Saturday, June 30, 2012

My Father

My Father died in a single vehicle roll-over 10 years ago on the 27th of June; 5 1/2 months after my mother's fatal heart attack.  High gravel ridge down the centre of the highway which was being resurfaced.  It blended into the highway too well and in spite of signs, he didn't see it.  Skid marks were less than 6 feet in length. He was 80 years old, had planted his 60th crop but didn't get to harvest it.

I learned a lot from my dad.  Some things he taught me he knew about.  Straight fence lines were important to him.  I learned to like cattle and how to work with them.  Our handling facilities were atrocious so one had to "think like a cow" to patiently anticipate and counter each move until she went into the barn or the corral or wherever.  He taught me to play checkers by never giving me a break until I mastered the game.  I lost hundreds and hundreds of games over a three or four year period until I finally won.  Eventually I stopped losing entirely.  Then it was no more fun for either of us.

Other things I learned he didn't know he was teaching me.  Like to put away your tools and tidy up after working on a project.  I don't always but he never did.  Like avoiding auction sales and accumulating junk "that we are going to do something with someday".  I accumulated books and papers instead. I also learned to be pro anything that gave women more rights, more recognition as human beings and equals and learned to hate the words submit and submissive, the religious males who spew them and women who endure abuse of any kind rather than fight back because they have been brainwashed into believing "God" wants them to submit.

I spent one year trying to farm with my father after university.  I left before one of us killed the other.

I set out just now determined to write a great deal more but my conscience has invoked the Thumper's Mother's Rule.  They are my own demons to wrestle.  But at least I wrote something on the 10th anniversary of his death.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

No Shaggy Dog Story

Yesterday the dogs got a haircut.  I had been combing them out all spring to get the soft winter insulation hair but it was still pretty thick.  Tanya felt sorry for them being so hot.  She had clipped them once before a couple of years ago and thought she would try it again. 

Scissors in hand, with  me helping hold the dogs when necessary, she started in; Bobik first.  He is easiest because his hair is all one colour.  It took too long and he got bored with the process but didn't mind it otherwise.

Volk was next.  When we laid him down to clip his belly and legs, he promptly closed his eyes and went to sleep so I guess it didn't bother him too much. 

The cutting was a little ragged (in the goat-chewed category) but as Tanya said, they are village dogs.  And it didn't cost $120 like it used to in Canada for my two little dogs.

Masha is here this evening so I got pictures of her and the dogs.  And a few of the front flower garden as well for good measure.  To take your mind off the haircuts.




Front flower garden

Front end of side flower garden

Why the War on Drugs Will Continue and Never be Won

AlterNet today posted an article from TruthOut which links to the previous articles in the series.  For those interested in how the world really works, about 3% of drug money stays in the countries of origin, while the rest enriches people in developed countries.

How Can We Stop the Mexican Drug Insanity When Banks and Much of the Establishment Profit Big Time from Illegal Drugs?

How the Mind Wanders

Some days my three brain cells just rattle around inside my skull and other days they are like pinballs on speed.

Today a friend wrote on FB that "they won't go down with the ship, won't put up their hands and surrender".  Pinball triggered.

First I had to reread Tennyson's "The Revenge, a Ballad of the Fleet" for the umpteenth time.  There was a time I could quote a fair bit of it, alas no longer.  Then I decided for my own satisfaction to finally look up the pronunciation of pinnace (if you care, it is like pin-ass).  Then I ended up in Wiki, reading about pinnaces, then Sir Richard Grenville, then the Revenge, then the Mary Rose.  From there to  naval batteries and on to naval tactics under sail (hence ship of the line, ship of the battle line and battle ship).  Jump to Dreadnaught followed by the Battle of Jutland or vice versa, I forget which.

Two hours gone before you know it.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Napoleon Invades Russia June 24, 1812

Two hundred years ago today Napoleon's Army crossed the Nieman River (at Kovno) which was the western boundary of Alexander's Russia.  His intent was to defeat Alexander I, force him to stay within the Continental blockage of Great Britain and extract a few other concessions from him while he was at it.

