Wednesday, November 6, 2013

The Tuesday report--extraordinarily ordinary days

Once more the day dawned clear and still. At 7am I padded downstairs and savored the solitude of a house with only me in it. Curt is doing an intensive Turkish course in Antalya (a large city three hours drive from here) weekdays over the next four weeks. Though I hope to take a class at my level while he is there, this week I'm recovering from a cold, expecting a guest Wednesday through Friday, and hoping the painters show up. The exterior of our five story tower of a house needs some repair and a fresh seal against the weather. But so do a lot of other houses, and so we wait our turn.

I was excited to try a coffee creamer I'd made the day before. The internet recipe claimed it a fabulous substitute for Carnation's French Vanilla, which I love but can't get in Turkey. I also made the sweetened condensed milk, not available here either, from fresh cow's milk I bought from a neighbor. Disappointment and chagrin. The stuff tasted vile and left a worse aftertaste, so down the drain it went. Sigh.

I took coffee, ipad, Bible and journal to the top floor to try out the new easy chair we brought back from Antalya. Curt and I both enjoy times of prayer in the various nooks and crannies we've created for meditation and reading. Gives us awareness of the spaces and reminds us to pray for those who will use them. The new chair and ottoman replaces two smaller chairs on the landing at the top of the house. Positioned next to an east-facing window, the view is towards the rocky hillside behind the house, dusty green with olive trees and red-brown with clay-stained stone. Sunrise cast bright beams on the stairwell walls. Yes, I think the framed poster of names for Jesus in Turkish should go just there.

Ezekiel, the unknown writer of Hebrews, and David whisper truths about God that stand in tension. The God who judged Israel; the God who came in flesh to woo a remnant back to Himself. Magnificent, terrifying, gentle and loving pursuer of humanity. Prayers for our kids, this place, Curt's study, our nation, our dear one here who is losing his business, the guests who will sit in this space. 

By 9am the ironing was finished. 11 shirts. Household ironing, pants and Curt's t-shirts had been done the day before, and sheets a couple of days before that. One thing about hanging laundry outside on the line: more ironing. On the other hand, what a lovely smell of fresh air and sunshine. And this morning I celebrated a new Rowenta Pro Master that gives the best and fastest press. By far the best iron I've ever used. If you care about such things.

Ironing finished, dishes done, house tidied, and I was tidy, too. Dressed still in crop pants and a light cotton blouse for the mid-70's weather. Ayşe had arrived and was throwing energy into her weekly top-to-bottom clean, all the while chattering to me in fast village Turkish I mostly don't understand, and calling down questions about what to do with Curt's cardboard pieces and other bits left out on the rooftop terrace where he has been revarnishing window frames. The next hour or so was spent at my desk doing who-knows-what (you know, email, net searches, bill pays, filing) with one eye on the clock.
Ayşe last spring when Lia and Cait visited

From time to time there are meetings for foreigners. Once the village chief asked for input. A couple of times the mayor of Kaş did the same. We've never been around, but at 11am this morning the British Embassy would host a meeting concerning a newly created agency that will preside over immigration and visas. Because Curt drove to Antalya, I caught the 10:40 dolmuş for the five mile trip from our village. Dolmuş are brilliant little buses that provide public transit. The one I caught would take 14 passengers. One makes the run to Gökseki every half hour and costs 2TL (about $1). I love it.

The meeting venue was packed, mostly with Brits, who are the majority of the expat population. About 100 foreigners turned up from towns and villages up and down the coast within an hour or so drive from Kaş. No surprise that I knew very few. We spend most of our time in the Turkish community or with Spa guests. I had to refuse a dinner invitation from some "yachtee" friends because I don't like to walk home alone in the village night. No particular reason, but the potential for stray dogs or wild boar in my path...what can I say? I'm a wimp.

First order of business was to inform us all that the Turkish official we were there to hear from would not be coming. Then a run-down of the history and purposes of the new law. Then questions which all had the same answer: "We don't know yet." Thirty minutes in I left, grateful I sat near the door. Smile. Walked down to Halil's for a bite to eat by way of the ATM.

Halil and Gül face some challenges just now and his distress was heavy this lunchtime. He sat with me, quiet, face stern and eyes dark. This dear "son" just four months younger that Caitlin, with wife and five-year-old daughter to care for in this difficult economy. Prayers renewed for grace, endurance, and a soft and open heart; for prosperity and hope. 

