Tag Archives: Zeus

MEASURING UP, WEIGHING IN

 Hi folks, it’s me again, Zeus. It’s been quite a long time and much has happened, so I’ll try to fill you in.

The humans have been acting funny lately. As best as I can understand it, they need to know stuff about us. They need to know how big we are. This doesn’t make sense to me because they only have to look at us, right? They can look at us and see we are actually quite big. Even my little sisters, Zelda and Zoe, are growing a lot although they’re not the same shape as me and Zorba and Zza Zza.

 Zza Zza won’t leave Mythos alone. Mythos is one big cat. He’s a very big cat, and he can be a really grumpy cat, but not with the humans – he loves them a lot and loves to snuggle with them. He’s old, Cathy says, and he doesn’t like to be bothered by irritating youngsters anymore, but try telling that to Zza Zza…Anyway, Mythos isn’t nasty to her. You can see  here that Zza Zza is already quite a bit taller than old Mythako, so you can tell we’re growing fast.

We have lots and lots of fun in this big playground. There’s all kinds of places to chase each other. We can run and hide, but when we’re tired we just fall asleep where we are. The humans never leave us alone when we play. They take pictures of us and tell each other how adorable we are. And how clever. We love to show them all the things we can do, and if our legs are too little to do something, then they help us and stroke us and tickle us.

They worry about us apparently, so when we’re tired they take us back to the big kennel and the fenced area they’ve made so we can sleep. This is so we can’t get out. I did go away up the drive once – it’s a long story – and the humans were very, very worried. I might tell you the story one day, but right now I’m so very happy to be back at my nice home. I was very tired, let me tell you, and very frightened. My humans couldn’t believe that I could go so far, but I’m strong. I really am. “Sturdy” is the word Cathy uses when she talks about me. Ron and Cathy were very upset until they found me. Cathy squeezed me so hard I could hardly breathe.

Zorba brushing up on stuff

 Zorba was having fun, and then Freddie picked him up so that the humans could do what they were calling measuring. Something about how tall we were. Cathy had the bright idea of getting her sewing mat so they could do this. She said it was easier than trying to use a yardstick. I didn’t know what she was talking about – there are lots of sticks in the yard – but it was interesting to watch. Zorba was bored with it and wanted to go play and explore. I can’t blame him – there’s so much to do and see and we love to race around.

Well, the humans seemed happy when they got us to stand still in front of that green thing. Freddie was doing that, Ron was writing stuff down and Cathy was taking photos. After each of us had finished with the green thing, we got put in a bucket and then the bucket got lifted up on the end of a big hook with a sort of clock on it – I think they called it a dial. Then Ron looked at that dial and said words like: “Wow! Zoe’s heavier than I thought,” and “Zorba looks so big, but he’s not much heavier than Zelda.”

Zelda always looks smaller than me and Zorba and Zza Zza, but when Ron had her in that bucket with the weighing thing, he was very surprised and said that Zelda weighed almost the same as us. “Not much difference,” is what he said. “She’s a very solid little girl.”

Zza Zza’s a girl – and I hear the humans saying things about girls being smaller – but apparently she’s much the same on that green thing as me and Zorba. She may be a girl but she’s as strong and lively as we are. The humans love to cuddle her because they say she’s like a big teddy bear. I don’t know much about teddy bears but apparently that’s a nice thing they say about Zza Zza.

Zoe isn’t like me. Her hair is short and silky. I think she’s Cathy’s favorite of all of us, though she doesn’t say so. “She’s a thinker,” Cathy says. That’s good to be, apparently.

“She’s got a lot of Labrador in her,” Ron says, “that’s why she’s calm and steady.” That’s also very good to be.

All that weighing and measuring business seemed important to the humans, though I’m not sure what it was all about. We had fun and the humans were pleased. That’s good.

Can you see how good I was? I went first and I had to set a good example. I’m Zeus, and I’m the leader. I must show the others what to do.

PEEK A BOO!

Does Zoe think she’s the leader?

What is it over there?

Hey! You’re supposed to follow me!

Oops!

I think I’ll stay awhile

I really like this!

