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James Prineas

June 2013

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Dear Friends of Kythera,

the European Summer has arrived and that means only one thing for so many of us: preparing for a trip to our favourite Greek island. Family and Friends, the two most important things in the entire world, come together on Kythera along with the food (also right up there near the top of the list!) the sun, the smell of thyme and sage, and the wine-dark Mediterranean Sea.

My boys and I will be there by the time you read this – we only have a relatively short flight compared with those of you in Australia or the USA – and plans are already being sketched to climb Mermingares over Mylopotamos, and also to scale the north-east slope of Paliokastro, where a classical bronze head was once found and sold to a museum in Berlin. We also hope, weather permitting, to continue our swim around the entire island – each year we do a different segment – this time from Pelagia to Diakofti. And of course we'll be exploring different ancient sites in the company of our specialists in geology and antiquities Professor Antonis and Dr. John. If you're on the island in July - in August we unfortunately have to go back for school in Germany - and would like to join us then just drop me a mail or call on my Greek mobile: 697 425 37 53.

Delays & Anniversaries
I have to apologize to those of you who have been so supportive with our Kytherian-related ventures, many of which are still at the starting blocks, for the delays. My family and I have been extremely busy over the past six months with a huge Berlin-based renovation project which set us back on all fronts. In January I did manage to finish the 270 page Kythera From the Air book which is being printed at the time of writing. Depending upon the shipping time and those pesky and thoroughly corrupt dock-unions in Greece, we still have (quickly diminishing) hopes that the book will be on sale on the island by August. Those of you in Australia should see it then as well, all going smoothly. Our other book project, The Great Walls of Kythera, still needs quite a bit of work, despite the wonderful pictures of stone walls and buildings which many of you submitted. One of the main delays has been trying to get high-resolution versions of the pictures from some submitters. It's not too late to send them over, or, if this is the first you have heard of the project, to send over new pictures for the coffee-table publication.

Next on my list of important Kytherian projects is the Kythera-Aphrodite Museum which will create stratospheric benefits for the island – imagine a new and uniquely designed world-class museum on Kythera with the most extensive display of information not only on Kythera but also on the goddess born off her shores, Aphrodite. The resulting attraction would mean that Kythera never lacked educated visitors, even in the shoulder season, ever again, and, most importantly, jobs would be created all over the island. It's a big fish to land and we plan to start reeling it in later in the year when we have recovered mentally and financially from our present whale of a project in Berlin. It needs extensive financing both from the EU and from private sources and that is what we are concentrating on at the moment. If you'd like to learn more about it, my email address is at your disposal, as usual.

And of course: Kythera-Family.net turns 10 this year. The most successful collaborative community website for any place on earth, our site is quickly approaching the twenty-thousand entries mark. Help us get there by posting your family story, some pictures, or just your best wishes for our anniversary on the message board or guest book.

A party is of course in order – make sure you're on our mailing list so you can receive details of the time and date both on and off the island. On Kythera we'll be celebrating at the end of July – perhaps on the 23rd or 24th to coincide with the full moon – at Koumelouni between Potamos and Karavas. We'll also post details on the start page of our website.

Hope to see you on the island this year,
James Prineas ([email protected])
Best regards,

James Prineas ([email protected])

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An Electric Kytherian

George Gianniotis was a highly-charged personality. His sparkling eyes, buzzing voice and infectious energy levels gave you the - correct - impression that he was operating at a higher voltage than people a quarter of his age.

George and my family go back a long way - he and dad were friends long before I was born after George moved to Blake Street in Dover Heights in Sydney, down the road from my paternal family home there. Back in the 1950s they were out on the town on friday and saturday nights at the Trocadero and similar music venues with other Kytherian Australians. I didn't really get to know George until we crossed paths a decade ago on Kythera and we hit it off immediately. As my dad lost his travel bug back in the 1970s and didn't travel to Europe any again, George became my surrogate father on Kythera and was the best helping hand one could ask for. When almost everyone else on the island thought I'd lost my mind by buying the old school bus to use as a caravan on our land while planning our house, George thought it was a wonderful idea and, with his resourceful son Nico were on the spot to help hook up our renewable energy system. To honour his work for us we made him a life member of our Koumelouni Solar Propulsion Laboratory with the title of "Base Operations Senior Supervisor" (BOSS).

