Sunday, October 22, 2017

Top 10 signs you are too old to be trick or treating

10. You get winded from knocking on the door
9. You have to have another kid chew the candy for you.
8. You ask for high fibre candy only.
7. When someone drops a candy bar in your bag you lose your balance.
6. People say, "Great Keith Richards mask!" and you aren't wearing a mask.
5. When the door opens, you yell, "Trick or . . ." and can't remember the rest.
4. By the end of the night you have a bag full of restraining orders.
3. You have to carefully choose a costume that won't dislodge your hairpiece.
2. You are the only Power Ranger in your neighbourhood with a walker.
1. You avoid going to houses where your ex-wives live.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

How I spent my summer vacation

June 30, the next day being July 1st, Canada Day, I took Tanya, Lina and Sveta to The Egoist Restaurant for supper. Trying to imitate the eating habits of Henry VIII, I over did it and was very uncomfortable, not for the first time in my life, sad to say.

At 1:30 am July 1st, severe abdominal pain hit and by 3:30 I was dry heaving and my belly was swollen like a poisoned pup. By 6:00 am I was in an ambulance headed for the hospital.  The ride was so rough, I had to get out and go in Andrei's car.  At the hospital in Zhovti Vody, a doctor examined me and concluded I had peritonitis and possibly pancreatitis and needed immediate surgery and should go to Dnipro as they could no longer do surgery in Zhovti Vody.  Andrei had to go to the Mayor's office to get him to instruct the hospital to send me as they were NOT going to send their good ambulance out of town. Pain killers made the ride bearable

By 6:00 pm I was in the best hospital in Dnipro, which was also crowded with wounded soldiers from the Donbas front. they wired me up with IV antibiotics and morphine and I don't know what else.  Several doctors poked and prodded causing me great pain and July 4 they finally operated on me. I am guessing they plugged the hole in my colon and the words "diverticulosis" and sepsis were mentioned.  I had a temporary iliostomy c/w bag and several drainage tubes in my abdomen. I was so weak, I could do nothing for myself, not even turn or feed myself, nothing. The doctors were worried I was not going to make it.  So was everyone else.  No one told me so I didn't know until late August why everyone was so scared for me.

July 7th, my three daughters arrived in Dnipro to help Tanya look after me.  Two stayed for three weeks until I was moved back to Zhovti Vody. The youngest stayed for a week as she could not get more time off work. My son was frantic to come also but the girls talked him out of it.  Given his health problems (Crohn's Disease) they did not want two Hingstons in hospital in Ukraine. My oldest daughter's description of their time and why it was critical they were there in Ukraine can be found below.

I spent a year in Ukraine one month: Part 1 
I spent a year in Ukraine one month: Part 2 
Lessons I learned in Ukraine 
Adventures in Ukraine: Part 3 -- Wherein we learned to ask for help
July 26th, Tanya rented a private ambulance to move me back to Zhovti Vody Hospital where I spent a further two weeks. Having developed a hernia along my incision, I needed to be bandaged up tight before I could get out of bed.  Walking the length of the room using a hump and clump walker I named Texas Ranger was hard work.  Gradually I got it up to 5 round trips, then 10, then out in the hallway where I could boogie.  

After a couple weeks, I was reluctantly moved to our house. It worked out far better than I imagined  It was easier on Tanya and with help from Lina and Sveta she managed quite well.  She would have to get up every 2-4 hours in the night to attend to me but she did it. And I had more places to walk.  Outside even.  Though the day I tried to climb the front three steps without notifying anyone and fell on my face did not endear me to anyone.

Basically, I would not be alive without Tanya.  She nursed me 24/7 from when I was first sick.  Argued with the doctors and nurses to make sure I was well looked after by them and that she knew what to do if they weren't around.  Cooked and fed me until I could feed myself, tended to my natural functions until I could myself, changed the ostomy bag several times a day, bathed me, did laundry, administered meds, encouraged me, bullied me when I needed it, was patient with my outbursts, and worried constantly.  She is an amazing wonderful woman and I love her so much.

My youngest came back for a week after I had moved home.  We managed only one game of crib so you can see how weak and tired I still was. She helped us get started packing to come back to Canada. I needed further operations once I was strong enough and was determined to have them in Canada. Getting to Regina was going to be one horrible ordeal.  First I had to get to Kyiv.  No way could I take the train so we hired the private ambulance again and drove. Andrei had all our bags and medical parafinalia (wheelchair, walker, monkey bar) in his car. 

