Musings on my adventures around the world and my ties back in Texas as well as some of the the ideas I have to adapt and create to keep those places close to home.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Craft project

22 December 2007
Originally uploaded by ccarlstead
The other day my sister and I were paging through a magazine and found an advertisement of a necklace that was made out of the end of an old silverware handle. Then the next day as I was helping to sort through a bit of my dad's "playhouse" I found some of the handles that we had leftover from making windchimes. Voila, a new project. Turns out I do remember how to use the drillpress, the small grinder/polisher (that has a specific name but I don't have a clue what it is) and learned how to use the belt sander. And now, with the addition of some ribbon and clasps I've got some necklaces that I think look pretty good. Not bad for a couple of hours work!

Friday, December 21, 2007

A family resemblance

More fun with the family pictures...I think these two photos show who I got my looks from! You wouldn't guess now that mom and I looked so similar as babies.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Old family photos

This past week we've been sorting through quite a few things in the house, but my favorite has been some of the old family pictures we've come across. I have to say that I love this one of my mom. Who knew I had such a hot mama!

Sunday, December 9, 2007

lessons from dad

The past week has been a bit rough. I rushed home due to my father’s rapidly deteriorating condition (we went from “dad’s going in for surgery” to “you need to come home and January won’t be soon enough” in a week). But the last few days by my father’s side really made me think about all of the things that my dad has taught me and given me in my life. He hasn't so much articulated these lessons, as let me know that these are the things I should always strive to do by his example and by his expectations. So below are ten things that dad has taught me, and although I’m sure there are plenty more things he has given to me this gives a pretty good idea of just what my dad was about.

1. Never give up! (This sort of goes hand in hand with never quit) This meant that even if I got frustrated or hit a wall and didn’t know what to do next I just had to persevere until I got it figured out. IT definitely helped to teach me to think outside of the box.

2. Anything that you start you need to finish. Sometimes this means that I had to do things that I didn’t especially want to, always had to finish a season for a sport, had to complete the things I was starting. It’s nice to realize that at this point that type of sheer stubbornness has gotten me through many an activity.

3. Actions speak louder then words. If you know my father at all you’ll understand why I say that. I always know he loves me even if the words were not often offered. When the words began to be spoken recently I knew that things were not going so well.

4. There is always a way to make a project better. In reality this meant that I’d come to dad with an idea that I wanted to replicate expecting some small project which then usually was translated into a more complex thing...but always ends up nicer then I ever expected.

5. Innovation and creativity are fun. Curiosity is a wonderful thing. If something no longer works then you might as well open it up and see what made it go originally. You never know what you’ll discover if you start to pay attention to the things around you.

6. I'm strong enough to do just about anything that I put my mind to. Being a woman is not an excuse for being able to do something. You may just have to think outside of the box in order to accomplish it.

7. I can always depend on myself, independence is an acquired trait. It might have been hard when my parents dropped me off at camp for a month and told me not to call, but I learned that I was okay on my own.

8. There is no sense in saying you can't do something, if you practice it long enough it and consistently enough you will achieve the ability . When I was little dad used to sit and practice soccer skills. It was left foot, right foot for hours on I don't even think about it. This is definitely a lesson that has served me well whenever I attempt to start learning a new skill.

9. You might seem to ignore people sometimes but you always keep track of what is going on. Then when it really matters you do know all the information and have a way to help them out if they need it. And you should always provide help when it’s needed.

10. Family is important. You can always depend on them to be around and support you when you need it. Sometimes I thought it was crazy that my parents were at every soccer game I played in, but I knew they were interested in what I was doing. When people were saying “you’re going where?” I knew I could depend on him to be curious and supportive about my new destination whether it was in Africa, Turkey or beyond. That is a gift that is without measure.
Dad has influenced and shaped my life in so many ways. He may be gone now, hopefully to a place where he no longer feels the pain from his cancer, but he will never be forgotten. I can’t forget a man who had such an impact of the type of person I’m growing up to be. I love you daddy. Rest in peace.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Rest In Peace Daddy

Originally uploaded by ccarlstead
James Edward Carlstead, 67, of Buda passed away at MD Anderson in Houston Texas, December 4th, 2007.
He was born in Keytesville, Missouri on September 25, 1940 to Francis Pauline and George William Carlstead.

A 20 year veteran of the Air Force, Jim performed many duties for his country including running radar evaluation squadrons; officer in charge of a missile site “on the front line of the cold war”, a member of the Air Force and National Rifle teams, and gunsmith. He graduated from the Air Force’s Office Candidate School in 1963.

In 1980 he started Carlstead Truck Sales, which did business in the Buda, Texas area for 27 years. He served on the Hays Youth Athletic Association Board from 1987-1989, was a member and officer of the Austin Rifle club, coached the UT Rifle Team for 10 years, and enjoyed square dancing with the Waterloo Squares.

He is survived by his wife of 36 years, Ellen; his daughters Cristi Carlstead of Istanbul and Sara Carlstead Brumfield of Austin, a son-in-law Ben and a granddaughter Josie.

The funeral service will be Thursday, December 6 at 7PM followed by a visitation until 9PM at St. Anthony Marie Claret Catholic Church, 801 North Burleson Street in Kyle, Texas. Graveside service will be held at 9:45 AM Friday, December 7 at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio.

In lieu of flowers memorials can be made to the University of Texas Rifle and Pistol Club; c/o Lee Patterson; 2112 Guadalupe St., Room. 512; Austin, TX 78705 or to the St. Michael’s Academy Endowment; 3000 Barton Creek Boulevard, Austin, TX 78735.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

prayer for the day

So its been a bit of rough's the prayer to guide me through...

Lord, grant me the strength to change the things I can
The courage to accept the things I can't
And the wisdom to know the difference

Monday, November 26, 2007

Prayer of St Francis

Since it ties into the last post, and I'm finding it to be a good reminder of what I should be striving for currently.

The Prayer of St Francis:

Lord, make me an instrument of Thy peace;
where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
and where there is sadness, joy.

O Divine Master,
grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to
to be understood, as to understand;
to be loved, as to love;
for it is in giving that we receive,
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to Eternal Life.


Arched piazza
Originally uploaded by ccarlstead
Bright, clean, white, peaceful…that is my overall impression of the town of Assisi. My afternoon there, in the company of two friends from school, had to be the highlight of my trip to Italy. As we were driving through the Tuscany countryside we seemed to suddenly see a mountain come up out of nowhere. Lovely. Perched on the side of the mountain was a small town that seemed to flow out of the mountainside and was harmonious in a way not many cities in Italy are. We were all wishing that that was what we were heading for, but not a one of us was holding our breaths. Only it turns out as we started winding our way up the mountain following the signs to Assisi that we were heading there. Talk about a good omen. The several hours that we spent wandering around the narrow, cobblestone streets of Assisi lived up to our first expectations. It is a town which seemed to me to be a very peaceful place. One of those locations that seems to still reflect the guiding principles of some of its illustrious citizens of the past (both St. Francis and St. Clare came from and worked in Assisi). It seemed to suit all that I know about them both to find that this is indeed a town of peace and renewal. Filled to the brim with churches and basilicas (okay, but what town in Italy isn’t?) it was not only in the buildings that you could sense the holiness of the town. As you walked the streets you got a sense that life is still about the simple things (except for where it caters to the tourists – although even that is in a low key way) – strolling the streets, appreciating the beauty around you and enjoying the sound of church bells tolling through the air. Assisi is one of the most peaceful places I have ever been.

When teachers dress as students

When teachers dress up as students, and students take on the role of teachers you know that laughs will follow. Its actually quite amusing how accurately each group has picked up on the mannerisms of the other. I'm not sure whether to take it as a compliment or not, when after our little skit for the Teacher's Day Celebration at school my students told me that I "could start attending classes with us today." That's how much I look like a student when you put me into a uniform. Is it a good thing that I can look like one of my high school students? I have been past that point in my life for 10 years now, it shouldn't be that easy....but I just keep reminding myself it's good to look to long. And hey, as long as our student body is amused and laughing I'm pretty willing to make a fool of myself. As one of the quotes from the presentation today said: "Teaching is 20% knowledge and 80% theatrics."

