Mounting excitement

Here I am at work, but I really can’t think about anything work-related. (Although I would like to get through those Bulgarian books before I go.)

I can’t believe I’m really going to Russia. It will be the farthest away from this country that I’ve ever been. I’m getting excited.

Despite my sternest principles I stopped, on the way to the bank, and purchased two small Christmas presents. But they are useful items! Things needed anyway!

I’m going to happy to be visiting winter, too. It better be cold or we’ll have to stop by Fargo on the way home to justify the winter coat.

Hooray hooray hooray!

Okay — off to get things done.

Miracles abound

I’m just sitting here, feeling sort of overwhelmed, and I suddenly realized that things are basically okay.

  • M is upstairs writing an essay due tomorrow. She’s finished 5 of ten applications. That’s pretty good, considering they’re not really due until January 15. It’s a miracle.
  • I spoke with N on the phone today. I think we’re basically all set. I’ve got place tickets, and places to stay, and a ferry reservation for the one we have to sleep on. She’s going to look into the bus tickets, and I can actually stay with her housemother, which is kind of exciting. I’ve ordered a couple different winter coats (they really aren’t available here). I think things are pretty well set. I guess I have to get my passport back, and find a way from the airport to the hotel when I first get in (I won’t stay with N the first few nights since she’ll be busy finishing up her program) but otherwise, I think it’s set enough.
  • Dinner is in the oven and involves about 8 servings of vegetables, and I went to the gym this morning, plus every day I was in Arizona.
  • We survived Thanksgiving! I actually was clever to go a day ahead and have a day to devote to my mother and grandmother. In fact, we had two days before Thanksgiving to hang around and do nothing and that was great. Also, strangely, everyone seems good. My grandmother seems happy, my difficult brother seems happy, my cousin’s cute children were cute. It was all pretty good, and somehow a lot less hectic than it usually is, which meant I actually did have some time to talk to my grandmother which was nice.

I think it really is just the passage of time. Getting past Thanksgiving means one less hurdle to Russia, and I’m really working on making Christmas really simple. I think we’re going to do a heifer international project thing for all the cousins. I’ve bought the cards. I don’t think we’re going to exchange much ourselves. And I really really can’t wait to see N.

Ha! It is miraculous.



We had a very exciting day here yesterday, with buildings taken over, etc., and then it was bonfire night, so as I walked home in the dark I heard the band marching into the outdoor theatre playing some song that I recognise but do not know the name of.

As far as I know, the bonfire was a success and not taken over by protesters. It’s even possible that the protesters were at the bonfire shouting threats about our enemy, that red school whose mascot is a tree.

I just don’t know. They were shouting “Education should be free,” and I couldn’t help thinking that nothing is free, and that maybe they would have better luck going to Sacramento and shouting at the legislature to revamp the taxation system.

It does make me wonder if M should even bother applying to a UC — fees are going up and it’s getting harder and harder to get the classes you need —

And now I’m back at work trying to finish up these Bulgarian books.  I would love to have them done by Thanksgiving, but it’s also creepy to be here on a Saturday.  Maybe just a bit more . . . One more Fresh Air article, and then I’ll go . . .

Happy saturday.



I’m kind of flipping out. I think it’s useless to deny this.

First there’s Thanksgiving, and we’re flying to my grandmother’s house in the southwest. This is good — we didn’t see her last year, and my mom will be there — it’s just a thing. And we’re having dinner with my Middle Brother who can be, at times, problematic. About politics, in particular. What I am imagining is a horrible dinner where he brings up awful things and K is unable to restrain himself from saying, for instance, that those teabag people are crazy. I feel much better disagreeing with people I’m not eating thanksgiving dinner with. Luckily my cousin and his family will be there. They are normal people and I like them. Here’s the trick — we have to sit at R’s table. That’s the only way we’re going to make it through this. Okay.

Then I’m going to Russia. I really am. It’s exciting and terrifying. Yikes. I feel like bits of that are unplanned, so I really need to make sure it’s all planned enough.

