Sunday, November 18, 2012

shoes, mead, malls, and apple goblins

So I've had the thought about mentioning the use of my old shoes for a while now, but I didn't want to make previous entries longer, and my shoes was one of the least important aspects about being in Russia. Well, now they get a mention. I know it seems trivial, but it becomes slightly more important, well maybe just more of interest, when I state that part of the Russia experience is traced back 13 years. Near the start of my sophomore year of high school during that brief moment I was trying to become part of the "popular crowd" before returning to the people I fit in best with (and who were much better to me) I asked my parents to buy me what I now best describe as a hybrid between dress shoes and hiking boots. All the "in kids" were wearing something of the sort. Well it didn't take long for me to put those shoes on the shelf and to return to skater shoes and chuck taylors, and on the shelf they remained until last winter. I was at my parents and needed something good for the snow and pulled those boots out and traded in my Doc Martins that need a sole replacement (at the house waiting for my return). The hybrid dress/hiking boots followed me to Russia and have seen quite a bit of action. Sadly, while almost the entirety is solid leather, the cuff where the heel goes into the shoe is fake something or other and shows signs of use that should not be there. If only they would have done that in leather or sturdy cloth/canvass instead of whatever it is.

These are not the only shoes to make more of an appearance in Russia. I bought a pair of black dress shoes in 2006 for both substitute teaching and to wear to my brother's wedding. Well, those of you who know me know that I prefer the casual shoe (used to be those converse until they changed manufacturing and a pair only lasted 2 months and then kangaroo Adidas Sambas took the spot of which two pair has lasted 7 years and became my shoe of choice) or bare feet. The Sambas might be work appropriate, but I haven't pushed that button yet and frankly with the rain and the snow, I won't until next spring or summer. However, black dress shoes are extremely popular here (although mine are flat toes and about 85%+ are pointy here) and definitely fit in with the "smart look" I have to wear to work: none of you would recognize me. While I bought them to help with subbing before my first day teaching I found out that Sambas, or a different pair of "smart" casual shoes with jeans or decent trousers (yes I did just use that Britishism), would work, I may have worn them once, but certainly not more than that. I wore them to a couple weddings (my own included), well actually, I think they've pretty much seen 2 days of use that weren't weddings before coming to Russia and they've seen 3 here on 3 different trips. Another half-dozen times and account for some lapse of memory they'd be lucky to have been work 10-12 times. Enter the black dress shoes, those same trousers from 06/07 or a pair of jeans, and shirt + vest and/or tie.

So, two pairs of shoes, one 6 years old and the other 13 have seen far more action in Russia than they ever had while I lived in the US. While it's a strange tale of shoes, I feel it is worthy of note.

As to the non-shoe issue of De Karelia. First, any of you who have not tried mead, you're missing out. Spelled мёд (pronounced more like m-yod with a long o), this honey beer/wine is one of the sweetest treats humanity has ever known. It is delicious hot or cold, dark or light. In fact I'm having one as I type this, but only because Daria and I were able to find some in a store we went to yesterday. The meadery is actually right next to Language Link, my place of employment, but we cannot find any bottles at any store here in the central district. I smell the brew about 3 days out of 5 when walking to work. The spiced air is torturous and it's only when we go far distances out that we see it. A local fast food place carries their own brand on tap, but as with all things tap, it is more expensive and we'd be quite content having a bottle at home. I believe there are between 2 and 6 meaderies in the US. If you don't live close enough to one, start demanding it either from a favorite local brewery to make their own or to import from one of those few.

And onto the non-material. Classes are going well, both those in which I teach and those in which I'm taught. Last week I started my new business group and I must say they are fun. They're near Tavrichesky Park that Daria and I walked through a few weeks ago. All the leaves are gone, but it still looks stunningly beautiful with all the skeletal trees. There are 3 students, they're elementary so if I reach my brain back a few weeks, it's almost the same lessons as I had in Russian and I can translate if I need to. I also went in early on Monday and Wednesday this past week. On Monday I did my lesson plans for M night, and two lessons for Tues. On Wednesday I did Wed night and Thurs. This freed up two very hectic days, enabled me to also get more of my Russian homework done without feeling stressed, and I was able to perform better both as a student and a teacher on T/Th. My Russian also improved quite a bit this week I think and on Thursday night I met someone else's student on the bus home and we had a decent convo in Russ-lish. I learned how to describe things like books and movies, both learning vocab and genres but also using "of" and "about." Additionally, for you Breaking Bad, Mad Men, or Mentalist fans out there, I've recommended them to my teacher since she finished watching House and was interested in something new. I haven't seen Breaking Bad, but I know many of people like it so I put it out there.

And to wrap up the week, yesterday we went with Olya, Vova, and Nadia to Mega, a gigantic mall on the outskirts of the city. I don't think the word Mega describes how big this place is. For starters it has a full-sized Ikea and a Super Wal-Mart/Target-esque store called Ashan with "everything and then some - food items included" in it (Ashan is where we found the Mead). Then Mega has all your regular mall stores, and a full sized playground, toddlers area, 5D (yup that's right) entertainment center, a mechanical bull, a carousel (which Nadia rode), and who knows what else. It was a fun time, but not much was bought. A trashcan, rug, and some food on our end. The rest was shopping and not finding what we wanted and then just having fun watching Nadia have fun. So much that she didn't want to leave after about 4.5 hours.

Today Daria and I went out to Lisiy Nos for various reasons. It also has lost all the autumnal luster as winter, зима, zeema, is slowly settling in. But while the colors and leaves are gone, the magic still looms in the trees. And by magic I might include myself. I had to help get the rest of the apples that clung to the branches after the last leaf had fallen. I began by using the apple grabber which is a cut up water bottle attached to a stick by the mouth of the bottle. I accidentally dropped one perfectly on the wire fence and sliced it part way. After a while, the tree fairies decided shaking the tree was more appropriate so I donned whatever Poseidon wore when he decided to quickly turn away from the sea and cause a terrible rumble. We also did the normal fire, eat a meal, and enjoy ourselves. And yes, it was quite cold anywhere outside of the room that the fire was in. Oh and for those of you who know what it means to me, I have a gigantic bag of dried apples. Mmmmm mmmm good.

Well, that should about wrap it up. And speaking of wrap up, it's almost time to wrap up in a heavier coat when I leave the house. I'll push the layers of sweaters and this coat just a little longer, but it's getting cold. Especially with so much moisture in the air. It is often as though there is a perma-(something greater than a mist/fog, but less than a sprinkle/drizzle). And then of course there is actual rain. And 90% of the time it doesn't get fully dark out. Ironic considering our geographical location, but thanks to the inventiveness of humankind and the clouds provided by nature, our light pollution makes the night into an orange glow of counterfeit embers.

Night all. 

1 comment:

  1. Glad your shoes finally got some use and did not go to waste. ;-) Also glad you are able to enjoy dried apples. Dad is busy drying ours - and our trees still have some on them. Need to get out there and finish picking/shaking them down, I guess. However, we still have 3 boxes in the garage that I managed to pack away before we left.