I sit across the breakfast table from my mother.  All is well here.     (Leica m8, Voigtlander 75mm, ISO 320)



Polly Jo, July 2014

Polly Jo, July 2014

a pear, a white bowl

a pear, a white bowl


yucca and lily

yucca and lily

nasturtium, basil and salvia

nasturtium, basil and salvia

day lilies

day lilies








by John on July 2, 2014

–I leave Paros tomorrow for Athens.  From Athens I fly to the USA via Vienna.  This is my usual route.  If all goes well I will be at my mother’s house in upstate New York in time for dinner Sunday night.  I will stay three weeks, then return to Greece, and Paros, on August 1st, just in time for a friend’s watercolor exhibit.

–I have much on my mind.  Distance will allow me some perspective.

– When I return to Paros I have my work cut out for me:  I need to start house-hunting in earnest.  I have been told that August is the time to do this.  I will also take possession of my road bike, a different animal from the mountain bike.  So I will have two bikes.  It is similar to having pets. I need a new space.  Ideally I am looking for something with a small terrace where I can store the bikes and an extra, small room where I can keep my photography gear.  Currently these fill my living room.

–While I am out of town a close friend is housesitting for me.  She leaves on July 21st so at least my flat will be occupied and used for the next couple of weeks.  It will be good to keep it aired out.  She’s a peach!  Thanks JR!

–Before I know it September will be here.  I will finally (!) begin Greek language lessons.  I have been here too long to know so little.  I am embarrassed.  There is a 25km mountain bike race on nearby Andiparos in which I would like to compete.  I also have my own photography to work on.  I am working towards a small solo show in November.

–Lots of thinking, lots of action.  At night the wheels spin in my head, clanking about like rusty, broken gears.  Sleep can be difficult.




The busy island…

by John on June 24, 2014

Paros becomes busier daily.  The tourists come through, then leave.  I stay.  My friends and colleagues stay. We live here and thrive in our respective communities, circles within rings.  I have to admit that I am amazed at how life is working for me these days.  I suit up, show up, don’t push, breathe and keep things light.  I take my pictures, ride my bike, etc…Here are the bullet points:

–I am working towards a small solo show for November, centered around, and exhibited in, the small cafe in which I am currently tapping away on my Macbook.

–My Macbook is in fine running order.  Fully cleaned, reseated RAM, etc…No overheating.  Thanks to Pararam in Naoussa for that, and only 20 euros!  In the US it would have been three times that amount.

–I had a nice discussion with a friend the other day about working and showing your work, i.e. “putting yourself out there.”  On being prolific.  We cited the author Michael Chabon.  He is my age, more for less.  He has published a lot of books.  Not all of them are Pulitzer Prize winners, but he has published a lot of books.  That’s OK.  If people want to know what you are doing, you should show them.  Once a year, big or small, grand or humble.  It all matters.

–I rode my first long road race last weekend.  The Circle of Paros, 61km around the island, began at 17:40 Saturday.  It was my first long race, first road race.  I rode the course on my mountain bike last Wednesday and made it in 3 hrs 15 min.  That’s with fat tires, 5 stops for water, and not being exactly sure of the route.  Afterwards some more experienced riders advised me to load slick road tires on my MB and ride that way.  So I did it.  I just wanted to knock off 16 minutes.  My final time was 2:37:48.  And I had a puncture that delayed me 6-7 minutes.  Here is a Youtube link.  It’s in Greek but it’s fun to watch…

–There was a moment (fleeting!) when I almost quit. I was only 6km into the ride.  But I decided to push it anyway.  Not give up.  I overtook many and made it to the big hill-climb towards which I was looking forward before the race officials closed it.  I made it.  My “Franken-Bike” worked well, but an actual road bike would have been better.  I now have my eye on one.  A friend is willing to sell me his Boardman road bike.  It is essentially new, but the frame is too large for him.  We shall see.

–I would be unable to thrive, enjoy life or otherwise be part of these circles, these rings of communities, without the support and advice of many.  For me, I can trust my instincts only so far.  Even the wisest and experienced turn to others for guidance and direction.  It is best to not pretend you know what you are doing.  That would be arrogant folly.  Hubris.  That’s a Greek word.

The "Franken-Bike."  I took the 26x2" mb tires off and replaced them with 26x1" road tires.  Not ideal, but it did the job.

The “Franken-Bike.” I took the 26×2″ mb tires off and replaced them with 26×1″ road tires. Not ideal, but it did the job.




Home again, home again…

by John on June 17, 2014

I am back on Paros, grateful for the short time away, grateful to be home.  I am dropping off my laptop at a Mac repair shop in Naoussa in about an hour, so I’ll update now and be off-line for a few days while they fix my RAM/overheating issues.  Get some other stuff done… Here are some thoughts gleaned from the notebook I kept while away from my keyboard.

