More Home Movies

I just received the digitized versions of two more home movies. I will need to write in more detail about their contents, but I short: they were filmed by my mom in summer 1975 when we went on a railway cruise through Ukraine.

I will need to spend some time identifying all the places. The trip started in Kyiv, continued in Lviv, then there is should be some footage from different places in the Carpathian mountains, Chernovcy, and Odessa.

The quality of the footage is really bad, there was something stuck to the camera lense, but it is what it is.

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.

Lots Of Presents

What else about Christmas? There was a lot of cooking and a lot of washing dishes, as I already mentioned. And there were presents. 

Nadia spent a lot of time coloring the wooden ornaments, and then she packed them for different people. It was great to see that she already understands the joy of giving.


I was very happy with the presents I picked for my granddaughters. I got insider information from Anna that Nadia thinks that Baba will give her ice skates for Christmas. I was happy to follow up :).

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Christmas In Milwaukee

“On Christmas Eve in the morning” I tried to get out of the house quickly and prepared the breakfast tray the night before. And guess what – the sideboard broke, and my breakfast ended up on the floor, the fruits, and milk,,and everything mixed!
Boarding the Hiawatha Train
It was not on purpose!
Kitchen assignment: all Russian traditional salads
I love this picture, but the background situation was a non-working dishwasher, which created extra work with eleven people in the house to be very problematic, even with the single-use plates!
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The story behind the mural that got painted in Austin, Chicago last summer

I ended up doing this article because, back in November, a week before Thanksgiving, I was taking the bus past the intersection of Chicago and Laramie avenues and noticed a large, bright mural on the building at the northeast corner intersection that definitely wasn’t there back in June. I noticed the name of the artist – the iconic Chicago muralist Rahmaan “Statik” Barnes – and tried to reach out to him. It took a few weeks to successfully pitch the things and get in touch with Barnes, but I filed the article December 9.

A very truncated version of the article was published in print, in the December 15 issue of Austin Weekly News, but, as of this writing, it never showed up online. Since I thought that the print version lost some pretty interesting parts, and since it doesn’t officially exist online in any form, I decided to post the article as submitted.

A bit of a side note. When I was trying to take a picture below, the group of Black teens who were hanging out nearby weren’t exactly happy to see a white guy with a camera. But when I persuaded them that I wasn’t there to photograph them, they offered me weed.

Continue reading “The story behind the mural that got painted in Austin, Chicago last summer”

Last Days Before Christmas

On Wednesday, I took a half-day off, having plans to do my haircut in Palatine, visit my former neighbor, and meet with my other Palatine friend with whom we did the forest preserve volunteering.

First, my hairstylist texted me that she tested positive for COVID. I know that it can happen with anybody, but I felt that this was unfair to her because she was vaccinated and boosters, and she was always so careful! She got it light, thanks to the vaccine, but obviously, we had to cancel my appointment.

I thought – OK, I will have more time with my friends, and we even made an ambitious plan to go to the forest preserve, but you won’t believe it! The car got stuck on the tracks just to stations from Palatine, and we spent almost an hour not moving!

We still had a good conversation, but it felt very unfair once again!

On the bright side – I texted my hairstylist that I would mail her the cookies I would have given her in person. I had no expectations regarding their arrival time, but miraculously, the priority mail was delivered the next day, as if it was not the Christmas season.

I finished packing, helped mom assemble goody bags for all adults with whom we would celebrate Christmas. I also gave my neighbors cookies, did a couple of other last-minute things, and ended up going to bed after midnight for several days straight again.

Then’ we had very busy but beautiful Christmas Eve and Christmas Day with Anna’s family, and now I am back, and I’ve been smiling non-stop for the past two days!

my neighborhood just before Christmas

Cultural Activities

I made almost all Christmas shows I would ever want to make this holiday season, except for the Nutcracker. The Christmas Carol closed for several because of the exposure in the cast, but they are back on stage.

The vaccination requirements for pretty much all indoor spaces go into effect on January 3, and I hope that it will go like this without closing everything. In Finland, they are closing theaters, pools, and gyms starting from Tuesday but still have libraries open, as my friend informed me.

I hope that in Chicago we will be able to keep things open with vaccine mandate and avoid massive closing and going remote!

Coffee Countdown

Great pre-Christmas gift from my friend! I love flavored coffee, and it is so difficult to find flavor with no sweetness!

The only problem is boldness or absence of it. I do not understand how you can possibly make 8-10 cups from this packet. I started from 4 cups, and it turned out that I needed to make only three cups out of one package for the correct strength. Which is pretty much what I have for breakfast, so the problem was resolved 🙂

So – What Happened?

It has been three weeks with EDB for me and four weeks since I left my previous job. In private conversations, I was pretty open about why I left my previous job, being there for less than half a year – the shortest tenure in my professional life.

My peers who are not very close to me reacted to my new position without giving it a second thought, just commenting, “you belong there.” But my close friends knew how excited I was to start with my previous company and how I was saying to everybody that I dreamed about working with this person again for the past ten years. They wondered what had happened.

In short: they started to be rude and disrespectful to me. Multiple issues started almost from the first day of my employment, varying from the business model to specific technical solutions. But none of it would rise to a tipping point. I always expected and welcomed productive discussions, especially with smart people – when it would be indeed a discussion, not humiliation. It took me a while to come to terms with the fact that those were not isolated incidents, and it was not like I said something wrong or did something wrong. It took me a while to stop finding excuses, thinking that a person may be stressed out and that it was my fault that I didn’t remember or didn’t understand what I was told to do. It was very difficult to initiate conversations when the other party did not express any desire to talk; it was very difficult to ask a simple question: why you treat me differently now?

Finally, when I said: you are yelling at me! I got a reply: yes, I yell at you because you are not listening to me! And “because” was a pivotal word. There can’t be any “because,” there is no justification for yelling at people.

I reached out to my friend who wanted me to join his organization for many years and told him that I was available if he still wanted me. And then things moved fast. The conversations I had were about which department I should go to. Since I wanted to move fast, I went to the department with immediate openings. Three and a half weeks after our first conversation, I received a written offer and resigned immediately. It was Wednesday before the Thanksgiving. On Monday, I came to the office to drop off my laptop and pick up my stuff.

Theoretically, I had a week off between two jobs, but practically I had no time. On December 1, I went to the conference, and that day was my first day with the new company. I had to redo my presentation to have the new company template, and I had to do a million HR-related things. Also, I didn’t have a proper onboarding – it started a week later, and my new laptop arrived only on the sixth day of my employment, all this with cookies and cards in between :).

I was hesitant to write about all of this, but then I decided that somebody should talk about emotional abuse in the workplace. At least, somebody should start this conversation. I am incredibly sorry that I lost the professional relationships so important to me for many years. I am sad that things didn’t play the way I was hoping for. But I am also glad that I was not stuck in this situation. It’s amazing how many people do nothing finding themselves in similar situations and resolve just “to survive.” I hope that my story will encourage others not to put up with such situations.

Christmas In Finland

I nearly forgot to post the news that Santa (Joulupukki) left his workshop in the village of  Korvatunturilta in Lapland and is on his way to distributing presents to children in Finland and the rest of the world. And here is the true footage from yesterday.

Also, here is a story about how Santa Claus became a resident of Finland, and also a lot about Finnish Christmas traditions – some of it was news to me!