Friday, August 18, 2017

Monday, August 14, 2017

Crimean road trip, part I


Imagine:
Early spring near the sea.
You.
A motorcycle.
An open road before you.


A former student lives in Simferopol and owns a motorcycle, which means awesome road trips all around the Crimean peninsula. I asked him if I could share some of his pictures here, since Crimea is beautiful and he's covered a lot of ground on his bike this year. (Thanks for agreeing, Sergey!)


He took these pictures in April-May 2017. You'll notice trees still dull from winter and the deserted beaches of early spring. I left the pictures in the order he took them on his travels. He sent so many pictures that I'll share the other half with you in a later post.

Храм-маяк Николая Чудотворца. The temple-lighthouse of St. Nikolai, worker of miracles. Malorechenskoe, Crimea.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Oregon fun runs



I just realized that D and I haven't done any fun runs this year. Ack! And half the summer is already gone! We've done a run each year since moving to Oregon, and the plan was to do another one this year. The first run was an easy one (lots of little kids running alongside us, haha). Last year's run was tougher and dirtier. But this year? Nothing. I better sign us up for something before the weather changes.

Here's a look at the 2 runs we did. Can you recommend another run to try?

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Ukraine, now.

I'm sure you've seen Ukraine in the news recently. Again.

This post is not about that.

It's not about political maneuvers.

It's not about doom and gloom.

It's even not about all the cool reasons you should visit the country. (And what's up with Ukraine bloggers nowadays? Why are there suddenly so many amazing ones, and where on Earth were they hiding before?)

Instead, this post is a odd roundup of things that have shown up in my inbox lately. I'd be surprised if you've heard of them... but let me know if you have!

Monday, July 17, 2017

Three good things

At the beginning of July, a friend took off to spend another summer doing research in Nizhny Novgorod. I was a bit bummed to not be there this time, so instead I set up a skype date with her (vicarious adventuring) and then made a whole bunch of plans for the month (like joining a gym + a coworking space and hiring a marketing specialist for my language blog). Halfway through July, this plan of "staying busy" is working. Here are three really nice things that have happened recently...

#1. Odin!


Odin came to town! Best summer present EVER. Now he's a sociology grad student in Alaska, but he still speaks Russian really well... and he even showed up in this Chukotka t-shirt. We had a long double date- Odin, his girlfriend, D, me- with lots of pizza + wine. Even though we only meet up every couple of years, he's still one of my favorite people on the planet. Who else would be comfortable teaching English in a remote Siberian village in 2007 and getting paid in reindeer meat when the school ran low on actual cash? There's no one like Odin. ;)

(One of Odin's stories: Life among the reindeer herders in summer 2013. Here are a few of his photos...)

Odin in the Tuva Republic, 2013.
Odin with a family of reindeer herders, 2013.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Afternoon excursions in Nizhny


How do you feel when Facebook shows you On This Day memories? It's always a bittersweet thing for me. Usually, it reminds me of a favorite place / person in Ukraine. This week, it's been all about last summer's trip to Nizhny Novgorod, which really stings when compared to my total lack of plans for this summer. (No travel, anywhere. I'm just hanging on by reading adventurous posts like this one, this one, and this one.)

Summer plans 2016.
Summer plans 2017.

On the other hand, maybe I'll become a fluent Russian-speaking, Spanish-speaking billionaire after reading all those books this summer, haha. There's always a chance!

Although the academic part of the program was a bit of a letdown, last summer was still really fun. We did things like ride the cable cars, visit a monastery, and paint our own matryoshkas. Here are the afternoon trips that I haven't yet shared with you...


 Nizhny Novgorod Planetarium


Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Low tide


10 AM, Memorial Day weekend. The tide was out- way out- and we were on the beach.

Friday, June 2, 2017

Things I (don't) miss


I just found a little folder on my computer called Things I won't miss. It must be from a few years ago, just after we moved to Portland. These are 4 things I thought I would never miss about living in Ukraine....
but now, I actually have a soft spot for most of them!

#1. Handwritten signs like this one. Miss!


After years of so-so Russian, somehow my language skills got better after leaving Ukraine. Now I could actually take on the challenge of understanding these words + deciphering that scrawl. (It says "self-serve; clean up after yourself.")

#2. The water truck. Miss!

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Penpal mail


Privet! And hooray, penpal mail! We got back in town to find this awesome package* waiting in the mail. I can't wait to show you everything in it!

