sunday muffins…. gluten free and vegan lemon poppyseed…

sunday muffins…. gluten free and vegan lemon poppyseed…

i am happy to report that with the exception of not having any muffin tin liners left at home this recipe went off without a hitch! and, as an added bonus- just as i was contemplating prepping for the muffins one of my best buddies here in istanbul sent me a giant bag of lemons! it was fate.

i woke up early to bake these for our breakfast and it was so worth it.  nearly sugar free, the lemony taste with the poppyseeds was just perfect and i savored my muffin with a fantastic cup of morning coffee.

it was early enough that i was moving a bit slowly, but i would say these muffins could be ready in one-hour tops. have your ingredients ready and a hot oven waiting, and you will be set.

ingredients

  • zest of 2 lemons
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 flax eggs (2 tbsp ground flax seed with 6 tbsp water- mix and set aside)
  • ½ cup nut mylk
  • 1/3 cup coconut oil-softened
  • 2 tbsp baking powder
  • ½ tbsp baking soda
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 cup almond flour
  • 1 cup buckwheat flour
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp poppy seeds

instructions

  • preheat oven to 200 degrees celsius. (400f)
  • line muffin tin with muffin liners or grease with coconut oil and sprinkle with almond flour
  • mix together flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt, sugar, poppy seeds and lemon zest
  • in a separate bowl mix flax eggs, lemon juice, coconut oil and nut mylk
  • combine wet and dry ingredients and spoon into muffin tin
  • cook for 20-25 minutes (mine were perfect at 22 minutes) and cool on baking rack
  • serve warm with a good cup of coffee… enjoy!!!

not finished grieving yet…

exactly one year ago today the girls went to school with empty bags to empty out their lockers.  at the time, like most of the world, we assumed this would be a 2–3-week hiatus; all we needed was a good break from close personal contact, a proper disinfection of the school building, and some time for authorities to get a handle on this novel coronavirus and get things under control.  then everything would quickly go back to “normal”. 

my family had already made so many plans for the upcoming months that a part of me was thrilled to have a little downtime before we all started flying all over the place. if all had gone as expected, i would have flown back and forth from istanbul to the u.s. at least three times in spring of 2020.  one trip we had planned was a college visit tour with asya and alara that would have taken us from coast to coast with a stop in chicago too! 

it was also the summer of erim and my 20th wedding anniversary. although we hadn’t planned anything for that yet, i had high hopes of spending a long weekend in the south of france; celebrating with leisurely lunches, walks on the beach and beautiful wines.  

and of course, we had planned on spending a huge chunk of time in asheville.  my nephew teddy would turn two- and he was walking and talking and perfect for cuddling. alegra was all signed up for sleepaway camp in the mountains, asya and alara were going to intern for the democratic presidential campaign, and i would finally have time to complete my yoga teacher training.  all this was already on the books.

instead, like almost everyone i know, we’ve been mainly at home.  although the arrival of warm summer weather, and the availability of our boat in the south of turkey, allowed us to move around much more freely than before, we were still so nervous and careful. we drove back and forth to the coast- 8 hours each way- only ate in outdoor settings; and really debated whether or not it was safe to have my parents join us for a week on the boat.  knowing what i know now, i am so grateful that we took advantage of the lull in the virus and only wish that we had recognized just how good we had it then! 

unlike some of our peers, erim and i have tended to err on the side of caution throughout this period.  my refrain has become something along the lines of, “everybody has to take on their own burden of risk”.  despite sometimes facing criticism, we have made a point of only socializing in open air spaces.  istanbul’s traditionally damp winter weather is not really conducive to this- although we have remained valiant in our efforts to connect with people we care about- we’ve purchased multiple outdoor heaters, become proficient fire pit tenders and frequently invoke alfred wainright’s well-known quote that, “there’s no such thing as bad weather, only unsuitable clothing.”

and thus, as we hit this one-year anniversary of our lockdown and a complete upheaval of life as we knew it, i sat down this morning to make a list of all the things we’ve learned and gained. 

