Wasabi Peas

A Subsiduary of 'The Wasabi Monologues'

Massive gap in writing here
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I can hardly believe it's been such a long long time since I posted here. Years in fact.
Sorry for my drop off the planet!!!

I've been so many places and done so much stuff since I last posted that I hardly know where to start.
I completed my PhD and graduated in November 2013. I put my Japanese studies on hold in 2012 and have been very lax in starting again, but I will do so at Easter.
Currently I am living in Ankara, Turkey, and working as a researcher in archaeology. In May 2014 I was awarded a very prestigious fellowship at the British Institute (my 'home from home' in a way, since 2012), and so I moved here to take up that post in September 2014. It's such a  fun place to work, and while I will be here for only a year, it's great. All my old friends still around, and making more all the time.
I also work in Bulgaria on a project. Next August (2016) I will finally be going to Japan to take part in the World Archaeological Congress in Kyoto. I will be there for a month afterwards :-) I have a couple of Korean and Japanese friends here amongst all the lovely people I've met and made friends with, and we meet to eat and chat sometimes.

I hope all my F list is well, and now that I'm back on Livejournal that it will be fun to catch up on all my J-rock stuff that I missed while I was concentrating on finishing my thesis and getting my career started!


Ankara, day 18.
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Apologies for not updating in ages. I know many of you know that I'm in Ankara, Turkey and that there's massive civil unrest here at the moment. I've been getting so many worried emails from friends asking if I'm safe that I decided to send a bulletin to everyone in my current contacts addressbook and also to put this on my Livejournal
For those of you who may not know, and are going 'what's this about?' I should explain that I'm currently living in Ankara, Turkey.
If you've been watching the news, you'll know that Turkey is blanketed with civil demonstrations against the current increasingly authoritarian government. It's being been dealt with by the police in a very violent and disgraceful manner, with extreme use of force.
My flat is right in the middle of the flash-point area of Ankara, right at Kuglu park and on the main boulevard connecting it with Kizilay Square, where the main demonstration has been happening since Friday. It's extremely noisy at night, and there have been instances of waking up in the wee small hours to tear gas blowing in through the windows. Other than that, I have not been in very much danger thus far, and even when out at the protest, I'm generally only at Kuglu, which is the smaller of the two, and the one with less police attention!
The police violence here has been astonishing. Peaceful demonstrations have been attacked every night since this began on the 28th May.
Today Erdogan announced that if everyone does not leave Taksim Sq by the morning he will send in 'his police' and 'they know how to deal with protesters'
Instead of waiting, tonight thousands of police attacked Gezi park the nucleus of the Taksim sq area, where the tents of the Occupy Gezi folks are located. A community art class was onoing. Hundreds of women, children and families were inside the area and were tear-gased severly. Reporters say chlidren were screaming, some were having asthma attacks, some were injured....mothers were panicking and blinded by gas.
Police have, as I write, penned wounded and fleeing protesters into the Divan Otel (hotel in Taksim) and poured in tear gas.

Here in Ankara, some hundreds of KM away, the city has poured out into the streets in soliarity. Tunali Himli and Kennedy streets are full, tens of thousands of people. The police are attacking everywhere with water canon trucks and tear gas. The people are use to this now, they stand strong no matter the brutality. The media (TV etc) have been heavily censored by the government, not many have the courage to report the truth anymore. Journalists have been arrested by the score, even foreign correspondents. 75 lawyers were arrested for defending captured protesters. 11 Erasmus students (from various countries) were arrested for being seen near Taksim sq with cameras. The ministry of health has announced it will be investigating all doctors who have volunteered assisting wounded protesters.
Everywhere the government tries to create fear.
Democracy is under siege.

Tonight I feel so heavy. So dreadfully sad.
Thousands....hundreds of thousands must feel the same way. I see the Turkish people in Taksim, Kizilay and Kuglu: brave, determined, empowered...and I think, 'if this were the UK would we be so brave? Would we be willing to be gased, run over by panzer truks, arrested etc in order to stand up for our basic democratic rights?' I can't answer that. Outside deafening car horns, chanting, pans being battered useless to make the world hear.... and I feel afraid for them, and proud of them. Some are my friends, who I have come to know in this last year. Many are people I pass fleetingly in the street or the market. Most are even more remote...faces on a TV screen, people I've never seen before or will again.
I don't know if these protests will ultimately change anything. I don't want to say I've given up hope that Erdogan will listen - but he is like a stone wall, completely defiently obstinately refusing to move an inch in negotiations of wider issues. How can you ever reach someone like that?
The people here - out there, are half the reason I 'fell in love' with this country. I'm worried that they may lose their republic, and lose their democracy to that arrogant man in the really ugly suit.

