Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Why Did the Chicken Cross the Road?

Hello People,

So here's a question for you.  Why did the chicken cross the road? I know you know this joke, but have you really thought about it? Why did the chicken cross the road?  To get to the other side.  Obvious.  Or is it? My friend Fortescue maintains that "the other side" is a euphemism for, well, "The Other Siiiiide."  He maintains that the chicken is, more or less, suicidal.  This is baloney.  The chicken is simply a busy man desiring to reach a destination on the other side of the street.  Maybe he has a chick to go see (get it?) or there is a nice deli that he likes.  Then again, if it is a deli, he may be suicidal after all.... Nevertheless, I maintain that the chicken crossed the road to get to the other side, plain and simple.  Still I couldn't help asking, "Why did this chicken cross the road?" 

Monday, June 25, 2012

White Light White Heat and Lack of Air Conditioning Part Two (Pictures)

As Mr. Strange has mentioned, we are learning ways to cope this summer with the heat.  My current methods of coping are; a steady supply of apple juice popsicles, a huge ice pack, and sitting in front of any and all fans.  You know life is interesting when you have to suppress the desire to squeal with happiness when you find an aisle of the grocery store that has fans plugged in to demonstrate how well they work. And you proceed to evaluate each one...extensively, and could possibly stayed there all day.

This summer has even done what no one who knows me could ever believe possible.  Turned me into a morning person.  A morning person! Of course my definition of morning is anything around 7 or 8, but still, that is huge for me! I am awake at 7 or 8 ready to go because I know by 3 or 4 I would prefer to be napping in front of a fan, lying on an ice pack, and pretending that it isn't the hottest part of the day.  Mr. Strange has been great helping me adjust by making our apartment as cool as possible with fans etc. but you cannot hide out forever away from the heat, especially since we have a limited time to explore before my current..ahem...generous state of pregnancy makes exploring rather difficult.

Hence the quest for the mysterious, cheap, and long ferry ride on Saturday morning.  I have a new appreciation of ferries. Someone very thoughtfully designed them so that you can ride in the open on the top, enjoying the wind but still under shade if you wish. 

This is a picture of the little town the ferry departed from.  

This is a picture of the same area, just closer up, so you can see some of the locals having breakfast and some of the fishermen preparing to go out fishing.

There is a pretty huge gap between many of the well to do and not so well off people in the city.  Many wealthy people live on the water so we saw many extravagant things such as pools by the water, yachts and even a personal lift from the water up a steep hill to someone's house (if you look closely at the second picture below you can see the lift)! 

Mr. Strange looking pensive with many yachts in the background.

Sometimes the boats pass very close to one another.  I actually enjoy it when we go through the wake of another boat, it makes a fun ride.
This is a fort that you may have seen photos of already on the blog but this was the first time we have seen it from the water and it was impressive and beautiful.  Definitely my favorite historical place in the city. I don't want to climb the stairs in my current state so it was wonderful to see it from a different angle.
We rode the ferry for the entire hour-long route and then we were riding it back when I needed a bathroom pit stop so we stopped at the coolest Starbucks in the city. The bottom  floor of the Starbucks was on the water and the inside was made of stone and had amazing air conditioning.  We read for awhile out on the terrace.
This cute little bird came to visit.

we proceeded to watch it steal the seeds off a guy's bagel.
All in all it was a successful quest for cheap and cool exploration of the city.  And we made it back by one o'clock in time for my nap.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

White Light White Heat and Lack of Air Conditioning

Hello People,

Summertime is here and Hazel has a bun in the oven. While, as I found out yesterday, heat is essential for baking actual bread, it turns out that its not all that pleasant when growing a baby. At least so Hazel tells me and well, I'm inclined to believe her. The heat has been climbing here recently. I don't mean Georgia heat. I don't mean wilt the flowers, distribute emergency air conditioners to the elderly heat, but I do mean "we don't have air conditioning and we live in a sunny place just north of Africa heat." This has left us in a what-to-do sort of situation and we've had to get creative. I've mastered the art of turning our apartment into a wind tunnel. This helps. I have it down to a science when to close certain curtains, when to open others, and where to place each fan depending on the time of day. This helps as well. Sometimes, however, these things are still not enough and then you have to get adventurous.

