Dale Says

April 29, 2013

Cycling with Louise

Filed under: Colorful Characters — Dale @ 11:09 am

Cycling in New Zealand is one of the great pleasures in life! It’s a beautiful country filled with friendly people and gorgeous scenery, and seeing it on a bicycle is the best way to go.

Our bicycle tour was of the Otago Rail Trail, on the south island of New Zealand. The tour was fully supported by Adventure South, a New Zealand tour company. They supplied a guide, support bus, bike trailer, bikes, accommodation, and two meals per day. Our equipment included hybrid bikes with bags on the handlebars and rear, helmets, cyclometers, and water bottles. It was excellent equipment and completely appropriate for the conditions.

Louise Shilito, our guide, is
experienced, capable, helpful, and friendly. She kept us moving at a steady, comfortable pace throughout the trip
and treated us with a wonderful mix of patience and respect. She is hard- working and does it all – from hoisting our bikes on and off the trailer to pointing out flora and fauna and steering us to the best sights, restaurants, and night spots. One of her most delightful attributes (and there are many) is knowledge of where the best coffee is brewed along the route.

Louise is an excellent cyclist and she rode with us whenever she could, taking turns with us, carrying the conversation and pointing out highlights. Although she did innumerable large and small things for us that week perhaps the best was helping us fight a headwind the last day. She drove the support bus to the end of the trail, cycled out, and rode back to the finish line with each of us, encouraging us to the end. For that, she has our eternal gratitude!

At Odds with the World

Filed under: Colorful Characters — Dale @ 10:35 am

At Odds with the World

“We’re still at odds with the world …We employ two typewriters, some 3×5 card files, a stack of pencils and pens, and some carbon forms … Even the building we work in was built by us. Nail by nail, board by board, all by ourselves. Call us stubborn, antiques, dinosaurs. All compliments to us.”

“A Quarter of a Century,” Saturn Press, 2011

You can feel the difference when you hold one of their greeting cards in your hands. It has deep, rich colors; a lush texture; and impressions from the printing press. It feels like a human made it, and it has value.

That’s what Jane and Jim at Saturn Press hope you will feel; it’s what they are trying to achieve.

For more than a quarter of a century they have engaged their craft, designing and printing more than a million high-quality greeting cards each year, without the conveniences and trappings of modern technology. Their methods are old-fashioned and environmentally-friendly. They are quirky, and to some extent at odds with the world. They are unique.

Tranquil Setting

Saturn Press is located on Swan’s Island, a small, sparsely-populated isle a few miles off the coast of Maine. It’s a beautiful and tranquil setting. It’s also remote. The only way to get there is a 30-minute ferry ride from Bass Harbor on the mainland. The isolation affects every aspect of life, and for a business like Saturn Press, it means everything has to be brought to the island by ferry and taken out that way, too.

Their building is off the beaten path, nestled in a grove of trees, surrounded by a neatly-manicured garden with beds of ferns and irises. An array of windows on both floors of the two-story building bathes the interior in natural light, which makes it feel bright and cheerful.

Jane greets you at the door and offers a tour of the 5,000 square-foot building, which consists of a small display area where cards can be purchased, an office, a press room, and a small shipping area. Upstairs, Jane commands a design room, where next year’s holiday cards are in various stages of production.

Saturn Press was founded in 1986 by Jane Goodrich and James vanPernis (they refer to themselves as Grandma and Grandpa Letterpress). For the first few years they

designed and printed their cards in Jane’s garage; then in 1996 they moved to the Arts and Crafts style building they designed and built.

Jane is the design, marketing, and customer service departments, and Jim makes up maintenance and production. They are artists and craftspeople and they are fulfilled, but they are also modest. When asked if he is proud of what he does, Jim simply replied, “It suits me.”

There are no computers. Instead, they operate their business with telephones, two typewriters (one a manual typewriter from the 1940s), and a fax machine. That’s part of their quirkiness, and when you think about it, it’s remarkable.