European invasion of Russia had been tried before, 105 years earlier and would be tried again 129 years later (in fact, the 71st anniversary of the latter invasion was June 22).  The results were the same for all three though Napoleon set a record for in and out in under 6 months.

The Wikipedia link above has a pretty good outline of the Russian Campaign, including Joseph Minard's famous graph showing the decreasing size of Napoleon's army on its way to and from Moscow.  For more detailed reading, Richard K Riehn's 1812: Napoleon's Russian Campaign is excellent.  If you want an eye witness account, Clausewitz' The Campaign of 1812 in Russia is classic, though I have not read it and of course, Tolstoy's War and Peace is a must read.

As we drove through the Bohemian and Moravian countryside in April it was easy to imagine it filled with the colourful armies of the Napoleonic era: French, Italian, Austrian, Russian, Prussian...  On our way from Prague to Vienna we passed not far from the site of the 1805 Battle of Austerlitz where Napoleon had decisively defeated Tsar Alexander I and Francis II of Austria.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Remembering Aunt Betty and Tyotya Vera

One year ago yesterday, my mother's sister Betty passed away at age 87.  She'd had a full life and the last few years had found it increasingly difficult to get around. She started out as a school teacher but gave it up for motherhood and community service, serving on various boards such as Coop or the local museum.  She and Uncle Vince were two of our best friends when we lived in Kindersley

Uncle Vince, who passed away 6 years ago, was a grain buyer for Saskatchewan Wheat Pool and the family spent several years at Fiske (close to Rosetown) and finally Kindersley, neither place too far from our farm.  When we were kids, our families loved to get together as their three girls were the ages of us three oldest.  The oldest daughter Joyce was the same age as me. (Well, three weeks and three days older, a source of misery to me when we were young and infinite joy when we were older).

My last visit with Aunt Betty in 2009
When we were pre-teen, we sometimes got to spend a week in summer at their place.  aunt Betty was always full of fun but you knew where the fences were, too.

When I was a kid, my world revolved around us 15 cousins.  My four grandparents, my dad's three sisters and their spouses and my mom's two sisters and their spouses all lived within a two hour drive at worst and both sides of the family knew each other well.  Aunt Betty was the last of the "adults".  Makes a person feel mortal.
Yesterday was the funeral in Beli Yar, near Abakan, for Tanya's Tyotya (Aunt) Vera.  She was 74, had lost a leg to diabetes two years ago which did not slow her down but she had a stroke a few weeks back and didn't recover from it. Vera was the youngest of Tanya's five Aunts, her mother's sisters.  Vera and Anatoli, who passed away three years ago, worked in the Taiga, away north of Krasnoyarsk for several years, then moved to Murmansk where Natalie and Andrei were born.  When they retired about 20 years ago, they moved back to Beli Yar, driving their Mosckvich the entire distance home.

Vera got to babysit her great-grandson Tolik (Anatoli) for the past three years as she lived with her daughter Natasha and granddaughter Katya. Tolic brought her a great deal of pleasure as he is a happy mischievous little guy, though when he loosened the wheels on her chair and they fell off leaving her sitting in a heap on the floor, I am not sure how amused she was.

Vera, Tanya, Natasha and Tolia (Tolik, Anatoli) 2011
Tanya's family was always very close, too.  Even when they lived far apart, they would always come home to Kalegina  or Beli Yar in summer and Tanya keeps in close touch with her cousins and second-cousins by Skype, including her cousin Nadia in Chelyabinsk where Tanya's remaining Aunt, Tyotya Natasha lives with her. The older you get the more you realize how important it is to have family.

Friday, June 22, 2012

It's the Oil, Stupid

Tomgram: Michael Klare, The Cheney Effect (in the Obama Administration) | TomDispatch

Straight talk on the American Empire's  continuation of Cheney's energy strategy under Obama.  Well worth the read.  No BS about liberty, freedom and all that crap.

Thursday, June 21, 2012


Another cut and paste blog.  Busy chasing potential projects today.  Don't know how much of this stuff is true but it was interesting.  At least now I know why they dim the lights and open the window shades on take off and landing.


• All International Airline Pilots speak English.

