Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Einstein gets around!

Tom has been teasing Lena each time she comes over by placing this Einstein doll in her coat pocket or in her purse before she leaves our house. Yesterday Tom had me call her into the kitchen to distract her while he stuck the doll in her purse. Lena got all the way home with it this time. She called Tom and he could hear Alexei howling with laughter in the background. Before she left our house today she had Spencer help her attach this note to Einstein and place him on the computer desk. And she scurried out the door before we could see it!

Oh my goodness, Alexei and Tom are just too much alike!
Eto Fahkt! (that's a fact) Posted by Picasa

When Do I Eat Snack?

Have you ever heard of a mneumonic? Today in class we were talking about the weather. Janet uses a mneumonic (memory device) to help her remember the word snow in Russian. Lena, my language helper also uses one to help her remember the word snake in English.

Janet remembers "you cannot have snow for a snack" snow is snegk in Russian.
Lena remembers "snake sounds like snegk"

One day during a language lesson Lena started giggling when I said "snegk". I asked her if I said it wrong. She said. "no, you said it right. I visualised snakes!"

Spencer, Nathan and I have a review tomorrow of the past six lessons. It is oral. That means study time tonight!

Tom is walking much better each day.

Janet gave me a copy of her notes of the Ten things women srtuggle with on the Field. It comes from a talk the founder of the language school Diane Thomas gave while I was in Ukraine!

1 Balance

2 Lonliness

3 Expectations

4 Coping with Change

5 Coping with Criticism

6 Lack of Ministry Skills

7 Health Issues

8 Money Issues

9 Devotional Life

10 Conflict and Difficulty in Team

I believe that it is not just the women who struggle with some of these issues!

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

A dog was chasing a chicken

It was a normal day. We saw a dog chasing a chicken. Spencer told me that would make a good blog title. So there you go. It was a comical sight. Maybe the dog didn't want the chicken on that side of the road!

This little girl is Anna. Kurt and Rochelle's daughter. She has the cutest little voice. She is fussing at Tom. He wants some of her cookies and she is emphatically telling him they are only for the little kids and he is a "BIG BOY!" and he cannot have any! Because the cookies are only for her and her little friends! Even when Tom asked if he could be her little friend she still said "NO!" He was too big!

Today in class Inga was naming cities and asking us what country they were in. I was naming as many as possible because I didn't want Michelle to laugh at me! You see when she came over I told her about what our friend Mark from Canada used to say. Mark always said that Americans are geographical idiots. We would correct him and say that we were geographically challenged or illiterate! Fortunately, Inga didn't do any really hard ones. I mean we all know where Tokyo, Milan, Paris, Melbourne, Delhi and Peking are right? The funny one was someone stumbled over Washington. But, I won't say who because they may read this! And I don't want to get beat up after school!

Monday, November 28, 2005

I have the best mother-in-law ever!

We recieved two packages today at school. One box had a cookbook in it from Mom. The title is Best of the Best from New Mexico. As soon as I saw the cookbook I blurted out "I have the best mother-in-law ever!" Nathan responded with "now that's not something you hear everyday!" Judi H. said that her "mother-in-law is great too!" and that not liking your mother-in-law is a just stereotype. I can hardly wait to read the cookbook and get started making some of the recipes! I think I need to look for black beans and green chiles!

Melanie and Jody are moving. It is very sad. They have been the schools unofficial greeters since they got here a year and a half ago. They have taken everyone shopping and showed them around the city. Now they are headed for a city near China. Everyone is going to miss them.

Nathan went to his new class today. Spencer and I teased him because 'just for today' our class is ahead of his. Nathan had no homework because he had already done the work on Wednesday that his new class did today. I think the grammar leveled the playing field. That class used to be the fast one. Now they are a day behind us. Oh well, we are all still learning and trying to make sense of it all! It really does not matter which class get the lesson is not a race. Some of the students in the other class will only be at the school for a year and it is a two year course. Our family and just two other families are staying the full two years. There are others who are hoping too. But, they are not sure.

