Thursday, September 18, 2008

Oh yeah!

This picture is being used in an ad for John Robshaw Textiles, but the taxi, the dirt road, the driver, the textiles reminds me of a day, long ago, when my sister and I begged a poor Mumbai taxi driver to take us to the suburbs in search of Fabindia.  

Although  we actually found it, (after hours of driving around and asking directions), when we arrived it was closed! We asked if he would take us back the next day since he already knew where it was and he agreed. Soon he was whisking us all over Mumbai to temples, Dhobi Ghats, and markets and finally, he took each of us in turn to the airport. 

If I had scanned my India journal, I could have figured out his name. I do remember he told a touching story about his wife. 

When it was time to get married, his mother and father went out looking for a suitable match. Like every Indian boy, he envisioned his future wife would be a beautiful girl with good cooking skills and super-model good looks. He was horrified when his mother introduced him to a short, round, plain girl. He rejected her on looks alone. (Although he himself was no Shahrukh Khan!)

But his mother insisted this was her choice for him and he was pushed hard into the union. He finally gave in and married her -- only to make his mother happy. But he was unhappy and made the first few years of their life together unpleasant for his new wife. He admitted he criticized everything she did and cooked and never had a kind word for her. 

Over time, she gave birth to a son.  He softened and they began to talk more. He grew to appreciate her cooking, maybe even more than his mother's, (gasp!) and then one day he realized that he had grown to love her. Not just love her, but ADORE her.  

He explained that his mother had been right all along, that although she wasn't thin and willowy with "wheat-ish" skin, her personality and temperament were an exact match for him. In his eyes, she was perfect, and he gushed when he spoke about her.

Looking back on the early days of his marriage, he said he felt ashamed he had treated such a wonderful woman so badly, but that she endured it all without holding a grudge, and for that, he loved her even more. 

It was a nice story. You hear so many negative arranged marriage stories, it was refreshing to hear about one that actually worked out. 

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Suzani Rescue Operation!

This chair is covered in a material you can find all over Istanbul called Suzani, which actually means "embroidery" in  Uzbekistan where they come from. They can also be very pricey.

I've always really liked the fine silk pieces like this....

....and when I arrived home from Canada I saw that Bulent had bought me a red one not unlike the one on the chair up top. 

It only had 2 problems:

1. It had some crazy hot pink and lime green on it. Not my first choice of colours, and...
2. It really stank like mildew. (He bought it off a guy who was trying to sell a few items for money on the street - I can see why he got such a good deal.)

So, I hung it off my washing line for 3 days, but the smell did not budge. I had no choice but to wash it, knowing full well the colours were going to do crazy things - but it was unusable the way it was! 

So I got out  bucket and filled it with a generous amount of salt and vinegar to try to set the dyes. I soaked the whole thing overnight. In the morning I found that despite my efforts, the colours ran anyway.

Nothing to lose, I put it in the washing machine. I always wash everything on cold. Halfway through the wash cycle, I decided to check it and found that during my time in Canada, someone re-set our washing cycle to use hot water! The whole Suzani was really dark. Almost black. I looked it over, and actually didn't mind it. I set it to cold and let the wash cycle finish. 

End result? Most of that black came out in the rinse cycle. It's still red, but darker. The hot pink and lime green are gone, replaced with a deeper purple pink and the lime became pale sage green. Much better. And the best part, it doesn't smell like a barn anymore. 

I wish I had a "before" picture. Here is the "after". 

The colours are slightly off in this pic, the pink should be a bit more purple, and the the big white flowers have a bit of green to them. But it's miles better than it was!

A Sister Collaboration!

Many, many, many years ago, (more than 10!) my incredibly talented sister carved this design for her book making business in Victoria. This summer when I was home, I picked through the old stamps and brought back a few of the Islamic and Christmas -ish ones to play with.

