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

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Hi there!

I have been putting off a blog post, since I started the week feeling a little under the weather, but I am going to write one anyway, since I have been getting sicker instead of feeling better. Nothing drastic, just a bad cold with a sore throat, and a fever that keeps popping back up.

While I have been doing the minimum, Garry has been keeping busy, even doing the cleaning this week. Yesterday he got everything cleaned up nicely after lunch (after cooking I took a nap) and then mixed up some plaster and went to work in the the hallway by the door on some holes and cracks so he can repaint the hallway when it is finished. The hallway floor has a little white powder on now, but I am sure it will be lovely when he's finished.

Tuesday he went to Zaporosia to finish the documents on the house he is buying in the village to remodel for a group home this spring (he is looking for people in Canada who want to be on a team to work on it, too.) Then he went with Victor and  Maxim Rudei to the firm that made the freestalls and framework for the milk parlor, they needed to get some different clamps to finish the parlor, the ones they had leftover at the end of construction were the wrong size.

Three years ago when we looked at the free stalls, Garry had seen a hoof trimming stall similar to our original low tech one in Canada for sale. He was wondering if they still had it for sale for the same amount of grinva, and they did. Like the house it was less than half price converted to US dollars, from two years ago.

Click this link to see the original factory tour post.

The hoof trimming stall was delivered Wednesday (I'd have photos if I felt better) and after a few problems with set up (there are a few things he needs to get fixed to make it work better) he gave it a try with the old hoof trimming blades he brought from Canada from the boys. Unfortunately, he took a chunk out of his thumb, and had to wash it and wrap it up in gauze in the bathroom (I slept through it) but I saw a few smears of blood around the sink when I woke up.

Today the giant gauze bandage was gone, (the cut is rather small for all that blood) and he trimmed up three more cows' feet... apparently the head gate is not self locking, so twice after they finally chased a cow into it she raced out the other side. I guess that is one of things that needs fixing. He did have to repair the side grinder that the blades go on after the three cows, the cord had a patch in that managed to short out and blow the breaker in the house. Twice. Now it is is shorter but safer. He hopes to go all the way around the barn fixing cows feet up in the next weeks.

WE got mail today! or maybe yesterday, because it was all wet in the mailbox and it rained yesterday. A Christmas card/letter/thank you from our son's family. Apparently Havilah's favorite thing for Christmas was the Olaf (snowman from the Frozen movie) hat I crocheted her.

Well, my fever seems to be back, so I guess I will take another nap.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Normal here in the village

Yes, the height of excitement this week was getting the car back, which let us drive places at night in the fog- a special kind of excitement for me, trying to decide whether to sit in the front seat as usual, since the seat belt won't pull out of it's holder since we returned, or the back seat, which has no seatbelts either.

Actually we did do some other exciting things, like teaching for a second straight week to even up with the group home parents who taught their classes the first week of January, and so
I'm looking forward to "relaxing" next week (they had taught two straight after we left before the holiday break.) Look for a post on the "bird's eye blog" about our pizza party last week. Some of the students are doing better in class even English!

Garry and Maria (Masha) with a little help from me, did the 1000 piece puzzle I bought him last Christmas, they finished it on Wednesday since we were expecting the Rays of Love team from Kirvoy Rog, and Daryl (our boss) here overnight on Thursday and I thought I would need to used the pull out couch. However, we only had six people instead of the nine I was planning on, so it would have been fine. We picked up some card board today and he has glued it down and I'll have to find a place to hang it (which is why I only buy him 1000 piece ones with Farm scenes!

Our guests arrived Thursday as classes were finishing at 12:30, and after a lunch of soup and cake, they headed out on a walking tour of the farms and group homes with Garry and Maria (wearing boots and plastic bags over shoes, since the warmer weather meant melting snow and puddles). One of the Ukrainian girls on the team knew two of our students from the orphanage, Garry told me. They didn't return until around five, when Garry drove Maria home to the city while I made pizza. Afterwards they played a -new to them - game Garry's friends had sent us from Steinbach until 11 pm, when Garry and Daryl went to bed. The girls enjoyed it so much that they played for two more hours!

