to Skopelos now?” Klaus was a schoolteacher for many years for children between the age of 10 and 16.

Klaus came to Skopelos, for the first time in 1978. He was one of the first Germans to arrive on the island and from that time he would visit it three to four times every year. The first places that Klaus visited were “chicken Spyro” and Livadi and he made friends for life during these first times. Spyros Gerakinis and Angelos Xintaris are some of them.

He and his wife Helene, who came to the island for the first time in 1984, lived in various places on the island. In Skopelos town, Alikias, Ditropon and Panormos.
They have built their own dream house in Loutsa, near the water reservoir. Klaus
adopted the Greek way of life when he was here, he went fishing with his friends, celebrated holidays and feasts.

(Klaus in the International Café in 2018.)

Helene and Klaus adopted several animals that they found on the island. Jolly the cat in 2003 in Agnondas and Mona was found in Elios in 2005.

Helene desperately wants to bring Klaus his ashes to Skopelos because he belongs
here, he was part of this island for such a long time. Many will miss him.

(Helene and Klaus walking in the harbor of Skopelos)

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Walking, hiking is the best solution to relieve stress, anxiety etc. I think it is scientifically proved. Just being outside with the strong wind on my face, my cold hands in my pockets and the waves crashing on the beach, constantly changing the surface makes me feel better, lighter in my head.

I am keeping in my mind the saying of a well known lady. “The situation that you are in now, is now, it is not going to last forever.

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I just finished the book, Eleni, written by her son Nicholas Gage and I am blown away.

Eleni is the story of a Greek mother, who, without her husband, lives with her five children, in a Greek mountain village. After 1945 when the second World War has ended, a Greek Civil war starts between Communist guerrilla’s and right wing troops. Many citizens in villages are trapped between the fighting parties and Eleni Gatzoyiannis realises that she needs to escape from the communist guerrillas in her village before it is too late. Her three daughters and her only only son are able to escape and end up in the United States but Eleni is tortured and executed outside her village. Her body, together with four other, executed, villagers is thrown in a ravine.

Many years later her son Nicolas, who became a journalist, tells the story of her life and tries to find her killers.

The book describes, the selfless love of a mother for her children. It describes Greek family life in the years after the second World War and the historical events of that time.

I realise I don’t know a lot about the years in Greece right after the second World War. In many countries there was peace but not here. I learned a lot reading this book and understand better how Greek society works the way it works and the way political parties were formed and work.

Beautifully described and heartbreaking. A must read if you want to learn more about Greece.

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