however, all i can think about is all that we’ve lost.

while i am keenly aware that my family has felt the repercussions of the pandemic much less acutely than so many others, the state in which the world finds itself brings me unimaginable sorrow. i am sad not just for the things that my family has had to give up, but for humanity as a whole.  

so many lives have been lost over the past 12 months; and so often unnecessarily. 

thousands of people have lost their jobs; and so many women have been forced to leave their careers unexpectedly to care for their now homebound children.  this is a terrible setback for womens’ rights around the globe. 

millions of people struggling to keep their families afloat have now fallen below the poverty line; and they are scared, hungry and hopeless. 

millions of children have lost access to school, setting a whole generation back educationally.  tragically, for many of these children this loss also means a simultaneous loss of access to nutritious food.  how can millions of children living in new york be dependent on school lunches for their main meal- still, in the twenty-first century?

on a more personal level, i don’t know anyone who hasn’t suffered some sort of covid related loss.  either the death or severe illness of a loved one, a change in economic situation, a change in life plans, or a sudden need to readjust hopes and dreams.

recognizing all the pain and suffering in the world leaves me ever more appreciative and aware of all that i still have; healthy children, economic stability, a loving partner, a kind and caring community, strength of body and mind.  

but as we mark one year of this global pandemic, i cannot yet sit to list the things for which i am grateful. 

i am just not finished grieving yet.

as an eternal optimist, i can’t help but believe that this terrible time must lead to something better. 

everyone says the next decade will be our roaring twenties. but the historian in me knows that the roaring twenties were followed by the rise of extreme nationalism and fascism and the devastation of world war two. 

i don’t want the roaring twenties; i want a roaring change.  

i want people to truly care about one another, regardless of race or class, and to try to raise each other up. to work not just for their own sakes, but for the good of all humanity.  

i want education to take precedence over production and consumption so we all learn to love and cherish was what already have.  

i want us all to recognize that without a healthy environment life as we know it is not possible.  we must work together to repair the damage we’ve already done and avoid future damage so that we can all live here on earth more peacefully.  

i want simple things, like home-cooked meals and handwritten cards, to be important again so we can all remember to slow down and just care about each other.  

i know it’s a lot to want, but the only way i can mitigate the immense grief of this past year is with unbounded hope.

maybe next week i’ll look back on all the wonderful things we gained this year.  but this week i feel sad; i am just not finished grieving yet.

sunday muffins…. gluten free very berry

another lockdown weekend; another funny muffin story! 

yesterday i was absolutely exhausted. i had bitten off too many weekend projects, had too many meals to cook and way too many things to tidy and by the time our muffin baking rolled around i had really had it with the idea of being in the kitchen.  

my beautiful children came to the rescue! alegra loves all things cooking related anyway so she was ready to help and alara has been studying like a crazy person for her upcoming in-person exams.  we still don’t know if these exams will actually happen but, rightfully so, she really wants to be prepared.  give or take a few days, when she goes back mid-week, she will have not hand any in person learning for exactly 12 months. (the other two did have the opportunity to go to “real” school in the fall so alara holds our family record for number of days of online school.) 

i had planned to make some very berry muffins- one of my favorites- but i had not planned well enough to actually make sure we had all the ingredients we might need. oops.

we did seem to have an inordinate amount of coconut flour, so that is what we used. the end result was good, although very coconutty! if you do decide to recreate our coconutty berry muffins just be prepared to use a bit more almond milk as coconut flour tends to soak up liquid more than other gluten free flours.

ingredients:

  • 1 ½ cups gluten free flour (in hindsight i recommend using an almond flour and oat combo)
  • 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • ¾ cup nut mylk (or more if using coconut flour)
  • 1 flax egg (or regular if not vegan)
  • 8 tablespoons melted coconut oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup mixed frozen berries
  • ¾ cup brown sugar 

instructions:

  • preheat oven to 180 degrees celsius (375 f)
  • prepare muffin tin with liners
  • combine berries and sugar and mix gently- set aside
  • mix flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and ginger together.
  • in a separate bowl combine nut mylk, flax egg and melted coconut oil
  • make a well in dry ingredients and pour wet ingredients in
  • mix until just combined; adding more nut mylk if necessary- batter should be moist and may have some small lumps
  • add berry mixture and mix gently
  • spoon batter into muffin tins – cook for 20-25 minutes until toothpick comes out clean and tops are browned
  • cool slightly on cooling rack and serve warm for a perfect breakfast treat!  

