Tuesday, November 3, 2009

More About Ukraine

It's been awhile since I've done a "cultural" post, so I thought I would post a few things today for those of you interested in a little bit of our lives here in Ukraine. Hope you enjoy the randomness!

We live in a place that thrives on traditions and in their opinion, everyone should think and act according to those traditions. Some are what we would deem superstitions, but from what I can tell, for the most part they accept it all as a part of their culture and the traditional way of doing things here.
Whistling - Today David got in trouble for whistling in our apartment. Our language teacher went on to explain that if you whistle in your apartment, it means your money will go out (meaning we'll go broke) just like the sound goes out of your mouth. This makes me laugh because I remember my Poppop saying, "A whistling girl and a crowing hen always come to no good end."
Breaking dishes - it's apparently good luck when you do this here! (I think it's just when you do it accidentally, but I'm not completely positive about that.)
Buying Flowers - You have to buy an odd number of flowers to give as gifts or for yourself. Even numbers of flowers are only bought for funerals. They will not let you buy an even amount unless you assure them it's for a funeral.
Sitting - We girls continually get in trouble for sitting on the wrong places. So far we know the floor, cold places, concrete, etc. are the wrong places to sit. If you sit in these places, you will apparently lose your fertility.
Shoes - David got smacked in the ballet the other night for having his foot up resting on his knee. It's considered very rude to have the bottom of your shoe facing someone.

Daylight in Kharkov
We enjoy the longer days in the summer, and grieve over the shorter days in the winter. But in Kharkov there's a pretty big difference between the two, much more than we were used to in Texas. In Kharkov, we have daylight from around 4:30am to 8:30pm in the summer, but only from about 6:30am to 4:00pm in the winter.

When we went back to the states a month ago, I was once again shocked at the size of the washers in the US. I knew they were bigger, but I had forgotten how much bigger they are! Our washers over here (for the most part, you can buy them a little bigger) fit about 1/4-1/3 of the load we would put in our washer in the states. That's a big difference! That means my flannel sheets get washed separately and if I have two pair of jeans in the load, only a couple t-shirts and a few socks can go in with it. We also don't have dryers (they are available, but hard to obtain and you have to get special ones since most apartments aren't hooked up for the ventilation). We have drying racks and it takes about a 1-2 days to dry the clothes (depending on the season). Thankfully, it's winter and the radiators are on, so our clothes are drying in just about a day now!

Market Changes

Grocery stores aren't our primary shopping place here, in a lot of things (but not all by any means), we go to the outdoor market. On my last trip to the market, I realized how much the market has changed since the beginning of the summer. We started off the summer with berries, lettuce, cabbage, many herbs, mushrooms, peaches, etc. As the summer progressed, we lost the berry selection and gained a huge variety of tomatoes, peaches, apricots, melons, potatoes, and onions. Now, tomatoes are getting more scarce (you can always tell when things are going out of season because the price is 2-3x's what it was in season), mushrooms and melons are about gone, surprisingly raspberries are back for a second round, apples and pears are everywhere, and pumpkins have finally arrived. We're very excited about the pumpkins because that means we can finally make pumpkin pies, chocolate chip pumpkin cupcakes, and pumpkin soup-- all in time for the holidays. Granted, the pumpkins will be going out of season by Thanksgiving, so we're cooking and freezing it now for holiday use. If you want to know more about how to cook a pumpkin or want the recipe for the chocolate chip pumpkin cupcakes, check out my sister's blog here. As our winter approaches, we will be depending more on the grocery stores to stock our vegetable and fruit drawers.

Vanilla Update
If you read my post about making my own vanilla (here), I thought I would let you know that my first batch is done and turned out great! I highly recommend making your own, even if you can buy it in the store. It's simple to make, better tasting, and I'm pretty sure it's much cheaper than buying it in the store.

Well, there's a few of the things I had on my mind tonight. By the way... it's snowing outside my window just now. I'm hoping to wake up to a white view tomorrow?! Who knows.


The Boyers said...

thanks for the update...i find that all very interesting! let us know if you need anything at all, we are always happy to drop something in the mail! we're praying for you guys!

Carol Adams said...

Loved getting all that information. It's always amazing to hear how something really inconsequential to us is a really big deal in another culture and our big deals may be nothing to them!
You're always in our prayers--Enjoy the snow!

Jeanette said...

This was the best post ever!
Smacked seriously at the ballet... wow, the stories you will tell!
In Argentina the flower rule was the same - odd (ha ha)

Mike and Lucy said...

Great post, O! You are so good at summarizing stuff like this. I always forget when I sit down to write!

Nancy said...

Livia, does your homemade vanilla taste similar to Mexican vanilla?
So, we never heard the story about the smack at the ballet. Was it just a "you shouldn't do that" medium smack, or was it more serious?

David and Olivia said...

It was just a medium "you shouldn't be doing this" smack. Although Rob got beat with a plastic bottle (empty, thankfully) the other day because their dog Konah scared this older lady... so she went to town on him! Got to love their spunk!!