The Navage Haps – October 2019

With all of the projects and printables and crafts we’ve been writing about this year, it occurred to us that I haven’t published a Yap post in a while. In fact, most of you on our email list may never have read a Navage Yap.

Yaps are the posts in which I write about anything besides our projects and crafts and adventures and recipes.

I used to write quite a few of them, but in 2019, things really started to pick up with the blog, and our project list around the house started getting longer.

I didn’t have time for anything but “real” posts.

So the Yaps sorta fell by the wayside.

But it’s time to bring them back, and this is the first of what will be a monthly recap of life around The Navage Patch.

I call it The Navage Haps.

Let’s start back in the summer.

Yeah, yeah, I know – I said it was going to be an October recap. And it will be!

But some cool stuff happened this summer, and I want to tell you about it.

For starters, we’re now a fully American family!

The whole journey took 6 1/2 years, and jeezum crow, I can’t believe we’ve been here for that long!

It started in February 2013. Handan and Barish had just arrived in America the previous month, and we all went to see an immigration lawyer about starting down the road to citizenship.

Six months later, Handan and Barish got their green cards. They were now “resident aliens,” so of course I nicknamed them “My Little Aliens.”

I February 2018, Handan became a citizen after living here and staying married to me for 5 years.

Five years. With me. They should have erected a statue in her honor to go with her certificate of citizenship.

From there, it was a matter of filing the paperwork for Barish and waiting.

And waiting.

And waiting some more.

Yeesh, I know the government isn’t known for clocking the fastest mile, but this was getting ridiculous.

After more than a year, we checked in on his application and found that it had been…lost? Misplaced? Eaten by a senator’s dog?

Whatever had happened, our lawyer had to re-file.

And once again we waited.

But this time it only took 6 months! I guess the government felt bad about the mixup and really put Barish’s application on the fast track.

So the day finally arrived.

My boy was to become an American at a swearing-in ceremony at the courthouse in Hartford.

We picked up Barish early from school and drove into the city.

I was excited.

Handan was excited.

My parents were excited.

Barish sat in the back seat and played Clash of Clans on his phone.

We arrived at the courthouse, and I expected it would be the same as when Handan was sworn in—dozens of excited immigrants and their families packed into a grand courtroom, an inspiring story from a wise judge, then clapping and cheering as a new crop of citizens rose from their seats for the first time as Americans.

But instead of directing us to the grand courtroom, they told us to walk down another hallway.

We arrived not at a grand courtroom but a vast waiting room – its rows of chairs peppered here and there with families.

There would be no rousing speech.

This was a ceremony for children.

After a 20 minute wait, the courthouse officials began calling names. Once called, the applicant walked up to a bank of windows on the far side of the room, showed identification and surrendered his or her green card. The applicant was issued a number and told to sit back down.

Barish was the last one called to the window.

He received his number and waited to be called to one of the other windows.

When called, he was shown the oath of citizenship and asked if he understood it.

I hereby declare, on oath, that I absolutely and entirely renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state, or sovereignty, of whom or which I have heretofore been a subject or citizen; that I will support and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States of America against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I will bear arms on behalf of the United States when required by the law; that I will perform noncombatant service in the Armed Forces of the United States when required by the law; that I will perform work of national importance under civilian direction when required by the law; and that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; so help me God.

He read carefully, his mouth moving slightly as if pronouncing them to his brain.

I read along with him. When he was finished, I asked if he knew all the words in there. There were some that even native speakers might not know.

He nodded.

That’s my boy.

He was then instructed to sign his certificate of citizenship, which the agent took back and put into an envelope.

With that done, we were all instructed to sit down again.

At this point, all applicants under 14 were excused. They had their certificates already, and they were done. They were citizens.

But the kids 14 and older needed to be sworn in by reciting the oath of citizenship aloud.

We waited some more while they processed the certificates.

Some time later, a woman arrived to administer the oath. There were 6 teens, including Barish. The families sat a few rows back from the children.

I was excited.

Handan was excited.

My parents were probably excited, though they had to leave early due to an illness.

All the adults in the room were excited.

