Monday, July 29, 2013

Soviet Propoganda à la 2013

"Glory to work!"
As I'm headed to a place this week called пивбар союз (Beer-Bar Union), a place with a big communist sickle and hammer right on the sign and an ad for "26 uah Soviet business lunches" below that, there's no better time than now to share this collection I've been building.
Завод імені В.О. Малишева (that's Ukrainian for Factory "V.O. Malishev"), founded over 100 years ago. It's produced everything from tractors to tanks and even designed flame-thrower tanks! This year they landed a $50 million contract producing tank parts for Pakistan.
There are still bits and pieces of the USSR that decorate the city; an emblem here, a statue of Lenin there, an old yellow inspection notice in the elevator at D's work. Last year I shared some of the noble but fading murals that grace the city. One tiny niche I've been trying to track down is old Soviet propoganda, redone and being used to sell something.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Year recap in pictures

Lions standing guard on Sumskaya street (psst... did you know they were a gift from the city of Lviv?)
While doing some tidying up on my computer, I discovered there are 5,790 unused pictures of Ukraine hanging out on this machine. And that's not even counting dropbox.


The good news is that I (re)discovered lots of cool pictures to share with you, like these adorable pictures of a dance taking place last October in Gorky Park, in an area named the Retro Park.
The dancers were mainly babushkas and dedushkas, bundled up against the chilly autumn air.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Hollywood, Hemingway, and Dragons

After what felt like months and months of commitment-filled weekends, a Saturday finally came on which neither D nor I had plans. An entire day, no places to be, no errands to run?- such goodness!! We decided to visit the movie theater Kiev, where a matinee only costs 20 uah, but a fearsome bout of rain turned up on the way to the theater and somehow we ended up taking shelter at D's work. In the IT field there's always someone at work, so I got to have coffee with one of his coworkers while watching what looked like a hurricane stomp down on the city streets.

View before the storm:
the Turboatom factory with its "Glory to the builders of Turboatom!" slogan in big red letters
View of the same area during the final minutes of the storm:

For a few minutes the Turboatom factory had completely disappeared, shrouded in heavy fog and rain. It was a lot like Stephen King's The Mist and I'm just glad no crazy flying creatures showed up to eat us!

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Summer in the city

There's something about summertime that just makes your heart burst with satisfaction.

Maybe it's seeing everyone outside in shorts and tank tops.

Maybe it's all the beer and ice cream vendors in the city parks.

Maybe it's the storm clouds that pile up in the afternoon or the carpets of flowers that were planted in May.

Shevchenko Park
Gorky Park
I've been marking the passage of summer by watching what's for sale in the market. First, buckets of plump cherries and firm red strawberries showed up everywhere. People hauled them into town from the villages, my friends were overwhelmed with phone calls from family instructing them to wait for a bus at such-and-such a time that would arrive with their share of the harvest.

Now we've moved into midsummer and gleaming ears of corn are piled high at the supermarkets. Green beans have reappeared, crisp enough to snap into two delicious pieces. The confusion between green beans and asparagus continues as well... while grocery shopping yesterday, I overheard this conversation:
Shopper: Excuse me, where's the asparagus?
Produce Clerk: [points at the green beans] Here it is.
Shopper: That's not asparagus.
Produce Clerk: Oh, huh, that's what is written here on the label.
Shopper: Well, they write lots of things on the labels and it doesn't mean that it's all true. [leaves]
I've had the same thing happen a couple of times at restaurants- ordering спаржа and getting green beans. Eh, close enough, I guess!

Lopan river in May
Something odd, by the way, has happened to the Lopan river. The rowboat rental stalls opened as usual in late spring, but then the river dropped dramatically and all the boats were pulled onto pavement and flipped over for storage. Does anyone know what happened? That means no romantic rowboat dates this year. (And by romantic I mean D sweats at the oars and I preen at the bow :p)

mirror stream fountain, Sumskaya street
A rainstorm rolled in while I was writing this entry and I've been dashing back and forth between the computer and the balcony, writing words and watching the cars steer through waterlogged streets... but as gray as the skies are now, I'm betting they'll clear up again in time for a beautiful summer sunset, another plus to this time of the year.

Here's to a very happy summer for all of us! : )

Saturday, July 13, 2013

11 things I'm still getting used to in Ukraine

It's been almost two years (very, very good years!) but some things here can still throw me for a loop.

1. Buying water from the water truck.

a rare quiet moment at the water truck
Water trucks show up several times a week, if not daily. Just listen for the loud honking and you'll know that the truck has arrived. Next, a line forms as people approach the water truck with empty plastic jugs in hand. There's always a water-dealing duo, a man (the driver) and a woman (the money collector) working together. Some days they'll fill up your container with sparkling water, other days with regular water. It's really quite simple to buy water this way, the only tricky part is remembering when the truck will come.

2. Clothes sold by the kilogram.

"Today's price for 1 kilogram: 40 uah"
This pricing plan is popular at secondhand shops filled with "clothes from Europe!". Prices are highest on the day the clothes are delivered and get cheaper and cheaper as the stock gets lower.

3. Fairytale churches.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

and... moved

It's official. We've spent 2 nights in the new place, so it's pretty safe to say that it's the real deal.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013


We are moving!
Goodbye, old view
Hello, new view!
It might sound weird, but I like looking at these big block apartment buildings. There's a homey feel to them. Plus, when you see hundreds of people living together, you know that you'll also find a big supermarket within walking distance. When you see churches and downtown buildings, you'll only find little overpriced kiosks with rotting zucchini and stale chocolate.

Proximity to a grocery store was just one of the things we were hoping for. D wanted a two room apartment again. I wanted something a little smaller and simpler to clean. A boiler, air conditioner, no carpets (from the amount of hair Кит sheds, you'd think we have 5 cats, not 1!), balcony, bathtub, all these things were on the list... and all these things apply to the new place. Don't you love it when things work out like that? : )