Simply Beautiful Greeting Cards

Jane creates the cards by searching through her collection of “ephemera,” or images that were once used in ads or greeting cards. When she finds a suitable image, she creates her own version of it by hand; first sketching an outline and then adding color and a message. .

The cards are beautiful and they evoke a simpler time. The images are striking, yet unpretentious, and the messages are straight forward.

“If you obey all the rules you miss all the fun,” a card proclaims, quoting Katharine Hepburn. The image shows a woman sitting on a beach in a sleeveless blouse, sun hat, and long skirt, enjoying the sunshine.

Jane designs a catalog to display the cards and groups them in categories like “well said,” “the wisdom of women,” and “animal parade.” The cards are sold in the U.S., Canada, Australia, New Zealand, the U.K., and Japan. Orders are generated through the catalog, at trade shows, and by a handful of contract sales people.

Orders are filled by hand, often packed into re-cycled boxes or envelops, and hauled out to the post office, where they are delivered by ferry to the mainland, where they are distributed and sold. Their largest customers are the Victoria & Albert Museum in London, Whole Foods Supermarkets in the U.S., and upscale greeting card stores.

Printed with Skill and Patience

Saturn Press’s greeting cards are printed on four antique printing presses. Their first press was built in Chicago in 1932. Jim and Jane bought it in 1985 (for $800) and moved it in a rental truck (and ferry) to Swan’s Island. It still runs today, powered by its original eighty-year-old electric motor. Jim says the only care it requires is a few drops of oil and some tender loving care. It is joined by three other antique printing presses that Jim and Jane acquired over the years, and today the four presses stand side-by-side in the small printing room at Saturn Press. In their day, all four presses (Heidelberg and Miehle) were the finest of their kind.

When Jim receives a card proof from Jane, he selects and sets the type by hand and lines it up in a frame. He has accumulated a good-sized collection of lead type over the years from printers, who basically discarded it, and even from a monastery in Illinois.

He mixes printing ink by hand, stirring together colors until the blend is exactly the right shade.

Then he starts printing by loading card stock on one of the antique presses and starting the press. A metal arm picks up a sheet of paper and places it on the printing bed, where it is pressed by the inked type. The arm moves it aside and puts another in its place. On it goes, one card at a time, and the room is filled with the rhythm of mechanical clacks and thumps.

The process is repeated and each card passes through the printing press as many times as there are colors on it, so Jim often prints the cards several times. It’s a slow, tedious process that requires an infinite amount of patience.

Didn’t Mean to be Green

Their business is environmentally-friendly, although they say they “didn’t mean to be green.” Isolation and hardship forced them to adopt efficient methods a long time ago, and it’s now a natural part of the way they do business.

* They don’t discard equipment, so there’s no scrap or electronic waste. Their antique printing presses don’t use chemicals, and they go through less than one gallon of cleaning solvents per year.

* The electricity rates on Swan’s Island are high, so Jane and Jim minimize their electricity usage. They don’t have air conditioning, for example, or computers, and their building was designed to allow natural light. As a result, they use approximately the same amount of electricity as an average American home.

* Their paper is recycled and made to order for them, so there is little waste to discard.

* Garbage pick-up is not available and they “hate making the trip to the town dump,” so they have winnowed their total garbage output to two garbage cans, once a month. That’s less than the average home!

Being “green” has helped them contain their costs, and it also makes their business more predictable. An example: In 1999 their largest customer (Barnes and Noble) sent them an affidavit to sign and return stating there would be no problems filling orders associated with Y2K. Saturn Press was the only vendor to sign and return the form. No computers, no problems.

Adding to the World

It’s refreshing to know that an old-fashioned and environmentally-friendly business can still exist in today’s high-pressure, instant-communication world. Saturn Press is one that has survived for more than a quarter century, and the owners, who refer to themselves as Grandma and Grandpa Letterpress, are determined and somewhat eccentric artists who use ingenuity, craftsmanship, and old-fashioned technology to produce beautiful, high-quality greeting cards in a “green” manner.

