Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Billy in Ibiza

Last week my son-in-law's father took his whole family away to Ibiza for a week.  Billy's first holiday abroad.  A good time was had by all.  Unfortunately Stella's camera broke at the beginning of the holiday.  Such a shame as she takes wonderful photos...all those of Billy that appear on my blog are taken by her.

But she managed to obtain a few from the rest of the family and here are a couple:

Billy on his way!

All this swimming is so exhausting Grandad!

Treading carefully... what I am doing right now.  With Mr Ayak that is.

He arrived home safely.  He wasn't in the mood to talk.  He tried to sleep but that didn't work.  He sat quietly for a while and then he  started to talk about his next business idea.  I'm already aware of it anyway because we looked at small shops for rent in Milas last week.  He has a friend who asked him months ago whether he wanted to go into business with him, but the Hamam was already up and running.

I'd like him to slow down a bit...give himself chance to clear his head.  But I guess for him it's a bit like falling off a horse and needing to get back on again as soon as possible.

He contacted the friend and went into Milas to see him this evening.   I'm treading carefully because I'm worried that if he rushes into something else so quickly, it may fail and he will be even more depressed than he is I'm not really saying much...just letting him talk.

We used to call it manic depression when I worked in the mental health field.  Nowadays it's called Bi-polar Disorder.  I'm pretty certain he is heading in this directon.  One minute he is down, the next he is frantically dashing around or talking so fast he doesn't stop for breath.

It's now almost 2.30am.  He's still in the sitting room on his laptop.  He can't wind down.  And because he can't...I can't.

He had words with the General Manager at the hotel today.  He told him straight that if he was able to earn money he would pay him...but at this point in time it was impossible.  The GM said he would take him to court...Mr A said go ahead.  What else can you say? You can't get blood out of a stone!

So I think he is intending to go back to the Hamam tomorrow and stick it out as long as possible, and presumably at the same time try to get this new business off the ground.

It would be so much more beneficial for Mr A if he could just take some time off,  to relax and start again when he is ready.  But he knows he has to earn money...we have to he'll just keep going.

Difficult times.

Monday, 30 August 2010

I'm worried....

...about Mr Ayak.  He is showing signs of being very depressed.  The deadline for one of the business rental instalments is due tomorrow.  He's paid half but he hasn't a cat in hell's chance of paying the rest.

I've been on the phone on and off this morning and he is so low he is talking about not wanting to live anymore.  That really worries me.   I think he may well have to just walk away from this bloody business for the sake of his health.

In fact I have asked him to come home today.  I'm more concerned about him than how much he owes...and I want him here so that I can take care of him.  Bugger everyone else...he's done his best and it was clearly not  enough.  He just feels that he is completely useless.

I should be able to deal with this.  It was my job for many years.  I suffer from depression myself.  I should have all the answers...but I don't really know what to do for the best.

I don't know if I should even be blogging about this, but I'm filling the time.  I'm waiting for him to arrive and I'm worried about him getting here on the motorbike safely.  I just want him  And it does help my state of mind to write about it.  It makes me feel calmer...stronger...and that's just how I need to be now.

Saturday, 28 August 2010


I don't like aubergines.  In fact I really hate them.  I know I've told Mr Ayak this many times, so I don't know why he keeps bringing them home.

He bought some home ages ago..well it must have been quite a long time ago, because it was the last visit home he made before he came yesterday.

I try adding them to stews and casseroles.  I pretend they're not aubergines and hope that the taste of all the other ingredients will overpower them and I won't notice when I eat them.  But I do notice, and after one mouthful, the rest get pushed to the side of the plate.  I could try disguising them...Heiko made aubergine and chocolate jam (have a look at his blog for the recipe if it appeals to you) and even though I adore chocolate, I just can't bring myself to try making it.  I mostly give them to my neighbour because I wouldn't dream of throwing them away.

With the last lot that arrived, I made a moussaka and put it in the freezer...where it stayed until Mr A arrived home in the early hours of Thursday morning to spend the day here.  I defrosted it and thought we could eat it before he returned to the hotel.  Unfortunately, we'd had breakfast, and a snack in Milas, and he had to return at 5.00pm so neither of us were hungry before he left.

I put it in the fridge but knew I would have to attempt to eat it today.  So I fished about in it and removed all the aubergine slices so that I could face eating what was left.  Whilst I was doing this, Beki was standing next to me in the kitchen with her nose in the air, hoping for a tidbit.  So I gave her a piece of aubergine.  She loved it.  Now I know for a fact that she will take something from my hand and eat it, but if I put it in her dish there's every likelihood that she won't touch it.  But I thought I'd try anyway, and she ate the whole lot!

I doubt if Mr Ayak will ever remember that I don't like aubergines.  He'll still keep bringing them home.  But at least I know what to do with them now!

Friday, 27 August 2010

It's not what you know but who you know!

I' ve mentioned many times on my blog about the problems I experience with the internet.  I am not the least bit technically minded.  Most of the time I have to rely on the help of others...mostly my brother-in-law, but he is often very busy and I hate to keep asking him to help.

Otherwise if I can't wade through all this techy stuff and sort out the problem myself by trial and error (mostly error) I have to resort to phoning TTNet customer services.  This is almost always a last resort because I make so many calls, and each time I get a different operator..who tells me what the problem is but somehow doesn't seem able to resolve it.  So every call means I have to repeat the details of the problem again...and each time I'm given a different solution...and guess what?  It doesn't solve the problem.

A few months ago I changed my telephone tariff in the Turk Telekom offices in Milas.  I had problems with it on my return home, and when I phoned TTelekom I was able to locate a lovely man called Mr Keleş.  He speaks English...the only person in the building who does.  I know it's my own fault that my Turkish just isn't good enough to be able to deal effectively with problems that arise but I do my best...technical Turkish however just eludes me.

Mr Keleş is charming.  He has such patience, and he sorted out the telephone problem for me. When I have an internet problem now I do ring TTNet customer service, because I know this is the correct procedure.  However, Mr Keleş has told me that if I get no satisfaction from them, then I am to call him and he will try to help.  He has even given me his mobile number in case the problem is urgent.  He says that even if he is off duty it's OK for me to ring, because if for example I lose my internet connecion, he will most likely be able to offer advice...and I did do this on one occasion and as usual he was very helpful.. telling me that there was a general cable problem and how long it would be out of action.

