Tuesday, September 25, 2012
No trip to Peremyliv is complete without a stop at the cemetary.
My dear aunt Sophia. I miss her a lot. She was a wonderful person.
My great grandfather - the guy pretty much responsible for this whole mess. The reason? He and his brothers didn't like America.
Cousin Slava - the last time I was there, they hadn't finished her headstone. I stayed at her house the first time I came to the area.
Cousin Igor...Although something of a wastrel, he was a profound player in bringing the two sides of the family together. He's been dead 17 years and I still miss him.
OK, so these are some of the dearest departeds. I knew all of them, except my great-grandfather. He died in 1958. It's good to know where you come from. Of course, I'm pretty sure fate won't deliver me to this same cemetary, but you never can tell!
I suggested it to Cousin Arsen and he took care of it. So on Sunday morning, we headed south in brother-in-law Sergey's nice Renault (with Sergey at the wheel and easy-listening music on the CD player) to what everybody was calling "a really Jewish city" - whatever that is. Here are the hightlights:
The theater...a nice old building.
Another nice old building nearby - you get idea.
We walked past this film set and all these people were wearing period costumes. They went inside before I could whip out my camera.
For added effect, they brought in old-timey cars.
Here's another one!
Just two guys hangin' out at the university. Thanks to Sergey for his imaginative camera work.
Yeah, Chernivtsi is 603 years old. I know because a sign told me.
Here's the city assembly building. This is pretty much at the center of everything. People wander aimlessly around this area for hours.
Cousin Arsen and Sergey hit the town! Splat!
Here's a career option for Cousin Arsen - coach driver!
And then there was a wedding...
...and another nice old building. This is the Armenian Church. They have Armenians? So yeah, everybody calls it a "Jewish city," but where's the proof? Where??
OK, so then we stopped at the Caravan and I took all those pictures and we drove out to the banks overlooking some tributary of the Dnister and had a picnic.
Here is the picnic in question. We (Cousin Arsen and I, not Sergey - he was driving) had vodka in addition. I chased mine with beer. I will never do that again. Never.
Sergey and Cousin Arsen again. Thanks to both of them for a fine outing!
Two years ago, I made friends with a kitten that Cousin Arsen had adopted. He was named after Ukraine's outrageously corrupt and possibly murderous second prime minister, Leonid Kuchma. Unlike his namesake, he was very affectionate and friendly. I was so glad to hear that he was alive and well. We had a chance to get re-acquainted. Here are some pictures:
Here he is, just chillin' in the hallway. Like many cats in that part of the world, he is undersized.
I'm not sure what was so amusing here...
Despite Arsen's wife's best efforts, he was always jumping on my lap at the table.
His claws were very sharp!
And that's all from Kuchma!
Monday, September 24, 2012
OK, so I just want to spotlight the youth of the family, some of whom you've already seen, but they're growing, as most children do. Here they are:
This is Yura. He's Cousin Bogdan's son. For a kid, he's quite charming.
Here he is again - definitely not picking his nose - being held by his uncle, Cousin Andriy. (There are lots of Volodyas, Romans and Andriys in the family.)
And once more with his mom who is NOT named Oksana. Her name is Lesa. She's very nice. Her husband, Cousin Bogdan, is working in Poland. I talked to him on the phone, too!
Cousin Arsen's son, Volodya...
Volodya's brother, Andriy...
And the master of disaster himself, Orest. This kid is a riot. He's three years old and he spends his whole day wandering around the village. What could possibly happen? It's not like there are large animals or dangerous equipment around! No wait, there's a lot of both of those things all over the place. I mean, he stands a very good chance of being murdered by a goose if he doesn't watch out.
I have no seperate pictures of Maksim and Viktoria, but you've already seen them. You know, when I said that Cousin Arsen's boys were nothing but trouble, I was really joking. They're actually very entertaining. The twins are kind of weird and slouchy at times. But Orest is quite the character. He's more of a force of nature. Every day he'd come home after wandering around the village and his mom would ask him where he'd been. "I don't know" was always his answer. Well, at least he always made his way back.