Jim and Jane like to say they are at odds with the world. Maybe they are. But they also add to the world by creating beautiful images and words that help people share their sentiments with each other. And it seems to me that in many ways their methods of doing things make a whole lot of sense.

April 15, 2013

Sam and the Bear

Filed under: Colorful Characters — Dale @ 11:09 am

Sam was asleep when he first felt pressure on the side of his tent. He was exhausted from the day’s 20-mile hike and was sleeping soundly. At first he thought it was his dog trying to get in the tent, but as he awoke he remembered his dog hadn’t joined him on the hike. He shook himself awake and looked around. The moon cast a silhouette against the tent and outlined in the shadow was the profile of a bear!

Sam gathered his wits and lay perfectly still, hoping the bear would go away. But it continued to paw at the tent, trying to see what was inside. It swiped at the tent wall and hit Sam in the face, giving him a bloody nose.

Sam remembered having heard or read that one way to discourage bears was to play dead, so he curled into a fetal position and lay perfectly still. The bear continued to swipe at the tent, and the claws of one paw tore through the side of the tent and into Sam’s sleeping bag, leaving bloody scratch marks on Sam’s back. The bear poked its head through the tent and tried to get a grip on Sam’s neck with its jaw.

At that point, Sam realized he was in serious trouble. He was in a vulnerable position, with his back and neck exposed to the bear. He remembered his dog playing with stuffed animals, grabbing them by the neck and shaking them back and forth to “immobilize” them; Sam pictured the bear doing that to him and realized he had to do something. He gathered all his courage, leapt to his feet, made himself appear as large as possible, and screamed at the bear. “Go away!” he shouted, over and over, “Go away!”

The bear, caught unaware, was startled; it hadn’t expected a response. It grunted, backed away from the tent, and ran about 20 yards away into the trees beside the trail.

Sam remembers being astonished at how quick and strong the bear was; it jumped off his tent, ran 20 yards, and was in the trees looking at him by the time Sam got up to unzip his tent and look out.

Once outside his tent, Sam got his first good look at the bear. From the color and size, he estimated it was a medium-sized black bear, around 250 pounds, possibly a teenager. After a little shuffling near the trees, the bear made another run at Sam, running toward him on all fours. Sam considered trying to escape, but decided against it; he knew that bears are fast, are excellent at tracking their prey, and can climb trees. There was no where to go! So he did the only thing left to him – he shouted at the bear again. “Go away!” he yelled. “Get out of here!” Over and over he screamed at the bear, as loud as he could.

The bear, startled at this raucous creature, retreated into the trees.
Sam took inventory of his condition. He was bleeding from the nose and back, but in the dark he couldn’t tell how badly. His tent was torn and partially down. His sleeping bag was ripped where the bear had clawed through to get at him. And he was alone in the dark. He looked at his watch. It was 4:15 a.m., which meant the sun wouldn’t be up for another hour, and it wasn’t safe for him to hike in the dark. So he sat down, took out his tape recorder, switched it on, and began talking. He described the attack and said goodbye to his mother and friends, just in case. He was nervous that the bear (or its mother) might come back and finish him off.

Finally, daylight broke, and Sam gathered his things and headed down the trail, toward where he was to meet his mother, who was bringing supplies. He walked very quickly, trying to put as much distance between him and the bear as possible. As he saw his mother’s car come into view he finally relaxed, for the first time in hours. He was going to make it!

His mother gave Sam a huge hug when he arrived at her car and asked him how his hike had gone. “Great!” he replied, “Except I was attacked by a bear!”

“Yeah, right,” his mother said.

“No, really!” Sam told her, and he showed her his torn shirt and the scratch marks on his back.

