Sunday, May 31, 2009

Swine Flu - the last word

Tanya’s Flower Garden

My “brains” get sore if I sit at the computer too long, so I have not blogged for a day or two. To anyone who missed me, sorry. The only comfortable seat is the toilet and Tanya won't let me move the computer into the bathroom.

Yesterday Tanya said she was going to the market today. I said what for? She gave me the “Dumb Husband” look that all wives have perfected and we both burst out laughing. She said “I will finish my flower garden Sunday…I think…maybe…” (And if you believe that, I have ocean front property in western Ukraine, etc.).

She came home giggling like an idiot with four shopping bags loaded with perennials. For $30. Old Babushkas, trying to supplement their meagre pensions, sell flowers and plants thinned out from their gardens for far less than the nurseries, so I think she bought them all. We now have three more colours of Iris to add to the six colours we already have. I knew that was coming. She actually went to find light blue Iris. (Digging them up from the cemetery at night is just not cool).
Anyhow, here are a few more pictures of our front garden. The peonies are just starting to bloom. The book says peonies will not usually bloom for a year or two after transplanting. Tanya moved them all last year. August 25th, which is the magic date here, and they will all bloom, just a bit late. The side garden will be along soon; the roses are starting to bud.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Goodness Gracious, Great Balls of Fire.

Monday I went into the hospital for small surgery. My left testicle was diagnosed with a 1.7 cm tumour and the Dr. said it should come out and be sent to histology just in case it turned out to be malignant. The problem had originally been spotted when we were in Truskavets. The Dr said to me, “Do you know your left testicle is three or four times as big as your right one?” I said “Heck, no. I haven’t seen them for years”. (My feet neither for that matter).

He thought I should have it looked at, so last week we finally went to the local specialist. The specialist did an ultrasound on it and you could see the tumour plain as day. So it had to come out. Funny how the prospect of someone losing a testicle brings Job’s Comforters out of the woodwork. My friend Wayne, ever the practical Saskatchewan farm boy, figured I’d only have half as much scratching to do. My daughter May-B, who is being married in the fall and has only recently learned about sex, was afraid I would only be half as intelligent.

The anesthesiologist decided a local was the best option, though he warned me it would not deaden all the pain. They rolled me into the operating room, onto the table, spread my arms straight out and tied my down. Solidly. Not a good sign. Then they proceeded to paint everything orange with an Iodine solution. (I looked like I’d had nothing to do for a month but watch porn movies and eat Cheezies…but I digress).

The local deadened the opening and closing. Everything inside was LIVE. Fortunately (best Ahnold voice) IT WAS NOT A TUMOUR. Just fluid. So the Dr. scraped and polished it up and put it back. I am dying, in agony. Tanya, who stayed with me the whole time, thank God, said “Now you have some idea of what it feels like to have a baby”. I’m thinking “This is a “military” operation, concerning my “privates”, so why can’t I have 200 grams of vodka and a stick to clench my teeth on like any good soldier?”

Of course, since he was there, the Dr. just had to haul the right one out and look at it too. Now I’m a land owner in Ukraine; I have a couple of ache-rs. Makes you feel sorry for Christopher Robin. He has a hundred ache-r wood.

When Tanya went home the first evening, I heard her tell one of the nurses, “Make sure he stays in his room and doesn’t sneak in to visit the women” The two of them cackled all the way down the hall. I get no respect. I spent four days in hospital. Tanya talked the Dr into letting me go home today because the bed was killing my back.

If the doctor, who did not have to remove my testicle and send it to histology, refunded 25% of my money, would you call it a quarterback sack?

Saturday, May 23, 2009

A Good Saturday

Today two of Tanya's friends took the minibus from P'yatikhatki and came to visit for the afternoon and evening. Valya 1 and Valya 2 were friends Tanya worked with more than 15 years ago. It was so good to hear the three of them talking and laughing non-stop for six hours. Tanya needed the break.

We drove them home about 8:30.

Valya 1 is the Godmother of my Bobik and Volk. She took her dogs to the park the other day for a walk. She got interested in something and when she finally turned around, the dogs were gone. She looked everywhere for them and finally went home. The dogs were there waiting for her.

