· Wednesday 25 July 2007
Well I am finally feeling at home in my own home again.
House-sitter Jim took a two week vacation up north so Mark and I have had our house to our self for the past ten days. We have spent our time sorting, discarding, packing and organizing our stuff.
I rise about 7 and take a morning dog walk around the neighborhood (san-dog – I do miss Miss Zoë, but she did teach me the merits and joys of a morning walk!). It is the best part of the day. The air is cool, sky clear and bright and I have time o think and observe. I return invigorated and eager to stat the day
Days are flying by.
Where does the time go?
The only writing I
do these days is in my head…there are so many things that consume my time here
I watch too much HGTV.
I miss my Ukrainian friends. I wonder what other RPCVs in our training group are doing these days…they do not e-mail, but they never did.
· Saturday, 22 July 2007
We take the pick-em-up south to the Army post and load up on groceries at the commissary. Since it was hot, we packed the cold items into a cooler. Stocking the pantry- what an event!
Later we have dinner with our good friends M and P. It is always a delight to visit their farm – horses, donkeys, cats and chickens…all my favorite stuff! We stay late and laugh a lot.
We had a good visit. I am grateful for such good friends.
· Friday, 21 July 2007
We take Dakota Jack on our first local post PC road trip!
We crank up our red
pick-em-up truck and off to see my e-mail pal for lunch. She lives about 40 miles from here and has
invited us to share BBQ prepared by her spouse with her son (an RPCV from
It is a wonderful visit – like spending time with family. We stay too long, perhaps, but we are happy to be with such warm, engaging people.
We are blessed.
· Wednesday, 19 July 2007
We are not permitted to choose the frame of our destiny,
but what we put into it is ours.
- Dag Hammarskjold
· Monday, 16 July 2007
Here’s an article the local paper did on our return home…
Peace Corps couple comes home
July 16, 2007
By LARRY SINGER
Index-Journal staff writer
Mark and Virginia Pulver, who left
In February of 2005,
Mark had been
“I wanted to think
about life and figure out what I wanted to do next,”
“After we first
talked about this, things happened,” Mark said. “
It wasn’t until the year
before they left that three incidents occurred that forced them to reassess
“First, we went to
Africa to visit my brother who lives on a mountain top with no running water,”
A month after we came
back was 9/11, and that changed a whole bunch of people’s lives. Then several
months later we lost our son in a motorcycle accident. We then started thinking
that life is really short and you have to do the things you really want to do.”
Spotting an ad in the
paper for a Peace Corps seminar, they went, sent in their application on April
Fool’s Day, and were accepted a year later.
Instead of asking the Pulvers where they would like to go, the Peace Corps asked them to list which places they would not like to go.
Among those the
Pulvers chose not to go was anywhere on a mountaintop or anywhere on an island.
The Peace Corps then
told the Pulvers they were going to Eastern Europe or
Six weeks before they
left, they were told they were going to
After a brief period
of independence following the Russian Revolution of 1917,
“Everybody who joins
the Peace Corps thinks they’re going to Africa so I didn’t know why they were
sending us to Ukraine, which I thought was a developed country,” Mark said.”
“But it’s not.”
The Peace Corps then
told them, in general terms, what they would be expected to do there in their
role as non-governmental organization facilitators.
The Peace Corps, the
Pulvers said, has three goals.
The first is to go to
countries that have asked for our help. The second is to present to the people
there what an American is really like. The third goal is to have the volunteers
come back to the
“Our role there was
to consult and advise,”
What the Pulvers did
was help the library in
For the first three
months they were in
Those customs, the
Pulvers discovered, were quite different than living in
“In our village, on a lake, the man went out every day and ice fishes so we had homemade fish soup for breakfast.”
Because their host
family spoke no English, the Pulvers soon learned to converse in their host
family’s native tongue.
During the first
three months, the Pulvers attended Russian language classes and visited schools
They also learned the
social graces necessary to survive.
“You just can’t walk into a school office and say you’d like to talk to somebody,” Mark said.
