As for me and my house we will serve the Lord....

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Kitten photos

Katya and the kitten

 here is the cute kitten - she lost the other one somehow- but this one is getting fat. The mother is on a campaign to get it and her back the house, twice this week she has left it shivering on the doorstep, but I just return it to the box in the shop. She'd have better luck if she knew how to use a litter pan!

She got it inside while the students were in today, but we took it back afterwards. For more on lunch with the students see the other blog about the trade school.

Snow, basketball and Easter

We have been having snow here in Ukraine recently, several times in the last two weeks, we have had an inch of more of snow. Sunday morning we drove into the city for church. There had been blowing snow when Garry went out to feed the cows that morning, but it was looking better in the village, with maybe an inch hanging about, and clearing weather. By the time we got to the police check, where we got pulled over for whatever reason, I guess it was a document check; there was a stiff wind coming into the open window as the policeman asked his questions with big snowflakes to go with them. The closer we got to Dnepro, the more snow beside and in the highway, about 6 inches piled up in some spots where it was drifting.

 We planned to stay in the city as Garry had bought tickets to the opera and 6 pm that evening. After church, with an interesting sermon about love and bitterness- we have been having sermons on Corinthians 13 for ... since sometime in February, I guess. We went to lunch with a friend and ended up on a spur of the moment decision to see a concert at the organ hall. We were a few minutes late, and missed the opening number on the big pipe organ, but enjoyed the pianist and violin classical music that followed. The finale was "phantom of the opera" music on the pipe organ. It was really a treat.

Afterwards we had coffee/ tea and a snack at Mc Donalds before arriving at the opera, it was Carmen, the rotating stage was interesting, it had both opera and a bit of ballet, we enjoyed it but after the third act, I noticed it was 8:30 and we decided to make a break for the exit as it would be quite late when we got home (about an hour drive in the dark and snow flurries.) We had a lecture about talking from one of the lady ushers, Garry just said sure, sure, to wasn't us talking during the last act, so she may have been disappointed during the final act. Someone had been talking rather loudly at one point, maybe they thought it was in English...

We had a safe drive home, and enjoyed watching the Temple- Indiana NCAA basketball game that had just started when we got home. The sports channel is great, we get lots of college sports and some baseball games. Too bad Temple couldn't pull off the upset, it was a great game to watch.

Garry enjoyed it so much he checked if the pro team from Zaporosia was playing and we ended up going to games on both Monday and Wednesday evenings. Monday night we met the father of one of the American players, who is visiting from NJ. Warner is one of Garry's favorite players because he hustles out on the floor. Randy Culpepper  was back from his injuries, although he hurt himself trying to block a dunk last night.The playoffs start next week, we might see some games.

Not warm, but the snow melted in the sun Monday

Ferro is winning Monday against the Monkeys

The cheerleaders have some shiny new outfits this year

So you may be thinking that we are getting ready to celebrate Easter here, but Lent just started the Sunday before last on the Orthodox calendar. Garry had sold a pile of milk the Thursday before Lent started (Pancake day was on Saturday) when Victor was busy, but sales were way down last Thursday, some people said because of fasting for Lent. We didn't bring Victor much to sell today- right now Garry is playing pickup basketball while I use some free wifi at the mall. We are trying to upgrade our internet at home, but it has been out for the last couple days.

Garry brought tall Max, one of the students, with him to play today for the third week. Max bought basketball shoes with the money he made milking one weekend when Yana was gone earlier this month. Garry took him to help sell milk the last two weeks and then basketball, but had trouble convincing Max not the shoot the ball as soon as it lands in his hands. Max promised to do better this week, he loves basketball, but has not had any training in the orphanage, so he is not very good at it.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Driving notes and photos

Things to watch for when driving in Ukraine...


Slower vehicles- classic cars and big trucks with loads

  missing manhole covers -- 

the manholes are often marked with branches sticking out of them---can cause real tire damage. Here's a unique take on a side street in Dnepro.
reminds me of my childhood, made until the 70's?
They need to reconnect the auto bus to the power lines
Parking on the sidewalk - this is a marked parking space

Watch out for holes in the road!
Police check points- if they wave their baton at you, stop!

Which sign do you obey? 

road construction is not marked far ahead- or detours on the highway!