And the teens? The ones about to become Americans?




In other words, typical teens.

The woman spoke and asked the kids to repeat.

Six young mouths mumbled through the oath of citizenship. If we weren’t sitting 5 feet away, we may have missed it altogether. Barish was the loudest among them, but even he was barely audible. (He later confessed to being self-conscious about talking too loud since the other kids were practically whispering.)

After the oath, the kids were called up one-by-one to receive their certificates, a letter from the President and a couple of small American flags.

Did they hop up from their seats and proudly march to receive their certificates as Handan’s group had?

Not exactly. In fact, you’d be forgiven for thinking they were lined up for punishment instead of citizenship!

Part of me wanted to scream, “Pay attention and show some enthusiasm, you knuckleheads!”

But then I remembered how I was at that age, and I probably would have been itching to get the hell out of there and back to doing something fun.

Ah, youth—forever squandered on the young.

Anyway, to his credit, Barish smiled when he received his certificate. I think he’s starting to understand what it took for his mother and me to get him to this point.

We’re so proud of him! That certificate in his hands will make a world of difference as he matures and enters the working world, and I am delighted to have helped open a new doorway to success for him.

So now our house is an American house – I can’t call them My Little Aliens anymore!


So. Walking. Who does it?

Handan and I started this summer when Barish was in Turkey visiting his father. We got really into it – we walked every single night after dinner.

We walked even when the mosquitos and gnats hung thick in the humid evening air. Handan is gnat magnet. I’ve never seen anything like it! There was a constant swarm around her head almost every night!

Fortunately she had a stylish solution, lol!

Sometimes we’d walk until dark. I love the sounds of a summer night in New England.

But this month, we’ve fallen off the walking wagon.

It’s always the same excuses.

Handan’s work is busy.

The blog is too busy.

Barish’s schedule keeps me driving all over town.

The days are getting too short.

The weather is turning nasty.

But excuses are like the mosquitos that harass my poor babes: they’re everywhere, and they all suck!

Or put another way, excuses are like assholes: everybody has one, and they’re all full of shit.

We need to get back out there, despite all of the excuses that have kept us inside this month.

That little bit of walking every day made us both feel so much better! This weekend, we’re going to carve out some time to walk, and hopefully, I’ll be able to work it back into our schedules.

How do you find time in a busy schedule for walking and exercise? Just don’t tell us to “wake up earlier” lol!


If you remember from some of my gardening posts in previous years, I talked about the black rot that had been plaguing my grape vines ever since I first planted them.

Well, this year was no exception. I had tried various remedies last year, but nothing worked.

So this year I just left the grapes alone. I never even bothered pruning them.

By midsummer I was done with them.

Done with those damn vines and their promise of fruit that never survived long enough to eat.

I suggested to Handan that I tear out the vines and the overgrown garden plot next to them and seed it with grass.

She agreed, and that was that for our utter failure of a vineyard.

You’re looking at a garden bed overgrown with weeds in the picture below. The vines are behind the weeds.

What a mess!

It was a hard day of work to remove it all and seed it, but I’m so happy I did!

You can see the grass starting to grow back there. This pic was from September.

Now about that old pine tree stump…

When we expanded our back yard in 2014, we left that stump. We had all sorts of plans for it, but nothing came to fruition.

It just sat there, year after year – an awkward reminder of unrealized plans.

Last year, its bark blew off in a big storm.

Slowly but surely, it turned into a rotted husk.

We decided that it stood in the perfect spot for a fire pit.

But getting it all out including the roots wasn’t a DIY job.

After the stump was removed, I reseeded the area. We then picked out a fire pit and waited for delivery.

I’ll post about making that fire pit in the spring, but here it is, right where that stump used to be!

One of the things that’s always bothered me about Barish’s generation is that so many of them don’t spend enough time outdoors, Barish included.

Part of this is due to electronics and the internet—and that’s the part that annoys me.

But unfortunately the other part, at least around here, is that it’s just not very safe to be outside anymore!

