Thursday, December 24, 2009

We Rock!

Or at least our party did!  We had a blast, so many of our friends came.  There was good food (I love potluck) and music, as well as liberal drinking, all the makings for a merry time.  Our different groups of friends got along really well and started to make friends with each other.  The party became standing room only, and was generally  fantastic.  Unfortunately we were so busy hosting we forgot to use our camera.  Hopefully some of our friends took pictures and I will share those. 

The party was really great because it made it feel like Christmas.  It has been a little difficult for me, as this is my first Christmas away from my family.  The Christmas party was great for two reasons. First it kept me busy, second it was a blast and brought the “feeling” of Christmas.

I have been trying to focus on creating new holiday traditions rather than grieve for the old ones I can not participate in this year due to geography.  For Christmas Eve we went to a Symphony Concert which was really fun.  The music was lovely and it was something to really make the evening feel special. Tomorrow Bulent’s whole family is coming over for dinner.  It will have to be buffet style to accommodate everyone.  While the preparations for hosting  large party then a large dinner party so close together are challenging, it is worth it.  They have been so inclusive of me in their holiday traditions, I wanted to reciprocate and involve them in mine.  Plus it feels more like a holiday when your house is full of people.  Also when there is lots of wine—that makes it holiday-ish too.   Yes, I am Irish.  Can you tell?

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Roasted Chestnuts and Winter Nights

Last night we went to a popular nightlife street in Ankara.  Not a clubbing street, but lots of pubs and cafes.  Mandiras and restaurants.  Live music poured out of most cafes.  We walked the whole length of the street, peeking in stores, watching people.  All along the street there are men with carts selling roasted chestnuts.  So wonderful!  They are cheery spots of of light against the dark street.  The carts are heated by wood, a little stove at the bottom, a metal sheet with holes  letting the warmth and smoke heat the chestnuts.  The nuts were warm and smoky, just delicious.  We walked the rest of the street with out treat until we found a cafe with live blues. After music and coffee we wet out into the blustery and cold night.  It is finally starting to feel like winter. 

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Parties Are Supposed To Be Fun!

Unless you are planning them.  So this is to be my first big party, ever.  I have hosted large dinner parties, but not full scale bashes.  I am slightly nervous about it.  Part of it is that I don't know everyone will fit in the apartment, also I am hoping that many people will come.  It is also less common (meaning not at all) to use disposable plates or cups.   Which is great for the environment, but not great for me.  We only have the dishes that my school provided with the apartment.  That means I have two dinner plates, four dessert plates, three soup bowls ( I already broke the 4th) and two wine glasses.  Unless I buy some disposable plates and cups, the people will just have to look at the drinks, or swig out of the bottle.  Which could be fun. 

I have brought the American tradition of potluck to the party aka I can’t afford to feed and liquor forty people.  I will be attempting to make eggnog, cookies and mulled wine(Thanks Barbara) as base items on the buffet. Perhaps their will even be some pizza on the horizon.  Please suggest easy to make apps and desserts or magical hosting tips!   

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Christmas is Coming!

We have a Christmas tree, it is decorated, there are lights.  It is official.  I am grown up-ish.  The tree may be fake and only four feet tall, but is is cheery. 

I am also holding a Holiday party.  There will be wine and food, and if I can make it—Eggnog. 

Right now Ankara is cold and dreary and rainy.  I don’t mind the cold so much, but I wish the rain would switch over to snow.  Then the world would be ready for Santa, because I know I am!

NovDec 209 028

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Kurban Bayram…Way Late

Last week was Kurban Bayram or Eid al-Adha, the second religious holiday after Ramadan.  It is a festival of sacrifice, and charity.  Animals, usually sheep and cows, are sacrificed to represent Abraham's willingness to sacrifice his son.  After the sacrifice a certain percentage of the meat is donated to the poor.  The rest is divided among the family.  We received some very fresh lamb that day.

The other practices of Bayram are family visits and memorial visits.  Usually the first or second day of Bayram the family visits the cemetery and pays respect to their dead.  We (the entire extended) visited the cemetery where Bulent’s grandfather.  The cemetery in Ankara is huge.  There are only two in a city with a population of over four million.  The monuments stretch as far as the eye can see.

The visits start out at the oldest relatives home, and progress down the line.  First his grandmother’s home, then his mother’s, then his Aunt’s and his Uncle’s, then our home.  We visited two homes a day, until we reached ours.  At the visits tea and snacks are served, usually one salty and one sweet.  You can not refuse.  So Bayram becomes a time of visiting and eating, and eating and visiting.  

Bayram also coincided with Thanksgiving, which was great.   I only had to work half a day on Thanksgiving and have Friday and Monday off.  We had a great Thanksgiving with friends with all the trimmings.

NovDec 209 005 

Yay for Turkey and stuffing!

Friday, December 4, 2009

Holiday then Bash

Last week was the Kurban Bayram, the Islamic holiday of sacrifice.  I will give details later but I am recovering.  We had a half day of work on Thursday which was great because it coincided with Thanksgiving, then Friday and Monday off.  A short week of work really, but it has really smacked me around. I have not been sleeping well, just waking up in the middle of the the night.  I keep thinking it is time to get up and then it is 2am.  That is the problem about going to work when it is still dark.

The two days off from school apparently gave my students rule amnesia and they have been particularly challenging.  There is also an exam coming up and I am trying to stuff their heads full of knowledge, and they would rather play.  It has made for a stressful week.  Tomorrow I have a conference to go to, so no sleeping in.  However I am looking forward to it, and as I am a participant not a leader I am not expecting it to be a difficult day.  It is weeks like this which make me am glad I love teaching.  Actually liking what I do gives me more patience.

More will be forthcoming about the Kurban Bayram as soon as I am not sleep deprived.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Technological Thanksgiving

I had a lovely Thanksgiving meal tonight.  Bulent and I were invited to a friends, where there was great food, good conversation and good friends. 

After I came home I got a call from my parents on Skype.  They had brought their laptop to Thanksgiving dinner at my cousin’s house.  They turned Skype on and then passed me around.  I spoke with my Nana, my parents, my cousins and aunts and uncles.  I spoke to my brother and his random friend who he brought to dinner. 

It was fabulous.  I got to see and talk to everyone and feel that even though I am over 5000 miles and 7 time zones away.

Today I am thankful for family, for their love and support, for friends and this amazing adventure I am on.

My Thanksgiving Tradition

I have hosted Thanksgiving for the last three years. This year is my first year that I am not hosting.  Because I lived in San Diego and my whole family lives on the East Coast Thanksgivings usually included close friends rather than family. To that effect I began to create my own Thanksgiving traditions. I will share with you the most fun: The Apple Cider Martini.

