Tag Archives: Turkey

Black Pellets of Doom

In honor of Little Man starting potty training today, I thought I would share this story from Turkey…

 Flying Black Pellets of Doom or The Sheep Are Out… Turkish Style

 Third archaeological field season at Kenan Tepe, Turkey

My mom pointed out that I haven’t told many sheep and goat stories this year, and that their absence has been noted.  So I thought I would tell you a little about the herds here in southeastern Turkey.  If you have a strong attachment to a romanticized notion of clean shepherds gently herding their cute flocks, stop reading now…

Every day a couple of different herds are taken across the tepe where we are excavating, and in the evenings they are often “parked” there as well.  By way of quick Turkish lesson, “tepe” is the word for “hill.”  It’s the same as “tell” or “höyük” or “chagar” depending on which Middle Eastern country you are in.  We work at Kenan Tepe; the hill of Kenan.  “Kenan” is the same as “Canaan,” so the name of our site means the Hill of Canaan or Canaan’s Hill.  We do not know what the village or town was called in the ancient past, since much of our excavation has focused on the prehistoric portions, and the historic parts haven’t given us any writing as of yet.

Here the shepherds tend to be men, but I have seen two young women caring for a small herd of cattle.  I have never seen sheep and goats herded separately, but they are always in a mixed, motley group.  Herd size can range from as few as five to as many as 50+ beasties.  There is always one donkey amongst the group, laden down with food, water, etc. and sometimes being ridden by a small boy.  Every now and then there is a shepherd that goes by my trench, singing to his flock.  It’s a beautiful tone that just sort of floats on the wind.  With the birdsong and frogs in the background it’s really nice.  Most shepherds make a sort of shushing noise to their sheep to help steer them… as well as throwing rocks.  Their aim is amazing.  They don’t do it to hurt the animals, but when you have that many not-so-bright-beasties roaming the hillside you need to steer them somehow.

Now to describe the sheep themselves…  These are not what you picture as the cute, little, white, fuzzy lambs skipping across the tepe.  These sheep have been especially bred for their wool and have very large… shall we say… gluteus maximi… that hang over the backs of their legs and flap in the breeze.  This is not their tail; that is there too.  Apparently these… bottoms… are full of fat and are considered a delicacy; one that I must admit I haven’t developed a taste for yet.  Too gamey.  The fleece, however, taken from this particular region of the sheep is supposedly the softest and highest quality.  Makes you think of cashmere in an entirely different way.

The first time I saw one of these sheep up close I thought it had a huge, cancerous deformity flapping along behind it.  Then I noticed that all of them are the same.  In some strange way the goats actually end up being the cuter of the two.

Now to the crux of my tale, but first let me remind you that my trench is more then two meters deep.  That means that when I’m in my trench, standing on tip toe, I can just peek over the edge and be eye level with the ground.

Last Saturday (we get one day off a week, and that is Friday for the Muslim holyday), when I hiked up the side of the tepe to my trench to get working, the entire side of the hill looked like someone had upended a massive pepper shaker.  The flocks must have been “parked” on my side of the tepe the whole time we were off.  That means that they were “doing their business” all over the hillside, and it was absolutely covered with small black pellets, and those would be swarming with flies in the heat… thank you sheep!

We had gotten to the tepe at our normal 5am, but rather than the clear blue sky we are used to, it was hazy and overcast.  We could just see a white glowing space where the sun was.  This is unusual for Turkey at this time of year, but we foreigners just thought it was a nice cool morning and we enjoyed the respite from the heat.  Our workers kept eyeing the horizon suspiciously.  The morning turned a little blustery, and we thought it weird that the horizon stayed looking so blurry, like rain but without any moisture in the air or lightening.  What we were actually seeing but not comprehending was a sandstorm.  We were just too ignorant to know it.

Around 11am the wind really started to pick up.  A huge blast hit my trench, sending a very large dust devil right through.  It literally knocked us over and sounded like our sun cover was being ripped to shreds.  Just before this happened, my workmen and I had been noses to the ground, completely oblivious to the upper world around us.  Now that we were upended by the wind and so being curious souls, we all crept to the edge of the trench, stood on tip toe and peered out at a world gone mad.  Everything was airborne, including all those little black pellets.  I opened my mouth to exclaim and then clamped it shut immediately before any black pellets of doom could come flying in.  A little herd of cows were all standing diagonally into the wind.  This couldn’t be good…

We ended up shutting down the excavation early that day, before our tents, our trench journals, and our lovely bags of artifacts were swept up Wizard of Oz-style and dropped into the Tigris.  I’ve seen a dust devil pick up a bag of light animal bone, sweep it straight up 30 feet in the air, and then gently hover craft it over the river to deposit it in the sheep and goat herd on the opposite bank.  This wind was not gentle, so we gave up and went home for lab work.

