Sep 102012

Several years ago I made a new friend, her name is Carol. Carol and I met while “on the stump”, her as the Democratic nominee for Lieutenant Governor and me as the Democratic nominee for Insurance Commissioner. For months we traveled Georgia giving speeches, answering questions, and asking for votes. On many occasions we sat through each other’s speeches each of us growing to respect, then eventually to like, the other. By the end of the elections in November 2011, we were friends.

Along with all state-wide, elected Democrats we lost, but neither Carol nor I spent any time licking imaginary wounds. We were women of action and leapt sure footedly from one jagged outcropping to the next. I returned to lobbying for truth, justice, and self-insured health benefits; and to satisfying my passion for all things olive and olive oil by launching Olive Crazy. Carol, who had been the general manager of a newspaper, became a television personality, newspaper food columnist, and returned to what she had always been, an artist.

A few weeks ago Carol texted me to say that her paintings were going to be exhibited at the Macon Arts Alliance in downtown Macon, Georgia. I hadn’t seen Carol since we shared a quick bite last spring and was looking forward to seeing her and whichever of her adorable sons she would inevitably bring along.

I left north Atlanta very early in the afternoon so I could make it through the city before the Friday exodus began. My traffic pattern calculations were correct and I arrived at the gallery with an hour to spare. No one but the curators were there when I arrived. I wondered how I would be able to kill an hour looking through Carol’s modest-sized collection before the showing actually began. As I stopped at the first painting I found out.

Carol’s paintings are complex. There is no other way to describe them. Each painting is covered in hand-written messages all of which are interwoven into faces, scenes, and in one an olive tree. The viewer must take the time to read the words, look up close for the visual surprises, and then again far away for some more surprises. After completing the circuit, I knew that this was art I wanted to own and I knew which piece. I quickly made my purchase and a curator placed a blue dot on the wall near the painting.

Carol arrived, wine was opened and the hoards descended. It wasn’t until the end of the evening and the showing was over that I could take any pictures for you. For most of the evening I stayed near the front door chatting and chatting. The number of people in the gallery was overwhelming. It is difficult to take photos of art that is blocked by a crush of admirers so I waited.

Again I had a surprise, most of Carol’s pieces had been sold. I have been to lots of exhibits and had never seen so many works sold in the first few hours of an opening. I was happy to see my friend’s talent recognized.

Later that evening, after dinner, I walked back to my car with Carol’s eldest son. I told him that I had made up my mind. I would like to commission Carol to paint a very special piece for me: Adam and Eve, the serpent, and the olive tree.

May the sun shine through your branches.

Mar 162012

Last Christmas I wrote an article about a party I attended in Savannah, Georgia and the guests who were factlessly expounding on biodiesel. It was a great opportunity to introduce you to some well-written articles about biodiesel from Dr. Luis F. Razon for The Philippine Star.

Dr. Razon is a full professor of chemical engineering at De La Salle University. His papers on the dynamics and stability of chemically-reacting systems are some of the best-cited papers in chemical engineering literature. He served in the food industry for 14 years, launching several important new products for a major, international, nutritional, products company. He returned to academe in 2001 and is pursuing research in chemical reactor engineering, alternative fuels, and life-cycle assessment.

There are four articles in the series. I can’t do them justice by reprinting them. I will give you the title of the series and of each article, and will provide a link to each article. If you are interested in biodiesel as a fuel consumer or as an olive grower or olive oil producer these articles are a must read. In the modern business world and in the modern olive industry vertical solutions for all challenges from sources to waste streams are imperative.

Biokubo: The search for an alternative feedstock for biodiesel by Dr. Luis F. Razon

(Notes: I cannot find a definition for biokubo but have emailed Dr. Razon and hope to hear from him soon. You will read references to a plant called Jatropha. It is a plant that is being grown in the south Pacific for several reasons including as a biodiesel feedstock.)

Part I. Why do we need an alternative?

Part II. The candidates: Plants and animals

Part III. The candidates: Used cooking oil and microalgae

Part IV. The future

May the sun shine through your branches.

Feb 152012

On Monday my youngest and I played hooky and went to Callaway Gardens. It is such a beautiful spot no matter the time of year and it happens to be free in January and February. Free isn’t always good but in this case it was.