Delicious, simple, and makes Thanksgiving a party!

Apple Cider Martini

2 parts Apple Cider

1 part Vodka

Place vodka and cider in martini shaker with several ice cubes and shake well.

Strain ice out and pour into martini glasses with cinnamon-sugar rim.

If you cannot obtain apple cider, "Simply Apple" juice works well as a substitute.

Cinnamon Sugar Rim

Mix equal amounts cinnamon and sugar. Pour onto plate. Use a lemon slice to moisten rim of martini glass. Dip rim in cinnamon and sugar so that the rim is evenly covered.

Warning: Serve these only after you have finished cooking. I cannot recommend using the stove or handling hot dishes while drinking these tasty martinis. Trust me. Please.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Life as it is …

Life is progressing here in Turkey.  I finally feel as if we are settling in.  We have bought a car. We have recovered from H1N1.  Life is good. 

Last night to celebrate our auto purchase we went out to an Asian restaurant for dinner.  Turkey is still new to ethnic food, and sometimes restaurants which serve such food can be hit or miss.  Mostly miss.  However, we have been to this particular restaurant before and it is ALWAYS good.  Not only is the food fantastic but the service is wonderful.  The assistant manager recognized us when we came in, so we received amazing service, such as complimentary jasmine tea and extra tidbits.  But the kicker is the left-overs. 

I ordered Pad Thai with Shrimp (that is the other lovely thing about this restaurant-they have Chinese, Japanese and Thai food).  It was a large serving, but I was starving.  I ate about 2/3rds but didn’t want to stuff myself.  I asked them to pack up what was left over, it wasn’t a meal but it would be a nice snack.  A little later the assistant manager came over with the package.  He apologized, they had thrown out my leftovers by accident.  So he had them cook me a WHOLE new order, and that was what he was sending home.  He was apologizing because it took longer. 

How wonderful is that!  It is pretty typical that in the service industry people go out of their way to be helpful and pleasant.  That is one difference between the US and Turkey.  People are proud of the establishment they work in, from the busboy to the waiters.  They consider the restaurant their territory and extend you, their guests, every hospitality they can.  They couldn’t be nicer, even if you were a guest in their own home.  This changes the experience in a restaurant significantly.   I had a lovely lunch of Pad Thai today, and very much appreciated the manager’s kindness. 

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The Day I Begged a 14 Year Old for MONEY

Seriously self-loathing.  Right. Now. 

So I have no money.  I have money but I don’t *have* money.  I have a bank account, I have a salary, hell… I got a bonus for Turkish Teachers’ Day.  But I still don’t have a bankcard.  I have no way of getting easy cash. 

Tonight, someone was supposed to come and fix my washer.  But at 7 pm I figured they weren’t coming and when Bulent left to meet friends it didn’t occur to me to hit him up for cash for the maintenance man.   So when maintenance men did come at 8pm, I had no money.  Not to mention I was in my pajamas.  So he “fixes” the washer,** and then reasonably asked for 20 Lira.  Well, I had 5 Lira, in coins.   I frantically called my friend who lives in the building, to see if she would loan me money.  She wasn’t home.  Her husband said he would loan me the money and then asked me who I was.  I was so flustered that when I called I forgot to identify myself.  So in my PJs I took the elevator 8 flights and borrowed money from my friend’s son because his father only had 10 Lira.  When I knocked, behind the door I heard the Velcro on his wallet rasp, and I died a little inside.  I thanked he profusely and ripped the money out of his hand and took the elevator ride of shame down to my floor where the confused maintenance men were waiting outside my apartment.  I gave them that, and a tip (in coin,) and stumbled into my apartment to wither in the agony of shame.   

I did look for an ATM when I walked the dog later, but there were none.   And so, back to the original plan, when Bulent gets home I will hit him up for 20 so I can give the teenager back his bus money. 


**The washer was not broken.  We had been putting soap in the wrong slot. In our defense there are three slots and no labels.  So he explained what spaces to put the soap and the fabric softener, and I pretended I wasn’t an idiot.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

How Lazy Can I Be?

Pretty lazy actually.  Tonight I had McDonalds delivered to my door.  They do that here.  All the fast food places deliver.  They have little mopeds weaving their way all around the city delivering Big Macs and Whoppers to the lazy and hungry.  You should see these deliver guys.  They drive on side walks, against traffic on one ways.  They cut across 4 lanes of traffic only to lift tri bike over the median and go the other way.  The food’s travels serve only to make it tastier.  That and they walk it right to your door. 

Let me explain lest you think me  a total sloth.  I have lost 2 kilos with the flu.  That is about 4 pounds.  Bulent’s mother was very kind and brought over food, however, it is very flavorful. Turkish food tends to have quite a bit of spice, not spicy, but very flavorful.  The smell of such food has done a number on my stomach over the last week.  However, the doctor chastised me and ordered me to eat protein, and definitely not the plain yogurt I had been living on for a week.  Hence the McDs.   A nice big hamburger patty that has no spices, and only a medium about of taste.  Bonus, since I did not have to cook it my kitchen does not smell like meat and won’t make me want to throw up every time I walk by. 

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

My Excuse for Not Blogging

I have not been writing lately.  As usual I have an excuse.  I have been sick.  I developed a fever in Antalya which morphed into nightly fevers and a nasty cough.  Some of the kids in the first row of my classes started donning masks.  Seriously.  The doctor prescribed two days of rest, so I do not have to get up and function normally tomorrow.  This made me have tears of gladness, I have lost m voice on and off for the past two weeks and alternate between wounding like a person on their deathbed and someone who has smoked unfiltered cigarettes for 50 years (neither is ideal.)  Do you know how children act when you can not raise your voice?  Soft whispers do not encourage discipline. 

I will be fine in a day or two, and I always like to look on the positive side.  I have not wanted to eat alot, and mostly have been eating yogurt, so I lost a couple of pounds.  I also have been coughing so much that I am developing a 6 pack. It helps distract me from the feeling my muscles are ripping apart. That is called an Ouchie Booboo.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Swine Flu Vacation

Last week school was cancelled in Ankara due to Swine Flu precautions.  So we went to Antalya in southern Turkey on the coast of the Mediterranean.  We had a fantastic time, though I did come down with a fever—though not Swine Flu.Antalya

The Antalya coast line.  Can you see the Taurus mountains in back?  They are so gorgeous, craggy and sharp.  They loom over the coast and are very visually interesting against the blue sea.


We also visited Kaleiçi, an area in Antalya, which has charming cobblestone streets and Ottoman houses. It is an historical district, absolutely adorable and picturesque.  There were museums and shops and boutique hotels galore.


