Celebrating 4 over 50, today.

Today, I have completed one more year of life.

“Don’t tell (your age to) anyone” I am told more and more often. “You look very young, you do not look your age. How do you manage to keep in such a good shape?”.CQHA2702

Oh! My dear friends, When such comments come my way, I try to keep the perspective and not to fool myself with words of the moment. Because I know that ageing is merciless and it touches everyone. With every year that is added to my account, whether I hide it or not, I cannot escape from the body’s accelerating malfunctions and mortality.

Keeping the perspective also means being more focused, seeking truthfulness, avoiding excesses, learning to observe, enjoying moments of unity with my self and others. It means that what I do every day, is the result of very conscious choice/s. I have therefore become more and more selective about how I spend it and with whom.

When I look back at this year, my biggest achievement is the comment that the son (early 20s) of friends who came to visit me, wrote in my visitor’s book:

…”Perhaps the biggest challenge you overcame, was to refute the stereotypes surrounding cat-ladies. They are (surprisingly) not at all moody, annoying and lonely”

Isn’t that an achievement to be proud of, especially when it is conveyed by a young person?

My herb addiction

I have gradually started using fresh herbs in my cooking. So much so, that herbs are now a must in my daily nutrition. Oh! I just looove the smell and taste of fresh coriander, parsley, fennel, dill, rosemary, oregano, celery, basilicum, mint in my food. For me, the use of fresh herbs takes off the culinary experience to another level. What can beat:

  • a salad with juicy tomato cut in pieces, spread with lots and lots of finely cut parsley and dill?
  • a zucchini soup with lots of rosemary?
  • fried halloumi  cheese in a sauce of fresh coriander, lime, mustard and olive oil?
  • an omelette with fresh green fennel and cheese?
  • lentils with fresh celery stalks?
  • feta cheese with mint and cucumber?
  • a juice with green apple, lemon, cucumber and mint?

As soon as I developed this habit, I realized that it was hard to get the fresh herbs I liked, when I needed them. This was even more difficult when I looked for organic produce. So, I decided to grow my own herb garden so that I can control their quality and have them instantly on my doorstep:

Recently, I also started making my own sprouts: the first try was with organic lentils that I grew in a water bottle. Within 3 days, I made a wonderful lentil sprout salad combined with carrots, goat cheese and a sauce of (our) organic olive oil, mustard and balsamico.

Oh! How my life gets richer and richer with all the herbs in it!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our first jam was sold out!

IMG_7614For the first time, we decided to make home-made organic apricot jam, for sale.

We hand-picked the fruit from our trees which are proudly standing in the area of Epidavros, next to the olive trees where my friend makes his organic olive oil.

 

We set off, with a lot of passion, determined  to create an exceptional product identical to what we ourselves “make and eat at home”. We used  the best ingredients that nature  gives us: our organically certified apricots , honey produced by our friends in Creta and lemons from our garden. Our goal was to preserve the fruit in terms of taste, smell and texture in such a way that when clients tasted it, they would feel “as if they have just cut the fruit themselves from the tree” – even if they live far away from nature!

To achieve this, we worked non-stop from morning till late evening. We read a lot of books about making jams and sterilizing vases. We talked to a lot of people. We prepared about 10 “prototypes” of jams in order to choose the final composition of our ingredients.

At the end, we decided to create 2 products: an apricot jam with honey and lemon and a second one with organic unprocessed sugar instead of honey. The entire process was done with our own 4 hands!

Then, we reached out to our olive oil clients, who were thrilled to hear about our jam. They had already given us extremely highly marks on our organic olive oil; and that was enough for them: their orders came in overwhelmingly! The feedback from those that tasted our jam exceeded all expectations:

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“The best apricot jam I have ever eaten”

“It is dangerously delicious! Love, love, love it!”

“Exceptional jam! Congratulations!”

“Wonderful jam! I like the light flavor and the smell of the fruit that emerges in a very unique way”

“ Unbelievable taste”

“ I am so happy I have met you!”

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…And so, our jam has sold out within 2 weeks! Next year, we expect to have a bigger production to satisfy the demand (We have already received some pre-orders!). For the moment, we stay with the wonderful experience of putting all our love and effort to create something  pleasing to share.

P.S: Akis, don’t worry, we’ve put your order aside to pick it up when you are in Greece 😉

 

 

Elefsina: what’s in a myth?

Our Philosophy class of 2019 read the Homeric “Hymn to Demeter” and went to Elefsina – a town  20 kms away from Athens – to hear and see all about the ancient greek goddess Demeter and the Elefsinian Mysteries/Rites dedicated to her.