Please notice the mailing address is posted now on the blog and a Christmas Wish List. Some of the items are things we can always use. Like peanut butter and syrup. We try to always keep one jar and give one away. Many Russian children like Peanut Butter and it is very filling. Small packages are best to send. So they won't think we are trying to start a business!

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Tom teaches!

Today was the day for Tom to speak at church. He did a great job.

He talked about how we are:

either heading into a storm
in the middle of a storm
coming out of a storm

A storm could be your business being in trouble, loss of a job, drugs/alcohol, unhealthy relationships, family conflict, abusive relationships and so on.

He spoke about how effective support comes from someone who has been there.
And how hardship can change our behaviour and our hearts if we let it. But if we don't change and grow we will keep getting the same lesson.

Storms can be a result of God working in our lives.
They can be a result of our own decisions.

Jesus identified Himself and then gave comfort.
"It is I, don't be afraid"

The disciples had to be willing to accept His comfort.

Jesus then gave direction. He wants us to be safe.

God is with us. Emmanuel.

He will offer us comfort.
We must choose to accept it.
He will guide us safely on.

Many people were encouraged by the teaching today. Natasha, the translator, only stumbled over two words. The word for manure and the word for lightning rod. Someone from the congregation gave the word for manure. And Tom gave her the word for lighting rod!

Valodya gave Tom a huge hug. Joyce B. and Judy B. from school also came to give support. Vova gave tom a big thumbs up from the back of the church. The church even seemed to get most of Tom's jokes!

Here is a link for the Cossack Choir that we attended last night it was powerful! We took Olya and Vova with us... it was their very first time seeing the choir live!
Kuban Cossack Choir

To translate the text into english go to:

and enter the link for the Choir. Choose to translate the page from Russian to English and it will do a fairly good job!

I spent four hours last night loading my photos from the event so check out my photo blog for the lastest pictures!

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Mexican dinner & a Movie

Michelle came over last night. It was great she just called and invited herself over. I loved it. I made a Mexican dinner. There were lots of jokes about it not being authentic. Oh well. If only I had been born in Mexico instead of England!

We watched Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Michelle really liked it. It was fun to spend the evening learning about her. She is from Canada. We heard about her little town. It is called Smithers and has a Swiss theme. Tourism is a big part of the commerce of the city.

She was telling us about the alcohol problems in Canada among the Native peoples. Michelle told us that in Quebec it is very dark spiritually. That was interesting to me. She may go there someday. She speaks English, French and Russian. She is still in college and does not know what she wants to do in the future yet. We told her we had no idea we would end up here. One day at a time is all we are given. And that is how God's plan unfolds.


Tonight is the night of the Cossack Choir. I hope to get a lot of pictures!

Friday, November 25, 2005

Great Movies

Nathan, Spencer and I tried to go to the movies yesterday. However, we were not interested in seeing "The Seven Demons of Emily Rose", "Between Heaven and Earth" or "Elisabethan". So we went over to the video store and purchased a few. Then we had pizza... well Spencer and I did. Nathan had 'shashlik'. Shashlik is grilled meat on a skewer. It is very tasty!

Afterwards we strolled around the mall for a bit a found a toy store. We purchased a game that is like Scrabble. But it is for children and it is in Russian. We are hoping it will help us with our spelling in Russian!

If you have not seen "The Merchant of Venice" with Al Pacino we highly recommend it. It seemed as if it were written just for him.

"The Lion in Winter" is also very good. This is the one with Glen Close and Patrick Stewart.

Our final movie was "Eulogy". We thought it was hilarious. We seem to enjoy movies about dysfunctional families!

It was fun to purchase these movies and be able to spend our family day watching together. Movies here are very cheap. Of course we do not always know if we are purchasing a legitimate copy or not. Even when it is in a store it could still be bootleg. Some of the copies are so well done it is hard to tell. But when you see the heads of the people in the audience you know for sure!!!

Tomorrow we are required to go to a cultural event for the school. We will be seeing the Cossack Choir. The guys around here and at school have been making bad jokes because the Russian word for choir is "hor". You can imagine what is being said. "we have to go see a 'hor'!" and then laughing. And these guys are pastors, engineers and teachers.... real mature!!

