Thursday, August 29, 2013


Once more I’ve left a long-ish gap between posts. It’s strange the rhythm of writing and communication of ideas in general. Sometimes I feel rich with all that I want to explore in writing. Other times my concentration gets scattered by other projects. That’s what has happened this week, in part. I have been assigned one small entry in what will be a large comprehensive volume from the Oxford University Press in the US called The Oxford Companion to Sweets. Like everyone else who is involved in writing one or more entries, as I imagine it, I’m finding it slow-going, and frustrating too, for my word limit is under 1000 words, and in that I am supposed to talk about Southeast Asian sweets.

I’m not here to rant about that, just trying to let you know what I have been cluttered with. I’ve now got a good draft written. It is always interesting to be forced into taking a fresh perspective on a region or a cuisine. In writing this I’ve had to characterise the general approach to sweets and also to their evolution. Influences include of course trade, colonisation, conquest, immigration, etc. But all I can do is skim over it all, while tryig to give specifics about sweets in each of the countries. It’s a bit of a grind. And of course not paid, I mean, the pay is under $50…

So why do it? Well, I like a challenge, and I am of course learning as I think through it all and do research.

But I’ll be glad when it’s done. My deadline, the one I’m setting for myself, is the end of this week, so that the Labour Day weekend can be clear of deadlines and I can start look forward to the longhouse event put on by Molly O’Neill on September 6 to 8 in Renselaarville, and after that the kneadingconferencewest in the Skagit Valley in northern Washington state (September 12-14). It’s time to think about packing and cooler weather, and planning out the baking schedule for the Kneading Conference.

In the meantime I have been waiting to hear about my visa for a trip to Iran in October. I heard from the agency ten days ago that they expected to get word on my application by the middle of last week. And then finally two days ago I heard it was approved. Yes!! The deal is that with the visa application is approved in principle, I fly to Istanbul, hand my passport in to the Iranian consulate, and pick it up three working days later. And from there I can fly directly to Iran, a short-ish hop.

I have now booked flights to Istanbul on Turkish Airlines and have five days booked at a centrally located air bnb in Istanbul. So pleasing to have a few things sorted out.

I really hope this Iran trip can work, and not get derailed. The massive sabre-rattling that is going on in the west about Syria can only be terrifying to ordinary people trying to live their lives in Iraqi Kurdistan, Syria, Iran, and southern Turkey. They become statistics, or numbers, in the headlines, rather than individuals with culture, education, humanity. And of course Iran has now become a kind of unnuanced idea of threat to the US and I am sad to say to Canada too.

In the meantime, I have found advice on how to deal with clothing requirements in Iran. I need one or two manteau, a coat-length long-sleeved garment. And I need some headscarves and long pants and comfortable shoes. It all seems very manageable.

And so like any other trip or project, this one breaks down into the practical details and preparation, and vast imaginings and endless reading…  

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