Sunday, August 30, 2009

Some photos from my trip Maya's sister

The first photo is a view of the sunset looking down the road where I live. The big furry dog is Liki, who lives across the street. The other photos are from Maya's sister's place. A reservoir that provides water for Alta, the forests behind their place, a view out the bus window, and a picture of Maya (on the right) and her sister.

A visit to Bachiserai

I didn’t get invited to any Independence Day happenings last Monday, so I decided to go into the city center and explore a park I have been eyeing on the map. And what a lovely discover y it was. There is a fast flowing small river that comes down out of the mountains and winds its way through the heart of Simferopol. There is a walkway the length of the river—I had been on some of it, but never followed it the whole length. It was such a treat to walk along the river, listening to the rushing water, watching the river spill over little concrete dams here and there. There is some trash on the river, as there is everywhere in Ukraine, but most of the river was pretty clean and the water was clear. I eventually ended up in a large park where I came across an eternal flame monument to the Great Patriotic War (as World War II is called here) and a monument commemorating the Chernobyl disaster (called a “catastrophe” on the plaque). I wandered through the park—beautiful tall trees, a small lake with an island in the center and people on paddle boats, a kiddie area with some rides, wilder areas of grasses and trees. It’s quite a large park for a city the size of Simferopol—I’m glad I finally checked it out.
Eventually I made my way to the train station and caught a bus back home. Later I went for a long walk with Sirdar and one of their dogs—Lutsa, a dachshound/cocker mix-- following along. I kept getting nervous about her as there are a lot of large dogs on the loose and of course, none of the dogs are spayed or neutered. But she managed to hold her on, though we had to change our route on the way back to avoid a street that really had a lot of dogs. She wouldn’t follow us down it. We got back as the red sun was sinking into the distant hills. A good day.
It’s Saturday evening now, and I want to write about my day, surely the highlight of this week. Though some other interesting things happened this week, so those first. Tuesday I went into the library as always, but Nadzhiye wasn’t there. I knew her vacation was starting—she gets a month off, which is typical here--but she had told me she would be in on Tuesday. I did run into her on the street over my lunch break—she told me she would be in zavtra (tomorrow), but unfortunately, I wasn’t going to be there. So hopefully we will connect this week, as I haven’t a clue where she is at with the project ideas. And one of the grants she wanted to apply for is due in rough draft form at the end of September. So we will see where it all goes. We’ll connect somehow.
Wednesday I took the bus with a couple of other Crimean PCV’s to Bachiserai, a beautiful old town in the mountains about 45 minutes from Simferopol. It was the capital of the Khanate—the Crimean Tatar governing body—from 1400-1700. The Khan’s palace is still there along with a “cave city” where people had lived for eons. So it is always a place I wanted to visit. However, this was a meeting of PCV’s in Crimea to talk about English teaching, so I didn’t do any sightseeing. Though I really only do English clubs, I wanted to come and get some ideas and meet other volunteers (and also learn how to get to Bachiserai) . There were about 8 of us and some new faces for me. I especially liked the young man who lives in Bachiserai and Nastia, a Russian-born volunteer who lives in one of the villages on the coast. More people to go visit! The only down part of the day was that on the way back, the two volunteers I was traveling with got their bus tickets and got on the bus and it took off before I got my ticket! They didn’t really mean to leave me, but I did feel a momentary panic and abandonment, but then I just got on the next bus, and it did teach me how to read the ticket and know which bus to get on.
Friday was a somewhat disheartening day. Spent the morning meeting briefly with the artists. One of them seems to be getting upset that nothing is happening yet in the way of grants. I am beginning to wonder what it is they were told—their expectations are so out of line with the reality of the world of grants. It feels sort of like a set up for failure, but I’m trying not to go there, and to just keep plugging away. The problem , of course, is that I can’t explain any of this to them because of the language barrier. I think even through an interpreter it would be difficult. Sometimes I think to myself, if they are getting impatient after only two months, how are they going to feel after twelve months (or more) and nothing has been produced? I think I need to start thinking creatively about what other projects I could do with them that aren’t grant dependent. Spent Friday afternoon at my Russian tutor’s home, which was fun but exhausting as she talks to me in Russian nonstop. She does speak some English, but doesn’t use it much. Probably good, I know, but really tiring. She lives in another Crimean Tatar community across the mountain from where I live, but it is an hour bus ride because there are no roads across and you have to go into the center of the city.