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Back on the road

Well, if you read the last post, where Garry's car was "arrested" you might be wondering when he got his car back...

It took three days from when the fine was paid - Saturday- until the official notice of payment was available- Tuesday mid-morning, Victor brought it out to the village around 11:30 and took Garry to the checkpoint to retrieve the car.

What did we do in the meantime? Sunday we walked to the church in the village, Max Boradin told is what the scripture was for the message, and we are pretty good singing hymns in Russian (even though I can barely say anything in Russian I can sing phonetically, strangely enough I can sound words out). We spent a quiet day at home. Our Canadian guest left on Saturday afternoon after a walking tour of the trade school program, they had a quick bite of lasagna before Garry got him on the 1:30 marshushka to Zaporosia.

Sunday evening Garry talked to Masha, and told her to take the afternoon one here since they are still not running the regular routes, the alternative would be for her to leave the city at 4:30 am. Garry taught without a translator on Monday and was pleased with the students progress at balancing feed rations, they can all do the math involved in the process. I had English class midway through the morning as normal. Masha arrived just before 6 pm, and then her and Garry walked down to the boys house for a group parent meeting, in the dark and drizzle and puddles of the melting snow piles (which you jump into when there are cars coming since there is just two tracks to go on... and then back home.

Tuesday since Garry was going for the car, he taught (with Masha) straight through to 11:30 and then I did English class. At 12:15, Maxim Rudei, walked into class and asked if I could find the keys for the car, because Garry had phoned he had forgotten to take them. I made lunch which Masha and I ate at two, Garry was still in the city, buying a suitable replacement wheelbarrow.

So Wednesday evening Garry was able to drive to Dneiperprojisk for his English book club, and a somewhat slow drive it was, the warmer temperatures and piles of snow are creating a good amount of fog! But we had a lovely time meeting with the people there, they surprised us with a new year party with tea and goodies... and we made it safely back to the village.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Happy Old New Year ... and Garry's trouble going to Zaporosia-updated

Wednesday was starry novy goad (old new year) or new year according to the Julian calendar, which the Orthodox church in Ukraine follows, so it is a holiday here. We think it is a bigger deal in the villages than in the city.

Garry had a cow to breed in the village before class that morning and he was laughing when he came home to change clothes, because the guy there insisted he come in for a drink to the new year. Garry turned down vodka before 9 am but had a little wine, and a bite to eat since they got out five salads and a couple meats, so he nibbled on some kielbasa.

Just before nine o'clock, when classes start in the morning, Garry was on the phone with someone when there was a loud banging on the door. Masha, who stayed with us Monday through Thursday this week because the schedule for the bus has changed and so it is impossible for her to come from Zaporosia in the morning unless Garry picks her up, said that she would tell the students to stop it, thinking they were just waiting for class to start. However, they were holding handfuls of wheat to throw into the house, and Valera led the recitation of the rhyme for prosperity in the new year that goes with the ceremonial wheat tossing inside the house. Garry then handed out money, (money and candy rewards is part of the process, similar to our trick or treating on Halloween.) The girls told Garry that he shouldn't pay them, which we had not realized before, it is a male thing I guess, because we had several boys and men by noontime. One little guy only got through about three lines before he forgot the rest of the verse, but he got some money anyway.

 Poor Masha, I think we were driving her crazy, she kept complaining about encouraging a pagan custom, but for us foreigners it is an interesting cultural thing in the village, and we like to interact with our neighbors.

Garry told me that one guy who works for us blessed both the barn and the house... and the drunk guy from across the street came about 12:30 and was banging on the door when I was busy making lunch, so he tossed the wheat in the classroom as classes were getting over and Garry was over there with his wallet. Garry did turn down the homemade beer in a jar that guy wanted to share to toast the new year! Garry told me that Valera said that sometimes he collected a lot of money and food going door to door on old new year where he used to live.

You aren't supposed to sweep the wheat up so it can pile up the luck I guess, but Garry did after lunch, except what was on the doormat before our company returned. You remember our friends who stayed with us in the spring, we picked them up at the airport on Sunday, but they left Tuesday morning to visit with other people, and returned Wednesday afternoon.

