Expat Life: Black Hole Soup

by missfootloose on January 21, 2012 · 24 comments

in And So It Goes, Expat life, Moldova

I need a story. Preferably one about my exciting expat life here in Moldova, this mysterious country almost nobody has heard of or has any idea where it is. Right now this is what I see outside my window and it is not exciting.

The sidewalks are frozen and slippery, sort of like my mind feels today. Okay, this is not a story, but writing teachers will tell you to just start writing. Anything. Anything at all. Just let the words come out. So that’s what I’m doing. Let’s see what happens.

I had a Romanian lesson this morning and my brain was a black hole (frozen and slippery) and I couldn’t come up with the simplest words. I was trying to tell my teacher I was writing a story about the time I broke my leg in the jungles of darkest Africa, and let me tell you, trying to drag out the Romanian words was more painful than breaking my leg. However, she did get the gist of it and looked at me wide-eyed and asked, “Is this a fantasy story?” Apparently it was that bad.

“Nu, nu,” I assured her, “it’s true!”

So why not tell you the broken-leg-in-the-jungle story now? Because I need pictures, and I don’t have them here in Moldova. They’re buried in my house in the US somewhere. Me on crutches, you wouldn’t want to miss it, do you? So until I get back there in a few months, the story will have to wait. I know, it’s not fair, is it?

After my language lesson, I took a taxi home and the driver had a death wish going by the way he was careening through the traffic. Visions of my life passed through the frozen and slippery black hole of my mind, cheerily accompanied by Russian hoompa hoompa music blasting forth from the taxi’s radio.

One of my visions: Little cross-eyed me with my brothers

Fortunately I arrived alive and well at the right address, so at least the driver had understood my Romanian. I take my blessings where I find them.

And then there is this cake corpse sitting on my table:

Cake Disaster

The Zen of Baking: This isn't it.

I took me almost two hours yesterday to assemble this lovely raspberry-coconut-walnut-meringue confection, and then, as I took it out of the oven, it slipped out of my grip and crashed to its death. Cleaning the oven of the fallen-out goop was a joy. Then I took a picture to document my crise de pâtisserie, and that’s why you see it here now.

I know what you are saying: Pour some rum over it, get out a soup spoon and start eating. Tempting as this is, I’ll just have a cup of coffee and eat just a little piece. Who needs a sugar coma? Well, maybe me.

Incidentally, this once-yummy creation was meant for my husband’s after-work office party to celebrate his birthday last night. So I made brownies instead. (There was, of course, a birthday cake, and other goodies as well.) His colleagues gave him a fabulous present, which as you can see on the photo, instantly morphed him into a Moldovan villager.

Moldovan sheep's skin vest

Moldovan sheep's skin vest

He also received a very impressive certificate declaring him now a citizen of the Republic of Moldova, with a notation at the bottom to please not  show it to the Moldovan police.

Okay, I still don’t have a good story here, do I? It’s just bits and pieces, flotsam and jetsam, odds and ends. It’s just black hole soup. I do apologize.

And as I’m writing this, my phone rings. It’s my English friend with the lovely British accent.

“Are you still on for the wine bar this evening?” she sings.

Am I??

The End

* * *

Tell me about your Black Hole Day. I can’t wait.

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{ 24 comments… read them below or add one }

marja January 21, 2012 at 1:32 am

Oh it looks very cold overthere. nice to stay by the fire with a book or go to the wine bar of course I think cold winter days are alike everywhere. As I work most of the time you often don’t notice the weather but we have been so fortunate that we could even go for walks in the warm evening what is unusual. Your hubby looks smart as a Moldavian


missfootloose January 26, 2012 at 9:11 am

Fortunately we have a fireplace for coziness (gezelligheid to you and me). And yes, sitting in front of it with a book, a glass of wine and a happy husband makes life not too bad 😉 even if it is cold.


Michael January 21, 2012 at 8:44 am

What you see outside your window may not be exciting to you, but I find it interesting.

It’s hard getting motivated to write sometimes. Enthusiasm comes in waves, but I don’t know what the catalyst is. Holidays seems to help though.
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missfootloose January 26, 2012 at 9:08 am

Indeed, getting motivated is not always easy, especially in winter when you huddle up indoors most of the time. It helps to have a rich inner life, but I’m suffering a dearth there, I think 😉


Steph January 21, 2012 at 6:00 pm

I think I would have eaten that delicious cake off the floor! Sorry to hear you had one of those days.
That Moldovan jerkin is fabulous. Have you got one too?
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missfootloose January 26, 2012 at 9:05 am

No worries about the cake! We ate what was left in the pan, but I did have to make something else for the party. I don’t have a vest yet, but I expect there may lurk one in my future.


Reinhardt January 21, 2012 at 11:18 pm

“Still don’t have a good story?”, “Bits and pieces?” I think you have a fabulous story! Sometime I enjoy these the most, plain and simple stories where people just share their thoughts or bits and pieces of their life. And as Michael said, to us that picture is really interesting. It’s such a contrast to what I see outside my window, but provides an interesting look into the lives of others on the other side of the world. You can write these “bits and pieces” stories any day! 🙂
Reinhardt recently posted..DON’T PANIC …but if you do, keep runningMy Profile


missfootloose January 26, 2012 at 9:04 am

Thank you! It’s true that if we pay more attention to the “normal” stuff in our lives we can learn to see and use it more creatively.