Friday evening was quite delightful, as the 21-year old daughter of my neighbors’ has returned home from working on the coast for the summer. I really like her a lot. She speaks no English, but we have fun talking anyhow. She came over, and then I went over to their house and had dinner with them. Afterwards another neighbor showed up, and then they all starting talking in Crimean Tatar—yikes! Though when people are talking among themselves, I pretty much can’t understand anything anyhow, just pick up a word here and there and sometimes get the gist of what they are talking about.
Today I went with my neighbors, Maya and Server (parents of the 21-year old but she didn’t go) to visit Maya’s sister and her family. They live in Bachiserai, or so I thought, but actually they live in a tiny village 30 minutes past Bachiserai on the bus. What a beautiful setting, surrounded by forest covered mountains. The bus weaved past high canyon walls with caves set back into what looks like limestone. Their house is small and they have a large garden and raise turkeys, rabbits, a cow I think, and I’m not sure what else. We drove in a battered old car they have up to see a reservoir, and then took a long hike up into the hills, picking kisel berries as we went off of what looks like dogwood trees. I’ll have to check it on the internet. Maya’s sister cooked plov—the Crimean Tatar version of rice pilaf—in the outdoor summer kitchen, and we had that along with fresh tomatoes. So yummy. The men weren’t eating because of Ramadan, so they fell asleep in front of the TV. Server decided to bring back 5 pieces of very long lumber—his brother-in-law is a logger. Somehow we managed to transport them on 3 different buses—pretty hysterical. I kept wondering exactly how this was going to happen, but Server managed to convince each of the drivers (probably along with some cash slipping). It was truly a great day, and I feel yet again, I have been gifted with a piece of Crimea. And I didn’t speak a English word the entire day!
Sorry this posting is so long. It is my way of keeping a record of what I am doing here, so don’t feel obligated to read it all. I am going to try and post a few pictures too. Much love to everyone. (Maya just brought over some compote made with the kisel berries. Compote is a very popular fruit drink in Ukraine that is basically cooking berries or fruit in a lot of water and straining off the pulp. Frequently it is sealed in jars for the winter.)

Monday, August 24, 2009

Independence Day Ukraine

Monday morning, August 24th, and it is a holiday here in Ukraine. Independence Day—the 18th anniversary of Ukraine becoming an independent country. I’m a little uncertain as to how much it is celebrated around here. There is a huge parade in Kyiv, and according to my 15-year-old neighbor who seems very excited about it, there is a parade and concert here in Simferopol. However, the young Ukrainian man who I have gotten to know a little is definitely not excited. Said it is “not a holiday for him,” and was disgusted by how much the president allocated for the celebration in Kyiv. Also, as I discovered yesterday, it is Ramadan, the Muslim month-long holiday of fasting and prayers. I was hanging out my clothes when my neighbor tried to explain it to me, and then he showed me the schedule print out from the mosque of sunrise and sunset (no eating or drinking between sunrise and sunset), and I finally got it, along with a little research on the internet. It will be interesting to see who of the people I am around observe it. I really don’t have a clue how religious people are, and this will give me some insights. Server (my neighbor) is obviously observing the fast, but I don’t know yet about the others. Maya, Server’s wife, invited me to go with her to her sister’s home next weekend in Bakhchysaray, a town near here that was the original center of the Crimean Tatar khanate (the Tatar ruling body) and has a lot of beautiful old ruins. Will we be fasting or not, I don’t know. Though I think the fast can be suspended if you are traveling, as long as you make up the days. We’ll see…
Spent the last week in Kyiv, the Ukrainian capital, at a training for Peace Corps Volunteers and our organization counterparts. It was a good experience in many respects. The train trip up and back, though long—18 hours each way—was not so bad. Actually, I think travelling that way is very civilized. You get on the train in late afternoon/early evening, have something to eat (you bring your own food and water), watch the scenery go by, read, chat. Then you go to bed, and when you wake up in the morning, you are almost at your destination. We were in 3rd class, which consists of facing double bunk beds perpendicular to the side of the train, and then another bunk across the aisle along the opposite side. In second class, which I had travelled before, there weren’t the side bunks and the two facing bunks are enclosed in a compartment with a door. Travelling alone, I definitely would go third class because it is more open and feels safer. But if I was with another person, perhaps the enclosed compartment (even though it would be shared with two others), would be better. Definitely would be quieter. Going to Kyiv we had a side bunk right next to the door which leads to the hallway where the bathroom is, so there was constantly coming and going. But the trip back was fine. I like the rocking motion of the train and feel like I sleep well. The bathrooms aren’t great, but it is Ukraine, after all. At least they aren’t a hole in the floor.