Thursday after class, we ate lunch quick, so Garry could run Masha back to Zaporosia (we don't have classes Friday) and then we took our friends to meet the train to Kiev. We planned to eat at the Chinese place in Dnepropetroesk first, but when we finally got across the city to the restaurant, it was closed for technical reasons (not sure what reasons, but hopefully it reopens) so we ended up at Puzata Hata for some Ukrainian food instead, before helping them get their bags on the train. Then we drove downtown to go bowling, and saw some of the Christmas lights in the parks, some of the buildings and the huge tree lighting up the space where Lenin used to stand. We started out slow after not bowling for about six weeks, but were bowling well by the end of our hour and afterwards we had milkshakes at McDonalds before driving back to the village. The roads have improved some with the temperatures rising, the snow is melting, so now some the highway has both lanes open, although there are a few places where it is only one lane due to snow banks, which can be hard to see coming in the dark!

Friday the students showed up looking to get paid around 12:30 and I don't have a working phone right now, and had no idea where Garry was so I gave his number to Nastya. She got him on the phone and Garry had ended up going to Zaporosia to pick up another Canadian visitor we were expecting to come out to see the school. Unfortunately he was having trouble finding him in the apartment complex he was staying at when I talked to him.

Eventually he did find him, and started back to the village, complete with a bouquet of flowers for Karina, the student who was celebrating her birthday with a party at 4 pm (in Ukraine you throw your own party and cook the food...  and clean up!)

When Garry reached to police check point leaving Zaporosia he got pulled over. He was informed that his licence plate had been flagged as having an unpaid speeding ticket and the car was being held until it was paid... so Garry tried to phone for help, but unfortunately both he and the guy he had picked up had used all the minutes on their phones trying to find each other. Luckily, Garry had bought two 40 grivna phone cards today because his phone was out of money and I need to put money on my calling Canada phone. So he put the second card on his phone (I guess I won't be calling my father until we get to town again) and called Victor and Maxim Rudei. Garry and Tim got to the house around 4 pm, after Maxim borrowed a car and went and picked them up. Victor is going to go pay the ticket ( Garry has no idea when he got a ticket he didn't pay, but it is a 220 grivna fine, like 10 dollars, so it is easy to just pay it and get the car back! ) Hopefully, it can all be worked out on Saturday and we will be driving to church on Sunday!

So we had to walk the kilometer or so to the girls home for the party with our guest, Garry carrying his flower bouquet, and Polo tagging along, causing all the dogs in the village to bark. So we went and ate, potatoes and salad and pickles and open-faced sandwiches with meat and cheese or cucumbers and sardines (I got Garry to bite mine, I just couldn't eat the tail on my fish) around the kitchen table. Following a few rounds of UNO in the living room we enjoyed tea and torte (cake). Then we walked home in the dark, trailed by Polo and a chorus of barking dogs from the yards we walked past, saying goodbye to Simeon at the boys house and dobray verchrum (good evening) or hello back to the younger people walking down the the street.

Update @ Saturday night... Even though Victor paid the fine at the bank in Dnepropetrovsk today, we are still without our car, because we can't prove that we have paid it! The bank needs to talk to their bank some head guy somewhere needs to approve it... so we hope to get the car on Tuesday now. Victor will be out in the morning to get the milk for the churches. We will go to church in the village I guess, unless we go into the city with him and take a bus back.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Dashing through the snow

Saturday afternoon looking toward the barn
Garry has been busy since we returned late Wednesday night/ early Thursday morning? He did some things Thursday and was off to Zaporosia as soon as we woke up Friday morning for a meeting at New Hope Center (we are still in the throes of jet lag, Garry normally falls asleep around 8-9 pm and wakes up at 1 am for a couple hours- at which point I am lying in bed, still awake, watching TV and finally falling asleep around 2 am. He falls back to sleep at some point and we wake up around 7:30 or almost 8 am and get on with our day).

He told me he should be back for a "just us lunch" since Max B is off to English classes in Zap on Tuesdays and Fridays.

