Archive for December, 2006

Year End in Kazakhstan

It’s been a year to remember. We had Sophie graduating in March from DU – fully equipped with two master’s degrees – a very dangerous but capable young woman was about to be unleashed on the world. She lands her job with Deloitte in Kazakhstan and the die is cast. She got to Almaty in May and I arrived in July along with Ms. Nadia after her summer vacation in Russia.


Today is Christmas Day but we won’t be celebrating for several days. We’re off on Thursday the 28TH on a 50-hour train ride to Yekaterinburg to be with Sophie’s family for the New Year’s holiday and Orthodox Christmas. Pray for adult sanity………….50 hours on a train with a 4 year is a test. It will be my first winter back in Yekaterinburg since 1996. It will be great to be with Sophie’s family and to see old friends.


It has not been an easy year for any of us. Nadia has experienced some separation anxiety off and on and Sophie and I are like strangers when she gets back from one of her 4-5 week consulting gigs. One gets used to being a single parent and doing by yourself and it really can be trying; hopefully she will be home for a whil and we can just be a couple.


Anyway, Ms. Nadia is asking for the computer to watch a move. She knows how to start her movies using the Windows Media Player. She’s got all the moves down with the mouse and everything………scary what 4 years old can do.


For you Christians out there keep Christ in the holiday and for all others best of luck!  See you on the other side in 2007.


It’s Starting to Look A Lot Like a Kazak Christmas….


Yes I can just see Bing Crosby dressed up in his aiyr kalpak – a high pointed cap with a divided turn-up,  singing “I’m Dreaming of a Kazak Christmas” or Alvin and the Chipmunks donning  their borik – a rounded warm cap, trimmed with astrakhan otter, marten or raccoon fur doing their perennial replay of “Christmas Don’t be Late”.



The commercial aspects of the holiday are pretty similar to the U.S. with the stores putting out ornaments and huge quantities of alcohol right after Halloween. I’ve already told you it’s a commercial society here. The two principle characters you see are Snegurochka – The Snow Maiden in a Russian children’s book and Ded Moroz – the Russian Santa. Snegurochka is Santa’s Granddaughter.


Snegurochka is a character in Russian fairy tales. In one story, she is the daughter of Spring and Frost, who yearns for the companionship of mortal humans. She grows to like a shepherd named Lel, but her heart is unable to know love. Her mother takes pity and gives her this ability, but as soon as she falls in love, her heart warms up and she melts.

This version of the story was made into a play by Alexandr Ostrovsky, with incidental music by Tchaikovsky. In 1878 the composer Léon Minkus and the Balletmaster Marius Petipa staged a ballet adaptation of Snegurochka titled The Daughter of the Snows for the Tsar’s Imperial Ballet. The tale was also adapted into an opera by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov known as The Snow Maiden. Ruth Sanderson retold the story in the picture book The Snow Princess, in which falling in love does not immediately kill the princess, but turns her into a mortal human, who will die. – HT to Wikipedia for this capsule of info.

Nowadays her M.O. as Ded Moroz’s helper is the one that is put in the stores and on buildings. Nadia received a visit from Ded Moroz and Snegurochka last Christmas at a friend’s home and was duly impressed………it’s all for the kids. Right?

Well sort of. The gifting frenzy is pretty amazing here. The stores are loaded with things guaranteed to please anyone – even Boca Babes in their MB Brabus hotrods would oh and ah!……

The Lynn’s are making the trip to Yekaterinburg this winter to be with Sophie’s family. It’s been 10 winters since I’ve celebrated the holiday with Russians in Russia. We will take Nadia to the ice palace in the central square, sip champagne and brandy as the new year dawns and be obliging to the commercial instincts of Snegurochka, giving gifts and receiving (I’m holding out for a new fur hat – prefer chocolate mink to color match with my leather jacket).

We’re taking the 50 hour train from Almaty to Yekaterinburg. I’m not sure how it will be with a child for 50 hours on a train. We’ve reserved a full coupe for four, so we can stretch out, take along the computer to play movies, the new boom box we have that has incredible sound and kick back and see how many hours it takes for Nadia to drive two grown adults stark raving CRAZY. We will pack math games and other stuff to keep her occupied and keep us stimulated as well.

More later on the trip……………….

Bit and Pieces:


î     Nadia feeling better. Has her Nanny (hopefully through the end of the month) when we leave for Yekat. Her tummy is kinda a mess but she seems to be over the worst of the deal.

î     I suffered at the hands of my wife’s people again yesterday. I went to pick up the visa for Nadia and me from the Russian Consulate. Fight the gate, wait for the KGB/FSB type to give you the nod when the gate opens. My feet got really cold – had on work shoes and not my winter hiking boots and had to stand outside waiting for 1 ½ hours before getting that “nod”. I kid Sophie about being subjected to the indignities by “her people”. She freely admits their faults and tells me to get tough.

î     Ron, you should see all of Ded Moroz’s little girl helpers in the stores……My oh my!


Seeking Normal

It’s been a rough patch the past 10 days. Nadia has been sick with a stomach problem. It has been diagnosed as a mis-shaped gallbladder. This gallbladder with the dipsy-doodle is trapping bacteria. The trigger is, Nadia does not liking her school environment. I’ve never seen such anxiety in a 4 year old about going to school each morning. So we are going to plan B, trying to get a nanny set up. We’ve found a wonderful woman who has been working for another American couple. They are getting ready to move on to Tbilisi in Georgia for their new assignment and the timing on getting their nanny will be great. I’ll know tomorrow for sure on Nanny Tamara’s commitment.


For me, I need to get some normalcy back in my life. With Sophie off in Siberia I have no meaningful work life right now. I’ve missed a huge amount of work due to Nadia’s malady, taking her to the doctor appointments, staying home with her, etc. and we have some important things happening at work and I can do only so much “remotely” from home. Our IT guy looks at me like I’m from the moon asking for a Microsoft Exchange set up, so I can dial into the company server. If I could do that, I’d be OK working from home most of the time and venturing out only for appointments. But, the child comes first – bottom line – Getting the nanny set up and having Nadia at home in her “cocoon” should be a relief for all concerned.


Working at home is a joke anyway; not that I’m taking the “Dilbert” approach but our neighbors upstairs have a full blown “remont” or remodeling in progress. As I am writing there is a small cement drill humming through my brain; Nadia sleeps though it, how I do not know. Last week I would try and work on a proposal with Nadia asking me a question and the mini-jackhammer running upstairs. It’s almost 6 pm on Saturday night. I’m about ready to go ask the remodelers to go have a beer and stop work until Monday.


Weather: Nice light snow today. It is colder in Denver than here by about 4 degrees. Other than the icy walkways (they don’t clean walkways here at all, just streets) things are pretty negotiable. Once they find out about personal injury attorneys, they will start cleaning walkways.


Time to wake Nadia from her late afternoon nap and have supper – a nice chicken soup that I’ve had cooking all afternoon.


More later from Kaz.