Friday, December 30, 2011

Open Air Mosque Gelibolu Turkey

This "open air" mosque, built in 1407, is located on a point of land in the town of Gelibolu overlooking the Marmara sea. It is still used for "Congregational Night Prayers" during the summer according to a Google translation of the sign. It is possible to drive along the base of the cliff. There is a house and restaurant beside the mosque. The photo with our rental car in it is looking up the hill to the mosque. You can see the back of the mosque and the flag pole beside it.

Grocery Shopping

Today we went to Gelibolu for groceries. Cam headed to the bank. We're either exchanging US cash for Turkish Lira, using a Canadian bank card on a Canadian bank account to exchange Canadian dollars and withdraw Turkish Lira or using our credit cards.
While he was at the bank, the kids and I went to Salomon's, the local dry goods store. It's a good place to buy dishes, make up, school supplies, cooking appliances and other small things for the home. Today we bought a small rug for Sam's room, a slightly bigger rug for Johanna's room, light bulbs, more silverware (6 place settings never seemed to be enough), a powerbar (every room has only one or two plug ins) and slippers for when we have visitors. Turks take off their shoes like Canadians do. However the host is supposed to provide footware for inside the house. So far we've been dismal failures in this regard and Ali reprimands us EVERY time he comes.
When Cam came to pick us up he'd already been to the bakery to get bread. (7 fresh loaves for 5 TL) We went for lunch afterwards. We went to a seaside restaurant. We were the only patrons during the hour or so we were there. The food was excellent: salad course, plate of french fries, main course, dessert, pop and Turkish tea to drink for about C$15.00 per person.
Then we went back downtown to the green grocer for potatos, onions, peppers, cucumbers, oranges, apples, and strawberries. The next stop was the Kipa Hypermarket. We got two carts and filled one with different sizes of bottled water. Then we bought meat, milk, rice, mushrooms, garlic, banans, and cheese. We bought some chips, chocolate and candy. The most expensive item in the cart, besides the beef, was the cake mix I purchased.
We seem to be getting more efficient and I was better organized today. I actually made a menu plan before we left the house and I had a good list broken down by vendors (Kipa, green grocer, baker). Slowly, slowly I'm learning.
With our travel plans for next week we had to postpone the curtain installation. When I got home I sent an email using google translate. Hopefully, Baris will understand well enough to know that we are only postponing and not cancelling the order. The kids are anxious to have window coverings.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Home is where the heart is

I've been singing (quietly to myself) "It's a Small World After All" quite a lot in the last few weeks. So many things here remind me that home is not so far away.
However, since we got the news Christmas morning that Cam's mom was very ill and in the hospital, I have felt a tremendous chasm open up. The distance between us and her bedside, seemed more like the gulf that stretches between the earth and the moon; a distance too broad for us to cross. So we waited here, put on a brave face and did what seemed to come next. We opened presents Christmas morning and ate turkey Christmas afternoon and enjoyed some lively Turkish company Christmas evening.
I was grateful that Cam's brother and sister kept us informed of her condition as the days passed but frightened by what we were hearing. The longing to be home continued to increase. December 28th, we got the news in one devasting phone call that she had passed from this life into the next. It's was hard news to hear and my desire to be home went from mere longing to an obsession.
Cam asked his collegues in Canada to help us book the flights. As the day passed however I began to be aware of how difficult it might be to get 5 people on one flight. During this time of year; when travellers book months in advance to vacation and to be home for Christmas, we might have to travel in two groups or not go home at all.
This morning I woke to the knowledge that we have 5 seats on the same flight. We will be home in time to be at the service to celebrate Eileen's life. I am very grateful to the people who made the arrangements and the kindness we've experienced along the way.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Signs of Christmas

