Tuesday, December 3, 2013

UAE National Day - Not just for Emirates

Fireworks in Celebration of the Expo2020 Win in Dubai
Last weekend was very eventful for Dubai.  On Wednesday, November 27th, Expo 2020 was awarded to the Emirate.  The city celebrated, and fireworks entertained us from the Burj Khalifa. This was a great kick off to the long holiday weekend for UAE National Day.  Only 42 years ago, the UAE became a nation, and now it has been selected to host an Expo - quite an achievement.

All this happened to fall on American Thanksgiving weekend, so we were full on at home.  From me briskly walking for a good 20 or so minutes with two 6+kg (9-pound) turkeys to catch the Expo fireworks to my two day cooking extravaganza, there was a lot to celebrate and be thankful for.

While the actual National Day was on December 2nd, a lot of us in the private sector were off on Sunday and worked on Monday.  That evening, I finally took my son for much needed shoe shopping.

We went to one of the smaller shopping malls here, and were pleasantly surprised to find a central area with locals showing off local crafts - net making, basket weaving, henna painting and singing. In another area was a large table with National Day accessories like scarves, bracelets, flags, and pins.

My son very much wanted a pin with a picture of HH Sheikh Mohamed, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE, and the Ruler of Dubai; HH Sheikh Hamdan, the Crown Prince of Dubai, and HH Sheikh Khalifa the President of the UAE and Ruler of Abu Dhabi.  It was small so I gave him some money to buy it - and after all it was National Day.

My son was so excited to put the pin on right away.  He walked around proudly with his chest out for all to see.  He had a sweater on that he zipped up, but immediately had to open because it covered his UAE badge.  On the way out we watched some local dancing and drumming, and he danced the entire way back to the car.

As we went to dinner, I kept thinking about how proud he was of his new purchase.  I thought about the thousands of children living here like my son, who are not local, but were born here.  This is the only home they know.  They all know they descend from parents who are not local, but this is the place they call home.

Like those other children growing up here, he loves the UAE and Dubai.  When we travel and he sees an Emirates flag on the airplane he is incredibly excited.  And when people ask where he is from, Dubai is included in that explanation.

He doesn't quite know what an Expo is, but he was excited it was awarded to Dubai.  I am sure this will be a holiday he does not forget - a celebration of Expo and the UAE, Thanksgiving and we even put up our Christmas tree early.  How can a child not love a country that can offer him the ability to do all of this in one weekend.

Congratulations and Happy Birthday to the UAE - our home away from wherever "home" is…

Fireworks in Celebration of the Expo2020 Win in Dubai

Friday, November 22, 2013

Dried Fish on the Chao Phraya

While it was only a month ago, it feels much longer.  Was I really there?  Did I really have a holiday? Here are two of my favorites I took from the trip.

Drying fish on the Chao Phraya

One very rainy morning we did a boat tour of the Chao Phraya river in Bangkok.  I am sure it was an ordinary day for locals.  A novelty for us after living in the desert so long.  Even though the rained pelleted our eyes, our fingers wrinkled and we were soaked, it was welcomed.

We went to a cafe for lunch along the river.  It was there that I saw this woman putting some fish out to dry.  I kept my camera on the table as we ordered our food.

My husband laughingly asked me,  "Why are you keeping your camera there?  What are you waiting for?  A cat to come steal the fish or something?"

Of course you never know what might happen.

Fifteen minutes later his question was answered.  Why yes… it seemed I was waiting for exactly that.

I often tell him I can predict the future, but I've never quite been this good at it before.

Stealing fish on the Chao Phraya

Sunday, November 10, 2013

The Art of Interpretation

Art is subjective.  Even with the same scene or image, it can be interpreted drastically different.

Here is my son's production of a sunset in Thailand, versus mine.  I let him edit a raw version of the same image I shot.  The end result, two wildly different interpretations.

His is called Colorful Islands

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Beneath the Surface

While I moved to snap away at something obvious, I looked down.  There I saw a beautiful flower.  The leaves on the water seemed interesting too, but when I looked even closer I found the most amazing world of little snails.

They became my obsession for the afternoon.


It wasn't until I got home that I saw that they were smiling back at me..

Friday, October 25, 2013

Opportunity is Always Around the Corner

This is an image from a fire show in Thailand.  It was one of those hotel shows that may not have been the best show ever, but it resulted in some of the most interesting images I have from that trip.

