31 January 2008

fly on the wall

Yesterday or the day before (who knows?) at about 2:15 p.m. with 45 minutes left in school, a normally patient teacher told her second grade class:

That's it. I have no more answers today. No more. You have used them all up. You have asked so many questions that there are no answers left for today. I will not be answering any more questions today.

The class persisted in asking a flurry of questions (that they knew the answers to--"Where should I put this? What should I do when I finish? Do I have to do my math?") as they had all day, all year, really, but found that this afternoon their teacher, truly, had no more answers.

"I don't know. I don't know. I don't know." That was all she said to them.

One boy, seizing the moment, said, "Then we can do whatever we want!"

"Oh, there will still be consequences," their teacher told them. A few students asked what "consequences" meant, but they asked their classmates and not their teacher. Even the esl students were able to figure consequences out from the context.

And do you know what? The second grade settled down to a productive end of the day. Without asking their teacher any further questions.

The end

(Okay, for those of you who worry:

The next day the teacher discussed with the class, again, the difference between asking genuine questions and asking questions that they really didn't need to ask. They discussed thinking before speaking. Again. They talked about "ask three before me". Again. And the teacher reassured them that she was *happy* to answer questions when they were confused or needed help or just had something they wanted to figure out. She *liked* answering those questions. She simply didn't want to have to say one.more.time. that you may do anything quiet after your journal is finished or that reading logs get turned in to the blue tray. After all, they'd been in second grade for over half the year and the answer hadn't changed. They laughed. And a few minutes later somone asked what to do when they finished their journals. And the teacher smiled and replied, as she had for ninety-some days, "What do you think?" and then validated their correct answer.)

I feel like that teacher (wink) when I'm out of the classroom, too.

How much longer?
What's the hold up?
Which agency?
Which region?
Is it important to adopt two right now?
How old is too old?
Is there a "too old'?

Lord, where do you want me to go and how do you want me to get there?
Which road, which bus, which agency, which children have You planned for me?

Guess what. I don't know.

28 January 2008

part of the story

In a seminar on third* culture kids *(1. "passport" culture--what is lived at home, 2. culture of the country in which you live 3. ex-pat community) I learned that TCK (I think 3CK is catchier...but they'd already come up with an acronym before I got on board) are quick to make friendships and those friendships start at a deeper level. There just isn't enough time to go through the initial, superficial stages. I think that 3CA (Ha! No known acronym for third culture adults, so I can use what I like!) function the same way. You make good friends quickly here.

I have had to say goodbye to very good friends recently. I've taught their children, spent Christmases with them, and just chatted and relaxed with them. It's hard to lose this "simpatico" anywhere, but is especially difficult to lose as an ex-pat. Truly, these friends are irreplaceable. This is the part of ex-pat life that isn't so much fun. They're back in the US for a bit ("Mom" & kids are already there) before they move on to their next post. On Saturday I went to say goodbye to "Dad" and to collect a very special gift.

I love stories and histories. I'm a social historian. I like to see the everyday items of everyday people. I'd rather have a much-loved version of nearly anything in my home. I like to think of other people using things that I use and filling them up with happy memories. My bed, my desk...these are cherished pieces of furniture. (Well, as "cherished" as furniture can be--they've been saved from sale even when I was raising money for drama school and are now here with me in Russia...but they're still furniture.)

They're not pristine. But, the bed was handmade. It's spoon-carved. Someone planned the daisy on the headboard, perhaps for someone in particular, and smoothed the footboard by hand. The desk is a teacher's desk from the 1920's. Its front is as pretty as its back. Hundreds of children have sat and gazed at this desk. Thousands of papers have been written and marked here. These pieces have history. They're special. And I am happy to feel that I am part of a chain of people who are using them and adding to their stories.

I got to add another special, much-loved piece of furniture to d2b's room. It's the crib this family has used for all of their children...and that "Dad" and his siblings used. Lots of happy babies have slept in this crib. I can imagine the lullabies sung and prayers said over the children who dreamt here. I was so touched to be chosen to be the next home for this crib. It feels a little as if I've been adopted myself!