I found a great shop with handmade goods, tablecloths, blankets, and wool knit items.  I bought a couple of sock booties.  As for authenticity, I haven’t worn them yet because they still smell faintly of sheep. 

Hadrian’s Gate runs through Kaleiçi. It was built in 130 AD when the Emperor Hadrian visited the city.  They built the clear bridge over the original entrance.  It really is amazing.  Underneath you can se the deep ridges worn into the stone from carts going in and out of the city or thousands of years.

067 It is really neat to see  how the city sprung up and wrapped itself around the old Roman ruins.


We were also there for Turkey’s Republic day.  However, that deserves a post all on its own, which is forthcoming.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Back to School…Sorta

So last week was my first week of teaching after not working since February.  The week went really well, and I was excited to be back.  The school is great, the colleagues are wonderful, the kids All in all a great workplace.  This afternoon I was preparing for the second week of classes, writing my lesson plans, preparing dinner for Monday, planning to go to bed early and then all of a sudden I wasn’t.  I have next week off.  

Swine Flu.  I had heard some students a nearby college had been diagnosed with swine flu.  There was a death over the weekend due to the flu.  All elementary and secondary institutions have been closed for disinfection.  So I worked one week, and now have a paid vacation.  I do not mean to sound cavalier about the flu, but a week off is a week off.

So we are driving to Antalya to see Bulent’s sister.  Antalya is a city right on the Mediterranean.  Right now they are still enjoying beach weather, about 75 or 80.  A nice break from the frigid 60-65 and sunny we are having in Ankara now. 

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

RIP:Dog Watching

Butterfinger, our Norwich Terrier, used to sit on the window sill to watch the dogs and passersby.  She loved it.  Sometimes she barked, but mostly she just made us feel guilty enough to take her for another walk.


From now on there will be no more dog watching for her.  We have moved and our new apartment does not have a good “viewing” ledge.  Butterfinger will just have do make do with frequent walks and oodles of space to make up for her window sill. 

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Starting Work a Month Late

My Work Permit finally came.  It was supposed to be processed sometime in early September.  It was supposed to be ready *next week* for about five weeks.  Well, I have it now.  We moved into our apartment provided by the school last night.  I am excited, it is quite large, has two large balconies, a large kitchen and TWO Bathrooms.  TWO Bathrooms!  It is also closer to downtown.  Where we were living was, great. The apartment was beautiful and only about 10 minutes from my school, but it was 20 km from downtown.  So Bulent’s commute to downtown would be long, expensive and frustrating.  But this new place is equidistant to downtown and my work.  There is also the added benefit of living in the same building as the other foreign teachers, aka neighbors I can talk to, and invite over.  My former neighbors were very friendly and inviting, however they did not speak English.  One of my old neighbors invited me over for tea several times, and it was very awkward.  We would talk in baby Turkish, and body language until she got frustrated and called her son in Istanbul and had him translate on the cell phone.  That poor man, he is patient but really, there is a limit to which I will subject strangers to inane small talk—and that is it.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Do We Do Anything But Eat? Rarely.

The other day I spent the afternoon in Kızılay, in downtown Ankara.  Kızılay is awesome.  It has open air bars and cafes, street vendors, live music, and a general pazar like atmosphere.  I was super hungry after walking around and shopping all afternoon so I treated myself to a balik ekmek, or a fish sandwich.  I resisted the fried fish and instead got grilled mackerel.  It was loaded up with onions, lettuce and parsley, with a lemon squeezed on top.  It was super!  Sitting on a stool, out in Kızılay, sharing a table with absolute strangers.  A great day.  Later, Bulent met me in Kızılay and we had some dessert.


I chose a pie, which was filled with chestnuts, grated carrots and raisins.  It was not too sweet, and the flavor and texture of the chestnuts were just fabulous.  I was careful to make sure the dessert did not contain hazelnuts or walnuts, I made sure the vendor knew I was allergic (so that he would take it seriously.)  And he did.  Bulent ordered cake which contained walnuts.  Before it was delivered to the table the waiter rushed over to our table to make sure Bulent did not let me eat any of his.


Bulent chose a chocolate cake, loaded with walnuts and a little ice cream on top. He said it was very tasty, and I took his word on that.


I promise soon I will post about something other than food. Or food and something else.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Fall Foliage

It is fall in Ankara.  The days are warm, the nights are cool.  The weather is lovely.  The leaves are starting to change-sort of.  I think it is because it is not quite cold enough that the leaves are changing color patchily. The colors are not particularly vibrant.  But after living in California for three years, a little yellow on the trees and leaves on the ground feels like autumn to me. 

However, my conception of autumn and foliage has been forever ruined by the standard.  Nothing can ever come close.   Seriously.  My parents have ruined me for fall anywhere other than New Hampshire. 


In the fall our home is surrounded by brightly colored trees.  In front of our home is a pond, and when the light is right the trees across the pond reflect on the water and it looks like they might catch on fire. 

pondThere really is no competition.  As lovely as every place I have lived and visited, truly nothing compares to the gorgeousness of the New Hampshire woods.  Sure the power goes out occasionally.  Yes, your cheeks might feel like they will freeze off in the winter.  Driving home can be a death defying act on the narrow, dirt, ice covered roads.  But…


Really.  There is no comparison.


See this photo?


I receive photos very similar but very different several times a week.  This is the view off the front porch at sunrise.  My mother sends me sunrise photos from home about three times a week.  They are my favorite emails to find in my inbox.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Finally, we did it!

Engagement photos…What were you thinking?

Bulent and I were engaged in February, right before we left for Turkey.  He waited until we were in NH, in order to ask my parent’s permission.   Since we got engaged I have been wanting to get some “Engagement Photos.”  I know it sounds corny, but professional photos just look so good.  I wanted photos together at an occasion other than a wedding where we could be ourselves, and hopefully wear jeans.  I wanted these photos to be representative of our feelings.  I also wanted to be able to look back, when saggy and wrinkled and think “Damn we looked good!” 

We are always thinking we need to lose weight, exercise more, we could look better, etc.   However, I bet in thirty years we will all think that our younger selves looked just fine, and we will wish that we could look like that again. 


Friends and Family, leave a comment if you want me to email you the rest of the photos.


Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Food Adventures: Adana Kebab

The other day we went out to lunch with Bulent’s father.  He is from the city of Adana where they make  “Adana Kebab,” it is a specific style of kebab.  The place we went is the only place he will eat Adana Kebab in Ankara.  It is a small place where the owner and waiters boss you around.  We ordered a small portion of çopşiş…


But they said “No.”  You have to have kebab too. They brought out Adana Kebab with grilled garlic, tomatoes, and peppers.  It was accompanied by Shepherd's Salad, and Esme.


