Summer Memories

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Late August already and I am having a difficult time accepting that my Sweet Summer is slipping away.  I haven’t been able to get to the sands as of yet this year but my heart is always near the water.

My painting is an image I have instilled in my mind where the warm winds are blowing and the water is trickling across the sand rushing back into the lake to form a new tide.

I spent wonderful summers by the lake with my family.  I remember lying in bed at sunrise waiting to hear any kind of movement from across the street.   This is where my cousins lived.  My uncle would come out holding a large blue cooler filled with food and drink.  I would jump out of bed and my heart would literally be racing with joy because this meant that the decision had been made … we were all going to spend the day at the beach!

Soon after, I would see him packing chairs and bags full of blankets… the joy of the ride  surrounded by everyone I loved was pure bliss.  The memory is so clear, the voices of grandparents, the smell of charcoal BBQ’s, my fathers brown shorts and moms bathing suit.  The anticipation of rushing to water would almost make me dizzy, but we needed to help unload, and set up blankets, plates, and food.. practically jumping out of my skin I could smell the beach water, feel the sun’s shine and sand between my toes.

One, two, three, go!  Once I was allowed in, I always went to my favorite spot by the rocks where I would take some time to sit and swing my toes back and forth in the water.. this was my time to think and to dream .. and it all came so easily for me … at the beach.

Those days were gifts and I knew it back then… I felt such pleasure being in the water, the laughter we all shared by just gathering together.  As the sun slowly began to come down and the temperature changed we sat around eating sweet watermelon and wishing we didn’t have to leave this place …so much so that at times we made one last dash for a swim.  My Uncle Bill always made my summers special, even long after my dad became ill and my parents couldn’t come with us anymore, he always included me as part of his family and expected me to come rushing out once the hood of his big old car opened up!

I miss that time, I miss the way the tide sounds as it flows across the sand and surrounds our toes.. quickly rushing back into the lake.  I miss the gathering and everyone that has long past.. I miss the beach because it feels like home to me.

Above is a sun set over the water and sand ..somewhere out there the sun is setting on the lake at this very moment and my heart is right there … toes in the sand, wind flowing against my skin and magical memories in my heart..

Beach memories …

Until we meet again, – Katerini

Please click the link for a Summer song and really listen to the words… didn’t we all have one of those summers at some point?

https://ca.video.search.yahoo.com/search/video?fr=mcafee&p=rollercoaster+luky+bryan#id=1&vid=0886e5680d030acb4088175b36b2d441&action=click

Spring Planter

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Spring has finally graced us with her presence and everywhere around the world people are opening windows and cleaning out closets.. as much as we love Winters beauty it is time for blossoms, blooms and new beginnings.   Although the trees remain bare and the grass hasn’t changed to a deep green just yet the season brings rain which helps the flowers grow and once those plants appear within sight we are assured that not too long from now the laughter of children will be heard in the streets and the musical Ice Cream truck will drive by …

Spring Planter was painted with a mix of acrylic and oils; the colors carefully chosen as gentle wildflowers nestle together in a wooden planter that fits just perfectly right below my window.

Whether you live here in Toronto or somewhere in Paris… when you wake up on a bright Spring morning and open your windows to a glorious day… your Spring planter will be right outside waiting to be adored.

Don’t wait too long to plant your own seasonal flowers as they become available.. they will bring you hope, beauty and comfort knowing that the flowers are making their way back into the city and our lives….

Happy Spring to all!

Until we meet again,  Katerini

 

 

 

