Friday, December 30, 2011
Wednesday, December 28, 2011
Monday, December 26, 2011
Saturday, December 24, 2011
Today we visited the Roman Coliseum and Forum. I can appreciate the attraction of watching gladiators fighting until death against either man or beast, vestal virgins keeping the fires burning, and large public spectacles because they seem similar to today's football matches. I'm totally sold on Rick Steves' free podcasts to entertain me along the touristic journey, and I especially enjoyed tossing Alex and Ellen some tidbits of information like the origin of the word "vomit" as we roamed (a copy of Rick's pun intended) along the levels of the stadium. The Roman Forum was also interesting and I imagined that I was walking on the same stones as Caesar and could hear him saying "You too, Brute?" moments before his death. Now it's Italian Siesta time to get enough energy to eat another big Italian meal and stay awake through Christmas Eve Mass.
Wednesday, December 21, 2011
Today the teachers at my school surprised me with their excitement and support for my upcoming Christmas holiday. (Keep in mind that they will have to cover my classes while I'm gone so their work load actually increases...)Their thoughtfulness was genuine and moving. One teacher wrote the following words, "You are my Mary Poppins." What a gift from a wonderful colleague!
Tuesday, December 20, 2011
Yesterday I donned a Santa hat with a red blinking light, sang "Jolly Old St. Nicholas", and gave my second graders a "present" (new vocabulary word) of a lollipop and a new pencil. Their eyes lit up as I called each of their names and they waited patiently for everyone's name to be called. Patience is not something I see very often. When the bell rang, the boys and girls jumped out of their chairs saying "thank you" and knocking me over with hugs and kisses. Even though these kids can make me crazy sometimes, they are really cute and really loving.
Sunday, December 18, 2011
Last week many classes had parties with lots of food. Not only did I see the quantity of food, I had the pleasure of a last-period-on-Friday-2nd-grade class whose behavior gave testament to the number of empty calories consumed during the day.It took my questioning of several different teachers to understand the reason for the parties. And, I'm not sure this is an exact translation but I think the purpose of the parties was to eat food prepared only from local ingredients. Based upon the quantity and variety of food prepared, Malatya must be the food belt of the country. Aside from the expected apricots and pistachios, there were tons of sweets and savories, an abundance of fresh produce and a large assortment of nuts and dried apricot seeds. I'm finding the sweets here are either too sweet as in honey-dripped baklava, or too bitter as in a chocolate cookie that tastes like it has cocoa powder but no sugar. I have my best luck with the savory snacks like a cookie or pastry filled with spinach. They tend to please my palate the most. Also, the apricot seeds are as good or better than almonds.
I love the food experiences but the quantity of food is daunting. And my polite refusal of any snacks or asking for a tiny taste gets either lost in the translation, is not understood from my accent, or is just incomprehensible to the Turkish portion standard. So, I follow the lead of the other teachers, allow the students to load my plate to overflowing, carry the plate to the English teacher work room, nibble a taste of everything and then place the rest in trash bin.
By the way, the green colored cake on the plate was colored with spinach. (Ah, ha moment...)Using spinach explains why I can't find food coloring at the store. I guess I'll skip the green frosted Christmas tree sugar cookies this year.
Friday, December 16, 2011
Hoover and I had been meeting weekly for a walks around the apartment, but recently our dates have ended. I haven't "Hoovered" since Eric left about two weeks ago. You see, Eric, in his zeal to be a great husband, a modern American husband, a man who is not too proud to admit that he can run a vacuum, decided, while I was at work, to remove the almost full vacuum cleaner bag, throw it away, and venture out to purchase new bags.
Unfortunately, I'm beginning to realize the problem with having an American brand name vacuum in Eastern Turkey. Vacuum cleaner bags...or should I say, the lack of Hoover #64 bags. Eric has been to many places. I've been to at least 8. I've asked the man who furnished my apartment for help. So far, nothing. But there is a silver lining...no cleaning with a clear conscience!