• Flights longer than 8 hours require 3 pilots (1 captain and 2 first officers) to rotate flying duties. Flights longer than 12 hours require 4 pilots (1 captain and 3 first officers). They usually fly 3-4 hour shifts. (
There are different norms of Indian companies Pilots)

•Each airline pilot flying the aircraft, eats a different meal to minimize the risk of all pilots on board being ill.

•On average, pilots fly between 9 and 14 days a month
(Indian companies pilot fly 24 to 26 days)

•All airlines have an agreement to let each others' travelling pilots occupy empty seats. If no seats are available, the travelling pilot can also occupy an extra seat in the cockpit that is usually empty.

•The main function of flight attendants are for the safety and security of their passengers, and passenger comfort is only secondary.

•The first female flight attendants in 1930 were required to weigh less than 115 pounds. In addition, they had to be nurses and unmarried.

•Flight attendants must not have any tattoos visible when a uniform is worn. These requirements are designed to give the airlines a positive representation.

•The normal ratio of Flight Attendants to passenger seats is one Flight Attendant for every 50 passenger seats.

•The height requirement for Flight Attendant is for safety reasons, making sure that all flight attendants can reach overhead safety equipment.

•The normal ratio of Lavatories to passengers is approximately one lavatory for every 50 passengers.

•An air traveler can lose approximately 1.5 liters of water in the body during a three-hour flight.

•The reason why the lights are turned out during takeoff and landing – Is for your eyes to adjust to lower levels of light. If there's an accident and they have to activate the emergency slides, studies have shown that you will be able to see better and therefore be able to evacuate more quickly and safely.

•The World’s largest Airline in terms of Fleet Size is Delta Airlines (United States) with 744 aircraft and 121 aircraft on order as of March 2011.

•The largest passenger plane is the Airbus 380 - nearly 240 feet long, almost 80 feet high, and has a wingspan of more than 260 feet. The double-decker plane has a standard seating capacity of 555 passengers.

•The world’s busiest airport in terms of passenger volume or the number of takeoffs and landings, is Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport, Atlanta, Georgia, United States – with more than 88 million passengers shuffled through the Atlanta airport in 2009, with another 20 million in the first three months of 2010, and with aircraft take-off and landings approximately every 37 seconds.

•The Internet/On-Line check-in was first used by Alaskan Airlines in 1999.

•The world’s Largest Airport is Kansai International Airport, Osaka, Japan (as of 2011). By 2013 Al Maktoum International Airport in Jebel Ali, Dubai, United Arab Emirates is planned to be the largest airport in the world.

•The airport with the longest runway in the world is Qamdo Bangda Airport in the Peoples Republic of China with 5.50 kilometers in length (as of 2011).

•American Airlines saved $40,000 in 1987 by removing 1 olive from each salad served in first class.

•In 2009, Southwest served 63.2 million cans of soda, juices, and water; 14.3 million alcoholic beverages; 14 million bags of pretzels; 90 million bags of peanuts; 17.7 million Select-A-Snacks; and 33.5 million other snacks.

•Singapore Airlines spends about $700 million on food every year and $16 million on wine alone. First class passengers consume 20,000 bottles of alcohol every month and Singapore Airlines is the second largest buyer of Dom Perignon champagne in the world.

•Cathay Pacific carries rice cookers, toasters, cappuccino makers and skillets on board their airplanes.

•KLM of Netherlands stands for Koninklijke Luchtvaart Maatschappij (meaning Royal Dutch Airlines).

•KLM is the worlds' oldest airline established in 1919.

•QUANTAS - Australia’s national airline, originally stood for Queensland And Northern Territories Air Service.

•QUANTAS is the second world’s oldest airline established in 1920.

•QUANTAS still has the world's best safety record with no crashes as of 2011.

•Virgin Atlantic lists catering as their third biggest expense, after fuel and maintenance.

•American Airlines spent about $425 million on food for domestic passengers in 2001.

•In one year, British Airways passengers consume:
* 40.5 tons of chicken
* 6 tons of caviar
* 22 tons of smoked salmon
* 557,507 boxes of chocolate
* 90 thousand cases (9 liter cases) of sparkling wine.