My oldest flew to Kyiv to meet us at the airport and help Tanya deal with me on the trip home.  We were well looked after in the airports at Kyiv and Frankfurt.  Toronto is another story.  NEVER fly via Toronto Airport.  We were left on our own and missed our connection to Regina.  A later flight put us in at 12:30 am instead of 10:00 pm. For our adventures on the way home see my daughter's blog post: 

The day my father pooped my pants

My daughter had found a flat for us five minutes from the hospital, my doctor's office and two bus stops and furnished it in early Canadian attic with help from her friends, Dollarama, Varage Sale, and I don't know what else.  It lacked for nothing.  This was how she spent her August.  It is safe to say I would not be alive without her either.  While Tanya organized everything in Ukraine, she organized everything in Canada, taking a semester off her Masters in Social Work degree to do it. She also organized the Go Fund Me or whatever it is called that payed our bills.  I also owe my life to generous donors whose names I do not know as she looked after that detail too. As my daughter sais "It takes a village to raise an Allen". Thanks, Village.

We have been in Regina 6 weeks now.  More on that in the next blog post.

For those of you who are still following me, in spite of my long absence, greatly appreciate your loyalty.  And I will get back to my favourite blogs too. Never fear

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

This blog is closed until further notice due to illness

Thank you for your interest and your comments.  I will be back, but I don't know when.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Photos from Around Kyiv 1999

My album of pictures from Ukraine is finally scanned.  8 cm of photos when they are stacked.  I have been busy this past week crunching agricultural statistics for a report.  The Country's statistics site is superb but it is in European format.  Instead of commas separating thousands, it is periods.  When I download the data onto Excel, my computer which is North American format, treats the period as a decimal and truncates the zeros.  This means close to 100,000 pieces of data have to be reviewed to make sure I put the necessary zeros back.  I have that down to a fine art.

Tanya and I are headed to Malaga, Spain tonight for two weeks.  Malaga, Seville, Cordoba and Granada are cities I have always wanted to visit as they were under the (Muslim) Moors until the last ones were driven out in 1492.  (The movie El Cid, starring Charlton Heston, was based on another successful campaign against the Moors.)

Malaga is Picasso's home town and out flat is only a few blocks from the museum.  Tanya will love it.  The Alhambra in Granda is on my bucket list.  We'll be busy but will take time to see how warm the water is at the beach.

Here are a few more photos from my album.  Taken of Kyiv architecture and monuments.

Yaroslav the Wise
 This was taken on my 50th birthday in 1997.  Yaroslav the Wise founded the Pechersk Monastery among his many acheivments.  Kyivian Rus reached the peak of its cultural and military power under his rule.

The Old Arsenal Factory Building
 The Old Arsenal Factory Building bears the scars of machine gun bullets received in 1918 when the workers joined the pro-Bolshevik Rebellion.

Bohdan Kmelnitsky
 Bohdan Kmelnitsky led the Cossacks against the Poles in a decisive victory in 1648 near Zhovti Vody, resulting in the creation of a Cossak state. In 1654, with the Poles regrouping and his allies slipping away, he signed the Treaty of Pereyaslav, putting his Hetmanate under the protection of the Russian Tsar.  Russia considers him a hero; Ukrainians are not so sure.

Kyiv Opera House
 The Kyiv Opera House is a gorgeous building outside and in. I attended an opera there.  La Rigatoni (or something).  Class!
St Andrews Church
 St Andrew's Church at the top of Andrew's Decent (Andreivski uzviz) is one of the finest examples of Baroque architecture, commissioned by Empress Elizabeth in the 18th century, designed by the Italian Architect Rastrelli and built by Moscow Architect Michurin.

St Michael's Church
 St Michael's Church was demolished in 1935 or 1936 by the Bolsheviks.  Reconstruction began in 1997.

St Sofia's Cathedral (photo from Wiki)
 Saint Sofia's Cathedral and Monastery was named for the Hagia Sofia in Istanbul (Constantinople) and founded in 1011, celebrating 1000 years not long ago. It has lived several lives and reconstructions. Parts of the original construction can be seen as they were left unfinished for that purpose.