Friday, November 16, 2007

In just two days

In just two days I'll be in Italy! And I feel like now that the school week has finally ended I am at last getting excited. New places to explore. A switch to churches from mosques. A language that may at least sound somewhat familiar. Beautiful scenery. A much needed change. Tuscany here I come.

making a fool of myself

Make a fool of yourself once voluntarily in a school setting and you're almost guaranteed to make a fool of yourself again...and have people requesting it. My brief stint on stage last year in a skit to celebrate teacher's day is coming back to haunt me. Some of the students (yes, they are ones I taught last year) have requested that I participate in the skit again this year. Sucker that I am, of course I said yes....and then I realize that yet again I'll be wearing a uniform, mistaken for as a teacher, up in front of the entire high school. At least I get to pretend to be a student...which this year I believe will consist of me taking pictures with my cell phone with a friend, being out of uniform, and doing the normal high school student complaining (as opposed to last year's i-pod listening). I don't really mind, it's just a bit intimidating to realize that I'll be up there making a lot of people laugh at me - and that I'll still understand maybe 1/3 of what is going on. "What?" you ask...well I'm in a skit, but the majority of it (including my lines) are in Turkish. This is when you begin to see how things get a little tricky. It's hard to improv when you don't know what someone is "yelling" at you. Oh well, maybe that will make it more realistic as half the time I don't think my students understand me at all.

To add to the day's humiliation I'll also be up on stage singing the teacher's anthem. The what???yes, Turkey has a song specifically for teachers. And I'll be singing it (with a group of other teachers) Turkish. Are you beginning to get a sense of just what I've gotten myself into? We had a rehearsal for the song today...I guarantee you that I'll get my tongue twisted up in knots at least once during the song, and until then I have the niggling feeling that the tune will be coming back to haunt me as it won't leave my head. Now if only I could remember some of the words!

What a thing to look forward to coming back to after a week break. Why does it have to be on Monday???

Saturday, November 10, 2007

My current amusement

This has been my laugh relief for the week. Catherine Tate is worth a few minutes of your time.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Look on the bright side

I've been trying really hard lately to look for the positive side to things. My latest challenge has been the ants in my kitchen. But I think I've figured out how to think of it so that it's not all negative. Because ants invade my kitchen for the smallest scrap of food, it's forcing me to really keep the kitchen clean and put up. This in turn makes my entire apartment seem that much larger and nicer. And hey, if you need a good motivation I'd say that keeping the ants away qualifies!

Sunday, November 4, 2007

And my favorite

Inspiring Things
Originally uploaded by wokka
the nautilus shell. The spiral here is almost always a perfect fit for the golden spiral. Just lovely!

And thus concludes your mini pictoral lesson on the Fibonacci numbers in nature.


succulent spiral
Originally uploaded by lakerae
Cactus or succulents are another group of plants which grow according to this principle. Count aloevera in this group as well.

leaf spiral

fibonacci green
Originally uploaded by R80o (Mark Strozier)
To my mind, the most beautiful application of Fibonacci numbers is in the spiral curve of many natural objects - a nautilus shell, a fern, or a leaf as seen here. For more information check out this piece about the golden spiral.


Pine cones are yet another natural phenomena which grow according to the Fibonacci sequence. The number of spirals in each direction are usually two consecutive Fibonacci numbers, and sometimes even the number of spines per spiral is as well.

123 posts!

So must people mark their 100th post, or some other such number, but I'm a math I don't think I'll do it quite the same way. 123 seems like a great number to me. 3 consecutive integers. The first three natural numbers. Perhaps even more striking for me 3 of the first numbers in the Fibonacci sequence (1,1,2,3,5,8,13...) My all time favorite sequence of numbers. So I think I'll dedicate the next 5 posts (yeah for the next fib number) to cool images which reflect the Fibonacci sequence in some way. This one from lucapost on flickr has a great writeup about the Fibonacci sequence.

There's something about

There's something about using a power tool that just makes me feel strong and competent. Is there a problem with that? Maybe it's just crossing some of the assumed gender boundaries...but yes, I can and do use an electric drill. I am a competent single woman. Never mind that directly afterwards I had to get out the vacuum (concrete walls make lots of dust when you drill into them) - when you live alone you have to do it all.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007


If you love popping bubble wrap you'll love this link I came across today. Have fun, and don't procrastinate for to long...

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Is it odd?

Is it odd that my washing machine seems to have a soundtrack? It makes it sound as if its swishing water around, making my clothes clean, when in reality its spinning them dry. How odd is that? It's not as if I don't believe its cleaning them...are sound effects really necessary? Some things here just make me shake my head...

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Quote of the week

In the absence of conviction, I've come to terms with the fact that uncertainty is an inescapable corollary of life. An abundance of mystery is simply part of the bargain - which doesn't strike me as something to lament.

Jon Krakauer Under the banner of heaven: a story of violent faith

Finding jeans

If you're anything like me you have a horrible time trying to find new jeans. The last time I tried I think I tried on something like 40 or 50 pairs before I found some that would work (not great, but okay). I recently stumbled across a link which purports to help you find what brand and style of jeans will fit you according to a fairly simple set of questions. Now, since I'm not in the states this isn't so useful to me right now, but you can bet I'll be testing their recommendations the next time I am. Check out just might help you out.

Another blog

So I've been playing around with the idea of trying to get one of the photo alphabet books I made for my niece published - quite likely by doing it myself. Taking a page from my brother in law I've decided to try to blog my thought process and steps in accomplishing this. So now I have another blog. I have a feeling this may be a long process.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Not all bad

Realizing that my early post made it seem like my long weekend didn't go well I felt I'd be remiss if I didn't admit that it wasn't all bad. I had an experience which was probably my most authentic Turkish night out while in Bursa. After wandering around the area by our hotel Saturday night D and I couldn't find anywhere that looked like it would be good for hanging out, getting a drink or two and just relaxing. So we headed back to our hotel to ask the man at the front desk if he could give us a recommendation. He did better than that. He asked us to wait a few minutes and then came out with a friend and proceeded to take us along on his Saturday night out. This is typical of the warmth of the Turkish people. We ended up at a live music lounge with him and about 5 of his friend (included one other desk clerk from the hotel - the third was still at the hotel on duty). We listened to 3 or 4 performers, got a sense of excitement when a "famous singer from Istanbul" (their words - I still don't know who she was) was spotted and brought up to the stage for two songs, bounced up and down to peppy Turkish music when they pulled me to my feet...Really, just felt like I was getting an authentic experience as the room was filled with Turks, and in fact I'm not sure there were any other foreigners in the place. A pleasant evening that was everything we were looking for - and a much better end to our brief sojourn then expected. (Those are our hosts - Erkan and Alessandro - in the picture)

Monday, October 15, 2007


This weekend I became convinced of something that I had realized a while back…that minibus drivers in this town are masters of multitasking. They have so many things going on at one time, and yet seem to be completely in control of them all. To start with, they’re driving (yes, a necessary part of the job). Often times this accompanies smoking a cigarette out the window and/or talking on a cell phone. That’s three things, (and yes sometimes all three are ongoing) but that is just the start. When the bus leaves a starting point (like in Pendik) the drivers are also keeping track of about four other things. Money is being passed up by people in mass (I still am amazed that this honor system works so well here) so the driver is keeping track of how much he received, where they said they were going, how much change he needs to dig out while at the same time separating the coins by type. He is often handing back change and collecting the next amount at the same time, with one fare in the middle stage. They also seem to have an amazing idea of how many people they’ve crammed into their bus and will prompt more to pay with a shouted “Başka?” “Other?” if they don’t feel like they’ve received enough yet. All of this is going on while driving along the route (cigarette in hand). At the same time a driver is shouting out for additional riders, honking the horn to check and see if anyone needs to get on, and paying attention to where someone says that they need to get out. It’s amazing that they can keep it all straight. I’m in awe at these men’s ability to multitask, and even more impressed with the fact that I feel safer in one of their minibuses then I often feel in a taxi. (Perhaps that means you don’t want to hear about the taxis…) Driving a minibus in Turkey definitely requires more than the skill of just driving.