Deer ticks are everywhere, and though we do spray our yard for them, the forest just over the fence is still teeming with them. I wouldn’t want to risk him getting Lyme disease just to satisfy my notion that he should be outside more.

(And now we have the EEE virus to worry about. Awesome!)

When I built this fire pit, I wasn’t expecting him to spend much time around it. But a couple of weeks ago, on a night he was having his two best friends (aka The Twins) over for gaming and a sleepover, I built a fire and brought out a big garbage can full of scrap wood. When The Twins arrived, I asked that they all man the fire until their pizzas were delivered. I figured that would keep them outside for 30 minutes. It was a cold night, and The Twins were in shorts.

Good enough for me!

But when the pizza came, they wanted to stay outside and eat it.

Awesome! I gave Barish a bunch of paper plates and back to the pit he went.

Handan and I stayed inside, ate our dinner and watched TV.

Darkness settled in and the boys stayed by the fire pit.

I couldn’t believe it!

I admit to going out a few times to make sure they were okay. This was aberrant behavior!

Finally, a full 2 1/2 hours after I sat them at the fire, they came inside.

They had been out there electronics-free (save for some music they played through Barish’s phone)!

I was so proud of him!

Sounds silly, doesn’t it? But really, it was great to see him take to the fire pit like that and spend some time outdoors.

Fire has that power at night. It awakens something primal in us that draws us closer, a dancing enchantment that connects us with our ancestors.


Speaking of fire, October marks the start of indoor fire season.

One of my favorite days is when I carry the firewood rack from behind the shed and place it next to the deck.

This year, I stacked a ton of logs that my neighbor had graciously split over the winter from the trees we removed last summer. I gave him most of the wood as a ‘thank you’ for his efforts, but there was so much wood that I got probably two years of firewood from the deal.

I didn’t think that wood was properly seasoned yet. Oak likes to sit about 2 years before burning.

But I had an old old pile behind the shed…

Old and wet.

I never properly tarped it, and the small tarp that had been covering a section of the pile had long since blown off in a storm.

Well, the new wood wasn’t ready yet, so I was going to have to give the old stuff a try.

The pile had taken on a life of its own. Slugs, mushrooms, spiders, wood-ears, lichen, centipedes, mold, invading vines from the forest – this log pile was a thriving ecosystem!

There were a few good, dry pieces here and there, but most of it was wet and heavy.

I chose the best pieces to fill the firewood rack and tarped the rest. Hopefully it’ll dry out a bit!


October is also apple harvest month.

My apples trees are maturing, and this year was our biggest haul ever.


I’ll leave you with a little trick I discovered one night. I was cooking keto eggplant parmesan, and I needed a lot of garlic for the sauce. Normally, I just peel the cloves the old-fashioned way and then mince or slice them.

But I was feeling a little lazy that night.

I didn’t want to peel all those cloves.

I knew there was a technique out there to quickly peel garlic by tossing a bulb or a bunch of cloves in a mixing bowl, covering that bowl with another of the same size and shaking. But I didn’t have mixing bowls handy, and that method makes a mess of both bowls.

I took a sip of my martini, and inspiration struck.

A cocktail shaker!

I grabbed mine and tossed in the cloves.

Shake shakity shakeshakeshake


Perfectly peeled and ready for slicing!

Okay, that’s all I have for you today. Now that I’ll be writing this monthly recap, I’ll be sure to take more pictures throughout the month of what I’m doing.

I’m notoriously bad about that – even when I’m doing a project for the blog!

Though I do consider myself a professional photographer at this point, I still prefer to live the moment rather than capture it for social media.

But for the sake of this blog, I will do me very best to pull the camera from my pocket and record a little more of what happens behind the scenes here at The Navage Patch.

Happy November, everyone!

