It's Sunday evening and we've had a good day. The highlight was meeting our friend Yulia's Deaf cousin, Natasha, and her husband, Misha. Yes, he's Deaf, too; both use sign...it didn't take long before we were able to understand each other pretty well because American Sign and Russian Sign are very similar. We had tea and chatted for a couple of hours; the similarities between American Deaf culture and norms and what Natasha and Misha described to me about the Deaf community and culture here were striking. It was also fascinating to see our Yulia using using both Russian signs and home signs to communicate with her cousin; they were very close growing up so Yulia is pretty close to a native signer. We all exchanged signs, swapped stories, and looked at photos together...Yulia said she thinks it would only take me a week or so to be able to learn Russian sign but it's a bit more complicated than that...there's still that little problem of fingerspelling and the cyrillic alphabet. Even so, this was a highlight of this trip for me...it really is true what they say in ASL, small world Deaf!
We made chicken rice soup again tonight because it's gotten so cold. It snowed a bit last night and today. It's been below freezing all day and will probably stay that way for the rest of our time here. We're just hoping the road to Ridder stays halfway decent through Tuesday; right now, the forecast is for 2-4 inches of snow and temps in the high teens or low 20's for our court day. It didn't seem too cold when we went out for coffee this morning but we felt the difference quickly and were pretty chilly by the time we reached Pizza Blues. We had really big lattes that helped us to take the chill off before we headed back to the apartment. We were expecting Alma to meet with us to go over our court speeches but her schedule changed so she'll be coming tomorrow afternoon instead. We still don't what time we have court on Tuesday but all will undoubtedly be revealed in due time. Yep, it pays to be flexible here in Kazakhstan...more deep breathing on my part...reciting of the Serenity Prayer, also. Only a few more days.
We had a lovely time at our friend Olga's apartment last night. Dinner was very tasty, we made mac and cheese for everyone and Olga roasted chicken and made Russian potatoes. We also had spicy carrot salad (just for me since they all know it's my favorite!), a couple of other salads, homemade pickles that Tanya and Max would have loved, and a spicy tomato sauce that Olga's mom made. Yulia brought dessert, cookies filled with the caramel sauce Kate loves so much and other cookies dipped in chocolate. We had a variety of teas to choose from with our cookies, a nice end to our meal. We got back to the apartment about 10:30 last night, late for us to be wandering around the streets of Ust-K but we were glad to have something fun to do to pass the time and such good friends to do it with. Even so, we really are longing for home. Kate, Tanya and Max, we miss all of you so much and it gets harder every day to be away...we're counting the days and hours now until we're home again.