When we finally got back to the dig house the crew all ran up the eight stories of stairs to the rooftop to see if we could rescue our bedding.  Luckily only one mattress had blown off the roof (we never did find it…), but everything else had blown across it and was now in a large dusty pile.  Sleep time was going to be a bit gritty this evening.

By 4pm the sky turned yellow.  For those of you who have seen the movie Pitch Black… Bismil had that same crazy, yellow hue that the planet did when there was sunlight.  Eerie.

Eventually the wind died down and the next day was back to normal.  That small taste of a sandstorm made us all wonder what it would have been like out in the desert, where the entire landscape is moveable.  This part of southeastern Turkey looks a lot like southern California (if you take away all the cities and freeways); lots of rolling golden hills and flat land for crops.  Our landscape had not changed by the time we got back to the tepe and our excavation trenches, but the contents of our trenches had.  The first thing my workmen and I had to deal with were the heaps of black pellets of doom piled around the bottom of my trench.  I started being disgruntled with the sheep…

Sunrise over the Tigris River from the top of Kenan Tepe.

Sunrise over the Tigris River from the top of Kenan Tepe.

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Taking One For The Team

In a previous post (sometimes it feels like a previous life), I mentioned that I am an archaeologist and that I have worked in Turkey.  It is amazing work; literally digging up the past and holding it in your hands.  I love it, but it is always hard to be away from my friends, family, boyfriend (at the time, husband of course now) and cats.  I can’t even imagine what it would be like if I had to be away from Little Man for that period of time.  Some day… but not today…  For my first couple of field seasons in Turkey as a graduate student we only had access to internet once a week when we went into town for our day off.  The connections were slow, power often shut off randomly and we had to deal with the extra vowels of the Turkish keyboard.  In order to feel connected to my distant loved ones I would jot down stories in my notebook of things that were happening over the course of the week.  Then on our day off we would all head to an internet café and from there I would email my latest story en masse to friends and family.  In a strange way this let me feel connected through the shared experience of reading and writing about events, even when the events weren’t being experienced together.  It feels remarkably similar to what I am doing now with this blog.

 In the move to Canada I came across a folder of printed out emails that I call my Turkey Tales.  I boxed them up (they are around here somewhere…) with the thought that they would be fun to read later on (like years from now).  When I started this blog Dave suggested that I should see if any of the Turkey Tales would work as posts.  It was a good idea, but I’d have to find that blasted box first.  Then on a recent visit from Dave’s Mom she mentioned a particular story that I had emailed during the field season just before Dave and I married.  It turned out that Ruth kept this particular story in one of her email folders and opens it up from time to time when she wants/needs a good laugh.  I asked if she could forward it to me and she did.  As I re-read this “post” I started smiling and chuckling as remembered it through the written version. 

Me and fellow archaeologist/soccer star "Cat."

Me and fellow archaeologist/soccer star “Cat.”

The story itself deals with a soccer match between we archaeologists and our Kurdish workers from a local village near the excavation site.  The match took place during the summer field season directly before my wedding to Dave.  I had forgotten some of the details, but especially now as Dave and I celebrate our eighth wedding anniversary it seems apropos (that’s for you Dave) to share the story here.

 The summer before our wedding Dave and I were apart for about three months.  I was in Turkey excavating for nine weeks and got home one day after he had left for a six week field season in the Republic of Georgia.  He would come back from that field season with a mere two weeks left until the wedding.  When he left for his fieldwork he’d left me two letters; one was the perfect love letter (a note on the outside instructed that I was to read this one first) and the second was a list of things for the wedding that he was supposed to take care of… but didn’t.  Doh!  Around the time he was writing his second letter, I was preparing for this soccer match.

