In which Maki comes for a November visit and we celebrate our birthdays in Chicago.
When I found out a good friend would be in Chicago the weekend for my birthday for a conference, I interpreted it as a definite sign that my vague ideas of celebrating in Chicago needed to be worked out. So I sent a flurry of emails to my friends in and around the city, as well as to my Madison-based siblings, hoping it might be a nice excuse to hang out with all sorts of people. Maki was already planning to be in Ann Arbor, and a drive over to Chicago seemed like the perfect way to celebrate our birthdays. And also, the fact that I had just gotten through a nice milestone meeting with my adviser. Maki arrived, and the first order of business was his birthday present, a day late.
As the week closed on Friday, Hanna, David, Maki and I hit the road, arriving in Chicago several hours later. We dropped Hanna and David off around Lincoln Square, and decided it was the perfect opportunity to check out a local Kyrgyz restaurant, not two blocks from where Hanna was dropped off. Delicious!
Overambitious and a little over-excited about the prospect of CENTRAL ASIAN FOOD, we ordered way too much, and took half of it back with us. Our host for the weekend, Adrian, lives in Ukrainian Village, and after we had gotten our fill, we headed over there to break into his house through the back way. It was pretty awesome. Once arrived, Maki made use of the guitar hanging up on the wall. He’s getting better!
Once a season or so, I like to take my baby camera out on a run to document just how pretty my route is — and just how lovely Michigan can be. Especially in the fall.
Since most of the next few months will be overcast and less beautiful, it’s nice to reflect on the good. In slideshow form:
On a day as beautiful as this October Sunday, I almost feel obligated to go out on the eight-mile version of my run.
Dear Zukay Live Foods,
I don’t know what your sources are, but this is most definitely not kvas/kvass as anyone I know knows it.
I’m not saying this drink isn’t probably good. In fact, its very distance from the fermented-bread based drink that is inexplicably popular throughout most of the former Soviet Union is probably only doing it favors. It may even be true that in some places, there was some sort of vegetable-based version of this, probably in the Polish/Lithuanian frontier. However, I’m fairly certain that this line of organic, healthy, Stevia-sweetened, probiotic super drinks, some infused with exotic spices, has basically nothing in common with anything the supposedly old-timey, Eastern European “babcia” of the 19th century made lovingly for her grandchildren. Where’s the fermented bread? I demand better research.
Basically, my next-door neighbors are the best.
One of the most enjoyable things about where I currently live — the side unit of a house a the part of the Old West Side that is just a couple blocks from Downtown Ann Arbor — is that the people who live in the house have been wonderful neighbors. As long as I’ve lived here, they’ve all been friendly and wonderful. They do not seem to get documented much, since much of what I do with them — the odd conversation as we head off to campus, a smile was we pass between runs, sitting outside on the front porch when the weather is warm — is just the ordinary stuff of everyday life.
And these pictures fall much into that pattern. In the last couple weekends, they’ve hosted a a couple nice events — a tea party, pictured above, with all the fixings, from cucumber sandwiches to scones, and everything between — and last weekend, a brunch, which has become a semi-regular occurrence. Last weekend’s brunch, as everyone finished their food, attention turned to the pumpkins.
Look how nice they turned out!
As it turns out, the view from Canada is nicer.
As we made our plans for Daria’s wedding, knowing we’d have a car and need to get from the Catskills back to Michigan, we decided this would be a nice time to detour to Niagara Falls. I had been once before in relatively recent memory, but had only been on the American side — having to cross over to drive through Southern Ontario appealed, since word on the street is that the Canadian side is nicer. And so, we woke up in Rochester and drove the hour or so to Niagara Falls, New York, much relieved to realize the complex was a state park — which was then important, as all national parks were currently not operating, thanks to the shut-down. Niagara, despite the kitschiness of the town, is really quite stunning, and the fall was absolutely lovely.
Here we are, in front of the American Falls:
Assorted views from Niagara Falls, NY:
What they don’t tell you about why the Canadian side is nicer: the reason the view is better from Canada is not just because you can see both the American Falls and the Horseshoe Falls in a single view. The other reason Read more…
Celebrating Roman and Darusia in Hunter, New York!
Very conveniently, Maki’s cousin’s wedding coincided with my fall break, which meant attending the wedding became much easier, particularly as the typical Ukrainian wedding very much continues well into Sunday. Most especially, the extra days off allowed a car to travel a nice circuit between Michigan, DC, the Catskills, Rochester, and Niagara, before finally returning home to Michigan. Maki was the real trooper and set out from Ann Arbor three days ahead of me in my car, and I followed after him, by plane, leaving directly from campus after class the Thursday before the wedding. We had quite the adventure getting up to New York, with what ought to be a record-setting almost-11-hour drive from Silver Spring, MD, to Hunter, NY. If you look up directions, you’ll find it is supposed to be somewhere in the range of 5 hours and 45 minutes for that drive. But small matters, in the end! We made it to New York on Friday night, just as the rehearsal dinner was finishing up, which at least guaranteed we’d be able to attend the wedding without a problem. Since we got into the Catskills after dark on Friday night, we were greeted on Saturday morning with the beautiful surroundings. What a lovely place to get married!
After a nice, leisurely breakfast, Maki and I got ready and headed over to the hotel where the rest of his family was staying. We had a little time to kill as Daria got ready. Mostly, this meant I got to hang out with Denys. Who continues to be thoroughly adorable.
The wedding festivities commenced with a private ceremony, one in which the parents offer their blessings before the couple moves on to the church. First thing’s first: the icons, carried in by the two people who have been designated as elders, or “guardians” of the marriage — in this case, Maki’s mother and a friend of the groom’s family.
And the parental blessing of the union, the blahoslovennia. What a lovely tradition!
And from there, onwards to the church, which was the most beautifully situated little wooden chapel. I know I sound so ecstatic about everything, but seriously, this was one of the nicest weddings I’ve ever attended!
The ceremony commenced with the march of the bridal party up to the church from below. In Ukrainian weddings, rather than being escorted by her father, the bride enters into the church with her groom.
Crossing the threshold of the church together signifies the sanctification of their secular union, as I learned from their wonderfully informative program. From there, the ceremony commenced. Read more…