The temporary tattoo on my ankle has been rubbed into a faded constellation of black dots, but the other effects of the new media workshop at the Banff Centre stay on. I have a renewed sense of possibility and optimism about my own work, and some energy to match. Tonight I'm going to work on a Flash toy - in and of itself, fun, and also the beginnings of a larger scale project.
July 2003 Archives
I'm at Interactive Screen 4.0 at the Banff New Media Institute. If I were a more dutiful blogger, I'd cover the workshops in real time... but I'm having too much fun listening and scribbling on paper to type as I go along. More impressions and lots of links later.
If you really want the moment-by-moment experience, there is a live audio feed of the precedings online, hosted by Horizon Zero, a monthly new media site with great content. (Look for the "listen live" link in the right-hand column.)
July 2, 2003
En route: Frankfurt - Toronto
The person in front of me has tipped her seat way back, so I have to do the same not to be blowing into her hair every time I exhale. This is a 747, but coach. Much narrower seats than coach on the Turkish Air flights. Also, this flight is absolutely full. The Kayseri - Istanbul, Istanbul - Frankfurt flights were half empty. Even the Europeans are not traveling in large numbers. Sad. War and recession combined, I guess.
Was I going to write about last night’s marathon supper on the roof terrace of the Kayseri Hilton? We didn’t eat that much, but the whole meal, start to finish, took three hours. The restaurant wasn’t ready to open at the announced hour, but an hour later. However Ellen and I didn’t know that when we sat down and ordered a bottle of wine. Nor did we realize that we were sitting in the outside bar and not the restaurant section. So we sat and sipped our wine, ate nuts from a fancy bowl placed on the table, and tried to order food, and then that was when we were told that we were in the bar. So, starving hungry, we moved, taking the wine with us, but leaving behind the bowl of nuts. Mistake. Now we had no food, and nothing ordered either. We waited. And waited. We continued to sip wine in extreme slow motion. As we sat there, the sun set, the stars came out, and the city lights came on. (When we first reached the roof, we had looked for shade - it took a while, but we certainly got it.) The food was good when it finally came, but by then we were talking about eating the centerpiece (a pot of tiny-leaved basil, very fragrant) and we were giddy with wine, hunger, and thirst. I ate the famous Kayseri-style manti - little ravioli with a tomato sauce and red pepper and yogurt. Good, but I like Kamile’s Ortahisar version better. Hers is fresher tasting, and more subtle. This had the faintest touch of Campbell’s about it. But the first course, the collection of mezes, was excellent - varied, fresh, and interesting. The hotel is a new one; they may still be working out the kinks in service. We were tired and hungry, and could have used a little more solicitous attention. But the beds were comfortable and the oceans of hot water a treat.
What else do I want to remember about yesterday? The smell and colors of the spices in the bazaar. The cool dark library feel of the stone Selçuk mosque, five minutes before the call to prayer. The serpentine path for water to run to or from a fountain in the garden of the restored Ottoman-era house which held the ethnographic museum. The faces of the gate lions from Kultepe. The village mosque’s minaret, rising over the treeline at the Kultepe site, like the tower of a fairy-tale castle. And maybe my favorite moment was looking at the road space between the foundations in the Assyrian traders’ settlement at Kultepe and looking into the distance and seeing that the present road, winding over the hillside, lined up with the ancient one.
July 1, 2003
Kayseri, 9:30 p.m.
One last walk to Hatice’s house this morning, where I cut and pasted email for Barbara from my little flash memory keychain, and Hatice copied her PC Turkish dictionary program onto it for me. Remzi was due to meet us at Barbara’s house between 9:30 and 10:00 to take us to Kultepe, so we all headed there and sat and talked, and tried not to feel sad and miss each other before leaving.
Remzi and son came, loaded our heavy bags into the van, and drove us out of the village. As he drove us toward Kultepe, Remzi gave us a capsule history of Cappadocia, from Paleolithic times to the days of Ataturk. I noticed as we drove through Avanos that someone had put two carpets into the road to be driven over. I’d heard of that as a method of aging rugs, but thought it was an exaggeration. I guess not.
As we rode along, I watched the landscape even out, as the tufa formations calmed down and then disappeared. Farmland took its place. We passed a tent encampment of migrant farmworkers, there for the summer to work in the sugar beet and sunflower fields. Kultepe was beautiful, as much for the walk over fields with a good breeze blowing and sun shining and the hum of innumerable insects in the air, as for its historical merit. The university archaeologists don’t start work for the season until next week, so we had the place to ourselves. So much of the site has not yet been touched.
Then we went to see the archaeological museum in Kayseri, where the finds from Kultepe are housed. . They had tastes of everything, but not an exhaustive collection, which was about the perfect size museum for me at that point - I was interested, but nearly worn out.
