Thursday, December 18, 2008

i need to buy some Russian Cutie boots

yes, it's something that i balked at at first. but i have been converted. let me explain. "Russian Cutie" would be what Sam calls all young, Russian girls that look to about 20 years old, wear lots of make-up, have perfectly manicured fingernails and weigh about 90lbs. and they all wear high-heeled boots.

at first i thought this was absolutely ridiculous and impractical because of all the walking most women in this city do. the majority of people use public transport, which involves a lot more walking than is required of people who drive. and i thought, who the heck wants to walk in heels that much? but as we enter into the winter season with its frequent snow, slush, and murky, muddy puddles I have come to see that these heeled boots actually do have a practical side. it's called, "keeping your pant legs dry and somewhat clean." if you're forced to walk in a deep puddle or slush/snow that is several inches deep with flat soles, if you are wearing pants that go to your ankle or a bit below, then the bottom few inches of your pants will soak up the wetness and become muddy and then they will rub against your boots and make them muddy. and if your boots aren't completely water-proof after a while your feet will also be quite wet. now, step in the puddle with heeled boots and it's likely that your pant legs will be suspended above the murkiness and maybe only your toes will be submerged in the mush for a second or two, which shows itself to be a much drier solution.

now there are two main varieties, and i will say that i am NOT inclined to get the first sort. those would be Stilletto heels and/or 5-inch heels that look completely contorting and abusive to feet. this first kind of Russian Cutie boots must have been designed by someone...(borrow a line from and episode of "Friends")...who "hates feet and wants them to die." these don't look practical for any reason. and especially not when the sidewalks are covered in mutiple uneven layers of ice, half melted, then re-melted, then covered with a thin layer of snow to conceal all the dips and pockets.

now, the other kind of boots - one with a reasonably sized non-contorting heel of a few inches and considerable thickness for grip and balance...this i can handle. i wish there was an option for Russian Cutie boots with metal spikes on the bottom, because THOSE i would totally wear. maybe i should start designing shoes...


these are some pics i haven't posted yet of me and my parents at the airport before i left the US to come back to Russia last month. i showed these photos to Eric shortly after i came back and told him, "these are my parents". He said, "oh, they look so young!" i told him that i thought they'd be very happy to hear that. but i forgot to tell them and just now remembered, so i thought i'd tell the blog world first and they can just read it along with the rest of you.




Friday, December 12, 2008

several of the reasons Sam thinks I'm a nerd...

i baked pumpkin pies for the Thanksgiving Dinner ALM had for all the teachers and students. (this is Tanya, one of my former students. she came over to help me bake)


my killer baking skills (and my dad's pumpkin pie recipe), won the ALM Thanksigiving Dinner Cook-Off. i was so excited! and i got this:



and well...ok, i admit it. i like puzzles.


also, the sheer fact that i took photographs of these things means i will probably have to see him shake his head at me tomorrow.

these are just a few in an ever-growing list of criteria that my husband uses to try to make himself feel like less of a nerd himself. takes one to know one. =)

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Me talk pretty one day

today i had the longest conversation in Russian that i have ever had. and it was with a complete stranger in the metro. there was a little old Russian lady - i will call her "babushka", which in Russian means, "grandma" - in the metro sitting next to me and as we came to a stop, she turned to me and asked,

какой станция : "Which station is this?"
это черная речка : "It's Chornaya Retchka (Black Creek)
(babushka smiles and nods to thank me)

and i assumed this would be the end of our "chat", as this is the average length of most of my attempts at Russian. (especially with strangers) but! ...she continued.
and i bolstered myself for some intense listening and concentrating, because now the train was moving again, and i was not only having to concentrate hard on a foreign language, but it was really loud, to boot. here follows our conversation. (and i apologize to anyone who can read Russian because spelling is not my strong point.)

(babushka motions toward the book I'm reading - obviously written in English - and asks...)

babushka: ты читаешь? (You're reading?)
me: да. (yes.)

(i can't remember exactly how she phrased this next question, but basically she wants to know where i am from)

me: я американский, но я живу в санкт петербург : i am American, but i live in St. Petersburg.

babushka: ты говориш по русский? (you speak Russian?)
me: чуть чуть (a little)
babushka pats me on the arm and laughs)

babushka: сколько лет? (how old are you?)
me: тридцатъ один (31 years.)

(then babushka corrects me, because she has asked how long i have lived in St. Petersburg, not how old i am.)

babushka: нет здесъ. сколько лет? : no, here. how many years?
одна года. : oh, about one year.

babushka: нравитсья : do you like it?
me: да. хорошо. (yes, it's good.) (what else could i say?)

(she asks me something else, but i don't understand the question.)
me: извините. я не понимаю (sorry/pardon me, i don't understand.)