A series of unfortunate events

A series of unfortunate events. That's exactly what our trip this weekend seemed to be. Not that anything went seriously wrong, just that things didn't seem to go quite right. And really, all I'm talking about is the transportation. I expected there to be issues - Seker Bayram is one of the big holidays in Turkey (the end of Ramadan) but it wasn't too bad in terms of crowding until we were making our way home on Sunday. But the story starts early Friday morning. We got up and out before 7 in the hope that we would make it to Pendik in time for the 8:15 ferry. After waiting over 45 minutes for a minibus in front of the school we weren't holding our breath anymore. So imagine our surprise when we got to the ferry terminal and could still see the ferry. Rush, on out....oh - the ferry just pulled away. So close, and yet so far. At least there's no real schedule for the rest of our transportation. So we waited for an hour and a half for the next ferry, at least there was no way we could be late for it! The only part of trip that worked out exactly as it should have was the bus ride from the ferry in Yalova to Bursa. No problems there. Arrive in Bursa, easily find the bus that our book said we should take into the area our hotel is in. Things are looking up, until we ride the bus directly past where we were supposed to get off. No signs made it apparent that indeed this was it. Eventually we made it back to our hotel, just a bit later then it could have been. Afterwards we chose to walk a bit more - seemed safer...or not...definitely took the long round about route. It was a bit of a trying day.

Day two: hopefully this will be better. Or not. We went up to Uludag mountain, fairly pleasant and a lovely view of the autumn leaves. Only there isn't really any way down. We start walking, get on a minibus which takes us where we are *supposed* to be able to get a minibus back to Bursa. Not so much an option. Instead we end up heading back up the mountain to the town we just walked down from. Tried to get a hotel to call a taxi for us, seemed to be a miscommunication (not so surprising with my bad Turkish), finally the doorman took care of us and we had a minibus entirely to ourselves back down. Thinking we had learned our lesson we took a dolmush back to our hotel area...better then walking in the rain. Only we end up in the rain anyways since it didn't go quite where we were expecting and dropped us a 30 minute walk from our hotel in the pouring rain. Completely soaked upon return (and we even tried to do the smart thing that time!). That is it for today!

Sunday we had to get back to campus, and while nothing really went wrong (unless you count our bus in Bursa just stopping on the side of the road for 20 minutes for no apparent reason - the driver just thumbed the wheel several times, waited, did it again, and then unexpectedly got back in and drove the bus off again. Still don't understand that one) it was just a long trip. The way there took us 4-5 hours, coming back was more like 9. Lots of traffic, a 3 hour wait for a ferry since the other ones had already sold out, a long wait in the cold for the minibus back to campus.

There's a certain sense of satisfaction in having made all these things work, but also a sens that we were definitely under a transportation curse this weekend. I just hope it doesn't last much longer!

Thursday, October 11, 2007

mafe tiga

I had a few extra hours this afternoon (we're on a short holiday thanks to the end of Ramadan) so I decided to make mafe tiga (peanut sauce for those of you who don't know Pular). I've been craving a taste of Guinea and right now I'm thrilled that the bubbling on my stove means that the scent of peanut sauce has permeated all of the corners of my lojman. All I have to do is close my eyes and I'm back in my concrete and dirt village watching the 7 year old next door as she teaches me the proper ingredients for peanut sauce (which vary depending on what is available). Somehow in the two years I was there mafe tiga became one of my comfort foods - guaranteed to warm my body and my soul.

What's in my mafe tiga today?
onion and garlic sauteed
all natural peanut butter (which I made this afternoon by grinding up roasted, unsalted peanuts with no skin on it - normally I'd buy this but you can't get it in Turkey) mixed with water
3 tomatoes
2 magi cubes (or vegetable bouillon as that's what I found)
a dash of tomato paste
2 peppers
2 eggplants diced
some pumpkin (found it in the market and seemed like a good replacement for potato and cassava)

Now I just have to let it cook and cook until everything is done, while I dream of the taste that takes me back.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Quote of the week

Try to understand that you are here, and that the things that surround you change you - in the same way that you change them.

This business of looking at the horizon...It seems as if...I don't know...I can't explain if my soul has grown...Before, I looked in the distance,and things in the distance seemed really far, you know? They seemed not to be a part of my world. Because I was used to looking only at things that were close, the things around me. But I got used to looking into the distance. And I saw that besides tables, chairs and objects, my world also included the mountains, clouds, the sky. And my soul - my soul seems to have eyes that is uses to touch those soul seems to have grown.

...look at the horizon.

-Paul Coelho, The Valkyries

Recent Reads

It's been a bit of an eclectic reading month. Here's my recent list of books. Finished The Valkyries in one day, spent over a month during summer vacation reading A Room of One's Own, sped through Dreamland for fun, and am still working on The Broken Crown and Sex Slaves: the trafficking of women in Asia.

props for my alphabet book

I was quite excited to find that the market alphabet book I made in scrapblog got mad props from the creators in their blog as one of their Friday Favorites. Check it out!

Saturday, October 6, 2007


Originally uploaded by ccarlstead
One of the things I love best about living abroad is the experience of shopping in a market. I'm not talking about the commercialized locations like the grand bazaar, but the local weekly markets. I love to wander into the streets which have been converted from a car roadway into a tarp covered aisle of sales. While the number of people squeezing into the significantly narrowed street occasionally gets overwhelming I love the experience of being in the middle of it. Of shopping the way that many of the locals do (others use the grocery stores for convenience but admit they don't feel like they get the same quality of produce). I'm not going to say that you can buy everything in a market, although sometimes it seems like it, but you can't beat the produce. My weekly market is in the suburb of Kurtkoy, a mere 10 minutes from school. I try my best to go every week, and always laugh and wrinkly up my nose as I go past the stalls of fresh fish. Not the most pleasant entrance, but the site of bright oranges piled up, tomatoes stacked and other tables filled with fresh produce keeps me going. I usually stroll the entire market (this one is only about 3 streets) before getting down to the business of buying. I like being able to consider what is available, and actually being able to compare produce to ensure I get what looks to be the freshest and ripest selection. Its a treat for my taste buds, a chance to practice a bit of my Turkish (after more than a year some vendors are still surprised I can communicate my desire), and an almost overwhelming riot of color and shapes. What's not to love?

autumn arriving

The mornings are crisp and I've even noticed a few trees changing color. I'd say that autumn is arriving, in a much more casual and progressive manner than last year. To celebrate I've fired up the stove and am making my own applesauce. I couldn't resist the piles of apples at the market last week, and they've been sitting in my fridge just waiting for me to do something with me. Homemade applesauce just seems like the right thing for this season. It brings back memories of going to Vermont with friends during October and picking our own apples then bringing them back to make applesauce, apple strudel and apple pie to take back to college. The little homemade things that make you feel like home. Fitting then that in another hour I should have my own applesauce to throw in the freezer and fridge just waiting for when I need a taste of home.

In case you don't realize just how easy it is, here's all that I do.

core, peel and eighth enough apples to fill the bottom of my casserole dish (that was about 6 today)
Put enough water in the bottom of the pan to come about half way up on the apples
Throw the pan in the oven (about 350F or 125C - that's what I cook everything at)
Flip the apples once, after about 20 minutes
Cook until the apples are mushy
Throw them in a blender and mash'em up!
You've got applesauce.
I sometimes add cinnamon before putting it into containers just for some variety.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Cem's back!

I guess you could say my personal connection to the sage of military service in this country had come to an end. Cem is back from his obligatory service (and we're all so happy to have him back in the office) and while I feel like I'll still be picking up on random bits of information about what his service entailed until the end of the year (info which continues to flabbergast me) I do doubt it'll be at the front of my mind for very long. So what have I learned in the day and a half since he came back? I'm pretty sure that every man who goes to do his military service begins by going through something like basic training - learning to deal with a gun, long marches etc. That doesn't mean that they will all be placed in situations where they need to be able to do so. I think this part is so that if Turkey ever needs to it can call up a large number of individuals who at least have a small clue about what they are doing. And no, Cem's placement had very little to do with the military (as far as I can tell). They asked him if he could teach math (well, duh - he is a math teacher) and when he gave an affirmative reply they put him at a dersane (one of those schools that prep kids for the OSS - the large exam the kids take after they finish high school to try to get into university). I'm not quite sure if he was teaching math lessons or managing the whole place. One thing for sure though, this didn't require a gun!

Monday, October 1, 2007

A Turkish market alphabet book

I've finished (the hard part of) my next alphabet book for my niece. It's an ABC book illustrated completely by pictures I've taken in the market here. Check out I went to the market and let me know what you think. Of course I still have to get it printed, laminated, bound and sent to her, but progress is progress!