For a couple of weeks now I have had problems with running my UK TV website.  It just keeps freezing every few seconds, then I lose the picture altogether.  I have followed the website procedures for this problem...speedtests, pingtests, temporarily disabling my antivirus protection.   And finally it was suggested that I didn't have sufficient bandwidth and should contact my internet provider.  (Please bear in mind I don't really understand any of this...I just follow instructions).

So for the past week I have made numerous calls to TTNet to establish if I am in fact on the correct tariff...the one I was assured I was on when I first downloaded the UK website. I was given so many contradictory answers that I ended up utterly confused.  The final conversation ended with the operator telling me that I had to contact TTelekom/TTNet in Milas because I was obviously on the wrong tariff.  I don't want to say anything bad about the TTNet call centre operators, because they are always so nice and they do try to help...they just don't seem to be trained terribly well.

 Early in the week I spoke to Mr Keleş and he checked my tariff.  He says I am on the correct one, and before attempting to do anything further I should contact the TV website to establish whether they have any general problems which would affect my reception.  Then to ring him again if this was not the case. 

I took my laptop with me to Mr A's hotel on Tuesday, logged on to my website, and it ran perfectly. On my return home I had the freezing problem again so clearly the website is OK.  

This morning I phoned Mr Keleş and explained all this, and he has just spent the past hour going from one department to another to get more advice, phoning me back, getting me to switch my modem off...then on again.  He then increased my speed...told me to check the website...and it was running much better.  "Is it perfect though?" he asked.  "Well not quite" I answered.  So we did more switching off and on of the modem, logging in, him dashing back and forth and calling me back...and finally the speed has been increased a bit more and my website is running perfectly.

Now I don't get how this was done but I am delighted of course....and have told Mr Keleş how extremely grateful I am for all the help he gives me.  He says it's no problem.  I can ring whenever I need to.

I have never even met Mr Keleş but I think I may pop into his offices next week with some baklava as a thankyou.   You may think Mr Keleş is unique when it comes to service way above the call of duty...but you would be wrong.  He is a typical example of the way these lovely people are always so willing to go the extra mile to be of service.

An Update:  After all this...there I am happily watching my TV website with perfect reception...and suddenly...nothing!  Can't log in...can't get channels.   So I phoned the TV website in the UK who at first said it was a problem  my end...but after several emails to and fro...they have now admitted it's a fault at their end.  This is quite unconnected to the problems above of course, but it's bloody irritating that after weeks of trying to get it sorted...I finally do...then lose it again.   Oh well that's life I guess!

Facebook Users

I'm always aware of security and privacy issues on Facebook, so in case any of you use Facebook and didn't know about this, I'm posting it here.

Facebook launched Facebook Places yesterday. Anyone can find out where you are when you are logged in. It gives the actual address & map location of where you are as you use Facebook. Make sure your kids know. TO UNDO: go to"Account", "Account Settings", "Notifications", then scroll
down to "Places" and uncheck the 2 boxes. Make sure to SAVE changes"

..and maybe it's a good idea to post the above on your Facebook status, as I have.   It doesn't concern me on a personal level, because of where I live, but I do worry about all the young kids using Facebook, who may well be on their computers at home alone.   So please make your kids aware!

ETA:  I would mention that the above was copied from one of my Facebook friends' status...someone who is trustworthy... so I'm passing this on in good faith, without being able to check the accuracy.  But I thought it better to be safe than sorry.

Thursday, 26 August 2010

A nasty shock and a nice surprise!

Yesterday afternoon while I was taking a shower I got an electric shock.  Scared me half to death.  I was holding the shower head which is metal, and we had a power cut.  There was a popping sound and a flash and I felt the shock and dropped the shower head immediately.   I had tingling in my hand for a few seconds, and apart from feeling anxious, I was fine. 

I don't know enough about electricity to understand why this happened.  Although the shower is electric, it is switched off until the winter as we have solar panels on the roof to heat the water, and the only other electrical item switched on at the time was the ceiling light.   Maybe someone can explain why this would have happened?

And the nice surprise?  Mr Ayak came home around 2 'o 'clock this morning and stayed all day today.  He just left at 5pm.  It's been absolutely ages since he's been home and after breakfast this morning we headed off into Milas to do a few things.   We looked at small shops to rent as he has an idea for another business when the season finishes at the Hamam at the end of October.  I won't go into detail yet, because it's still early stages.  However he has already paid a small "gesture deposit" on a Hamam at a hotel in Didim for next year.   The rental is far less than the one he has now, and having experienced and learned from all the problems this year, maybe next year will be better.   But I am as always philosophical when it comes to Mr Ayak and his adventures.  After 12 years, nothing surprises me, and in spite of the ups and downs, we always manage to survive...and at least we are still together....and that's a surprise in itself sometimes I can tell you!

We did some food shopping and returned home, and Mr A fixed some chicken wire to the balcony gate and railing to stop Poppy from squeezing through.   We've been meaning to do this for ages.  Now that we're heading out of summer and there will be a bit more shade on the balcony, she can spend time out there with Beki instead of in her doggy house, without my having to constantly watch to make sure she doesn't escape over the garden wall.

So now he's gone...the house looks like a bomb has hit it.  How is it that men can make such a mess in such a short time?

Wednesday, 25 August 2010

I love this.... of Billy.

Relaxing with my friend and a few nibbles!

This is a practise post to see if I could get rid of the dark blue background on my previous post and add a caption to this seems to have worked! 

And it's another excuse to post up a photo of my darling grandson, who is on holiday this week in Ibiza.  A treat for all of my son-in-law's family from his father.   Oh and I do miss seeing Billy on webcam...can't wait for their return!

Roll on Autumn

It's still extremely hot and humid, but there are small signs that Autumn is around the corner. The sun is rising later so it's cooler for  longer in the morning. I can get up a little later than 5.30am to water the garden.

(I thought I'd mastered the art of adding captions to the following pics...but it seems not....Fly...if you're!)

So I'll just tell you that the pic of the sunrise was taken at 6.30am rather than 5.30am.   Beki and Poppy enjoying the cool morning air.

My fig tree is looking wonderful.  It's producing fruit later this year, but not all at once, which is great and enables me to pick a few as and when I need them

I just need my mental alarm clock to stop waking me up at 5.00am....I really need a lie-in!

Monday, 23 August 2010

A bit too soft sometimes.....

...that's me!  And Mr Ayak.  We try to be tough about things....well I encourage him and he encourages me, so we don't get completely walked all over, or fail to muster up the courage to say what we really feel.  But sometimes it's difficult.

