Magic Carpet Ride

In Turkey, everywhere we turned there were carpets…

…dressing up every room in the house.

Indoors…

…and outdoors.

Sometimes in the most unexpected places.

 There are special prayer rugs in the mosques.

Even Turkish camels use them.

Cats love them too.

They really really love them.

And so do I.

They are important to the tourist trade.

 I was willing to do my part to boost the economy.

 

But how to choose?

So many variables.  Size, color, intricate patterns…

We knew we should research the market, measure the space, photograph the rug, walls, and furniture we wanted our  purchase to match.  But we didn’t.

The wine helped.  Hospitality is customary in Turkey, but it doesn’t hurt to soften up potential buyers.  We didn’t care: we knew from the start we would walk out with a new carpet.

Relying on instinct, we pared it down to two rugs. Then Metin explained the symbolism, and the deal was sealed. The tulip border on our favorite was a common Turkish motif, symbolizing the Garden of Eden.

Tulips recall Turkey’s rich history and culture, from the ‘tulip mania’ that brought “the Konya flowers” from Turkey to the West, to the many doors of understanding and appreciation opened on this shared journey.

One border design depicts water…

…for freedom and triumph over difficulties, because water follows its own path around, below or above any obstacle.

It also symbolizes fertility.

Red is for vibrance, passion, happiness.  The ‘S’ border is for the first letter in the Turkish word for love.

The oleander flower, strong and drought resistant, stands for protection.  It can be poisonous but is used to treat cancer, epilepsy, heart conditions, and more.  Thousands of years ago Roman soldiers took it to cure hangovers.

Could our Turkish carpet brother be reading us so well that he could tell us exactly the story we want to hear?  Love, passion, protection, and satisfaction guaranteed?  Absolutely!

We weren’t worried about cutting the best deal or finding the best bargain: that was the happy ending to someone else’s adventure.  It was the love story that stood out for us, the one we felt invested in, the one we happily bought into.

And the rug was a perfect fit–although not where we’d intended to put it, but–surprise!–we found an even better place for it, and we love our carpet more than we hoped or imagined.

We choose our own stories, just as we choose a carpet or a mate.

A little glass of wine can help.  Don’t worry about the ticket price, go by instinct, and carry it home.  Not every day can be a magic carpet ride, but these things hold their value, and a good one will last a lifetime.

All images and words copyright 2015 Naomi Baltuck

Click here for more interpretations of The Weekly Photo Challenge: Intricate.

Poetry in Motion

Forgive me, Blogger, it’s been four weeks since my last post. I’ve been out in the world!

We were visiting our son Eli, who teaches in Turkey.  He has adapted remarkably well.

 Eli lives off the path beaten by tourists, but flew to meet us for a visit in Cappadocia.

He came bearing gifts, including Turkish cotton candy, pistachios, dried apricots, baklava, and my favorite–a savory snack with a cheesy crust baked over a peanut.

We brought him a taste of home–Triscuits, Good ‘n’ Plenty, Junior Mints, Reese’s Pieces, dried seaweed, and Girl Scout Cookies.

I’ll tell you more about Cappadocia another time. But trust me: it was golden.

Eli met us again in Istanbul, a huge city with masses of people, dogs and cats everywhere.

The streets and bazaars were a crunch of unrelenting perpetual motion.  I had to snap pics on the fly to avoid losing my companions in the sea of people.

The Spice Bazaar was stimulating to the senses; we were hard pressed to take it all in!

It was fragrant.

Tasty.

Exotic.

 

Bright.

And shiny!

It was all Turkishly delightful.

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I sensed invisible walls, like those on subways in New York, Rome, or anywhere multitudes converge and people are reluctant to meet each other’s eyes.  But I caught glimpses, reminders that each person in the throng was someone’s parent…

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Sister…

Brother…

Friend, spouse, or lover.

On the walk back to our hotel, traffic was barely moving.  Street vendors bravely plied their trade among the backup of vehicles.

Across the street someone emerged from walls raised by Emperor Constantine more than 1500 years ago.  I zoomed in with my camera, waiting for traffic to abate. It was a long wait, but finally it happened.  I looked up to meet the eye of the driver who’d stopped his rig in the midst of rush hour to give me a clear shot.  He motioned to me to snap the pic. I clicked and smiled, he waved, shifted gears, and drove on.

As I watched him go, I saw a Titanic moment played out by a couple of kids from a car’s sunroof.  I snapped it, knowing it wouldn’t be a great shot, but I wanted to record the joy of that moment, theirs and mine, which was heightened by a stranger’s act of kindness.

