Wednesday, March 26, 2014

A few shots from our trip to downtown Kyiv on Monday. We roamed the area where the protesters and government forces faced off in the winter. Lots of impressions and emotions. And very vivid memories of what it felt like to 'watch' from afar the last 3 days of fighting (Feb 18 - 20)- following posts on Twitter and Facebook as government forces nearly swamped the last of the protesters and then as the snipers mowed them down that last awful day. And how it felt to go down to the central square here in our city as we saw off our own dear child- the little girl who used to play doctor with all her dolls and teddy bears- she once hooked her teddy up to a working IV- he got soaking wet- No longer a little girl, she's now a 2nd year medical student and spent many hours in Kyiv working in several of the field hospitals there. When we said good-bye to her that night, the snipers were still shooting and the situation looked desperate. The busload from our city was determined, upbeat and sober- but no tears. Most of them were men. Everyone had one or two people seeing them off. The whole lot of us were very sober and quiet...but there were no tears shed that I saw. Thankfully (for us), by the time that bus got to Kyiv, Parliament had passed several measures that halted violence. 
These are just a few of the pix. For the full album, go to this link (on facebook)


Name of our city (Ternopil) with the name of a local boy who was killed in the fighting; I wonder if this is where he died......




brave new world

More than a month since the last post. Things got really dicey really fast right then and just took my breath away. And it's just been hard to get the 'umph' to write. There have been some very encouraging days in there but also lots of very uncertain days. Ukraine is in brand new territory, feeling her way through. As has been echoed from everyone from the new government on down, We never even thought to prepare a defense of some kind against Russia; we never could have imagined that we'd need one. 
But need it they do. And prepare it they have...or are. 
The army began mobilizing about 3 weeks ago. One of the things the last pres did (the one who was impeached) was to nearly do away with the army (never mind that, number-wise, it's still the largest in Europe). A voluntary conscription was begun and thousands have signed up. Including many relatives and neighbors and acquaintances of my students. And some of my own acquaintances. 
And, of course, lots of military movement and training. And fund raising. 

The bright side of this? There are several, actually. 
-People need each other, they need us, we need them- we all feel it. People are listening intently and with need. And on the streets and in the stores and buses- people are nice to each other. Polite. Kind. It's been interesting to note.
-Not nearly as many drunks. In fact, since the holidays ended mid January, I've seen probably a handful. And usually there were that many a day. 

And that brings me to this: Purpose.
One day, my friend and I were walking along the road and noticed a small dog tearing along in a straight line- Point A to Point B, that was very clear. 
There goes a dog with a purpose, One of us said.
Zoom- another, larger dog goes tearing along hot on the heels of the first dog.
And there goes his purpose, The other one said.
And we laughed.

But we're like those dogs- We need something to focus on, to motivate us, to get us moving in a straight line. We need a purpose. Many Ukrainians have found a purpose that they didn't have. 
There is a better purpose, even, than theirs. I'm glad I have a purpose.  

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Yesterday has a new name- Bloody Tuesday

A post is in order, I suppose. But I'm not much in the mood for it. I'll put in a link to some pix I posted to facebook- although the album is private, this link should give you access to it. I haven't yet written about this on this blog at all, I don't think, although I've thought about it more than once. This winter has been a very tense one here- although I've not felt threatened or in danger at all. We have been able to go about our business without any problem. (Except for this morning's trip to our city's downtown area, I have stayed completely away from the areas where 'stuff' has been happening since late last Nov.) It seems

Ternopil police admin building last night (video of the destruction- this has been or is being repeated in many cities throughout the country- it seems that ours was first.)
And the prosecutor's office (also a video)
And the court (video)
And here's a video of the police in another city NW of ours (Lutsk) being escorted out of their admin building to chants of 'shame' and other (not very nice) things. The title of this video is 'For policemen in Lutsk they organized a corridor of honor' with the last two words being in quotes as obviously, it's a walk of shame.
There are many many pix and videos and links from Euromaidan/Evromaidan/Євромайдан #tags on twitter and pages on facebook and instagram. What a fool this man has been to push the people this far.

And I've pretty well lost my appetite for this kind of thing. I never had much of one to begin with, actually, although I've seen enough here to make me wish for physical change for this country. It's good to keep in mind that there is a much greater power than any displayed in these pix or videos that has been true and will be always. 

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

a few recent links

I want to eat make this salad. Recipe found here.