Friday, September 28, 2007

The abecedarie that lost out

So I'm working on an illustrated abecedarie for my niece - one which includes pictures I've taken in the markets in Turkey. I'm almost done (hooray!) just need two more pictures to finish it off. While I was working tonight I kept thinking about the items that lost out, mostly because I had a better photo of something else. So in their memory here is the abecedarie that could have been.

Bread, brooms
Cucumbers, cherries
Dried fruit
Eggs, elastic
Green peppers
Headbands, hair elastics, honey
Icons, iceberg lettuce
Junk, jackets
Kale, kiwis
Lemons, leeks, lentils
Mint, mops, medicine
Needles, nectarines
Olive oil
Peanuts, peaches, pillows, plates, parsley
Shoes, socks, scarf
Toast, tea glasses, turnip
Ugly underwear
Vase, van (ok don't know if I could buy one of these, but there sure are a lot around)
Water, wine, walnuts
eXtra large bottles of oil

An abecedarie of adjectives

Coming from my hunt for adjectives for the latest alphabet book I'm creating for my niece. These are some of the ones I couldn't use.

Zonked out

Monday, September 24, 2007


Waiting to break fast
Originally uploaded by ccarlstead
Its the holy month of Ramadan, or Ramazan as it is called here in Turkey. It means many people are fasting from sun up to sun down,
but it also means that this is a month when they take some time to really come together. The occasion of breaking fast is on of those moments. Yesterday I was in Sultanahmet for Iftar (the name of the meal to break fast) and realized how much I enjoy the spirit of this time of day. You see people sitting down at tables, water and bread waiting in front of them for that moment when the Imam's call will signify it is time to eat. Its a time for family and friends to gather, a time for strangers to sit down beside each other in a common activity, a time to remind people not to take their daily meal for granted. I quite enjoyed being in the middle of it. Sitting in front of
the Blue Mosque waiting for it to light up and for the official announcement of sunset, I felt like I was in the middle of the mini celebration. To absorb some of the relief and happiness when that call came and people immediately opened up their water bottles and
began to enjoy their meal was a powerful moment. Even though I'm not fasting, the overall atmosphere of this month can give you a bit of the feelings it involves. Happy Ramadan!

Quote of the week

"The question is not why you are so infrequently the people you really want to be. The question is why do you so infrequently want to be the people you really are." Because you have no faith that who you are is enough. But it is. Your true nature as human beings is compassionate, and this essential nature makes you capable of being intimately and fully present. who you are is enough.

- Orion Mountain Dreamer

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

a turkish abcedarie

I'm still working on what abcedarie I'm going to do for my niece for my time in Turkey (there's a gift book theme where I make her a photo abc book for whatever location I'm based in) although right now I'm leaning towards a market book. In the meantime I couldn't resist sharing the abcedarie that I got in my first Turkish lesson of the year, although sadly no pictures like she shared. I can already tell that I'm going to like my new teacher...So for the Turkish alphabet:
A is for arı (bee)
B is for bal (honey)
C is for civciv (a chick)
Ç is for çiçek (a flower)
D is for deniz (the sea)
E is for elma (an apple)
F is for fil (an elephant)
G is for gül (a rose)
H is for hindi (a turkey)
I is for ıspanak (spinach)
İ is for inek (a cow)
J is for jeton (the tokens you use on public transportation)
K is for kiraz (cherry - the sweet kind)
L is for leylek (a stork, and yes they say they bring babies here as well)
M is for marul (lettuce)
N is for nar (pomegranate)
O is for orman (forest)
Ö is for örümcek (spider)
P is for patlıcan (eggplant, which I almost always think of as patlıcan now)
R is for reçel (jam)
S is for süt (milk)
Ş is for şişe (bottle, as in bir şişe şirap - one bottle of wine)
T is for tavuk (chicken)
U is for uçak (plane, which fly overhead all to frequently)
Ü is for üzüm (grape)
V is for volkan (volcano)
Y is for yağmur (rain)
Z is for zürafa ( cool is that?)

Monday, September 17, 2007

sometime soon

Sometime soon I'll have my final schedule for the school year. However, I somehow doubt that day is today. No, instead when I got to school this morning I had my 5th new schedule in almost as many days. Never mind that this is now the 5th day of classes, nothing is set in stone yet. The funny part is that I got a new schedule but no one else did. Not the other teacher's it affected, not the students who were now supposed to be in a different room, not even their dean knew. So instead of teaching the one period that got switched I spent the 40 minutes trying to figure out where my kids were really supposed to be, and then where the class that teacher had to leave was due. It would have just been easier to teach!

Sunday, September 16, 2007

we have our residence permits

The police station
Originally uploaded by ccarlstead
Thursday afternoon we were told, organize yourselves we'll be leaving at 1:30 to to pick up your residence permits. I can't say we were especially thrilled to be losing our Friday afternoon, especially when we thought about how long the last trip to the police station took us (about 7 hours). Luckily it didn't take us nearly as long this time. We only had to pick up our residence permits, which meant avoiding all but one of the lines we had stood in previously. Of course the police office looked a bit pained when we gave him 32 slips of paper to collect that many permits. It did take a while, but in the end we all walked out happily carrying our permits.

First Day of School

10 September 2007
Originally uploaded by ccarlstead
School has finally started! Frankly I'm just glad to have kids back in my room. After two weeks of planning time I was more then ready to get down to actually teaching. School technically started on Monday, although I didn't really see any kids. It's one of those days which is just taken up by formalities. Since they are working on renovating both our gym and our auditorium we had to have our opening ceremony in the parking lot of the school. It doesn't hold quite the same seriousness in that location, standing in the sun with the planes flying overhead. Two sessions with their homeroom teachers (thanking my luck that is only the Turkish teachers) and a picnic lunch (what? you mean all I can eat that is being offered in ayran - a salty yogurt drink - and the water, oh well) ended the day. Students were gone by 1, although we had to stay until the official end of the day around 4. Tuesday brought about the first "real" day of school. It was nice to meet my students (over the next three days) and realize I had at least a small step up from last year in that I could pronounce their names and didn't expect to have a set rooster until the end of the week. It's so nice to know what to expect. And to be looking forward to my second week of classes.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Food combinations

Because of a restricted diet and a necessity to eat every two hours due to health problems I've been scrambling recently for a few variations to my basic snack foods: yogurt, whole wheat crackers, peanut butter, cheese, peanuts, cashews, boiled egg. Today's combination was an attempt to mix peanut butter into my yogurt. It's not horrible, but I can't say that I would exactly recommend it. Not the best choice. I've tried cinnamon with yogurt, which is slightly better (takes a lot of cinnamon to give the yogurt flavor) and I'm thinking if I add some vanilla into the mix it may be even better. I'd greatly appreciate any suggestions for no sugar, low carbohydrate add ins to any of my snack foods.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Recent Reads

I seriously doubt I'll keep up the pace of my reading as school really starts going. So while I have the time here's what I've been reading. I just finished 1 (for the second time). After reading it the first time I had to go back and read the previous two just because I couldn't remember them very well (2 and 3). Also inherited another series of fantasy books of the magician genre which I quite enjoyed and recommend to those who like that type of book(4, 5 and 6). Are you beginning to see a theme here? I'm working on a couple more books right now (thankfully outside of this theme) but haven't quite managed to finish them off.

Monday, September 10, 2007

oh the confusion

It's amazing the little things you sometimes take for granted as a teacher. Like knowing how many students (roughly) you'll have show up for class the first day, and having a schedule before classes start. I was told this morning that my schedule will change at least one more time (for the third day in a row) before it is set. I'm not really complaining, after all I'm losing periods which means a lighter load for me, but it does seem a bit ridiculous when school technically started today. Thank goodness we don't see kids until tomorrow. In the meantime I'm making enough copies to cover what the maximum class size will be and hoping they'll be smaller. Its just enough to make your starting week seem stressful (above and beyond the normal first day of class nerves).

Sunday, September 9, 2007


Unloading the ferry
Originally uploaded by ccarlstead
Saturday I took the opportunity (there was a bus) to go to Miniaturk. Now I’m not sure if you’ve heard of something like this, I know they exist in at least a couple of other countries but not in the US that I know of. Basically it’s like a little theme park (no rides or anything) that has miniaturized versions of what they deem important sites in the country. So I saw a miniature version of the Ephesus library (only came up to my waist), very small replicas of the statues found on Mt. Nemrut (complete with a sand mountain background), and a mini Blue Mosque, among other things. What surprised me was how many of the sites that they chose to build I could recognize before reading the sign (of course it helped that there was an entire section dedicated to Istanbul sites). It made me realize how much I have managed to see in Turkey in the past year…as well as giving me an idea of some of the other things I still want to see. I have to admit its kind of an odd concept (I mean really, why would you build that many replicas of places?) but enjoyable in its own weird sort of way.

