A Lost Silent Movie Rediscovered

The Siskel Film Center had a special event today, and Igor and I thought it would be a great way to celebrate Igor’s birthday. 

This special event was a screening of the lost and recently rediscovered silent film “The First Degree.” It turned out that today was National Silent Movie Day, so it all came together perfectly.

Here is a story of how this film was rediscovered. Please take time to read the whole blog of the Chicago Film Archives – it’s totally worth reading!

I didn’t know that the majority of the silent movies are lost forever and that often, the studios themselves would destroy the negatives. And it’s very interesting what they say about “rural melodrama” and the fact that this film is geared towards the male audience. 

Unseen for 97 years, it’s a real gem. And the live score!!! How can you beat that?!

It was the only screening of this movie, but I hope the Siskel Center will add more later!


I am going to Helsinki. Yes, after Boris and I decided that we are not making these super-short trips anymore, first he came for three days, and now I am going there for three and a half days. A perfect illustration of all these discussions about “whether there can be love after 40.” Or 50. Or whatever 🙂

As it always happens when I travel in the fall, I can’t wrap my head around the fact that I need to dress warmly. When Boris said that I needed gloves, I was like “what gloves? why gloves? what are gloves? and anyway, I still wear sandals!” I can’t get a feeling of how it is going to be when it is 45F outside.

And actually, I just checked, and now the weather forecast says it’s going to be 56F, not 45F. I think I can leave gloves at home 🙂

In Milwaukee With Anna & Family

I spent most of the last weekend with Anna & family in Milwaukee. There was no special occasion, not big plans – we just wanted to get together. 

Also, after a long wait and anticipation, I was finally able to take Amtrak to Milwaukee. It’s tons better than it used to be taking the Van Galder bus to Madison! The ride is about 1.5 hours and very comfortable, with WiFi and electric plugs by every seat 🙂

The thing I enjoyed most was the water quality monitoring. Anna is involved with the Milwaukee Riverkeeper project, and she asked me whether I would like to go with her and Nadia to do the measurements. 

It was so interesting! She has a whole case of scientific instruments and chemical reagents and the instruction book from the program. The monitoring includes measuring the water temperature, transparency, oxygen level, and more. 

I enjoyed this experience on many levels: 1) it is super cool that volunteers can participate in a real scientific project, 2) it is so important for the environment 3) I enjoyed doing something important together with Anna and Nadia 4) I was in a forest preserve, which I really miss!

I need to figure out how to get out to nature even when I am in the city!

A Gift Of Prairie

On Saturday, my friend with whom we didn’t meet for a very long time visited me, and I am so happy we reunited:). Many objective circumstances brought us apart, including her move pretty far away from Palatine, but also, we were not really trying to get together.

Sometimes, when you do not see a person for a long time, you meet, and you feel so grown apart from each other that you can’t even imagine that you were ever close. That was not the case. Somehow I felt that we were evolving in the same direction, and we share the same values, possibly even more than before.

She brought me a wonderful gift. She is growing wildflowers by her home, and she brought me a piece of prairie, the only thing I possibly miss after moving to Rogers Park.

It was huge, and at first I could not find a proper vase for it, so it sat in a watering can
I had to cut the stems to fit it into the biggest vase I have

I hope that we won’t loose touch anymore, and will find the ways to see each other more often!

Mom In Saint-Petersburg

Mom has four more days left in Saint Petersburg. In the past week, most things were sorted out. My friends Olga and Irina help her every day with pretty much everything: calling the cab, calling the plumber to fix the leaking pipes, taking her to her COVID test, and to the cemeteries to visit her relatives’ graves, making sure her test results are loaded to the government website and accompanying her to the bank, and I can’t even enumerate all the ways they helped! Nothing will be possible without them!

The last thing which was fixed was the heating in mom’s apartment, so now it’s not 45 degrees inside, but closer to 70.

