Heads or Tails?

“Heads or tails?” the Humane Society Manager asked… I said “heads” (I think)… My heart was beating so fast. Just like how I felt before a basketball match we played, or a race I had to run at a track meet. The man next to us, was wearing a white butcher’s coat… A young man, in his 30s, still older than us… We were the better family for the dog. I freaking brought a toy with me… We got everything for him… I visited him 3 times that week… This man walking in the last minute, filling up an application… and taking our dog away.. The dog we are supposed to adopt. I was upset, I was mad. No one told me there were so many applicants… And we came 1st thing in the morning… It was not fair…

10 days earlier:

I was watching TV in our 1 bedroom apartment in Memphis, the 1st year we moved to the US. It had been probably only a few months since we moved. We got married in July, we moved to the US in August… My only experience of the US before Memphis was Miami and Los Angeles. Memphis was a long way from those experiences. I missed my friends, my busy life in Istanbul.. but I loved our little life… Small city, small university, small group of Turkish students, night time business classes, lots of history, good food and lots of crime… It was Southern US at its best. I was 25, still very young, somewhat naive(r)…

I was shocked to hear from the anchorman who was holding 3 beautiful puppies on his lap that these pups were on their way to die that day if not adopted. I had no clue at the time that Memphis Shelter put down (that is the US dog rescue term for euthanasia) 1500 dogs a month… All good, healthy dogs… unfortunately treated like trash, trash of people who thought they were disposable…

So those of you who know me, at this point can guess, I called the TV station, saying I would adopt one of them… They said, I could call the Humane Society. So I called the Humane Society… They said, all those pups were adopted… BUT, there were many more… Many more that needed someone like me. (Some delusion-ed individual like me who would want to adopt a puppy.)

I went to Humane Society that day, walked about the cages, and saw the most adorable, white shepherd mix… I walked a bit more… a chocolate lab mix. He had a splash of  white on his chest, he was chewing on the lock of the cage (I should have known better)… I fell in love… I walked to the front desk told them I was going to adopt him. They said, “great” could you fill out this application. So I did… And they said “he needs to be neutered, and needs his shots. He is still a bit young for his shots, but he will be ready to go in 10 days”…

I visited him 3 times that week. I didn’t have a lot to do. The Humane Society was close to the University and I missed our family dog back home. The volunteers knew me by the time I visited him the last day. One of them told me that a few other families wanted him… “But” they said, “don’t worry.” “First come 1st served, if you come early tomorrow, you will get him.” So I woke up my husband at the crack of dawn, and we were at Humane Society before everyone else. Until the “butcher” man walked in… and it was a coin toss, so much for first-come first- served.

Some of my friends tell me I am unlucky. Things that didn’t happen in other people’s lives found me… like getting robbed at gunpoint… or the fact that I always lose at card games when we play. I actually think I am a very lucky person. I scored well in this life with a great family. Amazing friends… And I won quite a bit at contests. Once a few thousand dollars in college from the Turkish Lottery. (that money was well spent on bars and clubs at the time with my friends :)… So I thought, I would win…

The manager asked, “if you don’t win will you adopt another dog?”. I said, “of course”. The white shepherd mix… The butcher man said “No, my kid wants the lab”… I knew I was going to win at this time. Still I felt bad, if I won there will be one dog adopted that day…

So the coin was tossed in the air, then dropped to the counter. I couldn’t see it. and Emre said “we won!”… the butcher man left immediately. We were jumping up and down and a volunteer was saying “we wanted YOU to win!”.At this exact moment, the “butcher” man walked in.. “Will you take $150 for the dog?”……….. (the adoption fee was $50). “wha-?”… I said “No, thank you”… then I thought, if I give him the choco lab, another dog can be adopted. But do I want to give this dog away to someone who would try to auction a dog. I said “No, thank you” again…

We named him Bono, for Bono of U2. My favorite not-much-known-in-the-US-band at the time.  I should have known better, that bands and my taste in music and other things would change in the next 15 years… As U2 became famous in the US, no one asked what Bono meant anymore. I was eventually upgraded to a fangirl, naming a dog after a the now capitalist Bono :)


I don’t remember much after that… other than mini-memories of our life… they say your life flies like film before your eyes when you die… so maybe it’s something similar to this :

