When No Means NO – How Greeks Helped Save Democracy

For no reason - a picture of my kitchen on the island of Paros.

For no reason – a picture of my kitchen on the island of Paros.

OXI Day. It is pronounced Oh Hee. It means “No”. In 1940 the Nazis demanded to be allowed to cross Greece en route to Russia and to set up bases in Greece. The dictator Metaxas in Greece was very pro-Axis, but the populace was not. To make sure Metaxas got it right, one night people all over Greece went to highest hills near the towns and villages and lined up stones and whitewashed them spelling OXI. On Oct. 28, 1940 Metaxas capitulated and told the Axis no. Everyone knew OXI meant war and occupation but they refused facism anyway. It is a holiday still honored. The Greeks not only invented democracy, they helped save it. Later British intelligence officers poisoned Metaxas – can anyone say OO7?

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

Book now everywhere!

Laundry day in Vourvoura

Laundry day in Vourvoura

“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” is now out as an ebook as well as in print. In print it is $20, as an ebook $4.99. Here are the links to find it:







Promised Chapter – The Day That David Invented the Doorknob

Autosave-File vom d-lab2/3 der AgfaPhoto GmbH

The house in Vourvoura

Here is the promised chapter. As a set up we had survived storms at sea and arrived in a remote village. To our surprise, a promised rent-free house turned out come with an old lady, Thia, and her great niece, her husband and two daughters.

The Day That David Invented the Doorknob

The house lacked many conveniences, such as full plumbing and electricity, but the thing we missed most was a doorknob on the front door.

All the houses in Vourvoura had handles and little thumb latches instead of doorknobs. Thia’s latch was broken. When it was windy the only way to keep the door closed was to shoot the bolt, locking it from the inside.

We often came back from shopping or a walk and found it locked because when it was left unlocked it blew open and wind put out the lamps in front of Thia’s icons, a matter of great concern to her. Then pound as hard as we could there was no way to get any response for Thia was hard of hearing and her room was at the back of the house. Unless she happened to leave her room, which wasn’t often, or unless Athena or Yorghia were there, we had to go back down the steps, out the courtyard door, climb a steep hill to get to the back of the house, scale a four foot wall, clamber through a small storeroom window and walk through the house to finally unlock the front door. It was a windy summer and this happened frequently enough to be a real nuisance. One day after we had gone through the routine twice David announced he was going to make a doorknob.

He found a broken limb from the apple tree in back and carved it into the proper shape, with a tongue-like flange for a latch, and installed it. Thia came out to replenish the oil in the icon lamps and stayed for a few minutes to watch David at work puzzled. He tried to explain what he was doing by gestures. She walked back to her room shrugging, sure this was again proof we were crazy, a conclusion she had reached the day after we had arrived.

Later that day I was sitting in our room which overlooked the front door and saw Adonis come in from the fields. He mounted the steps, sighing when he saw the door closed, prepared to shout for one of us. Then he saw the doorknob and stopped dead.

He looked at it a long time before he slowly reached out to touch it. He pulled it, nothing happened. He turned it and the door opened. He closed and opened the door again and again. He looked at both knobs and the latch very carefully. Then he didn’t come in; he went downstairs and out to the street where Soteria was unloading sacks of grain from the donkey.

She followed him back up and he showed her the doorknob. She looked at it suspiciously. Then he opened the door. He closed it again and tried to persuade Soteria to open it, but she balked. He went inside, closed the door, then opened it and came back out. Finally Soteria reached for the doorknob and turned it. When the door opened she threw her head back and screamed with laughter. Her laugh was as hearty as the rest of her. She started shouting for the neighbors.

A few of the women came to see what the fuss was about. Soteria demonstrated the door, and Maria, our milk lady crossed herself. She had been interrupted at her baking and was covered in flour, she wiped her hands on her apron and tried the knob herself. All of the women laughed and went to get Thia. She came out of her room grumbling at being disturbed. Then the crowd gathered to show her the new addition to her house. Adonis opened and closed the door a few times to demonstrate. Thia stepped back and like Maria, crossed herself, but was finally coaxed into trying it herself. She opened the door and grinned a big toothless grin.

Finally the women left to return to their chores but Adonis returned with all the men he had found in the wineshop. They were all fascinated and played with the door, talking excitedly together.

They found David in his studio, shook his hand, then dragged him down to the wineshop where they all took turns buying him a drink. Every time someone new drifted into the shop some of the men would take him to the house to show him the new wonder. Two of the men fetched the village priest and took him to the house as well, which impressed Thia enormously. He returned and bought David a drink, too.

That Sunday there was a wedding at the church and Adonis proudly showed the doorknob to all the guests. In fact, the doorknob became a tourist attraction and we grew used to having strangers show up from other villages to ask to try it out. Soteria laughed every time she saw it, but all the men were convinced that David was a genius.





At Amazon, soon on Barnes & Noble – and here is a treat

The book is out and as the folks at BookLocker.com tell me, it will soon be available at more sites and as an ebook as well. I am having a local book launch party with a slide show, Greek music and eats. You can get it at Amazon but you have to hunt for it as It’s Greek to Me by Andrea Granahan, not just the title (popular title for everything from cook books to language books it turns out). It’s $20 in print. When it is finally available as an. ebook it will be $4.99. If someone wants to order directly from me, I only charge $2.75 for postage plus the $20 for the book. Send a check to Andrea Granahan, POB 25, Bodega CA 94922. It is also directly available from BookLocker.com and they deliver fast I am told.

As a treat I am posting a sample chapter. Here is a picture of me and kids toiling up the mountain to our home on the island.Parikia & us from mt.


Cover Done!

Layout 1

The cover is done. Designer Todd Engel did a brilliant job. The book goes to the printer this week. It will be available at Amazon and Barnes and Noble. I am hoping it finds its way to the many Greeks who live in America, Canada and Australia so they can learn about their wonderful roots and how their grandparents and great grandparents lived, loved, worked and played.