The old woman next door...the one with a donkey, 2 cows, 3 goats and I think taking advantage of my good nature.  She often asks for one onion, one potato, one tomato, of course if I have what she wants I give it to her.  I never get anything back.

If I go down to the shop in the village to get bread, she sees me and asks me to get some for her.  I'm happy to do this.  A couple of weeks ago, she said she didn't have any money to pay for it, so I just gave her the bread and said "don't worry about it".  However since then she hasn't even offered to pay for the bread.  And I'm just too soft to stop buying it for her.  Bread's cheap enough so it's not a big problem, but part of me is feeling a bit cross because I don't have the courage to ask for the money.  I know I should because she's probably better off than I am at the moment.

I was over at the hotel today.  When I arrived, one of the hotel customers was using Mr Ayak's laptop to download his photos onto a memory stick.   This is now a common occurrence..not just the downloading of photos, but a constant stream of people logging on to check their emails, Facebook or whatever.  I had said to Mr A before now that he perhaps should only offer the use of the laptop to customers of the Hamam, and that anyone else should be charged.  After all they would have to pay in an internet cafe wouldn't they?  But Mr A is too soft, he can't say no when someone asks.  Anyway shortly before I left today, and after about 6 or 7 more  hotel guests had used the of suddenly developed a virus.   It's now gone off to be repaired by a computer engineer at goodness knows what cost.  And who's going to pay for the repair?  Well Mr A of course.   Had he started charging for the use of it in the first place, he would have at least some money set aside for repairs.

In a way I'm glad it's happened, because Mr A says that he is now not going to allow anyone else to use the laptop.  But I don't know whether to believe him...because someone will ask..and he won't be able to say no.

I went straight into Milas this afternoon to get my hair cut.  I last had it cut about 6 weeks ago, and at the same time I had the colour done.  I liked the colour at the time, but after less than two weeks it had faded badly and looked awful.   I should have had the courage to go back to the hairdresser and complain.  But I didn't.  I bought a DIY hair colour from the supermarket and did it myself.   And actually it turned out far better than the hairdresser's attempts, and is still looking good 6 weeks later.  Fortunately the colour was on special offer and also had two packs in one, so I bought a couple, which will last me quite some time.

So I was kind of dreading going to the hairdresser, because I was sure he would ask about the colour.  It's clearly a different shade, so I was sure he would notice.  And naturally I intended to tell him that I did it myself because I was unhappy with the job he did.

I even considered going to a completely different hairdresser to get my hair cut because I was embarrassed at facing him.  But he does cut well, so off I went.   Well...can you believe it...he just said "the colour has lasted well".   And I just said "yes".  How pathetic is that?  Now if I continue as planned to colour my own hair, I'm going to face this problem again the next time I go for a haircut.   I should just tell him the truth, but I'm too soft and hate offending people.

It's really time to toughen up...learn to say no...and develop enough courage to say what I really mean!

Friday, 20 August 2010

Parental responsibility

I did a blog post  recently about a 9 year old girl who died in a rafting accident here in Turkey, and I was dismayed  at the parents' decision in allowing  a young child to take part in such a dangerous activity.

Today there is a story in the Daily Mail here concerning a 3 year old girl who managed to climb into a bear pit in a zoo in Germany.  She was there with her sibling and her parents, and it seemed she managed to climb into the pit whilst they weren't looking.

For god's sake!  Why weren't they looking?  Surely two parents can be responsible for two children?  Apparently the father then climbed in to rescue her.  They were both injured, but thankfully not seriously.   And I hope with all my heart that the bear who attacked them is not destroyed as a result of this recklessness on the part of the parents.  After all the bear was only protecting his territory.

I do wonder if some parents feel that their children can do as they please, while they (the parents) just ignore them.

I was sitting over at the hotel yesterday and watched as a young boy, about 3 years old, systematically pulled up flowers and plants from the hotel garden...while his parents sat a few yards away.   They glanced over at him occasionally, but not once did either of them tell him to stop.

I was seething.  I wanted to tell the parents to take responsibility for their son.  I wanted to gently explain to the little boy that it was wrong to do this.   I didn't though.  You just can't interfere these days can you?  Well of course if it had been a Turkish child and parents, I would have spoken to the little boy and the parents, because they would have accepted it.  But these were foreign tourists.  I didn't feel it was my place to intervene.  It's not my hotel...not my responsibility...these are guests of the hotel, so it's up to the hotel staff to deal with it.   Or maybe the hotel are happy to let people wreck the place? Who knows?  No-one did anything about it.  Eventually he got bored and went back to sit with his parents.  I was relieved, because it was all I could do to stop myself from rushing over to put a stop to it.

None of us are perfect parents...I certainly wasn't.  But is it wrong to expect parents to put the safety of their children first, and not take their eyes off them for one minute?  And is it wrong to teach our children respect for people and property?

Thursday, 19 August 2010

Mr Grumpy and Mr Cheerful

It's been a strange time recently.  Every time I go to the hotel to see Mr Ayak, I never know what mood I'll find him in.  It's like treading on eggshells sometimes.

He's mostly a very cheerful kind of guy...everyone who knows him will tell you the same.  He makes friends easily and he's generous...even when he can't afford to be.  He would give you the shirt off his back if you wanted it.   In fact he did just that once...a few years ago, when some young man who was working with him at the time was getting married.  This man was very hard up and really hadn't anything decent to wear to his wedding, so Mr A gave him the lovely linen shirt that I had bought him as a birthday present.   Of course I didn't mind (well I was actually a bit peeved when he first told me...but when I knew the full story I was quite happy for him to give it away).

He's also very trusting... which often backfires on him.  I think these characteristics have worked against him since he started this business.  I sometimes feel he's perhaps not quite ruthless enough.  The whole thing is causing him so much stress and he can see that he needs to toughen up a bit.   But instead of becoming tougher and ruthless...he's becoming grumpy instead.

OK...of course he has had occasional bouts of grumpiness over the years, but they are usually shortlived.  I only have to say something funny or try to tickle him...and grumpiness disappears.  But the grumpiness he is exhibiting at the moment isn't so easy to shake off.

I went to the hotel on Tuesday and we had a heated disagreement over something very trivial.  He needed someone to blame for everything and on that day it just happened to be me.   I spoke to him on the phone later in the evening, when he had calmed down and he did apologise.