Well, once I'm in town, I become the guest of honor at various houses in both Peremyliv and neighboring Karashintsi. Here are some people you should meet:
Yours truly with Cousin Roman and his wife, Daria. Fun fact: Roman's hands are so big he can't wear work gloves!
Roman's son, Vasily and his super-pretty, super-nice wife, Oksana. Not pictured: Vasily's brother, Volodya, and his wife, also named Oksana.
This is Cousin Olya, her son, Ivas (whose wedding I attended two years ago), his wife, also, also Oksana and their daughter, Viktoria. That child can sure shriek, I tell you what. Not pictured: Cousin Ivan who was working in Kiev. I got to speak to him on the phone, though! He's as jolly as ever.
Ivan and Olya's daughter, Marika, her husband, the handsome Roman and their son, Maksim.
This is Cousin Hennik and his wife Lyuba. This is as close as I could get them to stand next to each other. Can you feel the love?
And though you've already met Cousin Arsen and Orest, their house currently centers around the computer. We ended up watching Avatar dubbed into Russian twice. I don't know whether I've made this point yet, but here it is: ten years ago, the house got its first telephone. At the time, they had no running water and undependable electricity. Today, they've got a bathroom, shower, tub, toilet and a computer with an internet connection. That's kind of cool.
Anyhow, not pictured in any of this: how much drinking we did. It was pretty heroic.
Sunday, September 23, 2012
It's time for a stop in Peremyliv, a small village between Ternopil and Chernivtsi.
Cousin Arsen painted this sign. It says: "The Village of Peremyliv - 443 years" Take that, America! Anyhow, to get to this sign, start at the one below...
This is out on the "highway."
Go down this road for a while...
Go a little further past the sign and the church and you'll arrive at Cousin Arsen's place.
This is Cousin Arsen's backyard. The river below is called the Taina. Back in the fifties, the Communists deemed it too meandering, so they ordered it to be straightened. And straıghtened it was. What a bunch of wacky, murderous jokers!
This is Cousin Arsen's neighbor's house. He ain't doın' so bad!
This is Cousin Arsen's dog, Bari. He's 18 years old, has four teeth (total), one eye and enormous testicles.
This is Bari's replacement, Rex. He's kind of an idiot. Here he is making a weird face.
Here's Cousin Arsen with Rex who is looking more normal.
Here are Cousin Arsen's kids. Yeah, two of them are identical twins. I can tell them apart. The three of them are very entertaining, but they're nothing but trouble.
More to follow...
(By the way, the caption just says "pro bilok" or "about squirrels" in Ukrainian.)
Saturday, September 22, 2012
Out of order again, but who cares? We're back in Lviv and, thanks to my jetlag, I get up really early and climb the Vysoky Zamok (or High Castle). I did it last time and I won't lie to you, it was really nice.
This is all that's left of the castle, just a segment of wall. Teenagers lean against when they're drinking.
When you get to the top after a grueling 25-minute hike, you get to look down on this broadcast tower. I believe that this is just for show because TV reception is uniformly lousy around town. Plus the programming sucks. The best shows come from Russia, but they're in that devil-tongue of the oppressor. Do Ukrainians watch those shows? You bet they do!
Of course, in case you should forget what country you're in, there's a Ukrainian flag located at the top to conveniently remind you.
This is a view of the Old City. It is a fine place to be.
This is a newer part of Lviv. I've been through it on the bus. It is charmless and soul-less. Someday - and let's hope it's soon - these apartment blocks will have to come down. And maybe they'll put up something better.
On my way down, there's a very nice bar at the midway point up. I didn't remember it looking this nice the last time I was there. Naturally, it's closed owing to the early hour. Right after I snapped this photo, a red squirrel appeared off to my left. He was not friendly and ran from tree to tree to escape me. He didn't care about some stinkin' peanut that I'd brought all the way from the US.
Here's a bit of folk art next to the bar. It's a robot elk painted the Ukrainian national colors, of course. What's so unusual about that???
And now, a close-up. Yeah, not at all poorly-assembled/creepy.
And then I walked the rest of the way down. I saw no more squirrels or robot elk.