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

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Pizza Night

The students were excited about pizza on Friday night. I had told them in English class last week, and we had not had Pizza Night since two days before I left at the end of November. I spent the afternoon cutting, chopping, mixing dough and frying up ground beef  to get ready to make  a lot of pizza.

Garry normally has one of his followup SEI English meetings  in Dnepropetrovsk every Friday evening, but this fall we couldn't have them on the last Friday of the month, so it became the monthly pizza night for the group home parents and students at our house, or the big family night, with ochen coousny  (very tasty) pizza made by me. Luda and the girls house usually bring some soft drinks, and I bought a couple 2 liter bottles when we picked up some mushrooms and cheese (and a new microwave) Thursday evening at the grocery store.

So I made 13-14 pizzas  (I lost count) I keep them warm by taking them off the pans and stacking them in a pot with parchment paper between them, then greasing the pan and making another to go in the oven. This month every piece was eaten, along with the dill pickles Garry cut up, he had bought a giant jar at the store. We watched some youtube cat videos, and after eating, some of the group enjoyed a few rounds of UNO, while some of the students had to leave to go help with the evening milking.

This morning it was quite foggy out, we could barely see Yana and her sister walking back home from milking as we drove out of the village. Garry and I went to Dnepro early, we had breakfast at Mc Donalds and went to the the metal market to find parts to fix the water pump, which stopped working (after pumping slower and slower since we returned to Ukraine) and he was unable to get the part when he was out on Friday. It added to the challenge of getting ready for pizza day. We walked around the market a bit trying a couple stalls for the piece needed and he finally found the part to fix our pump and a flange for the water pump for the barn, which had a different problem it was leaking. The "salty water" that comes from the well is hard on the water pumps, so they need fixing and replacing often.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Spring is coming

As you can see the grass along the village street is starting to grow and turn green, and the village poultry is on the loose during the day. While the villagers are still wearing winter coats and hats, I had to take mine off on my walk today, it's about 10 C (balmy 50 F) and I hiked back from the girls house on the other side of the village in my big rubber boots. I was taking pictures and here are some.

Demolition started on the new house project that the work teams are coming to help with next month, and most of the boys were digging a new well at the girls' house. While they were working on insulating the attic this week, Garry decided that the well there was dirty.

Polo was happy to come with me, we walked down to the new project and then I got a ride to the girls house with Garry in Max's Mercedes van to see the well drilling.

 I walked back and yelled for Polo as I passed the store, and he came racing from the new house project where the kids were working jumping up on his hid legs, super excited that I had returned to continue our walk home.

  We even have chickens in our yard, even though we don't have chickens they come from next door.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

To market, to market, to buy...

I guess this photo is called behind a Lanos instead of on top of a Lada!
Since I got back, I have been making lists in my mind of things to do. Things to buy, things to clean out and rearrange to get ready for all our company that will be starting to come in about three weeks, and continuing through the first week of May. We are starting with Garry's father and older brother mid-March and then two building teams, first from Steinbach, Manitoba for two weeks and then one Salmon Arm BC for a week.

Garry gave away our microwave and one of my bigger cooking pots to the group homes while I was gone (either in December or February, I didn't ask). On Sunday he was teaching his English class for three hours so I looked at microwaves to replace it. Looks like they cost 1500- 2000 grivna now (one US dollar is around 27 grivna currently). We bought the last one for 800 I think, but that was six years ago, and the price of everything imported went way up two years ago.  I have another pot of the same size, so I won't miss the pot after I got the other one out and put it in the drawer. Garry said he knew it wasn't my favorite and he thought he'd buy me a new one.

Garry pointed out I could have gotten Sasha to carry a microwave back to the car, but I hadn't thought of it. We had parked downtown close to the school after leaving church. Sasha (one of the students) had decided to come with us to church, and he didn't have a watch or cellphone with him, so he followed... accompanied me everywhere. I  bought some MC Donalds cheeseburgers, Fanta and fries for him, tea for me at the mall- Most city centre, or the big store, as Sasha said. We sat at a table in the food court and I was reading my ebook and sipping tea, and Sasha talked me into buying him a latte after he finished eating. He thought it was nice and warm inside and he got all the goodies since he was cashless because the boys' house is trying to pay off big gas and electric bills. We solved part of the problem by removing the dryer we had bought them last year, no one else has one and the electric bill there is way bigger than anyone else's, the dryer's sitting in my house now, but for emergency use only I guess.