Friday, September 7, 2007

Quote of the week

Life for both sexes - and I looked at them, shouldering their way along the pavement, is arduous, difficult, a perpetual struggle. It calls for gigantic courage and strength. More than anything, perhaps, creatures of illusion as we are, it call for confidence in oneself.
-Virginia Woolf A room of one's own

Turkish bureaucracy

Well yesterday was a bit of a lesson on Turkish bureaucracy. Just recently the government decided that everyone must apply for their residence/work permit in person...which means the school is no longer able to just handle all the paperwork for us. No, it means they now have to escort us through the process. So I found out about 2 pm on Wednesday that I was int he group of 20 people that would be leaving lojman in the morning at 6:30 to go to the police station to do this. Of course it's not just any old police station we can go to, it has to be one which deals with the residence permits - on the other side of the city, of course. Its a good 1 to 1 1/2 hour drive (but only because we left so early - the group the day before spent over 2 hours in transit, hence our earlier start time - less traffic). We arrived somewhat aware of the process - or at least understanding we were going to have to stand in numerous lines, and defend our spots in line to prevent a large number of people trying to cut in front. First thing first, we're not even in the police station yet - we're more in a security/entrance building. We hand over a photo id (passport or [expired] residence permit) to a guy behind a counter and then just stand in the room for a while with a lot of other people. Half an hour in there's a flutter of excitement and people sort of surge forward. One police officer begins calling out names (oh, great - we're supposed to understand their butchering of our names?) and letting people through one at a time. I think this whole process was just about getting our name into the computer. As I stare out the window I notice people head into the courtyard and start running to the building. Clearly they'll do what they can to shorten what they know will be a long wait. We head in and join a line which already reaches down the stairs - yep we're a floor below where we want to be and at the end of the line (although soon it extends way past us). Did I mention we're only waiting for a slip of paper which has a number and which desk we'll be going to eventually? Oh, and the office doesn't actually open for another 30 minutes. Whatever. We wait in line, inching up the stairs only to have the woman roll her eyes when she finds out we're a group of 20. We get shepherded to stand in another line which reaches down the hall and turns a corner (can't really tell how far we're going to have to go) and Elif (the lovely woman from school who is in charge of all this this year) brings us our numbers. And we continue to wait, and wait. We start inching up and around 10:45 (the last group only reached this point around 12:30 or 1) we were close to the door we needed to go through. Hand our paperwork to a guy, he checks some stuff on the computer and hands it back. Move down a couple of steps and hand it to someone else - they write and stamp on a couple of sheets and hand it all back. Exit through the door, turn the corner and find I now have to fight my way through a crowd to my designated counter. Finally we're where the numbers matter - but we're also in the area where we have to fend for ourselves. "No, I'm sorry 14 definitely comes before can not push in front of me!". There's nothing like having to defend your place in line (or should I say in a crowd?) physically to start raising your adrenalin. I finally got to hand my stuff to the guy, who flips through it, writes some stuff, pulls out two sheets and says "blah, blah, blah, photocopy, blah, blah, ..." Hmmm, pardon? Elif! Yes, this is why they didn't dare send us alone to do this. Elif grabs the paper and disappears for a while as I continue to body block the man holding slip #42. When she comes back we hand stuff back, he complains she needs more copies since there are so many of us, but at least finishes processing my paperwork while she's gone. The guy writes on a lot of stuff, crosses out some other stuff and hands the whole stack back to me. Huh, I'm done. Not that I have my new residence permit, no that will take another 10 days (please don't tell me that we have to go through all of this when we have to come back to pick them up). By the lunch break at 12:30 we had all but 4 people through - they unfortunately would have to stay and wait until the officers returned from their lunch break. Thankfully they sent the rest of us home on the bus without them. We got back around 1:30 or 2 - a 7 hour trip for what amounted to maybe 10 minutes of work total. You have to love the system. Sometimes I think the point is to employ as many people as possible. But at least it wasn't the 11 hours it took the previous group.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

It still seems odd

As I walk around campus it still seems a bit odd to me to pass by the tents where the workers are staying. I say workers not meaning any of the regular support staff at school. No, over the summer the school has been working on having the gym and the auditorium in the lise renovated. I guess its not so odd that the workers are staying on campus, it’s not as if we’re right in the middle of Istanbul, but it’s not as if we’re that far away either. But sure, keep them on site during the summer, it’s suppose to result in more work done quicker because they can work longer hours if they don’t have to commute in (I’m not sure there is anything regulating the amount of hours that a person can work in a day – or such thing as overtime). It does however seem odd to think that the whole setup will still be around come Monday when schools starts. If the kids wander out to one of the soccer fields they’ll find a small tent city (big tents complete with electricity) taking up the entire side – living quarters for the workers. Around another corner of the school there are four or five portable spaces which are their showers, kitchen and bathrooms. It’s just not what you think of as part of the school facilities. I can’t say it really surprises me that the work didn’t get finished over the summer, after all two months is not that long, especially in terms of construction projects in this country…but are we really going to have all those workers around as our students come back to school? I guess there’s no way around it…maybe that’s why there seem to be more guards on duty recently.

Business cards

As I was packing and unpacking my place this summer (don't ask, they re-floored all the lojmans this summer) I realized just how many business cards I've collected over the past year. In a country that doesn't have phone books they're indispensable if you ever want to find somewhere again or give a recommendation to another person. Eating dinner out? You'll get two or three business cards with the bill. Staying in a hotel? They'll make sure you take a couple when you leave so you can pass them on to other people. Buy something in a shop? One or two usually end up in your bag. Sometimes I empty out my wallet and wonder when I ever had the time to get to so many places. I have to admit they're sometimes useful. I've passed them on to other people and used them to send tourists to my favorite places. But once you get so many its sometimes hard to remember which one belongs to that lantern shop you really liked, and sometimes its frustrating to know where a shop is but have no idea exactly where Kandil Sk.Site Is Merkezi Kat is. It's as imperfect as any system, but at least business cards are small.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

drowning in paper

I don't know why but the start to a school year always makes me feel like I'm drowning in paper. With so much emphasis on trying to move to a more digital society I don't understand why it still seems as if I have probably used an entire tree by myself in the past week and a half. Do I really need all of this printed out? Unfortunately for those of us who work best on paper and for my students the answer is yes. So I'll continue to go and photocopy all my worksheets and hope that at least if my students throw them away that they'll make it into the recycle bin. I've even created a website for my classes (thank you google pages!) so that I have a way to disseminate information and solutions to worksheets, it's my only hope at not using quite so much paper personally.

Saturday, September 1, 2007


So another thing that mom and I couldn't figure out at the Ephesus museum was what god Anteros was. At the museum a statue was labeled Eros and Anteros. Now we've all heard of Eros, the god of love. So who exactly is Anteros? Turns out he's Eros' brother, and is the god of requited love and the punisher of those who scorn love and the loving advance made by others. You can always find out more on wikipedia.

Random Inquiry

While at the Ephesus museum this summer one of the written descriptions spoke of the Ephesians playing the cithera and the lute. Now I'm not all that familiar with musical instruments - but since they didn't give an explanation I had to look up what exactly a cithera is because I'm not sure I've ever heard of one before. So it turns out that it's a type of lute (why would you differentiate the two?). From the Encyclopedia Britannica online:

Roman cithara stringed musical instrument, one of the two principal types of ancient Greek lyres. It had a wooden soundboard and a box-shaped body, or resonator, from which extended two hollow arms connected by a crossbar. Three, originally, but later as many as 12 strings ran from the crossbar to the lower end of the instrument, passing over a bridge on the soundboard.