Today, however, I was greeted by Mr Cheerful....Mr A was quite his normal self...I'm relieved to say.  He was very attentive...getting me cups of coffee, and lunch, and asking me how I am and how I'm coping at home.   It was such a pleasure to spend time with him today.  This is the Mr A that I know and love, but who has made very rare appearances just lately.

I'm hoping today is a sign that Mr Grumpy is on his way out and that Mr Cheerful is back to stay!

Monday, 16 August 2010

Natural Yoghurt

My favourite breakfast at the moment is natural yoghurt with figs just picked from my trees, and a drizzle of honey...delicious!

Some of my pomegranates are  ready now so I have also tried the juicy seeds sprinkled on my yoghurt....also delicious.

Yoghurt is extensively used in Turkey, accompanying most savoury dishes.  I love yoghurt and never get fed up with it.  I know it's good for me, but I thought I would explore the internet for more information on the health benefits of yoghurt. 

The primary benefits of natural yoghurt are simply a result of the potassium, calcium, B12 and other B vitamins and protein that it contains.

The claimed benefits of yoghurt include:

reduced gastrointestinal infections

improved immune system (resistance to illness and infection)

greater resistance to cancer

reduced incidence of osteoporosis

treatment of, and reduction of the symptoms of, thrush

lactose intolerant people can often consume yoghurt, because the enzymes in the yoghurt help reduce the lactose levels in the intestines - thus gaining the benefits contained in all milk based products (above all calcium)

improved absorption of calcium in the intestine, because the lactic acid in the yoghurt provides the perfect environment for this absorption to occur
It's also believed that yogurt can lower cholesterol. There are a few studies that have shown that yogurt can reduce the blood cholesterol. This may be because the live cultures in yogurt can assimilate the cholesterol or because yogurt binds bile acids, (which has also been shown to lower cholesterol), or both
There was a report by the BBC in 2005 that  also indicated that  yoghurt could help beat bad breath, tooth decay and gum disease.
The first evidence of yoghurt being eaten dates form 2500 BC.

Certainly the first yoghurt would have been discovered accidentally, with milk being left too long in the sun or a warm place. How long it took before somebody announced that the rancid milk had become a tasty dessert is less clear...

It is likely that the climate in India, Asia and southern Europe was responsible for yoghurt being found there long before cooler climates. It has also been suggested that the nomadic Bulgars may have found yoghurt spontaneously produced in their goatskin bags, and brought it to Europe with them in the second century AD.

Yoghurt remained in India, Asia and southern/central Europe for the next couple of thousand years, little known to the rest of the world.

It was early in the 20th century that the suggestion arose that Bulgarian peasants owed their long and healthy lives to the substantial amounts of yoghurt they ate, which was the first step towards yoghurt conquering the world.

(Information obtained from Wikipedia and various other websites)

Sunday, 15 August 2010

Changing mentality

I'm going to try not to generalise, because I don't want to offend any Turkish men who might be reading this, but the Turkish male mentality is at times difficult to live with.

The stereotype is a man who believes he is superior to women, that he is always right...simply because he is a man...and that women should just accept it.  He believes he should make all the decisions.  That he should live his life the way he wants to, and that the women in his life...mother, wife, daughter...are there to enable him to do make his life as comfortable as possible.  And this is more or less how it is in the majority of traditional Turkish homes.

However, one thing I have discovered over the years, is that Turkish women are much cleverer than their men give them credit for.  They know this is the way men are, so they work around it to get what they want.  They are brilliant manipulators.  If they want something done, they manage to convince the man that it was his idea.

Not all men are the same of course.  I've been pretty lucky with Mr Ayak in that our relationship has mostly been equal....which is just as well as I've never been that good at  manipulating.  I tend to just come out and say what I think or want.  But I do accept that there is still a certain amount of this Turkish male mentality in Mr A.  It's's the way males are brought up.  And I am resigned to the fact that I do at times have to adopt the Turkish female mentality if there is no other way to resolve an important issue which will affect us both.

Over the past week or so, Mr A and I have had no opportunity to just sit and talk about our problems.  He is feeling under pressure because he owes money for the rental on the business premises, personnel accommodation, food, and other outgoings.

I went over to the hotel yesterday, and spent almost 3 hours with him, trying to talk things through.  He feels like everyone is making demands on him and he can't escape.  Because I started off by asking him to write down the debts, he mistakenly assumed I was also putting pressure on him and he snapped.   He ranted and raved and shouted...and I was upset.   It developed into a big row...although it was pretty one-sided...once he starts shouting, he is unable to listen.  I was convinced though, that even though I wasn't enjoying this situation, it was important that he got all the pent-up anger and frustration out of his system.  So I just let him rant until he was exhausted....and then I was able to have something resembling a normal conversation with him.

He has the opportunity to start up another business in Milas. I won't go into detail just yet, because I don't have all the facts. He wants to rush into doing this, because he is in a state of panic. He thinks that if he does it quickly, he will start making money which will cover the Hamam debts. But I know that it's unwise to rush into another venture at this point in time....and had to find a way of convincing him to slow down.

The problem is that he can only see the debts as huge amounts of money which are impossible to pay.  This isn't really true but I had to find a way of making him see this.   Mr A asked Mehmet to join us to talk about the possible new business venture.  So now I had two Turkish males to contend with.  I wasn't expecting it to be easy.

I got him to list all the debts, and outgoings for the rest of the season...till the end of October.  He has already negotiated with the General Manager to pay the remainder of the hamam rental in three stages.  One at the end of August, one in the middle of September and the final one at the end of September.

I then added up the amounts and divided the total by the number of days left until the end of the season.  This simple bit of maths showed them that the daily profit they needed to achieve was in fact quite possible.  They both looked suddenly hit them that all was not lost.  I don't know why they hadn't thought of doing this before. Mr A would not discuss the finances with me up till now, he thought it shouldn't be my problem.  After all he is the man and I am just a woman...what do I know?

So somehow, I don't know quite how, I've managed to get them to slow down and take stock.  Mr A was all for rushing off at the end of August and renting premises in Milas, starting up another new business...and as a result just adding to the enormous amount of stress he already has.  Now, however, they can see that they need to stay put.  Do all they can to get customers and earn the money to pay the debts, plus hopefully a bit more which will enable them to open a business in Milas.  I've managed to get them to accept that 1st November would be a suitable opening then they will be able to see whether it's something they can realistically afford to do.