IMG_7122….And the myth goes like this: Demeter, the goddess of fertility and the fruitfulness of the earth, had a daughter named Persephone. One day, while her beautiful daughter was happily picking flowers in a field, the ground opened up, in front of her, and Hades emerged, the king of the Dead, riding his chariot. He abducted Persephone and took her to the underworld to become his wife.

Upon learning of her beloved daugther’s abduction, Demeter entered the world of mortals and disguised as an old woman looking for her. She arrived in Elefsina where she befriended the royal family and agreed to rear the king’s only son.  In secret, she raised the boy so that he would eventually become immortal and eternally young, but she was prevented by the queen’s unknowing interference. Demeter then, cast off her disguise as an old woman, appeared in all her glory as a Goddess and demanded that a temple be built for her in Elefsina, outside the palace. The temple was built the next day.

Sitting in her temple, Demeter continued to rage on her stolen daughter. Her grief was such, that that year, none of the seeds grew in the fields and humankind was in danger of starvation. Zeus, offered her all types of gifts, but Demeter was obdurate: she would not allow the crops to grow until she was reunited with her daughter.

IMG_7127Zeus then sent for Persephone to come from the underworld. Before she did though, Hades forced her to swallow a few pomegranate seeds so that he would still have some claim on her. Like that, the story goes, Persephone would have to spend part of the year with Hades and the rest above ground reunited with her mother. ….And so, this explains the exchange of the seasons and the circle of the seeds: in the cold months, Persephone lives under the earth but when spring comes, the world rejoices as she and vegetation return to life! But above all, the myth reflects the concept of tranformation and the cyclical nature of life: one’s existence did not end with death because there was no death; there was only change from one state of being to another!

Based on this two-fold story of Demeter’s life – her separation and reunion with her daughter and her failure to make the queen’s son immortal – the Rites/Mysteries of Elefsina were established and celebrated annually.

IMG_7134The participants, walked the Sacred Way from Athens to Elefsina and re-enacted Demeter’s search for her lost daughter. The rituals were so important, that this Sacred Way was the only road (no goat path) in all of central Greece; everyone who was “anyone” was an initiate of the mysteries. The rituals were done in absolute secrecy and the initiated, were sworn on pain of death if they would disclose the details of the rituals; no wonder, we know very little as to what exactly they entailed.

What we know though is that those who participated in the mysteries where forever changed for the better and they no longer feared death. Oh! And how I wish I could have lived in antiquity (just temporarily!) to be initiated in the Elefsinian Mysteries and learn the secrets of life 🙂

P.S: Elefsina will be the cultural capital of Europe in 2021. That gives you enough time to plan your trip 🙂

The orange grove’s orchestra

It’s this time of the year that the orange trees have blossomed in Epidavros. The village’s immense orange grove reaches up to my back yard. The (thousands of) trees are full of (millions of) white flowers that have an intense, fine smell that fills the air. The smell enters my house, even before I open any door or window. It reaches my nostrils and makes every breath I make an ecstatic experience. I feel overwhelmed; Have I reached heaven? The aroma invites me to go out, to walk on the pavement which is full of white flowers, to stand among the trees and do nothing else but to listen to the orange grove’s orchestra:

the singing of the birds sitting among the branches… the buzz of the bees that fly, non-stop,  from one orange flower to the other to get the nectar…  the ethereal sound of the falling orange blossoms as they detach themselves, one by one, from the stem and fall on the ground. Each one making a distinct sound, like a different musical instrument. Oh! How do they all team up to play such an exquisite music? And how they make me feel that I live in eternity!

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A great holiday

What makes a great holiday?

Well, I got the answer from a dear friend who was just here visiting me with her family (for the records, they were my first visitors of the year). The last day before flying back to their country, my friend, told me:

” I will return soon,  and when I do, I want you to treat me as if I haven’t been here before. I want us to do all the things we’ve done together and to repeat everything  that I lived and felt during this holiday”

…And I am thinking:  Isn’t that a definition of a great holiday?

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A refined moment

IMG_6373The blue of the sea and the sky. The caressing sun. Absolute silence. Me, sitting under the olive tree synchronized with the elements of nature. I am full of life, blissful, radiant, carefree, gratified, captivated. I am conscious of my being and my feelings.

I start reading my book.

At some point, I hear some gentle noiseIMG_6375 coming from my distant left. It’s the footsteps of a gentleman who is out for a walk. He takes his time for every step and move he makes, as if to make these moments last forever.  Oh! He, too enjoys every second of his existence. As he approaches, I see that he holds a rose bulb in his hand. He briefly stops in front of me with the smile of an elightened man. He hands me the flower. No need to talk.  He continues his walk and disappears on my right.