понеділок, травня 29, 2006

flying cucumber

Nadia Y. is my new hero. She, with the help of her sisters-in-law, fed 34 people after church yesterday! We had a music group from Kyiv, who were long-time friends of the Y. family, in church yesterday, and afterwards, the music group, the Y. family, our pastor and his wife (Nadia's parents), her two brothers and their families (who all go to our church), and I all had dinner at the Y. house.

My job was keeping Valery (2nd form) out of the kitchen, as he was the kid most likely to be underfoot. So we sat down on the couch and reviewed the alphabet...3-4 times. Then we went outside to see the new baby kittens.

One of the girls from Kyiv knows English pretty well...apparently she helps plan Billy Graham conferences in Ukraine. I liked her because she had a good sense of humor...all the adults were sitting down to dinner, when apparently someone's fork slipped and I felt something on the back of my head. I asked, "What's that?" in Ukrainian, and Yulia replied in English, "Flying cucumber." :)

After church last night, I was invited to the home of one of my 5th form boys who goes to that church. His mom: "Pasha's been wanting me to invite you over for supper after church for several weeks now, but I told him he had to clean his room first." Some things are apparently universal.

I came home from school to discover that my electricity doesn't work. Currently not opening my fridge.

субота, травня 27, 2006


I have a fridge!!! *does the little happy dance* So on Wednesday afternoon, my doorbell rang (the ring is "It's a Small World", which I just consider to be one of life's little ironies). I looked through my peephole to see a 9th form boy, not one of my students, who I had had to discipline for saying the f-word in class (and then he had gotten lectured from everyone else as well). So I open the door, somewhat apprehensively, and he says, "Good morning, Miss Sally!" I roll my eyes and say, "Good afternoon," and he replies with something in Russian, of which I only understood the word for "refridgerator". :) Then the fridge, the bed, and a ceiling fan arrived with more 9th form boys. I gave them all cookies.

I have since scrubbed down my fridge thoroughly (it was old and moldy, reminiscent of West Circle fridges), and hung up pictures and Cyrillic alphabet magnets.

I forgot to post about my friend Rita's 21st birthday last Sunday. Rita is a bookkeeper at my school, knows a little English, and is the one person in town near my age who I consider a friend and has taken the time to hang out with me and get to know me. Her birthday was Sunday, and we celebrated by getting ice cream in a cafe, walking around town, and riding the Ferris Wheel at the top of the hill that Balaklia is built on. You get a great view of everything...but we got a little queasy! Rita just kept saying, "Oh, G-d, oh, G-d!"...and then she completely switched to Russian. :) So we decided we're a little old for that.


Summer plans (since everyone in my town keeps asking, I'll assume you're all curious as well):

After school gets out on Wednesday, Tif and I are headed to Kyiv for immunizations/celebrations. Tif's staying a couple weeks (I'll only be there two days), as she's having housing issues at her site (ie she doesn't have anywhere to live right now).

Then I'm helping out with a summer camp/daycare program for the 1st-4th formers at my school for a couple of weeks, followed by a Peace Corps conference and a summer camp in Sumy Oblast in July. In August, I hope to go visit Brandi in Cologne, Germany, for a week or so, depending on timing, tickets, and such. And then, on September 1st, school starts again! If anyone's going to be in Europe this summer, look me up!

середа, травня 24, 2006

a fridge tonight, hopefully!

When you know your mother has successfully integrated into the world of the World Wide Web: "I almost feel like a spammer" (this because she flooded my inbox with recipies, at my request, to use in cooking over here). :) Love ya, Mom!

I still don't have a fridge, but it looks as if one will hopefully be coming tonight. I'd ended up calling PC Medical to get tips on fridge-less living, which ended up not being helpful with tips but helpful in that Medical got involved and was firm about me needing a fridge. My Regional Manager was going to call the used fridge ads in my local paper (which I read to him over the telephone in Russian, an experience in itself), but then last night, a woman I know in town who's a good friend of my director's (and I tutor her daughter in English), told me that I'm getting an old fridge from the cafe she owns and that it's coming tonight. Yay!

(As a side note, I realize that over the last five and a half weeks, my perspective on life has changed. Refridgerators are no longer necessities, but rather much-longed-for-and-don't-like-living-without-but-not-essential luxuries. It's a weird mental shift.)

We've got a week left of school, which means that no one is doing much of anything. Nelya was in Kharkiv yesterday, so I taught her classes in addition to my own. This consisted of giving end-of-the-semester exams, which were painful for all concerned. Yesterday was a long, long day.


