Sunday, April 29, 2012

Working With Dad

Since Dad has been working 12 hour days lately and we only have one car; it has been slightly challenging to find time to go get groceries. Yesterday, Dad picked us up on his lunch break and took us out for lunch and grocery shopping. There was a short conversation at lunch and we decided that I would go with Dad to the rig site after we got groceries. So once we got home I ran around and got a hat and sunscreen and off we went! We were there roughly from 1:00pm to 7:00pm. And while we were there we both got to drive the bulldozer and the excavator!

This is Dad in the excavator with the guy who was running it.

Dad getting into the bulldozer....

Me running the excavator!

and Me figuring out the dozer controls with the operator

That was VERY cool. I didn't think I would ever drive a bulldozer.

Driving the bulldozer was easier than I thought. I had never thought about how hard it would be to move an excavator....

Friday, April 27, 2012

Bad Dog


Cam and I just witnessed a dog fight in the lane way beside our house.  One of our neighbours strolls by every day with his little dog.  Unfortunately today the big feral dogs decided that his little dog wasn't welcome.  What started as barking and growling ended with the owner of the little dog wrestling "Mutt" to the ground in an attempt to rescue his little dog.  Thankfully he had a companion walking with him tonight.  The friend chased the little dog back towards his house while the owner held Mutt to the ground.  Cam and I stood by quite stunned and not really knowing what to do to help.  It was over in a moment, but our neighbour came away with a bloody forearm. I'm not sure whether it was due to the dogs' teeth or a scrape on the rocks.

The Extent of Our Hospitality

At home, in Canada, we have a b-i-g house.  I never really thought of it as a big house until we moved here, but it is. It has lots of cupboards and closets and drawers and they're full.  We have shelves full of towels, and cupboards full of glasses and plates.

When I was choosing what to ship to Turkey and what to leave behind I was really struck by how much "stuff" we were leaving behind.  I wondered why we needed that stuff in the first place if it was so unimportant that we could do without it for two years.  The reality is that when we return to Canada we expect to take up the life we had before and so those things or many of them will be useful once again. And of course it made little sense to ship some things because we would need them before the shipment arrived and so it was simpler to just purchase them here. Towels for example and dishes certainly fit this category. Other items weren't cost effective to ship.  For example shipping furniture wouldn't have fit the budget or been practical. So we left somethings at home because it made sense to buy them here.

That said, we haven't begun to acquire or replace the volume of stuff we have in Canada.  We have very little storage; one clothes closet and five dressers, one narrow storage closet and one armoir like kitchen cupboard. So what we have we use, daily. 

Sometimes that means a last minute scramble at supper time to wash what is dirty or to replate something in order to serve something else (put the vegis on a plate so the rice will have a bowl).  We have two knives, one for chopping and one for bread. We have three serving bowls. We have eight place settings of dinner plates, knives, forks and spoons, and six little paring knives we use for steak. This is more than adequate for our family, but strains our resources when we have company.  Sometimes Cam brings a couple of single fellows from the drilling company to join us for supper.  The last time they came, one of them brought his new girlfriend. We had just enough dishes to go around, but had to wash forks in order to serve the dessert they brought.

What I discovered with Paint

Most of you have probably seen the icons I posted a while back that I made on a program called Paint. I have also been looking into 3D character design programs, then I had an idea to import pencil drawings I had done into Paint and go over them with the colours.

This is how they turned out;

There is an internet game I play called Howrse, on which you raise and breed horses. On the game you can get special coats for your horses that other users have submitted. This is one of my ideas.

 And this was a drawing I did quite a while ago from the cover of a book.

Another Howrse idea.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Cam and I went for a drive today

We went to Gelibolu this afternoon. Our first stop was the nursery so I could buy more bedding out plants.  We have two strips suitable for flowers on the seaside of the house. Nicole picked out 4 flowers last weekend at the pazar but there was lots of room left.  I picked out 8 plants for which I paid 8tl.

