Graham Seibert's Home Page
With Oksana August 2010
Kiev, January 2016
Oksana and I have been in our new house two and a half years. Last summer was spent on finishing touches and getting the lawn and garden in order. 2016 will be the year for barbecues and beach parties.
I have been in Kiev since 2007. I have known Oksana since 2009, and we celebrate our fifth anniversary on September 21, 2015. Our son Eddie turned four in October.
My focus has shifted from work to children. Eddie is old enough to spend an increasing amount of time with his father. We take long excursions through the city, some of which are chronicled on Facebook. I read to him in Russian, English and Ukrainian.
Our summer routine was to go walking almost every morning. A short walk would take us to a small café in the neighborhood where we could watch the ducks, moorhens and other water birds as I took my coffee. Eddie loves trains. Our longer walks took us to the tramway – Eddie knows the names of every stop by heart – or the regional electric train. Each conveyance would bring us to a market, where the ladies ("babushkas," or grandmothers) love to fuss over Eddie and he engages in lively conversation. This year we frequented the 10th line beach, where I would swim several hundred yards at a time with Eddie. With water wings to support him and me by his side he is fearless. We spotted several new types of birds this year, among them a red-necked grebe and the cuckoo we had been hearing for years.
Oksana ran three classes in our house for neighborhood kids: English, music, and Bible study. The place was generally full of children. In addition to the lessons, they absolutely adore the gym equipment Oksana had the builders put in our upstairs hall, and in the summer they love to run around on the lawn and play on the swings and sandbox. Oksana has installed a slide and an outdoors jungle gym. Her lists have a way of becoming reality. For the first time in my life, I mow the lawn with enthusiasm. I love seeing kids on it. Oksana's current interest is Orff instruments – using music as the cornerstone of an educational program.
Oksana is a talented hostess. Our house, which would be nothing special back home, is large for Kiev. She brings friends together for painting, dance, cooking poetry and similarly themed evenings / classes. She posts regularly on Facebook – look for Oksana Badovska. We had large dinners on Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years.
Ukraine may have seen the worst. Putin appears to have called off the dogs of war in Donbass and moved on to Syria. Being surrounded by yes men is an occupational hazard of an absolute despot, and it looks like he was seriously misled as to any residual love of Russia among Ukrainians. There is none. Since the events of Maidan there has been a buoyant spirt, as the Ukrainian people seem to have at last found themselves. Though our friends almost all speak Russian among themselves, they are emphatically not Russian. Most would like to call themselves European. I am rather on my own in remarking that, no, they are better than that. Ukraine would do well to continue as it is, avoiding Europe as well as Russia to the extent possible.
We continue to be very active in Toastmasters. Oksana won the national speech contest this year with a speech on teaching kids to draw. She is serving as the president of our native language Svoya Rubashka club. I am fairly comfortable speaking and evaluating speeches in Russian, though I still need to get serious about learning Ukrainian. I was elected and then quit as president of the Kyiv Multinational Rotary Club, rather abruptly, over an issue of integrity. The board wanted to readmit a liar and deadbeat; I demurred strongly.
We will raise our family here in Ukraine. I give credence to the Cassandras who foresee a major collapse of Western economies and currencies. I hope that if we continue living simply, minding our own business, raising our children as they should be raised, the sturm und drang attendant to the abrupt end of the liberal postwar idyll will pass our little backwater by.
Educating Eddie is a two-level process. At my level I have to assemble a complete concept of how the world works. I read and review a vast number of books. This is the single site which concentrates most of the writers I admire. The second level is to distill this down to something that can be transferred to the next generation, Eddie, in an intuitive, largely automatic way. One has to leave behind most of the reasoning and simply tell them how to be. It is a matter of moral instruction. Not an easy thing.
Happiness is a hard thing to write about. One worries about jinxing it, being contradicted, and being asked to contrast it with other states of being. I've written about those contrasts in my biography and book of plans for raising Edward. It is safe to say that, however belatedly, however improbably, I've found what I had been looking for in life.
· Photos of Kiev and vacations. These are old – see Oksana Badovska's and my Facebook posts for more recent material.
Unsolicited letter to my adult children
University of Maryland Career
Reading - Amazon reviews
I’m migrating away from Google. When companies get as rich and powerful as this (think, IBM, Microsoft) they come to believe that they own their customers. They try to force things on us (disclosing our friends, brand preferences down to Jockey vs. Hanes, personal data) that are uncomfortable, and make easy things (just sending email and sharing pictures) hard. They give in to government pressure to disclose our emails and private data. Google is violating its “Don’t be evil” credo in spades. До Свидания, Google
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