I went to the yarn shop to pick up a few balls I need to work on finishing the big afghan and Sasha did earn lunch by carrying two big grocery bags back to the car for me after he helped me shop. I carried the small bag and the new broom stick (my broom was half it's normal size when I got here, Garry's vet student had cleaned too vigorously, I was told. It did have a dent in the metal and we have never found a really sturdy one.) We had a good time grocery shopping, Sasha would ask me if I needed something in Russian and I'd answer in English. He pointed out the cart had English on the child seat part and he could read the word NO which was followed by a picture three times. He had trouble pronouncing yes, but he's not my best English student. He told Garry when he came out to the car after class that I had bought massa (meat) and chips.

Monday Garry started a project over at the girls' house insulating the attic to save on the heating bill. If he had known it would be so easy, he would have gotten it done in the fall after he checked on it, they had 1/3 of the insulation finished yesterday and he hopes to finish today. They had to move everything from one side to the other so they could lift the wooden floor and put the insulation down and replace the floor then move all the boxes and bedframes someone stored there back on the finished side. However it was much easier than when they did the attic last March for the new house.

Well now to get some of the things on the to do lists done...

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Zaporosia farm show

I missed going to the farm show in Kiev with Garry and the students, however on Friday we went to the one in Zaporosia. Garry said he found more useful stuff here than in Kiev. We took the two students who stayed home and worked when they went to Kiev and the three who won (they filled out all the answers of the of the scavenger hunt paper as a group). The back seat of the car got pretty crowded, especially when we stopped in Zap to pick up Maria!

Here are some pics of the interesting stuff we found yesterday morning at the show.

It was at the Kozak Palace

Garry and I buzzed right inside with our business cards, our name tags read 'director" along with our names. The students and Maria had to fill out long forms to get in... and wait for the girls with computers to print their name tags.

The guys got done first and we waited by the sprayer display for the girls to come in.
Garry was on a quest to find the same kind of Ukrainian corn seed he grew last year. We talked to several booths that did not sell Poltava.

The students really liked the booths with candy, like this company selling corn and sunflower seed.

The girls were willing to talk seeds to eat candy

Garry was able to talk to two companies that made Quonset type buildings, he wants to build some grain storage, and was excited to find a company selling generators, including a larger tractor driven one we could buy for the new farm when the power goes out.
In other exciting news the company from Dnepro has started working on installing the parlor, we will be milking cows over there at the "new farm" sometime this spring.

The girls were really interested in her shoes

Honey  equipment was a big draw, promised organic and EU salable products

The corn quest was over when we found this booth with last year's Poltava variety corn. Garry got lots of info found them including about their silage type variety of corn.

There was a display by a car club that was popular with everyone at the show, there were lots people taking photos of the Packard which Garry pointed out to me, had a NJ 1930 licence plate! His favorite was the tractor I think.

 The students got pens, hand wipes and candy at the booth form an oil product company.

 Garry said the show was supposed to last until 3 pm, but we left just before noon and people were taking apart booths rapidly 15 minutes before noon. Afterwards we took the students bowling.

Garry was also interested in the cultivator outside

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Jet lag, mud and breeding cows

For me jet lag is the enemy of sleep, especially when I return to Ukraine. I have been dozing for a couple hours a day this week because I just can't fall asleep at night. I have taught some English classes, done some cooking- we have two Ukrainian vet students here since Sunday afternoon, and Maria came on Monday morning because we are teaching this week. Everyone goes home by Thursday evening and I am looking forward to an empty nest for a few days!

Garry has been working on a puzzle I picked up at the MCC thrift store in Steinbach with various guests (I've even put in a few), unfortunately it looks like we may be missing pieces from the box, there are five pieces that don't seem to match, so I don't think he will be gluing this one onto cardboard.

Saturday it rained. Saturday night while I lay awake it rained hard enough to hear over the television a couple times.

Sunday morning Garry drove to church in a monsoon of rain pouring down from gray skies, there was more water on the highway than I've ever seen here.

The pedestrians in the city were getting soaked by passing cars.