•Abu Dhabi Airport Services once did a complete turn-around for a Boeing 777 in under 40 minutes, as opposed to a normal minimum of one hour. They unloaded passengers, cargo, mail, cleaned the aircraft, and loaded outbound passengers, cargo and mail in that short time.

•In 2001, Dubai Duty Free sold 1,570,214 cartons of cigarettes, 2,003,151 bottles of liquor, 2,909 kilograms of gold, 101,824 watches, 690,502 bottles of perfume, 52,119 mobile phones.

•In-flight catering is an $18 billion worldwide industry employing up to 200,000 people.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Best Day Ever (Thanks, NC Steph)

My daughter's friend NC Steph (who USED to blog when she was in grad school in Ireland) is the most positive person I know.  She has her share of difficulties but every day on FaceBook she posts some little thing that happened to her that made it her BDE.

Today was a BDE for me.  I got to meet the famous Sonja Tanya's shirt-tail grand niece. Ryya and Vladik came for a visit this evening and brought their son Zhenia and his wife Yulia and little Sonja, who will start First Grade this fall.

Sonja is petite, dark, cute and totally convinced of her own opinions and abilities. Her mother is also petite, dark, cute and not so convinced of Sonja's opinions and abilities.  Their relationship is similar to Calvin (and Hobbes) and his mother.  Sonja's father has his parents' humerous outlook on life and rides herd with a gentle hand (to mix metaphors).  Watching them parent this kid is a treat.

Sonja wasn't here 5 minutes before she was peeled to the skivvies and in our pool (Tanya had filled it for Masha two days ago).  Within half an hour, she had found the neighbour's cat and wondered if she could take it into the pool with her. Then she went looking in the garden and found a huge toad.  Later Sonja, her dad, and I took his fishing pole and walked down to the Yellow River to see if there was a place to cast from the bank (there wasn't).  Sonja had a little home-made fishing pole and a large chunk of break to feed the fishes, (which she ate herself when we couldn't fish).

She is supposed to be reading books but she "can't".  Put her in front of the computer and she can navigate better than her grandma, including changing languages as needed.

In other news, Kuchma hit the jackpot today.  I got up at 6:00 am to go and dig beets for freezing; fed Kuchma his 1/4 can of cat food (his treat for being a "good" cat) and went on my way.  Tanya got up at the same time, damp mopped the upstairs floor as we are constantly battling dust, went downstairs and gave Kuchma the rest of the can of cat food - almost half a can.  Cat slept all day.

We have a small window on the north side of the house that opens into the dog run and through which we occasionally hurl "treats" to the dogs if we are too lazy to walk outside and around.  Tonight we could hear the dogs suddenly start to cry and howl piteously so I went to investigate.  They are sitting under the window.  I guess we didn't throw any bones out today and they were unhappy with that fact.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Bad Roads and Vigilantes

From time to time I may mention Ukraine's abysmal roads in my blog rants.  This article from TruthDig is an excellent description of the situation in Russia and can help you understand why Ukraine's roads are so bad as everything works the same here.  The cost of road construction and repair is prohibitively high as so little of the money makes it to the actual road.

On another front, I heard today of a city in Ukraine that had a serious drug problem.  Everyone knew who was involved but the police who had been paid off ignored all please to do anything.  Nine young men decided enough was enough and ran the dealers out of town.  They are now in jail and the dealers are back under the watchful eye of the local constabulary. this is standard procedure in Russia but first I heard of it in Ukraine. 

Yanukovich is poisoning this country. Opposition is building to him and the Party of the Regions BUT it will remain to be seen whether they are allowed to win in the elections this fall.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Remembering the Farm: My Mother Grows Zucchini

For whatever reason, zucchini was never part of our lives.  Mom was about 60 when she first decided to try growing it.  She planted a whole row of hills and they all came up and were growing nicely.

She called my sister in Calgary, all upset at my father and at his cows because the cows had got into the garden and destroyed all but three hills of zucchini.  My sister was laughing so hard she could not speak.  Mother was getting quite peeved with her for her lack of sympathy over losing most of her zucchini.  "What is so funny?!!!"