I want this room bed. More? Here.

I did a whole month of lessons on this (Nov- go figure) and used this song (and tried not to cry) and stuff I've gleaned from these posts over the past months. 

Mr FixIt and Son Tales

The bathroom floor- finished! And the washer is back in its place- that's what really made us smile! (You'd smile, too, if you were running out of vital things of clothage). I thought at first Mr FixIt's son said they were going to 'seal the grout'- which really knocked me out of the ball park. But...it's just there- the grout. They didn't seal it. Oh well.
The bedroom floor yest morning. Not long after we had a slight altercation polite discussion- Someone (cough) lost the PO box key. BigAndInCharge PO Lady gave me a number to call to take care of that. (No, they could not do it there and No they cannot go and check the box for us. Ok.) So- we asked Mr FixIt and his son to please refrain from using the saw for just a little bit while we made the all-important phone call. In the middle of the call, all other sound was suddenly drowned out by...the saw. I ran in there and asked them to PLEASE wait just 1 min. Their response? Tell her to go out into the corridor (the stairwell of the building). My eyes rolled so hard they nearly got stuck pointing some direction other than forward.

The floor at 4 pm last night when Mr FixIt left. 
In other remodel/FixIt news
-I pointed out that the shower head no longer fits into the wall-mounted holder. I yanked it last week (cough again) and did something dreadful to the inside liner and had to replace it...and the new one- didn't fit. The end was too fat. I pointed all that out. Could you please figure out something here? I asked. And he did. He (cough yet again) took it off and put it back on right side up. Oh. I mean. WhoKnew?
-We've started the big clean up. Big. As in- Mr FixIt cut the first of the tile for the bathroom in the bathroom with the door wide open. If you want to see how far that powdery dust can launch itself in about 10 seconds...well- come on over. Inside cupboards (whose doors were closed at the time). All pipes Everywhere. The door at the foot of my bed that goes out to the balcony. All the potted plants (they're getting showers in the tub.) Not to mention our tooth brushes (shudder- don't worry, we took care of those straight away). It. Is. Everywhere. Sigh.
-Yesterday AM we were having quiet time, getting ready for the day when Mr FixIt's son zooms over to their stash of materials right outside the door to my room (the middle of which is a large panel of glass with a frosted flower design in it- Yes, it's poorly designed)- the door is ajar (because it won't stay shut- no doorknob, you know)- He looks in through the glass, sees N by her bed contemplating what clothes to wear- thankfully she was still in her pj's (Yes, they got here early yest)- and says Hello!- all bright and cheerful. N looks stunned and says to me- It's like living at the train station. And I did what I should have done 3 months ago and put a throw over the glass. No one's looking in anymore.***
-This morning, N was reading her Bible on her bed and Mr FixIt comes charging into the room (without knocking) to inspect where the new doorknob will go. She's once again in shock. (I was in the kitchen eating this time.) Just what planet are these clowns from anyway? Mr FixIt and Son? We Are So Over You.  (They both left about 5 min later and haven't come back.)

***I feel like explaining this one a bit more. We got home very late Sun night- after 11 by the time we got in... and that's not in bed that's just in the door...we'd had a BIG day. Mon's are the one day we have to try to recover from the previous normally-very-big-and-long days. I woke up quite early with a migraine. A bad one. And was still trying to get to the point where I could move without the risk of throwing up. N was getting sick (she's flat out sick and in bed now). Mr FixIt has been arriving somewhere between 9 and 10 am. So his arrival not long after 8 yesterday caught us completely off guard and unprepared.  

Friday, February 7, 2014


Some fun links from today's feedreader stuff
  Language game? Now this is interesting. :)
  This little girl in the rain- absolutely adorable! But I'll bet there were some tears when they finally hauled her back inside. ;)
Mornings outside our kitchen window are never dull. That path road out there goes right to an elementary school- next building down from ours, in fact. So there's a steady stream of parents with small children, bigger children (too big to walk with their parents, that's for sure!) as well as people walking dogs and people hurrying to work (or wherever). This pic only has a smattering of people in it, actually. You'll have to come see for yourself! ;)

N was in a cookie baking mood. She made 'hedgehogs'- which, if you google 'hedgehog cookies'- do not look like this. This is a local variation, I guess. Strips of dry cookie dough cut into short strips (like short noodles) and baked, then clustered together and doused in egg whites beaten with sugar....