Also, with fresh arugula, parsley, yogurt, and onion salad.


All of this was served with fresh lavash bread, I mean FRESH.  They would put it in the oven right before they served it.  We love this place, but try not to come too often, because there is so much food.  We usually end up waddling away.  I might have waddled that day, but it was worth it.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Recent Food Adventures

Bulent and I have gone out a few times and this is one of our favorite places.  We usually split a lahmacun and a doner durum wrap with sauce and onions in it. 

Food 001 

The durum doner wrap usually comes with four pieces.  One had already been eaten before I was able to get the camera out.

Food 008

A close up of the wrap, saucy, onion-y, meaty goodness.

Food 011

Next up…Lady Thigh Meatballs—tasty!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Summer's End

Fall is creeping in.  I can feel it in the crisp nights and the sunny days.  At one point in my life I thought Fall would no longer feel like the start of the year.  I thought as I finished school and entered the workforce there would be a separation.  And then I became a teacher, and autumn is forever linked with the smell of new paper and the start of the year. 

Maybe that is why I love Fall.  It is a hopeful time, new students, new schedule and a bright new slate.   I also adore the weather of Fall.  The brightness of the air as the coolness washes over the land, the change of the leaves.  There is something special about waking up and seeing frosted grass, knowing that now the  blades of grass are like green icicles, fragile and dagger like, but as soon as the sun hits it they will be back, fresh, slightly wilted but still tickly beneath bare feet. 

For 3 years I missed Fall.  It does not exist in Southern California.  It skips from summer to winter like a scratch on a CD, one moment you are in your bathing suit on the beach, the next it is cool and you have to wear a sweater--frigid I know.   Here in Turkey it is unfamiliar, yet still the same.  Fall is here, like an old friend in a new country.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Osseous Gluteus Maximititus

I have a condition.  It is not life threatening but can be painful.  I have always had this condition, however, recently it has been exacerbated.  I have lost about ten pounds since I moved to Turkey.  I think it is because I am eating less processed food, and walking more.  Anyway, this loss has intensified a previous condition--Osseous Gluteus Maximititus.  The other term for this condition would be “Bony Butt” syndrome.   Many mothers are chronic sufferers of severe pain due to this condition.  It occurs when an individual sits on your lap and their (watch out scientific terms ahead) “bony butts” dig into your thighs.  Ouch.   Bulent recently has been complaining about this terrible condition. 

012  This is his face when I sit on his lap.  He says my behind is more bony than usual.  Also my elbows—(when I dig them into his ribs when he is sleeping.)  The only way to save oneself from this discomfort is to abstain—from lap sitting.  Or gain weight.  I guess I will just have to sit next to him instead of on him.  Though I would like some chocolate cookies.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Fish Anyone?

Bulent and I were walking to brunch this weekend.  What I like about walking is that in the city there are so many shops to ogle.  Clothes, shoes, cheese, olives… The shops are crowded and cheery.  Everything is mixed together.   The exception it the Balikci’s shop.  That is the fishmonger.  The shop is usually set away a little because it smells…fishy.  Well, Saturday, as we were walking we noticed that the fish shop was more pungent than usual.  As we reached the shop, we found out why.

005 That would be the fishmonger washing blood off a shark with a hose.  I had to move back after taking this photo to avoid getting fish blood sprayed on me.  Thankfully they did not butcher it as I walked by.  However, I think they waited for a while.  Because when I walked back from brunch, I passed this.


Cheap Advertising.

Shark steaks anyone?

Saturday, September 26, 2009

The Holy Trinity

Sept 013

Frosty cold beer, Kokoreç and Midye Tava sandwiches. These were mine. In my defense the midye tava (mussel) sandwich was 1/4 size and the Kokoreç was a 1/2 size.

Sept 010

Check out the full size sandwich in his hand! Massive. We had just worked out for an hour and a half—so clearly wanted to replace those calories as soon as possible.

Sept 014 Look at that smile. So Happy. Lamb intestines, beer and fried shellfish. It’s like I found God, in the holy trinity. My holy trinity. And I did.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Iyi Bayramlar!

Happy Bayram! Last month was Ramazan, a month where practicing Muslims fast from sunup to sundown as one of the pillars of Islam. During this time people who are observing Ramazan pray more and ask for forgiveness for past sins.

We are not religious but we tried not to eat in public during Ramazan. We were aware that many people around us were fasting, and felt uncomfortable eating in front of people who were not able to eat or drink all day.

Today is the last day of Şeker Bayram. It is three day holiday that falls on the first day after Ramazan. The fasting had ended and now people get together—and eat. People dress up and visit family members, usually the households of older or elderly family members. Tea or Turkish coffee is served along with cookies and borek. The name of the festival is actually Seker Bayram or “Sugar Bayram” Candy is usually handed out to children and passed around at the family visits. The Next Bayram is the 3rd week in November is Kurban Bayram or “Sacrifice Bayram.” More on that Bayram later.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Obscenely Cute

I know….no one needs cute animal posts, but I can’t help myself. In Turkey in most areas (except extremely urban areas) there are wild dogs. Wild dogs. They are not coyotes, or wolves, but feral dogs. The reason being that Turkey does not have an SPCA. There are no animal shelters. There are dogs ad cats all over the place. While I don’t know about the cats, I know the dogs are regulated to a certain extent. They are not euthanized just because there are no shelters available.

While there are no animal shelters the dogs are collected by the city, tagged, spayed/neutered, immunized and released. But occasionally, dogs are faster than the dog catchers and then…003

The obscenity occurs.

You cannot see them all in this photo, but there are eight ridiculously adorable puppies. They seem to grow at an amazing rate. Even though they are big (ish) they still look soft and edible. You just want to BITE them they are so cute, like the fat rolls on babies’ legs.

While there are packs of wild dogs roaming the area we live, they are surprisingly docile. Many restaurant owners leave out food and home owners leave out at least water. There are many dogs which “live” in certain areas. We know the are always there. They may bark at us if our dog is with us, but are very friendly. I have seen these wild dogs roll over to have their bellies scratched. When you speak to them they respond well. It is almost like having a pet on every corner. While we would love to take these dogs home (or at least some of them) they are big dogs. Many of they are mixed but with a lot of “Kangal” in them. You can see above in the photo there are several tan puppies with black faces. This is the national breed of Turkey. They are by characteristic, guard dogs, and can weigh up to 120 pounds. They also tend to be gentle and friendly, but are not ideal for apartments. But we visit out pets on the corner every chance we get.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Beauty Mishap and Translations

I needed a haircut. Bulent suggested go with his mother to the hairdresser again. I decided against this because :

A) Last time he cut it too short and I did not know how to protest.

