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Showing posts from October, 2013

Istanbul, Day 5

Peeps, this is going to be brief because I'm capital T for tired.  Husbandman has decided this place should be called Blisstanbul and come to find out, I totally agree with him.  We had the best day.  Toured Aya Sofia and the beautiful Blue Mosque.

Had tea and baklava in a cozy little place pictured above.  Then we walked a long way looking for a specific restaurant. As we consulted our map, a wonderful young woman came up to us and said, "How can I help you?"  Then she called the restaurant, found out where it was, and then walked us there. Come to find out, the place was booked for the evening, but she talked the owner into giving us a table. The owner agreed, but told us we had to clear out in 2 hours. No worries! Super delicious meal.  After a long bus ride home, we  walked along a dark campus path and guess what we saw right next to us on the path?  A hedgehog! It stood checking us out for several minutes, cute as can be.  Could a day get any better?  I truly doub…

Istanbul, Day 4

Our friend Husbandman had to work today, so I ventured down to Topkapi Palace.  I got the audio tour and walked around that place for about 3 hours.  I learned about sultans, and concubines, and eunuchs. You know how Moses parted the Red Sea?  Well, I even saw the staff that he used when he did that. It's skinnier than I imagined it would be.  I also saw a lot of cool thrones used by sultans.  Gold thrones, jeweled thrones. The rose gardens at the palace were lovely, the tiles were stunning and I loved the great views from the four terraces. Fist of 5?  I'm giving the Palace a solid 4.5. Sorry Palace, you would have gotten a 5 if the audio tour had been a little better.  Sometimes I would see a sign that said, "Sultan's Library, #402," then I'd punch in 402 and hear some annoying intro music.  After that the words, "Sultan's Library.  You are now entering the Sultan's library.  This is an important place."  What the heck, audio tour?  Some …

Istanbul Day 3

We went on a boat trip on the Bosphorus River yesterday.  It was called a Hop On, Hop Off boat trip,  We hopped off at a museum to see an exhibit of Anish Kapoor sculptures.  Remember when we were in Paris a couple of years ago and saw Kapoor's installation of Leviathan at the Grand Palais?  How weird that there's an exhibit of his work here when we're in Istanbul.  Husbandman and I have decided that we're going to plan our travels to match Kapoor's exhibit schedule around the world.  In one room a group of people were watching a film about my dream sculpture The Bean in Chicago.  Neat, right?

Today Husbandman has to work and instead of heading out to see Istanbul, I'm having tea and toast and noodling around in cyberspace. But the truth of the matter is this: I take my blog responsibilities seriously.  Still,  c'mon Selfie.  Get out there.

Istanbul, Day 2 continued

This morning seems like it happened a gazillion years ago.  When we were leaving the house for the Chora Museum, I told Husbandman, "Today I will affect the identity of a professional photographer, documenting key details of life in Istanbul."
"Why don't you just affect the identity of a tourist since that's what you are," Husbandman said back to me.
To which I averred, "I am committed to this assignment and I intend to fulfill my obligations with diligence and care."
Husbandman didn't have much to say after that but later when we were in the amazing Chora museum with the 700 year old mosaics, I took this great shot and said to him, "Look how beautiful that section is, where the man is touching Jesus's robe."
Husbandman piped up, "I think that's his tailor.  He's saying, 'Give me a minute Big J, I just have to hem up this bit that's dragging in back.'"
Husbandman's comments kept distracting me …

Istanbul Day 2

I don't know any Turkish words yet.  I'll try to learn some today.  This blog has become a travel blog of sorts, but I hope you all notice that I still have some valuable things to say about life's conundrums and quirks.  Today I don't, but in general I usually do.  I just don't want to get too pinned down, or labeled in a limiting way.  At any rate, we are awake in our guest house on campus.  Last night we walked around, saw some stunning night views of the bridges over the river and had dinner with some fun MathMen.  The Mathmen told many very hilarious jokes over dinner.  I had a joke, but it's always scary to tell a joke after other people have told a series of funny jokes.  You don't want to be the joke that ends the hilarity.  That's high stakes.  Plus, their jokes illustrated slight connections to mathematical research issues and oddities, and mine just had to do with eating peanuts in a bar, so that was a little daunting.

The big news is that I…


Tr: Goodbye.   Heading out to Istanbul.  Let's cross our fingers that everything runs smoothly.  


Tr:  Anxiety  (FYI: When you see the KH, you need to pronounce it in that way that sounds like you're clearing your throat or about to spit).

Tomorrow we're going to Istanbul for a week.
I'm having a bit of my pre-travel anxiety this morning.  What should I pack?  What if I forget to pack something?  What will it be like in Istanbul?  What if we can't find the university guest house and we are left on the streets with our luggage and our chilling fear?  What if I like Istanbul so much and then when I get home I feel a sense of longing?  What if I miss out on something fun in Istanbul that I should have seen? When will my heart stop pounding?  When will this tight feeling in my stomach ease up? Why didn't I read more about Istanbul before now?
I've come to accept the pre-travel anxiety as part of my interesting mode of being.  Still, it's not the most fun thing in the world.  Yesterday we saw Blue Jasmine, the Woody Allen movie.  If you want to see it, you s…


Tr:  Omelet

Thanks to Sandra, I have some nifty train wreck pix which I have now used to create a classroom tool for next year.  Or a life tool that I can use most minutes of every day.  The formatting is wonky, but if you click here you will see it's not wonky in its original setting.