 

GETTING VERY GROWN UP

 Hi everybody!  This is me, Zeus, telling you about some of our doings. You would be amazed if you saw us now. We’re getting quite big. Well, me and Zorba and Zza Zza are, but Zoe and Zelda are different and aren’t as tall as we three are.

We’ve been eating some really good stuff that our Cathy mom makes for us. She calls it ‘being weaned.” I don’t know what that means, but she tells Ron that making baby food for human kids was easier. She started this weaning business by giving us human baby porridge all mushed up with tinned dog food and these little dry bits that come in a packet and are for weaning puppies. Those she’d first soak in hot water, and then with this noisy thing she has, she makes it what she calls “just right’ for us.

We’d sort of slurp it up when she gave it to us. It was fun because we were running from our own plate to each other’s plates, but it seems we all had the same food. Nobody got anything different. We liked it a lot – Cathy mom was worried we wouldn’t like being weaned, but we do. It didn’t taste like our mom, of course, but we would drink as much as we wanted from our mom. But our mom was getting a bit tired of us – so Cathy said. Anyway, Cathy was giving us this quite yummy stuff four times a day, and after we got used to it, she’d sprinkle the little dry bits into it without first soaking them. We like those dry bits – they make little crunching noises when you bite them.

Cathy and Ron spend a lot of time with us, and especially when we get our wet food – that’s what they call the yummy mixture they make for us. We have bowls of the dry puppy food there all the time for us and we like it, but for the wet food feeding times, they have to take turns to keep our mom busy because she really likes to eat our soft mixture. She’s not hungry – not at all – our mom gets some very good food for grownup dogs. She gets fresh meat, but Cathy thinks maybe she’s a bit jealous…Anyway, whatever we don’t eat, then our mom comes and finishes it all up.

We had to have pills that our mom got from the vet. Hmmm – we weren’t too sure about that, I can tell you. Cathy and Freddie were trying to get us to eat them – they were wrapped in some nice stuff. Ground meat, Cathy called it. Zorba, Zza and Zelda ate theirs quickly, but me and Zoe…well, we’re thinkers, we are, and so Cathy and Freddie had to really make sure we did eat ours. Seems it’s good for us. I dunno, but I did like that meat business. Quite delicious.

Apparently, I’m the biggest of all of us, and Ron and Cathy are always telling people I’m the leader. Whatever that means.

I really like to be with my brothers and sisters, and I ‘specially like to look after Zelda. She’s not furry like me, and she’s a lot smaller, but she’s a very feisty little girl and runs after me all the time. I look out for her because her legs are kind of short and she can’t always reach where I do. But she never cries – she just keeps on and on trying. She’s very determined, and she’s a really nice little sister.

Zoe is also different. She’s not like me, but she’s also not like Zelda. The humans say Zoe has a lot of labrador in her – mostly labrador it seems. She’s very gentle, very quiet, very loving. Zelda, the humans say, is a real mix. But they say mixes are good – being mixed makes them very strong. I don’t really understand all that, but we’re well and very happy and we love our lives.

 

WE’RE SIX WEEKS OLD…AND LIFE’S REALLY GOOD

Zeus

 Hi, this is me, Zeus, and I thought I’d tell you a bit about us and what’s going on here in the Ham household of Kalamos. Our mum, Bella, hasn’t got round to telling us who was born first, but Cathy, our nice human mummy, seems to think I’m Number One around here. Well, in our puppy world, I am. Seems that pesky white cat with the grey blob on his head and that short grey tail is important to the humans here. Raki, I believe he’s called. Anyway, I don’t mind him ‘cos I’m bigger than he is and he’ll find that out soon enough if he bugs me too much.

I love our humans. We all do. We can’t wait to see them in the morning, and we hate to see them go after they put us to bed at night. They are always very kind to us. They stroke us and tickle us, and say all kinds of nice things to us. They play a lot with us, and tell us how clever we are, and that they’re amazed we’re so calm and not frightened by loud noises. This is true – we’re not scared of people and other stuff because nobody’s ever been nasty to us. But our mother tells us that not all doggies are as lucky as we are, and though she doesn’t talk about it much, we’ve come to understand that mum didn’t always have the nice life she has here now.

