Sunday, 29 June 2014

Ice Cream Ad on the Ring Road

Living in a non-PC country does have its advantages.

Ice Cream Ad on the Ring Road.

Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Hippotherapy in Kyiv - My Daughter's Film and Project

If you are a regular visitor on this blog, you might have noticed the link that's been posted on the upper right hand side for the past two months. Teen One has been fundraising for the Elena Petrusevich Foundation - Elena being the Mother of hippotherapy in Kyiv. She has also made a film. First, please watch this short video.

The last day of school on June 18 was also, formally, the last designated day of fundraising (informally you can still give if you so wish - any money that's donated to our account will find its way to Elena, needless to say). On Friday, June 20, Antonia and I accompanied Kamilla to her meeting with Elena to document the handing over of the money raised.

There were so many smiles and tears of joy.  Elena had known about the fundraising of course but I don't think she had any idea of how much money she would receive.  

I am so proud of this teenager.  It was her idea, her project, her relentless effort (and just a bit of my help), her creativity and dedication, her film.

But it was just an idea and a lovely project - until you all chipped in to help.   Without you, amazing friends, none of this would have materialised.  20, 000 UAH.  What do you say?

Thank you so much, again. 

Friday, 20 June 2014

Images of the Maidan by Ola Rondiak

Ola Rondiak  is a mostly self-taught American artist with Ukrainian roots.  She moved to Ukraine with her husband 20 years ago and she has lived through some very tumultous times of Ukrainian history.  Among her first exhibits were the images of the Orange Revolution that she witnessed.  

She is a permanent fixture of the expat community.  Her pictures have been auctioned at charitable events as well as shown in group and solo exhitibions.

Her work can also be purchased in New York at the Ukrainian Museum and Surma Book Store as well as the Soyuzivka Resort.  

here's Ola giving us a taste of her upcoming exhibition at a school event in May

Ola's newest exhibition 'The Images of the Maidan' (need I explain?) in Kyiv opened on Tuesday night.   Ola talked about her roots and family background and explained how strongly they influence her work.  Her parents emmigrated from Ukraine in 1945 and arrived in America four years later.  Ola's mother was split from her own mother when she was 12 and the pain and sadness that this tragedy caused them all has lived within the artist all her life.  She feels she has a responsibility to immerse her children in Ukrainian traditions. 

She believes strongly in contributing self-expression into the development of tradition.  In a past interview her work was described as "the world so Ukrainian - by coloring, material, style , and spirit …….. the artist has a gift to see the divine in everything."  The philosophy of living fully in the moment is something she holds dear and tries to maintain this peace through biking, swimming, and meditation, as well as spending time with family and friends.  Ola strongly believes that when she is in a state of calmness, answers to her inner questions come easily.  These answers tend not to come so much from her head as from the soul and she uses this belief to create her artwork.... this dance of her mind with her intuition, as well as her heart.  She continuously strives to achieve this harmony and above all she tries to live her life honestly.  Ola strongly believes that without honesty in life, there is no honesty in art. 

 The opening night was lovely and well-attended by expat and Ukrainian friends alike. 

Ola's current exhibition 'Images of the Maidan' can be viewed at the Fulbright Office (20 Esplanadna Street, Suite 904, M "Palats Sportu", Kyiv)  

The exhibition runs through July 17, from Monday to Friday from 10 am to 5 pm.   

Monday, 16 June 2014

Just an Ordinary Monday.....

According to a friend I have become a 'native expat'.  Yep.  It took me four hours but just to be on the safe side I have now four appointments scheduled at four different clinics in three different countries for two vaccines.  Just to be on the safe side.  

Teen One is going to summer college in the US and she needs a Tdap booster.  I knew we'd have problems with this because when she was 11  and was due for the booster we lived in Russia and they only had the DT.  So when I started calling around at the Kyiv private clinics this morning I didn't expect to succeed.  What I did expect though was that they would at least know what I was talking about.    I spelled it out.  T D A P.  Tried D T A P.  Nothing.  I figured the vaccine was still not available around this part of the world.