When the dogs came home without her, Valya's mother was quite concerned and said to Volodya (who was on the computer), "Maybe you better go look for Valya". "Don't worry, she'll come home". And he continued doing whatever on the internet. And of course, Valya did come home. Some men know their wives. (Quite a difference between Volodya and Malachi).

Tanya spent the morning cooking. Lunch was the usual meagre fare, sufficient for 10 people: a plate of cold cuts, a green tossed salad, roast chicken, new potatoes boiled in their skins, fried in butter and served with fresh dill, cutletta (spicy fried meatballs) and bliney (crepes) filled with fried mushrooms. Desert was more bliney with Canadian maple syrup. (You're welcome, children).

Friday, May 22, 2009

The Great Patriotic War

WW II is known in Russia as the Great Patriotic War. Regardless of what we were taught in school, the Western Front was simply a side show. The war was about and fought in the Soviet Union with a front stretching from Leningrad (St Petersberg) to the Caucusus. Hitler's aim was to kill one-third, enslave one-third and drive the remaining third of the Untermensch (sub-humans) back behind the Urals. The Soviet Union lost some 20 million people in the course of the war. Soldiers and civilians.

Of course the greatest proportion of soldier dead would be young men, leaving a major problem for young women. After the war, millions of soldiers had to be resettled. There were families without men and men without families. Including many injured in the war. So the following story...

Truckloads of former soldiers are taken to villages to find new homes and families.
Officer: Who will take Oleg here? He lost his arms in a tank fire at Kursk.
Masha: I will take him. He was a brave soldier. I will be his wife and love him and look after him.
Officer: Who will take Sasha? He lost his legs at Stanlingrad.
Natasha: I will take him. He was a brave soldier. I will be his wife and love him and look after him.
Officer: Who will take Volodya? He is perfectly healthy but lost his private parts in a grenade attack on his trench at Moscow.... No one?
Women: Who wants to be married to an invalid?

If Pigs Had Wings (Clams Got Legs???)

Rob-Bear has been keeping us informed of the progress of Swine Flu on his blog "Bear's Noting". My second cousin in Iowa sent me the following which goes to show you lunacy is a family trait, bred in the bone for generations back.

What is the difference between Bird Flu and Swine Flu?

For bird flu you need tweetment and for swine flu you need oinkment.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Birds and Bees

Well, birds and flowers at least. I notice it has been almost a year since I posted pictures of the wide variety of iris which grow in our neighbourhood. Last year our iris developed some kind of brown spot virus which we sprayed for and cleaned up. Last fall Tanya dug up and distributed her iris bed so this year we have two long rows of yellow iris with a few while ones thrown in and another row of dark blue ones which haven't started to bloom yet.

This week, Tanya planted two balsam or cedar trees that will grow about three meters tall, and three evergreen shrubby things, no idea what they are. The trees were not two expensive, about $20 CAD each for the cedars. They were 50 cm tall and in good condition. Planting them was a chore. Instructions were sand, pine needles, well rotted manure and low pH soil in about equal proportions in a hole 90x90x90 cm. That is about a cubic yard and is a lot of mixing.

We drove to a village about 40 km away, just for the drive and to get some horse manure from a farm where Tanya knew the guy in charge. Then we went to the park and gathered pine or spruce needles and to a garden centre and bought 80 litres of pH 5 soil. Our gardener (I love that sound) Natasha and her man Valerie came over to help Tanya. I ain't allowed in the garden. Tanya had no idea how much hole was a cubic yard and decided to reduce the dimensions from 90 cm to 60 cm once Valerie started digging.
We also (What do you mean "we", White Man?) planted some lawn in the back. Which is to say Valerie dug it up, Natasha and daughter Dasha raked, and seeded it. Tanya has been watering it every second day.

I've almost got my report preliminary written up on the EU project, from which we will figure out the next steps. It has been ice enough to open windows and the cuckoo bird singing has been nice to listen to after his or her winter absence. Tried to get a picture today but it prefers to perch on a wire half way to the marsh so my camera just can't pick up the detail. I did get a picture of a song bird on my walk the other day. Don't know what it is. I miss the red and gold wing blackbirds which at home would be nesting in the high reeds.