 The Saga of the Soccer Match

Here is the saga of the soccer match…  Last year the dig team played a soccer game against their excavation hands from a local village.  Everyone had such a blast they decided to make it an annual event; the yubangi (foreigners) against the locals.  This year the excavation season has been difficult.  We had all the problems with the workers’ strike, and the village that we had to cut off relations with was the one from the soccer saga last year.  Even though we could not work together at the excavation anymore the team still wanted to have a game, and it was decided that the archaeologists would make up one team, and any of our workers regardless of which village they hailed from could make up the other team.  This decision was extremely naïve on our part, as the different villages and lineages did not necessarily get along and there was a definite internal pecking order that we were oblivious to.

 I was asked to play but was afraid of making a fool of myself so decided to embrace my chicken-ness and play spectator instead.  Another female excavator felt the same way and we plotted to be cheerleaders and not allow ourselves to get dragged into the actual event.

 Game day.  After a full day of excavation we left for the match.  We piled into the van, all of us in various forms of excavation clothes including worn and dusty khakis, torn runners and t-shirts, the women with our Kurdish headscarves firmly in place.  In short, we were unimpressive.  We got to the soccer pitch a little early so our team would have time to warm up, play around with a ball and hopefully not embarrass ourselves too much.  As we pulled into the parking area we saw that the other team was already there, and our jaws dropped.  Not only was the other “team” there but they were all wearing professional uniforms; matching jerseys with numbers and names, striped socks, boots, the entire kit.  Apparently the team of Kurdish villagers we thought we were going to play were actually a regional semi-pro team.  To make it worse they also were only from the one village and had told all of our other workers from the remaining four villages that they couldn’t play.  For a moment our team considered calling the match off, but the strike had left all of us a bit nervy and the chance to run around playing soccer, not doing anything academic, was too good to pass up.  The game would go on.

 Not only was the opposing team different from what we expected, but so was the pitch.  It was carpeted and smaller than a normal soccer field, which was great since if we’d had to run on a normal sized field I think we would have expired.  The sun was going down, as was the temperature, but it was still well over 100 degrees F in the shade.  While we had been doing hard physical labor for weeks, excavation is not largely cardiovascular and every one of the archaeologists was winded within minutes.  The Turkish game was also played differently.  You could play the ball off of the chain link fences surrounding the pitch and the goals were very shallow.

 The fan base was unique as well.  In rural Turkey it is unseemly for women sit with men whom they are not related to, so there were no female fans on their side.  There certainly were no female players; and therefore no Kurdish women making spectacles of themselves.  The same cannot be said for the American side.  The bleachers were filled with the other team’s kinsmen and a handful of excavation workers that had not been “called up” to the team.  And then there was Jenny and myself; hooting and hollering, jumping up and down, and all around acting remarkably unladylike in the Turkish/Kurdish sense.  We apparently scandalized the neighborhood as we would learn the next day.  Good Kurdish women do not cheer or raise their voices like we did.  Nor did they heckle the opposing team with comparisons to various parts of a sheep’s anatomy.  We were obviously not good Kurdish women.

Me in Urfa looking over the Balikligol (Fish Pond) and wearing the same headscarf from soccer fame.

Me in Urfa looking over the Balikligol (Fish Pond) and wearing the same headscarf from soccer fame.

Needless to say, we started playing and pretty quickly the slaughter began.  Our Kurdish cook and driver had agreed to play for us and they were both surprisingly good; much better than any of us.  I’m not sure why we were surprised by this, but we were obviously pretty slow at that point.  They are the only two who kept the “match” from being a wholesale blowout.

 In the last ten minutes of the game our cook was in goal and called for me to come and take his place.  He wanted to go forward in order to try to score a couple goals so we won’t lose so pathetically.  We had stopped counting at this point, but I think the score was something along the lines of 2 to 10.  The ringers had been taking it easy on us at the end.

 Not wanting to disappoint our cook who had miraculously made coming home from the excavation to his meals something to look forward to… I agreed to go in.  You learn early on that to keep an excavation team functioning, you’ve got to keep them happy.  The best way to do that is to keep them well fed.  We don’t have many bells and whistles in the field, but good food goes a long way.  In a future post I’ll share the story of the “hairy red sauce” of the previous field season and you’ll see how important this can be.  Ugh!

 So the cook wanted me to take his place.  We were already short handed on the field, and in order to save my supper (literally) I was going into goal.  There was no way this could end well.