The Bell Tower of St Sofia's.  It is straight, my eyes are crooked

Unfinished portions of original construction

Closer detail
See you in a couple weeks.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Victory Day and the Day of Memory and Reconciliation

Russia and most of the other countries of the FSU today (May 9th) celebrate the end of the Great Patriotic War. According to Soviet and now Russian history the war began June 22, 1941 when Germany invaded the Soviet Union.  The war prior to that, when Hitler and Stalin were allies, is ignored. The Moscow times has an article on how Russian children are taught about the Second World War.  It is a crime in Russia to not follow the official line and someone was fined and sent to jail for saying that the USSR invaded Poland Sept 17, 1939.  The official line, as it was in Soviet times, is that the USSR "liberated" western Ukraine, Poland and the other eastern European countries and territory they invaded and occupied. In much the same way Willie Sutton liberated money held prisoner by banks.

As part of decolonization and decommunization, Ukraine now recognizes the dates of WWII as Sept 1, 1939 to May 7th, 1945.  May 9th which has been a holiday in Ukraine for 72 years is now celebrated as as Day of Memory and Reconciliation. Russia, of course, is furious and in response has written Ukraine's part on the war out of their history. Ukraine is fighting back to be recognized for the significant roll played by Ukrainians in the war.

The Ukrainians carried at least 40% of 27,000,000 losses of the USSR in WWII. The Soviet historiographical concept of the “Great Patriotic War,” however, employed major misperceptions of the Ukrainians’ role and is now being used as a propaganda instrument fueling the war in Donbas. In our series “Understanding the Ukrainians in WWII” we seek to uncover the underreported role of Ukrainians living both in Ukraine and abroad in the most deadly war of the 20th century.
 Understanding the Ukrainians in WWII. Part 1

In 1999, I was in Kyiv for the  May 9th celebration of the end of the Great Patriotic War.  The following pictures are of the war memorial which is "Soviet Realism". The sculptures are part of the War Museum which has an outdoor component of planes, tanks, guns etc and an indoor component under the Victory statue. A couple of years later, we acquired a guide/translator to take us thorough the museum.  The lady cried much of the time as she read the descriptions on the displays.

Motherland aka Brezhnev's Daughter aka The Iron Baba

Monday, May 8, 2017

More Photos from the Open Air Museum

Several of the buildings on the grounds are those you would find in a late 19th century Ukrainian village.  When we were there in 1997 there were three women in costume and a Kobzar (minstrel) playing a bandura.  

The houses owned by more wealthy would have tiled roofs

Simple cottages would have thatched roofs

The local bar. If you couldn't get over the style you were already too drunk to be served

Home of one of the wealthier families, likely holding a position of authority in the village

Stove, oven and storage space.  Painted white and decorated. In cold climates like Siberia it would have flat surfaces for family members to sleep on (children) 
Home of the village potter

Handmade teakettle

Friday, May 5, 2017

Open Air Museum of Folk Architecture at Pereyaslav-Khmelnitsky

One of the gems of Ukrainian culture that is often missed because it is 100 km from Kyiv is the Museum of Folk Architecture and Life of Ukrainians .  The museum presents a Ukrainian village of the late 19th – early 20th centuries, as well as buildings and monuments since the late Paleolithic period to the times of Kyivan Rus. Thirteen thematic museums are located within the main museum located on 30 hectares.

The link above has much more recent pictures than mine which were taken in 1997 and 1999, so check them out.

Pereiaslav-Khmelnytskiy Folk Museum website provides a brief description of the site and the various historical cultures represented along with the thematic museums. It is one page long so reading it will only take a minute.

There are too many pictures so more than one post will be necessary.  Today will be pictures of a wooden church and the Museum of Ukrainian Embroidery which is located in another wooden church.

  This tour site has more information but you will need to right click and click Translate into English if you don't read Russian.  Googling Open Air Museum Pereyaslav-Khmelnitsky will bring up a number of sites advertising tours.  They may or may not be in English.  Google Translate to the rescue.

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Tanya's Flowers - End of April

Tanya took most of these pictures. She is a better photographer than I am but she is too busy gardening to post them so I am making them my last blog of the month.  The pictures were taken on 27th and 29th. A cold damp April slowed them down somewhat but they are coming on fast now as we have temps in the 20+C range every day. Click on the photos to make them bigger.