Gytheio, Greece, Girls day out

Girls day out- 1961
Mom’s Gytheio
Gytheio, Greece 


It took sometime to begin this new series but this year I have decided to share my moms stories in a visual as well as short story form.   Similar to last years Seasons in the city I will share a drawing/painting a photo from long past and a story.. my mother’s story.   This years artwork is dedicated to the woman who is my inspiration, my strength and my creativity.   My mom has always encouraged me to follow my dreams and in the coming months I will share a few of her own.. with you.
The year is 1961 and Maria, Dina and yes.. Dina number 2 .. (my mom being the one on the right with the classic purse, set out on a bus ride to the seaside town called Gytheio, in Greece.   The lady in the middle was the village priest’s daughter and the other was the reason for this entire outing.. it was Dina’s birthday and the girls had gathered to celebrate.  Dina’s father owned a restaurant by the shore and the plan was to spend the day strolling the shops where my mom purchased a black patent purse and matching shoes and a small bottle of perfume that spilt in her purse a few hours later.  To this day, when I open the purse which she has kept all of these years I smell the sweet perfume… the scent lingers ensuring the memory of this glorious adventure never fades away.  The shop was called Lavropoulos and apparently favored by one of her favorite actresses Aliki … imagine the excitement she felt knowing she had just shopped in the same place as her adored Aliki!   After a few hours of shopping along this colorful little town, the girls , all dressed up went to the restaurant and shared souvlaki, bread and the flavorful Mousaka .  This is where my mom had her first beer.. she insists it was only half a beer – FIX beer .. the best beer in Greece as she recites this story I picture three young ladies sipping and giggling at the innocence of the experience.  Near the end of the afternoon my mom was introduced to an older gentlemen from Crete by Dina’s father and he seemed interested in getting to know her better, but Maria knew that this serious looking gentleman with the twisted dark mustache wasn’t the one for her and she quickly made an excuse to get going back to her hometown.  My mom is 82 years old,  and she describes this day as clearly as if she just visited Gytheio.  The colors, the music, the sound of the water as the boats sail along… She remembers the way she closed her eyes and listened … taking it all in… all the while spending an enchanted day with her two besties… I listened carefully .. and I tried to capture the image as best I could… but it was her dancing eyes as she shared her tale with me that guided me through each color, each building and the waterside….   I guess it goes to show you… all you need for a perfect day is a seaside village, shopping, delectable food and your favorite people along side to share in the memory…
Gytheio, Greece 1961 – a moment in time.


https://youtu.be/1Wl2JyND3NQ
Click the link to hear mom’s treasured song!








Maria me ta Kitrina- Maria in yellow – who do you love more?

A Winters Tale

On the eve before a winter storm I am making a peppermint tea and thinking back to a night just like this years ago.  The snow had begun to fall, topping the tips of the tree branches creating the appearance of a powdered white coat of fresh crystal .    It was February and the holidays had long past however I always managed to feel the “magic” of a wintry night. 

 There is something so enchanting about being walked home by someone who you are completely enamored with, as little frosty flakes fly around creating a whimsical path along the way just for us.  That moment in time will be with me always as one of the most romantic walks.  There were people around us and the usual area traffic but I only recall the sound of laughter, slips and slides through the icy streets, fingers entwined and the twinkling of sparkles on the trees.  It was a perfect scene out of a story book;  the crisp crunch sound under our feet as we glided through the snow.   We spoke to each other,  the cold night was evident,  but this night… this wintry evening with all the snowflakes falling ever so gently  had me under a spell … I remember feeling as though we were all alone on this walk… surrounded by the illuminating trees, and whispering winds. 

 Snow and I have an understanding.  As long as there are February evenings where snow makes its way into the city , I will always be grateful for the sense of wonder that comes with a Winters Eve.  The air becomes crisp and I just know… that something wonderful is on its way… ” I smell snow”. … it’s exciting and it takes me back to that one night…

 Re creating a feeling as powerful as the one I felt that night brought me right back to a time when life was a little less complicated, when time was not ticking quite as rapidly and when the simple act of a walk home in the snow was a gift specially wrapped for us.  The painting only has a first coat as I need to add the details just as I remember them but I wanted to share my memory as it unravelled into one of the most romantic evenings in the snow.

We don’t have to allow our innocence to slip away; we tend to get caught up in the stress of every day life and we all experience disappointments, sadness and stress, even the anticipation of a winters eve if allowed will become a heavy burden as we think about shovels and digging out our cars.  We change, as we grow we tend to look at life as a hurdle and we don’t take more time to appreciate what’s coming….. snow… and the quiet that comes once it has fallen creating a picturesque canvas for all of us to take in.   On the eve before another wintry February day, I want to feel the purity and innocence of a snow fall; I want to look up at the sky and allow the wet crystals to kiss my face and I so want to feel the way I did long ago on that walk home…hand in hand in the snow.

Tree tops tipping over, covered in snow, frosty noses, hearts entwined and icicles forming on window panes … a winters past , this painting represents my Winters Tale.  

Until we meet again,  Katerini

Click to hear

In the bleak Mid Winter

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I have been holding on to posting this painting … waiting for snow.  Just a sprinkle would have to do.. it is the Christmas season and for my story to make the slightest impact on your heart I needed the snow..  and now that the white sparkles have made their way into the city and onto the rooftops I am sharing my next installment of Seasons in the City. 

In the bleak Mid-Winter

“Snow had fallen, Snow on Snow”, “In the bleak Mid-Winter, long ago”, Written by Christina Rosetti

This night is instilled in my memory, it was Mid-December and my father lay in the hospital after a very difficult surgery; his recovery time was indefinite. Mom and I sat in the living room feeling unsettled, trying to decide if we should buy a Christmas tree even though our hopes of having dad home for the holiday did not appear promising. It was just the two of us, we loved the season and so did my father and after much pondering we set out on this snowy evening to Honest Ed’s where we could buy an artificial tree. The year was 1986, I was 16years old. I believe our anticipation and growing excitement after we purchased this tree in a box must of fogged up our logic, because we had no car, no taxi in sight and the snow had begun to come down quite quickly.

