Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Fabric hoarding, I mean shopping, in Old Adana and two quilts in the wings

Helga, my sewing machine (she's a Viking) is all packed and on her way to Nevada with all our other household goods. We are neck-deep in that lovely paperwork/busywork quagmire they call out-processing. And I am really missing the stress relief and therapy of sewing.

So what does a girl do when she can't sew? She goes fabric shopping of course!! It was actually on my list of things-to-do-before-leaving-the-country to go buy more Turkish fabric. If you remember from this post and this post, Turkish cottons are 96 inches wide and make really fabulous quilt backs and binding fabrics. I compared wide quilt back fabric prices online the other day and the cheapest I found for 106 in wide fabric was $20.00 per yard. And I can get 96 in wide fabric for 10 Lira per meter which works out to $5 per meter (yard) and sometimes even less. Gotta love that!!

So my daughter and my friend Linne and I headed to Old Adana's fabric district on a sweltering hot day to see what pretties we could find.
Here we are contemplating yet another purchase.
See that pile on the counter?  You can't look at the fabric yourself here. You have to point to the one you like and they will unroll it on the counter for you to examine. Then they just pick up a meterstick, do a rough measure in the air and then cut or sometimes tear the fabric. No exact measurements and no 'cutting table' here.

Here is what we ended up with:
I already have the top one in black and red but had to go back for the brown and red. Love the vintage look of both of these. I bought 2 meters each which is plenty big to back any size quilt. Kinda crazy that these fabrics are made in Turkey but have English text on them. I never saw that when we got here a year ago but now there are in almost every shop.
Delaney, my pianist, picked the music one. The ships are on a map background. I love finding nice masculine fabrics that aren't cheesy. Two meter pieces again.

Some awesome solids and tone on tone plaids for bindings. I bought half meter pieces of each color. Making binding is a breeze when each of your 2.5 inch strips is 96 inches long!

So all these will go in a box and be mailed to Nevada to await the arrival of Helga. And someday they will be used in a quilt and remind me of my year in Turkey.

I did keep one quilt out. Well, two as I am working on two quilts at once from the same pattern. I'm hoping to borrow a friend's machine and get the rows assembled into complete tops before I leave here. Here's a sneak peek:
 These HSTs are really really small. They finish at about an inch. That's the smallest I've ever worked with. I've always thought pieces that small were just too fussy to be worth it but these are a bonus block from the main charm square blocks and I just couldn't throw them away. The pieces strips will become a top and bottom border on the finished quilt.

Here is one of the ten rows, finished, pinned and labeled in duplicate. The fabric line is Juggling Summer by Zen Chic. Great colors! I can't show you more than that because the future owners of these two quilts read my blog. But as I have missed being able to have a finish for Amanda Jean's Finish It Up Friday, I will content myself with linking to Freshly Pieced's Work in Progress Wednesday. Cuz just knowing that I have two lovely quilts patiently waiting for me to finish them helps me keep a little happy space in all the craziness of a trans-oceanic move.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Shaking in my custom made baby seal leather. . . jackets

Last year we arrived just before our stretch of birthdays and I was scrambling to try to make each birthday special with little advance planning. This year we had lots of time to plan for birthdays - and then plans changed. So once again, my kids' birthdays are sneaking up on me and happening right in the middle of moving chaos.

Delaney's birthday was this past weekend- sandwiched between agricultural customs inspections, the boys' boar hunt and lots of lots of pre-packing, out-processing stress. And it's her sweet sixteen. I wish we could have made it more special for her. She's such a great girl and deserves to have a wonderful celebration. But life is life.  We did the best we could. Berry breakfast cake in bed, some presents from each of her brothers,  chicken alfredo for dinner and peanut butter cake with peanut butter frosting for dessert. A long game of farkle in the evening with me, her dad and brothers.
I felt like I was fighting anxiety/panic all day and not as joyful as I would have liked to be on her special day. But we must have done okay because just before going to bed she came in our room to thank us for making it such a wonderful day for her.  Actually, that is probably more a reflection of her kind, thankful heart than our mediocre efforts.

But I did have one epiphany about these birthdays that turned out rather fantastic. One of the things you can get here in Turkey is leather. And the place to get it is Pop's Leather. They've been around forever and all the pilots know them. You can get flight jackets here but they also do purses, bags, cowhide rugs, holsters,  and leather jackets.  They have plenty of jackets to buy off the rack but if you want something different or one to fit just right, you can have a jacket custom made.  So I took Delaney there about a week before her birthday to pick a jacket.

Brannick came along too. His birthday is next week - the day we move out of the house and into the temporary lodging. Great timing for his big 18th, huh?

After trying on nearly every ladies jacket in the store, Delaney found one she liked. Well, she found one zipper style and a different waist style and a third leather color. And because its Pop's, she could have all of those combined into her very own unique jacket.
Doesn't it look fantastic?