Thursday, November 24, 2005

American Traditions in Russia

Many of the students at school are having dinner at each others houses today. We were also invited over to someone's home. We really like them and it would be fun but spending Thanksgiving with a big group is not our tradition.

We normally go to the movies. I think it started years ago after having to go several different houses in one day back in Wichita. We finally just went to the movies. I think we saw an Indiana Jones movie with Tom's brother Dan. Since then we have gone to the movies on Thanksgiving. I don't have to make a big dinner (the guys really just want the deserts anyway) and we all can relax.

Everyone has their own idea of what makes a holiday special and for the Russia Sharps (formerly the California Sharps) it is pizza and a movie!

I got this acrostic poem last week from an old highschool friend. Thanks Darla!

Thanksgiving is a time to reflect
Hold onto God’s love and grace
Accept that he is Lord
Never forsake his unconditional love
Know that he is always there
Sending spiritual guidance our way
Great is his mercy at all times
In his hands he holds our future
Victory is ours through his power
I will trust in him in everything I do
Now is the time to count our blessings
God has been so good and we should thank him!

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

First Snowfall

Nathan saw it snowing and he told his Dad. Tom told me so I got out of bed to go and see the sight. I decided that Spencer needed to see it. So Tom woke him up too!

Michelle was so excited. I have never seen her this happy. She was literally skipping around today.

Judy B. from Alaska wanted to call someone last night and tell them to go and take a look but it was after ten so she restrained herself!

It is amazing that a place so hot in the summer can have snow also. I know this happens in Kansas to. I just didn't expect it here!

Nathan and I just started a new lesson. Spencer is hoping we don't get too far ahead since it means more work for him to catch up for when he joins my class. After memorizing the new dialogues I will be able to tell someone exactly how to get somewhere. Before I could do general directions. Today we learned the word for 'block' as in go three blocks. And we learned the word for 'turn'. That helps! I was just saying "it is on the right" (or left) now I can tell people to actually turn.

We were given a new phrase today too. "k sozhlenyoo" It means unfortunately.
You have to say the 'k' real quick and it has to go before the word to give it the right meaning. I had to go to the pharmacy after school to pick up some medicine I had ordered. I asked the lady for a reciept. she said "unfortunately, I cannot give you one for this because it was a special order and not in the computer." It seems like we always learn something and then go out into real life and hear it used.

Our class was practicing saying the months of the year today. Everyone was saying that it was someone's birthday. After a bit Arina got weary of this and asked "how many people are in our families". Coming from the smart aleck family that I do I still wanted to give one more answer about a birthday. I sat quiet until I figured out how to say it. I told them that Nathan was born in August "Natan rodilseeyah V Avgoosteh" and since I said it correctly in Russian Arina got a huge smile on her face and thanked me! And told me that sentence was "super". To hear it the way she says it you have to do it with a Russian accent. It sounds more like soo-pear (pear the fruit).

Monday, November 21, 2005

Rain, Rain Go Away

It snowed in Moscow. So it rained in Krasnodar. Just like in California we got rain when it snowed in the mountains. Oy, we all leave the house wet, go to school wet and return to our apartment wet! Yes, we each have an umbrella. But you cannot leave it open and get on the bus at the same time. You have to coordinate your actions. And if you are walking past someone you have to tilt the umbrella so you don't whack the other person in the face. Or so I'm told. I guess I must be one of those people who is doing the whacking.

Michelle says she is praying for snow. I don't want snow this soon. She said they have snow in Canada where she is from already and it will stay until May!

I have not lived in a snowy climate for over 18 years. I don't know if our family is ready for it or not. The guys had a taste when we were in New Mexico last year with their grandparents for Thanksgiving. Everyone has hats and gloves and good shoes. We think we are ready...

Tom came straight home from school and got the leftover soup out of the fridge. He sliced potatoes and turkey to use up more of the leftovers in the fridge. It was nice to have lunch waiting when I got home from the market. Since the fridge is small and the food has no preservatives I have to shop about every other day.

Be sure to check out the pictures I posted from the walk Spencer and I took last night.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

up & down

вверх =verkh=up

Klaus spoke about emotions today. It is still very interesting to hear Klaus speak Russian with his German accent...