My sister managed to gasp out "You will find out" before my mother hung up.

And she did find out.  And by freeze up, my mother was quite thankful to the cows for saving her and wished they had taken two more hills out, leaving her with only one.

She even laughed about it.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Our First Attempt at Pizza

I miss good pizza.  Yes, there are many pizzerias in Ukraine including two in town here but they are thin crust, thin topping, and thin on taste.  There is a chain called Cilentanos with locations in Krivii Rih and Dnipropetrovs'k that makes semi-acceptable pizza but not really good.

Lat weekend Tanya made buns.  The main issue holding me back from ever trying to make pizza was lack of knowledge about making the crust.  I asked Tanya if she would make pizza crust from her bun dough recipe and she said certainly; but she had no idea what went on top of a pizza.  I knew about all we were a team!  (Married couples should talk to each other more often, but that is a story for another time).

Today we tried our hands at pizza making for the first time and made a couple of 15" pizzas. I got on the internet to find out about the herbs and spices, most of which we had, including fresh basil and parsley.  Oregano is THE key and I did have a little bit left.  We cleaned out the fridge for toppings.  Ham, dill pickles, green onion, tomatoes and green olives.  The salami I'd been saving seemed to have disappeared overnight.

No mozzarella of course (too expensive) but Ukrainian or Russian cheese would work; we just didn't have enough.  Parmesan cheese powder from our last CARE package was a big help.  Olive oil to coat the pans and the crust to give it an awesome golden brown colour - I am going to try it on my biscuits next time.

The bun recipe made perfect crust.  Absolutely perfect. It actually rose a little bit in the oven and was so tender.  No shoe-leather.  And it tasted like real pizza.  It was heaven and I inhaled 3/4 of one pizza. 

But I am now out of oregano.  Couldn't find it at the grocery store this afternoon but Tanya thinks we might find it in a drug store.  They did have a bottle of Italian herb and spice mix so we will try that until I can find oregano.  We did find fresh rosemary at the grocery store and we have fresh garlic for the next go-round which will be SOON!!

Not enough cheese to go to the edges

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Estate Sale - Antiques, antiques, antiques

Frank & Leone Baker Estate Auction Sale 

 My Aunt Leone was a collector and my Uncle Frank let her.  He has been gone 10 years now and she passed away two years ago, leaving the house full of her collections for her kids to deal with.  Retail value there could be half a million dollars in antiques and collectibles but it will all go under the hammer on Saturday June 16. If you go to the link above there are about 100 pictures which represents a small portion of the huge number of items.

The sale is in the community centre in Denzil Saskatchewan.  The Community Centre is almost full and the house about half empty, my cousin's wife said last night.

 The pictures below  Tanya and I took in 2009 when we visited her.

One corner of the basement
One shelving unit

Antique furniture as well as contents
All kinds of royalty, including Edward VIII, George V and VI, and Victoria

Hen on a nest was her favourite and there are over 100 of all kinds

Dozens of kerosene lamps (almost called them coal oil lamps)
The most wonderful thimble collection ever - from everywhere

Genuine gold and silver thimbles


Saturday, June 9, 2012

Hard to write anything

It is hard to write when you are down.  This has not been a good week for reasons I cannot go into.  I haven't even been reading blogs, never mind trying to write them.

But life continues as "normal" and the garden is coming off.  Seven 750 ml jars of cherry jam and four of strawberry.  Five 2-cup packs of peas in the freezer and five more for tomorrow; next picking Thursday.  Pickling cucs ready Monday or Tuesday.  We have had several feeds of green marrow* and now zucchini is ready.  The onions are big enough to use for cooking not just as green onions. Summer cabbage is heading out nicely.

If we get another inch of rain soon, we'll have lots of corn

* sliced, floured, fried, with a dab of mayonnaise on top of each slice - delicious.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Piled higher and Deeper

Canadian Cattlemen had a news item today that Manitoba RCMP found a stolen tractor that had been missing for a year and a half.  The $300,000 Case IH Steiger 485 was buried under a 5 meter manure pile.

Reminded me of a couple of stories, once of which I can vouch for, as I was there, though not involved. 