This one's way better than the last one on the highway
Not anymore, winter has killed the pavement!

Women's Day and other days of March

Somehow this post didn't get published when we had internet problems!

Friday March 8th was International Womens Day and here in Ukraine it is a big holiday with people congratulating you and giving flowers, candy, cards. Garry had signed me up for a special event on Saturday organized by the men in the church for the women, so we drove to Dnepropetroesk late that afternoon (you may remember from the previous post we had ice that morning from the rain. As we got about halfway to the city, we realized that there was slush on the edge of the road. It was about 2 C and I felt sorry for the guy bicycling along the highway near Bratski as there was a lot of water on the road being sprayed up by the cars toward him.  As we got into the city the snow was about three inches high on the side of the streets!

We were supposed to meet at the Lenin statue on Karl Marx Boulevard at 4:15, it was getting a little cold when one of the men showed up with red long-stemmed roses for the women, and then we walked to a nearby concert - it was classical guitar by an Argentina gentlemen, very good. Afterwards Garry picked me up and took me out for dinner - a treat, the only other American restaurant besides Mc Donalds- TGIFridays , where I had a nice Southwest salad with shrimp. Then we had the fun of driving back home in the dark with the holes and slush, but Garry did just fine.

Sunday the snow was still there when we went to church, and it is too bad I did not bring the camera, because when we got to Victor's church with the milk, Garry thought he was in luck- there was no one parked by the gate, so he could swing wide as he backed up to get the milk out. There was a little noise, and I asked if he had hit something, he said "there's nothing to hit", and then whomp!, he got out to look and the cars tire was in a manhole, the tire had gone over the edge of it, and the cover flipped up and the tire was neatly in the hole. After getting the milk out of the back thus raising the back end of the car;  which made the cover fall down a little, it was neatly wedged in the wheel-well on the back drivers' side of the Lada. Then he used the jack to raise the car far enough to slide the manhole cover back on, and it was lowered back down on it, and he was able to drive it away, after putting one jug of milk back inside for Morningstar church. We were not as early as Garry had thought we would be for church, but we got there just as the praise songs were starting anyway.

Garry's hot peppers are getting bigger and the tomatoes are up now.

Gabriella has 2 striped kittens, she seems to have taken to motherhood
I am hoping it is nice enough to put the kittens and mother outside- well in the attic entryway in the shed- later this week, it is supposed to be 14 C (about 60 F) then. As I feared, when Andrei proudly showed me the box of kittens,  Gabriella is the one who takes after her grandmother Mooska- poor litter using skills. The little ones are doing well anyway.

Garry had a few problems today, he was feeding the cows this afternoon and while they were scraping the heifer pens to clean them, one of the heifer ate the cap off the tractor. He was rummaging in my cupboards for a replacement and tried to take the lid off one of my extract bottles, because it would fit and where could he get a lid (meanwhile I am protesting where will I get more extract as they are ones I brought from Canada) We somewhat compromised , he toll the lid off the almond extract as it was almost empty - half a teaspoon left- I'll have to remember to pack some when we are back in Canada next month for Garry's parent's 60th wedding celebration.

Just as he finished in the barn, they saw a cow in heat, so he went to breed her and when he pulled the canister of semen straws up to get one out and the handle broke off, dumping the little cup and all the straws of semen in it into the bottom of the tank of liquid nitrogen! It is still wet- drizzly- and muddy outside today.

Trip to the KINO

Yesterday afternoon Garry came in the house and wanted to check on the internet for 3-D movie showtimes in Zaporosia. He said he didn't want to drive there if there wasn't a movie showing... this all started a few days ago, when he mentioned that the milker ladies wanted to go see a movie.

He found one that was supposed to start at 4:30, the new Oz movie, and off he went with Yana, Genia and Andrey, who had come in and said the Jack and the Beanstalk movie was supposed to be showing.Garry called me around the time the movie was supposed to start, they were waiting to buy tickets. The movie theater (Kino) only would start to sell the tickets for the movie when they had enough people to sell to... Garry said that some people who had come had left because they didn't think that they would show the movie, but it looked like it would be shown, or they would be back early.

They were gone until about eight o'clock, so I assumed they had seen the OZ movie, until Garry mentioned that they had missed the first ten minutes of the movie, they got there when Jack was just trading for his beans. He said they had given up on the ticket sales  and had gone to a different theater to see Jack instead. The ladies enjoyed the movie, which was shown in Ukrainian, like all movies in the theater here.