...and baked. Being as how I love meringue in nearly any form, these are pretty ok with me! 

Today was the day we got a new floor in the bathroom! Now this truly is big stuff! I don't think I have a pic of how it was...but the old floor was composed of smaller tiles that had mostly broken up altogether. The middle was just the bare yucky cement (we had a mat there). 

And the finished product. (Excuse that board- it is really truly there for us to stand on while we brush our teeth, wash our hands, etc...since the cement he used to set the tiles isn't dry yet. ;) 

Thursday, February 6, 2014

From where I sit

Gorgeous hoar frost this morning. It's been warming up and is supposed to be above freezing during the day for the next week or so. Can't say that I mind all that much. :)
Closer to the window. I loved looking out this window early last week when the snow was fresh and unspoiled. There's that poem about life being like a field of newly (driven?) snow- be careful how you tread it for every step will show. There's a lot to be said for learning from our mistakes (and how sad if we don't)... but what about learning from others' mistakes? And what about asking and seeking and knocking until we find, receive and are opened to? And sometimes we have a fresh snowfall that covers it all up and lets us 'start again'. Life truly is special.
This must have fallen from a floor above us. Someone must have a clothes line off their balcony/out their window. I don't know- I think I'd go claim it if it were mine! It's been there for days and looks more lonely and forlorn with each passing day! ;)

  • The remodeling is progressing. Mr Renovator Man has taken to opening the window (again) and smoking 'out' it...only, as he sheepishly said today 'It doesn't always work out'... No, it doesn't. We're not nagging him about it- he knows we don't like it but does it anyway...so what to do? I can't figure out why anyone would want a newly redone room to have the lingering odor of cigarette smoke in it from the very start...
  • We've been battling ants (little tiny ones. Tiny and hardy.) for nearly a year now. Ugh. K first noticed them last spring- she thought she'd brought them home in a box of cereal; I've come to the conclusion that they have a whole metropolis with suburbs and outlying areas in the walls of our building. We found a smallish anthill (not kidding) on our top cupboard shelf underneath the stash of disposable dinnerware- that was enough to give us the heebie-jeebies, I'm telling you. After that, we've waged a serious war- homemade ant poison and vigilantly checking the kitchen. Often. We lost 2 house plants to them- they must have moved into the pots and eaten the roots??? We found one ant highway that led to a crack under the windowsill and provided them with plenty of doctored food in that vicinity. Sigh. Did you see that thing that was going around the web earlier? About pouring molten aluminum on an anthill and seeing cool things? (Google 'anthill art')- that just always made me feel slightly sick, actually. I mean- ants outside in their anthill doing ant things. Why do you have to kill them for the sake of seeing something cool? But these ants? The ones in our kitchen. Grrr. If I could have reached their main colony, I'd have gladly taken it down. We are slowly winning the war. Months after putting out the first poison. (Wouldn't you like to come visit us? :) )

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

ahhh

Just checking in!
Today
- I realized I've lost the PO box key. Hmmm. Possibly when we get this renovation done and N's stuff moved back into her room it will show up??? One can certainly hope.
- I read about my aunt and uncle's trip via AmTrak to New York. Their train was only 10 1/2 hours late leaving IN. No kidding. They spent the whole night on one of those Very Cold Nights waiting for that train, running to nearby gas stations for food and restroom facilities. This is enough to completely blow the mind of the locals here. My aunt came to the conclusion that you never leave for a train trip without 1) food or 2) books. (This is something I abide by in the land where they're nearly always on time...same goes for bus trips. You. Just. Never. Know.)
- Mr Renovation Man has finished the new plaster work in the nearly new room. And I noticed that the light switch has been moved down to about waist height. Our landlady (the real one, not her mom--who's the one footing the bill for the renovation, remember?) has a 1st grade son. The new wall paper is blue. I have come to the rather astute conclusion that we will soon be looking for a new place to live. This renovation is not for us. They will also not be doing more while we live here. (I'll get back to you in a few months' time to let you know about the accuracy of that prediction!)
-Popcorn is superbly splendid. Especially the kind that you pop on the stove top. In fact, let's not even include the microwave stuff under the heading 'popcorn'. After being wintered in for over a week in a village in the western part of the country, N's face was one big grin when we had popcorn for supper!
-N also loves corn bread. It's a give and take kind of thing! I love love love 'Zeleniy Borsch(I've never had it with parsnips but it would be worth a try! One nice addition is some Polish-type sausage; also cilantro. pix here)- which I never had before the fall of 2000; I have also developed an affection for savory buckwheat, boiled (like rice, for instance) and served as a side dish.

