Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Frost in Cabo 10/20/08

Frost in Cabo 

Weather Report for Monday 10/20/08
Snow on the ground, -4.1 c (24 f)
Wind calm, sky overcast

First, a welcome to new followers Rodney & Sara +3. I think you are Trisha's former roommate, right?

There's frost in Cabo, snow in Novo, and we are closing the Cabo room for the winter. The picture at right shows the frost on the Cabo window and the temp in the room is under 32f. I dismantled the big chair and have reassembled it in the parlor for sister Cindy to sit and read a book. (The doors are too narrow for the chair) I told her that the third time she sat in it and read more than a page I would stand on my head.

The picture on the left shows the little industrial block below our window looking north with snow on the roof and looking picturesque. The series on the right shows the man who parks his car in the end garage trying to thaw out the lock so he can get his car out of the garage. A little primitive, but effective. Again, forgive the picture, it is taken through our screens.

Now to comment on the housing in Tomsk as promised. The Bowdens live in a nice one bedroom unit on the 7th floor in Tomsk about 30 minute walk and a 5 minute cab ride from the church. Their elevator is three times the size of ours and very clean and modern. Elder Bowden said their building was build within the last 7-8 years.

The Bowdens have made their apartment into a very comfortable and attractive place; Really a home. The first thing you notice is the large entry. It is sort of a room, about 8x10 feet with entries to the kitchen, front room, and the hall to the bath-toilet-bedroom areas. our entry is tiny and really has room for only one person to stand comfortably. As you first look around you notice the rooms are a little larger than ours, but the big difference is the entry and halls.

Off the living room is a door to the enclosed patio where they dry clothes and store stuff; much like the Cabo room. They have a newer couch, but it is the same "L" shape with a pull-out bed. The Bowdens insisted on sleeping in the living room and gave us their bed; real hospitality.

They have cable TV and get the BBC station. As I sat there for about 20 minutes the first night, I realized that they have only about 15 minutes of programing that they repeat over and over. I saw the same previews of coming news probably 3 times in 20 minutes and finally saw the news items repeated during the last minutes of my viewing.

For me, the most notable thing about both of our apartments is that you are living in a concrete box into which have been placed various modules that are not attached to anything, but it is still a concrete box. All wiring and piping are surface mounted and you get an industrial feeling to the whole place. There is a harshness to it that is intuitive rather than blatant. The kitchen has nicely designed cabinets, but they are also not attached to anything. The counters are the same. Everything looks like you could dismantle the whole apartment in a couple of hours and return it to a bare, concrete box.

I noticed that the entry door was not finished on the inside. By that I mean that the steel door and frame were set in an opening in the concrete wall and industrial foam was used to glue it in place. You could cut the foam with a knife on the inside and lift the whole door assembly right out of the opening. I asked Elder Bowden, who is a builder by trade, why the landlord did not finish it. He said that he'd asked the same question to which the landlord answered, "If you want to finish it, I don't mind."

The bathroom is the same story. The sink and tub share a single faucet that will also operate the shower with a turn of a valve. The tub/shower combo is standing on 4" feet near the back wall with no connection to the walls. Usually you have tile or something up the wall and a tile edge around the tub to tie it all together. Not here. It is all free-standing. It even has two shower curtains because there is a 4" gap between the tub and the wall on the side and faucet end; like it was just temporarily set there some time with the intention of finishing it some day. There seems to be a "that's good enough for now" attitude about it that is fascinating.

We visited the Elders' apartment and installed a "peep hole" for them to see who was knocking at their door. They have a peep hole in one of the two security doors that is useless because they have TWO DOORS; hello? What are you people thinking?

The church, on the other hand, is a model of the best construction in Russia. Everything is finished to the last detail. The workmanship is good, not perfect, and everything looks like it is intended to last for ever. They also employ a guard in the building 24/7. The first time we came in on Friday for English Club, this man was standing just inside the entry door looking stern and in charge. When we saw him on Saturday, I was surprised, but thought he was there for the game night. Finally on Sunday morning, when I saw another man obviously standing in the same position I had to ask and was told that it was cheaper to hire a guard than to repair the building.

Most of the early 20th century stuff we saw around the universities was obviously meant to stay there for a long time. Even the masonry & plaster buildings were well preserved, but the post war stuff is crumbling to dust. It gives an incomplete or even temporary feeling to these buildings, as though they expect them to be moved or even dismantled in the future.

The frost in Cabo heralds a new season.
What a country

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