Their spirits have been lifted, by the simple fact that it's not impossible to earn enough money to stay afloat.  And because they are in a better frame of mind, I feel sure it will give them more of an incentive to work at it.  They were both quite depressed about their situation, and this is certainly not conducive to attracting customers.   In fact before I left, they were putting their newfound enthusiasm into action, and had taken a couple of bookings.   One of these was from a lady who was on holiday with a group of 11 people.  I managed to get Mr A to offer her a special price on her treatment, and also the promise of a further treatment free of charge, should she introduce the rest of the group to the hamam experience.

So the ideas are mine...but Mr Ayak thinks they're his.   What does it matter if it produces the desired result in the end.

I'm getting good at this manipulation lark.....I'm becoming more like a Turkish woman every day!

Saturday, 14 August 2010

Well...I never knew that!!

Hey all you bloggers!  Did you know you had a Spam box?   I didn't.  I just came across it by chance.

If you click on "Comments" on your Dashboard, then "Spam"...there it is.   And when I opened it I found three comments from one of my blogging friends that for some reason hadn't appeared on my blog in recent days, even though I had received the email notification.

Now I'm really not sure why this particular blogger ended up in my Spam box, because she has posted comments regularly on my blog for ages.  Does anyone know why this could have happened?

Wide awake

It's just after 3 am and I can't sleep.  .

I tried to go to sleep around 11pm but couldn't manage it.  So I worked my way through my Insomniac's Checklist and settled for No.9...moving the furniture in the bedroom.  Very satisfying...but did little to induce sleep.

I've done some ironing and had a cup of coffee, and have now resigned myself to the fact that I will be awake for the rest of the night.

In any case I can hear a puppy crying somewhere near here, which is worrying me and will certainly prevent me from sleeping.  I am resisting the urge to go out and search for it...hard though it is...because I really need to toughen up my feelings towards the stray dogs here.  I can't save them all.  I've done my best with a fair number over the years, but enough's enough. 

There's still no sight or sound of the Ramazan drummer, but lights are now going on in some houses in the village.  Those people who are fasting will be getting up around this time to make sure they eat before the early morning call to prayer from the mosque.

Mr Ayak was hoping to get home late last night but he has a problem with the motorbike and can't afford to a) get it fixed or b) risk the journey in case it breaks down.  I think this is the reason why I can't sleep.  We still haven't had chance to talk about things.  There just never seems to be a suitable opportunity.  I  have so much stuff running around in my brain at the moment.

I may go over to the hotel in the morning, but in a way I'm reluctant, because it isn't the best place to be to have a chat with Mr A...and then I'll come away feeling disappointed. 

Well....I spoke too soon!  As I'm writing this I can now hear the drummer making his way up the hill.  I guess I must have slept through it for the last couple of nights.  And now all the dogs in the vicinity are barking, including Beki and no chance of any sleep now!

Friday, 13 August 2010

Some more old photos

My brother is restoring some old photos of our parents.  I posted some here a little while ago.

I always think of my Dad when I'm feeling a bit low.  I'm not religious but I still feel a connection with my lovely Dad, even though he died some years ago.  I don't believe in heaven or another place where people go when they die.  I just believe that you keep a little bit of your loved ones in your heart...well that's the best way I can describe it.

I was thinking about him this morning when an email arrived from my brother with some more old pics, so I thought I'd share them with you:

My Dad is on the far left at the front in this picture.  He used to sing in the choir at Shottesbrooke Church, Waltham St Lawrence, Berkshire. I remember him telling me that he had pulled his cassock down as far as possible to hide his boots, because he was embarrassed about being the only boy with boots, when the others all had shoes.  My Uncle Den (my Dad's brother) is on the far right at the front.

Not sure how old he was in this photo, but what a handsome young man he was!

A very proud young man, having just joined the Merchant Navy at the beginning of the second World War.

Thursday, 12 August 2010

Ramazan again

I can't believe another year has past so quickly.  It's Ramazan again.  I remember clearly writing about it last year here and was just reading my post again and realised that I didn't hear the drummer in the early hours of the last two mornings.  I don't think that I was in such a deep sleep that I just didn't hear him...and in any case Beki is sleeping on the balcony and her barking at the drummer would certainly have woken me up.

I found an interesting article in Todays Zaman about the tradition of the Ramazan drummer, and discovered that there is in fact only one woman drummer in the whole of Turkey.

I'm wondering if the village drummer isn't being used this year.  I have discovered since moving here that the men of the village are not very religious.   My father-in-law (who attends mosque regularly) told me that when he is staying here, he is disappointed to see that only 2 or 3 men of the village attend the mosque.  I have also noticed that the men who are to be seen in the village teahouses from dawn till late at night, are not fasting.  They are continuing to drink tea and smoke cigarettes throughout Ramazan.  In my experience this is unusual in a village community, where you generally find the people are strict muslims.

The women of the village however are the complete opposite.  I see my two immediate neighbours (both widows) praying every day, and they strictly adhere to the fasting rule during Ramazan.

The other thing I mentioned in my post last year was the impending visit by my in-laws..something I was dreading, and which turned out to be a very unpleasant experience.

They are due to visit again at the end of Ramazan this year...but a year has made a big difference in terms of my relationship with my father-in-law.  Since his last visit  this year, when I had a long talk with him and we made our peace, we have communicated occasionally by email.  Nothing very much other than my updating him on the state of the garden...just a few words now and again.

But it's enough to prevent me from dreading their visit, and to actually look forward to them being here.

Wednesday, 11 August 2010

Keeping busy

I set off for Milas yesterday morning.  I thought a change of scenery would help me to shed some of the anger I was talking about.   First stop was my post office box.   I wasn't expecting anything but I always check.  And there was a parcel!

It was from Amazon. I had a gift voucher so I ordered two DVDs ...... LESS THAN A WEEK AGO!  I am really impressed by this rapid delivery. I occasionally order DVDs from them but have them sent to my brother's home in England, to collect when I visit.  I hadn't considered having them sent here because I thought the postage would be too wasn't...and I was also concerned that they might not arrive.  So well done Amazon and the Turkish postal system!

This lifted my spirits...and the good mood would have continued had I not had to wait over an hour for a bus home.  It would seem that a bus I intended to catch had been cancelled so I spent an hour waiting in the blazing heat.  By this time I was almost in tears.

I was determined to keep myself occupied, so when I arrived home I spent several hours sorting out my wardrobe.  Long overdue, and I now have two large sacks of clothes and shoes that will never be worn again. I just have to find a suitable home for them.