Zorba

Zorba’s my best buddy. He’s very like me. He thinks like I do, and always wants to do what I’m doing. It’s such good fun to have a pal like him. I don’t know who’s going to be bigger – me or him – but he doesn’t try to be the top dog around here. He’s very nice to Zoe, who’s the smallest of us.

Zoe

She loves him and runs behind him a lot, but she’s more careful than he and I are, and watches and thinks before she does something. Our humans think that’s a very nice quality she has. She’s very pretty, our little Zoe, and very gentle, and she likes to play with us.

Zelda

Zelda’s like that too. She and Zoe are our baby sisters, and we love them, and we look after them, but they aren’t the same size and shape as us. Our humans tell each other that Zoe and Zelda have a different father to us, and that they will be just like our mum, Bella. I don’t know about this fathers stuff – we just know our mom and we’re only interested in her. She really is the bestest mom.

Zza Zza

Zza Zza, it seems from what our humans say, has the same father that Zorba and I have. She’s smaller than we are, but that’s apparently because she’s a girl and won’t be quite as big as we are. But she’s not a sissy girl, for sure she’s not, because she does just exactly what Zorba and I do, and she often has even better ideas than we do. Our Cathy mom tells Ron that’s because Zza Zza’s a girl – this makes her more clever than us boys. I don’t know about that but Zza Zza is always up for anything. We love all this exploring!

There’s such a lot to do around here. You can’t get bored, and now that we’re not sleeping as much as we used to do, there’s all kinds of things we’re learning about. Especially the cats.

They have a lot of cats, these Hams, but this one doesn’t like us much. His name is Mythos, and he’s old and grumpy, and he’s actually quite big, so we leave him alone. Zza Zza hasn’t learnt yet that it’s best if we don’t bother him.

Zoe and Zorba are pals, but I have a lot of time for Zelda. She’s grown up a lot lately, and is not so timid. She thinks I’m a very nice big brother, and I try very hard to be, but I have to keep remembering that she’s little and make sure not to stand on her.

  Zelda often gets too crowded when we’re eating, so Cathy tries to give her a plate of her own.

But sometimes I try to take it from her, and she always lets me. Yes, I know I’m bad, I know I shouldn’t, but Cathy always has lots and lots of our special puppy food she makes us, so nobody is ever hungry.

There’s this sort of water place where we love to play around now that we’re big enough to climb in and out of it. The best fun is when Ron turns on that thing that lets the water run out and we can chomp on it.

This morning I found this lovely chew thing and I kept it quietly to myself, hoping the others wouldn’t notice.

No chance!

  

HAPPY DAYS

BELLA’S PUPS

Bella’s pups are five weeks old and enjoying what might well be some of the happiest days of their lives. Personalities are emerging, and although all the puplets are eating very well and lapping water, they still want to cuddle with mama from time to time.

Zelda’s a feisty little thing, but she does seek out the comfort of mum when she can. The pups don’t eat much at Bella’s generous table anymore – she certainly doesn’t encourage them –  but have begun developing their very own patterns of eating.

I feed them four times a day, but notice that not all of them are interested in the late morning feed – what Ron calls “second breakfast” – as they grow. Zoe and Zelda often skip this meal which makes me wonder if it’s something to do with their different physiques – they’re smaller boned than the other three.

Zorba’s showing a very independent streak. He likes to rough and tumble with his siblings, but then he takes himself off for long naps. Alone. Maybe he’s channeling his inner Greta Garbo, but he’s given me a few anxious moments when I’ve had to go in search of him.  Here he is earlier this morning – he was hard to spot until he moved.

ZORBA

He does enjoy his food, which he takes on his own schedule. I suppose because he’s bigger, he can eat enough to keep him happy for several hours.

ZEUS

Zeus plays hard and naps long. He sleeps through just about anything, does Zeus. Not even the jets roaring overhead will cause him to stir, much less his siblings clambering all over him.

What’s your problem, Zza Zza?

Can’t a guy get some peace and quiet around here?

Zeus and Zorba

Zeus and Zorba are great pals and are identical in size. Will that change as they grow?

Hey! Where’d you all go?

Yes? What?

Shall we wake up and play?

Have it your own way then. See if I care!

Life’s good!

