Saturday, June 11, 2011

Poetry in Discovery Park

While walking in the park we started to wax lyrical, making up poems.  Wren caught the intonation while Frost crafted a whole poem.

Friday, June 10, 2011

The Turkey Syrian Border

Today, there has been coverage of increasing tensions in Syria and how:
"More than 2,400 Syrians have fled into neighbouring Turkey to escape the unrest in Jisr al-Shughur and other towns, according to the UN and Turkish officials."

It got me melancholic.  It got me thinking.   Twenty-two years ago, in May 1989, myself and some friends (Janine, Osnet and Yair) traveled around Eastern Turkey and I have always wanted to return. Here are some excerpts from that trip for my family and perhaps Janine if she is on Facebook these days.

May 19th, 1989
ELAZiG, Turkey
Shoeshiners everywhere carry ornamented footstools, red, green, yellow and gold.  Polish kept in little boxes and bottles.  Some stop by bus stops and provide tea while they polish.  In the downtown bazaar or market area each road or arcade is for one line of goods. There is a road for pots and pans, another for old suits another for farming equipment, electricals, palstic shoes (all the same).

Turkish sweets are strange and very sweet and sugary.  Bought some golden sticks filled with nuts made of brittle spun sugar.  Also, blue green and yellow humbugs, candyfloss like string, turkish delight rolled in coconut and nuts. Nuts, nuts everywhere.

Today we went to Harput thinking it was Pertek and then to Pertek to see an island castle in the [Ataturk Baraji] dam.   The dam caused the castle, which was on a high rocky mountain overlooking the source valley of the Euphrates, to be isolate on an island.  We caught a bus there to the ferry and hired the ferry boat to take us out there.  I remember the jolting of our last bus ride and the smell of the driver's armpits and his socks as he slept across the back window....

The castle is medieval and very wonderful, quite ruined but easily recognizable and having a remarkable vantage over the district water of thh Euphrates sliding by slowly while the hills wade in the waves, orange, green.  We decided to call it the Island of Indecision.   When we landed on our return from the island we were accosted by police demanding "passeporte" which we didn't have [as we had been required to hand them in at the hotel].  They said "Touris, terroris" a few times.  Words ensued.  We were told that they are very sensitive about foreigners being on the dam as the Syrians would like to blow it up and release the water down into Syria.

May [few days later]
Passed a grey river flowing from the black mountains.  Industrial scars.  Great white storks in nests all along the route. One was clsoe to teh road and I could see the big white baby storks snaking upward for food.  Also, silhoetted on the roof of the Ulu Cami. Walking through the bazaar we saw offal floating in silver dushes.  The bazaar is dark streeted with stagnant puddles and rotting fruit.   Some streets have dark recessed carpentry shops lit by a single light bulb and overflowing with sawdust.   Men sit playing backgammon, waist-coated and dark.  AT certain times they kneel to play on small stools in shops and streets.  Outside the Uli Cami are rows of men, old and young.  Beside them lay piles of long wooden handled scythes.  Apparently the peasants are being forced to seek work in the city and sometimes hired daily to work the land of others.

May 25th, 1989

From Dougbezit we caught a minibus to Kars and Ani.  It was very hot but high up.  On may occasions we came close to the Russian border and could see the control and observation points across the high fences.  The nomadic people of Eastern Turkey (and Russia?) have huge herds of cows, sheept etc and we even saw horses in their 1000's near ANI.  With the herders are ferocious looking dogs, closer related to wolves than any canine specimen I have seen before this.   Some resemble huskies, white or grey, huge fanged ... they chase the taxi along the road and we must swerve to avoid potholes.  Or they growl by the van and we crawl along as a huge herd of sheept and herders with ponies draped in Kilims move along and slowly cross the road.

In the high regions before Kars the landscape was wonderfully open and barren.  The planes, steppe? flat with pale washed skies, empty and dry.

In a remote town near Ardahan, stopped for snacks and walked into a toilet.  It was awash with water which a dwarf was sweeping up. 

Received permission to enter the neutral borderzone between Turkey and Russia we drove out to Ani, a now deserted city which once rivaled Constantinople and Cairo and was the capital of the medieval Armenian empire.   Now it lies almost in ruins, some churches and a haunting mosque remain standing.  Also the Armenian cathedral.   It is on a cliff above a ravine and one can look across the green rushing river to Russia, to see the USSR road end suddenly and wend its way into unbroken green.  Soldiers from the observation towers watch me.