Sam and his mother found a Park Ranger and told him about the bear. He told Sam he had done everything exactly right, and that he had been lucky. He would let everyone know there was a bear coming into camps, and put out an alert.

Note: In July of 2008, 16-year-old Sam McClure became the youngest person to solo thru-hike the Tahoe Rim Trail (TRT), completing the 165-mile journey around Lake Tahoe in ten days. Sam, a curly-headed blond teenager from Menlo Park, California, trained hard for the hike and persevered through several obstacles that included hiking off course, developing severe foot blisters, and sleepless nights caused by an inadequate tent and insect bites. The TRT is an ordeal for anyone and the route, which encompasses the mountain ridges of the Lake Tahoe Basin and crosses six counties and two states, has special challenges for a teenage boy hiking it by himself

Soldier on Skiis

Filed under: Colorful Characters — Dale @ 10:52 am

Duke grew up in Wisconsin and started skiing when he was six years old. After two years at college in Lacrosse, Wisconsin, he joined the Army and was assigned to the 10th Mountain Division from Colorado.

The 10th Mountain Division is a light infantry division of the United States Army that started out as an experiment to train skiers and climbers to fight in the most difficult, mountainous terrain in Europe. Some of the men who joined the division were skiers already, while others had never seen a ski in their lives.

Their training at Camp Hale, Colorado included skiing, snowshoeing and rock climbing. They also learned cold-weather survival tactics, such as keeping warm by building snow caves. The men lived in the mountains for weeks, working in altitudes of up to 13,500 feet, in five to six feet of snow and in temperatures that dropped to 20 degrees below zero at night.

In June 1944, the Division transferred to Camp Swift, Texas, for additional training until the division was deployed to Italy in January 1945. In Italy, the 10th Mountain Division served in combat for only four months, but had one of the conflict’s highest casualty rates.

By mid-January of 1945, the 14,000 men of the 10th Mountain Division had quietly and secretly moved into small villages surrounding these ridges in the northern Apennines area. There was a lot of work to be done in order to conquer the Germans located atop the ridges, and the 10th began planning possible routes up Riva Ridge.

Duke recalled this time and he told about a near-fatal experience. His jacket was torn, and he was sent to a friendly German woman to have it mended. She said that it was a big job but that she would do it. She suggested that he go in and lie down on her bed. He lay down for about half an hour. When he heard combat boots he got under the bed. It was a German searching squad. They recognized the American jacket. They came in and searched the bedroom but didn’t look under the bed. He waited. She came in with the jacket and told him to get out fast. “It was a real tight situation,” Duke remembers, but he escaped. “Or I wouldn’t be here right now talking to you,” he said.

On Feb. 18, 1945, the 10th Mountain Division took Riva Ridge — to prevent the Germans from being able to survey U.S. positions below — in a nighttime operation. Riva Ridge consisted of 2,000 vertical feet of rock and it was a sheer face covered in snow and ice, towering over the American soldiers in the valley below. At night, the Germans did not bother with guard patrols, because the conditions were so difficult that they did not believe any American unit could climb the ridge — day or night.

But the Germans were wrong, and the soldiers of the 10th climbed, silently, to the top and secured Riva Ridge with minimal casualties.

But then, the 10th Mountain Division was asked to overtake Mount Belvedere. That proved to be much more difficult, and the American soldiers ended up victorious, but not without a price: Nearly 1,000 of the 13,000 soldiers in the division died.

Duke recalled many of these missions, skiing in groups and using three kinds of snowshoes. The Ski Patrol wore both white uniforms and dark ones, depending on the surroundings. One time, on a mission working their way toward the enemy wearing Bearpaw snowshoes, one of his men got stuck and couldn’t move. Duke moved to the head of the line where the man was, and told him to fall on his back and then turn his snowshoes. Then Duke said, “Let’s get the hell out of here before we get shot!”