…mini memories of Bono sleeping lazily in our arms on a blanket on the grass at the park… Bono chasing ducks… Bono chewing my favorite red shoe… I didn’t know about it. The shoe fit a bit tight… I told my husband.. he said “maybe your feet are swelled up”… I then learned, months later, when I found a 3rd red shoe in a closet that Bono chewed the original and my husband bought the exact pair for me… Bono chewing more shoes… Bono chewing our couch… Taking Bono for “training” only to hear that “owners need to be trained”… Moving to a bigger house with a yard for Bono… Going to Shelby farms so Bono can swim in the lake. Starting a Dog rescue group… Saving dogs, Bono being so nice to all dogs… Especially loving the hound/lab brindle mix… So we adopt her too… We named her Buffy. (for Buffy the Vampire Slayer) Busy life, more responsibilities.. moving to NY… finding an empty loft that will allow dogs… not moving to NY because of Sept 11… coming back to Memphis.. starting a new business. Taking dogs camping… deciding that dogs can no longer sleep on our bed… dogs object… Buying our 1st house… renovating, renovating, renovating… dust on dogs, dust in our nose… sitting with dogs on the porch.. going on runs with the dogs… going camping… getting pregnant.. Bono putting his head on my tummy… can he hear the babies?… being on bed rest for early labor. Lazy days with dogs.. family everywhere… so much love in that house… babies… not one but 2… I am not jealous of anyone’s belongings… I am jealous of their sleep. I am up, babies are up… babies crying… 3 am… feeding… crying again 3:03 am… sleep… crying again 3:16am. Bono & Buffy are looking at me like “see what you have done… you silly gurrlll”… husband is up, brother in law is up… 3:20 am in that house… is like a mad house… walking the next afternoon calmly in the neighborhood. I feel like Noah’s Ark’s captain. 2 adult humans male/female, 2 dogs male/female, 2 babies male/female…

And then life went on… In the 15 years that we shared this life with Bono I went from someone who didn’t lose much, to someone that could lose a lot… I lost my Mom to cancer… That same month,  I almost lost my husband when he got shot during an armed robbery… We lost our female dog to cancer…

It is not much compared to what some of my friends and people I know have lost… they lost spouses, they lost children… however, in this silly matrix or whatever that life is, my dogs brought me so much joy… at some point in time, I guess I was starting to become wiser I envied my dogs… I saw qualities in them that I knew I could learn from. Only if I could be like them… Such as:

1- unconditional love- such a cliche.. but you know it when you get it and then it doesn’t feel like a cliche anymore, it feels like you are more important to someone than you are to yourself… My dogs didn’t care who I was.. They just loved me. Not because I fed them. I knew from rescue that, even horrible owners were loved by their dogs… I always thought no one would love me as much as my Mom.. but then I thought, my dogs probably loved me more.

2- the joy of seeing someone come through a door- only if we could open our hearts to people coming through the door. Humans are selfish. We are suspicious when the doorbell rings. Even if it’s a friend that we love so much. We greet them with “oh, hey there.. come on in”.. where you know how your dog greets you… in human terms it would have been “a jumping on a lap, tackling someone to the floor and kissing them…” we are not even capable of giving a hug that lasts more than 3 seconds. The door can be anything… dogs live life with an open door, expecting goodness… we live behind closed doors, mostly scared and suspicious.

3- wagging that tail- one day were were walking at Shelby farms I think… A huge urban park with lakes, biking trails… Bono was wagging his tail just full of joy. I also loved Shelby Farms. But if someone looked at me from afar they couldn’t know my joy… I wanted to wag my tail… and skip on the trail like he did… all with a wagging tail and a nose up sniffing the air…

4- sniffing butts – personality analysis through the smell of hormones… oh how I envied this… my life would have been so much better… but without the ability to sniff butts,  I learned from Bono not to trust anyone before I was close enough to be able to smell them :)

I couldn’t bring myself to write about Bono sooner… it has been more than a month. It broke my heart this time… There are so many more pains in this life, I am almost embarrassed to admit feeling this much grief after losing my dog. Not that it compared to my grief when I lost my Mom. I guess I am just getting older, and our dogs dying remind us of our own death. As my Mom wisely put it one day “the hardest thing in this life was that we had to love mortal beings”… That life is so fragile for everyone around us and we are only here for a certain time… and when that time comes; what is left behind are mini-memories and… a certain smell, the memory of a touch…

Again, as I wish each time I lose someone I love… I am hoping that they are existing freely in another dimension.. Hopefully with people we love… with no pain, no insecurities or worries of the mortal kind… and with wagging tails for everyone…


In honor of National Poetry Day today… By Pablo Neruda

A Dog Has Died

 My dog has died.
I buried him in the garden
next to a rusted old machine.