About Nature

Wren said:  "Mom, I have a question about nature.   Why does my hair move closer to my face when I eat toast?"

I challenge you to answer that.

We went for a walk in Discovery Park.  Wren kept saying "Beazle has DISCOVERED something."

Beazle Discovers Something

Beazle ran well, to keep up.

Frost said "slow down Mom, Beazle has such short legs he has to run all the time!"

I harvested nettles using the clean poop bag to shield my hand.  I am going to make nettle and chanterelle soup.  Beazle thinks I am his mother so he tried to harvest nettles too by jumping and biting them.

I harvest nettles with the (clean) poop bag.

Wren went on the flying fox.

"Why is it called a flying fox?" he wondered.

Beazle ran with his mouth in a smile and his tongue hanging out.  He ran with the leash cut off to 6 inches to get him used to it.

I had to work hard to get Beazle to sniff this hole

Wren (the Wizard) walks with Beazle

"Look at the nettle sea!" said Frost, who was off school due to a cold and sore throat that has lasted 3 days.

"Look at the sea of dinner." I said.

"I would not come in that sea," said Wren.  "I would not swim in the nettle sea!  ARGH!  It is coming!"

The Nettle Sea

We discussed poetry while walking.  I made up a poem.  Then Frost made up a poem.  Then Wren made up a poem.  I shall try and post them.  

Beazle hopes for a snack
Beazle's poem was:


Adventures with a pressure washer

As many of you know, we are cleaning up our house in anticipation of putting it on the market in July.  This process is known as getting the house "market ready" although one would assume that the market could tolerate any house and it is more about getting the house to sell at a decent price.

Last weekend our realtor lent us her pressure washer "until you are done."  Since then, my life has been dominated by this pressure-washer.  Before she left she explained the various configuration and strength of the nozzles and gestured at the sidewalk:  "This one will make your sidewalk white," she said.  "It will remove all the moss on the stairs."

"Is that good?"  I asked.  "Isn't a bit of moss, like quaint?"

"No.  It is not good."   Apparently realtors earn their money by being emphatic.  Clients need good clear instructions in Market Ready Kindergarten.

So, I set out to clean the driveway.

Every year when Mum visits she spends an afternoon sweeping and weeding the cement driveway.  I know, weeding?  Its because there are cracks in the cement and its all mossy and pebbled.   I used the orange nozzle, the one that was described as going in a pattern of swishy swishy motions to scour.

It took a long time but I cleaned the driveway.   Every time I cleaned one bit another bit looked dirty.  There was a lot of "Yet, there's a spot!"

It is now white.  When I say white, its not completely white its like silver grey.  My driveway looks like foil.

Unfortunately, the foil has holes in it.  The reason the driveway had grass on it was it has crevasses of about 8" deep, long rivulets, gouges.  The dandelions have colonized some and others are just little ecosystems of worms, grasses, weeds and flowers.   I blasted them out to leave a cratered landscape of foil.

"Did you have to sand-blast the crap out of our driveway?" asked Josh.

You may have noticed that Josh is not as biddable as I am.  He gets grumpy when told to improve things he likes that way.  He refused to buy a new stainless microwave to replace the white one we were given by Shawn and Sarah.  He is not a crowd pleaser.

However, in the "getting market ready" segment.  He is wrong and I am right (I am writing and he is reading. I am sand-blasting and he is patching up.)

So, Josh went and cement filled the holes.  Its okay now, I guess.

Then I tried again.  This time I pressure washed the deck with a lighter squirter.  That made drifts of mud under the deck. Serious mud.  Its like a pig wallow under there.  I can't GET the mud out easily.  I had to crawl in the shit while poking a rake in front of me to drag it out.  It sucks.

Finally, I did the front deck prior to painting it.  That was the most successful.  However, I washed one step and it blasted a hole in the rotten part.  I have replaced the step.  I knew it was rotten.  I was going to do it anyway but ye-gods, pressure washers are hard work!  They are not the nice quick freshen upper I was expecting.

They make a lovely bright surface but what about all the debris?   I have had two pairs of garden gloves caked solid with mud.  My green garden boots are no longer fashion items and my face, hair and all have been splattered with moss-mud solutions with bits of mascerated earthworm and dandelion root emulsified within.

