April 30, 2008
It’s been a whirlwind kind of day. Overcast, cold and windy here in Belarus with this news coming this afternoon.
Looks like it’s official now! We’ll be heading for a new destination in the very near future, possibly Baku, Azerbaijan.
Not really crazy about that, but hey, at least I’ll be able to speak Russian and continue building on the language that I’ve already started. That’s a bonus – I won’t have to stress out about asking for a bag at the market or trying to figure out what is sour cream and what is milk and trying to read labels because I can already do all that stuff! I’ve done a little reading already and it looks like there will be a better variety of fresh fruits and vegetables available there and it’s right on the Caspian sea which likely means FISH! Another bonus is a house over an apartment which means hopefully a yard for the little man! I’m keeping my fingers crossed…of course nothing is for certain until I’m sleeping in a bed in Baku!
I wonder how long it will take for me to get my stuff?
April 28, 2008
Today was a Holiday for Orthodox Easter Monday. I had lunch with some friends and then spent the rest of the afternoon photographing various churches around Minsk. Here are a few of the better pictures of the day.
This is an old Russian Orthodox Church near the Old Town and Town Hall. The church is called Cathedral of the Holy Spirit. It’s a beautiful church and was built from 1642-87. The church has withstood time and two wars.
This is the Russian Orthodox church of St. Mary Magdeline. It is very near the embassy and I could smell the bread baking at the Bread Factory No 2. which is right next door. The church is beautiful with ornate gold and black roofing. The grounds are beautiful with tulips and water fountains.
This is a very popular church for wedding photographs. All most every weekend when the weather is nice you will see many brides here getting their picture taken. I’m not sure if they are actually married here but they definitely use the beauty of the church for photographs. Today we were lucky enough to hear the bells ring 6pm and were pleasantly surprised to see that the bells are actually operated by a human bell ringer. This is the orthodox Church of the Protection of the Holy Virgin. It is a beautiful church and sits right off of the main road…also at the beginning of the road to Luka’s house! You can see the big barrier off in the distance! This is also one of the prettiest areas of the city. The curbs are painted bright white, the park is well manicured and there is no trash or graffiti in sight. Of course the rest of the city is pretty clean, but this area is noticeably “cleaner”.
April 27, 2008
I was tagged bytransplantingme for the so here are my responses.
1. What food do you consider the best “date” food? In other words, what meal or food item do you think is sexiest to eat in the company of someone you would like to look sexy around? I have had some of my best dates over a steak, or sushi. I don’t know if those count as sexy foods but they are meals that last a while and you are able to have good conversation. One food I would definitely not recommend eating on a sexy date night….asparagus! Thanks to Glenn Bass for the tip that saved Valentine’s Day – 1999!
2. What well-known person would you like to share a meal with? I have a few that I would like to share a meal with: 1) Barack Obama 2) Howard Stern 3) Reba McIntyre 4) Alan Rickman
3. What does your perfect breakfast-in-bed look like? (Food AND the details, please. Candles? Music? Flowers? Hot tub? Dancing girls? I would love to have breakfast in bed….this would be a FIRST for me…pathetic I know! The ideal breakfast tray would consist of a bouquet of daisies, french toast with white cheddar cheese and maple syrup, turkey bacon, fresh squeezed orange juice blended with ice to make a froth, and a BIG bowl of tropical fruit topped with shredded coconut. The music…wooden flutes or the sound machine set to ocean!
4. What do you consider the best application of whipped cream to be? On my hot fudge sundae or hot chocolate/white chocolate mocha of course.
5. Oh-God-No, Biff, the yacht is sinking! You are sent to the galley to retrieve the food. What luxury food items do you snatch first? The champagne? The caviar? Smoked Salmon? Truffles? Chocolate? Or something else? I would grab the Malibu, red orange juice, banana juice, raspberries, smoked salmon, triscuits and Easy Cheese!
“Answer each of the five questions. Tag five bloggers you would like to pass the meme to. Have them link back to you and to this post as the source meme. You and they can take the graphic from here if they like.”