You can vaguely see a picture of it here.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Word Search

Looking through one of our booklets for the Lise Prep program (and English language program for students who don't have enough to go directly into grade 9) G and I came across the word cloze. Now we were thinking that it was some obscure Australian term having to do with the order of operations in math. Turns out that a cloze procedure is a "fill-in-the-blanks" activity where the learner uses clues from the context to supply words that have been deliberately removed from the text. (from LinguaLinks Library) You learn something new every day.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Quote of the Week

In compassion and grace be like the sun
In concealing other's faults be like night
In anger and fury be like dead
In modesty and humility be like the earth
In tolerance be like the sea
Either appear as you are, or be as you appear


Summer's End

Well I dropped my mom at the airport on Sunday (poor mom, her flight was a three hours late so she spent the night in New York instead of making it home) and then came back to campus. It's a bit of a shock to be at meeting already, starting the day after I got back to campus. It's good to be back, and at least in my own space and unpacked finally (yeah, new floors in my lojman! The fake wood makes it seem a lot cleaner and open). I realized yesterday as I wandered around school saying hello to people just how many people left last year. There were not so many people around for me to greet. I guess the flip side is that there are lots of new people to meet, including three or four in my department.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

a brief escape

Mom and I decided to take a trip up the Bosphorus today. We thought it would give us a nice break (after a month I'm starting to need a break from walking) and as you already know ferry rides are a favorite of mine. Little did I realize just how far up the Bosphorus we would go. We chugged right past the 1st bridge and the beautiful Ortakoy mosque and weren't even half way along the route when we passed the second bridge and Rumeli Hısarı. We stayed on until the end of the line...and the end of the Bosphorus. As the ferry arrived ın Anadolu Kavağı I could look over my shoulder to the Bosphorus and look ahead to the Black Sea. I had no idea we'd go that far, or that the trip would really take us out of the city. Anadolu Kavağı is just a small town - fish restaurants for the tourists on the waterfront, small winding streets of houses (with military housing???) going up the hill and a ruined castle up on the top. Just enough to fill the three hours before a ferry left. So we walked up the hill for the view from the castle, enjoying the breeze and the extensive sight of water, then took the road back down (avoiding the cemetery we'd passed through on the way up) to find lunch. After some fried and some stuffed mussels we were ready to head back to the ferry and claim a rail side seat to enjoy the trip back down the Bosphorus. A great way to spend our last full day in İstanbul.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Railroad Museum

As I sit and sort through my pictures from my trip to Selcuk with my parents I'm reminded of just how I spent my morning. After racking my brain and the Lonely Planet for something dad would enjoy we ended up at the Railroad Museum. Home to something close to 30 steam locomotives, as well as the personal pull car of Ataturk (father of modern Turkey) it's supposed to be the second largest railroad museum in the world. I believe it! If there had been many more to look at I'm not sure I could have stayed interested. Dad sure was, though. Even at the end he was bending over to look at a part and trying to figure out how things work. I guess that means I succeeded in my mission to find something he could enjoy. The guy who drove us from the hotel was a bit surprised that we could spend so much time looking around, but admitted it was nice to see people actually interested and not just walking through (although the ground were quite a beautiful setting to walk through). I have to say I can't really tell much of a difference between a 1918 locomotive and a 1956 locomotive - but at least trains hold that little kid magical quality that let me climb up in them and imagine a different life. Turns out mechanical minds can be quite entranced by steam engines!


Anyone who knows me will wonder what in the world I'm doing posting at 3 in the morning. Frankly its a testament as to how much I love my family. I'm up doing laundry, of all things. We were supposed to get back to my apartment around 9:30 this evening but when an 8:00 flight doesn't leave until 11:30 your timetable gets set back quite a bit. If only we didn't need dry clean clothes for tomorrow. And to compound the annoyance, my place still hasn't been re-floored which means all of my stuff stays packed up in boxes until the end of August. Sigh. Soon, my rambling mind will be quiet and I can go to bed. Just have to wait for the washer to end. Happy Birthday to me!

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Mary's House & Seven Sleepers

In my second trip to Selçuk in less then a month I at least have managed to see several new places including what is believed to have once been the blessed virgin Mary's house and the grotto of the seven sleepers. I have to admit that the first was a bit disappointing but mainly because there were so many people there. A carnival cruise ship was in port and by my estimation there were something close to 54 tour buses in the Ephesus region due to it. Mary's house is actually a small chapel built on top of the site revealed to be the location of her house in later life by visions of a nun in Spain (?). It would have been the quietly reflective spot I was looking for if they hadn't just herded us through the chapel. Literally. I didn't even have time to stop and say a prayer. Kind of disappointing. I imagine when there are not so many people around you might get a few seconds longer to soak in the location but not today. At least people were quiet once they got into the mountaintop spot. It is enough for me to say that if other Marian sites of pilgrimage are that way I have no desire to visit.

The seven sleepers grotto on the other hand was almost completely empty. Of course there is not a whole lot to see there (although the gözleme was quite good for lunch). Reputedly it is known as the location where seven young Christian men went into caves/tombs to avoid persecution only to rise again several hundred years later as a testament to the resurrection philosophy of Christianity. Basically all there is to see is some ruins of the church built atop where they were said to be entombed, an early Christian cemetery and possibly the tombs where they were sealed. At least we were free to discover it without hoards of people around.


So it turns out I was wrong. There are billboards in Turkey. We've seen a fair number around Izmir and Selçuk. So it turns out they just don't exist in Istanbul. Maybe it's because all available space there is taken up by buildings so the only place left to advertise is on the side of thos said buildings. Even around here though there are not very many. And I have to admit I like the unmarred views on the roads. It makes it much easier to enjoy the natural scenery.

Monday, August 6, 2007

Military Museum?

Yesterday we decided to go to what I thought was a military museum in Istanbul. I thought it was something dad might find interesting and I'm working hard to include him in my plans for outings. The sign on the building as we passed it on the bus was mili saray depot muze. For some reason I thought this meant military, perhaps its proximity to the naval museum was what mislead me. If I'd thought about it I would have realized that saray means palace. Turns out that this was basically a museum which was a storehouse of many of the things that came out of the numerous palaces in Istanbul. Housed in the former kitchens of Dolmabahce Palace it was a place you could poke around in for about an hour. Which we did. Luckily dad found enough interesting random things (a 3-d picture maker, old telephones, some guns) along with the hoards of candle sticks and porcelain to keep him interested for a while. Its one of those random finds which just isn't quite what you were expecting.

Family Perspective

It's always fun to introduce people to a place that you've gotten to know. I find it interesting to see the things that make an impression on them and am sometimes bewildered by the questions that they ask. Yes, I've lived in Turkey for a year, but there sure is a lot of information that I don't know. My parents are visiting right now, and it's great to have them around. Dad especially is super inquisitive about how things work and some of his observations have given me pause to think. Before his visit I never noticed that Istanbul doesn't really have billboards. All advertisements are either plastered onto the side of a building (and there are some building where the entire face is an ad) or strung as a banner between trees or poles. After watching for two days I think I've only seen two billboards, and they're not exactly of the gigantic size you'd see on the side of an American highway. Dad's questions have also made me realize I know very little about the shipping business, the types of boats and even the current relations between Greece and Turkey. I guess I still have plenty of things left to learn.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

my new record

I think I might have hit an all time high for the number of different forms of transportation I've taken in one day...Taksi, bus, funicular, tram, ferry, dolmush, train, minibus. Eight (if you count walking nine) in just two separate trips - that's pretty impressive really. My favorite? The ferry, of course. My least favorite would probably have to be the blue minibus from Pendik back to school - it gets super crowded and takes up to an hour for a trip that could be completed in less then 20 minutes...but at least it gets me back to campus. The train would come in a close second, solely because I have never ridden it without having at least one Turkish man staring at me for an extended period of time. It just makes me uncomfortable, and after a while it's really hard to ignore them and avoid making eye contact. One of those times I'm quite thankful to put my earphones on and listen to my i-pod.


Sitting in the ferry getting ready to head back across the Bosphorus to Kadikoy I realized that after two weeks I"m all alone. There's a sense of relief in that. I'm free to enjoy my favorite part of any trip to the city without having to keep track of J (although I will miss her pointing out every boat and buouy we pass) or make sure the rest of the family gets off with me and heads the right way. Don't get me wrong - I had a great visit with my family its just nice to only be responsible for myself again. To only have to consider myself in the decisions I make. I plan on taking full advantage of the next three days to recover before my parents come for part two of the family visits.

