Friday, December 7, 2012

Being thankful for dog booties, trains, and Robert Frost

Last Saturday we had Thanksgiving dinner with Olya and Vova and Nadia. On Friday Daria had gone over to help prepare the pumpkin pie (completely from scratch - I mean everything including the pumpkin from the Lisij Nos garden), and the cranberry sauce. On Saturday we went and cooked the turkey (we found a whole bird, 3 kilos - about 6.7 pounds), and made mashed potatoes from scratch, and a salad. We washed this all down with some mulled wine. I've never made the turkey myself, and frankly I really only eat turkey at Thanksgiving, but we did a pretty good job. We stuffed it with diced apples (no stuffing), as well as had diced apples around it in the pan; salt and pepper. That's it, but it was good. The cranberry sauce was the best I've ever had as the mashed potatoes I'd say came in some of the top. Another reason not to buy boxed things. Golden potatoes, good natural butter, good milk, a little salt. Never cared much for mashed potatoes, but these were good. And the pumpkin pie was a great way to end the meal. There was much to be thankful for and it was nice to enjoy a small delicious meal with some good friends. Didn't spend the day with family or even celebrate on the right day, but we did have Thanksgiving. And Olya and Vova know quite a bit about it already because of the TV show "Friends" who have a T-day episode every season. We watched a few as it seemed appropriate. However, it must be noted that while Vova is more than happy to bbq the meat out at the dacha, he was a little shocked that I was helping cook the bird and make the mashed potatoes.

To resolve Karma's feet and the salt issue we took her the local pet store (well one of about 4 within a 5 min walk from our apartment, but the best of the 4) and got her outfitted with new booties. They let us try them on in the store, the owners/employees daughters helped us get them on Karma the first round and they were just wonderful to her. While she still prefers nothing on her feet, she is much more comfortable with the new ones because they're shaped to curve with the feet/leg. The booties we bought in the US/brought with us are just straight and don't adjust well with the dog. Karma walks a little funky when you first put them on, but then she runs around just fine with them on and she's comfortable walking long distances in them. We've also discovered a park not far from here is small and has only one entrance so we can let her run off-leash and guard the entrance. It is such a pleasure to watch her run through the snow, take a nibble every once in a while to taste the snow and then continue running. As for Ella, well we've been sparingly giving her her meds and she seems fine and healthy with just the special food. I'm happy to report about two healthy pets.

Last week I reported that winter was coming and that it came Saturday according to social media. Well, yes it has. We have an average high of -3C and an average low of -6C. Snow flurries most days which are followed by trucks to clear the road. I want to make this clear, they are not plows. The trucks get parked with an open bed in back and then a few track front loaders scoop up the snow and dump it in the truck. When full, the truck drives out of the city and dumps the snow and the loaders fill up another truck bed. Today as I was walking through таврический сад there were teenagers playing on the frozen pond. While I don't think I'd trust it to be frozen enough, they clearly thought it was able to handle them to run out into the middle. I just hope it held after I left. And for those of you who didn't get my facebook post, last weekend from Friday-Sunday, on a stretch of highway about 100 miles long between St. Petersburg and Moscow over 10,000 cars were stuck for 3 days because of the snow storm. Part of that can be blamed on weather, part on old soviet era infrastructure, but I personally put most of the blame on "why didn't they take the train?????" There is a great rail system here in Russia. Even the old soviet era rails are still pretty dang good. The more modern ones are wonderful. So, why weren't those people taking the train????? And, dear Americans, when are we going to get good trains? Start small like between the Bay Area and Lake Tahoe/Reno: winter skiing, summer activities on the Lake or in the Bay depending on which direction, maybe some gambling. I see a win for everyone involved.

And to wrap it up, last night I used "The Road Less Traveled" by Robert Frost in my lesson. With a few new vocab words, it is an appropriate poem for intermediate students, and they quickly gathered the meaning of the poem when they knew the new vocab. They seemed to have loved the poem and it was a great way to end a long, hard day. Let's just say the Russian lesson kicked my butt, and I was glad to have a fun class with a great poem ending the class to end my day. I was exhausted and the two roads in the yellow wood with some great personalities is reenergizing.

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