After Italy, Duke was sent to the European theater as a member of the Ski Patrol. He fought in the Battle of the Bulge, for which he received a Purple Heart. He was justifiably proud of his service in the Army and his service to his country.

A Place of Hope

Filed under: Colorful Characters — Dale @ 10:45 am

The hand-written poster in his house defines his philosophy:

“We didn’t inherit the world from our parents — we are borrowing it from our children.”

He is driven by an unshakable hope for a better future and believes that great things can be achieved when his diverse community works together. There are indications the efforts are paying off, but a great deal remains to be done.

His name is Afrika Moni and he guided us through the township of Imizamo Yethu, near Cape Town. He is a determined young man with a soft voice and a calm way of dealing with people. His goal of finding a better life for his community motivates him, and he has dedicated himself to helping achieve his dream.

Townships are South Africa’s slums. There are dozens of them throughout the country and they collectively house millions of people. Some folks moved to the townships when their neighborhoods were deemed “white only,” others came from rural areas of South Africa looking for work; still others are refugees from neighboring African countries.

This township is a few miles south of Cape Town, near the coastal city of Hout Bay. Here the contrast between wealth and poverty is striking.

Residents of Hout Bay are typically white and affluent and they live in some of the nicest houses in the country.

But across the street in Imizamo Yethu 20,000 people live in rows of shacks that sprawl on the hillsides. Their presence is resented by their wealthy neighbors and many are unemployed.
Imizamo Yethu began in the 1980s when thousands of South Africans moved to Cape Town looking for work and found a shortage of public housing. Some built shacks in the bushes, which was resented by the residents of Hout Bay.

In 1989 the local government developed a piece of land for settlement, which became the township. The city provided basic services such as streets, water, electricity and sewage, and residents were allowed to build temporary shelters. They named the settlement Imizamo Yethu (which in the local Xhosa language means “our combined effort”).

Now, 20 years later, the township has a church, a YMCA and community center, and a few small businesses. A police station has been built in Hout Bay to keep peace.

Homes are small; a few are brick and concrete, but most are scrap wood and tin. Some houses have running water; the rest share communal water facets. Most houses are supplied with limited electricity which must be supplemented by the residents.

Over the past few years there have been some improvements. Volunteers, including a group from Ireland, have built a few brick homes, and the South Africa government is putting up a few more. But most residents still live in shacks.

An elderly woman in a tin shack pleaded with us to help her get a better home.

“When the rains come, the water runs clear down to the floor,” she told us. “And I can hardly stand the noise on the roof.” She applied for a brick home, but has heard nothing.

The children of the township are dressed, though most are barefoot. They attend school in a nearby town and Afrika hopes they will stay in school because education is the best way out of the township.

Life in Imizamo Yethu is bleak, but there is hope.

We saw signs of hope in the faces of the children and in the voices of the people as they walked home in the evenings. Many were singing — they had made it through another day, and they had hope for tomorrow.

Afrika also has hope. He and others in the community hope to find a solution that will provide everyone decent living conditions.

High Praise from Ernesto

Filed under: Colorful Characters — Dale @ 10:32 am

If you could, would you be 28 years old again?

That question, among others, occupied our time while we cycled through Chile’s Lake District last November. We were on a seven-day guided bicycle tour of southern Chile’s lakes and volcanoes, enjoying a spring-time glimpse of one of the most beautiful places on earth, accompanied by a 28-year-old guide.

So we cycled past blue mountain lakes and snow-capped volcanoes and debated the pros and cons of being 28 again.

The merits were easy: more energy, fewer aches and pains, and a chance to avoid the mistakes we had made in our growing-up years.

There would be drawbacks, too; like having to repeat all those years of tedious jobs, tight finances, and temperamental kids.

Then we introduced a condition: we could go back to being 28, knowing what we know now. Well, that made it easy; that meant we could re-do those wonderful years without repeating the blunders we had made along the way.