Thanks, J&J. I really, really appreciate this gift. I appreciate the hope and the faith that accompanies it. I feel very humbled and very grateful to get to add to its story.

Did you notice that I had crib sheets that co-ordinated with d2b's big-girl bed sheets ready and waiting...just in case? Yep. Prepared. And you thought I just had toothpaste.

23 January 2008

Do you know what those numbers mean? (My former student, Karis, would.) It's not a winning lottery number (at least, not one I know about) or the code the computer needed on Lost. It's how long it took Ellen MacArthur to sail solo around the world*-- 71 days, 14 hours, 18 minutes and 33 seconds. My students (I was in England at the time) were fascinated by her journey. One of our classroom jobs was news reporter. Ellen MacArthur was big news in J4.

*I still think it's a little presumptuous to call this sailing "around the world" when, really, it was just sailing around Antarctica. Yet another thing that wasn't up to me.

I just read the book Race Ag@inst Time. It's a book of Ellen MacArthur's writings during her journey. Frankly, I wouldn't recommend it. (Hence the @.) It's not very well written. (She's a sailor, not a writer.) It was basically 71 days of technical sailing stuff (gybe-ing and knots and changing sails) and, well, her saying, "It's hard." I'm sure it was. I'm sure I couldn't have done it. (Actually, I tend to think I can do anything I want to...but why would I want to do this? Deep water gives me the creeps.) But it didn't make for a very kateish read.

There were, however, a few quotes that resonated. Hmm. That might mean I'm a complainer. Still...

Day 52: ...We've just got to hang in there and keep moving. It's not been much fun recently, and I'm looking forward to getting into something that's actually stable. This has been one of the hardest stages of the record so far. To have had so many hurdles, as we've had over the last few days since Cape Horn, all in a row, has been pretty brutal. I'm just trying to take every day as it comes--it's sometimes not a good idea to think about the big picture. There is no doubt we're slowing, there is no doubt we're losing a lot of time at the moment, but we've just got to get through this and out the other side--there is no point in thinking about anything else right now.

Day 53:..All that effort, all that energy seems wasted...It feels like we'll be trapped here for weeks continually changing direction, continually adjusting to the unpredictable clouds we have. But I'm not going to give up. I've given everything and I feel empty, but I'll find that little bit left in me to get us through the last 5,000 miles.

Day 56:..I keep going because this isn't something that just sprang out of the dark. Building the boat and working on the project has been in my mind for a long time; it's not just something that started the day I left from Falmouth. However hard it gets, that knowledge doesn't let me go. This record attempt, right now, is the object of all our efforts.

Day 60: I need to de-stress and calm down a little, but it is exceptionally difficult to do when you've got the Doldrums in front of you.

Doldrums, ha! To that I sing, "Sail on! When the water gets high, sail on. When the wind starts to die, sail on. It's just a matter of minutes 'till the ship comes to get us and we all get in and sail on." Did you sing along?

There's a lot of gybing and tacking going on right now in my adoption journey. I'm trying to get a forecast on which way the wind's blowing. There are many things beneath the surface. But, we're still sailing.

Ellen MacArthur's solo journey around the world was incredible. I wonder how she'd fare on the journey of international adoption...

Russian proverb:
Pray to God and continue to row towards shore.

I'm doing both.

20 January 2008

clean? check.

Two new driving laws came into effect 1 January.

  1. Seatbelts must be worn if, indeed, the car is equipped with seat belts. If the car doesn't have seat belts, don't worry about it.
  2. Your car's licence plate must be clean. Your car can be filthy, a loophole for which I am very grateful, but the plate must be clean.
The first law doesn't change much for me. I do wear my seatbelt when I'm driving. I don't always wear it in others' cars, but that was out of cultural respect. Wearing a seatbelt seems to be an affront to the skills of the driver. Now, however, I am saving the driver money if we're stopped by being securely buckled in...when there are seatbelts.