 

THE ZED-TEAM

ZEUS

Zeus stood out from the others almost immediately, not only by virtue of his colouring, but because of his striking personality. He’s so distinctly the leader of the group that Zeus is a name truly befitting him. And it’s also somehow appropriate that he’s the biggest of the gang. At least, so far he is. He’s quite fearless, and very inquisitive. I foresee much mischief!

ZORBA

Zorba is the other male. He and Zeus are great pals, often together which doubtless means they’ll be partners in crime. They are similar in size and shape, very broad of shoulder and beam, with sturdy legs and thick tails. They almost certainly have the same dad – he must be quite big –  but goodness only knows who he is and where he is. Bella was pregnant when she arrived at our house, and where she came from is also unknown. We are outside of the village, and there are no other dogs around us here, so I guess their dad might even have been some distance away.

Zorba’s a happy, happy little guy. He runs about all over the place, wanting to play with the others. But most of all he wants to be petted. He only has to hear my voice to come scampering along, wriggling between my feet, tail going like a little windmill. Scratch his back, behind his ears and he’s beside himself with delight. Put him down and he begs to be picked up again. He’ll be a most devoted pet. No question. They will all be, for each one is affectionate and contented.

Freddie came back today from Albania where he’d gone to spend Easter with the family. When he left, the puppies were six days old. To say Freddie was astonished at their growth is something of an understatement. Zorba ran straight up to him, and wanted to be friends. I think that’s amazing at only four weeks of age, and shows what a trusting and friendly doggie Zorba is.

ZOE

Zoe, one of the three girls, seemed at first to be of the same father as Zeus and Zorba, but is smaller. Now as she grows, I’m not so sure for her tail is more slender than theirs, and her head not as square. She’s very fond of her brothers and makes a point of being around them. Zoe means life in Greek, and she’s certainly full of life. She’s a solid fawn colour with just a titch of white on the paws, and a little white bib. Some darker hair is beginning to appear on her back, so maybe she will change colour as she grows. It’s hard to tell. She’s as well adjusted as her brothers, though the girls are not quite as strong as they.

ZZA ZZA

Zza Zza has a teensy tip of white on her ever-wagging tail. She’s very particular about where she’ll lie down, and very dainty when she eats. It’s quite funny to watch her. She doesn’t like to be spattered with food by the boys who are rather rambunctious in their eating habits, rushing from plate to plate as they do in their eagerness to stick their noses into everybody’s business.

Why did I call her Zza Zza? For some reason the late Zza Zza Gabor flashed into my mind as I watched the fastidious doggie trying to brush puppy food off her face. Miss Gabor was always immaculately groomed – and quite a character she was – so Bella’s little girl has been named for her.

ZELDA

Zelda is different. Freddie says she’s a hunting dog, whereas her siblings are mostly Greek sheepdog. Certainly Zelda has a different shape, a smaller head, a longer, thinner tail, and the brown markings typically seen on the hounds here on the Pelion. She’s the smallest of all the pups, leaner in build, and a little less adventurous, but is happy and thriving.

She’ll sit quietly in the kennel, watching and pondering, and then, after much consideration, she’ll join in all the fun; it seems she’s of a philosophical bent. Why Zelda? Zelda Fitzgerald was the wife of F. Scott Fitzgerald, author of The Great Gatsby. She was a complicated person, greatly talented and very high spirited – different, one could say. So yes, I’ve called Bella’s smallest pup Zelda, but that’s not to imply that she’ll have the tragic life Zelda Fitzgerald did, but rather that she marches to a different drum.

Never a dull moment here!

And who was perhaps the most delighted of all to welcome Freddie back?

Raki, of course.

 

ON THE OLD HIGHWAY

 Yesterday we drove to Larissa and took the old highway for a portion of the trip. Now there’s a new highway linking Athens and Thessaloniki, part of the E75.

The old road is more interesting – we passed here through some of the fertile farmlands of the Thessalian plain – but the new road is faster and more convenient, and a great deal more expensive what with all the tolls that are springing up more swiftly, it seems, than the poppies.

Alexander the Great must surely have seen mile upon mile upon mile of these bold blooms when he marched his men through Thessaly, astride his horse, Bucephalus, bred on Thessaly’s great plains.