“You have to go
through the Ministry of Education, then work your way down through the mayor
and lower levels because it’s not a direct culture.”
After three months,
the Pulvers wound up in the town of
“The library there
had been around for 150 years, and had almost been almost completely destroyed
during World War Two,” Mark said. “When I got there, there were no public
access points for anyone to go to the Internet.”
When they left, after
building a computer system and conducting classes on how to use the Internet,
the residents of
When they returned in
May of this year to
“Just going to
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· Sunday, 15 July 2007
Dog Walks, Sans Dog…
By 0630, I am out on the street and well into my morning dog-walk…without a dog.
I miss having a dog. Miss Zoë, my Siberian Husky, always took me for two walks each day. This daily ritual was (is) good for the body and the soul. These days, I am on my own for this morning and evening ritual, but I have wonderful memories of my sweet canine companion. I do miss that dog.
After my 2 -plus years’ absence from the old neighborhood, it feels good to be out walking, discovering. As I step off the back steps I hear the sounds of a stringed bass, as if someone is hosting an all-night party. I follow the sounds and discover a car parked down by the creek, in the wild area behind our house. I hear cajunto (sp?) music spilling out of an old station wagon. One of the neighbors, a recent immigrant from south of the border, seems to be having a private party.
I stride out and enjoy the cool morning air. Sunny SC is too humid for me, but in the early morning hours this place is at its finest. Leaving the insistent and contagious Mexican music behind, I hear bird song and watch the sky change from grey to pink as the sun rises.
I walk past the
home of a women I met on one of my dog walks just before we left for the Peace
Corps. The woman was a transplant from
I thought about her many times in the past couple years. As I walked by her home I wondered about how se was faring. I spied a cat, stopped to coax it closer so I could scratch its head, and was startled when a young man called out to me. “His name is Rocky,” he said, taking a puff n a cigarette. His accent tells me, he is clearly not from here.
Within moments, we are deep in conversation. I discover that my fiend, his mother, died last year. Some magic words fly back and forth between us – we speak about love, death, animals. This early morning encounter has an other-worldly feel about it. It is as if this brief conversation has a meaning I have yet to discern.
As I walk away, he calls out, “Would you like a dog?” The tenants have abandoned a young black dog.
“Let me think about it,” I say, pushing my hair back and considering whether this is an omen. “Maybe,” I say. I smile. He smiles. “Let me think about it.”
We shake hands and I resume my morning dog walk, without a dog.
· Wednesday, 11 July 2007
Turmoil, Stress, Compromise & Companionship Rule my Life
I just stepped out of the shower and am ensconced in a favorite chair in my very own living room. My spouse and House-sitter Jim are off getting the truck and Jeep licensed and roadworthy. House-sitter Jim is also making his weekly ritual lottery ticket purchase. I am happily wallowing in a couple wonderful hours to myself in my very own home, chaotic as it may be!
I guess I am a bit of a recluse, but after a couple of year’s way from my own home and the recent re-entry blast of constant companionship and travel, I am very grateful for this blessing. Actually, it is a bit scary! I have soooo many things on my mind. The to-do list pings away, getting longer and longer and longer. As I observed to a friend in my morning e-mail, it is as if there is a mountain to climb and I am in the mood to just curl up in the hammock for a snooze instead.
Well, this will
not be a litany of what must be done, but trust me, that list is almost
insurmountable. (This morning I read
some advice from Stephen Covey about priorities that helps me keep my wonderful
life in perspective. Actually the simple
act of flipping through well-loved books which I have not seen in a couple
years and pausing to read a few paragraphs at random is a very soothing exercise!) I will share an observation though. I have not driven a vehicle for well over 2 ½
years! How un-American is that!?
The Peace Corps Transition Blues…
This whole transition back from Peace Corps to life-as-we-knew it is hard. Of course we are not actually staying in this community and getting back into the yoke. We are planning a major move. Life is already stressed and confused so why not just get all the stressful things done in one fell-swoop, before we have a chance to chicken out!
