Category Archives: Uncategorized

Book Signing

Tomorrow, Nov. 28 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. I will be selling and signing books at Pedoncelli’s Market in Geyserville.Layout 1

The Prika – the all important dowry

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Dowries – the all important “prika”. The dowry or prika is a woman’s share of the inheritance but it is given at her marriage, not on the death of the parents. It is important in the selection of a mate. The bigger the prika, the more choices a woman will have. For a long time no prika meant no marriage. Brothers were expected to help earn the prika and not marry until all the sisters were happily married off. Could be hard on younger brothers. In more recent years “politithas” or “city girls” whose brothers were sometimes partying away their prikas in the tavernas, began earning their own prikas. Old Greek movies are rife with prika tragedies.

In my book the dowry comes into play for some friends – especially Paraskevi, the youngest of many daughters in a family with no sons. Was she condemned to spinsterhood?

Here are links to buy the book: $20 print, $4.99 ebook.






Two Greek Languages?! Isn’t one bad enough?

At a festival where we managed to communicate despite language.

At a festival where we managed to communicate despite language.

At the time we lived in Greece it came as an unpleasant surprise that there were two languages: the Greek daily spoken language called Demotic, and an artificial official language called Katharevousa.

After 400 years under the Ottoman Turks, when the Greeks finally won their independence back, some leaders decided they should somehow get rid of all Turkish and Byzantine influence and go back as far as possible to ancient Greek. A scholar made up the language. But language is a living thing and you can’t legislate it. People went on speaking Demotic Greek.

But government officials used Katharevousa in official proclamations, and newspapers published in it. Its use seemed pompous and deliberately trying to cut off ordinary folks from their government. Kids learned Katharevousa as a second language in school beginning about fourth grade. It was finally abolished by Papandreou when the colonels were kicked out and democracy restored in 1976.

The language books I had bought in the states to learn Greek turned out to be mostly Katharevousa – totally useless. Our dictionary was a mixture and therefore undependable. The two languages were like Old English versus what we speak today. Sometimes it could be useful. An example “white house” like the one we lived in was “aspro spiti”. The White House (inWashington) was the official “lefkos oikos”. You can see how vastly different the languages were. What was intended as a patriotic gesture turned out to exclude people from those controlling their lives. It’s a hard enough language to learn so I am relieved there is just one Greek now.

The Greek Dead Do Not Stay Buried – No, Not Zombies!

More Vv

The Greek dead do not stay buried. No, they don’t turn into zombies, they are acknowledged in regular ceremonies for three years.  In the mountains at each of these ceremonies the family would cook whole kernels of wheat sprinkle it with sugar and dried fruit, then put it into paper cones they would give away to everyone. We often enjoyed the delicious “death wheat”.  After the three years end, the bones are dug up and tossed in a “boneyard”, so the grave is ready for its next occupant. Think about it. For thousands of years in a country that is mountainous and arable land is at a premium, if the Greeks hadn’t developed such a custom there would be no place to grow food for the living! In my book I wrote about a scary discovery of the village boneyard.

Here are links for those interested in buying a copy of the book “It’s Greek to Me”. Print is $20, ebook version is $4.99






Why Greek First Cousins All Have the Same Name

Cross-Eyed Nikos celebrates the end of threshing the year's wheat crop.

Cross-Eyed Nikos celebrates the end of threshing the year’s wheat crop.

Greek names. The oldest boy in a family is named after the paternal grandfather. The second son is named after the maternal grandfather. The oldest girl is named after the maternal grandmother, the second daughter after the paternal grandmother. So you see it can take some time and effort to introduce a new name to a family. It also means all first cousins have the same names. Greeks handle that by freely bestowing nicknames. The nicknames can derive from physical characteristics like our neighbor Cross-Eyed Nikos or Tall Yianni. Or they can derive from a profession such as Nikos the Barber or Yianni the Fisherman.

One major exception is during WWII in defiance the occupying Nazis, many Greeks named their children Eleftheros or Eleftheria. That means freedom or liberty.

A Peek – Table of Contents


Here’s a peek at the table of contents of “It’s Greek to Me”.

Table of Contents


Chapter 1 – A Brave Old World

Chapter 2 – Vourvoura

Chapter 3 – Louis and Thia

Chapter 4 – The Day That David Invented the Doorknob

Chapter 5 – Celebrations

Chapter 6 – From Stones Bread

Chapter 7 – Ta Pethia (The Children)

Chapter 8 – Gypsy Invasion

Chapter 9 – Different Pipes

Chapter 10 – No and Long Live, The Goveernment Comes to Vourvoura

Chapter 11 – Hell With Company

Chapter 12 – Wedding

Chapter 13- Wanderings

Chapter 14 – Rocks of Ages

Chapter 15 – Where Shepherds Walk

Chapter 16 – Hollywood Comes To Vourvoura

Chapter 17 – War Scars

Chapter 18 – Estrangement and Reconciliation

Chapter 19 – Gypsy Child

Chapter 20 – Gal Friday

Chapter 21 – The Mani

Chapter 22- After They’ve Seen Pareee…

Chapter 23 – Spies

Chapter 24 – Ferries and Islands

Chapter 25 – Nikki

Chapter 26 – Dimitri

Chapter 27 – To Kill an Octopus

Chapter 28 – Revolution

Chapter 29 – Plowing

Chapter 30 – Tarsa

Chapter 31 – Kalo Nero (Good Water)

Chapter 32 – Saturday Night Bath

Chapter 33 – Yianni Day

Chapter 34 – Papoo

Chapter 35 – Island Christmas

Chapter 36 – The Elli

Chapter 37 – Swallow Days

Chapter 38 – Black Jim from Bad Rock

Chapter 39 – Nikki’s Bread

Chapter 40 – Scandal

Chapter 41 – Holy Week

Chapter 42 – Pascha (Easter)

Chapter43 – Valley of the Cherries

Chapter 44 – New Faces

Chapter 45 – Around the Island

Chapter 46 – Summer Bounty

Chapter 47 – Doug’s World

Chapter 48 – Nikki’s Night Out

Chapter 49 – Cross-Eyed Nikos Takes a Day Off

Chapter 50 – The Trees on the Acropolis

Chapter 51 – Making Wine

Chapter 52 – Vistors

Chapter 53 – Another Harvest

Chapter 54 – Sad Lovers

Chapter55 – Sophia Day

Chapter 55 – Foreign Invasion

Chapter 57 – School Days

Chapter 58 – Glendi (Party Time)

Chapter 59 – To Kill A Chicken

Chapter 60 – Archaia (Old Stuff)

Chapter 61 – Nuptials

Chapter 62 – Clean Monday

Chapter 63 – Departure

It’s Greek to Me – Coming soon!

I am about to publish a new book called “It’s Greek to Me – a young American family lives with rural Greeks before there was an EU  and discovers a powerful ancient way of life.” 

It is a vivid description of life in Greece under their infamous colonels. First in a tough mountain village in the Peloponesus where the Spartans once lived and then on an Agean island where life was gentler.

It will be out in about two weeks and will be available from Amazon, Barnes and Noble or directly from me. The print copy will cost $20. and the ebook will cost $4.99 and will be available from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, etc.

It comes complete with a photos.

This was a third world Greece before it was Eurotrashed.

My children on our island.

My children on our island.