Afterwards they went to Mc Donalds (Garry bought me a warm hamburger and  fries home) He said they really had to talk Genia (Yana's mother )  into going inside the restaurant to eat. Neither lady had been to Mc Donalds before (or the movies either) Garry bought them all Big Mac menus (which is what they call the meal here.) He said they had trouble eating it all, they finished the burgers, but not the fries, but they had a good time, Andrey was making them laugh eating french fries with them hanging out of his mouth. Andrey was feeling pretty good as he finally got his cast off his right arm that morning (from his shoulder operation), after a month of doing everything left-handed.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Icy morning...

We have rain in the forecast, it started yesterday so the mud is back outside. It got cold overnight, Garry was amazed that the power did not go off as the outdoors, trees, powerlines, were covered in a layer of ice. It is dripping and chipping onto the ground still at 11 am. The rain is supposed to continue for the next week.

Garry says he paid for 35 tons of brewers grain and maybe got 30 into the pit. They dumped it over at the "new" barn and brought it over here in a smaller truck (the new delivery truck can't get into the yard. Seems like some feel off the truck before it got to the village.

Garry was disappointed with the results of the students end of term exams. They did OK on the written exams on Monday but on Wednesday when they did the oral exams (the kind they will be doing at the end of the year with the state supervision) for his class on diseases and for the anatomy class most of them did poorly, some that did well on his did not on the other, so they will be doing a make up written exams on Tuesday.

We have kittens in the house again, we should have gotten Box"s kittens fixed too as they are both girls, and the one Andrei calls Gabriella (Mini-Box) had two kittens yesterday for International Women's Day - March the 8th is the biggest holiday of the year here. You should have seen all the guys buying flowers yesterday in the rain in Zaporosia, either plants, tulips, roses, and even balloon flowers. We were there for a basketball game.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Springtime in Ukraine...maybe

My crocus and tulips are just poking through, about and inch high now, but it seems spring has sprung here in Ukraine. It may have been -6C when Garry got up Sunday morning, but it was plus 4 by the time we drove to church at 9 am. The sunn is coming up earlier, the grass is greening up on the side of the roads, and there is smoke everywhere... what, you may think...smoke is a sign of spring?

Here in Ukraine it is, last week Tuesday I was returning from teaching English at the school, when I had to hold my breath and try to duck the clouds of smoke coming from the the two bonfires on the side of the street being stirred (with her rake) by the older lady who had raked up her yard. A well-tended yard in the village is not the mowed grass lawn of North America, but a perfectly clean flat layer of dirt, almost like it had been swept... well it really may have been swept with a broom made of twigs. I have seen ladies sweeping up in parks, making their brooms before sweeping, tying a bunch of twigs onto a stick (often a much shorter stick than you or I would use- Ukrainians believe you need to see what you are doing when sweeping to do a good job, I think.)
A well maintained yard

Strangely enough, since I started this blogpost, we have been having bursts of snow flurries today! Right around noon I looked outside and giant snowflakes were swirling everywhere, it looked like a real snowstorm for a few minutes. Garry is busy with the students. even though it is Monday, because this has been designated exam week... or exam three days, since it will be finished on Wednesday (normally we work at the school on Tuesdays and Thursdays) I have nothing this week as English is not an official subject. Thursday and Friday have been designated days to rest from the exams. We are not sure why, as the students not only received the questions some time ago, they got the official answers also. It is interesting doing things the Ukrainian way.

Maxim is out cultivating one of the fields, we will have more than 100 acres over the land we farmed last year. A few people were able to get out of their leases with the big farmer and have decided to let us rent their land. This may have to do with the fact that he never paid up as promised in December for last year's rent, some are renting to him again, even though they can get out, in the hope of him paying last year's rent in the fall, as promised with this years. One older lady was going to wait for him to pay instead of renting to us, but when she said she was going to wait Maxim told her what the guy said when he asked him about her land, "that she was a crazy old babushka, and her land was not free til next year." She marched up the street and told him she'd take her share back now.

Garry bought a fertilizer spreader

The winter wheat, right after spreading- see the tracks?