Life in the sun!
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Hello All,
sorry it's been a while, life keeps catching up with me.
I passed my Viva! I'm now Dr Liathchan (hehe). I do have a few corrections, but nothing major, and it'll all be handed in finally in another couple of months. Would be sooner but I'm off doing my first bit of preparation for post-doctoral research.
Currently, and for the next 3 months, I am in Ankara, Turkey, working at the British Institute, researching Anatolian Hittite and Phrygian pottery.
It's hot and sunny here, a balmy 24 degrees cent. this morning (and it's not quite 10am yet).
Not much to report (outside of my research work) except that food here is awesome and cheap, so I'm eating like royalty for about £20 per week including daily lunches ordered into the office from nearby restaurants.
I'll tell you all about the bazaars and markets another time, though.

First I'm goint to tell you about MULBERRIES! Here it's mulberry season just now, so I made pie:

it was delicious, I assure you!

The BIAA shared apartment, where everyone who is researching here stays, is very comfy and clean and we have
a lively housekeeper who takes care of us, and that means no housework! It's great to be able to focus on work without
so much daily housekeeping hassel.
The two research fellows sharing the apartment with me are the same as folks I shared with last autumn, plus one new girl who is lovely, so it's basically the same as last year - we all get along super-well, and it's a lot of fun. Last night we had a fish barbeque, and watched the Eurovision Song Contest Live streaming on the internet (Turkey had a stroppy argument with the Eurovision rules committee this year, didn't enter and also refused to broadcast on TV!) while eating halva and ice-cream and laughing like mad at all the crazy songs.

I'm learning Turkish at the moment, just started, and it's really interesting but because my memory is a little bit rubbish it does take me some time to learn vocabulary.

I hope all my lovely F list are well, and I hope that now I nominally have some free time again, I can post more regularly.

Love to all,

Hello all..and an update.
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Hi Everyone,
Well, Tomorrow I will post about last month's Swedish adventure, but today I want to update you on my springtime.
It's snowing. On the last day of March, for goodness sake. No snow is lying on the ground, but flurries drift occasionally past my window.
It makes me long for heat and sunshine.
So I've been planning my late spring and summer adventures.
I'm off to Turkey again in May, this time for about 10 weeks. It's all arranged with the BIAA, and I have a research plan and everything! Accommodation in the BIAA apartment has been booked for me, my friends there have been in touch and we are all so pleased that the happy and GASTRONOMICALLY AWESOME apartment life we had last autumn will be resuming! ( more on that later)

In advance of confirming my Ankara plans, last Monday I got my PhD viva date..........GAHHHHHH...scary!
It will be on May 3rd - exactly one week before I go to Ankara. Needless to say the timing is pretty tight, but somehow I will make it work.

This trip may also turn into a jaunt to Kaş (gorgeous seaside town in S.Turkey, pronounced 'Kash') to visit a friend who wants me to come see her new house, which will be finished in June. And there's a possible trip to Georgia (the Eastern European country not the American state) in the offing to do a little work along with another friend on her archaeological site, but these side-trips depend on whether or not I can do all my necessary work in the 10 weeks in Ankara and if I have enough money left to meander about for another couple of weeks before my visa runs out!
I also have an archaeological conference to attend in Muğla (a Turkish city on the Agean coast, pronounced 'Muu-la') at the end of May, so we'll see what comes of that...might lead to some work of the paid kind, or even a post-doc offer for next year.

Off to Stockholm.
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Hi all,
I'm off to Stockholm for a few days to visit friends who live there- back next Wednesday!

Greek pottery reconstruction
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So, more aabout my Autumn travels.

In Bulgaria I was attending classes and workshops on reconstructing what we call 'hard-fabric pottery' - ancient Greek pottery in this case - for display and research in a museum setting.
(The science bit: Hard-fabric means that the pots are made from clay which has been processed and fired to the clay's peak firing range to create thoroughly fired vessels. Soft-fabric pottery are pots which have been fired at temperatures below the clay's peak range. These require a different process for cleaning and reconstruction, which this course didn't cover.)

The pots we were working on come from the necropolis of the ancient settlement of Apollonia Pontica, which is modern-day Sozopol. They date from the 4th - 6th centuries BC.
The pots are vessels which had been ritually broken outside tombs during the funeral ceremony of the dead. At that time they contained foods, drinks and other sacrificial things as part of the ceremony. Because the vessels were ritually broken in the hearths outside tombs, in most cases all sherds of the vessels are present, and can be reassembled  - with patience.
This was so exciting for me because the material I generally work with is so dispersed that I never get all or even the majority of the sherds of any given vessels!

The sherds look like this when they arrived on our desks:
This is, under all the deposits and grime - a black burnished pottery one-handled wine cup.

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Bulgarian summer
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Last September I spent 2 weeks in Bulgaria, in a tiny rural seaside village. It's about as un-touristy a village as you can get, because it is hidden away in a virtually inaccessible cove on the Black Sea coast, miles from anywhere. It started as a clandestine commune of artists, writers and thinkers during the communist era, a place of safety where 'subversive' people could work in peace (including N's father). Nowadays it is mainly second homes for some of those same artists, and now also for teachers, doctors and so on. Only 3 families live there all year round, and the rest of the time people travel in on weekends and holidays to their small, beautiful holiday homes and enjoy the peace and quiet. Its a welcoming and vibrant place, with friendly village dogs, wild horses and cyotes in the hills and plenty of birds and butterflies everywhere...and the occasional giant centipede (creepy and venomous - avoide at all costs!) and a few large black tarantula spiders which are harmless and permanently sleepy in the heat of summer, but give you quite a scare when they accidentally wander drunkenly inside.