Hmmm, my five? Here goes….
April 25, 2008
It’s Friday, but there’s no game night tonight. There’s no one left to have game night with. Olga did come by tonight to bring some chocolate and to say goodbye. She’s leaving for vacation tomorrow and I most likely will not see her again.
It’s funny, I never anticipated how I would react to saying goodbye to the friends I’ve made here in Belarus, my local friends. It was hard. We hugged, we exchanged emails and we said “пока”…that’s Russian for goodbye. Of course as soon as I closed the door I was bawling like a baby! WOW, where did that come from?
So it seems as though our time here in Belarus is coming to a close, though we still don’t know for sure. Our host government has asked that the American Embassy here in Belarus reduce it’s American staff yet AGAIN. With the numbers they’ve suggested it’s more likely than not that Scott and I will be leaving. I’ve got a few more pictures to take and of course I didn’t make it to all of the places I’d hope to have visited while I was here. I am extremely disappointed about the timing of all of this. My parents were due to visit NEXT WEEK!
In knitting news I ventured to my LYS (local yarn stall) today and actually had a decent conversation (of course it consisted of …how much is this? do you have yarn made from flax? do I knit with one strand or two? I’m making a bag, knitting, not crochet and may I have 3 skeins please?) with the shop owner….in RUSSIAN. I was impressed with my skills and of course she was too. Funny, that the conversation ended with her speaking ENGLISH to me. LOL. It always amazes me that once you really attempt to learn the language they decide that they want to practice their English on you….She would talk to me in English and I would answer her in Russian. I ended up with 3 skeins of a cotton/viscose blend in an off white, not quite beige color. I’m going to make a market bag. I saw one made from linen the other day while out shopping and it was really nice. I thought about buying it, but thought to myself….”why when I can make it”….then I thought…”Oh, my God I’m turning in to my mother”. LOL Now, my task is going to be to finish the darn thing before Tuesday. I need to get it to Anya to have her put a liner in for me. Since my time here is limited I don’t want to pass up the opportunity to utilize Anya’s skills. She is a WONDERFUL seamstress.
In other news, I’ve done it again. I said I wasn’t but I caved. I’ve decided to join the HSKS5. Sign ups aren’t officially until next week, but I’ve been on the Ravelry group forum chatting away and it really seems like it will be more fun for me this time around. I’m going to change houses though. I’m going to venture to the dark side I think and put Slytherin as my first house choice, followed by Ravenclaw then Hufflepuff. I just may be the only person on the planet who doesn’t want to be a Gryffindor! I guess good old FDH burned me out on the red and gold! LOL
Finally, I have to have some medical care (routine, nothing serious) that cannot be provided here in Belarus so I’ll be going to Germany for a few days soon. I’m going to try to meet up with a Ravelry friend while I’m there. We’re hoping to meet for beer and pretzels (and yarn shopping of course). I have been told to pack my elastic pants! LOL
Well that’s all I have for now. I’ll keep you all posted on the “status” of the situation here as more information is available.
April 20, 2008
I finally got the appropriate drivers installed and was able to get the pictures from my camera! When my computer died many of my pictures were lost so I’m really thankful that I still had the pictures from Germany on my camera. I can’t remember when the last time I backed up my photo files was, but I’m pretty sure it was before Germany. My new promise to myself is going to be to store the pictures on a site like Flickr so that I don’t have to worry about this stuff anymore.
Ok, so last Tuesday was the day the movers came to crate up our boxes. You remember the ones. The ones that had to be packed in case we are leaving, but we are not sure we are leaving, but we need to be prepared in case we are leaving, so we are ready to leave if we need to leave, yeah those boxes. Thankfully it was a nice day, because I really needed to walk to relieve some stress. I was glad for the opportunity to take a few pictures on a nice, blue day. So here they are:
This is a picture of Take Away Sushi. It’s about a block from our apartment and best of all they deliver! It definitely isn’t the best sushi I’ve ever had, in fact, it’s pretty darn near the worst, but it’s sushi and it will do in a pinch especially during these “cupboard is bare” times. There is also a pizza place/restaurant nearby. We haven’t tried this one yet, but maybe one day this week. We’ve heard good things about it. It’s called Ziopepe.