Tuesday, December 13, 2011
Sunday, December 11, 2011
Wednesday, December 7, 2011
1. Have your picture taken in front of mall Christmas decorations.
Monday, December 5, 2011
A visit from Eric and the meeting of friends in Istanbul for the past two weekends has caused a shortage of recent posts but provided a increased dose of happiness that all traveling provides me. First, I had the great fortune to meet a high school friend in Istanbul for shopping at the Grand Bazaar and the Spice Market. Even Martha Stuart agrees that shopping any time at these places is fun. Add the expertise of my friend the shopper who has come to Istanbul two times a year for like the last 1000 years and you've got the key to special prices, hidden stashes, and quality shop owners. It was a blast. Then, add the introductions to another "new" friend who I hope to meet in the future either here or in Bend, a husband who graciously leaves us gals to shop, and some delicious food on the floor of a carpet shop and you have a perfect weekend.
Wednesday, November 23, 2011
Sunday, November 20, 2011
Friday, November 18, 2011
Thursday, November 17, 2011
Sunday, November 13, 2011
1. Take 2 lbs of hamburger.
2. Grate 3 onions and kneed into the hamburger mixture.
3. Add 1 lb (or more) bulgur and knead into the meat.
4. Add oil until it feels right.
5. Add 1 cup of red chili paste and pomegranate sauce. Knead
6. Add 1 cup of mixed spices and 1 cup of black pepper and lots of salt. (They like salt here and buy it like we buy sugar)
7. Grate and add 10 cloves of garlic and 2 tomatoes.
8. Knead together.
9. Wipe the sweat off your brow. This is hard work.. almost 2 hours of kneading at this point.
9. Quarter one lemon and knead into the mixture.
10. Roll mixture into little cigars.
11. Pray that the onion juice and the lemon juice cooked the hamburger. Hopefully this is not my last blog entry.
Thursday, November 10, 2011
I've been noticing that many of my Facebook friends have been making daily posts of things for which they are thankful. I don't know if they are keeping some kind of gratitude journal like Oprah several years ago, or if it is another type of gratitude challenge but their posts have inspired me to do the same with my blog. As a matter of fact, I've been reminded of the words Cher used to sing, "You don't know what you've got till it's gone.." And, spending time in Abu Dhabi with Eric made me grateful for many of the small things that have been missing for the past few months. Here is my abridged list:
Speaking hours of idiomatic English with lots of phrasal verbs to Eric and not having to explain myself.
Eating French butter made with cream, not yogurt
Eating whole grain bread
Eating toasted whole grain bread
Drinking brewed coffee
Drinking wine and beer
Being a passenger in a car where I am not the only one wearing a seat belt.
Stopping for pedestrians in a crosswalk
Sleeping in a king- sized bed with luxurious cotton sheets
Showering without seeing holes in the tiles stuffed with trash bags
Playing tennis with Eric and winning
Adidas stores (They are amazing over here!)
Riding the Dubai metro and seeing three mega malls in one day..
Going to movies
Taking naps at the beach.
Listening to piano music in hotel lounges
Above all, I'm grateful that Eric encouraged me to accept a job overseas because, even though it's easy to dwell on the things that I miss, our lives have been enriched by this experience.
Thursday, November 3, 2011
Tuesday, November 1, 2011
Sunday, October 30, 2011
Last night I attended the second day of a Turkish wedding..the actual ceremony. Both the wedding and the reception are typically held in the same venue and last night's was no exception. My friend Seda and her parents gave a ride to the wedding salon (salonu) and I was so appreciative to not have to walk in alone. This was a very large wedding..I'm estimating 500 people. The men and the women sat separately so when we walked in the salon, I saw only a sea of men.The men's reception line was near the front door. Seda's father joined his male friends and the three of us walked to the back of the salon to give Turkish kisses and hand shakes to the women's reception line and find a seat at a woman's table.
Saturday, October 29, 2011
It's apple season here in Turkey. The Turkish name is "elma" and, like America, there are many different varieties. People tend to buy them by the crate fulls and leave them on their balconies to keep cold. I don't think many pesticides are used because the apples often have worm holes, but I've never been bothered by a little extra protein. And, they certainly are not waxed to look pretty like they are in America. But again, not a problem. What matters most to me is that an apple is very crunchy and a little tart. And, discovering that specific apple has been hit-or-miss for the past few weeks. However, one thing has been consistent. For every crisp, delicious apple I've savoured, I've broken the handle off a knife while cutting it. So, I've eaten three very delicious apples and today I need to go shopping....for knives.