And then to the Kayseri Hilton to check in. Oh my. It really is a five star hotel, and we were in our traveling gear, dusty from walking around the site, tired, thirsty…
So we had a quick rest, and then met Remzi and his son again. We walked along the old city wall, skirting the bazaar, through a couple of streets and into grounds of the ethnographic museum. What a treat. A restored Ottoman-era house, with mannequins in costume, posed in each furnished room. Jen and Ellen were even invited to pose with the mannequins in a wedding party diorama - otherwise all male - in those days the women would have been behind a lacy wooden screen at the back of the room.
But I am too tired now to write about anything and make sense, so I’ll try to add more on the plane. Walked, took many pictures today, and didn’t really eat until suppertime. And then that meal took three hours, start to finish… We sat outside at the Hilton’s roof terrace restaurant from daylight to darkness. I’ll tell that story tomorrow, because I’m about to crash.
June 30, 2003
Just past 11:00
This morning we went to Hatice’s for breakfast and read email from Barbara with some questions for Crazy Ali. She’s very interested in the building. The weavers were also ready to warp the loom today, we needed to go to Urgup, and Hatice wanted us to see the beautiful pension where her friend Betice works.
So after a perfect rooftop breakfast, the day was consumed with little bits of things: house museum questions and logistics, interspersed with long sessions of video recording as the weavers wound and tied the warp for the big loom.
The pension where Betice works is beautifully renovated. I was reminded of the pousadas in Portugal - antiques with comfort, artifacts to live with. The courtyard was full of blooming plants, and I took many pictures of the jar-and-blossom variety. I also grabbed as many textile details as I could; the antique kilims and hangings were just too tempting.
Then to Barbara’s to watch and tape the first stage of the warping. The warp is wound on two pipes which stick up from the ground. One weaver sits behind each pipe, knotting a thread around each successive warp loop, while a walker paces back and forth, looping the continuous warp around and around and around, down to one end, bend and cast the loop, back to the other end, bend and cast the loop. I should count the fringe on one of the bigger kilims to see how many loops, but I’m sleepy and fading fast.
That stage of the warping documented, we met with Ali, and then Jen and Ellen went to measure rooms and make a more detailed sketch map for Barbara, while I went with Hatice to her house and wrote a very long email to Barbara with answers to her questions. Ali said he’d come by Barbara’s house in the late evening, after he’d spoken with the house’s owner in Germany.
We also rode the bus to Urgup again, this time with 27 people aboard. (Bear in mind that the minibus is built to seat 14 or 15, and that it was a hot day…) I don’t know if I can count it as a record, though, because six of the riders were under the age of nine and on laps and in arms. Last time it was all adults, and both Sultan and Jen sat on laps.
Ellen and Jen changed money in Urgup, Hatice asked some questions at the bank about commissions on large transfers of funds, and Ellen bought herself a doll with a spindle, and then we went back to Ortahisar for more video of the loom warping process. The weavers transferred the loops to two long pipes, bound one of the pipes to a beam, and then rolled the beam so that the warp wound onto it smoothly. The beam was carried into the weavers’ room, and lifted into place at the top of the frame. Enough warp was unrolled so that the lower pipe could be notched into place at the bottom of the frame, where it was lashed to a lower beam, and then everything was tightened with the s-shaped loom wrench. Then a narrow broomstick-like pole was slid between alternating strands, and a long thread wound in and out to tie off… the front threads? the back? I have to look at the video again to see which it was, but at any rate, they created a shed, and then replaced the narrow pole with a fatter beam, so the alternate threads would be easier to pick up. Hatice and Lutfiye and Hatice’s daughter-in-law and a granddaughter were all there today. In a lull in my taping, toward the end, the two weavers asked me something. “What are they saying,” I asked Sultan. “They want you to sing them a song.” “Oh… um… What song would they like?” “The bride’s song.” I was relieved, and said I had to study the videotape, but that next time when I came to Ortahisar I would know how to sing it for them.
After a rest and some dinner at the park restaurant, we went to Hatice’s house again. She and I worked on video, and more orientation to the Mac operating system, and we reviewed how to burn either video or picture files to a CD. I wish we’d had more time, but she is really a fast learner, so I’m confident that if she gets stuck she’ll be able to troubleshoot or I’ll be able to help her via email. The electricity kept cutting out, so we weren’t able to put another video online - but she was able to capture footage and begin a new series.
Back to Barbara’s house to pack. The electricity continued to go off at intervals. My USB bendable light for my laptop is amazingly bright. When the room plunged into darkness with Ellen and Jen half packed, my little light made it possible to see things from across the room.