When it had cooled down a bit, I went outside and started pulling up weeds.   I have put this off because the arthritis in my hands makes it difficult.  However I was determined to carry on doing something physical, because it was really helping my mood.

I hadn't spoken to Mr Ayak so this morning I decided to bus over to the hotel to see him.  I wish I hadn't bothered.   I had been sitting there for about half an hour having a coffee, whilst he, Mehmet and Erhan were deep in conversation.   It started to get quite heated.  I hadn't really followed the plot so I had no idea what it was about, other than the lack of customers and money was mentioned.  So there was a lot of shouting and hand gestures...very common with Turkish men...and then the three of them fell silent.   And there we sat..for another half an hour with such a dreadful atmosphere that you would have thought someone had died.

I came to the conclusion that this wasn't a good time to be having a cosy chat with Mr A, so I said my goodbyes and set off home again....where I tackled some more weeds and watered the garden.

The physical activity over the past two days has made the anger subside so I'm thankful for that.  Now I'm just waiting for a suitable opportunity to talk to Mr A...goodness knows when that's likely to happen!

Tuesday, 10 August 2010

A few Billy pics

Check out those teeth!

Deep in thought:-

Climbing up the slide is great fun!

Ooh...that was delicious!

Anger management

Years ago when I worked in the mental health field, I attended lots of course, which were considered to be of benefit to our clients.   One of them was an anger management course.

It was very interesting and proved to be a useful tool in helping our clients to manage their anger and channel it in a more positive direction. Even if I say so myself, I was pretty good at diffusing angry situations and generally calming people down.

But when it comes to practising what I preached, I fail miserably.  It's a bit like nurses making the worst patients.   If I'm angry, I forget about how I'm supposed to deal with it.

I'm angry now.   Mr Ayak's business venture seems to have failed.   I don't know why it has gone wrong.  Potentially it was a good idea.   It should have worked....he was enthusiastic about it...he worked hard at it, in spite of various obstacles which kept getting in the way...and the fact that no-one wants to spend money on turkish baths and massages.

OK...he's sticking it out.  He has no choice.  He has the rest of the rental to pay, plus personnel accommodation, etc.   He can't just walk away from these responsibilities...much as I think he would like to.

So why am I so angry?   Maybe it's because I'm fed up with struggling.  I want life to get easier, not more difficult.   I'm more angry than I've ever been in my entire life, to the point that I want to hit someone or something.   I don't usually feel like this....I usually just go into a deep depression.

I can't talk to Mr Ayak.  We haven't spoken for days.  It's because I'm angry and I'm scared that if I get into a conversation with him I will start blaming him for everything going wrong.   I'm sure he doesn't need that..he's probably already blaming himself.

So in a way I'm exercising a little not projecting my anger on to him, but I don't know how to channel these feelings. 

Blogging about this has in fact helped to calm me down a little, but it's not enough.  If anyone has any brilliant ideas to help me get rid of this anger...please let me know.

Saturday, 7 August 2010


I shouldn't be blogging at this time.  It's nearly 1am and I'm really tired.  But there's a bloody mosquito in the room and I can't find it.  Don't you just hate it when that happens?

I sprayed the room an hour before I went to bed.  There's a mosquito screen on the window, and I have two plug-in repellents.

I switch off the light and settle down to sleep...and. buzzes around my head...causing me to wave my hand around frantically and hit myself in the face.   I leap up and switch the light on and search the room from top to sign of it.

Off goes the light and 5 minutes later there's a repeat performance...and another...and another.  This has been going on for over an hour and I know I won't sleep until I find it...even if it takes me all night.

So I'm sitting here at the laptop thinking it will lull the mozzie into a false sense of security.  I'm pretending to completely concentrate on typing, but I'm sneakily glancing around in the hope that it will come out of hiding when it thinks I'm not looking.


Friday, 6 August 2010

An apple, a couple of figs and a handful of almonds

I'm very excited about this apple (I know...I don't get out much!).

Mr Ayak is also excited about it and phoned his father to tell him..and he is very excited too!  We are indeed a sad family.

FIL planted three small apple trees at the bottom of the garden last year, so we were not expecting fruit this year, but this one solitary apple appeared weeks ago.  I have watered the tree along with all the others, and I have watched this little treasure's a  bit like being pregnant (well just a little bit).   I've grown very fond of this little apple.

Father-in-law wanted a photo of it, so yesterday I took the camera outside and was trying to get as close to it as possible, but it was quite loose and fell off the tree.  So I'm afraid FIL will be disappointed as he now has a photo of it on the kitchen table instead.

I retrieved these almonds from the tree yesterday.  I know there were lots more a few weeks ago, but the tree is at the back of the house at the bottom of the hill where children play, so I think they may have been picking them.

Our figs are very slow to ripen this year, I managed these yesterday, but they need a few more weeks I think.

The grapes are now finished.  They were absolutely delicious.  I ate an awful lot, gave a lot away, and Mr Ayak collected kilos of them in a large box to take to the hotel for the none have been wasted.

Oh...and I had to interrupt the writing of this post to rush outside because ...dada...WE HAVE RAİN...YİPPEE!   Not just a shower but a huge downpour.  It's been coming down for 15 minutes now and the smell is delicious.  I stood out in it for 5 minutes and got drenched..oh what a blessed relief from this hot, sticky, humid weather!

Addressing people correctly

Since coming to live in Turkey 12 years ago, one thing that has fascinated me is the way people address each other.   I was thinking about this yesterday, because of something an English friend (who like me is married to a Turk) said.   She objects to being called yenge rather than by her first name.   Yenge simply means "wife of.." so what she means is that she is just considered her husband's appendage and not an individual in her own right.

I never really considered it that way. In fact I don't object at all.  It makes me feel like I am accepted.  However, it got me thinking  a little more about terms of address.

The words for the immediate family are fairly straightforward. Anne (mother), baba (father), kız çocuk (daughter), erkek çocuk (son), ağabey (older brother), abla (older sister), erkek kardeş (brother) and kız kardeş (sister). But, when referring to relations beyond the immediate family it gets a little more complicated.

On the maternal side there is anneanne (grandmother), dede (grandfather), teyze (aunt) and dayı (uncle). Enişte (the maternal aunt’s husband), yenge (the uncle’s wife), yeğen (nephew or niece), and kuzen (cousin). Yeğen, kuzen and enişte are used for both maternal and paternal relatives.