The second law adds a step to my pre-driving check. Now, I go outside and hope I see my car. (Much less towing in the winter than in the summer, so it's usually where I left it.) I unlock the car with the key. The clicker was one of the suspects of battery drainage. (They disconnected it and removed my alarm...to no effect. The answer actually seems to be to start it daily and let it run for about 20 minutes. It's either that or disconnect the battery and bring it inside every night as many of my neighbors do. That gets messy. I'd have to lean against my car to do it...and that would mean washing my coat. What they've done to this car over the years I have no clue. But, I digress. Shocker.)

Then, I start the car and turn on the heater and rear defrost. If it's icy, I scrape. If it's not, and it hasn't been very often in the last two years, I take a window squeegee and squeegee off the dirt from my windows. Sometimes I only have to do the windows on the street side. I have learned the hard way that it is best *not* to squirt the windows with cleaner first. This just makes mud. I simply squeegee off the layer of dirt that has accumulated overnight. Nice, huh? Imagine what we're breathing...

Before I get in the car, I check my licence plates. If they're not clean (with the red clearly showing to dissuade militsia from stopping me) then I take the spray bottle of windshield wiper fluid and the roll of paper towels from the back seat and clean them off. All trash goes in the big bin and we're ready to go!

And then we begin the adventure that is driving in Russia.

Russia suffers from two misfortunes: bad roads and foolish people.
--Nikolai Gogol

17 January 2008

new address

Just so you can update your address books...

Funnily, the Finnish post decided they needed a street address to deliver post to the
Embassy. (Funny that they didn't require it until now...)

c/o US Embassy, box L
Itainen Puistotie 14
00140 Helsinki

know your world

How well do you know your world?

This is totally addictive. Addicting. Makes you stay online waaaaaay more than you should.

My kids are going to play it during their next technology lesson.

16 January 2008

bolo punching?

Definition that I looked up on the internet so as to have an appropriate title: A bolo punch is a flashy wide sweeping uppercut that is more about showboating than power. The bolo punch might not even be thrown at all but rather used to distract the opponent so you can hit them with your other hand.

Disclaimer: This is the story told to me. I have no idea of its veracity.

V told me a story to explain why orphanage directors preferred to accept gifts of good rahter than donations of cash. It was about one of the baby homes we visited on my whirlwind donation tour. It's about to celebrate its 60th year as a baby home. For 55 years before that it was a dacha for an admiral and his family. It's a beautiful, wooden building. The stairway as you enter is absolutely gorgeous. But, it does have its share of wear, both inside and out. It is not the children's home in the worst condition, but it is sorely in need of repair.

Last year, there was a documentary made about this baby home in anticipation of its six decades. It was shown during a boxing championship in St. Petersburg last year. This was a big event! The orphanage director was delighted to be invited. President P was there, too.

After the match, the boxing gloves were auctioned off and the proceeds were to benefit the baby home. The bidding reached, according to V, 3 million rubles. Everyone was very surprised because the winning bidder was just an ordinary man. People joked that Pres. had actually backed the bidder. The money was deposited into her account.

The orphanage director was thrilled! She talked to all of her friends about that night and her good fortune. She told everyone about the repairs she would make, the renovating she would do. She began making plans. She called to let her supervisors know she would be withdrawing money from her account (It's called "her" account, but in reality she has little access to it and needs approval for withdrawls.) to make repairs. They told her that the money was specifically for repairs to the outside of the building. She readily agreed and asked to make the withdrawl.

She was then told that she was the orphanage director and was therefore in charge of all that occurred inside the orphanage. She had no jurisdiction over the OUTSIDE of the building. She couldn't access any of the money in her account.

V says the director doesn't talk about this anymore. V said that last with a little laugh, as if it was inevitable that this was too good to be true and the director was foolish to think otherwise. I can only imagine the disappointment and frustration the director must feel.

What I do know: There was a fight.

What I found online: The auction is mentioned as being hosted by what seems to be a reputable charitable foundation.

What I don't know: How much was the winning bid? Who bought them? Why? What happened to the money?

What else I know: That orphanage could put that money to good use. Any orphanage could.