Heating up in a Hamam

Cagaloglu Hamam
I was so excited that I managed to find the Cagaloglu Hamam without any wrong turns. Sometimes in the old city with the maps available that's the biggest challenge in an adventure (just ask my sister who accompanied me on an hour trek trying to find the hotel I'm staying in with my was just around the one corner we didn't manage to turn). S and I happily stepped through the doors for our new adventure. As we walked down the stairs we were met by the typical site of relaxation in a hamam - an oasis of cool marble with a fountain and short stools positioned for a view and for those drinking cay. Only all of those people were men. Once we had paid for our bath we headed down a corridor, around a corner and down some stairs to enter the women's section, well hidden from any man's eyes due to the twists we followed to arrive there. The thing that was cool was that it really is a completely female space - you don't often find those spaces in the world I know.

We were shown into our own glass and wood cabina where we were left alone to undress and wrap up on a hamam towel. After finding wooden slippers we could keep on our feet we clopped our way into the wash room. Completely marble from the middle of the wall down with a star studded (cut outs) down above the simple furnishings and smooth colors started the relaxation process. Around the exterior of the wall individual basins with separate hot and cold water taps continuously ran...and let me tell you the slightly cool water felt amazing after 30 minutes sitting there sweating. My theory - you have to sit there at least that long for your skin to be soft enough so that when the woman calls you over to be scrubbed (it feels quite decadent to have someone else scrub you down) your dead skin will just roll off. It was kind of gross to see, but I will say that afterwards my skin felt quite clean and soft. After a scrub, soap massage and getting our hair washed S and I were free to go rinse off at on of the basins again. An hour and a half after we entered we walked out of the hamam feeling refreshed and ready to enjoy the ferry ride back across the Bosphorus.

It's hard

It's hard to keep up on posting when you're on vacation and out of your normal situation. However, I do have three days before my parents come. I suspect I'll be spending a good portion of that time typing stuff up and trying to get my pictures uploaded to Flickr. Goodness knows that I have plenty of pictures to sort through...this is why it is a bad idea to have three cameras on a single vacation (and a person to use each camera). I think it took 3 cds to get all the pictures saved for my sister to take home with her.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Travelling Turkey with a child

So it's a bit of revelation to find out just how different a trip with a two year old turns out to be. Don't get me wrong, I'm thrilled my sister and her husband brought the little one along with them, after all if they hadn't it would have been two years before I saw her again and at this age it makes a huge difference. But it has changed the way we have to travel. Goreme, in the Kapadokya region, has been a good fit. It's slower pace lets us take off and seem some cool old/natural sites and still be back in time for a nap. I've discovered where at least five playgrounds are in town (who knew they would all be pink???). We've run up and down the street leading to our hotel at least twice a day, yet I've still been able to send my sister and husband off on a hot air balloon ride. So it's been a good mix. Unfortunately just as we've figured it out it's time for us to move on. We're headed to Selcuk and Ephesus tonight, to explore a piece of Turkey I haven't yet seen. I wonder what it is that will fascinate J there (after all I think we have to put a hold on public transportation until we get back to Istanbul).

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

This stinks!

So I got woken up by a call around 10:30 Saturday night, my phone didn’t register the number and somehow I just knew that it was either my sister or B. Sadly I was right. B was calling to say that they missed their flight from Austin so they aren’t going to be arriving in an hour. No, instead I’ve got a whole other day to fritter away before I get to see them. That call definitely didn’t make my night! Oh well, at least they called me with enough time to change my taksi plans and before I myself had left for the airport. Now I know why I scheduled all our other flights for the middle of their trip, just in case.

Just my luck

I flew into SAW Wednesday night without to much fear. After all, the school is less then 15 minutes from the airport. We can see the planes landing from school. Shouldn’t be too hard to get back to campus, right? Well it’s just my luck; I end up with a taksi driver who is not actually a taksi driver. Well, he is since he’s driving a taksi– but only for tonight. Turns out his friend is ill so he is just filling in for the night, normally he works at a hospital. Now tell me, how can you fill in for a taksi driver if you don’t know where anything is? Turns out I don’t know how to get back to campus from the airport (surprise, surprise). So we ended up on some back dirt roads (passing a funky housing development that had a vaguely Jettson-esque space-age lighted entrance). All I can say is at least he was willing to stop and ask people for directions. Otherwise I’m not sure I would have ever seen the o so welcome sight of school. Next time can I refuse to get in the taksi if the driver doesn’t know where the school is?

Friday, July 13, 2007

Random Inquiry

So while I was on the blue cruise the topic came up as to how you can tell the difference between a cockroach and a beetle (don't ask, just be thankful they were beetles). I did a bit more research when I got back to a computer and it turns out M was right (of course, I believed him but was curious to see exactly what he meant). So in case you ever need to be able to determine which you have here's the main visual difference. Cockroaches will fold their wings over each other so that there is a definite overlap, and occasionally you will only be able to see one wing at all on the back. Beetles, on the other hand, fold their wings down next to each other so you will be able to see two clear sections split down the cent of it's back when it's not flying. So now you have a bit more useless information.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Quote of the week

I lost myself in the contemplation of nature, trying to forget my thoughts and to look only at beings as they appear, and to forget myself, joyfully, in the sight of them .How beautiful was the spectacle of nature not yet touched by the often perverse wisdom of man.

Umberto Eco, The Name of the Rose

Word Search

New words I've run across on my readings....what do they mean?
saurian any of a suborder (Sauria) of reptiles including the lizards and in older classifications the crocodiles and various extinct forms (as the dinosaurs and ichthyosaurs) that resemble lizards (
iaculi seems to be some type of winged serpent. You can read a bit more here.
scitales doesn't seem to have a definition anywhere, so maybe it's a made up word from the book I was reading (The Name of the Rose). I did find the word scytale which is some type of encryption device but I'm pretty sure that is not what he was talking about. If anyone knows please enlighten me!

Recent reads

Holiday time brings on much reading for me. The five books I've read in the last week and a half while on the Mediterranean coast of Turkey (ok so I haven't finished the last one yet.) 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007


Yesterday I went to the ancient site of Termessos. While I have to say much of the ruins are exactly that, ruins, the ancient city gets props for location. An absolutely stunning site in the mountains outside of Antalya. I was just as pleased by the short hike I got as by the ruins. Although I will say it had the most stunning theater I've seen all week, and possibly all year (and I've seen quite a few theaters this year). In remarkably good condition (I don't think it's been renovated, but who knows?) it's nestled on the side of one mountain with the view to one side over a valley and in every other direction of more peaks. Stunning. And complete enough to give you a good feel for what it would have been like to sit in the theater at the original time. This one seemed so alive to me in some way that I could almost imagine the original Pisidian people filing into their seats. Nowhere I looked did I find anything which says how old the city is - only that the earliest mention is 333 BC when they fought of Alexander the Great (which clearly means they were well established by then).


The Chimaera ıs a fıre breathing legend, part lion, part goat, and part dragon. He was so frightening that Zeus set him on fire and buried him under Mt Etna where he continued to send out tongues of fire. The legend makes it quite clear as to why area of Mt Olympos which has naturally igniting flames (gases which re-ignite upon contact with air if you manage to get one blown out) is called Chimaera. It was really a pretty neat sight - to climb/scramble up the path of the mountain for about 30 minutes and then see these flames licking out from under the rocks...and knowing that no one had set them alight. The 20 or 30 flames were all that was cutting the deep night dark (except for my headlamp and other torches - was I glad I had it for the walk back down!). One of the things I really like about travelling is that in many of the places I go to I get reminded of just how dark the world gets when the sun goes down. Its also about going to see the random oddities that a place holds - and the best part of that is that they are often in remote locations that get you into the heart of a country. So while Chimaera may not have been quite as dramatic as I expected it definitely falls into that "cool site you should see if you have the chance category."

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Blue Cruise

Lounge, Swim in the Mediterranean, nap, eat, swim, repeat. That pretty much sums up the first four days of my vacation. It is pretty hard to complain about that. 16 of us (teachers from school as well as some visitors) spent 4 nights and 3 days on a fillet (a quasi sailboat which normally ran off of an engine) around the south eastern coast of the Mediterranean. How lovely! It definitely felt like what a summer vacation should be. Not responsible for anything - the biggest decision I had to make was whether I wanted to dive off the boat or lower myself gradually by the ladder. Great people to talk to and discover (it is so much fun to meet friends of friends - a much higher chance of liking new people when people you already like recommend them...). We did get off the boat a little bit. After sliding by the sunken city (hmmm...I will have to write more on that later as I can not remember many details without my guide book) underwater due to an earthquake a long time ago we got off the boat to explore an old Crusader Castle - the most exciting bit was probably trying to get up the hill without sliding off - and some of the old Lycian tombs.