Love, Greg and Handan

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  1. Thank you Greg I enjoy your page so much. We have 3 grown sons and your humor reminds me of our wise acre guys. My sons are less than 5 years apart, the goofy acts of Moe, Curly & Larry are so similar. God bless Handan as she deals with both of you guys .
    Marcia DePree

  2. Really enjoyed that… just reading about everyday life. We got rid of our above ground pool because the kids were older, grandkids were arriving and there wasn’t a pool heater Ha! (wisconsin) My husband created a beautiful fire pit and the same happened here. Everyone loves hangin’ out by the pit. A drink in hand, and S’more makings for the kids.
    Happy November, love to you both!
    PS is Haden creating decals for Christmas candles??? (hint hint) lol

    1. Thank you, Wendy – I’ll be writing more of these in the future! Oh, getting rid of the pool – that’s music to my ears, lol! Nothing beats a fire though, right? And oh yeah – Handan has some Christmas candle decals coming your way! 🙂

  3. Thank you for update, as for updates, it’s ok life happens! Your family and your ideas inspire me and now my daughter. She is a new home owner and is loving your ideas. So thank you for taking the time to share. God bless.

    1. Hi Susan – I’m so happy that we’ve not only inspired you but your daughter as well! Thank you so much for reading. Blessings to you and your family! 🙂

  4. I very much enjoyed your yap. It’s nice to hear that other people let things get wet, have overgrown weeds, etc. We’ve got a pallet of paver bricks on our driveway and 2 pallets in our back yard that is supposed to be a new front sidewalk and a patio in the backyard. Yeah, they’ve been there 3 years. Congrats to Handan and Barish on becoming citizens

    1. Yep, been there! We had some landscape bricks on pallets in the driveway for about a year, and we also had a stack of landscape…what? timbers? railroad ties? They were big pressure treated wooden logs and they sat for over almost years next to the garage until I finally moved them elsewhere in the yard, where they spent another year. After that, I moved them behind the shed, and this spring I tossed them over the fence and stacked them in the woods. We haven’t given up on them yet though, lol! 😀

  5. How do you make sure to fit walking into your schedule? Well, apparently getting a puppy will make you do it! We’ve always walked, almost every day weather permitting, and sometimes even when it doesn’t permit. Earlier this year we decided to bite the bullet and rescue a 10 week old puppy – he is a mix of choc lab, border collie and great pyrenees – which translates to TONS OF ENERGY!!! So we walk to burn off that puppy energy – 35-40 miles a week right now and he just turned 9 months old. It’s a hell of an exercise program – that combined with the keto diet has put us two old geezers back into the best shape we’ve been in for years!

    And I hear you on the ticks… having been the “lucky” recipient of Lyme Disease in 2010 I can tell you from first hand experience it is not fun. I was treated, but still suffer almost 10 years later from flares that leave me feeling like crap for weeks at a time. But, we still love walks and hikes through the woods – just make sure to tick checks and make sure the puppy has his vaccinations. I was scared to death for the first few years to venture back into nature, but realize that nature is actually a very important part of my healing process.

    Congrats to your family on their citizenship and plodding through the process. We’ve had some friends go through the process as well – with lots of hiccups along the way. But hopefully, when all is said and done, it will have been totally worth the wait!

    1. Oh my god, that’s a lot of miles!! Wow, that plus keto – you guys must be like fitness gurus! We have our hands full with two dogs, so a pup at this point is out of the question, but that sure would be a good motivator! I’m so sorry to hear about your Lyme disease – it’s a real bitch from what I hear and from friends who have it. I’ll bet the keto and exercise help though!

  6. It was so nice to read your story. Congratulations on becoming US citizens, Haden. Many blessings to your family. ?

  7. Wow, what a nice update! I have been following for some time now and occasionally leave a comment when I think it is relevant. This time, throwing caution to the wind, I decided to just write and tell you how much I like you (personally) and your blog. You make me laugh, you give me inspiration and motivation and you always have a corny joke!!! 🙂 Keep it up. I would be so lonesome without you two!!!

    1. Awwww, Linda, thank you so much, and thank you for writing! Please feel free to comment any time on any post, whether it’s relevant or not! It is my honor to keep you company, even if I’m way over here and you’re way over there. Please keep commenting – I promise I’ll always write back! 🙂

  8. I’m a retired 75 yr ol’ woman and I love reading your adventures. Have used some of your ideas and improvised on others. Thank You.