Anyway, he spoke about how giving ourselves over fully to God can bring stability to our emotions. We don't have to up one minute and down the next.

What sticks most in my mind? The words for up and down. You see, until Klaus spoke today, I was having a hard time remembering the words for up & down. Klaus must have said "verkh/vnees" ten or more times this morning. So thanks to him we had the words firmly imprinted on our brains! At least that was an answer to prayer. I truly wanted to understand something today. Though I did not 'get' everything he said. I caught quite a bit.

Nathan gets up early every morning to chat with his friends online. After getting up today he went back to sleep. In the past I would wake him up for church. However, we had a talk about me not telling him what to do anymore. So, as hard as it was for me to walk past his room I did it. I told Joyce H. when we got to church what I had done. She praised me and comforted me. She was was beaming she was so proud! Her three oldest children range from 27-23. Only Hannah is left with them at home and she is only 9. It is good to have someone I can go to when I need help parenting an adult.

Tom had some special visitors today and phone calls from his AA buddies. They are such caring people and they miss him when he can't make it to the meetings. He has not made it out in a few weeks due to the surgery on his foot.
His visitors today were Lena, Olya and another Lena. (that's what they called her... "droogoy Lena" it means other or another!) They came over because the other Lena wanted Tom to make her a necklace. She had seen our Lena's birthday gift and wanted something made for her too. Before she left she placed an order and told me while Tom was out of the room about bringing over more women. They want to do this like MaryKay or Tupperware. She an Olya had the idea to do home consultations. Tom can show off his magazines and beads and the gals who drop by can order exactly what they want. If all goes well Tom will be very busy soon! She goes to one of the larger churches here in the area. Her husband is very well known. He is THE computer here in the city. Her husband went to Bible College with our Lena. I love how God arranges things!

Spencer and I went out this evening. "Mwee gulalee na Krasnoy" (we walked on Krasnaya street) It was a lot like when Erin and I did the night stroll in Rome. The city comes alive on the weekends. And people were still out strolling past 8 on Sunday night! We walked almost two miles. By the time we were done we had found a new bookstore and the Charlie and the Chocolate Factory video in English!

We came home with double cheeseburgers, fries and a new movie for about

Such a life!

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Thanksgiving Party

Today was the big party at Judy B's house. I made two blueberry cobblers and kept one at home. The guys were very happy about that. I also made a salad and took over some potatoes. Turns out that 2 other people brought mashed potatoes so I got to bring mine back home. That means potato soup for lunch tomorrow!

I made a salad with real lettuce. That was a big treat. I was just glad I made enough for everyone. We had over 29 people there. Most of the students from the school came.

Sonja is Swiss so there were jokes about her being neutral and not taking sides.

Sasha had never had some of the traditional American foods before and I was excited to hear her speaking English. She can speak very well. But, she is also a language helper so she normally does not speak to us in English only Russian. Today I spoke to her in Russian and she spoke to me in English. It was good to see her there. She works very hard and she needs to take days off!

Michelle didn't get to celebrate Canadian Thanksgiving so she was glad for all the food. She almost fell asleep in the big leather chair in the kitchen after dinner!

Tom played several different card games. One that he understood and one that he did not. The one he understood we have played before in the States. Dutch Blitz. The one he didn't understand was a Russian card game. Maybe because of the way it was explained. Sonja speaks three languages but English is not her first. And Sasha also speaks three languages. I walked into the other room because I felt confused as it was being explained. And I was not even playing!

It was fun to see eveyone's children. Talitha is not quite two. And she grabbed my hand and had me sit with her to read books. She gave me a book and she picked out a book for herself. We read together for a little while. It is amazing to me the power that little ones have to get grown ups to do things they normally would not do. Joyce H. and I were both on the floor because Talitha wanted us there!

Joyce B. brought her dog. The dogs name is Pappy. She is a papillon. Or as Tom says "a large rat" Joyce wanted to come over and spend time with us at our house and bring Pappy. Great... Brownie might like French food! We told Joyce B. that our dog would make a snack out hers!

Before dinner Judy B. gave people a chance to say what they were Thankful for. Nathan said he was grateful for the year we have had and for finally having a place that felt like home! That really choked me up. I love our apartment. And it does feel like home here in Krasnodar.