Ali came by at 10:30. Still hadn’t spoken with the owner in Germany - couldn’t get through. Meanwhile this evening he’d heard some things which gave him pause. People have been telling him that the foundation isn’t strong. He feels he should get a structural engineer in there to look at the place. He knows some builders with a lot of experience with these houses, and he’s going to have one of them look at it. He’ll let the owner in Germany know that he’s going to do this, and the result. Ali said he would feel responsible for Barbara’s purchase, and didn’t want to advise her to buy a place that wasn’t sound. I figure that if the house is sound this buys some time, and if it isn’t, well, better not to find that out after buying it.
I’ll email this news to Barbara in the morning, before we leave.
June 29, 2003
Woken by sunlight and a persistent rooster, after sleeping through the first call to prayer. I love the quiet and cool of the early morning here. Yesterday morning I took some pictures early, walking around the courtyard and garden. I’m feeling a little dozy still, but everyone else is asleep and it is a good time for writing. Before I forget too much, I want to write what I can about the wedding last night.
After supper Hatice told us that a friend of hers was getting married and it was the second night of the wedding. “My mother says we should go. There is a saying that when rich people get married, everyone comes. This family is poor. My mother says last night there were not many people. Would you like to go?” (That was an easy question to answer.) Kamile put on a white square scarf over her usual headscarf, and Hatice and Sultan wore dressy shirts with their pants. Sultan had an armful of gold bracelets. (Hatice later explained that married women wear all their gold when they go to a wedding.) We started on foot, but Hatice’s brother Ali gave us a lift part way. By now it was fully dark, and as we came around the turn at the bottom of the hill, we could see a group of people, a small crowd of women seated around a space for dancing, five or six deep in tight concentric circles of chairs. Music played from a boom box. The space was lit with a few light bulbs strung overhead, and the golden light separated the people from the surrounding darkness. All heads turned as we came into view. Chairs were found for us and we joined the outermost row of the circle.
The bride arrived soon after we did, dressed all in white with a red veil, just as Hatice and the weavers had described this morning. Her dress was beautiful, princess-like, with a tight bodice and full long skirt, sleeves tight to the elbow and then full. I wasn’t close enough to see the detail in the embroidery, but from where I was the dress glittered in the light. The bride’s face was visible, but her head and her hair were tightly wrapped in embroidered white satin. Hatice told us that some brides still choose to do this, while some go to the hairdresser and have their hair done especially for this night, and then wear a looser veil or scarf. The red veil was attached to the back of a small white headdress (part of the satin wrapping her head) and hung down the back of her dress. The red and white together shone through the crowd. I wished I could take pictures of her face with the veil and the light on her face when she was dancing with her friends, but it didn’t seem appropriate. The younger women danced with arms up and fingers snapping; the older women watched, talking softly to each other, sharing nuts and sunflower seeds, and passing small babies around, and on the darkened outskirts were groups of boys and young men, watching the dancing, smoking, and sometimes shoving one another. Some younger women were in headscarves, many not. All of the older women were traditionally dressed except for the bride’s aunt, who wore a dark pantsuit and had short hair. As the dancing went on, sudden bursts of noise (firecrackers?) kept coming from the darkness around us. A car full of young men pulled up in the dark beside us. Doors opened. Pistols fired rapidly into the air. You could see the flame from the mouth of each gun in the dark.
The dancing continued, though it paused and the music was turned off during the call to prayer, and people milled around and talked quietly, and then the dancing started up again. Hatice and Sultan both danced. We were invited, but too shy. The bride’s brothers arrived and stepped through the chairs into the center of the dancing space. “Now the men come,” said Hatice. With the bride’s brothers were two large and heavily veiled figures. “Not women,” said Hatice. The brothers and the veiled figures danced with the bride. Lots of laughter. One of the brothers tried to uncover the head of one of the veiled “women.” The bride’s cousins and aunt were dancing, too. Another of the brothers fired his pistol into the air. I began to notice older men sitting on chairs and benches just outside our circle. It was getting later, and Hatice told us that they would put henna on the bride’s hands and sing the bride’s song, but not until midnight, and none of us thought we could stay that late. Kamile and Sultan left with us and we stopped in the street outside the bride’s family’s house, while the two of them went in to make a present of money to the bride’s family. The young man she is marrying is from another village, so this was her last night in her home. The bride’s song (which Hatice, Hatice and Lutfiye sang for the video) is all about that moment of leave-taking. A few other women joined us and we walked in a group up the hill through the village together. The stars were close and bright overhead. We parted at the turn through the archway to Barbara’s street.
Now it is bright morning. Ellen has made tea and brought in a peeled grapefruit and a bowl of fruit from the weavers’ gardens: apricots and a tiny green stone fruit like unripe plums or large cherries but tasting like granny smith apples. Jen is just waking up. Today we’ll climb the rock castle, the hisar of Ortahisar, and then we will go and take pictures of the building Barbara is interested in for the house museum.
