Saturday, August 26, 2017

"It's Istanbul, not Constantinople......."

I remember the ditty about what was once called Constantinople, that is now known as Istanbul.

It must have been a geography lesson in high school. so that would have been in 1953 - 1957.

The "Queen of Cities," as it was known during the middle ages, was the capital of the Byzantine Empire until it fell in 1453, and then the Ottoman Empire until 1930.

That's when the name was changed by the Turkish National Reforms.

Google or Bing told me all this. It was NOT from my 1950s memory.

I did know I liked strong Turkish coffee.

After my haircut at Great Clips near Tanger outlets, I stopped in to check out a new restaurant that had just opened.

The hostess Nicole greeted me at the door and gave me a tour, telling me all about the new buffet offerings.

I asked how long had it been open and she said: "Seventeen days and tomorrow will be my first day off!" 

Nicole was smiling so I knew she was related and not just an employee.

I mentioned I had enjoyed Turkish foods while vacationing overseas,

Especially kabobs.

She asked if I preferred chicken or lamb I said both so I watched the chef fanning two kabobs being cooked over a charcoal fire.

My meal was coming together.

The shawarma was being shaved off both the chicken and the lamb/beef combo as they slowly turned on vertical spits

I saw the fresh pita bread next to the familiar hummus and the roasted eggplant dip.

Aha..Baba Ghanoush.

Nicole oversaw the construction of my buffet meal.

I tasted the Falafel and several variations of eggplant.

The several round tasty balls of falafel were what I thought might be Middle Eastern hush puppies.

Turned out to be crunchy, spicy rolled up chickpeas.

So they were added to my plate with pita bread, along with the hummus and Baba Ghonoush

As I started eating, more customers came in and one couple asked about the sushi?

Nicole explained there was no sushi and agreed that, yes, the sign with "Shish" did sort of look like sushi and she seated them and started pointing out various items on the menu.

I was shown two types of Turkish coffee. I picked one and Nicole said she would start getting it ready.

Like most foods and beverages, it needed to be fresh and hot.

I added "and strong," served in a demitasse cup.

She brought a cup and poured the thick, dark coffee and advised me to wait a bit before drinking it.

"It is hot of course, but it's unfiltered so give it a few moments to let the grounds settle."

I waited and sipped the strong flavored coffee, pretty sure this was not on the menu at Starbucks.

The meal break just happened when I noticed the restaurant newcomer. It was a pleasant meal experience and I am sure I'll stop by again.

Leaving, I looked closely at the sign. I didn't think it said Sushi at all.

*I added a photo that shows more of my buffet meal.

Man does not live on pita alone.

(Click on the images and links for more details.)

Actually, I was in the area again a few days later and stopped by.

This time I tried the Turkish coffee with the green label.

After it cooled and I sipped I realized that GREEN is the worldwide symbol for decaffeinated coffee.


It lacked the "punch" of the other cup I had had on my earlier visit.

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Thursday, August 24, 2017

Hey, it's getting darker....

Yes, as L'il Orphan Annie sang, "The sun'll come out tomorrow," after the stunning and awesome 2017 eclipse in Charleston, S.C.
I had planned it pretty good. 

Slipping on my approved solar glasses, I had checked where the sun was in the sky several days at 2 pm when I stood on my deck in Hanahan.

It looked like I could be seated comfortably and track it easily as the sun was gobbled up by the moon and arced across the sky.

The total black out would happen before the sun dipped behind trees, so I was good to go!

Unfortunately, those pesky clouds rolled in about two minutes before the eclipse reached totality.

Sadly, I stepped inside and watched the "money shot" scene on tv. Bummer!

It could be seen happening about 12 miles away on our barrier islands of Mount Pleasant and the Isle of Palms. 

Coastal breezes that we usually love had blown all the clouds my way!
Until the sun was blanked out, I had enjoyed watching the crescent sun that gradually mimicked the moon on our state flag before the rains came.

I went back out on my deck, taking off the safety glasses.

The sudden and complete brief 2-minute afternoon darkness was awesome!

It got quiet - no birds chirping -  and all of my solar-powered yard and deck lights came on. 

My confused indoor cat ambled off to take yet another brief nap.
Several members of my Photo Group* were in the right places nearby and posted some really nice photos, (thanks, Rudy Lutge) including this great "Diamond Ring" one by Brian Smith.
I had planned to relax and just enjoy the experience and not even bother taking photos for a change. 

I saw my neighbor and family in their back yard, sitting in chairs and looking up and, later holding altered cereal boxes to get a pinhole camera effect.

Member of the 21st Century Photo Group, Joseph Nienstedt, was able to shoot through a thin layer of clouds 

He caught this crisp shot as the sun started peeking out around the shadowing moon.

 This was when I would have put my solar glasses back on if I had had that great view.

I think I scared some folks the day before when I posted a picture of my real solar dark glasses and a pair of some old 3-D glasses I found in a drawer.

There was concern that I was dumb enough to damage my eyes wearing the wrong pair.

I knew that National Geographic - and the NASA people in town - would produce better images than I could hope to with my small pocket-size Canon sx280HS. 

