Friday, November 30, 2012

Winter is Coming (зима приходит)

Winter is Coming. Tomorrow apparently, according to students I've talked to and things I've seen on vkontakte (in contact), a Russian social networking site similar to facebook, although many Russians also have facebook. Forget that winter officially starts on December 21st.

Although, I must ask why this Saturday. It has been snowing straight for the past 48 hours. Lightly, but constantly. The high today is -7 degrees C (about 20.5 F) with the low at -8C (18.5F) with gusts of wind hitting 40 kph (25mph). Today on my walk to and from work my mustache froze. My beard would have if it wasn't covered with the scarf, and it was difficult to see when the wind blew snow into the eyes. It's a good thing I'm a winter child if this isn't winter and winter is coming on Saturday. Although the weather is supposed to be about the same tomorrow so perhaps winter began yesterday, but people feel like it saying it starts on the weekend.

Russian lesson: вчера шёл снег весь день. vchyera (yesterday) shyol (verb "to go" past tense) snyeg (snow - noun that takes one of the verbs "to go") vyes (all) dyen (day). "Yesterday, it snowed all day." Well I think the spelling is right. Open to corrections.

I will say my Russian is getting better as I have conversations with my boss, the administrators in the office, some students from other teachers (again I'm talking with them in Russ-lish on the street, etc), my students in my classes, etc. I'm also trying to talk to people in my vk (vkontakte: fb - facebook). As my Russian improves, I'm also glad to say my students' English is improving. I was very pleased with the results from the last test they had. I have not had a test (don't know if I will). I am proud to say that many students (from multiple classes) complained that the second test was very hard, much harder than the first test. Yet in one class only one student got a worse percentage and that I am sure is b/c s/he came in after a hard day since in class I've noticed that s/he understands the material (keeping anonymous in case my students are reading this however they can). The rest of the class all improved their percentages and everyone passed unlike the first test. The other class (I haven't given tests in all my classes) has also improved drastically but due to extra credit from the first test I cannot accurately report that improvement. And my classes that haven't had tests, I also see some good improvement.

Wednesday was the last day I wore my tweed country cap, or tam-o-shanter. Or any of the other non-tweed caps of the same style that I'm known for wearing. I've officially pulled out the knit hat, but we'll see how long I wear that. Daria's grandma bought me a real Russian winter hat for New Years (presents exchanged for NY instead of Christmas), but I'm allowed to wear it before if I need to. Well, by real I mean a Russian hat with ear flaps: it's artificial fur. I'm a little sad about that, not because I want to wear slain animals, but because artificial things feel weird against my skin and frankly as much as I hate, hate, hate the way we deal with animals for commerce, it's the methods, not the use of animals that make mad. I believe we can slaughter humanely and properly use leather, fur, wool, etc. A fur coat used for 30+ years by someone is good use (and some older people in Russia might have 30+ year old coats). Additionally, I feel here people actually use every part of the animal. And lastly, using oil to make artificial products kills the animals and the environment anyway. It's just more out of sight, out of mind. And believe me, you need either the animal fur or the artificial products here. So, yeah I think a new mink coat or fox coat every few years is wrong. I also think it's wrong to raise them in cages and take their fur without using the meat and bones. But a free-range type of farm/ranch and the whole use of the animal, I'm ok with a coat of ram's hair and skin. Even that mink one if done well. And keep the coat until it's no longer usable. Nonetheless, I have a true Russian hat to keep my head warm in the freezing weather.

таврический сад (literally Bull Garden, but call it a Tavricheskij Park), near where my business class is, the pond has completely frozen over. Pigeons were sitting on the ice and on the ground and weren't moving at all. On Wednesday it was mostly frozen with a thin layer of ice, but where the ducks' paddling stirred the water it remained unfrozen. Today I'd guess at least 1/2 an inch thick. Oh, and as I had difficulty not slipping in the slick snow with gripped boots, I give mad props to the guy riding a unicycle with bald tires through the park and over a bridge that definitely had ice on it and didn't fall for the duration that I saw him.

The salt on the road last night was not pleasant for Karma's feet. We wonder if it felt like a chemical burn. This morning she was not pleased about wearing her dog-booties (Paw-tectors) though so we don't know how to solve this. She did have her second bath in the tub after the walk though (both b/c of need and to wash the salt off).

To wrap up: Earlier Daria helped at the LGBT conference. Last weekend, through the Women's Crisis Center that she volunteers at, she helped with a conference (and poster display at the library) concerning stopping domestic violence against women and children here in Russia. She was also invited by the chair of the Psychology department at the University here to do some stuff in the department.  On Tuesday she got stopped for a short interview (lasted about 5-10 min) with the local news about the conference/poster display and after editing will be on the local news tonight about 6.30-6.45pm. Just gotta say that I'm proud of her :-)

So Advent starts this Sunday in the Western Church. Even though Eastern Christmas isn't until Jan. 6, Advent already began for the Orthodox because theirs is 40 days. Maybe for me, I'll say Winter is coming with Advent. My Latin is a little rusty (ok, a lot rusty), but I believe "Winter is Coming" is translated as "Hiems Venit" but for Advent, I'll say "Hiems Advenit."

1 comment:

  1. I do envy a bit of the cold weather. We are having rain here in Nevada - quite a bit yesterday, none right now, more to come tonight. No snow since we have returned from our trip. It was snowing as we drove up from southern California, but none here since we returned. I do remember those cold days when a toasty hat was needed and a scarf to shield the face. I agree: nothing wrong with fur hats, gloves, or coats, as long as the animals have been raised or caught humanely.