It thrills me to drive along a route that Alexander himself was familiar with, though he’d not recognize it now. But then again, he surely would, for the mountains still rise as they did between Macedonia and Thessaly.

And Olympus, its snow-capped peak often draped in a cape of cloud, would have been given particular attention by him, for Alexander revered Zeus and the rest of the Olympian gods. They must have followed his progress far below their legendary home, as they lay about sipping the wine Dionysus took such great care of.

Enough of the history lessons! Feast your eyes on the poppies whose ancestors flourished unseen for aeons before Man ever came to Thessaly.

(Moi, we missed you!)

 

THE GREAT ESCAPE!

 Bella’s pups are growing and maturing so fast that people are finding it hard to believe that they aren’t yet four weeks old. I think they’re going to be bigger than she is, and as we have no idea who papa (or papas were) we can only wait and see how they develop.

Zeus

 This past Wednesday, when they were just exactly three weeks old, led by the obvious leader of the pack – I’m calling him Zeus – they clambered over the rocks keeping their door ajar and out into The Great Unknown. Actually, it wasn’t quite so unknown as we’ve carried them outside before several times and placed them on the ground, but on this occasion it was under their own steam.

It was funny watching them. They were a bit bewildered at first, not too sure of themselves. There was quite a bit of high-pitched squealing, and snuffling around, and several attempts to get back inside to the safety of the familiar, but once inside again, they climbed directly back out. Ron opened the door wide for them to make it easier, and then the game was on.

Bella, however, was totally disinterested. This rather surprised me. Did she not care, or was she letting them find their feet, as it were, in the Great Big World? She wasn’t far away, but she made no effort to approach them, no matter how much they squeaked and wailed. Ron and I were greatly amused watching them, and I suppose Bella was well aware that her puddle of pups were in no danger. Interestingly enough, as each one tired, he or she waddled on shaky little legs back to the snuggly comfort of their bedding and dropped off to sleep very quickly.

Again, I was a bit taken aback that Bella didn’t join them. I guess I’m more accustomed to mother cats who are far more solicitous – at least in my experience – of their babies. The pups’ little bellies must have been full though, for they slept quietly for a long time. Or maybe they were simply exhausted by their adventure.

It definitely hasn’t been dull around here in this quiet little part of Kalamos.

 

PERSEPHONE’S BACK!

We have had a winter of everyone’s discontent. It’s rained, and rained, and rained some more. We’ve had terrible flooding here on the Pelion. Some of the worst ever in parts. Great destruction. Millions of euros of damage. There seems little chance now of seeing a bridge back in Kalamos given how very little money there is in Thessaly’s coffers. 

This morning the sun has made a valiant effort to revive people’s spirits. The cats are enchanted – butterflies, bees, beetles and all manner of airborne flitters to chase, not to mention racing to ambush each other and unwary critters. Try as I might I can’t get a decent photo of the antics, so fast do they all move.

But the spring flowers are more composed. The first of them are beginning to appear. Slowly. Gently. Nodding a brief hello. Secure in the knowledge that before long they’ll begin to explode upon the scene they will dominate for a while, changing roles, giving way to new performers in differently colored  costumes, as they retire from center stage assured that they will reprise their roles again and again in new performances.

Persephone, daughter of Zeus and Demeter, snatched by Hades to be queen of his underworld, has returned to the earth, as she does each year to bring  spring to winter-weary mortals. What a mismatch her parent’s union was! Her mother is the goddess of the harvest; her raucous, thundering father’s behind all this ghastly weather we’ve been having. Well, you can’t choose your parents, but Persephone does all she can to make up for her egotistical father and we’re grateful. She stays but a little while before she’s obliged to return to her underground kingdom.

Rain is forecast again for tonight. And wind. Lots of it. Persephone probably won’t be too thrilled about that, but her father hates to be upstaged and hasn’t yet ordered Boreas, his god of the wind, to skulk back to the north. And Chione, the goddess of snow, daughter of cold Boreas, still lingers on Mt Pelion. Persephone’s resourceful though and won’t be intimidated – she’ll triumph over all of them before long.