Went to the doctor earlier this week. Growing old beats the alternatives but does come at a price. Had to go for blood tests. Three lab locations on the same campus. Drop off urine sample (supply your own jar). At least I didn't have to stay up all night to study for a urine test. then another lab for blood sugar and another for everything else. The labs are part of the hospital so out patients have to go early before they start on ward patients. 6:30 and 7:00 am. Of course we mixed the times and went to the wrong lab first. Had to wait until 9:00 at the second lab because we were late.

While we were walking down the hallway, we passed a very elderly wheel chair. Tanya said not to worry, she would buy me a much better one...(pause)...she didn't think she could push that old one to the river.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Runaway Bride (Part I – Maxine’s Story)

This is a true story, only the names have been changed to protect the guilty. First of all you have to know my sister. She has been in over a dozen car accidents, none her fault. Her car has as sign that says “HIT ME”. She has locked herself out of her car so many times; CAA will no longer open it for free. She has lost more cell phones than you can count, including dropping on in a puddle in a parking lot and then driving over it to make sure it was dead. Everything happens to her. Including this.

This morning, May 19th, I had my 3rd Trym Gym class, so I had set my alarm for 8AM, I got up, checked my emails, walked the dogs, had some breakfast and hugged Malachi goodbye before I hopped into the shower, I said “I wanted to hug you before I went in the shower in case I’m gone when you leave”. And we had a nice hug.

I had a quick shower, hurried into my gym clothes, grabbed my umbrella, bag, keys, saw that the door to Malachi’s office where he prays in the morning was closed, (he is a consultant, prays on his knees in the morning and on large energy companies the rest of the day) and so not wanting to disturb him, and feeling that I had already said “good-bye”, I left and walked two blocks to the university.

Half way through fitness class, there was a knock on the door. The instructor came over to me and said “Someone wants to speak to you in the hallway”.

I went outside into the hallway, curious to what it could be about, and saw a policeman in uniform. He gently asked me if I was Maxine McKwitless; I said yes. I noticed Failte (my daughters’ friend from NC via Ireland) a few feet away and am really wondering what is going on at this point. Then he compassionately said these words which I will never forget as long as I live “Unfortunately, your husband…” I stopped breathing. “Unfortunately my husband’ what??? Oh my goodness, NO! My husband has been killed. In a car accident. On the way to work. Or maybe downtown. A policeman has come to tell me that my husband is dead. Not just hurt. Not just hurt and in hospital. Police don’t come to tell you that. He has come to tell me that my husband is dead”.

He continued “Unfortunately, your husband reported you missing”. REPORTED ME MISSING??? He’s not dead. Has not been killed. He just didn’t know where I was. He called the police?? “I’m so sorry officer! I guess I didn’t think to tell him where I was going. I mean I thought he knew. He reported me missing???”

Failte gave me a hug and said “We’re so happy that you’re ok. I remembered that you said I could use the car every Tuesday and Thursday mornings. I remembered that you had Trym Gym. I figured out where you were.”

The class all had a good laugh. “Somebody cares about you!”… “Does your husband have Alzheimer’s?” I’m still laughing about that one.

I went straight home and phoned Malachi who had gone to work by this time (noon). He told me about his terribly upsetting morning.

Runaway Bride (Part II – Malachi’s Story)

When he didn’t see me after he came upstairs from his downstairs office at around 9:30AM, he panicked (told by Maxine). The car was here, my purse was here, but I was gone. I hadn’t said good-bye; I hadn’t asked him to take care of the dogs. He went through every room in the house twice. He went to some of the neighbors to ask if they had seen me; asked neighbors walking their dogs; asked strangers walking their dogs; asked strangers walking to the University. No one had seen me.

My bike was there. The dogs were there. I wasn’t walking the dogs. He walked up and down the back alleys looking for me, calling for me. He didn’t know what to do. So he called the police who suggested he drive around the neighborhood looking for me. So he did. He ended up at Tim Horton’s and there were two police cars there (Surprise, surprise, surprise).