While we were in church, the sun came out and dried up... well a lot of the rain on the pavement. It's Wednesday and there is still mud everywhere.

Garry planned to go after classes today and drive to Molochansk and buy more Canadian bull semen, but as he drove into Zaporosia he realized that he forgot the semen tank back in the village, so we just picked up the medicine he had ordered from the pharmacy for the cows with lumpy jaw. They used up the first bottle they got ten days ago already. It is one of the things the vet student Andrey has been working on when he is here. This week he brought a female friend with him, she had been doing her practicum on a pig farm.

No semen tank means no way to keep the semen from freezing, since it is stored in liquid nitrogen until he takes one out to breed a cow and thaws it in warm water. Now he plans to go tomorrow to get the semen, the price per dose has gone up 20 grivna to 110. He may have to raise the charge for breeding people's cows from 150, if they drive, 200 if he does (out of the village, he breeds a surprising number of cows in other villages, which is where I assume he is right now- I just woke up after going to bed at 7 pm, jet lag is winning.)

Garry is home, turns out it took more than an hour because it was in Shyrokie, and with the rain you have to drive all the way around by the highway. If it's dry, they go by the dirt roads through the field to the village, because it's really close as the crow flies. Garry says they had a heifer calf this past year and named her Canada.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Here (or there depending on where you are?)

I did get most of the things crossed off my to do list, except for visiting my father in NJ while I was home in Canada. The last week I even (with a little help from the boys) got the basement re-organized and cleaned (assuming hoping they remove all the bags I filled with garbage sometime in the next week.) Three 20 something boys living at home alone... I did get thanked for all the cooking and cleaning while I was home.

 After an action packed Wednesday, daughter-in-law Crystal picked me up to drive to the airport at 6 :30 am Thursday. What did I do Wednesday? I went to a dairy meeting with Josh in the morning, after I packed my carry-on and  walked out to the barn and printed off my itinerary (it was cold outside, -33 C)then I tried to pick up my new glasses (sadly they did not arrive in 7-10 days, so Micah and Crystal will bring them when they come next month) and got something Garry had asked for at the vet office. I saw all the grand kids, baby Isaac twice.  I went to Piney for dinner with the little girls, and finished after getting home at 8 pm by cleaning house, including the laundry room and the oven, and repairing Jess' old dollhouse for the girls to play with when they come to the farm) and then  finishing packing  and cleaning my room until 1:30 am. I did wait until 6 am to vacuum!

We got to the airport around 8:30, I was glad we had good roads instead of a snow storm like when I went in with Garry two weeks earlier. I checked in, got extra screening on my computer at security (Noah's bolts he drilled  in to fix the broken hinge on my laptop must look suspicious). Couldn't connect on wifi, so I got out my book reader and ate a honey dip donut with a cup of tea while waiting for my 10:40 flight. Flights went pretty well, we were a little late out of Winnipeg, but that's why I selected the four hour layover instead of one in Toronto, so no problem!

 I enjoyed a nice sit down meal at A&W after landing in Toronto- one last delicious root beer before leaving for Ukraine, land of Coke (or Pepsi) Sprite and Fanta. I ate a mama burger and sweet potato fries with chipole mayo dipping sauce, sipping  my big, frosty glass mug of root beer; while looking across the hall at the Hudson's Bay Trading Post store, which has some cute baby sleepers and sweaters with the traditional multi-color stripes. Expensive and cute, I walked over and checked before heading toward the international gates about 3 pm.

The flight to Vienna was smooth, although I was in the second last row, and my carry on ended up in the overhead bin 14 rows ahead of me, because the guy in the window seat didn't like it when I stuffed it under the seat (he was reading in Russian during the flight, so I decided that explained the complaining, and the fact his legs were definitely over on my side, but I don't complain to people on the plane just later). No meal choice by the time they got to us, but the pasta was very good anyway.  So were the movies and two of my after dinner choices were boring enough to let me doze off for  short periods of time. I was dozing off again as breakfast, a warm ham sandwich on a rather hard bun arrived. I went with a can of Coke for my morning caffeine fix since I was getting a headache ( I don't drink coffee, don't even like the aroma smell of the stuff brewing).

