Summerized Blog

Other stuff I should have blogged about sooner…

My sister and Michael got married this summer. The wedding took place on my parents property — a beautiful wooded hillside with views for miles. It was a gorgeous day, and everyone had fun, enjoying the wonderful quirkiness of their wedding. Boston terrier Rufus was one of the groomsmen. Brittany and Michael played paper rock scissors to decide who said vows first.

Everyone danced at the barn reception.

Dad got to show off progress on his Germanic chalet.

And Dan wore a praying mantis.

Jason and I went to Ireland briefly this summer too. We visited Newgrange, a Stone Age burial and religious site with Adam.

The swirling carvings on parts of the structure were very interesting. They may symbolize multiple things, including being an abstract map of the local geography.

Toward the end of the summer, we camped near Santa Cruz with Lisa and Wai, and several of their friends.

With that many foodies, there were lots of tasty things to eat, like Tom Yum chicken skewers, salmon grilled on a flavorful board, and sour plum filled rice balls.

Wai showed us where he surfs every weekend too.

Dublin and London in Winter

We went to Dublin and London last month. It had been 2 years since we'd visited Jason's family and friends; high time we hopped the pond.

Celebrating Jason's birthday in Dublin included a great meal and some pub time with old friends, and a brunch with lots of family. Dublin is always fun.

Padraig and I caught a jazz performance at a pub by another friend's band. And Obama shilled suits in a store window.

In London, we caught up with few more old friends and family members, including Felicia and her fiancee Chris. We'd first met Felicia in Cambodia.

Spending some time wandering around near our hotel in 7 Dials, I found some great design book and tchotchke stores.

I also perused the Enlightenment Hall at the British Museum. It's a grand, library-like hall filled with objects from private collections of curiosities. The commentary and contextualization of the objects is particularly interesting because it helps you understand how these objects were perceived, and why they were collected, at that time. Though many of the Western-centric ideas now seem misguided or just plain wrong, it's neat to see how people were trying too make sense of the world around them. The objects are grouped in sections like "Religion," "Art," or "Trade," with objects as diverse as Easter Island bird man cult objects; astrolabes; several hundred year old naturalistic paintings of South American plants; dinosaur bones; magic amulets; and ancient Egyptian wooden (!) boxes painted with hieroglyphs. In a way, the Enlightenment Hall was also a trip down memory lane; we'd seen reference to many of the objects and art forms on our 9 month trip around the Pacific.

A Wedgwood anti-slavery plaque was among the collection. Coincidentally, I'd recently read about the plaque in a New York Times book review; Charles Darwin and Josiah Wedgwood were both abolitionists (as well as friends), and that Wedgwood had created this plaque to help the abolitionist cause.

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There was also an exhibit on Babylon, where one could see lion and dragon tiles from the Ishtar gate, up close and personal. They're stunningly beautiful. I'd been wanting to see them for a long time. The rest of the exhibit was interesting, though it seemed like there were more objects and artwork about later perceptions of Babylon, rather than actual facts and artifacts from Babylon itself. Maybe I'd gotten a little weary of historical perspectives after several hours in the Enlightenment Room.

Ware and London

We’re flying from Minneapolis to San Francisco, our last leg home from London, and my eyeballs hurt from dry planes.

We were in England for Jason’s cousin’s wedding. The wedding itself was in Ware, a 40 minute train ride from London.

It was great to finally meet the bride, and members of Jason’s extended family I’d never met.

Judging from the plumage at the lovely ceremony, Irish milliner Philip Treacy was well represented.

The reception was held at a grand old pile, originally built in the Jacobean style, and added on to in just about every subsequent style. Now it’s a hotel, and a pleasant place to stay — I wished we’d had more time to explore.

We spent the next few days in London, staying with friends. And managed to catch up with Felicia, an Aussie friend we met in Cambodia on our long honeymoon.

Unfortunately, a grey and rainy London didn’t present many tempting photographic opportunities. Fortunately, it did present shopping opportunities.

Walking down the street past a Whole Foods, this London outpost looked so much more designed than those in the US (New York at least), with its trend du jour neo-Victorian-wallpaper-meets-Flatland aesthetic window display.

Back at the Minneapolis airport, this sign brought back memories of the Midwest goose scourge, and of goose-clogged medians in Detroit.

Kappadokya

Kappadokya looks like a lunar smurf village. Biblical and space-age. In fact, part of a Star Wars was filmed there. In Central Anatolia, Turkey, it deserves as much press as the Grand Canyon, though not many Americans know about it.

Surreal “fairy chimney” rock formations were formed when volcanoes erupted, leaving ash, lava and basalt that eroded unevenly.

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Assyrians, Hittites, Persians, Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, Seljuks and others have lived in or occupied Kappadokya.

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Various peoples have LIVED in caves carved out of the soft stone for hundreds of years.

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Byzantine monks lived in carved monastaries in the rock formations and in the cliffs. We walked into rock-cut monastaries mimicking barrel vaulted structures. They’re painted with amazing Byzantine murals.

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Unfortunately, some of them have been defaced recently by vandals and religious zealots who often scratch out the eyes.

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The cave interiors are truly Flintstonian, with “built in” cabinetry — carved niches to hold foodstuffs, and carved areas for stomping grapes for wine. Carved tandoori ovens in the floor and long benches for feasts too.

Within the last fifty years, the Turkish government forced everyone out of the caves because the stone was occasionally collapsing, and was a hazard. Many of them now live in villages, like the one where we saw this youth hostel:

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We had the most luscious candy-like apricots ever that day. Turkish apricots are truly the best. We also saw apricots drying on rooftops of the village — the flies buzzing around them convinced us fresh was definitely better.

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Chickens!

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Some of the locals live in more luxury in some modern homes that look uniquely Turkish.

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We stayed in a cave hotel that was originally a private home. The rooms of the 150 year old hotel were actually carved into the rock, so our room was a cave. Our suite was “Anka’s Lair.”

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Oz and Endam’s wedding

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All Turkish wedding ceremonies are civil ceremonies and take place in government buildings. Oz’s ceremony guests (all 500 of them) waited outside the building, along with the guests of other weddings. When it was time for the wedding, Oz and Endam’s names appeared on a readerboard letting us know it was time to enter the theater-like ceremony room. At the front of the room is a long, governmental-looking desk where the judge, the couple, and their 3 witnesses sit under a painting of Ataturk, founder of modern Turkey. My Dad was one of the witnesses that day. He got a round of applause for saying the only Turkish word he knows “Evet” for Yes, when it is his turn. It was very sweet. The ceremony took about 15 minutes.

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The flowers took a very different form than they do in the US. They come on a sort of sign-post, and contain the name of the giver. If you can’t make it to the wedding, you send one of these. Companies that Oz and Endam had worked at also sent them.

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The reception was at a health/country club. The club was festooned with bright oranges, yellows and greens. The bride looked beautiful and wore a western gown, and the couple took lots of glamour shots before joining dinner. When they made their appearance, it was after we took in a video containing childhood photos set to dramatic Turkish music. They had a pyrotechnics budget! Small fireworks went off beside the pool while the couple walked the length of it.

After food and raki, the Turkish dancing started. Their live band was playing some old fashioned Turkish music and some gypsy and Kurd music as well. We got up to dance with everyone, looked foolish, and had a great time. There was bellydancing, but not by me. I scuffed my Ferragamos.