Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Greece ~ Going full circle? Just maybe . . .

Some youthful memories are better not revisited,
but sometimes you can go home again.
-- unknown

We were looking for new adventures when we purchased our Stone House on the Hill in Greece’s southern Peloponnese. Travel from there to an array of European travel destinations – only a few hours and a few euros away – added to the temptation of having a part-time home base there.

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Europe's travel candy: London, Istanbul, Cairo, Jerusalem only a few hours away
Now that we are two years into our ‘here/there’ lifestyle we find we like being in Greece so much that we aren’t as tempted to fly off on these short excursions to other countries as we thought we’d be. We are having too much fun in Greece.

Every day is a new adventure, even doing the most mundane of chores. We find the lifestyle is causing us to rediscover old skills and apply them in a new setting. Many of those skills were learned in our mid-20th Century childhoods.  We are just a bit rusty but slowly that lifestyle is coming back to us. . .

Often times we remark of the similarities of this simplified, slower pace Greek lifestyle and that of our childhood. Skills we learned and used way back when are being dusted off and used again. Whether it is because it is all still so new and somewhat foreign to our biorhythms or because it it is bringing us full circle, back to our carefree days of our childhoods, really doesn’t matter. Whatever the case, as Yogi Bera, so aptly quipped, ‘it is deja vu all over again’! 

                I know they say you can’t go home again.
                 I just had to come back one last time.
                         -- Miranda Lambert
Regions of Washington State

Born and raised in small towns in the central part of Washington, a state tucked up in the northwest corner of the United States, we smile when our Greek friends shake their heads, admitting they’ve never heard of the state, let alone the towns in it. Agriculture, btw, as when we were kids, continues to drive the economy in the central and eastern parts of the state.
 
Like other mid-century ‘boomers’ the ‘new technology’ of our childhoods was the television. Telephones, with chords, were wall mounted. We grew up eating home grown vegetables from the garden and eggs collected daily from the chicken coop.  Computers didn’t exist in our youthful world – we entertained ourselves by reading books or playing outside.

Needless to say, like many small town kids, we could hardly wait to grow up, get jobs and live in the 'big city'. Ultimately, we moved to the Greater Seattle Metropolitan area on Washington State’s Puget Sound.

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Seattle skyline from Elliott Bay

Now, after nearly three decades of big city surroundings, we have embraced Greek village life with the force of a bear hug! We love its pace, culture, people –  and its food! -- as we’ve told you repeatedly on these pages. 

So here we are in a house above a small village on a Greek hillside, living a lifestyle not unlike that of our childhoods. We seem to have come full circle. . .the major difference being how we embrace the lifestyle that we once could hardly wait to leave.

I had the urge to examine my life in another culture and move beyond what I knew.
                               -- Frances Mayes, author, Under the Tuscan Sun

Let me give you a few examples, beginning in the vegetable garden. As a child I dutifully pulled weeds and helped harvest, but back then I considered those vegetables-- on the rare occasions we had them -- out of a tin can from the grocery store the real treat. 

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My Greek garden - growing vegetables and vocabulary

20160502_163055_resizedNow I can’t spend enough time in the garden!

This spring I spent hours working to enlarge the two existing planting strips into a larger garden, now crammed with beets, lettuce, onions and potatoes.

Our first lettuce harvest last December was cause for joy as I served a salad with both our homegrown lettuce and our olive oil!

As for the olive oil, I finally got around to bottling some of it (using sanitized recycled ale bottles from one of our friends who runs a taverna) and labeling it with our own Stone House on the Hill labels. An adult ‘arts and crafts’ project – skills from childhood again came in handy!


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Off to the left of my veggie garden stands the wood pile.

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The Scout restacking the wood pile

As kids we both helped stack wood – a fuel used in both our homes.  Can’t say it called out to us then, but now we’ve stacked and re-stacked wood to get it ‘just right’.  That wood you see in the photo is part of our olive harvest: branches are trimmed from the trees during harvest and then are cut for use in fireplaces and wood stoves.

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                                                                           Myprize: my clothes line
To the other side of my garden stands something I’ve missed for decades: a clothes line. One of my favorite childhood chores was hanging clothes (when I got tall enough to reach the line). Living in ‘modern-day big-city United States’ means no clothes lines – some cities and sub-divisions ban them. Here clothes, bedding and towels are dried outside. Only on rare occasion would we take these items to the commercial laundry for washing and drying (there is no such thing as self service laundromats in the area).