I’m going to stop typing and drink my tea.
. . . . .
Past midnight, so I really should date this entry tomorrow, but I’ll keep it with what I wrote this morning.
We could hear drums from down the hill this morning. The bride was going to the groom’s village. Her father didn’t want her to get married, said Hatice. She had worked in the family’s garden, and taken care of the sheep.
We made arrangements for the trip to Kultepe with Remzi, and cancelled the first night at the Kayseri Hilton. I’m glad we can stay the extra night here. I only wish we were here longer, and that my family could be with me in this wonderful place.
What did we do today? Went to the hisar. Straight up, 147 steps, mostly on a succession of metal ladders. Jen and Ellen reached the summit, and probably did unmentionably dangerous things en route. Hatice and I stopped at the halfway point. I’d like to pretend that I suggested this out of concern for Hatice’s sore knee, but halfway up was enough height for me, and I felt like looking around and taking pictures and talking. Also, if I couldn’t see Ellen and Jen, I didn’t have to worry about them. So I said I wanted to stop there.
The view was was was - all the usual adjectives seem flat. All the village laid out like a living scale model beneath us. Someone walking down the road on a distant hillside. A donkey braying in a courtyard. The roof of Barbara’s house. Hatice pointed out the house where her grandfather had lived, and told me about some of the other buildings, ancient, abandoned, and restored. We talked about possibilities for Barbara’s museum and computer school.
When Ellen and Jen rejoined us, we saw Kamile in the middle distance, on the roof. We shouted and waved and shouted again. She saw us and waved back.
Then we went to Crazy Ali’s shop so that he could take us to the building that might become the house museum, if Barbara decides to get it. I hope it works out, because the place felt just right, and you couldn’t ask for a better location. It is the building that stretches over the archway we walk under to go down the street to Barbara’s house. Standing in front of the information center you can point to the front door. I took 50+ photos, and still didn’t get views of everything. More than thirty rooms, not including unexplored caves. The main section, which you enter through the front door, would need very little work. It felt appropriate for a museum: bright and gracious rooms with arched ceilings. A little cleaning, a lot of whitewash, some furnishings, and it would be ready to open. The rest of the place can be entered through a door under the arch. (Of course it turns out to be the door my mother and I loved and took pictures of last summer.) That side of the house has lots of potential, and again lots of sunlight, but the rooms are smaller, and the amenities would need some work. I could imagine living in it, though, and writing and cooking and thinking… the stuff of fabulous summer daydreams.
We went back to Barbara’s house, where I put the photos on my computer and resized and compressed and numbered them. I used my little USB flash memory keychain to give them to Hatice. She went home to email them all to Barbara, and while Jen and Ellen napped, I drafted a very very long email on my computer, describing each photo and giving my impressions of the space. (I saved the file as text, so that I could open it up with Hatice’s computer and paste it into an email to Barbara - no Turkish keyboard to deal with.)
Jen and Ellen woke up and we went over to Hatice’s house. It had taken her an hour and two email accounts, but she had sent all the photos to Barbara. I sent off my email, and then read an email from Mark which made me laugh aloud.
We had a late lunch of kiymali pide. Imagine thin crust pizza with very spare but flavorful filling of ground meat, cheese, tomatoes, garlic, onion, peppers, and spices. The crust was rolled out in a long narrow rectangle, the filling was sprinkled in a long thin line down the middle, and then the edges of the crust were pinched together, so the whole thing was the shape of a very skinny baguette. Baked in a bread oven, and then cut in 3-inch pieces. I’m going to have to try to recreate it when I get home.
Hatice and I worked on video again, and she made a short piece with some of the footage of the weavers explaining and demonstrating how a drop spindle works. iMovie crashed a couple of times, so she got plenty of practice with the editing. The finished piece is wonderful, and certainly doesn’t look like someone’s second video ever. Tomorrow we’ll put it on the weblog.
We went to Red Valley to watch the sunset and then were invited to Sultan’s house for dinner. After dinner, Hatice and Sultan showed us around the apartment. New modern furniture, lots of photos and mementos from Sultan’s wedding, and beautiful painted tablecloths, placemats, and napkins made by Hatice and Sultan. The tour ended with a look at Sultan’s wedding dress, and then Sultan got the idea that Jenny should try it on. . .
Sultan, Jenny, and Hatice disappeared into the master bedroom, and we could hear shrieks and giggles. After a while, Jen emerged, a vision in white. A little girl’s dream. She spun, she posed, she felt glorious. Kamile and Baris’s mother were laughing. Kamile took over the video camera, while Ellen and I snapped picture after picture. Jenny announced that this was the place, this was the dress, this was her new family, and all she needed was the groom. Hatice volunteered, and it was settled. More pictures were taken. We saw some video of Sultan’s wedding, Jen changed back into her former self, and we drank tea and watched the Turkish version of reality television for a while. Sultan gave us each a small painted cloth to put on a tea tray as a present. She hadn’t painted these, but they were in the same style as those we’d admired. It was nearly midnight when we took our leave.