Some day I'll join him right there,
but now he's gone with his shaggy coat,
his bad manners and his cold nose,
and I, the materialist, who never believed
in any promised heaven in the sky
for any human being,
I believe in a heaven I'll never enter.
Yes, I believe in a heaven for all dogdom
where my dog waits for my arrival
waving his fan-like tail in friendship.

Ai, I'll not speak of sadness here on earth,
of having lost a companion
who was never servile.
His friendship for me, like that of a porcupine
withholding its authority,
was the friendship of a star, aloof,
with no more intimacy than was called for,
with no exaggerations:
he never climbed all over my clothes
filling me full of his hair or his mange,
he never rubbed up against my knee
like other dogs obsessed with sex.

No, my dog used to gaze at me,
paying me the attention I need,
the attention required
to make a vain person like me understand
that, being a dog, he was wasting time,
but, with those eyes so much purer than mine,
he'd keep on gazing at me
with a look that reserved for me alone
all his sweet and shaggy life,
always near me, never troubling me,
and asking nothing.

Ai, how many times have I envied his tail
as we walked together on the shores of the sea
in the lonely winter of Isla Negra
where the wintering birds filled the sky
and my hairy dog was jumping about
full of the voltage of the sea's movement:
my wandering dog, sniffing away
with his golden tail held high,
face to face with the ocean's spray.

Joyful, joyful, joyful,
as only dogs know how to be happy
with only the autonomy
of their shameless spirit.

There are no good-byes for my dog who has died,
and we don't now and never did lie to each other.

So now he's gone and I buried him,
and that's all there is to it.

bir dostun ardından…

Aşağıdaki yazıyı 4-5 gun önce yazıp post etmeye içim elvermemişti. Ama 11 yıllık sadık dostum, kızım Buffy artık bizimle değil. Sadece köpek sahiplerinin anlayabileceği bir bağ vardı aramızda. Yokluğunu çok hissediyoruz. Binlerce sabah – tam 3000 küsur- sevinçle beni karşılayan ve yolcu eden evimizin ferdi artık yok. Her köpek sahibi, ilk köpek alırken bilir ki, muhtemelen kendisi o canlıdan daha fazla yaşayacak ve er geç o gün gelecek. Buffy vucudunu saran kanserle aylarca savastı. Son 20 gun cok yoruldu, bir gram yemek kabul etmedi vucudu ve sürekli serum takviyesi yaptık. Artık yemek yiyemez, yürüyemez ve köpek gibi kaliteli yaşayamayınca onu bu acıdan erkenden kurtarsak mı diye çok düşündük. Düşünürken acaba bir ümit var mı diye tedavilerden cevap bekledik. Aşağıdaki yazı işte o son günlerden. Çok iyi veterinerle, çabalarken bir sabah çok güçlü bir krizle karşılaştık. Koşarak veterinere yetiştirdik. Artık gözleri korkuyor ve çok çok yorgun olduğunu gösteriyordu. Ne kadar güzel yaşadıysa, o kadar da güzel bir ölümü haketti Buffy. Çok zor da olsa, daha fazla acı çekmeden en sevdiği ve güvendiği 2 insanın yanında uyuyarak bize veda etti.

İnsanların çok daha büyük acılar yaşadığı bu hayatta, bir köpek için bu kadar mesele edilir mi diye düşünebiliriz. Ama geçtiğimiz yıllarda bazı yakın çevremin bildiği travmalar bile, beni Buffy’yi kaybettiğim güne duyarsız yapmadı. İnsan kalbinde herkese yetecek kadar yer var sanırım. Ve birini kaybedince, onun acısı ayrı oluyor.

Fotograftaki gibi, bir gün hepimizin gideceği meçhul yerde koşup oynadığını ümit ediyorum.

