Saturday, September 20, 2008

Around the House 9-20-08

Around the House 
Weather Report: A balmy 58 F high today, Expected low 33 F
Currently 48 F winds 2 mph from the west

I thought it had been a while since I recapped our apartment and its various comforts. First, let me remind all how we get into our place. I have an electric (magnetic) button that I place on the electric door latch and go through three doors; Steel outside and two heavy wooden weather doors. Then up two flights of stairs to the elevator that has worked every day except one. The urine smell is almost gove now and all we get is the mold. Life is good.

On our floor we have a steel security door, a wood-covered second steel door, and a final wood patterned contact paper covered apartment door. That means I use 4 keys to get through the 7 doors and into the apartment. As mentioned before, that doesn't count the bathroom door that Cindy accesses upon arrival.

Our 5 foot wide entry contains a large shoe rack and wardrobe cupboard that holds our clothes and food supplies. As you can see, I have three overcoats coats, one for each seasonal condition. The first is for rain, the second down to minus 5 c, and the third is for below that down to 40 c below O. Cindy has a large selection of business suites, wool coat, wool poncho, and puffy down coat that she inherited from another senior sister who gleefully went home before winter set in. She can now wear it since she has lost 20+ lbs. (Does anyone know how to shrink skin?)

The cupboard between the closets is bulging with what we can find here. It takes a lot of any one thing to feed 16 of us after the Zone meetings at our home. With the reduction in forces we have experienced, Novosibirsk has lost one companionship so the meetings are for 14 most of the time with an occasional transient missionary going or coming from a visa trip or transfer. We get serious looks from the MEGAS supermarket cashiers when they see our two heaping carts of food compared to the 6 to 8 items in most shoppers' carts. Hording is a sin here. Our driver, President Gushin, always giggles and explains that we feed a lot of people. They probably think we are feeding the homeless on the streets; actually we are, sort of.

Between the wardrobe and the entry is the shoe rack. It is customary to remove your shoes when entering a home here, much like we did in our home in Sacramento. The shoes you see here are Cindy's. Oh, I have a pair there too.Most of the time the missionaries just line up their shoes along the hall.

Turning around 180 degrees from the wardrobe you see into the parlor. My "desk" is a pull-down door of the credenza that lines the east wall of the parlor. I also have my laptop on a pull-out under the TV. Lest you think we are couch-potatoes, the only thing on TV is 9 channels of Russian language programming, of which we can actually see 6, and whatever church video we have time to watch; again. I tried to watch a Russian dubbed "Search for Red October" one night, but couldn't make it for more than 10 minutes. We are hoping for a new supply of used, G-rated DVD's from one of our Santas.

Walking to the parlor window that faces the street and turning around you see the rest of the room with its long sectional couch that has a pull-out medieval torture rack masquerading as a trundle bed. The mirror seen in the doorway is on the pantry doors. We bought the coffee table and blue pillows at IKEA because Cindy didn't have a place to put her church magazines and we needed something to balance the room anyway, and of course we needed a plant on the table. You can see how this kind of thing grows. The plant is a live gardenia that has survived since early August; still has buds but no action yet. The room stays at a tropical 66 degrees most of the time now, but it doesn't seem to be at home yet.

Back out the door and heading left toward the entry door we come to the utility closet, a gathering place for most guests since it is also in the kitchen entry hall. I will spare you the closet picture and go right to the kitchen where Sister Simmons is basking in the luxury of the gigantic refrigerator that our friends bought for us. We are soo enjoying the convenience of cooking things ahead for these big meals.

Speaking of feeding missionaries, here are our guests for tonight; sisters Cropper and Berlutskaya. Sister B is about 5 foot nothing and weighs maybe 75 pounds, but she can sure put away the bread and butter. She likes potatoes so Cindy made fried potatoes and scrambled eggs with Yorkshire Pudding for the bread; big hit. Sister Cropper is a real lady and adds much to the Zone, just being there.

The ice cream here comes in tubes. You just peal back the plastic and cut off a hunk. It is so much easier than gouging it out with a scooper or bending one of your good spoons on a hard carton of Ben & Jerry's. It comes only in vanilla, but you've got to get your bourgeois mind off of all those 32 flavor choices and enjoy the best vanilla in the world. Russians invented vanilla you know. Besides, how many flavors could you eat at one time? You Americans consume more of the world's ice cream resources than you have a right to anyway. You Americans . . . well, anyway, back to the tour.

From the kitchen hall and entry combination (never say we waste space), turning right past the parlor door you see down the entry hall that becomes the parlor hall and then becomes the boudoir hall to the toilet closet (wc), tub/sink/laundry room, and bedrooms. Nothing's wasted. Here, Sister Simmons is emerging from her periodic visits to the wc closet where I'm sure she is praying in secret on most of those visits as Matthew 6:6 directs.

Turning to the left we enter Cindy's office, that often doubles as a guest room, which is also my clothes drying room now that the Cabo room is about 4 c and won't dry my sheets. You can see the space-heater in front of the bed that gives some warmth to the room and the fan on the shelf to the left circulates the air to promote evaporation.

Sister Simmons is so great, she never complains about my sheets covering the entry to her desk. What a trooper. She can go to her other desk in the bedroom if she wants, but she doesn't complain about my laundry being in her way, ever. Actually, it makes kind of a nice entry, sort of softens the place a little.

Turning around and leaving the Cindy office, laundry-drying, storage, Cabo-entry room we go to the other end of the hall to the master bedroom, go to the windows that look out onto the street and turn around to see where Cindy has her other work station. This is where those newsy emails are created by her nimble fingers and quick wit.

Back into the hall and to the right we see the tub, sink, and laundry facilities on the right which are my home-away from-home most days. I have come to love my little washing machine and we get along fine.

Finally we come to the beautification station that I have made for Sister Simmons with her own mirror and clock so that she can get herself ready while keeping me in time to leave for the office or church. The small white chest contains two very short drawers that surprise you occasionally with an opportunity to rearrange it on the floor. Under the drawers is a space where we store the hair dryer, curling iron, and sundry other beautification tools.

Our home has become comfortable and serves us well after much cleaning, repairing, rearranging, purchasing, and living. Each day we are adding something to it that makes it ours; our home. We also daily adjust our expectations which makes what we have more valuable.

We bought a water-color painting of Prague Castle while we were there and plan to frame it and begin a gallery of pictures from the places we go for visa renewal each 90 days. We have also started putting up on the guestroom wall the names of those who have slept here. Sort of a historical marker of sorts.

Russia is a wonderful place, filled with challenges for the weak and rewards for the strong. Personal freedom is the prime directive. One has the freedom to do anything one can imagine or have the impulse to do as long as there is not someone bigger, stronger, or more powerful present. The strong are respected and the weak are used.

The only thing that can change this is the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Only with the gift of the Holy Ghost and the stronger conscience that comes from hearing the truth in your mind can these head-strong, willful people find the peace and joy of life with love and charity; the pure love of Christ. That change is essential for their personal salvation. There is no other way.

Each day brings new experiences for a mission financial secretary and I learn something that I had never even imagined. It is fascinating.

What a country


Trisha said...

I love all the details. I can rally feel that it is your home or soon will be. I love the ideas of the pictures and also the names. Love you.

Shannon Simmons said...

Oh dad, I sure love your humour. It is great to hear your masterful skill of description & wit. You both are such great people and I love hearing all about it. Mom is so nice to share her space with you...