Ευχές απο τήν Αννούλα και τον Κίτσο Λούη

Dear family and friends,

We are getting closer to the end of this year, a year marked by another war in Europe, but also by the beginning of the end (are we sure about that?) of the Covid-19 pandemic, thus both good and bad developments, globally. Needless to say that I’ll not spend any more time dealing with these two events whose repercussions we’ll all be feeling for the years to come. Anyway, let me come to the listing of what marked the Louis family’s life in 2022.

As usual, I’ll start with our health. Kids and dogs did not go through anything major, although Liu (now almost 13) starts showing some signs of a beginning CCD (the canine equivalent to Alzheimer’s disease); let’s see how this progresses through the new year, hopefully not that fast. Annoula was certainly very full of health throughout the year, with the exception of a bout of Covid-19 in November, which, in last analysis, turned out to be something between a common cold and a very light flu; of course, something not so unexpected after a total of 5 Pfizer vaccinations over the last couple of years, or so. Needless to say, Kitsos got this too but strangely enough, its beginning was weird, to say the least: it would have been even lighter than a common cold if it hadn’t been for the first day! Fever started around early afternoon, and the last time we measured the temp was around 8 pm, when it had reached 39.5 oC. At that time, on the way to the toilet Kitsos suddenly realised that he could hardly move his legs and he collapsed. To make it short, half an hour later he simply collapsed again on his bed, face down, where Annoula had literally pushed him to! It took him about 5 minutes to turn on his back and also turn 90 degrees since, because in addition to the legs, it was now also the arms that would not move; in medical terms, a complete tetraparesis, what a weird feeling! Kitsos thought that, somehow, he should try to go to the hospital but before even thinking of how to manage that, he fell asleep or fainted, who knows. He woke up 6 hours later and everything was… back to normal, and they stayed normal ever-since! Other than some coughing and sneezing, he went though the disease like a breeze. Needless to say that on day 2 he was prescribed the Pfizer anti-viral drug Paxlovid, and 5 days later (!) the C-19 test was negative. It took Annoula (who did not get the medicine) about 15 days to turn negative too.

Other than that, before this “event” Kitsos went through 4 bad weeks during the summer when he was constantly (day and night) reminded of the fact that he has a left kidney! He went through two lithotripsies, one stone made it the “natural” way out after 15 days of heavy colics, the second one was removed through cysteoscopy 10 days later. The good thing, though, was that he lost 14 kg during this time (5 of them are back!)… Annoula’s worries during this year also included a “heavy” allergy of unknown aetiology on the second day on Kythira (She looked as if she had been sprayed with pink paint), that was treated with steroids and antihistamins. She was back to normal in less than 3-4 days! We obviously never found out what she was allergic to…

Enough with health-related stuff, though!