Erev Tov

Tr:  Good evening

I'm thinking about autumn. It's still pretty hot over here and very green.  As you know, autumn is my favorite season. This sabbatical year's all about give and take. I'm giving up autumn, getting a lot of new experiences in return.  I'm curious are you all enjoying it? Are the leaves beautiful? Is the air crisp?  Have you eaten any pumpkin pie?  I missed out on the tradition of pumpkin pie for my birthday.  Instead I ordered loukoumades, Greek doughnuts, after our fab meal in Athens.   I didn't know what I was ordering, but I was pleasantly surprised. With dessert, the server brought a little carafe of clear liquid.  "This is raki.  It's very strong and we hope you enjoy it."  Husbandman ate most of the doughnuts and I decided to focus on the raki.   As we got back to the hotel, Husbandman mentioned that he was so stuffed he wished he could have his stomach pumped.  I felt great, but the next morning, I was cursing…


Tr:  House

We are back from Greece.  My whole life people have told me that Greece is the word.  But I never listened.  Now I get it.  Now I know.  Greece truly is the word.

One Santorini highlight was our inscrutable decision to begin a 6.5 mile hike from Fira to Oia at 4:45 in the afternoon.  Our hotel manager told us to take the bus to Fira and then we would walk downhill to Oia.  He said, "Let the bus spend the energy for you."  Our hotel manager was great in about 100 ways, but he steered us wrong this time.  Basically he lied.  For the first hour, we strolled on a beautiful path through 2 villages.
 After that, we had to climb up and down 2 mountains, on rocky trails.  This would have been tough stuff enough, but the sun was setting, the light was failing, the path was poorly marked and there were no people in sight.  Basically we were dealing with the high winds ablowin' high atop the steep mountains of Santorini, and we were freaking out. I kept wondering when t…

Oia, Santorini

A few hours left in Santorini.  This place is the perfect place for checking out prehistoric ruins, swimming in the cool Aegean Sea, hiking on mountain paths high above the sea, and peering around in awe and wonder.  We leave tomorrow morning early.  I am hoping someone can have a destination wedding or destination divorce here in Santorini and then invite me to the destination event.  Otherwise, we'll just have to come back for no reason at all.   


We are having some laptop problems, so I'm blogging from the iPad.Luckily, these are the only problems we are having at the moment. Santorini is superb.


Tr:  Thank you

All is swell here in Athens.  It's a fascinating, beautiful city.  I love it all.  Except for the smoking in the restaurants.  I don't care for that.  And also except for the pain in my legs from walking until they're literally turned into bloody stumps each day.  Not crazy about that situation.  Other than that, Athens is absolutely fabulous.
Tomorrow when I wake up, I'll be 53.  Husbandman has pointed out that 53 is one of the best prime numbers.  I won't be prime again until 59, so I'm going to make the most of 53. Going to do my best, and forget the rest, as they say.
Free to be.
You and me.


Tr:  Plane

Taking a break from packing to watch some telly and blog a bit.  I'm a nervous wreck about the government shut down and the potential default.  I leave the country for a few months and all hell breaks loose.  It's seriously freaking me out. I can barely pack for Greece.  I'm watching our country's craziness on TV and it's making my stomach hurt.

Abrupt change of topic.  Today on my morning walk up and down the hills of Haifa, I listened to a great BBC piece on the sharing economy about people who share stuff like spare rooms or cars.  I told Husbandman I would love to share a dog with a few other people.  Maybe 2 to 3 people.  I'm surprised more people don't own pets this way.  Having a pet one or two days each week sounds like the way to go.  Husbandman says that if we had a dog he would not want to share the dog.  Let me know if you would like to share a dog with us when we return home.  I think we can work something out.


Tr:  Autumn

I saw this fine bird this morning in a park near the apartment.  It's a little blue kingfisher.  It might now be my favorite bird.  I also saw a white wagtail, a sign of fall here in Israel.  Did I tell you we're going to Greece on Wednesday?  I bought a book about Athens and I'm going to do some research today.