Perhaps home is not a place but simply an irrevocable condition.James Baldwin, Giovanni's Room

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Lemon harvest at The Stone House on the Hill
Long dormant skills learned during a childhood spent working in his parent’s apple orchard have come to life for The Scout. While never having ‘worked’ an olive grove before, he amazed me, as he stepped into this new environment with knowledge about the spraying, pruning, watering, and harvest that is required for the new adventure of ours.

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Spring wildflower carpet is cut for summer fire danger protection
And like his long-ago apple orchard, the olive grove goes through seasons just like all fruit bearing trees: a time for pruning, a time for mowing down the grass, fertilizing, watering and ultimately harvest.  While we are there, we take care of the grove and hire a fellow to take over in our absence.

Where we love is home, home that our feet may leave, but not our hearts.
Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr.

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Playing house - grownup style
My childhood included a ‘playhouse’ – part of our woodshed. It was near the ‘playhouse’ (a cleaned out chicken coop) of my best-friend-next-door-playmate, Mary. We spent hours in those make-believe ‘homes’ of ours, honing our domestic skills. Every so often The Stone House on the Hill brings out the child in me and I need to ‘play house’ – each time I do, it reminds me of those childhood dinner parties I once held in that play house of mine.

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'Entertainment Center' and 'Great Room' of the Stone House on the Hill
We don’t – yet -- have a television at the Stone House. Much like we recall the debates of our parents, we ask ourselves whether we ‘need’ one. So far, the vote is: we don’t. We do have internet (something not even dreamt of in our childhoods – and it keeps us connected with world news, except when the mouse chews through the cable on the roof). 

When not going about daily chores or running errands or socializing with friends, we read books and spend time outside – just like when we were kids.

While in so many other ways that  this ‘here/there’ world  is providing new adventures and behaviors, it is just maybe bringing us full circle as well.

Each day is a journey
and the journey itself is home.
              -- Matsuo Basho


That’s it for this week from The Stone House on the Hill.  Happy and safe travels to you and your family.  As always, we appreciate the time you spend with us!

Check out the writings of other travel and lifestyle blogs at these linkups:
Through My Lens
Our World Tuesday
Wordless Wednesday
Travel Photo Thursday – 
Photo Friday
Weekend Travel Inspiration








56 comments:

  1. I think you are so blessed to be able to live in a country that you love...not many people get to move to a Stone house on the Hill....we just dream about it. :)
    Enjoy every minute....

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    1. We are thankful every day that we didn't listen to those inner voices of reason and chose instead to chase and catch our daydream. We plan to make the most of every minute we can there. Thanks for the visit, BJ!

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  2. I found myself nodding so many times while I read this post, Jackie as I feel so many of the same small, daily contentments (spell check says this is not a word but if not, it needs to be!) that living as an expat in Europe brings. A simplified, (much) slower life style is exactly what we were looking for and we too love it from drying clothes on a clothes line (I don't even know anyone here who has a dryer) to visiting with new friends over a long and leisurely lunch or just eating an ice cream cone on a bench and people watching. Simple pleasures really are the best!

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    1. I knew you two would understand this one, Anita. It is difficult to explain it to those back in the States, some of whom, still don't quite 'get it'. . .and have even quit asking about our time in Greece. If we don't talk about it maybe it will go away, they seem to think! We so enjoy those simple things!

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  3. sorry to not have checked in for a while to your Stone House on the Hill. Life has gotten way too busy down under. But rest assured I still LOVE your blog posts when I visit and an enthralled by your life in your patch of paradise in Greece. Se when is your book being published?? I know I would buy it! I think if I lived in the Stone House on the Hill I would never want to leave either. Happy travels, enjoy your home, and thank you so much for stopping by my blog last week. I am so slow in answering these days... but really appreciate it when you stop by.

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    1. Oh Jill, you made me smile. If there is ever a book, I will certainly let you know! It has become more difficult than we imagined to leave the Stone House -- and I suspect the more time we spend there, the more it will tug at our heartstrings. I appreciate your visits, whenever you find time to make them! Thanks much for the kind words~

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  4. I think I have a touch of envy :-) We spent last fall cruising among the Greek islands and I believe any one of them could have become home. The lifestyle is so relaxing and so simple. Thanks for sharing your little bit of heaven! ~Terri

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    1. Terri, once you've experienced Greece up close as you did, you can understand its unexplainable magic, can't you? People ask us so often, "Why Greece?" and it would take far too long to try and answer and I don't think they'd understand if they hadn't been there.

