Not every day has been perfect. I've spent many meals struggling to understand the swift flow of conversation around me. I almost messed up the washing machine by putting too many clothes in it. I've gotten myself locked out of the house or driveway and had to call for help. But Luda and I both love ice cream after dinner (almost every day) so I've gotten to sit around, listen to stories, and tell my own. Peter laughs pretty easier so if I can make him giggle (with a joke or tripping over myself) I am successful for that day. Masha and her boyfriend, Roma, visit often and love to try out their English with me. I will miss their accented "Good Day" each Saturday morning. Masha works at a hair salon in the next town over so she tries out new braiding style on me. I usually end up almost falling asleep since the braiding feels more like a head massage. Sasha has never stopped helping me. He always figures out I am searching for in the kitchen and find it for me. He introduces me to anyone who visits as "Our American Girl". His girlfriend, Vika, (who I didn't think liked to talk much) confessed that she loves to take photos but was nervous to ask me about it. So we had an impromptu lesson at Sasha's birthday party.
The Dubovas have a great amount of relatives in our village so I have gotten to know Baba Katya (there is a photo of her earlier at a picnic), Natasha, Sasha, Ira, Vladik, and a tremendous amount of neighbors. The Dubovas are famous for their generosity, big parties, and fresh milk. I'm lucky that I spent several weeks being among them. The Dubovas also have an array of animals: four cows, six pigs, dozens of chickens, four rabbits, two dogs, and two cats. Early summer, we gained a calf, several chicks, two puppies, and a kitten! After days of cuddling and cooing, I was formally given the job of taking care of the little ones. I held the puppies just hours after they were born (honestly, I didn't know their momma was pregnant) and let the calf chase me down the driveway during its first visit to sunlight.
Just a few days ago, Luda, Peter, and I discussed where my new town is and when I am going to visit. Peter asked me again about my family at home. Names. Jobs. Ages. The conversation switched to the subject of what I will do when I return to America. Buy a house. Marry a men. Get a decent job. Raise pigs. Grow potatoes. Then Luda said the kindest thing an Ukrainian person has ever said to me, "You will come back here. You will bring back your husband and children so I can show them where you lived here. You will write me letters - Cassie, you must write in Ukrainian - letters because I don't know the Internet or Skype to tell me when you get married. Every time you have a baby you will write me a letter. When you take pictures. Send me photos too. We will write letters for many years after you leave. You to me, me to you." I'm gonna practice my writing.
the Whole Clan
My domain aka second floor.
This is considered their 'small' farm.
Lunch of young, summer peas.
Hired help has been working on the replacing the front door, sidewalk, and steps. Peter and Sasha tackled the back barn by themselves.
Preparing cherries to make jam!