Two of the most intense of the four elements are fire and ice (ice being the frozen form of water). Touch either with your bare hand, and you will feel their contact. Journey with me through the fire of a California mountain wildfire, where my cozy life as a rich housewife and mother burned up. I walked through fire to find a new life teaching English in frozen Russia. Missing my children, my heart like ice, I learned to walk across the frozen rivers of Samara. Read about this journey in my “Fire and Ice” book. Watch my Youtube video that I narrated with my own voice. Know that you, too, can survive contact with the wildest elements.
Do you ever feel like you’re in a situation that is impossible to escape? Selah the slave girl felt this way. She had always been a slave, and escape from her master and the stone walls of his Keep seemed as unlikely as opening a locked, iron door with only her fingertips.
One day, a stranger appeared at the Master’s table. He spoke to Selah as she filled his glass with water she had fetched from the desert well.
“Tonight you will be free,” Micah promised, his face partly hidden by the green hood of his cloak.
He slipped a cold object into her hot, weary hand–a snowflake that did not melt. That very night, Micah led Selah through a secret door, across the desert, and to the distant mountains where rain fell, rivers flowed among trees toward lakes, and snow gathered at the Summit.
Once I felt like I would never escape an abusive marriage. I wrote my prisoner’s emotions into my fantasy novel. Journey with me and Selah the slave girl to a mountaintop that touches stars. Maybe you, too, will find escape.
After my big, professional Olympus camera broke in a rain storm at the Black Sea, I bought a little waterproof Fujifilm camera that can easily fit in my hand or pocket. At Mermerlı Beach in Kaleiçi, Antalya, I tested my waterproof camera for the first time by taking it swimming with me. It worked!
Antalya has many lovely beaches such as the long, famous Konyaaltı Beach further west of the Old City’s Kaleiçi area, but my favorite is this little swimming cove at the bottom of stairs in the old castle walls beneath a restaurant. You must enter the beach through Mermerlı Restaurant, pay only 10 TL for the day, walk down the fairly steep stairs, and enjoy a sunny afternoon relaxing on a lounge chair. If you’re like me, you’ll do more swimming than relaxing. Don’t forget a waterproof camera!
Read about Antalya and see more photos here:
Some people prefer lounging in the sun, but I’d rather be swimming with my camera
Looking up from the swimming cove toward the Mermerlı Restaurant
The Mermerlı Restaurant offers views of the Mediterranean Sea and distant mountains
Hagia Sophia (“Ayasofya” in Turkish) was dedicated as a Christian church in 360 A.D. Famous for its Byzantine dome, it was the world’s largest cathedral for 1000 years and the focus of the Greek Orthodox Church. It contained holy relics, colorful mosaics, and painted icons (portraits of angels and saints) on silver walls. In 1453, Sultan Mehmed II conquered Constantinople (the former name of Istanbul). He ordered Ayasofya (which was still the largest building in the world) to be converted into a mosque. The bells, altar, and icons were removed, and the mosaics were plastered over. Islamic features such as four tall minarets were added. Ayasofya was used as a mosque until 1931 when the Republic of Turkey, under the secular democratic leadership of Mustafa Kemel Ataturk, ordered it to be made into a museum.
Since then, millions of Christians have come from around the world to admire Ayasofya’s arches, windows, stone carvings, and tile mosaics that highlight Jesus, Mary, and even Byzantine leaders (each with an amazing story to accompany the art). Most Istanbul tours are organized around a visit to Ayasofya, and every day tourist buses can be seen around the historical landmark while tourists stroll along with their cameras. You can even take a virtual tour online.
We can see patterns in Ayasofya’s architecture and mosaics just as we can see patterns in the stars above us and in nature all around our world. We can even see patterns in history and in human behavior. See more photos of Ayasofya and read about what’s happening there now:
A family strolls along a hill by tulips in Seka Park, Izmit, Kocaeli
Spring has finally come to Turkey, and people enjoy walking outside in the sunshine, strolling through parks, planning weddings, and admiring tulips, an important flower for Turkey that can be found in tourism symbols, hand-made lace, and jewelry. Grown natively in Anatolia for centuries, tulips were first introduced to Europe by a German ambassador to the Ottoman Empire in the 16th Century. Tulips were the symbol of the Ottoman Empire, courtly romance, and love. Only the rich and refined could truly grow tulips, display them in their homes, draw paintings of them, and write them into poetry. The golden age of the Ottoman Empire, in the 18th Century, was called the Tulip Era (“Lale Devri” in Turkish).
My Turkish husband Ömer and I in the park
A duck enjoys the spring sunlight and a bath in a fountain
Turkish tulips shine in the sunlight
Hi, I’d like to share with you the story of my author friend Tania Elizabeth from Australia. She is supporting children through Starlight Children’s Foundation. Here is her bio and a bit about her book.
Tania was born in a little mining town called Dysart in Central Queensland. It was to be however that much of her childhood was then spent living in Cairns by the Great Barrier Reef in Northern Queensland. What a magnificent childhood she had in her possession. Many of her weekends were spent in the countryside and the Rainforests of the Atherton Tablelands where Tania would loose herself in her imagination along with her siblings and cousins in abundance. Tania’s father, Lionel began to enlighten her on how to meditate and understand the sagacity of energy. Continue reading
Life is full of contrasts: good and evil, sunlight and darkness, growth and destruction. This week from Turkey, I have watched sad news from America. Terrorists exploded bombs in Boston, killing a little boy, a university student, and a young woman. While the bombers fled the scene of mangled bodies and splattered blood that they left behind them, police officers, doctors, and bystanders ran to help the injured. It seems that we all have a choice to hurt or to heal. Like Fire and Ice, contrasts lurk everywhere around us. It takes years to grow a child, a family home, or a forest tree. It takes only seconds to destroy one. May we have the courage to choose the slower path of life instead of the instant flash of destruction.
A field fire in Waimate, New Zealand, where I used to live
Contrasting twins from a “Nutcracker” ballet show colorful reasons to choose life
Spring is here, and women all around Turkey are planning weddings. There is something lovely in the pale, candle-light color of lace on a wedding dress. In Turkey, wedding gowns are amazing. I hope you enjoy my little lacy photos. Read about the cultural traditions for “Weddings in Turkey” on Digital Journal and see more photos if you like. Sweet romance!