Hmm, but it does have a 25mm - 500mm zoom lens.

Fortunately, my group members really came through.

I was disappointed to have missed the several minutes of the awesome totality.

Our tv weather persons were very apologetic about the cloud cover that wiped out views in Summerville, Ladson, North Charleston, Hanahan, and others.

NBC's Al Roker, was aboard the USS Yorktown over at Patriot's Point in Mt. Pleasant.

Al gave his morning report on the Today Show and stuck around to see the eclipse from the last view spot in the United States in South Carolina.

He and all the people who chose to drive to the beaches made good choices and saw the heavenly display.

(Click on the photos and links for more details.)

Hopefully, you were in a clear sky spot and enjoyed the total experience.

2024 I'll get another chance. Think I'll head to the beach.

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Saturday, August 19, 2017

Just chillin'....finally

 Bad as this looks - inside your home in Charleston, S.C.  in August - it kept going up!

Hotter and hotter.

It peaked out at 95 and then cooled a bit that night.

Fortunately, I had several Tower Fans that I added to my bedroom to augment the ceiling fan.

I slept fitfully... and somewhat moist.

When I had awakened the day before, I was sweaty and I had a panicky thought "Oh, no, has the Air Conditioner broken?"

Sure enough, the temp on the thermostat was at 88 and was rising.

I called the company that had sold me the unit and installed it many, many years ago and asked for a repairman to come check it out.

 She said it might be Saturday - or even Sunday - before that could happen.

 Yikes. That was not what I wanted to hear.

This was the company I had paid annually for twice-a-year inspections and adjustments.

I was doing my part to keep it humming along and it had stopped humming.

She contacted the repairman who had visited me two times a year and he called me.

He had been off work, recovering from some broken bones after a fall but led me through the steps I had taken.
He said it MIGHT be a malfunctioning thermostat that failed to start the compressor.

I liked the sound of that, bought a new Honeywell wall unit, replaced the old "suspect one" and...
nothing happened. Still watching the ambient temperature climb even as I jabbed in the desirable lower temps.

The fellow on the Honeywell HOT line (see what I did there?) had me do several things and finally said his product was working fine but the compressor was not answering the command being sent to turn on.

 I brought several additional fans into the bedroom and decided I would get through the night and cross my fingers that I would hear from an AC repair person in the morning.

During the afternoon, I did learn that the cat does not like fans blowing air in her face.

My side of the house has windows that opened vertically at each end so I opened them to let the cooler night flow in.

Well, it was a lovely thought. Instead of getting into the 'hammock" she made on the bottom of the bed's box spring, she slept curled up in the front hallway.

Don't think any air was flowing there but how do you dissuade a feline when her mind is made up?

I also didn't think there was an alternative.

Fans obviously were out for her.

I am sure we both spent an uncomfortable night.

I called a different HVAC company this morning that had a 4.9 out of 5 approval rating and lots of July and August testimonials that touted their attitude and service. I figured a weekend call would be expensive but there was the cat to worry about, who depended on me to do the right thing.

As I waited for a callback that he was on his way to my warm house, I suddenly remembered a smart thing I had done several years ago.

There are so many!

In the event of an AC failure, I had bought a 5,000 BTU window unit to give me a cold spot as things got sorted out! And a cool night's sleep!

The windows on my side of the house would not accommodate it but my Mom's bedroom - now a spare room - had windows perfect for this. I unboxed it, set it in place and turned it on. Blessed cold air!
I quickly put Kibble and water in there and tossed in the cat.

My phone rang, the repairman had arrived and he came in and began to fiddle with the thermostat.

Instead of going up in the attic, he went to the outside portion of the HVAC and then I heard the AC click on!

Ryan with Air Plus HVAC showed me a 5-inch long red wire that was crimped and broken.

He said replacing that wire allowed the unit to kick on and the rest was glorious cool comfort.

He did caution me that my Trane unit was 19- years old and I should start shopping around to replace it.

I gladly paid the fee for a weekend call and smiled when I said it was much lower than I had dreaded.

He said he hears that a lot as we both sipped large glasses of ice cold water.

He was glad a trip up to the attic was avoided and I asked what was next for him.

He said two more calls and he would be done for the day. He suspected he would be in two more attics though.

He drove off and I opened the door to the spare bedroom and Wallis bounded out. I think cats CAN smile.

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Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Lawnmower not working?

 When I first came back to Charleston, I rented a small house on one of the barrier islands, not far from the beach.

Each spring, for the four years I was there, my landlord would release two or three goats into a fenced storage area and shed next to my rented 800-sf brick home at the end of a winding dirt road.

Within a month, all the tall grass would be chewed down.

Then he'd move them to a much larger fenced area up near the main road.

They would begin to munch, producing the same "mowed" results.

The downside, of course, was that goats will climb anything to get up higher and many mornings I awoke to the sound of hooves prancing on the metal shed.

I can see why someone would "leap from their bed to see what's the matter" (say, on Christmas Eve).
This gentle man invited me to join him and his wife at a gospel tent revival, and I went. 

