Monday, January 24, 2011

Olive Harvest Dream Come True

Something about all things olive has been calling me well...all my life I guess.  
And the teacher in me wants to share this olive love affair with others like you.
OK - this photo was taken in Morocco, but soon I'll be in Greece again.

This is the photo I chose for my screen saver.  An orchard in the spring in the southern Peloponnese.

How lovely is a tree that braids itself into a honeycomb of wisdom.  Just think of all those lovers who have mingled underneath.

Baby clusters of olives resemble grapes at the same stage of beingness.

My dear friend Lexy led me here to this wonderland.  Now she and I are partaking of the harvest as naturally as it looks.

Our friend Susan is the proprietor of this gorgeous estate along with her darling companion Mr. Casey.

My sister Amanda rakes like a pro with an attitude of discovery of something so old and yet so new.

And I am in heaven on earth.  
This is all I've been waiting for, the timing perfect to be here now.

These green and red and purple globes of green gold oil are as beautiful as they look.

Peaking out of their gunny sacks ready for the journey to the local mill.

Somehow the aches and pains I experience on any given day are forgotten as I kneel almost in prayer.  The scenery - do you see it?

Nothing, nothing more satisfying than a patio full of olives ready for the pressing.

The mill press is fully booked and Susan's olives are in the queue.  The mill workers load the bags into the conveyor belt that march the olives into the washer that separates the stems and leaves from the prize.

Into the grinder and press and out the other end - the elixir pours into the containers the owner provides.

Here I am, the film maker, getting as up close and personal as I can without swimming in the vat.

Susan, a woman in a man's world, the goddess of olive oil.

See the resemblance?

Each container is weighed and the mill is paid.

With fresh bread from the bakery in the village, the first tasting, right out of the back of the car!  Green, throat coating and the spicy finish that induces the cough that is the sign of excellence.

These trees have been around a long time.  In fact, there is one olive tree in Syria that the locals say has been alive for 3 thousand years.  Aqueducts and rock walls and old olive sentinels.  What have you witnessed?

I'm tempted to call this number to see how much it might cost to purchase this land in the land of olives.  But then - I couldn't cut down a tree to build a house.

So instead, I'll keep returning, often, for long visits - soon!  See you Mr. Casey in a few weeks!  Stay tuned for the olive harvest film documentary.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Mom's Majolica and Dad's Dallas

Let me tell you the story of Mom's Majolica and a few other stories.

When I was in my last two years of high school, my family lived in England, in a small village SW of London.  For the first time in my Mother's life, she had all her children in school all day and was left during the days to fend for herself in another new country. 
(I can hear her say "Yes!")

In the late 60's while all England was rockin', besides following the music scene, my Mother and I followed the antiquing scene, alone and together.  You remember Portobello Road don't you?  While my Mother was eclectic in her tastes, she zeroed in at some point on the beautiful green leaf patterned pottery called Majolica.

Majolica is an earthenware ceramic with glazes developed from very early Middle Eastern glazes, united with forms from Spain later, and made popular in Renaissance Italy.  The name Majolica is most likely because of the transportation route through the island of Majorca, in the Baleriac Islands, part of Spain.

Victorian Majolica was made by various pottery makers in Britain, Europe and the USA in the 1800's and Wedgewood began making their green leaf and basketry patterns that my Mother collected, and I admired.

During the holidays certainly, I pull out the plates that remain from my Mother's Majolica collection and often serve up a family recipe dessert, all with love on the beautiful plates, with pride.  And I smile to myself, knowing the story behind them...the whole story since I've been those heirlooms' keeper.

After my Mother passed away, my siblings and I returned to our parent's home, with all their treasures gathered from their journeys all over the world, and packed up those heirlooms we had asked for and inherited.  I very carefully wrapped each plate with packing paper and put them in a couple of carry-on bags for my flight home.  This is before 911 regulations.

In the rush of leaving for the airport with my siblings, my Father driving, he backed over the plates that had been left out of the trunk for placement on top of the suitcases.  I can feel the bump, bump in the car right now.  We all froze, knowing full well what had happened.

My sister got out of the front seat, collected the bag of broken dishes, and silently we rode the short drive to the airport, which was painfully long.  Dad took it the hardest, and we all felt so bad for him.  Later, on the flight home, seated with my sisters in the same row, we turned to each other and said, "this was a message from Mom."

She wants Dad to slow down and take care of himself.  Like the "missing man formation" that the Air Force performs as a jet fly-over at funerals for the military, I later counted the surviving plates which were in the other bag, one of each pattern, including 11 out of a dozen dessert plates.  It was Mom's way of whispering in my ear some valuable advice, and that she is represented by the 12th plate, gone but not forgotten.  Ever.

So this Christmas, I told this story to my children and friends while we enjoyed squash and pecan pie on these green Majolica leaf patterned plates, as is the custom.  Just yesterday I made my famous carrot cake, basically following the best recipe from the Dallas Junior League Cookbook I received from one of my Dad's relatives as a wedding gift. Mom & Dad together again in my thoughts.

You may also notice the "California Ivy" plate in this photo, part of a set of ceramics gifted to me by my also deceased mother-in-law, as well as the pepper mill from the Torino, Italy ristorante called Al Gatto Nero.  I still tell the story that my parents absconded with the infamous pepper mill in the early 50s after dining at their favorite getaway.  Maybe it was given to them, I need to ask Dad about that story.  

Last November my sister and I returned to Al Gatto Nero and found the same style pepper mills in use today.  We met the son and his wife of the original ristorante owner and relived a family tradition of stopping by the old establishment whenever in town.

The things that I cherish are the things that remind us of stories... stories that keep telling stories.  Stories of family, stories of friends and stories of love.  What else is there?

With Love ~ Deborah xoxo

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Winter Wonderland In Montana

You know I've been traveling lots lately, but when I return home I am always struck by it's own charms.

Red sky in morning- sailor take warning.

The winds are whipping up white caps on the sea of snow.

And Jack Frost leaves his imprint on the window.

An injured deer brought down by a small pack of coyotes becomes a field dressed-out feast 
 the meat eater birds, like magpies, crows, ravens and eagles.  
There is a pecking order too but I'm not sure how it works yet.

There lurks the wild standard poodle in these parts of our woods 
and she is pretending to be a pointer today...

snorkeling for good scents under the snow and in the hoar frosty bushes.

And the healthy fluffy bunnies that breed like rabbits somewhere around here underneath wood havens (I will get a bunny shot another time), who must be live trapped in the spring to avoid garden warfare later on.

The fearless skilled snowplow driver husband ready to jump in the truck and push the snow far enough aside to keep it from drifting over our long driveway by morning.

Mama golden eagle takes her turn pulling bits and pieces off the furry hide.

The Crazy Mountains majesty in icy pinks and blues.

As I survey the wondrous winter scape at days end, I know that Life goes on within difficult times and conditions, yet how fortunate we are to be free.