B) She doesn’t understand enough English to translate and vice versa I don’t have enough Turkish.

C) He was snooty and I didn’t like the style.

So Bulent and I went to the hairdressers a couple of days ago. He dutifully sat beside me and translated back and forth between me and the hairdresser. He did a great job, no comment was too small, and he was very patient. I came away with a lovely cut and a bored, but gratified man.

Today I realized that my eyebrows were starting to resemble caterpillars marching across my face. As great a job as Bulent did at the hairdressers, I did not want to repeat the translation job while getting my eyebrows waxed. My first mistake.

My second mistake…enthusiasm.

My eyebrows are much thinner now. Thinner than I would like. If someone else had done it, I would have wanted my money back. Also, they are uneven. It looks like a skinny momma caterpillar is marching across my face with a baby caterpillar in tow. I am not particularly thrilled with the situation, but have no one to blame but myself. I was stern when chastising myself for doing a bad job, and reminded myself that I would have to live with the consequences of my actions. I do not think I will do it again. Thankfully Bulent looks at my legs more than my eyebrows, so he will not really notice. But to will haunt me until my eyebrows grow back and that poor baby caterpillar marching across my face grows up.

Technorati Tags: ,,,

Saturday, September 12, 2009

A Feast

Tomorrow I am making brunch. And it will be fabulous. Why you might ask? Because my love found me bacon. That is right, BACON--From a PIG!! I am not sure how he did it, and don't really care. Tomorrow we will have eggs, bacon, and pancakes with MAPLE SYRUP. I smuggled the maple syrup into the country in Bulent's luggage. I am literally salivating as I write this. Big gobs of spit. I look like a St. Bernard. Next...Ham dinner. I don't know how I can get ham here though. I may have to settle for canned ham. Do they make that? I have no idea. Is there a difference between canned ham and SPAM? I have no idea, but I will research to fill this huge gap in my knowledge.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

You Will Have No Sympathy

I have been back to work for two weeks now, after a glorious 6 months of traveling and relaxing. And things never change. Two weeks after I started working I realized I had to do laundry. Right. Now. Because I have no clean underwear for tomorrow. Not even the granny panties. It is funny how quickly you get back into the cycle of not getting what you need to done--in a timely manner. Thankfully I realized this 9 pm and will not have to go commando tomorrow. Also, soon I will have more time for mundane chores.

Yes, once school starts I will only be working 4 days a week. (Yes, that is right, I will have one weekday off a week, plus weekends.) And right there is where you might want to smack me. Also, maybe step on my toes because….of the perks. Convenience. Every day, I eat a well balanced, freshly prepared lunch, for free. It saves so much time messing around in the kitchen the night before, or in actuality—2 minutes after I should have left. I know. But here is the thing, we are not cold cuts people, so sandwich material tends to be limited. And you do not always want to haul leftovers out. Or the leftovers you have might not be as appealing as one would hope.

This was nice about my poor student days at San Diego State when I also worked at 7-11. I got all the free day-old sandwiches I wanted. I had one for lunch almost every day. And for dinner on the nights I was too tired to cook. The wages were horrid but I made up for it by eating my own weight in stale sandwiches.

So far my lovely free lunch on real plates has not be taken for granted. Though it may soon be eclipsed by another service, I just found out about. There is a Doctor on campus, who will see you, diagnose you, and call in your prescription. Which is THEN delivered to your classroom!! Obama, when you are looking for ideas for health care---take a peek over here!!!!!

Technorati Tags: ,,,,

Green Bean Salad-Turkish Style

This dish has become one of my favorites this summer. It is an “olive oil” dish, typically means it is served cold. It makes a great light summer meal, with fresh bread to dip in the juices. The technical name is

which translates into Fresh Beans with Olive Oil.

1 pound of fresh green beans
2 onions onion, finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
2 big fresh tomatoes, finely chopped,
1/4 tsp sugar
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup water
1/4 tsp of salt

Clean and cut the green beans into 1 to 1 1/2 inch pieces.
In a deep pan, heat the olive oil in a pan and cook the onions and garlic until translucent.
Add the beans, stir, and cook them until they are brighter green
Add the tomatoes and cook for 5 minutes and then add sugar, water, and salt.

Cover the pan and cook on low until the beans are soft (about 45 minutes.)

fasulye (1)

Monday, September 7, 2009

My Sweet Souvenir

When we left Marmaris, I wanted a souvenir to take with with me. I thought about it. Did I want something from the Pazar? Did I want a copper tea pot? Did I want some jewelry? No. I thought long an hard, and I made the right decision.

033 Honey. Marmaris is known for its honey. I was able to score some of the seasonal Thyme Honey. It is fantastic, it has a tangy, distinct flavor and is just amazing. It adds such a lovely flavor to tea, and even is very tasty eaten right out of the jar. ( I really like honey) I also scored some wildflower honeycomb honey. When I am feeling indulgent, there is nothing better than fresh warm bread, with a little butter and a generous layer of the flower honey. I have had to step up the work out regime to offset the honey consumption but it has been worth it.

Technorati Tags: ,,

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Comfort Food—Yayla Çorba

Yesterday I was sick. A 24 hour virus, but it put me through the wringer. I was dehydrated and unable to eat (I will spare you the details, I wanted to be spared of them myself.) I wanted something warm, and comforting, and helpful. Enter Yayla Çorba, a yogurt soup, which is tasty and easy to make—which is great. When you are sick the last thing you want to do is stand in the kitchen and chop and measure.

6 cups water
1 cube beef bouillon (omit for vegetarian soup)
1/2 cup rice, washed and drained
2 cups yogurt
1 egg
2 tbsp of flour
2 tbsp butter
2 tsp dry mint

In a large pot boil the water, rice, salt and bouillon. Cook on medium high, until the rice is done.

While the rice is cooking, in a bowl, mix yogurt, egg and flour well. After the rice is cooked, take a few spoons of liquid from the pot and mix into the bowl to temper the yogurt and egg. Add the yogurt and egg mixture into the pot slowly, so the egg and yogurt does not curdle. Stir very slowly. Cook for 10 more minutes.

In a frying pan, heat the butter until it starts to spit, then add the mint, and let sit for 20-30 seconds. Do not let the mint burn. Pour the butter and mint into the soup and stir.

This soup is very quick, very easy and very tasty. Other herbs that are sometimes used in addition to, or in place of, the mint are tarragon and dill. I used less butter, because I wanted to keep the soup light, and I could not distinguish a change in taste.