 

A BASKET CASE

 

This winter was a pretty bad one. Worst in living memory is what folks have said about it. Winter here is a season I usually enjoy though most people don’t, and I can see why. For sun lovers it doesn’t get a whole lot better than Greece with her typically placid summers, long and hot. Dependably so.

Once in a while the gods get angered and tempers fray up there on Mt Olympus. Zeus hurls a few thunderbolts about, Aeolos pitches his winds into the mix, and between them they might fling some rain around.

It’s usually all over in a flash, sometimes several flashes, but it doesn’t last long and it doesn’t happen often during the summer.

This winter nearly did me in. The sun pulled a vanishing act. It simply up and left. Perhaps Helios felt slighted that Chione, temperamental goddess of snow was getting too much attention and so he went into a prolonged sulk. Whatever. We missed him. We’d arise to damply dismal days, with fog so thick that frequently we couldn’t see much of the Pagasitic at all.

For the first time in my life I was affected by the lack of light, and began to understand what Ron means when he refers to the cabin fever of Alaska. Peering through the gloom at the distorted outlines of familiar shapes among the olive groves I could almost imagine that I caught glimpses of centaurs chasing about.

We’d been away so long last year that one of the storerooms wasn’t opened up until we’d come back and needed a few items. An awful smell greeted me as I unlocked the door and found, to my horror, that some of the bits and pieces were pretty much covered in a black mold. Yecch! The worst affected were the baskets I’d put there when I went through a de-cluttering frenzy a couple of years ago. Housekeeping not being my strong suit, I’d decided then that I was tired of dusting them, and probably even more tired of extricating the cats from them.

The only way to attempt a rescue was to wash the mold off, but the weather was so wet and the sun so absent that drying them was going to be a problem. I placed the sorry-looking baskets in a spare room with a dehumidifier, which Ron had to empty constantly, until winter began its journey south and the sun started getting over its snit. Finally, after still grumbling and grousing its way through a few days, gracing us with only brief appearances, the sun recovered its good humor and beamed down brightly.

As soon as I was reasonably confident of weather reports predicting prolonged periods of sun I set the baskets out in the courtyard and got to work with the hose, spraying the mold off carefully. A gentle brushing with a very soft brush completed the task and although some of the woven grass has darkened a little in color, the baskets emerged none the worse for the experience. I’m much relieved for apart from the fact that I have a great appreciation of the handmade, several of my baskets are quite old and are filled with memories.

This little basket has a history. It’s one of my most precious possessions. A great many years ago my Mother helped a Zulu woman who had come to our back door. Several days later the woman returned in order to give this basket she had woven to my Mother. Mother was overwhelmed by the generosity of a rural woman who had so little in material terms, and treasured the gift. It’s worth noting that she had walked many, many miles to come to our home. Barefoot. In the blazing sun. My Mother kept her knitting in it until I, by then in high school, relieved her of it to store my knitting needles.

Ron’s Mother purchased this beauty about 60 years ago in Taiwan. It’s a funerary basket, used to take food to the grave of a loved one. It’s woven of rattan, lacquered in red and black, with decoration in gold paint. I have no way of knowing if the female figure on the lid is a general representation of a mourner, or was commissioned for a particular person. Fortunately the basket suffered no ill effects from the mold although it was so covered in the gunk that no color could be seen.

Here are a few more from my collection.

Yesterday my friend Carrie in Austin sent me these pictures of a basket she’s just made.

One of two she’s making for her cats, having noticed, like me, that kitties are partial to taking naps in baskets. My cats, it must be said, are partial to taking naps anywhere that’s likely to inconvenience me. Ah well…

 

SHADES OF ROALD DAHL

Several years ago Costa arrived at the house late one afternoon with a happy grin on his face.

“I’ve something for you. Will you give me a beer?”

Biera. That’s possibly one of Costa’s favourite words. Fond of his beer is Costa, and we make sure to have a supply on hand. He drops in when he’s working in the area, and we have our little ritual of beer for Costa and tea for me. He’s the most cheerful man, loving to crack jokes, especially about being a Muslim.

“Yes,” he’ll laugh, “I’m a very good Muslim – I drink beer and I eat pork.” (It’s worth noting here that over 50% of Albanians are secular Muslims; the country was under harsh Ottoman rule for five centuries and then Communism for decades.)