14 January 2008

plugging on

I went to the consulate today and got fingerprinted for my updated I600A. All sorts of things to be thankful for: I didn't have to pay for it (it's a one-time extension fee waiver), I didn't have to go to Moscow to be fingerprinted, they inter-office mailed it so I didn't have to go and file it in person or FedEx it. That's hundreds of dollars and two days saved!

12 January 2008

no elephant sightings

Remember when I thought I was adopting an elephant? We're now at the 22 month mark. No elephants in sight...must be stuck on the bus.

(I did learn that the longest gestation period recorded for an elephant is actually 25.3 months. That gives us about three more months. Of course, I'm all about breaking records.)

11 January 2008

did you know...

that Dyed Moros is not the traditional Russian gift-giver on Christmas? I didn't. I thought he was a traditional figure in Russia history that got re-assigned from Christmas to New Year's celebrations by the soviets along with the tree, the food, and other trappings.

Not so! He and his granddaughter/niece/helper-girl Snegoritchka were created by the soviets for New Years. The traditional gift giver was Sankt Nikolas.

Another thing I hadn't thought about was the fact that many Russians now celebrate New Years before Christmas. This is disconcerting to the people I've talked to. There are actually people who are trying to move the celebration of Christmas from January to 25 December. They think if they're celebrating New Year's on a Julian calendar, then Christmas should be celebrated on that same calendar. Makes sense to me, but I hadn't thought of it.

AND, did you know that leap years are "bad" in Russia? For some unknown-to-me reason, that extra day, that ne normalna occurance is baaaad.


Debbie, Chou2, Kristen (of course I remember you!) you're it! Please put your own pif post up on your blogs. I'm already musing about what craftiness I can gift you with. Hmm...

10 January 2008

pay it forward

Jenni had a post up on her blog about an exchange of handmade items. Here are the rules:

"I will send a handmade gift (of my choosing) to the first 3 people who leave a comment on my blog requesting to join this PIF exchange, and who make the same pledge on their own blog. I don’t know what that gift will be yet and you may not receive it tomorrow or next week, but you will receive it within 365 days, that is my promise! The only thing you have to do in return is pay it forward."

Having seen Jenni's fantabulous knitted projects I jumped on this bandwagon. Anyone else interested? (No, you don't get a fantablulous Jenni creation. You get something from me. I would like to stress--hence the pink--that I don't know what is will be and that I have a year to accomplish this task.) If you're game, drop me a comment. It'll be fun!

09 January 2008

room 3.10 (long)

I had promised the girls in room 3.10 a doll each...после завтра (the day after tomorrow, in this case, Saturday). So, I set out early (well, early for vacation and early for Russia...about 10 a.m.) last Friday to find more dolls--4 baby dolls and 2 girl dolls. I went to Ashan, the French supermarket where I'd had success before. Unfortunately, the shelves were still pretty empty after new years. I did find one doll.

But, (you knew that was too easy, didn't you?) Ashan is a cash-only store. I had little cash with me. I had planned to use the Citibank ATM (no fees) elsewhere in Mega to get some cash. On this day, NONE of the ATM's in the mall were working. None.

So, I checked the two toy stores (Banana Mama and Children's World) that are in Mega, thinking I could find something there. Guess what. Not only were the ATM's off, the card swipers weren't working either. When I asked why, I was told they couldn't explain it to me. When I asked when they would be working--after lunch? this evening? I was told maybe.

I headed back home and stopped at a few toy stores on the way. No success. I decided I might try to find the other Mega and try the Ashan there. (One Mega is in the north of the city and one is in the south. It won't surprise my friends to hear I don't know which is the one in the north and which is the one in the south.) On the way, I changed my plan. I stopped at Karousel (think Wal-mart--cheaper than my Target-substitute of Okey but with lots of stuff). The dolls were okay, but...not as nice as the ones I'd already given.

I remembered that a new "Children" store had opened upstairs. I thought they'd be too expensive, but decided to give it a shot. I found...four of the SAME baby dolls I'd given the other girls all wearing different clothes (perfect!) for not much more than I'd paid at Ashan. And, after sorting through inappropriately-attired girl dolls (what's with that?), found two who were the same size as the baby dolls and had childlike faces and clothes. Score!

