Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The Obligatory Thanksgiving Post

I don't think anyone should ever be too "old" or "cool" to make a turkey hand - so forcing my 8th through 11th formers was all but sickeningly justified. Though no frets, my younger kids also got in on the action.
apologies, the SLR unfortunately doesn't go everywhere I do, and the iPod doesn't take still shots well

While yes, my work did include holding turkey day presentations (which were awesome might I add), I got to also celebrate it in true Amurican fashion... with Western Murder Mysteries, Saunas, and a total of 3 turkeys of course. 

The day of thanks was actually broken up into two separate weekends - chronological order went as followed...
Thanksgiving #1
My Poltavian family Thanksgiving + Kristen (an outsider) was held in Kotel'va, which boarders Sums'ka Oblast to the north. 
As mentioned previously, festivities at this gathering included a murder mystery (an impromptu play) under the code name : Fort Griffin Clock Tower Celebration at Clyde's Bar and Saloon. General introductions were as follows.
Howdy All,
It's my much esteemed pleasure, as your recently appointed Sheriff, Slim Pickens, to cordially invite you this Friday, November 19, year of our lord 1875, to celebrate our newly constructed clock tower in the center of our fair town of Fort Griffin. Festivities gonna be held at the Clyde's Knothole Bar and Saloon, just a holler from the town center, startin bouts when the wolves howl, with a chili cook off, games, open bar, live music, n' dance shows. I'm purdy new here to your fine budding city, and I know a lot of us have howdied but ain't shook yet, so I'm lookin forward to acquaintin myself with all you fair, God fearing citizens.  I'm certain ain't nothin' gonna go wrong on such a grand 'occasion! Below you'll find your entrance card. Make sure to read your specific directions. Finally, remember to dress and act your parts at this fine establishment, or you'll be 'bout as welcome as a skunk at a nuptial. 
I was deemed worthy to play Buck - Outlaw meaning...
You’ve been an outlaw since … ahh but it’s too painful to say (starting this vague story multiple times in the night would be ideal). You’re tough, you don’t have much of a rhyme or reason for acting so, but you are. You like it when bad things happen to people, you make up your own western themed curses minus the real swear words. You used to have a love affair with Candy the can-can dancer. You let your tough exterior guard down to let her in and she ripped your heart out. And it makes you mad! It especially makes you mad when someone disrespects or has something bad to say about her. The outburst or rage is occasionally followed by a sad streak that comes on real strong and may be accompanied with weeping. Any attempt at consoling (or mocking your weepin’) will be me with another streak of mean. You have noticed the occasional eye from that new can can dancer, what’s her name? Picker, Poker, Pepper…..? She is cute but there just isn’t room in your sore heart right now. You absolutely cannot stand Mr. Tinker the Piano Player, and you are not quite sure why.
Speaks: a gruff voice which turns to high pitched whining when weeping
Cliff notes version - Candy/Priest died, I cried, yelled, and got angry (a lot), investigation commenced, culprit was found, I shot her, and we all continued to hate Mr. Tinker. 
we're all still in character
Overall, impressively quirky and fun. 

The next day was our actual feast. Which involved food prep, some good old "2 hand touch" football (lightly enforced), feasting, lounging, sleeping.  

Since none of us had every truthfully prepared a turkey, we sought refuge in YouTube. Sadly, not all videos were too helpful - example.
Warning: what you're about to see may be disturbing 
A very successful Thanksgiving #1.
Thanksgiving #2
#2 wasn't as easy of a travel though I found a new cheap way to get to Kiev (for only 25 UAH - aka 3 USD)! Stopping in Kiev also meant I got to raid the Peace Corps office for stuff Volunteers who have completed their service left. It's like going into Target, sometimes you score, sometimes you don't. 
Anyways, we (Kym was assimilated) made our way to Rivne via a 4 hour marshrutka from hell. Not in the sense that it was in any particular reason awful, it was just unbearably hot. To the point where I turned to Kym and said, "is it ok for my eyes to be burning?". We left hell and made it to Dyadkovichi (uncle town?) where Maria, my old clustermate, lives. 