I used to wonder about the steps in an escalator. The world is full of magic to children! 

Monday, February 3, 2014

Sit down-

It's me again! ;)
Looking up into a corner. Looks like only the ceiling will be drywall

And a wall! ;)

Shall we call this a February Challenge?

Someone else in blogland is committed to blogging each day of February. I haven't exactly decided to do the same but I have been remembering how much I used to love to just babble here a bit and how long it's been since I did much of that on a regular basis. And maybe that's not a bad thing.

February here is 2 1/2 days old and so far has been gloriously sunny. Today is 21F, bright blue sky and beautiful. I've not been outside yet...but it's on the agenda. For one thing, there was the phone call last night on the train. First there was the sms about UAH 40 having been put on my phone acct. And then the umpteen missed phone calls from an unfamiliar number. And then the one I actually answered (it was my smart phone which I seldom use as an actual phone- it's my mobile internet, actually- so don't ever have the volume on). This unfamiliar unknown person on the other end was begging me to return the uah 40 she'd accidentally sent to my number instead of her own. It's easy to do. We have these iBoxes everywhere (I just googled that- And I have no idea why we call them iBox! It's just a freestanding machine where you can punch in your phone number and then feed it money and your acct is recharged; you can recharge a lot of other accts, too but the phone is the only one I'm interested in). So if you accidentally switch a couple numbers or enter a wrong digit and that number exists- Bingo! You've given someone else a present! So, I need to go out and put uah40 on her acct...since it turns out doing it through the phone company involves passports and other rig-a-marole.
For another thing there's the nearly empty fridge out there.

When my little sis was in middle school, she was (for how long? Don't know.) the arm wrestling champion. I can only imagine all the boys were thrilled. 
 That Peanuts reminded me of this one. An old one featured on here before (back in 2008). Yup. That bro-in-law was just about to get creamed by his wife's sis. Who is one tough chick! ;)

The new room is progressing. There was just a tremendous crash followed by happy humming and scurrying feet and more sounds of drywall being mudded so apparently there were no casualties. Mr Man also sings while he works. He's about 2 inches tall, weighs about an ounce, looks like he's about a hundred and moves in fast darting motions. I can only assume it was a short trip to the floor. 

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Aaannnnnddddddddddddd February!

The renovation is still going strong. Day 2 (yesterday) revealed that, although the landlady (well, her mom really. Wanna know something? The actual for-real landlady uhhh doesn't know about this little new room. Yup. I had a call the other day from Anya- the lady who originally rented this place to us. Unbeknownst to us at the time, the apt is in her adult dau's name. All our business was with Anya until a certain point last year when the dau stepped in and said- I'm the owner you know. Your dealings will be with me now. I think she thought her mom was too soft with us. heh. teehee. I wonder why. So anyway- Anya calls- Uhhh You're meeting with my dau later today? Yes, I say. Uhhh. Well. Do you mind not telling her about that work we're going to be doing on that room at the apt? She uhhhh doesn't know about it. She uhhhh doesn't think we have enough money for it right now. I thought for a minute. And then said Well I can just keep quiet about it. I had no intention of lying about it but I also couldn't see why it should even come up since Darling Dau had no reason to suspect, apparently. And sure enough, not a word was said. If I hadn't had so many frustrations with Darling Dau, I would feel a bit sorry for her but... so anyway- back to the proverbial ranch. Day 2 revealed that, although the landlady's MOM said they were going to redo the walls, it is, in fact, the whole room that's getting a new do. There is laminate flooring in that collection up there. And the walls and ceiling will be drywall. And Mr Renovator Man is one hard working dude. He works from 9 am to 6 or 7 pm with no breaks for anything- food, drink, toilet, nothing. He goes outside (ahem) about twice in that stretch for a smoke. And. That. Is. It. After a previous experience* with some handymen-types here, that is impressive, to say the least.  
So yeah- it's February and real winter has finally set in. It's so cold and windy that I had to put a sleeping bag on the windowsill in my room to keep the plants from freezing. And I'm wearing everything I can get on and still move. And I'm just in the apartment. Looking through the window at the few people out there trying to navigate cured me of the urge to go anywhere.

So- babble much? I guess.