Brannick had been eyeing a cowhide rug and I had planned on that being his birthday present. But then he saw a Harley Davidson jacket that just called to him.  After some debate, he chose the jacket over the rug. I think it was a good choice. Girls aren't all that impressed with a dead animal skin on the floor but we are going to have to drive them away with a stick when he wears this:
Shorter sleeves were all the adjustments he needed for his jacket.

We picked up the jackets the day after Delaney's birthday. And because the kids couldn't bear to let the movers pack them, we kept them out. It's still deathly hot here and will be in Arizona and Nevada but we will mail them to Las Vegas on the off chance that it will cool down before our HHG shipment arrives lest they miss a chance to look this cool.

And although my birthday isn't for another two months, I decided to get myself a jacket as well. After all, I won't be here in October. Here is mine being modeled by Delaney:
It has a zip out hood that I totally love. And frankly, it looks way better on me since my short hair is framed nicely by the hood rather than being pushed up in my face like Delaney's is.

Geoffrey also got a jacket, along with having the knit cuffs on his flight jacket changed to leather ones and buying a fur snap on collar for his flight jacket as well. His birthday is long past so I don't know what his excuse is.
Here's Brannick showing off Geoff's. Again, this jacket is nice on Brannick but my hubby rocks it!! It's just his style and looks so classy.  He had it tailored to his measurements and it fits him like a glove!

The cool part about having your jacket custom made (or altered) at Pops is that they sew a label inside that says:
Custom Made for Ida Ewing by Pops Leather
Pretty awesome, huh?  And when I went to pay for our purchases (feeling slightly guilty that my family is solely responsible for the deaths of a small herd of bovine), they had discounted the total to the equivalent of one whole jacket. Happy birthday to my checkbook! The owner called it a going away gift. Very nice of him.

One last photo - my favorite one.  I love these two kids. I love that they are good friends. I love that they are good people.  I don't claim to have much mothering wisdom but somehow I figured out years ago that while these two dislike being told what to do, they will leap over tall buildings if I ask them to help me. So through the years of deployments and homeschooling and moves and all the other craziness of military life, we have become a pretty great team.  Delaney is my assistant mother, cook, organizer and everything else. I could not manage this family without her. Most of it she can now do better than I can. Brannick is my strong man, my lifter, mover and reacher. He has been the man of the house through many dad absences and fills that role well. He never allows the younger kids to be disrespectful to me.  I know without a doubt that he has my back.  They both do. And there have been times when that fact is what has allowed me to sleep at night. They are a blessing I don't deserve.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Moments of a Move - and a Big Dead Pig

A few snapshots of life inside a military move.

Friday and Saturday we spend all day outside in the muggy heat - pressure washing everything that had been stored on the porch, in the shed or in the outside storage room. Monday we have a customs inspection and everything must be free of dirt, spider webs and snails. We put it all on the driveway and back porch and surround it with a thick line of salt.

While emptying the storage room, Geoffrey remarks, "I've learned something from this move. I need to stop trying to make every house we live in into a homestead." Bwa Ha Ha Ha!!  If you knew how many pre-moves I have spent suggesting, begging and encouraging him to get rid of his stuff you would understand how funny this was. I try to contain my laughter long enough to give him a hug and tell him that I am proud of his epiphany.

 In Geoffrey's heart of hearts, he would like to live on a farm with large animals and a big garden and a huge workshop. He would have every tool and keep everything that might be useful again someday. He would spend hours teaching his children the many practical skills he knows. He would be prepared for any type of apocalypse the world could throw at him. It kills him that he can't be that dad.

Three hours after that admission, he took the oldest two boys boar hunting with a Turkish friend named Mustafa. At 1:30 am in the Tarsus Mountains near Pozanti, his sons shot a boar. He teaches them how to gut the beast and they spend the night with their friend, coming home the next morning with coolers of meat, puffed out chests and big cheesy grins.

 So he gets to be that dad.

Saturday evening after the boys left Delaney is sitting at the computer planning the menu and shopping list for her birthday dinner the next day. We have been too busy to do this before but the commissary is open for another two hours so we can still make it. She is singing along to a Montgomery Gentry song.
     Yeah, this is my town.
      Where I was born
       Where I was raised
      Where I keep all my yesterdays. 
This kills me a little.  This proud, grounding sentiment won't ever apply to her.  When someone asks my children where they are from they hesitate and look at me for the answer. Where are we from? It should be an easy question to answer but it's not. They have no hometown. Their identities are not tied to one place of permanence but to many places of experience.

Sunday morning Evan and Rory wait with me in the kitchen for the breakfast cake to finish baking.  They woke me this morning determined to keep up the birthday-breakfast-in-bed tradition for their older sister. Evan talks about the move.
"The bad thing about moving is having to unpack everything again and again.
 But it would get really boring to stay in the same house your whole life in the same town."
"I'm really glad we got to live in Turkey."