Then someone was speaking to me in Turkish from a car by the curb.  Was he scolding me for taking photos?  Or holding up traffic?  But he held up his own camera, and in one eloquent motion, he instantly established understanding and common ground between one lover of life and another.  He smiled so warmly I had to laugh and take his picture!  For his open heart, his good humor, his generosity to a stranger and a foreigner, I believe at that moment I truly loved him.  In fact, I still do.

All images and words copyright 2015 Naomi Baltuck

Click here for more interpretations of The Weekly Photo Challenge: Motion.

Joyriding

  • “Love…

…doesn’t make the world go round.”   

But love

Love…

Love…

Love…

Love…

Love…

Love…

Love…

Love…

Love…

Love…

Love…

Love…

LOVE!

 Yes, LOVE!

“..is what makes the ride worthwhile.”–Franklin P. Jones

Always has.

Always will.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

c

c2015 Naomi Baltuck

Back Down to Earth

There is freedom in cutting loose one’s bonds to float high above the rest of the world.

To be quiet, and alone in one’s thoughts.

It is a space and place that I do sometimes share.

Just when I find myself adjusting to the elevation…

…and the solitude…

Just when I start feeling too comfortable, too removed…

…I feel a tug on the heartstrings that brings me back down to earth.

Sometimes it’s as simple as discovering on my front walk a baby bird that needs to be returned to its nest.

More often it is my own baby birds, coming home to roost.

Even just for a little while.

All words and images c2014 Naomi Baltuck.

Click here for more interpretations of The Weekly Travel Theme: Above.

 

 

 

 

 

Testing One’s Mettle

“What are you afraid of?” author Bob Mayer asked at a writing conference, “because that’s what’s holding you back as writers.”

At the time, it was social media–mastering new technology, committing to cranking out a weekly post. But I started a blog, and am glad I did.  Since my first blogpost I’ve made new friends, discovered photographic storytelling, which I love, and crossed a whopper off this writer’s to-do list.

Marriage was another commitment that terrified me, but I faced that fear too.

It took seven years before Thom and I felt brave enough to assume the awesome responsibility of parenthood.  It’s the most joyful, most difficult, most rewarding, and most important undertaking we’d ever signed on for, or ever will.

Whether we choose them ourselves or take what fate throws our way, the most daunting experiences are often the most edifying.

The most challenging ones tend to be the most rewarding.

With the toughest climbs come the best views.

After the kids were old enough to change their own diapers, we thought could rest on our laurels, but there was an unexpected twist to the parent/child relationship.

We raised kids who challenge themselves.  Bea watched her big brother do his math homework, and designed her own “Really Hard Math Problem.”

As they tested their own mettle, and created their own challenges…

…we were forced out of our comfort zones just to keep up.

Thom and I would never have chosen to go to the Amazon jungle if the kids hadn’t been keen to go.

It was hard to watch my kids twist and turn like little spiders on a web as they climbed 200 feet up into the canopy to zipline.  And for the first (and probably last) time in my life, I went ziplining too.  You never know when someone might need a bandaid or some bug repellant.

Only for my kid would I board a hot air balloon in Cappadocia, another thing I swore I’d never do. But it’s good to feel a fire in your belly and rise above your fears.

We are not extreme travelers.  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: most of the adventures I have are in my own mind.  But for the sake of my kids, I’ve put on my big girl panties and donned a hard hat once or twice.

Sometimes you have to throw caution to the wind.

 I appreciate people who can lure me out of my comfort zone.

Sometimes it’s good to commit to a path with unexpected twists and bends.

I’m sure I’m a better person for it. And if nothing else, Life Outside The Comfort Zone provides great material for a writer.

All images and words copyright 2014 Naomi Baltuck.

Click here for more interpretations of The Weekly Photo Challenge: Twist.

Click here for more interpretations of The Weekly Travel Theme: Metal.

Fifty Shades of Yellow

Purple is my favorite color, and it always has been.  But I love yellow for its cheerfulness.

It’s my daughter Bea’s favorite color.

And she wears it well, don’t you think?

She isn’t the only one.

Whether yellow comes as a tasteful accent…

…a warm background…

…a pleasing bit of contrast…

…or a big splash of color…

…Ma Nature wears it well too.

…and so do her children.

We’ve borrowed this sunny hue from nature to brighten our homes on the outside…

…and on the inside too.

It shines a cheerful light through the darkness…

…and lifts our spirits.

It warms us from the inside out.

Yellow comes in many eye-catching colors and goes by many names…goldenrod, schoolbus, taxicab yellow…

Maize, saffron, lemon…mmm, yellow never smelled so good.

 Yellow means different things to different people.  Does this signal mean approach slowly?  Or go very very fast?

