Monday, October 26, 2009

Tending to Brother Ass

Love Story from the West Coast to the Silk Road

During the last years of the life of St. Francis of Assisi he asked his body, whom he had named Brother Ass, to pardon him for the hardships he had put it through. Looking back on a life of sacrifice, starvation, solitude and poverty St. Francis realized that while our souls and passions run deep and strong....the physical body can't always keep in step. The last few days Ann and I have been trying to let Brother Ass take it easy....Frankly, that is something that we have not taken the time to do, nor is it easy for us. We feel the call of the East and can't wait to get our boots back on the ground on the Silk Road. But before we can do that....there are a few things we need to learn and do that will give us the stamina and ability to keep Brother Ass healthy while we live, travel and wander on the far side of the world for the next 4 years.

Bishop Creek...Sierra Nevada's

Mount Tom....Sierra Nevada's

Our monthly sponsorships have been lower than we expected which means we are continually pushing the date to return to Turkey farther and farther back. Since our ability to stay on the Silk Road and exploring the lost and forgotten villages requires monthly sponsors....we are in a holding pattern until we have enough income to launch off again. That alone adds quite a bit of tension as our Istanbulu family and friends tear at our hearts to return home.
We are still waiting to see if anyone will step up to the plate and help us get a corporate sponsorship for outback gear for hiking the St. Paul Trail.
With those distractions and a bucket load of desideratum in our hands.....we are forcing ourselves to unwind and make my folk's deck our sanctuary for the next week or so. Yep...we admit that we are fighting a bit of discouragement these days. That's life.
So, this is day 3 of spending our afternoons and evenings in front of an outdoor fire, leaves falling like snow around us, cups and cups of good Turkish coffee and stacks of good books...trying to get the big picture of our lives and not the ups and downs of the moment.
If I wax over-emotional in these next few weeks please chalk it up against a tired Brother Ass who needs to vent without oversight. Remember....there are plenty of well written blogs that will delight are free to roam as you please.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Its Been A Good Long Run...

Me & Mine

Living the adventurer's life that we do there have been a few occasions where we (our crew of four) wondered if we would make it out in one piece. Crashing airliners, roadside bombs, riots, war zones etc.. Ann and I coined a phrase that really got to the heart of what we do....
No Regrets
No Retreats
No Reserves

When we have one of those "just missed by inches" moments we have often looked at each other and said "27 years has been a good long run". No, we are not planning on dying or anything like that but a year or so ago as I was being led away as a captive in a deep dry canyon teeming with tension, (unnamed country) the militants pushed me in front of them at gunpoint and took me out of sight of Ann and the kids, I looked back one last time to see Ann staring my direction. We smiled at each other and said "hey, 28 years has been a good long run".
Home in Oregon

Obviously nothing permanent came of that encounter with our buddies with the guns. But the sentiment experienced between us has deepened our appreciation for each day we have together.

In just a month and a half we will mark our 29th year together....just wanted to say what you have heard me say a thousand times. I am pretty damn blessed to have gotten this chick to marry me and then stay with me as I have led her and our crew across the seas to live, travel and wander on the far side of the world.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Smoke, Leaves and Solitude

Some of the color from my deck

I have been spending the last few days sitting under the leaves of an oak tree that is raining its bright yellow foliage around and on me as I sit, ponder and chew over the years we have spent living in Asia and how, while we are thoroughly enjoying our time at home....our heart longs to be back in Istanbul.

Funny how life works that way.....our family, particularly the Steward Clan...has a restlessness that has caused our ancestors to immigrate and then move about the states for hundreds of years. I am back in the loop now with penning my poor and pathetic ponderings to a website that, lets be honest, is not of much interest to anyone, nor will it ever make us any income. This is just a space for me to allow the phony-writer in me to have a place to expound on the current state of, or rather, the lack of the state of the thoughts and experiences that keep me awake at night.
I miss living in Asia...I miss my Istanbulu family, I miss the sites and smells from my tiny balcony in Istanbul, I miss the door bell ringing 50 times a day with friends and neighbors who stop in to chat, fill us in on their trip to the market or just check in and have a glass or 20 of tea with us.
I had hoped this time at home would allow my soul...maybe a better word, is my spirit to rest. But instead I am continually occupied with the list of supplies I have to buy, the number of new monthly sponsors we need to be able to return and continue our research and exploration of the forgotten villages along the Silk Road and a mosaic of other issues related to getting our boots back on the ground of Turkey.
Nope...this post isn't going to ring your bell or cause you to link this to a friend due to its winsome prose. These are just the thoughts of a guy, lonely to be back in his adopted country to hang out with a people and culture that have captured his and the hearts of his family.
For now....some vignettes of our days in Oregon.. A few more snapshots of my day.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Coming to Grips with Life Abroad

Views from the Steward Outpost....Oregon

So we have finally come our stateside home anyway. Arriving in Grants Pass late last evening we have several meetings scheduled along with some final doctor appointments to get clearance to return to the Silk Road. But in the meantime we hope to be able to clear our heads a bit...overcome a little discouragement over how slow the process is going and frankly, the reception of our love for Asian culture. And....take a few hours of each day to relax and try to find our heads.
Being at my folks place in GP gives us some emotional and literal space....maybe I will bore you with some of my deeper thoughts during this time. But for me, the significance is that I have finally got to a place where I am ready to write again. Therapy for me, and an ordeal for you. I man's pleasure is the other's pain.
I was asked by a woman I love, (no not a blood relative) how my years abroad had changed my perceptions on life, religion and the mess the world is in general. My response was simple. I know, now, what it is like to be an American living in a Muslim world in a time when the West in general, is not highly thought of in the East.
And yet, I was accepted and loved for who "Stan" is by virtually every Turk, Kurd, Iraqi or Iranian I met. I was pampered, protected, tolerated with my out of culture fubars and still brought into an Islamic family and neighborhood as one of their own. What that all means right now I can't explain. Only...that what I experienced from my Musilm brothers....I want to enlarge my capacity to do the same to those I have fundamental shifts of ideology, lifetstyle, and religion that would normally put up walls in our relationships.
I miss our Istanbulu family and friends terribly and we are hoping to be able to return on schedule in February or March 2010. Want to help send us back? Yeah....I thought so):
My Sweety of 29 Years and Me

My View as I Write Tonight

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Returning to Writing

Stanley Heading West...
So I am finally back to writing.....(I know MM, I am a hack...YOU are a writer). It has been a while since we were able to sit in one place for more than a day or two. With another road trip coming up this week, we played hooky this week and had a fire two days in a row, sat and read and tried to figure out life.
We will be boots up again this weekend and on the road for about 3 weeks. I have the writing bug so things should start to flow soon. I have lots of thought...just none I think you would be interested in.

The White Mountains...Sierra Nevada

Monday, October 12, 2009

Lazy Retreat

We have an important announcement.....we as a Crew have voted to take today off and play indolent, sluggish and remiss. Sorry if that happens to grieve you. As the younger members of our Crew like to say....SIU. (suck it up)

Saturday, October 03, 2009

Istanbul Ozledik

We are still living the crazy life with another road trip......this time to the Sierra Nevada's. We are missing Istanbul big-time. Please send us home:)

Living, Traveling, and Wandering on the Far Side of the World

Living, Traveling, and Wandering on the Far Side of the World