Buffy and Bono @ Shelby farms… Memphis, TN



Son günlerde sabahları, köpeğim Buffy’nin gözlerine bakmak için uyanıyorum. Genelde sabah normal insanlar uyanıp tuvalete girer, yüzünü gözünü yıkar. Bizim evde ise sabah saatleri için fazla neşeli ya da ağlayan çocuklar, onun üzerine çılgınca sallanan kuyruklar ve bu arada bir yandan kahvaltı hazırlamalar, bir yandan servise yetişen çantalar, bir yandan acilen çişe cıkması gereken köpekler, bir karmaşa bir güne hazırlık koşturmasıdır sürer gider. Son 2 yıldır, ancak arabaya bindiğimde tuvalete gitmeyi unutmuş olduğumu farkettğin günler oldu. Her sabah için 2 çocuk, 2 köpek çok mutlu aile tablosu çizecek halim yok. Çizenlere de ayrıca gıcık oluyorum. Herkesin her an mutlu olmasını beklemek imkansız. Ancak evimizin küçük fertlerinden ve ortamdan tek eksik olmayan bitmek tükenmek bilmeyen enerjidir.

İşte bu günlerde evimizin bir ferdinde bu enerji maalesef yok. 11 senedir her eve geldiğimde sanki günlerdir beni görmemişçesine üstüme atlayan, sabah alarmdan sonra 2 dakika uyusam protestolarıma aldırmadan anında yalayan, her buzdolabına gittiğimde yanımdan ayrılmayan köpeğim Buffy sabah kalkmıyor, yemek yemiyor, ve vücudunu saran kansere karşı artık çok da sağlam duramıyor.

Her evcil hayvan sahibinin korktuğu o “karar” gününün cevabı işte bende her sabah Buffy’nin gözlerinde aranıyor. Sadece evcil hayvan sahiplerinin anlayabileceği o gözlerdeki herşeyi bilen anlamlı bakışın arkasında artık gitme zamanının gelip gelmediğini sorguluyorum. Dün veterinerde 5 saat geçirdikten sonra, karar gününün çok da uzak olmadığını biliyorum.

4 sene önce annemi akciğer kanserine kaybetmiş ve birebir tedavisinde bazı zamanlar kararları kendi başıma verme zorunluluğunda kalmak zorunda olmuş olsam bile, Tanrı’yı oynamak sorumluluğumuzdaki herkes için çok zor, bu bir hayvan olsa bile.

20 yıldır hemen hergün evimde bir köpeğim oldu. İlk yıllarda insan onların duygularının, hislerinin bizimle aynı olduğunu düsünüyor. Sonra 100lerce köpeği barınaklardan kurtardıktan, evimde çok fena durumdaki köpekleri iyileştirdikten, bazını iyileştiremedikten sonra onların dünyasının çok farklı olduğunu anladım. Köpek ve insan ilişkisinde 2 değişmez kural var “karşılıksız sevgi” ve “sahiplik sorumluluğu”. Kimin karşılıksız sevgi verme konusunda kapasitesi olduğunu söylemeye gerek yok. Maalesef ben dahil kimse, evlatlarımızı bile severken köpeklerin dünyasındaki karşılıksız sevgiyi sorgusuz sualsiz verme kapasitesinde değil. Hergün dayak yiyen, bahçenin bir köşesine atılmış, aç bırakılmış hayvanlar geldi evime. Havlulara, pamuklara sarıp baktık. Yine de ilk günler sahipleri evleri için ağlayıp uludular. İşte bu nedenle, bir köpeğin en temel ihtiyacı ona ev, yemek ve huzur sağlayabilecek bir sahiptir. Belki de biz “kırık” insanların da en büyük ihtiyacı “karşılıksız sevgi” olduğundan köpek insan ilişkisi yüzyıllardır sürer. Maalesef de bu ilişkide kurala uymayan yine çoğunlukla insandır.

Buffy 100lerce köpek arasında kendi sahsına munhasır özellikleri olan bir köpek. Bunların en önemlisi bitmek tükenmek bilmeyen bir iştah, koşma ve oynama ihtiyacı ve sarsak bir mutluluk geliyor. Ama bugunlerde bunların hiçbiriyle işi yok.