The training was centered around the idea of service learning—getting people to volunteer and what they are able to learn from that experience. There was a talk at the beginning on the history of volunteerism in Ukraine, particularly during Soviet times, where there was forced “volunteerism.” It was quite interesting. Much of the time we spend working on a pilot project with our counterpart on how we would recruit and manage volunteers. The fact that Nadzhye and I can’t really communicate beyond the basic necessities was, of course, a problem. But they provided interpreters, which was so helpful, at least in the beginning. What became hard for me as the week progressed is that Nadzhye kept coming up with different project ideas and seemed to discard earlier ones that appeared to be, at least initially, what she really wanted. I don’t know what was going on, but it was very frustrating. And on the train ride home, she presented yet another idea. Hard to know if she is one of those people who have a million ideas but don’t seem to be able to focus, or if she was just responding to the ideas of the training. Time will tell, as always. We did have a logistical communication breakdown on the last evening, which didn’t help. I had told her I was going into the city center with Jud to have dinner with his niece, but I got a frantic phone call from her wondering why I wasn’t at the venue. We got it worked out, but it wasn’t a good way to end things. She seemed more distant on the train ride home, but perhaps she was just tired. So much guesswork without the language bridge.
I did have a nice time with Jud visiting his niece. Her and her husband and two kids have just moved to Kyiv, where he has some high level military appointment at the embassy. The embassy provides them with an apartment, and it was quite amazing, even by American standards. Two floors, four bathrooms, four bedrooms, huge living room and kitchen, etc. etc. And right in the heart of the center up on the 8th floor with beautiful views. Now I know where Jud will be spending his free time—he only lives 3 hours from Kyiv. It was a treat to spend the evening with them, eating chili and cornbread and brownies! We had to take a bus and then the Metro (subway) to get there, which was fine, except when we got off the subway we couldn’t find our way out and circled around different levels for about a half an hour. That song about “He never returned, no he never returned, riding forever beneath the streets of Boston….” kept going through my head. The Metro is quite something—built during Soviet times, it is incredibly deep. At some stations, you go down two of the longest (and fastest) escalators I have even been on. Down, down, down…. But the platform areas are very lovely with a lot of mosaics, and clean, and the trains aren’t bad---better then New York! And I feel next time I am in Kyiv, I will be able to navigate them better—and find my way out.
Well I think I am written out, so maybe I will wander over to my neighbors and see if anything is happening for Independence Day, or maybe I will just go into the city on my own and walk around. It’s a beautiful day , and not so hot. The evenings are very cool. Summer is winding down here in Crimea. Love to everyone back in the States. I do miss you all.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Off to Kyiv

Yesterday was kind of a Coney Island beach day. Went on a bus with Natalia, director of the Children’s Library where I work on Thursdays, and her two daughters, 15 year-old Olga, and 20-something Kseniya, who speaks pretty good English. It was a different kind of Black Sea experience. We went northwest for about an hour to get to the coast. Slightly rolling land-- pastures, wheat fields, vineyards. Dry and dusty. The beach is a long pebble expanse and fairly narrow, with scrub land behind it. I saw on the map it was marked for camping, and there were tents lining the back of the beach. No toilet facilities, so people went across the highway to an empty field, as far as I could tell. The beach was pretty crowded—blankets and people every few feet. So not for me the ideal beach experience. But the swimming was great—clear cool water and some good sized waves as the day got windier. And I had fun hanging out with them, especially the 15-year old who was into swimming with me. But overall they are much more reserved than the Crimean Tatar people I am mostly around. They were yakking away and laughing with each other, but I was really not part of it. Natalia really only wants to talk with me through Kseniya interpreting, and that makes all the difference in the world. But she is very kind and wants to make sure I have a good time. She asked me if I wanted to go with them today (Sunday) to a horse competition of some kind, which I would have liked to do, but am leaving tomorrow for the week and felt like I needed a day at home to prepare.