I almost missed this moment as I did not expect that when they said they were heading around the corner to the water for them to do much more than what they had already done.  As the fire hit the water and sparks flew everywhere, it made for the most amazing picture opportunity.  I felt lucky to get this as the fire was finishing when I arrived.  Almost a missed opportunity.

I often read that many famous photographers were obsessed about taking their cameras everywhere. I get that.  I experienced it again yesterday.  I went out to run an errand, and came upon a huge Harley motorcade in Dubai.  Of course I did not have my camera, and my iPhone did not do it any justice.

Every time I am out and do not have my camera, I see so much opportunity lost.  Never under estimate the value of the amazing thing that is just around the corner.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

My Third Culture Kid

I think one of the allures for expat living is all the travel potential.  So, when a long, three day holiday falls in the middle of the week, it is a great opportunity.

During this last holiday, we went to Thailand.  While we were checking into our hotel, I watched my son start a conversation with a young teenager and his parents in the lobby.  When I went to help him wrap up his conversation so we could get to our room, the man proceeded to tell me that my son was confused about where he was from.

He kind of gave me that look with it too.  You know, the one where you speak about a child, but the child is within ear distance so you raise your eyebrows so the child cannot hear what you are discussing.  Yes, THAT look.

"Really, how so?" I ask.  I admit, I knew what was coming next, but I had to ask anyway.  Maybe the inquisitive eyebrow made me do it, but it was probably my own curiosity.

"Well, he says he is from America. Turkey. And Dubai?"

My response?  I smiled and confirmed,  "It's True."

Just as Third Culture Kids, or TCKs as they are sometimes referred to, have a challenge to explain, or they feel it is too long to explain, I sometimes feel the same.  Not that I don't want to explain, but "Where are you from?" can be a loaded question.

The man understood, but no one could be as thrilled as I was about that conversation.  I love that my son loves America, Turkey, and Dubai. The first time I asked him where he was from when he was about 3 years old, his answer was Istanbul, Texas.

He loves them all equally, and perhaps Dubai just a little bit more because this is where his home is. He is like a spokes person for Emirates because he is always giddy with excitement whenever he sees that flag painted on the tail of the airplane as we head home.

So where are you from?  Where is home?  Maybe we are confused.

There is a nice film on the internet that interviews several TCKs called Where is Home?  During the discussion, one of the kids answers that question with "Home is where you want to be."  Dubai. Home Sweet Home...

Monday, October 21, 2013

Pink Day in Dubai

October is Breast Cancer Awareness month - including Dubai.

Today was Pink Day at my son's school to raise awareness for breast cancer.  Instead of their uniform, they can wear a pink shirt.  There is also a bake sale and donations can be made to a local breast cancer charity.  It is a very important cause.

Last year my son did not inquire about pink day, nor did he mind that he did not have a pink shirt. He did not mind again this year that he does not have a pink shirt, but he did ask more about it's meaning.

As we walked from our car to the entrance, we talked about it.

"Mommy, what is pink day?"
"It is to raise awareness for breast cancer."
"What is breast cancer?"
"It is a disease that women can get in their boobs and it is important to go for check-ups so if someone does have it, it is detected early."
"Well, then if you need you can get medicine, or have a small surgery and then get better."

I thought this was a pretty big explanation already, but being the inquisitive child that he is, he keeps going deeper into the subject.

"What if you don't go to the doctor?"
I never try to hide the truth in these discussions.  I do try to make it age appropriate, but yet this was a pretty serious subject.
"Well, you could die.  So this is why it is important to get regular check-ups.  I have had quite a few friends that have had breast cancer and they got better because they had check-ups, and saw a doctor that helped them."
"So does everyone wearing a pink shirt have breast cancer?"
"No sweetie, it only effects adults."
"Ya, because children are too young to die."


In addition to the need to ask the school if they had an age appropriate program to introduce this subject to the primary school children, it also got me thinking about all my friends that have survived breast cancer.  They are also young, and I am happy to say doing very well.

Make sure you do regular self-exams and get mammograms.  If you haven't done it yet this year, schedule it today.

And for that matter, not just breast check-ups - prostrate, wellness, whatever.  Get a regular check-up.

An Urban Yoga session in Safa Park in Dubai.  All proceeds that day went to
Breast Cancer Arabia 

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

The Faces of Turkey

I saw a great video posted on Facebook this morning from The Perennial Plate called "Faces of Turkey".  It really captures the essence of the Turkish people.  

