“In a Pistachio Nutshell”

After nine nights in a pension, two nights in a hotel, and four nights crashing with a friend, we are now in our house for the year. It’s all very exciting, and pictures will follow, but since I’m typing at an Internet cafe, I’m going to have to cut corners and post a copy and paste of an email I just sent to a galpal. At the end of the message is a series of pictures taken at the Saturday market in a town called Ürgüp.

Brace yourself for, er, “uncrafted” prose!

H?ya, Sweets:

I’m ?n an Internet cafe us?ng a Turk?sh keyboard (we’ll be work?ng on gett?ng Internet ?n our house th?s upcom?ng week; th?s process ?nvolves a new fr?end who l?ves ?n a d?fferent v?llage travel?ng to the nearby c?ty of Ürgüp to meet us there at the post off?ce, where she w?ll do the talk?ng to expla?n that we need the phone l?ne turned on ?n our house but not for phone, only for DSL [we’ve gotten one cell phone and may up that to two]), so forg?ve all the we?rd letters and such…?t slows down my typ?ng too much to hunt around the new layout of the keyboard and be super perfect, so…

We have been ?n our house for two n?ghts now–?t’s been fun but t?r?ng…the place had been empt?ed out but not cleaned, and we’ve d?scovered how deep the d?rt goes ?n a house that hasn’t been occup?ed for ten years, espec?ally a 400-year-old Greek stone house that ?s constantly dropp?ng p?eces of the roof and walls ?n the form of dust, crumbs, and dust. My body aches from all the sweep?ng and mopp?ng! Our fr?end Chr?st?na and I spent an afternoon order?ng furn?ture at some secondhand shops ?n the ne?ghbor?ng c?ty of Nev?eh?r, so we have a rud?mentary set-up emerg?ng–beds and th?ngs…plus the landlord, who seems to be The Godfather of the town (?n a benevolent way…our fr?ends who were translat?ng for us dur?ng the f?rm?ng up of the rental say he’s l?ke a tr?bal “lord”…comes from old money, owns lots of propert?es, ?s very powerful, gets to choose when he’s feel?ng ben?f?cent or not), ?s also an ant?ques dealer and put at our d?sposal a “depot” of furn?ture that’s housed off the courtyard, so we’ve been dragg?ng th?ngs out of there. Some of the stuff ?s ant?que and has good character, but mostly ?t’s newer furn?ture that smacks of, em, the Turk?sh taste of LOUD AND PATTERNED AND EVEN BETTER IF IT’S SYNTHETIC. We’ve also been h?tt?ng the v?llage markets and housewares stores for d?shes and such; Groom braved the Saturday people’s market ?n Nev?eh?r to forage for ‘seconds’ on bed l?nens; Chr?st?na has found ?t’s the only place that sells anyth?ng made of cotton–all p?llowcases and sheets otherw?se have an acryl?c feel and are sh?ny–so Our Man shored h?mself up and h?t the stalls. For Chr?st?na, the exper?ence ?s always hell?sh, as the ‘headscarf lad?es’ are pretty agress?ve about throw?ng elbows and tak?ng ?tems r?ght out of her hands; however, she pred?cted the lad?es would respect Groom’s personal space, s?nce he’d be the only man ?n the crowd, and that they m?ght have to t?tter a b?t at h?s presence. He found th?s to be true–although he was asked a few t?mes ?f he’s Dutch. Anyhow, he emerged w?th a few good f?nds ?n the form of d?shcloths, bath towels, duvet covers, and sheets. He couldn’t f?nd everyth?ng we need, but ?t seems l?ke go?ng back week after week w?ll get us there. And get th?s: s?nce many Amer?can compan?es have factor?es ?n Turkey, the stuff he brought home was Calv?n Kle?n, Ralph Lauren, and W?ll?ams Sonoma. Heh.

Other ?mportant news about our move ?s that we now l?ve d?rectly under a mosque’s loudspeaker and next door to a h?gh-strung donkey, wh?ch ?s mak?ng for awe-?nsp?r?ngly loud n?ghts. We f?gure ?n a few days, we’ll adjust and sleep through ?t all. Apparently, the mosque next door ?s only ?n da?ly usage dur?ng Ramazan, and after that, ?t’ll go down to be?ng used only on Fr?day (the ma?n day of worsh?p). The donkey, unfortunately, ?s a year-round add?t?on to our aud?tory and olfactory l?ves. I keep tell?ng the k?ds, “There are very few th?ngs I can ever tell you are for sure, but I feel certa?n that I can pred?ct you’ll never aga?n l?ve between a mosque and a donkey.” G?rl moved upsta?rs to her “garret” bedroom last n?ght, and she reports she heard ne?ther the Ramazan drummers go?ng around the streets nor the Call to Prayer at 4:30 a.m. Only the donkey’s hee-haws and general Hav?ng a F?t spasms made ?t up her sta?rcase.

