Saturday, December 20, 2014

Catching Up

Well, we have a lot to catch up on, so let's get right in.  First of all, you can probably tell that the above picture wasn't taken recently, because it's the middle of December in Siberia.  That might just tell you how much, exactly, we have to catch up!

So yeah, going back to our last post, it was coming to the end of fall.  And in a last flurry of energy before the winter set in, plus taking advantage of our new car, we tried our best to get out into the countryside as much as we could.

The boys love being outside, as most boys do, I think.  They really enjoy practicing things like batoning wood for a fire; I think they're going to be quite the little bushcrafters.  The only disappointing thing about a trip into the woods is having to come back into the city, which looks really grim once the hot-water plant turns on and starts pumping black smoke over the whole city.

Let's see, what else has been up?  Well, a close friend of ours had her birthday a month or so ago, and we were invited to come and speak at the ceremony.  You can see from the audience how enthralling a speaker I am. :)  Apparently the novelty of hearing a white guy speak in T wears off after a few minutes and you're having to struggle to figure out what he's trying to say.

As I think most of you know, the pine nut facility is currently on hold.  We had a poor harvest this fall, and combine that with the economic crisis and currency fluctuations and we decided this wasn't the year to be processing.  Nevertheless, you have to keep a close eye on things to make sure the pipes don't freeze!  We had a couple of pipes actually freeze on us and had to take steps to melt the lines and get everything going again.

Here we're venting the steam/hot water from the system to fix a leak:

We're not just sitting around all the time, though - the government had me (J) in for a session on attracting foreign investment.  I wasn't the guest of honor but I did have a chance to hear the governor speak.

Oh, our oldest son Steven turned 8, too.  Here he is, enjoying the most important part of any birthday party, the cake!

But there were friends, too.  And toys, and a new member of the family that Steven bought himself.  We told him if he could save up 200 rubles, he could buy himself a guinea pig (he earns 2 rubles for doing his chores most of the time).  Well, he did it - I was very impressed when he passed up the chance to get ice cream for 15 rubles a few times, saying "No, I need to save up for my guinea pig."  When it got to his birthday and he had the 200 rubles, we got him a cage (thank you to the T family in Moscow!) and we now have the newest member of the Wandering Family, Tom.

Oh, yeah, there was Thanksgiving, too!

And our friends came over to show us how much their grandson has grown. 

This one I just put in for my parents.  I grew up with delicious fresh mangoes available in abundance in season.  I was quite amused to see this for sale for almost $10/kg here - the most disgusting-colored mango you've ever seen.  Needless to say, we'll wait for the next shipment of dried ones from Bolivia.

Today we went out and enjoyed the nice weather a bit.  It was up to -25 this afternoon and the New Year's tree was up, so we had to go check it out.  First Matthew got a ride on one of the ice sculptures for the purposes of a picture.

Then it was sledding, sledding, and more sledding.  Although, as you can see in the video, the kids don't always wait long enough between trips and there is a lot of slamming into one another at the base of the slide.  Fortunately, everyone is dressed heavily enough that serious injuries are rare.

And I'll leave you with Matthew's aka "The Christmas Pirate's" year-end wish for everyone.  Thanks for stopping by!