Saturday, November 24, 2012

13 Weeks

The healing continues and the swelling in Tayta's face continues to subside, little by little. I sent this photo and  a few others to Tayta's surgeon, Dr. John Siebert, and his assistant, and these are their encouraging comments:

She's  looking great! The skin discoloration will continue to improve over the next 2-3 years as the skin layers thicken over time.  The eye is great.... just pulled down a bit due to the weight of the flap.  She will just need debulking and rearranging of the flap at her revision We are very pleased with how she looks so far! 

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Thanksgiving Sonnet

Thanksgiving starts with thanks for mere survival,
Just to have made it through another year
With everyone still breathing. But we share
So much beyond the outer roads we travel;
Our interweavings on a deeper level,
The modes of life that souls alone can share,
The unguessed blessings of our being here,
The warp and weft that no one can unravel.

So I give thanks for our deep coinherence
Inwoven in the web of Gods own grace,
Pulling us through the grave and gate of death.
I thank him for the truth behind appearance,
I thank him for his light in every face,
I thank him for you all, with every breath

Coinherence was a new word to me and upon looking it up I learned that it is a term coined by Inkling, Charles Williams in his theological writings. I'm sure I have not fully grasped the concept but I think it has something to do with our human relationships bearing the image of the Trinity since we are created in God's image. A beautiful thought, really,  though I need to spend more time with this to make sure I'm grasping William's meaning. You can listen to this sonnet at Malcolm Guite's site.

Those with whom I am most tightly interwoven  are still breathing, and for that I give thanks. I am sobered by the knowledge that not all can give thanks for even mere survival, and my heart weighs heavy with the knowledge of so much strife, suffering, and death taking place in our region right now. Current hardships and tragedies in Jordan, Syria, Gaza, and Israel have me ruminating on John Donne's Meditation XVII :

"any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind..."

--and more--

and find some connection to Guite's sentiments of coinherence and interweaving, though I believe his focus is on a more intimate fellowship than with all our fellow man.

Our three eldest children will give thanks in three separate states tomorrow (Idaho, Illinois, and New Jersey), while Dear Husband, Tayta, and I will celebrate with a crowd of sixty hailing from at least fourteen different countries. This will be an interesting Thanksgiving dinner! As I celebrate with these friends I will remember to look for the light in every face, and to thank him for them with every breath.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Cold, Protests, and a Felted Wool Project

The first cold weather of  fall  blew through Jordan this past weekend, bringing wind, rain, and renewed seasonal concerns of staying warm and dry in a land of expensive, inefficient heat and poorly insulated buildings. Once the temperatures drop, "I'm cold" is a regular mantra muttered, exclaimed, and yea, even whined by the womenfolk in our house. This year, however, I've informed Tatya that not a thought of complaint should cross our minds or a word,our lips as we remember the tens of thousands of Syrian refugees housed in unheated tents in a nearby U.N. refugee camp. From all accounts I've heard, their situation is miserable.

Jordan's beleaguered government announced steep fuel price hikes yesterday, due to necessary government subsidy cuts, sparking protests around the country. Fuels prices were raised 35%, with cooking and heating gas prices up 50%. Schools were released early, and roads were blocked and closed around Amman and other cities in the kingdom in an effort to curb further protests this evening. This is about so much more than fuel price hikes, but as Tayta put it, the price hikes were the lit match tossed onto the fuel. Forget about Arab Spring; Jordan's got a tough Arab winter to get through.

Dear Husband is toying with the idea of installing a "jiff" burning stove, a heating method  introduced to him by tent-dwelling Bedouins. Jiff is made of compressed remains of olive pressing waste. It burns clean, Dear Husband tells me. We'll see. I've not met one house dweller who has a jiff burning stove, but today I did read that the that Feynan Ecolodge is using jiff in their fireplaces. I'm warming to the idea.

Working with felted wool is a perfect cold weather hobby. I've put away my cottons for a season and my sewing corner is now all about wool. Last week I finished  my first wool throw. I began it last spring when I was inspired by Kris' great tutorial at Resweater.  I (obsessively) cut hexagons for about a week last spring, but I wasn't able to finish the throw until we returned to Jordan this fall. Each of the 50 shorter rows took about 15-20 minutes to zig-zag together, and points were easily matched as even felted wool has some give to it and can be gently coaxed to meet  where it should. It was the perfect project to use up small scraps of wool that I had from other projects, though I did cut up a couple of  sweaters just for this throw.

I predict this throw will see a lot of use this winter.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Flowering Jordan Calendar~November

Quotidian Fall

What has kept me from posting on my blog these past weeks? I'm not sure. Some autumnal puttering, maybe. I've adjusted to the subtle cadence of fall in Mafraq; until yesterday the temperatures remained summer-like, leaving only the changing afternoon sunlight to remind us that fall and then quickly, winter would be here.

We had a nice cloudburst last week, a brief deluge of precipitation strong enough to wash layers of summer dust from the leaves. Though it has been too warm to be out in the garden doing the fall work of planting and clean-up, I've admired the fresh greenery from the windows. It's funny, I hardly even notice the iron bars on my windows until I take a picture of them. I've a view of a lemon tree from one kitchen window, and and two olive trees from the other.

From my bedroom window, I enjoy a view of the pomegranate tree, preparing to drop its leaves, lemon trees, a few remaining flowers. The top of the tall pines which guard the garden wall provide refuge to many birds whose songs reveal their presence even as they hide themselves from sight in the amongst the needles and branches. The weather is cooling this weekend, so I plan to get all my fall bulbs in this week. Olives harvest will begin as well.

A plant nerd, I delight in discovering the botanical name of my garden plants. This is not always easy as garden plants sold in Jordan are not marked. I've had this plant in my garden for several years and always referred to it as a bee balm, as it looked like other bee balms I has seen in family Lamiaceae (mint family). Thanks to an Amman garden shop whose Facebook page I recently discovered, I now know that this drought resistant plant, native to South Africa and southern Africa, is  Leonotis leonurus, also know as Lion's Tail and Wild Dagga. Its orange blooms provide a bit of fall color, such as I am used to.

 Leonotis leonurus, Lion's Tail 

Tulbaghia violacea
My "lillies" are still blooming and it turns out that they are actually in in family Alliaceae, which explains why their leaves smell like garlic when I handle them. I've discovered that I can use them in salads, perhaps like chives, though I've not yet tried them.

Tayta's face continues to heal (11 weeks post-op here). The swelling is still subsiding, though at a slower pace than before. We hope to schedule her revision surgery this summer.

Lavender Nursery
Along with the bulbs I hope to plant a few more lavender bushes in my garden, and another Russian sage bush.

Dear Husband has been having knee problems this fall and had to give up his/our morning running routine. He purchased this new step machine in Amman last week as a substitute and we've all been trying out it. It seems effective and we hope it will be a good substitute for running, at least for the time being. Dear Husband moves it to the sun room, facing out into the garden, when he uses it so that he can at least have the sensation of being outside while he exercises. I joked with him that if we were in the States, we could probably buy something like this at a garage sale for a song as so many people sell exercise equipment at garage sales. (I noticed my reflection in the mirror in this image--not quite as artistic a portrayal of the artist as in van Eyck's Arnolfini Portrait, and completely unintended.) At least it is compact, only taking up about 1.5 square feet of floor space.

In the kitchen, we're enjoying  a new fall soup, Red Lentil Coconut Soup, and I've finally mastered the basic sourdough bread recipe, using a San Francisco Sourdough starter gifted to me by a friend. Sourdough bread from San Francisco is a fond food memory from my childhood and I have a particular association of sourdough bread and visits to Fisherman's Wharf.