Yenge, also, does not just apply to a maternal link. It is also used to indicate a woman married to the brother on both the maternal and paternal side, as well as a foreign woman who has married into a Turkish family. When used by someone outside of the family, the term yenge is used to recognize the fact that a foreign woman has married into the larger family of Turks in general. 

On the father’s side there is: babaanne (grandmother), büyükbaba (grandfather), hala (aunt) and amca (uncle).

In addition to these expressions, there are more complicated ones to be added to the mix. Elti means sister-in-law and refers to the relationship between two brother’s wives. Baldız is another term for sister-in-law, but is only for use in reference to the wife’s sister while banacak is the husband of the wife’s sister. The wife’s brother is kayınço, and the husband’s sister is görümce. Finally, the mother-in-law is kayınvalide or kaynana, and the father-in-law is kayınpeder or kaynata.

I hasten to add that I have never grasped all this. I had to research it again to be able to do this post. We have been fortunate in that we have never lived close to immediate family, so I haven't had the opportunity to get it wrong!

Children of close friends may refer to older people as teyze, amca, abla and abi.  I'm referred to as teyze by the children in the village, and Mr Ayak is referred to as amca.  This denotes a close personal tie and is a sign of respect, even though there are no family connections. So naturally I like this, because it shows that even after a relatively short time, we have been accepted by the village.

Even in business transactions titles are used alongside names. It is common to hear the word hanım following a woman’s first name, as in Mary Hanım. Bayan is also added sometimes to a woman’s first name, but usually before the name, as in Bayan Mary. For men it is easier, as you will usually only hear the word bey added to the man’s first name, for example, Mustafa Bey.

One explanation about the use in Turkey of titles to indicate relationships both inside and outside the family structure is that this practice is left over from times before the surname law was enacted. Prior to 1934, Turks did not have surnames and so titles were a way of establishing a person’s place within the family unit, as well as their place in society. While the custom continues and is a way to show respect to others, it is an often confusing minefield for foreigners!

Thursday, 5 August 2010

Further Update on Blog Problem

One of my followers who couldn't post comments on my blog yesterday, managed to do so this morning, so I'm wondering if the problem has been resolved for the rest of you now?

I do hope so!

Wednesday, 4 August 2010

Warning pics on Turkish cigarette packets

Warning pictures are now appearing on cigarette packets in Turkey....and some of these are causing a fair amount of discussion.  This particular one appears on a packet of cigarettes which I bought yesterday, and as it is a little different from the normal pics being used as deterrents I thought you may be interested in the article which appeared in Hurriyet Daily News on 14 July:

"Warnings on cigarette packages cause debate for not being strong enough deterrents as the Turkish Health Ministry reportedly deems one in particular unfit for Turkish family values. The ministry denies objecting to the image in question, but says the current set of pictures are not graphic enough overall for its taste

This anti-smoking ad on cigarette packs has sparked debate in the Health Ministry. A warning in Turkish underneath the photo translates as 'Smoking slows down blood flow and causes impotence.'

An anti-smoking advertisement on Turkish cigarette packages showing an unhappy couple in bed has drawn the ire of the Health Ministry, which claims the image is “inappropriate” for Turkish families and does not deter people from smoking.

“The ‘couple sitting apart in bed’ was ‘not appropriate to Turkish reality’ in that a half-naked married couple cannot be portrayed like this,” a story published Wednesday in the daily Milliyet said.

As part of the anti-smoking acts of the Justice and Development Party, or AKP, since May 1, 2010 companies are no longer allowed to produce tobacco products without putting illustrated warnings on the packs.

The Health Ministry has disagreed with the Tobacco and Alcohol Market Regulatory Agency, or TAPDK, on the pictures, which are used as warnings to inform the public that smoking may cause cancer, impotency and prevent childbirth.

Some of the pictures used for the messages include a darkened human lung next to a healthy one, a woman with an empty pushchair and a couple avoiding looking at each other in bed.

The ministry has said more graphic pictures should be portrayed on cigarette packages.

The ministry, however, was most upset by the picture of a couple sitting in bed and looking unhappy as they stare in opposite directions and said the couple did not look Turkish, according to a story published Wednesday in the daily Milliyet.


Speaking Wednesday to the Hürriyet Daily News & Economic Review, Health Ministry official Salih Dereli said the Milliyet story was exaggerated.

“The pictures are not a deterrent when compared to other examples in the world,” he said, denying that the ministry had objected to the picture for being “unrealistic and inappropriate.”

When asked about the text of the objection, Dereli said there was no written record of the original complaint and that the matter emerged during a regular meeting the ministry holds with the TAPDK.

When asked which ministry official spoke to which board member and when, Dereli said he did not know.

“The ministry does not have a comment on the couple – it just says the pictures are not enough of a deterrent,” he said.

A TAPDK employee speaking to the Daily News said he did not have the authority to speak to the press in the name of the board but said he was unaware of either a text or a conversation on the matter.

Mithat Yurdakul, the reporter for the daily Milliyet who wrote the original story, told the Daily News that his source had told him that the matter, including the uneasiness with the couple, was mentioned in a meeting between the ministry and the agency and that he was sticking by his story.


When asked her opinion on the debate, smoker Aslı Didem Demirci, a translator, said, “The ministry may have thought impotency did not suit the Turkish man.”

She also said one needed willpower to stop smoking, adding that it was not something that could be encouraged with pictures.

Halid S. Şimşek, scriptwriter for films and TV shows, said there were many more dangerous issues to worry about, including genetically modified organisms, exhaust from vehicles and industrial waste harmful to human health.

Moreover, he said it was illogical to print such dire warnings on a legally sold product.

Noting that he found the debate on the couple amusing, he said: “I believe not only the Health Ministry but the government itself should spend its energy on a realistic and total environmental health policy rather than wasting it on a secondary matter like smoking.”

Elif Erkaya, an advertiser, said the warning pictures and texts encouraged her to smoke more and argued that they had the same effect on others as well.

“People consume cigarettes being aware of the harm. Everybody knows the risks,” she said, adding that it was pointless to constantly reiterate the fact.

İsmail Sancak, a documentary filmmaker, said he did not believe either the pictures or the smoking ban were deterrents against smokers.

“However, I think [the ban] may do some good in [preventing] the next generation from starting,” he said.

Sancak said the furor over the picture was a “wink” from the ruling administration to its conservative voter base.