Judy H. brought a portable CD player for the kids to watch a movie. Michael and Talitha watched The Incredibles together. I asked Janet if they were on a date! She said "yeah, dinner and a movie!"

Janet and Patrick are from Kentucky. Janet says there are at least 5 different ways to say Louisville. It was so cute to hear Talitha speaking with a little southern accent. She was saying "mah-kal" instead of "mikal"!

I got the chance to talk with Jim about the highway patrol officers in Texas. He is a former Texas police officer. I told him I have successfully talked my way out of tickets in three other states but not Texas. He said that the highway patrol guys are the worst. I told him that I even let the guy know that my mother was in the hospital. He said that you will just get the "yes mam, I am sure the judge will take that into consideration." Oy, don't mess with Texas!

Friday, November 18, 2005

We are still needing a bed for our room. But now there is space for the drying rack in there so Olya doesn't have to dry all of our clothes at her apartment anymore!

Tom came up with the idea to build the rack and went out to look for what would work. He was able to get it done in just one evening. Even with his bum foot he is still keeping busy!

Olya came over to work today and brought her one year old daughter Ira with her. She is sick and needed extra attention. She had all my stuffed animals and they childproofed the house. She was able to walk anywhere she wanted to in the house except for Spencer's room. The dog might try to make a snack out of her!

Lena is wanting us to go out to see the snow with her! I would like to go and take some pictures. Tom says he will go. We are normally not snow people... Posted by Picasa
I just purchased these hangers today. Nothing special about Russian hangers. Posted by Picasa
I didn't bring it all with me in the suitcases... some of it was shipped over and some of it was purchased here! Tom built this rack nice and sturdy... Posted by Picasa
Okay, so maybe, hanging things up is not so bad after all! Posted by Picasa
Do I really need to hang things up? Maybe, just a bigger suitcase will do! Posted by Picasa
Younger brothers have to give advice whether it is needed or not! Posted by Picasa
Tom and Nathan hard at work or hardly working? Posted by Picasa
My closet is made from shovel handles. There are 8 of them and they cost 20 rubles a piece. For a grand total of $5.50 my clothes are now off the floor! Olya called it a "good Russian idea!" Posted by Picasa
Tom built me a rack for my clothes. The Russian gals were calling it a "shkoff" which is a closet! Posted by Picasa

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Vihhodnoy! (Weekend)

We are so ready to rest by Thursday... our brains are mush. Grammar is hard for us in English. I will just speak for us... who knows, maybe someone out there LOVES grammar! Studying grammar in Russian feels like climbing a mountain in shoes with no traction. We are not holding on to the concepts!

All of the classes slowed to a crawl on the motion verbs (no pun intended). If you go somewhere by walking you use a different verb than if you arrived there by a vehicle. And if you are going out for a walk that is a completely different verb. So, now when we open our mouths we are supposed to know what gender, what case, what tense and what aspect of speech we are using! Oy, mamuchka! Why didn't God send us to Spain? We all had a head start with Spanish.

Today we started a new lesson in my class. Our dialogues are about going on vacation at the sea and getting a tan! I don't think I will use it much but the vocabulary is helpful!

Spencer was given three lessons today. So that he can catch up to where my class is. He will be joining me in December. The class Nathan is moving to is on the same lesson as our current class. They are usually only a day ahead of us. Nathan does not have to work hard to catch up. Spencer is trying to figure out when to get the extra study time in!

This month our budgeting is going better. We have spent a little more on taxis than normal because Tom cannot walk long distances. But we are watching our spending very closely! And one more trip to the ATM should pay off our current school bill.

If you have not seen the movie Calendar Girls you must get it on DVD or video and watch! We enjoyed it!