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  5. Very cool!
    Thanks so much for sharing at https://image-in-ing.blogspot.com/2016/06/west-side-story.html

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  6. I loved reading this post today.

    I absolutely hated hanging the clothes on the line, but boy, I do miss that wonderful smell. I don't dry our slipcovers and I hang them on a rope across the garden. I love the crisp feel and the smell when I bring them in.

    Have a great day!

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    1. I am so glad you enjoyed it! Yes, those clothes lines from childhood are the centerpiece for nostalgia aren't they? And the smell and feel of sun dried items just can't be matched. Thanks for the visit today~

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  7. Like many people, I sometimes get nostalgic for the "good old days." You are so fortunate to have re-captured some of that. I so enjoyed this post, Jackie!

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    1. Amy, glad you enjoyed this trip down memory lane with me today. Thanks for stopping by~

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  8. So enjoyed this post, and glad you are loving Greece. Yes nostalgia is a big part of ex-pat lifestyle.

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    1. It does make me wonder if subconsciously we weren't attracted to this particular place for that very reason but didn't realize it until we'd taken up part-time residence there. Thanks for the visit, Jo.

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  9. What an absolute delight that you've come in a circle and use and enjoy those childhood skills. You're stone house is such a wonderful place to spend time.

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    1. It certainly makes for a great 'grownup' playhouse, Gaelyn - maybe it is bringing out the kids in us again. (When I write that we've bought bikes it is time for a blog-family intervention!)

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  10. It sounds like a beautiful live in the Stone House on the Hill. As a child I wanted to travel to Greece. I somehow travelled everywhere but to there. I've enjoyed seeing it through your eyes.

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    1. Thanks for stopping by as it gave me a wonderful opportunity to visit your blog. Note to others reading these comments - you can visit the commenter's page/blog just by clicking on the name if it is in blue. Hope to see more of your comments here!

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    2. I will for sure be visiting you again to read more and see more of your charmed life :-) Thank you for the kind words at my blog.

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  11. I really loved this post Jackie. While I may not be back in Europe at the moment, my heart is there. There is beauty in simplicity. We forget we don't need more...

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    1. Glad you enjoyed it Heather as I think all of us who've had a chance to experience Europe - at least in one of its many small villages regardless of the country - have found a joy that so many don't even know they are missing! Thanks for the visit~

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  12. I connect with much of what you say in this post. We live in a relatively small town where we have stayed connected with the land. We have a vegie garden (neglected when we travel) and our kids cubby has transitioned through a chicken coop and as we prepare to sell our home has been returned to a Cubby in the making. I know what you mean about reconnecting with early learned skills and how grounding that is.

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    1. Staying connected with the land is such a good phrase, Jan. While it probably sounds trite, somehow we do feel 'rooted' when we are out working with our hands creating something in or from the earth. As for gardens being neglected, now let me tell you about that Pacific Northwest home and its ratty-tatty flower beds in which I've spent the last four days - weeding! Thanks for the comment - always look forward to hearing from you!

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  13. I grew up in the late 80s and 90s in Puerto Rico. There are many things in here that remind me of my childhood. I remember the many loads of clothes we had to hand. Sometimes, we had to take out the clothes from the lines when it was starting to rain. A lot of times, I feel like going back to those times.

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    1. Rain - yes, rain! Our second set of guests last fall hit at the unfortunate week we had pouring rain EVERY day. But one day it cleared and they raced to wash their travel clothes and get them on the line to dry - the day had such promise. Two hours later the rain had returned with a fury . . .needless to say we visited the commercial laundry the next day to get their clothes dry so they could pack for the trip home.

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  14. Oh, Jackie, nostalgia at its best! Enjoy every minute. We don't even have decent weather here so we can't sit outside - but I do have a washing line. Keep 'playing house'.

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    1. We hope to keep playing house for at least a few more years to come and do hope to get you two there for a visit one of these days! Thanks for the comment - glad you enjoyed the post!

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  15. I love the shot of the sheets out to dry on the clothesline over the veggie garden. That brings back all kinds of happy memories.

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    1. That is one of my favorite photos as it so defines our life in Greece. Glad it brought back happy memories for you as well! Thanks for stopping by, hope to see your comments here regularly!

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  16. Another wonderful tour of the Stone House on the Hill! I would love to have an olive orchard and press my own olive oil. Did a mouse really chew through the cable on the roof? Sorry, I couldn't help but laugh, having had a cable chewed through by a rabbit once.

