понеділок, липня 31, 2006

shopping Saturday and lazy Sunday

Valery Y., age 9, yesterday after church and before lunch (all of this translated from Ukrainian): You're coming over on Tuesday, right?
Me: Maybe. Or Wednesday.
Valery: Wednesday.
Me: Yep, Wednesday.
Valery. You come on Wednesday...
Me: Yep.
Valery: And next Sunday...
Me: Yep.
Valery: And give me ice cream!
Me: *eyebrows raised amusedly* No...ice cream!!??
Valery: Ice cream. And cake. And candy...
Me: And pizza?
Valery: Ice cream.

He's such a hoot. Although I have no idea how Nadia manages to deal with him sometimes. I guess at this point she just has had a lot of practice.

The Y's are having a lot of company these days...4 family members from Kyiv who have been here over a week and are staying indefinitely, plus 6-8 more coming this week. The three oldest kids are at various camps right now, leaving Nadia with a houseful of little kids and a lot of extra people. When, as always, she said yesterday that I could come over any time, I said, "I thought I maybe wouldn't come this week since you have so many people here." She gave me a hug and said, "You're no problem. I love you like one of my own kids."

That's made me feel happy ever since.

Oh, and if anyone ever wants to know what happens to Operation Christmas Child boxes, I know where 10 of them go every year...to the Y house in Balaklia! I've been drafted to help write thank-you notes when this year's batch comes.


Kharkiv is bad for my pocketbook. I went in BOOKS, the very nice bookstore where I bought Harry Potter in Ukrainian, and found Anne of Green Gables in English, but with explanatory footnotes in Ukrainian and activities to use if using it in university classes. For 20 hryvnia.

So, of course, I bought it, as L. M. Montgomery was my favorite author throughout middle and high school. Granted, I don't think I have anyone who can read well enough to use it in school, but I had an enjoyable re-read Saturday evening. It's a lot funnier than I remember...I think because at the point when I first read it, I saw the whole story through Anne's eyes as a dreamy, talkative adolescent, and didn't realize how funny she was to adults.

I also found brown sugar, but that will have to wait until my next trip to Kharkiv, as train tickets to Kyiv have doubled in price (that was the original objective...to buy tickets to and from Kyiv for the Germany trip), so my extra spending money was diminished for this trip.

субота, липня 29, 2006

how to spend time

In my last post, I wrote about my plan to support my local library by going to the poetry evening.

Well, I went. I almost didn't go, thinking, "I don't know the language well enough, and it might be weird and...". And then I just got tired of staying at home. There were 6 people, including me: two teenage girls, an older man, an older woman, and a middle-aged man who I had previously known as "the guy with long hair who also uses the Internet a lot because I see him at the post office all the time". It turns out he's like the town poet or something. Various people read poems they had written...about Balaklia, God, the weather, love, and vodka (it's Ukraine, what can I say?). I didn't read any poems, but I did play the piano for a little bit before everyone got there at the request of the older lady.

You know, it wasn't a bad way to spend an hour.

Other new hobby: cracking walnuts. :) Honestly, it's fun. I'd been given a bag of them a while back by the K family, and yesterday I bought a garlic press/nutcracker. So yesterday afternoon, I sat down at my desk with my music playing, and cracked walnuts and sang for an hour. I bought a frosting mix at the bazaar yesterday, and I now have plans for a kabachi (zucchini-like vegetable) chocolate cake with nut-flavored frosting sprinkled with chocolate chips and nuts.

Chocolate chips...yes, Tif, that means that your packages showed up. And a VERY big thanks to whichever of you, you or Mom, who sent me maple extract. I'd just been wishing for maple syrup this week! The menus were great...although I read them right before lunch and they made me SOOO hungry for food I can't get here! (Also to Tif: the CD was unrecoverable, so please resend, maybe with less files on it this time and multiple CDs.)

Heather: It's Meredith Van-something...thin with short bouncy red hair. Was in a Bible study with Jen and led a STM to Mexico.

четвер, липня 27, 2006

food and other stuff

Breakfast the past two mornings: crepes with black raspberry jam (thank you, Nadia, smetana (Ukranian sour cream), and powdered sugar. With a cup of peach juice. Ahh...

Speaking of food and the Y family: as of last night, I have enough produce to feed a very small army. Since the Y family is a regular small army, they have an extensive garden. Nadia always asks me what vegetables I need, so last night when I was over there, I said, "Oh, a few potatoes and onions, and maybe some cucumbers."


