site integration & dog collar inaugurations

tuesday started out amazing. i woke up went for a run and chucha ran faithfully at my side the entire way (well occasionally getting side tracked chasing chickens). it was a phenomenal run. an old lady carrying her full pail of milk to the road awaiting the milk truck even shouted ‘good job!’ to me as i ran past. i run down the same street (the one street in my village) so people have come to know me as the ‘girl-that-runs-back-and-forth’.

I finally met the cute old lady i run by every time. I’ve been searching for someone in hopes of offering help on their land and learning some old ukrainian wisdom. her friendly waves made her the perfect applicant. i honestly have no idea how old she is…it’s REALLY hard to guess in ukraine. if she was an american my guess would be 89 but she’s probably 70…idk.

i ran past her neatly kept house with orchard and plants (that reminds me what mine would look like if i had a ukrainian home) and slowed my run as i approached her on the way back. she was outside all bundled up on a very warm day sporting gloves and a shovel. i said hello and asked what her name was, to which she answered some form of ‘helena’ ‘heled’ ‘helvetica’…‘h–something’ i couldn’t really tell. as approached closer, she removed her work glove and surprisingly offered to shake my hand (which women don’t do here). she made a slightly indecipherable comment about the fact that i run back and forth all the time (but i guessed it from her gestures). i said yes i like to run. ‘i ran too when i was younger! and i climbed that tree over there!’ she said as she waved her re-gloved hand to the tree across the street. i loved her already.

at that point i figured that was probably why, although she looked 89, was outside digging out weeds and seemed as though she had all her teeth. i would have loved to have known her when she was younger. we probably could have been running buddies. i offered to help her with her yard work to which she answered ‘no no no i’m still young!’ we both laughed and she signaled me to continue on my run. i told her it was so very nice to meet her and i was off. running lighter than ever with chucha by my side.

later i finished canning my watermelon jam and brought a jar over to my neighbor, lena. on my way over there i saw my other neighbor, who i’ve said ‘hi’ to every day but never met, standing outside her fence. i said hello and asked her what her name was. her name is luda (her grandkids are sasha and jenya, ironically. won’t be hard to remember that). so i told her my name is ‘kristina’ though she told me that everyone already knows that.

i stood there, jam in my bag, and we talked for a while. she asked me about my family and where i’m from. she knew chucha and the kitties to be mine. i love that everyone here now calls chucha by her name. she encouraged me to get a collar for chucha so people knew she’s taken care of or sort of ‘adopted’ by me. i admitted i was worried about chucha for the winter since she hasn’t survived one yet. to my delight, she told me to ask the men at school to build me a dog house. which i had actually been thinking of doing, well at least trying to building it myself.

so when the school grounds keeper came walking around, luda approached him and asked him about the dog house. he agreed and for the first time actually smiled at me! it was great. i couldn’t understand everything…but i thought he agreed to do it. then they told me where to buy a collar and (i think) flea medicine.

that evening i decided after some debating, i decided to buy chucha a collar. i walked over to the mahazine (which to my surprise sells them) and picked one out. i also picked up two ice creams. one for me and one for chucha to commemorate this collar occasion. (as jeff commented once he heard this, yes, i really am lonely). the ice cream turned out to be a terrific idea and diversion tactic to try and sneak a collar on. though once the ice cream was gone, all chucha wanted was the collar off. she rolled, flipped, and jumped trying to get it off. it was absolutely hilarious but i felt kind of bad. and as i figured, when i saw her the next morning, she greeted me without her collar. so i guess that dog will never be tamed.

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