On Saturday, I set out on my own for the children's home. I found it with only one wrong turn and two stops for reassurance that I really was on the right road (one via mobile to V and one at the mashrutka depot. That dispatcher-lady did not want to open her little window for me! I just stood and stared until she slid it and "Da?-ed" me. I greeted her very politely and asked for help. I asked where the village was and she then happily told me it was not far--only 15 km.).

When I arrived, I called M and told her I was here. She came out to meet me, told me the dolls were beautiful and thanked me for coming. We went up to room 3.10. I was behind her but could see the girls' faces (especially N's) light up at the mention of my name and dolls. I don't think I'll ever forget it. They hopped up from the table where they were having tea and clustered around. Each got to choose her doll. M had to go, but I was invited to stay and have tea with the girls.

That was the best, the happiest hour and a half I've spent in months. We all sat down around the table. We talked. The girls told me their names and ages. They told me who the sisters were in the room. Slowly and surreptitiously they reached for their dolls and started to undo the packaging. Tea was soon forgotten as they told me about their dolls. They all knew what the dolls' names were. (The youngest had named hers Sasha, but an older girl's scowl forced her to change it. I hope she's still calling her doll Sasha, as she'd originally wanted, and not Sofia.) One of the dolls was sleeping. One was in the stroller. We took pictures of the girls with their dolls. K made a list of all the girls with their dolls' names.

Their caretaker was so pleased to watch them play. She is obviously very fond of them. I told her, "Little girls need dolls." "Yes," she said. "Need."

At their caretakers suggestion they showed me their photo albums and told me about the pictures inside. Most pictures were recent. They showed the children on various trips to St. P and Moscow. They all cuddled close and looked and looked. Ka had two books to show me. She, it seems, is a singer and dancer. (She is the Ka from the last post who didn't get to visit her grandparents this holiday. The youngest girl in the room is her sister.) N gently showed me all her pictures, proud of the French braids she had when the Buckner group visited last summer. I wish I'd stopped right then and braided her hair. I didn't know how long I had and others were waiting to show me their books...but if I could go back I'd tell her it isn't hard and French braid her hair for her. Maybe next time. Her older sister, K, told me the name of every single person in every single picture.

After looking at the photos, they helped me to deliver the ±100 stuffed animals I'd brought. I'd told a friend here that these children had no toys of their own. I'd told her how M had said that they thought it was so important for the children to have something that belonged to them and not to the group. I told her how the used toys our school had donated last year were saved and handed out on special occasions--the last day of school, for example. This friend started washing stuffed animals from her house. (She has four children and had been wanting to donate some of the extras they've accumulated before they ship out.) And she gave me enough for each child to have his own stuffed animal--with some leftover for me to take to other orphanages.

I'd told M (through V on the phone) that my friend hoped that the children could have them right away and that they wouldn't be saved for something special. She agreed. The girls came with me to my car to get them. They were VERY impressed that I had a car. They were more impressed, and quite incredulous, when they found out I came alone; that I drove. One girl kept questioning me about whether I drove, if I had the proper documents and where those documents were.

We handed out the stuffed animals (I'd gotten permission to bring them on my last visit. I've heard from some people that stuffed animals are considered unhygienic and not allowed. M and V were both puzzled by this--even thinking we had a translation problem. The stuffed animals were welcomed.) to all who wanted them. The girls had a great time being able to be the ones doing the giving. One of the girls, L, found a large horse and claimed it for herself. She was delighted with it! We decided her baby could ride on it. One older boy, M, chose a giant moose and proudly danced around with it. He was recently in the paper to say he is available for adoption. V says he is the only child who has ever asked her to bring him books. He has run away from the orphanage, but now is back and is hoping for a family.

Then, it was time to go. The girls walked me down to the door and hugged and kissed me goodbye. K hugged me so long. It was hard to leave. They walked out in their slippers and waved me off.

I've asked V to make arrangements for me to sponsor this group. She says she will. I want to bring them birthday presents this year and visit if I'm allowed. This is a very, very special group of girls.