 I gave up and ate the lovely ploff I had made at 2 pm, it was starting to snow at that point. Garry told me it was blowing across the road pretty good when he got home, and he was worried the road could be closed in the morning. There are some big banks along the highway, from the storm on the Monday before New Year's day (which is bigger than Christmas here) when Max Rudei had to stay in Dnepropretroesk overnight after driving in to get something fixed on the car. The highway was closed for about 24 hours, similar to the storm that closed it when we returned last year from Christmas, and spent three days in the city. Apparently he even towed a much larger van at some point, because he bought good snow tires after we left for Canada. The highway is mostly one and half lanes open now, instead of two, because of the plows having to go around stuck cars, which caused ice buildup.

Garry nuked his lunch to eat around 4 pm,and we talked about the fact that it was maybe 10 C (50 F ? really? it had to have been colder) inside the living room (we need to made some adjustments to the heating system for when it is going down to -20 outside) which is why I was crocheting fingerless mitts to wear in the house with my double layers, wool sweater, flannel lined jeans and had spent a good deal of the day under the blankets for warmth with all those clothes on (ironic, considering I have been complaining about hot flashes, huh?)  Then  Garry was driving back off with Max Rudei to breed a cow in some village (Morose-nika, if I remember correctly) a few kilometers away while I started the pizza dough (I only made four pizzas since it was just the two of us and Max B, since Andrey is working for an uncle in Moscow for the winter.)

Garry and Max got back as I was making the sauce and rolling out the dough. Max had a laugh because Garry forgot it was Friday, when we were talking about having company on Sunday. Another symptom of jet lag, forgetting the day and or date! Garry said it had taken a long time, more than an hour to go breed the cow, because of the snow blowing and they had stopped to help unload a truck of lumber in that village after breeding the cow, because the truck was parked in the middle of the street.

The guys were worried about whether the scheduled milk buyers would show up, since the milk tank was nearly full and the roads were bad with the snowfalling. The cows are producing about 800 liters of milk a day, but while we were gone there were a few times that they couldn't sell milk when the buyers didn't show because of snow, or one who celebrated the holidays a bit much. Luckily one did make it before the evening milking, or Garry was going to have to separate that milking for cream and cheese making.

I made the pizza sauce extra spicy since Max is a hot pepper fan like us. So is Max Rudei, who I am pretty sure snagged a couple pieces this morning before going with Garry to another village to breed another cow. Last night we got caught up on replays of college football bowl games again in the middle of the night, and I crocheted a second fingerless mitt in bed, waiting for my tireness to overwhelm my internal North American set clock!

Garry told me that the snow had stopped early Friday night and so he had no trouble going to breed the cow, or going to pick up Masha from Zaporosia for a meeting with the group home parents at 4 pm, and then another meeting at 6 pm about the house we are buying in the village for the new group home for next year's students to live in.

Afterwards I made some quick mac and cheese to eat, Garry and Masha put together his new puzzle of our granddaughters (Xaris' black shirt gave them the most trouble). We popped popcorn and took a TOFEL online practice test with Maxim Boradin, since we plan to send him to study in Canada this fall.

 At 11 pm everyone turned in but me, since I am writing this. Masha will take the 9 am bus back to Zaporosia for church in the morning. She's happily sleeping in the green room next to the new radiators, thankfully the heating system is able to keep up now with the temperature rising to around freezing by Saturday morning and the house is closer to normal although  I am still wearing my sweater. I had to take it off when we went to the boys' house for the meeting as it was at least 25 C (like 80 F) in there!

Well, I am off to get some sleep, hopefully, since it is after midnight and we will go to church in Dnepropetroesk in the morning and meet our friends at the airport in the afternoon... and I need to put some stuff in the crockpot in the morning for dinnertime and change the sheets on Masha's bed for our company ... and remember to stop and buy butter and kitty litter tomorrow...  and find my stuff for teaching English Monday morning!

Do you want to build a snowman?
Here is that snowman in the village I promised to show you in my last post (yes, it is really tall, since Garry is 6'5" or 196 cm if you think metrically)

 It was built last Friday in the village, apparently it was finished by the disco attending young people around midnight!

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Planes, trains, automobiles, weddings and familytime

Well, today we are back in the village and I am trying out blogging on Garry's Russian speaking computer, since mine is still in Manitoba, Noah has promised me to have it up and running or a replacement laptop when I come for my spring visit.