You may remember that 2 years ago Kitsos’ bestselling book of Genetics for non-biologists came out and last December he was awarded the End-of-the-Year prize by the Academy of Athens for that work. He had to fly to from Kythira to Athens in March to receive it, as during December, due to the lockout, the ceremony had been cancelled. In the meanwhile, his next book (a collection of “weird” facts and stories dealing with different aspects of Biology and Medicine) was published in December but, so far, there are no indications that it also became a bestseller. Given that his research career was “exogenously” stopped he decided to establish a new “métier” as a writer, and after a several months-long collection of material in our basement (where the desktop computer is) the four of us (us two plus the dogs) took the boat to Kythira (old name: Cerigo), a biggish island located exactly in between the Ionian and the Aegean seas, north of the west-most tip of Crete. We rented a nice apartment, with central heating, worth mentioning as last March was the coldest March in Greece in decades. The temperature went down to 2 cC (on a Greek island!!!) and we saw an occasional snow flake landing. The cold was accompanied ny very strong winds, the noise inside our house was similar to having minilary jets flying above it. Still, in spite of this, Kythira is a very beautiful island, and depending on where exactly one is on it, it reminds one of both the Ionian and the Aegean islands: a real hybrid. We saw two more tourists on Kythira (in one month!) although, we’re certain, that there must have been there at least another 10 (in addition to several expats owning houses). March is the time when one sees the first wild flowers in Greece, and the island was full of them while the smell was unique. Mind you, there was sylvatic fennel growing everywhere, so this was the prevailing odour in the bucolic area where we lived (a pair of cows were continuously browsing on a meadow right outside our house while one calf was drinking milk). Of course (not a sign of chauvinism, simple reality), there are great beaches on the island, some being sort of difficult to reach. Unless it was raining, Annoula would walk with the dogs the steep road (4 km) down to the small bay (see the picture) (our village was about 400 m above sea level) to the closest of those beaches every day around 11. Kitsos would drive down one hour later to watch out while she was swimming and then drive all of four of of us up home for lunch. The cherry on the top of the cake (the month-long stay) was the visit for a few days of two very, very dear friends from Rome. We really enjoyed the time there on Kythira till the writing the book was concluded and we were really sad when we left the island for home. On the way back (due to the cancellation of the ferry from there to Crete, we had to travel through the Peloponnese to Piraeus) we also made a short tour through the mountains of Arcadia. A personal “touch” was the fact that we visited the grave of Kitsos’ maternal grandparents and grand-grand-parents who are all buried in Tripolis. Amazing, lots of memories came “alive”, especially of the grandfather who died when Kitsos was 12. Anyway, the MS was submitted to a new Publisher (one specialising on Medical books, but not only) and Kitsos was called by her husband (an old, old friend from high school) yesterday who said it left the printer! Again the same kind like the second book, again with a musical title, i.e. Péchés de vieillesse (“Sins of Old Age”), the format based on Rossini’s collection of songs and short piano pieces with the same name. By the way, still a fourth book Kitsos wrote before the last one and not dealing with biology or medicine is also in press by the same Publisher. More about it in next year’s “circular”.

Annoula continues Yoga-ing almost every day during the (very) early morning, then she goes to the University swimming pool (finally open again after the pandemic) for an hour, then, if not raining, she goes swimming at a beach nearby and topps everything (though not every day) by some biking to the Post Office or the Pharmacy or walking the dogs through the hills. In May she spent a week in Kardamyli (a beautiful village on the western side of the Mani peninsula on the Peloponnese) at a jazz festival, together with Kitsos’ first love (of 62 years ago) and still one of our best friends) and her sister, and had a great time. Then in late September, the first love visited us, this time along with two sisters, one of which was the first love of Kitsos’ longest friend. Kitsos “provided” his own sister in addition to Annoula to the group of ladies so there were 5 ladies and one man at home! Sounds sort of incestuous (for lack of a better word) but it’s not; it was fun! They all (minus Kitsos’ sis) included two longish tours of our home island. Unfortunately, Annoula had to cancel two trips to Germany, the first one was because she wanted to be with me and my… renal stones, the second one was due to our C-19.

Both kids came over to visit a few times. Alexandros has a new job since a couple of weeks working for the “sales team” of the Swiss branch of Radisson. His pay is better and he now enjoys regular working hours. He sounds happy. Philippos is still in Cyprus and he still enjoys his job at the University. Both of them are still bachelors, and there’s no indication for a change of their status anytime soon. They both came to visit us a few times and brought us gifts such as, for example, the C-19 mess (no hard feelings, though).

We now are thinking of a few trips for next year, including Indochina and the West of the USA, but it’s too early for detailed planning (we’re Greek!). Also, depending on how the preliminary work for a new book (!) progresses, we may also spend a month on some island either in March or right after Easter (all of May?). And, needless to say, Annoula has already booked a flight to Germany, let’s hope that she (and Kitsos) will be healthy. A final piece of news: our boat is still on sale, I guess that unless oil (i.e. fuel) prices go down, we won’t find a buyer. Anybody interested among the people reading this?

Everything else during 2022 was simple routine, which means that this letter reached its end. A file with a few photographs is attached below; by the way, they can be “magnified” by simply clicking on them and pulling on one of the corners.

We wish all of you a Merry Xmas and, most importantly, a happy and healthy New Year.

Annoula and Kitsos

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