Tr:  Let's go!  (from Arabic)

Another sababa weekend.  After seeing Don Jon (definitely see it if you want, but don't bring kids) on Thursday night, we decided to head to a new beach on Friday. Sadly, the day started kind of badly as I diagnosed (with help from FunFriend Dr. R)  a ganglion cyst on the top of my foot.  One cure for ganglion cyst is thumping the cyst with a heavy book.  I watched some videos about cyst thumping and then we decided to just ignore the cyst and head to the beach. I could go with the thumping, but what if my original diagnosis, Saddle Bone Deformity, is the correct one and then I've whacked the heck out of an already deformed bone?   Anyway, come to find out, Achziv Beach is the most beautiful beach I've ever seen with my own eyes.  I posted some pix on facebook, but here's an extra just for good measure.  On Sunday we had a beautiful day with Koby and Judy and some of their kinfolk.  So nice to be around littles, 2 grandkids who put the…

Kaf Regel

Tr:  Foot  (I wonder why they need 2 words to say foot).
I've been listening to a meditation app called Headspace.  WordSavvy recommended it to me and I'm recommending it to you.  You get the first 10 days free and then you have to pay.  Husbandman commented the other day that the headspace app was expensive.  "You more than anyone are going to benefit from my renewed calm and clarity.  Totally worth it. Believe me." After some silence, I asked Husbandman if he might have already seen some increased calm and clarity.  "Um, I think so," he replied. So, clearly, the Headspace app was a good move. Ipso, facto.
Today (I hate to admit) I was an epic fail at headspace because I didn't sleep last night.  Lack of sleep makes me a drag to be around.  After a lot of noodling and sighing on my part, Husbandman left the apartment to find someone to cut his hair and I stayed behind to take a nap.  The nap led to a better attitude on my part. I am awake and enjoying …

Me'ad Meod

Tr:  Nothing Much

The frying pan has been purchased. We had to go to 2 malls to get that job done.  We haven't found a place that's similar to Target here.  I hope all of you will remember to pause for a silent moment of reverent gratitude next time you walk into the sacred shrine that is your Target store. Pan purchase is about the biggest thing that's happened this week.  I've started a new, smaller writing project that I pretend to work on in the afternoons. It's not going well in some ways, but in other ways, I find it kind of fun.

Beit Alamin

Tr:  Cemetery
If you want to read The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman, you totally should.  I finished it last night and loved it.  Brought back memories of traveling somewhere and reading Neil's other great book, Coraline, aloud to the fam.  I wonder if 20 Something and #1 remember that?  Husbandman does.  In Neil's acknowledgments, he thanks a ton of peeps, including his 4 editors who he says helped make the book better.  Something like that.  I don't feel like looking for the quote.  This gives me a little charge for working harder on an article I'm trying to write about the relationship between writers and editors. But of course, blogging comes first.


Tr:  Way, Road

Headed north to Rosh Hanikra on Friday, to see the grottoes and learn about the famous railroad tunnel built in one hard working year.  It was a beautiful day and the waves crashing through the grottoes made loud thunderous sounds.
The views were incredible.  After a lunch of hummus, pita and french fries, we headed for a coastal drive south.  The beach we wanted to see closed at 3 on Friday, so that was a big fat drag, but we went to a rocky beach nearby and saw this beautiful ruddy turnstone. We headed back to Haifa for a swim at our beach.  Swim season might be wrapping up.  We went in, but the waves were absolutely wild and while Husbandman was able to hold his extra foot of height out of the water, I was battered about like a hobnob.  Still, fun times.  Yesterday we hiked in Mt. Carmel National Park.  We found a trail called Upper Wadi Galim trail.  Beautiful views of the mountains and the sea.  The trail was narrow though and all down hill through thorny brush.  …

The Palestine Sunbird

I've spent days trying to figure out the name of the bird I saw.  The good news is I'm 100% certain I saw the Palestine Sunbird. I've looked at 100's of photos and some videos of this fine bird. The bad news is I will not be having a bird named after me any time soon.

Husbandman and I are driving north today, to see some grottos by the sea.  We also have to buy a larger frying pan.  These are our two tasks.

Eifo (Ay-foh)

Tr:  Where                                                                                  
It's cooling off here in Israel. Yesterday I woke up and went for a long walk around the neighborhood.  I saw 2 interesting birds.  One was the Syrian Woodpecker.  I'm about 100% sure of that.  The other was an iridescent green bird that looked much like a hummingbird, but a teeny bit larger.  I was very close to this bird and watched it with awe, for several moments.  Come to find out, I can not get a good ID on this bird.  I have 3 bird experts on the case and no one has come up with what it could be.  So, I'm pretty sure I've discovered a new bird.  And this bird should be named for me somehow.

In other good news, I finally sent off my outline to be read by someone who can dash my dreams, or keep them alive.  It feels good to have it out of the house.  I've worked for 8 weeks on that outline and I was starting to do some serious wheel spinning.  Husbandman and I celebr…


Tr:  Restaurant
Yesterday I got cranked out because my writing project is annoying the heck out of me.  So in the evening we headed to the beach for a walk on the promenade.  During the walk we got involved in a conversation with a couple who were very pleasant.  At the end of the walk, they invited us to their house for dinner right then and there. We had already eaten so we took a rain check.  We exchanged phone #'s.  Husbandman's more social than I am.  I'm always a little suspicious of friendliness.  What's going on here?  What do we really know about these 2 charmers?  Could they be axe murderers?

I wish there was a web page like but for couples.  Then I could read their profiles and gather intel.  But probably we'll just go to dinner at their house and enjoy them.  They really did seem like fun human beings. Still, there's risk involved here and it's important to acknowledge that.