**recipe loosely adapted from ina garten’s barefoot contessa cookbook**

welcome lenten season

lent has been an important season for me since my childhood. although i was not raised in one particular religion, the notion of spirituality, especially in terms of the idea of a shared humanity and mutual love and respect for all beings, has always resonated with me.  

and, as such, the lenten tradition of sacrifice as a way towards greater understanding of the needs and challenges of other humans has always appealed to the highly sensitive person in me. 

in our household lent was a time (as was ramazan actually), in which we were encouraged to recognize and celebrate our basic comforts and privileges.  the sacrifices that came along with these seasons were meant to encourage us to be grateful for our own lives and empathetic towards those of others. 

over the years, i have given up many things for lent- candy, chocolate, junk food, fizzy drinks, hard liquor, wine, negative thoughts… each abstention has had its own challenges and benefits but none as important as the way in which each season has reminded me of the role that habit, and habitual thoughts and actions, play in our lives. 

how often have i popped a piece of candy in my mouth without thinking twice, munched on chocolate without really even tasting it, poured another glass of wine without considering if i had already had enough? 

we live so much of our lives without really noticing what’s actually happening. mindfulness takes practice and the pace of our days can sometimes border on ridiculous; there have even been days when i find myself running from one task to another in my own home! 

in this way, the lenten season asks us to take a moment to pause and consider our comforts and to appreciate them more fully.

normally i start talking about lent and what we are going to give up two or three weeks before the season begins.  we often have a small mardi gras celebration amongst ourselves and i always enjoy pancakes on ash wednesday. 

this year alegra made us traditional italian carnival cookies as part of our mardi gras fun!

but this year the whole season snuck up on me. it wasn’t until we pulled out alegra’s academic planner to start scheduling things for her second semester that i realized lent was just days away.

my first reaction was to rack my brain frantically to see what i should give up this year- last year was coffee- should this year be wine? sweets? booze? 

but as my mind raced through the options i suddenly stopped and realized that this year I AM NOT GIVING UP ANTHING.

this year, this pandemic year, we have given up enough.

we have given up hugs.  we have given up social interaction.  we have given up in-person school.  we have given up countless plans and dozens of dreams.  we have given up travel. we have given up seeing relatives who live abroad. we have already given up so much.

so, this year instead of giving something up, i am taking something up.

rather than mindfully abstain, i am going to mindfully make an addition. i am going to add something to my life; something meaningful and important for me; something that makes me feel good.  it is unlikely that any one thing can possibly make up for all that we, as humans, have had to give up this year.  but one nice thing for myself will certainly bring me joy, and a little bit of hope, and that is something that we all need right now.

therefore, in this lenten season of 2021 i am adding to my life one hour of creativity.  for one hour every day i will allow myself to create; to move away from all the daily necessities and practical concerns and just spend time creating.  there is no goal in this.  i don’t need to have a specific purpose to do what i do, i just need to like doing it and enjoy that time.  mindfully and with great appreciation of my ability to do this for myself.

what about you? do you traditionally give something up for lent? if so, what will you give up this year? or would you too, rather add something this season? 

let me know, i would love to hear! 

fun. now.