 My “uniform” consisted of a clean (relatively) white t-shirt, loose green palazzo pants, an embroidered headscarf and sandals.  I was hardly something to strike fear into the hearts of those wanting to slam the ball into the net as hard as they could.  May I also add that I have never been in the goal?  Ever.  And that the Turkish ball was different from standard soccer balls, being a little larger and really heavy.  All I could think about was that this ball would leave a mark.

 The sun had gone down and the field’s lights weren’t good.  I was sure that I would be the biggest embarrassment of a goalie ever, but at least my ego would have taken one for the team.  Small enough encouragement.

 I got in the goal and quickly took off my flimsy sandals before I twisted an ankle.  I did not want to repeat an injury to my feet like I shared in the Family Dinner post (posted on 9-12-13.  The soccer match took place one year after the salmon dinner).  A ball was quickly, but softly, kicked at the goal and I ran after it like I was chasing my cat, bent at the waste, bum in the air, arms outstretched.  I had just as much success blocking the ball as I’ve had catching Zadi when she zooms through the room.  I was undeterred, however.

 When the next shot came, I pushed a player from other team out of the way and somehow ended up sprawled across the goal with the ball outside of the net.  Not my most graceful maneuver, but an effective one.  All I could think of was Dave saying “that’s my girl.”  Then a third shot came and I was able to block it pretty easily. I promise you I was not getting cocky, just lucky.  I was sure that any second a ball was going to come with my name on it and I would be nursing a broken nose for the wedding.

Me in Istanbul posing before Dave and I went out for a dinner to celebrate the end of a successful field season.  All 10 toes accountd for.

Me in Istanbul posing before Dave and I went out for a dinner to celebrate the end of a successful field season. All 10 toes accountd for.

 And then it came.  I still don’t remember it coming; never saw who took the shot.  All I remember is a stinging fire in my middle thigh region across both legs.  Everyone gasped as the resounding slap echoed off the concrete walls.  Players froze not sure what I would do.  My girl friends on the team said that if they hadn’t loved me before, that sacrifice would have bought their hearts.

 And the ball was just sitting there right in front of the goal…

 And my brain finally realized that I should probably pick it up…

 So I did and then dramatically collapsed in a heap on the floor hamming it up.  Everyone started laughing again and I was a hero, though we still lost 5 to 10.  At least I only let in one.

 And now each thigh has a nicely yellowing half moon bruise that when I stand with my legs together share a remarkable resemblance to a Turkish soccer ball.  I never thought that taking one for the team would smart quite so much.  After the match the winning team served us hot tea, and we eventually went home to nurse our wounds.  I needed an ice pack.

 I’ve since tried to figure out which of the workers took that shot.  My current workmen seem to have developed a convenient case of amnesia and no one is willing to fess up.  One did bring me a nicely woven head scarf beaded by his mother.  I wonder which one of his cousins is the guilty party…

 —

Today –

It’s been just over eight years since that story took place.  What a remarkable ride.  Happy anniversary, Dave!

Dave and I after our first field season together as a married couple having cocktails at the Pera Palace, one of the grand hotels in Istanbul designed in the Orient Express era.

Dave and I after our first field season together as a married couple having cocktails at the Pera Palace, one of the grand hotels in Istanbul designed in the Orient Express era.

These are the buttons you see above Dave's head in the previous picture.  High tech at the time, you could push to call a waiter for food, your barman or your groom for your "ride home."

These are the buttons you see above Dave’s head in the previous picture. High tech at the time, you could push to call a waiter for food, your barman or your groom for your “ride home.”

The biggest smiles and relaxed poses always show the end of a field season.

The biggest smiles and relaxed poses always show the end of a field season.

 Cacık (Chilled Yogurt and Cucumber Soup)

Thinking about Turkey made me nostalgic and when that happens I often have to make a Turkish dinner.  Cacık (pronounced zhazhik) is a chilled yogurt and cucumber soup that is fantastic on a hot summer or fall day.  In Turkey this is what I always want at the opening of my meal.  It is refreshing, cooling, and also stimulates the appetite for whatever delicious offering is coming next.  I recently made cacık as part of the meal to welcome Dave’s Mom back to our place after a ferry from the mainland.  Another plus for this soup is that it takes minutes to prepare and can be held in the refrigerator for hours before being served.  If that isn’t enough incentive to try cacık, it’s also a great way to use up any late summer cucumbers that your gardener friends “gift” you with.