If you have kept up with our lives in Telmar then you know that we love the ferries. I feel the need to clarify something about this. You see, when I was a young warthog and I thought of a ferry boat, I immediately thought "Tom Sawyer's Island Disney World. By which I mean steam engine, slow moving, novelty transportation. This is not so in Telmar. If it was the case you would have a lot of ferry boats finding themselves unintentionally out to sea because of the strong current in the Strait. No, much like the double decker busses, the ferry boats here mean business. There are only two bridges across the Strait so these ferry boats are fast moving weapons of mass transportation. They move a lot of people a lot of places. Still, you can't beat sitting on the top of a ferry boat feeling the wind in your hair with the city stretching on either side of the water. With this in mind, Hazel and I set out to find a cool breeze and a day out and about to escape from the heat in our building.

The city where we live is, in a way, made up of many villages, each indistinguishable from one another, and yet completely different. There is no gap or difference in architecture. Its been one big city for far too long for any of that. Hazel and I had heard rumours for sometime now of a mysterious ferry boat that leaves from one of these little villages near where we live. Supposedly it traveled on and on up the Strait into regions yet unexplored by Hazel or myself for an hour at a go. Now remember what I said before. This is not your Disney World ferry boat. The thing moves. An hour up the Strait is a fair piece. So yesterday morning we set off in search of this fantastical ferry. I will not leave you in suspense. We found it. The rumors were true.

Hazel and I rode the ferry boat for an hour before it reached its final stop and the same thing struck both of us that keeps hitting me over and over again recently. This city is huge. I'll let Hazel post the pictures that we took, but let me tell you, it doesn't stop. Seriously, you don't believe me. I know this. You may think you believe me. You may even say you believe me. But in your heart of hearts you say to yourself, "no way." Hazel and I took this picture from just around the corner on our street. This picture shows a tiny piece of the city.

The road really does go on and on and living here is an adventure. In a city this big its easy to get caught up in the sheer size and franticness of it all. Honestly, its a really cool place to be and we really like it here, but yesterday I found myself feeling rather small. And then I started reflecting on the words of David in Psalm 8. As big as this place is, as frantic as life is, and as easy as it is to make ourselves forget, we have a God who cares about us and loves us. He has given us glory and honor and I hope that I can do the same for Him.
Psalm 8
O Lord, our Lord, How majestic is Your name in all the earth, Who have displayed Your splendor above the heavens! From the mouth of infants and nursing babes You have established strength Because of Your adversaries, To make the enemy and the revengeful cease. When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers,The moon and the stars, which You have ordained; What is man that You take thought of him; And the son of man that You care for him? Yet You have made him a little lower than the heavenly beings, And You crown him with glory and majesty! You make him to rule over the works of Your hands; You have put all things under his feet, All sheep and oxen, And also the beasts of the field, The birds of the heavens and the fish of the sea, Whatever passes through the paths of the seas. O Lord, our Lord, How majestic is Your name in all the earth!

Friday, June 22, 2012


I was convicted when I read this verse at the beginning of (of all things) a Christian historical romance book.  
How many times do I doubt, even while praying?

But he must ask in faith without any doubting, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind. James 1:6 (NASB)

This Ain't No Case of the Summertime Blues

Hello People,

 Yesterday I was complaining to Hazel that I had nothing to write about.  "What am I supposed to write?" I asked her, "we never do anything."  I am very much an on the go person and have trouble adapting to school holidays. Plus, Hazel is still working this week and next so I'm waiting for her before I begin any summertime explorations in earnest.   In her usual calming manner, she suggested that I take the camera and go for a walk.  "We live in a foreign country," she told me, "its all interesting!"  Fair point.

I like to run. On Saturdays I do long runs that take me all over this general area of the city.  These are my favorites.  The first few miles are nothing but hills, ups and downs all the way.  I go by shops and cafes, produce stands galore, and even old Ottoman palaces.  The next several miles take me directly along the Bosphorous where I run with the salty air and the wind through my hair.  This is my favorite stretch of running.  Off in the distance I can see the Blue Mosque and the Hagea Sophia and can even look over at the Galata Tower.  I cannot imagine a better run anywhere.

My weekday runs feel by contrast, well, boring.  They're only 3-4 miles each, so I stay around the neighborhood and the scenery is much less dramatic. However, as I ran this morning I though about what Hazel told me last night and I started to actually take a look around.  The effect of this was similar to that of removing a blindfold.  How blind we become to our immediate surroundings.  There is nothing so exciting as the "dull and humdrum"  of everyday. If yesterday I was bored of the same, today I was Alice stepping into Wonderland.