"No, I already have carrots."

Well, when it was time to go home, I had a huge bag of vegetables: onions, potatoes, cucumbers, squash, garlic, and...carrots. I just hope I can eat everything before it goes bad. It definitely cuts down on my food costs!

Non-food-related news: it's really warm here these days. I have two theories. One, that it actually is warmer here than in Michigan. Two, since very few people here have air conditioning or fans and because I walk almost everywhere, it just feels warmer. (I have a ceiling fan. Well, actually I have a "if it was on the ceiling it would be a ceiling fan, but I guess it's a floor fan" fan. Apparently it needs an electrician to install it, and that's never happened.)

I made friends with one of the bookstore owners in town yesterday. I went in to see if she had any pictures or posters of American authors, and we ended up chatting about Peace Corps and life in Balaklia.

Apparently, if I can read fliers correctly, there's a poetry evening at the library tomorrow night. I'm considering going...after all, support your local library! (Even if it only has two books in your language...)

понеділок, липня 24, 2006

music, jokes, and movie reviews

Yesterday in church, I sang all three verses of "Praise Him, Praise Him, Jesus our Blessed Redeemer" in Ukrainian. By myself. Without a piano accompaniment (because we had visitors in church who were sitting at the piano and I didn't want a pregnant woman and two small children to have to move). It amazes me, the things I find myself doing! Afterwards, Victor Y told me that he was able to understand everything I sang. Yay!

As mentioned, the Y family has guests visiting from Kyiv. The husband studied in London for a year and used to be a translator for missionaries, so he speaks very good English. He currently is a writer and editor of Sunday School curriculum...plus, he appears to be a whiz at computer-ish stuff (Tif, this means that he's going to help me get that CD you sent me in a playable format). He helped install Internet on the Y family's computer, so I'll be able to check my email there as well. (Currently I am at the post office, which I also will keep doing...I'll just be able to check it more regularly.)

Best joke I heard from him yesterday:

Him: "Do you know what language we'll be speaking in Heaven?"
Me: "No, which one?"
Him: "Russian, because it takes an eternity to learn."
Me: "Amen!"


Movie Reviews:

Bride and Prejudice: This movie is AWESOME! It's Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen updated as a Bollywood musical set in India. The story adapts well to the culture...honestly, I like this better than the Kiera Knightly P&P I saw this winter. To retell Austen in a modern setting and do it well is much more effective than making another period drama. (It's why I enjoy Clueless as a version of Emma better than the Gwyneth Paltrow version as well...although I only like Clueless as it relates to Emma, not as a teen comedy.

The Sound of Music: I've grown up, I guess. I borrowed TSoM from Julianne this weekend, and it just isn't the same as when I was twelve. I love the songs...I can sing most of them from memory. But the movie doesn't have the depth to it that I find appealing.

пʼятниця, липня 21, 2006

what can I do with free time?

*sniff* Ne Rodis Krasevoy ended last night, with the wedding of the two main characters and a peek ahead to the birth of their first child. I was amused...after watching the show for 7 months and seeing how everything was drawn out as loooong as possible, Katya and Andrey got engaged 10 minutes into Wednesday's episode and got married on Thursday's. But I have to admit, I felt a little sad seeing the show end. As I said, I've watched it generally five nights a week since late December. It was how Marina and I bonded; it was one of the ways I've studied language; it was a link between my students and me; and I have to face it, I just liked watching it. What am I gonna do now with my evenings?

I have my ticket for Germany, and God was good...I didn't buy it Monday, due to trying to figure out whether to have my paper ticket shipped to me or to my parents (Czech Air doesn't do e-tickets), but when I went back to Travelocity's website on Tuesday, the KLM e-ticket that I'd wanted originally was once again available. So I'm paying $30 less just on ticket prices alone, not to mention not having to pay for ticket shipping. So I'm off to Germany in less than a month!

This week has been a rough one in some ways...it's the first time I've really been able to completely slow down since...well, since last October! Which is nice as far as staying in bed until 11 am, reading, and making a raspberry coffeecake (coffee cake? coffee-cake?) that, while it isn't that great, still tastes okay, but it means that I've had more time to think about stuff. Like the fact that my students don't seem to want to learn English and that I talk to them too much in Ukrainian and that Tif's permanently going to be in the US rather than coming back to Ukraine and that there is a very tiny list of people back home that I keep in touch with. All of which is Not Fun to think about and fills up too much of my free time.

