Back To The Field Museum – First Time After The Lockdown

On Saturday, I went to see the new Field Museum exhibit dedicated to Jane Goodall (and I took Igor and mom there as well). I was not sure till the last moment whether e should proceed with the plan: the forecast was rain and thunderstorm for the whole day. I went to clinic escort in the morning, and I meant to ask Igor to bring mom to the Loop by the time I will be done. But I was not sure about the rain. Miraculously, we managed almost to escape the worst of it, and I was really glad we did it! 

Mom said she does not remember anything about Jane Goodall. It was sad because her books were translated into Russian when I was a teen, and I remember both mom and I reading them and discussing them. I still remember the names of all of the apes, and I was delighted to see them “in person”. Mom said she would look her up in Russian, and I hope she will. I loved this exhibit a lot; also, I got a chance to show both Igor and mom the Apsaalooke Women and Warriors exhibit, which I got a chance to see right before the lockdown.

Here are some pictures from the Jane Goodall exhibit:

Continue reading “Back To The Field Museum – First Time After The Lockdown”

The Soft Start

Friday was my “soft start” in the new company. I needed to start before July 1 to be eligible for medical coverage starting from August 1. It will still be three weeks on no coverage, but at least I will be insured for the next stage of my dental work.

First, Chad wanted me to “start” on June 30 and not bill eight hours of my work. But I told him that since we have “summer Fridays,” and I still have some unused PTO, I can just take half-Friday off and come to his office and make a full workday. It ended up being a great idea since it turned out their HR will be off the week before the holidays. So on Friday, I submitted all my paperwork and was onboarded. I had a badge to enter the building even earlier, so now it’s funny that I work at two places simultaneously. I joked with Boris that now there is no way back, “the marriage certificate is issued,” and Boris told me there was no way back a long time ago.

I am not saying it’s pure joy. I need to do a lot of convincing work with my new coworkers and my new boss, but I am ready for that. I know that I need to understand how exactly my work impacts the company’s financial prosperity. And I love that feeling when the SQL you deployed in production yesterday affects today’s bottom line πŸ™‚

The Dining Room

On Sunday, I assembled the last two IKEA storage units in the dining room, moved to the guest bedroom the units which were there temporarily, and finally put all the things at their designated locations. Also, back on Friday, John and Anna took a bookshelf that I didn’t need anymore to my mom’s house. That way, finally, the last room in my new house started to look like I wanted it to look.

And you know what? I felt pretty depressed for a while, and every day, I told Boris that I am not sure what’s the primary cause of that: is it the old house, the job situation, or something else. And the moment I cleared the dining room, I realized that my primary source of depression is gone!

Another Rant About Things Falling Apart

Although I found an emergency AC service on Friday, I could not get anybody to come out right away. The service I got connected to told me they could come on Saturday around 11 AM. I said – sure, but later I realized that we would be at Aquarium and texted them asking to come after 3 PM. In fact, we were back by 1 PM, and then the AC people only came at 3-30PM, while we could not go anywhere. I am happy that the AC was fixed, but we lost all this afternoon time – we didn’t go to the beach one more time or to the playground. The actual repair also took a long time. I knew that this AC unit was old, and I know that I will need to replace it in spring, but I want the old unit to last through the season.

The issue was the same as last time – the leakage. They patched the tubes like how the bike’s inner tubes are patched; only it cost way more!

The 11 feet ceilings and the powerful fans helped us survive the night, but it was still not fun to be at home without AC with 84F outside. It’s so frustrating that I already had HVAC failures multiple times within just five weeks since I moved!

Loyola Beach Wall Paintings

Last Friday, I was so busy going things with Anna’s family that I completely ignored the event that was happening very close to my home: the Wall painting at Loyola Beach! Fortunately, Igor documented it pretty well, so I am going to use his photos and comments from his Flickr album, so I am copying his description here:

Rogers Park’s Loyola Beach has this structure right where the park ends and the beach starts. I’ve always called this structure “the steps,” because it looks more like a step on a staircase than a wall, but it is officially a sea wall.

Since 1993. Rogers Park residents have been invited to paint that wall. Loyola Park Advisory Council started the whole thing becauseΒ they didn’t like the graffiti (gang and otherwise)Β that used to cover it. While I’ve heard it described as sort of pure expression of creativity, but because one has to pay for the right to paint at one of the 160 slots, the whole thing is really more a fundraiser for Loyola PAC that happens to involve making the wall look pretty.

Normally, the wall would get repainted once a year, but the COVID-19 obviously kiboshed the 2020 session. I honestly kind of assumed that Loyola PAC would leave the 2019 murals up until 2022, so I was surprised when I stopped by the beach three weeks ago and saw the wall completely bleached. I checked the Loyola PAC’s website and discovered that, yep, they will be repainting. While normally, it would all be done in one day, it was split over three days, on June 18-20, to give artists room to socially distance.

This isn’t a perfect before-and-after set, because I lost my photos of 2019 murals to a corrupted SD card, I kind of rushed through the beach on Friday and I didn’t check the past photos on Saturday and Sunday. But, at the very least, this will give you a view of this year’s painted murals and some of the behind-the-scenes stuff. I’ve been visiting Loyola Beach for the past 11 years or so, so I got to see many versions of the wall murals, but I never got to see it painted, so that was kind of neat.

As for me, my absolute favorite is that one:

And some other I liked:

But I will come back to see the rest!

A Visit To Shedd Aquarium

On Saturday, we all went to Aquarium.Β 

For many years, I had a family Aquarium membership, but when the kids were grown up and gone, I witched to the individual one, occasionally bargaining for a pair of extra free tickets. When I realized in May that the Aquarium is reopening and that now it would be much easier for Anna’s family to visit, I decided to upgrade the membership back to the Family level. My individual membership expiration date was September 30, and I was sure it wouldn’t be a problem to upgrade earlier.

