So It Was The Last Summer Weekend

That’s – last weekend. I am so glad that after returning from Finland I still caught several summer days. It was 47F when I left the house this morning, and I believe it’s the first day of the season when the temperature would stay in the 50s for the whole day. So, a week later – my last summer morning of 2021 🙂

Fighting The Food Deserts

Friday was our company day at the Austin Harvest. On Tuesday, our HR sent out the driving/parking directions and asked to “let her know if anybody does not have transportation.” I messaged her that I would take the Green line (even if I had a car, why I would drive South-West at 4 PM on Friday?!). She replied – OK, but later when I passed her desk she asked me: so, you are going to take CTA?… Oh, I was sure she would ask! I laughed and said: I was waiting for that question! No worries, I know how to ride CTA! I know how to ride the Green line! I know exactly why you asked, but let me assure you, I know how to be in Austin! And I reminded her what I told her previously about Igor and Austin weekly. She asked hopefully: is he going to be with you? I told her: maybe just to help me carry the produce, but with him or without, I know

I had mixed feelings about this conversation: it was w=very sweet of her to ask, but it is so sad that there was a reason to ask. Actually, there were two reasons, and both are the sad ones: about the situation in Austin in general, and about “people who do not ride the Green Line.” 

In any case, on Friday, we met up with Igor and went to the Austin Harvest, and we were the first ones there. And I bought $30 worth of produce (partially for Igor), exceeding the required $20 minimum purchase. Two gigantic bags of produce! I was very happy to support the initiative, but I wonder why they even need that kind of fundraising – it’s not like their prices are high, and it’s not like there is much competition around. In fact, there is no competition, which is why they opened the market in the first place. 

Here is an article about how and why Austin Harvest started. Now, they are planning to build a permanent space for the market, which will allow them to operate indoors in colder weather. Until then, the market is outdoor only and will be open until Thanksgiving. 

On the way back, Igor and I talked about the ways of reviving the neighborhoods. Austin is one of those that have a potential, and I am wondering what could become a turning point.

Joffrey Ballet Opening Of The Season

Joffrey Ballet has also returned to live performances! They opened their season on Wednesday with the show called “Home: A Celebration.” Now, they perform in the Lyric Opera House, I move that they’ve been looking forward. Now, we have Opera and Ballet at the same place, as it should be:)

There were fewer people in the audience than for the opening of the Lyric season. I am not sure why – do people care less about ballet? I mean, for the Lyric season-opening, the theater was packed, and on Wednesday, there were some gaps in the audience :)/ I enjoyed the performance from the first to the very last moment. It was brilliant!

I took mom to this performance. At first, I thought that she might start going on her usual “that’s not Kirov ballet.” Fortunately, she didn’t declare the superiority of the Russian/Soviet ballet and genuinely enjoyed the performance.
It was brilliant! The performance started from the revived Birthday variations on Verdi’s music. This piece was choreographed by one of Joffrey’s co-founders, Gerald Arpino, presenting classical ballet. The other three pieces are contemporary, and they are soul and mind-blowing! I do not have words to describe them!
I was hoping that there would be some videos on Joffrey’s website, but unfortunately, I found only one very short video. Hopefully, more videos will be awailable later!

I am copying the descriptions from the digital program notes:

Birthday Variations, choreographed
by Joffrey co-founder Gerald Arpino
with music by Giuseppe Verdi, was
commissioned in 1986 by Becky D’Angelo
as a birthday present to her husband Dino,
who owned Chicago’s Civic Opera House
(now the Lyric Opera House) and loved
Verdi’s music. This lively and melodic
ballet is considered one of Arpino’s most popular creations.

Swing Low, Sweet Chariot
Coming for to carry me home
Swing Low, Sweet Chariot
Coming for to carry me home
I looked over Jordan and what did I see
Coming for to carry me home
A band of angels coming after me
Coming for to carry me home
Inspired by the powerful American
spiritual Swing Low, Sweet Chariot,
Chanel DaSilva creates a visceral narrative
work for five men that investigates the
supernatural majesty of angels and the
many complexities of what it means to be
human. Set to the music of avant-garde cellist Zoë Keating.



Under the Trees’
Voices features
15 dancers
performing to
Symphony No. 2
by Italian
Ezio Bosso.
The performance
channels the
power of
community in
the age of social
distancing as well
as paying tribute
to an endangered
nature. In four
distinct sections,
Nicolas Blanc
imagines a future
of hope and unity.

Yoshihisa Arai envisions the lead role
in Boléro as a type of muse, evoking a
humanistic quality to the overall feeling
of the piece, leading their “disciples”
through a serene world of light and
shadows. The primary inspiration for
Boléro is the Spanish-flavored, orchestral
work of the same name by Maurice
Ravel. The famous one-movement score
is known for beginning softly and ending,
according to the composer’s instructions,
as loudly as possible. “To me, the most
fascinating quality of the music is that the
rhythm remains the same throughout the
piece and yet, as the instruments change
from snare drum to flute, trombone
to woodwinds, and so on, an array of
emotions are unleashed,” says Arial, This inspires me most of all”

Can You Choose Your House Buyer?