It only stopped us for a mere few moments, we took an end and began walking through the neighbourhood cutting through the lane and travelled along London St towards home. The darkness had set in however the light from the snow guided our way, and on that walk we had the most magical talk. We encouraged each other, we planned out our holiday together, at times we walked in silence listening to the snow crunch under our boots. In that serene time I focused on the roof tops of the houses; twinkling white, and the lights on each porch … it was such a perfect night. The box had to be set down a few times, but home wasn’t too far away on Euclid Ave. As we walked I remember thinking the Christmas lights sparkled creating a whimsical picture and I do believe I caught a snowflake or two on my tongue as we spoke. My cheeks felt cold yet I was feeling warm inside from the neighbourhood lights, the snowflakes falling and my mom … her soothing voice letting me know we will be ok this holiday.. together.

Once we arrived home, I remember standing on the porch.. Thinking.. I knew it was coming.. the snow!… I knew that very morning that the snow would arrive.. “I smell snow!” I must have repeated to all my friends, “I do, and it’s coming soon”.

Once the tree was inside, we had dinner and began to decorate … saving my dad’s ornament for him, in hopes that he might spend Christmas with us after all…

The tree looked like a big Christmas present, the two of us sat on the floor by the tree and sipped hot chocolate..

That night, with the combination of the new fallen snow, the walk, our Christmas tree, and my mom… I knew that we would be ok.. because we had each other.

In case you’re wondering my dad did come home for Christmas days before December 25th, and he loved “our” tree.. and he was able to place his ornament on the tree beside ours.

In the bleakest of winters, just when I thought we would miss the holiday all together, magic happened..

Was it the tree? The journey? My mom? Or just …. Christmas! I believe it was all of it combined … that and …. The snow… long ago!

Until we meet again, Katerini 

And my story is never complete without the music.. this version is truly my favorite! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cHR9NJxj-SU

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Oh Christmas Tree!

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It has been some time since my last post and the tree has been up for a few weeks so I wanted to share my annual photo of my Christmas tree.  When Santa came to town on November 18 2018 I wasn’t sure if I was up to going down and participating in the festivities but the entire morning I felt a little push to get myself ready and get going down to the place I always watch the parade every year with my family.  Perhaps it was the emotional time I had with my mom being ill or watching her slow down this year she just looked so frail I wasn’t in a festive mood.  However while driving down to the corner of Euclid and Bloor an emotion so strong came over me and I knew I was making the right choice by keeping the tradition alive.  My dad had a very tender spot for Christmas and he attended the parade every year.   Even that last Christmas before his passing, he slowly walked down to his favorite spot and took part in the festivities.  His eyes sparkled as he watched the floats go by and just before the rest of the crowd began to part ways.. I watched  him sneak home and I had smiled knowing he had enjoyed it.   Although traditions are wonderful to keep they do get just a bit more difficult when the people that share them with you are not there any longer.  My parents brought Christmas into my life, they taught me the reason behind the celebration and ensured I honored the day.. they also taught me to be humble and kind with myself and with others.  Christmas shouldn’t be about lists and requests, the gifts come from the heart whether big or small they are always appreciated.   I have been disheartened about the traditions and the gifts lately because they sometimes turn into expectations and for me… this is not what I believe the holiday represents.   This is my feeling and I am sharing it with you.  We all get caught up in the right Christmas gift, and the hustle and bustle of the parties and gatherings..  I am just feeling a little nostalgic and I was reminded on that drive down to the parade while thinking about my dad.. that although I might not have the “right” gift , perhaps I didn’t buy it from the right store or maybe it wasn’t something the person desired.. it is possible… however it was my gift ..my thought of the person and my heart that wrapped it with love and sent it your way… If we reject it simply because it isn’t our color or name brand,  we reject the thought, the love that goes behind it.  

I grew up with limited gifts and finances, my parents had their struggles, but I always felt rich … because I had the traditions, and cherished each and every cousin and didn’t know the difference between sibling and cousin… they were all my siblings to me… When you don’t have siblings, the people that come into your life are ..your family !  I had quality time decorating the house with my parents, and that quiet time when we would close the lights and leave the tree on .. just to feel the magic!  I didn’t get the name brands and the quantity of gifts but whatever my mom managed to wrap up for me.. was opened with excitement and joy just the same.  I couldn’t imagine giving it back to her and letting her know it was not wanted.