Yayla Corba 005

Technorati Tags: ,,,

Friday, September 4, 2009


I am thinking about switching to Wordpress.  Does anyone have any advise?  Do you prefer it to blogger?

Yay Perks!

The school year is starting soon, which means I have gone back to work. In Turkey school does not start until after Bayram, the celebration after Ramazan. However, just like everywhere else the staff goes back first. And so I am introduced to the Turkish school system. The first thing to know, is that since I am a foreign teacher I have been offered an apartment as well as a salary. A 3 bedroom, two bath, two living room apartment. In addition to my salary. Fantastic! I mean who wouldn’t love this.

The other perks please me almost as much, and also tell you how simple my desires are. Chaici and Lunch.

Let me explain. In most larger businesses there is a Chaici—or Tea maker. In my school there is a small room where two men make tea and coffee all day. And deliver it. You just call down and they bring you tea or coffee, for about 50 kurus (about 35 cents). It is BEAUTIFUL!!! Amazing!! A pleasure.

Lunch. There is a free yummy, healthy lunch served everyday that includes soup, main course, dessert and fruit. Free. Every day. This means no more shelling out tons of money on lunch. Or PB&Js. Or plain rice with chickpeas… (I kept forgetting to buy peanut butter, or bread.) So there you go. I am just as excited over easy access to lunch and coffee as I am for an awesome apartment. I have big dreams.

Technorati Tags: ,,,

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

The Beloved Chick Magnet

See the faces of those people behind me in line? They are disapproving because they think we are flirting in front of Dolmabache Palace, Ataturk’s residence. In reality, what the are seeing is me being manhandled by my younger brother. He loves that he is bigger, and likes to prove that to me. He has no mercy.P6112409

He also does not lie, cheat or steal. He is kind to children and animals. He is witty and erudite. My friends also tell me he is handsome. Or in NH, “Wicked hot.”


He is my baby brother, a great guy, and a good friend. He is also turning 22. Happy Birthday Elly.Elly I love you.


Even though you have no mercy.

Technorati Tags: ,

Saturday, August 29, 2009


So as you know, we are staying in Turkey. While this is exciting, I also miss things from home. Like sushi and bacon. There are just some things here that I can not get, or are incredibly expensive. I certainly miss the convince of the U.S. I think the biggest difference is in cooking. It takes me twice as long to cook things here because everything has to be made from scratch. There are no short cuts. No cake mixes, or frozen bread dough or pie crusts. No canned tomato sauce, or semi-prepared veggies, etc.

The good news is that we are eating very little processed food and we have lost weight without trying. So anyone who would like to send me love swag, otherwise known as care packages, let me know. In preparation for the flood of goodies, I have started a list. Seriously.

Technorati Tags: ,

Monday, August 24, 2009

Whoops…Diagnosis: Googleitis

You know you do it. You start sniffling, coughing, get a symptom that you are not used to and…using Google, self diagnose. This activity can go two ways, you can decide you have some benign virus, or convince yourself you may die before the sun comes up.

You know you do it. I do it.

Like the time I thought I had a brain tumor. In my defense my pupils kept dilating unequally. Funny—later I noticed a warning on my allergy eye drops that they may dilate the pupils. Oops.

The other day I thought I was developing sun poising, I had had it before and knew what it looked like. I did not have all the symptoms, but the rash on my chest looked like sun poisoning. So there I am, researching sun poising, thinking over my day trying to figure out how much sun exposure I had. And that was when I realized I was trying to diagnose scratches from the dog.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

My breasts are communal.

Breasts in a way are fairly public sphere. I mean, they are out there, some more than others. They are constantly being appraised and viewed. When I used to nanny I found that small children view them as comfort objects or alternatively, as balance handles. It is also fairly common, when trying on clothes to have your breasts touched in some way when the fit is being altered. And this is the case which I will address today.

I went shopping with Bülent and his mother. There was a store with buy one get one free sale, so I swooped in there like cotton was going off the market. I found two lovely dresses. I was in the dressing room deciding which size I needed while Bülent and his mom waited outside to see the selection. So I come out, and they both love the dress. His mother starts to fuss over the fit, apparently it was sitting too low. In the effort to alter the fit she was adjusting the bodice and occasionally touching my breasts in a business like manner. Anyone who has been fussed over for fit knows what I am talking about, the casual, non-sexual brush and poke. I did not even notice it, I was paying attention to the dress. But Bülent did. And the look on his face was priceless. Apparently it never occurred to him that his mother would be handling what he considers his personal play toys. As if he wasn’t scandalized enough, she didn’t like they way the dress looked on my breasts and starts asking him if I was wearing a bra. (I wasn’t.) When she figured that out, she said, “Oh, have her wear a bra with the dress, it will lift the breasts right up”…and started to demonstrate. And she has a formidable bosom.

It was at this time I told Bülent to meet me at the cash register because I wasn’t sure if he was going to start crying or go catatonic. He was pretty uncomfortable. I thought it was hilarious and she had missed the entire by-play and thought nothing of it. Later I intensified his discomfort by telling him about how she had already seen my breasts another time when we were trying on clothes.

He is still recovering.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Officially an Ex-Pat

I don’t know whether the adjective ex-pat seems cool or obnoxious. But that is now what I am, no longer on extended vacation. I am now officially an American living abroad! Or "yabanci" as Turkish call it... To summarize, my fiancé is a Turkish American and we came to Turkey 6 months ago to experience his native culture.

Bulent and I came to Turkey in February for several reasons…

To complete his compulsory military duty, introduce me to his culture, language, and family. It was also an early extended honeymoon, where we got to travel extensively. We were also keeping our eyes out for career opportunities

We were going to stay for a few months as a trial period, I had never been to Turkey and wanted to see if I was comfortable here. It has been a phenomenal trip, I have experienced Turkish food and hospitality in spades, and have started learning the language. We had some opportunities in both Turkey and the US, and for different reasons when we evaluated the situation it made more sense to live in Turkey, for now. Bulent is applying for jobs and I have accepted a job at a prestigious prep school.

It was a hard decision, I will miss my friends and family in the U.S. tremendously. I will have to start all over again in a country where I do not know the language. There will be challenges, however there will also be excitement.

I will be immersed in a new culture and language, and with study will be able to become fluent. This is the time to take advantage of our situation and enjoy being young and unencumbered. And we are doing it. How many people get to do this? It is an exciting adventure and I am so glad it has started.

TR Family Vacay 341

Just the right mix, looking for adventure, but trying not to fall off the wall and down the cliff.

