Monday, October 31, 2016

Apple Pie and Patience and Metamorphosis -- Really! All in one Post!

Success! Or closer to, at least. And I thought you'd all like to be reassured that yes, she can bake an apple pie in a Bordeaux kitchen far from home.  Using a completely different recipe (butter-based!) than the lard-based pastry she's garnered praise for over the years. Without her marble rolling pin. Or any rolling pin, for that matter, other than a full bottle of wine (even better, with the weight, than the empty bottle she used last week. Better still that the white wine had been chilling a day in the fridge).


Of course, "she" is me, and it's still a very rustic pie, but that's by intention, rather than -- as in last week's effort -- due to a pastry that failed to cohere but was quite happy to adhere to the aluminium foil resorted to in the absence of parchment paper. We found that at the local grocery store -- Papier à Cuisson -- and it made the whole project so much more manageable that I think one more try (at least!) is in order. I'm thinking this time that toasted chopped hazelnuts sprinkled across the apples at that centre opening might make a pretty, tasty garnish, that an egg wash would deliver a more golden crust. And we loved the pie with a sharp brébis last night ("Apple Pie without some cheese is like a kiss without a squeeze" my dad always insisted), but I would also like a piece à la mode, so will be keeping an eye out for some vanilla ice cream. . .

Some of you, I apologise, will already have seen this on Instagram.  I just felt a strong need to redeem myself here as well. . . Kidding, yes, but I did think you were invested enough in my efforts that I should catch you up. The continuing saga of Mater's baking efforts. . . Oh, the drama!

More seriously, thank you so much for your reassurance and encouragement in response to my current slight impatience with my blog, as mentioned in Friday's post.  As I think about it now, I realise that I chose precisely the correct word when I typed "impatience," and perhaps the answer is as simple as taking away that prefix. I will admit that I've been fairly goal-oriented all my life, although my husband will tell you (and he'll probably roll his eyes) that it takes some prodding for me to admit achievements.

The first year of my retirement I seem to have filled with preparing our home for the market, then selling it, buying another, moving into an interim home for the summer, and then finally, just last month, moving into our new place.  And now I've launched us into an extended stay far from home, where we're taking language lessons and baking pies and traveling to Berlin and Paris and braving yoga classes and cycling 55 kilometres in a day. When we relax at the end of the day, eating our dinner in front of Netflix on my MacBook Air, we're "relaxing" with French TV.  I try to alternate an escape mystery novel with something more "worthwhile." I remind myself to add a page to my Illustrated Journal.
Another shopper at the local weekly outdoor market 

And honestly, everything I've listed above is something that brings me much pleasure. And I will get much pleasure, much satisfaction, when I eventually begin writing more posts that express something more of what I'm thinking, rather than simply what I'm seeing or experiencing. As much as I hugely appreciated your reassurances that what I'm posting these days is enough, I want, for my own self, to write the occasional more introspective post, to think out loud on the page.

But when I go back and read that word "impatience," I somehow trigger the memories of a few friends who have reminded me that major moves are, well, major. That perhaps I could be patient (a-ha!) with myself.

So I'm going to relax a bit, since I clearly already have your permission and understanding, and fill posts with photos I want to share.  Every once in a while, I'll follow an urge and write a more (too?) introspective post such as this one is shaping up to be. And eventually, perhaps, the stuttering attempts will begin to cohere, and I'll see a path I want to follow. For now, perhaps, it's okay just to feel a bit lost. I really must get Rebecca Solnit's A Field Guide to Getting Lost out of the library again, as soon as I get back, but meanwhile,  I've been waiting for ages (well, months, anyway) to share with you this quotation from Jhumpa Lahiri's In Other Words (about which, I wrote earlier)
Lahiri says (as translated by Ann Goldstein), of the process of changing,
One could say that the mechanism of metamorphosis is the only element of life that never changes. The journey of every individual, every country, every historical epoch, of the entire universe and all it contains, is nothing but a series of changes, sometimes subtle, sometimes deep, without which we would stand still. The moments of transition, in which something changes, constitute the backbone of all of us. Whether they are a salvation or a loss, they are the moments that we tend to remember. They give a structure to our existence. All the rest is oblivion.
I'm not convinced Lahiri is right in this, at least not in her dismissal of "all the rest." Certainly, she's justifying a preoccupation with her own huge transition to speaking, then writing, exclusively in Italian. But when I read this passage several months ago, I found it a powerful recognition of the metamorphosis I felt/feel myself going through recently: aging more noticeably, retiring, moving to the city.

