Saturday, December 27, 2008

D&Z: Someday you'll be old enough to read this

Remember that time we packed up our 1-bedroom apartment in New York City, stowed all your toys away in Ini’s house in Philadelphia, and moved to Russia&Kazakhstan? (It really happened, I swear!) Do you remember being together all the time and not understanding what people were saying to us? Do you remember the long train rides and the chocolate eggs with toys inside and the playgrounds and the borst and the cold, cold snow?

I’m writing this little letter to you right in the middle of this time. We moved away from NYC 10months ago and the snow is thick and the air is cold, already 20 below this afternoon. We’re going to be in for a long, sequestered winter. And I’m a little scared. You see, I’m having a hard time adjusting to all of this and trying to be the best mommy I can. I know you’ll need a lot from me this winter and I want to be able to give all of myself to you but sometimes it’s so hard for me. Sometimes I just want to be by myself and think and read and write and maybe take a nap. Sometimes I let you watch TV a little longer than I probably should. Sometimes I forget to have patience with you. I forget to play with you.

I remind myself everyday that this is our precious time together – that we have this time to grow together in a way that is truly unique because we have nobody but each other. It’s like we’re on our own frozen little iceberg – no one else, just us. Sometimes this makes me sad – for me and for you. If I’m sad for me, I’m not my best for you.

Thankfully you give me fresh new chances everyday to try again to do better. Thankfully you are finding ways to really enjoy each other and have been playing together in the last several months with remarkable creativity. I admire the two of you and your ability to find pleasure in the little things we have. I want to find that too. I’m glad we still have more time here so that you can continue to teach me these things. I love you both very much. I realize that if you weren’t here with Nathan and I it would be reallyreallyreally crazy, like, crazier ‘than you’ve ever seen before’ (you say this a lot right now DPJ).

I hope you have good memories of this time together – I hope that you remember me being a fun mommy with lots of stories and games and smiles. I hope we can do this again, maybe, where I choose next time.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

A little Christmas scene

Our patchy pine.
Thebabes think it's the most fantastic shrub of nature they've ever seen. As it should be.


and a few other photo's of our winter wonderland . . .

A cute little dom in the village

Here's our vintage Lada -- makes great play equipment. Perhaps if the snow gets high enough we can sled down it.

Another nice looking dom covered in snow.

Looking down our street.

In front of our dom -- this is where we used to have a swing.

On the grounds of the Catholic Church in our village.
This is the little dom set aside for the children to play in. However, this month they are moving into a large modern building across the street with indoor bathrooms (those are the outhouse on the right). Also, where you see the earth plowed up a bit in front is a skating rink they are creating where the garden once was -- so brilliant and we can't wait!

The Catholic Church in beautiful white.
The small 'stable' on the left is where they reenacted the nativity on Christmas eve -- with a cow and a few of those angelic kids dressed up with a life size porcelain doll in a manger. We all stood around with candles and sang songs. Beautiful.

The kids at the Catholic Church poured water down the slide for an icy ride.
The wonderful Nadia, ever helpful and lovely, is taking care of Zoe as she prepares to take her turn.

The cold red nose and smiling eyes tell us that she is having FUN!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Because the neighbors are doing it

It's below freezing and I'm still left with loads of laundry each week, which I can only wash outside. Well, I do it in the shelter of the banya house but it's not kept heated.

I have to light the fire myself to get the water hot in the tank. I also bring in extra buckets and have them warming on the side with a little twisty metal plug-in heater -- it sends shock waves to speed up the electrolytes in the H2O (is that correct science?) if you touch the water or even the bucket with the device plugged in and sitting in the water -- it's a SHOCK!

I know, kind of dangerous. There is so much more I could tell.

Anyway, after 45minutes or so the water is hot and the banya house is a little more comfortable, though I keep my coat on. I pour the hot water into the washing machine -- circa 50's design – add soap and it’s ready for 5minute cycles. All the clothes are washed in the same water (I don’t scoop it out and fill it up after each load, would you?) so I start with the towels (kitchen&bath) then the bed linen and then by color, whites first. The water is black by the end of the third hour. Nathan and his wood/coal activities make their mark and are always the last to go. Thus never getting *clean*, I suppose.

