Monday, 9 March 2009

10 things you'd never guess about me

Rachel loves to come and visit my blog just to see my garden. She knows what a mixed blessing having a garden is: hard work to create appropriate microclimates, more hard work to maintain it, and just as much effort to save the excess produce for less bountiful times. For all my regular readers, you will know that my family's garden is an indispensable part of our daily life, as it is for most of our neighbours, given the rural setting we dwell in.

Rachel's recent focus on home gardens has inspired me to reveal a few things about myself that will put a lot of the things I write about in my posts in perspective.
  1. My husband is an avid gardener, orchardist and hunter. If I were in charge of running the garden, I'd have planted flowers (like I did when I was living alone). Of course, I respect his efforts and put everything he plants and grows into full use. But the fact remains: he does all the heavy-duty work. I am merely his whinging assistant.
  2. When I'm at work, I'm known as "the English professor". You will probably have guessed (correctly) that I don't like to make a great deal of fuss over such a daunting title, but the fact still remains, I teach in an academic environment.
  3. For 20 hours a week (of which 3 are spent teaching, while the rest are spent proof-reading, translating, marking student work and preparing class work), I am remunerated (with 17 years of teaching experience in Greece behind me, not including 3 years of teaching similar students in New Zealand) with the princely sum of 653 euros (nett, inclusive of family benefits as a mother of two young children - I told you Greek salaries are very low), despite the fact that ...
  4. ... I'm one of a very small number of highly qualified English teachers in the whole of Hania, even though there are about 70 private English language schools operating in the area. I'm extremely good at my job, something that gives me great confidence, a most enviable quality in the present unstable economic climate. This is not taken into account in the salary I am paid, but I've never tried using this asset to my advantage.
  5. The tips of my fingers and the outer rims of my fingernails are usually a shade of brown, in contrast to my pale olive skin. This is usually from digging up weeds in the garden, harvesting crops, cleaning greens meticulously, and chopping greens to make green pies. No matter how much you scrub, the stains will remain unless you wear gloves, and I can't stand the feel of plastic on my hands. It may sound unseemly to be unmanicured given my academic background, but I remember my academic years in New Zealand in similar vein - some of my professors wore flip flops when they came to lecture us on topics ranging from the morphology of the English language to syntax and semantics (and some of them did not have smooth heels). One came barefoot in the summer, and wore flip flops in the winter. (The only time I can keep my fingers clean are in the summer when they spend a lot of time in seawater; in the winter, I need to be bedridden.)
  6. My children's clothes are mainly second-hand. They have been given to us by extended family members who like to buy their children new clothes in the latest fashion every season. The average number of previous wearers of my children's clothes is 2 (before they start wearing them).
  7. I hoard jars. If I didn't hoard jars, I wouldn't be able to make my six-month supply's worth of tomato sauce, preserved olives, jams and fruit preserves. Like Rachel mentioned, if I find that, on opening a preserve, mold has formed on the top, I simply scrape it off. The rest of the preserve is used. If I didn't bother to take the time to preserve/freeze/use whatever we grow,...
  8. ... we would be spending another 50 euro extra a week on food shopping. Green 'smashed' olives in brine cost at least 5-6 euro a kilo (that will last a week in this house), stamangathi wild greens also cost 5-6 euro a kilo (we have substituted this with our own brocoli and cauliflower this year), and I have already used half the jars of preserved tomato that I made in the summer (that works out to about about 2 euro a week on tinned tomatoes). This doesn't include the frozen meals I prepare for when I'm too busy to cook a meal for the next day: I simply throw a tin of boureki, or moussaka, or pastitsio, or papoutsakia, or dolmadakia, or spinach pie from the freezer into the oven, let it cook, and try my best to remember to turn off the oven before I go to bed. This would add at least another 5 euro a week to my savings. (Because I save so much money on grocery bills, I never skimp on books and DVDs from Amazon; I feel I deserve it.)
  9. I do not recycle tetrapaks, plastic bottles and other recyclable household refuse, because my local council has not endeavoured to provide a recycling bin in my neighbourhood (even though there are such bins available in similar neighbourhoods. I feel I am justified in putting the blame on them. I do not feel that it is my duty to fill the car with recyclable trash (risking milk carton spills, tuna can smells, etc) to cart them off to another bin elsewhere. Most people in Hania are able to walk from their home to a nearby collection point to chuck out their recyclable trash. I do not feel obliged to drive my garbage to a bin; it defeats the purpose of a cleaner environment. I do recycle paper (I never buy my kids drawing pads), and I never, ever throw out my kids' unwanted toys or (second-hand) clothes: I take them to a church collection point or give them away. My cleaning lady (I couldn't write if I didn't have one of those coming in every two weeks) told me how grateful she was for the two huge bags I gave her which she took with her to Moldova when she recently visited her family.
  10. I never wear make-up.
Now that you know me a little better, you won't be too disappointed when I tell you that I have decided to take a break from blogging, after nearly 650 posts (320 on Organically Cooked, and 325 on One Day in Hania). From time to time, I'll be doing surprise updates on the blog, just to keep you on your toes. I'm tired, and I want to work on something different. I also want to do more reading (and writing; the blogs won't stop!) Feel free to keep in touch: mverivaki at hotmail com. To all my Greek readers, have a good Sarakosti.