–On Iraklia, be sure to eat at ‘Pefkos’. A nice, small family-run taverna.  I had excellent goat there and fried zucchini.  Ate there twice.

–On the day I left Iraklia, I wrote “Fisherman repair nets.  There is music on the radio. My donkey and I wait for the boat to Naxos.”

–A kamaki is a traditional three-pronged spear used to hunt fish.  It is also the term used for the people (kamakia) who wait for you to disembark from a boat.  They try to lure you in to stay at their hotel, studio or apartment.  I wrote “The life of a kamaki is no life at all.”

–A poem…Sikinos slips by/stone dragon in/a shining sea./From the stern/I gaze up/its scaly flank/searching for Episkopi/the worn dome/the Apollonian columns.

–”I’ve seen Sikinos burning, from miles away, on another island, years ago.  From Andiparos the blaze measured 5 mm between my fingertips.  A year later I searched the rocky terraces and found no sign of the inferno.  Perhaps it was dragon spit.”

–I was able to finish ‘Ulysses’ while on holiday.  “As the Aqua Jewel slid into the harbor of Sifnos, Molly Bloom exclaimed “…yes I said yesI will yes.”

–A Gypsy woman wearing an electric blue t-shirt.  Written in large, bold black letters is “variegated moss green.”

–”The lights of Paros shine faintly off the starboard bow.  I can see Paros from where I am.”



Milos, day 6…

by John on June 12, 2014

–I had forgotten how posh Milos can be.  It is easy to avoid if one so chooses.

–From the top of Prophitas Ilias (748 m) the view is spectacular.  Even on a hazy day like today, the archipelago was in full view.  Kimolos, Polyagios, Santorini, Sifnos, Serifos, Folegandros, Paros.  This was all around me.  Far to the south I could make out a faint, long shape:  Crete.

–The FIAT Panda is, perhaps, the finest car in its class ever made.  A real gaidaros…a real donkey.  I have mentioned this in other posts already.  A big ‘thank you’ to Niko’s Rental in Adamas for allowing me to change my rental agreement not once, but twice.

–I have purchased my ferry ticket back to Paros on the ‘Aqua Jewel’, leaving Sunday evening at 18:00 hrs.  This leaves me with almost three full days left for my biking, hiking, swimming and photography.  Not always in that order.

–Yesterday I had just finished up an arduous 10km hike, ending up at a lovely beach on the west coast.  As I lay on the sand I suddenly realized I did not know what day of the week it was.  I had to laugh.

–The last time I was here ( June 2012) I only spent 3 days.  Being here so long has allowed me to really get into Milos.  I have discovered that despite the heavy mining and cosmopolitan aspects, it is as rugged and wild as they come.   Wild goats still scamper up and down the rocky crags.

–Tomorrow is a photography day.  My goal is to finish one roll of AGFA in my Voigtlander and start another.  Easy-peasy.   Rocks and wood.



On holiday…

by John on June 7, 2014

So here are the bullet points…

–I was supposed to travel to Milos last Tuesday but the high winds cancelled my boat.  Then my laptop died before I left Paros.  I left it behind.   I took the next available ferry from Paros to Naxos.  Enroute I bumped into some folks I knew (Orfeas, Bjornante) so the gods put me there for a good reason.  I continued from Naxos to the small island of Iraklia, one of the Minor Cyclades.  I spent the next 3 days hiking and biking that very quiet place.  While there my “smartphone” decided I wasn’t smart enough, so it locked me out.   I’ll  get some reading done instead.

–Yesterday morning I began my odyssey to Milos.  3 boats, 16.5 hours.  Iraklia back to Naxos; Naxos to Ios; Ios to Milos.  I arrived at 24:30 last night, checked into my hotel, unpacked and had a solid night’s sleep.

–So I am here for the next week.  Lots of biking, hiking, swimming and sun.  I hope to visit nearby Kimolos next week for  a day trip.  It is a short ride on a slipper ferry from Pollonia to the Port of Kimolos and the boat goes every two hours or so.

–I cannot upload any pictures or change the header  so that will have to wait until I get back to Paros, fix my laptop, etc….


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–May is here.  The sun is shining, the tourists are few.  The winds are from the south, north, east and west.  It is lovely here on Paros.

–My darkroom work is progressing nicely.  I have been printing my Weather/Texture 35mm images on a regular  basis and am finding great joy in the consistency of this portfolio.  I have also been keeping up with my 4×5 portrait work and  recently photographed a young artist who is visiting our fair isle.  I made 12 exposures, of varying depths-of-field.  I’ll develop them this weekend.  Paros Portraits, Part II moves at its own pace…

–Recently a close friend  gave me a lovely gift: Richard Avedon’s Woman in the Mirror .  The images reminded me to look a little deeper into this photographer’s life.  I have always been impressed by his work.  I admire those who labor at what they love and have paid their dues, either through hard work, hard times, or both.  Avedon was a skilled craftsman who supported himself and his family through commercial photography.  While I never met the man, I get the feeling that while he became famous in his own time, he maintained his humility.