When I watched it with my son he asked me "Are they happy with what they have?"  There is not really any strong indication in this video that these people might be poor or earn a low wage even though it does seem to focus on the working class of Turkey.

For me, the question was interesting because well, he is five, but also if I learned one thing from Turkey it is that life is beautiful and there is a lot to be happy about.  

The first year I lived there, inflation was around 70%, but yet life went on.  If such a thing were to happen in a develop country, I am sure the adjustment would be interesting.  Sure people were concerned about it, but that did not stop them from living.  Strangely, I have never seen Turkey on any happiest country in the world lists.

So my answer to him was "Yes". 

Even with the political controversy in Turkey right now, they are still some of the happiest, warmest people I have met.

Watch Faces of Turkey.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Life is Unfair

School is in full force.  It seems to be going well, but I am never sure what to expect.  I am not in the education industry, so I don't know how the year should go much less what makes a school in Dubai "good", or one of the "best".

Nor do I have any idea where it is that I would get the "best" value for my money.  I wish I did, but I am most certain that I do not know what that should mean from an education perspective.

Like all the other expats here, I am paying for a private education for my child, and hoping I made the right choice of school for them.  I do question it from time to time because I hear a lot of other people questioning it.

But is it really that bad?

I went to Africa for the first time in 2004 with my husband and some close friends.  We toured Namibia, Botswana and Zambia.  The main focus of the trip was to experience nature, photography and the animals.  I saw a lot of amazing things over the two weeks we were there, but the most vivid memory I have from that trip was a visit to a local school in Zambia.

I remember so much about that visit - the feel of the weather, the distinct smell of the land, the excitement of the children that someone came to visit.  It is still very vivid.

I anticipated a one room school, but I was not prepared for what I saw.  One room with desks and a small chalk board.  That was all.  Nothing else.

Each child had a notebook and a pencil.  The very few other supplies that were there - a few reading books with lessons about AIDS, and some pencils - were kept locked up so they would not be stolen.

I knew of the challenges in Africa, but to see them was completely different.  Even without a child at the time, this was an incredibly difficult reality to face.  Despite poverty, the children were smiling and happy.  We toured the rest of the land - the new well outside was about the only other thing to see at the time.

While it was very difficult to visit, I also found it very hard to leave.  Its hard to leave knowing you go back to a different kind of life and they stay there.  "Life is not fair?"  I curse the reality of that.

So if you ask me about the schools in Dubai.  My answer is that I don't really know what defines a good school here.  What I do know is that life is unfair.

Twabuka Community School, Zambia

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Life Advice

Last night I met a few girlfriends out for a kind of welcome back to Dubai drink.  A lot of people here leave for long summer holidays, and many people travel for work frequently, so unfortunately, this can result in not seeing our favorite people as often as we would like.  It doesn't make us any less close, it is just the nature of Dubai.  It is transient.

As I was chatting with three friends off to the side of the larger group, a guy approached us.  Like a pack of zebras, if there is one straying from the pack, the lion sees opportunity.

No one was there to meet anyone.  Well, except for him, so a look of disgust immediately appeared on my friends' faces.  I actually found myself feeling sorry for him because he seemed pretty intimidated and was not sure what to say.  I was not one to frequent bars when I was young, but "So ya" is not really a winning introduction anywhere.

While my friends quickly dismissed him, I felt the need to explain the situation to him.  "Look, we are four women, married with three or four kids each so we are not really your target market." Ok, I embellish a bit on the number of children we all have, but I wanted to add some fear factor to my story.

He proceeds to tell me he is 24.  Twenty-four?!!  I inform him I am old enough to be his mother.  Ok, I embellish a bit more.  Technically I could be old enough to be his mother but my son is five and I don't want to think about the gap between me and a slightly inebriated guy that is almost half my age.  Cringe.

He got my point, but before he left he asked us for some life advice.  You know, since we are so much older than him.  Maybe a desperate plea to keep the conversation going, but life advice... that's a tough one.  I am sure that at work and as a mom I do that a lot.  And I used to be a consultant - the profession of getting paid to give advice!

One friend advised that he to move to the other side of the room.  But again, I find myself feeling sorry for him.  I've been on this earth twice as long as he has, so by default I must have more experience and should have something useful to tell him.  Rejection and no life advice?  Double whammy.