George was fascinated by the revolution taking place in the solar panels and battery industries: he remembered how, back in the 1960s, he had, as an electrician, set up an off-the-grid power system for a property owner in the outback - back then they needed dozens of 100 kg lead batteries fed by a huge metal windmill just to run a fridge and a radio. And of course, George told me all about his connection to the island and his life story.

Together with his parents and sister, George, then aged five, migrated to Australia from Kato Livathi in the 1930s. They started out life in Blacktown, then Fairfield, where they stayed until 1938. His parents, sister and younger brothers moved to Tullibigeal in the Riverina to take over a café there. George stayed in Sydney to finish his school certificate, staying with relatives and friends, and then, after working at a soda fountain at Soul-Patterson's in Pitt Street, he decided to "have a go" at electrical engineering and while attending night school worked at Phillips Industries in Camperdown. There he worked on low-frequency water-cooled valves for the US Navy as the war had just begun. Like many young men at the time he wanted to join the army and managed to enlist for just one day until his employer found out and marched the young George back to his workplace after explaining to the commanding officer that the young engineer was needed for "special duties" on the technological front.

After the war, when Phillips Industries moved to South Australia, George set up his own electrical repair shop. Previously, in 1942, his mother and siblings had moved to Sydney after his father died in a tragic shooting accident in Tullibigeal, and they had found a house to buy together in Blake Street at time when it was mostly sand hills and Dover Heights was still paddocks with cows and not the sought-after suburb it is now. There he stayed until he married his wife Mary in 1952. Seven years later they had saved up enough money to travel to Europe and George landed on Kythera for the first time in 30 years and stayed with his aunts in the family house in Kato Livathi. In 1976 he visited again with his own family, and one of his proudest and saddest moments was the desire of all of his family to stay on Kythera, all crying on the boat back to the mainland, not being able to remain. Years later, after his beloved wife had died early and the Aunts had passed away as well, George renovated the charming family house in Kato Livathi and returned as often as he could.

In a recorded interview I did with George in 2009 his last words were "We live too short and die too long – so take the opportunities while you're still living and do what your heart tells you to do."

George died in May this year and will be missed by all who knew him well.

George and I at our bus-home at Koumelouni on Kythera after he had helped set up our solar electrical system.

George teaching my eldest son how to draw water from a well in 2009

George and my family at a picnic at Centennial Park in Sydney in 2010

George and friend Peter Samios at the Astikon in Potamos in August of 2009

James Prineas
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A Kytherian Memorial in Progress

Wonderful emails come to me, from as far away as Maryland USA. What warmth it brings me, touching me so deeply, knowing that my words have reached the other side of the world with these articles. I have bared my very soul at times, facing criticism I am sure, but overwhelmed by the support and understand, and the encouraging words, telling me to continue.

I have spoken of the purchase of my new home. I looked at five new homes built by the same builder, asking that I be left alone,as I pondered which house would become a home, a home which my father wished me to have. One house had what I call “the bones”. I saw so much promise, knowing that I could change it, to become such a warm and inviting home. More importantly though, was that the house must be perfect. As perfect as I could make it, as one day, it will return to the people of my beloved Cerigo.

With this in mind, and my fathers memory to be remembered always, I made my choice. I had never seen the outside back of this house, limited because of my wheelchair, choosing now to change this, and construction began.

My choices were very personal. I designed the new interior, choosing every light fitting, every handle, colour paint, changing the alfresco, making it such a beautiful inside room with rosewood French doors, leading onto a deck where I finally managed to wheel myself out, seeing the blue sky, not a cloud in sight, knowing my choices were truly correct, knowing I was being guided my father who is watching over me. This beautiful new room however has a special meaning for me. I had it rendered, outside bricks becoming a blank canvas. Pale blue paint, the colour of the sky started the transformation.

To everyone’s surprise, I designed a mural. The branches so similar to olive branches were pressed into the wet render. A tulip bulb also pressed into the render were the start of my memorial wall which I chose to paint myself. A labour of love.

My father loved opera. I am truly my father's daughter, as to the beautiful opera music, I began painting “my wall”. How wonderful it would have been to paint the red poppies of Cerigo, but they would be too harsh, as I chose to go with soft colours, painting the mural, then, not satisfied, painting it over again. The gentle colours however have shared the wall with a small corner of green which signifies my “field of red poppies", as I painted the small red flowers. Next, “Louradianika” was painted, but in Greek letters. “Livathi” also, but, hidden amongst the beauty of the green leaves and tulips, I have included the initials of my loved ones, both passed and present. Special people in my life have been forever commemorated on “my wall”.