Back at Barbara’s, I couldn’t resist and put Jen’s new wedding album together as an instant slide show, complete with music - Nick Lowe’s “I Knew the Bride when She used to Rock and Roll.” What a visit.
Tomorrow we’ll go walking in the Red Valley after breakfast at Hatice’s house. We were also going to watch the weavers re-warp the big kilim loom, but I don’t know when that will happen, or when we’ll go to Urgup for Jen and Ellen to cash travelers checks. In sha’Allah, it will all work out. Too much tea, and I’m not sleepy, but I’d better rest.
June 28, 2003
A video interview, a visit to an underground city, a quick stop in Urgup, rooftop supper, and a Turkish wedding. I’m tired, but will write what I can, so I remember it.
We interviewed the weavers today, and recorded them on video. Ellen drafted a list of anthropological questions which she copied for Hatice. I added in a few others, mostly extra questions about their experiences with textiles and textile work. Weavers Hatice and Lutfiye sat side by side in front of their looms, as Ellen read her questions to young Hatice, who translated them into Turkish, and then translated the weavers’ answers, with Ellen writing furiously to transcribe everything. Jen ran the formal camera on a tripod, and I sat on the sidelines and documented the parts which seemed most interesting to me. Wound up with some wonderful things on the tapes, including the bride’s wedding song (as sung by Hatice, Lutfiye, and young Hatice, and then explained by young Hatice) and a demonstration/explanation of spinning using a doll, some yarn, and a couple of pens. The whole interview went on for an hour and forty-five minutes.
Then we went to Hatice’s house and met up with the taxi driver, who drove us to Derinkuyu, one of the partially excavated and restored underground cities in the region. Ellen’s pages from the Blue Guide suggested that it was usually crowded with tourists and could be stuffy, sweaty, and uncomfortable, with long lines for everything. It was all but deserted. A freelance guide attached himself to us, and told us a lot about daily life in these immense, multi-level, underground spaces. Early Christians hid from their enemies, and as many as 10,000 may have lived there for a month at a time. Rooms for animals, people, a school, church, all carved in the volcanic tufa. Wells, hidden chimneys, ventilator shafts, winding tunnels and traps. Nine levels hae been opened and restored. We went through five of them.
… I’m too sleepy, I’ll continue in the morning. Remember feeling cool and damp, winding steep steps and walking fast while crouching through the low tunnels and doorways. How to get in shape, we decided, the Derinkuyu aerobics plan.
Went to Urgup to visit the bank machines, but my account wouldn’t authorize any withdrawal. I may need to settle up with Ellen after we get home. We pooled resources to pay for the taxi, which was twice as expensive as day before yesterday, for half as much time - turns out he sets the fare based on distance, and the underground city is a longish drive away. I would feel bad about that, but he did so much driving, and made so many helpful suggestions on the Avanos, Zelve, Goreme day that I feel as if it evened out. Market day in Urgup, and I took some pictures in the bazaar.
After a short pause at Barbara’s (I napped), we went to Hatice’s house for supper on the roof. Kamile made manti, a variation of a Kayseri specialty. Hers is made with little bowtie noodles and a thin red sauce with ground meat in it. The noodles are tossed with a little yogurt and lots of garlic before the sauce is added. We ate bread with this, and then many pieces of thirst-quenching sweet watermelon for dessert. The sun set as we were eating.
I’m far too sleepy to go on now, so I’ll write about the wedding tomorrow morning. What people wore. Concentric circles, string of lights, all heads turning, sunflower seeds, the boys watching, festive gunfire. Walking home in a group of women.
June 27, 2003
I am in an elliptical mood.
A day divided into three parts: first we saw the weavers cut the finished small kilims from the looms, then we had a video editing lesson at Hatice’s house, and then we went to Hatice’s family’s garden for a picnic supper.
I made video and took pictures, taught video and took pictures, and took pictures and more pictures.
The day was full of pattern and color and thinking visually. Shaping words to it afterwards is difficult.
So I’ll just talk about supper in the magic garden, because it will stay and stay with me.