Yesterday, December 24, we drove from here to Tekirdag which is a large port city between here and Istanbul (maybe halfway?) The region is famous for kofte (Turkish meatballs - usually rectangular) and Raki (licorice flavoured alcohol). We stopped for lunch (kofte!) at a seaside restaurant. They are on the main road so the staff has a few English phrases and the menus are bilingual. While we were there a tourist group from Singapore stopped for lunch. They are in Turkey for about 3 weeks and have family in Vancouver, B.C. Of course we know this because one of the ladies in the group stopped to chat and spoke excellent English as well as her native language. It reminded me again how handicapped unilingual people like myself really are.
We did some reconnaisance and found a 3M Migros (Walmart Super Centre) like our local Kipa in Gelibolu but bigger. We drove around some more and found the town centre perched on a hillside and jammed with traffic and pedestrians and dogs. Nicole counted 7 dogs in one block. Eventually we found the Mall.
We parked underground after the sentry inspected the back of our car with a mirror on a stick. The mall was four floors serviced entirely by escalators with a huge Carrefour (Walmart Super Centre) store on the second floor. We even found a toy store. Most of the toys are for children under 6 with a few for the 6-10 age group. I haven't seen any Lego, but this store did carry a small selection of Schleich animals. Purchases at this store and others are put in bags that seal so you can put them under the tree without any additional wrapping.
This mall was decorated with lights, tinsel and santas for Christmas. We saw santa hats, small plastic trees and garland for sale on the street corners when we were driving around.
I'm not sure how long we spent at the Mall but it was about an hour too long for all of us. We were grateful to get back to the car and back on the road. We sang carols most of the way home and listened to Stuart McLean and the Vinyl Cafe on podcast.
This morning the children got up and found all the pieces to our little nativity. I usually hide each piece in turn as the month of December progresses, but this year I hid them all after bedtime last night. No presents get opened until someone finds baby Jesus. This year like last year, Nicole found Him and so she gets the fuzzy stuffed lamb to keep for the year. Once Jesus is in the manger with the rest of pieces we opened stockings, ate candy, and opened presents. Cam made us a yummy breakfast.
The rest of the day we expect to spend quietly at home. (Although I think there is a nerf gun battle brewing.) Later there will be turkey and after that more music.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011


So Mom and I were going to make pudding. Using Google Translate this is what the instructions worked out to:

#1 500ml a pot of milk after each use. (?) Add the entire bag on. (On what?)

#2 Cook over medium heat stirring constantly. Mixing furnace begins to boil, cook for 2-3 minutes longer, squinting. (Why squinting?)

#3 Discharge (Appetizing) have prepared pudding into bowls. Serve cold.

Weird. Apparently Google Translate is not a logical thing...........

Sunday, December 18, 2011

London in General

The House Cavalry at the Cavalry Museum Ready for Inspection

"Elementary my dear Watson!" Sam and Dad as Holmes and Watson

A pocket globe in the London Science Museum

Nicole inspecting a jet engine at the Science Museum

The London Eye

The View from the Eye

London Shirts

Are these funny or what?

The Tower of London

Not at all what I expected. The Tower is more like Heritage Park in Calgary than a historical fortress. That said it was pretty cool. We saw the Crown Jewels and the Fusileirs museum. But not much else because we came too late in the day. I would have liked it better if the road ways were not paved over and the walls were not whitewashed and there wasn't the projectors showing movies about the inhabitants. It's all very well and good that So and So did this that and the other thing and the Tower was important. But could you act like it is an old fortress not a museum? I mean I understand reinforcing walls that are going to fall down, I understand putting in railings as as long as you try to replicate the old style. But honestly I could go back to my hotel and see white washed walls I can go to another museum and see historical objects in glass containers. But what I can't see is a ruin that has been here for hundreds of years. And to see it unimproved would have been amazing.

None of this is to say that you shouldn't go see the Tower just don't expect a ruin because you get a museum.

St Martin In The Fields, Trafalgar Square

The upstairs is so silent. The wood is dark but the pillars and the ceiling are white. Decorated with gold. Somehow in this place where the rich and powerful worshiped I don't feel reverent only awed. I don't think that this was God's idea.

The crypt is surprising, it's full of people sitting, talking, and eating. Gone is the silence of the upstairs. It's a different world from the silent respect. There are people buried here their plaques are embedded in the stone, scraped over by plastic chairs. Underneath the silence is a boisterous place. If I were not a Christian this could convince me of hypocrisy. As it is I am sure they are simply having a meal. They mean no disrespect it is hardly different than having a potluck in one of the churches at home. The people here are simply having a meal and a conversation. But two worlds remain.

Trafalgar Square

Very interesting place. The statue of Admiral Lord Nelson is really tall the exact height of the mast of the ship that he sailed on in the battle of Trafalger. In which he lost no ships and captured or sank 33.Legend has it that when Big Ben strikes 13 the four bronze lions at the base of Nelson's Column will get up and walk around the square.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Breakfast II

IKal Kangal /Breakfast Salami 0.552 kg x 24,00 tl/kg = 13,25 tl = US$7.28

Nescafe Instant Coffee / Klassic Kahvesi 17,00 tl = US$9.34

Milk 1L / Sut 1,72 tl = US$0.95

Honey Pops Breakfast Cereal 4.50 tl = US$2.47

Cappy Fruit Juice 1L 1,99tl = US$1.09

Turkish breakfast usually consists of cucumbers, tomatos, olives, cheese, bread, Turkish coffee, or chai tea. We prefer a more North American style breakfast and of course Cam still cooks!

Breakfast I

15 Eggs / Yumurta 3.15 tl = US$1.73

Loaf of Sliced White Bread / Ekmek 0.70 tl = US$0.39

Honey House / Pasturized Honey 7.25g 16,99tl = US$9.34

Nutella / Nutella 750 gr 11,99 tl = US$6.59

Smooth Peanut Butter / Calve 350g PRICELESS!