I had plenty of time to make the flight to Dnepropetrovsk, even with another security check before heading to the gate. I even had time to get my book reader back out and eat a granola bar from my bag. It was a get on the bus to the plane connection, and by the time I got on to plane, I could not squeeze my little roller bag into the overhead compartment, but a flight attendant took it into a cupboard up front, where I retrieved it after landing. I enjoyed  the biggest seats of the whole trip and a  little snack bag of crackers shaped like planes and cloud shaped pretzels with tomato juice and a cup of tea on the plane and was looking forward to Garry taking me to lunch after landing.

We were coming in a little early to Dnepro, down through the clouds, landing gear down when we suddenly pulled up really fast. The pilot came on and announced we'd circle for a while, he had aborted the landing because he couldn't see the runway because of fog. After about half an hour, he announced conditions had improved some, so we'd try again, but if he aborted this time we'd go to Kiev.
That's what happened to our friends when Garry was supposed to pick them up the week before, so I was pretty worried about having to take the train back to Dnepro. However, we could see ground just before the airport. There was applause and I got out my phone and called Garry as we were taxiing toward the stop to deplane and take the bus to the terminal. Good thing I did, he was just about to go home. He had gotten to the airport, seen the delay and gone to Mc Donalds to wait and check online with the free wifi, and had just seen a message that the flight had been diverted.

I got through customs quickly and my bag was in the first half dozen on the belt, and did not get inspected, I just put my bags on the belt to run through the x ray machine and picked them up on the other side. I looked up as I was pulling up the handle on the big bag to pull it away, as I heard one of the officers speaking, but it was just to tell the girl behind me she had to put her bags through the machine.  Garry wasn't even in the waiting room when I came out. I was trying to phone him when he walked in the door. He asked if was hungry, and I was, so we went to KFC for lunch. Since I wan't that tired, we stayed in the city until his English group at 7 pm. We did some grocery shopping and then sat in a coffee life and talked and surfed the web (well he did, I read more of the ebook I started earlier in the day).

 I was pretty sleepy by the time we got home and unpacked the car, so we were in bed before ten pm, even though the pets and Masha (who was here at the house) were excited to see me.  I woke up pretty early today, but still need to unpack. I did find the missing piece of the puzzle Garry put together last week. It was under the couch. Apparently Box had jumped on the coffee table where he was putting it together, and then he had to re-do it. I had bought it at the thrift store, so I was worried that it hadn't had all the pieces when he told me one was missing. It is an American flag with pictures of stamps on. I had bought it because he used to collect stamps he's decided it should hang near the Canadian flag puzzle made of tiny photos, the most difficult one he's ever done.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016


 I talked to Garry last night (my time, early morning today Ukraine time) and won't talk to him until I arrive Friday afternoon in Dnepropetrovsk. While I am busy squeezing stuff into Garry's bag (he took my suitcase, so it would be easier with three regular suitcases, so I am packing the rolling hockey bag style one he got last Christmas from the kids)...

 he is going to his Wednesday night English group and then onto the train at 10 or 11 pm with the students and Maria to see the farm show in Kiev. Some of them have never visited the capital and they will do some sightseeing before getting on the return train Thursday evening to get back to Dnepro about 7 am Friday morning.

Well back to packing and prepping my bedroom for 6 months of vacancy here in Manitoba, and wrapping birthday presents for the kids and grandkids who will celebrate while we are gone (I find it bittersweet to wrap them, since I don't get to see them open them).

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Pictures from Ukraine

Well, then, I talked to Garry (see previous post where I said I hadn't talked to him much) and found out that he got some corn moved up into the bin in a new way, not via the boys' bucket brigade. There are even photos!

When the container arrived the boys were a little sad about getting the auger to move grain, because they make extra cash when there is grain to move up to fill the feed bin. Garry tells me the motor they put on it will need to be replaced with a bigger one. They got the corn up in the bin, but had to go slowly to not overwork the motor. However it was still faster than the bucket brigade at emptying the wagon and filling the bin.

More here than there

I am busy finishing up my time in Manitoba, the days are flying by. Yesterday was exciting, I took Max with me to church in Steinbach, we had a fulfilling time at the worship service. I usually go the 9:30 traditional service but went to the contemporary one at 11, so I didn't have to wake Max up until 9:45 after he milked until 2 am. I was a little worried about the weather forecast of light snow and strong winds, but the drive in was pretty good, although the snow was starting to really blow across the road as we approached Steinbach.

