Egalia’s Daughters – A Book Review

I do not remember where I first saw this book (Egalia’s Daughters) mentioned, but I remember that a short description intrigued me, and I went to look for it. I found out that this book is not available neither as an audiobook nor as any type of e-book. After some hesitation, I decided to read a paper book ( the thing I didn’t do for a while). Although now my vision is much better than at the time when I stopped reading paper books and technically speaking, I can read them now, it was still a challenge. I excluded paper books from my life several years ago and could not find a place for them:). I purchased this book in July, and I thought I would make it a beach reading. But as I mentioned before, the beach time appeared so tranquilizing that I didn’t want to do anything at the beach, including the book reading. ‘s

Time passed, and I still could not go beyond the first hundred pages until I decided to take it to read on a plane. I read most of it on the flight to Helsinki and back, and after that, I used every spare minute to finish :). 

This book is brilliant. Just brilliant. I had never read anything like this before! If you try to describe this book in one sentence, it will be trivial like “gender-reversed,” but it’s so much more than that! Man wear skirts and obey their wives, and wives wear pants, drink, smoke, and swear – that is trivial, and it won’t be so interesting. What makes this book incredible is that it demonstrates how ridiculous all references to the “natural order” are when somebody tries to justify the subdued role of women in society, appealing to “nature,” “biology,” and “things always were that way.” It turns out that one can perfectly well justify that men, not women, should care for children and that they are “biologically more suited” to that role. That man “won’t benefit from additional education.” That “a man on a boat is a trouble.” That “men should not exercise.” Oh, and by the way, they are not “men” anymore. Because there are “wim” (wom singular) and there are “manwin” (manwom singular). And a lot of words that are derived from “man” are modified in a similar way. 

Well, you just have to read it. Nothing will prove the absurdity of assigning gender roles that the book assigns them backward. Or that IS indeed the right way:)? 

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 🙂

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 🙂
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

The Warsaw Orphan

For a couple of weeks, I was reading five different books simultaneously, and this week, I finished two of them. The first one was The Warsaw Orphan by Kelly Rimmer.

The last chapters of the novel were the most unexpected, and most touching to me. While I read enough literature and memoirs of people who survived the Holocaust and the Warsaw Uprising, the part I never understood was how the same people came to terms with the Soviet occupation and feel Poland being their country even under the Communist regime. I tried to understand it when I visited Poland, the country of my ancestors, in the late 80s and 90s. I read this novel as a story of the souls crippled by the horrors of the war, about healing, and rebuilding their lives in the less than ideal circumstances.

No TV?!

Another long-overdue thing was finding a way to mount the large monitor I am using instead of the TV. I do not have any TV services for many years, nor do I do Netflix or anything like that. It does not mean I am not enjoying the movies, but it is always a special occasion. I either go to the movie theater to watch something extra special or rent something online and watch (by myself or with somebody).

Still, I need a large monitor to watch movies with somebody. In my old house, I put a large monitor where my old TV set used to be. I could not find a similarly situated place in my new house; besides, I didn’t want a large thing that I do not often use to occupy a significant space and to on the view at all times.

Boris suggested a rolling TV cart, but Vlad rejected it, saying that it won’t help – I will still need to store it “somewhere”. Boris backed up and suggested another desk mount (the one I had could not hold the weight of the monitor). He chose a model, but it arrived after he left. When Anna & family visited last time, I asked them to attach a monitor, but it turned out that this desk mount could not be attached because of the shape of the monitor.

I started to look again, but I could not find any other model high enough and hold the weight. Finally, I decided to change the course and started to look for the TV mount. That is, after two months of search, I was back to Boris’s original idea. Funny story – it turned out that although the attachment was “universal,” it still didn’t work with the shape of this monitor! The only way we made it work was to shift the position of the mounting brackets, so now they stick up like two horns :). But the whole thing works beautifully! The stand has wheels, and in normal position, it stands behind my desk occupying zero extra space. It can be easily pulled forward, and then people sitting in the living room can watch. Or it can be pulled to the sunroom, where there are more electric outlets there, and there is a shelf for a laptop. I can even roll it into the dining room!

