Friday, May 15, 2009

Cramming Too Much into One Day

Monday, May 11, 2009

George the carpenter came by today to measure the kitchen drawers, and now we definitely aren’t going to be able to buy any replacement windows this trip, because George sold Demetrios on a much bigger job than merely reconstructing our drawers.

He said, “I see your countertop is finished,” meaning at the end of its useful life. That’s true; it’s terminal. The Formica is warped. “Ah, here’s the problem; the molding between the counter and the backsplash is warped,” said George. “It allows water to spash in, under the laminate. I will make you a new countertop and put in a proper backsplash, so that won’t happen again.”

I wondered aloud if a new countertop could perhaps be two inches higher than the existing one. “This is for little girls,” I said, “and I’m a woman.” It hurts my back, tall as I am, to work very long at counters made for midgets.

Yes, the countertop could be made higher, and look, that change could almost make room for the fake drawer to become a real one, said George; it would work if we also put in a narrower sink. Well, the existing sink has three bowls, the middle one quite small, and who needs it? (It’s also old and discolored.) But another drawer in this small space would be extremely valuable!

So George took us in his car to the store that sells sinks and we picked out one. Then he brought us countertop samples, and we chose one.

Everything will be ready in a week, George says.

The original estimate, meanwhile, quadrupled.

Demetrios suffered a brief spell of buyer’s remorse. He called up his brother and asked his opinion. Christos suggested we sell this place and buy an up-to-date apartment, in good repair and in a better location, preferably overlooking the sea. But this is home for Demetrios; this is where he grew up, and that makes it irreplaceable.

There’s so much this poor house still needs. We’ve done a lot over the past four years. We’ve put in a new toilet, a shower, and a new washing machine, we’ve bought a bed, a sleeper sofa and a wall unit; we’ve replaced the heating system (because the law required it); we’ve had George make all the doors close properly, and bottom of the bathroom door has been raised half an inch so we can fit a small rug/bathmat in there. But we still need double-glazed windows with real weather-stripping, all new tiles in the bathroom, new floor tiles in the kitchen, and to refinish or replace the hardwood floors, which are gray in places. We still need a good paint job, too. And even before that, there are various pipes that need to be boxed in so the bare pipes don’t show. All that will have to wait and we’ll do it gradually as we become able.

George took up our entire morning and Alexis took up our entire afternoon and evening, installing our new air conditioner and cleaning and servicing the old one. So now, at least, we shall not suffer, come June, so long as we are in this house. I think we’ll have to invite our friends here instead of going to them.

We were exhausted when it was all over. We were just getting ready to relax when we remembered it was NOT all over! We still had an evening event to attend. Our friend Andreas, a cardiologist and poet, had a new book coming out. It was going to have its formal debut tonight at the Center for Thessalonica’s History. So we freshened up and grabbed a cab and arrived a few minutes before the scheduled start time, 8:30. (Scheduled, I say, because it didn’t actually begin until 9:00.)

You virtually had to buy a copy of the book, because they were on a table beside the door to the auditorium. So we did, of course, and Andreas autographed it for us.

It was a small auditorium, but I’m estimating there were some 100 of Andreas’ closest friends there.

There were two lectures. One was about 12 pages long, single-spaced, I’m guessing; it took more than half an hour to read. It was about Andreas’ vision, his emphases, his poetic techniques, the depth of his thought and feeling…

I spent a lot of that time trying to read the plaque on the wall; it was a large facsimile of the “Protocol for the Handing Over of Thessaloniki” – the Turks surrendering it to the Greeks, that is. The surrender document was in French. It was handwritten, which made it difficult, but I could understand as much as I could read of it.

The second lecture was just under half an hour.

That means, that as the book consists of 70 poems, half a page each with wide margins, there were are more words said about the book than are in it.

Demetrios, however, told me both lectures were excellent, and the second one was mind-boggling for its erudition and profundity. “I wish I could tell you all the wonderful things he said, but I couldn’t possibly get anywhere near it.” Okay.

Demetrios was extremely eager to meet this man, but unfortunately (or not, depending upon your perspective), he had to rush out and couldn’t spend any time conversing.

We were still more exhausted than before, so we got out of there fairly quickly, after shaking Andreas’ hand once more, and kissing his wife, Thomai, and meeting their beautiful daughter, Marina. We stepped out into the cool and were just about to head for the bus stop when – Tassos appeared, the other cardiologist friend of ours. He had been at the books debut, too. He is the one who used to let Demetrios use his books in the university. Demetrios was too poor to buy books, but Tassos (Anastasios) was a year ahead of him, so when he was finished with his books, he’d lend them to Demetrios for the following year. He is a wonderful man.

It didn’t take long to agree to go for a walk together, and to stop at a café along the way. Okay, no matter how tired one is, one still needs supper. We found a sidewalk café where we talked and had “tost” (grilled cheese sandwich) for the men and a cheeseburger for me –– and we exchanged news and reminisced.


elizabeth said...

I really enjoy your narrations of your days in Greece. I always feel more rested after reading them.

Brad said...

When you do look into getting replacement windows you need to check out this complimentary e-book.