>back in the city

>we all drove back up to Istanbul today for Baki’s birthday coming up on Friday. It is weird to be back. We went straight to Ali’s mother’s house, and I was immediately disoriented by all the light, space, and felt smelly and dirty. As I type this, I have started on the epic pile of laundry that I hauled up to the van this morning. I have always had a relationship with my washing machine that verges on worship, but let me tell you, after a month of scrubbing the dirty dirty clothes that we toss aside, I consider washing machines a gift from heaven. I may just break down and take the machine down and run the generator to get the super-dirties clean (anything that Baki wears falls into this category after about 15 minutes of wear, as he has this instinct for finding mud).
There is a lot to report, of course, since I have not been able to post all month. I will go in installments, as I upload pictures. Of course, my camera ran out of juice about a week ago, so there are no pictures of some of the latest developments. Let me then divulge them…
Last night we ate dinner to… electric light! Our solar panels and wind generator are up and running. I have to say, though, the 12 watt flourescent bulbs do lack the cosy, almost romantic feel of a gas lamp. We sat beneath one at the table, our eyes burning from the light, squinting at each other over our food. I am sure everything on the table looked ugly and unappetizing, but we kept looking forlornly up at the bulbs, thus blinding ourselves, so it was no problem. Ogun is going to make some shades; hopefully that will help matters a bit. It is great in the kitchen, though, I have to say. And the last I heard, our fridge is running too, which is great because it is getting so warm lately that things have started going bad. Of course, the fridge is small (think mini bar), but at least I can diversify a bit by adding dairy to our diet so we don’t have to live solely on beans and grains (which I love, but I think may be trying for the two big-time carnivores in the house).
The other exciting development has been getting to know our neighbors. Ali had mentioned our neighbor Osman, who would wander by the house and stop to chat while taking his herd of goats to or from home. I met him briefly, but he, like most of the men around here, deals with the men, and is polite but distant with me. This has never bothered me, but I was excited to run into Osman’s mother and younger sister over the weekend, as I was chasing down Baki, who was chasing after their goat with his bike. I had to follow Baki, and they were following the goats, so we fell in step with each other, and Osman’s mother, Hatice Hanim, started firing questions at me. She suggested that I stop by some time, and by the time I had caught up with Baki, she had invited me for lunch the next day. As we parted, I noticed that she had a great big spindle in her hand, and a ball of yarn, beautiful hand spun black and white yarn. She laughed at my enthusiasm and assured me I would be able to learn from her.
Baki and I went over to see Hatice Hanim the next day. Osman and his sister Canan brought a baby goat for Baki to see, but he was too freaked out by it to get too close. He enthusuatically chased after a lizard, though, and examined every inch of their compound. I ate in the sitting room, observed by Hatice Hanim, who had already eaten. The food was lain out on a cloth on the floor. “Do you eat at tables?” asked Hatice Hanim. When I said yes, she nodded, knowingly. “This is how we eat,” she said. There was goat milk yogurt and fresh, unleavened bread, tomatoes from the garden, and stuffed peppers. It was all amazing, but of course I had already made and eaten lunch by then, so I made as big a dent as I could in the food, while straining to understand Hatice Hanim’s rapid, gutteral questions. I liked her, because she was so authoritarian. She perched on the sofa, her floral pantaloons a baloon around her, watching everyone around her keenly. She is a big, bossy, goatherd mama, and was a lot of fun to hang out with.
Canan walked me home, laden with milk, bread, peppers from the garden, and a walnut sapling. I planted the sapling over a bucket of poop yesterday, but more on that later…

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