Shawn started back at school last Friday. She worked for half a day, then went to class for the other half. While she was gone, I worked away on the pears and apples we had bought the previous weekend. Pear preserves and pear mincemeat was made. I also dried pears and apples. Plus I made a pear clafouti for the second time during the week (using maple syrup and rosemary as flavorings). I've still got more pears and apples to work with. I'm going to freeze some of them for use in desserts throughout the winter. I've found a couple of Asian pear recipes that look promising for canning and will get to work on those shortly. We might make one more trip across the mountains for more pears and apples. Yum! A friend has been encouraging me to begin a cooking/recipe/food blog. I've seriously been considering doing that and if I so, the link will be posted here.
Saturday, a friend of mine asked me to come over to his sister's house for a going away party. I was toying with the idea - still have the directions printed out in front of me, now - but Shawn came home with some halibut from the University Seafood store, so I opted to hang and cook with her. Although the reality of the work load from her class hasn't quite kicked in yet, she'll likely be buried with work over the next few months and we won't see much of each other. It was time well spent, though I felt bad about blowing off Phil.
Sunday was a pretty lazy day. After an early phone call from the scarents, I made a basic breakfast (fried eggs, toast, canned peaches, basil jelly, and fried potatoes with rosemary and thyme). I expected after that to work on getting something straightened out between Shawn's notebook and the wireless network. On Friday, she couldn't connect from the bedroom and she got caught up in a little tension convention and ran out to the office PC to print out some reading for class. Part of the tension also had to do with the mounting reading she had from her textbook, which had not yet arrived after ordering it via a third party through Amazon a week prior (her fault for ordering it late, really, but she didn't understand how the shipping worked and all). Luckily, the network booted up fine. Shawn read, I played on the PC as well as dried apples and cleaned the house. We took a walk in the afternoon after the fog let the sun shine through.
While walking around the hood, up the hill where the new townhomes are going in, we met a woman who greeted us and began and conversation. Before long, Marie was inviting us into her home which she shares with her friend, Fred. We met her new kitten and new puppy as well. Fred, got up to introduce himself. He's 85 years old, partially blind and partially deaf. If Marie looked like she was needing some company and conversation, Fred was looking doubly so. Fred latched onto me like a man banished from contact with his own gender for years. We weren't in the house for 5 minutes before 2 conversations were going: Shawn with Marie and myself with Fred. We were there about 15 minutes when Fred confided in me, "She's (meaning Marie) a little social, if you haven't noticed." *smile* I liked them both and plan on visiting Fred sometime in the future.
Marie ended the conversation by giving us a tour of their home. It's a one story townhome. They kept most of the basic options, only upgrading the flooring (it's easier for Fred to move across wood. Fred has the master bedroom while Marie has the guest room. Fred gets his own room for watching television, so he can sit closer to the screen and crank up the volume. The homes up the hill start at around $240,000 and that must have been what they paid. It's perfect for Marie and Fred. I've noticed how the age range in that area of the hood appears to be older. However, I'm happy with more land, land I can landscape and maintain, and a larger home.
We finished our walk in the hood and came home to make pizza. Using a Boboli thin crust, we added smoked tomato sauce, garlic, fresh basil, zucchini, jack cheese, oregano, eggplant, artichoke hearts, pitted olives, and Pecorino Romano. Yum! I sliced the eggplants (from our garden) and then baked them in the oven with a little olive oil and oregano before we used them on the pizza.
Last night, I picked up Shawn from work and we drove to Seattle. We went to the Elliot Bay Book store where Orhan Pamuk was presenting a reading from his latest novel, Snow. The turn out for his reading was terrific. It was the first time that he had given a reading at a bookstore in Seattle (he had done one or two at UW). Pamuk's novels are rich works of literature. They feature tensions between modernism and classicism, fundamentalism versus secularism, Western versus Eastern ideology and where they can meet and comprimise and how they learn to live together or not. The first book I read by Pamuk was My Name Is Red. I picked it up on a whim at Powell's books in Portland and found it fascinating. His style reminds me of Borges and Calvino in that the way he weaves his stories together and how they seem to rely, not necessarily on the fantastic, but on coincidence which might seem remarkable. My Name Is Red also adds to it's elements long narrations on art and art development in the 16th century. It's a terrific and exciting read. The New Life is the book that I'm working on now and it is also fascinating. Pamuk says that the latest novel is more overtly focused on politics. He also said that it is the only book that he will ever write on politics (he said that several Turkish authors have seen the quality of their work diminish as they became enmeshed in politics), though it is difficult to believe this since he clearly is interested in the subject. Politics is a part of all of his books, but more often it is in the periphery as it is in most people's lives. In there was anything that I regretted about last night's reading, it was that most of the questions were focused on Turkish politics and what the author thought of them. I'd rather of heard more about his writing and his process in writing as well as the broader themes of his books. Shawn did ask what he is working on today and he replied that it's a love story that spans 30 years in Istanbul. Other delights of the evening for me were: a mention of Borges as referenced obliquely in a portion of the new book, his dislike of Steinbeck ("He is someone peasant writers in Turkey model their books after." He prefers Faulkner and some of Hemingway, but he also has a clear love of Russian authors), his dismissal of most of the magical realism movement in Latin American literature as a way of sugar coating the atrocities of the times - he gave a pass to Garcia Marquez in this regard and called Garcia Marquez a "great writer".