The Christmas tree was the most enchanted in our home and we each still have an ornament of our own that shares a special spot on my tree.  My dad is no longer with us to pick his special place so my mom and I do it for him and so my tree represents memories, family, laughter, and love…  It takes me hours to decorate the tree as I try and find the perfect spot for each cherished jewel that I add as each one represents a story, a moment in time, a memory.. and it will sit on the tree each year lovingly. 

I am trying not to feel disheartened by the overall change in Christmas spirit but wish that all of you think back to a time in your life when the gesture of kindness made your heart full and spending time with friends , and family was truly what makes the holiday meaningful .  Once that seat becomes empty it never gets replaced however I have found a way to keep my dad in my heart always … especially at Christmastime.. and so my tree represents our love, and our family and those we call family along the way.. I hope you enjoyed the story and my tree.. Oh Christmas tree!

Please click onto the link as this is my gift to all of you this year.. this was my favorite song growing up and my husband managed to find a beautiful snow globe that plays this exact song.. such a simple gift yet one that I will cherish forever…

Take a listen!

October’s Trick or Treat

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October has always been one of my favorite months; not only do the leaves begin to change from green to vibrant reds and yellows but the Thanksgiving holiday reminds us to slow down and spend time with loved ones.  The plump orange pumpkins stick around all month first for décor and then they become spooky faces for Halloween …. This painting above is a combination of something old and something new… and I will let you decide if it is still as spooky as it was when I was a child.

Halloween was always so exciting; picking out my costume, being part of the parade at school… do you remember what you dressed up as on Halloween? There was a princess with a facemask that was hard to wear since I wore glasses, and there was a super girl, a wonder woman, and when I got a bit older I did my own make up … a kitty, a clown, but my very favorite was … a witch!  A big pointy hat and black gown to my toes… that one seemed to stickwith me even today I still wear my witches hat when I give out treats on Halloween night .

Wasn’t there a house in every neighbourhood that just spooked you? We had a house at the end of our street  that we called the “Haunted house”.  There was no decorating, no festive orange pumpkins and no candy. Usually it was the darkest house on the block, the trees clinched the walls like they were protecting it from anyone that dared to walk up the path to the front door.  All the children spoke about this “scary house” and although I preferred to avoid going anywhere near especially on Halloween, the rest of the kids gathered together and dared one another to be the first to walk up and ring the bell…

Even the walkway was eerie, crunching leaves can be heard with every step, lights went on and then turned off, the gate was timeworn and falling apart, although every other house lit like a Christmas tree, this old house seemed to stand alone…

The Halloween nights that were rainy and dark were the worst.  Although I anticipated wearing my costume, trick or treating in the neighberhood with my cousins I knew once we got to the end of the block… the fun seemed to fade and the fear set in.  What was it that the kids thought they knew? There were fables of all sorts; I heard a man jumped to his death from the bedroom window, I also heard if you walked by you can feel eyes looking upon you , following  you home, there were stories and as time went on and I got older I stopped listening to them just enough to put my mind at ease about the old place…. except … on October 31st when logic gave way to legends, shadows and spirits.

Today that old house has been torn down and a sweet looking cottage like home sits on the same lot.  The bushes seem lighter, the trees still hug the house but in a friendly manner and the door opens on October 31st to all that walk up the path…  If you pass by the inviting home and you didn’t know what lay there prior, you would not think this was the “Haunted house” that entertained us as children…… but to us… the kids that grew up on Palmerston Gardens, Clinton, Euclid, and Manning… we can’t help but be reminded of what lies beneath all the sweetness can we?

Dark windows, broken porch handles, dried out bushes and crispy leaves, sometimes wet with rain.  The thrill of the dare, knees shaking as we walked up the path, fingers trembling as we thought about ringing the bell, curtains moving ever so slightly in the house … and the creeking sound that we all know we heard even if the door never opened… All Hallows Eve…and we can give our thanks to the house at the end of street.

In case your wondering why go through all of the trouble? It was a broken down old place, it did feel unsettling, but to all of us, it was part of the neighborhood and part of the night.

When we got home, the older cousins got to go through all the chocolates and we got the left overs.. but they were still sweet, tasty and worth the work!  We finished off the evening with our animated cartoons – Charlie Brown was never left out of our celebrations and finally as we parted and went to bed… as our lights went off and all was calm.. right before I fell into a deep and wonderful sleep…the last image that came to mind… I saw the house… ” the scary house” , and heard the creek! Boo!!

Happy October everyone, until we meet again,  Katerini

I think you will enjoy this tune, not one of my jolly usual’s , this one is specifically chosen for the house at the end of the street !

https://ca.video.search.yahoo.com/yhs/search?fr=yhs-rogers-rogers_001&hsimp=yhs-rogers_001&hspart=rogers&p=gallows+pole+iron+maiden#id=13&vid=82456a22f45fabe4ff4987e3da6caf82&action=view