He was in tears by this time, so worried about me, thinking I must have been abducted out of the home. He had heard about a recent home invasion where this had happened in Cowtown. He told the police the situation and they all came over to the house. They asked him “500 questions” He said the one officer was retired from the military, an investigator with them for many years, and was really good. “He reminded me of Colombo, he was so thorough”.

“Colombo” looked in every room in the house (I am mortified). “Don’t touch anything - we might need things for evidence for the investigation”. “Is this much stuff in the bathroom normal?” “Yes”. “Is this much stuff in your bedroom normal?” “Yes”. (I’m so mortified). He said “So….just the 2 of you…live in this house??” “Yes. We have a stuff problem”.

He asked what I was wearing, what shoes I normally wore, what coat I normally wore. Malachi couldn’t find my runners. The coat I had worn to walk the dogs was back in the closet. He asked about our relationship, would I be leaving him (were your prayers answered?). “No we are getting along very well. And if she was going to leave me, she’d take her purse and her car.”

‘Colombo’ said “She wears glasses. Are her glasses here?” so they looked everywhere for my glasses. “Is her ID was here?” and went through my purse. “Are her keys here?” Missing from the key rack. “All these tote bags on the kitchen table – is this normal?” (I had a tote bag of CD’s and tapes, one of books, one of stuff I needed in the car like my camera. My old purse. My new purse. My insulated lunch bag. A few other bags of stuff I had taken or bought on a recent trip). “Yes”.

Runaway Bride (Part III – Failte’s Story)

While “Colombo” was in the house questioning Malachi, the other officers were outside in the front yard (recounted by Maxine). Failte came walking towards the house from the bus. They asked if she was going to this house and why and what her relationship to us was and she explained. “When was the last time you saw Evelyn?” Failte panicked. “Thursday…why!!?” So they explained.

She said to them “First I need to pray, right here, right now, silently…OK, I’m done”. They started asking her questions. “Did she know where I might have gone?” “Was there was a problem in the relationship?” She assured them that there was no problem between us and that she would know if there was. “Was there anyone I would visit?” “Yes she visits people all the time; she’s all the time helping people and visiting people!” (Thank you for saying something redeeming about me, after the state of my bedroom and bathroom) “But would she take the car?” “Yes.”

Then Failte noticed the side gate was open and thought for sure I had been abducted. The police admitted they had been in the backyard and garage and had left the gate open. Failte said “If her dogs get out, now THAT would be a crisis!” and shut the gate.

Eventually Failte remembered that I had told her she could use the car Tuesday and Thursday mornings. “What day is it?” she asked the police “Tuesday, 11AM”. She said “I know where she is! She’s at the university! She has Trym Gym classes. She told me she would take her gym clothes in her bag and her keys but not her purse. She walks there - to the university”.

So “Colombo” stayed here with Malachi while the other two officers and Failte came to find me at the university. That’s when they came to my classroom.

“Colombo” told Malachi that from now on he should pay much more close attention to my plans and what I was wearing etc. He also told Malachi “I have been working for the Calgary police force for 8 months now, and you’re the 6th normal (I’d get a second opinion) person I have met. Including my fellow officers”. Hahaha I loved it that he was ‘counting’ how many normal people he has met.

What a day. I will be making up a sign to put up every Tuesday and Thursday mornings:


Sunday, May 17, 2009

Ivankiv Raion

Last week I spent a few days in Ivankiv Raion, north of Kyiv. They call it the Polissia region here in Ukraine. In Saskatchewan we call it the Parkland belt. Mixed forest, conifer and deciduous, gray wooded soils, poor fertility but grows lots of grass. Beautiful country.
Real cow country but not many cows any more. The traditional production systems that worked under the former centrally planned and financed regime are simply economically unsustainable and farms have been selling off cattle all over Ukraine. We are not quite at the point where the last cow can turn out the light in the barn but feedlots and packers are scrambling for supply.