Yes, and as for the title of this post… As I said, I do not have television for years, if not decades, but since in my old house there was a large object sitting where people would expect to have a TV set, nobody asked this question, And at my new place, the first thing most people would ask is “Where is your TV?” or just “And no TV?!”

🙂 🙂 🙂

Books About Pandemic

I wanted to mention two books that I recently finished; both are about the COVID pandemic. 

The first one is The Premonition, and the second is The Plague Year. It may feel that it’s “too early” to write books about the pandemic, especially because we are not out of it yet. But I think that both books are very timely. 

As you can imagine, the contents of both books overlap significantly, but even when they talk about the same events, they view them from slightly different perspectives. The first book focuses more on the political side of things, Trump’s inadequate response to the thread, and the health care officials who stood up against it. The second book touches more on science, epidemiology, details of vaccine development. 

Both are very informative. Some things I learned: 

  • that the vaccine was technically “ready” before the start of the pandemic; the scientists had to plug in the genome details; that’s why it was developed so fast
  • that most of the decisions about opening/closing/guaranteeing, which looked erratic at least, were based on multiple AI models. For example, there are certain estimates on the effect of schools closing depending on the level of infections at the time of closing.
  • more detail on the shortage of swabs for tests
  • why there were so many questions on the origin of the virus

And many other things! 

Also, these books allowed me to recall the events of the past sixteen months, how our knowledge about the virus changed, and how and why the health officials’ guidelines evolved. 

A Day Without Deaths

Today is the first day after the beginning of the pandemic when there were no deaths recorded in the state of Illinois. It does not mean that it’s all over. It does not even mean that there were no deaths. And we may wait for a while to see another day like this. But still – that’s the day to celebrate. To celebrate and to remember those who died during pandemic. That’s the day to multiply our efforts to prevent as many deaths as possible. That’s the day to encourage people to get vaccinated.

Oh yes, and the Crown Fountain is operating again 🙂

Half-pandemic May

Today, Chicago and the state of Illinois lifted most remaining COVID-19 mitigation-related masking and social distancing requirements and capacity limits. It isn’t quite the end of an era, but it is a step forward.

But when I wrote a decent chunk of this post (on June 7), many of those limits were still in place, and Chicagoland region was caught in an interesting half-way state that had as much to do with people’s attitudes as anything that was formally required.

I’ve been Chicagoland specifically because the United States, for better or for worse, continues to be a patchwork of restrictions, regulations and approaches. For the past 12 months, I’ve been able to sit down in coffee shops in Kenosha (Wisconsin) and Michigan City (Indiana), but not in Chicago and most suburbs. Masking has also varied – as I mentioned before, Kenoshans really didn’t mask much until the fall 2020 surge in cases.

In the past two months, we saw two major developments.

In late April, CDC issued a recommendation stating that people don’t have to wear masks outdoors – though it still recommended that unvaccinated people wear masks in crowded outdoor settings. Then, on May 13, it recommended allowing vaccinated people to go maskless indoors, except in public transit, government buildings, hospitals and some other congregate settings. Illinois and Chicago specifically adjusted their respective regulations accordingly – which meant, in practice, that businesses and public institutions such as libraries could continue requiring everybody to wear masks, if they so chose.

Continue reading “Half-pandemic May”

Love My Neighbors! Am I In a Bubble?

I talked to the couple from the house next to mine about my future garden. They suggested we come and look at my balcony and draft a plan. While we were busy doing that, a neighbor from the unit next to mone walked out. He said he is going to get a new faucet from Lowe’s 

— Not from Home Depot?

— No! No more Home Depot! Do you know how much they donated to Trump’s campaign?

No more questions asked. That’s my neighbors. Offering to look at my bike and to teach me some basic repairs. Asking whether I need something from Morse Market because they are going. Planning my garden. Neighbors who traveled the world. Neighbors who have more books in their homes I ever saw. Celebrating their child’s first birthday at the courtyard and offering cupcakes to all neighbors. Neighbors with all the right signs in their windows.

They say that in the suburbs, you live in a bubble. I feel like I like in a bubble right now :), and soon, I might forget that the rest of the world is not so perfect …