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Book 23: Ch Ch CHANGES


-A shower of flowers on a May afternoon in the park – Perfect trees as God made them – And a perfect  moment – Plovdiv, Bulgaria 15:14 – 13 May 2009—–Somewhere along the line, Turkey lost its much-publicized love of green growing trees, chopping off their crowns, butchering them down to below the branches and leaving the poor tall stumps to rot. Many Turks are horrified at this, but it has become a trend. So going to Plovdiv is a delight. The trees, left to grow the size of thunderheads, are lovingly cared for by the Bulgarians. They look the way trees looked in Turkey in 1999. Turkey’s lavish rainfall makes them possible, their roots keep many old buildings standing, and Istanbul needs their oxygen. I hope they come back.


-Fast take on Plovdiv a town that does it right. Rocks lashed to last over the Roman Theater. 13 May 2009—– It was blindingly hot and late in the day. I did this in a short time and made a note to do a more complete drawing later. it’s in the next book.


This fine fellow ran the cafe in Goreme, down the street from my friend’s carpet shop. I can’t for the life of me find his name.


-Cemel of Büyük Valide Han, the best face in the Han – Cemel watching me draw him- the most amazing fleshy eyelids… big dollops at the outer corners… wow!—– Cemal had the shoeshine concession at Büyük Valide Han while I was drawing there. He has one of the most unusual faces I’ve ever seen, and such a sweet expression. He told me he has five brothers and they all look alike.


-Necip Arslanlar – Büyük Valide Han – Necip’s shop reminds me of home- except for the ancient archways – I love working stiffs. My dad was a working stiff—–My father left us in 1997, but I still see echoes of him wherever men work with their hands. I spent a week drawing in Büyük Valide Han and got to know many of the craftsmen in its workshops. Despite the language barrier, they are so familiar to me.


-Büyük Valide Han – The bones of the church show through the face of the workplace – Hammers, electric drills & saws hum all around this May noontime. At 5 I draw the shadows – I love working stiffs -I believe these guys: it was a church & a convent in the threes-(4th-century) – 2009—–Yes, it’s a church. We’re looking down the nave toward the altar. On either side, the domed galleries have been filled in and the arches used as windows on the courtyard. It looks like the original floor is still there, in rounded scattered stones of all shapes and colors. In the upper left corner is the Tower of Irene, or so said a graduate student I met, measuring the size of its bricks. Inside is a plastics factory. The owner proudly showed me his upper floor, which was the bell tower of a church so forgotten that the grad student was doing her dissertation by proving it existed at all. This is the back section of Büyük Valide Han, built by the fearsome  Kosem Valide Sultan, widow of Sultan Ahmet. With two inconsequential sons, she ran the Ottoman Empire in the 17th century, so enraging one son that he had her imprisoned in the galleries to the left. It’s said she hid a fortune there. In the subsequent centuries, the bell tower became a mosque, and the rest of Buyuk Valide Han was a bustling center of trade. At some point, the church-mosque became a Han, and the various chapels workshops. Apart from this Byzantine section, one Ottoman courtyard is so huge that it boasts a Shiite mosque in the center. The other is tiny and irregular, and fits with the street. In recent years, the Han workshops have struggled to survive, always fighting imminent conversion to a hotel. It looks like they’re winning.


-Firat- holding still with difficulty but thrilled to be drawn. I couldn’t resist- he hung around for hours! – Büyük Valide Han 17 May 2009

Here I am in 2009, drawing Büyük Valide Han. Pat Yale took this photo for her guidebook to Istanbul- an honor!

Puppy and Friend in my kitchen. Puppy is in Kitty Heaven now, but the poster is still on my wall.

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