The poultry industry has gone fully modern and could compete anywhere. Chicken is one-third the price of beef or pork in the grocery stores. Pork industry is rapidly shifting to large integrated commercial farms, though the backyard pig pen still exists in every village. Cattle are always the last to adopt new technology in any culture. Dairy farms are modernizing here slowly, mainly strangled by lack of capital for everything. Most milk is still produced by dual purpose cattle meaning the worst of all possible worlds. They don't give milk, nor meat and have all the costs associated with intensive dairy production.

But it is changing, slowly but surely. The people of Ukraine are survivors; if you look at their history you wonder how but they are still here. Attitudes are the hardest to change. But the survivors are changing as fast as they feel can afford to. One of the people we met with attended our beef and forage school back in 1999. Were we ever surprised to see each other.
We stayed at a decent hotel in Ivankiv "Hunting House" outside of Ivankiv that is geared inside and out to the hunting crowd in the fall. All decorated like private hunting lodges of the rich and powerful.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

My Feet are Longfellows and Smell like the Dickens

Under the spreading chestnut tree
The village wordsmith stands,
Recycling aged chestnuts
In the language of the land;
And the lexis stored within his brain
Is large as Genghis’ bands.

His hair is limp and grey and long,
His speech is not laconic,
But rather incomprehensible
Which he finds quite ironic,
As words like orthoepy and catachresis
To him are like spring tonic.

He uses many an ancient saw
To hew the mighty oak,
And throws out words like perendinate
To confuse the common folk.
And after you’ve listened for a while
You wish the blighter’d choke.

Deaths in the Family

Tanya called her sister in Siberia this morning as she does every Saturday before 8:00 am and learned that her aunt, her father's sister, had died last night. She was 77. Worked all day in the garden, then went to the sauna and I guess the combination was too much for her heart. I met her a couple years back when last I was in Abakan. Her daughter, Tanya's cousin, lives in Moscow and we hope to go visit her this summer.

Our neighbour Lucia's mother passed away this morning. She had been confined to bed, unable to move since mid March but could still speak clearly up to the end. Lucia's father died a few years ago and Lucia moved her mom in from the village to the house next door and has looked after her ever since. The last two months were very hard on her. Lucia's older brother died quite a few years ago. He was a Paraplegic after a diving accident when he was about 20. Lucia's mother looked after him.

Family looks after family here. Not because it is so special or so wonderful but because there is no other way.

Forty-Five of Life's Lessons*

Written By Regina Brett, 90 years old, of The Plain Dealer, Cleveland , Ohio
To celebrate growing older, I once wrote the 45 lessons life taught me. It is the most-requested column I've ever written. My odometer rolled over to 90 in August, so here is the column once more:
1. Life isn't fair, but it's still good.
2. When in doubt, just take the next small step.
3. Life is too short to waste time hating anyone.
4. Your job won't take care of you when you are sick. Your friends and parents will. Stay in touch.
5. Pay off your credit cards every month.
6. You don't have to win every argument. Agree to disagree.
7. Cry with someone. It's more healing than crying alone.
8. It's OK to get angry with God. He can take it.
9. Save for retirement starting with your first paycheck.
10. When it comes to chocolate, resistance is futile.
11. Make peace with your past so it won't screw up the present.
12. It's OK to let your children see you cry.
13. Don't compare your life to others. You have no idea what their journey is all about.
14. If a relationship has to be a secret, you shouldn't be in it.
15. Everything can change in the blink of an eye. But don't worry; God never blinks.
16. Take a deep breath. It calms the mind.
17. Get rid of anything that isn't useful, beautiful or joyful.
18. Whatever doesn't kill you really does make you stronger.
19. It's never too late to have a happy childhood. But the second one is up to you and no one else.
20. When it comes to going after what you love in life, don't take no for an answer.
21. Burn the candles, use the nice sheets, wear the fancy lingerie. Don't save it for a special occasion. Today is special.
22. Over prepare, then go with the flow.
23. Be eccentric now. Don't wait for old age to wear purple.
24. The most important sex organ is the brain.
25. No one is in charge of your happiness but you.
26. Frame every so-called disaster with these words 'In five years, will this matter?'
27. Always choose life.
28. Forgive everyone everything.
29. What other people think of you is none of your business.
30. Time heals almost everything. Give time time.
31. However good or bad a situation is, it will change.
32. Don't take yourself so seriously. No one else does.
33. Believe in miracles.
34. God loves you because of who God is, not because of anything you did or didn't do.
35. Don't audit life. Show up and make the most of it now.
36. Growing old beats the alternative -- dying young.
37. Your children get only one childhood.
38. All that truly matters in the end is that you loved.
39. Get outside every day. Miracles are waiting everywhere.
40. If we all threw our problems in a pile and saw everyone else's,we'd grab ours back.
41. Envy is a waste of time. You already have all you need.
42. The best is yet to come.
43. No matter how you feel, get up, dress up and show up.
44. Yield.
45. Life isn't tied with a bow, but it's still a gift.

