And to keep the rapid succession of blog posts happening:
To start off the post I’d like to keep the information coming about the ridiculousness that is the sun/weather here. The last day of April (that is the 30th), the sunrise is at 5.59am and the sunset is at 9.53pm. Almost a full 16 hours of daylight and we have 7.5 weeks until the Summer Solstice. I do enjoy having a lot of light in the sky when I leave work, but it is a strange feeling considering I'm not leaving right after 5pm, but rather closer to 10pm.
An update about the past few weeks, a few weeks ago when Daria and I left to take Karma on her evening walk, a dog “supposedly in heat and is therefore more aggressive” attacked her as we exited the apartment building. I doubt that though because I’ve seen this dog multiple times, although I haven’t seen her attack, she often lunges and growls both at Karma and at others. The dog had a strong grip on Karma’s right hip and left three bloody tooth-marks. The following day Karma seemed to be a little bothered by it (I think after the initial shock had worn off), but after a full 24 hours she seemed fine. Part of the problem was also that the leash was the retractable type and the lady had no control so as I tried to get Karma farther away, the attacker was able to follow. Daria had to help the lady pull her dog back while I kicked at the dog to make it release Karma’s hindquarters. Grandma also called Karma fat a few weeks ago. Well, considering she's been fed treats by the grandparents under the table and has had short winter walks, go figure (actually she did gain some weight so it is truthful, but how much of it is truly gained versus putting back what she lost by barely eating and running around everywhere at the dacha last summer is hard to know). However, now she's getting longer walks and is enjoying all the spring smells and the sunshine so hopefully she'll lose her weight soon.
For вербное воскресенье (Pussywillow Sunday/Palm Sunday), Daria and I took a trip to Alexander Nevksiy Lavra here in SPB after we saw Drew and Heather off at the train station. There were a lot of people about clearly in celebration of the holiday even if they hadn’t attended the morning service. It was noticeable in the Lavra that they had removed the indoors scaffolding even though they are still some repairs that need to be done. Although I do love the Lavra and often it provides some spiritual comfort, perhaps it was exhaustion from the week leading into Sunday or perhaps it was being on a different spiritual calendar, but I was not particularly connected that day. I hope more things happened than how I felt.
In my upper-intermediate class I have lost a few of my favorite students. One had to drop because she didn’t have enough time anymore. She found herself short of time to do homework and come to lessons and then she was going on vacation in May-June and didn’t feel she had enough time. She will return in September, but will have to redo the course/take an expedited one. The other student dropped because she took an English test at the end of April (she did a lot of the book in advance). I don’t know how well she did or how much of the book she was able to do on her own, but we will certainly miss both of the students in the class. They are quite lively ladies and brought a lot of energy to the entire group.
Daria and I spent part of a day between my company class and my evening class trying to catch the last remaining icebergs or icefloats going down the Neva a few weeks ago. There were fewer than I expected since about a month prior we had been walking across the river. They quickly melted and floated away, but we had a fun walk along the embankment. We can also see the departure of winter and the coming of spring in Tavricheskiy Sad because it is closed. There is a sign “Сад Закрыт на просушку” (Park closed for drying) because the paths are muddy. I can’t even take my stroll through the park. Or to use a $50 word, I cannot amble my way to work, but today I saw that the grass is growing and is quite green.
Speaking of $50 words and part of why I chose the one I did, I had a fun extension a few weeks ago about a baby buggy from a reading in my upper-intermediate class. For those not in the know, baby buggy differs from stroller because in the buggy the baby (younger) lies down, and in a stroller the infant/toddler is seated upright. Some of you may recognize the “stroll” in “stroller” since you stroll with your child. You may also know the word “pram” from such things as Peter Pan (the device from which Peter disappeared and went to Neverland). Pram is short for “perambulator,” which has that “amble” root also found in “ambulance” from the times when people were walked/carried by horse to the doctor/hospital. Thus my students got their $50 words for much less than $50.
Speaking of fun linguistics I like that the word “to earn” money in Russian has the same root as “to work.” Заработать (zarabotat -to earn) clearly shares everything but two letters with работать (rabotat - to work). This makes it much easier to remember the word than some other words although I do feel I’m doing pretty well. And to have a little fun with a bunch of negations, никто никогда никому ничего не говорит. "Nobody never said nothing to no one." Oh and actually, one of my favorite words is "safe" literally means "without danger." Perhaps there is a positive form somewhere, but the more common form is negating the danger. безопасна, "bezopasna." Bez = without, opasna = danger.
In American we have the idiom to toot your own horn. Apparently the British say to blow your own trumpet. They also have the phrase 'to face the music' when you have to face the consequences of your own (or someone else's – I don't remember) actions. I do not like this phrase. I reject any and all attempts to absorb or integrate this into American. Although it is not as appalling as that horrid word "queue" pronounced like the letter, is taken as a verb, noun, and probably adjective, adverb, and everything else.
Speaking of that, English has to be really hard considering that we do use the same word for multiple parts of speech without actually changing it. Consider the word "open." Verb: We open books, doors, windows, even speeches as in "I will open the speech with a joke." Adjective: He read him like an open book. The bird flew in the open window. Noun: We went to the tennis open (substitute golf). - Not once did I change the spelling, but I used it in three different parts of speech. About 10 days ago I thought of a better word in my elementary class, but I forgot it by now and I never wrote it down. Not only are homonyms tremendously difficult, but we can't even agree what part of speech a single word is by sound and spelling. Yes, we do have some grammar rules that help guide things, but then like all good arts, we break them more often than not.