I can't figure out Turkish marketing.  Like the plants many things in shops or at the market have no price tag.  So you either ask "kac para?" or give a bill more than what you think the total should be. If an item has a price tag it may or may not be rung through at the till for that price. For example, Nicole wanted a flash drive.  We went to the shop.  According to the clerk and the packaging an 8g flash drive was 35tl.  Nicole got out her money, Johanna got out her money and I got out my money. Total cost of 3 flash drives 90 tl. Sam picked out an mp3 player at the large electronics retailer Technosa in Kesan (like Best Buy).  It was marked 159 tl.  The clerk rung it in at 129 tl.  In another place I have seen high end leather goods (bags and purses) sold at a discount to foreigners and a higher price for nationals.  I was doing some research on a Turkish museum and there just the opposite is true.  Nationals pay 3tl to be admitted while foreigners are charged 12tl.

After the nursery we put the plants in the car and went to the pazar.  We bought a small juicer for Johanna who has started making lemonade. We walked another block and bought green onions and radishes. Around the corner we stopped to buy some cheese from "Thunder" our Turkish/English speaking cheese vendor.  He hands out samples liberally and we always come home with a kilo or so in a few varieties.  Last week there were baby chicks and ducklings for sale at the Saturday pazar.  It made me very homesick to see them.  Every week there are roosters and sometimes hens for sale. The vendors tie one of the chickens' legs with a bit of string to something stationary. The last couple of weekends there has been a truckload of watermelons. 

While we were paying for cheese, our newest acquaintance, Torgut, stopped to say hello.  He was with someone else who didn't linger, so we didn't visit.  We accidentally kidnapped Torgut about a week ago.  Torgut lives near us in a different summer holiday village, Cam met him one afternoon when he stopped near his house to photograph a tortoise. Later that same afternoon, Cam stopped so I could meet him. We told him that we were going to Gelioblu to shop.  He assumed we were asking him to come along, so he locked up his house and jumped into the back of the car beside a very surprised Sam. It worked out well because the car ride gave me a chance to ask him questions and he answered slowly so I could mostly understand.  He's a lovely retired mechanic from Istanbul.  He has a couple of married daughters. I think he may be a widower. He followed us around the Kipa and then to buy charcoal.  He invited us after for coffee, but Cam had to leave for a meeting.  It was nice to see him again.

Afterwards, we drove downtown.  We parked on the street in our usual spot.  There are no parking meters just a man with tickets who comes to the car.  Parking costs 1 or 1.5 tl depending on how long you plan to stay.  Sometimes he's there sometimes he's not. Sometimes he gets your parking money when you're leaving.  It's no problem.

We walked across the street to the Ozmart to buy cheap charcoal for the BBQ.  While Cam was in line I slipped into the back of store to look at the tea pots.  Turks drink tea in tiny glasses.  We have the little glasses and little spoons, but I'd really like a good quality tea pot and of course I don't want to pay the earth.  Ozmart had some at a good price but I'm still looking.  Anyway by the time I came out of the store Cam was gone.  I headed back to the car and met him on the street.

Next we went to the dondurma store.  It is on the corner across from the Ozmart.  Inside there was a man behind the counter and two at the table.  We looked in the window to see what flavours are available.  NONE!  The metal bins for ice cream were all shiny, empty and clean.  Yet the store was open for business.   We looked in at the bakery next door then turned back to the main shopping street and ended up with revels from a different bakery.  I don't really care for revels at home.  I don't like the thin crackly chocolate flavoured coating that falls in my lap when I bite it. I don't like the frozen white ice'd mystery inside.  Here however ... WOW! The coating is actually chocolate and thick and the ice cream is smooth and creamy.  I did feel badly though because we sat on a bench to eat them and a couple of little kids gave us looks of pure envy.

After ice cream we wandered up the street to the Valide Sultan.  They have two restaurant locations almost kiddie corner from one another.  Both have been closed for a week or more.  There's a sign on both doors that says something about "Monday" but that's all we could make out.  Hopefully they'll be open again soon.  It's a nice restaurant to stop in for a quick meal.

On the way home we stopped at Guneyli hoping to find the seaside chai house open.  We walked the dock but ended up coming home for tea.

The Sea Serpent of the Saros

This is a pen and coloured pencil drawing I did today

Mom suggested I post it. The background is from the veiw of the Saros bay from our porch.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Fenerbache Fotball

European football, known in North America as soccer, is BIG here.  Boys play together on fields and on basketball courts.  I haven't seen anything that looks like organized leagues in our area.  There is one covered arena in Gelibolu which likely contains a soccer field for league play.