*This was emailed to me by shirt-tail relative and friend Dwayne. thought it the best advice ever given.

Monday, May 11, 2009

April Showers Bring May Flowers; Mayflowers Bring Pilgrims

There are tulips everywhere in late April, early May. Some solid beds and some very pretty gardens. Our flower garden will take time but it is well on its way. Fancy tulip bulbs are relatively expensive so we have to be patient. Tanya bought three each of these frilly purple and red ones. the white petals on the ground ar efrom our yellow cherry tree. All it takes is a few years and we'll have a solid bed of them. She planted a number of very small bulbs that we dug up from an abandoned dacha yard. They have no flowers this year but should by next year.

This front flower bed represents about 10% of Tanya's flower beds. Another twice as big is full of roses and there are several other areas that will maintain flowers until snowfly. Will post pictures as they bloom.

There is a flower shop located in the same building as my hairdresser, so when I get a haircut, Tanya gets a new houseplant. We bought this Christmas Cactus a few weeks ago and it never stops blooming. My mom had one of those for ever and it bloomed constantly too. Not sure where it and her big fern ended up but in a good home, I know.

Sunday, May 10, 2009


When #1 Son was in kindergarten, we still had two small girls at home, so on several occasions I took time off work to accompany the class on outings as a parent volunteer. In spring we went to the goose nesting site at Wascana Park to see the baby geese and ducklings. This is a fenced in area, requiring a guide with a key to enter. Safer from human and large anmal predators.

Apparently Mrs Barry, the kindergarten teacher, was not accustomed to having any fathers along on her excursions, as she said to us, "All you Mothers, sit over there".

Recounting the incident some years later, I commented that while I had been called a Mother before, it was always as part of a compound word.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Mouse About the House

We have a little mouse living upstairs who is getting quite brave. We heard him rattling around for a few days then we started seeing him scuttling across the floor. He climbed up on my desk when I was working and wandered around briefly , then climbed down again. Last night he ran across the floor out from under Tanya's desk and under my printer table. Tanya figures if we feed him, he might get big enough to attract Kuchma's attention. Maybe bread crumbs?

There is this stereotype about married couples that one always does something that annoys the other spouse. Squeezing toothpaste in the middle is the standard. Or open windows vs. closed windows at night. With us, it is bread, though I find it amusing, not annoying. Tanya likes the crusts. So she cuts the loaf from both ends. Then down the sides. Finally the bottom and the top. Which is OK if you put it back in the bag. But I have lots of crumbs for the mouse.

Friday, May 8, 2009


It rained all last night. A good slow soaker, finally. The garden soil is black, with the green shoots of corn, peas, beans, potatoes easily visible. The tomatoes and peppers transplanted a few days ago are all perky. Tanya's flowers look remarkable.

We didn't go to Dnipro today. Tanya had ordered a bunch of plants and bulbs from InterFlora Ukraine, back in mid March. They arrived today at the village post office so we drove out to get them. The puddles hid the depth of the holes in the road so I drove in 1st gear most of the way.

Tanya spent the afternoon sorting the bulbs and putting them in water to plant in a day or two. The plants coped with shipping fairly well, except a climatus which was mouldy. We took pictures of the climatus, a bad bulb and a rotten root of some kind and emailed them to the Dnipro office. They will replace them if they fail to grow. InterFlora Ukraine's late spring catalogue is on-line here.