08 January 2008

simple wishes

I haven't felt very bloggy lately. And, I've been busy--on the road travelling to various orphanages to distribute donations. But, now that I've got a free day, I need to tell you about the results of Rachael's Simple Wishes project.

I've been busy shopping ever since sales closed in the shop. Rachael and I had agreed to get some toys for the younger children and something practical for all the children at Lopukhinka. I found out there were about 70 children there. SEVENTY! I shopped around and found four baby dolls (It's incredibly difficult to find baby dolls here that are both sweet-faced and inexpensive. Incredibly.difficult.), two doll strollers, a fake Lego castle and two castle accessory kits, and gloves or hats for everyone. I got an orange, a snickers and some shower gel (in the shape of cats, frogs or ducks) to stuff them. If Santa stuffs stockings and Sankt Nikolas fills shoes, why couldn't I stuff gloves?

So, that's just what I did. (note to Ukrainian adopters: I bought this tablecloth from the street market in Kyiv. I use it every Christmas.) I stuffed the gloves and hats and then tied them with a ribbon. Not only did this allow choice (and I thing giving these children choices is empowering) but it meant I didn't have to wrap 70 gifts. ;> I'd looked for clear, plastic gift bags that I'm often given a gift in, but I didn't find them. So--a ribbon seemed a good solution. I think these were my favorite gloves:

When I was finished, I loaded them all into two IKEA bags (still happy with IKEA) and headed out. This way, the children could choose which they liked best.

We got there after visiting a baby home earlier in the day. A teacher, M, went with us from room to room as we delivered the gifts. The toys were divided between the different groups. The dolls were presented as a matter of course to the youngest member of each group. In two groups, this was not a problem. The groups were mostly boys and the lone girls were happy. But, in my favorite group from last time, the doll being presented to the youngest child resulted in five very glum faces. I asked if we couldn't leave doll number four for the group as well. They agreed--and then did ahti-bahti ( like eeny-meeny-miney-mo) and gave the last doll to one of the girls, K. Four very glum faces were presented to me. I promised, PROMISED to be back with dolls for everyone. They nodded but didn't cheer up very much. I asked the remaining girls if they wanted baby dolls or girl dolls with hair. All asked for baby dolls--and they asked for two girl dolls for missing group members. Those girls were home with family for the holidays. Here they are bent over the bag choosing their gloves:
The last group loved their gifts. They were the youngest in the orphanage. And, when a little boy asked if they could have a hat and gloves, and I saw we had enough for that and said they could, they were so excited. They loved opening them up and comparing the contents. (The pix have identifiable faces in them so I won't post them.)

Everyone seemed pleased. Our teenagers were less enthusiastic and typically teen-aged. But, I saw many oranges quickly peeled and much thought put into some of the glove choices. The teenaged boys enthusiastically claimed a train set for their group. One of the boys had carried the bags around to all the groups just so that he could choose the train for his group. A, the bag-carrier and train-chooser, is a winner of a winter Olympics for held amongst Russian orphanages.

We found out later that Ka, the girl who had received the final doll, had been very upset over the holidays, crying many tears. Her grandmother wanted her to come visit for the holidays, but the director, not knowing the character of the grandparents, had denied the visit. After she got her doll she said that she was glad she had stayed at school because they had done many fun things and she had gotten a present.

I think Rachael's simple wish was granted. Many thanks, Rach, for letting me be a part of this wonderful day.

04 January 2008

extending the metaphor

When I last lived in England, I rode the 139 from my lovely little house in Chalk to the next-but-one village of Higham where I taught. (It's pronounced High-um and not Hig-um, btw.) The 139 was not the most reliable of buses. It had recently had its times cut and no one was happy with the change. It did provide an easy chit-chat opportunity. Everyone was dissatisfied with the scheduling and reliability of the new timetable. Apparently the 139 used to be very efficient and dependable. It used to run like clockwork. But that wasn't the case when the new timetable went into effect.