Before I got to Russia, I have to clean the house and we have to get the Christmas tree.

While I’m in Russia, M is going to start hearing from colleges.

Before I go to Russia, I have to make sure M has all the rest of her applications ready to go.

This is only my personal life — then there’s work, too!


It’s not really that big a deal. But it feels like one.

Also, I think it’s possible that I’m worrying a little bit about M going to college next year.

Okay, it really is all going to be great. Really.

Oh god, and then there is Christmas.



only to say that my brain really doesn’t work any more.

M got an application or two off this weekend. Hooray! Just a few more and she’ll be done and then we shall see.

Now it’s back to Bulgaria. The law of Bulgaria, I should say.

Fascinating, if unreadable.


Postcard from N!

As K says, she’s getting soft. We got a whole paragraph from her!

She appears to be doing well, and to have liked Turkey. “Turkey is a much happier place than Russia,” she says.

I am getting excited about seeing her.

But first, I’m going for a walk.


Do you realize, that as of this February we’ll all be adults here, too? Hard to imagine.

Back to work

Okay, I’m about to shower and get dressed and go back to work today. I don’t have a fever. I don’t think I’m contagious. I still feel a little odd.

We have heard from N! This is what she says: I’m sick too. I blame the preserved bell peppers my host mom fed me. probably several years old at least. I’m only at class today because I needed to bring in my passport to avoid getting deported.

Apparently a group of towhees (which are sparrows — who knew?) is called a teapot. So I can report that we have a teapot of towhees out in the backyard. They live there. I’ll get a picture —

That’s all.

Birdy news

Because of the new sod, I have to water the lawn for a half an hour every morning and afternoon. This isn’t hard — it turns out we have a sprinker system! And one of the two working heads just covers the new lawn. And it turns out that the local birds really like it — yesterday morning I went out to turn it out and saw a whole bunch of little birds happily hopping around in the pineapple guava tree enjoying the sprinkle.

I know some of our birds — we have hummingbirds and lots of brown towhees and lots of little things I think are vireos and some goldfinches and I think last year I identified some kind of a crested thingy — maybe it was a phoebe. It is so hard — they move so quickly, and you carefully memorize what you are seeing and then when you look them up in the bird book nothing looks quite right. For instance, there was a very cheeky little bird with black and white stripes on his wings and bits of bright yellow, I think on his neck. The closest I can come is a Gold crowned sparrow, which seems right except I swear the yellow was on his neck.

But one victory was that I played a chickadee’s song and, lo and behold, that’s the bird that’s been singing out there for a month now.



Actually, it looked more like a whitecrowned sparrow with lots of yellow. It was a really pretty little bird.

Winter, the lack thereof

Have you guys seen this? It’s an article in the NYT about a woman, whose blog is here.  The title is readallday. She started it when, as a way to get over her sister’s death, she embarked on a project to read a book a day for one year.

If you’re curious about the particulars, as I was, she lives in Westport, Connecticut, has 4 children (boys), one stepdaughter, a husband who’s a lawyer. She herself was a lawyer and there appears to enough money for them to have help several times per week without her having to work — so, not perhaps the lifestyle of most of us, but still admirable. And her reviews are good — take a look.

Hopeful, somehow.

And now, my complaint. You know how when it gets really cold you can’t really smell the outside any more — or rather, it smells like cold and not vegetation, and one of the first signs that spring has really come is that you start to smell things again? It doesn’t happen here, but I went to the midwest and it was cold enough there not to smell things, and then coming back here was like having spring. It’s been a little chilly for here, actually, which was cheering, but now it’s warming up and I am totally depressed.  Poor K is tired of hearing about it, but it’s just one more way in which I so like having seasons.  What am I even doing here?

It’s not that I wouldn’t get sick of winter, or get sick of snow and slush and cold.  Of course I would. It’s just that I appreciate it, realizing that I would get sick of it, and I miss it.

Actively planning for retirement on a motorless lake in Maine . . .