*Little T and I once were called by a frantic (sort of) male from our little team- Get over here as fast as you can. These clowns who are supposed to be doing the painting aren't working fast enough. We need to use this place for GUESTS next week and they're slow as molasses. So off we went. To paint. And sure enough, there were 2 handymen. Painting. Sort of. Reality was they took a 20 min smoking and tea break once an hour. I kid you not. We worked circles around them and they laughed at us. What do you want to get this done for so fast, they asked. There'll just be more to do after that. One of our team said to me He doesn't want to hurry up because he's out of the house and away from his wife while he's here. Well haha. We gotter done, thanks. And they got fired. 

Friday, January 31, 2014

Ahhhh yes! Winter!

Remember those days? We did this. I loved it! :) 
We had a really warm winter until about 2 weeks ago. And then it was like someone flipped a switch. So now, instead of mud we do, indeed, have ice. And snow. And very cold temps.
And in some places, there's been lots of wind. Which is why I've been alone this whole week. Sometimes when you go make a short visit to your parents you end up getting 'wintered' in there. N was supposed to be there for a couple days but they've had so much wind that they can't keep the roads open and no bus has been by in days. (Or hadn't been.)
Yesterday, I made a pot of this (sort of) potato soup- only there's not much in the recipe that we actually can get here- like canned soup (which isn't good for you anyway, right?)- boiled chicken on the bones and used the broth and milk and white sauce for the soup and the broth in the recipe; no hash browns- used potatoes; no cream cheese- used a local sort of same thing; no cheddar cheese- used regular cheese; no bacon bits- used fried, diced ham. So- um, I guess that's the whole ingredient list. The thing is, while it needs some tweaking (not thick enough, needs more pepper in the actual cooking), it's pretty good was very easy to make and didn't take long. One thing living here does is break your dependence on processed foods... there just aren't many.
And then, when I needed a break in the evening, I went back to the kitchen and made these fun little donut-y things- also found here at PW. Ok- they need to be eaten while they're hot. But they sure are yummy! And kind of fun. I saw them on someone's page- don't remember whose- but Thanks, Whoever you are!
And I found this in my newsfeed- a fun first-lines-of-various-novels quiz.

And if you've been around Facebook, you maybe know that my parents got hung up in the Atlanta Snow Jam. Let me tell you- from across the ocean, it suddenly felt like they were tiny, helpless children caught up in a mad crush of danger. Ok, I'm sure it wasn't quite like that. We were all really really glad when some very nice people helped get them into a hotel room for Night #2 in the Snow Jam. (All the time they were holed up in that Waffle House, I was nourishing this hope that they were in a booth where they could sort of fall over sideways and catch a nap...which turns out to not have been the case.)
This is for Mom who had these nervous kids that kept calling and texting to make sure they were still frost-bite free and alive and not starving...every time she'd just managed to doze off again. See when we were little, we kept her up with our incessant crying (I suppose); now that we're not little, we keep her awake with our incessant worrying. ;)

Thursday, January 30, 2014

What to do in winter

Why, strip down the walls and repaper, paint and put up drywall, of course. That's what our landlady decided, at any rate. So yesterday, I moved out the stuff (note- not my stuff, N's; N went to her folks for 3 days and got completely wintered in.)
Today was Day 1.

All the stuff from the other room's in my room now- 
fun times!
But the mess in my room is nothing compared to the mess in that other room. I'm just glad it's not me having to take that old paper off. 

Friday, December 27, 2013

Curse? Necessity? Plague?

You've probably seen that video sneaking around Facebook. The one where Person #1 on a cell phone bugs Person #2 on a cell phone by pretending to have an equally loud conversation but just responding to Person #2's (supposedly too loud) conversation prompts. I say "supposedly" because it didn't actually seem to me that Person #2's conversation was all that loud...and Person #1 came across as rude...to me, at least.
There are an awful lot of rude cell phones out there, though. (Oh, you mean it's NOT the phone that's rude? Oh.)
Yesterday we had a 3 hour bus ride and were immediately in front of a whiny-voiced woman who used the whole time to catch up on everyone and everything. Actually, yesterday was full of rude cell phones.
A few years ago, I had the extreme good fortune to spend New Year's Eve in the same room as someone who was so important that she got phone calls and sms'es ALL NIGHT long...wishes for the new year and such. You know, important stuff. I guess she didn't know the phone's volume could, you know, be shut off. She also doesn't know how close she came to having that phone take a swimming lesson in the toilet.
Do I sound crabby yet? I do? Oh. Sorry. It's just this woman's phone apparently only works on speaker phone. On a crowded bus.
I value my privacy more than that. But whatever.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Knocking on Closed Doors