“having fun” has always been a tricky concept for me.

my mom tells me that even as a very young child i was pretty quiet and happy to sit and listen or observe my surroundings for hours; rather than joining in the excitement.

once i learned to read that was my ultimate definition of fun; i am infamous for asking friends who had come for sleepovers if they wanted to get in bed and read- at 6:30pm!!! (my wise mother encouraged me to play a game with my friend first; at least).

as a teenager i was WAY too self-conscious to let loose and really have fun. i did thoroughly enjoy hard work though and poured myself into academics, tennis, and art projects with gusto.

college was a little better. being surrounded by like-minded serious folks helped. as did a glass or two of wine. and fun was had, silliness occurred- not always but plenty for me.

not too long after that i got married and had two beautiful babies back to back (and a third a bit later on too). marriage and motherhood are serious things but the stability and routine that came along with it probably helped to relax me and, oh boy, have i had fun with my girls!

i have played in kiddie pools; danced with gymbo at gymboree; belted out disney princess songs in the living room; discovered “secret beaches” and set up “camps” so that we could munch on oreos; jumped off cliffs in greek islands; swam with dolphins; ridden on elephants; zoomed through vietnamese streets on vespas; watched lions up close; and spent endless hours chatting and laughing. no complaints here.

but this year fun has been a little harder to come by. the stress of the pandemic is overwhelming and i often feel a creeping guilt about how lucky we have been while so many people have suffered so much.

with a senior and a junior mired deep in school work and college prep the past months would have been hard and serious in any case. but covid has compounded it.

i’m probably not the only one feeling this way. but we need to remember that it is ok, and necessary , for us all to have a little fun. and to do it now. not to wait for the post-pandemic world to enjoy ourselves when possible.

i first started thinking about this after reading a beautiful post called “now” on a blog i follow- enough– the author, shauna ahern, reminds us to go ahead and do what we have been waiting for. do it now. enjoy today- read, learn, start projects, make things whatever. stop waiting and get going now.

i tested the waters on our trip to dubai. i have to admit it wasn’t very easy. but i closed my eyes, took a breath and just acted silly! it felt so good- and while i am not the all time silliest of people- it reminded me that i need to seek out fun.

my fun may not be the same as someone else’s but i need to recognize what is fun for me and DO IT!!!

since then i have resumed my nightly kitchen dance parties while washing the dishes; worked on small art projects at least two nights a week; and joked with my girls even when i felt crabby and snappy.

now i’m off to play catan and enjoy a snowy afternoon…

what’s fun for you these days? games, music, the outdoors? share your fun and we’ll keep sharing ours too!

traveling in a covid world

today we took our first international flight in a world with covid.

last year on this day we were in south africa, blissfully basking in the beauty of babylonstoren unaware that the odd virus we were hearing about in china would soon come to dominate the news; and all our lives. (yes, in hindsight we should have worn masks on our capetown-istanbul flight- an idea i literally mocked and belittled at the time!)

a couple of thoughts-

1. this pandemic has taught me that we all must make our own risk calculations as necessary and based on individual circumstances.

2. the istanbul airport was much more crowded than i expected.

3. masks have become a pretty normal thing here in turkey and 90% of people were wearing them properly. that made me feel better.

4. thank you richard quest and cnn traveler for teaching my family to wipe down and disinfect our seating areas on aircraft years ago. we are pros.

5. covid is inescapable. as we entered the airport i had one surreal moment when it felt as though we would fly off and leave and magically land in a land with no covid. sort of like when we flew out of vietnam two years ago; exiting a communist country and finding ourselves in a safer feeling, calmer environment upon landing. instead we landed in dubai and are still wearing masks; washing our hands; and social distancing. we were required to present proof of a negative pcr test upon arrival and despite the advantage of increased outdoor space and warm weather we still feel a little wary of other people.

international travel during this period is a calculated risk we needed to take. and one we were fortunate enough to be able to take as safely as possible.

i am grateful.

a new routine- sunday muffins!

join us as we embark on a new routine- sunday muffins!

as a virgo through and through i am a very big fan of routines.  

knowing what is coming up centers me. it helps me to keep some of the more anxious thoughts and “what ifs” at bay. not only do i love living the routine, but i also adore planning the routine.  i have all sorts of notebooks- one for daily to-dos; one for our weekly meals; one for recipes; one for bigger, long term plans- and tons of lists! books to be read; articles to check out; yoga classes to take; things to buy; things to give away… all listed nicely and neatly.