Woman Thou Are Loosed! is another good one. We watched it as a family and then discussed all the issues afterwards. If you have older teens this is a good family discussion movie. We talked about child abuse, drugs, how God sees us, the response of the church family and how healthy families should respond to these issues. We are grateful to be able to freely discuss these issues and answer our sons questions. They are 15 and 18. They need us to be able to answer honestly and we need to hear what they have to say about these issues too.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Pa Gorotu

Taxi Drivers are good language teachers. Spencer and I went out to get money to pay our bill at school. We have been going over to Krasnaya Ploshad because that is where the Alpha Bank ATM machine is that has dollars, euros or rubles is. We needed to pay our bill in Dollars. Yes I was there the other day. The bill we owe right now is just over 2000 dollars and we were waiting for World Venture to deposit the money into our account to pay the bill. However, Alpha Bank will only let us take out 300 hundred dollars at a time so I had to do this transaction over the course of a few days. We don't have an account with Alpha Bank that is just the ATM in town that contains dollars and does not charge a fee on this end to use! Banking internationally is always a chore!

Spencer and I got in the taxi to come home and the taxi driver asked me if I wanted to prayahma (go straight) or pa gorotu. I understood the go straight. I figured out from context that pa gorodu must mean through the city. I sent a text message to one of my teachers who is a friend and she verified that it can mean through the city or around the city to different places. I am glad I chose to go straight...

Nathan is watching a movie. Lena told him it was important to rest his brain.
Tom is taking a nap... no one ever has to tell him to rest his brain!
Spencer is playing a game on his DS. I cannot tell if his brain ever rests.
I am ready to take a break but I don't know if moms are allowed!

I spoke with a young lady who is contemplating marriage. She asked me about discipline for children. I told her about how we disciplined the boys. She wanted to know if we ever "beat" them. That is what the good church people do here. I told her the boys were swatted on the behind for dangerous behavior like running into the street or touching the oven. Or they got a swat for disobeying us on purpose. We also talked about time outs and losing toys or other consequences. She said the alternative here to a beating is to make your child kneel in a corner placing the knees on dried peas or grains of rice or salt. Salt here is not fine like iodized salt in the U.S. It is very coarse and has larger grains than sea salt. And once it cuts through the skin it would then burn.

I cannot imagine ever making a child do something like that!

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

The Ideal City!

 Posted by Picasa

Na or V

We have all been learning cases and tenses. If you say Na before a word it means either in or on depending on the case you are using. And the same with V.

Arina was explaining in Russian to Janet and I after our role play that we could have included the chance to put the candy I "brought over to Janet's" on the table.
Janet was intensely trying to take all the instructions in and said:

"wait... is Alida on the table? what is going on the table?"

I looked at Janet and said:

"what kind of parties go on at your house?"

Later Arina explained how to politely let guests know that it is time for them to leave your house.

I said "Yes, when do we ask them to get off the table?"

Nathan and I went to Krasnaya Ploshad in a Marshutka after school. It was good to take a different mode of transportation. We have had lessons on transportation and how to ask for the stop we want. We were able to hear someone ask to be taken halfway to the next stop. We heard people use some of the exact words we have learned in our dialogues. Nathan commented on how last year we could not read or speak and now this year we can go where we want to go and get what we need because we know how to read and speak!

Spencer and I went over to pick up the painting I purchased in Rome. Tom and I took it over to the Art Store across the street to be framed. It looks very nice. And it was very reasonable in price. It was going to cost an arm and a leg to ship the frame from Rome! I think Erin said 125 Euros. I paid 310 rubles...around 12$.

Natasha over at the Art Store thinks our painting turned out "KLASSNA!" (awesome!)

Monday, November 14, 2005

Look me in the EYE!

No sleeping in Arina's class... she caught Nathan as he was drifting off. She had just explained something that I thought I was paying attention to. However, when a teacher raises her voice and switches to Russian you know someone is in TROUBLE!

"no sleeping in my class! Look me in the eye and tell me what I just said"
Nathan explained the difference between the two sentences without missing a beat. After he finished she said:

"Okay you can go back to sleep!"

He can draw pictures and he can take a nap.... no one else can get away with that! Maybe someday I will be the teacher's star and I can sneak in a nap during class!


Oh and the package that was supposed to be from China... was actually from Albuquerque, New Mexico! So when did they move it to China?

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Carl's Dinner

We had Carl over tonight for dinner. He is with the BLTC. His family is back in the States and tonight was his last night here. He is headed for home via Vienna.