or at least on one. One morning, someone phoned me on my old number- the one I use for mobile internet but not actual phone calls. So, since the volume to that one is seldom actually on, I never heard it. 
So then there's a gentle knock on my door and this meek little voice- Uh Anita? (D) would like to talk to you. 
I glance at my very quiet phone- the one that's for talking on. And shrug- OK- Coming.
But the door stayed like this:
firmly shut. And no amount of persuasion or wiggling helped. I've never much liked that glass and considered breaking it...briefly (WHY do you need glass in the doors of rooms INSIDE a house? Esp if someone SLEEPS on the other side. Yes, I should cover it.) N is looking at it from the other side and says- There's no way to get ahold of the latch thing from here. (And Yes, I called D back on my real phone. Had the conversation. Told my predicament. He said- Uh, do you want me to come let you out? Well- since that would take at least 3 hours, I don't guess so. And everyone seemed relieved at THAT!)
So I find an empty bucket on the balcony and a ball of twine. (3 cheers for the genius who decided to keep at least some of the tool-y stuff (twine qualifies, in my book) on the balcony instead of in the toolbox in the closet in the hallway on the other side of that crazy door.)
Off to the window I go with my bucket.
And wait. See that little figure? :) My hero!
I lower the bucket to her, she puts this in and I haul it back up.
And lay into that door knob from my side. 
And was free at last! (Only to discover that there were screws on the other side, after all.... heh. See- I knew there should be but apparently there was a lack of clarity in that bit of communication and not everyone involved understood what those screws were all about. Oh well- that door knob was dangerous. I mean- what if I'd been alone?? See then the glass would have had a problem.)
So the next time- maybe I'll say- Sure D, come help us!
Or at least- Um, could you go get a neighbor and see if he can help? I mean the kind of neighbor that knows all about screwdrivers and door knobs. Not the kind that sometimes wears a skirt.
Sorry. But sometimes.... it's true.

Yum

One little tiny reason to love this time of year a great big lot!

Link post, did you say???

Hello there People. I cleared out (finally) all my saved stuff from Feedly...which still included a bunch of stuff brought over from Reader...where I apparently saved everything I thought was remotely interesting once upon a time. Here are the best of those (according to me)!

Spiced Pumpkin Smoothie- made this on my birthday and it was pretty good, actually. Couldn't find coconut milk so used some regular milk with lots of shredded coconut- not bad, actually. :)

A visitor to L'viv- the first city I lived in here- This city wasn't one where you'd walk down the street and meet people you knew. In fact, people here were mostly too busy to care about what you were doing. The first place we lived, though, had a nice neighborly feel to it. L'viv is still my favorite of the cities I've lived in here. L'viv is just plain cool. Hills. Cobblestones. Old buildings. Ancient buildings. And some grocery-cart grocery stores. :)

Whose toddler needs one of these? I mean. I wish I was a toddler! ;) Ok- I wish I was not so artistically challenged. My GORGEOUS niece- Baby B- NEEDS one!

A world wide driving tour. Gulp. These are quite the roads. I can't actually say that I have much desire to see some of these. But they are amazing. I was on one in Spain (that never made this list) that did it for me. It wound around a valley and you could see several wrecks down over the sides- they were irretrievable so left there...and then served as warnings to other motorists to Be Careful! And that wasn't even the road up to Dalsnibba. Gulp. (I'mSorryMrBerghForBeingSuchAWimp). And yes, it's gorgeous up there. But I'm still amazed I'm still alive. (Remember the cow that ran in front of the car part of the way, Trude? Poor thing. I'm still fretting about it!) ;)

And this is one of my favorites- Kids' drawings of their grandparents recreated in photographs!

Oh my- and the part of me that loves the Lord of the Rings (I mean the book) and The Hobbit (again, the book)- I love this interactive map of Middle Earth. Google does some cool stuff every now and again. Although this is, apparently based on the movies as there are characters in here I've never heard of. grrr

A Chernobyl post- something I'm always interested in. The original post. And the one it links to- a good and simple explanation of why the accident happened.

Um- some old time baby names? Whee- some good ones here! How many of these have you met? I know some from this list and some others that could be on this list!