Our Peace Corps experiences leave us changed in ways that one cannot really articulate. Like Proust says, one learns to see wit new eyes. The old life is no longer familiar or comfortable. Who am I? How do I fit in? Do I want to fit in? Can’t life be better, have more purpose?
I have heard that the post-Peace Corps experience can be a real struggle, but many people do not talk about it. Who would one talk to really? PCVs are taught to be resourceful, and capable of managing independently. We go abroad, learn new customs and skills, integrate and build a sense of community there and then we pull up stakes, leaving a big piece of our heart behind.
We are, in many ways, strangers in a strange land.
thoughts turn to the experiences of service personnel returning from battle…one
can only speculate on the conflicting feelings they must have when they return
· Tuesday, 10 July 2007
A No Pet Zone
I really want to get a dog and/or a cat. The logical side of my brain says this is not the time to take on that responsibility, but my heart is weak and needy. My soul seems to crave the simple, healing contact of a loving animal.
· Monday, 9 July 2007
After Twenty-Nine Months, We are Home at Last!
I was out in the garden within minutes of arriving home.
I did not even change my clothes before I found myself deep into a gardening project. My prolific morning glories needed attention and I was happy to spend a quiet hour tending to their needs. I wove an intricate web of string for them to twine on and then splashed them with cool water. Tending them is a small pleasure
I am not really a gardener (though I earned the title of Master Gardener by taking the courses and doing an internship). I simply enjoy puttering around in the garden. The next few weeks I will “re-create” by deadheading and pruning, raking and weeding.
Nothing compares with the simple quiet pleasure of being at home.
· Sunday, 8 July 2007
7,000 Miles and 29 States Later…
Since May Day, we
have crossed Europe, flown to the
Rock, Paper, Scissors Tournament
When I was a kid,
we used to play Rock, Paper, Scissors as we made the long, almost-weekly car treks
to my Mom’s hometown. I was surprised to
turn on the TV in the motel to find a Rock, Paper, Scissors Tournament being
Yep, with all the pomp and circumstance of any televised sports event, TV personalities interviewed players, whispered about technique and strategy as the events unfolded. The audience cheered for their favorites. It was all rather bizarre.
It was, I think, tongue in cheek.
· Saturday, 7 July 2007
Sailing South in a Rental Car
My laptop is plugged into the cigarette lighter – ain’t technology great!
By this time
tomorrow we will be at our house, most likely perched on the porch sipping a
tall cool drink and sharing tales with House-Sitter Jim. We’ve been back in the
On the way west
We flew south from
We traveled pretty light the whole trip.
So after about seven
weeks on the road here in the
· Friday, 6 July 2007
Yesterday in the Black Hills, Today in
We drove hard, but just could not make it to brother-in-law P’s place yesterday. We rolled up around midday and had a great visit with P. and Baby T.
Meeting Baby T.
T.is adorable and smart too!
When goose eggs hatch and the small birds emerge, all damp feathers and big beaks, the first creature (usually Mother Goose) they lay eyes on is imprinted on their brain. This bond is very strong. The young birds follow their leader anywhere and everywhere.
Silly goose, brother-in-law Pete has bonded with his baby daughter in just this way
Today we stop to spend a couple hours with Pete and his baby girl. It is fun to see rough, tough Pete oohing and ahhhing over his daughter. He is a dedicated father. Seeing the two together is a delight.
· Thursday, 5 July 2007
Hummingbirds & Rock Marmots at Breakfast
We breakfasted on the deck and were entertained by the antics of several hummingbirds. They few away and the second act began. A family of happy Rock Chucks (Marmots) appeared near the gate and provided quite a show. We saw a young rabbit too.
. There are several beautiful horses corralled across the road and they play nicely and provide quite a show. Dad shared tales about other animal sightings – elk, deer, a cattle drive.
This lovely Bird’s
Nest tucked in a green valley is a great escape from the outside world. The camp is surrounded by national forest so
the views are pristine, free of outside intrusions. We are grateful for the opportunity to spend
some time here, as we transition back to life in the
This is a lovely place to linger, but we must hit the road and head for home.