I went back to my 3 mile route about an hour after my run this morning, this time in Chacos with a backpack and camera rather than my running shoes and gym shorts, ready to take some pictures.  This is one of the first things I happened upon.  A garden complete with chickens and this a block away from a shopping mall!

If you are like me, you think of double decker busses as a novelty tourist activity.  Not so in this big city.  If you hop on a double decker bus here, its because its a busy bus that needs the room.  You can and should expect it to be crowded.  Still, being essentially a long term tourist I jump at every chance to ride one and yes, I always go for the top.

If the Promised Land was flowing with milk and honey then Telmar is flowing over with fresh fruit and vegetables.  Next week I'll take pictures of the open market (Pazaar) behind our apartment where the farmers bring their produce, but these produce stands are everywhere and the fruit and veggies are SOOOOO fresh!  The Telmarines love their beef and chicken, but this place is a vegetarian dream.

This Mosque towers over all in our neighborhood.  Its brand new and though I thinks its already in use, it is still under construction as displayed in the picture below. 

Upside, the bathroom is open and free to the public.

The "W.C." as you may have guessed, stands for "Water Closet."  

Space is not as available here as it is in the States.  People use every bit that they can.  Its awesome seeing people in such a thoroughly urban environment using their resources and  living by the earth.  This fellow consented to let me take his picture, for which I am very thankful.  I'm not sure he was happy about it though...

The city is very large and very packed.  Oddly enough, its easy to forget that when you're in the middle of it, but then every once in a while the city opens up and gives you a view and all you can do is go "Whoa."  

Just up the hill from where I took the picture above was a bakery where the smell of fresh baked bread was just too much to pass by. The owner, seen below, was kind enough to let me walk all through his bakery taking pictures. 

Below is some of the bread baked freshly not an hour before I took the picture.  And get this, it only costs the equivalent of about 50 cents and is delicious!
It was cooked in an actual wood fire oven which was, I can tell you, quite warm.  I didn't know the words to ask what temperature it cooks, but I think you can tell by the picture below that it was quite a bit warmer than the average household oven, and by the picture below that, that it uses a substantial amount of energy.

They even let me venture into the back of the shop to check out the machinery they use to mix the dough etc.
On the way home I passed this playground.  What with the razor wire and all, I kept imagining the scene from Terminator 2 when Sarah Connor is hanging on to the fence and screaming as the kids get blown into atomic ash.  I don't know why.  Happy thoughts. 

And finally, a picture of the reflection of your affectionate Mr. Strange.  I actually took around 50 pictures during the course of this 3 mile walk, but I'm tired and that is a larger number of pictures than I think you want to see.  All of this to say, open your eyes and look around.  I'm sure you can find at least as much to see on your own 3 mile run through your neck of the woods. 

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Blessing in the form of a cat

For the last few days we have had the blessing of feeding some friends of ours' cat.  Feeding a cat may not seem like a blessing but I assure you, it is.  Not just because this cat is cute and I really like it (although it is bit bitey) but because the family said we could use their pool when we went to feed their cat.
(Mr. Strange and the cat)

A pool!  They only live about a 5-10 min. bus ride away and every time we have come back from their house, we have said it feels like we took a trip to the beach.  A true mini vacation.
This has created a really awesome daily schedule this week.  I still have to work so I leave at 8am, finish around 2, head to our friends house after work, feed and play with the cat, then spend about an hour and a half in the pool.  I never knew you could crave floating so much as I do now that we are 34 weeks along in the pregnancy and I am evidently carrying a baby Hulk/active watermelon.  Then, on several days we have headed to hang out with friends before they leave for the States.  So we don't get home until around 10.  It is tiring but it has been such a fun mix of work, pool, and friends.

It has been a great way to begin the summer and I am sad that the cat doesn't need to be fed after today although I am sure he will be glad to have his "people" home.

(Feeling Like A) Nowhere Man

Greetings Programs,

It has occurred to me that if I'm going to do a post a day for the summer I should probably find something worth posting about.  I intend to do some postworthy activities, but we all know where good intentions get you and it definitely doesn't get you anything worth writing about, but I vow that I will do interesting things this summer. Hazel has spent this week at work for the most part and I, being very unmotivated in her absence, have lapsed into a near vegetative state of reading almost exclusively.  Now, if this were a book blog I suppose that would be acceptable, but it isn't, so I suppose at some point I'll have to get out and about.  