Oh yes- and where to get (highly overpriced) American food when you don't live on the other side of the ocean. Ahem. When you see a small box of HayBale Shredded Wheat for $13 in the 'ethnic foods' aisle you might be tempted (I did not cave, though. Sigh. I fasted. :0 )

You want to know what the countries around you are best at? What they lead the world in? Here You Go. (And cough- I have no idea what they mean about Ukraine and THAT. Um.)

Monday, December 2, 2013

A little unclear on the concept

This is a comic I only recently found- and Oh haha- they can be funny. Not that you have to know what 'Tae Bo' is. But oh this conversation. It's just hilarious. 

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

No Want Kiss U!

Did I ever tell you this story? The story about the little 3 year old boy who was cornered by a Big Older (WellNotThatOld) Lady? He was trapped in a corner as Big Older (WellNotThatOld) Lady closed in. Big Older (WellNotThatOld) Lady said- Come here I want to give you a kiss! Little Boy shrinks further into his corner and, in complete desperation shouts- I have a RUNNY NOSE!!
And No- he did not get kissed.
At least not that time.
And like little boys seem to do, he grew and grew and grew. I just looked him up on Facebook... he's in college. Oh my. And I remember him from when he was 3. (And no, Big Older (WellNotThatOld) Lady is not/was not me!) ;)

I needed this pic after wading through Google's new Terms of Service.  I don't pretend to even begin to understand most stuff about the web. And I know that it's nearly impossible, really, to make things completely private or to delete them once they're created and posted. But I'm not kidding- You'd better make sure your Google profile is where you want it. Those folks scare me more than Facebook. They seem even more intent than Facebook on making everything public UNLESS you specifically specify otherwise. (I keep both accounts because- Well, I do need to be in touch with people. And both sometimes work better than regular email for some people...especially people who change their email address more often than.... Than what? Than Ukrainian roads need potholes fixed? Than you sing in the shower?  Something like that. 

And while I'm at it- Be careful with what you put on your profile. Does everyone need to know what year you were born? Do they need to see your face tagged in every single picture? Does every stalker on the planet need to know your home address and telephone number? Or the names and ages of all your kids AND the school they attend? (A few years ago, Google CEO Eric Schmidt was quoted as having said: "If you have something that you don't want anyone to know, maybe you shouldn't be doing it in the first place. (this is a link, fyi)"  Of course, he's right. Duh. We need to be honest, upright, moral, etc etc etc. We need to be that for our own conscience's sake. We should all be concerned about THAT first and foremost NOT because of what Google or Facebook or LinkedIn or whatever will share with the public or government. BUT there are other reasons for guarding privacy fiercely. Identity theft. Stalkers. It's a long list, and does include the government and what exactly they'll do with your web search data- but you can fight about THAT one somewhere else. The point is- We Need To Be Careful. Because I doubt that Google or Facebook care about more than their own earning reports or bank accounts. They don't really care about your privacy. At. All.)
Just saying.

In other random news:

  • In spite of being dead tired and wanting only to go to bed, I took a shower last night AND washed my hair (does every stalker on the planet need- or want- to know that?!?)- And this is a Big Deal why? Because there is no water anywhere in the city today (and tomorrow, we hear)- the twice annual cleaning of the water pipes has begun. Natalya went to the train station to buy tickets today and did find out that the bathroom there has water. But the hospitals don't; the university doesn't; we certainly don't. 
  • Have you ever seen Orc Children? You know- Tolkien's little monsters. We had 2 hours on the train recently with some kids (age 0, maturity wise) who'd been for a tour of Western Europe. After watching them on the platform and hearing how they talked with their adult chaperones- I'm pretty sure they're Orc Children. I have Tolkien's Lord of the Rings as an audio book and some of them sounded exactly like the Orcs of Mordor. And were about as refined and polite and nice, too. I'm going to persist in my belief that not all kids that age are like that. Please please tell me I'm right. I mean- there are some MYP's I read about often who surely are NOT like that. (I guess someone knows what that's all about.) 
  • Early fall was cold and unfriendly. No heat. Freezing temps outside. Much need for camel hair duvets. The past 2 weeks have been gorgeous. Warm. (And full heat in the apt- go figure). Gorgeous foliage. I'm sure it won't last. But it's been great! 
I'll leave you with a pic for evidence! :)
And no- that isn't my car. Not even close. I'd want a Hummer anyway, for the roads we cover. Uff.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Et tu Family Circus?

