Saturday, November 15, 2014
Last weekend I let a hike to the Badlands area east of town, it was 70 degrees and sunny by mid afternoon. The canyon was beautiful, and we hiked about 6 miles into a deep gorge carved by an ancient river.
How quickly the weather has changed! It started snowing Wednesday night. Thursday I shoveled snow. On Thursday night, freezing rain on top the snow; then more snow on top of the freezing rain. I got stuck in the snow trying to get up the little hill from my house (I was trying to get to the tire store to get my winter tires installed). I reversed back down the hill and made it safely home. Shoveling snow on Friday was hard work! It was much heavier than Thursday’s powder, and my snow banks of shoveled snow were higher than my waist.
After getting stuck in the snow, I called my friend to say I would not be able to attend her birthday dinner party because I could not drive safely. Another very kind friend and her husband volunteered to drive out of their way, and drove me to the party in their big 4 wheel drive truck. It was a special evening, because I was not expecting to attend.
Today (Saturday -- one week after the nice warm hike in the Badlands) I was able to get to the tire store for my winter tires. But I am reminded how much slower everything is in winter!
Driving is much slower when the roads are icy and snowy.
I walked back from the tire store, and walking the short 1.5 miles on ice and packed snow was VERY slow.
So for now I will just relax and enjoy the slower pace of winter living!
Friday, November 07, 2014
October results were not too bad. I lost 2 pounds for the month (from the October 1 to November 3) and lost 5 pounds from my highest weight in October. I improved my strength training and flexibility. I exercised regularly; and met my water and vegetable/fruit goals daily. When I gained weight mid month, I was snacking and eating too many sweets. The trip at the end of the month helped me break those bad habits and resulted in net weight loss, even though I was eating LOTS of great food.
The Turkish diet is very Mediterranean, lots of fruits and vegetables. There was salad and roasted peppers and olives even at the breakfast buffet. LOTS of olive oil. The desserts were very good, small portions of baklava, Turkish delight (jellied fruits and nuts), puddings and halvah. We liked Turkish pancakes for lunch, which were fried pancakes folded and filled with feta cheese or vegetables. I mostly drank bottled water (tap water is not recommended). My favorite treat was fresh squeezed pomegranate juice from street vendors, tart and refreshing. What I missed the most was ice in beverages.
Spices and honey on the buffet
We (6 friends from Oregon) left home at 3 a.m. to catch our flight to Seattle. There we learned that we were stranded by the Lufthansa pilots strike (originally only one leg of our flight was impacted, but the strike expanded and we had a horrible time trying to get rebooked). We eventually flew on Turkish Air (VERY nice airline) and arrived in Istanbul 12 hours delayed from our original arrival time.
We had a great guide, Timur, he shared a lot of insights into the current politics, religion, and social changes. We were not near the Syria or Iraq borders and did not see any evidence of unrest.
Guide at Perge Ruins
Our trip focused on historical and archeological sites; and we traveled 1800 miles by bus. But one of the highlights for me was the opportunity to meet people! We split up into smaller groups in a small village, where local families cooked a home cooked meal.
The mother/daughter in the photo in their home spoke little English and we spoke even less Turkish, but we had fun communicating by gestures (from the milking hand motions, the cheese was from their local animals; and assorted animal noises that we tried confirmed it was goat cheese!)
We also visited a local school, where several of us donated school supplies.
The little boy is 4 and his big sister brought him to meet us. The two little girls are singing a solo Turkish folk song in perfect harmony for us. The whole class insisted that we sing for them also -- we sang Old MacDonald and they responded with a Turkish song with animal sounds!
Turkey is 99% Moslem, but mostly moderate. Women in the big cities dress in modern dress; in the rural communities they wear floral scarves and baggy pants. Their constitution has separation between mosque and state; but the current regime is eroding that power. The history is very diverse, including religious history, and we made a real effort to understand the influence and diversity in a culture very different than ours.
The first two photos are from the Blue Mosque in Istanbul. The last two photos are Byzantine mosaics from the Haghia Sophia, which was a huge Christian church created by Emperor Justinian and Theodesia in 537 AD. It was a church for 500 years, then a mosque. Pope Francis wants it back; the Muslims want it back; the Turkish government is keeping it as a museum.
One of the most moving experiences in Cappadocia, when we attended a Mevlana (whirling dervish) ceremony in a restored caravanserai. The caravanserai are inns along the old silk road from China to Istanbul, the two we visited were built around 1230 AD. The Mevlana music (live performers including oud, flute, drums, and kanan which is similar to a hammered dulcimer) was ethereal, and the ritual was spiritually moving, an attempt to get closer to God by music, prayer, and whirling into a trance. We could not take photos because it was a religious ceremony, but the final photos in this blog are the caravanserai.
Sunday, October 19, 2014
We leave for Turkey tomorrow at 5 a.m. Unfortunately the last leg of our flights, the flight from Frankfurt to Istanbul, has been cancelled due to the Lufthansa pilots strike. The travel agency is working hard to rebook us; I am so glad that Gate 1 Travel called us back from their emergency message line. I have NOT been able to reach Lufthansa, they must be flooded with calls (450 flights cancelled).
So I am hoping that we can have a restful and relaxing trip. I have been on the phone for hours trying to rebook our flights. At this point I am going to trust in the travel agency!! But it has been 4 long hours trying to get this flight rebooked ...
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