I was there to learn how to restore ancient Greek pottery for museum display, and the workshop was held in the quite palatial holiday villa belonging to the family of the director of the B. H. F. (see earlier post), who for the sake of privacy I will call 'N'.
N's house is totally awesome:

and he's currently making some path improvements hence the heap of bricks.
There are fig trees, almond trees and walnut trees all around the property, so breakfast was suplimented with delicious fruits and nuts from the garden.
The horses arrived usually mid-morning, came down the hill and wandered past the house:DSCF1575

The village dogs B and E don't have owners exactly, but everyone loves them, feeds them, leaves bowls of water for them and makes sure they have safe, warm beds and are healthy. They are sweet, affectionate and great fun in return:
This is them arriving for breakfast....mmm...doggy-sized slices of turkey sausage and toast with cherry jam (note the tails wagging). B, the black terrier, became my constant companion, waiting for me in the morning at the hotel door and walking me down to N's house...such a little gentleman!

So that's the scene set. Next entry I'll show you what we were doing.

Elegantize your life!
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To make elegant, or increase existing elegance.

So I've been thinking again, now that I have a fully functioning 'normal life' back again, that I would resume my style posts.

I got so fed up with the clutter and mess generated by having no time to tidy up while PhD consumed every waking second at the end of last year.
Girls....heavy confession - I let my standards slip:
There were groups of several days together when I went without makeup of any kind ( not that I wear much, mind you, but a dab of powder, and a little lipstick makes a massive and noticible difference).
Vacuuming (Hoovering, for you folks accross the pond) was almost non existant, and the dust bunnies went into a breeding frenzy.
My bedroom ceased to be a haven of rest and became a general dumping ground for clothes, papers, and even the overflowing cardboard/paper recycling box (shocking!) In the last week of the madness, I abandoned it altogether and slept on the sofa at night!

Not elegant, not elegant at all.Read more...Collapse )
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Hello everyone and a belated Happy New Year!
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I'm sorry my dear F-list that I dropped off the scene for a fairly long time, but the last half of 2012 was manic.
I went to Bulgaria for 2 weeks,then road-tripped by bus stratight on first to Istanbul and then to Ankara, and spent a month in Turkey working at the  British Institute at Ankara.

On returning to Edinburgh mid-October, I pulled out all the stops on PhD and handed in my PhD thesis on the 18th December. I'm now waiting for my thesis defense exam, which I'm hoping will be late March or Early April.

I went immediatey into exhaustion-induced hibernation, from which I've only just emerged. I decided to kick off my 'post thesis life'  with a weekend in London to visit friends, see galleries and eat amazing food. So I got back from that late on Monday night, and this week has been housework, dinner parties and some freelance work, as well as back into the bookshop.

For all of the above trips I intend to regale you in full, complete with lush and plentiful photographs over the coming couple of weeks.

Ta for now!

The view at dawn (6am -ish) from my hotel room in Emona, Bulgaria, Sept 2012. That's the Black Sea over there, the only clouds of the day appeared and disappeared with the sunrise.

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Hi All,
I'm in Ireland again just now...been here a week.
I'm off on my fieldwork on Sunday. You may remember I'm going to Bulgaria for 2 weeks on an archaeology course, followed immediately by 3 weeks internship at the British Institute of Archaeology at Ankara.

It's been months of waiting, but it's finally here!

Also, I've finished the final draft of the PhD! Final word count 110,662 words....plus andother 23,489 in appendices. Phew. Almost 5 years (albeit part-time) work. The proof copy has been proof-read, corrected and spiral-bound and awaits postage to my supervising professor tomorrow.
I've worked 14 hour days all this past week to finish it before going on fieldwork; I'm exhausted but happy.
I know it will come back from my professor with all kinds of suggestions for improvement, but I'll deal with that when I get back in October.
I get to have one rest day tomorrow before travelling all day sunday to get to Emona, Bulgaria. Have to take a 1 hour long train journey to Belfast, then a 2 hour bus journey from Belfast -> Dublin airport, then a 3hour flight to Burgas, followed by a 1.5 hourr transfer by mini-cab with 2 other course participants to get to Emona village.
I'm so excited!

I'll update when I can but I'm told that internet is a bit patchy, as Emona is kindof remote. I have no idea what the situation will be in Sozopol the week after, or Ankara itself.

In chicken updates, nothing new to report. Ingrid and Greta are happy and well, laying every day and romping around in the garden. I'll try to get a photo or two tomorrow.

Hope you are all well, lovely F list! I'll try to catch up on wat everyone's been up to...........I've been such a hermit the last month or so!


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