A week or two ago, I gave my 10th form a homework assignment to write a detective story using our vocab words from the current unit, which was crime. Out of 15 kids, I got one story, which used none of the words. However, Kolya, who is sort of the Ukrainian version of a nerd, was very creative, and I want to share his story with you (spelling and grammar are unchanged; however, you don't have to try and read his handwriting):

"Quarantine in the Grand Hotel"

Police closed on quarantine Grand Hotel with todger and advertise that in the hotel discovered Bubonna Plague [Bubonic Plague?] In the room Mod [Maud?] Borkman get through the window, man, Feliks Gullen. And people from police say her thet in the 71 room take place killing. Doktr Ranke was died. Feliks and Mod speeking and Feliks say that it's he kill Ranke, but Mod promised thet she doesn't say about him.

In the morning next day Vangold was prisoner. But he wasn't fault.

Mod Borkman be Demler's assistant, who was illed [I honestly think he means "sick," not "killed"] from plague. Mod say, that she kill Ranke, but in it moment Sergius say that he kill Ranke. Inspector Elder discover thet killer was Demler. Feliks was son of governor.


That just sums it all up, I think.

субота, травня 20, 2006

fridgeless, Saginaw, and skirts

Still no fridge. I called my regional manager on Thursday, and he called the director, who had apparently been in the hospital for high blood pressure this week. She was back at school on Friday, and annoyed with me for asking her about the fridge. However, apparently there is maybe a possible fridge which is small, old, and may need freon added to make it work that I might be able to get in the next few days. Since today is my 5 week anniversary of fridge-less living, this gives me some hope.

Once again, Tif and I are in Kharkiv for the day. We were at McDonald's, where I noticed a girl in culottes with a t-shirt (printed in Russian) that had the verse from Isaiah about mounting up on eagles' wings. I considered telling her that I liked the shirt, but didn't want to get a weird look since I'm a non-native speaker. However, I was wearing Tif's Notre Dame sweatshirt (yes, it was painful to this MSU grad, but I hadn't brought my coat and it was a bit chilly), when her father asked me if I was an ND grad. I said no, MSU, and it turns out that they are Baptist missionaries to Russia who are originally from Saginaw! To make this even weirder, his college roommmate was Zane Aufdemberger (sp?), who is the pastor of the Baptist church in Lakeview. I went to prayer meeting there once in high school with a friend, and I used to go to the pastor's yard sales, as they had a daughter a little older than me who wore very cute skirts and jumpers. It's a small, small world.

Speaking of cute skirts, I picked up a light cotton one in browns, greens, and pinks for 10 hryven at the used clothing store in town. It's too big, but I think it can be altered easily, and it's very light-weight, which will be good for summer.

середа, травня 17, 2006

Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die.

First things first: still no fridge. It's been over a MONTH. My level of patience is unfortunately dropping daily. However, my bathroom sink has been running steadily for a week (except that I simply turn it off by turning off all the water to the apartment), and someone came by today to talk about someone else fixing it at some point, so there's hope still in the world.

The title of my last post came from Journey's song "Don't Stop Believin'". No points awarded, although Brad knew that "Midnight train" appeared in the lyrics and Liz remembered that it was my LJ title once upon a time (which I'd forgotten). Points would go towards bed and breakfast in Ukraine except that I don't have a bed yet, just an uncomfortable couch, and most breakfast foods need to be refrigerated.


For your amusement, the list of things I was thinking about on my way to school yesterday:

~the interplay between religious faith and academic scholarship, particularly in the study of religion, and how Chaim Potok does a better job of addressing the possible tensions in his books than any Christian writers I know

~cases of possessive pronouns in Ukrainian

~the necessity of refrigerators and whether or not it is a necessity of life, the fact that I'm becoming accustomed to living without one, and the fact that the K family has 9 people in it but they don't have a fridge

~the differences between Catholic, Orthodox, and Protestant child-rearing, particularly how it relates to the teaching of religious beliefs to children

~why people in Ukraine tend to walk on the roads rather than on the sidewalks

~the origin of the word "robot" and whether or not it comes from the Russian word "robota", which is "work"


I taught 2nd form yesterday, after not having taught them since spring break due to a new class schedule. We had fun with our ABCs--we stood in a circle and passed a teddy bear around. I said A, Dasha said B, Valery said C, and so on. If you messed up, you had to sit down. My observations? Artem's studied more than the rest, and H is a problematic letter to pronounce.


I've spent the week watching The Princess Bride and various commentary tracks (yay special editions...I think they were created for PCVs). The movie is as funny as ever, I want to know how Wesley gets his shirt back (he doesn't have it at Miracle Max's but he does in the next scene), and now I want to see Lady Jane again, as it's my favorite movie and seeing Cary Elwes in TPB reminded me of this.