The first thing I thought of was stay in school and stay away from drugs, but he was a bit too old for that.  Don't hit on groups of married women?  That seemed like a no-brainer by now.

After a quick assessment of my life in a loud, smokey bar I finally found something useful to suggest to him.  Humor.

No matter what happens in life, never loose your sense of humor.  I'm not talking about laughing in the midst of tragedy.  But really, if I can't find some humor or irony, or laugh at myself on most normal days, then that is not good.

So there you go, not that you asked, but the best advice I have so far is humor.  As for the guy, he went back to his friends, and hopefully had a good laugh.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013


Turkish Tea, or Çay

When I first moved to Turkey, I found the tea drinking a bit different than throwing a bag in a cup of boiled water.  First the tea pots threw me.  Two on top of each other?  Water on the bottom and tea on the top.

Then there were the glasses.  Drinking boiling tea from a tiny, hot glass with no handle?  Ouch.  And because the glass is small, it is just as easy to spill as it is to singe your fingerprints.  And how many sugar cubes does one need for that?  And if you are hosting, you need to be on the ball and fill that glass as soon as it is empty - small glasses finish quickly.

I learned very quickly that tea, or çay (pronounced chai) is a very important part of daily life in Turkey.  It starts the day with breakfast, is served at work, in tea houses, in cafes, at home again in the afternoon or evening, when guests come visit.. and the list goes on.  Many important decisions are made over tea - work decisions, life decisions, political decisions.

I got used to it quickly.  And who wouldn't?  Not only is it everywhere, but it is also very good.  

I still start my days with it and I hate to leave it in the morning.  I also drink it in the afternoon when I am working from home.  However, I find I miss that culture of tea everywhere.  I even considered an electric Turkish tea kettle at work, but that could get a bit tricky with a hot desk.

In Dubai, the norm is more the Starbucks and equivalent franchises of the world.  Arabic coffee (which is a Turkish coffee with cardamom) and Moroccan tea (mint tea) are easily available, but it is not quite the same.

Perhaps it is the comfort factor of Turkish tea.  The many glasses that I have shared with friends over the years have left me with a Pavlov-like reaction when I taste it.  Even on the most exhausting and challenging days, there is something comforting about çay.

Friday, August 30, 2013

30 Agustos - Victory Day, Turkey

A patriotic picture for a patriotic country.

Sarkoy, Turkey

The 30th of August marks the end of the Greco-Turkish War.  Growing up, I was not a history buff by any means.  I don't blame anyone for my lack of interest, but I do not think history is well packaged in schools.  It is not always presented as exciting, but actually many of the stories are stranger than fiction.

Today I learned that the outcome of this war could have had a lot to do with a monkey bite.  Yes, a monkey bite.  My husband was telling me this was the theme in today's column of one of our favorite Turkish writers, Yilmaz Ozdil.

He tells the story of how King Alexander of Greece was bit by a monkey while walking his dog.  As a result, he died of sepsis.  Many, including Winston Churchill, believed had he lived the outcome of the War could have been different.  Who knows.

His full article in Turkish is here.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

By the Light of the Moon

"And hand in hand, on the edge of the sand,   They danced by the light of the moon." 
— Edward Lear, The Owl And The Pussycat

Moonlight on the Marmara Sea, Turkey

Moonlight on the Marmara Sea, Turkey

Friday, August 16, 2013

The Pier

Here is another one of the Pier.

Piers are very significant.  A lot happens on piers.  They are much more than their obvious, functional uses.

They are also trusted meditation and meeting places that carry a lot of feelings, emotion and positive energy.

Sunset at Sarkoy, Turkey

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Night Fishing

Of all the pictures I took during our travels this summer, I think this was my favorite scene.  

Night Fishing, Sarkoy, Turkey

This is in Sarkoy, Turkey at my mother-in-law's summer home.  Sarkoy is a not-so-small-anymore village on the Marmara Sea not too far from Gallipoli.

This man can be found fishing from this pier most summer nights.

Night Fishing, Sarkoy, Turkey

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Bugs under the Macro

So you may recall my failed attempt at arachnology last year where a little spider jumped onto my camera as I was trying to take pictures of it's web.  There were no spider pictures because it freaked me out, and I opted for homemade baklava pictures instead.

Hello Ladybug, Sarkoy, Turkey

This year I overcame that fear.  Well, kind of.  I found some kinder, gentler insects to experiment on.