It was with this in mind that I ventured into the city this morning.  I was bored around the apartment and "after all," I thought, "I can go ahead and move into my new classroom!"  This year I have my own room.  I don't have to worry about other peoples' lessons.  I have this one to myself and I am quite excited.  I hopped on the bus and rode in nervous anticipation, well relatively speaking anyway.  45 minutes later I arrived at school and started moving my stuff into the new room.  5 minutes later I finished. Anticlimactic?  Maybe a little.  Still, here are some pictures for your visual enjoyment.  Keep in mind, if it looks a bit austere at this point, thats because it is.  
The front of my classroom.  All of the chairs are stacked because, alas, they will not be used again until the fall. Sadness and great sorrow.
My new desk.  I don't expect to be able to see it for long.  I am my father's son after all.  Nature vs Nurture? I'll leave that to you to figure out.

Yes, its a bit bleak, but school just ain't the same without the students so at this point, I think its fitting. 

I am the Student Council advisor for next school year.  What does this mean?  It means that I sit in the Student Council meetings, offer "wisdom," and among other things, I get to take them all to an Eastern Bloc country this fall for a conference.  Finally my dream of visiting the former/future Soviet Union will be realized.  Yesterday I met with the Student Council officers for coffee and training.  In many ways this is a group of students with great potential for doing great things this year.  Whether they live up to that potential has yet to be seen, but I know they can and that is exciting to see.  In many ways I see some of my own issues reflected in them.  The desire to be individual and a (occasionally grudging) willingness to conform to the guidelines set for them are definitely things that I've struggled with in the past (week).  For the first half of the meeting I did most of the talking, explaining goals and things to keep in mind, conflict-management, etc.  But the second half I sat back and listened as they talked through some things.  

As I listened I kept reflecting on the following verse. "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called children of God" (Mat 5:9).  Over the past year, I haven't had to deal with too much overt external conflict, but there has been a rather hefty dose of "you're just a kid" skepticism from certain members of my community. Though nothing is ever said outright, I usually leave conversations with these people feeling frustrated. I keep second guessing myself and wondering, was that the right time to say something?  Am I being a doormat? And as I sat listening yesterday I wondered, What does this mean, being a peacemaker?  Does it look like passivity?  I keep struggling to find the line between "meek" and "weak" and I don't think I'm any closer to finding the difference than I was a few months ago.  One of the things I find to be the most frustrating is leaving conversations having held my tongue, and wondering if I was a peacemaker or a pacifier.  Did I hold my tongue from self control or cowardice?


Wednesday, June 20, 2012

For the Love of Cake


Some things are different here and take some time to get used to. Such as baking.  I like to bake. I am not particularly good at it but I enjoy the results so I make a valiant effort now and then.  For Mr. Strange's birthday I particularly wanted his red velvet cake to come out well because the one other time I made it, it was a flop.  I realized while getting ready to make the cake just how accustomed I have become to making things work here.  It is a multistep process that I thought I could bore you with today.  Complete with a picture below of what it takes (at least for me) to accomplish it.

Step One: Computer: Find a recipe online. I only have 2 cookbooks here because they took up space and weight in our luggage.  And the Pioneer Woman recipes are the best.  

Step Two: Black notebook: Write the recipe down.  I have a fear I will set the computer on fire or drown it if I have it on the countertop and we do not have a printer (although this is changing this weekend woohoo!).

Step Three: Solid red cookbook: This cookbook is the hugest blessing.  It was written by foreigners like us cooking in Telmar.  It has ingredient substitutions, measurement conversions, hints etc.  I translate my recipe into grams, write down the ingredient substitutions, oven temp, name of ingredients in the language etc. The Better Homes and Gardens cookbook helps with this too.

Step Four: Finally walk to the grocery store hoping that I have written enough info down to find the ingredients I need and the right amounts.  I also try to desperately remember not to buy a lot because whatever I buy, either I or Mr. Strange will have to carry.