as much as i love a routine life, over the years i have learned (sometimes the hard way) to let go and go with the flow (sort of).  juggling the needs, wants and schedules of three kids; living in the beautiful chaos of istanbul; being connected to other people socially and professionally- all these have been known to cause glitches from time to time! 

and of course, this year we are living through the biggest glitch of all! not in a million years would i have ever thought we would be on month 10 of staying home, at home learning, curfew and weekend lockdowns.  i really somehow thought this would be a couple months long blip in an otherwise normal year.

the first couple of months were better; alegra and i had a really great whiteboard, and we had a schedule for every day- it was great! i knew what was coming, everyone at home knew the plan.  it was as “normal” as one could have hoped for.

but these days, as covid wears on and on, i am finding it hard to even consider creating a routine.  i had hoped new years would inspire me but here i am halfway into the month and still a bit lost.

so, as i baked these muffins for sunday morning breakfast, i realized these might just be the perfect way to start a new routine! 

i’ve had food projects before; you can find a whole year of vegetable fritters (mucver, in turkish) here … and a year of gluten free kid-friendly treats here 

and so, it seems 2021 will be the year of muffins! the muffins will always be gluten-free; though not always vegan nor sugar free (sometimes we need a little treat too, guys!) i hope that you enjoy this new routine as much as i do 🙂

gluten-free vegan blueberry muffins

ingredients:

  • 2 vegan flax eggs (mix 2 tablespoons ground flax seed with 6 tablespoons water and set aside to thicken)
  • 2/3 cup vegan buttermilk (mix nut mylk with 2 teaspoons vinegar and set aside)
  • 1 cup almond flour
  • ½ cup gluten free oats
  • ¾ cup gluten free flour mix **
  • 2/3 cup coconut sugar
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup melted coconut oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 ½ cup blueberries (can be fresh or frozen)

instructions:

  • preheat oven to 180 degrees celsius
  • line muffin pan with liner cups
  • combine flours, oats, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl and mix well
  • add flax egg, buttermilk, melted coconut oil and vanilla extract and mix until just combined
  • fold in blueberries carefully – 
    • batter should be thick at this point, if not add 1-2 tablespoons almond flour
  • spoon batter into prepared muffin pan 
  • bake for about 30 minutes until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean
  • cool on rack for at least 10 minutes
  • serve warm with a cup of tea or coffee! 

** recently, i have been using organik bahce’s gluten free flour mix here in turkey**

growing pains

all three of my girls have been, at various stages of their lives, relatively tall for their ages.  as a result, they have all, at one point or another, experienced some growing pains.  literally, achy backs, sore knees, weird shin-related pains that seemed to come out of nowhere.  when faced with complaints over these pains, it always took me a minute to realize what was actually happening. i would ask all the usual mom questions, “did you bump yourself? fall down and don’t remember? jump on the trampoline for too long?”. only once we’d managed to go down this list did it occur to me that these were just growing pains. here today, gone tomorrow as the bones and the muscles and the ligaments all caught up to one another.

my own growth was relatively average in compared to my girls.  in addition, i was a relatively clumsy child too so when i had an odd pain it almost always had some sort of mishap attached to it! this is probably one of the reasons it always took me so long to recognize what was happening as their limbs expanded.

this year though, completely unexpectedly, at the ripe old age of 42, has been filled with growing pains!  not your usual growing pains, of course, although i have had my fair share of achy shoulders, stiff neck, and out of the blue stomach aches, but growing pains, nonetheless.

for me, living through the pandemic has laid bare truths and realities that i had somehow previously managed to keep hidden, lurking just under the surface of my consciousness.  so many feelings and hurts i had attributed to bad timing but good intentions; kindheartedness with a lack of empathy; good natured self-centeredness; necessary sacrifices that would eventually receive due recognition. 

i have written before that it seems to me the pandemic amplified us.  our personalities, challenges, fears, strengths- uncertainty, stress and worry has placed them on clear display- to embrace or reckon with as the situation requires.

