June 2006 SUMMER

Classes are finally over and summer is officially here. So far summer consists of horribly hot weather during the day and cool nights. Our summer camp starts next week so we are in the city buying all our supplies. Thanks to everyone who offered to send us supplies. Unfortunately we didn't think about what we needed early enough to have you send anything, but we will probably take you up on that next year. Luckily another volunteer did ask his parents in time for graham crackers and marshmallows, which do not exist in Kazakhstan, so we are actually going to have S'mores! S'mores in Kazakhstan? It's like a dream come true! If only we could also have burritos in Kazakhstan. Hmmm. Maybe next year :)

We still don't have a refrigerator, so we are learning to cook without any dairy or meat. Our landlady promised to buy a refrigerator "soon," but see Jack's note below for more on that.

Amy Simms

From Jack: Well, we're comfortably moved into our house. We have a sink and a washing machine now.
  • Sink: A stand-alone apparatus where you put water in the top and it drains into a bucket at the bottom. BUT it has got a turn on/off tap.
  • Washing machine: A bucket with one-horsepower motor attached.
The washing "machine" is an adventure. It goes in cycles. You fill it with soap and water and "wash" everything— the motor shakes the laundry slightly, for about 90 seconds. You put in clothes until the water is black. Then you set the "clean" clothes aside, swap out the water, and put in "rinse" water. You then put all the clothes through the "rinse" cycle. If you've done it right the "rinse" water will be slightly less black than the "wash" water. Then you Febreeze everything (thanks Mom) and call it a day.

I lost my bucket in the well the other day. I heard the "snap-whoosh-splash" that I'm sure all water-getters-out-of-the-well dread. Actually, though, I was proud of myself because I made a hook out of some wire and tossed it in on the end of a chain and was able to miraculously retrieve the bucket. We have a big water tank on the property but we haven't filled it—it needs to be cleaned and we haven't figured that out yet. The opening is really narrow and we're afraid that if we go in there we might not be able to get out again. Amy's idea is that we go in, clean it, and then fill it with water and swim to the top. If you don't hear from us by thanksgiving you know what happened. :)

We have half our garden planted (Russian language note: you don't "plant" the potatoes, you "sit" the potatoes). We sat beans, corn, pumpkins, cucumbers, and peppers. Soon we are hoping to sit potatoes but this is reliant on someone else getting them, which means maybe August. The neighbors' favorite entertainment is watching us sit our vegetables and then telling us we did it wrong.

Kazakh time: our landlord told us she'd be "right back" the other day. "Right back" it turns out means "not less than 2 weeks". (Although, she did actually come so, hey, what's all the fuss, right?) The next time she told us she'd come back "next week". I'm predicting February 2007.

Jack Simms