Saturday, June 22, 2019
Eve of the Sunday of All Saints
Today is day 2 of our extended family visiting from Surgut: our cousin with her four children and us with our five. With three adults and nine children, we have turned our three room apartment into a kind of kommunalka, a living arrangement from Soviet times in which several families/individuals shared a common kitchen and bathing facilities. That’s all it takes is for one of these nine children (ages 3-17) to start loosing their cool and the whole household can become unbearable. Continue reading
Surgut! Mama’s home town full of friends and cousins. Everywhere is close, even the airport! In a small town it is easy to find a store or church and there are many sites to see. Surprises like snow in May is quite normal and extreme weather all year round. Come see it for yourself, but bring warm clothes!
May 9/22 Translation of the relics of St. Nicholas the Wonderworker from Myra to Bari, in 1087
Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares. Hebrews 13:2
A quiet day was planned at home with an equally quiet evening. I had spent most of the day watching the kids and recouping from an especially busy schedule visiting family and friends. The continuing overcast skies and subarctic temperatures made even playing on the local playground unattractive. My wife was just about to depart for an evening on the town with old school mates when the doorbell rang. Continue reading
In America, we like to start and end our events “on time”, and whenever things don’t strictly correspond to the clock, guests and hosts alike can get pretty disturbed. In Russia and especially here in Sochi, we follow a different kind of clock and feast in a very different way.
Today is Sunday, the day of the Lord’s resurrection, which is by default always a feast day. After going to morning Liturgy, we return to our aunt’s home to a table laden with delights befitting the day, but as I posted earlier the point is not the delicious food, but the company gathered, which for Sochi allows the largest amount of family not only to gather for a single meal but to live for a while in close proximity to one another.
In Sochi now long enough to reestablish our usual family patterns. It is interesting how much our daily routine is tied up so much with the place in which it happens. When that place changes, an inevitable alteration in routine results to adapt to the new setting. We have been staying with aunt and uncle and will move down the street to make room for the arrival of cousins tomorrow. It has been good to get our own family patterns established in this new place before we intersect with our cousins’ family patterns.
Port of Sochi
En route to Sochi and I am beginning to remember all the good and the bad from my first visit four years ago. Sochi is a seaport on the Black Sea, one of the few in a country mostly bordered by land (and lots of it). It is also the vacation destination for most Russians who spend the winter in sub zero temperatures and enjoy only a mild summer respite. Sochi’s subtropical climate makes it akin to Florida in the US. Continue reading