Conversations while Looking at a House

No 45 in Kakouri lies on the southwest comer of the intersection of a small tar back road from Tripolis  to the bigger village of Levidi and a road that goes up into the village and down into the planes to the even smaller village of Simiades, in the  shadows of the tallest mountain in Arcadia, Mainalon.

The intersection is criss crossed at roof level by a Zembetiko dance of telephone and power lines. My father always used to look up and say:

“See how clean the air is here. The wires have been up for years and still shine”. Somehow it was true. I can still see the spirals in the cables clearly.

The main gate to the house cuts a small corner off the property. The old gate was a rough wooden plank affair, with an old cement slab between two columns. A vine used to struggle to cover this from the village side. The original wall was of stone, roughly put together and low. It was whitewashed every year. A few years ago when my father finally sorted out ownership of the adjoining property amongst the cousins, he build a garage where the family stables were and over an old threshing ground. He build a smart low wall with a metal balustrade, and made a gate of the same. The cobbled stone front courtyard suddenly looked neater and quite suburban, and the grapevine made way for a struggling rose or two.

The house is two storeys, made of stone. There are small holes in the masonry that held the rough wooden scaffold as they built the house which was completed in 1936, the year my grandfather John came back to the village to marry his bride Marigo. The red village tiles rise in a simple quadrangular cone above the lines, so that if you were on the roof you would have an uninterrupted view of Analipsi to the north and Mainalon to the south, and a great swath of summer blue sky between. From the street and even the first floor verandas, the view is as good but the sky loses impact with the black and silver lines.

The lower floor which would have held the animals in winter is above the cellar which still holds wine barrels and would have stored earthy potatoes and luscious red apples that seem to increase in flavour in winter until they were brought up cold and refreshing as dessert after a rich winter stew for lunch at any of the villagers houses. At the entrance to the cellar is a wine press whose drain aims into the stairwell, so that buckets can be placed to catch the freshly pressed juice.

The wine press is under the steps that lead outside to the first floor veranda and main door. We seldom use that door, but the concrete structure has been clad with stone tiles to make it look less modern and the cement slab that shades the veranda from the fierce afternoon sun has a pine ceiling to cool it off. The original would have been of wood, planks thick enough to hold the weight but thin enough not to cost to much. They never lasted, as can be seen in any of the older neglected houses in the village, where sometimes only the beams and struts remain.

No 45 Kakouri at Night

5 thoughts on “Conversations while Looking at a House

  1. My dad grew up right behind the old village vrisi you used in the 70’s.
    Behind that sink is where Demetrios and Olga Gianiosis raised 4 children.
    George ( my dad was one of those kids).
    Reading your blog is medicinal,these places are somehow a part of me and I can feel you’re words as if I was right there with you.

    Thank you!

    Demetrios Gianiosis

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s