Saturday, February 28, 2009

Our neighborhood - Little Israel

We live in Midwood which Matthew and I refer to as "Little Israel" because it primarily inhabited by Orthodox Jews. Our immediate community is definitely Jewish which is nice because Jewish communities are safer and quieter (if you ignore the honking) and seem to be cleaner than other areas we visited. One of the "downside" noted by some residents is that starting on Friday night everything shuts down for the Jewish Sabbath and since the Jews own pretty much everything around here (the laundromat and Dunkin' Donuts are noted exceptions)... We live in a ghost town every weekend (I actually like it). This is how we were able to stand in the middle of Coney Island Avenue to take these pictures. Normally you stick to the side walks unless you want to terminate your life.

When the stores are closed they all have a metal wall covering the windows and doors which makes the whole place look somewhat strange and lonely and austere.

This is the laudromat we use. It's about a tree minutes walk from our apartment so it's pretty convenient. I have heard of other ones much larger and cleaner but I don't know if I want the trouble of carrying a bunch of dirty clothes farther only to get shinier washing machine. We'll see. I'm currently trying to find the quietess time to do laundry so as to not be invaded by mothers who come with their 5o lbs of clothes and their three overactive kids which makes the experience a little less interesting. I do get lots of reading done which is great.

This is the post office we will send letters and packages from. The staff are super helpful and condescending to our "Canadian-ness". See the sky? It's been this blue since we've arrived. And there's no trace of snow anywhere. What a change after cloudy Yarmouth.

Normally everywhere you look you can see fruit and vegetable stands. Today being the Sabbath there was only one to be spotted. The fruits and veggies are much cheaper here than back home and there are a lot more organic and healthy options as well as international treats to be had.

There is actually a yarn shop right around the corner which makes me really happy though I have not been in it yet for fear of wanting or "needing" something. I'll wait untill we start getting paid! You can't really tell on the photo (crapy time of day to take pics but Matthew had to go to a course at 11:3o and I really wanted to stroll the streets with him this morning) but the whole sign is made of giant sequence that shine in the sun. Apparently there's quite a bit of stuff in there and there's a sign that mentions mohair and wool. I can work with that!

I leave you with another shot of Coney Island Avenue which gives you an idea of the type of architecture that's prevalent around here. Lots of bricks.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

New Home

As most of you know we've finally been able to "settle" a bit. We arrived in Brooklyn on Sunday February 8th. We stayed in hotels for the first 3 nights and we were starting to be a bit worried about where we would end up. The apartments are quite expensive around here. Not only do you have to give a security deposit but most places (reputable ones) we looked at required at least a month's rent as a deposit plus the broker's fee which was also a month's rent. So by the time you've moved in you've paid for 3 months rent plus a security deposit. We really didn't have that much money to play with.

My godmother emailed us with the contact information of a local priest and suggested to us that we get a hold of him to see if he knew of any family looking for tenants. When we contacted him he told us he didn't know right off hand but that we could post a sign at the church. We went to the church and put up the sign and started venerating the icons (all the ones we had been praying to for help to get here were there which was really incredible and encouraging) and the warden of the church asked to show Matthew something. It turns out it was a sign written in Russian by a priest who had a bedroom to offer. We gave him a call and he suggested we meet him the next day. As we had a day to "waste" we drove all over Brooklyn to familiarize ourselves with it. We came to the conclusion that there doesn't seem to be any danger (during the day at least) even in the "shadier" parts of Brooklyn. Seeing pretty much all of Brooklyn in a day made me feel a tiny bit more at home. There was less mystery with the place and that felt good. When we got to the apartment that evening we learned that we would be sharing it with a Fr. Andrew's family. He showed us the room which is quite spacious and we got to meet his two daughters who are nonidentical twins. We also found out that other than the two girls who speak English fluently as a result of going to an English school, we would have to work on communication with Fr. Andrew and Matushka Jana. Their English is somewhat limited and our Russian is somewhat non-existent so it takes a bit of work to get something across sometimes!

They have been extremely generous to us giving us the best they have and sharing their food with us. We feel very welcomed here and are really excited at the chance to learn Russian. They are also invaluable when it comes to finding our bearings in NY. It's truly an answer to prayers to have found this place.

This is the view as you come in. The bed's on the left and the computer "desk" is directly on the right.This is our nice fancy futon which hides our clothing. We don't have a dresser so this seemed to be a good solution and overall it is, until Matthew gets up to go to work and remembers he didn't take his underwear and socks out the previous night and has to lift "me" up to get to it.

This is our storage/computer area. It's nice and cozy and if we feel we need privacy we can put towels across the front and it feels like a tree house. It's a nice bedroom full of light this is where I will be spending most of my time. That's it for now. It's taken me a bit to figure out how to do this. I'm having a bit of a hard time with uploading the pictures. They keep going to the top of the post as opposed to coming up where I tell them to. Any suggestions?