Thursday, November 8, 2012

Gratitude #6

I am grateful for the internet. It's a lifeline to people back home, a way for my kids to see their grandparents more than once a year. In places where I am skeptical of the quality of medical knowledge it lets me double check (reputable sites, like NIH or MayoClinic). When snail mail takes 3-5 weeks to arrive the internet lets me tell people I'm thinking of them when it would be colossally inappropriate to call them (we are now 9 hours ahead of the east coast). I can only imagine what this job, this life was like "back in the day" ... you know, 20 years ago.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Wordless Wednesday

Lynne and I have been kicking around the idea of starting a wordless Wednesday feature.  The idea is two fold.  One get me back on the contributing more since I tend to use the camera more then write, and second help the consistency of the blog.  We tend to go in waves a bit.  I will not promise that the photos will always be new ones taken that day.  We are going into winter in St Petersburg which means I can have as little as 4 hours of sunlight if it ever gets out from behind the clouds.  I will try to post something that represents or is associated with my mood/thoughts of the day.

So here is the first week and next week I promised less words.

Gratitude #5

I am so grateful the election went the way it did. Obama helps people who don't even want him in charge. And how much more he could do if the people who are supposed to work with him didn't have his demise as their #1 goal (rather than, say, doing the work that needs to be done to make America #1 again). I agree with my brother that we would have survived a Romney presidency, but why not thrive rather than survive?

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Winter colds, Russian style

Normally I am pretty Polyanna about our posting here. So many things about Petersburg and Russia suit our temperaments and preferences. In general we're happy.

But, I was reminded recently of what I dislike about the culture here. See, when a Russian child sneezes or coughs, he or she is then kept home for 2-4 weeks, regardless of whether the child has any actual illness (Americans don't consider a cold an actual illness). Or if the child sneezes or coughs a second time.

Alex had the bare outlines of a cold last week. She coughed all week, no other symptoms. I humored her teacher and brought her to the doctor, who saw a bit of nasal drainage that she supposed must be causing the cough because she couldn't find anything else, but absolutely nothing outside the parameters of "It's a cold". She be prescribed/recommended an OTC cough suppressant, which I dutifully brought to school so they could give her the mid-day dose and hopefully keep her cough from bothering other kids during naptime.

Well, Friday I got reamed out by one of the other kids' grandmas for bringing Alex to school. For a Murther Furkin COLD. She doesn't have a runny nose, sneezing, headache, sore throat. No fever, no congestion. Not a damn thing except a pesky cough. Alex also reported that other kids were coughing, admittedly not as bad as her, earlier this week - meaning she wasn't the carrier (She started coughing Sunday, and I had kept her home Monday because I had to keep Zoltan home - he had a bacterial infection and hadn't gotten through enough antibiotics for me to feel good about sending him in, even though he looked and acted the picture of health).

We had a long weekend for a Russian holiday so today was the first day back at school. When I dropped her off the teacher asked how she was doing, I said fine, and she said that's good because the other parents were ready to strangle me. Grrrrrr.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Gratitude #4

November 6
I am grateful for my husband Terry. Not only loving and supportive, not only funny and good hearted, he has taught me so much. We are so comically different in almost every way except, as it turns out, all the ways that actually matter.

But I will say one last time in my own defense, NOT everyone knows about mile markers.

Tver Statues

As Terry never got around to doing anything with his own photos from Tver, I thought I'd post a few of mine. For a small city, there's a lot of sculpture in the various parks. Some of my favorites ...

This guy is part of an entire walkway strewn with statues. It's just a couple of blocks from the Institute where I studied.
 This threesome is just past the bridge I crossed every day, on the side of the river where my host family lived.
Kalinin is EVERYWHERE. It was fun when I went to the Academy Theatre with my host mother and she showed me the frescoes on the wall of the great hall (where people hung out during intermission) and there he was, with the farmers, the workers, the students, the construction workers building the Theatre, etc etc
Blue skies for Lenin!
 This is a monument in honor of victims of repression.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Gratitude #3

November 5

I am so grateful for my kids. I joke about Terry talking me into it, and he sort of did, but they are so amazing and I am just not the same person I was 5 years ago - for the better in every way.

Gratitude #2, once again late

For November 3 and 4

I am grateful to have consistent electricity. This is not only driven home by Hurricane Sandy, but also from having the experience of living in places where it is not consistent.

I am grateful to have traveled places and had experiences way outside my comfort zone and enable me to look back at my own country with open eyes, appreciating the good and seeing other ways to approach the bad (ah, if only someone would appoint me Benevolent Dictator).

Friday, November 2, 2012

Liquidators Monument

It seemed random enough, in Tver there is a monument to the liquidators of the Chernobyl disaster. Then I went to see it, and it turns out more than 2500 people from Tver went to Chernobyl to help with the cleanup. Hence, the monument.

On the way to the monument I saw a strikingly colored building that i first thought was a church and then realized was the mosque. It was pretty so I took some photos. 

The little park the Liquidators monument is in is right next to the mosque.

As I walked toward the monument I could see an older man sitting on a bench right in front of it but didn't think much of it. I read the notice about the monument - handily in English and Russian, and I took some photos. The man started speaking to me. He asked if it was interesting to me and if I understood what it was for. I said yes, and then he told me he had been one of the liquidators. He said lots of other stuff I didn't understand. I asked about his health after being there and he said it was ok then something about his friends so I imagine some of them didn't come out of it so well. he then showed me something, it was clearly an official document, had his name and photo and it was in a case like we would use for ID or Russians use for their passports but it was just the 2 cards/pieces of paper, one on each side. When I got to an internet place and looked up Liquidators of Chernobyl, Wikipedia helpfully explained that special certificates were given to 600,000 workers who helped with the cleanup, so I imagine this is what he showed me.

 The gentleman then offered for me to take a photo of him with the monument so I did.

A month of thanks

Over the years I've seen friends do a "gratitude posting" every day for the month of November in honor of Thanksgiving. I've always thought it was a cool idea but never quite got around to doing it. So this is the year, albeit a teensy bit late ... so today I'll do 2.

1. I'm thankful for modern medicine. I have a headache right now, which sucks, but it isn't a migraine, which would suck a lot more.

2. I am thankful for the State Department perk of receiving US Mail while overseas. It means I can order my Tylenol Sinus online and not have to worry about the efficacy or veracity of Russian alternatives. Because, quite frankly, nothing in the world horrifies me more than vomit and being sure that my medicine will prevent that is critically important to me. (if the connection isn't obvious, for me at least the way a migraine works is awful head pain so bad I can neither sit still nor walk around, followed by vomiting, then I start to feel better)