Sigh. Grammar and spelling. How old fashioned. Let's just do away with all the words that confuse us so much. There, their, they're? Pick one and use it every time in every situation. It's and its? Ditto. Awhile and a while? Ditto. You're and your? Why bother learning the difference? Or proofreading? Just go with your...I'm sure we'll all understand.
Sigh.

A Little Unclear...all the way around

Apparently, at least in some venerated circles (or are those circles ventilated?)- the old 'from scratch' is now 'from itch'...because itch does come before scratch, you know.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Long Break

I'm not sure where the time went. Ever heard that one? ;)
Yeah, original.

One thing I did this summer is occasionally save a link I found and enjoyed on this post. I'm sure you'll be just over the moon with them, too.

This really interesting article about vintage bathing suits...wow

Have you ever wondered what the EU is? Well-- wonder no more! Or maybe do... (And- in case you're wondering- We here in the Wild East are trying to get into the EU. I don't really understand it all but it's causing quite a row with Russia and there is some resolution being signed very soon- next month, I think- about it. Not that much will change here, methinks. Call me a pessimist. And see that other post about the Norman Rockwell pic.)

This needs to be tried. Seriously. Frozen coffee. Oh Yum.

Oh wow- so does this. Greek Shrimpy things done some amazing way with feta cheese... I'm drooling. Time for my Shredded Wheat, I guess... what a substitute...(On the other hand- if you ever come to see us and want to tuck a box of the big 'hay bale' kind of Shredded Wheat in your suitcase, Well- feel free. I mean, I don't know anyone who'd mind. ;)

The Trees of Chernobyl - My first lesson with the students is a general one about stereotypes and how people see Ukrainians (and how they see Americans- now that's fun! We're fat and rich and dumb or smart (depending) and smile all the time, in case you were wondering!)- and Chernobyl is part of that. They live in a place that is still under the shadow of Chernobyl (although not as much here as in the NW) but they don't think about it. They don't think about radiation or its long term effects on them or the environment. And I think I understand that. I don't think about it, either. It's just part of being here. And here is where we are. And we live here. That's what we do. We Live.

A transcript of a space flight. The part about 'my watch is 10 seconds fast' sort of made me giggle. Imagine that being important. But I suppose it might be...might have been...(FYI- I did NOT read the whole thing. I skimmed the first 20 or so pages and then threw in the towel. But it did sort of look interesting. If you have a chunk of time you were wondering what to do with.)

hand drawn (beautiful) atlas of the early US. (another link to that atlas...and more links from this one. Really beautiful work) I wish I had this kind of talent!

and one about naps!! Nap On, Everyone! ;)

It just depends on where you were born

There's a new school year. In fact, it's not even that new anymore. I have a few weeks under my belt already of classes again. One of the things we've done this fall is tell a story based on a picture. Someone (some wonderful creative person) left a pile of Norman Rockwell calendar pictures. And they are great. That Mr Rockwell knew how to tell a story in brush strokes. And the kids do pretty well making up their own little tales, too. The pic below has been a fun one. 
So take a look at it and tell me what you see. 
Pretty straight forward, eh? I mean. Naughty kid. Writing lines. (And when? Can you tell me that? And WHO is that man?)

Now here's the thing- Without exception, from my students, this pic has elicited this story: The boy is in trouble with his teacher. His father comes to school with a gift for the teacher to placate her and get the son out of trouble. (Today, the word 'bribe' was used.)
The first time, I was sort of surprised and had a good look at this innocent picture. After 6 classes of the very same story, though, it's quite clear that this really is a different culture and that Rockwell depicted something that is universally recognizable by Americans.
And here's the thing- When I asked if they have 'detention' here, they just gave me blank looks. I guess not. But they do buy their way out of trouble. (Chocolate, coffee, liquor and money are preferred methods.)
Again and again and again.
Sometimes I think I'm used to the little nuances that make this place tick. And sometimes, it completely catches me off guard.
Again.

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Ahhhh

Went with a dear friend this afternoon out into the valleys and ravines to simply ramble, breathe and be. And Oh, it was perfect. I have about a hundred more pix but will be content with these for now. Took plums from the tree here in the backyard with us and ate heaps along the way. Came home and had pancakes, eggs and smoothies for supper. And lots of good conversation along the way. Does it get better than that?

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Good Idea

Snagged from somewhere on Facebook