Sunday, December 30, 2012

The year old goat cheese

Thanks for indulging my quilting addiction - now back to our regularly scheduled Turkey adventures. Lots of pictures this time.

This past month I had another opportunity to venture to the nearby city of Adana with some friends. Someday I hope to be experienced and brave enough to go adventuring on my own in Adana. But I'm not there yet. I have six more months until my fabulous guide Karen leaves us. So there's a New Year's Resolution for ya.

After the usual struggle of parking an American size minivan in a Turkish size parking garage, we set out to explore Old Adana. Our goal was some Christmas shopping.

Cute little shoe repair booth on the corner.
One of the first shops we went into was a shoe shop. Lisa saw some boots that she liked but when she picked one up to look at it - this happened.

 The whole row fell like dominoes. Lisa was so embarrassed but the rest of us (including the shopkeeper thankfully) thought it was hilarious.

And then on the street, right outside a little deli we saw this:
Doesn't it look like something out of a horror movie?

 We looked for a head or other appendages but not finding any, we could not identify what this might be other than it was hairy and creepy.

A little later we saw these two. Not quite as hairy or creepy but still mysterious. It wasn't until our way back to the parking garage that the mystery was solved. A man heard me wondering what Big, Black and Hairy might be and began to talk to us. His English was not great (again, better than my Turkish) but he managed to tell us that it was a goat and that there was cheese inside. This cheese was kept inside the goatskin for a whole year and it was very good. To prove this point he spoke to the deli owner who produced several slices for us to sample. Eating year old stored-in-a-dead-goat cheese was never on my list of goals in life, but when a slice is being offered to you by a nice English speaking Turkish man on the streets of Old Adana, you just put it in your mouth and hope for the best. It wasn't horrible.  It was VERY VERY strong cheese. But I've tasted cheese in a ritzy French Bistro that smelled and tasted like it had been stored in a hairy gym sock for a year. This wasn't near as bad.

I learned later (from asking one of Brannick's Turkish co-workers at the BX) that the cheese is called tulum cheese because the goat skin bag is a tulum. Its a delicacy and rather expensive. Why it was necessary to keep the creepy long goat hair on the tulum I wasn't able to discover.

In addition to our goat cheese adventure, we also visited a puzzle box shop where I purchased a box for Carson. They sell these on base and in the alley but we got a much better price in Adana. This particular one has four steps to open it and the key is stored in a secret compartment on the box. Carson loved it.
 We also went to a copper shop were I purchased this bell for our front door.  Its hard to see but there is a little whirling dervish right in front of the scroll work.  As I am partial to keepsakes that have a function other than collecting dust, I was very happy to find this. Geoffrey was kind enough to hang it for me right away.
We tried out some smaller fabric stores and also visited the big 5 story one again.  I found some flannel and other fabric for my next baby quilt and a few others that I had to have a meter or so of.  I'm dangerous in a fabric stores.

And then we visited a candy factory/store. They made all sorts of Turkish Delight and other candies there. The shop owner spoke very good English and kept forcing samples on us.

We all bought a box of various treats to bring home and share. I even bought a block of this fudge looking substance that was made from sweetened Tahini  - sesame seed butter.  Its called halva and both my mom and husband remembered buying this in the states as a child. I had never tasted it before but thought it was really good.

The best treasure in the candy store was this great old photo we found framed in the back. Every business you go into will have a picture of Ataturk hanging somewhere but this was a picture we had never seen.
The seated woman is his mother.  I think she looks like a queen.

We made it back to base safely, in time for the bus, and with a whole new strain of bacteria colonizing in our gut. All in all - a successful outing!

Friday, December 28, 2012

Another quilt post

****Disclaimer - This post does not have anything to do with our adventures in Turkey. But check back tomorrow for a description of downtown Adana and eating 1 year old goat carcass cheese.
I finished Brannick's quilt!! And even a few days before Christmas. After much web browsing he chose Michael Miller's Urban Grit Nevermore fabric for the focus fabric. He had just finished reading some great Edgar Allan Poe in a literature course and thought the ravens and the script were cool. And far be it from me to discourage a love of great literature!
The ravens and inkwells were pretty cool.

I used the Helix pattern in Emily Herrick's Geared for Guys book. It was easy - right up until the point where it wasn't. That point was when you took your simple courthouse steps spiral and cut it on a 60 degree angle before continuing to add more steps. All that bias edge was hard to keep square and by the time I was done piecing the top, it was very NOT square. But after several frustrating attempts, I managed to trim it square again.

He requested minimal quilting so it would stay soft. So I stiched in the ditch (which I hate) around the whole spiral and then quilting some random triangular points in the black fabric only. A scrappy binding of both the black marble and the Nevermore finished it off.  I made him wait until Christmas morning to open and enjoy it. As a gift it went nicely with his authentic Turkish bathrobe. He was one comfy teenager!

The other finish I have to report on is more recent - today, in fact. I found a great tutorial on Moda Bakeshop for a padded steering wheel cover and decided to try it. Because here in Turkey I am driving a mom bomb- the most boring white minivan you can possibly imagine. It is old and smells funky and the doors are hard to open and close and the interior is drab grey.
Exhibit A -the used Ford Winstar minivan we purchased here. Meh.