Lastly, I reject the business imperialism that is Starbucks. We have two fully open Sbucks here (that we witnessed a few months ago) and two coming soon (открыте скоро) in big letters on windows. Seriously, when there are half a dozen or more good coffee shop chains in SPB alone, let alone Russia, we don't need Starbucks regardless of how good they are in the US in treating their employees and using recycled napkins, etc. Also, I'd rather not give Russians the disposable coffee cup. They've done fine with sitting down and enjoying their coffee in a ceramic cup the way coffee should be had: relaxing, not in a rush to consume the next cup-o-joe in the bristling busyness that is American business. More than any language imperialism, I reject this. I shall dare say, "Satan, get behind me!!!"
And with that, here are some pictures, many of which date to a long forgotten past (of a time before I knew how simple it was to load pictures into the post).
Winter snow falls over Griboedova Canal with the Church of Our Savior on Spilled Blood in the background. I think this hails from November or early December.
Hysterical graffiti. Perfectly clean and painted over, but someone tagged it. This is downtown.
Karma with her then new booties. Warm enough to go without a coat, salty enough to need booties on the sidewalk. Also not a good subject as she didn't hold still for the camera and this was the best picture.
Daria and the Griffin Bridge back in December.
December snow-covered view of the Palace Square, Alexander's column, and a really tall Christmas/New Years tree.
A different view of the square and the Hermitage before scaffolding surrounded it (yeah, both the Hermitage and the Summer Palace at Peterhof have scaffolding).
A different view of the tree with the grandiose triumphal arch.
Kazanskiy Sobor and its New Years Tree.
One view of the entrance to the winter village that surrounds the Square of Catherine the Great.
Another view and you can see trees on the right and booths on the left. First booth on the left sells winter snacks, mulled wine, hot mead, hot chocolate, and other yummy goodies.
Nevskiy Prospekt and the winter celebratory lights that hang over it.
A closer view of some decorations with an annoying street light in the upper left corner.
And the winter decorations that hang over the Fontanka River.
Nadia in her winter outfit being chased by a coy smiling fox. Go Nadia, go!!!! Your tiger can outrun the fox.
As you can see winter pictures are up (however, there are spring ones in this post). This says "Happy New Year."
Winter lights on the Galeria Mall with a fairly full moon hanging over it.
Fast forward a few months and spring is beginning. No seriously, this is a beautiful blue day a few months after the picture of the Galeria. Tavricheskiy Sad at the end of March or beginning of April. Yes, there's still snow, but this was just too nice to to get pictures of.
Another view of the park on the same day.
And another. Look at all those footprints being melted by the sun.
Back into February or early March and I tried to get a pic of the full moon over the less crowded section of Nevskiy Prospekt (where the road is narrower and only one-way traffic). Streetlights blur the picture, but you can see the moon in the middle.
And Karma's bite. It looks much better now. The yellow stains from iodine have gone and the scabs have fallen off. Karma seems to completely have forgotten.
A picture of the Neva where ice still exists. This may be near all of it. Well almost, but don't let the picture fool you. There appears more here than you'd see for most of the river.
Camera in the same place, opposite direction. Under the bridge and on the other side you can see only water.
Better recognized here with the zoom function.
Yet even with it melting Daria (and I in another photo) braved putting our foot on the ice. It was sturdy enough to hold and we couldn't feel the ice sink, but neither of us dared to actually walk out. However, here it did feel like it held our full weight.
About a 3 minute walk under the bridge and this is the iceless river.
Ok, so maybe it gets stuck at the bridges because this is what we saw from on top of the bridge that is seen far in the background of the two above pictures.
And while there was some ice near the Peter and Paul Fortress, you can see sunbathers hanging out next to the wall. Yes, those people are in bathing suits/underwear and yes it is hovering around the freezing mark.
A different view with the Fortress wall on the right side.
Another view showing the thinning of the ice.
One of my favorite signs. Crossing the bridge from the Fortress back toward Mars Field (and Hermitage and Summer Gardens area) apparently all three cities which are different directions by crow are the same direction by sign. Well really, by highway and by river, but a fun sign nonetheless.
The end of the aforementioned bridge as you enter Mars Field. A statue of someone important and the orange palace of a duke on the left.
Another view of Peter and Paul Fortress (the Cathedral on the left also has scaffolding and looks extremely funny).
Griboedova Canal facing Kazanskiy Sobor on the right (that funky looking arch shape below the tall building).
Turn around and you see "Savior." And you see ice and garbage in the canal.
Kazanskiy (all of these the same day as the Neva walk) on a beautiful blue day.
Kazanskiy from the side.
We have chinchillas in the office. We don't know if they're father and son/brothers/or even what their names are.
But even in my ignorance, I'll pester one with my finger.
Both of them hanging out in their separate cages.
But the bottom one will feast in a strange manner atop his platform and bend down in an awkward way toward his bowl.
The ever important chinchilla dry bath.
Out of place picture, Kazanskiy, full moon, and about 9.55pm at night about 2-3 weeks ago. This is too dark for what it looks like now at that hour.
Back to the chinchilla for one final picture. They sleep upside down as though they are asleep. A finger poke here does not wake him up. He sleepeth undisturbed.