I need to write a novel or something to fill my free time. But I don't have a plot. Feel free to suggest plot topics.

My downstairs neighbor Oleh (the jazz pianist) got married last Friday to Lesia, a piano teacher from the music school in town. They had some friends over Wednesday night, and invited me down as well. It was fun...a group of musically inclined, rather intoxicated people in their mid-20s who knew a few words in English (them being intoxicated wasn't "fun", but it meant that they were joking around a lot and trying to use English). We talked about music, the preponderance of alcohol in Ukrainian society (phrased as "Drink is part of our culture", to which I merely said, "I know"), and one of the guys wanted to know what swear words I knew in Ukrainian. I actually do know a few, as we had a lesson on them back in training for the purpose of identifying them when our students use them in class, but I declined to tell him which ones.

понеділок, липня 17, 2006

home again, for at least a few weeks

I got home from camp at 12:15ish last night, after a 8.5 hour bus ride, a metro ride across Kharkiv, a two hour train ride, and a taxi ride during which I was too tired to communicate anything beyond my address, which sort of confused the driver.

This morning I walked to the center to run errands. Within the hour I was out, I talked to four people I know and told another woman who I'd never met that I don't have time to give individual lessons. It's very nice to be home.

I currently am having loads of fun trying to figure out how to purchase airplane tickets online to visit Brandi in August. I was delayed by camp and PC losing my original paperwork, so the cheapest tickets are gone. I currently am waiting for an email about how long international shipping would take, as apparently Czech Airlines don't have electronic tickets. Technology is complicated...


Camp was so much fun! We had about 20 kids from Western, Central, and Eastern Ukraine, plus three American kids. All of them spoke very good English, which was a lot of fun for me. My favorite class was when I asked "What is culture?" and the older group (university age) fiercely debated back and forth in English for 20 minutes. Highlights of the time included a day trip to Kyiv, a visit to a factory where they hand-weave traditional Ukrainian towels, late-night conversations with the kids about all sorts of stuff, trips to the lake, and lots and lots of ENGLISH. It makes me jealous, how much English those kids know. Something to strive for with mine, I guess... :)

середа, липня 05, 2006

now you see her, now you don't

On a flying trip home between IST and camp...

The original plan was to leave IST this morning, buy my bus ticket to camp while in Kharkiv, catch the elektrichka home mid-afternoon after hanging out in Kharkiv, do my laundry at the Ys tomorrow morning, and head off for camp on Friday.

That was the original plan.

Original plans don't always work.

The only bus that goes to the town where the camp's at doesn't get to the camp until 8 pm at night, and I needed to be there by 4 pm at the latest on Friday. So I will now spend tomorrow on a bus, not doing laundry. And then, because I won't be in town tomorrow, I needed to go to the bank today, but the one window that deals with foreign currency closes at 3 pm. I got into town at 2:45.

I like taxis. And I made it in time. :)

I then bought phone minutes, lots and lots of yarn for God's eyes and warm fuzzies (yarn necklaces), and ran other errands. It baffled the woman at the yarn shop why I didn't care what type of yarn it was, as I wasn't going to knit or crochet with it...I told her I just wanted a lot of cheap yarn.


IST remarks:

Tif, I owe you a phone call/letter to get you updated on a lot of news that won't be relevant for anyone else.

It's a very small world...I met two new PCVs in my oblast (similar to a state) who know people I know in the US. One of them, Meredith, went to GVSU and was in a campus fellowship with Jen and Heather Bennett (you girls still reading this?), and another one, Ed, is also an MSU '05 grad (IR and poly sci) and had a class with Jason. *whistles "It's a Small, Small World"*

I took a language proficiency interview (LPI) yesterday and found out that I've moved up to Advanced Low. Yay! Apparently I need to improve my grammar if I'm ever going to get higher. And Brandi, I'm studying Ukrainian, not Russian, although Russian speakers can generally understand me and vice versa.

Last night we had a 4th of July party on the beach where we were staying. There was a competition between 5 guys and 5 girls (I wasn't one), which, among other things, involved the best pickup line, girls trying to tie ties on guys, and (my favorite) guys trying to braid girls' hair.


I expect to be not-on-line until the 18th or so, so I'll type to you all then!


For tomorrow: Happy Birthday, Tifanni! :)