Part V

Ivano-Frankivsk & Krasne


We are up at 0600 as plans have been made to visit Ternopil today. Bill is still suffering the effects of raw milk despite being medicated by me and having to endure the Ukrainian cure of swallowing dry wheat husks. The object is to consume at least five spoonfuls of this remedy and immediately follow it by a copious amount of liquid.  Maryan could not comprehend that this all goes to the same place so one should be able to mix the two and thus swallow it easily.  The exercise drains Bill of any stamina he may have left, so he puts himself to bed for the day.

It is very cold this morning as Maryan and I walk to the train station. Although not as boisterous as the station in Kyiv, we are nevertheless relegated to waiting in the ever present line-up. Eventually the coveted tickets to transport us from L'viv to Kyiv are obtained. Rain is threatening as we head for town. Of course, being Monday, few shops are open and the museum is closed. In a large park he takes me to a rusting Ferris wheel. The  assumption is that I have never seen one of these before. It is interesting that mountains, swans and waterfalls to name a few are pointed out to me by relatives and friends as though I am being introduced to them for the first time. Maryan thought vinegar is not known outside Ukraine and was genuinely surprised that it is readily available to us. It is apparent that the many Ukrainians I have contact with have no idea of life beyond the boundaries of their world. Information on sights to see that had taken me days to compile and the map of Ivano-Frankivsk was left in the village, so places I earmarked to visit were either missed or seen without knowing what I was looking at.

A tour around the park, a duck pond and the lake brings us back to the centre of town. I can understand why my mom always looked down while walking. If you don't watch where you are stepping, you can end up with a sprained ankle. Maryan could not believe that my new eyeglasses cost me a few hundred dollars, so at his insistence we went to an optometrist for the twenty dollar  special. He was terribly disappointed when I chose not to like any frames handed to me to try. I am certain I would have required a seeing eye dog along with a purchase of eye wear as the optometry equipment I saw was very outdated.  We visit a large bazaar. One can purchase all one's daily needs here but the only thing that catches my eye are the beautiful flowers, especially the roses. Everywhere we go in Ukraine, we see people of all ages buying flowers. Pouring rain sends us scurrying back to the apartment. Bill looks and feels improved. Ivanka returns from a trip to a bazaar in Chernivtsi and we leave for the village. On our return, we learn we had created alarm as we were expected to return a day earlier. The telephone system is less than efficient with constant interruption in service so Maryan was not able to inform them that we intended to stay longer. During the night, it is so cold that a portable heater is fired up to keep us warm.


The pain in my chest is abating and the irritation from assorted bites is settling down so I sleep until I hear Ivan up at 0400. He is working full tilt in order to stack the hay before it rots in the rain. Our day is spent with Mykhailo and his family. Daughter-in-law Lida is thinner than four years ago and looks younger than I recall. Lida's husband Metro is working 800km away. Olya, now five is very grown up. Vity is shy. The baby, Olesko is so cute, he should have been a girl. Unfortunately, he has a club foot. Nadya, left on her own since Igor left for Moscow is quiet. Their baby is as fat as a dumpling. Anna's Lida and Romko stay for only a couple of hours as he too has obtained work in Moscow. I chastise Anna for letting Hristenka drain the beer bottles and lecture the others as I watch them allowing the youngsters to dip their fingers into the vodka and suck off the alcohol.

Magda's parents and friends, Slowkowska and a older couple Helena and Yura join us for a couple of the three meals we enjoy throughout the day. I am pleased that I have retained enough Ukrainian language taught to me as a child that the guests think I was born here. I am not particularly well preserved, but I cannot help but notice that Slowkowska looks older despite being three years my junior. The women have cooked enough food to feed an army. Hors d'oeuvres were assorted fancy canapes made with mushrooms, sardines, boiled eggs, cucumber and tomato. I choose the food I eat carefully as they have shared that their fridge is not working. To have it repaired, they will have to deliver it to the city. There is no home repair service. Yura, already pickled when he arrives, is a hoot. Methinks his wife has her hands full with him. She complains that she tried to sneak away to visit with us without him, but her diversionary tactics failed. He thinks Bill is super and beams with delight when we give him a baseball cap.

We had arrived at noon and do not depart until almost nine. The night is again cold. In order to keep warm, I put a comforter under me as well as another on top. I still have problems sleeping.


I hear the phone ring twice at 0600. Pauline says it is cousin Olya from Kalush and that she will come for us later today. The morning is sunny again but cool. We stroll over to Darka's residence that was my mom's home. She is heaving manure into a pile and I am made acutely aware of why Ukrainian women age quickly. We were born in the same year, but years of toiling have left their mark in her. The entrance, now a storage area was once the corridor between the families of my grandfather and his sister. The high roof is of original wood. Only the main room is now lived in. It houses Darka, her daughter and son-in-law, and one grandchild. The old man who visited me the day I was ill during the last visit was her father who at the time also lived there. -- talk about overcrowding! There have been some improvements made to the room, but there is evidence of what it looked like when my mom was born. The "peetch" (oven/stove) used for cooking, and which the family slept on (!) in winter, is original. I am curious about a long wooden bench that has a couple of holes cut in the seating area. These holes held the sticks that my mom and her sisters weaved cloth on. The cloth was washed in the stream and left in the sun to bleach. As the weaving, sewing and embroidery was winter activity and the bleaching process a summer one, it would take at least a year to complete an item from start to finish. The room now is furnished with three single beds but I am told originally there was one large bed that slept four to five family members. Hanging on the wall is a large, most impressive religious portrait of a man, woman and child. As is common in Ukrainian households, it is draped with a long towel embroidered with intricate geometric patterns called a "rushnyk". The painting is the face of a music box that played religious music when my mom lived there. There were two such boxes, but the Russians destroyed one of them and tore out the music box on the one remaining. Only the key still in the lock is testimony to the joy it must have given my mother.

Bill and I have taken up permanent residence on the steps of the porch. Boredom is setting in, so we take a walk in another direction, up a hill. The summit provides a good view of the village. From the main road, it is impossible to determine the size of Krasne but from here I can appreciate that it is large. There are approximately one thousand people living here.


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