In other new, I bought a new charger for AA NiMH batteries. The instructions come in 16 languages. Canadians who complain about French on their cornflakes box, all I can say is quitcherbitchin.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Fooled it

Performed D and C*, computer works fine. Even the DVD player seems to be working. I am ripping a copy of John Denver's Greatest Hits Vol 2. Wouldn't mind Dolly Parton's Biggest Hits either.

*Dismantle and Cleaning. You thought it meant WHAT???

Checking In

1. Finished the Business Plan. My Associate (who is still my friend) will edit and review it with the client. Adjustments will be made and funding agencies approached.

2. I am going to Kyiv and Chernobyl next week to begin another project. That will be a blast. At least it is about beef cattle and I am working with my buddy Artur Gordin from Pereyaslav-Kmelnitsky.

3. We bought the tickets here in ZV instead of having to go to P'yatikhatki. There is an office open here. Large Soviet looking woman in Soviet looking uniform with definite Soviet attitude to customer service. Sat safely separated from the great unwashed by a plate glass window and metal grill. Little drawer slide in and out money goes in; ticket comes out. she wouldn't get swine flu but she might have been a carrier.

4. Set a new standard for Tanya's flower gardens. showed her the slide sets from The Butchard Gardens in Victoria. We are going to Dnipropetrovsk tomorrow to the flower garden market.

5. I am about to dismantle and clean my desktop computer. I have a bottle of canned air and a vacuum cleaner. If you never hear from me again, you will know I likely had pieces left over after reassembling.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Today's Stories

Maxim was quite proud to tell Tanya yesterday that HIS Baba Lucia had a delphinium in her garden and Tanya didn't. Today at the market Tanya spotted a delphinium and bought it in a flash. She can hardly wait to see Maxim's face when she tells him that now SHE has one, too. Children!

Kuchma got his revenge for rescuing the swallow the other day. He got one this morning. Tanya took the broom to him, which likely won't deter him. Reminded me of the little girl digging a hole in her back yard. Neighbour asked what she was doing. "Burying my dead canary". "That is a pretty big hole for a canary". "It's inside your cat".

Lena's mother gave herself a black eye while Lena and Roman were here. Left the spoon in her cup and took a fast drink of tea. Reminded Tanya of the Russian tourist drinking tea somewhere in Europe. Waitress says "You are from Russia". "Yes, how did you know?" "You left the spoon in the cup". Next restaurant he is in, he takes the spoon out of the cup. Waitress says "You are from Russia". "How do you know?" "You put the spoon in your pocket".

Worst Practical Joke Ever

Alternate title: Revenge is Sweet*

1. Find dead dog
2. Tie one end of 20' rope to dead dog's neck.
3. Tie other end to back of friend's/enemy's/neighbour's vehicle.
4. Tuck body of dog and rope well under vehicle so it is not noticed when driving away.

5. Safety precaution: Move to Baluchistan.

* DC, you were right. You can find anything on Google.

Monday, May 4, 2009


When the kids were young, their mother used to make an emergency meal dubbed SOS after the famous army meal of chipped beef on toast. In our house, SOS stood for Swill on a Shingle. In the army, it was a bit more pungent. SOS was fried hamburger (usually thawed in the frying pan), canned mushroom soup, (frozen) peas and lots of pepper. Served on toast, we all enjoyed it thoroughly.

Tanya and I had no breakfast and a light snack at noon. She was busy transplanting bedding plants and I was busy working on a business plan. At 8:00 I realized I was hungry, Tanya still had daylight and so I better make supper. So Ukrainian SOS or in Cyrillic COC, it was. No canned soups here, all Knorr type dried packages, so I faked it. Pulled 650 grams of ground beef out of the deep freeze (cost $4 CAD by the way). We were out of bread so macaroni had to substitute. By the time Tanya came in at 9:00, supper was on and we didn’t care what it tasted like.

Draft 1 of the business plan was to be emailed before 5:00 pm my time, to be on a desk when my associate came to his office in the morning. I still had one page to write but fired it off anyhow. Never assume an uninterrupted day. Two guys came this morning to give us an estimate on some body work on the Kia. The dent was a year old so Tanya figured maybe we should fix it. That took an hour. (Lesson: Never try to drive into a narrow garage at night without your glasses).