Thursday, October 27, 2011
Last night I was invited to dinner at the home of one of my 4th grade students. The father is the head of the IT department at the university and he, his wife, and their two daughters live "on-campus" in the academic and employee housing of the university. It was a delightful evening of wonderful conversation and delicious food.
Tuesday, October 25, 2011
Friday, October 21, 2011
Thursday, October 20, 2011
Tuesday, October 18, 2011
Sunday, October 16, 2011
About six months ago I threw away a pair of shoes in the Tri-Cities. I couldn't find a shop to nail new tips into the heels. Yesterday, I was dressed in jeans and high heels, (because that's what you do here) and had walked many kilometers with my friend Sema to help settle all the food we had consumed at brunch. All the cobblestones and the fact that my shoes are over a year old, left me clacking along the street on nails only. I knew I'd seen an alley in Malatya that consists of only shoe makers (it's actually really cool to see) so I figured a repair was possible. Not only are my shoes now repaired, I got a good price, too. My friend spent about five minutes negotiating the price down from 7 TL to 5Tl or about $2.50. It sure is a good thing I didn't go alone or I would have overpaid....
Friday, October 14, 2011
Thursday, October 13, 2011
While I was savoring my purchases and talking with one of the other English teachers, we were interrupted by a very friendly and thoughtful second grade girl. According to my English "translator" this girl wanted to know how I was able to buy some treats. She thought that since I don't speak Turkish and I come from America that I don't have any Turkish money. She wanted to know if I needed some "charity".
Wednesday, October 12, 2011
Anyway, back to today and a little back ground information...the city has been modernizing the roads by my house for as long as I've lived here, but I think it's been more like two years according to my boss. It's a mess: dusty, noisy, random pieces of equipment left out to trip over, random power outages and internet disruptions as the wrong wires are cut or attached or whatever. And, at random times the city workers will stretch some tape across the road (kind of like crime scene tape) to indicate that the road is closed. (There's no such thing as the American digital signs indicating that on X date the road will be closed for x number of days)... Anyway, this morning was one of those days for a closed road and some road construction work. Often passenger cars just disregard the tape, send out the person riding shot-gun to hold up it up, and then proceed on through the construction zone. But today a police car with flashing lights was enforcing the stretched tape across the road.. thus the new van pick-up location.
Last week the look-out men had gotten some kind of word from fellow van drivers that there was a random traffic check on our route to school. All vans and cars were being stopped, all papers were being checked, and entire vans of teachers and students were late to school. But, thanks to Van #40's look-out men, our driver made a quick left turn, crossed a major highway, geared down to go up a steep hill, and raced through some farms and down a dirt road to avoid the traffic stop. I'm not sure if the look-out men were joking or if something was lost in the translation, but I understood them to say that our driver did not have a license and it would be a problem to be stopped.
Unfortunately, yesterday our look-out men must have been chatting because they did not see the police officer pulling over all the speeding school vans just in front of our school. (There were at least four of them!) We were stopped for speeding I think,(I would estimate 20- 30 km/hour over in a school zone.) The driver's papers were taken, the police officer gave a quick glance though our van (so glad I did not have to show my papers...my heart always skips a beat when I see a police officer) and we were allowed to be driven on to school. But I'm sure the driver had to go back to retrieve his papers and/or pay some money...
In spite of not knowing where to meet the van, the service is a memorable experience, and the look-out men are quite entertaining. Oh, and did I mention that the van leaves exactly 10 minutes after school lets out? So much for working late....
Monday, October 10, 2011
Sunday, October 9, 2011
About a week ago someone commented that I need to iron my white work jacket (lab coat), so I joked back that if they want me to iron, then the school will need to buy me an iron. I said it with a smile, but didn't really give it a second thought. You see, I haven't ironed anything more a seam on a sewing project in years. Ironing is not really my thing. But that may change. You see, last night some co-workers delivered a brand new iron and pink ironing board, both still in their wrappers. Unfortunately, now I may have to buy some hangers...