It does not look like she will meet with any of her friends, although originally, she said that it was her goal. That’s why she didn’t want to go in July – she said everybody would be at dachas. Instead, she goes over her stuff, which is not a bad thing. Irina takes to the dumpster bags and bags of things that nobody needs. It is possible that when mom is back, she will be telling me that she could not meet with her friends because I didn’t allow her to use public transportation. I will do my best not to argue with her about that :). Most importantly, she got her new credit card, and she filed all the paperwork so that she wouldn’t need to come back when there would be time for a new credit card.


There were several days when the overnight temperature fell below 60F, and finally, my apartment was cold enough for a heater to kick in. It happened during the night, and in the morning, I smelled a hint of burning oil, just a little bit. It felt like the house was surprised to receive a command from the Ecobee to turn the heat on:)

I really-really-REALLY love my condo! It feels so good to come back home. I love every little thing about it; yes, there are still a couple of minor things with light fixtures, which still have to be resolved, and the parts don’t come due to the worldwide production crisis. But they are so minor that I can live with them :).

The Chicago Symphony Opens The Season

It’s late, and I should go to bed right away, but I have to say something about today’s concert. The whole week was a week of openings of the season: first the Lyric last Friday, then the Music of Baroque on Monday, and today, it was Chicago Symphony – maestro Muti reunited with his orchestra.

It was the best thing in this season so far. Even the way they played a National Anthem at the beginning of the concert, my friend Geri and I agreed that it was incredibly moving. Maestro Muti talked to the audience in the beginning. He said he had to prepare a celebratory speech, but he couldn’t find the right words “because English was not his native language.” In reality, he was very emotional, and his hands trembled when he was holding a mike. He talked about the past pandemic and how musicians suffered because they could not talk to the world. He said that we all were there not just to listen to the music but also to interact with the orchestra. And also, he said that music is inclusive, there is a place for everybody, and “those how is saying all this garbage … it’s just garbage!” Everybody laughed: he said in before conducting a piece by Florence Price 🙂

The pictures below were taken before people started to come in, and later there was a full house. I think my friend has more; if that’s the case, I will share them.

Open Door Shelter

I was in the youth shelter on Tuesday. This time, the volunteer coordinator asked me whether I would do the “make your own pizza” activity with the youth.

I didn’t make my own pizza for twenty years, but I realized right away what a fun activity it could be. I quickly googled all the proportions which I already forgot and supplemented them with my pizza-making memories.

Everything went fabulous, and apparently, seven pizzas were not enough :).
It was very touching that the youth thanked me, though it was nothing about me this time around. And closer to the end of the activity one young woman told me: you should come here every day! I told her that I was very touched, and if I had seven lives, one of these lives would be devoted to coming to the shelter every night…

My Grandma’s Birthday.

As I already mentioned here, Baba Anya died on my father’s birthday. And one of the good things which come from my mom’s visit to Saint Petersburg is that she was able to visit her parent’s grave.

My friend went with her and helped her to get a cab, and to find a grave, and to clean up. And she also sent me a picture.

Pictures With My Father: Summer 1967

Yesterday was my father’s birthday. He would be ninety-three if he were alive.
I drafted this post two weeks ago but was putting it off. I thought that I would be finally able to write more about all the complexity of our relationships, but it looks like I am not ready yet. So let this post be yet another set of pictures from summer 1967.

I posted about that summer before. I spent it in Sosnovaya Polyana with my grandparents. My mom was going to work in the city every day and would return late in the evening. My father was showing up from time to time.

Looking at these pictures, I remember that he was trying to make it special. He called that pine at the edge of the forest “a magic pine.” I forgot how exactly he was trying to convince me of its magic powers, but it could supposedly grant some of my wishes. He referred to the “magic pine” long after, and I still remember how it looked and felt, and I remember visiting it years after.

My historical posts are being published in random order. Please refer to the page Hettie’s timeline to find where exactly each post belongs, and what was before and after.