There is then the rinsing cycle – where I dunk them in a separate tub, wringing them out before entry and upon exit to the spinner.

Spinner. This is hard for me because last week the spinner began to lose control. It’s knocking up against the side of itself, making horrible scrapping noises and sparking and smelling. What will I do without a spinner? All these wet clothes in 30 below degree weather?

My neighbors, I note, are still using their clothes lines. But the water doesn’t evaporate, the clothes don’t dry.

They freeze. Like cardboard boxes.

Those are icicles!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Pardon Me Poetry

Soulful Sutra
Inspired by Ginsberg’s Sunflower Sutra”

The Kazakh steppe -- flat land rife of wind and clouds

Lately it’s the breeze that rattles my square-minded, imageless stasis in never-never land; too dusty inside, over crowded with dead-beat contortions of irrelevancy – it is more crisp outside than in and I need that soulful gust to vacuum me.

It’s an invitation, a whispering bliss, where I can cackle with the renegade leaves and bend like the sensible grass and progress with the elevated community of clouds.

Air-crisp breath, the life of youth, the memories and merriment of time – of time peopled with little ones. Taking cue, I look to the deep recesses of those blue and brown eyes that plead with me, urge me, to come to existence. My heart wants them to know good, over-abundant joy life but my head buzzes and my body slurs, more bovine-esque than nimble-quick. spurtspurt sputtersputter.

Help me to swirl with your gusts, in your carpet-ride fresh imagination. I close my eyes and I smile – a clearing, a motion to take the hands of my children and run with you. We shall laugh together and breathe soul gulping lung-bursts and exhaust ourselves in your plentitude.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

On the road for Thanksgiving

We returned from our week long Thanksgiving journey to a kitchen covered in soot. The floor looked gray, the counter tops had an ashen film all over them and the dishes looked dirty. These are the setbacks to having a wood and coal burning stove. So much work and I have to say that the floors might have been looking like that for weeks as Nathan gave up mopping in favor of wood chopping and coal hauling and I’ve long been in denial that it’s my duty now. I often reflect upon the gender roles of old and nod in understanding as to how it all must have naturally been delegated. So much work to do, each partner takes on what they prefer . . . usually.

Except, I still kind of hope that Nathan will develop bionic stamina and decide to mop these floors again.

We spent Thanksgiving in Astana with the humanitarian LDS missionary couple, the Wellings. It was a terrific day – filled with cooking and eating and relaxing and talking – just what it would have been like anywhere else. I indulged in their high speed connection again – Skyping and IMing to myhearts content. We all left the next morning for Almaty – the Welling’s on a 1.5 hour flight and us on a 23hour train ride.

:::Let us have a moment of silence:::

Thanks, it was tough.

But getting to Almaty had manymany rewards – we rented a nice apartment, went to church and spoke and listened to English in excess – had dinner and lunch get-to-gethers with more people I could talk and listen to and engage with. Oh the JOY! We met the other Mormon Fulbright family researching here in KZ, the Piepers (can you believe the odds of that?) they have a little baby and they are, I mean Evelyn is, really someone I need to learn from – it seems she has absolutely no complaints! She is who I thought myself to be: up for international adventure and hard things and leaving her heart open to love. I read her blog – she actually said she loved it here (or something like that) and I gasped, blushed, and felt guilty and then felt reassured that I still had 7 more months to get to where she is. I am determined to love it here (or at least love the essence of my experiences here.)

Here’s to another month to put myself to the test.


All of us feasting -- except Zoe who was napping.

Des doesn't mess around with bite-size pieces -- the cake was too good!

The Wellings are expert pie makers and this apple was divine!!

Waiting on Sunday morning for the bus to take us the CHURCH!

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Almaty Kazakhstan!

Nathan and babes standing outside the church building.

We went with Evelyn and baby Sophie to the Zoo. Zoe got to play with the guinea pigs a little bit.

Gazing at the massive birds.