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    1. Oh Jim, the mouse chewed through the cable all right - not once, but twice! In fact, when we called our internet man in Kalamata we all joked about it 'being the mouse again' until he got to the roof and found it had been! The second time around he installed a stronger cable and a protector around it!

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  17. I agree. The simpler things in life can be more comforting in this era of churning hi tech. Rocket scientist hubby loves gardening and growing things.

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    1. There is some deep rooted desire to simplify isn't there, Rhonda. I sometimes think that is why we travel - once there, you just go about enjoying a place -- it is a simple approach to life.

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  18. A beautiful account of your routine. Seems so exciting! I would someday like to retire and return back to my Mangalore house and have gardens similar to that of yours. What a lovely place you have. Must be a challenge, leaving your home country and settling in a new one?

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    1. It is becoming more difficult to leave Greece and return to the U.S. that's for sure. We knew we'd like Greece but we didn't quite anticipate the intensity of this love affair with it that has developed so quickly. Hope you get to return one day to your Mangalore house and create that garden you dream of.

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  19. I have to say, I often find North Americans look at Europe and consider it a country rather than a continent, therefore want to explore every nook and cranny in it.
    Maybe it's because of the size of North America?
    As a British person living in Greece, I'm really pleased to hear that you take the time to notice the small things, the beauty of this country and yes, appreciate the small rather than the big.

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    1. Sounda about like how we approach Africa as well - not as a collection of countries, but as a country itself. I do think we compare everything to our united states (lower case), perhaps if each were a country those who don't travel would understand it better. We do need to meet sometime - hope that happens in the near future! Thanks for stopping by~

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  20. I'm in awe with those lemons!! Thank you for linking in with Through my Lens.

    Mersad
    Mersad Donko Photography

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    1. Thanks always Mersad for hosting your fun linkup as well!

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  21. What a lovely tour of your house on the hill. I think it is awesome you are living in another country, Greece is beautiful. Happy Monday, enjoy your new week ahead!

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    1. Eileen, it is a great feeling to experience another culture even when you are unsure of what you are doing and feel a bit off kilter. . .wouldn't have missed it for the world. Happy new week to you as well~

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  22. Sounds like you are living a wonderful life in Greece. I believe you've inspired me to visit the garden today. :)

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    1. Julie, so glad the post was a source of inspiration. Hope you'll come back often and add a comment or two along with the visits. Appreciate your garden time ~

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  23. I love this. :-) I share your childhood hatred of gardening, and laugh about how much I love it now. :-)

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    1. It is rather funny to look back on those things that were such 'bores' and 'chores' and find them among my happiest things now. I knew you'd understand~ xxx

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  24. I'm so envious, I love stone houses and the wonderful proximity to all other fantastic destinations in Europe and beyond - lucky you!

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    1. It really is such a wonderful stepping stone to adventures that are SO very far away from our Pacific Northwest. It was worth the leap we took! Thanks for the visit and comment, Noel.

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  25. I think you're so right to recognize that we circle back to what we learned and knew early in life. I felt similarly when we took up daily patterns in Kaua'i: the hand dishwashing, the clothes on the line, less TV, etc. It's a good life you're living.

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    1. I am certain it is probably my age showing when I refer to such basics from childhood, but they really were simply -- and good times -- as are those we experience now that remind us of them. You are so correct: it is a good life!

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  26. Love the idea of going full circle and revisiting a simpler life. I know there are certainly plenty of times I would like to chuck the technology and get closer to the land.

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    1. When given the choice of computer or garden in Greece, the garden wins out every time. It is a good feeling! Thanks much for the visit, sorry to be so late in answering (I've been playing catch up in our Northwest US garden).

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  27. I loved reading this! Going full circle, but realizing it after the fact. I grew up in the suburbs and would be lost in such a rural situation, but for you with your backgrounds, it's perfect! My hubby and I are planning to 'go full circle' too, back to when we met doing development work. Not sure where yet, but that's the plan.

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    1. Oh Rachel, don't lose sight of that plan. It is so worth taking the gamble and giving it a try. You'll definitely have to write about the adventure!

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  28. I loved this post. I also enjoy simple pleasures. We recently rented two houses in Tuscany and loved hanging clothes out to dry (except when it rained:-)

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    1. And I loved your posts from Tuscany as you told a similar tale of the joys of simplicity, like the screened and open window. Thanks for the visit, Irene!

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