The car had a terrible squeak on the right rear suspension that was getting worse and on these roads could drive you crazy in anything over 20 minute drive. Neighbour Zhenia decided he could find the squeak and fix it. He used to own a Zhigouli which had a similar squeak. Take a Lada, divide the performance and reliability by 2 and you have a Moskvich. Take the Moskvich and divide by 5 and you have a Zhigouli. Nice to know the Kia fits in here.

I helped him for over an hour in his 1950’s style garage with a pit in the floor. Tanya came and rescued me but Zhenia wouldn’t quit. Two hours later he had the car home, with silent suspension, proud as all get out. Amazing what a mix of kerosene and motor oil will do when applied with a syringe and needle to a spot that needs lubricating.

Finished the Business Plan (my share so far) by 8:00 (when I decided I was hungry). My associate will do the Financial Projections in Excel and send them to me (if they ever balance) to write up the rest of the BP. The feasibility studies and business plans I have been working on this year are quite a stretch from cows. I love a steep learning curve but ethanol from sugarbeet or processing farmed oysters takes some serious learning. But Bovine, Ovine or Oyster, the questions are the same, just the answers are different.

The ethanol/sugarbeet one was fun. More policy than agronomics. I am no ethanol fan unless it is disguised as Glenlivet or Jamison. The oysters were even more fun, but at least it was food related so I knew some of the websites and my associate provided a bunch more. Google is the best invention EVER.

My problem is I write S.L.O.W. Type 20 wpm but can only think 15 wpm. Fortunately clients are not interested in original writing, just information. If they want original and imaginative, they can hire an accountant. So I cut and paste a lot, credit the source, adjust the language to fit and go from there. Having been trained in science, I just cannot bring myself to use data or conclude things that I am not 95% sure of. A hindrance in the real world because I tend to say NO when the client wants so badly for me to say YES. I have saved a few people a lot of money over the years, saying NO. But made few friends.

This last BP is sort of related to food too but thats all I will say, other than it is a YES, YES, YEEESSS!.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

One Month Later

Our front flower garden (OK, Tanya's front flower garden) did some serious growing since I took the first picture just before we left for Truskavets. We were at our friend Valya's greenhouse on Friday and bought a bunch of bedding plants and today went back for more. In another month the place should be covered with blooms.

In other news, we have two sets of swallows sharing the nest in our passageway. They cleaned it out the other day, carrying trash outside and depositing it somewhere out of the way. One swallow had a close call with death today. The door was shut and the window is tricky to fly out of, as it opens from the top and sort of tilts back. I walked into the room and there were two swallows in there. One panicked and tried to fly through the glass. It fell momentarily to the ledge and was promptly grabbed by Kuchma who had followed me in. He took off running into the house, where Tanya rescued the bird without too much damage, if any at all.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Ukrainian Water Dogs

Sorry, they are not Portuguese Water Dogs, just your local garden variety of dunkin' dogs, along with a couple of rock throwing kids. There is something about water that attracts the child in all of us.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Bird Moon Rising

My Daughters' Blogs

Buggering Crap Monkies and A Mandolyn and Ky are my daughters' blogs.
This cartoon sort of struck home. It is stolen so I will be struck dead.

Cuckoos, bees and blossoms

It must be deep spring. The frogs are singing in the marsh. This morning a bumblebee outside our window buzzed like an AgriKing crop spraying aircraft with a full load and our beloved demented cuckoo is back.

The warm weather brought all the trees into blossom that survived the frost. The city is in full bloom. Late was good this year. Our very dead looking apricot is bursting into leaf. No flowers this year so no fruit but it will be around another year. The chestnut trees Add Imageare all leafed out and their white candle-cones flowers will be blooming in a week or so.

Our front yard yellow-cherry is covered with white blooms. At night the light from our outside security lamps shines up through the tree, making it look like it is covered with huge soft cottony balls of snow. I tried taking a photo but my camera only goes down to F 2.7, unless I can find another secret button.

Now if we just get a two day gentle soaker of rain, we'll be all set for summer.