We traipsed around gardens and footpaths and through the Day Butterfly Center and the Sibley Horticultural Center. The Sibley features plants in different environments. I put my youngest on the task of finding an olive tree and he did. It was a small Barouni from Tunisia.

Mr. Olive Crazy bought me another camera after the kids lost all my photo equipment in Arizona so I took a couple of shots for you. The photo of the Barouni isn’t so hot. The light was bad and I couldn’t get another angle. Excuses. Excuses.

A couple of days later I was rummaging for stamps and I found my old identification card from when I was a student in Tunisia. I showed it to my oldest son who wrinkled his brow and said, “who’s that.” “Your once young and attractive Mother,” I responded. He came back with a non-committal, “hmm.”

The card brought back some strange and wonderful memories. Memories I will share along the way. In the mean time here is a photo of the second lovely of the article – the young Olive Crazy.

My US Embassy ID Tunis, Tunisia

May the sun shine through your branches.

Jan 132012

Here is a video of south Georgia commercial olive grower, Kevin Shaw, showing home gardeners how to plant an olive tree. The items he recommends to have on hand are a Georgia Olive Farms olive tree, time release fertilizer, lime, stake, tape (plastic, non-sticky type), shovel, and water.

In my recent article Olive Crazy Goes to Southeastern Fruit and Vegetable Conference, I mentioned that Kevin Shaw was one of the presenters at the Olive Educational Session. His presentation was chock full of great information for the commercial olive grower. A word of caution, if you want to be a commercial olive grower in the southeastern United States, don’t rely on this video to give you the basics for beginning a commercial enterprise – email Kevin at

No, I don’t work for or make any money from Georgia Olive Farms or any of their related or subsidiary organizations.

May the sun shine through your branches.

Dec 212011

I discovered this holiday season that I am on the verge of becoming that terrifying cocktail party attendee known as “The Righteous Bloviator”. The Righteous Bloviator has a greater than average knowledge of certain subjects, looks for opportunities to expound on that knowledge to those even slightly interested, and pompously shuts down commentary from those whom The Righteous Bloviator deems to be of inferior knowledge. While I am not actually a Righteous Bloviator, I know that one lurks inside of me (and most people) waiting to impress others while suppressing uneducated dissent. And just how did I come to this harsh realization about myself?

After reading the articles below and already having a greater than average knowledge of the world of olives and olive oil I stepped forth into the Savannah holiday cocktail party scene (not to be confused with the Savannah daily cocktail party scene). My first stop was to the home of a dear and extremely liberal friend. The Savannah liberal elite were there and most were good and drunk by the time I arrived. I made my way around her home hugging, kissing and searching for someone I could actually stand to talk to for more than a few minutes. At last, with a tolerable Cabernet in hand, I found my target, a well-known and revered restauranteur, who I’ve known since he was none of those things. I sat down with him and his wife and talked about craft beers, food purveyors, good olives, and other topics we enjoy. It was time to refresh our drinks so we split up and headed back to mingle land.

Across from the bar was a crowd of frisky libs all talking loudly and boisterously about Georgia’s recent olive harvest, alternative fuels, and other subjects. As I poured some more tolerable Cab into my glass I cringed at some of the comments uttered and then – The Righteous Bloviator inside me awoke. I whirled and stepped into the midst of the ill-informed to right wrongs and correct inaccuracies.

Okay, I didn’t go nuts and actually caught myself before I was rude and pompous, but it was hard.

Here are links to three very interesting articles printed in The Philippine Star by De La Salle University Professor of Chemical Engineering, Luis F. Razon. The fourth article in the series should be out next week.

Links to his more in depth research are available, as you will see in the articles. I learned a lot from Dr. Razon’s research and other research on biodiesel feedstock I found subsequent to reading Dr. Razon’s articles. Learn, enjoy and watch out for The Righteous Bloviator.

Biokubo: The search for an alternative feedstock for biodiesel

Part I. Why do we need an alternative?

Part II. The candidates: Plants and animals

Part III. The candidates: Used cooking oil and microalgae

May the sun shine through your branches.