Monday, August 8, 2011

The Remains of the Day

Worked most of today getting my notes all caught up from my Kazakhstan trip so we can prioritize our follow ups.  Not as easy as it sounds though most of it is already in email form, keeping my team informed.  Yesterday was catching up on expenses accounting, making sure everything was tallied and tabbed.  Cannot for the life of me remember what I did on Saturday.  Catch up on emails and napped most likely.

Took time out to make chili con carne or at least my version of it. Usually make it with a pound of beef and two cans of kidney beans at about $1.25 per can.  We were in Metro a while back and saw a big can (2 or 3 liters??) for $4 so Tanya said I could make a big batch, freeze it and save money.  Five lbs of lean ground, 6 onions and this can of kidney beans filled out biggest cooking pot.  Two 500 ml jars of tomato paste and a dozen fresh tomatoes went in too.  And two heaping soup spoons of all the hot stuff in the house.  Chili powder, chipotle (sp?) powder, cumin, etc etc.  Simmered it for a couple hours and it was awesome. Had a huge bowl of it for lunch. The rest is now boxed in plastic happiness and will go in the freezer tonight.

This was after I had eaten a bowl of it for lunch.  The pot was FULL.
Tanya had a couple of spoons full and inhaled a glass of water.  She figured I would be cleaning the toilet quite a few times before the chili was gone.

Masha has been here the past two days (home at night).  Maxim is next door for the summer and they get on so well.  Water colour painting has taken much of their time as both enjoy it.  Tanya says they will be friends for life but doubts there will even be romance.  (As SOMEONE who shall remain nameless once remarked "It would be like marrying my brother".  OK, so I am a lousy matchmaker.)

Tanya and Lena are out in the garden, which is pretty much finished.  Peas and beans long finished. Tomatoes and cucs still coming in.  Beets and carrots all processed.  Corn came and went while I was away.  Tanya didn't freeze any this year.  Onions are dug, dried and boxed; not sure about the garlic.  Purslain is a terrible weed.  My mother fought it all her life in one of her gardens and it has totally infested our garden.  You can't kill it.  It will set seed hanging on the fence.

There is a family of five kids that we act as food bank for about once a month or so.  Father is in and out of hospital all the time, too sick to work, maybe diabetes which is a real curse as it is not controlled very well - no one can afford the test strips and the free insulin is terrible quality.  Not sure about the mother's problem, could be alcohol. The oldest girl about 15 and a boy about 10 were here today.  Usually it is a 12 year old boy. The mother, in her early 40's, is in hospital.  She is pregnant and having difficulty so the doctor stuck her in hospital. Tanya was furious when she heard the woman was pregnant again.  She wonders if the kids even go to school as they have no money for clothes or books or anything.  Not sure where the state sits on not attending school but expect it is illegal - so what are they going to do about it?  Well, if it costs the state money, nothing.  And another generation falls through the cracks.

When we were filling a bag of food, Tanya suggested some of my chili but I said no, they would not thank us for that.  It is a learned taste.


  1. My chili is guaranteed to burn a hole in your underwear. I usually add celery and mushrooms to your basic ingredients.

  2. It is very sad to hear the neighbour family's situation but good you can help them some. I hope the children are in better health than the parents so they can work when they get older. But with no schooling what work?

  3. We don't know exactly where they live. In the city somewhere. They walk quite a ways to get to our house, that much we know.

  4. Thanks for the chilli recipe. The one thing you forgot to add is a bit of cocoa powder. Yes, I know that sounds crazy. That's what I thought when I heard the suggestion. But you should try it before you slam it.

    You are such sweethearts for helping those kids. Bless you for that.

  5. I am glad you are back..I havae missed your posts...thank you always for the kind words on my dad. I wish I was closer to help with your family in need..what can we do?

  6. Your chili and mine would get along great. Everyone thinks theirs is the best, but we all know it has to light a fire in your underwear to be worthy.

    As for those kids...since you don't even know where they live, how did they find you?

    Where food is concerned, if you have some yourself, there is no way a person can turn down a hungry child in such dire circumstances.

    With the awful consequences that we will be suffering from our government using OUR money to finance their irresponsibility, compassion will soon be a thing of the past. We're losing more than money.

  7. I never share my homemade cream cheese wildberry icecream either. It is a learned taste.

    Sometimes just knowing that someone cares can make a huge difference. I'm sure those kids appreciate the food, but knowing they are safe and cared for around you two is at least as important

  8. No idea how they found us in the first place. Maybe I can get Tanya to check their school status. Once you start, where do you stop? The country is full of urban families in dire straits since the collapse of the Soviet system. At least in the villages they can raise food and won't starve. Urban vs rural in The Thirties. Lack of work and no hope for a future have created major drug and alcohol problems, too, though alcohol has historically been a problem in countries of the FSU.

  9. So, are you saying then that the ONLY reason you didn't give them any of your chili is that it has a taste that THEY haven't acquired?

  10. I'd have given them a big tub of it if I thought they would eat it. Hot (spicy) foods are enough of a novelty in Ukraine that likely 90% of the population would never have tasted it. I should have given them a small dish of it to try first. I love converting people to "burn your bum off" chili.

  11. We make huge pots of chili too and always serve it over lots of white rice the first day then on a plain pasta the next day and freeze the rest in complete meals like tv dinners.It's so handy and versatile, even nice on boiled or mashed spuds.That would be a great way to introduce them to a spoonful or two of it, kills the heat and fills 'em up especially with a little grated cheese on top.
    You and Tanya are wonderful people for watching out for those kids although i don't understand Tanyas dismay at the pregnancy; Sex is normal and likely the only enjoyment they have in life and who can afford birth control items? A woman once told me that being pregnant was the only time she could relax and enjoy life because it was 9 mths of not having to be in fear of becoming pregnant.
    Thanks to Rob-bear re the addition of cocoa; although my chili is already awesome i'll try it!

  12. "Sex is normal and likely the only enjoyment they have in life and who can afford birth control items?"

    But, seriously, if they can't afford birth control, how can they afford children--force the rest of society to pay for them?

  13. Snowbrush, you are right on. It is a family tragedy that she is pregnant again, especially for the children she already has. They are the ones that will carry the immediate cost while Ukraine carries the long term cost of malnourished, under educated people.

    Solutions should have and could have been found immediately. Some things the state supplies.


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