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Sunday, September 30, 2007

MY HOUSE OF MUSES



"A little house -- a house of my own --
Out of the wind's and the rain's way..."
Padraic Colum 1881-1972 "An Old Woman of the Roads" st6


The poet Sappho called the finishing school she ran for young girls on the island of Lesbos The House of the Muses. These are some of my own House of Muses where I have spent many happy hours writing.

"May I a small house and large garden have;
And a few friends, and many books, both true,
Both wise, and both delightful too!"
Abraham Cowley 1618 - 1667 "The Wish" 1647

The shepherd's cottage, Lala, Evvia Greece
I lived here 1985 - 1987 and stayed a few times after that.

This little shepherd's cottage up in the mountains of Evvia, five kilometers from the port of Karystos, was lent to me by my Greek Canadian friend Antonia. The house was on their property but it was being used as a storage building. I cleaned it up, whitewashed it inside and out, hung herbs from the rafters, found abandoned furniture that seemed to fit and made a most beautiful, harmonious space where I could meditate and write far from the bustle of Athenswhere I also lived and taught English to children. I spent every free weekend here and all summer long when the students were on holidays. This was one of the most fantastic places I've ever lived, my retreat, my Garden of Eden. The house was very old and built of thick stone and mortar walls with a cellar underneath which was to store foods or, in winter, could shelter animals. The roof and floor has been fixed over the years but the corner stone that had been set in the fireplace was marked with a Byzantine symbol and the date 1458. It had two rooms, one with a corner fireplace. In the winter months I only used the main room and gathered wood every day to burn. It was cozy and comfortable. No electricity, just lamps, and the only running water was outside from a hose that Antonia usedto water her gardens. I spent a lot of time working on my Celtic novel while I lived here and also some travel stories. It was hard not to be inspired in such a serene and beautiful place.

After I left Greece to return to Canada every time I visited Greece I'd spend a bit of time in the little house, even after Antonia and her husband moved into it (they had they own other house next door but she saw how happy I was in the old house and decided to renovate -- 'modernise' -- as in 'tampering with an archaeological site'. It was never the same after that, with electricity, running water, crammed with stuff, some which was second hand junk brought from Canada. Except one room, the bedroom, she turned into a 'museum' of all her mother's old things. But it was never used, just as 'show'. Ti krema. What a pity! Somehow after that, the house lost it's soul. It's hard for me to visit now and the last couple of years although I really wanted to go, I didn't. After my shepherd, Mitso, died four years ago I feel very sad when I go to the village. Maybe next time though...


14 Vironos St. Plaka, Athens Greece
I lived here 1984 - 1987

"The ornament of a house is the friends who frequent it." Ralph Waldo Emerson 1803- 1882 "Domestic Life"

In Athens, I lived on the poet Bryon's street, Vironos 14, in Plaka. Here I am standing outside the gate (the photo was taken in June when I was visiting friends in Athens.) Through the gate, you went down a narrow walkway to an open courtyard where my landlady Kyria Dina kept pots of geraniums and other plants. Then you went down four steps to a basement suite which is where I lived. I had a fairly large salon, bedroom, small kitchen and bathroom. My friend Roberto lived in a spitaki in the courtyard and behind the back gate was another courtyard where there was another little house owned by the Ministry of Culture where one of the curators of the Acropolis Museum did restorations. When I lived here I tutored English to Greek kids and wrote travel stories, or worked on my Celtic novel Dragons in the Sky, and for awhile I co-wrote a mystery novel for a guy who was part of our Dirty Corner Gang. (I still have the copy of that manuscript even though he stole the original from me and tried to get it published although it was only a first draft. No luck. Hahah). My idea for Shadow of the Lion was conceived when I lived here. I loved this house and hated to leave it. Every time I pass by it when I'm in Athens, I stop and touch the gate and peek inside.

This is where I live now. What an appropriate name!
2006 - ?
"Peace be to this house." The Holy Bible Luke 10:5

This is where I live now. I didn't know the name of this building when I first moved in and when I discovered it I knew that this was the best omen, because it is here that I am working on Shadow of the Lion and spend so much of my time immersed in Alexander's world. I was lucky to get this beautiful apartment, a 'gift' from my friend who wanted to rent it to me. It is truly one of the loveliest apartments I've ever lived in, a strata-council building where most of the tenants are owners. It's safe and quiet and friendly, unlike the last place I lived in where there were so many unpleasant distractions. Here I can work quietly in an environment that is conduscive to creativity. And I love walking about my neighbourhood with its shady streets and gorgeous old houses. It's here that I will finish my novel (I'm aiming for the end of Fall) and then I can go back and finish the Celtic novel which I had shelved out of frustration.
I'm happy here, content and inspired. And though I often dream of my other two favorite Houses of Muses, I know this is the place where I belong now. I hope I can stay here for a long time.

"We all dwell in a house of one room -- the world with the firmament for its roof -- and are sailing the celestial spaces without leaving any track."
John Muir 1838 - 1914 "John of the Mountains"
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5 comments:

Marie said...

Wow, you've lived in some inspirational places.

Wynn Bexton said...

There's been a couple of others too but these are my most favorite places. I especially miss the village.

Gabriele C. said...

It's a pity that people feel the need to modernise old houses in a way they lose their soul. It's not so much some electricity cables (one can hide those pretty well) but the lack of understanding a building. I know it sounds weird, but some houses have a personality that should be left intact.

But you've been fortunate to live in such places.

Megumi said...

Wow. All of those places look so beautiful!

Wynn Bexton said...

Megumi, yes they were all outstanding places, each in a different way. My current abode is just fabulous. I love it here. It's quiet, safe and very beautiful.