April 30, 2012

Evil Eyes

It seems that every culture has their own way of dealing with evil eyes, or evil spirits. I grew up in a culture that put black kohl around the eyes of babies to protect them. In Turkey, amulets for protection take the form of blue eyes. It is believed that the blue color absorbs the bad stuff, thus keeping one safe. Now, while I am not a believer, I did get myself a protective bracelet, and got each of my nieces and nephews one too. What the heck, one can never have too much protection right?

April 28, 2012

Book adaptations

There have been quite a few books that haven been adapted lately. Some great, some not so good.

1. Games of Thrones
I've had this series on my TBR list for ages - my ebook one - and was conflicted as to whether to watch Season 1 before I had read the books. When my library had the complete first season available, I decided to jump in, and have to say that I loved it. So, the book has just popped up to my will read in May list, and I will put off watching Season 2 until I've read the books.

2. Hugo
This is another book on my TBR list, and I have to say I do not understand all the hype about this movie. Yes, I loved the photography and the lighting, and oh those gears, but the story was simply not compelling. Guess, I'll just read the book.

3. Great Expectations
Holy moly, is this adaptation fabulous. Love everything about it, and expect no less from Masterpiece productions.

4. The Hunger Games
I actually got to see this in the theaters before it got to DVD - something that rarely happens. While I liked the movie, I did not love it. The book is sooooo much better. There is so much missing in the movie that you don't get if you have not read the book.

April 26, 2012

Recent Reads

36. The Cloud Spinner
Last week while my nephews were over for a sleepover we read several books. This one was the bed-time selection. They already knew the story, but I had not read it before. I love exposing kids to the idea of taking what you need and not one bit more. That there are consequences to being greedy.

37. Z is for Moose
The boys and I laughed out loud as we read about the antics of Moose.

38. The Lorax
We had a read-aloud of this much loved story. The kids have seen the movie and really liked it. I'll wait for the DVD. Love the environmental message in the story.

39. The Flight of Gemma Hardy
I recently had a reading day. One of those days that I laze about with a good read. I was delighted to have this one waiting on my nightstand. It has rave reviews. It started out great, but I ended up not liking it as much I thought I would. The bare bones are all there - an orphan, treated badly (ala Cinderella). Sent to an orphanage, where the maltreatment continues. Thankfully, she grows up, finds love, runs away from it, only to circle back to where she started. I read that this book was an homage to Jane Eyre - a book I have yet to read - but after a strong start, it simply ran out of gas.

40. The Pulse of Mixed Media
"If you gave 100 artists the same set of art supplies and asked them to create, you would end up with 100 unique works of art." This is how the book starts - sounds compelling right? Sadly, it is not. While the art and layout of the book is a delight, the actual text is simply boring. I do read Seth's blog, and while this format works for a blog, I expected more from the book.

April 25, 2012

The stories behind bloodlines

Taryn Simon explores the stories of humanity via bloodlines. You can learn more about this fascinating project by watching her TED talk.

April 24, 2012

Book Covers

I really like Chip Kidd's book covers, and quite enjoyed this TED talk on the topic.
You can see it here.

April 23, 2012

World Book Night 2012

Today is the day that about 25,000 people distribute free books to members of their community who might be reluctant readers. You can read more about the program on their website.

I selected My Sisters Keeper by Jodi Picoult from the list of available books. Why this one? I loved it, and thought it would be a great read for reluctant readers. Late this afternoon, armed with my 20 copies, I visited a laundromat and the Market Basket (grocery store) in Lowell, MA. a town near me. It took me about 2 hours to give away all my copies. Here are some thoughts about my experience:
  • I expected to give away a book to every other person or so - a 50% hit rate. It was more like a hit every 15 to 20 people. 
  • So many people were simply not interested in a book. A free book at that!
  • Everyone, and I mean everyone, was wary when I approached them. What do I want? What am I selling? What is the catch? What does that say about how we view members of our community?
  • I really loved finding people who were not readers, and were willing to give the book a try. One woman said "no thanks", then after hearing my pitch to someone else circled back and said she'd take one.
  • I had fun discussions with a couple of women about how the book compares with the movie.
  • I loved the chance encounters, and the few minutes getting to hear personal stories about reading, travel, life, etc.
  • I loved their faces when people really believed that they were getting a book they could keep. For free. No strings attached.
  • One of the two men who accepted a book, said that it was his birthday, and the book was a surprise gift that he would start reading when he got home.
  • My stats: 17 women, 2 men, 1 teenage girl.
Doing this was outside my comfort zone. I am not one to simply walk up and talk to strangers. But I love books, and was delighted at the opportunity to expose people to a book I loved. I feel more connected to my local community today, and that is priceless. Thank you WBN.

