It has many islands and these contribute to a very long coastline, eleventh longest in the list of world countries and an even longer and fascinating history.
These attributes all contribute to my mind image of Greece as a place of chalk white cliffs, amazingly blue seas, white buildings and magnificently monumental ruins. It used to be on my bucket list of places to go...now I just visit vicariously through more active friends and reading.
Greece is considered the birthplace of Western civilisation, including democracy, literature, drama, mathematics and philosophy...but my main association with people with a Greek background, apart from a few family friend here in Tasmania, was working as an aged care management consultant in New South Wales over the past twenty years.
The Greek population in the mainland cities, particularly in Sydney, is such that culturally specific aged care facilities are quite common. I worked for twelve months at a Greek specific facility in Lakemba in early 2000 and again in 2013 I spent a five month period at a Greek facility in Earlwood. Both these facilities were a combination of extreme hard work, (I'm talking 24/7 here), challenges and fast learning curves.
I had always been interested in the cultural requirements of any client admitted to aged care, but as Tasmania does not have the population of the larger states, so the opportunities to engage with the specific issues involved simply did not crop up until I went exploring away from home and all comfort zones...
Language was a huge issue, not only the residents and their families, but in many cases the staff had little or no English...how does one ensure a non English speaking staff member reads and understands written policy and procedure in an environment where staff largely work alone and are often only remotely supervised and all the organisational and legislative documentation is written only in English? Add to that the fact that I don't speak Greek...I did a lot of policy writing and education!
Putting these and a myriad other associated organisational challenges aside, I found that it was extremely easy to get to know and like almost every one of those I came in contact with...once they got over the shock that things needed to change, the speed of change required to avoid immediate regulatory constraints and that I was on their side to assist and support them, they became people who were constantly asking me to their homes for meals, to favoured Greek restaurants and many other social engagements. I found their food and their very dynamic social interactions such a change from my own conservative practices. They all seemed to know each other very well, know intimately the relationships between others down to the fourth or fifth cousin level, shared recipes with me freely, got excited when I finally pronounced a word in Greek that they could understand, that even though the work was exhaustively challenging and I was living away from home, I have (almost) nothing but very fond memories of my time spent working with these dynamic groups.
But that is more than enough chat, I was merely setting the scene for my choice of plant image for this week, which is Origanum vulgare, or the culinary herb oregano. After a meal at a Greek family home during this time, of red chicken, I recall, I realised that my previous exposure to oregano was not at all the real deal.
I had been used to growing marjoram and using that as oregano, the plants being so similar and oregano not thriving well in my garden here in Tasmania. My hostess for the evening directed me to a deli at the nearby Roselands shopping centre where I could buy a cellophane bag of dried Greek origanum stems and leaves...the flavour and aroma of which was astounding and so I have always purchased this herb since, thanks to Dimi and her good advice and recipes.
I remember her very fondly, along of course with Voula, Loula, Soula, Koula, Toula, Sofia, Antonia, Big Jim, Little Jim, Old Jim, Young Jim and Jim...Jim being a very popular name at St. Basil's, Lakemba...I won't include the recipe here for Dimi's red chicken as it was really similar to the Italian cacciatore , but I will include this recipe for skordalia, as it was the first time I had tried it made with potatoes and such a HUGE amount of garlic...I ate a lot of peppermints that year!
The heat of the Mediterranean area develops and dries this herb to a level not experienced in this colder climate, or that is what I like to imagine.
I couldn't resist adding a little bee, stamped with Perfect Medium and coloured with Pearl and Perfect Gold Perfect Pearl powders, as these plants are wonderful bee magnets.
The text mat image is from an image of ancient Greek script by Ioannis Kontomitros for the work by the amazingly unorthodox Roland Barthes, called "From Work To Text", which I don't even come close to understanding, more research for a long rainy day, (if we ever see one again).
I gathered up some woollen yarn from Spotlight during a recent sale and I am on my way...I have about fourteen weeks to catch up on, I think... I struggled with the bobbles and the couple of rows above but I think it was to do with my lack of attention to the number of stitches on my row...I remember now that getting the edges straight is vitally important when crocheting, and isn't as easy as knitting to manage! My next blankie will be spot on!
I am really not that interested in the logistical side of all this, but it seems that it is meat and drink to them.
I am a tad disappointed to learn this morning that the box they "made" me select some time back, is not the box that is arriving, as that version is not being shipped to Australia, sigh. So, even that very limited involvement of mine in the process has been wiped out...it is wait and see time for me then...I will get excited only once it is up and whirring on my desk top with easily recognisable icons and ALL my stuff available...I have been down this new computer path before and found it is often, (always), lined with thorns...