Friday, May 2, 2014

Good things

I heard a disturbing rumor today, this being the age of disturbing and dubious rumors. So many of them are spread by online whispers and by the media that it's impossible to know what to believe. This one was about the city mayor, who recently survived being shot, except in this rumor, he was completely unharmed and merely safely stowed away in a foreign country because [cue ominous drums] he knew "something" was going to happen here.
The May holidays: what to expect. Lugansk and its oblast are already boiling, the situation could similarly deteriorate in Kharkov and Odessa.
I don't think this rumor is true. The person who told me this doesn't think the rumor is true. What is interesting is that something like this can gain credence, that it can stop you for minutes of serious consideration. The anxiety level surrounding Ukraine is so high that it's hard to discount anything automatically. Everything is believable because now anything is possible. But let's escape from all those possibilities for a minute. I need some positivity and you probably do too. Let's talk about good things that have happened recently.

First off, mail! It's been a slow year... only one or two things have arrived this year, but this cool package really brightened my week.
From a lovely and creative Arizona penpal

Next, the best supermarket find of the month:
30 varieties x 5 packets = 150 TEAS!!!! It's always tea time in our apartment nowadays.

One category that has completely fallen off our shopping list- and isn't even missed- is salad dressings. At the beginning I had constant cravings for ranch, caesar, italian, vinaigrettes, blue cheese, you name it. But Ukraine thwarted us, for local supermarkets only carry a few (and usually expensively imported from Germany) bottles of salad dressing- italian, perhaps a balsamic vinaigrette, and a caesar (aka pure mayo) if you're lucky. So I started mixing up our own. It's nothing fancy, just olive oil + assorted vinegar + seasoning packet, but I think we're 100% hooked on this now.

And yep, there's Кит, in the kitchen as usual. He's been a funny little guy lately. Whenever he hears the fridge door open, he runs into the kitchen and attempts to jump onto one of the shelves. He actually likes to hang out there for a good 10 minutes or so. He refuses to leave until his fur is sufficiently chilled.

The rest of the time he's either napping or glowering at any human foolish enough to pass by.
This is his nap ledge, no one else is allowed in the vicinity.

Anyway, a few more food tidbits:

Left: I'm getting pretty good at making blini and discovered there's definite truth to the popular saying "первый блин — комом" (the first blini is always lumpy). Yes, the first one is always the monster of the batch :P (This saying can also mean that your first attempt at something new is usually not so good.)

Middle: To whoever mailed us this taco seasoning last year: you are the best!!! Can you send more?

Right: That's right, we jumped on the coconut wagon at last. How we went so many years without doing this, I don't know, but it's pretty awesome, especially in smoothies. Currently three bananas cost the same price as one coconut... does that make the coconut cheap or the bananas expensive?

Because of all those smoothies and other sweets, it was high time to pay a visit to the dentist. This time it fortunately wasn't an emergency so we scheduled appointments at a place called German Dentistry. I'd first heard about this place from Mark's blog.
Let me tell you, this place does not disappoint!!! The staff were super-friendly and everything from the equipment right down to the wallpaper was modern. For about 800uah each, we walked out of there with clean and shockingly white teeth (see previous reference to tea drinking). D was first up for the dentist's chair and he was laughing as he came back to the reception desk. He wouldn't tell me much but he kept repeating "I think you're really going to enjoy this appointment." When I got into the room, I found out why: the dentist was blond, very handsome, very polite, and spoke excellent English : )  If anyone out there runs into Zahar the dentist, please tell him he's the dentist of my dreams!

As you can imagine, with the [choose one: recent nice weather, new umbrella and rain boots], it's been a pleasure to go out walking in quiet residential areas. Kharkov in springtime is not to be missed! For example, did you catch the recent flower show?
The rowboat station on the Lopan river is open for business.
Hard to see, but this is an extremely tense three-cat standoff

One final good thing has been the continuation of informal language exchanges. Today, despite the threat of rain-
- two other teachers (one Ukrainian, one American) met with me to practice our target languages.
These meetings have been happening weekly or biweekly for a month now and they seem to really be helping all of us! I wish I'd had the courage and determination for this kind of thing from Day 1, but better late than never, right?

I hope this little post of good things puts a bit of positivity into the news coming out of Ukraine.
Thanks for reading!


  1. The cat is hilarious! Love this post!

  2. Things must always be a bit better with a cat in the fridge.

    Good kc puck combating misinformation and madness - you seem to be doing quite well with the food overload!

  3. The cat in the fridge is bloody brilliant!

    1. He tried twice yesterday to get back in there ; )

  4. ROFL, the cat is too funny. I think all cats are quite characters, my cat loves to follow you into the bathroom and oh my god do not sit on the toilet, he'll be jumping on your lap. :)

    I heart paper crafts and your Arizonian friend is very creative and thoughtful!

    Btw where is that cafe, somewhere by the train station?

    1. Haha, sounds like your cat is a handful too! :p Yes, it's the newly-opened summer patio of Mexico House. The food is pricey and the waitresses are grumpy but a lot of my friends live in холодна гора so it's a convenient location for meetings. Have you been there?

  5. I am grateful that things are going well. I've been thinking of you so often with all that is going on. My husband's step-father is returning to his summer home in Ukraine next month. I've been so worried about him traveling, but you've reassured me. <3

    1. and PS... your cat in the refrigerator is cracking me up!! so cute!!! ;)

    2. Thank you, Dena : ) I hope his trip goes smoothly!