Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Kharkiv's Shevchenko Park


Here's Taras Shevchenko, the Ukrainian hero who has cast a lingering shadow through history. Don't tear me apart for this, but in my mind he's like the Abraham Lincoln of Ukraine.

Both Lincoln and Shevchenko lived during the same times- their births and deaths were just a few years apart. They have completely different stories, of course- one was a poet whose career was ended by a tsar, the other a politician who saw his country through a civil war- but they're memorialized in imposing statues* as national patriots everywhere throughout their respective countries. Plus, nowadays Abe's got the $5 bill and Taras has the 100 uah bill (now worth about $5 USD). When I say Shevchenko is Ukraine's Lincoln, I mean that he's remembered with that same feeling, that the history books label them both as men who stood up for their nations.

*(Although Lincoln often gets the heartbroken look and Shevchenko gets the badass glare.)

But enough about history- you can get more of that here- this post is competition for last December's sad poetry night. Here's the contender for sad poetry champion: a Taras Shevchenko poem...



Чого мені тяжко, чого мені нудно
Why do I feel so heavy? Why so weary?

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Boise, Idaho in 10 cool facts


I think Idaho gets a bad rap. Everyone hears Idaho and thinks potatoes, dust, guns, white pride, pickups and of course But why would I go there if I'm not going skiing?.

Very empty Boise airport on a Friday evening

Idaho is actually pretty cool. It's vast- the 13th largest state in the US. It's beautiful- there are sand dunes, lakes, mountains, and forests. There's every outdoor sport you can imagine. Prices are low. The state dance is the square dance. It's even got a Moscow!

Monday, August 24, 2015

In the city of roses


Warning: this post contains your entire yearly dose of flower photos!


...But on the other hand, there are over 7,000 plants in this garden so I'm sparing you approximately 6,675 of them ;)


Why go to Portland's International Rose Test Garden? I mean, aside from this---

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Nicaragua


Waaaay before Ukraine came Nicaragua, the land of lakes and volcanoes. I went to Nicaragua in 2002 because I was too scared to visit Columbia solo, and Nicaragua sounded far enough off the beaten track.

Friday, August 7, 2015

Interview with an American farmer in Kyiv


I'd like to take you to Kyiv today to meet my friend Al, a former dairy farmer with a real love for Ukraine! We've been penpals for the past few years and somehow traded countries in the process :p



Al, once upon a time you were living in Wisconsin and dreaming of Ukraine. Now you're sending out weekly adventurous emails from Kyiv! Tell us a little about your background and your life before the big move.

I had been a dairy farmer for most of my life. It was a smaller farm where you were committed to a 7-day-a-week job but at least you were your own boss. No longer farming, I worked a few other jobs, the last one being in retail. Not bad jobs but I was not the one in control and like many in this day and age, making a living but not getting ahead.

My 3 children are adults and living their own lives. I was divorced so I didn’t feel I had anything or anyone tying me down.

Back in 1976 and still a teenager, I had the opportunity to travel to Europe for 3 weeks on an agricultural tour. One of the countries we visited was the former Soviet Union. From Moscow we flew out to visit a huge farm (approximately 20,000 acres). The farm was in the direction of Ukraine but at that time we simply called it part of the Soviet Union. I fell in love with the few people we met and never forgot about it. I also vowed to never drink vodka shots again. Of course I enjoyed it, but assumed I’d probably never return to the area.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

7 Kharkiv mysteries


Here are 7 things in Kharkiv, Ukraine that I never got the details on-
maybe you know the stories behind them??


#1. The mystery of the fiddler on the roof

 


Who is that guy on the rooftop corner across from Constitution Plaza?


#2. The mystery of the white stripes and green stumps

 

People gave very vague answers and a shrug of the shoulders when I asked about the paint. Is it to protect against insects? To illuminate the roadway?



#3. The mystery of the big yellow star