Step Five: Just try to bake and remember that things do not have to be perfect, everything is a learning experience and to have fun.  Every now and then you need up with a great cake feeling very accomplished.  And tired. =)

A Day in the Life Number Two

Hello People, 

  Today I would like to tell you about something that happened to me recently. Hazel and I were in the process of washing the dishes after supper.  As I dried one of our bowls I stepped out on our balcony which overlooks the street in front of our apartment.  As I looked out I noticed one of my friends walking up the street dressed in a tuxedo and looking much like an American James Bond.  I then did what I was obligated to do.  I loudly wolf-whistled my approval just as out of nowhere and much to my chagrin,emerged our single female principal who immediately looked around in embarrassment.   When her eyes alighted on me I somehow resisted the urge to either duck or hurl myself out of the window (sadly, the fall would only have broken my legs) I told her, "I was whistling at him?"  All the while, Hazel laughed hysterically from behind the curtain.  

-Mr. Strange

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Ducks in a row

-by Hazel
As Mr. Strange mentioned earlier, we have made a pact to each post once a day this summer.  Which of course means that I am really tired today and cannot think clearly enough to write a post.....but I will not wimp out! It is like when we were traveling around the city today and the bus we needed to get on was completely packed so Mr. Strange looked at me doubtfully and asked if I thought I could fit (meaning baby orbit and I).  I might have taken that as a challenge and you better believe I was on that bus, belly and all. ;)
So today, due to my stubborn streak, I am posting random pictures that I took at the beginning of the month.

I learned how to play poker when one of Mr. Strange's classes came over to our house (this picture is from his birthday party though).  I am not very good because I always be and never fold.
But what fun is folding?
One sweet, unassuming girl beat us all soundly anyways, we didn't have a chance.  It is fun learning unexpected things about the students as you get to know them. And if someone says they learned while playing with their grandmother, beware! They will beat you.

I was so excited when we got a baby carrier from our coworkers, I rushed to try it on but quickly realized it is hard to try on when you are in the third trimester (see picture below for illustration).  Hence, my dear husband trying it on and giving the stuffed moose a ride.

And last, but not least, a very large duck. In the middle of the city.

Summer Wasting

Hazel and I have made a pact.  Each of us will write and post a blog entry once a day for the entire summer. Some entries may be long, others may be short, many of them may be boring, but there you have it.
Below is a song to make you feel summery as you read this post. It is placed there in hopes that you may be lulled into a state of sleepiness thereby masking the slight feelings of boredom produced by the text below.  See how diabolical I am?

Asleep on a Sunbeam
Belle and Sebastian

School is out!  That's right, Friday was our last day.  Since then I think I've already read 5 books so by the time little Orbit gets here who knows how well read I will be?  Then again, I don't know if reading childrens' books qualifies me to call myself "well read."  I'm going to post some of the books I read here so you can expect at least a couple of my daily posts to be book reviews of things I've been reading.  At the moment I'm reading The Chronicles of Prydain by Lloyd Alexander.  The Disney film "The Black Cauldron" was based on the first two books of the series, but having only read half of the first book I can already tell you that they did not do a good job.  And no, this is not my usual "they turned Frodo into a wimp" rant against movies from books, but I'll have to add more about this later once I've actually read more than half of the first book.

Fairly often, recently, we have been asked about our plans for the summer.  Many people here use the summer months to either go home or explore the greater land of Telmar.  As we are expecting our newest member of the family to drop by in a few short (long-feeling) weeks, neither of these options is really very practical for us.  Its probably going to be a fairly quiet summer at first with a  lot of reading, as you can tell, and a reasonable amount of rest. But even though we aren't leaving the city and we plan on doing a lot of reading, we still have some exciting plans.  In four weeks Bess is coming!  Three cheers for family visiting!  Bess is my absolute favorite second sibling and Hazel, little Orbit, and I can't wait to see her!  I really can't tell you just how much I've missed my family so this is one of the highlights of the year by far.  Two weeks after Bess arrives, or so the doctor tells us, we can expect little Orbit to make an appearance.  Yes, yes, all you experts, I know "you can never tell with the first one,"  but we must have something to look forward to.  I am extremely excited, scared, petrified, happy, etc about this and can't even begin to write it all here.  Finally, we're going to use this time to explore the city in which we live and maybe find some of its less visited secrets.  There is so much history here and so much of it has to do with the church.  One of my goals for the summer is finding the old churches (think 1400s or earlier) and exploring them.  First day of searching coming on Saturday so keep an eye out here for pictures.

So anyway, to kick off the summer posting let me end this post with the following thought.  What is the difference between a man and a dog?  A man wears a suit; a dog only pants.