Journal Page

This is a page I had created before my trip to Turkey. Was listening to various audio books that made me think of the concept of home.

Created with fluid acrylics, markers and a bird stamp.

April 21, 2012

Music and Sketches

After I picked up my WBN books (see earlier post), decided to hang out and listen to a performance by The International String Trio, who were quite good. All I had with me was a teeny journal and a ball point pen. Quickly sketched some of the audience. Sometimes the simplest supplies are the best.


 I picked up the books I will be handing out on World Book Night. Not sure what that is? Check it out here. I am will be handing out 20 copies of this book - a good read for reluctant readers I think. I love how this is a special print edition and that the back cover has a list of all the books that were options to give away. So, so cool. If you are not a giver this year, do consider being one in 2013.

April 18, 2012

Recent Reads

32. The Rembrandt Affair
With this book - Gabriel Allon #10 - Daniel Silva is back on track with my fave art restorer/assassin. I quite enjoy these fast paced stories, and this one has art theft as the back story - a topic that fascinates me.

33. The Drop
This is Harry Bosch #16, and I listened to it on audio. It is an OK read, though do not think that I would have finished the book if I had sat down to read it. When does one give up on a series that used to be really good?

34. A Study in Scarlet
I've meant to read Sherlock for ages, but simply did not get round to it. Well, this is the book selected for the Soho Crime Read-Along this month, so checked out the audio book from the library and I loved it. Classic who-dun-it.

35. Caleb's Crossing
This is my book club selection for April, and has been on my TBR list since it was published. I love books by this author, and this one is really good as well. This historical novel explores the shocks and reverberations caused by first contact. New gods versus old gods. New traditions versus old ones. The loss of family and community ties when one decides to follow a path different than one that is expected of you. The story of a Native American boy and a Puritan girl who are changed by their chance encounter and friendship.

Boston Marathon 2012

The headlines say it all: Boston massacre: Thousands of runners quit marathon and last year's champ drops out at mile 18 as temperatures soar to 88.

That is hot for a marathon. Hot to do anything really - other than swing in a hammock, in the shade, cold drink in hand, cheering on the runners. Which is what I did. It was a great race for Kenyans.

Much more seasonal temps today, and as I went out for my 2.51 miles run this morning, I thought of all those who struggled through 26.2 miles in the heat, and dug deep as I ran up my very own heartbreak hill. Well, maybe molehill is a more accurate description.

April 12, 2012

Recent Movies

My problem is that by the time I get around to thinking about going to the movies, the movies I want to see are already on DVD. Well, not such a big problem as I get to watch in my jammies and snack on whatever I want.

1. The Help
I loved the book and loved the movie. I do think the book is better, but this is one of the few movies-made-from books that I loved. "You is smart. You is kind. You is important".

2. Moneyball
Had not even heard about this movie until Brad Pitt got his nomination for an Oscar. I found the movie slow going, but interesting. Think I might check out the book it is based on.

3. Real Steel
Not a movie I would have paid money to watch, but it was better than expected. Hugh Jackman should have taken off his shirt more often!

4. Midnight in Paris
I liked this movie even though I find Own Wilson extremely annoying. The supporting cast was great.

April 11, 2012

Anne Rice on The Colbert Report

I am a huge Anne Rice fan. Huge. Loved everything she has written and cannot wait to sink my teeth (pun intended) into her new book. She wrote about "real" vampires - none of this sparkly crap. :-)

April 10, 2012

Hunger Games Mania

I loved the books. Have yet to see the movie. And the doll is out already? At least she is not in heels, in front of an oven.

You can see the new Katniss Barbie doll here.

April 9, 2012

Recent Reads

28. The Bastard of Istanbul
Started listening to this book before I left for Turkey and finished it on the flight over. There are quite a few characters in this book, and I really liked that it was all about the women in the families - the crazy ones, the sane ones, the rebellious ones. Set in Turkey and the States, the story explores the notion of identity, and how we figure out where we belong. I learned more about the Armenian deportations and massacres of 1915, and was fascinated to hear both the Turkish and Armenian sides of the events. The food described in this book made me hungry and I was delighted to get the chance to sample some of what I had heard described so wonderfully. If you read this, I would highly recommend you try out the audio version.