Yesterday Ekrem, a work collegue of Cam's brought Sam a football jersey and ball cap.  He wanted to be sure that Sam will support his favourite team, Fennerbache.  Last night we watched the semi final on ATV, thankfully Fenerbache won in overtime on a penalty kick. We had a good time cheering them on.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Military presence


I have few hard statistics, but I have heard that up to 20% of Turkey`s land area is controlled one way or another by the military.  Turkey has one of the 5 largest forces in Nato.  Military service is mandatory for all Turkish men.  There are 3 large installations in our immediate area and every once in a while, you see their vehicles on the roads.  During a routine trip to Kesan to visit the supermarket (Kipa) and the electronics store (Teknosa), we were stopped at a stop light to let a large (the largest I have seen thus far) military convoy pass.  I firmly believe there were more than 50 units in the convoy which consisted of a wide selection of vehicles both wheeled and tracked and several heavy tanks.  The whole convoy was moving down the freeway with flagmen out stopping traffic so they could pass without so much as slowing down.

I think these guys were on their way back after delivering some pieces they didn`t get the street pads put on before the time the mission was to start.

Mr Breadhead or roadside vendors

I have mentioned what different sights can be seen on the roadside or street corners.  I have also mentioned street vendors hawking their wares to traffic at lights.  In the city of Istanbul, there are vendors selling toys, flowers for the ladies, snacks, and bottled water.  I finally got a picture of Mr Breadhead hawking his wares at the stop light in Kesan.
There are 3 intersections and a traffic circle with lights coming through the big smoke at Kesan. I have seen up to 6 vendors selling bread at them. The bread they're selling looks like an over sized bagel, except it is baked only instead of being boiled first, so it is not tough like shoe leather or like a bagel.  Most are crusted with sesame seeds.

The one time I tried a piece of bread at a light, it was stale and virtually inedible. This bread is actually quite good if you can get it fresh like right out of the oven in the bazaar.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Testudo Graeca (maybe)

We think this is a Testudo Graeca or a Spur-thighed tortoise. Nicole found this one and then came back to the house to show us where it was. There are lots in our neighbourhood right now.  Spring is in the air and they are out and about feeding and looking for relationships.  Today while turtle hunting Nicole found a snake for Johanna and I to look at. I've never seen one in the wild before.  They can move very fast.  Thankfully this one, a glossy brown specimen (2' long and 1.5" in diameter) turned tail and slithered at high speed into the underbrush, rather than reaching out to one of us! Of course I left the camera at home.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012


A week ago we went to Troy. Mom has told the story about the tomb of Dardanos, which happened on the way.
Now I'm hoping you all know the basic story of the Trojan horse the Iliad the Odyssey etc, because it happened here. At first glance it's a bit disappointing; all ruins, nothing spectacular. However the mere size of some of the buildings is very impressive. Also the part you can see is only about 1/3 of the Troy that existed in the past you only see the "uptown" section, the acropolis.
The taller square thing is an altar; the two round things that look like wells are wells. This was the worship site for some god/goddess or other. There was a large temple to Athena on one of the highest points of the city.
The Government had sittings here and it's true what they say about amplification. Sam and I both stood just in front of the stage and whispered and the people up at the top could hear us, true it's not a big place but if I had stood on flat ground the same distance away and whispered no one would have heard me.
The only gate of Troy that the Trojan horse could have been brought in on.
Most Trojan houses were built of mud brick with foundations of stone. Thanks to fires some of the bricks remain but the majority of it is gone.
One view of the trench the infamous German Henriech Schliemann dug through Troy in search of treasure. He found it and took it to Germany where it remains, however the Turks are lobbying to bring it back. For more info on the treasure and Schleiman try
The outside walls of the acropolis
One of the first things you see at Troy is this kind of column along a walkway.
A small display of water or sewage pipes and oil jars. Now Ali Baba's forty thieves hiding in oil jars doesn't seem so farfetched. But how did the stand? Well, they were anchored in sand for transport, according to Ali it made them steadier and less likely to fall over.
A small keychain I bought at the gift shop where we stopped for lunch.
Overall Troy was okay, not the most impressive place I've ever been to, but hey, it's still cool.