At the end of the day we were waiting for a bus, and some guy stopped and offered us a ride. He had a Mercedes sedan and was into driving, so I just sat in the back seat and tried not to look and thought, “well, we will get back home really fast, or we won’t get back home at all!”
Leaving tomorrow with Nadzhye to go to Kyiv (the Ukrainian capital) for a 3-day workshop on how to build volunteerism in a community. I didn’t think Nadzhye would be interested in the topic, but she definitely was, so we decided to go. There do seem to be some volunteers at the library, but I don’t really have a clue how tied in the Tatar community is to the library or the arts organization. It would be great if some kind of project came out of our attending the workshop. I am starting to feel that I would like to figure out some additional way I can get involved in the organizations besides grant writing, because I am afraid that could be a dead end endeavor. I think we will be able to get some small grants to fund projects like conferences, but the bigger projects are going to be difficult, especially in these economic times. As you all know.
The trip to Kyiv is a 17-hour ride on the train. I think there is a faster train, but it is the height of the tourist season, and we were lucky to get tickets at all. As it is, we ended up in the “platcar” which is a class down from koupe, where we would normally travel, and our seats are close to the toilet and along the side, whatever that means. I just know Nadzhye wasn’t too happy when we went to purchase tickets. Furthermore, everyone I have told about the tickets start laughing. Not a good sign. I will report back next week and give you the whole, and hopefully not too awful, story.
The really wonderful thing about going to Kyiv is that I will get to see a couple of the people I got close to in the training months. We have been talking on the phone since we have been at our sites and made a plan to go to this workshop at least partly to see one another. I will be glad to see them, but otherwise I don’t have a strong desire to be in contact with other Americans, as some of my fellow PCV’s do. I really like where I live, the people I work with, and my neighbors who I have gotten to know a bit these past couple of months. I so look forward to my relationships with them continuing to grow. The language barrier does keep us from having real indepth conversations, but yet there is so much we are able to communicate. At least two or three times a week, I go across the road to Neshet and Lenora’s house, and the three of us spend a couple of hours talking with the aid of the dictionary. When Sirdar, and to some extent Sophye though she knows much less English than Sirdar, is there, it is much easier, but it is kind of amazing what we are able to talk about, just Neshet and Lenora and I. A lot of it is the willingness to keep trying to explain oneself and to understand the other person. I am so grateful they want to make that effort. I just hope they don’t tire of it at some point.
At the end of this post there is a link to see the pictures I put on Facebook. Please let me know if this way to doing pictures isn’t working for you. I know not everyone is on facebook, but you shouldn’t have to be to see the pictures. Unfortunately, it is pretty difficult to post pictures on this blog.
Back from my lovely evening walk now. The little group of sheep were out on the road as usual, and the herd of cows were heading home. The call to prayer from the mosques were sounding in the distance. It's a good life here. Love to you all.
Photo link--

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Buzzed in Crimea

Well, here it is 9 at night, and I’ve just had a cup of coffee AND a cup of black tea with my neighbor, so I will probably be up a lot of the night. Or maybe not, who knows…. But at least I feel energized at the moment to get some writing done. I’m a little behind on my weekly blog posting. I do spend a lot of time these days visiting with my neighbors, and I’m loving it. Usually involves some sweets, tea or coffee, and sometimes other food, too. Tonight Maya had just finished making little dumplings stuffed with curd cheese, the name of which I couldn’t understand, and we had those too. Yummy. I’m sort of surprised I haven’t become a bit of a tub with all that I eat, but I also do a tremendous amount of walking. I have developed a major sugar craving, though. It’s nonstop sweets—cookies and candies mostly—here in Ukraine.
Saturday I was going to have sort of a relaxing, do nothing kind of day. About 11am I was hanging out my laundry, and Maya invited me in for a cup of coffee. I saw that she was canning (the Crimean Tatar version—different than the water bath I’m familiar with) and I offered to help. Well, it turned into an all day affair, and I ended up having lunch and dinner with them as we cooked away. Mostly we made an eggplant dish where you chop a lot of eggplant, carrots, onions, and peppers in small pieces, cook them a long time in a lot of oil, adding garlic and tomatoes as you go. End up with a kind of spread. We cooked it outside over an open fire in a huge wok-looking pan that she had brought with her from Uzbekistan, where most food is cooked outside. After making the eggplant dish (which is so delicious, with that great smoky flavor), we cooked another Crimean Tatar dish, plov, which is kind of a rice pilaf—rice, onion, carrots, and chicken and whole heads of garlic—also cooked outside. Also divine…. I sure am eating wonderfully here.