It might depend on whether you’re coming…

 

…or going.

Is it animal, vegetable, or mineral?

Never mind.   That’s neither here nor there.

Want to dance?

All images and words copyright 2014 Naomi Baltuck

Click here for more interpretations of The Weekly Photo Challenge: Yellow.

Unidentified Flying Objects

Last year my son Eli and I traveled to Turkey.  One of the highlights was Cappadocia in Eastern Anatolia, a land rich in history and natural wonders, such as ancient underground cities, and fairy chimneys.  And…So. Many. Caves.  Some were natural, but most were carved into the soft stone as houses for the inhabitants, going all the way back to the 6th century B.C.E.  They reminded me of swallows’ nests or anthills, but for people, and they were everywhere.

People are still carving caves into the stone to create habitable space, but most of them are entrepreneurs building hotel rooms for tourists eager for the experience of sleeping in a cave.

Eli and I stayed in just such a hotel, with all its rooms carved into a rocky hillside.
I expected it to be rough, cold, damp and crudely done, but travel is all about the unexpected.  Sometimes we are pleasantly surprised.  The walls had a stone-like pattern beautifully carved into the rock, it was brightly lit and tastefully decorated.  I loved the shelves and nooks carved into the walls.

The interior of this closet is stone, but the wooden frame and doors were fitted to the opening in the rock.

At first Eli and I couldn’t imagine what this nook was for, but then we figured it out.

It must have been a terrific photo op placed there just for us.

Here’s my favorite shot.

Our stay was full of unexpected surprises.  After weeks of washing things out in the sink, we splurged and sent laundry out to be done.  It came back the next day, but all my socks and underwear had gone missing.

Then we had an unexpected opportunity to fly up in a hot air balloon.  I’m uncomfortable with heights and it was expensive, but Eli really wanted to, and both my kids were mostly launched, so I surprised myself and agreed.   But the last place I expected the unexpected was in our spiffy bathroom.

One morning I entertained the notion of a relaxing bath, but quickly changed my mind…

…when I found this in the tub.

I did what anyone would have done.  I took a photo.  Oh, yeah, and then I yelled for Eli to come look.  And then I ran out looking for someone else to come see our scorpion. Terry and Wayne were on the way to breakfast when I accosted them, and dragged them into our bathroom to act as witnesses.

Here’s what we saw.

You know that joke…what’s worse than finding a worm in an apple?  (Finding half a worm.)  Well, worse than finding a scorpion in the cave where you sleep is finding nothing where there was a scorpion just a minute before.  We looked everywhere, but it was gone.  At least I had photo-documentation–stone cold proof we were rooming with a venomous creature.  As for my missing socks and underwear–it all came out in the wash…Terry’s wash, in fact.

But that night you’d better believe I was ready for anything.  I peeked under the bed, and checked my sheets before I got into bed…and I looked up just in time to see something flying through the air straight for me.

Down it came, and…

 All images and words copyright 2013 Naomi Baltuck

Click here for more interpretations of The Weekly Photo Challenge: Unexpected

Benchmarks

A bench is like an old shoe.  Whether in use at the moment…

…or long since abandoned…

…its former occupants leave their mark.

All over the world, these are the true thrones of the people.

They provide company…

…entertainment…

…a sense of belonging…

…a place to rest…

…to reflect…

…to escape the worries of the workaday world…

…or not.

Oh, the stories they have heard…

The sights they have seen…

Those benches have been warmed by the flesh and blood of people who have loved…

…and sometimes lost. Who’s to say?


But the next time you see one, sit and rest a spell.  As you take the bench, and watch the world go by, don’t judge too harshly.

Listen to the stories it has to tell.  They won’t be so very different from your own.

All words and images copyright 2013 Naomi Baltuck.

Click here for more interpretations of Travel Words Bench Series#9.

Click here for more interpretations of the Weekly Travel Theme: Benches.

True Confessions of a Tacky Tourist, and the Be-Very-Lated Sunshine Award

I’m a bad dog!  Aside from 2012 Blog of the Year Awards, I haven’t posted an  award since last May!   Those bloggers who honored me with these nominations have probably forgotten all about it, or long since given up.  But I’ve kept track, because I knew I’d get around to it……………………………………..eventually.

Here are the four simple rules of the Sunshine Blogger Award.

1. Display the logo on your blog.  2. Link back to the person who nominated you.  3. State 5 facts about yourself.  4. Pass the award on to 8 (or 10) other bloggers, and link to one of their specific posts so they get notified by ping back.

As long as I’m spilling the beans, all five facts will be the true confessions of a tacky tourist.  I hope you will still respect me in the morning.

