Friday, November 19, 2010

Celebrating International Men's Day...

In spite of the rainy day today, when I found out it was International Men's Day today,  I figured we'd just have to have a celebration!

I figured I would honor T with a favorite meal meal of his (I'm thawing two frozen lobster tails that were being saved for JUST such an occasion...).

I would also write a post on what a great idea it is to celebrate this day! Considering I have 3 sons and 2 grandsons, I feel I have a vested interest in the day.  (Plus, though it's not "yet" celebrated in Greece, it's celebrated in the US and Ireland!! so it "sort of" reflects life and times, eh?)

A little background from Wikipedia:

Calls for an International Men's Day have been noted since at least the 1960s when it was reported that "many men have been agitating privately to make Feb 23 International Men's Day, the equivalent of March 8, which is International Women's day" In the early 1990s, organizations in the United States, Australia and Malta held small events in February at the invitation of Professor Thomas Oaster who directed the Missouri Center for Men's Studies at the University of Missouri–Kansas City. Oaster successfully promoted the event in 1994, but his following attempt in 1995 was poorly attended and he ceased plans to continue the event in subsequent years. 

Whilst the Australians also ceased to observe the event again until November 19, 2003, only the Maltese Association for Men's Rights continued to observe the event each year in February. As the only remaining country still observing the earlier February celebration, the Maltese AMR Committee voted in 2009 to shift the date of their observation to November 19 in synchrony with all other countries celebrating on a single date.

According to its creators, International Men’s Day is a time to highlight discrimination against men and boys in areas of health, family law, education, media or other areas and to project their positive contributions and achievements. During past years the method of commemorating International Men's Day included public seminars, classroom activities at schools, radio and television programs, peaceful displays and marches, debates, panel discussions, and art displays. The manner of observing this annual day is optional, and any appropriate forums can be used. Early pioneers of IMD reminded that the day is not intended to compete against International Women's Day, but is for the purpose of highlighting men's experiences. Each year a secondary theme/s is suggested, such as peace in 2002, men’s health in 2003, healing and forgiveness in 2007, or positive male role models in 2009, although it is not compulsory to adopt these themes and participants are welcome to come up with their own to suit their needs and local concerns. In 2009 the following broad objectives were ratified as a basis for all International Men’s Day observations:
  • To promote positive male role models; not just movie stars and sports men but everyday, working class men who are living decent, honest lives.
  • To celebrate men’s positive contributions to society, community, family, marriage, child care, and to the environment.
  • To focus on men’s health and wellbeing; social, emotional, physical and spiritual.
  • To highlight discrimination against men; in areas of social services, social attitudes and expectations, and law.
  • To improve gender relations and promote gender equality.
  • To create a safer, better world; where people can be safe and grow to reach their full potential
According to Mens Activism News Network, International Men's Day  interfaces with Universal Children's Day on November 20 and forms a 48 hour celebration firstly of men, then children respectively, with a recognition of the bonds between them.

Here, here!  And a big  "thank you!" to all the good guys in the world!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Our olive harvest

time to harvest!
Checking the weather, we discovered a block of what appeared to be four days of decent weather exactly at the time we had decided to harvest our olives. 

We'd impatiently been looking for a new olive press, as our old press had finally given up the ghost and decided NOT to open this year. 

We couldn't pick the olives until we'd found a press that was open!  Finally, through the "garden center" in the Ropa valley, we found one in Gardellades.  It was only about an extra five minutes from the house which all things considered, was pretty good!

The weather was sunny and between 22C and 25C (72 F-77 F) which was ideal and only a little warm.

T got everything organized and ready and 8:30 Saturday morning we were doing the first tree.

falling like rain
Raking the olives off the branches with three different sized rakes.  Also with hands (but more leaves come off that way... and you have to sort out the leaves!)

There were so many olives on the tree!
medium rake

We managed to get a pretty good rhythm going, we me on the ground getting all the low branches and T on the ladder getting the high ones.
just before the gather

We used three different sized rakes (the heads were pretty much the same size) to reach difficult places.

Of course there is a certain amount of eye hand coordination that you need to use, particularly when you are reaching over your head.

We only had three trees to gather from this year,  but they were, as usual, bountiful.   Luckily, we had all of them trimmed two years ago and the man who did it, knew what he was doing!!  The tree branches were laden! 

[Long rake is being used on tree on left]

ready to gather
By the end of Saturday (we had to wrap up early as we were going to a friend's house for Curry night (see previous post!) around 5, we'd finished the first tree and rolled up the nets in preparation for sorting the next day.

[Balou  really tried to help.  She was at her best though, holding down the nets so the olives couldn't escape...]

 Sunday we were again out early to start raking and gathering.  We got three good sized bags from the first tree and three from the second tree.

It's a simple process, you hand pick all the big dead branches out of the pile of olives, then with the sorter you shake the olives back and forth until the little bits of leaves fall through and you have "clean" olives...

except the sorter weights about 5 lbs and you fill it with about 20 lbs of olives and shake out at least two pounds of detritus. 

It takes about 5 of the sorters to fill a bag just under 60 lbs. Each tree had 3 bags.

At the end of the day you can imagine how your shoulders feel!

clever way not to tear up the nets!
Monday was the third and final tree.  Some friends who'd never harvested olives, came by and so I got up really early to start some spaghetti sauce and make a quick cake.  Then we were at it again by 8:30.  We finished up the last bagging of the second tree and started raking the olives off the last tree. 

