valentine's day came this weekend and we just finished celebrating my girlfriend's birthday. valentines day is one of the many new holidays they welcomed in after post-soviet time. when we went out to eat, I noticed the restaurant was filled with reserved tables unlike other times when you could sit anywhere. so it seems many russians have adopted the holiday happily.
lucia and i went for our first long dog walk today after her illness a few weeks ago. this time i drove her to a safe spot to avoid any other trouble. but i still had to step in when she spotted mystery garbage on the ground. during the walk we met a woman walking her dog. she had a poodle that was happy to see lucia. but after the initial greeting, lucia surprisingly walked away. the wagging poodle was whimpering for some playtime with her but i couldn't coax lucia back. i've never seen her turn down an opportunity to play with any dog as long as it was reciprocating interest. i gave our apologies to the women and left. strange..
last year my favorite milk brand stopped putting expiration dates on their plastic bottles. i haven't checked other brands but someone else told me they noticed it too. i thought it was a mistake at first but after waiting this long i guess they don't bother with it anymore. cream is another item that bugs me. even freshly bought cream can go bad in just a couple days. i'll get two or three little boxes of it and when i go to grab a fresh one i can feel it's newly bloated container waiting to surprise me with a spoiled mess. (update: i discovered cartons of milk still get the expiration dates printed on them. it's only the plastic bottles that you play russian roulette with)
russian cake - i know it's just personal taste, but every time i have a piece it's like i'm tasting something that's missing just a little sugar. whereas russian chocolate doesn't have that problem since it tastes as sweet or even sweeter than other chocolates i've had. I hear russian store bought cakes are normally that way but homemade cakes are better.
i switched home internet providers a few months ago and enjoy unlimited download usage once again. the previous provider gave us a download limit and if you went over that you paid an additional hideous cost. now it makes it easier to be able to use skype or download without worrying about the cost. patches and software updates were regularly cutting into my ability to do anything else on the internet.
it's bidding season again for some folks in the foreign service. and i'm excited to see a couple people are already interested in my position here. i didn't think it would be hard to fill since this post has been a great tour for me. the work can pile up with just two people doing it but most of the time it's a great way to serve a tour abroad.
i hit the second river market more and more now to pick up meat and fish. the quality and price are much better than going to the newer grocery stores. i picked up six steaks saturday that only set me back about $18US. i tried one in a sandwich over the weekend and it was tender enough i didn't even need a knife.
i realized this weekend, i may have bought too many consumable items to have shipped here. i'd have to cook something new every night just to use everything up by the time I leave in 2011. it's the leftovers and the time that interferes the most. as much as i enjoy cooking (and eating) some nights i'd rather be doing something else than spending an hour or two making something new. i guess i can always sell it to other americans.