Friday, August 9, 2013

Lucerne - Last Switzerland Post, I promise.

So I've been holding off on that whole announcement thing for a while. Yesterday felt like the right time and I'm glad its posted and out there. But I still have one more day of Switzerland to blog about. I considered skipping it but it was too awesome not to share.

After trolling all around Lake Lucerne and its surrounding mountain peaks for several days we spent our last day in the city of Lucerne before heading to Zurich to fly back to Adana.

Just a tiny aside here - one evening we rented kayaks and paddled around a portion of the lake. I really enjoyed it, we saw the schamncy vacay homes and the tiny beaches people climbed down to from the hills above. The water is a gorgeous turquoise color and the shoreline has so little development on it due to the height of the banks. We also saw a couple of naked people. Old people. Out on their boats just enjoying the sun shining where it normally doesn't. Now ask yourself, if you are a retiree who enjoys going au naturalle while on your boat and you see some kayakers approaching what do you do? Do you stay seated, maybe casually throwing a towel across your bits and wave? Or do you stand up, turn around and bend over to retrieve something that really could've stayed on the floor for a few more minutes? Yep. You just can't unsee that.  And not to press the point, but if you are another retiree of a similar mind-set and you are enjoying an evening swim off your boat without the encumbrance of swimwear and you see kayakers approaching, what is your best option? Do you stay in the water until they pass? It's not like we were kicking up dangerous wake waves. Or do you climb out of the water, stand on the platform in all your shriveled glory and then pull on your speedo? It boggles the mind.

Anywhooo. . . . Lucerne. A pretty awesome city.
 We stashed our big backpacks at the train station luggage check so we could walk around unencumbered. (But with clothes on. Definitely with clothes on.)
This bridge is called KapellBrucke or chapel bridge. The lake pours out into a river here at Lucerne and the bridge crosses this river and leads to, you guess it, a church. It is the most photographed site in all of Switzerland and was built in the 14th Century. (I know some of you are thinking that I'm crazy, rivers pour into lakes, not the other way around. But I'm not. Well. . . anyway, the lake really does drain out through this river. It's a gravity thing.)
I'm sure it's lovely any time of year but the spring flowers made it so picturesque.  Inside the bridge's roof are triangular paintings depicting "important events from Swiss history and mythology." They were semi-interesting but not nearly as cool as the paintings in this smaller bridge down the river a ways.

This one is called the Spreuerbrucke. Built in 1408 (33 years before Chris Columbus made his mortal debut) its paintings are called Dance of Death and depict how the plague affected all levels of medieval society.  The plague is represented by a skeleton in all the paintings. They were creepy and amazing.

After the bridges we walked on the intact city wall for a bit and just wandered the city. At the cross roads of two streets we came across this little shack. Can you see the date on that big dark stone? 1689.

 And it was somebody's house. No kidding. There was a sliding glass door in one side with hanging blinds and a tiny entrance on the back end complete with a pair of wellies sitting by the door. But there are dorm rooms bigger than this. It's like an ancient chicken coop and some guy lives there.
Europeans are the best recyclers I know.
Our last stop was the Lion Monument. This 10 meter long sculpture was carved into a rock wall in 1820 to commemorate the Swiss soldiers who were killed defending King Louis XVI during the French Revolution.
The lion has a spear tip in its side and is dying. It's hauntingly beautiful. Mark Twain called it the "saddest and most moving piece of rock in the world." Yeah.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

We interrupt this adventure for an important announcement.

My husband has this habit of beginning a statement with, "Well.  . . (pause)."  I know that whatever comes next could be as innocuous as, "I think we need new tires."  Or it could be as momentous as, "It looks like I'm going to Korea for a year." So I always hold my breath until he finishes the sentence.

A couple of weeks ago he came home from work and said, "Well. . . ." I immediately got a gut feeling that this was going to be a big 'well'.  It was.  The rest of that sentence was, "How would you feel about PCSing in September instead of next summer?"

Oh. My. Lanta.

That's really not a question I could answer as I was in shock. We were 11 days shy of our halfway point in a two year assignment. We had already made the hard decisions about who was homeschooling and public schooling and part-timing for next year now that we know the school and the options well. We've only visited about half the places we want to see - haven't even made it to Istanbul yet.  I am just now able to drive around Adana without breaking out in a cold sweat. We love our little neighborhood with its gang of little kids running amok and washing everyone's cars willy nilly. We are settled here.

My mother-in-law Robin used to say that every big change in life felt like being handed a sealed envelope. You have to rip it open and deal with what's inside. Here's a synopsis of our envelope's contents. Instead of being reviewed for a command position this fall and possibly being given one to begin next summer, Geoffrey was selected for a command position a year early. The position needs to be filled immediately but as we are overseas and the assignment isn't, we were given a few weeks to deal with all the details of moving back across the globe.  (Seriously, it feels like we just did this.)

