1967: A Field Trip To Oranienbaum

Sometimes, mom would take me to one of the Palace Museums. Since Saint – Petersburg used to be the capital of the Russian Empire, the were multiple summer residencies of the royal family and grand dukes. And even though Leningrad was not the capital of the Soviet Union, the palaces were still there, and almost all of them were turned into museums. If you read into the history of WWII, and specifically about the Seige of Leningrad, you will learn that most of these palaces were literally burnt to the ground. The majority of them were carefully restored in their original glory, but no matter how authentic these palaces looked, that was not the original work of the 18th century.

However, one of these summer residences was not ruined, or the warfare damage was minor. I am talking about the original Alexander Menshikov’s mansion, Oranienbaum, which was renamed Lomonosov in an attempt to exclude the German names from the Soviet toponymic. After Menshikov, several other Russian royalties owned the place, and more palaces were erected nearby.

Due to several strategic reasons, these palaces suffered only minor damage during WWII. In the end, this didn’t help preserve the architectural masterpieces – the campus is located further from the city than other summer palaces, so its maintenance was deprioritized. 

Fortunately, Sosnovaya Polyana is approximately halfway between Saint-Petersburg and Oranienbaum, so it was a shorter trip for us. On the other hand, the palaces didn’t look as grand as in Peterhoff, and most of the time, there were fewer tourists and shorter lines to enter museums. 

I loved the park and the palaces, especially the one called “Sledding hill” (Katalnaya Gorka). The name is charming, and the palace is small and elegant. 

Sharing a bench with a cat
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Glenwood Avenue Arts Fest

Another interesting event that happened last weekend was Glenwood Avenue Arts Fest. Since that’s my first year in Rogers Park, I was not aware of the scale of this event. Next year, I will be better prepared and will allocate more time to attend, including enough of night time! Granted, I had tons of things happening that weekend, but I still could plan it better! (FYI – I still ended up going twice!)

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Aquarium Member Night

On Tuesday, there was a member night in the Aquarium. There were two days to choose from, August 24 and 27, and I’ve realized that I won’t be able to make it on August 27, because my family is coming for our big weekend. When I signed up there was not much information about what would happen during the member’s night. I just knew that there wouldn’t be an aquatic presentation and that there will be no speeches:), and there will be no banquet. The entry was timed, and I thought it would be just an opportunity to see the exhibit without the crowd.

I took mom with me because she didn’t go when I want with Anna & her family.

It turned out that the Aquarium came up with the program just hours before it started, and I didn’t even look at my personal emails! Still, I was able to figure out what we can do and in which sequence.

Mom was pretty much like a child, which was good in this case. It was the first time in her life that she saw the 4D movies, and she loved it, although she said that it was a little bit too much stimulation for her.

The ending of the night was a little bit dramatic. When we headed out, we saw that the terrible thunderstorm we expected earlier had finally started. And it was terrible indeed! There was no way we could get out; no umbrella could keep us dry!

So we turned back to the museum and went to the cafe to have dinner. I was hoping to see the rain calming doing, but that didn’t happen. So we asked the staff which exit will be the most convenient for Uber pickup and headed out. We were lucky to get an amazing driver who was from Rogers Park herself, so we talked all the way :). And then she said that there is no way I could walk home from mom’s place, so she pulled up and waited till I walked mom to her apartment, and then added my stop to the ride:)

But regardless, it was a great event. I think that the Aquarium staff went above and beyond to make it a memorable experience. ANd I was so glad to see that there were many kids attending!

Summertime in 1967

Looking at the pictures of my granddaughters taken by their multiple living relatives, I can’t stop comparing the summer Nadia has now with my summer of 1967 when I was the same age.
Yes, once again – no pictures for the whole year. Apparently, nobody thought that something interesting is going on in my life and people’s life in general.

My mom worked. My father was mostly out of the picture. Nanny Katia watched me and took me on the Neva River and to the Bobrinsky Garden. My aunt and great aunt read books to me, and in summer, I was again at Sosnovaya Polyana, my last summer with Baba Ania. Mom says that Baba Ania already had a stroke earlier that year, and the left side of her body already didn’t function properly, so she had to manage with one hand. But I remember nothing of it. When my mom or my father come, there were pictures.

On my grandparents bed – the only real bed in the apartment

I was obsessed with Indians. A children’s comic books series, Cheerful Pictures featured a group of diverse characters, including the Indian Chief Va-a-tu-re. He was the best, and I loved all about him. There was no way for me to replicate his costume, but mom helped me decorate myself with small tree branches, flowers, and leaves and make my silhouette resemble the one of Va-a-tu-re

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My Twins Are 30!

Can you imagine how I feel about this???

They will be all in town on Sunday, and that’s when we will celebrate their Big Birthday. I will hold off with the lengthy post till then – I want to add the most recent pictures. However, I posted about their birthday on the Instagram, because I wanted to mark the actual day, and here is a copy of that post:

There are nine pictures to scroll ๐Ÿ™‚

The Lake. Yes, One More Time :)

I continue to develop my relationships with the Lake. And finding the moments when I can genuinely connect with it. Each time I am at Loyola beach, I can’t believe how lucky I am. That’s one of the least anticipated things in my big move and a big change in my life.

Boris told me he does not understand what’s the point of being on the beach. He would rather swim in the pool (Olympic size), and he would rather not be in the sun at all.
For me, the beach experience means having it all at once: having the Lake close by, listening to its sounds, immersing myself into its waters, feeling the surface of the Earth under my back, and most importantly, the sense of “letting it all go.”

