Monday, March 28, 2011

House problems, birthdays, spring is coming

We celebrate Nadjie's 57th birthday at the library. That's Ekmet, the library manager, next to Nadjie.
Fatma, the library secretary, with my friends Gulyara and Medinye from the Archive Department.

Maviye (who lives near me in Ak Mechet) and Elmas, the new young woman at the library who speaks pretty good English--she says "English is her passion." "
Susanna, who works in the reading room, peaks out from the group.
A week later, also Monday morning, also at the library. Not a lot to report in my blog this time, it seems, and I’m trying not to let it degenerate into a rant about my funky mood. Though my house problems are beginning to get me down and possibly causing the kind of sleepless night that I had last night. My landlords made another attempt to fix my heater, and it worked seemingly well for a few days. But then on Friday I was sitting and eating some lunch when a loud whoof came from the heater, as it took too long to ignite once the gas came on and resulted in a kind of explosion, something that happened before when Neshet and I were looking at it and resulted in scaring the hell out of me and singeing Neshet’s hair. I think the problem is that the pilot is too low, but somehow I can’t communicate the problem well enough, or they just don’t know how to fix it. But whatever it is, I know it is dangerous to have a heater do that, as it could really explode and start a fire. So I turned it off and went back to relying on the space heater Neshet had brought me. And since the weekend proved to be fairly warm, that worked well for most of the house.
But then yesterday, I saw sparking at the electric breakers, and I knew there was a problem. Ruslan (my neighbor’s 19-year-old son who is the only one in the family with any mechanical ability) came and looked at it and said new breakers were needed. So, until that happens, no more heater and no more hot water heater, either. And the lights are iffy—if I turn too many of them on, they shut off. And then there is the worry of an electrical fire, but hopefully if I keep all of the heaters off, it will be okay until they fix it. When that will be, that is the question… I’m not sure if Ruslan even told them there is a problem. I will go over tonight and see what answers I can get. But in the meantime, I’m cold and feeling kind of sick and cranky, but trying not to let it get me down too much. Helps when I am reading books about places like Warsaw during the war where people survived (or didn’t) for months with little or no heat. Puts it all in perspective.
Actually, it was for the most part a pretty good week and weekend. Thursday was Nadjie’s birthday (57, I think), so she did the usual bringing of treats to the library and inviting the whole staff to our office for cake and coffee. Then there was a presentation in the reading room about Ismail Gasprinsky that I wrote about in my library blog, and later in the afternoon I helped friends of Nadjie’s work on their visa application to the U.S. embassy, which though a frustrating exercise, did give me a lot of information about what is needed on the application.
Friday I didn’t go to my tutor’s because I was too far behind in the homework and it was a nice warm day, so I took a walk up into the hills to check out the snow levels on Chatyr Dag in the distance. It still has snow, but it’s beginning to disappear, so spring is really coming. Spent the rest of the weekend doing some work at home on my computer for the Peace Corps, studying some Russian, going to the bazaar for my weekly shopping, doing more laundry than usual—sheets and towels (my least favorite hand laundry items), and helping Serdar write his visa application. Saturday I decided I wanted to cook dinner over at the Seitaptiev’s, so I got the ingredients for chicken enchiladas and Mexican rice. Armed with my dictionary, Lenura and I embarked on a joint Mexican dinner cooking project. I t was fun and came out quite tasty. Tortillas are something you can’t find here so Lenura made them, and they came out pretty good. I am always so impressed by her culinary skills, even when she has no idea what it is she is cooking. Next time we are going to try lasagna, and she will make the noodles, something I would never attempt at home. But she is so comfortable manipulating dough for all kinds of dishes.
Writing this has put me in a little bit better mood. I am starting to look forward to this week despite my cold house, and especially to going with the Seitaptiev’s on the weekend to Lenura’s parents village to celebrate her mother’s 60th birthday, and then on Sunday going hiking with my Ukrainian friends in Alushta down on the sea. And if it is cold at my house, I’ll just bundle up and keep reminding myself that spring is coming.
With love from Crimea.

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