Some time ago, I had a conversation with one of my Instagram friends. She lives in Germany, and she was talking about people buying and selling houses there. She posted about the application process and how prospective buyers write essays just like you do when applying for college. They try to convince the seller why they are the best candidates for this acquisition.

I told my friend that in the US, things are different and that most of the time, the seller and the buyer do not know each other. She asked me whether, in my case, the association had a word in who would be the next owner, and I told her – no, I didn’t know anything about the association; it was all an extra bonus.

Then I thought about that difference, and I think it comes to the fact that we want to avoid unfair treatment. We all know that Black people are being approved for a mortgage at a lower rate than White, and you remember what I learned about my old house sale. Not knowing your buyer provides at least some assurance of objectivity.

Another aspect is a clear distinction between neighborhoods, which is especially pronounced in Chicago. I knew nothing about this association, but I knew that I was moving to Rogers Park, and this fact set the scene. For many people, it’s a desirable destination, but not for everybody.

Neighborhoods and not gated communities either. This year, there were a lot of changes in my condominium, and the veterans are excitedly saying that “now we have diversity.” Not that much, but at least there are people of different races and people speaking different languages. We shall see how things will turn, but I do not think we will ever get to the point of buyers’ essays 🙂


You know what? They really wait for people! I first noticed it when Boris and I were walking with Nadia to the Jarvis station. I was sure that we would miss the train, but it was still waiting for us when we got up on the platform. I attributed it to the fact that we had a small child with us, and it was Saturday when the trains run less frequently, but I was wrong.

On multiple occasions, the train waited for me when I was close enough to the station so that the train operator could see me from above.. Each time it surprises me and makes me feel very grateful :). Today, there was a train running in the opposite direction, standing at our stop and blocking the view of the street. Granted, the folks on the train could not see me, and they took off just when I was almost on the platform!

Visiting Tallinn: The Ferry And More

On Tuesday, I took a day off, and Boris and I went to Tallinn for a day. Tallinn is a two-hour ferry ride away, and it’s one of the most beautiful places in the world if you ask me. Since the beginning of the pandemic, there were restrictions on travel within the EU to the non-EU nationals, but now I wanted to enjoy a newly acquired freedom: if you are vaccinated, you can go anywhere!

Another decisive factor was the option to get a rapid COVID test on the ferry- I still need it to enter the US, and that was, it was cheaper (39 euros) and fasted (no extra time). 

The ferry used to be pretty crowded, even off-season, but it’s not the case anymore. We decided to take a 7-30 AM ferry to Tallinn (9-30 AM arrival) and return on a 4-30 PM ferry. 

Of course, it was the only rainy day of all the days I stayed here! We knew about that forecast for a while, but I still needed my COVID test, so we decided not to change our plans. And the trip was amazing, even though it indeed started to drizzle shortly after 11 AM, and the rain became serious later in the day. But you know what – because of that we visited a fantastic maritime museum and spent some time in two of dozen tiny Tallinn cafes! 

For those of my friends who do not know yet: Boris lived in Tallinn until he was 15 (and then he moved to Leningrad to attend a specialized mathematical boarding school associated with the University). And the reason his family stayed in Tallinn was that his father was a Navy officer. This time, even more than before, we talked about how he and the adults around him felt back then in Estonia. 

That being said, he understands the Estonian language (although he does not actively speak it) and has a lot of cultural insights. Each time we go, I tell him that “that’s his city,” and although he says “not anymore,” I still insist on him deciding where we go and what we do. 

I do not know yet how many blog posts I will make out of this one day, but I am going to start 🙂

We left the house at 6 AM, because we wanted to walk to the terminal (the public transport does not run so often in the morning, and there is no direct route to the port).
We bought the tickets with breakfast, because it was too early to have breakfast at home anyway, and because there is no other place to sit on the ferry except for the cafes. The breakfast selection was outstanding, and I liked that all the food was of a really small size to I could try many different things
Continue reading “Visiting Tallinn: The Ferry And More”

Mom Is Back

Mom came back yesterday, and her journey back was way less stressful than the one in the opposite direction—less stress for her and me.
There were no issues with the wheelchair on the way back, and she was very pleased with the service. Moreover, the plane landed 40 min ahead of schedule, and there was almost no wait! I was late to pick her up because there were no trains on the Blue line for 25 minutes.
She said that she was “glad to be back alive,” but I have we didn’t talk much: it was 8 PM, she was tired and I needed to get home to finish my packing . Although my trip was going to be very short, I still needed to pack, and I didn’t have time to do it – none.

I am glad that mom is back safely, and I am immensely thankful for my friends Olga and Irina who helped mom with everything. One bad thing still happened – mom fall down on the street once, and almost fall down one more time. Irina blames herself for “not looking after her,” but honestly, it had happened many times already, and it does not matter whether she is alone or with somebody.

So far she is saying that she “has a lot to tell me” about her trip when I will come back. But knowing who she is these days, I won’t be surprised if she will end up not telling me any more details.

When we went out for dinner with Igor on the day after his birthday, I told him that I want to stop trying to explain anything to mom, and I should stop trying to explain things to her. It just makes her unhappy and she is not listening or rather she is not trying to understand what I am saying to her. I am going to try really hard just to listen – period.

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!