Lesson learned:

  • Bugs do not stop.  They are prima donnas and often turn their backs to the camera.
  • The ladybugs in Sarkoy, Turkey have an orange-ish tint to them.  The ones in the US I am used to are very red. 

Sunbee, Sarkoy, Turkey

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Eid Mubarak - We have Moon!

Sheikh Zayed Mosque, Abu Dhabi

After what seems like quite some deliberation over moon sitings, Ramadan is now officially over in Dubai and the Gulf.

Ramadan and Eid are based on moon sitings.  In this part of the world, official scholars still look for the new moon to call the end of Ramadan.  In other parts of the world, they do not use scholars, but plan it scientifically based on what I assume are trends and technology.

I used to think that was reasonable.  From an economic perspective you can plan.  Businesses know when to close, people know when to travel, etc.  Imagine the potential chaos in the West if we waited for a moon to call Christmas.

After reading an article this morning in the local newspaper, the Gulf News, I get it.  They interviewed an islamic scholar who talked about how everyone in his village used to go to the banks of the Euphrates to look for the moon.  It was an exciting time.

He then went on to talk about the birth of his grand-daughter.  It was fantastic, but yet expected because due to science everyone already knew it was a girl.  As someone who did not learn what I was having when pregnant, I could totally relate to that feeling of not wanting science to spoil the surprise.

Eid Mubarak, Seker Bayram Kutlu Olsun

Yoga & Art in Dubai

For those of you in Dubai during these hot summer months, there is a not so secret great spot for yoga happening in DIFC.  XVA Gallery has opened its doors to host yoga a few times a week to Urban Yoga, the same group that can be found in Safa Park during the winter months.

The location is really convenient for me so I tried it for the first time last Saturday and again tonight.  It is very good, and there is something for all levels there.

So while its too hot to be outside at the beach, at least you can surround yourself in art as you practice.

My Heart Belongs to the Sea by Jonathan Gent, XVA Gallery, Dubai

Sunday, August 4, 2013

The Language of Friendship

Everyone has a best friend, a good friend, close friends.  Some you have known for years, others you have just met recently, but yet you feel like you have known each other for years.

This is a picture of my son, and what I anticipate will be a very close friend for years to come.  The story is unique because they are the sons of two men who have been friends since they were not much older than these two are now.

My son speaks about just as much Turkish as the other boy speaks English.  Both have been exposed to the other's language, but are not yet fluent in each other's mother tongue.  It doesn't matter.  They love each other dearly and speak the language of friendship.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

What does one do on a Blue Voyage anyway?

Taking a holiday on a boat may not seem like the most relaxing thing to do. It could be boring, right?  I promise, its not.  And as an added bonus, this is one of the few places left in the world where you can wake up and have no access to internet, or mobile phones.

Mavi Yolculuk, Blue Cruise, Bodrum, Turkey

Lunch - Fresh, local produce and grilled fish!
Approaching the next bay.
Bodrum, Turkey

If life or work is a bit stressful and you need a get away, its worth considering.  The daily itinerary goes a bit like this:
That first big jump off the boat is one to remember.
Bodrum, Turkey
- Wake Up (after sleeping on deck under the stars)
- Change into bathing suit, or just roll off side of boat directly into the sea for a morning swim.
- Finish swim.  Breakfast is ready for you.
- Shower, or later if you like
- Decide what secluded bay to go to next
- Enjoy the view
- Swim again
- Maybe go to another bay, or not.
- Swim, nap, liesure time.
- Lunch
- Move on to the next bay and swim
- If there is a remote island with ruins on the way, you can explore, or not.
- Swim some more.
- The captain will also likely have some string on board if you want to try your luck at fishing
- Turkish tea time
- Decide where to head for sunset
- Last swim before dinner
- Shower
- Enjoy sunset drinks and dinner
- Chat with friends, laugh a lot.  Maybe play cards or something like this.
- Sleep

Notice there is really no exact timing for this.  While you do ideally want to be settled by sunset, the day is yours and you are free to roam.

Food consists of fresh, local produce.  Often from the captain's own village!  And of course fresh fish.

And don't be afraid to shop around... its not as expensive as you would expect.  There are boats to fit every budget.  They can be very cost effective and cheaper than some of the best hotels.

So what are you waiting for?  There is still one month of summer left, so enjoy!

