Showing posts with label Russia. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Russia. Show all posts

Monday, February 18, 2013

on days like this...

...when making progress on the dissertation feels like climbing a mountain, I remember the time my friend Katie and I

bushwhacked our way up the back side of a mountain.

It was difficult and hot and full of branches. Sometimes the dirt slid away under our feet. Oddly, it got easier the higher we went.

We were exhausted, thirsty, and aromatic when we got to the top. But the view

was amazing.

And the way down the other side was more clear and much more quick.

Best of all, Lake Baikal was waiting for us at the bottom.

These pictures and more over here.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Water, hot, lack thereof - see also #firstworldproblems

I sent the following e-mail to my landlords today:

Hi, Trustees,
We have no hot water at Lillies House today. The hot water heater is not leaking, and all wires and pipes seem to be appropriately attached. None of the breakers in the fuse box are flipped. Is there something else I should look for on my own?
We can live without hot water for a couple of days, so no rush.

One of them wrote back:
Hi Kolokolchiki,
Well your tougher than me, I am definitely getting too old for cold showers.  I called Super-Intendent Man and he is working at the Fire House Wednesday.  He has been using Local Plumbing Guy lately.  Please call them ASAP at XXX-XXXX and arrange for them to come and look at it TOMORROW.  I don't want you gals to have to take cold showers.
Trustee #1

This e-mail made me laugh. I had no intention of taking cold showers. Ugh! 
There's a pot of water on the stove waiting for me to turn it on to heat first thing when I wake up. Taking a bucket bath in my own tub will be way easier than bucket baths on the Trans Siberian Railway. To wit, the room will not be swaying back and forth, the surface on which I am standing will actually direct the water toward the drain, and there will be a clean, dry place for my clothes. It won't be as nice as a bucket bath in a steamy dacha, but it'll be way better than some of the spring fed creeks I've bathed in. 

Dear Life, 
Thanks for preparing me to do without and work around when modern conveniences fail.
Much love, 
Buckets for toting and heating (via electric immersion heater) water and pans for transferring to washbasins and the dry sink. Batama, Irkutsk Region, Siberia, 2007.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Ducks fly north

Read Write Poem #12 Secret Codes

Ducks fly north
the secrets of spring
under their wings.

Geese cry greeting
to be meeting
their summertime friends.

Notes: Today's prompt called for secret code, which reminded me of a story a fellow expat had told me when we were studying in Moscow: Years earlier, her parents had visited the USSR and wanted to send themselves a postcard. Not knowing what to say to themselves, they just wrote "Ducks fly north." The postcard arrived months later with all manner of stamps and notations in Russian all over the back. Their theory is that the censors had to make sure it wasn't super secret spy code before it passed through the Iron Curtain to the free world.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Questions I Could Never Ask My Hostess

Read Write Poem's NaPoWriMo #9 Your Mission

Questions I Could Never Ask My Hostess

I prop the electric torch against the pail
where I will stow the paper
when I'm done.
(I hope the batteries will survive
nightly trips to this necessary)
The outhouse is one of a million small inconveniences
on the fringe of a village in the middle of Siberia.

What must it be like in the winter-
when the bruising wind grabs the door out of your hands
and with all your might you lever it closed
before the snow flies onto the rug?
when the drifts on the path make you limp to the loo?
when the sun shines so little and the chimney puffs so much?

Lost in thought, I stumble, startling myself and the chickens.
Exhausted by your way of life, I dream of home's conveniences.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Making Pirozhki

Read Write Poems's NaPoWriMo #6 Converse with an Image

Making Pirozhki

roll, flatten
scoop, fold, press
set to rise

Many hands on the small table
harmoniously dance
in and out of the dough,
in and out of the filling.
then the dough
roll, flatten
then the filling
scoop, fold, press
set to rise

A molehill
of flour water onions eggs
becomes a mountain
of pirozhki.
roll, flatten
scoop, fold, press
set to rise