At the U of S, the Engineering and Agriculture Colleges have had an on-campus rivalry since the founding days.  Back in the 60s when university was fun, the Engineers had a "tank" of which they were quite proud. It was a home built cannon, mounted on a turret on top of an old jalopy.  The cannon could fire a roll of toilet paper or an orange a few hundred yards.

One winter day during snow sculpture week, the Agros stole the tank.  It disappeared off the face of the earth.  It was nowhere.  Until spring when the huge College of Agriculture snow sculpture melted.

Where this next story took place, I do not know, but some university or technical school had a real old time cannon which was mounted on display in some central location.  Except it was constantly being stolen and would turn up in strange places, much to the annoyance of the powers that were.

So one day they decided "Enough"!  A huge cement block was poured into the ground with steel attachments which were welded to the cannon so it could not be moved.  Ever.  The morning after the forms, barriers, etc. were removed and the display tided up, the cannon was gone.  There was only the hole and a pile of dirt.

The cannon disappeared completely without a trace.  Even under torture, the students knew nothing about it.  Until, after three months a mysterious note appeared on an office door, "Look under the dirt pile, you idiots".

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Pick your favourite villain

One afternoon, a (lawyer, Republican, banker) was riding in his limousine when he saw two men along the road-side eating grass.
Disturbed, he ordered his driver to stop and got out to investigate.
He asked one man, "Why are you eating grass?"
"We don't have any money for food," the poor man replied. "We have to eat grass."
"Well, then, you can come with me to my house and I'll feed you," the (lawyer, Republican, banker) said.
"But sir, I have a wife and two children with me. They are over there, under that tree."
"Bring them along," the (lawyer, Republican, banker) replied.
Turning to the other poor man he stated, "You may come with us, also."
The second man, in a pitiful voice, then said, "But sir, I also have a wife and six children with me!"
"Bring them all as well," the (lawyer, Republican, banker)  answered.
They all entered the car, which was no easy task, even for a car as large as the limousine.
Once under way, one of the poor fellows turned to the (lawyer, Republican, banker)  and said, "Sir, you are too kind. Thank you for taking all of us with you.
The (lawyer, Republican, banker) replied, "Glad to do it. You'll really love my place. The grass is almost a foot high."

Monday, June 4, 2012

More dribs and drabs and a couple of photos

This morning started off not bad but went to the dogs fairly quickly.  I was up first and had biscuits on the table for breakfast when Masha and Tanya came down.  Then I took the days collection out to the mutts and when I was closing the gate, Bobik escaped like a puck through a Leaf goalie's legs. I went to get the leash for Volk and as soon as I turned my back he was gone since I hadn't wired the bottom of the gate.  Doh.

So we set off, Masha, Yulia and Maxim and I, leashes in hand, knowing the dogs would come to us if it looked like we were going for a walk.  They came to Masha and Maxim leashed them up, where upon I waved them on and went back to the house.  What is the point of having kids around if you still have to work.  The kids and the dogs were thrilled.  So was I.

The day was getting hot so when the kids came back, they came into the house to paint as all three are budding artists.  When they had each finished their picture, they asked Tanya to judge.  Yulia is 12, seems fairly mature and is quite a good artist. Tanya said so.  Maxim and Masha were devastated that they weren't best.  Each picture was good for the age level and Tanya tried to explain that, to no avail.

At 2:30 it was either cook lunch or go to Marichka.  Yulia couldn't come with us her grandma said so the four of us set off.  We picked up Lina en route as today is a holiday (yesterday was the Feast of the Trinity).  We ordered pizza and dessert.  They brought the dessert first while the pizza was baking. Life is uncertain so. . .

Maxim and Masha eat dessert first
We left Roman at the apartment because he had been at our place most of last week so it was Lina who needed the break.  Roman's blood pressure had been acting up so we double as "hospital".  Tanya "knows as much about blood pressure as any doctor" which I don't doubt, and she got everything settled down and rejigged his meds.  We sent him home just in time for Masha to come for the weekend.

Masha went home tonight.  Not willingly as she loves the freedom of Babushka's home.  Andrei and Tania came to pick her up.  I thanked them for bringing her and thanked them for taking her back, which made Tania smile.  Two days at a time is just right.  Masha wears on Tanya as she cannot entertain herself.