After the side yard is finished I am done.  D-O-N-E with the pressure washer.  I am not doing the steps.  We can have a sylvan mossy look:

"Remodeled 1949 is warm, elegant, mossy and sits over an enormous rutted driveway that shines like a landing pad.   Rocking chair front porch from which you can enjoy the mossy rocks and mixed foliage of your edible landscape. Sun drenched living spaces (you may want to spring for blinds), fir and apple floors,exposed woodwork, updated chef kitchen w/oak cabinets and island.  Fenced yard is your own private oasis, enjoy the nightly antics of your starving raccoons.  System upgrades include furnace,ductwork, electrical, plumbing and patched driveway."

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Teacher Told Me That

Wren has become something of a know-it-all recently, eager to make judgements on my behavior and to throw in his wisdom on things that are going on.

He always ends his injunction with a nodding head and the words "I know that.  Teacher told me."

This morning I was making Frost's lunch.  Because we are low on provisions I was scraping for something sweet to put in his lunchbox and settled for chocolate chips. some graham crackers and a marshmallow.  I called out to Frost:

"You poor boy.  I hope you are not suffering too much with the terrible lunches you are getting this week."

Frost did not reply because he was reading.

"What?  What is in his lunch?" asked Wren, worried.  "Is it a bad lunch?"

"No," I said. "Its actually a good lunch.  I was only joking."

"It is not good to joke." said Wren, shaking his head and waving his pencil crayon at me.  "Teacher told me!"

"Teacher told you not to joke?"  I ask, wondering what they do at this Waldorf inspired school anyway.

"No, teacher told me in a story."

"What story?

"There is a boy farmer and its kind of like he tells jokes that a wolf is attacking THREE TIMES but then the third time one comes and all the sheep died."

"Oh! I know that story.  I am going to write this down so Granny knows you know about that story of The Boy Who Cried Wolf."

"But write 'the sheep died' in a box so that Granny doesn't know that because she doesn't like DEAD."


"Actually, put DEAD in big letters because DEAD should be in big letters."

So, now I am relieved.  It is merely the bossiness of Aesops Fables and fairy tales.  Good stories to live by :)

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Raccoon problem redux

Frost and Wren woke me at 7am to tell me that when they went to get breakfast the raccoon was in the kitchen trying to hit the bulk catfood container over and now it was "sitting outside the door watching us.

Wren said "I have never seen a real live raccoon before."

Here it is.

The problem is that it seems to be injured.  Its front left paw was hanging and it wasn't using it.

Now we have an injured, starving raccoon that will try and get food [aka into kitchen] and is more of a risk of being around during the day and hurting Beazle.

At least, that is my concern.

As it happened, last night Beazle woke at 4.45am and I took him out to pee.  He vanished under the deck for a long while.  I am now worried about taking him out to pee at night.  What if the raccoon was under the deck?

We have blocked off the cat door and are besieged.

The stellars jays started kicking up a fuss in the bamboo and a suspected the raccoon was still around.  A few minutes later he returned to our deck and looked at us.  I chased him away again. 

Monday, June 6, 2011

Sunny weekend

We had a wonderful warm sunny weekend and the boys spent a lot of time outside and running around.  Frost had two sleepovers and Beazle had a few walks and went to puppy class in Ballard.

Beazle's life has improved a great deal since Chris suggested we give him a "raw food" diet.  The food - from Primal Pets - comes frozen in little cubes and in a range of flavors.  Beazle is getting "beef" and "duck" food.  While he used to nibble his kibble he wolfs his cube of boeuf down in a second.

He also enjoys marrow bones.

I took advantage of the sun by blasting the driveway with the pressure washer our realtor loned us.  We also washed and stained the back deck, washed the front deck and made plans for painting.

I am exhausted but getting things done. 

Thanks to Tara's brunches this weekend, I managed to get some peace and relaxation in along with all the home improving.

This evening, I did some math problems with Frost.  He is very quick to get the arithmetic answers but has trouble explaining how he knows things.  Since he can be a bit disorganized, longer story problems sometimes have errors which is bad when there is not written work to explain his 4 digit answer.

Beazle with a neighborhood friend and dog (Doris).

Beazle is co-sleeping since Josh refused to continue to implement the
"cry in the crate" sleep solution.

Wren showing he is not afraid of Beazle.
If Beazle chases Wren, things look different.

The neighbors new puppy - "Daphne".  She is three weeks younger than Beazle
and he bowls her over, for now.
I am now going to bed late.  Josh is lying on the couch watching Beazle squeaking his fake squirrel.