“Are you both well?” he continued, as I made ready to fetch him a beer.

“Sit! Sit!” He led me to a garden bench. “I’ve brought something you will like.”

He darted off up the driveway towards the gate. Puzzled, I waited. Hiding something away to surprise me with is a little game of his.

“What is it?” he’ll tease. “What do you think I’ve got?”

Could be anything. If it’s a plant or bunch of flowers he’ll keep it behind his back until he’s satisfied I’m sufficiently curious, then he’ll produce it with a flourish. He’s a great showman, is Costa, and a most kind and generous person.

He came trotting back down the drive carrying a typical round Greek terrace table. You see these classic little tables everywhere in Greece. Simple and practical they’re the stuff of picture postcards, often painted blue, set amid pots of bright red geraniums, and with an inviting jug of wine or cup of coffee atop them.

They’re iconic, instantly recognizable as Greek, speaking of lazy summer days. Mind you, I’m not sure if the days of the staff who serve customers in tavernas and coffee shops are all that lazy – they run themselves ragged taking care of their customers.

But the table Costa was holding aloft was not new. Its top was quite battered, what little paint left on it flaking off in a mishmash of grayish green, mixed with plenty of rust. It was charming. I loved it instantly. It reflected a great deal of age, hand wrought of thick steel and still perfectly sturdy.

“Costa!” I exclaimed. “Where did you get it?”

“What do you care?” came his standard reply. “I got it and it’s for you. That’s all you need to know.”

Bless him, he knows I appreciate the old, the unusual and most especially the handmade.

We put it in a corner of the terrace where it stood proudly for several years facing Mt Pelion, often graced by a red geranium in an old ceramic pot. The winds can be very fierce across this terrace. Aelos, god of the wind and chosen by Zeus himself, doesn’t always tease gently off the sea. At times he hurls himself savagely onto the land, particularly when Zeus is having a right old spat with his wife Hera and has demanded that Aeolos do his bidding.

The original geranium has been replaced many times, so vicious can Aeolos be when he decides to release the winds under his command, but the pot and the table have never yielded to him, and the table became even more weathered and dignified in its old age.

“You need to let me paint that,” Costa would assert, frequently, over the years. “It’s old and people will think you are very poor and can’t afford to buy a new one.” Appearances matter to Costa.

“No, you can’t”, I would reply. “I love it like that. It’s beautiful. It has a history. Who knows where it’s been, and how many tales it can tell us? Just you leave it alone, there’s no need to paint it.”

Costa would merely sniff, but one day, after a couple of beers, he did reveal he’d found it dumped in a gully with a pile of builder’s rubble. It could have come from anywhere, but it certainly has had a long life.

As you know, we were gone almost all of last year. Costa and Freddie were absolute stars, taking it in turns to come down from Albania to look after our numerous pets and keeping everything going here. Costa isn’t usually in Kalamos during the summer because there’s not much work. The winter months are his busy ones as it’s then that the olives are harvested, the trees pruned and the lands tidied up. So he had lots of time on his hands, and he used it well, doing all kinds of little chores about the property.

Have you read Roald Dahl’s wonderful story “The Parson’s Pleasure”? If not, you’ve missed out on one of his typical pieces of black humour. This tale involves the destruction of a genuine Chippendale commode, and yes, you’ve guessed right. Costa channeled Dahl, of whom he’s never heard although Dahl’s delicious stories must surely have been translated into Albanian.

No, Costa didn’t saw the legs off my beautifully distressed table, my gorgeous piece of shabby chic, but he did finally get his way. He painted it.

He went to all the trouble of having someone buy him the paint, and he painted it. Bright green yet. Rather a startling bright, glossy green. He couldn’t wait to show it to me when we returned.

I confess I gasped. I was stunned, but Costa was thrilled, assuming I was delighted. Oh dear. No way could I have hurt his feelings. Never could I do that. So I told him it was perfect, absolutely perfect, I praised him for his thoughtfulness.

And Costa beamed. He’s so proud of it. He’s overjoyed to have made me happy. And yes, it’s absolutely not what I wanted, not at all, but you know what? It is perfect. Absolutely perfect.