Technorati Tags: ,,

Monday, August 17, 2009

Road Trip(s) and Food

We have traveled quite a bit recently. To Bodrum for our friends’ (from San Diego) Turkish wedding reception. Then another week we drove to Bulent’s grandmothers in Seferhisar and on the way we visited Bodrum, Kusadasi, Izmir and Cesme. Bodrum is an adorable Aegean town/city. It is very developed and has a very busy party scene. It has a lovely marina that runs the length of the main tourist drag, as well as a historical castle right on the sea and a renowned underwater archeology museum.

Marmaris JulyAug 2009 024

While we were there we had some Lokma, which is cousin to If Jesus was a Baker. Sweet dough, deep fried then soaked in a sugar syrup. While you eat them, you can actually feel your fat cells expanding. But very delicious.

Marmaris JulyAug 2009 068 Once we got to Seferhisar our days consisted of visiting with family, eating, swimming and preparing to eat. Uncle Shadi grilled every night, there were koftes, and veggies and lamb chops and chicken. Marmaris JulyAug 2009 146

Anything that didn’t move fast enough was grilled. It was tasty.Marmaris JulyAug 2009 136 Here you can see koftes, corban salad, bulgur pilaf, and grilled tomatoes and peppers. That was my plate, I was excited to eat. Don’t I look happy!

Marmaris JulyAug 2009 138

Also naked! I would like to state I was not eating dinner topless with Bulent’s grandmother. Though it may appear as so.

Though in other news I over came my shyness enough to tan topless in the yard. Where people saw me. Yay!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

I Would Prefer to Drown, Please.

We visited Bulent’s grandmother in the small sitesi (housing development) near Sefirhisar. It was beautiful, craggy rocks and cliffs and turquoise waters. The Aegean was much colder than the Mediterranean, but was incredibly fun to swim in because the water was so clear and clean. You could actually see the bottom 30 feet down and make out the features of the sea floor. Everyone there swims. Many people take a dip before breakfast and then later go back to sun bathe. Well, the 2nd day we were there, we decided to go long distance swimming. Bulent used to swim to nearby islands as a kid, and it is still a popular pastime for the teens. I was a little hesitant, I can swim but was always a close to shore kind of kid. So as we were heading out, Bulet’s aunt decided to join us. We managed to get out to the island, but to get there you had to swim past the jetty that protects the bay, so the water was a little rougher. By the time we got to the island Bulent’s aunt was too tired and scared to try to swim all the way back, instead she wanted to swim to the other side of the bay, which was closer, and walk back. However, nobody swims there and we were not sure about rocks or Moray eels. Bulent’s 12 year old cousin was already at the island, so he said he would swim ahead to check for sea urchins and hidden rocks. So we manage to get almost all the way into the bay when there is a conference between Bulent, his aunt and his cousin. In Turkish. So I think, SHIT this can’t be good. And it wasn’t. The side of the bay were were swimming into was uninhabited, so the water was in its natural state. To get to shore we were going to have to swim though a big patch of seaweed. I said forget it, your aunt can’t swim back, but I will. Meet you at the other side of the bay. However, Bulent did not want me to swim a mile back by myself and could not leave his aunt, she needed help. So I started swimming. If I had to do it again and it was a 10 mile swim back, I would have done it, over swimming through that seaweed. Shit, I almost bit it, huge gulps of seawater down my throat, Bulent pushing me from behind. Only later did I discover that the conference had been about whether in swimming through the seaweed would we disturb the SEASNAKES that live there. After we made it through the gauntlet of seaweed and sea snakes we walked the mile back to the sitesi on the hot asphalt road, barefoot. If something like that ever happens again, I will let Bulent swim to shore, get a boat and come back for me. Not because I am a primadonna, but because I prefer certain death that swimming through slippery, grasping seaweed inhabited by sea snakes.

Marmaris Aug 2009 044

It was gorgeous though!

Friday, August 14, 2009

Oh the Figs

It is the season of the fig, and there are fig trees all around. I grew up in New Hampshire, where figs were flown into the grocery store and sold at exorbitant prices, and were at least a week old. Here I can pick a fig off the tree and it is glorious. Marmaris JulyAug 2009 156

I have been simultaneously trying to eat as many and few figs as possible. For this to make sense you need to know two things.

1. I love figs, tremendously.

2. Figs are natural laxatives.

Enough said.

So up in Seferhisar, the fig tree was in the neighbors yard. We still had full access to the tree, because Bulet’s uncle is married to the neighbors daughter. When it was found out how much I loved figs, I was inundated. Every morning they would pick fresh figs for me. They sent Bulent’s 12 year old cousin up into the tree to pick the best ripe ones they couldn’t get from the ground. Several times Uncle Hadi would run over with a fig in hand, saying here—this is for you, a perfect fig!! And they were. The thing about figs is that when they are ripe they are soft. The softer they are the sweeter and juicer they are, however, there is a thin line between the perfect fig, and a soured one. Right before they go bad, they are perfectly ripe. So they would run over with the perfect fig and hand it over for immediate consumption, sweet and warm from the sun. We left for Marmaris yesterday, and with us they send back several pounds of figs, in different stages of ripeness—so that I could triage.

Marmaris JulyAug 2009 165

And so I am eating figs. Many figs. But only when we do not have plans far from the house. Just in case.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009


I now have a laptop, and it is lovely! To be able to use it in the comfort of my own home, without being sandwiched between adolescent boys playing war games is wonderful. Not having to remember to stuff toilet paper in my purse in case there is none in the internet cafe is a privilege I won’t soon forget. Since I last posted lots has happened, including our inaugural BBQ, two trips to Bodrum and a visit to Cesme and Seferihisar. We have been in Seferihisar for about a week, at Bulent’s grandmother’s summer house. Photos are forthcoming. It really is a beautiful place. It is right on the sea, a community in the middle of no-where. It was formed as a Co-op about 30 years ago, and everyone has been here since. It is a place where grandparents, adult children and grandchildren all hang out together and visit each other.

The hills surrounding it are empty of development and thyme grows wild. When you walk here the constant winds actually carry the smell of thyme. It is delicious. It is hot and dry here which is great, and also terrible. Last night there was a wild fire, right across the highway from our community. We could see the flames and smell the thyme burning. Thankfully they were able to control the fire. Today we drove by and you can see how close the fire came through through the blackened landscape. And God help me, my first thought was—If we have to evacuate I am taking my damn laptop.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Apparently Shame is Hereditary.

The post you are looking for has been temporarily removed.