(she asks again and motions toward my book, but i still don't get it, and apologize again. she smiles knowingly, laughs and pats my arm again. then we got back to sitting quietly and waiting for our stops.)

my stop came up first, so i got up to leave.

me: очен приятна. до свидания (it's nice to meet you. goodbye.)
(she smiles)
babushka: до свидания (goodbye.)

and there you have it. maybe someday i will speak Russian well enough that little chats like this won't seem like such a victory. but for now, i am going to savor it and bask in the glory that is called learning a new language.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

sometimes news is too close to home

10:17am, Tuesday November 25, 2008
A car explosion in Russia's second city, St Petersburg, has killed three people including a small child.

Andrei Alybayev, spokesman for the local branch of the emergencies ministry, said:"A car exploded near the metro station Udelnaya at 8.55am.
"Three people were killed, including a three-year-old child."
He added that the explosion could have been caused by a "grenade", without giving any further details.
A fourth person has been seriously injured by the bombing.
Russia's Prime Minister Vladimir Putin is currently in the region around St Petersburg to inspect a new border post with neighbouring Finland.
Although there have been a number of terrorist attacks in Russia in recent years, usually blamed on Chechen extremists, they are rare in St Petersburg.

Sam and I are both fine. We live near Pioneerskaya Metro Station which is on the blue line. Udelnaya Station is the next station on the blue line, but it's not one that we usually travel to. Sam has to travel under Udelnaya to get to the hospital he's currently working at, but the blast was on street-level so it didn't effect the underground operation at all. Please pray for the families of those who were killed in the explosion.

Guess who?

Guess Who?

Guess Who?

Guess Who?

Guess Who?

Guess Who?

Guess Who?

Guess Who?

just at home

Guess Who?


Monday, November 24, 2008

Saturday, November 22, 2008

in no particular order...

things i have been thinking, wondering, pondering, or have seen, experienced or been surrounded by in the recent months.

* Does IKEA in America sell hot dogs for 50 cents? Because here, they do.
* We now have snow on the ground. I had to wear long johns today.
* Crab chips are awesome and Sam is not very happy if you eat the last of 'his' chips.
* We bought a wok and cooked stir fry in it yesterday. yum.
* I also found the most perfect (and so cute) one-cup french press to replace the one Matt gave me and I have used every day since then, even though it sustained a substantial crack on the initial journey to Russia.
* I am working 7 days a week now. It's a little overwhelming, but the money sure helps, especially since I wasn't working for 3 weeks when I was in the States.
* By God's grace we have paid Sam's first semester tuition. THANK YOU: Chuck and Carol, Karin Magnussen, Lititz C.O.B. Builder's Class, Chris from Lancaster General Hospital, Gary and Terry Schmidt, Mom and Dad Fabiano, Mom and Dad Zeiders! and thanks to those who have been praying for us and please continue praying for Sam's tuition fee ($3,000) for next semester.
* I had an amazing time in the States, (although I missed Sam a lot!) but I felt like a VIP the way I was totally spoiled by my family and Amber and Josh.
* We finally have a second door for our apartment. Sam sanded and painted the inner door yesterday.
* Russia doesn't seem as unfriendly as it used to. Does that mean I have adjusted?
* I was totally able to give people directions today. Yay, me. Even with my very limited Russian skills.
* I am savoring the Pumpkin Spice coffee that Reenie and Eileen bought for me. SO VERY YUMMY!
* Also savoring my Celestial Seasonings Tea from the tea factory in good old Boulder, CO. Morrocan Pomegranate Red, Red Safari Spice, Bluberry Green Tea, Sleepytime, and Sugarplum Spice.
* Books I have enjoyed in the last month: "Kite Runner", "The Shack", "Never Suck a Dead Man's Hand" I'd recommend them to anyone. Although, you'll need a strong stomach and sense of humor for the last one.
* My next great read will be "Long Walk to Freedom" by Nelson Mandela
* Sam once woke me in the morning with a kiss and a cup of hot coffee brought to me in bed. That was just about my favorite morning ever.
* This story has been sticking around in my head all week: Bone Marrow "cures HIV patient"
* I am really enjoying my new Zen V
* I've been enjoying the memories of Victoria Falls, and our walk along the edge, aching to go back at the Zambezi's low season to do this!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Rocky Mountain High....Colorado

so amber told me that only posting a link to my photos from my blog is lame. but seeing as she totally stole the photos from my camera and posted most of the good ones already, it felt slightly repetitive. so for those of you who read both our blogs, sorry for the photos repetition. but i'm sure i will also post some different ones than she did. so here goes:

I was greeted at the Denver International Airport by the welcoming committee

Denver Airport Welcoming Committee

Amber and Amanda

Welcome to Colorado


Garden of the gods

Red Rocks, CO

Garden of the gods

Boulder Falls


Standley Lake

Flat Irons View Trail

Amber and I made a trip out to Colorado Springs to visit the "Garden of the gods"



Garden of the gods

Garden of the gods

Garden of the gods

The Siamese Twins

Me at Balancing Rock


The Siamese Twins

more to come...stay tuned!