Napping during a Mavi Yolculuk in Turkey

Sunday, July 28, 2013

The Blue Voyage

I grew up in Texas and spent many memorable summer days with my friends at the Gulf of Mexico. I often do not remember everything from high school, but those carefree days at the beach are some of the most vivid.  The smell of salt and sand mixed with coconut suntan oil are still just as vivid as laughing so hard I could cry or pee my pants - or both.  These smells and the sound of me and my friends singing to Def Leppard, Poison, or our favorite classic rock tapes from the 60's and 70's are what I most often recall.

Just about 15 years ago I stepped foot on a random gulet boat in southern Turkey for a day trip near Bodrum.  Enter my second love affair with the sea.

Turkish Gulets in Bodrum, Turkey

Deep Blue Sea
Bodrum, Turkey
I can still remember being in awe of the water and how blue, clean and cool it was.  It's blue was so hypnotizing I could not stop looking at it.

Since then I have taken several of these trips called mavi yolculuk, or blue voyages, by day or for several days with friends.  The smells are similar - salt, sea and sunscreen.  We still listen to our favorite music, but now on iPods instead of cassettes.  We still laugh very hard until we cry, or almost pee our pants - well, I can't speak for everyone on the boat, but we laugh a lot.

I always bring a book, but I honestly am never able to read much.  The sea is so blue I can only stare.

Yes, the water is that blue, and there are that many fish.    Bodrum, Turkey

There is still a lot of untouched nature to experience from a Blue Voyage.
Bodrum, Turkey

Good Day Sunshine!

Back from a very long holiday.. not necessarily because it was a long time off.  Stuff happens and life throws curve balls in your travel plans.  However, there were still many good things about the trip.

It was good to not have internet connection for 2 weeks.  With the exception of the phone a few times, it was a good time to disconnect and focus on what matters and the day to day simplicities of life.  

While the little bumps in the road do make me crave for the next much needed holiday, we still had a good time and Turkey was still beautiful.

Sunflower, Turkey 2013

Monday, July 1, 2013

Cat under the Macro

I have writers block.... I think its largely because since I came back from Istanbul last month, I have spent a lot of time watching the protests in Turkey.. watching and waiting.  So much to say, but yet nothing that hasn't already been said.

We are gearing up for our annual summer pilgrimage to Turkey.  In just a few days we'll be in the land of pomegranates, olives, pide, blue skies and sea, and street cats.

Here is one of my little street cats.  Megan.  When we found her she was malnourished.  Only ears and eyes on a stick it seemed.  She is now 13 or 14 years old and quite the happy, sweet girl.  Most Turks that meet her are surprised she came from the street - probably due to her newfound roundness and cleanliness of being an inside cat.

Sunday, June 30, 2013


Last winter I bought a pomegranate tree from a garden center nearby.  They were priced so low it had to be a mistake.  Pomegranates are my favorite fruit, and I was actually a bit sad the tree got cheated compared to the price of the neighboring olive and lemon trees.  How could anyone downgrade this amazing tree!

I bought a few trees and gave the extras to my friends nearby that have gardens.  I actually have a fruit growing on my tree.  Impressive as it is extremely hot in Dubai now, and pomegranate season is in the fall.

Some search reveals that they have been around for thousands of years.  They are symbolic in many religions and often represent life, fertility, or prosperity.

For me, they represent Turkey.  Pomegranates can be found in many works of Turkish and Ottoman art, and they grow abundantly throughout the country.  And when in season, they were a staple in my diet.

I have nothing really significant to say.  I just really like my tree and its little pom - oh, and my macro lens.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Super Moon

So last night was Super Moon night.  I guess I should hang my head low.  I did not run out to the dessert to shoot pictures.

Unlike most full moons, it did not make me crazy.  If anything, the super moon has made me exhausted, have strange cravings and want to eat a lot more than usual.  It did not even seem to effect my super-sensitive cats.

So tonight, I bring you the demi-moon.  Almost as big, still super.

Super Moon over Al Murooj Rotana, Dubai

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Saturday, June 15, 2013


Laborie, South Africa

When we weren’t looking for lost keys at vineyards in South Africa, we were enjoying some very nice wine and the beautiful landscape.  Our last vineyard stop before we would have to return to reality was Laborie.

Sitting out on the balcony, overlooking the mountains and vineyards, my husband had a spiritual moment and decided we should pray.  I can assure you this is incredibly rare.   We are incredibly grateful and humbled by many things in this life, but we are not ones to pray over vineyards. 