Tanya and I sat on the front entry landing in the cool breeze and enjoyed the solitude and quiet while drinking our tea after supper.

The view from our front entry landing.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Not much doing and here's proof

Andrei borrowed our car three days ago and had it washed.  Yesterday and today we got about an inch (25 mm) of rain according to the depth of water in the dog dish.  First good rain we've had and the gardens greatly appreciated it.

Masha was here yesterday and today.  Babushka took her to the market today to buy her some "village" clothes and cheap runners that she could actually play in when she is here and not worry about getting dirty.

Tanya also bought fresh cottage cheese and is making vereniki (perogies to Canadians) as I write.  Andrei knows when his mother is cooking as he and Tania showed up in time to help make the vereniki and also to eat them. . . We just finished supper and the vereniki.

If you have ever wondered about the term "looks like a dog's breakfast", you have obviously never fed a collection of table scraps to a dog.  While they eat regular dry dog food (Chappies) we routinely take out a small dish of stuff only a dog would eat and split it between the two mutts.  Hence the dog dish that doubles as a a rain gauge.  This morning I took them out their "treat" and forgot to double wire the gate. This afternoon Volk found that out and slipped out to freedom.

It was short lived.  I put Bobik on a lease and Masha, Yulia (girl from up the street) and I set out on a walk.  Volk came bounding up from somewhere; Masha grabbed his collar and he joined us on the walk.  Works every time (this was not the first time I forgot the bottom wire on the gate).  The girls each took a dog and off they went running while I chug along slowly behind, glad the dogs can run and I don't have to.

The gardens will look better in a couple weeks but here are some pictures from last week.

Front flower garden May 21
Late blooming Iris
Bluebells in front, Spiderwort in back
Not sure of this one.


Part of the huge kitchen garden

Friday, June 1, 2012

Taxes and Pensions in Ukraine

Ukraine has one of the most complex stifling tax systems in the world.  In a blog post last January, Alexander J. Motyl discusses Paying Taxes 2012, the annual study from PricewaterhouseCoopers, the World Bank, and the International Finance Corporation, which “measures the ease of paying taxes across 183 economies worldwide, covering both the cost of taxes and the administrative burden of tax compliance.”

"The study ranks countries along four measures: ease of paying taxes, the number of tax payments, the time to comply, and the total tax rate (which measures the “amount of taxes and mandatory contributions borne by the business in the second year of operation, expressed as a share of commercial profit”). According to the 2012 study, “In high income economies the case study company makes 15.2 payments, takes 168.7 hours to comply with its main taxes and has an average Total Tax Rate of 37.4%. This compares to 38.3 payments, 271 hours and 67.8% for low income economies. Keep those figures in mind, and take a deep breath, as we look at Ukraine’s numbers".

Pension Tax is one of the separate taxes.  Pensions are paid by the state beginning at age of  60 (was 55 for women). Pensioners do not need to retire to draw pension. Lowest pension is $125 per month.  There is some relationship between type of job, salary and pension levels but Tanya says it is very complex. A friend of hers with 20 years in Administration gets about $300 per month.

Pension tax on salaries is 35%.  Companies pay employees minimum wage officially, which is entered in the employees record of employment book and pay Pension Tax on that amount.  The remainder of the salary is paid in cash in a plain envelope.  As near as I can figure this means that salaries and employment taxes are not deductible from income for tax purposes.  A lawyer a few years ago told me that office rent was not deductible from income for tax purposes.

There is something they call a flat tax where businesses grossing between certain amounts pay a monthly tax regardless of net income.  Obviously businesses at the high end of the range like this arrangement.  

Then there is a 20% VAT which is included in the price one pays but identified separately on the till slip (where there is one).  Farmers pay VAT on purchases.  Processors pay VAT on the livestock and milk purchased from farmers which means they simply deduct it from the price the farmer receives, so he pays twice.  I am still waiting for someone to explain to me in detail how VAT works at the farm level.

There is a move afoot to bring in a long overdue property tax. I am waiting for details on that.