So, it’s been…well, a long while since I have appeared on this site. Let’s see, since I last posted something I believe I officially ‘graduated’ with an MSc, starting working for the academic institute from where I received this degree,
hosted our first US-based visitor,
had a true Cretan easter celebration (lamb’s heads, overeating and all),
wrote a bunch of grants totaling over €3 million, visited four countries, got pregnant,
took on a foster car,
εχω βελτιωθει ελληνικα μου, and…I guess that sums it up. So, in order not to dwell on missed opportunitites, I instead have a couple of advertisements we received that I thought were amusing enough to share.
"Our store is always open"
The caption in Greek on the top states “Our store is always open”, meaning, I suppose, the web store. Kotsovolos, is an appliance and electronics store, so I don’t really get how the image of the woman unbuttoning her pants applies here, but it definitely got me to notice the fact that they have a web store…
This next one appeared in a supermarket circular that gets dropped off at the door…
I am not sure if it is easy to see (you can click on the image if you want a bigger view), but the photo depicts a collection of raw meat (including a whole pig) spread out on a table along with a glass of wine and other fine edibles. Salmonilla anyone? While we have gotten used to seeing whole animals for sale in the butcher shops, for some reason making a festive display out of raw meat struck me as odd…
Since all this anticipation has been created about my earth shattering story of our trip to Istanbul, I am not writing it. Sorry. I can only say that it is the capital of the East and the only city I have been (outside of NYC) that has any clue about (modern) culture. Anyway, Dave has been keeping you all entertained with deciding our future and whatnot, so I assume no one will miss the Istanbul story.
Dave and Pita
I have another story. I have been spending my days finishing my thesis …and it is finally done. Printed, bound, and sent for review. If any of you have a free couple of hours that you want to waste, you can read it here .
But that’s not the story. I was talking about rainbows…so about 5 weeks ago, this small dog showed up in our neighborhood and decided not to leave. In fact, he moved right into our house. After being exposed to the dangers he was facing on the street (think grandmothers with brooms, big hungry wild dogs, and overaggressive cats) and his sugary disposition we decided to let him adopt us. So we have a dog. His name is Pita. (Formally, Mogwai Skilopita, which translated from the two languages we have stolen from to make his name, means ‘devil dog pie’. Amazingly, this truly is the most accurate description of his character).
Anyway, he wakes me up at 7am every morning to go for a walk. And a few mornings ago, I was greeted by this.
Rainbows over Chania Harbor
Didn’t get as good a set of photos as I wanted, since by the time I finished the dog walk and got the camera from back home, this was all that was left of it. (Yes, left of it.) I have never seen quite a rainbow as what it was…one double rainbow – two spectrums – and another on top. So even though this little dog has put a dent in our freedom, and quite possibly our plans to visit our newfound friends in their home countries, things with Pita always seem to end in rainbows…even begrudged 7am outings.
For those of you who don’t already know it, we have this great friend. This friend who reminds us all the time that we are all friends; sending out birthday notices and hosting parties to make it easy for us. And as far back as I can remember, she has sent each of us a birthday gift. Meg Mixes have become a phenomenon over the years, starting as mix tapes and evolving with the technology to CDs. And even overseas, without fail, each year I receive a CD packed with music to make me smile a lot, dance a little, and open my ears to something new. This year, it came a bit late…and due to no fault of Meg’s.
This morning there was a package stuck between slots in my door. When I saw the square shape and size I immediately knew it was my birthday mix. I grabbed it from its resting place thinking I would throw it in the player to accompany my morning breakfast. As I pulled the package from the door, I realized it crunched in my hands…never a good sound when it comes to anything plastic. A closer look revealed the package was covered in a layer of plastic with this message:
The USPS Mission
It is intriguing to me that the USPS immediately assumes the damage is the foreigners’ fault, but I was more surprised to read that I “can be assured that the country that [they] received this damaged mail from will be notified and will be asked to take steps to ensure it doesn’t happen again.” Apparently, not only is the US “liberating” the oppressed in two separate countries, but the USPS is also compelled to bring “justice” universally to the postal systems. In any case, worried more about the CD than the mission of the USPS, I ripped off the plastic hoping the contents weren’t totally destroyed. I found this:
Thankfully, the CD was intact and plays fine…especially considering included in this year’s mix was an original by Christian Vaught (Meg’s husband and another long-time friend)! While there was nothing lost, I think the message from USPS was a little deceiving…from what I can tell by the damage, I think it got stuck in a genuine USPS machine. I can just see a postal employee pulling the totally destroyed package from the machine and saying “Yes! Foreign address! I can say they did it!”
Whether or not the CD made two trans-Atlantic trips, I am very happy it survived its obviously trying journey to bring me a little piece of friendship and home.
I have been avoiding writing about the food here…probably because I spend all my days thinking about it for my thesis. But now that the end is in sight, I thought it would make sense to talk a little about what I have been doing with my days.
My thesis supposes that the food system of Crete is well situated to be a model of sustainability — at least for κηπευτικά (fruits and vegetables grown in the field). The farms on Crete are small (never larger than two hectares or four acres) and diverse (usually a farm will have an area for trees – olives and citrus fruit – and fields for vegetables as well as some chickens and goats or lamb for household use). And, since it is an island, the great majority of the food consumed here is produced here. That’s not to say Greece is without problems; chemical fertilizer and pesticide use has increased significantly, especially in the last 10 years. And with the ever rising price of oil, these petrochemicals are getting more and more costly and farmers are finding it harder and harder to make a profit. With this study, I am looking into ways to keep farming profitable in this changing food system, while maintaining the positive aspects of production.
All that being said, Dave and I try to do our part to support the local farmers, who are usually somewhere between 55-70 years old. We buy all of our fruits and vegetables from the λαϊκή αγορά (literally translated it means ‘common market’ and is the equivalent of a farmers’ market). This is certainly a mutually beneficial relationship; the farmers get a good price, quality of the food far surpasses what we find in any of the supermarkets, and it is still cheap for us.
These few photos are examples of what we normally bring home…the first from March of this year, the next from June and this last one we took this morning. We usually spend between €4-7 and get enough fruits and vegetables to last the week. And, while I am a little sorry to say this since I love all my NY farmer friends, with the exception of tomatoes, these are the best tasting fruits and vegetables I have ever had. I just don’t think NY can compete with the perfect climate and fertile, volcanic soil of this island.