29. Eyewitness Turkey
The guide book I had along for the trip. Love the visual presentation of these guide books.

30. Reliquary
This is book #2 of the Pendergast series, and I listened to the audio book while traveling around Turkey. Would not say that I loved it, but the story pulled me along during long travel days. I will try the next in the series.

31. The Fault in Our Stars
This is not your typical YA book. No vampires. No dystopian worlds. It is the story of teens living with, battling, and dying from cancer. It is a love story. And not just between a boy and a girl, but the love of friendship. I smiled. I cried. I really liked this book.

April 7, 2012

The Blue Mosque

Two of Istanbul's most venerable monuments, the Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia, face each other in Sultanahmet Square. You must start your exploration of Istanbul's wonders here.

The Blue Mosque, known locally as the Sultan Ahmed Mosque, gets its name from the marvelous, mainly blue, Iznik tilework decorating its interior walls. It has six minarets, eight domes and one main dome, and was considered a sacrilegious attempt to rival the architecture of Mecca when it was built (1609-1616).

Pictures cannot capture the majesty of this mosque, but to see my attempt click here.

Avanos Master Potter

One of the fun things about the trip to Turkey was a chance to see some local artisans at work. This master potter in Avanos uses the red clay obtained from the nearby Red River, and an old fashioned kick wheel. As a person who never created even the proverbial ashtray in pottery class, I found the whole process fascinating.

The other very cool thing is that the studio/store of Guray Seramik is located in the Cappadocia region of the the country. The area with all those rock caves. These guys are also located underground. You walk into a carved entrance in a hill and each room is hacked out. You need another room? No problem. Dig out another one. Something very Clan Bear about that to me. Loved it.

April 5, 2012


Am home and jet lagged. Sleeping a ridiculous number of hours. Up all night. Starving at odd times. Craving certain foods. Am patiently waiting it out. Giving my body a chance to rest and recover. Good thing I have fun books to read at 2 am each night.

April 2, 2012


At the airport waiting to start the first of two legs home. Half the airport is duty free shops. Check out these new cigarette packaging. Who says there is no truth in advertising?

April 1, 2012


The acropolis city of Pergamum sits atop the highest point around and has great views. You take a funicular ride to the top. Did I mention the fab view?

Highlights include the Temple of Trajan, pictured here, the Altar of Zeus, the Temple of Athena, and the site of one of the oldest libraries in the world. It used to contain 200,000 scrolls. Mark Anthony had them transferred to Alexandria as a wedding gift for Cleopatra. And we all know what happened to the library at Alexandria.

The site is near the present day town of Bergama, which looks like a lovely place to hang your hat for a while.


Ah Troy. Land of Hector, and Paris, and Helen, and Achilles. Long thought to be a fictional place, it is a land whose stories come to us through the mists of time.

Never mind that it was the smallest of all the sites I explored this trip. It is huge in my imagination. Never mind that the movie with Brad Pitt has a Hollywood ending. There sure was a lot of eye candy in that movie. Never mind that this is not the actual horse, but a replica. Who cares? By the way, the movie horse was donated to the nearby town of Canakkale, and you better believe that if I had known that before I left town, I would have hightailed it over there to see it.

So the residual effect is that the Turks have a saying: "Do not trust a Greek bearing gifts". Not a surprise then, that the Greeks say the same thing about Turks.

Have I mentioned how much I love Turkey? Bears repeating.

Sunset on the Aegean

This was my first time on the Aegean.

The Charisma hotel in Kusadasi was right on the water, and had fab views. Kusadasi is a fun town, though would not want to be there when the cruise ships arrive. I hear that as many as six can be in port at once. Multiply that by about 3,500 - would make me flee for sure.

So here is my water list for this trip:
1. Golden Horn
2. Bosporus
3. Sea of Marmara
4. Mediterranean Sea
5. Aegean Sea
6. The Dardanelles

Sure makes this island girl very happy.


Exploring the burbs of Constaninople. Walked over to the Galata Bridge and over in Beyoglu. Love wandering the narrow streets, getting lost, finding hidden gems.

Ran into a group of protesters and police in riot gear. Second time in as many weeks. The government just passed the 4+4+4 ruling on education, and there are many very unhappy with this change. I understand why.

Our last full day in the city. We head to the airport and then home tomorrow. I will be sorry to leave this wonderful country. Must plan a trip back.