One family's diary, journeys and thoughts

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Ring Christmas Bells, Merrily Ring!

...to all who care and pray for us, all those who we care for and love, those who make our life richer and brighter, all those who create character building and growing opportunities for us...
Merry Christmas, and may God bless each one of you.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Here's another shovelling pic, with a lot of random and somewhat incongruent signs in view. The woman's robe says, literally, "Center cleanliness”, which really means "City Center Cleaning Dept." On the pole beside her, there is a note saying:


I love you.


Also, on the door of the cafe she is standing next to, it says “WiFi”. Of course, we have never seen anyone in there using anything remotely resembling a computer.


Saturday, December 16, 2006

Christmas etc.

I wonder, who drove Santa up the wall. Last I checked, he didn't have any kids...

There is Roxy, sporting her new chick jacket. Chick as in chicken, naturally, especially because there is white fluff coming out of it every time she moves. But it's warm!

Yet more snow in a big city

What does a big street turn into when it snows? It turns into quite a mess, really!

And even on the small streets, the snow turns into slush in the afternoon...

...and then freezes over in the evening.

Still, it's quite fun when there is snow around. Fun, fun, fun!

More of snow in the city

Commotion at a bus stop. First day of snow = less buses + more passengers = commotion. I just walked to work.

Bird baths in melting snow...

This one is special for pastor - the refreshing red and white when it's needed the least.

What snow means for a big city



...and more shoveling!

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Its snowing! It's snowing! It's snowing! It's snowing! It's snowing!

Snow pain, snow gain

We woke up today and looked out of the window expecting to see the same leaveless, colorless and slightly sad autumn park which we've been seeing for the last 6 weeks or so. Instead...

Of course, Roxy was the one to discover this, as she looked out to see if her school bus has come. I head her shriek and ran over to see... what you see here.

Isn't it beautiful?

Since Vicky promised us she will cry when it snows, we woke her up too, just to see her cry. She didn't. She just looked out, said: "This must be wrong in so many languages... So...yeah, I am not going to work today." And went back to sleep.

Well, gotta run now. I'm gonna put on my snow boots and venture out... to get to work. Not only it snowed at night, it's snowing now, too! But I am glad. Let it snow, let it snow...

Wednesday, December 13, 2006


Thursday, December 07, 2006

Much ado about a balcony

So, we have a balcony. You know, those little landings with rails that hang on the side of a building? One of those. So do our neighbors, both above and below. The balcony was built together with the house, which means it's now 66 years old. It still holds us, and even our guests, if need be, so that's good. What's not so good, is that the concrete the balcony is made of is tired and cracked and crumbled. From underneath, big pieces of it fall down every time I hang a matress to air or try to beat the dust out of a rug. Sometimes they fall even when I am not doing anything.

Naturally, there is a business downstairs (all first floor and basement apartments in the city center have long beem turned into businesses). We have a beauty salon down there, and it has a nice roof. Every time a big chunk of concrete falls, it bounces off the roof and lands in the flowerbed in the street below. And every time that happens, we hear a chorus of voices from the street and 3 minutes later somebody is ringing the doorbell to tell us what we already know.

Most of the other neigbors have long repaired their balconies. Mine needs to be repaired too - as the madam from the beauty salon reminds me every time I see her.

So I call a handyman. We go and buy several sheets of tin and some hardware to go with it. We bring it to my house. The next day he comes with his brother, ready to start the work.

Oops! Almost forgot to mention: the only access to the underside of my balcony is... right, from the downstairs neighbor's balcony. So we go downstairs, ring the bell, the workers go in... 20 minutes later they come back up and report to me: "He wouldn't let us do it."

What on Earth can my neighbor have against me fixing the balcony? After all, some of the rocks end up on his floor, right? So I call him on the phone.

- I don't like the tin you got, - says he. - It's too shiny. I don't want that shine blinding me all day.

Right! Like he is ever home! I plead with him for almost an hour, offering to paint the tin, reminding that this is temporary, until the apartment is sold, asking him to buy the material himself... Finally I tell him that there are other ways of getting to my balcony, after all. Maybe I can call one of those, you know, power line repair cars with the landing reaching high up.

- Dont't even think about it, - says my nice neighbor. - If you put that tin there,
I'll take it down.

Okay then. So we return the tin, the workers go home and I tell the beauty salon lady that I can't fix the balcony. Let her fight with my neighbor now.
As for me, I'll just remain wondering, what was the REAL reason he wouldn't let me fix it?

Roxy's essay about hedgehogs

I just thought it was funny, so I am posting it - read and weep...

Many of us have pets. Pets are exciting and interesting. Dogs, for example, are loyal and obedient. Guinea pigs, on the other hand, are cute and fun to hold. But there are animals that most people would never keep as pets; like hedgehogs. I mean, who wants to cuddle those spiny things? For those of you who don’t know, hedgehogs are noisy, secluded, stubborn, nocturnal insectivores that love newspapers. A few weeks ago, I would never have considered such a pet. I still don’t. However, my views on them have changed since I got a chance to care for one when my mom showed up at home with a hedgehog in her hand.