Sunday, July 1, 2007

Vacation here I come

Well I'm finally done with it all. The only thing left on my list is to take out the trash and the recycling and close up my house. I'm headed off for vacation in about an hour and a half. Yeah! I'm excited to explore the Mediterranean coast of Turkey a little bit more - both from the boat and on land. I'm sure I'll see some amazing new things (that is the thing about Turkey everywhere you go you're almost guaranteed to see something amazing) and have plenty of pictures to deal with once I get back. Summer is definitely one of the perks of teaching!

Saturday, June 30, 2007

I hate packing!

It really doesn't matter what it's for, I hate packing. Whether its just for a week vacation, or packing up to move. I don't want to do it and usually procrastinate for as long as I can. When I'm in Texas C always comes over and sits with me for those big packings - we get one last chance to talk and she keeps me working. No such luck today. This stinks! Not only do I have to pack for my trip (yeah!!! leaving for 10 days to go to the Mediterranean coast of Turkey) but I have to pack up my lojman. They've (the powers that be) decided that they are going to re-floor our lojmans over the summer. I've asked for mine to be done in the next week and a half (since I'll be gone and it will let me unpack again before my family arrives). Who knows if I'll actually come back to new floors - they couldn't seem to predict when flooring work will begin but in between packing for my trip, preparing my house for a two week leave (refrigerator/trash/laundry etc) I've also got to box up anything that is in/on furniture in all the carpet covered rooms so that they can "easily move the furniture." Grrr!!! It does make me realize that I really don't have a ton of stuff (especially if you don't count the clothes) about 4 boxes not counting kitchen stuff and pictures (neither of which is getting packed up). Almost done....I think. Unless I find some more things randomly. Sigh.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Patience is the key

My day today was all about patience. I spent 4 hours in the doctor's office waiting for the next blood sample in a series of tests (don't worry!) and then and another 2 hours making my way home. While I was sitting in the doctor's office I had an amusing hour or so with an older Turkish man (about my father's age). He didn't speak a work of English so you can imagine how slow going our conversation was. Being bored and stuck in one place is a great motivator for struggling on with patience. After two hours of reading I was getting bored an needed a new distraction so I pulled out my game of SET. If you don't know the game it looks like a person is just randomly picking up cards that have odd shapes on them. It was enough to engage the interest of this man and so I asked him if he would like to learn how to play. Right. What did I just get myself into? How to explain that there are four different characteristics and that you have to have all the same or all different? And how do you say stripes in Turkish anyways? But with some patience on both of our parts and a lot of pointing and examples he picked up on the idea. And we played. Or rather I helped him learn throughout one game. I'll give him credit - he didn't give up, and by then bottom of the deck was learning how to put together a set of three cards. It's just unfortunate he'll probably never see the game again. But it sure was a great way to interact with him - and made a lot of people in the office smile to see/hear me try to explain the rules to him. That real interaction is exactly why it pays to take my i-pod off every once in a while and truly mingle.

Travelling Turkish Style

I spent over two hours making my way back home on public transportation today. I will say that there is something about public transportation that makes me feel like I'm really living in Turkey. Maybe it is just because I'm using the same method of transport that the natives do - one that once you get outside of the old city you don't see many foreigners on. Maybe it is because I am finally comfortable navigating myself around the 5 or so forms of public transportation that run around the city. Whatever it is, when I'm sitting sweating on a train, minibus, or dolmush I can't help but feel like I'm really in Turkey. And when I successfully tell a driver where I want to get out I know that at least I'm using some part of the Turkish I've struggled to learn and that I must be getting to know the city better since I can at least recognize where I need to go. Progress, of any form, is positive.

Quote of the Week

Your children are not your children. They are the sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself. They came through you but not from you and though they are with you yet they belong not to you.
-Kahlil Gibran

(suitable for the week of graduation, I think.)

Thursday, June 28, 2007

"Responsibility Exams"

"Responsibility Exams" (Sorumluluk) - n. The exam a student who has failed a class a previous year takes in order to get credit for the course. Each exam can be up to 80 minutes in length, and a person can try as many times as necessary to pass this exam.

So why are they called responsibility exams anyways? (Although who knows if that is an accurate translation from the Turkish.) Perhaps because it is the student's responsibility to show up to take the exam. Or because it is their responsibility to actually study and pass this test. Or maybe because it is one of the responsibilities of the teachers to provide this last shot chance to make up for a year of slacking off. I don't really get it. All I know is that it requires A LOT of running around and signing official forms. Turns out that all our work this week to prepare an exam, make sure it was in proper form, and getting all the necessary signatures was for 1 student (ONE!) who in the end never turned up to take the exam. (I guess he didn't follow up on his responsibility) I can't be to upset, although I am annoyed that we had to even prepare the thing, at least I'm saved the hassle of grading the thing (a huge improvement over the 17 we had to deal with in February). This means I am now officially done with all of my work for school. Woo hoo summer here I come!

I have to admit that this system is a bit bizarre. How is it that a single 80 minute exam can make up for a semester or a year worth of under par work? The rules also say that if you fail grade 10 but pass grade 11 (in a single subject - not the entire year) then the pass you earned in the following year negates the failure the previous year. I believe it remains on the report card as a failure, but the students do not need to take a test to pass out of it. When I start to think about I get really confused....better to leave it alone and just do what I'm told is necessary.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Where have all the teachers gone?

Saying good-bye to people is always difficult. This past week has made me realize that if I chose to continue teaching internationally it is going to become a regular part of my life. I've chosen to surround myself by people who are interested in travel, and in challenging their boundaries. For many of us that means moving on to new locations almost as soon as we become familiar with where we are. I started thinking this morning about where all people will be next year. The short list:
United States
That's quite a few new places for me. One definite benefit is that I'm building up a great list of places to visit with the excuse of visiting people. Of course we're also getting new teachers in next year, and the three coming into our department are from almost as varied of locations: Scotland, Brazil and the Netherlands. I have a feeling sometimes that if you colored in a map of everywhere I had been, that people I knew had been and that their acquaintances had been we would be able to color in almost the entire world. That's a pretty cool realization.

A night on the Bosphorus

25 June 2007
Originally uploaded by ccarlstead
We had our end of year school party last night. Spent four hours on a boat going up and down the Bosphorus. Not that I noticed the scenery for most of the evening - only when we were going past the bridges (especially pretty when they began to light up with different colors once it got dark) and once we got past the area of the Bosphorus that I had previously travelled. D was nice enough to point out sites of interest and give us a bit of history. It's so nice to have someone who can double as a tour guide as a friend. She always makes sure she points out things that might be of interest to those of us who are still learning the city. It was a hot night, but as I flitted from group to group I forgot about the sticky weather and just enjoyed being outside and socializing. After dinner the music got cranked up and we started dancing like crazy. You should have seen some of the guards! Turks love to dance! And I have to admit that I think two years of dancing with them will teach me how to move my body better. The night unfortunately had to end on a sad note as I said good-bye to several friends who are off on their new adventures. They may be leaving but won't be forgotten (after all these are the people that will make great travel destinations for me in the future!)

Monday, June 25, 2007

Visiting a weaver artist

23 June 2007
Originally uploaded by ccarlstead
Saturday I had the chance to go to the workshop of a weaver that Ann Marie had met earlier in the year. He wanted to give a bar-b-que for whichever Koç teachers were interested in coming over to see his workshop (he is normally only open during the week so was doing this special for us on the weekend). I am so glad that I went! (Not for the food – I basically ate watermelon, although the others had some good meat.) Moussa does amazing work! He is really an artist, who has chosen weaving as his medium. In fact, he’s one of the few people in Istanbul I’ve ever heard say “That’s not for sale, it’s too pretty.” He is about creating first, and selling third or fourth. That said his work is bright, colorful and detailed. I’m not even sure that I can explain it. Several pieces had geometric designs to them (ok, yes it appeals to the mathematician in me who likes organized patterns) and when you held them up against the wall they almost looked like quilts. Sadly I’m inadequate in expressing the beauty of his work in words.