Monday, December 30, 2013

Christmas 2013 in Texas

As always, click on any image for larger view.
Tree top Yoda
We arrived in Houston late afternoon Thursday 19 December, after a full 31.5 hours of travel from BeBe in Fethiye to our son Aaron's home in Houston.  Bill had several doctor appointments the following morning and again on Monday.  All medical tests were passed with flying colors!  His physical condition is perfect so we have much to be thankful for this Christmas season.  Another exciting (to us) announcement is that a new granddaughter will be welcomed to our family in early May! 

Bill is in middle.  Guess who is our son
and who is the nephew!

Lynn and Sebastian

Our family Christmas gathering was held in Aaron's house this year.  We thought it was time to give older son Trey a break since he and Kristina have hosted the family gathering at their home for so many years. 

Judy & Elisabeth baking cookies

Colson, Lauren & Teresa

 I recruited granddaughter Elisabeth (BeBe) and grandson Zachary to assist me cooking deserts for a couple of days.  We will have sweet snacks for days!  

Helene and Judy
Damien covered himself in Batman gifts

Ready to go visit Santa

Bill's sister, Helene, drove down from Dallas accompanied by her son, daughter and grandson. His brother, Theo, drove down from College Station accompanied by his wife and 2 grown daughters.  Another brother, John, lives in Houston so he had a shorter drive.  Add in Trey's mother-in-law and sister-in-law with her family and our Christmas family gathering totaled 23 people!  

Practicing with Papa for
what she will tell Santa

Niece Kristin with her new
scarf from Turkey.  All
the women got scarves.
The only people missing were my brother, Boyd, and wife Cheryl, who opted to visit others in Florida for the holidays this year.  Between the dining room and breakfast room plus a card table and a long folding table set up in the living room and a supply of folding chairs, everyone found a place at the table(s).  That is no mean feat!  I doubt most homes have sufficient space to seat 23 people for dinner!

L-R: Colson, Lauren, Teresa, Duane, Donella, Krystal,
Kristina, Helene, Bill and Theo

It was nice to have the 4 siblings of Bill's family, together with all their children and grandchildren, all together to visit for several hours.  Brought back memories of Christmases more than 4 decades ago since Christmas is usually the only time that everyone gets together anymore.  Years ago our individual families were smaller and younger and getting together was easier.  

L-R: Theo, Kristin, John, Aaron, David and Lynn.
With Daniel and Zachary in front.

Today the extended family is somewhat scattered although all remain in Texas (so far!!) except for us.   I think it is also important for the youngest generation of cousins to remain in contact with one another at least once annually.  If nothing else it at least makes them remember each other's names and where they fit in the extended family.  I screwed up and forgot to get a photo of all of us together.  Maybe next Christmas.

Our older son Trey with our 13-yr-old grandson Zachary.
In background to right is our younger son Aaron.
Our 2 sons look nothing alike.  Zach has a long way to grow
to reach his dad's 6'6" height.

On the evening of 28 December Bill and I attended a small gathering of sailors in Kemah.  I belong to a Facebook group called Women Who Sail, and one of the women hosted the gathering so those of us who happened to be in SE Texas could actually meet in real life.  We now can put faces with names!  At least for 7 or 8 women out of the 1,530 members of WWS.

Even when we are not on our boat in far away places we still manage to meet up with sailors.

Aaron's opinion of Christmas prep
The remainder of our time in Texas will be spent visiting with friends both in the Houston area and a couple of rural places.   Will be returning to BeBe in Fethiye on 8 February 2014.  

Wishing a Happy New Year to everyone!  May only good things happen for you in 2014!  

Oh, and just for comparison; here is a photo of the family taken Christmas 2000.  We all have aged and a few new members have been added.  And next Christmas we will add another baby girl to the photos.

L-R front row: Kayla, baby Zachary, Judy, Teresa, Helene.
L-R middle row: Kristina, Kristin, Lauren, Donella
L-R back row: Trey, Aaron, Duane, Theo, John, Bill
Taken at our house

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Almost time for our holiday trip to Texas!

Weather this autumn has been warmer and drier in general as compared to same time last year.  There have been a few weather systems blow through but nothing severe or that has lasted more than a day or two.  Today and tomorrow we are experiencing NNE winds in the 35-knot range; temps 40F daytime and 34F overnight.  Man!  When that wind blows over those snow covered mountaintops off to the north and east of Fethiye then it feels icy!