The experience is the same and different from last year: again we ate bread and pilau and salad and guveç, a slow-roasted stew of beef and vegetables, in the garden halfway down the side of the cliff, the freshest food anyone ever ate, with laughter and conversation in two languages. Again it was a sense of being in a blessed place. And this year we also went down into the lower gardens, saw the water cascading down the rock face, running in channels past daylilies, young tomato and pepper plants, where ladders of weathered branches were propped against the rock face or leaning on old fruit trees. We looked across through the narrow opening in the high stone cliffs on either side of us and could see the rock castle, the hisar of Ortahisar, lit gold by the setting sun. And then down again, deeper still into the valley, where I drank from a cold spring and walked in the shadows of a tunnel through the rock, through and into another garden, wild and full of fruit. Cherries to eat from the tree, dark and light, sweet and tart, and strawberries, too. We fed each other. A neighbor’s garden, said Hatice, but they didn’t mind us eating. A shallow cave in the rock face, up a short ladder, and we could see a basin carved into the floor. A tandur, Hatice thought, an oven like the ones we saw in Goreme, a bread oven like the one her grandmother used. No, Sultan’s husband Baris thought it was a place for making wine. We laughed and pretended to drink, then climbed down and ate more cherries from the tree. Up in the first garden again we drank tea as it got dark, packed up and climbed the steep slope to the car, with Hatice’s mother Kamile leading me by the hand so I wouldn’t lose my footing.
Ellen, Jen, Hatice, and I walked back to the village together, so that there would be more room in the car for Kamile (we’d gone to the garden in two trips). Hatice’s grandfather walked with us as far as the turn toward his house, and then we four continued down the hill through the darkened streets of the village.
And so much is missing from this journal entry. I leave out the substance of the day’s conversations, about our lives, about our choices, about our hopes. (…) And I haven’t written about the play of pattern on pattern, color on color in the weavers’ room this morning, as the kilims were cut and tied. (…) And I haven’t found a way to convey the still moment of warmth from one particular glass of tea, or the light in the eyes of two people when they connect with one another without needing language.
So this is an elliptical entry, full of gaps, full of absence. I miss my family tonight.
June 26, 2003
Very sleepy, but just got a phone call from Mark! So odd and wonderful to hear his voice. No broken bones. He just wanted to see if the number worked. They are off to Clarion for the weekend.
A full day, beginning with the balloon appearing again at dawn. This morning I knew what it was and reached for the video camera. Saw lots of specks on the camera’s lens, and so cleaned it afterwards, but the balloon was almost on top of us as it went up - it must take off right behind Barbara’s house.
Hot and bright. Late morning met at Hatice’s and the taxi came to take us for the day. (The same kind driver who drove us last summer, I think.) First along the road between Urgup and Avanos to see the volcanic rock formations - the one that looks like a camel, the one that looks like a fish, the others that look like… other things. I made a panorama. Not bad.
From there to Saruhan, a Selçuk han, the restored 13th century caravansarai just outside Avanos. Golden stone and proportions that felt both gracious and severe. Inside, a barrel-vaulted gallery arcade along one wall, and an octagonal fountain splashing in the middle. At the far end was another door to a set of arched passageways around a great central pillared space. Dark, cool, the Dervishes sometimes dance there now. Sufi flute music coming softly from speakers on the ground near the doorway set the right mood of contemplation and distance. We walked and wondered, and climbed the steep stone staircase to the roof and looked out over the courtyard, the fountain, the tower, and the landscape beyond. I thought of travelers on the Silk Road, stopping to rest between Kayseri and Aksaray.
Then to Avanos, where Jen and Ellen tried throwing with the kick wheel at the pottery shop, and they bought some vases and clay pots. I used Jen’s camera to make video of her attempts with the wheel, and also to get across the feeling of that shop. The space was cool and dimly lit, with curving walls lined with shelves, and more pots suspended from the ceiling. So many stacked pots, vases, pitchers, baking casseroles on the shelves. Some ancient and traditional shapes, some modern. Some shlock, some spectacular. The room is arched and is carved out of stone. Another barrel vault. Further back and down it gets more cavelike, making the name (Chez Ali Baba) seem appropriate.
From Avanos to Zelve. Hot hot hot. And bright. Could see nothing from my camera’s LCD, and the parallax error through the viewfinder is so great that I was flying blind. Result? Panoramas with too much of the skyline cut off. If I’m ever to do this very seriously, I will need a camera with a wider angle lens, and a multi-row tripod jig. But I tried. And I had my laptop with me, so as the camera’s memory stick filled up, I could empty it into the computer, sitting down wherever I was in the valley and watching butterflies in the flowers while the files transferred. (I felt a little like Ferdinand the Bull, sitting in the long grass while intrepid Jen and Ellen climbed around inside pitch dark and vertical stone chimneys and passageways, calling to Hatice, and me, and each other from different window openings high up in the stone walls.) I made four panorama attempts in Zelve. The last one is the most promising, but will also be the most challenging to work with. Unhappy with my lack of skyline, I tilted the camera back about 40 degrees. (Can you say keystone effect?) I’ll have to work on each of the images to fix the distortion, and then piece it together in Photoshop before bringing it into my panorama software.
