Tuesday evening I arrived back in Rostov after 4 weeks in Crimea. Oh is it comforting to be back in my own space, my very own place. And as much as I treasure the adventure, the new friends, the challenge of getting acquainted with another city, there's just no place, absolutely no place like home. Even for gypsy me.
Not that I have any choice in the matter. About the gypsiness, that is. And that's another story entirely. Anyhoo, Tuesday evening, friend and brother Misha picked me up at the station, not Rostov's main station but a secondary station in the west, up steep steps over the train line, down steep steps to the taxi queue with heavy bags in tow. No one has ever accused me of traveling light.
Waiting at home were two boxes from Dallas. Getting connected with these boxes has been an adventure and I've learned a thing or two about dealing with the local post office. So then after Misha left, in a rare moment of delayed self gratification, I decided to unpack, 15 minutes at a time - in true FlyLady fashion- and then open my boxes. Forty-five minutes later it was like Christmas around here.
My unpacking area in the living room. Oh boy, Oh Boy. One box open, another to go and a glass of iced tea. Can life get better than this?
This box has been around. See that tape? That tape tells me that Moscow postal folks have been checking through just to make sure there's no contraband in the box. Then they taped 'er back up, quite thoroughly in fact.
Over the years, I've come to realize that peanut butter must be considered contraband by certain folks up there in Moscow. Either that or somebody there loves peanut butter. You see, several boxes have never reached me. And those boxes had something in common: they contained peanut butter, crunchy and a big jar of it. Yep, sounds like contraband to me.
Before anybody gets emotional about this, yours truly in particular, let us think carefully and logically about this issue of the disappearing peanut butter. As I recall from research classes waaay back in grad school, we can not jump to conclusions about cause and effect: We can not say that it's because of the peanut butter that the boxes never made it. But we can say that there is a positive relationship between peanut butter and the loss of the box. (How's that, Dr Sue Couch?) See, what we need here is a larger sample size. As I recall from statistics (Hey, Dr Gorman!), we need a sample size of at least 40 for the data to be even remotely valid. And so in practical terms, if 38 more people will send me boxes of peanut butter, then we will have data that means something.
Oh, but no need to to send me peanut butter now. Thanks anyway you volunteers, you may put your hands down. Peanut butter is available locally now, crunchy or creamy, imported from Kentucky at about 3 times Louisville price. But it's here intact at the supermarket, all that peanutty contraband.
Speaking of nuts, look - something yummy in here. And what a nice surprise - a hand-written note.
Well ain't this simply special? Laurinda enclosed two bags of of pecan-almond-peanut clusters, a new product that they're making at Frito-Lay, where she works. Yum! What a God-send that Laurinda is. She handles business-related stuff for me -- paying bills, making deposits, collecting my mail -- and she does it as a ministry. Lucky me. The nut treats are optional. They're also. . . they're also. . . well, they're history.
Oh look - magazines and publications and clothes from Lands' End. Oh am I excited because even better than that, there's stuff to read in ENGLISH. And that is my native tongue. I can speak English and sound like an adult. I can and do speak Russian and sound like. . . a child. But that's a subject for a whole 'nuther blog.
But at the top, the very tippy-top of the list of things I've been waiting for is my Day-Timer refill. This, oh this, Oh This is what I have been waiting for. Oh Day-Timer, my precious, my beloved Day-Timer. My Day-Timer follows me everywhere I go. Except perhaps the shower.
My Day-Timer is my brain. Really it is. I've carried a Day-Timer since 1983 (Thank you, Rita Davenport!) . It's my 2-pages-a-day planner, my month-at-a-glance calendar, my telephone book, my notepad for on-the-go jottings. I depend upon this trusty little system. The only thing my Day-Timer requires from me, is a set of refills come Sept 30th of each year.
Since I moved overseas in 1999, my refill reaches me way early. But this time, not. This time I was in Ukraine for a month in September when the box arrived and, although I had gone earlier to the post office and done the paperwork and talked to the supervisor of the Dept of Packages to make sure it would be held until my return, things went awry.
Late September when I returned from travels for a week and went to the post office to collect this box, alas - alak, some ditzy clerk had already sent it back toward the US as undeliverable. But there's good news: The administrator of that department managed to have it intercepted in the Moscow post office before it left the country. There was also bad news: They intercepted and re-routed package arrived back in Rostov a day or two after I had to leave again for Sept-October. That meant I was without my October Day-Timer refill, a critical situation in my mind. But we made do. The earth continued to spin on its axis, they say and now at long last, my box and I have been connected.
That nice lady at the post office, that supervisor of packages - I'd say she deserves a nice bouquet. Here in the land of Customer Dis-Service, she was head and shoulders above the norm. Jotting note to self in Day-Timer, pick up some flowers for the P.O. lady. But as for the Clerk of Ditziness, the young lady who caused all this in the first place, no nut clusters for her. No peanut butter either. We might let her take a look at the flowers that her boss will receive and take a whiff or two, but that's limit. Also I would like to see some contriteness. Oh ho ho, now there's a wild fantasy.
Oh my stars - My favorite publications. No worries that they're months old. They're brand spanking new to me. Be still my beating heart. Peace be still, peace be still.
Dear blog readers, have you lived overseas and enjoyed receiving care packages? Please tell us about when and where and if your boxes included. . . spreadable contraband.