İşte maalesef bu günlerde sabah beni çok hasta ve gözleri “gitmeye hazır” bir köpek karşılıyor…

Foamy shawlette / Kopuk sal

I decided to move back to my original blog location… I have less and less time to blog these days and hosting “on my own” was creating additional burden on me…

I apologize for those of you who couldn’t reach my Foamy pattern for the past week…

Please feel free to comment on here if you have any questions… thanks again for your interest in my pattern.

foamy_26_12_09 (in english)

kopuk (turkce)


baklava_2I am sorry, but this is not a post about a recipe for “baklava” … I do have a recipe for baklava with store-bought-phyllo dough, but I have to post that when I am in the US… Over here in Turkey, there is no need to make your own… Almost every neighborhood has a store that specializes only in “desserts”… These pictures are the very reason why we Middle Easterners look down on the baklava in the US and other western countries… Although I usually prefer almost every food home-made…The home-made baklava unfortunately can never beat the professional-made in this case. Please look at the pictures closely, I cannot even count the layers.. all these layers are hand rolled, buttered and baked to perfection… hopefully, I will have a chance to take photos in a “baklava store” and post the process here….


Until then enjoy the photos… These are from Gulluoglu Karakoy to me it’s the best baklava in Istanbul. (again, just like there are a gazillion versions of pizza out there, there are a gazillion versions of baklava, and everyone’s preference is different). For my US readers, just a while ago, Gulluoglu opened a location in NYC. We ordered from there before for gatherings in Memphis. Although not as good as their location in Istanbul it’s pretty respectable. Don’t get me wrong, the quality of the products is the same, it’s just not “perfect” and  just cannot be, since I am sure they cannot find the same ingredient choices and vendors over there. If you decide to order, try the “burma kadayif” as well… that product is almost identical to the ones in Turkey…

adventures in Istanbul series… vol.1. Pierre Loti & macun (candy on a stick)

Macun getting ready to be rolled on sticks...

Macun getting ready to be rolled on sticks...

*Turkce blog icin yazinin sonundaki linke tiklayin… Macun bizim kulturumuze ait birsey oldugundan, bu yazi icin Turk olanlarin Turkce blogu okumasini tavsiye ederim… Ingilizce yazi daha cok yabancilara yonelik…

I have been collecting so much material to post in Istanbul and other cities we are visiting in Turkey. I find it almost impossible to update the blog in the evenings… And then after a few days pass I am not that interested in that place, or topic that I thought about… I had writer’s blocks before… but I am new to this opposite… There are too many things to post, but I just don’t know where to begin… it’s very similar to having too many knitting projects on the needles…
So for a few days I will try to post instant updates “from location” using my iPhone… this post was meant to be a test post, but I couldn’t figure out how to upload my pictures. (will solve that soon). Of course the quality of the photos will suffer, hopefully the content will make up for it. I will try to follow with more explanatory posts such as this one, especially if I am writing about a location, restaurant etc. Feel free to comment and and ask for additional info…

The view from Pierre Loti Cafe

The view from Pierre Loti Cafe

Today we were at Pierre Loti Cafe in Eyup. It’s interesting that I have never been there for the 7 years I lived in Istanbul although it’s just the type of place that I would enjoy… We also found out that neither my husband nor my best friend’s husband has been there… Since Ferda (my best friend) has been the only one that has been there, she also took the courtesy to drive the car through the claustrophobic Eyup weekend traffic ruled by chaos.  This historic cafe, or more appropriately tea/coffee house, has direct panaromic view of the “the Golden Horn“. We sat at a back table under the trees and sipped our tea.

When I walked down to take the above picture I saw a vendor selling “macun” (direct translation “paste”). This is a form of chewy candy that is wrapped on sticks. It comes in various colors and aromas… There really isn’t something identical to macun in the modern candy culture. The taste is identical to hard candy, but it’s as chewy as marshmallow but you cannot bite into it. The candy sticks to your teeth for dear life. The best part is to order what you want, and then you have the option to have the top dipped in lemon.

see that lemon waiting for its own share of this perfect candy...

see that lemon waiting for its own share of this perfect candy...

We used to have these candy vendors all around the shopping areas when we were kids. Then when candies started being produced and sold by factories these vendors dissappeared. In my hometown, we used to have something similar to the ice cream trucks… but instead of mobile ice cream, these vendors provided a “mobile merry-go-round”. When I heard the music of the approaching truck, I used to run upstairs to get permission and coins from my mom… That same truck also sold “macun”… I guess I learned about that tactic in my MBA class as product lining (marketing strategy of offering for sale several related products).