And I'm remembering that for many creatures undergoing metamorphosis, some period of patience is required, of stillness.  Perhaps part of this, for me, might just be looking, walking, taking photos, sharing them. . . .

(I have to laugh, because while one part of me writes this post ending, so zen, right? so reasonable, even approaching some kind of wisdom. . . another part is jumping up and down to catch the writer's attention. This Other Self is making a list and insisting that I "tell them you're planning a post about the Ten Weeks, One Carry-On project, with all those outfit photos, okay?" and "are you going to tell them you have those photos of the really cool murals all up the sides of that vacant building?" and "I thought you were going to write a post about." So my patience is obviously a work in progress. . . .)

Two bloggers currently thinking about the Metamorphosis that arrives with our 60s are very much worth reading. Lisa's questions about life post-60 evoke a range of rich responses from readers (Whoa! Alliteration) and Elizabeth has written another post in her marvellous series about The Year of Being Sixty-Two. Before you rush off to read those, I'd welcome any comments you care to leave here. If none, that's fine as well, and let me wish you all a Happy Hallowe'en (if ever a time to think Metamorphosis. . . )






19 comments:

  1. I agree with you in not dismissing the inbetween times. Yes, life is structured by the big changes , but those pauses between are the mellow centres of our lives . For me certainly times to be remembered and not dismissed. I think if we were only focussed on those changes we wouldn't enjoy and appreciate the middle bits. Perhaps time to slow down and smell the roses as they say! Happy Halloween to you :) Barbara xx

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    1. And to you as well, Barbara -- Halloween was almost a non-event here, especially in comparison to what we're used to. Couldn't help but miss all our little ones who were out in costumes trick-or-treating back home.

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  2. Keep writing, we'll keep reading. Meanwhile, I think you might like this: I am taken with the work of Mr Silk. http://spitalfieldslife.com/2016/10/31/henry-silks-east-end-still-lifes/

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    1. Splendid! Thanks for that link -- interesting to see the quotidian domestic honoured and burnished by a male artist.

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  3. Congratulations on the pie! I rushed off to read the other blogs before commenting. I have now been retired 5 years and I will achieve OAP status in January so I have had a couple more years to experience the 60's. I've noticed that my periods of "at home time" are growing longer. I was travelling for more than half the year during my first two years. I wrote many more blogs during those years because retirement, loss of a parent and physical ageing were new considerations to me. As I grow older, I realize that it is unlikely my daughter will marry (no grandkids), and that my husband will always suffer from a mood disorder. Inevitably, the pauses will grow longer as we age. I'm not sure if life "flattens out" when we grow older or if physical limitations and the loss of partners/friends become the significant transitions of our 70's and 80's. As for me, at this point of my life, I am laying a framework of community (bookclubs, "modified" gardening, church and other local activities) to sustain me through the years to come. Since the writers' festival, I've been listening to old Writers and Company podcasts and I was interested in Anne Tyler's comments on ageing.
    Happy Hallowe'en!

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    1. I've been quite intrigued, watching you making the most of the space retirement affords -- you seem to have such a good attitude, and you wisely fit in a considerable amount of travel early on. I would imagine you'll continue to travel, perhaps less often and for shorter periods, for the next few years at least, but how clever of you to be laying a framework of community right now and building in so much to nurture your intellectual life.

