Summer 1996. Lichtenberg Park

Our University Campus was built close to the old Lichtenberg Park. I know that I should check my facts and tell you exactly who from the Lichtenberg House was related to the Russian Royal family, but I will not do it now. It is not essential for my story. What is important that there was this beautiful park on the other side of the train tracks. The park was in the half-deteriorated state, and the palaces and pavilions and the church were even more so, but it was a great park for walking.

I do not remember which days the pictures were taken, but it was one of the days when Boris and I already knew that those might be the last week of my staying in Russia. If not that, I am sure I won’t convince him to take pictures with kids. Igor was most likely with my mom in the city, or possibly with his other grandma – she was taking him sometimes to another vacationing place, which Igor himself can describe better.

That’s all I can say about these pictures. Now that I look at them, I can sense a bittersweet feeling, joy, and sadness simultaneously.

Vlad is wining about something, as usual πŸ™‚

The next several pictures are almost identical, but I am going to post them anyway, because we do not have that many pictures, and I know that Vlad and Anna would like to have them all πŸ™‚

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A Short Description Of The Past Several Days

Working around the clock on a critical project at work (launching tomorrow 6-30 AM). Around the clock – literally. At the same time – trying not to miss a next chapter deadline with our book (had to ask for three days extension). The past nine days were the planning miracles because I managed to get it all done and have this Art Institute outing.

Today was all work, with no lunch break and no coffee breaks (all in front of the computer). Then, I went to my neighbor who lost her daughter, and when I came back, I saw more messages on the work slack. Which I am going to ignore for now because I need to do a couple of personal things, and I also need to prepare some teaching materials for tomorrow. OK, I didn’t ignore them :). But I told them, that I can’t allow this thing to go to production:).

And now I am going to spend the next forty minutes doing stuff fo myself, and another forty minutes to prepare teaching materials.

My First-Born Birthday

Today is Igor’s birthday, and it’s hard to believe that he is thirty-five. I can’t even describe how proud I am of all the things he achieved in life. He faced way more challenges than Vlad and Anna, not the least one being a first-born for the 22 years old mother. But here he is. A kind and compassionate person. An accomplished professional. A cancer survivor. A person who stands for his views and beliefs. Happy birthday @igorstudenkov!

Harvesting The Prairie

I do not know who saw my Instagram post about the wildflowers (a copy of this one), or maybe my fellow forest preserve volunteers spread the word and reached out, but today, I spotted a Forest Preserve Police car :).

We spent Saturday morning collecting the seeds, .which are in abundance, and enjoying the end-of-summer prairie. There are still lots of flowers, blooming!

Grass seed collecting
Canadian rye
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A Field Trip To The Art Institute

(It is a very long post, but I want to record my memories of that day)

On Thursday. we had the best-ever field trip to the Art Institute. The best in almost four years that I volunteer at the Open Door Shelter!

When I came to cook dinner the first time after “the start of everything,” we discussed what we can do outside the shelter, and I said that we could do the Art Institute and see the new Monet Exhibit. I also suggested a couple of other things, but this one was embraced immediately.

Remembering all out previous Art Institute outings, I was pleasantly surprised by the enthusiasm but held a pinch of skepticism. It happened before that when it is time to go, the youth forget, or just do not want to get out of the house, or whatever. I remember all delays in departure, losing people on the way there and back.

This time around, being late was not an option. I was not even sure how to secure our place in line for a Monet exhibit for the future date. A week after our conversation in the ODS, which was a week before our Art Institute outing, I went there during my lunch break, trying to see more of the exhibit and finding out what my options are for next Thursday.

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Canceled Performance

Today, Igor. mom and I were going to see an outdoor performance of the Goodman Theater new production Speak Out! And we went, only to find out about the last-minute cancellation, and it was a long trip for us from Palatine to Portage Park.

One of the performers was tested positive, and they suspended all performances until everybody would get tested and receive results. Which is the right thing to do, but why in the world they didn’t notify us?! Although the performances are free, they asked people to sign-up for email updates, just in case. And that was the case! Also, they didn’t have any updates on the theater webpage, only on their Facebook page.Total wasted time – almost two and a half hours.And that’s me trying to take a break from my two weeks non-stop work + book marathon. I could do something more productive at that time…

My Neighbor’s Daughter

Yesterday. my neighbor told me that her older daughter died from a heart attack. And for the past 24 hours, I can’t come to terms with that.

My neighbor and I moved in almost at the same time, 23 years ago. I knew all her children, two daughters, and a son, for almost the same time.

Her older daughter was fifty-five, and I can’t come to terms with her death.

I am blaming myself for not stopping by or texting my neighbor for the whole week. She is literally next door to me. We talked on Saturday, and her daughter died on Sunday. And I didn’t know until Friday.

Because of COVID, there was no service or anything; she was cremated, and that’s it.
It’s just something that should not happen…

Summer 1996, Peterhoff

I have more pictures from that summer than I had for the whole previous year. It was a strange summer. Events that I described in the post How I decided to go to America happened at the very beginning of it, and then it was a long wait. I briefly mentioned in my other post, Getting ready to go to America, but there were months of uncertainty in reality. Only Boris and my mom knew that I was waiting for the papers, but I was trying to make most out of this summer with all uncertainty. 

We stayed in the University boarding house yet again, and I worked on Stylus documentation at night (My last job in Russia). In the daytime, I took kids to places almost every day. Vlad and Anna were already big enough to appreciate art. We took full advantage of that fact. It was a strange mixture of “I might not even get a visa,” “I am not going to leave forever, we will come back in two years, and I will be happy to come back,” and “I will never be back again.” In reality, none of these happened, but back then, I was frantically trying to squeeze into our days as much of the art and architecture. 

The Boarding house was relatively close to the palaces and parks of Peterhoff, Peter the Great summer residence. We often took a bus to spend a half-day there, enjoying the fountains and visiting palaces. My friend Olga, whose family lived in the same apartment building with us in Saint Petersburg, came to join us on this adventure. I think it was more than once, but I only have pictures from one of these occurrences. Here they are.

Vlad, Anna and Ania in the Upper Park of Peterhoff
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Life In Chicago

Today, I asked Vlad to meet me for lunch because I needed to discuss several things with him. We didn’t plan very well, and I had a work emergency, so first, I ended up being late, and then he was late, although he texted me that he is already parking.

When he finally came in, he told me that he had trouble finding a parking spot and that he had to park at a very expensive place. But then he said that he feels good about it because it means that the city is getting back to normal.

I can second these feelings because yesterday, I felt similarly annoyed when I could not turn left from my subdivision to the main road. Annoyed, but also glad :).
Among the things I wanted to talk about was the future of the restaurant business. In Chicago, with our notoriously brutal winters, everybody is talking about this! Vlad thinks that people will still be heading for indoor seating when the weather will become colder regardless of the higher risk. I am not sure how he thinks our legislators will do, but even in Finland, they had to back up under the business demands. We shall see. I also hope that rapid testing will be more available. Last week, Vlad was hosting a private even with Abbott Labs, and since they developed this rapid test, they tested each and single participant and each and single server at this event. It would be cool if we could have this rapid testing everywhere!

Oh, and funny story. Today was the first time since early March that I was not alone in the elevator going down in our office building:)