Friday, July 31, 2009

ish--Definition: experiencing trouble or difficulty

The post you are looking for has been temporarily removed.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Technology Withdrawal

İ have been without a laptop now for several days. İ am walking around with a semi dazed expression. Life without the internet is a void. What is happening in the world? İ do not have, or PerezHilton informing me of the pulse of the nation. İ have been spending quite a bit of time in İnternet cafes which translates into spending lots of time with tweenie boys who are playing video games and playing the peck and find game with characters and letters that differ on the Turkish keyboard. İ also am helping build college funds for the local children with the amount İ have been spending for my Internet privileges. İ am trying to adapt to my internetless life. To start I have made more phone calls (significant because of the international calling rates.) İ have also started writing postcards instead of emails. So many of you do not be surprised by the deluge of mail coming your way. İ have so much more time now that İ started writing my postcards in alphabetical order, İ am up to K. So if we went to college together and your name is some variation of Kate or Katie (and there are many) you will probably get a post card. But if you do not---it must have gotten lost in the mail or your address was stored on my laptop and now forever lost to me. So ıf you want a postcard, send me your address.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Pissed and Pleased

Hello All. I am writing you from an İnternet cafe in İçmeler. Why would I do that you ask? Well, some ASS stole MY LAPTOP. Bülent´s too. İt was kind of strange. We walked into the house, saw the french door to the 2nd floor patio open and thought `SHIT!! Did we leave that open? Thank goodness we didn´t get robbed!!´

We have to admit--it was ironic and somewhat amusing. We thought that because the flat screen TV was there, nothing had been taken. İ was in the middle of cooking a quiche when İ went to use my laptop to convert Fahrenheit into Celsius when İ realised the laptops were missing. İ thought Bülent must have taken them downstairs. No such luck.

So then I remember--I left my engagement ring at home that day. I hadn´t wanted to lose it when I went swimming. So heart in my mouth I went racing downstairs and looked next to the bed. Thankfully it was there. Though my laptop bag was not. Originally I thought the robbers had left the ring and taken the bag (which contains all of my electronic tidbits plus a BRAND NEW 320 GB external hard drive.) But I put something in the storage closet yesterday and realized they didn´t steal my laptop bag--I had just misplaced it. Which is great news because I just bought the hard drive a week ago and BACKED UP my whole computer!! Which means İ only lost a week of lesson planning!

I have to say, I took the laptops being stolen pretty well. As many people know, I am mildly high strung, and it could have been very unpleasant. However, I think the relief that my engagement ring wasn`t taken that tempered the blow. Obviously there is the emotional value of it, as well as the practical--that it is worth more than the two laptops combined. I have to say, I haven`t taken it off since.

Engagement Night Celebration

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Posts On Hold

I will not be posting frequently for a little while. I realize I have said this again and again in the near past. Well, now I have an excuse. My laptop was stolen. As was Bülent´s laptop, and my laptop bag with the brand new external hard drive in it. I am havıng a little difficulty in postıng as we have gone from 2 laptops to ZERO overnight. Plus this Turkish character keyboard is kiıckiıng my ASS. I keep having to delete and retype. I will blog the saga later. And SAGA it is.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Return of the Profanity

The post you are looking for has been temporarily removed.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Fear in My Heart

Yesterday, something horrible happened. Truly frightening. I got up and went to the bathroom, approached the toilet, and realized, the bath mat was soaking. You know, the one that hugs the potty, that one. I was at a severe disadvantage, having already taken out my contacts. It was water—thank goodness. But we had no idea where it was coming from. The wasn’t overflowing, we could see no leaking. So after scrubbing my feet, I ran up stairs to the other bathroom. After I flushed, I heard it. The noise that strikes fear into the heart of any one who appreciates indoor plumbing. “The Gurgle.” There was a gurgle, a loud one. Then water started seeping out from around the bottom of the downstairs toilet. And then the plumber became our BFF. I may or may not have offered him my first born child.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Relocation of the Vicious Beast

There was an uprising in our yard this week. It was loud and disruptive and needed to be dealt with swiftly and harshly. But not too harshly…we were actually the interlopers, and it turned out to be cute and fuzzy.

On Wednesday, I heard an animal in rustling in the high grass. I was a little started, as it sounded large, but eventually it moved away, and the dog stopped barking, and life was good. However, on Thursday, it was a different story. It started moving around about 1 am, and our dog, and all the neighborhood dogs were very perturbed by this. After a couple of hours of intermittent barking we finally saw the Vicious Beast. I had been wondering what types of animals were local to Southwestern Turkey. I really had no idea. I grew up in the woods of New Hampshire, and am fairly relaxed about wild animals. Sometime I’ll tell you the story about when I thought a Bobcat was a housecat because I did not have my glasses on.

So I see this dark moving shape outside, and try to figure out what the hell it was. Bülent said it was a Kirpi. Oh, great, a kirpi! I hop on my Turkish/English dictionary…It was a hedgehog. Super Vicious. Obviously worthy of being barked at viciously until 4 am, I mean really. Look at this photo—It will strike fear into your heart.

Marmaris June 2009 046

More like strike the warm fuzzies into your heart.

For all that was good in the world, we wanted to find the beast and strike it from the face of the earth, or at least relocate it from the yard so the dogs would stop torturing us at night. So on Friday, we started searching for the hedgehog, it was pretty easy. When our dog started frothing at the mouth, we knew it was out of its den and out in the yard. The thing about hedgehogs—they aren’t fast and when confronted they roll in a ball and wait it out. So the “capture” involved using a broom to brush what looked like a large dust bunny into a bucket. We drove several miles away and let it go, far away from the road, in the woods. Marmaris June 2009 051

He looks cozy.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Birthday Food

Oh YUM!! Bülent wanted to go to a Kebab house for his birthday, he had heard about a local one that was tasty. The word of mouth was right!!

We had cop sis, and all the accouterment. In a Turkish restaurant, mezes usually come with the meal. In this case, bulgur pilaf, small lahmacuns, roasted onions, peppers and tomatoes, fresh lavash bread, a onion/sumac salad along with arugula and parsley.

Marmaris June 2009 027

Here is the main deal, cop sis, grilled lamb. It is super delicious, usually pulled off the skewer and eaten wrapped in the lavash with any of the aforementioned accouterments.

Marmaris June 2009 035

We also ordered eggplant salad, which was amazingly tasty. It was pretty simple, mashed eggplant, garlic, salt and pepper, and just delicious.

Marmaris June 2009 030

Here is my plate before the meat pops got to the table. As you can see, there is already a bite out of the lahmacun.

Marmaris June 2009 033

And for dessert, kunefe. Kunefe is a pie of shredded pastry, soaked in a sweet syrup with cheese in the middle. It is amazing, sweet and savory, served warm.

Marmaris June 2009 036

The food was great, the company wonderful, and it was a good birthday for him, if I do say so myself.