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  4. The pie looks delicious :-)
    Frances,to have a full bottle of wine is always better than the empty one,no matter what the circumstances :-)
    Happy Hallowe'en!
    Dottoressa

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    1. Dottoressa, that's almost worthy of being cross-stitched and framed! ;-) It's true, a Full Bottle of Wine is a very good thing!

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  5. Of course Lahiri is right. She is so right, in fact, that what she says is almost trivial. Constant metamorphosis is the essence of life itself, isn’t it? (Including “invasive species”…) But at the same time it is so easy to forget it and to get used to the way things are. So it is a good thing to be reminded that “things have to change in order to remain the same”, as Tomasi di Lampedusa says.
    You are constantly feeding my curiosity about Solnit’s book on Getting Lost, but unfortunately it is not listed in any library in my home town nor on secondhand book sites. So I settled for “Wanderlust” instead, which is now waiting its turn on my bedside table. One chapter is headed “The Mind at Three Miles an Hour”. Isn’t that intriguing?
    It never, ever occurred to me to have cheese with an apple pie, but now I cannot understand how that was possible. It seems such an obvious combination.

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    1. Yes, the quotation is very close to being a Truism, but for all that, it did resonate with me, feeling shaken just a bit too much by so many changes -- retirement and moving with the domino-effect of changes those bring.
      I had Wanderlust out of the library, but had to turn it back in -- not sure what I was thinking in my reading ambitions, but it turns out you need time to read and it's hard to manage ten books at once! ;-)
      Cheese and apple pie -- you will become a convert!

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  6. Well done on the pie, lookimg good. You have reminded me of a cake I used to ale (thinking here about your remarks regarding apple pie and cheese). This cake was made with pil, and lots and lots of sliced apples, not a lot of flour. It also had brazil nuts in it, which I only ever chopped minimally. In the middle of the cake was a layer of wersch cheese, like Caerphilly. It was a fantasric cake, I must see if I can resurect the recipe. The patience/impatience conundrum is eternally fascinating, the passage and use of time, and our judgements about the wisdom of activities weighed against mortality. Easy to say 'take your time, adjust at leisure, no rush' but terribly hard to do if you are someone with a very active, enquiring mind, as you seem to be Frances. X

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    1. Oh my goodness, that sounds like a brilliant combination -- Perhaps you'll post process, recipe, and product should you find it. . .
      And thank you, it is hard not to want to do more in the time we have left -- you've got right at the conundrum. Yet again, it's all about the balance, I suppose...

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  7. Ok so a thousand typos in my comment I just realised- 'a cake I used to make', 'made with oil' 'fantastic cake' x

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  8. I am happy to read your introspective posts, your narrative posts, your mostly pictures posts... whatever. Here's to metamorphosis. I remember the study I read about in Kate Bollick's book Spinster, about how those people who see their "future selves" in a positive light are better able to weather whatever life throws at them. I loved that bit. Here's to travel and learning another language and full (and then empty) bottles of wine drunk by our "future selves." :)

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    1. Yes! This is a good reminder, and thank you. I loved it as well. . . Raising a glass to "future selves" -- I can do that! ;-)

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  9. Sorry, but I just try to understand what's the motivation behind posting the picture of a cake that has nothing to be proud of? Madame Katherine

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    1. Ah, but there's much for me to be proud of here. I tried something, and when it didn't turn out as well as I'd hoped, I tried it again, with more success. And there was more than that as well: it tasted very good and so pleased my husband and myself, despite having been made in an unfamiliar kitchen far from home. It's a pie, by the way, and not a cake, although it's perhaps not the pie you're used to.
      So, does that help you understand any better? J'espère que oui!

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  10. Thank you Frances. The comments on that post are staying with me like good friends in times of need. I bet that pie tasted great. The proof is in the eating.

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I'd love to hear your response to my post. Agree, disagree, even go off on a tangent, I love to know you're out there, readers. Let's chat, shall we? I apologize, though, for the temporary necessity of the Word Verification -- spam comments have been tiresomely numerous lately, and I'm hoping to break that pattern.

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