We ended up accomplishing much over the extended weekend.
  • Learned Ukrainians are far better volleyball players then most PCVs
  • Held a seminar on Thanksgiving traditions countrywide
  • Saunas are always epic - especially for Miss Booker's 24th birthday
  • Explored Rivne
    • much has changed since Rivne was the headquarters of the Nazi Regime in Ukraine
  • Reunited with old friends over an Ukr Disco
  • I cooked some delicious mac and cheese from scratch
  • and of course checked another Oblast center off the list
the noms
да, это вилка, спасибо Лидия
great hostess and her counter part
While it's hard to beat bourbon whip cream, 65 degree weather, Wii, and a home cooked meal as 2010 Thanksgiving had to offer, this one packed enough Amurica.
time to go home
A special thanks to the many photographers who's images can be found in this post.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

iMovie's making me famous

So the word's out in my celo that I know how to make mildly decent looking films, so now the petitions for help are rolling in. The first being at my the local kindergarden. I work there once a week teaching a painting or craft project / simple english lesson. I then proceed to get fed lunch, whether I'm hungry or not (I find for a man, saying no to food shouldn't be in my vocabulary).

here's project №1

So this video was shown at a later point at some kindergarden county gathering. I later received a jokingly sarcastic comment from a neighboring PCV regarding "what the hell I did". Now he must now make a video for his community kindergarden. I swear sometimes it'd be faster to send a letter by word of mouth then through the Ukrainian mailing system. 

Sunday, November 06, 2011

Herbology Lesson

Currently listening to... Gotye - Somebody That I Used To Know
So coming from the sheltered California "force field", "bubble", "electromagnetic field", we sometimes miss out on where stupidly common things actually comes from. 

Take for instance this pictures - one may or may not question what the Dr. Seuss looking topiary is. Well, I  "what the'd" the tree with balls. Since mid-fall to early winter, you couldn't not see these guys sprouting up everywhere. As a biologist, I assumed it was just some strange tree's economical technique of seed dispersal / genetic transmission.

Well it comes to find out... drum roll please... it's mistletoe. Which turns out is a parasitic plant that roots itself into a variety of tree species while it matures and steals water and nutrient resources. 

Ironically with this stuff everywhere, there is no tradition here of couples kissing under mistletoe. Though I'm sure Ukrainians would love the concept, seeing how it could potentially lead to marriage. 

My favorite response when I began to ask PCV's if they knew where mistletoe came from was from a fellow Poltavian PCV Alvi, where she responded with "Walgreens". 

Friday, November 04, 2011

Saving princesses and growing staches...

Theme music
Before I begin I'd like to say this rooster outside my window is seriously killin' my writing buzz. So Halloween is generally not celebrated in Ukraine, which I believe is rooted in Ukraine's strong connection with Catholicism. However in bigger cities you can find Halloween creeping in different aspects: with posters for clubs and discos and decorations in chain stores. 

Being a personal fan of horror movies and eating candy, I guess you could say I too enjoy Halloween. Tragically however, the 31st usually falls during Ukrainian school system's autumn break. With a desire to scare some students, my Halloween ended up being four fold including two costumes.
  1. my sitemate in the city held a zombie disco event at her Gymnasia
  2. the annual volunteer Halloween celebration in Kharkiv
    • including oblast themed costumes
    • a window view of one of the Euro 2012 stadiums from the finest unrated hotel one could book a hundred people
    • and taking a stroll in the biggest public square in Europe
  3. tricker treating in my school office
    • sadly very few students showed up
    • upside, I ate all the leftover candy
  4. Halloween themed english clubs
    • explaining that the current holiday isn't about anything more than candy and practical jokes went over well
I truly hope this requires no caption