After church we drove through the A&W drive-thru and got two specials. Mama burger, fries and pop, root beer for me, and cola for Max ( in December he asked me "why, why would you drink that stuff? It's horrible!") We ate our fries until we got to Mitchell, then I had both hands on the wheel as the blowing snow was worse on the two lane part of the 52 highway, so I didn't try eating my burger. Neither did Max, I had to get him to take the bag with his burger and the rest of his cola when we arrived at Providence University College.

We turned onto the 59 highway and realized why there was a blizzard warning, as we looked into the whiteout and hoped we'd make it the short distance to the school (normally you can practically see it from the turn!) We crawled along and I put on omy 4 way flashers like the other cars we saw.  The short distance seemed very long, but we found the turn onto the Otterbourne Road. We made the turn and drove very slowly to Prov as the visibility did not improve in the new direction.

I was sure we had missed the turn to the parking lot, but Max spotted it after we somehow saw the big cement sign through the snow. I know the road pretty well (considering that I made the drive hundreds of times when I went there for my TESOL degree 8 years ago) but the 5-10 feet you could see if you were lucky was scary. I drove through a fair size drift in the driveway and let Max out by the student center to walk through the storm to the dorm with his bags.

 Then I headed back into the storm, hoping the driving would get better once I turned onto the 52 again, which it did, I even ate my hamburger halfway back to Steinbach. However, there was an anxious few minutes while I tried to decide when (whether?) to turn back onto the 59 highway, looking both ways into a while wall. I even put down the front windows, trying to hear if anything was coming, then prayed and pulled out as fast as I could. The last 40 kilometers home were more driving through drifts that were piling up in places, then fighting blowing snow since I driving in the forest then.

Max is planning to come out to the farm again next weekend with the holiday Monday, but most weekends he will stay there so he can get all his homework done. This semester he has moved up to the university prep English course. This week he has been learning about thesis statements and writing papers.

Later I drove to our son Josh's house  (only two kilometers) for the Super Bowl party, and there were some very big drifts to maneuver around and through, especially on the way home. Today I stayed home and got into the final house cleaning and organizing in the hopes of getting it decent looking when I leave and hopefully when I return in the summer.

Garry and I have been playing facebook message tag, so I don't have anything to report from over there in Ukraine, I'll be flying out Thursday and get there Friday afternoon.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

SEI followup groups

Garry was excited to get back to his groups this week, along with teaching at the "trade school". Next week most of our students will be off to see the Farm Show in Kiev, but they will be back before I arrive next Friday. I will miss it for the second week in a row, last year I was in the hospital with mono.

Wednesday night he didn't have to start teaching his business class in Dneprapajisk because they had a party. I even have a photo to show you, lots of English students, tea, cake, cookies, fruit and candy I think!

He tells me that Friday night in Dnepropetrovsk  there were 10-13 people, more than we had any night this fall.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016


While I've been busy with the kids and grandkids, Garry has been settling in in Ukraine. I had not caught him online on facebook when I was online (his favorite way to communicate when we are apart)  since he got to the village, so I broke down and phoned last night just before midnight in Manitoba, which is just before 8 am the next morning in Ukraine. I had just gotten home from Steinbach where I attended a meeting with the building team coming from our church in April. After watching for Garry to pop up online for more than half an hour, I decided to call and find out how things were going.

Turns out he is having some problems with his computer, sounds like we need to clean out a virus again, from his description his browsers are corrupted again, I think. I found out he is teaching this week, Maria taught last week when he stayed longer than originally planned. The group home parents taught the first two weeks of the semester, for more on what's happening with the school, click on the bird photo at right.

He is really getting back into the swing of things as he is starting his English groups up this week too, Wednesday and Friday evenings. He tells me the temperatures are above freezing this week.  

 Garry that they got the manure moved from the cement pad behind the barn yesterday. They get the neighbor's big payloader in to dig the manure and straw out of the pile  and into the wagons, apparently it went faster with three tractors (and wagons) to haul it away. Twice a day it gets pushed out of the barn behind the cows by tractor and into the pile.  It gets really messy if it gets too much on the cement pad and can cause problems when it is wet (raining or melting snow) with water backing into the barn building. They pile it up in one of the fields to spread in the spring.