I haven’t seen a macun vendor for at least 15 years. I was soooo happy to be able to offer my kids macun… Of course I also got one for myself… But you really have to be a child to appreciate the soft candy sticking to your teeth while your are trying to manouver the dangling strings from your chin… As expected “macun” won their hearts immediately, nothing can beat that smile in a child’s eyes when they find some new taste and enjoy it to the last bite…

the best tastes always come wrapped around a stick!!

the best tastes always come wrapped around a stick!!

Turkce blog icin tiklayin bakalim!

Beehive hat… (ari kovani sapka)

*Turkce blog icin yazinin sonundaki linki tiklayabilirsiniz.


 Noro Hat by Saartje de Bruijn (this pattern is free)
Yarn: Rozetti Panco, worsted 10 ply, 100% soft acrylic (very similar to Vanna’s choice) 100gr / 224 yard (205 meters)
Color: Dark Purple, 1/2 ball , Lavender 1/2 ball
Needles: don’t know exactly probably 6mm or 7mm, gauge : 13 stitches to 4″ (10cm)

I had this hat on my “ravelry favorites” for a while. I wasn’t planning to knit it anytime soon though, at least until next fall…
When we arrived at Eskisehir a few days ago… It would be nice to say we froze our rears off… the wind and the cold kicked our butts… of course, since we had spring in full swing back in Memphis and since I had no intentions to pack all winter, spring and summer clothes, we had no beanies for the kids… My MIL found a hat for my son, who has a huge head and would be fine with an adult size hat… my daughter on the other hand, refuses to wear hats and can only wear extra soft, loose hats, that she likes the colors of… again, she is only 2, but she is a she like many people who read this blog and I am sure most could very well relate…

I knit this hat on 2 needles instead of the circular ones that the pattern calls for because I didn’t have my needles with me. We are visiting my in laws and I didn’t bring all my needles. I felt like a chef without my own knives…

I had to knit it quickly, so I held 2 strands together of this worsted weight yarn and knitted with the largest needles in my MIL needle stash. The needles were really old and I wasn’t able to read the size. They were made in UK and in mint shape… it is bad for my blog, but good for the project. I got 13 stitches to 4” (10cm). I actually didn’t gauge my work first -I know, I know put me in knitting jail this time-, and I made a hat for my daughter’s baby doll instead (see below picture)… I wonder if I learned my lesson about gauging yet, please remind me next time when I screw up a day’s worth of work…
baby_hat2My daughter’s head circumference is 50cm and I cast on 65 for her hat.
For the doll’s hat, I cast on 40 which is perfect size for a newborn (this doll is huge and I am pretty sure it will fit a newborn). Again, don’t forget, I held 2 strands together and got 13 stitches to 4”.

I knit 4 rows, purled 4 rows with the same color ( 8 rows per color) per original directions. This pattern is so simple, yet very clever and looks amazing.

My daughter is one of those toddlers who refuses to wear hats, so far she loved this hat, because it’s a bit loose on her head without falling on her eyes…

The yarn that I used was purchased by my husband’s aunt here at the local yarn store and is almost identical to Vanna’s Choice. It might very well be from the factory who makes Vanna’s choice, since that’s also made in Turkey.

The last modification I made was I made decreases early on and more agressively. I started after 32 rows. First I decreased twice on alternating rows, then on every row. Again, I used 2 needles and knew that the “beehive” effect wasn’t going to happen… All I needed to knit was 40 rows on 2 needles…

I am pretty happy with how this pattern turned out. And will make more with using DK weight and circular needles…
Turkce blog icin tiklayin bakalim!

Daisy my love… thank you my love…


Instead of the Elmo pinata that I wished for, here’s what I got from my husband for my birthday!!!

For some reason these wild daisies are not available where we live in the US… I guess, since you can pick them up for free, they don’t care to sell them?? Shame on them!!

I have always been in love with them, and this was also my husband’s first birthday gift when we started dating… it was a great surprise, and we filled 4 vases with it!!! the next time I am planning to ask him for a flower bucket to go along with it…

Hugs and happy spring… g.

Turkce blog icin tiklayin bakalim!