“Contrary to popular belief, the government is aware that arguments born of such minute details return to them as votes, so [it] makes a show of these issues when it has the opportunity.”

Editing to add the following comment made by one of the readers of the above article..because it made me chuckle:

"The islamists would probably want to see some headscarfs worn in bed. Perhaps the advertisers should warn of the risk your headscarf catching fire while smoking? But perhaps that would imply the advertisement was anti-islamic?! The main issue with advertisements in Turkey is similar to that in India, they seem to show people who look paler/fairer than the majority of the population. If they chose actors who look like the population, the adverts would have more impact."

Tuesday, 3 August 2010

The wrong bus

Travelling by bus in Turkey is so easy.  Even if you don't speak the language you can still get from A to B with very little hassle.  The destinations are clearly marked on the front of the bus and if you need to get off somewhere before the final destination, you just tell the driver and he will oblige.

This morning I caught an early bus at 7.30am from the village to the main road.  As I got off the village bus I saw the Bodrum bus on the other side of the dual carriageway, so I waved and the driver waited for me.

Unfortunately it wasn't the Bodrum bus.  I just got on without looking at the front of the bus because it was the same style as the Bodrum bus.  It was in fact going to a place called Gulluk.  But I didn't realise this until about 10 minutes into the journey, it suddenly turned off the main road.  The bus was pretty crowded and I struggled to get to the front to ask the driver if this bus was in fact going to Bodrum.  "No" he said "but don't worry, just sit down and I will sort it out"....or words to that effect.   So I sat back down, and waited.  The driver phoned someone on his mobile phone and I couldn't hear what he was saying except that Bodrum was mentioned.   We continued on this road for about 15 minutes, and I have to admit I was getting a little anxious.

Then I saw a bus coming in the opposite direction.  Both drivers flashed their lights and sounded their horns and pulled up parallel to each other.  The drivers had a brief conversation and I was told to get off the bus and on to the other one.  I offered to pay for the journey so far, but the driver just told me to give it to the other driver.

This bus was even more crowded, and I found myself perched precariously on a 6 inch high plastic stool in the gangway...hoping desperately that it wouldn't break under my weight....and we continued back the way I had come, and on to the main Bodrum road.

I finally arrived, having added about 40 minutes to my journey, and was only charged an extra 2 lira for the adventure.

This is the first time ever in 12 years that I can recall  getting on the wrong bus...but thanks to kind and helpful Turkish bus drivers, I had no need to worry.  They always make sure you get to your final destination.

Sunday, 1 August 2010

Habits and Rituals

I think the majority of us are creatures of habit.  I believe we develop little daily rituals, and get into the habit of doing things a certain way, because it feels somehow comforting and reassuring.

I was thinking about this today as I was travelling...yet bus over to see Mr Ayak.  I'm almost always too early for buses and have to wait around.  In fact I'm an "early for everything" kind of person..I have been all my life. I just hate being late.

The buses back from Bodrum to Milas, run every 20 minutes.  The journey takes between 40 and 50 minutes, depending on the driver and the traffic.  I always catch a bus at 10 minutes past the hour, and when I'm dropped off at the road to the village to get the dolmuş, I have to wait..usually at least half an hour.  I know that the village dolmuş leaves Milas on the hour and that it will take anything from 20 minutes to half an hour to reach me.  While I'm waiting, the next bus which leaves Bodrum at half past the hour, arrives...and of course I'm still the blazing sun.   So why do I keep catching the earlier bus?  I keep telling myself I should catch the later bus, but somehow I can't bring myself to risk it.  It's crazy, but it's become a habit that for some unknown reason, I'm reluctant to break.

And talking of catching the Bodrum bus, Mr Ayak now has a little ritual.  He takes me to the bus station, then he pops into a shop and brings me a bottle of water for the journey, and an energy drink which he insists I have to drink as soon as I arrive home.  Even though my "too-early" bus was about to leave today, Mr A told the driver to wait while he rushed to the shop to get my if something terrible might happen if he didn't!

When I finally get back to the village, I encounter another little ritual...every time.   It's really exhausting walking up to the house in this heat.  Half way up the hill lives a little old lady.  She sees me coming and she leans over her wall with a glass of water for me to drink.  I suppose if I had refused it the first time, she may not have offered again, but she is just so sweet I didn't want to offend her, so I accepted.  So even if I don't want it now, I can't possibly refuse can I?

There is another ritual which any English-speaking person in Turkey will recognise.  If Turkish children know you're English they have to call out "hello" in English.  Of course the kids are on school holidays now so there are a fair number out and about in the village and on the way to the house, so I don't expect to walk past them without being called to.  They have a standard phrase "Hello...what is your name?"   You answer...but the conversation doesn't develop.  They just keep repeating it...."hello...what is your name?" ad infinitum...until you just have to make out you can't hear them.  I've discovered there's very little point in trying to say anything else, because they just giggle and start all over again..."hello..what is your name?"   aaargh!

As I'm doing this bus journey quite regularly now, I'm beginning to notice things.  A couple of things amuse me.   There is a house at the side of the road in Guvercinlik (on the Bodrum to Milas Road) which is called "Pentonville".  I wonder who owns it?  Is it perhaps English people with a strange sense of humour, or is it owned by Turks who just picked an English name at random.   (For those of you who aren't English, or familiar with the name...Pentonville is a prison).

There's also a boutique hotel just outside Bodrum called "Sedative".  I don't know why that makes me chuckle...but it does!

Anyway...back to the subject of this post.  Do any of you have any little rituals or habits that you just can't break? 

Strange sky

I was up as usual at 5.30am to water the garden, then have my coffee outside before it gets too hot.

Well I've been sitting outside for much longer this morning, as the sun is hidden behind a blanket of grey cloud.  This pic was taken just before 8am, when I'm usually inside the house with the curtains drawn and windows closed to prevent the heat from coming in.

It looks like it could rain, although there's no mention of rain in the local forecast.  Oh I do so hope it does.  I'll be outside with the dogs enjoying every minute!

Animals usually sense rain don't they?  This is my next door neighbour's yard where the cows, donkey and goats are usually to be found,  but they are obviously taking shelter at the moment waiting for the rain?   Bring it on!!

Update:   No it didn't rain.  Within an hour of my taking that photo, the sun came through and it was as hot as ever.  In fact it was worse because it was extremely humid.  Ah well...I'll just stick to having showers in the bathroom.