As the mantra goes: this, too, shall pass.

I count our blessings where we can find them.  And today I am thankful that the sun is shining brightly as that cold wind blows.  Far better than the recent blowing rain.

Sunday December 7 was my 65th birthday.  Yea!!!  Now I am on Medicare and thus am able to avoid all the Obamacare requirements.  Turned 65 just in time to make the deadline and not have to deal with those insurance exchanges and exorbitant prices.  It was a wet and dreary day.  It was a surprise when a woman I know from an online women's sailing group sent an email suggesting that she and her husband and daughter drive down from Marmaris and all go to lunch.  I won't reveal her name here because she and her husband both avoid publicly posting about their private lives.  She brought a selection of 6 deserts to celebrate my birthday. 

We went to the Iskele Restaurant which Bill and I have walked past hundreds of times but had never stopped.  We were the only people in the restaurant for a late lunch.  The owner kindly lit a fire in the fireplace to chase out the chill of the rainy day.  Lunch was very good; I think Bill and I will be returning there this winter.  A lot of local Turks eat there each evening and it is only about 6 blocks from our dock.

After a very long lunch we returned to our boat for deserts and coffee and tea.  And what a selection of deserts!  These deserts were all from Mado, a Turkish bakery and ice cream store chain that is prized for their delicacies.  They use goats milk to make all their products.  And everything they make is both beautiful and delicious.  There was a tiny chocolate cake with pistachios; another tiny chocolate cake with chestnuts; a fabulous cheesecake (yes; made from goats milk); a small container of fried milk; and two containers of very traditional Turkish sweets.  One was like a white sticky pudding which contained chicken.  Yep; a desert containing chicken.  Really did not taste the chicken at all and would not even know it was in there if you were not familiar with the dish.  And the final container was some sorts of grains and honey plus every fruit and nut imaginable.  The grains were cooked very slowly and absorbed all liquid to make a firm substance that was not quite like a cake but drier than a pudding.  It was quite good.  Our guest said that this was a very old dish that was used as a traveler's food centuries past.  Providing lots of energy with the fruits, nuts and honey and very filling because of the grains.  Translation of 'lots of energy' really means lots of calories.

It was a very enjoyable birthday and Bill and I hope to meet up with this family again this winter.  The young couple is Russian but they lived in Canada for years and also have Canadian passports.  They consider themselves Canadian these days, although they are teaching their adorable little daughter Russian as her mother tongue.  Gosh, it must be so nice to hold passports from two countries, especially two countries as diverse as Canada and Russia.

Only six days until we leave for our annual trip to Texas for the Christmas holidays.  Plans are to be in Texas for about six weeks; do several medical appointments with the VA Hospital in Houston and follow-up with M.D. Anderson from Bill's cancer surgery last February.  Since the surgery Bill has had three blood tests and all have been negative for any cancer so we do not anticipate any medical surprises this trip to delay our return to the boat as happened last winter.  We are mentally treating these visits as simply routine follow-up.  

Looking forward to catching up with old friends and seeing extended family on Christmas day.

Last Sunday we visited a Christmas Market which was held along the seafront out in Çaliş, a very British part of town just north of Fethiye old town.  It is out where the long sandy beach is found.  We did not know exactly where the market was located so we took a taxi out there at a cost of 40 TL.  We found a dolmus (small van bus) back to Fethiye central for 4 TL and walked back to the boat from there.  We found nothing to buy at the Christmas Market as it was geared to British tastes and traditions, not things we associate with Christmas.  But it was a worthwhile trip because now we know where to catch the dolmus out to Çaliş and I think there is a pork store located out there somewhere.  Will have to do more research on that after we return in early February.

Since we have not done much and I have taken no photos, here is a link to a blog posting by Turkeys for Life, a British couple living in Fethiye.

Turkeys for Life article about Roman theater in Fethiye

I wrote about the old Roman theater here in Fethiye back when we first visited here around May or June 2012.  Fethiye was known as Telmessos back during Roman days.  When the city of Fethiye built or re-built their town quay some years back they used many of the large stones from the ancient Roman theater to reinforce the quay.  Guess that was before they realized what a boom tourism could be for the local economy.  Today they are renovating the theater. 

We will be leaving Turkey before this renovation is scheduled to be completed in September of next year.