I went straight to my desk upon rising, and allowed myself to work until just in time to shower and wash my hair before our helper Ayşe arrived to clean Spa for the Soul. She often arrives early, and today I met her with clothes on and sopping uncombed hair. Kisses of greeting, a bit of chat, and off she went to the top of the house while I settled in with my coffee for some time with Daniel and Peter. Both spoke to me of the importance of disciplines, resistance to temptation, persistence, and the vastness of God's grace and bounty towards His people. A grey morning invites candlelight and incense and I found rest in the peace of it. After prayer I headed for the kitchen.
After two weeks away the frig needed a good cleanout, and pots and bowls remained from Monday night's kettle corn. Ayşe would need lunch, too. So. First I sorted and emptied. Next I washed. Made a fresh batch of bread dough. Then I pulled out a load of gorgeous produce. Onions, garlic, chard, green beans, scarlet runner beans I'd soaked and cooked on Sunday, quinoa, tomatoes, carrots, red cabbage. Put on the album made by friends in our college group long ages ago, and turned it up loud. I still know every word. (So why can't I recall the Turkish vocabulary I looked up 15 minutes ago?) Ayşe came down to start a load of sheets, me wondering why on such a grey day.
Slicing knife. Chopping knife. Three cutting boards. A climb over the terrace railing to collect some rosemary. A bit of sage plucked from its jar. Though windows and doors were open I sang loud, meaning every word, while I chopped. Had fun taking pictures with my phone. How long has it been since I have been present to the joys of vegetable bounty and a morning in the kitchen? A month or more, I think.
The soup was ready just at 1pm and I called Ayşe to join me. I used a new recipe posted by Christine Sine on her blog, a recipe about savoring the fall produce of her Seattle garden. Ayşe and I agreed it was tasty. The sage, I think, was the sparkle. Not something ordinarily used in soup. Here in Turkey they call sage adıçay and use it to make a sort of medicinal tea. I also introduced Ayşe to chocolate spread on Wasa fiber crackers, and we each consumed several. Feeling just that bit naughty. Up to now, when we eat together we don't talk much. Ayşe is from this village, and speaks the village dialect. I find her harder to understand. But today I decided we must learn to talk more, so I asked her questions. "Where is your husband today? What is he doing? What will you do when you get home? What are you thinking?" At the last question she gave me a sidewise "who took Jeri abla and replaced her with this crazy woman?" look. I laughed and explained that I wanted to speak more Turkish, so I was trying to ask questions we could talk about. "I get it now, but I still think you're a little crazy today," said her quizzical expression. She gathered the dishes and I headed up to my desk.
"Momi! Momi! Jeri abla!" Çiğdem's tone told me she'd been calling me from her balcony for awhile. Loud music and my sing-along, I explained, and she laughed. She said she'd made aşüre and wanted Ayşe and me to come over. When Ayşe finished at 3, we decided.
One of my goals this week is to go through all my Turkish language papers, pitch what I no longer need, and organize the rest. And to look at new materials our new language coach has forwarded to help up change our paradigm to self-directed language learning. I spent some time playing with new web-based programs. Found them unhelpful. Worked on flash cards, read articles--and overall felt like I was working on working on Turkish, rather than spending time with the language. Necessary process, but not my favorite.
When Ayşe was ready we went next door. Discovered that a whole party of Çiğdem's best friends were there. No doubt finding this foreigner most strange. I said my greetings, then sat and listened to their conversation while we enjoyed our treat. Fast Turkish. They spoke of children's doings, where to buy this or that for the best price, and the like. Soon they all rose to go. I wondered if it was because school was finishing, so I asked if they had children to pick up. "Oh my," said one. "My children are 18 and 21." "But you are young!" I replied.
After they left, Çiğdem asked me why I'd been so quiet. I said to her in my halting Turkish, "If you were in a group of my American friends all talking very fast, would you say much?" Chuckles. She got it. But would later tell me that she had told her friends I spoke very good Turkish. I imagine she felt let down that she didn't get to show me off more. Smile. She also told me that one of her friends wants to have me to her house. More chances to speak where I can't fall back into English if I get stuck!
This is aşüre month in Turkey. Noah's Pudding is the English name for it. Tradition has it that when Noah's family left the ark they made a special treat with whatever was left on the ark. Beans, grains, dried fruits, cinnamon, pomegranite seeds. It is yummy, by the way. At this time of the year, women make big pots of aşüre and share it with all their neighbors. Whether they know them or not. In Antalya I was twice the recipient of aşüre while I stayed in our friend's apartment. Here if someone brings you a gift of food you are expected to return the dish with something on it. Except if the food is aşüre. Aşüre is a gift without strings, and it would be bad form to return an aşüre bowl any way but empty.
I didn't stay long at my neighbor's because Cait and I had a FaceTime date. An hour with my daughter and granddaughter. Technology most beloved! Lia and I chatted and waved to one another. She laughed at my hand-signed "I love you." She cried when her Mom wouldn't let her "hold Grandma" because she always ends up pushing the "end" button. Cait sounded relaxed, even while ever alert to her now-walking daughter and what Lia was getting into.
Dinner was a persimmon, a fruit I'd never tried until we came here. A fruit I now love. Later I played a bit with Rosetta Stone's Turkish program. I most like the part where it gives a sentence spoken by a native Turk and then records me as I repeat it. The playback feature lets me compare my speech to the native. The program also has this little meter that rates me. It looks like a gas gauge, with a red, a yellow and a green range. I tried over and over, but almost never got out of red. Even though I could tell no difference between my accent and the Turk's. Wednesday I would experiment with my language helper, letting both her and me do the exercise to see how the program would rate a native speaker. Giggles and exclamations--more often than not the computer decided my Turkish was better than hers. Now I know not to take the little meter too seriously.
Before bed I enjoyed part of the second Lord of the Rings film in Turkish. Another new language learning strategy. The idea is to watch the same film over and over as long as I can stand it, gradually building up my understanding and my own usage and accent through the repetition.
A day at home. A good day. Renewed rejoicing after a weary season.