Spencer and I went over to the mall at City Center to purchase meat at the grocery store. We picked up farsh(hamburger) and all the fixin's for spaghetti & meatballs. Carl wanted a simple dinner. And that was as simple as I could get. It was a fast meal to cook by Russian standards. For some reason the water for the spaghetti took about 25 minutes to boil tonight. I did the meatballs in the oven and they were very juicy!

Carl is 6 foot 6 inches tall. He had to bend down to come through the front door. He just clears the light fixture on the livingroom ceiling!

Tom and I will pick up some perspective students on our way to school. They will visit my class and then Tom's. After the break they will meet with the director Tania who will answer any of their questions. Then Tom and I will take them to lunch. I found a great little place down on Krasnaya that is within our budget. Last time I ate there they had real lettuce for the salad. That is something rare for us here so it will be a treat for us and for them. We don't eat out much!

We got a call from Tom's folks tonight. Dad claims he saw my picture in the post office. Evidently, I am now "Internationally Known" for harassing postal workers!

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Post office fit!

Try throwing a fit in a different language. I know I should have remained calm. But this woman just plain ticked me off. She decided who she was going to give out packages to and who she was not. I was on her list of "was not".

I tried to pick up a package today that had Tom's name on it. I was told I could do this. Other people at school have done this for each other. This woman decided today that since this package was from China that Tom was the only one who could receive it. What?

I told her this was not true! I called this woman a liar! Can you imagine me doing this! She wanted to know what she said that was not true. The other woman behind the counter was laughing and saying that I did not understand. I said "I understand that the package was for my husband and that I had done this before and that they were not telling me the truth." And then stormed out.

Did I leave a good impression behind?

Will I be remembered?

This is a city if 1.2 million and I have seen 4 other black women in the entire time we have been here. I don't think I will be forgotten. And I could be the butt of many jokes.

Tom will go to the post office on Monday maybe I need to go too and take chocolates. Culture stress shows up in so many different ways. Today was my day I guess.

Friday, November 11, 2005

We can eat whatever we want now!

Olya is busy cleaning the kitchen this morning. There are so many people to thank for the appliances being in.

Lena went to purchase the pipe needed to install the stove.
Slavic (Lena's brother) came over to install it.
Tom cut the counter top where the pipe is.
Nathan went out to buy the plug for the electric starter.

I even helped Slavic by holding up the oven while he connected the piping in the back. Nathan's arms were long enough but he was not quite strong enough to get it connected. The oven is pretty light to hold onto. And Slavic worked quickly!

Once the kitchen is clean I will try to get in a few more photos. What is left to do in there are minor details... and for minor details... who knows how long I can wait?! Maybe next year we'll have a finished product!
The first meal is cooking on the stove! I think I still remember how to use this thing... Posted by Picasa

The corner of the kitchen showing the gas pipe!

 Posted by Picasa

The kitchen appliances are all in!

 Posted by Picasa

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Should I talk about the meat seller?

I saw a man selling meat from the back of his car. He was no different from a local butcher taking orders from whoever stepped up. With the exception that he was cutting it with an ax on a cutting board in the parking lot. I was tempted to step in the line but the thought of the unclean ax and the possibility of the meat hitting the ground keeps me going to the market and avoiding the guys selling from their cars!

Instead of leaving you in shock over today's sighting I will leave you with a poem that I got from a friend today!

If God brings you to it, He will bring you through it.
Happy moments, praise God.
Difficult moments, seek God.
Quiet moments, worship God.
Painful moments, trust God.
Every moment, thank God.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

feeling sick

Tom stayed home today because his foot hurt.
I stayed home because I have a cold.
The kitchen is closer to being finished. The last piece we need is a pipe to connect the stove to the gas line. When I tried saying pipe no one knew that English word. Finally I remembered that the Russian word is Schlongk. Lena is going to pick one up tomorrow.