Last week Garry was ready to try out his new fertilizer spreader he purchased when we drove to Zaporosia on Wednesday we saw several places where the winter wheat was being fertilized. On Thursday he and Maxim picked up the corn seed and the spreader, and Friday morning the wheat was fertilized. Garry found out someone has planted alfalfa already and he is thinking of planting some, with all this new land to use this year.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Update all the news that I can finally print

I hope, we are waiting for our improved service, but yesterday we were in Dnepro and Garry purchased a new mobile link from the peoplenet people, ours broke just before we left for Doreen's last Thursday.

To update a few recent stories, this week the metal thief returned with his wife and baby daughter, they were telling how they only had bread in the house to eat. Garry almost gave him back his car without making him redo the welding because mother and baby were crying, but then he and Max watched the Dad pull an expensive pack of cigarettes out of his pocket for a smoke, so they did have him do the welding right this time after they showed him where it was bad, before he was finally able to return to Zaporosia in his old Volga car. He promised to never steal again...  hopefully not in our village anyway.

The cement blocks are disappearing over at the barns,(see the post called a long day)there were only a few gone when we returned, but they are back for more. Garry says they are probably reselling them as new for a road construction project and making big bucks.

We had a few problems with the car on our trip back from Kramatorsk, it was running really rough by the time we dropped off our rider in Dnepropetroesk, but we stopped at Victor's house to pick up the empty milk jugs for the next morning and headed for home. We almost made it, the car stalled right after we turned onto Centralna (our street in the village) Garry phoned Max, but he was gone to a wedding in Kherson, so one of our students, who happened to be walking by, called Andrei and asked him to bring the tractor. Andrei still has his one arm in a cast from his shoulder surgery ( he returned from the hospital last week Monday, we found out later he had snuck out, they wanted to keep him for a while longer, but he couldn't take anymore- he said hospital food was worse than the food in the army) Anyway a few minutes later Serosia (the neighbor) roared up with his Lada Samara (it's a hatchback) and towed us back to our yard.

So Sunday morning we couldn't drive into church, the car problem was decided to be a timing belt problem, which one of the neighbors tried to fix that afternoon. Victor had to come get the milk for the churches, he was in early, while I was still feeling the aftereffects of our bumpy ride... we managed to leave Kramatorsk by 2:30 on Saturday afternoon and got through the really bad part of the trip (see a long day post) before dark, only hitting a few bad holes, no tire problems, but maybe it did not help the timing belt, which slipped.

So the car was fixed for Monday when Garry drove to Zaporosia for a school staff meeting, broke again Tuesday, we had to cancel the Mere Christianity English book study, because we couldn't drive into Dnepro. Wednesday I really wanted to get on the internet (I had some stuff to do for the boys) so I went along to Zaporosia with Garry, for his meeting at New Hope Center - this one was a board meeting for the school. We left early - with my computer so I could work- because he was going to pick up baby furniture for Marina (our missionay in Dnepropetroesk is having a baby in July and had found used stuff to buy on the internet) He programmed the GPS before we left, and after dropping off someone we had given a ride to the city at Mc Donalds, and getting a couple of Mcmuffins; we set out to fill the back of the car. First we went to house where the lady had a dresser with a baby changing top and bath tub top-- she was disappointed that she could sell her crib too, a guy helped Garry carry it out, Marina had phoned to tell them we were picking it up this morning. Then we followed the GPS to another part of the city Garry called Marina and she phoned the second lady who found us parked by the Sushi Bar downstairs. She had all the crib parts neatly wrapped in plastic, and Garry managed to get them all in the car.

After his meeting we left for Dnepropetroesk so we could deliver the crib and pick up some groceries, however after getting the stuff up to Marina's apartment, Garry realized we were going to drive right past MOST City Centre, and decided we should go bowling, and check on the internet stick at their kiosk. He planned to win while I was down but I bowled with lighter balls- 13 pounders- than normal and threw carefully to not hurt myself, and won one game and missed tying another game by one pin when I almost picked up the split in the tenth frame. Afterwards we stopped at Victor's to pick up the milk jugs for today, and then finally got some groceries. Garry visited Victor's normal Thursday customers before he played basketball, and he says he could have sold more milk than he had brought tonight.

The internet problem is not quite fixed yet, so won't try loading photos tonight, I'll try again soon.