Because the house ?s so old, and because the ?dea of separate l?v?ng and sleep?ng spaces ?sn’t always part of the trad?t?on here, we don’t have clearly segmented bedrooms. G?rl ?s up a ladder?sh sta?rcase ?n a “dress?ng room,” wh?ch ?s b?gger than her room at home; Groom and I are ?n the closest th?ng to a bedroom; and we’re trans?t?on?ng Paco ?nto h?s own room, wh?ch ?s actually the grandest room ?n the whole house–?t’s k?nd of the ma?n ‘salon.’ There ?s a ra?sed s?tt?ng area ?n that room, and wh?le we’re cons?der?ng gett?ng custom cush?ons made for that area, we’re not sure ?t would be worth the cost s?nce ?t’s for only a year…so he has h?s mattress on that ra?sed s?tt?ng area, and then he also wanted h?s l?ttle desk up on that ra?sed area, too…so, heck, why not? We’re about a day away from hang?ng Pokemon and Lego posters underneath the ornate carv?ngs and alcoves that hold h?s Geron?mo St?lton books. And, thus, modern crashes ?nto anc?ent w?th an echo?ng HEE-HAW. There ?s the “guest su?te” off the courtyard, too, but we k?nd of l?ke hav?ng all of us sleep?ng on the same level and not be?ng separated by hav?ng to go out of doors and down the sta?rs to get to each other ?n the n?ght.

Our town of Ortah?sar ?sn’t the prett?est place, although ?t perches on the edge of a beaut?ful canyon, wh?ch we hope someday soon to have the energy to explore, and there’s a volcano ?n the d?stance. I do really l?ke the ma?n street of the v?llage, but the rest ?s k?nd of blah, w?th apartment bu?ld?ngs that smack of Old Sov?et construct?on.

The people here are fr?endly and lovely–we had to have a cup of coffee before be?ng allowed to leave the housewares store today–although ?t’s clear to me that I am made more comfortable by v?rtue of hav?ng a husband and k?ds. Qu?te often, the streets here are l?ned only w?th men, who s?t all day and play games and chat and hang out. As well, the tea house ?s only frequented by men, so we can be assured of an attent?ve aud?ence of 60 guys ?n full stare as we walk by. However, be?ng a mother and w?fe makes ?t okay for me to be out. S?ngle women are made more uncomfortable. Th?s ?s very much a small v?llage phenomenon, not someth?ng one would feel ?n Istanbul or a b?gger c?ty; even ?n Goreme, because ?t’s so tour?sted, no one looks tw?ce at shorts, tank tops, or the women ?n them.

Yesterday, wh?le Groom fought for bed l?nens, the k?ds and I jo?ned Chr?st?na and fr?end Ela?ne (who had her 19-month-old along) ?n the very small salon of a Roman?an beaut?c?an named M?rella. G?rl got her f?rst man?cure, and I got my f?rst-ever ped?cure and an amaz?ng fac?al, and the others got wax?ngs and such. It was an ep?c 5 hours of wrangl?ng space, ch?ldren, body ha?r, and the ph?losoph?z?ng of an accented woman who has an op?n?on on everyth?ng. I had an unadulterated blast.
So, Gentle Readers, as mov?ng house calms down, and we settle ?nto some normalcy, I’ll post some photos of the house. Ser?ously, the fr?ends who helped us f?nd and rent ?t swear they’ve never seen the l?ke ?n all the?r years ?n th?s country. It seems a lucky star fell from the heavens and crashed d?rectly ?nto our fam?ly and the donkey next door. The house ?tself ?s bu?lt on top of thousand-year-old cave homes. Off?c?ally, my m?nd ?s blown.

Here now are some photos from market day last week ?n Ürgüp. W?th temperatures runn?ng h?gh and Ramazan ?n full sw?ng, you can see ?n the faces and postures of the sellers what m?d-afternoon feels l?ke for people who have ne?ther drunk nor eaten.

I certa?nly hope, as you sk?mmed thorugh these photos, that you d?dn’t overlook the one I call “Cabbages B?gger Than H?s Butt.”








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