Our guests arrived and while my friend decided to sit and draw, Alex decided to help T with the raking of the last tree. 

He was so excited he begged to come with us for the olive pressing! (As he is young and strong and  speaks Greek, we figured he'd be a welcome addition...)

Meanwhile I started to collect some nice ripe olives to cure in brine.  I'd already done some green olives and some big Kalama's from a neighbors tree.

By Monday night the olives were all in their bags and shut up in the trailer waiting for transport Tuesday morning.

We arrived at about 10 AM, and waited no more than 15 minutes. 

They had a nice little waiting area with a tv, which would have been fine but for the NOISE of the business end of the press!

There was a lot of machinery in there!

Then we were told to back the trailer up to the sorter weighing machine and empty the olives into the press!

We were really glad Alex decided to come- not least because the bags were pretty heavy!

 All our olives were finally in the hopper...

 sorter scale at work.
the washed olives go into the weigh bucket, to be tallied each time the bucket was filled.
our olive weight! (576 lbs)  The olive press kept our olives separate, and didn't mix them with anyone else's, so it was only our olives processed to make our oil.

our olives were in number 2...

Our olives being pulped and the blades hand sprayed with hot steam water (oil and water separate quite nicely!) The greener the olives the less oil.  Many people think that the oil is much better with a mixture of green and black olives.

riper olives than ours were in vat number 3!! (our oil was WA-ay better)

sign in Greek asking people to keep their children out of the machinery...

Steaming mountain of pits outside the building.  When cooled and dried it's used as fuel for the olive press!

Finally into the centrifuge to separate our oil. 

Filling the carriers- we had two large cans and two five liter plastic carriers.  We ended up with about 30 liters of olive oil (or 8 gallons).

Our emerald prize at the end of the three days. (well that and the sore muscles!)

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

End of October through mid-November: storms and stuff

Yes! You're in luck, this is another 'catch up post' that takes us from "it was a dark and stormy night"  to harvesting the olives (only that post is for tomorrow as this catch up post will probably take up all the space.)

So, since last I posted, we finally found a pumpkin for carving on Halloween. 

- In fact we found the Great Pumpkin.  Since we found it the day after the last post, we had to wait 10 days to carve it...

- We had a great time with some friends who came for dinner.  I made a ham- the kind that takes three days to make!

the recipe - long overdue... sorry  Angie!- (buy a "ham"; put it in a pot and cover it with a mixture of water and apple juice overnight in fridge;  the next evening, drain and refill pot with water and boil gently for about 2 hours for a 6+ lb ham, let it sit in the hot water on stove overnight; Next day, remove from water (re-weigh!!) and bake at 350 for about 20 minutes per pound.  Score fat and put honey-mustard glaze over ham for the last 20 minutes.)

- Went out to dinner with about 14 of our great neighbors to Godero and had a wonderful night.  Our neighbor Jan and his lovely wife Lillian were our hosts.  As it was a meze (starters) restaurant, we ordered at least one of everything on the menu. It was delightful and delicious.

- Finally Halloween arrived and we carved the pumpkin.

Our favorite little ones, came from Holland for a visit to see their dad and grandparents and stopped by on Sunday morning to carve the great pumpkin into TWO faces!

- Then, cut up pumpkin corpse the next day and LOTS of pureed pumpkin for muffins, pies, etc.

Made a terrific Thai pumpkin soup (well that's what I call it as it sort of became more Thai-like, than anything else.) out of some of it.  This was about a third of the pumpkin cooking so I could puree and freeze it in 2 cup bags. (I had blisters on my hands from peeling and chopping that much pumpkin!)

- Discovered a great organic restaurant!  Had a terrific meal and listened to Blues music by our friend and his band.

It got a lot more rollicking, after dinner and we stayed til the very end.  Both the band and the restaurant called it a night at the same time.

- Had the garden tilled for our winter plantings.

We bought some seeds and a few sets.  We'll have fava beans, and broccoli and cauliflower, chard, salad, parsley and onions.  (hopefully by December-January).  We've sprouted seeds under the grow light downstairs and hopefully will get them in the ground shortly.

- Had TWO huge scary storms back to back

that destroyed a lot of the yucca trees behind the fountain/waterfall.  (you can't even see the pond for all the debris!)

The winds also tore an awning in half, and ripped tiles off the roof to leave a fair sized hole right above our bedroom!  We had no electricity for just over 12 hours, but many on the island had no electricity for 24 hours.

- A local sailmaker resewed the awning

and my beloved 'fixed the hole, where the rain comes in' ("to keep my mind from wandering..." as the song says!)

It's a good thing he spent so much time up there this past August, sealing the roof!  That's mostly why the whole thing didn't get blown off! (as you can see from the inside photo, it's not a very "sturdy" roof!)

- Most recently we went to a friends curry night on Saturday, wherein I made a really good shrimp curry.  As it was a combination of two recipes and the ingredients I had on hand, I can only hope I remember it well enough to duplicate someday...

Mostly though what we did this past weekend and yesterday, was harvest the olives and today we had them pressed. 

Tomorrow I will try and reconstruct the process and post a bit of what we did.  Hopefully, adding a little 'show and tell' with pictures from the picking of the olives to the pressing at the olive press.


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