Saturday, October 8, 2011
The Henna Party
Wednesday, October 5, 2011
Last night I hopped on my bike for a quick fall ride before the sun set. I found some new roads, actually more like paved donkey cart paths, winding up the steep hills behind my house. On several occasions I was approached by one or two brave children asking me to stop and talk. At this point, the original 2 children often morphed into 10 or 15 children within seconds. After learning that both boys and girls like football and basketball, the girls love Justin Bieber, and the boys like video games, I usually say my goodbyes and start pedaling. But last night was different. A 16 year old girl asked me, mostly with sign language by rubbing her tummy, and saying "yekmek" if I'd eaten. The easy response would have been "yes" but I decided to tell the truth "yok" (no) and see what happened. Well, she managed to tell me her mother was a very good cook and that I must come home to dinner with her. I contemplated asking the polite "Are you sure it's OK with your mom?" but realized I have zero vocabulary for that type of sentence and also figured it's not my problem (a very new me!) I also pictured my empty cupboard at home...
Tuesday, October 4, 2011
Saturday, October 1, 2011
Friday, September 30, 2011
Monday, September 26, 2011
According to the Rough Guide to Turkey Nemrut Dagi is ranked #2 in the 30 things "not to miss" in Turkey. Therefore, living only 100 km away from this "grandiose mountain-top sanctuary" built by Antiochus I Epiphanes at 2150 meters above sea level (app. 6500 feet), visiting it was on my "to-do" list with Eric. So, last rainy Saturday morning we walked to the tea garden in the center of town in search the tour operator. After questioning a few strangers we were escorted to a platic white table covered with a few Malatya maps and several photocopied sheets explaining the trip to Nemrut. We signed up for the tour and met our fellow backpacker-type tour companions: a retired couple from Belgium who were on 3-month holiday traveling only by hitchhiking and local bus across Georgia, Armenia, and Turkey, two female Japanese law school students on holiday from school, a female message therapist from Iowa, and a couple from Poland whose hobby is studying Middle Eastern history. The common language was a mix of English and German...a nice break for me from Turkish.
Friday, September 23, 2011
Thursday, September 22, 2011
I have much upon which to elaborate but little time so I will give a brief window into the thoughts swimming around in my brain...
- Time out chairs don't work for 2nd graders in Turkey. Everyone wants to move to the time out place.
- Trying to keep students from running through the halls is kind of silly when even the teachers race the students in the hallway.
- Today's 2nd grade vocabulary included "pinch", "punch", and "strangle" complete with examples. Then I taught the negative as in "Do not____".
- I've been told that pulling the child's ear often works to get him or her to behave. Not sure I can do that...
- Not speaking Turkish helps a lot when it comes to tattling. A child will come up and rattle off a minute's worth of injustices in Turkish. I just smile kindly and see if I can pick out a word or two...(usually I can't)...Then I just shrug my shoulders and away they scoot. In addition to not understanding WHAT they are saying, I also don't know WHO they talking about. It's easy to not get involved.
- These kids are very physical, touching, pinching, etc, but they are also very tough. I haven't seen any crying or whining.
- At school picnics in America, 5th graders like to set their blankets in little groups spread all around the park. At school picnics in Turkey, the students place all their picnic blankets touching so not a blade of grass is showing. Then newspaper is placed in the center of the blankets to act as a long table cloth.
- Playing basketball with 5th grade boys at recess is a great way to teach English vocabulary and win some desperately needed classroom cooperation. Today we learned "pass", "dribble", "double dribble", "basket"(which I proudly got) and "rebound" which I could actually do because I'm about 6 feet taller than them.
- Saying "anlarmadin" (I don't understand)is not enough to stop my neighbor from carrying on a conversation. He just repeated the same words over and over again like an endless computer programming loop. Smiling is not working anymore either. I need some more vocabulary so I can politely excuse myself from a hopelessly complicated conversation.
- I finally returned three empty plates from my really nice neighbor downstairs and gave her some chocolates in return. Then she went to her kitchen and returned with a plated filled with more cakes and cookies. I think it's a game to keep me stocked with treats. I like this game..
- Eric and I had our first dinner party last night. Two dictionaries, Google translate and a sprinkling of English and we had a great night. I offered Turkish Coffee and then asked our guests to show me how to make it. :)
- I invited the English teachers to my apartment for tea this afternoon. Eric was a delightful host and even spot cleaned the house when I texted him from the bus on the way home to warn him of our arrival.
Finally, I wanted to include scenes from today's recess time. The photo is of the basketball boys who, after the game, bought me a water and introduced me to the school birds.