Russian Word of the Day

  • present = padarak

Monday, March 23, 2009

A hum drum day

Day 13
I've got those "day after Nauryz" blues, don't you?

For the first time since arriving here in Kokshetau, I found myself irritated with our daily routine. Just a touch of meloncholy, mind you, but on the ride to Schuchinsk, I nursed this emotion like you might nurse a headache in order to stay in a warm bed a little longer. Rather than straining out the window for glimpses of Kazakh life, I settled into myself and let it all wash over me. Snow. Stands of bare birch trees. Magpies gliding over thawing wheat fields. Signs I can't read. Bright green gas stations. Roads that I will never drive down. A man filling a bucket at the tap on the side of the road. Silence except for the gutteral noises of the van driving over the slushy pothole covered street. The soft comfort of the fake fur lining of my hood on my cheek.

I don't know what I wanted instead... just a bit of freedom. It is very clostraphobic, living in a country where you don't speak the language. We are all sticking to our small circle of comfortable activities: trips to the market and long cold walks to the war memorial. Art projects with Calvin. Those are the only activities we can manage by ourselves. Everything else we do is outside is pretty heavily supervised and the presence of listening ears is weighing a bit heavy on me at the moment. Not a black and white photo. This is just how the steppe looks in early spring.
This is my view of the road ahead of us every morning, over our driver Nursultan's shoulder.

Arriving at the babyhouse, the smile of recognition from Garrett perked me right up of course. He was really excited to see us and wouldn't stop smiling at us. The caretakers said that he was very fussy yesterday and wouldn't nap because he missed us. I like their interpretation, but part of me suspects that he was just teething. He sure was teething hard by the end of our visit. At one point he grabbed my finger, bit it, growled with satisfaction for a moment, and then started crying. Poor little pumpkin. But it was a good day with a lot of snuggles. I LOVE his snuggles. Have I mentioned that... LOVE LOVE LOVE his snuggles. He's such a sweet little pie.

The drive back to Kokshetau put me back in a funk. I finally realized that I am desperate to see something green and growing. Even a weed. Just something! So, when Makhabbat picked us up a couple hours later for our mandatory Kazakh cultural enlightenment (today she took us to a work out club/Kazakh sauna that just opened) we had her take us to a plant shop. It is really hard to keep plants alive through the Kazakh winter, so everything was soo expensive. We finally found a plant we could afford and very carefully took it home. Ridiculous as it sounds, I love this plant. It changes the whole look of our cottage to have something green and growing in it. It's like a breath of fresh air.

I was so invigorated by the presence of a real live plant in our midst that I spent the next hour bustling around making this place look more like our own. I put away boxes of baby toys that some other family had left on a shelf. I hung up the glittery easter egg pictures that Calvin and Nana have been working so hard on. I found a window that would actually open... and I opened it! Then we all danced around the living room to Huey Lewis and the New's "Hip to be Square" and "Working for a Living."

So there you go. That's the story of how a very cute baby, a little green plant and some California decorating sensabilities saved the day.




Nicole Faraclas said...

Hey Beccs and Crew,

I was just in DC visiting Stephen and the cherry blossoms are about to be in bloom. The sight of their little pink buds and the fluffy white flowers that accompany is so breathtaking. It's funny how living in such a green country one takes for granted the botanical life forces that are all around us, and the joy they bring (even if it's subconscious at times!). I'm so glad you found your little bit of green. Much love and sunny, plant-filled, California thoughts on you.

Baby Kaz Moore said...

Ahhh, the Wall. We've all hit it during our Kaz trip. Hang in there. I was in Petropavlovsk exactly one year ago. It was fun (although very muddy) to watch the season turn to Spring. It seemed like it occurred within a few short days. All the best, Susan

Holly said...

Hang in there with the weather. You get a big prize for your efforts - Garrett. He gets more adorable with each photo. He's your spring flower.

Love to you.

Kristen said...

I have to tell you how much I love following your blog. You definitely suck me right in with you words. I was noticing the pictures of the infant room at the baby house and it looks totally different from when we were there in 2007. I think maybe they have changed rooms. We loved Makhabbat and Nursultan. But, be careful...Nursultan knows more English than he leads you to believe. He understands a lot of it. Thanks so much for letting me tag along on your journey. It's bringing back so many great memories!!

Kristen Appleyard

Anonymous said...

Sorry you had a tough day....I can't imagine the difference in "living" over there. We are so lucky to live where we do....keep your head up girl!! Just think of the's so worth it all. Many happy days ahead for sure!!!!
I'm sure you will be happy to be home to see that everything is in beautiful spring bloom here for you guys.. take care....alisha

Sam,Ryan and Gabby said...

Hi guys,
Just think that before you know it you'll be home enjoying the beautiful spring weather with your newest little boy. He will love playing in the warm grass with his big brother, eating strawberries and hearing the birds chirp happily in the Spring sun. One of my favorite sayings when I am feeling as you are is: "it is always darkest just before dawn". Sometimes things seem pretty routine and bleak, but then you before you know it something changes for the better. Easy for me to say a million miles away right? Hang in there, you have come a long way and the journey is almost over.
Sam, Ryan & Gabby

Channing said...

Hi Guys,

Yes, it is beautiful here right now but you know me. Nice spring weather means the LONG HOT summer is just around the corner. I wish it would be cold and snowy, or at least rainy because we know it will be one hundred degrees before long. And then you'll have to listen to me complain about that in addition to my other numerous complaints. :)

Do you have a printer over there? How about this: I'll take a picture of the green CA hills and then you can print it out to hang on your wall in Kaz.

Hang in there!


Clark said...

I don't think it was the plant that turned your mood around but rather Huey Lewis and the News, they seem to have that effect on a lot of people. Best of luck with everything.
Clark in NYC

Anonymous said...

Love the guided tours on the blog Becca! Keep them coming. Its such fun being in Kazahkstan "with" you. You'll be happy to know that spring has arrived in CA too and the blue berries and whisteria are out in force! I'm trying to learn how to post a comment to your blog - here goes with this comment. Wish me luck....

Love, CAS