We ended up alone together on New Year's Eve in Winnipeg, Noah dropped us at the airport hotel that afternoon, since we had a 6 am flight to Toronto to connect to Newark. We did walk over to the airport for a while that evening to meet up with a Dnepropetroesk friend who moved to Winnipeg last year. She is really enjoying living there, we saw photos of her family fishing and mushroom picking, and she says that the kids are having fun at school, no homework to do like in Ukraine! We squeezed a little present for her mother in my bag, then had to rearrange the next morning as the other bag was overweight. Garry must have added a little too much farm stuff when his suitcase was underweight when we weighed it the day before!

Garry drove the rental car down to my dad's house. After having some of the big pot of soup he had made for us, it was an early night, even though the big college football game was on, as Garry was still recovering from the flu he had the week before. The next afternoon we drove back to north Jersey to hang out with his family for the weekend as his brother was getting married. It was beautiful Saturday morning with snow starting to fall as the ceremony ended, and went outside to throw the birdseed before heading to the restaurant for the reception.

Two hours later there was snow falling fast and furious outside the windows, there was about 4 inches on the ground by the time it changed to rain. We enjoyed reconnecting with Garry's brothers and sisters and their spouses and  many of his nieces and nephews, and met the adorable 4 1/2 month old twins (great-niece and nephew). After church on Sunday at the church Garry's father used to pastor we headed back south to spend a few more days at my dad's before flying to Ukraine.
the bride meets the adorable baby Paul
Garry's brothers, sisters, spouses and parents

 Monday I helped Garry make a few repairs to the grain wagons, since they plan to pick corn when the ground freezes, and it's been three years since they picked corn. Tuesday morning we were watching the snow fall, Garry drove over to visit with his old boss at the farm he was working at when we met (he was on a work study program from Rutgers.) I had the suitcases repacked and hopefully underweight, with stuffing a little more in the carry-on bags, when Garry realized he had forgotten to buy an aluminum scoop shovel. He went downtown to Agway, still where it was when we farmed in New Egypt, but he only found polymer ones, so an hour before we planned to leave for the airport, we were off to find the Tractor Supply store.. .
where we quickly bought an aluminum shovel, and Garry used the grinder to cut the rivets so we could put the blade into his new suitcase (leaving the handle in the garage, hopefully my brothers can use it.) We ate some microwaved pizza leftover from the night before, and said goodbye before heading to the airport.

The drive went smoothly in spite of the snow, it took the normal hour, and our suitcases were both underweight at 49 and 48 pounds. Garry even finagled a move to economy plus when we checked in-

although he sat in the center aisle seat one behind me, next to an unhappy four year old, he did have legroom for the seven hours!

Almost an hour late departing by the time the plane de-iced, it was a smooth and slightly early landing in Munich the next morning, then we arrived in Borispol (Kiev airport) with our baggage intact just before 3 pm. A fast bus ride into the city since Wednesday January 7th was Ukrainian Christmas day, so the trip was about 40 minutes instead of the normal hour, and we walked to Kentucky Fried Chicken across from the train station to kill an hour and eat some dinner before our fast train to Dnepropetroesk at 5:40.

The train ride seemed to take longer than the flight over the ocean, but we arrived at 11:10,  where Victor and Max Rudei met us with the van. It was nice to have help with the two big suitcases, plus two carry-ons and two briefcases since we had stairs to go up and icy walkways to pull them over. In Kiev, my poor new suitcase's wheels took a beating as I dragged it down the sets of stairs to the track, with my carry-on and bag in my other hand (Garry had his own three to manage!)

There wasn't much snow in Kiev, but there is an impressive amount of snow piled up in Dnepro and the roadsides as we went back in to Metro for groceries this morning- stocks were a little low in the house. I'll try to get a photo of the snowman someone has built in the middle of the village, it's huge!

Classes will start Monday I guess, and we are hoping it warms up tomorrow as promised to freezing... twenty below makes a for a cold house, we may need to get another radiator in the main room, and /or some insulation in the walls in here... or I need to crochet some texting gloves before my next post!