Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Too cold to write - and other excuses!

OMG - it's almost a month since my last post. I've been jotting notes in my daily journal but that's about all I could manage while lurking around an electric space heater. Not unlike starving people obsessing food, I've been obsessing heat. My landlady would promise that workers would come, but always they were "no show."
Before Thanksgiving the outside temperature dropped to near freezing, and in a brick unheated house my kitchen was 40 degrees. That's when I began figuring all sorts of ways to stay warm in earnest. I converted my kitchen to a living room since the electric heaters were there; hung clothes next to the heater in the morning, taped plastic over single-pane windows, and made lots of hot cocoa. Before bedtime I would move the heater into my bedroom.

All that changed last Tuesday, November 29th when 2 workers arrived to extend the gas line, and install a stove and exhaust pipes in my bedroom. It took them several hours and then discovered that the gas was shut off in my neighborhood. They came by again Wednesday to show me how to light the stove. I was so thrilled and toasty that I left it on all night next to my bed. (I will not do that again.) My next door neighbors have been a blessing too, checking that I have gas each morning by hollering out their back window.

In early November I took on some additional volunteer work which meant a couple nights in Baku plus many hours reading documents on my computer when I returned home. School had 2 breaks in November: three days one week for a religious holiday, and 4 days the next week for the regular mid-term break. One weekend, I took a 2-hour trip to visit another PCV who was finishing her service and gave several of us many kitchen items, clothes, and books she no longer needed.

I traveled to Baku to celebrate Thanksgiving with other PCVs on Saturday, Nov. 26th. This was particularly special because it had been a while since I'd seen many of the other volunteers. We were guests in the homes of Americans living in Baku and it was almost culture-shock to have a warm shower, a soft bed, and to be able to cook meals in a well-stocked kitchen. Each volunteer prepared and brought a typical dish to the home of the US Charge d'Affairs and he provided the roast turkeys.

I can't end this blog without mentioning the wonderful birthday package I received from family members. Not only pumpkin and pie crust and spices and many other goodies, but the treat for me was the camp stove toaster! That really is a day brightener each morning.