Chile may not be at the top of your travel list. It wasn’t high on mine, but my wife was there a couple of years ago and she found it a wonderful place to explore. So we booked a guided bike tour of the Lake District in November of 2007.

Chile is a narrow strip of land that runs a very long way along the western edge of South America, from the Pacific Ocean to the summit of the Andes Mountains.

The Lake District is two-thirds of the way down Chile’s coast, about 400 miles south of Santiago. This picturesque segment of Chile includes coastal cities, ancient forests, mountain lakes, and magnificent snow-capped volcanoes. It’s a beautiful part of the world, and a great place to explore on bicycles. The scenery reminded us of Switzerland, New Zealand, and the Oregon coast.

It was springtime in Chile, so we were treated to green pastures, blooming flowers, and new life. At one point we rode past newborn twin calves, and we sat on our bikes and watched them get on their legs for the first time.

Ernesto, our cycling guide, rode with us and served as escort, naturalist, and motivator. He is a competitive (former country champion) mountain bike racer, who is now studying to be an adventure tour guide. He’s 28, handsome, and built like a Tour De France rider. I admit that I was intimidated by him at first; after all he’s young and talented, has legs of steel, and unlimited energy.

Ernesto literally rode circles around us for a week; rotating among us, checking to see how we were doing and offering encouragement. After we finished our daily 4-5 hour cycling tour, Ernesto would ride his mountain bike around a lake, or up a mountain, while we soaked in a hot tub or relaxed in our rooms.
Each day brought new beauty, and on the third day we rode along the shores of two spectacular lakes then cycled around Villarrica volcano, past beach towns and green rolling hills, and through protected native forests. At one point we could see five magnificent volcanoes in the distance. We spent that night in the Natural Reserve of Huilo Huilo, in a very special inn, the Magic Mountain Lodge.

Our day of “rest” turned out to be very active, with hiking, a canopy tour of the forest, and a long soak in a wooden-log hot tub.

The next day we cycled over rolling hills with the beautiful beaches of Lake Puyehue on one side, green pastures on the other, and the snow-capped Andes looming in the distance. Near the end of the day we garnered up a burst of energy to ride up the final hill to the fantastic Termas de Puyehue Hotel where we enjoyed thermal baths, a wonderful local buffet dinner, and dreamed of the sights we had seen.

Our last day of cycling took us to the shores of beautiful Lake Llanquihue and the perfect cone of Osorno Volcano. The snow-capped volcano appeared to rise directly out of the lake, and offered wonderful views most of the day. We passed through the charming village of Ensenada, and then rode on to the Vicente Perez Rosales National Park and the dramatic Petrohué Falls. We spent the night in the charming German-style city of Puerto Varas, where we had an emotional farewell dinner.

I mentioned earlier that our bike guide, Ernesto, was a 28-year-old mountain bike champion, and that we were somewhat intimidated by his cycling ability. But the more we got to know him, the more comfortable we became.

Ernesto absorbed everything we told him about U.S. culture and what other tour groups might like, and taught us about Chile’s flora and fauna. He showed us a grove of ancient Araucana trees, which are revered by the Mapuches, and told about colihue, bamboo that flowers once every nine years in such profusion that it’s accompanied by an outbreak of rodents, who feast on the blossoms.

So we grew fond of Ernesto and welcomed his cycling hints and encouragement. We learned to accept his youth and energy, and pushed to cycle harder.

And we realized that being 28 was good; as was being our age.

There are a lot of wonderful moments to savor from our week in Chile. One of my favorites came after Ernesto talked me up a long, steep hill to our hotel for the night then rode with me to the entrance and quietly told me he thought I was a “good rider.” Coming from Ernesto, that was very high praise.

April 11, 2013

Christine MacKensie

Filed under: Colorful Characters — Dale @ 2:34 pm

Yesterday we interviewed Christine MacKensie. She is 98 and a retired Public Health Nurse.