So I took some lovely batik FQs that I bought in Germany in October and made a double sided steering wheel cover.  The tutorial was easy to follow. The only changes I made were to add ties made from Moda twill tape wrapped around two jelly rolls. This was a concession to my husband who was afraid that the cover might slip during an emergency. So I tied the cover on to either side of the center area. Nice and secure.
Here are the pinks.
And here are the greens.
I love them both but am loving the pinks slightly more. Which one do you like?

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Taurus for Thanksgiving

Did you know that Tarsus, as in Paul the Apostle's hometown, is only about an hour from where I live? Yep, its the truth. So the day after a quiet Thanksgiving here on base, we set out with our crew and a GPS to visit Tarsus.

I drove.  You are surprised, yes?  Well, I have told you about my troubles navigating with Turkish maps but perhaps I haven't mentioned how much anxiety it causes me when Geoffrey gives up on my horrid navigating and attempts to read the maps AND drive at the same time. So I drove. We didn't even get through Adana before a badly marked detour caused us about a twenty minute delay so maybe the new system wasn't perfect.

The rest of the drive to Tarsus went smoothly until the GPS coordinates for St. Paul's well put us smack in the middle of an auto repair shop district with no well in site. And if you think that Americans driving a 3/4 ton Ford Excursion with a brushguard on the front and a steel bumper on the back through an auto repair district can be inconspicuous then you haven't been abroad much.  The Turkish people just fell out of their shops to gape at the monstrosity that is our vehicle. I felt like we should have just gone ahead and gotten a neon green and black paint job with flames and the words, "The Soul Crusher" or something equally intimidating on the sides. The boys seemed especially thrilled and would run along the truck yelling, "Cool Car! Cool Car!" as we squeezed down the narrow roads.

After giving the local mechanics several slow drive-bys in our search, we finally gave up on the well and set out for our next set of coordinates, St. Paul's Church. This we found but it was a bit of a disappointment as the church was only named for St. Paul and had only been around since the 1850's. (See how your perspective of history and age changes?)  But we paid the fee and poked around the old, dilapidated church.  Next time,  I would have skipped it.
Our third planned destination was the waterfall. My older kids had been there this past summer on one of their youth center trips. But as we drove through town (Geoffrey was driving now as the failed well attempt and resulting attention had completely flumoxed me) I happened to see a sign that said St. Paul's Well. We followed a couple such signs and found ourselves in a touristy shopping center. We had planned to eat lunch at the waterfall but as it was now past noon, the troops began to request sustenance. Geoffrey ordered some cheese bread at a small cafe. We were expecting the flat puffy bread with gooey melted white cheese that we get here in Incirlik or Adana. What we got was two slices of white bread with a piece of melted cheese in between. Hmmm . . . but the kids said it was all right and it filled their stomachs.

The well turned out to be just beyond the shopping area.  I can't uncover anything that supports the assumption that this was in fact Paul's well or that the excavations you can see through glass flooring are in fact Paul's house. But has long been accepted that the well and the house did belong to the great apostle.  The water is considered holy water.
You can see in this picture that there is a cover on the well. But when asked, the man in the fee booth gladly came out and lowered the bucket into the well to draw us up some fresh water. He dipped in a metal cup and allowed each of us to drink some of the cool water. (Delaney thought this was unsanitary but the rest of it chanced it.)
Just behind Geoffrey you can see the glassed excavation. It goes down 10-15 feet and has artifacts from several different periods. On the other side of the well there is a lovely garden to walk through. We met another American couple there who are also stationed here at Incirlik.

I can't say that I felt anything special at the well or that I believe that Paul really did live in that exact spot and drink from that well. But he did live in that city, and you never know.

As we walked back to the car we crossed under this canopy of green. It was so lovely I had Brannick take a picure.
The left side of the vines connects to the garden around Paul's well. 

Near the well we found another piece of Tarsus's ancient history - the Cleopatra gate.  Not built by the Egyptian Queen herself but rather it was the city gate at which Marc Antony came out to greet her and was instantly charmed by her beauty.  It probably didn't hurt that she was dressed like Aphrodite. That woman knew how to make an entrance. Antony had invited her to Tarsus to see if she would join him against Octavian. She did.

The gate now sits in the center of the city in the middle of a round-about. It has been restored and seems to have very little original stones in it - but still. That's pretty cool!
Here you can see the difference between the restored and the un-restored.

The last item on our itinerary was the Tarsus waterfall. Once again our GPS failed us miserably, telling us to exit on a freeway which had no exits. So we switched drivers and Geoffrey attempted to navigate us around and under the freeway to the coordinates. We succeeded, sort of.  We ended up at a nice park with a dam and a waterfall and a restaurant. But our teens informed us that although we had found a waterfall, it was not the waterfall. By this time it was 3:30 and we were all starving so we ate some good standard Turkish fare at the restaurant. Sunset is at about 4:15 this time of year so it was dusk when we started for home. We were heading out of the city (I was driving again) when Carson hollered that we were passing the waterfall. Sure enough, there it was. So we pulled over and had a gander. It was too dark for photos by then but the falls were nice. There were tables and chairs and little food booths around. I could see it being a nice place to visit in the summer. Or in daylight at least.

We arrived home well after full dark but without major incident. Overall the trip might have gone smoother had we gone with someone who had been there before and knew more where the sites were located. But where is the adventure in that?