The fewer people around – the better, but surprisingly often, I feel this connection even with many people around. In the moments like this, other beachgoers become a part of what makes the Lake so special.
The beach is very crowded on hot days, and sometimes I feel that I should let other people enjoy it – for those who do not have central air conditioning (and there are plenty in our neighborhood), being close to the water is almost a necessity. They say around here that the beach is our common backyard, and ain’t we all so lucky to have it?!

Being close to the Lake was not on my checklist when I was looking for my new home, so I consider it to be pure luck that I ended up here ๐Ÿ™‚
On Friday, I came to the beach at 7:03 PM, and it was the most perfect unwinding I could imagine. I laid on the sand, and the seagulls were flying over me, cicadas were louder than ever, the night was warm, the air was silky,

Thank you to those above us for creating Lake Michigan, creating August, and making the air velvety on this perfect night. And may we have many more nights like this.
Seriously, I can’t get enough of them

Recent Books Reviews

The Eating Instinct.

I finished this book a while ago, but I am still unsure what I think about it. It is challenging for a book to stand out among millions of books about foods, dieting, and all related. And this book stands out. Having a child who stopped eating altogether in infancy after a serious health threat gives the author has a very personal perspective on a topic. After being through such a traumatic experience, nobody would be able to go as we all do with “calorie count,” “good foods,” etc.

The great thing this book does is returning you to the basics: food is not evil. You should enjoy food; it’s not a crime. Another important thing is that this book shows that one can eat a very limited variety of foods and still be healthy. I do not believe in “miracle foods,” and I do not believe that there are some “evil” foods, and I am glad that this book supports my point of view. However, it is hard for me to agree with the idea that you should not do anything with your eating habits, that any regulation of your food intake is bad.

I think that we can’t expect our eating instinct to be all “natural” when the lifestyle most humans live is not exactly “natural.” Since I moved to the city three months ago and started life without a car, I can feel how much my new lifestyle is better for my health. The moves are naturally embedded in my everyday life; it’s not “exercising,” it’s “living.” And with this new lifestyle, I do not have a pressing need as I had before to count calories and the number of steps per day.

Many people live differently, and many people objectively can’t “exercise 60 min a day”. I do not think that “do nothing” about your eating habits is a good idea. And although I strongly dislike the
the word “dieting,” I think that a person can change how they eat and not feel deprived.

Sure I will be your black friend,

This book disappointed me. Based on the reviews, I was anticipating something deeper, if not more analytical, at least more thoughtful. I expected conversations about common stereotypes, which were hinted at by the names of the chapters. The book ended up being just another autobiography (for at least 90% of it).
In addition, while I was reading this book, the question continued to pop up: how all the people the author mentions reacted? It is true for any autobiography, but when a book is written by an older person, it’s easier to “abstract” from the characters inhabiting the book and to think about them as somebody in the past. But in that case, the author is young, and he writes about events that happened just a couple of years ago, or even later. I would not like to be any of these people he writes about! Even if there are no bad things said.


I was escorting today after almost a month of not escorting. That’s because we now have to skip two weeks after any out-of-state travel, so I had to skip after Michigan, and then I Lena was visiting. 

Today I was finally back. 

It was quiet first, but then we got three young priests with a large group of school-age kids. I do not think all of them were high-schoolers; some didn’t look older than eleven.

So they line up and pray, and each woman who goes to the clinic and comes back has to march through this corridor of human bodies. One of the priests even got into a verbal fight with one of the escorts. He said that he does not know what a bubble zone is and that we speak to him in an unacceptable tone. 

He didn’t sound like a Christian to me! Cardinal Cupich is a far better person! I don’t know on which assembly line such “priests” are produced!

At some point, a patient came out of the clinic doors and stopped in hesitation. I told her that I could walk her through this line of prayers. She turned to me: but whatย areย those people? What are they trying to achieve?

–They are trying to tell you and others that you are committing a sin..

–Oh, they are! I already have three children, and my husband passed away a year and a half ago; why should I bring one more child into this world? They won’t be around when the baby comes; I would have to do it on my own.

The Health Coverage

Mom received the approval letter for the Illinois Health Choice program, and I still can’t believe it’s all over! Too good to be true.

It was a ridiculously complicated process, and if it weren’t for Igor, nothing would happen.

From the first day in the US, mom used Access To Care, which is a charity to provide routine healthcare for those who, for any reason, are not eligible for Medicaid. or any other insurance. This program operates in Northwest suburban Cook county. When I told mom’s doctor that we are moving, she said they also cover Evanston and Rogers Park. But it turned out that our zip code is not eligible, and we had to look for alternatives.

After some research, Igor found that program mom could be eligible for: the program for older immigrants who spent less than 5 years in the US and are not yet eligible for Medicare. 

 I tried to submit my mom’s application online. Still, I got weird errors, and I had no time to continue during work hours when we could get customer assistance. 

So Igor spent two hours of his time to complete and submit her application. Later, however, she received a letter that they need her proff of income and some other proof of her status. With her income, it was interesting because we could only provide a statement from a Russian bank (in rubles), but that was all we had. Not relying on the mail, Irog went to their office and dropped the copies.

A week passed, and nobody called back. When a financial counselor from the emergency room called me, I explained the situation. She said she would follow up with the office. Only after that, the Health office called me back and asked what roubles mean and what’s the exchange rate!  

Ten days later, mom got yet another letter asking for proof of status. Since we already sent it twice, I called the office and left a message. They returned my call the next day, looked through mom’s file, and said: oh yes, she has everything! And proof of residence! You

are all good. 

So what it was, I have no idea, but yesterday, mom finally received a welcome letter! She has a doctor assigned, and this doctor is a ten-minute walk from her home! And this State program is tons better than what she had before!