*Minus the cat, of course :p

D's mom had a great birthday. It was a 'day at sea' on the cruise ship, so we wandered around all afternoon and then had some bday drinks. That evening, six waiters crowded around the table and sang to her. She looked so happy! And there were lots of crew members on board who spoke Russian / Ukrainian.  Several of them came over to the table to say hi. 

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Lunch in Kazan


This short post will take you back to one of my favorite places: Kazan!

We had lunch in two cool restaurants in Kazan. The first was at Туган Авылым (that's Tatar for Home Village). Туган Авылым is a large complex that takes up an entire block. Inside its walls, you'll find a day's worth of activities. There's a restaurant, a mosque, a blini cafe, a banya, a second cafe, a souvenir workshop, a toy museum, a petting zoo, a kids' rope park, and a hotel.

Inside the restaurant.

Friday, May 12, 2017

A very belated honeymoon post


After we got married, D and I took a cruise and decided it's a gloriously lazy way to relax. In fact, I'm not sure it really counts as travel- does a few hours in port truly count as a visit? But the relaaaaaxing part of cruising is indisputable. You're on a floating buffet and you don't have to work for five whole days. Sweet.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Anniversary getaway


Ninety minutes from Portland is a big garden + forest + wetland called The Oregon Garden. D and I spent a weekend here to celebrate our 2-year wedding anniversary. ♡ We stayed at the Oregon Garden Resort, which has a gate that opens directly into the garden. This lets you wander the garden whenever you want without paying any admission fee.



Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Murals in Ukraine

A friend just spotted this mural near Kharkiv's Sportivnaya metro stop. What do you think of it? 


Even from afar, I'm still pretty obsessed with Ukrainian street art!!! The entire let's-make-public-art scene seems to be booming there nowadays. Here's proof:
Have you seen any of Ukraine's newer murals? And can we just take one more look at what was Kharkiv's greatest mural ever, haha? Nothing can ever top this-


Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Kazan Family Center


Last weekend, we went to a tulip festival. I still see a thousand acres of neon flowers when I close my eyes, so instead of sharing those photos today, here's something totally different.


Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Revive!


Have you heard of The Seasoned Year? It's written by an expat named Madeleine, from her farm in rural Portugal. She writes beautiful pieces about slowing down and connecting with the cycles in nature. This spring, she offered an online course called Revive! Each week, Madeleine presents different ideas about spring- what it means emotionally, physically, Ayurvedically, and energetically.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Kharkov street

So, my friend Jasilyn mentioned there's a street in Ufa, Russia called Kharkov street. Check it out!

Урамы must be either Tatar or Bashkir? Both are common languages in Ufa.

Fun fact of the day: turns out there are lots of Kharkov / Kharkiv streets. You can find one in Minsk, Moscow, Orenburg, Lviv, Tyumen, St. Petersburg, Dnipro, Almaty, Vladivostok... and in at least 18 other cities! Wikipedia actually has a list of all the streets here.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

An uneven start to Spring


This March has been so gloomy and overcast. Gloooooomy. Where's spring?! We grabbed an umbrella and went for a hike last weekend anyway.

Vancouver, Washington.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

San Francisco


I didn't go to San Francisco, but D did. He spent a week there on a (isn't this the coolest sounding word?) командировка, business trip.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Snapshots of Russian summer

Lock bridge, Nizhny Novgorod.
It's been a quiet few weeks around here. The first two months of 2017 flew by in a blur of work and Chinese lessons. Those are pretty boring topics, so now we're trying to plan a few adventures, hoping to save the rest of the year from such boredom.

No pictures from Portland this time. Instead, here are some of my favorite pictures from last summer. Hope you enjoy them! :)

City bus passing a wooden house in Nizhny Novgorod.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Creepy park


Welcome to Kelly Butte, a place guaranteed to give you the creeps.



Why so creepy?

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Year Five of The Whale


Кит is going to be 5 years old this spring. Whoa! Here's a picture of him as a 3-month old kitten vs now- what do you think?


I haven't given him a whole post on this blog since he turned one. Most of that post is still true, except that his favorite food is now tied between cantaloupe and corn on the cob. He'll go ballistic if you don't give him a little piece to eat. He also will only drink from a dripping bathtub faucet. If there's no drip, he stands on the rim of the tub and meows obnoxiously. Good thing he's so cute!


In case you don't know much Russian, Кит rhymes with "sweet" and means whale. It holds up in Ukrainian, too- Кіт means cat. In English, people just think we came up with some weird cat name. ;) And he's turned out to be more of a кіт than a кит. I dreamed of an enormously fat cat, but nope. He's like my husband, able to eat anything and never gain weight.