My father was the first. The letter “S” then my Uncle Nick, a “N” to commemorate him. So many letters hidden within the flowers and leaves. Friends and family, letters blended into the mural, a secret which I feel my beloved Uncle Nick of Louradianika would be smiling as he looks down on me, remembering how he had hidden the family silver in the hollow arms of the old wooden couch at louradianika, which I have spoken of previously, silver which I left out of respect for this wonderful man. The letters of so many names must be searched for. Wonderful people, my children, grandchildren, my very special friends at the Kytherian Association of Australia and at Kythera-Family.net, and loved ones long passed, now in Gods care, have been remembered, as they live on forever in my heart, and so I honour them all, friends, family and such special people in my life who have never waned in their support of me.

The walls however reached the ceiling. Everyone asked how would I manage to paint so high. Offers of help were kindly refused, as I am strong willed, and this was “My Wall”. My husband somehow brought cupboards into this now beautiful room, clamping them together, then placing the front door which had been replaced on top, blankets placed to soften the hard timber.

The difficulty of being able to somehow enable me to find a way to achieve what seemed impossible, but, I did! Sitting high, I had such difficulty in reaching with long paint brushes to paint to the ceiling. My husband then was shocked, as I asked him to look at my legs and feet. My feet had no blood supply, and had turned black, the pain so severe, but, no one would touch this special Memorial Wall. With a will so strong, I stayed until I had achieved the almost impossible. Now, I sit and look at this wall, knowing it has been a work of love from my heart, to honour not only departed loved ones, but a tribute to my wonderful and supportive friends and family.

I have honoured these special people also, placing a cross next to “Louradianika” and “Livadi” My mother came from Louradianika and my father from Livadi. My grandfathers church Ayio Georyi at Louradianika has such a special place in my heart, as I remember the murals painted on the walls and ceiling of this beautiful 1000 year old church.

I would never disrespect the beauty of this tiny church and compare my simple work to such beauty, as mine is simple, but so full of meaning. My brushes seemed to take on a life of their own as water colours blended to make such a peaceful scene. The border however, painted as I sat on the floor reminds me of the green fields of Cerigo.

This home will be lived in for the duration of my and my husbands life, then, it will belong to Cerigo. Our people suffer in the cold months, suffering during the seasons when many do not open their shop doors, depending on the migration of Kytherians once a year, as I wish to ease their burden in my own small way, a tribute to my father and to my beloved Uncle Nicholas.

This is why every decision made must be the right one. I will not settle for anything but what is perfect. As I look at the French doors which once housed a window in my bedroom, the richness of the deep Mahogany timber with the brass handles, leading onto the deck which will allow me to see the sky, to feel the sun on my face, and most important of all, see the stars and to look at the moon, recalling my aunts in Livadi, as they taught me how they would look to the moon to tell what weather to expect the following day.

I have pledged this to Cerigo in my father's name, to the people of the island which will forever live on in my heart, knowing our churches will also receive whatever assistance is needed when required.

Maria of Louradianika

Maria of Louradianika
Maria-Marcellos- Whyte
51 Silkyoak Drive
Qweensland 4056
[email protected]

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Fast-Links to kythera-family.net:
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The Road to Platia Ammos

In 1958,Eleftherios Nikolaou Tzortzopoulos, our grandfather, was the local mayor who was responsible for the top Platia Ammos road. The first 300 metres or so were literally done by hand and the rest was completed with the first ever bulldozer brought to the island, specifically for this reason. The construction was by no means an easy task as Leftheris faced a lot of opposition from many locals who expressed the opinion that he was only making a road to lead to his house. In reality though Eleftherios Tzortzopoulos had a greater vision and that was the progress of the Island and of the port-village of Platia Ammos.
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Village Portrait: Karavas
Here is a series of pictures I took years ago - at a time when we still used film in our cameras! - for a small publication on Karavas, which never went to print. You can view more pictures in a larger format here.


If you have a dozen or more pictures of a particular kytherian village which I could feature in the next newsletter then please send them over!



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