Sunday I went on a 3-hour walk from my house, exploring the bluff across the road I have been eyeing for awhile, going through a little village which seems much older than where I live, and then on a long path through the forest. Then I made my way back home along the bluff that I usually hike. While up on the bluffs, Pat called from America, so I sat up there looking out over the fields and distant mountains, and had a great talk with her. What a life I get to live here. Later in the day I skyped with some more friends back home and did some emailing. I hadn’t talked to any of my neighbors all day, and that evening when I went outside to talk with Lenora across the road, it was kind of a shock to start speaking Russian again and of course, the reality that I can barely understand the language. But somehow I do manage to communicate. None of my neighbors speak English, and the last few times I have been with the family that has the son that speaks some English, he has been off playing soccer (football here), so we have had to do without our sometimes interpreter. Maybe I really will eventually learn the language, out of necessity, if nothing else. I do have a once a week tutor now, so hopefully that will help, though it’s hard to get myself to do any studying. After trying to speak and understand all day, the last thing I want to do is come home and study the language!
Met a really interesting woman last week. She is 44, an American that was born in Istanbul to a Crimean Tatar father and Russian mother. She came to America when she was 16 and has a strong Russian accent. She is here on a Fulbright grant doing some kind of survey with the Crimean Tatars, as she speaks the language (along with English, Russian, and Turkish). She is disabled from a bicycle accident when she was a child, and though she can walk a little, she mostly gets around on one of those motorized sit scooters. We talked quite a bit about her experience of being disabled in Ukraine, and it is as bad as I thought. I mentioned the new library and how they said they had an elevator, and she said no, they lied, which is what I thought. There are no wheelchairs at the airports, she can’t ride the buses because she is unable to get on them, almost no buildings are wheel chair accessible, and there are no ramps anywhere. She loves Crimean and has been here six times and would love to live here, but the inaccessibility and health care are a nightmare. Her grant runs out in January, and she is scheming to stay a while longer, so maybe we will get to know each other.
Well, I think that is my report for the week, especially as I am now halfway into this week. The weather has weirdly (for August) turned cool, but it is hard to complain after some of the hot days we have had. I never liked living in air conditioning back home, and here there is none, so I am getting to see what that is really like. Mostly it is fine, though the buses can be pretty bad sometimes. What I have the hardest time with is working, especially in the afternoon. All I want to do is lay down and go to sleep! Today it was nice and cool, and I had way more energy.
Good night to all of you over there in America. Or I guess it is good morning. Lots of love to everyone from my new life in Crimea.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Monday in Crimea
This is a link to view the photos I put on facebook. You don’t have to part of facebook, at least that is what it says. Let me know if it doesn’t work.
Monday morning, about 6am, waiting for my hot water to heat up so I can take a shower. I have a small wall mounted electric hot water heater, so when I want hot water I plug it in, and wait—to get it really hot takes a couple of hours, so I settle with a warm shower unless I wake up early and go in the kitchen and plug it in. While avoiding stepping on any slugs, of course. They do continue to appear several times a week, depending on how much rain we have had. Just one usually, and I can see their tracks on the dark rugs in the kitchen so even if I can’t find them, I know they have been there. I’ve gotten use to it now, but if I ever have any guests, they might be grossed out. (Just a little warning)
Wanted to get my thoughts down from last week before a new week begins. Spent Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday at the Crimean Tatar Library as I always do. Most of my time there right now is spent on the internet doing grant research. I am finding it very tiring to be sitting in front of a computer all day, so I take frequent breaks and walk around the neighborhood of the library. At the end of the day on Monday and Tuesday, Eskender, a 18-year-old kid who I tutor in English, comes over. We spent last week going to computer stores—he has been helping me figure out how to have internet at home. I bought a 10-ft long USB cable and now I hang my modem out the window when I want good enough reception to do skype. Tried it on Saturday and it worked great. Not sure what I will do come winter, but at least I know I can skype. The rest of the time I hang it from the curtain rod up high and close to the window, and that gives me enough reception to email and internet surf.
Tuesday I tried going to the Crimean Tatar Art Museum with Zarema from the library. It is in an old building and was closed, because they were changing exhibits. It looks like it is just a couple of rooms, which is not untypical of museums here.