My teacher Arina has been coming over to give me massages. My fibromyalgia is really helped by her type of massage. She only focuses on muscle. I gave her a copy of an English book on massage. She was extremely excited about it. She gave me a big kiss. Tom was happy too... one less book in the house!!!!
Nathan and I are enjoying her as a teacher. If she pronounces or spells an English word wrong all we have to do is tell her and she goes right on. Sometimes she will ask for us to write down the correct spelling. She is studying philology. She is learning about the roots of the Russian language and is studying the various languages that have a Russian base. She is very bright and very busy. Oh, to be 26 again!

I finally posted a few more pictures on the photoblog from Odessa.

They are inside the Orthodox church on the pier.

St. Nicholas

This photo was taken in Odessa at the church down on the pier. The mosaics are beautiful here. Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Question: What kept Alida from posting?

Answer:14.4 kbps

That is how slow the computer was running when I logged on and tried to post yesterday!

If you are using dial up you can probably relate. I placed the cursor over the computer icon and it showed the speed of 14.4. Normal for us would be 52.0. I was not able to check the balance of our bank accounts or log on to Blogger. The sessions kept timing out and it was not a fun experience.

Yesterday was Tom's first day back at school. He did well. We have been using taxis this week. He is not quite ready for public transportation. He says if there is ever an over fourty hopscotch championship he will ace it!

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Just stopping by!

After church Valentin and Sveta stopped by to pick up their disk. They borrowed our camera for their honeymoon. I took all of their photos and put them on a disk and combined them with their wedding photos.

It was fun to have them over. Sveta reminds me of myself when I was newly married. I remember going over to Tom's parents house for dinner and feeling very nervous!

Valentin brought over a copy of a video that showed the village where he was from.
This website will give you an idea!

Valentin is from a place called Chukotka. It is near the Bering Sea. Close to the Bering Strait. We saw them fish for seal meat. Eat reindeer. We saw the city as it looked when Valentin left in 1997. He had the chance to go and live with a host family in Alaska after that for two years. And then he came to Krasnodar. It was so cold you could see the snow blowing over the landscape. The baptism we watched was done in a bathtub indoors!

If you click on the weather link it will say the village names in Russian and give the temps in Celcius. I have been informed that at -40 is where F & C meet up!

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Hermitage Exhibit

You can check on the link and see a part of the exhibit we were able to see. I would love to be able to post my own photos. But, I was not allowed to take any at all. They would not even let me pay to take pictures. And since we were with friends from school who brought small children I needed to follow the rules!

Our teacher had instructed us at school not to talk when she purchased the tickets. She said that if they know we are foreigners they will raise the admission price. We reminded everyone to be quiet at the door. Then Arina looked at me and said "well, Alida doesn't look Russian anyway, so it doesn't matter!" She and I started laughing but others were not so sure how to take it. She has been coming over to give me massages. She has heard all of my stories about where people seem to think that I am from!

A group of us went out to eat after we left the exhibit. That was also a 'cultural experience'. I had my photo taken by someone with a cellphone! Wonder who she thinks I am? I hope she is not to disappointed when she finds out I am not a celebrity!

Friday, November 04, 2005

The only working oven in the house! It is only a convection oven and not a microwave. Posted by Picasa

Lena is greeting her guests! Posted by Picasa

The redheads! Posted by Picasa

Ira is the only one allowed to wear shoes in the home. She was carried over so her shoes are clean. It is traditional to take off your shoes near the door when you enter a Russian home. Posted by Picasa

Joyce is on the floor, I am talking to Ira, Alexei is in the hallway taking a picture of Tom taking a picture. He is definitely family! Posted by Picasa

Uncle Alexei is taking pictures! When I bought my new camera it was because the old one was broken. Alexei had it repaired and now it is attached to his hands! Posted by Picasa

Ira playing peek a boo with "DyahDyah" Tom. DyahDyah is Uncle.... and she had 6 in the room toninght! Posted by Picasa

My "tables" are set and we are about ready to eat! The drinks are on the slab that was cut from the counter top to make room for the sink. It is sitting on the leftover paint for the apartment. Olya decided we should make use of these items! Posted by Picasa

They kept calling her Al Capone! She is wearing Spencer's new hat. Posted by Picasa

Joyce is standing at the "table" near Olya. It was her idea to use the drying rack. Olya brought over her table cloth. Underneath is an old Indian blanket that we used to take to the beach! Posted by Picasa