  9. Congratulations to Handen and Barish! What a milestone for your family! Love reading the Navage Haps and look forward to your next one!

  10. I love reading all your stories, & hearing about the different projects around your house.
    Congrats to Handan & Barish becoming US citizens!

  11. First of all, congrats to Handan and Barish! Secondly, I hear you about kids just not going outside. I live in one of the safest towns in Canada across the street from a park that sadly sits empty the majority of the time. It seems like the only people who use it are dog walkers so the comment about getting a puppy to make you exercise seems spot on. I’m 47 and playing hide and go seek with the neighbourhood kids at dusk was one of my favourite activities growing up! My 18 yr old daughter would far rather read or watch YouTube than go outside and has pretty much always been this way. They recently put in a new playground so hopefully it will draw more kids in the summer. I love your Yaps so keep them coming!

    1. I guess the times have changed for good. I wonder if we had the internet when we were young, would we have been outside as much as we were. Soon enough, it’ll be their world, and we’ll just be the relics who live in, lol!

  12. Love the yap!! And that you’re such a “normal” family too! Congrats to Handan and Barish on their citizenships!

  13. Not sure if this applies in your neck of the woods, but when I lived in our one-room family cabin through two winters in the Rocky Mountains I tarped the mound of fire wood dropped off by the guy I bought it from and it became a wet mess. My neighbors, who had lived in the mountains for years, told me stacking it in cords so the air could circulate around it and leaving it uncovered was the best way to make sure it seasoned properly and it seemed to work despite being snowed and rained on almost constantly.

    1. I’ve heard of that, Teddee. Unfortunately, the wood I stacked in that corner was overflow from years ago. It really is the worst place to stack wood, as no air can circulate! My other stacking areas are a little better in that regard. 🙂

  14. Thank you for this post on just regular life! You guys just seem like the nicest people and I’ve loved reading all our your “Adventures” stories! Your house and yard are gorgeous and I love seeing all of the things you’ve done. I have absolutely zero advice here on fitting exercise into a daily routine–same exact problem here, I assure you! It’s so tough, right??! I think I’m fairly close to you in age but my girls are a little younger than Barish–it’s kind of funny but reading about Barish’s independence as he gets older gives me hope for my kiddos being more self-sufficient and giving me more time to complete cool house projects that I want to do. But, then I’ll probably miss when they were littler! Anyway, thanks for the update and congratulations to Handan and Barish on their citizenship!! Blessings to you all!

    1. Hi Karen, thank you for hanging in there with us! I’m happy to report that we got out and walked yesterday, and hopefully, we’ll do it again today! Handan says yeah, you’ll always miss them when they were little, lol! Blessings to you and your family!

  15. I enjoyed this missive! Love Handan’s bee-keeping hat! Enjoy your cozy New England fall/winter! (-;

  16. Congratulations on your newly minted citizenship!
    And I can relate to the bug screen hat. Mosquitoes love me too! I can’t go outside without flying, biting insects making a feast of me and I have been like this since I was born. Some of us just smell like a banquet to bugs.
    Ooh like the firepit. Someday I want to add one to my yard after I redo the deck and add a paved patio. Still need to finish the last of the indoor renovations before I tackle upgrading the yard. I never go out there much anyways because of said bugs (we live down the street from wetlands).

    1. Thank you, Laurie! Oh man, that must be a nightmare in the summer! Has EEE infiltrated your neck of the woods? Yet another thing to worry about!

  17. I used to attend the dawn service every ANZAC Day here in Oz (which is tomorrow, funnily enough!) where many new Australian’s would be sworn in under the flag. It was always very emotional. Congrats to both Handan and Barish as new citizens!

    Our winter’s here are very mild, no such thing as snow, but one of our favorite things to do as a family was sit around the fire pit. We’d cook some steaks and potatoes the old fashioned way, and bring out our instruments and jam a bit together. Even if we weren’t the most skilled musicians. As it got colder we would huddle under blankets and roast some marshmallows and really, there was nothing more perfect. I bet if you light up the fire and have some warm drinks or have dinner outside, Barish will spend more time out there. You might even be able to get that guitar back in his hands!