Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Short Post, and Pictures!

Hello, everyone – how’s it going? Good to hear it. My life’s been fine, if a bit stressful, but I think that’s to be expected, since I’ve been busy adjusting to life in an apartment in a rural Ukrainian village. Of course, I always thought of my life as being a bit stressful before I even thought of coming to Ukraine . . . so really, nothing’s changed.

Last Friday, I went to visit fellow Volunteer Clara at her site, and got to stay with her host family: mom, dad, and younger but practically-fluent-English-speaking sister and brother, who were all very nice and funny. We watched “Cadets” – this really, really popular Russian series that comes on five days a week, about a military academy. Somehow during a commercial, I ended up telling them, in halting Ukrainian, how “ohio” means “hello” in Japanese, and about how when Big Bird went to Japan, everyone was walking past him saying “Ohio,” and he said “Sure are a lot of people here from Ohio!” (This was all prompted by the little sister declaring that something like “ktnandksjlf” was “hello” in Japanese). Luckily, they understood the story, and thought it was funny. Just another example of how I feel compelled to say everything that pops into my head, even when speaking in a language I don’t really know.

The next day, Clara and I went to Vinnytsia, and celebrated St. Patrick’s Day with Ukrainian-style Mexican food, and some shopping. Later, she came back to Bratslav with me to see my apartment, which she swore to me was “not that bad.” So, see – you should come visit! My apartment is in the process of getting a lot better, but more on that a little later . . .

I had a cold this week, so didn’t make it into school every day, but managed to make it there enough to supervise several tests, which, as you may recall me saying, is really fun here. It basically consists of me collecting textbooks, dictionaries, copybooks, and various slips of paper from students for the whole period while they laugh at my efforts to keep them from cheating. I did have some success though: in one class, I knew that I had made a difference when one boy just put his pen down and glared at me for the rest of the period (the girl behind him had written him a note, but after my glaring for a while, decided not to pass it to him).

Earlier this week, I finally got my Mbag! Meaning – lots of books, in a very inexpensive-to-send package (through U.S. Postal Service) that took a little over three months to get here, but finally did. I also got a lovely package from Kimber, who fulfilled the three requirements of my poetry-for-news exchange (to see requirements, scroll down to the end of the previous entry), and so has a poem coming her way. I also got (several!) free texts about the engagement of a Californian Anglophile, so congratulations to him (if he reads this)! So all of that was very entertaining for me while I sat at home and thought about the various repairs my apartment needs . . .

We have this week off from school, so I’m focusing on repairs, etc., for a while. We’re still working on getting my stove set up and running (and ready for immediate cookie baking), my Yushenko fridge has been sort of on and off, and my electricity has been a little kooky. The other day I turned on the hall light, and a second later heard a POP, and the glass part of the light-bulb was dangling from the metal screw-in part . . . anyone ever heard of that happening? I thought it was strange . . . and also, on Friday night, I experienced what Patrick explained to me is a “brown-out” – during a wind storm, the lights went out, and then came back on dimly, so my apartment felt like a haunted house for the rest of the night (especially with the plastic-crystal chandelier in the living room). Apparently we used to have these in the U.S., but don’t anymore. But the big victory of the week is: I killed all of the mold in the bedroom!! All of it! And there were nearly two walls worth! I’ll try not to dwell on this . . . but, I got the wallpaper removed, and then spent the next day spraying the walls with anti-mildew stuff, which is very very strong, and for which I didn’t have what the instructions refer to as “adequate ventilation” . . . but I figured it out after a lot of eye-watering and coughing, and opened a window. So it’s all gone!! And today, supposedly, while I’m in here in the big city, new wallpaper is being put up – so, soon I’ll be sleeping in a bed!

I finished a very good book, which I recommend (and which Mev sent me) – “White Teeth” . . . it’s a good thing I live alone now, because I was shouting things like “No, don’t do that!” and “I knew it!” near the end. Also, I’m learning yoga with my new yoga mat (purchased in the plumbing section of the bazaar . . . not sure what its actual original purpose is)!

Ok, not a lot has happened to me this week! But I’ll try to make up for it by posting long-overdue pictures . . . [oh, and an overdue story: when writing about my St. Patrick’s Day lessons before, I forgot to mention what an impression I apparently made on the 10th grade, teaching them “Mary Mac” and singing the refrain over and over enthusiastically – after class, the girls huddled around my coordinator and apparently wanted to know if I was famous in the U.S. Haha.] So, that is it, hope that you are all doing very very well, let me know how things are going with you, and take care!!

Love, Virginia

I can see the sunset out of my window every day . . .

Mold, before:

Mold, after!:
Notice, I realized I needed to open the window. Ok, I have more mold pictures, but I'll spare you . . .


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