Monday, October 27, 2008

happy birthday, amber

Today is my dear friend Amber's birthday and I am so happy that i get to be here in the US and in Colorado to celebrate with her. i have been having a great time enjoying good company and the comfortable conversation of friends. not to mention taking in the beauty of the mountains and wonderful sights of Autumn in the West. Plus, i have had the honor of being slathered in the "puppy love" of an actual, extraordinarily adorable puppy named Hallie. There are lots of new pics posted on my FLICKR of our times spent so far here in CO. But here below i will take a moment to post just a few of amber and i to celebrate and honor her beginning another year of life.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

in the good ol' US of A

I'M IN THE USA! sorry for the silence till now, but i was just too busy soaking up America. EVERYONE IS SO DARN FRIENDLY HERE! refreshing. today is my first day in Colorado visiting Amber and Josh. I am enjoying every minute of my break from Russia... except that I am missing someone very special who is stuck in Mother Russia attending Clinical Russian classes, getting soaked in the dark wet raininess, and baking banana bread by himself. And I miss him dearly.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

There is a blog that I follow: Photo-Africa and its just amazing. not only do I love the amazing images, but the site's main photographer and writer, who works in the Madikwe Game Reserve near Jo-berg in SA, always shares stories about daily life in the reserve, about the animals, which they know by name, and about how he and the other great photographers got some of these terrific shots. I would totally recommend checking out his site. Here are some examples of the great images he shares daily. Enjoy!

If you like what you see, don't forget to check out the site.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

i am...

* finished reading the English translation of Mikhail Bulgakov's book, "The Heart of a Dog."

* waiting for my invitation letter for my work visa and hoping it arrives in time before I leave for the States.

* enjoying the leaves changing colors and 2 SUNNY DAYS IN A ROW!

* looking forward to seeing my family

* anticipating Autumn in Colorado

* slowly reading Psalms

* enjoying Russian salads

* happy with our new furniture set-up in the living room

* thankful for Sam and little moments

* keeping a notebook to write down new Russian words and look them up

* always entertained by Newsbeat's weekly "Odd Box" video on BBC

* wondering how you are....

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Coming to America

yes, sports fans, its true. Next month I'll be in the States. my current Russian visa will expire towards the end of October and I need to apply for a work visa - which I am very grateful to be able to get for working with ALM. You can't apply for a work visa from inside the country, and its suggested that the best place (and sometimes the ONLY place) you're allowed to apply is in your country of origin. (I'm told I could apply from Ukraine, but to save me the hassle of the language barrier and figuring out the eccentricities of yet another Eastern European country, I think it'll be a perfect opportunity to visit my family and also see certain friends who've relocated West.) so...from Oct 15 - Nov 5 I'll be in the good ole' US of A in the lovely states of Pennsylvania and Colorado. Mmm....Fall on the East Coast and in the mountains of the West. not too bad, I think.

Some people have inquired in the recent past about sending packages to us in Russia, and yes, it does work. (and they are extremely well appreciated by us, believe me! I tend to get all giddy and I'm sure Sam shakes his head at my silly excitement. He gets excited too, but as previously mentioned his excitement appears outwardly something to the tune of, "yeah. that's cool.") and so far (as far as i know) we have received all packages that were sent (minus one anniversary card from my parents that mysteriously disappeared). I mention all this to say to those of you who have entertained the idea of sending something to us, that if you would like to forgo the cost of international mailing you are certainly welcome to send things to PA, in October. I'll be traveling very light in order to stock up on all the things we miss and carry them back with me!

I must apologize to all my wonderfully-Ohioan friends, in that my trip this time simply doesn't afford the time, or finances to also make a pit stop in the Dayton area. But you would be most welcome in Amish country if you wanted to make a road trip to Lititz for a visit! Sturgis Pretzels, Wilbur Chocolate, and horse n' buggys....what more could you want?

Friday, September 12, 2008

An Ode to the Marshutka Drivers*

Long are the days sitting upon your seat commanding the wheel of your minibus
Rain or shine (mostly rain) you toil -
Weaving adeptly through traffic, making change with one hand, changing "lanes" with the other
Jumping curbs when necessary, dutifully delivering your passengers to their destinations
Oh the joys of swerving to avoid pedestrians and eluding the police
Cleverly laying your seat belt across you without clipping it in place
The appearance of safety and adherence to law without the pesky bother of either
Your skill at squeezing your marshutka between a tram and oncoming traffic is to be admired
As all passengers stare amazed into each others' widened eyes
And so, Mr. Marshutka Driver, I salute you.
Drive on, my friend
Drive on.

* note: marshutkas are minibus taxis and are my predominant mode of transportation

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Monday, September 08, 2008

Monday, September 01, 2008

and some MORE pictures

a few more favorites from the trip. This is the last batch of faves. You can see the whole bunch at my Flickr.





flowers at market

flowers at market