субота, травня 13, 2006

just a small-town girl

I know I just posted yesterday, but Tif and I are in Kharkiv for a day of hanging out (my first trip to Kharkiv since March!). We went to the Ukrainian equivalent of Barnes and Nobles, drooled over everything, and then I bought Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone in Ukrainian for 29 hryvnia (about $6.00 USD). Then we got very good pizza for 10 hryvnia...mine was a margarita pizza, which is tomatoes and mozzerella cheese. I haven't had actual mozzerella cheese in MONTHS. Now we're checking email, and then off to hit up the supermarket for Herbal Essence shampoo and spices you can't find in our towns. We're two small-town teachers spending our day off in the big city!


Tif: When I go back to the States, if I want to mail a letter, I can go to the Post Office, and they'll have like 5 counters open, and the people will speak English...

Me: Or, you could just stick it in your mailbox... [in Ukraine, most people seem not to have books of stamps at home...you go to the Poshta when you want to mail a letter]

[later] Tif: I feel sort of stupid now...


Points to anyone who can identify my post title!

пʼятниця, травня 12, 2006

I baked a cake!

Am, as usual, at the post office. People are moving the ATM machine around, and it's making a horrible sound. Happy to be in a little glass box while all of this is going on.


My regional manager from Peace Corps in Kyiv visited today, partly because he's supposed to check up on how things are going, and partly to help urge the refridgerator-acquisition process along. My director assured him that they have found me a fridge in a town 40 kilometers away, and that one of the bookkeepers from school will be there next week and can probably pick it up then. It's either that or get one of the school's fridges, and I have issues with taking one away from them. So hopefully next week!

(Honestly, if you'd told me this time last year that I'd go over a month without a fridge, I'm not sure I would have been as persistent with PC paperwork! But I find myself coping fairly well without it.)

Because Vasyl was coming, last night I cleaned, planned lessons, and baked a cake. I'm honestly more proud of the cake than I am of almost anything else I've accomplished this week, partly because cooking (and especially baking) with Ukrainian stoves can be challenging. I used a recipe that Mama Luda had given me for a basic cake, made frosting out of powdered sugar, vanilla sugar (it's what we use here instead of vanilla), orange juice, and grated orange peel, then sprinkled cocoanut over the top and made a flower out of candied orange peel. Vasyl and my director each took a second piece, so I'm pleased.

Other cooking successes of the week include non-burned fried potatoes and deruni (fried potato pancakes, similar to how I imagine Hanukah latkes). If there is interest, I'll try and remember to post recipes.


Random interesting site I just ran across while surfing the Internet: Master's In Poland. It looks to be a work/study program that enables you to earn a Master's in International Education while teaching ESL in Poland. Not anything I'll be doing for the next few years, but just an interesting sort of program.


I'm curious as to who all is reading this blog and where you all come from. I know I have readers in Honduras and Germany, plus different parts of the US, but I'm just curious. So if you can all leave a comment with your name and state (or, if you're not in the US, your country), that would be fun. Especially if you're someone who just randomly found this blog online and thinks my crazy life is interesting. I'll post the stats after a week or so.

Also, if you have anything that you want to know about my life here in Ukraine, Peace Corps, living without a fridge, etc., let me know that, too. I've been trying to come up with some new ideas for posts, so I'm glad for imput.

вівторок, травня 09, 2006

Sally likes playing with little kids. Surprised? No.

Happy Victory Day! (As a word of explanation, it's the holiday commemorating the end of WWII in Europe and similar to our Memorial Day.) I am celebrating by checking my email for half-price, visiting Tif and Mike this afternoon, and watching the fireworks this evening, although I haven't decided whether to go into the center to see them or just watch from my balcony.

Points to Liz for getting the book title right. FYI, the skirt turned out okay, the couch cover is just fine, and the refrigerator is suppposed to come later this week.


Coming out of school on Saturday, I was greeted by my 5th form girls, who showered me in dandelions on the count of three. It was a beautiful moment.

After that, I went over to the Y's for the evening. It was a lot of fun. The little kids know me well enough now not to be shy around me--I braided Snizhanna and Leeza's hair, stood in the middle of the living room floor like a Christmas tree with children dancing and singing around me, and made many, many origami cups. Nadia gave me a bunch of clothes that apparently came over in missionary barrels (or the 21st century equivalent) from the US that didn't fit anyone in their house. I now have a new skirt and a bunch of sweaters, mostly lightweight ones that will be great for spring and fall teaching. Yay!

Sunday morning, I was getting ready for church when I found a stuffed toy rabbit in my backpack. I assumed one of the Y kids was responsible, but I wasn't sure if the rabbit was a gift or just visiting me. It turns out that Valery, the 2nd former (who has some mental/emotional issues, I think...his mom said that when he was little, he had his hand slammed in a door and just kept smiling), had given it to me as a gift. He assured his mom that the backpack was already open and no, he hadn't opened it! I told him that he needed to name the rabbit for me, but so far, all we've come up with is that the rabbit is not named Valery (my suggestion).