Apparently, she found it right in the middle of a crowded park, (usually full of stray dogs) where it definitely didn’t belong. At first, I was thrilled. It’s not everyday you see a hedgehog, especially in the city. We agreed to house it for two weeks, and then release it into the “wild”. So we gave it a bed, some meat, and let it sleep. I named it Hedgie. It was only until the next day that I really got an idea of what I was in for. The hedgehog squeezed itself between our coat closet and the wall and refused to come out. So I had to leave it there, occasionally bringing it some meat or fruit. It only came out at night. Soon, this became a habit. It would crawl into its little corner, and then when we least expected it, he (we confirmed that it was a “he”) would run back to his bed in the corridor. We had quite a laugh, watching him run. He would sort of wobble from side to side. His back feet point inward, so it’s even more hilarious from behind. Sometimes, he would disappear and we had to hunt for him all over the house. He especially enjoyed hiding under our couch where, of course, it was impossible to reach him. So we simply confined him to the corridor.

Oh yeah, did I mention that the STINKS!? We though our cat was malodorous. Well, we underestimated the hedgehog. Very soon, our nice little corridor became a smelly unwelcoming corridor. And for some reason, my family dubbed me the official hedgehog caretaker. Maybe it’s because I stayed home all day. Maybe it’s because I love animals; whatever the reason, that’s what I became. As fate would have it, hedgehogs produce large amounts of excrement. Their target range is also extremely varied. So I soon found myself sweeping, mopping, and sanitizing our corridor. We even lined it with newspapers to make the job easier. But it seemed the more I cleaned, the more he dirtied the place up. Not your dream house chore, really.

I also became a detective, because if the corridor doors were left open, the hedgehog would run out, and I had to find him. I would follow his colorful trail of excrement into my sister’s room, or the kitchen, and search everywhere. No hedgehog. So I’d give up the search only to find him at the end of the day in some small corner I forgot about.

Even so, having a hedgehog as a pet is not without its comical aspects. It’s like having our own private circus, especially since we also have a kitten. Sometimes, she will try to play with Hedgie, and sometimes she’ll just sit there, watching him. Once in a while, the cat will get a surge of courage, and advance at the hedgehog with all her might, then stop short when she reaches it. A few minutes later, it’s back to the courageous kitty. She’ll advance again, and then stop short. I get a real kick out of watching it. And the hedgehog? It’s easy defense for him. He just curls up a bit and does nothing. Speaking of curling, when you pick him up, you can see his belly and his adorable face (along with garlands of dust balls that he collected from under the bed), but only for a brief moment before he curls up tight. But it’s very painful, too. Those spines are no joke. I’ve often gotten little red spots on my hands after holding him for just a few seconds.

One of the hedgehog’s favorite hobbies is scratching the life out of our poor kitchen door. Somehow, he knows where all the yummy food is, and stops at nothing to reach it. Now, the bottom of the kitchen door is stained with dirt, and looks like a scratching post. I’ve often had to push him away to get into the kitchen. And he’s pretty strong, too. If the door is ajar, he can push it until it is wide open. In this way, he has often snuck into my sisters’ room because her door doesn’t close very well.

And what do hedgehogs eat? Technically, they are insectivores, which means they eat mostly insects. But most hedgehogs will eat anything they find. Our Hedgie eats leftover cat food, meat, cheese, fruits, and veggies. When he eats, he practically sits inside his food bowl. And the manners- not so good. That thing chews unbelievably loud, which is precisely why it’s called a hog.

And so it goes… Here I am still cleaning excrement because we haven’t released him yet. But luckily for me, he began sleeping more these past couple of days (hopefully beginning to hibernate), so there’s a little less drama going on.

This whole experience gave me a new love and appreciation for wild animals. Still, I don’t think anything wild should be domesticated unless absolutely necessary. Want a piece of advice? Don’t keep a hedgehog as a pet!

Family moments...

A quiet family moment. Vicky flipping through a fashion magazine... Roxy doing homework...The cat... well, just being a cat. Peace and quiet.

A filmstrip of Vicky looking through a magazine while talking on the phone with guess who...

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Yeah. Just a quick weather update. It has gotten cold here. Very cold. In fact, this morning my nose froze. It was numb, and I couldn’t smell anything. But it hasn’t started snowing yet. I’m looking forward to a white Christmas, but Vicky keeps saying," I don’t want it to snow!!" Well, I do. Until then, I’m listening to Christmas songs on 95.9 the fish. "...I’m dreaming of a white Christmas..." and “Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow.”

P.S. we will hopefully have more pics soon.

Of cats and such

I must say that our kitten has grown into quite a beautiful cat, if a somewhat spoiled one. All the fancy names fell off her, and she is now fondly known as Poopy Face or Poopoo for short.

After much hissing, the cat finally stopped being afraid of the hedgehog. Now she is simply puzzled... "I still don't understand what this thing is doing in MY house...

...so I'll just ignore it!"

Walk through the city

Hi everybody! Just wanted to say that we are not lost, just really busy, but we are thinking about all of you often and praying for everyone. Some fun stories will be posted soon, so stay tuned. Meanwhile, some pics.

Not too long ago this shack was still inhabited. It's right in the middle of the city, just a little lower, in a canyon, and so out of sight. It has probably been there since 1920-s...

Outside of the Farmer's Market building, you can buy a live chicken. What you do with it - cook it or keep it as a pet - is entirely up to you.

And if you think you are a good driver, try this for an obstacle course!