 Ingredients

1 tsp. salt

Pinch of sugar

2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

1 tsp. dried mint (or 1 tbsp. fresh)

1 ¾ c. plain yogurt (fat free is fine, just use a good quality yogurt)

1 large cucumber

2 tbsp. cold water

 In a medium-sized nonreactive bowl mix the first five ingredients well.  Set aside.

 Peel the cucumber and slice it in half lengthwise.  With a small spoon remove and discard the seeds.  Then finely dice the cucumber and add it to the yogurt mixture.

 Add the cold water to the yogurt-cucumber mixture and stir.  The consistency should be thin, but not watery.  Depending on the type of yogurt you used you might need to add a little more water to thin it out.  Cover the soup and place it in the refrigerator for 20 minutes or up to a couple of hours to keep it chilled until ready to serve.

 Note: On an exceptionally hot day add less water to the soup and instead float a couple of ice cubes in each bowl.  As the ice melts it will dilute the soup and keep everything refreshingly cold.  Afiyet olsun (bon appetite in Turkish)!

 Click here for a printable recipe card for Cacik.

marie4

Culture Shock

The other day I was “diagnosed” with culture shock by a very nice woman at the Immigrant Welcome Center (part of the Central Vancouver Island Multicultural Center – CVIMC).  Mind you this was after a day of multiple, very polite no’s from an assortment of Canadian institutions ranging from driver’s licenses to health insurance and back again.  I can do nothing until my paperwork for Permanent Resident status is filed.  Even hearing about the CVIMC was a fluke as a nice fellow immigrant in line for a driver’s license recognized our stunned looks and suggested we go to there for assistance.  I didn’t want to go to the CVIMC.  I didn’t want to be an immigrant.  I just wanted to be “home.”  Once at the CVIMC I nearly lost it after hearing about a few more no’s that I would soon encounter.  This is when the woman kindly told me that there is a term for what I was experiencing and it is called culture shock.  Now she had my attention.

 For an anthropologist to be diagnosed by someone else as suffering from culture shock was both embarrassing (that I didn’t notice the “symptoms” in myself) and enlightening.  It would never have occurred to me to think about my experiences in Canada in that light.  For any of my former students who might be reading this, it feels like all of my past exams where I’ve asked questions about culture shock have come back to bite me in the… well, you know.

 For any readers who are not former students, or for my students who slept through that lecture and therefore missed those questions on Exam 1, let me explain.  Culture shock is defined as “a syndrome precipitated by the anxiety that results from losing all your familiar cues” (Golde 1986:11 in Delaney).  This disorientation can result in “frustration, [as well as] repressed or expressed aggression against the source of discomfort, an irrational fervor for the familiar and comforting, and disproportionate anger at trivial interferences” (Golde 1986).  Welcome to my life in Canada.  In the classroom this is where I have a fun discussion with my students sharing now humorous experiences they have had while traveling.  Invariably there are stories about things going wrong in foreign bathrooms, about never eating with your left hand in Morocco (or insert any Middle Eastern country name there), about how when traveling in Great Britain you should always look both ways before crossing the street (Americans often look the “wrong” way and then step out into full traffic), and recently an increasing number of stories from students experiencing culture shock while serving with the military in Afghanistan and Iraq.

 The culture shock story I always share is from my first field season as an archaeologist in Turkey.  The region that I specialize in is so far south and east as to be almost Syria or Iraq depending on the direction you are facing.  This is one of the reasons why I am not actively in the field at the moment… one of the reasons.  While I LOVE traveling in Turkey and Istanbul is one of my favorite cities in the world, at the time that this culture shock experience took place I was a long way from Istanbul and not feeling much Turkey love at the moment.  I had been in the field for eight weeks, was exhausted from the relentless excavation work, worn out by the 140 degree heat that literally felt like you were in a convection oven (hot air blowing down on you from the sky as well as radiating up at you from the hot stone streets), and I had just gone to the internet cafe to find that I had no emails from friends, family or boyfriend (Dave!).  Basically I was in an all around foul mood.  I was also dressed in conservative Muslim style out of respect for the culture, which in this case meant I was wearing a long, flowy skirt, a button-up shirt with sleeves that covered my elbows, and a head scarf that covered my hair.  I was a portrait of modesty.  However, I am also 6 ft. tall and fair complexioned amid a sea of very short, very tanned, dark-haired Turks.  You could put me in full hijab, head to toe black veils with a niqab face veil, gloves, the works and I would still stand out like a sore thumb on the streets of Diyarbakir.  Or perhaps more like a Darth Vader strolling through the bazaar shopping for cute head scarves.

