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Saturday, April 30, 2016

The Morning Tram in the Old City in Spring

By Mrs.D. 

Spring was finally in charge of the ancient city, relishing the sight of chestnut trees blooming, spreading a sweet, heavenly fragrance throughout the lively neighborhoods. The old buildings, sinking in white blossoms, had that distinctive European flair which people fall in love with the minute they step foot on the narrow streets covered with stone paving. Through the centuries, Lviv, which is situated in West Ukraine, has absorbed many cultures that created a special charm, attracting both foes and followers of history. In spite of all odds and many outlandish rulers, the proud natives have preserved their language, which flows like a breath of spring breeze. Catchy and musical, it charms ears and brings smiles to strangers’ faces. There is something soothing and melodic when Ukrainians speak in their native language, something that brings out a pride for their flocks and country.

Every country has something unique to be proud of. It may be enormous landmarks like the Eiffel Tower and the Egyptian pyramids, or just something small like blossoming chestnut trees thriving in May. The sweetly scented white and pink flower of the horse chestnut is one of the symbols of Ukraine. Growing to a height of thirty-six meters, these impressive trees have a domed crown and stout branches, creating a huge umbrella of shade in the summer months. Tall and majestic, they tower above the tiled roofs and golden churches. The leaves consist of five to seven leaflets which change from light to dark green as they grow, and transform into a breathtaking array of gold, copper, and bronze as they die off in winter and fall to the ground. The flowers produced in spring consist of panicles with between twenty and fifty flowers on each. Between one and five fruits develop on each of these panicles, and within the green spiky capsule-like shell is a nutlike seed called a horse chestnut, or conker. Planted along streets and in parks, they flourish for hundreds of years with beauty and charm, gracefully changing moods with each passing season. The spontaneous burst of flowering trees is intimately linked to the annual rite of spring. The appearance of the flashy, spiked efflorescence, the color of pale spring sunshine, is a natural miracle that marks the return to life in the streets and parks of the old city. For Ukrainians, chestnut trees represent the re-creation, strength, and stability.

I was sixteen when I left a village deep in the Carpathian Mountains and moved to Lviv to attend college. The city met me with the noise of the old trams, swarming on the streets like red fire ants. For years, the loud trams have consoled and inspired artists and poets, actors and lovers, and even a simple girl like me. I woke up to the their noises, announcing the beginning of a new day, and went to sleep with the thought that tomorrow the bell would ring in front of my window, greeting me with a happy shriek. The old tramway was one of these places where I fell in love, read, talked, hid, and thought until midnight. It was my shelter from rain and snow, sun and cold, sadness and frustration, loneness and vagrancy. It took me to places I wanted to go. It was my refuge and escape, comfort, and place to unwind, a tiny getaway at the end of the day. It cradled my children when they could not sleep. It watched me crying when I had to leave my country. It was more to me than a mere machine or transport. It was my friend for sixteen years.

Often sipping dark coffee under the crown of the blossoming trees, I turned my melancholy gaze to the screeching trams, covered in glittering petals, spinning like tiny snowflakes above their red roofs. It was something melancholic and at the same majestic to watch a morning tram going through the tunnel of the flowering trees, glowing in the dawn like young brides.

May in Lviv was one of those beautiful seasons that always brought peace to my soul. It reinvigorated my thinking and gave me a fresh outlook on my life. Majestic silhouettes of temples, surrounded by the flowering chestnut trees, make me feel closer to Mother Earth and God. Magnificent outlines of old streets, blooming parks and wide avenues, created a feeling of purity and being born again. Elegant buildings of different ages and architectural styles surrounded by thriving chestnut trees formed that unique and unforgettable atmosphere that I will never forget.

Years passed, things changed, but my memories will always hold the sound of the first morning tram, slowly crawling beneath the flowering chestnut trees thriving with a wild passion.


Lviv is definitely one of the most picturesque cities in Ukraine. The historic center of the city has the status of the UNESCO World Heritage Site. Also, Lviv has the largest number of monuments in Ukraine

Lviv architecture reflects a lot of European styles corresponding to different historical epochs. Fortunately the city was not heavily damaged during the wars of the 20th century.

After fires of 1527 and 1556 there were almost no traces of Gothic Lviv, but the following epochs are well presented: Renaissance, baroque, classicism. The historical center of Lviv has a lot of architectural monuments of the 14th-17th centuries.

This beautiful church built in the neo-Gothic style is located in Lviv, on Kropivnitsky Square. According to legend, originally, it was named in honor of the Empress Elizabeth Habsburg, the wife of the Emperor of Austria-Hungary Franz Joseph I.
Since 1991, the church is owned by the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church and is called the Church of Sts. Olha and Elizabeth.


Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Congratulations America, You Support Working Moms! Just Not With Actual Policies

working moms
Emily Peck

Executive Editor, Business and Technology
Originaly published in HUFFPOST BUSINESS

After decades of judging and shaming mothers for “abandoning” their kids while they went off to work to commit the horrible and selfish act of providing for their families, Americans are now overwhelmingly OK with working mothers, according to a paper published in the latest edition of Psychology of Women quarterly.
The study, from researchers at San Diego State University and the University of Georgia, looked at nationally representative survey data from the 1970s through 2013, and found big cultural shifts. In 1977, 68 percent of U.S. adults believed “a preschool child is likely to suffer if his or her mother works,” compared to 42 percent in 1998 and 35 percent in 2012. (A recent study found that, actually, having a working mother can have a very positive impact on a child.)
Younger adults were even more supportive of working mothers. The new study found that just 22 percent of high school seniors surveyed from 2010 to 2013 said they believe a child suffers when his or her mother works.
So that’s cool. But the thing is, public policy and most private employers haven’t caught up to changing attitudes. The U.S. still remains the only democratic nation on the planet without any paid parental leave.
“The reality is, most women with young children are in the workplace,” said Jean Twenge, the author of “Generation Me“ and a psychology professor at San Diego State University who worked on the new research paper. “Yet among industrialized nations, we don’t compare very well in terms of the support we give working families for daycare and preschool.”
Nothing much has changed at the federal level since the U.S. passed a law requiring employers to offer 12 weeks of unpaid leave for caretakers in 1993. “I don’t feel like we’ve made any progress [on family leave] since then,” Anne Weisberg, a senior vice president at the nonprofit research group the Families and Work Institute, told The Huffington Post.
family medical leave act clinton

A very young-looking Bill Clinton signs the Family and Medical Leave act in 1993.
One of the big objections to paid leave traditionally comes from businesses, which tend to argue that offering workers paid leave increases costs. But a mounting pile of evidence doesn’t support that theory. Nearly 90 percent of California businesses reported no cost increases due to the state’s now 10-year-old leave law, according to one survey. In fact, 43 percent of businesses in the state reported a cost savings, because they were able to hold on to more workers (decreasing training costs) and reduce spending on benefits.
Other companies, like Google, have also increased employee retention by increasing paid leave.
Oh, and paid leave saves the government money and disproportionately helps lower-income women. In New Jersey, women who took paid leave were around 40 percent less likely to receive public benefits like food stamps or welfare, according to a Rutgers study cited by Claire Cain Miller in The New York Times.
So what’s taking policymakers and business leaders so long to catch up?
First, not all attitudes have shifted, said Weisberg. “We still have a lot of ambivalence about gender roles. Even though most people say they believe women should work outside the home, we know for a fact that there’s a lot of maternal bias when it comes to hiring women, promoting women.”
Despite what the new study found about shifting attitudes, a 2013 survey from Pew found a majority of Americans still believe it’s better for children if the mother stays home. “They don’t say the same thing if the dad stays home,” Weisberg said.
She also noted that most Americans view having children as a “choice” — not a societal good. That prevents us from supporting parents at the policy level. Yet if we don’t, Weisberg said we could wind up like Japan, a country that offers little policy support for working mothers. Increasingly, young women there are choosing not to have children. The country’s birth rate is currently below replacement levels, which could have devastating consequences for Japan’s economy.
Of course, there’s also the classic American aversion to taxes and spending money on social reform. And there’s the issue of who’s in charge of making change. Though women make up a huge part of the workforce, they’re still largely missing from the corner office — and from the political sphere.
“Very few members of Congress, I suspect, have dropped a child off at day care,”Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) said recently, speaking of paid family leave. “Very few members of Congress know exactly how much day care costs, because they didn’t pay those bills. And so for a lot of members of Congress, they don’t relate to the issue — either because they have enormous wealth so they have unlimited caregivers, or they’re men whose wives chose to stay at home and they had the resources to do that.”
Still, some progress is happening. Gillibrand’s Family Act, which proposes financing paid leave through a small payroll tax, isn’t totally dead yet. California, New Jersey and Rhode Island now offer paid parental leave. Other states are considering it.
Presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton has affirmed her support for universal pre-K.
Businesses also are waking up to the idea that their workers have needs outside the office. Companies are increasingly offering more and better paid leave, on-site childcare and other support for employees. Still, those benefits are typically for higher-paid, white-collar workers.
Only 13 percent of employers in the U.S. offer paid leave to full-time workers, according to the most recent data from the Labor Department. Women in low-wage jobs, a fast-growing group, suffer disproportionately from a lack of support for paid leave.
And for them, the stakes are getting higher. “We are really reaching a breaking point,” said Weisberg. “Stress levels are increasing, especially among working women.” She pointed out that life expectancy for women has actually been fallingin recent years, and she speculated that stress among lower-income women could play a role.
The stakes are that high.