Where Everything is Bigger

Texas.  Even the meat is bigger. BBQ…what were YOU thinking?

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Last week we had the good fortune to visit some good friends of ours.  Bülent flew from Turkey to Dallas and I met him there.

When Bülent  first moved to the U.S., Shawn was his landlord.  He became much more than that though, he and and wife, became very good friends with Bülent.   He even was the one to give Bülent his precious Butterfinger.   So last week we flew to Texas, from our own respective airports.  Our hosts gave us an amazing tour of Texas.  One of the first experiences we were introduced to was “Texas Barbeque.”  From Dallas we drove to Austin, where outside of the city we went to Salt Lick BBQ.   It was BYOB, and we could smell the meat from miles away.

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On the menu was summer sausage, brisket, pork ribs, smoked turkey, chicken and beef ribs.  Below you see sausage, brisket and pork ribs being prepared.

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I couldn’t decide between brisket and pork ribs, so I had both!  They were served with a side of beans, potato salad and coleslaw.  Everything was fabulous, but I was surprised by the coleslaw.  It was surprisingly light, more of a vinaigrette than a mayonnaise laden dressing.  Wicked tasty!

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Clearly!

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More on Texas and the food soon!

Ode to a Man

My brother Elliot is a MAN.  Clearly he is a man, but now he is super macho.

EllHe is in his early 20’s, so he’s no boy.  He has always worked and studied hard. He has always dealt with difficult situations well, and has taken care of any shit that has come his way.   On Saturday he did both of those things, literally.   Friday night our septic system failed, and we were reduced to pre-indoor plumbing circumstances, or as my husband would say “sub-optimal.”

So on Friday –I went down to the basement where I discovered the extent of the “situation”—which was all over the floor.  After that, Elliot and I promptly uncovered the septic tank, we thought it looked kind of full.  We thought maybe that was why when the toilets flushed, it dumped in the basement instead of the septic tank. However, it was not the tank, it turns out the pipe leading from the house to the tank was pinched.

So, Saturday while my mother and I had an early Mothers’ Day visit with my Nana—Elliot took care of the “situation.”  What I mean by that is that he spent all day digging up the broken pipe, which also included shoveling out a hole filled with human waste.   Anybody who can do that is an adult, so for him,  he is a MAN. For Mother’s day he gave my mother her indoor plumbing back, kind of hard to top that one.   Also, I was pleased to have it back myself.  Yay for flushing!

Resurfacing

I am starting to get back…to what?  Not to the way things were, but to a new normal.  After the wake and service, everyone else’s life went back to normal.   Ours still has a huge gaping wound in it.  Nothing works or functions the way it used to.  All of us have issues, and daily reminders.  There is nothing like starting the day by trying to cajole the dog to do her business.  Sometimes she will do so if bribed, but otherwise is still waiting for Dad to walk her.

For the last few weeks I have not wanted to really do anything, see anyone.  The impulse to isolate myself is slowly fading.    A couple of weekends ago I went to a good friends wedding.  I was able to see friends I haven’t seen in five years.  I had a great time, and opened up a little more.  Friday I met up with a childhood friend I haven’t seen in about 20 years, and we were able to really connect and had fun.  I have been off the grid for a while, but am slowly making my way back into life.  One day at a time we are building a new foundation for the way our lives are now.

A Date…

Today I had an interview.  I took the semester off to take care of my father.  I was also going to postpone a practicum for my Masters in TESOL.  However, since my father’s death, I don’t need to put off my class.  So today I went to a interview for my practicum.  Though, it is a little less than ideal, since I brought few professional clothes,  and there are very few ELL learners in rural N.H.  The interview went well, and then I went on a romantic date…with myself.  I took a walk in the adorable downtown, and bought some luscious chocolate covered strawberries (for my mom, my brother and his girlfriend and me.)  Later I went to the sushi bar, and had a delicious meal, for one.  It was actually a very nice time.  I am still not really ready to be out and about with people, so this was a lovely way to go out with out social pressure.

My Father, Dan

Born 1943-Died January 19, 2012 after a long and valiant battle with cancer.

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Dan was a complex person, passionate about life and his family. He had a raucous sense of humor and a quick wit—he filled our lives with warmth and mirth. He fought for the best he could provide, for our family and our community. As a man of conviction, he may have butted heads with others along the way, but never let that get in the way of his integrity and honor. Despite the many hardships he’s encountered, he’s always been an adamant optimist. I think there are few people who could survive what he had and still be able to say that.