for me, this has come with a whole slew of growing pains.  in particular, i’ve realized that there are so many things that i just need to let go of.

first and foremost, the idea that my truth is less true than those of others; it’s not. mine is just as true; but i really don’t need to convince anyone of this. i know it. that’s enough.

also, the shame that sometimes comes with putting my own truth first. that’s got to go. the idea that self-care is selfish goes high on the list of things to throw out.  regret and “what ifs”.  these are pretty useless too.

turns out that letting go of all this is painful.  literally, not just figuratively, i have woken up some mornings with a persistent ache, a kind of grief, as not just my soul, but my body too, tries to acknowledge what is being released. 

and with these growing pains, just as in the case of a child, there comes a new sort of space.  i’m the same size, clearly, as i was last year, but i feel bigger.  there is more of me to fill with new ways of being, new ways of thinking and new ways of feeling.

and just as it is for children, i can tell that these growing pains aren’t going to be a one day, one week or even one month thing.  it’s going to take a while and i am likely to have a good deal of aches in the process.

this week it’s my neck. it’s a sensitive spot for me and where i deposit a lot of sadness.  i was really sad this week, but instead of taking some advil and using lots of china gel i worked hard to be sad. to be really sad and get through the ache that way.  i slowed down and watched as the sadness washed in and out like waves on a beach.

there’s something coming in behind the sadness. i don’t know what it is quite yet, but it feels hopeful and strong. and i have the new space to hold onto it when it gets here. 

don’t postpone joy

this was laurey’s signature motto.  

a cancer survivor, laurey was a pioneer of farm to table cooking; basic but delicious catering; and later, upscale deli style restaurant dining in Asheville, nc.  a catered dinner from laurey’s was the first time i ever tried oven roasted seasonal vegetables and all of her meals always, always featured dessert- more often than not brownies and cookies- true comfort food.

throughout this whole pandemic laurey’s motto, don’t postpone joy, has been popping into my head at the oddest moments- just before i go to bed, right as i get out of the shower, as i’m cleaning up the kitchen after yet another meal, while i’m hanging up the laundry or taking out the trash.  

i love the sentiment, but how do we hang onto joy these days? 

the covid crisis seems to be on the cusp of getting worse yet again. the most recent mutation is likely to cause more illness and effect members of the population that were previously less vulnerable- especially children, which terrifies me. the situation in the u.s. is heartbreaking and nearly impossible to even grasp.  turkey has done a pretty decent job of getting its daily infection rate under control this past month- but this has come via strict weekend lockdowns, evening curfews and the complete closure of schools, restaurants and bars. to say we’re all a little stir crazy might be the understatement of the year.

the recent events in the united states are just awful.  i don’t know whether to stop listening to the news all together or to listen even more carefully with the hope that things may actually change in the upcoming months. i know that many observers, especially those living abroad, believe that the ideals touted by americans are not real- the black lives matter movement; a daily covid death rate of 4,000 people; the insurrection at the capital; the fact that the president believes he is within his rights to lie about a fair election and encourage violence against fellow citizens- all of these seem to prove that america is not what it seems.  with this i wholly agree- but america represents an idea; the hope that things can be different, and i choose to continue to believe in that idea- while accepting wholeheartedly that things need to change. but will they? 

at home we are done. my older children seem to be on track to graduate from high school via zoom- alara has never actually met any of her teachers in person and whether asya will even be able to go to college in the fall is unclear. alegra seems to be in the best position of all of us; luckily ten-year olds still love running around outside, even in the rain and sleet, so she has been able to see some friends and keep up a semblance of her “normal” life. erim has the art of online card game down pat.  he connects to his friends on the phone and joins the game on his ipad and has had many happy hours trading manly insults while attempting to trounce his buddies- lockdown weekends feature two games a day so he has gotten pretty internet savvy, i must admit.  as for me, i had so many plans for this year; and of which have been postponed

and there we are. so how do we manage to not postpone our joy in all of this?