Wednesday, 4 July 2007 –
Crazy Horse isn’t the Crazy Man!
The crazy man, Korczak
Ziolkowski, is the sculptor
blasting out this monument in the
There is a road in
What a vision, what a dream, what an undertaking!
Crazy Horse, was a Native American. He is being immortalized as a three dimensional sculpture blasted out of a mountain top near the famous faces on Mt Rushmore. It is a massive creation. Crazy Horse monument already dwarfs the heads of the presidents that draw so many people to the national park here in the Black Hills of Dakota.
The final project includes the torso of the warrior Crazy Horse and the head, and body of the horse too. (This picture does not do it justice!)
This is definitely a sight o add to any ”must see” list. At least visit the web site: http://www.crazyhorse.org/
FYI: it is not sponsored by the government!
We Take the
Happy Independence Day!
We are celebrating here at Vogel's cabin on the "backside" of Mt Rushmore. Last night we rode the 1880's train up into the forest, stopped for a picnic (with champagne!) and watched armed desperados "steal" the cash box and "abduct" a couple women. It ended in a shoot-out (all staged of course) We sat under tall pines, strung with twinkling white lights, listened to the music while we watched the choreographed fireworks ($5 million worth!) exploding over the monument.
Last time we were in the Black Hills (in 1999), we attended the fireworks at the monument - it was an all day commitment with the Air Force band performing and lots of other performances on stage and of course wonderful fireworks. Due to traffic on mountain roads, we could not leave the parking lot until almost 2 AM The activities ended around 10 PM so we just visited and waited...should have had a post-fireworks tailgate party.
We had hail here in SD yesterday - amazing rain storm. Mark filled a 5 gallon cooler with hailstones from the deck!
What is 4th of July like where you are? I am sure Janeen will have wonderful tales of her adventures on this patriotic holiday! I look forward to hearing all about the day's events! 8-)
FYI: Mark and I head east again on Thursday. We rented
a car (can't make good bus connections from here!) and will make a bee-line to
sunny SC. More on our future plans in another e-mail....gotta get ready
to head out now...live fiddle music in
Life is good....
From Mt Rushmore on the 4th
· Tuesday, 3 July 2007
Hail & Rainfall in the
A rainstorm moved in and soon peppered the deck with hail the size of moth balls. The temperature dropped and the area was covered with clouds. The hailstones accumulated and looked like snowfall. Mark scooped up hail off the deck and piled it into a 5-gallon cooler.
The forest has been dry and there was serious talk of canceling the huge Mt Rushmore fireworks display so the rain was welcome.
And timely, since the fireworks are scheduled for tonight.
· Monday, 2 July 2007
Declining a Great Job!
The decision has
been made. We will move to
This means I must
turn down the wonderful job opportunity in
This means I will
probably be substitute teaching, house-sitting, dog-walking, and doing temp
I have always
wanted to live in the
This is a
difficult decision, but somehow we have decided to follow our hearts. I will not miss the humidity and the bugs
that are part of life in
I guess choosing
Where the heart is, there is strength.
Gotta go make that call.
· Sunday, 1 July 2007
Settling in at the
This settling in process is like a military operation. The “good” stuff is packed away when the cabin is closed for the season and the “old” stuff comes out. Hunters and other guests use the cabin during off seasons so the treasures and artwork get stored away. This means there is a lot of work swapping things out. It’s a little like Christmas as boxes are opened. Art pieces and family photos come out, boxes are opened and other boxes are packed up and stashed.
So much stuff!
We sweep, scrub, arrange, and work, work, work for many hours to make things just right.
Later, we sit on the deck and sip tea. The men play a few tunes on the guitar and banjo.
There is a full moon and the stars are bright in the Dakota skies.
TO READ JUNE POSTS OR OTHER OLDER ENTRIES,
RETURN TO THE ARCHIVES ON THE LEFT.
If you want to read about our initial Peace Corps adventures, start with
January 2005; that’s when we received our invitation (short-notice) to