So now its been a couple of weeks and I've had some processing time. We've told the kids to varied responses:
Brannick - overwhelming joy to be returning to the good ol' USA
Delaney - cried, but mostly from shock and is okay about it now
Carson - disappointed that he has to leave his friends
Evan - okay with it
Rory - completely non-reactive other than asking if they speak English where we are going

Resiliency is a word you hear discussed frequently in relation to military kids. Yeah, there's a reason for that.

But how do I feel? I'm very happy for Geoffrey and proud of him too. I'm excited to live close enough to family to go home for holidays and reunions and sisters weekends.  I'm glad for all the places we got to see and sad for the ones who won't have time for.  I am grateful for so many of the experiences we've had and the friends we've made. Living at Incirlik has been a completely unique experience in terms of being in a military community. I've never felt this sense of community anywhere else.  It was life in a small town as done by the Air Force.  I'm not sure we will find that again.

Of course, I'm also completely stressed about the logistics of making this move happen as we are going to have accomplish in days what most people take weeks and months to do. And since there's no option of sending our household goods and car 3 months ahead of us, we will be waiting that length of time on the other end for them to catch up with us. Bleh.  And the timing means that all five of them will need to homeschool this year since it will be well into the school year before we are permanently settled. Bleh. Bleh. 

I always tell people that I don't mind moving, except for the moving part.  If the Air Force had a giant finger snapping machine that could instantly transport us and all our things into our new house at our new assignment, I'd be willing to move once a year. But if such a machine exists it must still be classified and I see movers and paperwork and suitcases in my near future.

By Christmas we'll be settled again. It will all be good. A good assignment and a good location. Oh, did I forget to mention that part?  Well. . . . . viva Las Vegas!

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

What are men compared to rocks and mountains? - Lake Lucerne and surrounds

 See that room on the top left with the balcony? That was our room in this cute little hotel in Vitznau. I'm so glad we ended up staying in this darling little town instead of in the much larger Lucerne. The hotel was right across the street from the bus stop, the ferry dock and the cogwheel train that ascended Mt. Rigi.

This was the view from my hotel window. Don't you just want to breathe in that mountain air?
 This is the electric cogwheel train we rode up the mountain side of Mt. Rigi.
It was a short hike from the train station up to the summit. Despite how it looks in this picture, we did opt for the young man (steeper) trail.
 The scenery was green and gorgeous and we could hear the sheep and cow bells from animals fathoms below us. It was so peaceful at the top that we actually snoozed on the grass for a bit.
Seriously, why does my hair have to look so horrible on vacation?
After we went down the mountain on the other side we took the ferry back across the lake. The views from the lake looking up were just as breath-taking as from the mountain summit looking down.
 The next day we tackled a different peak - Mt. Pilatus (which is pronounced like pilates with a tus on the end.) This is the famed Golden Round trip which includes a ferry ride, two cable car rides (one much steeper than the other, and a very steep cogwheel train ride back down the mountain.

We stopped halfway up to do this:
 You sit on a sled like the one below. I loved it because that red joystick in the middle controls your speed. We went down two times. The first time I was fairly cautious - I'm not a fan of uncontrolled speed. Geoffrey was much faster. The second time I was braver and faster. And Geoffrey maxed out his speed, never using the brake at all. It was a blast. If you ever get the chance to do one of these courses, take it!
 Her's a portion of the course. It was pretty long. When you reach the bottom you get hooked backwards onto a tow rope and pulled back up the hill.
 The top of Mt. Pilatus is rockier and less lush that Mt. Rigi. We took an invigorating 45 minute hike from the observation building to a summit look out.  The view was different but you could still hear the bells from sheep so far below they were just specks on the hillsides. But the clanking jangling bells came up through the air unmuffled.
In the cogwheel train going down we chatted with a group who had hiked the mountain in just over 3 hours. It was a great day for it. But I glad we had taken the cable cars.
I like being on top of mountains. I'm not a mountain climber by any means but growing up in a family whose vacations usually involved mountains gave me an appreciation for the peace of a mountain top.  Standing on the summits of these two Alps reminded Geoff and I of standing on the peak of Huayna Picchu in Peru. Literally being 'above it all' helps you keep perspective. And I'm tickled to have the bells to remember too. Like listening to the underwater whale song while snorkeling in Hawaii years ago,  multisensory memories just stays richer and stronger in my head.

I love that line from Pride and Prejudice. What are any of us compared to the majesty and vast permanence of rocks and mountains?

Edited**** Today in Rothenburg I bought a bell that sounds just like the sheep bells on the mountain. I clanged every bell in the shop and only one had just the right sound.  Can't wait to find the perfect place to hang it.