Monday evening I ended up chatting with a bunch of young girls in front of my house-friends of Sophye from across the street. They were great—all wanted to practice their English and giggled a lot. Then I had chai (tea) with the family, which turned out to be french fries and watermelon. “Come and have chai” can mean anything, obviously.
Thursday is my day at the children’s library. In the morning I have my English Club which this week consisted of about 6 kids and two adults. The kids are 3 teenagers, ages 13-15, and 3 boys, ages 10-12. It is a challenge for me, to say the least, but I seem to muddle my way through. However, I did just find out that they really want me to do two groups starting in September—one for teenagers and the other for little kids. Yikes! I’m becoming a teacher! What do I do??? What I do is spend a lot of time on the internet research ESL games, mostly, and hoping it works. Sometimes it does, sometimes not….And there is a woman at the library I have really enjoyed trying to talk with—she is very enthusiastic and wants to learn English, so I usually have tea break with her. This week I found out she is into fitness and teaches a fitness class, so maybe I will go to it (in my spare time).
I spent all Thursday evening working on the grant proposal for one of the artists that was due on Friday. I finally got the last bit of info from him Thursday afternoon. We communicate via email using translation programs and also text messaging on our cell phones in Russian. I have gotten very into text messaging here as it is a cheap way to contact people. I would text some of you, but most of you probably wouldn’t know how to respond! (Except for those of you with teenagers). The grant proposal was for the European Culture Foundation in Amsterdam. The proposal is for an Illustrated alphabet book and CD of the Crimean Tatar language. Crimean Tatar is one of the languages considered endangered by UNESCO, mainly as a result of the deportation of the Crimean Tatars in 1944 and the prohibitions against their language and culture. So even though all the adult Crimean Tatars that I have met speak the language, often the kids don’t, as is the case of Sirdar and Sophye across the street. I think the book is a wonderful project idea, and I know Enver will do a beautiful job with it. He did a Crimean Tatar folktale storybook a few years ago, and it is quite lovely. Now the task is just convincing a funder somewhere of the merit of the project. If anyone reading this has any ideas, please let me know. We are also looking for funding for a Crimean Tatar folk music festival.
I did not do a whole lot on the weekend it seems like, but maybe that isn’t quite true. My trip to the beach on Saturday got cancelled, which was disappointing, but it was rainy and they probably would have decided not to go anyhow. Friday I went over to the apartment of one of the women from the library for a traditional Crimean Tatar meal—very yummy. Nadzhye and I are always talking about (well, she is always talking about) opening a Tatar restaurant in America somewhere.
Fatma’s apartment (which she owns I think) was really nice. It is on the top floor (5th with no elevator—the highest a building can be built without having an elevator) in a newer version of the concrete Soviet high rises. She said she waited 15 years for the apartment, and Nadzhye says she has been on a waiting list for 11 years. I’m not sure what that is all about. I think it might be something to do with them being Crimean Tatars and returning to this land from Uzbekistan, but I don’t really know. Nadzhye did tell me she only makes the equivalent of $150 a month at the library, where she has worked fulltime for 20 years! Obviously, she couldn’t afford an apartment on that. I know incomes are very low here, because that is about what we get paid in the Peace Corps, and it is supposed to match the local incomes. But how hard it must be to live on that, and there certainly are some wealthy people here, too, given the cars you see and some of the stores. I’m sure I will learn more about the economic situation as time goes on, and hopefully I can understand some of the talk around me.
Rest of the weekend I spent doing chores—laundry, shopping at the bazaar, cooking some food for the week, going on a 2-hour hike (whoops, guess that isn’t a chore). Sunday evening I was suppose to have a meeting with the other artist and an interpreter, but of course it turned into dinner at his house, and then watching some music awards show where they were all rooting for a Crimean Tatar singer (who won—hooray!). We didn’t actually talk much about the project, which was good because even though the interpreter is this sweet woman, she really couldn’t speak English very well. I’ll just have to continue to work my way through the proposal, trying to figure out what he wants to say.
Getting a bit tired of writing and you are probably getting tired of my rambling. Lots of dogs barking tonight (I’m finishing this in the evening), and Neshet across the street is still working on his building project even though it is dark. And Maya just brought over a hunk of arboos (watermelon), so goodbye for now from Crimea and love to you all.