the cats of Istanbul

Istanbul is famous for its stray cats. we encountered hundreds during our week-long stay, and found even more felines in the rest of our travels around Turkey. as someone who has shared on this blog three posts on the cats of Thailand and one on the cats and creatures of Bali... you had to know this post was going to show up.

[plus, I think we could all use a fuzzy animal photo break right about now.]

there were cats everywhere in Istanbul. there were cats sleeping in mosque courtyards and curled up on the stones of ancient Byzantine ruins. there was a pack of kittens always playing outside our rental in Galata, and one who lived inside the building and would follow us onto the roof. there was even a cat who haunted the terrace of a nearby restaurant that somehow knew I would never eat all my chicken. there were cats under cars and benches, on top of roofs and walls, trailing fishermen on the bridge and tourists eating kebab alike.

somehow it turned into a daily game we played, counting how many cats we encountered. the highest number in one day was 68 cats. [obviously I did not stop to photograph all of them, otherwise we would never have gotten anywhere.]

the day we cruised the Bosphorus, we stopped in a small village for lunch. we ate in a restaurant right on the water that specialized in fresh local seafood. this cat took down the remains of our lunch, along with scraps from two other tables.

I'd say she's got a pretty nice life - waterfront views, endless grilled fish heads, and a steady stream of tourists willing to scratch her ears.

there was a very persistent cat who resided at our lodgings in Şirince. he somehow made it through a locked door to get in the restaurant and invade our breakfast [and steal some cheese off the table.] and whenever we went down to the terrace to have a drink and watch the sunset, he made sure to be twining around our legs, hopping in someone's lap, or meowing loudly until he was paid attention.

these two cats were our tour guides through the ruins of Saint John's Basilica near Ephesus. just after we arrived, the skies opened up in a torrential downpour. the entrance path turned into a stairway waterfall with an ankle-deep pool at the base, and we huddled under the tiny awning on the ticket booth, literally pressed against the wall for cover.

after the storm passed we went inside. I followed the cats, hoping they would know the dry routes through the ruins. it worked out pretty well... until it started raining again.

and finally, these three. our first night in Şirince this mama and her two babies came to join us for dinner. and since I'm lactose intolerant, I figured my side of yogurt could be put to better use. they were so unbelievably sweet... had we stayed for one more glass of wine I think they might have found their way into my tote bag.

based on how many cats we saw in Turkey, it seems like I should have more cat photos. but most spottings I was too busy going "awwwww" and trying to remember what number I was on to whip out my camera. [also, I think I've already lost anyone who isn't a cat person... probably for the best I don't have more cat photos.] the bulk of my images are of mosques and ruins and tiles and rocks. and hot air balloons. hopefully there will be some of those coming your way soon. until then -- well, I'd make a cat nap joke but that just seems too easy. 😉


old things, new things

it's been a long time since I've blogged after dark. [it's been a long time since I've blogged, period.] back in a past life, I used to sit in my home office late at night and type away with a cat in my lap while Husband was making lesson plans. or sometimes I'd be on the couch with the computer in my lap and Husband asleep watching food network. and even, on occasion, I blogged with both a cat and a computer in my lap.

now my lap is empty. and I'm in my new office, half a world and five years away.

you see, I gave myself permission to create a writing office. I took the smallest nook in our apartment and added a tiny desk and a comfy chair and an extension cord. I even made it official with a planter of succulents. a third of them have died already, so I rearranged and made room for -- of all the things to stick in a planter -- a tiny sleeping charmander.

it's been a long time since I've picked up my camera. four months. and even longer since I've staged an awkward self-photo shoot. [I say awkward not because the photos are awkward, though sometimes they are. I say awkward because I still feel awkward doing it. which probably means I should do it more often, so that it feels less awkward.]

but today I did. I got out my tripod and poured a cup of coffee. not into my most photogenic mug, but into my weirdly adorable Din Tai Fung space dumplings mug. I shot photos and then changed back into stretchy pants and started typing.

the past few months have been rough. [I know, 2016 right?] but I also mean it's been rough for me, personally.

on top of spending a huge amount of time and effort trying to feed myself [a gluten, dairy, egg, nut, shellfish, olive, avocado, pineapple free diet] I wound up with an intestinal bacterial infection last August. it took three months to figure out that it was c. diff. and almost another three months later my system is still dealing with the effects.

to be honest, it's been pretty awful. and it's still not fun. but rather than drag on about this and other misfortunes that have overshadowed the last year... we're moving on.

because there have been some positive things happening lately.

I started writing a novel.

actually writing a novel. about a badass female scientist who is accidentally turned into a vampire. there's blood and romance, mystery and weird science. I'm not comfortable sharing too much of the plot yet, but I've written 22,000 words of it.

I've read both contemporary and historical vampire literature. I've watched online lectures by authors, joined webinars, and poured through writing websites. I've brainstormed and outlined and plotted and covered an entire wall with post-it notes. I've done research and asked google some really strange medical questions. and of course, I've written.

it's been both incredibly challenging and extremely fulfilling.

I am scared and excited and doing my best to just keep writing.

blogging is such a strange thing. the past few months I spent a lot of time thinking about if and when I would do it again, and what would I say? I wrote a dozen posts that were never quite right enough to publish, but I couldn't figure out why. and then the longer I didn't blog, the more it seemed to matter. until I thought maybe I just wouldn't blog again ever.

but today I wanted to blog.

so I decided to just write whatever came to mind. old things, new things. strange things. and this is where we have ended up, for better or worse. I believe this is the place where I write the conclusion and we say goodbye. [but that might just be because I'm hungry.]

like I said, it's been a long time since I've blogged after dark.

until next time, friends. xo.

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