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.