Thursday, September 28, 2017

Final snapshots

Last weekend we went to a corn maze. It was just down the road from last year's farm, but this one even better because... there was no map! You just walked and walked and walked until you eventually found the exit.

Monday, September 25, 2017

Resources to find a job in Ukraine

Privet! :)

Maybe you sent me an email about moving to Ukraine or maybe you just stumbled across this post. Either way, you want to move to Ukraine, right? Awesome! 

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Alaskan summer

The summer that I drove an Alaskan tour bus seemed to stretch on forever. Trip after trip after bus after bus of people, people, people.

Some of the guests were really fun, like the group of Chinese businessmen who didn't speak any English and brought along their interpreter. We got a flat tire that trip, and when I lugged out everything to start changing the tire, they formed a blockade and insisted on doing it themselves. They don't have a chance to do this stuff in China, the interpreter said with a shrug.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Oregon to-do list

I'm cleaning out some bookmarks today. Last winter, I cleaned out my bookmarks about Ukraine here. Now it's Oregon's turn!

We spend most of our time hanging around the state's largest city, Portland. It is quite pretty (and filled with bridges), but...

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

No more blog, plenty more Ukraine

This blog is six years old... officially old enough to retire, haha. (But for real.)

Thank you very, very much for reading these past six years. Thank you to every person who ever sent an email or left a comment on a post! I hope that we'll keep in touch. :) There are still a few more posts in the works for this month, but I didn't want to make you read to the end to get the main idea of this post.

I swear I saw that same guy on the same bench 4 years ago, ha. (Sarzhin Yar, Kharkiv.)

My friend sent this picture from Kharkiv last week.

So much has changed in her life in the past few years. When we met, she was teaching for 40 uah/hour ($5 USD/hour, at that time) at a local English school. She lived near the sickle-and-hammer-covered Пролетарская (Proletariat) metro stop. She and her husband owned the kind of apartment I'd only seen in movies: a long hallway, a single room for each family, and a lone kitchen shared by the entire floor.

Now she has a beautiful roly-poly baby with chubby cheeks instead of the teaching job. The Пролетарская metro has been rechristened Индустриальная (Industrial). Not long after that, my friend and her husband were finally able to sell their one-room, shared-kitchen home and move into a place with more privacy and space for the baby. 

Saturday, August 26, 2017

A Kyiv summer

Summertime in Kyiv in a single photo! :) Isn't it perfect?

PS: Not my photo. It was taken by a friend of a friend- thank you for letting me share it here!

PPS: If you haven't already seen this on Facebook, here's an interesting summer read: How 250 tons of Ukrainian watermelons took over the internet this summer.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Monday, August 14, 2017

Crimean road trip, part I

Early spring near the sea.
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


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.