"I am like an olive tree flourishing in the house of God; I trust in God's unfailing love forever and ever." Psalm 52:8

Wednesday, October 27, 2010


Autumn time brings more festivals to the island (the Greeks throw parties for nearly everything imaginable!) and this one celebrating the grape harvest took place at Katerina's grandmother's home in a village not far from us. A few friends and neighbors were invited for an old-fashioned traditional grape stomping!

When we arrived the table was laid out with the beginnings of a feast to share. Grapes, Greek cookies, wine and raki were the starters (mezedhes) with more delicious aromas coming from the kitchen inside.
The women were in the kitchen preparing copious amounts of food while the men were outside preparing the grapes and imbibing in some fruit of the vine. Katerina's mom (Katerina) refused any help in the kitchen but she promised me a Greek cooking lesson later.
Richard has a love-hate relationship with these Cretan critters. Loves the eggs, HATES the roosters. Unfortuately, you can't have one without the other.

Wine-making involves crushing the grapes in special stone constructions called "patitiria", or wine presses. This can be done by feet or with small machinery. In this case, many feet! We happened to have some guests visiting us from the States (the Nelson family) so they were thrilled to be able to participate.

The grapes were prepared.....

...and then we jumped in and started working!
The more the merrier!

Is that Lucille Ball?

Greek pedicure

The grape juice runs out through a pipe from the floor of the patitiria, through a strainer and into the wine barrel. It will be aged in wine casts in the cellar.

Nothing is wasted. After the vines are pruned, the vineyard provides wood for the fireplace, grape leaves for cooking (the famous Greek "dolmades" – stuffed grape leaves), grapes as a fruit or as a pastry and, of course, wine. The remains in the patitiria, seeds, stems and grape-peels, aren't thrown away, rather they are distilled to produce tsikoudia, spirits consumed for centuries in this part of the Mediterranean and commonly known as raki - a.k.a. Cretan moonshine, mastika, ouzo (anise seed flavor) and sometimes even "jet fuel".

There are many theories as to how this drink got its name but my favorite has Turkish roots. During the Turkish occupation of Crete the name raki was given to the local tsikoudia, since there were some similarities. Arak in Arabic means "sweat" and araki means "that which makes one sweat" - no joke. 

Richard and friends Lindsey and Don, raise their glasses..bottoms up! Yiamas!! (Cheers!!)
(A close-up photo would reveal beads of sweat on Richard's forehead and Lindsey's tongue.)
After lots of laughter, numerous toasts, and an abundance of good fellowship we finished the evening off with a grand feast. (This photo was taken after we polished most of it off!) 
 Kali oreksi! (Bon appetit!)

Friday, October 8, 2010

Summer Trip to the States


In August, we left the island in the midst of a wave of heat and tourism to escape to the home country for an extended visit. Courtesy of the Navy, we are given one trip a year back home via the "rotator flight" - essentially, a Navy contracted commercial airliner but with a lot more legroom, free movies and meals (?). But the best part is that it stops along the way to refuel and give everyone the pleasure of stretching the old legs and getting some fresh air. It does extend the trip but, we discovered, well worth it.
After landing in Norfolk, VA, we rented a car and headed up to St. Mary's on the southern tip of Maryland to our favorite private refuge on the East coast - "Larryland" - where Dan and Larry have a spacious, gorgeous cottage on the shore.

We enjoyed our time catching up with Richard's kids who joined us from Colorado - Chad, Camille and Colette

Chad and Richard. (Love the custom "Larryland" t-shirts!)

We weren't the only visitors enjoying the poolside.

Kayaking on the river and exploring its byways was really peaceful.

We were treated to a sailboat excursion by a personal friend of Larry's on his sailboat out on the Chesapeake. 
 Thank you, Alan!

Captain Dan at the helm!

We always enjoy our visits to Larryland for so many reasons, the first being family time together in a peaceful setting. But add to that the phenomenal gourmet meals prepared by Larry, the crabcakes, the wine, the beautiful and comfortable home, the pool, the river, the crabcakes, the boating, the Carnival, the sunrises, the Amish market outings, the quiet, the crabcakes and you've got yourself a five star vacation. (Did I mention the crabcakes?)
"Efharisto poli," many thanks, Dan and Larry! Looking forward to returning your hospitality when you visit us here on Crete in the Spring!
After a wonderful nine days on the east coast, Richard and I parted ways - He set off for Crete and back to work while I went the opposite direction to Colorado to visit my family. Evergreen's beauty was so different from the beauty of the Greek island. Sometimes you have to go away from home to appreciate what you had.


This looks like a bronze statue of an elk but in fact, it's the real deal. A seven-pointer was herding his harem right next to the highway. That's one BIG animal!

I had two weeks of enjoying so many great friends and precious family! Brandon and I spent a day in Denver catching up and enjoying each other's company.

Holly, John, Elaine and Nicole joined us for Oma's birthday celebration.

Girls day out lunch at Saigon Landing was part of the celebration.
I have so many great memories of my visit to Colorado; Walking around Wash park with Gail, leading worship at Rockland and seeing all my wonderful friends there, girls coffee with Cathy, Debbie, and Gil at Caffe di Lucca, all day shopping/gabbing/eating out with Holly, enjoying a pedicure and art show with Elaine and Oma, dinner by the lake with Gil, coffee with Kristi, RCC girls lunch out, amazing party with the winer's group at the Eatons, walking around the lake in the late afternon sun with Oma. I miss you all!


As fun as it was to be back in Evergreen, I was ready to join my sweet husband back home on Crete after two weeks. But due to what can only be called a brain freeze (long story), I missed my rotator flight back to Crete from Norfolk. So there I was stuck on the East coast with the next available rotator flight not leaving until two weeks later. Arggg! After a proper and complete meltdown, I decided to make the best of it. Thankfully, my cousin Charlie (and childhood friend) came to the rescue. He lives near Norfolk, VA and so he took me in and put me up (and put up with me). Basically, his attitude was, "OK, so your flight left without you. Call your husband, tell him you're safe with a place to crash, book another flight and let's go have some fun!" And fun we had! We spent many quiet moments at his home in Suffolk but mostly we were on the move.

One night we boarded the ferry across the James River and headed for Colonial Williamsburg where we feasted at the Kings Arms Tavern.

Another night we opted to stay home and cook up an amazing pasta meal.

The last day we hopped on his BMW touring bike and buzzed over to Busch Gardens for some exhilirating rides on the rollar coasters. Thank you, Charlie for your hospitality and some great laughs! I thought my trip to the States was finished on Sept 8th but I'm glad it wasn't. A few added days was a true blessing in disguise to enjoy reconnecting with a fine man.

As I look back on these photos I am reminded of our loved ones back home and I'm so thankful for all those people who impact and enrich our lives. We are so blessed to have these wonderful friends and family to return home to. God is good, all the time!