 All of this leads up to me walking back from the Diyarbakir çarşa (covered bazaar), feeling home sick, and walking past a Turkish man heading the other direction.  As he passed me, he gave me a quick look over, up, down and back around, and said “Allah, Allah, mashallah…”  Did I mention I was in a foul mood?  He’s lucky it took me a minute to figure out what he’d said.  A rough translation is basically “OMG, forgive me for what I was just thinking.”  I was so tired, and so tired of trying to be respectful just to get ogled and treated like a circus freak (or at least it felt like that at the time), that if he had been closer I cannot vouch for what I would have done.  At the time I fantasized about having a full New Yorker Matrix-esque reaction involving all sorts of martial arts moves that even if I had wanted to I could not have pulled off.  Remember the part about culture shock and “disproportionate anger at trivial interferences?”  Yeah…

 That is a story that I share with my class whenever we first start talking about culture shock.  As horrible as culture shock can be while traveling, for me it has always been balanced out with other good travel experiences.  Great people I meet, the fantastic kindness of strangers, an unexpected lunch in a lush garden that looked like what I imagine the Garden of Eden to have been, swimming in the Euphrates River, and other fun memories.  But I’m not travelling now, and in fact once I file my paperwork for Permanent Resident status I will not be allowed to leave the country until that is finalized.  Also, we’re talking Canada here people, not Turkey, not Lebanon, not Spain, not someplace that looks or sounds or tastes all that different from what I used to call “home.”  This is a place where I never even considered experiencing culture shock, but I do feel like I’ve been stripped of all of my familiar cultural cues (see previous posting about not being able to figure out driving speeds/distances, temperatures, etc.), and I do find myself struggling to not respond with irrational anger at simple situations.  Culture shock without the benefit of having fun travel experiences to round out the struggles.

 So now I find myself in the odd position of being an immigrant.  I don’t know why I have resisted that title so much, but I have.  And in the meantime, one of my best places for making friends is among other immigrants.  The woman who “diagnosed” me stated another glaring fact; that when you move to a new place and don’t have any friends you are more likely to make friends with other people who also want to make friends.  And guess what, it is often other immigrants who have no friends and want to make new ones.  Last week Aiden and I went with the Immigrant Welcome Center to visit a bee farm in nearby Cedar, and this week we’ll be touring a local lake and nature center.  I am looking forward to sharing Canadian culture shock stories with others who are going through the same thing.

 -next day-

After writing this post, the very next morning Little Man was singing one of his own songs.  He LOVES music, and will sing and play whenever he can.  Little Man is still getting the hang of dancing, but he loves to play guitar on just about anything he can find, from a fork, to a piece of drift wood, to a plastic leg from his toy barbeque, he rocks out all the time.  He also likes to use all of those things to drum around the house.  Two of his favorite places for drumming are the living room front window ledge or the living room table.  He often signs along to his pounding… I mean drumming… but most of the time he sings made up words or just yodels at the top of his little lungs, which can be quite impressive.

 Then this morning, after writing about culture shock the night before, Little Man started drumming and singing at the top of his lungs in the living room while I was getting ready.  Suddenly I realized that I could understand the words he was singing; three words repeated over and over again with joy.  I figured I must be hearing what I wanted to hear because of what I’d been writing the previous evening so I asked Dave if he heard the words being sung.  Dave stopped for a moment and with a big smile said “yes, he’s singing ‘too far away.’”

 What happened is that just before Little Man started singing this morning, he was talking with Dave and asking if he could go to his beloved day care provider’s house in Pella, Iowa.  He misses her and her daughter very much and asks about them often.  So this morning Little Man asked Dave if he could go over there to play and Dave said that unfortunately no, he couldn’t go since they were “too far away.”  Then Little Man went out to the living room, picked up his “drum sticks” and started playing and singing “too far away” over and over again.  I was near tears, but Little Man was smiling, singing and playing with reckless abandon.  Joy and sadness together.