But I also took a lot of photos besides the panoramas, so even if the panoramas aren’t as successful as I’d dreamed, I have a lot to work with.
We were very very hot and tired and thirsty at that point, so we bought water and then stopped at a restaurant outside Goreme for lunch. Pide - the long thin Turkish pizza. What looked like an impossibly large helping, but I’d had nothing since a few crackers and tea for breakfast, and I was hungrier than I thought. Also drank a glass of mineral water and a can of seven-up. (And was still aware of needing more water.)
In Goreme we found a souvenir shop where Jen bought all her remaining presents, and I found a little something for Benjamin and Thomas. (Also two pillow covers for myself.) The shopkeeper and his brother both spoke good English, and charmed Jen into getting a number of things that she hadn’t thought of. Beautiful things, and she’ll be very happy with them, and it was fun to watch good salesmanship at work.
We continued on to a major artisan gift store and jewelry center just past Ortahisar, where a cousin of Hatice’s works. He showed us around. A grand establishment, catering to European tourists traveling in groups. Because we were with him, the massive commission usually paid to the tour guides was not in effect, and prices were steeply discounted. The main showroom for jewelry was very large, and round. A great circular space with glass cases full of every stone and style of contemporary jewelry imaginable, all in matching velvet trays. A space that induced hush and awe. It felt like Saks Fifth Avenue or some other great department store, but with a distinct Turkish feel. Fabric strips in two alternating colors (dark and light blue, I think) stretched from the top of the wall to the center of the peaked ceiling, giving the effect of a giant tent. (Also a way to dampen sound, and an inexpensive solution, the cousin pointed out.) Hatice wanted to buy a ring for her mother, as a belated Mother’s Day present. Ellen and Jen found some beautiful things as well. If I hadn’t bought the Turkman pendant yesterday, I might have been tempted. I love my bluegreen horse and wouldn’t want anything else.
On the way out, and in contrast to this formal experience in an elegant building, I took a photograph of a shovel I’d noticed in a wheelbarrow by the wall. Why? The metal shovel had an extra long handle, with odd curves in it - clearly made from a tree branch. Beautiful. I was thinking about my mother. I remembered her series of cast paper tools, and thought she would want to see this.
Yes we were tired. And hot. And trembling with thirst. But we also knew that today would be the best day for us to visit the rock churches in the open air museum at Goreme. It was just past five and the open air museum closes at six. I’m glad we went, though I probably would have just gone home if I’d been by myself. (Especially since it was four times as expensive as the other sites we’d visited today.) More formal, with museum guards and informative signs, but a landscape similar to Zelve. The church paintings surprised me into delight. Some with sophisticated color and Byzantine iconography, some with cartoon-like red ochre sketches. No photography allowed in any of the painted spaces, which consoled me when my camera battery finally gave up. (247 highest quality pictures on one charge - not bad.) I hope the photos in the Cappadocia book I have at home are helpful when I try to remember the sketch designs- especially those in the church of St. Barbara - I could have looked at them for a long time.
And then back to Barbara’s house, where Hatice helped us figure out the hot water heater, and we rested, and talked and drank water and tea and more water.
Now everyone else here seems to be asleep except me and the moths drawn to the light of my laptop. It’s late and past time to sleep myself.
June 24, 2003
9:46 local time
Jet lagged and sleepy. Woke at dawn to the sound of the call to prayer. Woke again, a few moments later to the sound of a propane gas jet roaring. Close to my ear. What IS that? I’m reminded of the roaring noise of the glass flameworking torch. Times five. So I sit up and look out the window at a hot air balloon rising and drifting toward us. Oh. Pulse back to normal. Realize that I’m trying to wake up just at the time that I usually fall asleep.
Extended breakfast on Hatice’s rooftop. Bread and homemade cheeses, Ortahisar honey and pekmes (grape syrup), cucumbers and tomatoes, and fried hot peppers and French fries. Glasses and glasses of tea. Laughter and lessons in Turkish. This visit I will work on counting. Bir, iki, uç… (I have a way to go.)
We send email home and to Barbara, to let everyone know we’ve arrived safely. (Reacquaint myself with the delights of typing on a Turkish keyboard.) We talk about the weaving and different possible products. The doormats are quite beautiful, about two feet by three feet, I’d guess. Perfect for tabletop or wall hanging or small area rug. However, since Hatice and Sultan estimate that the weavers can only make four in a month, there isn’t as much income for Hands-on-Hips to be made with them as with the larger rugs. Other ideas include book/journal covers and belts. The natural-dyed colors are beautiful to behold. We go back to Barbara’s house, where we show Hatice how to operate the new video camera we’ve brought, and then we all tape and photograph the weavers weaving. Jen weaves a little.