We didn’t know what a public health nurse is, so she filled us in.

Christine was a pioneer in the field of Public Health Nursing, having started in it in the 1930s, in Utah and California.

Public Health Nurses don’t treat patients directly. Instead, they advise local doctors and governments how to protect peoples’ health through sanitary water and sewage, immunizations, educating pregnant women, etc.

As you can image, there weren’t many public health nurses in the 1930s, and she had to blaze a lot of trails.

Christine helped set up programs all over the western US and Asia, including living and working in Thailand, Taiwan, Japan, etc.

That was quite an adventure for a single woman in those days.

Today, Christine is 98 and in excellent health. She walks without a cane or walker, doesn’t wear hearing aids, and lives on her own. She told us that “some day, I suppose they will take me out of here in a hearse, but today I feel fine.”

Christine is a remarkable person!

Jennifer Restores our Faith

Filed under: Colorful Characters — Dale @ 2:25 pm

We had explored Istanbul for four days and had been enchanted by its rich history and beauty. We had also been hounded by rug vendors at the Spice Market, Grand Bazaar, and most everywhere we went.

We met Jennifer our last day in Istanbul in her coffee and tea shop, where we were looking for Turkish “treats” for our family and friends. Originally from Canada, Jennifer had fallen in love with Turkey and its people during a visit, and she moved to Istanbul and founded Java Studio in 2007.

Jennifer struck up a conversation with us, and when she found out we wanted to buy a carpet she suggested we go to a shop owned by her friend. After three days of being “hit up” by carpet vendors in Istanbul, we were suspicious, but she won us over with her warmth and sincerity.

Jennifer turned her business over to a colleague, walked with us to the store, and stayed with us while we looked at carpets, debated, and negotiated with the owner. She patiently waited while we paid, then walked back to her store with us, telling us about her life in Turkey. When we thanked her, she told us, “The pleasure was all mine. Going there with you was like a mini day off for me, so I’m the one that should thank you.”

Jennifer wished us farewell, gave us a hug, and then disappeared into her store. She had enriched our Istanbul experience and restored our faith in people.

Thank you, Jennifer!

The Scarf Ladies

Filed under: Colorful Characters — Dale @ 2:21 pm

Most Turkish women wear head scarves, and as we traveled around the country we noticed a wide variety of colors and styles.

Younger women tend toward colorful scarves with matching jackets, while older women wear black or white. We were told that each has a meaning.

We cycled past three ladies in white head scarves outside Dalyan, a small town on the south-western coast of Turkey. They were walking home after shopping in town, accompanied by a young woman we took to be their daughter. We admired their scarves, which were adorned with intricate hand-stitched embroidery.

The scarf ladies seemed pleased by our attentions and made it known they had done the stitching themselves.

The older women invited us to their house for tea. We were touched by their generosity, but had to decline, as we needed to catch the rest of our group. We hopped back on our bikes, waved good-bye, and took off. They resumed their journey home, chattering about their time with us. I hope they enjoyed it as much as we did.

Sharing His Roses

Filed under: Colorful Characters — Dale @ 2:19 pm

We stopped to admire roses near the small village of Fevziye. They grew on a fence above a stone wall, next to the path on which we were cycling. The blossoms were at their peak; fully open, deep red, and fragrant.

An old man in the yard saw us, got up from his chair, and walked over to see what we were doing. We thought he was coming to chase us away.

The old man’s face was weathered, his front teeth were missing, and he steadied himself with a hand-carved wooden stick. But there was a twinkle in his eyes and a look of contentment in his face. He knew no English and our Turkish was limited, so we communicated through hand gestures, telling him how beautiful his roses were.

The old man smiled and reached over the fence, picked one of the best blossoms, and handed it to us. His face radiated pride and friendship.

As we rode off, the old man smiled and waved, then shuffled back to his chair. We had made his day, and he had made ours.

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