Autumn 2013

Autumn 2013

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Basket of Apples

Hello, everybody, and welcome to the Apple Basket!
Autumn has arrived, featuring wind-driven rains interspersed with crisp sunlight, and a marked drop in temperature. It is time for sitting indoors, reading and knitting – and for the occasional bracing walk to feel the weather. It is time for scarves and woollen socks and gloves and mitts.

I went out picking apples yesterday (during a spot of sunshine) for a new batch of mashed apples; during August, we got a whole bunch of apples from my parents’ tree, and especially Victor became very fond of apple mash. So, when the supplies ran low, something had to be done. Around here are several apple trees that belong to no-one in particular, and I could just go and gather a basket full of apples to cook.
The process of preparing this treat is simple, if somewhat time-consuming, and the finished product sits nicely in the freezer until you want it, for a dessert, layer cake filling, or just with oatmeal.

Mashed apples
Step one: wash and peel apples.
Step two: slice apples and put them in a cooking pot.
Step three: add water, appx 250 ml, with juice of 1 lemon. This can conveniently be done at once, to minimise oxidation.
Step four: cook apples, with appx 80 grams of sugar (1 decilitre) per kilo of sliced apple. Stir and mash apples a bit, if they don’t go mushy by themselves.
Step five: cool and enjoy!

Easy, right? And you can stick a book in your ear – or a podcast – while doing the peeling & slicing.
I filled up my big pot with 2½ kilos of apples and still had quite a few left over from the basketful; so there is more apple mashing for me in the foreseeable future. Might as well stock up before winter.

Apart from the fruity frolics, I have been teaching my undergraduates; in one of my two classes are a couple of repeat offenders, who enjoy telling me what they learned last year and how it was done. So they need be shown – nicely, of course – that a different way of, say, explaining Latin grammar is not necessarily wrong. The language was there first, and all the rules of grammar are attempts to describe the language, not hard-and-fast rules like the laws of nature.
I’m hoping that at some point they will mature into appreciating that a different teacher, a different learner’s book, and a different grammar are an advantage to them, because they get a whole new experience and a chance to explore new facets of the models for language.
We’ll see.

The Knitting
I haven’t got nearly enough interesting knitting to report on this week; there has been a bit of sock knitting on a design that I hope to get into Defarge 3, and that, of course, is very interesting, but I can’t show you just yet.

And then some straight up – or rather, straight down – work on my Leaf cardigan.

This is the adult version of the Laura cardigan, made in black light fingering weight cotton on 2.5 mm needles, so it’s taking a while. I am currently on the stretch down from below the body-sleeve-divide towards the lace border, and it is merely back and forth in almost plain stocking stitch. But I am getting close to the lacy part – so next week, I should have a photo of something more exciting than this.
It feels like it’s taking forever, even though I know it isn’t; I’m feeling the reduction in knitting time due to work, and that, combined with slightly boring knitting, is making me a bit impatient.

I did get a good chunk done yesterday, though, while chatting; my friend Aviâja had the usual suspects over for her birthday celebration, so the five of us got a chance to catch up, which was lovely.
And now I can show you the last of my purchases from the fair last weekend, as it was a birthday present: lusciously soft worsted weight silk yarn from Karen Noe, named Sitara. It doesn’t appear in the Ravelry database, so I may have to go over and add it.
I even lured Aviâja over to the dark side and had her make a Rav profile – mwahahahaha!

The Books
As I have mentioned before, I am, intermittently, listening to A Tale for the Time Being by the Japanese-Canadian Ruth Ozeki, read by the author herself.
The story takes off with the Japanese-Canadian novelist Ruth finding on the beach near her home in British Columbia a washed-up freezer bag than turns out to contain, among other things, a diary written by a 16-year old Japanese girl, Naoko or Nao (no coincidence that it sounds like ‘now’).
Ruth is gripped by curiosity, starts reading the diary and tries to investigate the persons and events described or referred to in it; so the narrative is divided between Ruth (and her husband, Oliver) and Nao’s reflections in the diary.

Quite apart from the contents and language of the novel, which are fascinating for so many reasons, the reading itself is brilliant. The author of course knows her story, but not only that: she has separate voices for Ruth and for Nao, and her command of accents is impressive.
One example: Proust’s A la recherche du temps perdu plays a part in the tale; the Japanese teenager Nao butchers the title, pronouncing temps as [tamps], while Ruth has a marked Canadian English accent, but knows to not pronounce the ending of the word. At some point, Ruth enlists the help of a French speaker – and the French part of his dialogue is spoken in proper French, while his English is accented.
Similarly (okay, then, two examples), Nao’s great-grandmother Jiko speaks English with a distinct Japanese accent, when she doesn’t speak Japanese. And the Buddhist prayers are chanted, not just spoken.
So, all in all, the audio version of this book is highly recommendable – I believe that the reading aloud adds to the immediacy and richness of the story.

Speaking of reading aloud, the flock of sheep who make up the main characters in Three Bags Full by Leonie Swann, the September group read in the Ravelry group on Goodreads, love being read to. Their murdered shepherd, George – the finding of his dead body is what starts off the novel, so it is no spoiler – used to read to them, and a significant part of their knowledge of the human world comes from these books: the ‘Pamela’ novels (trashy romance), a detective story that was never finished, and a book about the diseases of sheep.
I greatly enjoyed this book – I always like seeing the world from a different perspective, and the way the sheep make up their own, internally coherent, explanations for everything they encounter, is brilliantly done.
A couple of intertextual references appear, nuggets for CraftLit listeners – among these a hugely fat, clever, cynical, grey ram named Fosco.
And once again: the reader of the Audible version, Hugh Lee, does a magnificent job.

Recently, I picked up on Amazon a QuickReads book, a novella by Conn Iggulden titled Quantum of Tweed. Iggulden is mainly known for historical novels, among these the Emperor series that is sitting neglected on my bookshelf; this is a bite-sized story of a middle-aged temporary career change from the sartorial to the mercenary. Fun and ironical, not too deep, but good enough.

That’s all, folks – short & sweet this time, but I will be back next week. Until then: have a great time, take care of yourselves and each other, and happy knitting!

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