We make some plans for the days ahead. Today seems to be the best day to go to Urgup to change money, have lunch, and maybe do a little shopping. The Ortahisar-Urgup minibus has Masaallah painted inside above the front window, which seems appropriate, as at one point on our way out of town I counted 22 people on board, not including the driver. People on laps, on the dashboard, and standing - yet men and women were politely in separate rows. Presents and souvenirs bought in Urgup included a handmade doll in traditional dress, and a heavy Turkish double-boiler for making and serving tea. Yes, I did get half a dozen glasses, as well. Hatice knew the owner and the price was good.
An evening of resting and talking and looking at my pictures and video so far - lunch was too late for supper to be very interesting - so we went for a walk to Crazy Ali’s shop. Poems and purchases, in nearly equal measure. I found two treasures for myself: a large copper bowl and a heavy Turkman pendant, silver, with a malachite (or green agate) intaglio. (Is that the right word? A leaping horse was incised in the deep green stone.) Ellen and Jen found other things: rings, a ewer, a carved wooden coffee grinder, and a collapsible knife-cane. What delight. I need to concentrate on photography now, as I haven’t any money left to buy things with. Maybe a little something for each of the boys - I’ll know it when I see it.
Tomorrow the plan is to go to Zelve, Avanos, and Goreme.
June 24, 2003
En route Frankfurt - Istanbul
So far, so good. My traveling companions Ellen and Jen each had their challenges on Friday - Ellen with a dental difficulty, Jen with a different health scare. But after a day full of appointments, all was well.
I saved my difficulty for en route… foolishly assuming that my ticket was entirely electronic. Wrong. So I arrived in Toronto, after the Pgh travel agency had closed for the night, ticketed only as far as Frankfurt. I had confirmed reservations, but no ticket. Turkish Air in NYC couldn’t help me in Toronto, so I had to wait until Frankfurt to straighten things out. Arrived in Frankfurt. Still the middle of the night in the US. Turkish Air could not confirm what I had paid for my ticket, so I had to front some more money, but the young woman at the counter assured me that I can get a refund “within six months” for the amount I am out (less $50 ticket replacement fee). Ouch. Onward.
Aside from that, the trip has been delightful so far. Had an interesting seatmate on the Toronto-to-Frankfurt part of the journey. I knew we’d hit it off when I saw her get out her copy of the newest Harry Potter book. She turned out to be headed towards a summer of opthamology residency and community health research in Madras. Our conversation ranged from bits and pieces of life stories, to books and movies, to the practice of medicine and the curative powers of listening. We traded email addresses as we went our separate ways. Perhaps we’ll stay in touch.
We’re about half an hour out of Istanbul right now, maybe less. I can feel the plane descending. (So can a small child several rows back.) I should put this away, and get neatly stowed. The connection in Istanbul is a close one, and I need to be ready to move.
. . .
11:08 local time, Ortahisar
“Allah,” calls out a woman’s voice, and amid scattered applause, our plane lands in Kayseri. Smooth landing in view of snow-wrinkled Ericiyes. Mehmet‘s father drives seven passengers to our various pensions and destinations, as the sun sets, and the landscape grows sand gold and then rose red. Jen dozes. Ellen marvels. I want to stop and visit everything at once. All over again - or for the first time. We pass Avanos, the turn-off for Zelve, through Goreme, Uçhisar and then we turn down the hill into Ortahisar, with me directing us to the right end of the village with gestures. As the streetlights come on, the minibus stops in front of Crazy Ali’s store, and he has already phoned Hatice to say we are there. We drink apple tea in the dusk, in good company, with Ali’s antiques surrounding us.
Back. It is as wonderful as before - more wonderful - since it was such a homecoming to see Hatice again. And then we walk down the hill to Barbara’s house in the dark. The large key. The illuminated courtyard. The same vaulted whitewashed rooms with kilim-draped benches. New eyes to see everything with, with Ellen and Jen along. The call to worship at ten sets the end on the evening. “I’ve never seen so many stars,” says Jen, leaning out the window. We unpack and talk and drift toward more sleep. Breakfast with Hatice tomorrow, and then we’ll see what the day brings.
What do I hope to do this visit? For myself, make video of weaving. Make some panoramas: Barbara’s courtyard (if I can figure out where to stand), Zelve, Red Valley sunset, the garden (if we go). I want to teach Hatice and anyone else how to edit video using the computer, and how to post it on the web. How many days do we have? Not many. (I’m sleepy, so I have to count everything out.) Six days in the village (25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30), one day to see Kultepe with Remzi, and then one very long long day flying home on the 2nd. Nine days.
Just back last night from nine days away - two in transit and seven in the Cappadocia region of central Turkey. My internet access there was intermittent, so I saved weblog entries on my laptop as I went along. I'll post one a day for the next week.