©All Rights Reserved/Organically cooked. No part of this blog may be reproduced and/or copied by any means without prior consent from Maria Verivaki.


  1. Interesting stuff and it helped to fill in the blanks about you. But at the end came the shock. No more regular posts from you?! I will really miss them.
    But thanks for all you have shared so far. I feel so much more connected to Greece now.
    I envy the new free time you will have for reading etc. Enjoy it!
    A blessed Sarakosti to you and shalom.

  2. You will be missed - please do keep it ticking over with the occasional new post from time to time - good luck with all you may do.

  3. i'll be updating on a less frequent basis - something more spontaneous rather than planned!

  4. I love to look at your garden pictures, too. I still have a draft post that includes a reference to them. I could never get it right when I wrote it last summer (or fall?) but I think I will this Spring sometime--when I get back to doing posts.

    Almost all of my kids' clothes are 2nd hand as well. And usually someone between the first and second daughter gets them. By the time the 2nd daughter wears them, she is the 4th or 5th one to do so. But we take excellent care of them, and if the other owners did, they still have much wear left when we are finished. We usually send them to Mexico when apparently decent-quality clothes are not at all affordable.

    You DO deserve books and DVD's for all your thrifty efforts!

    We just started recycling here because it just became convenient. I completely agree about hauling things across town for that purpose. I totally blamed it on the system, too.

    Enjoy your your more relaxed blogging schedule. I definitely understand... obviously!

  5. See you around... I think I know how you feel. I am spending too much time not doing what I ought.
    Take care.

  6. over at Pasadena Adjacent

    Just when I discovered your blog you take off for other adventures. I should hve come to this side for I don't cook but I do "look". If you should get a minute can you tell me about the health of the honey bees where you live. I'm taking an informal survey.

  7. Maria, You are a great blogger and a good personality too. We 'll keep in touch in one way or another.

  8. Snif,snif...! I can't say goodbye to you - I consider you as my blogging mom cause you've shown me how to be a part of "the game" and the way to make new friends! I'll miss you! You'll always be in my FAVOURITES...!

  9. your posts on your blog have always been a revelation. fun, educative, informative and fascinating. shall miss your posts now. however my best wishes to you in all that you intend doing! and hope you achieve success and a great deal of satisfaction!

  10. I shall miss you, my friend! Please check in on me now and then. :-) I hope you get rested and caught up on some reading and fun.

  11. A book is brewing :-D

    It's gonna be a dreadlock holiday by the looks of it :-D :-D :-D

    All the best!!!

  12. Oh no, you can't just disappear like that!!!

    Although, I guess, if it's for a good cause... and you promise to still post from time to time... it'll be OK :-)

    You will be missed, though.

  13. I hope you change your mind about your blogging carier. You'll be missed.

  14. Love those dreads, mon!
    Well, hells bells, we sure will miss your smart, informative, down-to-earth thoughts. Your family is lucky to have you, but you already know that. I guess we'll just have to dig through the archives.
    And by the way, try rubbing half of a cut lemon on those cuticles/fingertips. See if that doesn't help with the browning issues.

  15. Hi MKiwi. Nice to get to know how you live there. Regarding taking a break, I understand how you feel and I might just do the same. trouble is we may lose our regular readers. Enjoy your alternative activities and best wishes from NZ. - Dave

  16. Thank you for all that information about yourself and about the conditions in Hania. Both for academics and others. I learned a lot from this (as I have from your other posts) and will miss those daily posts.

    On the other hand - I fully understand that daily blogging can be a chore. A break is often only beneficial. I'll drop by from time to time and see if something has happened!

    PS Thank you for your latest comments - as you have seen, my own blogging has been (and will be) somewhat erratic.

  17. Hi Maria!
    Sorry I couldn’t visit you for the last two weeks! But you can't just go like that...
    At least not before commenting on one of the most beautiful Forts in India that waits for you and your comments at Blogtrotter... ;))
    Have a great time!