The 139 was scheduled to stop at the end of my street every half hour from 7:18 a.m. to 9:48 p.m. (It also ran hourly in the early mornings at 5:18 a.m. and 6:18 a.m. Can you imagine my joy when I needed to be at school early and had to catch the 6:18 A.M. bus? Not hard to imagine...) The biggest problem with the 139 was reliability. Especially during the morning hours it was common to have a bus running late or even not show up at all. If a driver didn't show up for work, then there was no bus. The problem was, there was no way to know if a bus was on time, late or skipped. So, each morning I'd arrive at the bus stop by 7:10 a.m. And I'd wait.

If my bus was skipped, I could still make it to school on time by catching the 7:48 bus. It was CLOSE, but do-able if everything ran smoothly and to schedule. The problem came when the 7:18 got skipped and the 7:48 was late. What to do, what to do?

At the top of my street and down a block on the main road, there was another bus stop. It was for another bus company. I don't know the number of that route, so you can see it wasn't familiar to be. It was rumored to stop near my school. When I needed to be at school and the 139 was critically late, I'd start wondering about heading up to the other bus stop. It was a dilemma! In true Murphy's fashion, the 139 would surely arrive as soon as I left for the other bus. (And, you can't psych out Murphy's Law and pretend to go. The Law knows. It can't be manipulated like that. You have to commit.) And, I didn't ride that other bus. I didn't know the schedule or where exactly I'd end up.

That's where I am right now in my long adoption process. The bus is incredibly late. I'm wondering if it's time to stop waiting for the 139 and take another bus. Everyone in Russia is on holiday right now. There are some questions that need to be answered here before I head up the street to the other bus stop. I wish there was a point halfway where I could stand and watch both buses and then dash for the one that comes first. However, not only is that not physically possible (bend in the road), but I'm not a runner. I'd miss them both.

And that is something I'm not willing to do.

(p.s. I'm tired of looking at that long timeline over in the sidebar and am thinking about deleting it. At the time, those seemed like milestones. And, I know it does help other people keep track of my convuluted, atypical ride... We'll see.)

01 January 2008


I don't do the whole resolution thing. Why January first? What makes that special? Unless you're a thoroughbred--then your birthday is 1 January no matter when you were born--it's just another day.

I know that a lot of bloggerdom is talking about new weight loss strategies starting today. I am *always* struggling with weight. I think I have stumbled upon a plan that will confirm those suspicions of genius harbored on my behalf. Stay with me here--genius is often ridiculed in its early stages.

It has been often noted that pets resemble their owners and vice versa. My cat, Beazy, (after Beatrice in Much Ado) is a big cat. She was a scrawny little kitten who gained weight after she was spayed. Then, when I was living in England and she was in the US she gained even more. When we arrived in Russia, we both needed to shed a few pounds.

I did. She did too--but by getting gravely ill. When she recovered and adoption stress mounted we both put on pounds. My sensible eat-less-move-more plan didn't seem to be working for either one of us. So, rather than go to the move-even-more plan, I've now got my cat on a STRICT diet (Royal Canin light, 1/2 c per day). It's a cat's answer to NurtiSystem--pre-planned and pre-measured. And, I figure if pets DO resemble their owners, my weight loss should follow hers as a matter of course. Genius!

Now, this is not to say that it's an easy program to follow. There is a fine line between a happy cat and one who is hungry and mean. Beazy is a vocal cat and trills her complaints (she doesn't miaow) insistently. This invokes the response, "No, Beaze" from me which, in turn, makes me sing Dona Nobis. She tries to hypnotize me into feeding her more by staring at me intensely and then dashing for the food bowl when I acknowledge her or shift in my chair. She wakes me up at 5:30 every morning wanting to be fed. It's tough.

But, I really think this plan has potential. I'm off to continue watching season 3 of Lost (I don't know if I can manage to watch it stretched out over a season instead of in a marathon sitting.) after I give Beazy her snack ration. We've been on this plan for some time now and are seeing some slow progress. But, we all know that slow, steady weight loss is the best way to ensure that loss is permanent. I would encourage any of you who feel like you've tried everything to lose weight to give this scheme a try. I can use your testimonies in my infomercial when I'm back in the US. ;>