5.  Yes, we are the tacky tourists your cool friends warned you about.

4. We didn’t get a magic carpet video in Cappadocia because we were running late, and our travel companions would’ve shunned us. But we wanted to.


3. We have discovered many practical and economical uses for a quality  zoom lens.

2. I must also confess that, in our travels, as hard as we tried, we were rarely able to embarrass our teenagers…

1. …Or get ourselves arrested.

Here are links back to the bloggers who nominated me for The Sunshine Award.  Be sure to check out their blogs–you will not be disappointed!

Sarah Potter of sarahpotterwrites is pursued by the muses of prose, poetry, and music.  She is a very fine poet, a heavenly singer, and a novelist.

Micheline of Micheline’s Blog features art, music, books, history, and current events.  Very classy!

Paula of stuff i tell my sister shares just that–all the stuff she shares with her best friend who is also her sister.  It’s like sitting at their kitchen table.

Carol of Loethen Art Designs, Creativity, Camera, and Computer!

Rara of rarasaur, where frightfully wondrous things happen.  She has a fun, quirky, natural voice that I really enjoy.

Maggie Myklebust of flyawayhome is an American author living in Norway.  She shares her life on her blog and in her memoir Fly Away Home.

Now I get to pass forward The Sunshine Award to the following bloggers.  Please take a minute to pay them a visit.

Nikki of imayfly has a fun fresh voice with a wry sense of humor.

Island Traveler  of thisman’sjourney is refreshing and inspiring.  If you ever need a little hit of sweetness–and sunshine–check out his blog.

Tess at How The Cookie Crumbles is a sharp writer, and I really enjoy her flash fiction.

Naomi at The Teatime Reader has excellent taste in books, and reviews them for her readers intelligently, perceptively, and eloquently.

Christine of Texana’s Kitchen is funny and smart, a great storyteller, and she always leaves you with a great recipe to try out.

Russel of Russel Ray Photos will give you great photography tips, as well as share pearls of wisdom from his wise old Grandma!

4AM Writer will give you tips on how to balance your writing and your life.

Ruth of Ruth E. Hendricks Photography will give you sweet glimpses of sunshine and shadow in her beautiful photography.

The Geek Goddess of Two Different Girls will take you to interesting out of the way places and make you smile every time!

I have more be-very-lated awards to post, and many more great blogs and bloggers to introduce you to.  I don’t want to overwhem you, so I will dole them out like Blog Candy.   Thanks for stopping by.  Warmly, Naomi

Turkey, a Land of Light and Shadow

Turkey is a land of contrasts–modern and ancient, Eastern and Western, light and shadow.

Everywhere we went, people welcomed us warmly.

We saw ancient churches and mosques, and magnificent palaces.

Cappadocia, in Central Turkey, was the home of the Hittites, nearly two thousand years B.C.E.

Uncle Mustafa guided us through an underground city there.  The ancient Hittites had carved eight levels of tunnels in the soft volcanic rock.

The city served as a shelter in case of attack, with stores of food and water to feed 5,000 people for three months.

Then we saw Cappadocia from above, in a hot air balloon…

We swam in the Mediterranean off the coast near Antalya, and ate fish caught from the back of the boat for lunch.

Near Konya we visited Tinaztepe Magaralari, a cave with underground lakes.

At Hieropolis, we soaked our feet in the hot springs where Cleopatra and Marc Antony honeymooned.

In Istanbul we visited the Byzantine Cistern, built by Emperor Justinius in the 6th century.  It’s a huge underground stone forest built with recycled Roman columns.  It was the size of two football fields, and held 57 million gallons of water.

A cruise on the Bosphorus took us past this fortress.

The Bosphorus divides Istanbul, a city of 17 million.  One side is in Eurupe, and the other in Asia.  This bridge joins one continent to the other.

Kusadasi was a lovely harbor town, where we could watch the sun set from our balcony each evening.

They say the beaches of Gallipoli are haunted by ghosts from the disastrous war between the British and the Turks in 1915.  Many New Zealanders and Australians were called in to fight for the British.  Nearly everyone we met there was either a Kiwi or an Aussie.

After a tragic waste of human life on both sides, the British and their allies withdrew.  Eli and I visited British and Turkish cemeteries; both were heartbreaking.  A few years ago, one of the few survivors of the 57th Turkish Battalion returned to the site at the age of 108, with his great granddaughter.  This statue commemorates their visit.

I don’t know when I will see the sun set over Turkey again, but I am already looking forward to the day.

All words and images copyright Naomi Baltuck.

Click here for more interpretations of The Weekly Photo Challenge: Silhouette.