At the end of the street is the Stella statue which I’ve posted pictures of before and on the other side of the street is this billboard which always has something festive. This says Republic of Belarus:
the sign is what I say marks the entrance of the park. The park is nice and there are several statues and later in the spring there will be many flowers. One of my favorite things in the park is this piece of graffiti which I’m surprised is still here:
This marks my half way point in the walk (I think). Since it was such a nice day I didn’t take my usual route. I wanted to take pictures of the statues and walk down around the water. A friend from work also suggested I see the peacock, so I went off in search of the bird. I was a little disappointed that his tail was not blooming. She said that later in the year his tail is in full bloom with so many beautiful flowers. Here he is, minus the splendour:
This gazebo type monument/statue is really pretty from a distance, but up close it has been heavily vandalized with graffiti. One of the things we comment on here is the lack of graffiti ( I know I’ve reference two pieces in this post). The city is really clean and beautiful. I personally think there is a group of Oompaloompas who go around and clean up the graffiti, though they have never been seen. They must not go in to the park though! Here’s a picture of the gazebo statue
In the distance behind the gazebo you can see the river. Once this is in my sight I’m on a mission. Up to this point I still hadn’t walked around the river because the weather just hadn’t been nice enough. This was the perfect day. Here are a few pictures:
I didn’t walk to the Island on this day, because I’d been there the day before. I do want to post a few more pictures of the Island because it was such an interesting place and such an important part of recent Belarussian history. As you are walking over the bridge you have an excellent view of the island (which is man made just for this memorial) and the memorial
The memorial itself is beautiful. There are four groups of women. To enter the memorial you walk through these iron gates. Each gate door has a handle which is inscribed with the name of a major city of Belarus. Inside the memorial the inside of each group of women is an altar with the walls containing the names of the fallen with a place for a candle next to each name. The ceiling has a light which from the outside you can see. They say this is illuminated at night, but I’ve never seen it (never been that close at night).
Also on the island is a statue of an angel boy who is rying. This statue is at the end of one of the paths leading from the memorial.
If you look very carefully you might notice that the penis on this statue is a little shiny. Apparently many brides come to the island on their wedding day and rub the angel’s penis. This is supposed to bless the marriage with fertility and a male son. I don’t know if that is true or not, and my friend doesn’t know how this story orignated, but we have witnessed many brides crossing the bridge to the Island of Tears.
This picture is taken heading up the hill to the American Embassy. You’ll notice the American Flag showing through the trees.
April 18, 2008
This is a picture (ok, so the picture isn’t cooperating me tonight, so there is no picture to insert right now…maybe tomorrow) of the flowers just through the front gate of the embassy. This picture was taken earlier in the week by one of my co-workers. The weather has been to cold for the tulips this week so they aren’t looking very pretty now, but at least we got to enjoy them for a few day.
Well, we’ve made it through another week here in Belarus. We celebrated the end of the week with a nice embassy wide cookout. We had shashlik (which is basically meat grilled on skewers), and veggies. Anya, one of the ladies who cleans at the embassy made an awesome veggie dip from sour cream, mayonaisse, fresh dill, garlic and cheese. I was AWESOME! Did I already say that? I think everyone had a good time. I know everyone liked the food because there were absolutely NO leftovers, so I guess that was a good thing. It’s a shame the weather wasn’t better today. It was tolerable with a coat, about 48F. It was cloudy and we did feel occassional raindrops.
I inquired about going to the Circus this weekend, only to find out that it’s closed until May. Hopefully well be around long enough for me to see it. There’s also a village that I’d like to visit. Kind of a live museum of life in Belarus. I’m keeping my fingers crossed for some sunshine for that one.