Do you remember those flat whirling discs that had a metal bar in the center and were key play equipment in the playgrounds of the 50’s and 60’s? These “spinners” were made of wood and metal, and powered by one or two kids who would grab onto the bar, and run around and around accelerating the disk until the 4-10 other kids who were already sitting on the disk would shriek with delight. At some point, the running kid would whip herself up on the disk or else fall and be dragged in the dirt for a few revolutions. Got it? Super dangerous but super fun. Well that is what our last two weeks have been like.http://boingboing.net/2014/12/12/playground-equipment-welded-to.html
What drives our craziness?
- PICKING AND HARVESTING It is harvest season here and we are trying to get out to the groves and presses to gather as much first hand evidence of the olive harvest as possible. This is what the farm visits are like: early rises, farm clothing to protect from sun, wind, dirt (and Cape Cobras), climbing over terraced slopes or down from the 3 foot high steps out of the four wheel drive Land Rovers that have gotten us out to the remote fields, being with farm hands with no shared language but body language (we have always been welcome), sun, wind, and thirst. We love to accompany the olives to the press. At the olive factories: loud motors run machines which sort, wash, grind, beat, spin and then decant the oil from the waste paste, produce heavenly olive odors, and require long hours making sure that everything goes right. The millers will work until they are done. We go home at 5 or 6 o’clock exhausted and partially deaf. (Why are we doing this? see 2 and 3 below.)
In our playground disk analogy, this is the running and running and getting dirty and dusty and pushing the disk as hard as we can. http://playandpark.com/products/additional-products/motion/67533/
- THE BOOK….We are trying very hard to finish a first draft our book: “Inside The Olive” (ITO) by the summer. By May 1, we hope to have half of the chapters in draft form. As we write each chapter, we realize how much we don’t know and then it takes us many hours of reading and researching to fill in the gaps in our knowledge. As our book is to be understood by people without a science background, we also have to backfill in our readers understanding so they will know how to think about molecular properties and health benefits. With three Type A authors, setting up our shared goals and expectations and standard operating procedures was also critical.
In our analogy, this is where we trust that we have put in enough effort, and we must hurl ourselves through space and trust that we will land. Scary, but necessary.
- EVERYTHING ELSE: We have just finished giving our first seminar in South Africa (12th overall) about Olive Oil Chemistry and Health Benefits and each time, the audience has forced us to be clearer and more focused in delivering our information. We hope through these talks to develop the networks that will help us create a team of advisors for ITO. We are attending seminars in Horticultural Science when we can, learning about xyllum and phloem and speaking with the grad students here. We want to include personal anecdotes that will connect readers to the men and women who have made the olive oil. We want to understand the differences and similarities in productions around the world. We hope to build trust with the growers and factory owners by writing up our visits in the form of newsletters for each olive growing region we visit. We need also to be tracking down new contacts and setting up new appointments.
At this state, we are on the disc and all shrieking and hoping we don’t get flung off.http://www.upnorthhomeschool.com/image/003hannibal2.jpg
In fact, as crazy as it seems, we are only able to do it because we are on sabbatical, and released from our normal duties of classes, committees, departments, and other responsibilities. Lest you think we are complaining, we do remember that we picked this playground, and are seeing some pretty amazing things while we spin around.