He was very prominent in the church group so we were seated on white folding chairs in front row center. I got a close-up look at the purpose of a "spit jar" for a preacher in an outdoor setting.
If a bug entered his mouth mid-sentence, he would grab the glass, take a swig and spit out the offending critter. Or, cast it forth.

These grass-eating goats, along with some sheep, would be part of a living display each Easter at the church's outdoor "Road To Resurrection". The faithful would drive by the three crosses and celebrate "He Is Risen" in a bucolic setting, complete with grass-munching livestock.
One year, in preparation, he rounded up his "herd" in the large fenced field by my house, and a large roving pack of feral dogs attacked the animals and, in a frenzy, killed all of them.

So, that year, fellow church members helped him dig deep holes and bury the slaughtered goats and sheep and the annual church event was canceled.

(Click on the photos for more details)

I drove out to James Island a few years later to see the small house I had rented and enjoyed.

The landlord had died and the house fell into disrepair.

That's a shame.

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Thursday, August 03, 2017

Re-hab one more time....

I'm of an age where I hear a lot of talk about hip replacements.

And swapping out knee joints.

Maybe that's why, when my right knee started hurting, I went to see the surgeon who had operated on my left knee 8 years ago.
Back then, an MRI had shown that a piece of "padding" in the knee had torn and dangled enough that it got in the way when the knee flexed.

Now, I'm picturing a sheet drying on a clothesline, flapping and billowing in the breeze.

I had a vivid imagination.

Knees tend to flex a lot so that piece of meniscus had to be cleaned up with a fairly simple procedure.

Insert a tiny camera into an incision below the knee to take a close-up look.

Then make another small hole to insert tools needed to snip and smooth the problem.

Dr. Marshal Hay did the operation, my knee quickly fully recovered and I was good to go.

A few months ago, when my right started to swell and become painful, I asked my doctor to send me to see Dr. Marshall Hay again.

I recalled his calm and soothing manner from all those years ago and was VERY happy when he studied the MRI and declared I did NOT need surgery.


He prescribed exercise and said rehab should take away the pain and shortly, I could re-start using my treadmill at home.

He sent me to ATI physical therapy near my home, across from Northwoods Mall on Rivers Avenue.

Twice a week I went to learn and perform exercises that strengthened my right leg, my calf, hamstring and even my glutes.

My young therapist Robyn also addressed making my foot and ankle stronger to improve my balance.

When I first tried walking a straight line heel-to-toe, I realized why the police make suspected drunk drivers do this. To do it properly requires good balance and concentration. Robyn did NOT have me extend my arm and touch my nose.

We started each hour with 10-minutes of bike pedaling to loosen me up, warming and stretching my muscles.

Robyn knotted a colorful piece of stretchy material and placed it around my ankles. Then she had me sidle sideways across the room.

No problem at first but I quickly started to feel the burn along my thighs.

I was exercising muscles I had never really thought about before.

But she was not through with that piece of fabric.

Next, she moved it up above my knees while I was seated and had me stretch my arms forward and stand up. She showed me how to stop "lunging" and simply rise up to my feet.

One simple - though clever - device was a wooden platform angled to 45-degrees where I faced a wall, stood on it, and felt my calves tighten.

A 30-second stand, step off and step back on for 10 sets.

I'm pretty handy with tools and working with wood, so I made one for use at home.

My cat was amused to see me stand perfectly still for half a minute, my face to a wall, and repeat it over and over.

She also calmly ate her Kibble, watching as I would glide sideways across the kitchen, feet hobbled by that stretched band.

After working at the ATI center, and taking home illustrated pages of exercises, I would repeat many at home.

We would end each session with a gradually-increased time on their treadmill.

One day, while pedaling on the bike, I asked about the stairs and a tall ladder I saw in the corner.

I assumed the mock stairs were to rehab people until they were comfortable going up and down stairs. My house has several different levels so I am sure that what it was for.

That indeed was the purpose they served but I asked if the tall, extension ladder was used mainly to change light bulbs overhead.

Actually many people are injured on the job and ATI works to make sure they are fit to return to the workplace.

Often workers have to climb up and down ladders so this was another dedicated strength builder.

I saw others using large inflated balls to stretch their legs and "bungee-type" cords to exercise their arm use and reach.

As we were winding down my days there, it was suggested maybe cut it back to one day a week or maybe every other week.

That reminded me that when I completed 90-days of rehab after a 2002 heart attack, there was a Graduation Ceremony.

The trainers gathered around me, placed a black mortar board on my head and took a photo.

Robyn thought that was great and said ATI uses a fancy Championship belt like the kind winning boxers wear and she went to look for it.

Robyn came back, I posed and she snapped a photo with my phone camera.

I noted the belt was too small to go around my waist and resolved to work on that with diet and exercise.

As I held the belt in place, I could hear "Eye Of The Tiger" playing in my head.

The pain in my knee is gone, I avoided surgery, and now I am using my treadmill at home again where I can watch Netflix.

Wonder if they're streaming any of the old the ROCKY films?

(Click on the photos and links for more detail.)

Thanks for tagging along on my sweaty exercise program, Hey, I've dropped 7 pounds!

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