My husband said a few truthful words about how fortunate we are to have the opportunity and ability to travel, one of the things we love, and so frequently.  And to now take our son with us and watch him embrace the big, colorful world is even more amazing.

After thanking God for this life and opportunity, there were a few seconds of silence.  Just before we were about to raise our glasses, our son looked over at him, and with the straightest face ever closes the prayer with Ribbit.  Yes, Ribbit.  As in the sound a frog makes.

Ribbit is our new toast.  It pretty much says it all.

Laborie, South Africa 

Monday, June 10, 2013

A Splash of Color

For my next post from South Africa, I had planned to share my images from our visit to the penguin colony at Boulders Beach near Simon's Town.  However, it just didn't seem right for any Turkish readers out there to see a story about penguins at this time.  

In the meantime, here are some colorful African masks that were for sale in the town.

Masks for sale at Boulder's Beach, Cape Town, South Africa

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Your Respect is My Strength

In Cape Town, we went to the top of Table Mountain at sunset.  I understand why it is closed when there is "bad weather".  It is incredibly windy.  Here is a picture I took of a girl sitting on a bench at sunset.  On the bench it writes "Your respect is my strength".

Monday, May 27, 2013

Meet Elliot

This is Elliot.  He is a giant made up of over 4,000 Coca-Cola crates.  He resides at Cape Town's waterfront.  I heard he moved there about the time of the World Cup in 2010.  His main goal in life is to draw attention to the need to recycle.

I always have mixed feelings about big exhibits like this.  Don't get me wrong - I am all for recycling, and love art made from recycled stuff.  We do it all the time at home.  I have one small room full of "junk" just waiting to become master pieces.

One of our latest pieces is an escalator made from cardboard box.  It was create something for show-n-tell that starts with the same letter as your name day.  Forget elephant, and all those other "e" words.  The escalator was the subject of choice.

At minimum, Coca-Cola did get attention.  If a huge red man permanently blocking the view of a beautiful landmark does not encourage you to recycle, then I am not sure what will.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Stranded at Uitsig!

Scenes from Constantia Uitsig Restaurant, Cape Town, South Africa

Well, its not as bad as the title sounds...

One cloudy afternoon we took our rental car and headed to Constantia. It is beautiful and everything that you would expect it to be. 

As it began to rain, it was the perfect time to stop and have lunch.  On our quest for the perfect vineyard restaurant, we decided to try our luck at the Constantia Uitsig Restaurant.  It was a busy weekend, so my son and I went in to see if there was a table available while my husband got our stuff out of the car. 

When we arrived back to the car, my husband asked me for the car key.  I did not take it.  He was driving, so he kept it with him.  It couldn't have gone far because he never left the car.

We looked, and searched, and searched and looked.  It began to rain harder.  We kept looking. We borrowed the security guard's flashlight and looked all around the car and in every hole in the car.  We even searched the impossible where you know there could be no key, but you keep searching anyway kind of places.  

I could not get angry really.  It was annoying, but my husband was already upset enough with the situation, so why torture him.  Or maybe I stayed calm to protect my own legacy.  The fear of future stories like "Remember the time that mom lost her mind when you lost that rental car key in Cape Town?" were in the back of my mind.  Our son was amazingly helpful and patient throughout the entire ordeal.  He searched the inside of the car thoroughly where he could be sheltered from the rain. This was family teamwork at its best.

After more than an hour and a half later, we had enough.  We called the rental car company, defeated by the key.  It was going to take two hours for them to bring another car.

Even though the restaurant had no space, we went back inside to their bar.  When I saw the waiter that turned me down for the table, I asked him if he remembered me.  He did.  I explained how my husband lost our car key and that I really needed some wine.  Looking, and possibly smelling like the dog that was left out in the rain, he directed us to a couch in the bar.  

We enjoyed a bottle of wine as we waited, and they even threw in some freshly baked bread.  It wasn't the lunch we planned, but we did get to spend the afternoon in a beautiful vineyard restaurant sheltered from the rain.  

A friend of ours has a theory that a baboon could have picked it up.  I saw many baboons along the coast, but none in this region.  It is (kind of) nice in theory to think that a monkey was sitting in a tree laughing away as we scrambled in the rain, but I think this will remain one of those unsolved holiday mysteries.