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.

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.