I sat down one night with all my block printing supplies and printed up a heap of these in gold, turquoise black and red. Signing them R&M was the icing on the cake! I think they'll look awesome in frames.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Turkish Coffee

In Sultanahmet's hippodrome, next to the Blue Mosque, there's a nightly "night market" during the month of Ramadan. At sunset, the square fills up with families and picnic blankets taking up every spare centimeter of grass. Surrounding the eat-a-thon are even more places to eat; ice cream, donair kebabs, baklava,  dried fruit, nuts and, of course -- Turkish coffee!

In the Hippodrome, there are several vendors making Turkish coffee. Always made by men, who brew the ground beans traditionally over hot coals in little individual copper pots. The cups are kept hot in a big pot of hot water off to the side.

Coffee ground reading is big here. It involves first enjoying your little cup of thick strong coffee, but don't drink it all!  Stop when you get to the black sludge at the bottom, (it tastes bad so you probably will anyway). Then place the saucer over the top of the cup and flip it over. Make a wish and make 3 swirling circles with the cup and saucer and place it on the table. After a few minutes the reader will flip the cup and saucer and begin reading.

These are the basics....

Then you take a look at the grounds themselves. You'll see that there are shapes in the grounds that can be interpreted but the reader. Every symbol, from ants to zeppelins have special meaning. 

Some people love it, some hate it, some acquire a taste for it, (as I did).  As the evenings turn a little cooler in late September, and the moon is full, (like it is tonight) nothing beats a tiny, steamy cup of Turkish coffee!

Even if you don't like Turkish coffee, you can still get a reading!  Try this out!

Friday, September 12, 2008

Little Cloud Pictures

This is a cool site. You put an URL or piece of text into it and it creates a little picture. The large words are the ones that show up most often in the text. I actually did this one a few months back when I just came back from Canada, can't you tell! (I even have the word "pine beetle" in there!)

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

My Most Prized Possessions

One of my projects while i was a t home was to locate my travel journals and scan them into my computer for safe keeping. Honestly, I didn't get all of them, (India, Egypt and Arizona still have to be done) but I got a large part of them scanned. Here's a glimpse of a page or two from the few that i did get uploaded....


...and Spain!

and Taiwan in Spain! I was in Madrid during the big 9.21 earthquake, this newspaper is how I learned of the news.


and more Thailand!

Bali - my first time across the equator

The lost and reworked book of Cambodia - I lost my original book in the Hong Kong airport on the way home. I made another journal with extra post cards stamps and in-flight magazines gleaned from friends and fellow teachers.

Cambodia again!

Turkiye!! (my second time through)

....and Turkey again. Documenting my love affair with this city!

Now that I'm looking at these, I realize one of my favorite books, which includes my favorite page is missing. It's the King of Jordan summarizing our trip so far through his country in a postcard home to my parents. (Not really!) 

Absolutely my most prized possessions!

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Thursday, September 4, 2008

From the Air

I like taking pictures out the windows of airplanes. I have started a collection of them ever since I missed the mother-of-all-out-the-window-of- an-airplane pictures - I passed over "The World" when leaving Dubai with no batteries in my camera. 

Never again!

So here are some pics I took on the way home from the Okanagan to Istanbul via Vancouver and Amsterdam. I had a middle seat from Vancouver to Amsterdam so no good pics of Greenland, (sorry!) but there are some of the ones I did get. 

Above is Kelowna and it's brand new floating bridge!

Okanagan Lake looking north towards Vernon. I love the feeling you get of looking down the valley.

This was taken about 10 minutes after takeoff, heading west. As you can see from the rusty red, the trees that haven't already been logged are being heavily infected with the dreaded Pine Beetle. 

Vancouver! We passed over the downtown area, then made a huge sweeping U-turn to land at YVR.
This picture was taken out the window at Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam. Too tired to drag my body into the city a second time. Jet lag is MUCH worse heading east than it is heading west. 

Below, the sunset about 5 minutes after take-off from Amsterdam. Not much mystery as to what crappy airline I was flying!!  (To their credit, I was pleasantly surprised -- they were much better than when I flew them 13 years ago!) 

Too dark coming into Istanbul to capture any images... maybe next time!