He was a fighter, when he was first diagnosed with cancer 15 years ago, he fought with a vengeance. I remember him telling me he just couldn’t leave when we were so little. I am grateful to him for that, that though I still feel “little,” I am now an adult who knows my own mind and heart, largely due to him.

He had a presence so huge that it is hard to imagine a world without him. I am grateful for every moment I had with him, and every memory I have for the future.

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He will be missed.

Back In NH

I have been back in NH for eight days.   I have missed being here. Though it has not been my normal visit.   It has been different this time around.  There is an underlying sadness.  Not grief or depression, but a melancholy that surrounds us all.  When know why, and it is not ignored, but neither is it discussed.

It has a busy week.  I flew in on Monday to NYC.  I had to reroute because I missed my flight due to a delay.  Tuesday I hung out  with my aunt and darling cousin, and shopped.  Then I spent a week with my  dad dad at the hospital.

Tonight is my third night at my parents home, though  both my mom and dad are at the hospital. Tomorrow my dad is having surgery.  Wish us all luck.

The Things You Do…

I am heading back to the States, a little sooner than anticipated, and am taking care of business.  As you do when you live in Turkey, and return to the U.S. for extended periods of time…you take care of the expensive shit.  Which is why I have gone to the gynecologist and the dentist in the same week—Because you know that is fun!  Also my dog ate my night mouth guard yesterday.  Awesome!

It is also why I am going to stock up on birth control and allergy medication before I leave.  Not only do I have comprehensive health insurance in Turkey, both private and State, but also many things are available over the counter that are not in the US.  For my time in the U.S.  I am also paying out of pocket for six months of private health insurance, all health insurance related expenses will be reimbursed up to the (fairly generous) limit once I return to Turkey—for $300!  Ridiculous!  So tomorrow I will get my eyebrows done, but since it is winter—I will skip the bikini wax—I think between the gynecologist and the dentist I have had enough fun.

Transitions

It has been a while since the last time I have posted.  I have been dealing with some challenges and logistics.  I have bought the tickets, began the paperwork at work and organized my kitchen.  It is official,  I will be returning to the U.S. by the end of January (at the latest) for a six month leave of absence.   As I wrote previously my father was diagnosed with a rare cancer last April.  He had chemotherapy over the summer and things were looking positive.  However, the circumstances have changed, and the situation is less positive.  I will be home to spend time with my family during this period.

My last post was about Thanksgiving.  There are many things I am thankful for, my family, my husband, and my friends.  I am so thankful to have a husband that knows what family means.  The minute I told him about my father’s situation, he was willing to put me on a plane the next day—no matter the cost.  Being away from him for a significant period of time will be unfortunate, but I am so glad to have this time with my father, and with my family.  I am so lucky that I can take 6 months of unpaid time, without losing my job or being homeless.  There are many things I am thankful for this year.

My blog’s name is “Far From the Sticks.” In New Hampshire, the “Sticks” is slang for rural areas.  I am far from where I come from and where I grew up.  My life has taken paths I have never imagined and I have had many adventures on the way.  While I am going back home, in some ways I can never return to the “Sticks.”  When I was growing up, my parents made sure to provide me with a childhood.  My friends and I used to climb trees and canoe in old prom dresses, playing “Little House on the Prairie.” On Friday nights, my Dad would turn on the Temptations and we would all dance in the living room.  My brother and I would play in the stream in the rain–with galoshes and umbrellas.  I can never return to my childhood in the “Sticks,” but I can go home.  I am counting the days until I can get there.

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Camping in Maine

A few weekends ago I went camping in York, ME.  As a kid we always used to go camping on the Maine Coast or up in Canada.  Many of my best childhood memories are tied up with swimming in the icy cold water, sitting around campfires and hunkering down in the pop-up with my family.

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So when my family had a chance to go a few weekends ago, despite my father’s illness and chemotherapy regimen, we all jumped at he chance.  We drank beer, played scrabble, listened to the ocean and hunkered down in the camper while a magnificent thunder storm rumbled and dumped rain on us.  2011 Summer 060

When you grow up some things change, or become more complicated.   Heartbreak can no longer be cured with a kiss and a cookie.  But then again, some things never change.  Icy water+Camper+ Family = Always a blast!

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