It turned out that it was a big problem! There was no way to pro-rate the membership. There were only two options: either to pay the full year of upgraded memberships right away, only for it to expire on September 30, or to wait till September 30 and upgrade then. I could not even “annul” the current membership because “two memberships at the same time are not allowed.” An additional complication was that they already took my money before realizing that they can’t do what I asked them to do :).

I was on the calls with them four times until I finally decided to take the September 30 upgrade. Also, they gave me two complimentary adult tickets and ticketed Nadia as a Chicago resident πŸ™‚

That way, on Saturday, we all went to Aquarium pretty much for free:).

It was so-so-so good to be in Aquarium after such a long break!

Continue reading “A Visit To Shedd Aquarium”

On The Positive Side: My Old House

When Anna and I were out for drinks and dessert on Friday night, I received a call from my realtor.

After the first week on the market, I asked him to bring the asking price of the house 10K down, which he did. All of a sudden, there were way more showings but no offers. After ten days of such development, I texted Mark to the effect of “what we are doing wrong.” The next day he called me with some questions and said that he thinks there will be an offer and maybe two. But again, nothing happened. On Friday night, he finally called to let me know that we have an offer for the asked price.

I e-signed the acceptance on Saturday, and by Tuesday, everything was pretty much settled. Knock on wood; I will close on July 30!

On The Positive Side: The Birthday Party

Believe it or not, but the presents arrived at 5-30, Anna and & Family returned from the beach at the same time, and Igor and mom came shortly after. I locked myself in my bedroom to wrap the presents while my mom tried to get in and ask whether the presents arrived :).
I’ve got a dozen plastic cups filled with cherries and made two fruit bowls, and secured the candles “1” and “4” in the respective bowls.

The party turned out amazing. I was just thinking about the water balloons, but the neighbor kids were ahead of me and had a whole bucket of them ready:)

There was a balloon fight, and I told them it’s OK to throw balloons at me (I needed to cool down:)). Igor also offered himself as a target, and John smashed water balloons in his fist and threw them back. Also, one of the party items I bought out of desperation appeared to be the greatest hit: the tiny tubes of sparkling body gels! The girls covered themselves in sparkles, and I let them paint all parts of my body not covered with clothes πŸ™‚

Then, a neighbor who is a mother of three girls observed the battleground covered with tiny colorful pieces of rubber and suggested the contest: who will pick up most of the pieces will get the prize! The girls rushed to all corners of the courtyard, and in a matter of minutes, the courtyard was clean. We decided that the race was tight, and everybody got an extra cupcake πŸ™‚

How Many Things Can Go Wrong :)

I will try to catch up on all the things that happened since Thursday because I had no time to write about anything.

It was a birthday week for both of my granddaughters; Kira turned one on Jun 15, and Nadia turned four on Jun 19. The plan was that all the family would come on Thursday afternoon, we would spend the rest of the day on the beach. Then, we planned tons of activities for Friday and Saturday, and we had tons of fun, although the record number of things went wrong:)

First, due to several reasons, they left later, and then hit the rush hour traffic and then came to my place too late to go to the beach.

Nadia, Anna, and I went to the beach on Friday morning while John stayed at home and Kira had her nap, and the beach was awesome. We came to the beach a little bit after nine and were among the first visitors. The water warmed up during the previous several days, and a little bit later, it warmed up even more.
We spent more than two hours at the beach, and Nadia still didn’t want to go home.

After that, things started to fall apart. We planned a birthday party in the courtyard, and I sent an email to the neighbors to come and celebrate with us on Friday at 6-45. One thing I can’t bake is cupcakes, so I ordered mini cupcakes from Vanille Chicago, my favorite patisserie (I blogged a lot about them previously). It turned out that now that I live in the city, I can order delivery, and delivery is free for orders over $50! Yay! I ordered delivery on Thursday because we didn’t plan to be at home most of the day on Friday, and that was the only thing that went perfectly well – the cupcakes were delivered to my doorsteps when promised, and they were flawless.

I ordered both my and mom’s presents from IKEA because they have the best toys ever, and I did it two and a half weeks in advance. They said the parcel would be delivered on Monday, June 14, but it was not, and nothing appeared on Tuesday. On Wednesday, they sent me tracking information with delivery by the end of day Wednesday. The next morning, they changed it for delivery by the end of Thursday, and you guess what happened then… Now, the question was whether the presents will arrive before the party…
In addition, Anna realized that she forgot all the party supplies at home, so we had to buy something instead. I wanted to maximize their time at the beach, so I insisted that I go to Target and pick up the party supplies. Anna told me what she had in mind, but Target was almost out of everything. I spent some time figuring out what I should buy instead (everything worked great in the end), and then I walked to the CTA station thinking whether I should go to Jewel Osco or go back and join the family at the beach. Suddenly, I saw the message from my ecobee saying that my air condition seems not operating properly, which meant that I had to go home and see what’s up.

It turned out that the A/C was indeed not working, which was a problem with 84F outside and having five people and one dog sleeping in the house. Also, my co-worker who lives nearby just texted me that he is coming to visit and see the girls.

I returned home, let him in, and called the Heating and A/C service, which we used before. It was already after 4 PM and Friday, and I knew they do not work after-hours and weekends, so when they didn’t return my call, I realized I needed to find an emergency service.

So here I was, at 5 PM, googling the emergency AC repair, having Anna & Family at the beach, my co-worker in my house, presents didn’t arrive, my mom and Igor calling and asking when they can come, party supplies not unpacked and dinner for seven people not even started, not even mentioning the fruit plates which I planned to make for the girls instead of the birthday cupcakes!