We had communion at the Baptist church Sunday morning, which was the first time I'd taken communion in 7 months. It was good to be able to do it again. Interesting things about communion in Ukraine include the use of wine instead of grape juice in Protestant churches, a common cup, and none of the kids taking it, apparently because the practice is that they don't until they're teenagers and can comprehend the significance.

Spent Sunday afternoon at the K's house. After church, Lilia K., who is three years old, incredibly strong-willed, and extremely fond of me, decided that I should NOT go home, and therefore plopped herself down in her uncle's car in the spot where I was supposed to sit and pitched a small fit. I can't help but feel a bit flattered, but she refused to give me a hug goodbye.


[Phone conversation between Tif and I]

Tif: I told Mike that you were spending all your free time playing with little kids, and he said he'd have to come visit you.

Me: He wants to play with them, too?

Tif: No, he's worried that you don't get any adult socialization.

Me: Oh.

I think my initial reaction to Mike's comment says it all. I simply assume that the rest of the world loves small children as well. :)


But I do get adult socialization! Rita, a bookkeeper from my school who's a little younger than I am, came over for tea and cake yesterday. She's studying English, so we have conversations where we primarily speak in each other's language to practice. Much fun, and we might go to Kharkiv to see Mission Impossible: III. And Ira, a 24-year-old woman from evening church, invited me over to her house for dinner at some point when our schedules coincide.

So really, I'm just social in general. It simply tends to run heavy to small children. :)

пʼятниця, травня 05, 2006

Yesterday was a terrible, horrible, awful, no good, very bad day. I think I'll move to Australia.

Points to anyone who can identify the subject line.


Apparently my mom's web site didn't show up last time. Whoops.

Yesterday falls under the list of "days I don't want to repeat," as it started out with me throwing up breakfast for unknown reasons before 7:30 am, continued with what appears to be a permanent stain on my much-loved and worn-multiple-times-per-week denim skirt, a phone call from Peace Corps lecturing me for not having paperwork in, various other small things, and concluded at 10 pm with my discovery that my couch cover is stained and must also be washed. I HATE washing laundry by hand without running hot water.

On the up side, today was a good day and I think I'm getting a fridge next week. My regional manager from PC is coming to visit, and this has prompted the fridge to arrive. (Nelya is all a-tizzy and has offered to help me make sure my apartment is spick and span. She has also lectured all the students within an inch of their lives if they misbehave next Friday. And I'm just thankful that third form doesn't have class on Fridays!)

Congrats to Jason and any one else who's graduating from MSU this weekend. (Abby? Rachel? Ayla?)

Due to our loving administration, Balaklia schools have classes tomorrow instead of Monday, in order to give us both Monday and Tuesday off. Rarrgh. Can't we have another four-day weekend? :)

Next Tuesday is Victory Day, which I believe commemorates the end of WWII (we call it the Great Patriotic War over here). We had an assembly at school today. A woman who I think might have been in a concentration camp in Germany spoke, and some of the kids sang. She and I chatted a little before the assembly started...she has a number tatoo on her arm and mentioned camps and Germany, which makes me think she was in a concentration camp. She had heard of PC, and wanted peace and friendship between people. It was a cool experience.

середа, травня 03, 2006

Sunday: Baptist church in the morning, pork roast for dinner at the Y's house (I am reliving my childhood, it seems) followed by Sunday afternoon naps for all (I ended up on the living room couch), Sobrania church in the evening ("Sobrania" is the Russian word for "congregation," and as it's how the K's church refers to themselves, rather than by any denomination, I'll make it simpler for all of you and just use that as the church name).

Monday: got up at 3:30 am to get to the train station by 4:30, as I was going with some of the K family and some other people from church to what I thought was an orchestra concert ("orchestra" being the one word I'd understood the night before). It actually turned out to be a youth convention/revival meeting, which involved youth orchestras and choirs. It also involved an alter call, and Bogdan K, one of my 4th formers, asked Christ into his heart (I think...). The music was great, the preaching was over my head due to being in Russian, and the latent anthropologist in me started working overtime. It's interesting to watch the interactions of conservative religious belief (this church is much more like the Rock Lake one than the Baptist one, and there's a whole post in that alone) interact with the Ukrainian tendency to be extremely concerned with dress and appearance.

Spent Monday night at Tif's as it was on my way home and I knew my mom was going to call. Her extra beds are more comfortable than my couch.

Yesterday I was invited to my tutor's house for a visit with her, her daughter, and another English teacher in town. It was fun, and we talked about the differences between high school graduations in the US and Ukraine.

Today I am tired!


FYI, my mailing address didn't change when I moved.


Check out my mom's webpage at . It's really cool! :)


Prayer answered: Nadia Y has some summer clothes that she doesn't want and is going to pass on to me. As I'm low on non-t-shirt clothes for the summer, this is a blessing. I feel like a lily of the field, toiling not nor spinning.