Gelioblu Kipa doesn't carry it - had to go to Kesan Kipa

Now I can't find the receipt!


Water/ Su

for cooking and for drinking

12 x 500 ml = 2.49 tl or US$1.37

1 x 10 L = 3.49 tl or US$1.92

Sit, Stay

To Feed or Not to Feed

We've been told by a local resident to feed the stray dogs. We've been here a week and I've seen more than ten different dogs in our community. Many of them are the extra large hound variety suitable for running long distances, jumping high fences and devouring, well, just about anything.
None of these dogs have owners. People do have dogs for pets here, but these dogs are "free". Perhaps their parents were farm dogs, or their grandparents or their great grandparents. Now they fend for themselves.

I like dogs better than I like cats. I am not afraid of dogs. I feel some compassion for these dogs, who if circumstances were different, would have a spot on the hearth and a meaty bone on feast days.

However, these creatures seem to cross the line. Physically they resemble dogs, but I think, mentally they function more like wolves perhaps or dingos or hyennas even. Would I leave food in my lane meant to attract a dingo? No. Do I want a hyenna or a wolf to associate the sight and smell of my family with a hand out? No. Are the dogs more or less likely to be rabid, vicious or territorial if we feed them? Perhaps.

It seems clear that our neighbours, currently absent, feed the dogs. There are large bowls in the lanes behind many houses. If our neighbours feed the dogs is there any point to our abstaining? It may be too late to be set apart because the dogs already associate the sight and smell of humans with food. We are still thinking; weighing the pros and cons, but it seems likely that in this instance we will do what is recommended by people who live here. Surely their local wisdom must outweigh our own logic in this situation.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

How to change the world!

Changing the world is a common theme at high school graduations. What the graduates don't know until later is that they have already accomplished that mighty task - simply by their arrival. For every child's parents experiences a change of focus, priority and intention that changes their world when that baby is placed in their arms. The moment of transition from person to parent changes you forever. It's a wonderful thing.

Welcome to the world Carson Bradley and welcome to parenthood Randall and Kirstie.

With love,
Your Muray Cousins


Your Great Uncle and Aunt

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Happy 16th Birthday Johanna

. . . and the date on my camera is still wrong - ARG!

A new step

"Taking a new step,

uttering a new word,

is what people fear most."


London Museum of Natural History

This place was awesome! The building was huge and looks like an old church. There is a statue of the builder, Richard Owen, a creationist and a statue of Charles Darwin, the father of the present theory of evolution. They keep the statues separate because these guys were comtemporaries and hated each other. :)
the displays were really cool the bird display was awesome they had every thing from ostriches to hummingbird to vultures and birds of paradise.
There is also a blue whale display, that thing was HUGE, especially when compared with other animals we think are big. That whale could easily swallow an elephant whole.

Over all I really liked the Natural History Museum. If you are ever in London you should definitely see it.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Ankara: similar or different?

It's odd staying in an American hotel in Asia. Here we are half a world away from home in a country that is predominately Muslim and there is a Christmas tree in the lobby. When the piano player isn’t playing American pop melodies on the grand piano, there are Christmas carols on endless loop from the sound system. There are scrambled eggs and toast on the breakfast buffet beside sausages and bacon. At dinner there are quesadellas, pasta with alfredo sauce, fish and chips and schnitzel on the English menu. Sheraton Ankara certainly understands their clients.

On the streets near the hotel, you begin to see the differences. Walk for a block or two, but mind the pavement. In North America the sidewalks are paved smooth. The surfaces are level and of a standard height and width. Here paving stones, cement, and stone surfaces at different levels and widths make walking a few blocks a challenge; at least for us.

Drivers have the right of way. Seventy kilometers an hour down a narrow lane with cars parked on each side of the road after dark seems too fast to us, but just right for our cab driver. Car horns are used, not as the angry interjections I’m used to, but as a polite “excuse me”. On the street, yellow jacketed men stop traffic to allow vehicles to parallel park in spots so short that the cars must leave one wheel on the sidewalk and park diagonally in the space. As an old world city with narrow streets, cars are often parked up on the sidewalks to one side or the other. On wider streets, double parking is common and ignored by local authorities. Cars park on the corners of streets too. At the mall there is a man who will hail you a “taksi” from the line of cabs by the curb.

People here are affectionate. Friends shake hands and kiss one another on each cheek. Regardless of gender, people stroll down the street arm in arm. An older or respected person is greeted with a kiss to their right hand and the hand is raised to the forehead of the younger person.

While I’m grateful for the safety and security our hotel provides, and the familiar food after a day out in this new world, I am just as grateful for an opportunity to experience all the wonderful differences this adventure has provided so far.