i honestly don’t know.  i do know that we are so grateful for all our privilege and comforts. our warm home; our well stocked kitchen; our personal electronic devices that keep us connected with school, work, and friends; and our health.  but joy has been a little hard to find this winter. 

we’re trying. today the girls baked gluten free caramel brownies (recipe coming up in the next post).  i have a chilled glass and a cold bottle of champagne ready to pour while i watch the crown this afternoon. our fireplace is warm and toasty and ready for some smores this evening. and we’ve got our fingers crossed that it will snow tonight and we can make a snowman tomorrow. 

what about you? what is bringing you joy today? 

they changed the rules again….

new rules… and a new food delivery app too!

last march, with the onset of the global coronavirus pandemic, turkey shut down swiftly and strongly. schools, restaurants, bars, shopping malls; even outdoor spaces were closed almost overnight.  banks and other essential businesses were allowed to operate on very limited schedules and most people remained at home.  as the pandemic picked up speed in turkey more stringent rules were put into place- including limits on travel international and domestic travel; complete curfews on the weekends; and rules requiring children under the age of 20 and seniors over the age of 65 to remain at home- with the exception of a three hour “outside time” window once a week.  

it was a very quiet time for families in turkey; trying for the thousands of families who did not have an economic backup plan and extremely stressful for the millions of people who live in crowded small apartments. the overall uncertainty that was felt across the board didn’t help.

but the silver lining of the hardship was that these measures seemed to work. at no point did the turkish hospitals get completely overwhelmed. ppe was available to anyone who needed or wanted it- and with people sheltering at home, a surplus of protective material soon existed. not once did i hear of a shortage of ventilators.  demographics probably helped.  the median age in turkey is 31.5 years old.  this virus preys on the weak and the elderly. 

by the middle of may turkey was opening up again. new rules (again!) shopping malls were open. restaurants and bars too; with limited seating and outdoors spaces open only; but open, nonetheless. schools remained closed but people were able to travel and many did. turkey is a beautiful country and there is so much to see. we took advantage of canceled international trips to see parts of the coast that we had never visited before. it was almost, almost, possible to forget that a deadly virus had kept us shut up in our homes just a couple of months ago.

but, as expected, the second wave is here. en force. and in their effort to keep tourism alive, th current regime did not disclose the numbers of daily infections in a transparent and thorough manner. only the number of daily patients admitted to the hospital was reported to the public. reasons for death that could conceivable be reported as anything other than covid 19 were recorded and conveyed as such.  the result has been harsh. with a lack of information upon which to base their decisions people have continued to move about, congregate and socialize. 

for a variety of reasons, the government has finally started to disclose the actual numbers of infected citizens.  some say that the who has put pressure on the government to issue proper statements. some say that the vaccines will be distributed based on per capita infections and that is the real reason behind the recent disclosures. and some just say that the time has come; tourism season is behind us and the general population has not yet been able to grasp the reality of the situation. 

regardless, the rules have changed- frequently in fact- in the month of november.  halfway through the month schools were shut down again, as were restaurants and bars. unfortunately, the overall effect was not quite enough.  with no curfew in place people have stopped going to restaurants- but started going to friends’ houses. restaurants and bars are open for take-out and delivery, which has resulted in continued person to person contact. 

as hospitals have filled up and the number of exposures has multiplied the government instituted new rules; yet again, last night.  hopefully this will help. but it basically means that we are back at home- locked down.  it’s ok. and if it helps, then it is really ok. 

what is strange though is that every time the rules change our world changes too.  once we become accustomed to a certain system is just seems to flow. and then, when the flow is interrupted it is almost as if we start from ground zero  and let me tell you- readjustment is a real pain. inevitably there is a small blow up at home (usually on my part) and it takes us all at least a couple of days to fall into a familiar and comfortable pattern. 

and that is where we are. again, adapting to a new reality. figuring out how the new rules work and creating yet another new existence within these confines. it’s ok. we’ll get there. 

i am eternally, and possibly frustratingly, optimistic- so- in light of all of this constant change all i can say is this– thank goodness for the distraction of december and the festive season!!! here’s to the season of light…