I sat with them for more than an hour. Wanting to lend my presence and love, to come alongside them in their pain. Chatted about a trip several of us plan to take together to the east of Turkey, about his daughter, and the trip they took on Monday to the Greek island. Wanting to distract.

A few groceries and then the 1:25pm dolmuş back to Gökseki, overfull this time with women and children and one old man who could barely walk with the use of two sticks. The small daughter in the arms of my seatmate fell asleep with the rumble of the bus. "She has a cold," her mother told me. Women helping one another one and off, managing small ones and shopping bags. The whole bus emptying at the stop in the village square and the uphill walk to Spa for the Soul. It was a bad day to wear flip-flops. New tar and crushed rock covered half my uphill distance, ending, oddly enough, just after the home of the village chief. Smile again.

Ayşe was down to the main floor (only the art studio is lower) as I hauled in the groceries. She'd even washed down the 40 stone stairs from the road to the front door and sprayed the fallen leaves from the lower terrace. I put the food away, chatted a bit, and walked up the two flights of stairs to our space. Time to dig into Turkish.

After several months of not studying the language I sit in confusion, not knowing where to start. I review, but without enthusiasm. I stammer through conversations and friends comment that my Turkish is less good than in the spring. Last Tuesday Ankara friend Josh mentioned that two years of 30 hours a week language study brought able students to a level of converse that still fell short of discussion of ideas, philosophy and spiritual matters. Downright depression sat in. Which I noticed as I sat again with no idea how to go at it. 

Hebrews reminds me that Today is the Day, which is true on so many levels. Somewhere in the muddle I found backbone. I called up materials for self-directed language learning. I'd glanced at them before but felt overwhelmed. I found an article about using a language helper. Read again the scary stuff about how I would not only need to study, but would need to direct my own study, to plan and create exercises and venues for practice, to make up questions I want to ask and answer with native speakers, to hunt out audio reading materials, to write stories and dialogues. I heard Çiğdem call me from her balcony and leaned out the window for a chat. Deep breath to gather courage. Invited her for tea Wednesday morning and said I had something I wanted to talk to her about. I shoved the big rock of fear off the mountain and it gathered momentum, becoming unstoppable. I returned to my desk to outline a plan for 90 minutes of work with a language helper, narrowing my confusion to a few practical pieces of reading, review, vocabulary, and conversation. We would walk through the kitchen and name everything, and I would jot new vocabulary on the whiteboard. We would review the new vocabulary. We would each read aloud for five minutes from the Turkish The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. I would listen to her pronunciation and inflection, and she would listen and correct mine. I would ask her where she was from and what her life was like before she came to this place; and I would have her ask me the same so that I would have practice listening and speaking.
Çiğdem and her husband and son. We made the tallest jenga tower I had ever seen!

I made plans and thought through the Turkish to explain to Çiğdem the role of language helper: not a teacher or planner, but someone with good use of the language who is willing to spend time doing exercises and repetitive practice, and to help me learn through conversation, by correcting my pronunciation, grammar and word use, and to push me to speak beyond what comes easily and faster than I want to. I would ask her to give me 90 minutes three times a week as a job for pay. And emphasize that this is an experiment. We will try for one month, and then the "job" may end...or not, as seems best to both of us.

And I signed up for a 10 week internet course on self-directed language learning and emailed a possible coach.

It took hours. Ayşe finished her work and came up to say goodbye. I paid her regular fee and gave her an extra 50 TL because I neglected to let her know of our trip to Ankara and she showed up last Tuesday to find the house locked and empty. She balked a bit, but I insisted. I want her to know that I take her seriously and that when I make a mistake I take responsibility. And I enjoyed giving her the pretty throw I'd brought for her from Ankara because she lit up with ear-to-ear delight when she saw it. She left. Lost in my plans and exploration, I worked on. Night fell. Popcorn for dinner as I watched half of The Fellowship of the Ring in Turkish with Turkish subtitles. Because one tip I'd turned up was to watch and/or listen to something I enjoy several times, as many as I can stand, gleaning new words, grammar and expressions with each pass.

Some reading--finished The Secret Rescue, an interesting new book about American nurses and medics trapped behind German lines in Albania during WWII. And to sleep.

No comments: