Saturday, September 26, 2009

Regina-Victoria in 6 Days

We are so busy traveling there is no time to blog.

Sunday after the wedding we had brunch with friends from Regina, then met another Regina couple at the museum in Moose Jaw for the afternoon. Alf and Sveta had never been there and I wanted to show Tanya the Avro Anson Bomber that #1 Son had helped restore when he was about 10 years old. Our friend Tony had been an airframe mechanic during the war and knowing my son's interest in WWII aircraft, took him along. then we drove in pouring rain to Rosetown to my brother's in time to help celebrate his youngest granddaughter's second birthday.

Monday we visited my Aunt (Mom's sister) and cousin in Kindersley, then another Aunt (Mom's other sister) and another cousin in Denzil. Both Aunts are in their 80's and are the last of all my aunts and uncles. We hit Edmonton at about 10:00 and my friend and shirt-tail relative Wilf was glad to see us and found us a bed.

Tuesday, LynnieC came over to visit about 9:30 pm (after class and after choir). Wednesday we went to West Edmonton Mall and shopped till our feet got sore, then picked up LynnieC after class, went for supper and then watched a movie at her place while she worked. As she said, it was a bad week to visit and until next April, when she finishes her Masters in Library and Information Studies, they are all bad weeks.

Thursday we headed out on the Yellowhead to Jasper then took 93 south through the mountains to Banff. First time I drove that route and we stopped to take pictures whenever Tanya wanted. She said it was "rest for her heart" to see such beautiful scenery and next time we should take five days to make the trip so she could see all the side trails. By the time we got to Golden, we were beat and stopped at the first hotel and crashed.

Tanya loves the mountains and our drive the next day frm Golden to Victoria decided that she could live in mountains. Not me. I like to look straight ahead and see sky, not straight up.

My idea of where to live

Tanya could live surrounded by mountains

We got into Victoria and arrived at Ky's about 10:00 Friday night. Driving strange Victoria streets in the dark is not my idea of a good time but we found our way. My little dog Vicki recognized me immediately. Ky, Maryanne and Chris were waiting supper for us. Ate and crashed. Too long a day.

Learned one thing. If the car engine is two squirrels and a chipmonk in a running wheel, an automatic transmission just doesn't cut it for mountain driving. Need a five speed manual shift, much as Ihate them. I missed my Kia standard on the climbs.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

May-B and The Guy Tie the Knott

Saturday, my daughter May-B and The Guy got married (for the second time this summer). The day was hot +32 C*, the church and hall were small and not air conditioned, but the service and reception were short, sweet and direct to the point. May-B was lovely and so were her sisters. Her brother-of honour is one big dude and looks too much like his old man to be handsome but did his best.

The Guy is now family and he fits in like it was planned from the beginning of time. We have great new in-laws and friends which can only improve our reputation. Only sour note is that the Roughriders lost to the Eskimos on Sunday. The kids and a bunch of their friends went to Vegas Monday for the honeymoon. Go figure.

The pictures are not in chronological order because for some reason I can't move them around on my laptop like I can on my desk top. Also the couple pics and wedding party pics are all done by pros and we don't have them yet so you'll have to wait for those shots

The Guy's family

Two down and two to go.

Blog Fodder Family

Wedding cake and Football cake too.

Down the Aisle We Go!

Waiting at the Front of the Church

*#1DIL said it was 75 degrees colder when she and #1 Son got married in January five years ago.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

I still get no respect

We stopped at a Chinese buffet in Saskatoon for supper. Parked beside a blue mini van with collision damage on the back right corner. Tanya wondered to Graeme if it had been my van at one time.

My cousin DC Power has been on oxygen for the past few years. He has a long tube from the main tank in his bedroom that gives him the run of the house. Otherwise he uses a portable system. The tube was all sort of coiled up in the hall, hooked to DC's traech as he was standing at the end of the hall. May-B is hauling our suitcase down to the spare room.
"I won't cut off your oxygen with the suitcase, Uncle DC...but after my dad has been here for a few days you will want to do it yourself".

Crowding everything and everyone in a few days

Along with visiting with #1 Son and DIL, we had coffee with friends Duane and Joan from Lacombe. Duane's research on winter grazing has done a great deal to lower the cost of wintering cattle in western Canada. We go back about 35 years. Then we went to visit Lorna and Jim, who were our neighbours in Kindersley 30 years ago and retired to Sylvan Lake. Our kids used to sneak over to their place to watch the Soaps at the age of three and five.

#1 Son invited a couple of his friends from work, Yuri and Ivan, from Cherkassy working on contract with a year left to go. Tanya had a good visit with them. They were home on holidays this year and are anxious to go home for good.

Yesterday #1 Son, Tanya and I drove to Regina, got in at 10:00 pm to my cousin's DC Power. DC had done the honours at our wedding so we are getting revenge by staying with him till
Sunday. May-B and Ky were here waiting for us. So good to see my girls.

Ky had just got in from London a couple days earlier. She had presented at some academic literary conference and is now reading for her comprehensive exams in a month or so. LynnieC drove Edmonton to Saskatoon last night arriving at 2:00 am and will drive in this morning. Then I will have seen all my kids.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Visiting Number ONE Son and DIL

My son picked us up at the airport in Calgary, and we drove to Red Deer. Dead tired as we had been up 24 hours and more by then. Next day we went with the kids to a beer-league slow pitch tournamant. Their team had made it into the second round but got blown out of the water in no uncertain terms, which is what they had figured. Number ONE DIL had two good hits and a couple good plays at the plate (she is backcatcher) and Number ONE son had a couple good hits and some good plays at shortstop so we were all happy to have been there to watch.

At 1:00 we headed to visit Doddlebug Dawson and Dawson's Mom, Dad and Brother. Well fed with both lunch and supper, we could see no reason Dawson's Mom shouldn't cook us breakfast too, but then politeness overwhelmed us and we left just before dark. It was good to see more family. Dawson is doing so well, down to one seizure a week, learning to read and still able to get into more trouble in 10 minutes than two people can keep her out of in a week. She gets her dog sometime in April which should be pretty exciting.

Today Tanya and DIL went shopping. Son and I did a couple of minor repairs and then watched a movie and napped. My favourite kind of visit. Steak on the BBQ almost ready so will sign off by saying GALD to be back in Canada with FAMILY.

Saturday, September 12, 2009


Our plane leaves for Toronto in 2 hours. Skies were cloudy when we arrived last night but not a drop of rain. We will fly, all else being equal.

I discovered how to remain calm prior to a flight. Our plane was to leave Dnipro at 5:30. We left ZV at 11:00, got to Dnipro at 12:30 (Andrei drove) went to the souvenir market for last minute shopping, had lunch at McDonalds and arrived at the airport at 2:00 pm. Our bags were dreadfully overweight so we had to leave behind two of the four 3-litres of jam. We were still 4.7 kgs over on 60 kgs but no problem. We cleared security, cleared immigration and walked into the gate area at 3:00. There was a line up, not long at a gate. FOR ISTANBUL!!!! The plane leaves at 1530, not 5:30. Good thing Tanya is in charge.

Tanya's friend Sveta came with us to Istanbul to spend a few days with her boyfriend. Metin met us at the airport, drove us to our hotel and took us for supper, then toured us around on our way back to the hotel. We are in mid-Ramazan month and at sundown (7:35) the streets and restaurants are filled with people breaking their fast of the day. It is like family style Mardi Gras, (rated G) and we loved it. Because it was Friday night, the Mosques were filled with people praying but it didn't seem to effect numbers on the street.

Turkish Airlines put us up in the Grand Yavuz Hotel, a great 3 star in the heart of oldest Istanbul. We were a 15 minute walk from everywhere: Grand Bazaar, Blue Mosque, Haija Sofia, Topkapi Palace. Dozens of sections of the old wall surrounding Byzantium/Constantinople are still standing. Mehmet II and the Ottomans were successful in breaching these walls in 1453, officially ending the Byzantine Empire. Constantinople was renamed Istanbul. Tanya and I have two days here on our return home from Canada and plan on exploring to our hearts' content.

Tanya is loose in Duty Free so I must needs go rescue her.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Last Night at Home for a Month

We are packed, more or less. All but the jam which has been reduced from 24 litres to a more manageable (we hope) 12 litres. Three large suitcases of clothes and such and we squeeze in four 3-litre plastic bottles of jam in the morning, close the lids and hope we are not over weight. I am taking an extra bag just in case we have to repack at the airport. Also if Turkish Airlines want to charge us for more than one suitcase each, we are screwed. We never checked and I am not going to raise the issue tonight.

There was some money left over from Tanya's birthday present so today we found a lovely black jacket (shirt/blouse??, something anyhow) that looks good on her and she looks good in it.

Lena's Mom will stay here full time while we are away, which will be nice for Roman and Lena as three people in a two room (aka one bedroom) flat can get kind of crowded, I suspect. Roman and Lena will come every day or so to water the flowers, check the garden and feed the critters.

Walking the dogs just got easier. Open the gate and let them run. All night if they want. Volk has been a bad one for not coming home after our walks anyhow, so we just let 'em both rip. Tonight we let them out about 4:00 and they both came home about 10:00. Good dogs.

It is kind of scary going home to Canada after two years. Culture shock. Everything and everyone has changed. My kids are not the same as when I left two years ago. They all live in different places (different houses for two of them, cities and provinces for two of them). They have grown older, taken on more responsibility, lived more. They are still my kids and I hope we have not grown too far apart. I sent them a picture "so they would know who I was, at the airport". (Actually because Tanya took the picture and I look good in it so had to brag).

We leave for Dnipro at 11:00. Hope the hotel in Istanbul has highspeed wireless. And that it isn't under water when we get there.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Two days left

Friday we fly out to Istanbul. Our contact there emailed Tanya's friend that the airport is high and dry, regardless of the state of the rest of the city. Heavy rains and major floods. All we get are hot dry winds. I guess faced with a choice of being swept away and drowning as 23 people have been so far, I'll stay with the wind.

Finished my report today and resigned from the project. I hope I get paid, is all. The report will never reach the popularity of "The Little Mermaid" but it is certainly in the same genre. It felt like I was actively discouraged from sourcing and verifying data. There is enough PFS (Pulled from Sky) assumptions in prefeasibility studies at best of times but to encourage it?

A couple of days ago, Tanya and I set out to buy her birthday present - a brooch to complete her dress for May-B's wedding. She found two she liked for about the same price. $120. A gold bar with diamond chips and a filigree gold leaf with diamond chips. I liked the filigree leaf so she bought that. The jeweler has to write the purity of the gold on the receipt. When we got home, Tanya looked at the tag that came with the brooch and the purity of gold marked on the tag was less than that marked on the receipt.

Warpath. We went back to the jewelry shop and she got her money back. The woman who worked there had warned the jeweler that Tanya would be back when she saw the discrepancy in the two purity levels. We went to another shop and she found the exact same gold bar brooch that she liked for 40% less. Happiness.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Fruit of the Vine

The vines that shade our front entry way are loaded with grapes this year and the vine by the front gate too. We have already about finished the sweet black grapes from the one vine. The grapes on the other vines are almost ripe enough to eat. I suppose if I knew how I could make wine from them but eating is good. Whoever dreamed this dryland prairie boy would live someplace where grapes grow outside the front door?

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Wisdom of all Ages

Our neighbour 's biggest problem is alcohol. Today he came to Tanya and said he wanted to quit drinking, could she give him some work. She could and she did and she gave his pay to Lucia who will go to the store with him when we are away and pay for food purchases so he cannot buy vodka. He was quite in agreement with that. Tanya also made up a small bag of food for him from our pantry.

Tanya has been bothered by a sore throat and cough these last couple of weeks. This morning she tried gargling with warm water, salt and honey. If you swallow it, surprise surprise, it has the same effect as warm water, salt and mustard. Tanya said (my best translation) "A fool can be taught to bow but he will bang his head".

Andrei, his Tanya and Masha went to Krivii Rih yesterday. They were having lunch in a restaurant and Masha was fooling around, not eating (as usual). Her father said "You cannot go to the park if you don't eat as you will have a tummy ache. You promised to be good. Why can't you be good?" Masha, serious as a judge, replied "I don't know why. I want to be good but I cannot". Anrei's friend must have laughed, as Masha turned on him, VERY serious, and said "It's NOT funny".

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Saturday night

In five days we'll be in Istanbul and in six days and a few hours we'll be in Calgary.

This morning at 9:00 we went into ZV with a list of errands to run. First off pull USD from Tanya's account and trade it on the street for more cash than when she uses the bank machine. Banks are criminals with legal protection, it seems, to cheat people at every turn. Tanya's bank software was down for repairs. Next stop another bank to pay our utilities. It was closed. Next stop, stationary store to buy some left handed pens* for her niece in Siberia. It didn't open until 10:00 am.

Round and round and round. Went to another store for pens. Went to the Post office to mail them to Siberia. 50 hrivna($5.50) for the pens and 100 ($11.00) hrivna to mail them. Like Canada. Went to another bank top pay utilities. it was open. Went to a drugstore, and then another to get what we needed. Took meds to Roman who had a fever. Picked up two new tops for Tanya from seamstress. 100 hrivna plus material. How do people live?

Picked up Andrei and went home. Three hours for one hours worth of errands. Andrei, Tanya and Masha took the car to Krivii Rih this afternoon. When Andrei brought it back, at 9:00 pm we drove him home and stopped at Roman's. I got to Skype my kids on HIGHSPEED internet. I had forgotten what it was like to have hard wired real honest to God High Speed. Talked to three of four. Fourth was at work. Two were napping. At NOON.

It has been a slow day for news, hasn't it?

*There is a special shaped ballpoint pen here that works for right and left handed but left handed people find it easier to use. Never heard of such a thing and neither did most places we looked but there is such a thing. Who knew?

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

First Day of School

Today was the First Day of School in Zhovti Vody and Masha's very first day of school. She woke up at 5:00 and again at 6:00 determined that it was time to get ready and go. She and her folks needed to be there by 8:30 and she was NOT going to be late. We got there by 8:45 for a 9:00 am start.

Masha's School - 4 blocks from home

The whole town was out in full force for traditional opening day ceremonies held at every school in town. Everyone is dressed in their Sunday-go-to-meeting clothes. The girls in black and white "uniforms" and the boys in suits and ties. These are everyday apparel in the schools here. All the kids bring flowers for the teachers and dignitaries. Tanya made two huge bouquets from her garden (almost wrote our garden) for Masha and she also had a store-bought rose.

Masha in her uniform with her new backpack
Maxim's friend Ivan goes to this school but Maxim goes to another

The ceremonies were held outside on the grass (Oh, yes, THESE schools have grass playgounds, not gravel and crusher dust) and the day was warm sunny and calm. The kids gather by class, in a half circle around the outside. Then the new Grade 1's march out to the middle for the speeches and such. Speeches not long, awards handed out to last year's top students, recitations by some little folk and then...

Open this one for a panoramic view of the children.

Off they march
Masha brings up the rear of her group

Masha and another classmate in lineup
The kids from the class that will graduate this year (Grade 10?) each went to a new Grade 1, gave them a school button and took their hand to walk with them into the school. It was a wonderful way to end the ceremonies and make the little kids feel welcome.