But then because we're going on holiday in Pennsylvania shortly and because there seems to be an outbreak of measles around the Amish community I decided it was time Norman Price received her second dose of the MMR.  Now, there seems to be much disagreement among the international community about when the timing is the most perfect for this shot  - Germans give it by 23 months, Americans at age 4,  Hungarians a lot later and the Brits at 3 years and 4 months.  As the latter suits our purposes perfectly well, I decided to pick up the receiver again and make the call.

Clinic One (the expat clinic with exorbitant prices in Kyiv but one that our insurance company has direct settlement with and where doctors will speak English reliably) informs me that they don't have the vaccine and they are not likely to have it until end of year.  Being an expat and all that crap I am used to challenges and hearing no upon no but even though 'your phone call is recorded' I just couldn't resist.  I told them.  This is a routine childhood vaccine, what do Ukrainian children get?  I am a regular at you clinic - where do you want me to go?  Are you seriously suggesting I should fly somewhere?  We're not debating whether I should have brain surgery in Ukraine but the MMR vaccine!

Clinic Two informs me that they do have the vaccine.  I make the appointment.  But I don't like Clinic Two.  Generally speaking, they are not very flexible.  They make your child give a urine and blood sample before every single vaccine.    They vaccinate according to the Ukrainian schedule and I can very well see before my closed eyes the stack of print outs I will have to carry with me - about the different international schedules, about the measles outbreak, about everything. I'm weary already and it's days before the appointment.

In the meantime I am on Skype with two different clinics in London (I am flying to London with Teen One for a consultation about a possible ankle surgery.  In on Sunday, out on Tuesday, it's really about nothing else).  The private clinic our insurance company recommends  (it's vital for me to find a clinic in the vicinity of the Ankle Appointment) is not sure whether they can vaccinate her on the premises, she not being 18 and all that, but they promise to call me back because they think the GP would be very happy to make a home visit and vaccinate - at our hotel.  The second clinic that is actually IN the building of the Ankle Appointment and that would be most convenient for us for the Shot that Will Take 5 Minutes in All sounds very nice but hesitant.  What I can deduct is that they don't like to vaccinate walk-ins no matter how much I pay.  They ask for her records, for lots of additional info and I comply.  I explain to them that I am desperate.    All I want is the Tdap vaccine

Back to Kyiv.  Clinic One calls back to inform me that they have called around and managed to find ONE vaccine for me.  I explain to them that I have already made an appointment at Clinic Two but I am very happy to cancel if they promise to put my name on the vaccine in the fridge and keep it for me until our appointment next week.    They promise and I intend to keep our appointment.  Because they speak English and because they are flexible, they get a lot of expat patients and they know that it's not always bad news when other countries do things differently.  They will vaccinate Norman Price without me having to explain and defend my choice of wanting her to be vaccinated at age 3 and 4 months.    Do I cancel our appointment at Clinic Two, though.  No way!  Just to be on the safe side.

Meanwhile in London.  Clinic One calls me to say that their GP has agreed to vaccinate Teen One on the premises.  Guess what.  Guess why.  The lovely doctor who later sends me an email herself is an ex-expat and she knows what it's like.  After four hours of phone calls and what feels like unpaid work I finally feel understood.

I drop an email to London Clinic Two to inform them that we're all sorted - they immediately answer back and all I feel in their email is a big smiling sigh of relief.

The appointment I have made in the meanwhile for the Tdap in the US  (no questions, no explanations, no additional info required except name and DOB) I will only cancel after our London trip next week.

Just an ordinary boring Monday in Kyiv, friends.   And you know what?   I don't wish to be anywhere else.

Wednesday, 11 June 2014

The Lamps in Love Get New Clothes

I have blogged about the Lamps in Love down at the end of Suicide Street (do you know the story of Kreshatyik?) before.

While waiting in front of the Kozatzkiy Hotel for Igor,  our tour guide to Chernobyl** arrive on Saturday,

I had just enough time to admire their new clothes.

'Love is light, it does not fade' is the main motif of the Lamps.  One of Kyiv's landmarks, Vladimir Belokon's sculpture appeared on Maidan on Valentine's day in 2009 and is now a favourite place of rendezvous. 

***Yes, I went to Chernobyl and Pripyat on Saturday.  I am planning to go back now with a private guide in September as there are a few more things I would like to see that are not possible if you go with a bigger group.  Blog post delayed.

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