Avedon said that “I never wanted to be called an artist.  I wanted to be called a photographer.”

…also “sometimes I think all my pictures are just pictures of me.”

He also believed that “a photographic portrait is a picture of someone who knows he is being photographed, and what he does with this knowledge is as much a part of the photograph as what he’s wearing or how he looks.”

–Dig it.






Kalo Pascha!

by John on April 20, 2014

-Lamb, potatoes, candles, inscense, cantors, kokoretsi, gut soup, “Xristos Anesti!…Alithos Anesti!”, tomatos, friends, family, fanari, rose petals, rose water, the Light of the World, breaking the fast, grill, spring, Paros, sharing the light…

Happy Easter!


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April upon us…

by John on April 7, 2014

–I have heard from folks in the US that their weather has finally turned spring-like and the snows have ended.  It has been a difficult season for them and they need to put away their shovels and plows.

Slow Art Day is  coming up.  I will be gathering with some friends at a local museum here on Paros and participate.  I was reminded this morning that the average museum visitor spends between 5 and 30 seconds looking at a piece of art and that time is usually when they read the tag on the wall.  During this day we will look at 5 pieces, for 15 minutes each.  Then we will reconvene and discuss what we saw, how we felt, etc…I am looking forward to it.  Too many cultural institutions treat their space like a shopping mall.  MoMA in New York is one of them.  I think I have blogged about this already.

–When I first visited Paros in 2006 as a tourist, I came specifically to see their museum.  It has one of the finest collections of Greek art in Europe.  It only cost me 2 Euros to get in.  It still costs 2 Euros.  I was here for two days and visited twice.

–I continue my own printing in the darkroom.  I am doing well.  Although I may have made some strict goals at the outset, I have relaxed those boundaries.  I seem to be falling within them anyway.  Tomorrow I hope to expose some 4x5s.

–I competed in my second Parian sports event the other day.  It was the Paros Diathalon, held out at Molos Beach and the village of Marmara.  It consisted of a 7km run and then a 12km mountain bike.  My teammate Margaret ran and then I biked.  I had a great time and, once again, felt at home within that diverse community.  I will post some images on my Flickr site.  I am waiting to hear from people who have pictures of me.  Our total time was 63min, 55sec.  I think we placed 5th or 6th in the ‘Teams’ category.

–In a couple of weeks I have a break from work.  I might stick around, I might take off.  I might do both.  Load up the panniers and go…




Mid-March, Paros, 2014…

by John on March 16, 2014

–Yesterday was the Ides of March.  I made it through unscathed. Et tu…?

–The day before, march 14th, was my mother’s 90th birthday.  She made it as well.  90 years…

–What has she been witness to since 1924! Well, almost everything worth talking about.  Plus, she has raised three children and set them on their respective paths.  One is a professor at a large University.  Another is an artist living on a small island.  The third is…well, that’s me.  Funny.  It feels like we three have all found our own islands we call home. Her love has been unconditional and generous.  She may, at times, worry about our sanities, but she has always been there, no strings attached.  She has never asked for proof of good will.   If I have had any regrets or guilt, they have been my own and are non-transferable.  Kind of like airplane tickets.

–Today I went to a mountain bike race in the hill town of Kostas.  I could have raced it myself, but opted out so I could photograph instead.  I brought my big Canon 5D MKII, my 35mm Voigtlander and my Wista 4×5.  I packed up 16 pieces of Kodak TPX 320 and had some old-time fun with large-format sports photography.  I am eager to see how they come out.  While I waited along the dirt road for the pack to appear, I was suddenly struck by the knowledge that this is how it was always done, for almost a century.  Photographers standing on the side of the road with their tripods and 8x10s/4x5s/etc…waiting for the runner/horse/bicycle/car/locomotive to come barreling down the track and trying to catch the moment.  It’s not easy.  I was thankful for my knowledge of depth-of-field so all I had to do was whip the film packs in-and-out of the back of the camera.  I was loading, exposing, sliding the cover back on, unloading, and tossing the exposed film pack on the grassy ground.  15 exposures later (one dud) I was done.  I finished up a roll of EFKE 100 35mm in the Voigtlander, made a few digital snaps of the closing events, and called it a day.

–I have been lining up some new subjects for continued portraiture.  I figure that if I can practice diligence, I will have a large enough portfolio to begin printing next autumn.  I continue to pray to the gods of photography for deliverance of  a 4×5 enlarger.

–Spring seems to have arrived.  The light has been superb.  What else is there to say?