Michael January 22, 2012 at 12:29 pm

I hardly knew anything about Moldova before discovering this site and funnily enough it’s in the news now, thanks to Domnica Cemortan and the Costa Concordia.

Is that getting much media coverage there Karen?
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missfootloose January 26, 2012 at 9:01 am

We watch CNN and BBC so we get all the international news. Our Romanian isn’t up to dealing with the local stations (yet).


Mireille January 23, 2012 at 7:31 am

Congratulations with your hubbies Bday! Interesting vest 😉 I am sure he will be wearing that a lot!
I am glad I am in the southern hemisphere right now, it looks so cold and grey!! brrr…
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missfootloose January 26, 2012 at 8:59 am

He might just be wearing this vest at home tonight. It’s 6 below zero Celcius (21 F) right now and I’m not sure the gas furnace is able to keep up.


Janet | expatsisterhood.com January 23, 2012 at 2:27 pm

I’m not sure I’m having a “black hole” day. I sometimes have a hard time writing about life overseas because, after awhile, “life overseas” simply becomes “life.”

I guess that’s a good thing. :).
Janet | expatsisterhood.com
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missfootloose January 26, 2012 at 8:55 am

Yes, living as an expat your “life overseas” simply does become “life” and it becomes familiar and unexotic to us. I remember I once wrote an account of a day in my “ordinary” life in Ghana, West Africa, but to others it wasn’t quite as ordinary it was to me. Sometimes it is fun to just pay attention to the things we do in a single day and look at them from someone else’s viewpoint.


Bob January 23, 2012 at 2:47 pm

Black Hole Days are all a matter of perspective. I was fortunate enough to spend several years in Chisinau and left in 2006. My “Black Hole” Day also occurred in Winter, with about 30 cm of snow on the ground, on a weekend. Driving was out of the question and not much public transport was running. So I was at home. The kitchen was my favorite room.
I had wanted to make corn tortillas for a while but was having trouble finding the ingredients. A Moldovan friend with a small house in the country had given me some dried corn kernels. According to an old Mexican recipe I had, I still needed some calcium hydroxide but was not likely to find it at the apoteka. But one day, a few weeks earlier at my friend’s house, I saw he had a vat of white liquid doing a slow simmer over the fire out in the yard. I asked what it was and he said they bought some white rocks from the gypsies and they added water and then boiled them slowly to produce the white liquid, with which they painted the bottom meter of the trees and also used to whitewash the house. (Of course, the rocks were limestone, calcium dioxide, and when boiled, became calcium hydroxide). He gave me several ounces of the granules. So on the Black Hole day, I took them and added a few spoonsful of the granules to a large pot of water and added some of the dried corn kernels and boiled them up a bit and took them off the heat and let them sit until the next day. Then drained and rinsed and passed three times through an old Russian hand-crank grinder and – viola!- I had the dough for corn tortillas. Rolled flat between sheets of plastic, rolled out with a wine bottle and cut out using a large coffee can to measure the size, I cooked them quickly in a skillet and they were done. I made enough tortillas to make some tacos that night and then store a bunch in the freezer for the future. And you know, the Black Hole day was done. I hope you enjoyed the tale. Bob


Reinhardt January 23, 2012 at 3:55 pm

Well I certainly did! 🙂
Thanks for sharing.
Reinhardt recently posted..DON’T PANIC …but if you do, keep runningMy Profile


missfootloose January 26, 2012 at 8:50 am

The things we do to get what we want, like tortillas! I love your story! Moldova is the land of corn and polenta (mamaliga). The shops are full of corn flour of all sorts, but you couldn’t find the right kind of corn flour to make tortillas! Go figure. I never knew all what was involved in making the corn/maize flour right for making tortillas. No I know: White wash! Thanks for sharing!


GutsyLiving January 23, 2012 at 6:37 pm

I loved your honesty and taking me through one day of your life in Moldova.
It’s wonderful to read about the sh***y things in daily life. Now I feel better. BTW, did you eat half the cake? You said it dropped, but half is missing. Be honest. Where did it go? 🙂
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missfootloose January 26, 2012 at 8:43 am

Part of the cake ended up in the oven and on the oven door; a sticky mess. The rest stayed in the pan and we ate it!


Lady Fi January 26, 2012 at 11:31 am

Loved reading about your day! That raspberry concoction still looks delicious, even if it did crash and fall!

You could have described so many of my long boring days in China when I first arrived as a volunteer English teacher back in the 1980s.
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edj January 31, 2012 at 6:32 am

Oh I have been in a black hole myself lately! And I didn’t post for nearly a month as a result, although I did write a lot of book reviews at my other site. And I can’t believe I’m over a week behind on my blogs. Sigh. Regardless, I enjoyed reading about your “boring” day and I love that vest! 🙂 And weren’t you adorable? And I actually enjoy the view from your window…looks exotic.


missfootloose January 31, 2012 at 8:17 am

The view from my window is exotic? It’s just a mess! 😉


Suzanne Grey February 2, 2012 at 10:07 am

Hi Missfootloose

I just wanted to ask if how can I subscribe to your newsletter? By the way I love your nickname.lol
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missfootloose February 2, 2012 at 12:04 pm

Sorry, I don’t have a newsletter! Whatever I have to say will be on my blog! You can receive the posts by email and you find the sign-up thingie in the sidebar.


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