Hettie’s Reflections – Blog Posts

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Welcome to Hettie’s Reflections!

Hello! My name is Hettie, I was born and raised in Saint Petersburg, Russia, and I emigrated to the United States in October 1996. I live in Palatine, IL and work in Chicago.

I’ve been very active in the Russian blogosphere, and my American friends keep asking me when I am going to tell my story in English. Well, the time has come.

I am going to write my story for my granddaughter Nadia, and for all my American friends, who has been so supportive through all these years, and hope that my children, Igor, Vlad and Anna will help me through this journey.

My Russian blog used to have “a lot of everything”, because first, I just like to write a little something every day, reflecting on everything happening in the world around me, and second – because I believe that people trust me more knowing me as a person. Everything I’ve done in my life so far, and everything I am doing every day, made me – and still making me the person I am.

This being said, although this blog is intended mostly to record our family history, there will be still “a lot of everything” here. However, for those who is interested in the history solely, I will paste all the links to the Hettie’s Timeline page, which will hopefully allow to read all these entries in a chronological order.

The links to my interviews and videos (mostly professional) will be pasted on this page, and also for those who is interested what I am doing in my professional life, feel free to check out my blog The World of Data.

My blog Hettie’s Cooking is hardly a cooking blog, at least I do not update it often. However, some of my legendary recipes, like “Mom’s soup”, can be found there.

Enjoy 🙂

I Didn’t Mean It!

I am not a panicker, and I did my best not to run to the store after the shelter in place was announced. But you can’t live in the society, and be independent of the society, as the Marxist theory says. And that’s how it happens.

When everybody started to stock up the toilet paper, I didn’t care. I buy all my supplies using Amazon subscriptions, and my toilet paper was not due until June. However, my other subscriptions were due on March 29, and most of the time, Amazon delivers them ahead of the actual date. 

One of the items was a pack of dishwasher tablets. Technically speaking, I still had thirty of them, but each of the bags lasts from three to four months, so I was not going to skip this delivery. But all of a sudden, when looked at my list, it said: “item is not available, we will make every effort…” Well, then I started to worry! Because what is it won’t be available in a month?! 

I started to search, and lots of other dishwasher tablets were “unavailable.” Then I became concerned and picked up the first brand I, which was in stock (which turned out to be something “eco”). It arrived in two days, but three days later, Amazon sent me a message that they will ship my “subscribe and save” item in two weeks! Now I will have two months extra supply :). 

The irony is that since I am at home every day, I indeed use more paper towels, more dishwasher tablets, more soap… And I will buy all I need when I need it, if only… people would stop hoarding!

When I examined my supply of napkins, I thought that I might want to order a next two-pack. But when I checked on Amazon, they were also “not available.” And the story was repeated: I looked for other brands and once again ordered the first, which was in stock. Four packs instead of two, just in case :). That’s how I joined the crowd with no intention to do so!

Eye Surgery – One More Follow Up

That is one more report for close friends.


My eye doctor’s office is closed, which was a bummer, especially because many other eye doctors are open for emergencies (and post-surgical is considered an emergency). She arranged for me to see my eye surgeon instead. I called twice to make sure he will be able to give me new glasses prescription because they usually would not do it in the clinic. I had to take Uber because I thought that my eyes would be dilated (they were not) and because that’s too far for me in the less than perfect glasses. I haven’t taken Uber since the time of peace and was not sure how many drivers are still around, so I scheduled the ride for the first time. It turned out it was not necessary – there are plenty of drivers out, all looking for riders.

Continue reading “Eye Surgery – One More Follow Up”

Stay At Home Meals

I like posting pictures of my meals – and I always liked it! I love it when my food looks pretty, even when I am the only person at the table (which is most of the time). Also, I do not like to spend a lot of time cooking, and I do not like recipes with many ingredients. Whatever appears at my food photographs, is always fast and easy to make.

90% of my food pictures show some breakfast food because that’s my favorite meal of the day. And my friends were keeping asking me why I never post any pictures of my dinners. Well … because by dinner time I always forget that I planned to show all my meal of the day:).

During these past two weeks, there were no changes to how I eat at home. I would still arrange everything nicely on the plate because I enjoy it. It does not take much time, and really improves your mood! These pictures are all from one day last week. Full disclosure: coffee, chocolates, and other sweets not included :).

Breakfast: egg whites with vegetables, mushrooms and two tablespoons of greek yogurt (microwaved)
Continue reading “Stay At Home Meals”

Back to Yoga Classes!

An unexpected result of the quarantine: I had a yoga class with my yoga teacher Anu, and I didn’t have it for two years! It was a sixteen-years long story, as she pointed out today – I started to attend her class in the YMCA, and I liked her a lot. Then she stopped teaching at the Y, but her former students have found a place to get together on Sunday mornings.
Then that place became unavailable, and some of us had switched to online classes. Then there was just me with my friend, and then it all stopped after my back surgery, and we could not find a time that would work.


Last week, I thought that maybe now, when there are no live classes, and when I am working from home anyway, I will be able to find a slot. I emailed Anu over the weeked, and today I was in a semi-private class.
Although I am doing yoga for a very long time, and although I can do it myself, it is such a tremendous difference when you are doing it with the teacher!


I stretch as I haven’t been doing for a very long time! Also, under current circumstances, we did a lot of breathing exercises (which I could never do on my own), and also a long meditation. I am so happy I have this back in my life!

This photo is from my solo yoga session two weeks ago

My Personal Donation List

No pressure:). Just wanted to share the list of fundraising efforts/organizations which I support during these difficult times.

As I’ve mentioned earlier, Chicago’s bars were hit hard from day one, because they can’t even switch to the carry-out/delivery. I’ve already posted this fundraiser:

US Beverage Group : https://www.usbgfoundation.org/covid-19-response

And here are two more, for those people who’ve been in Chicago, been there with me, and might remember the people behind the names of the places.

Elixer/Replay Andersonville: https://www.gofundme.com/f/support-the-replay-andersonville?utm_source=customer&utm_medium=copy_link&utm_campaign=m_pd+share-sheet

The Gage: https://www.gofundme.com/f/gage-hospitality-group-emloyee-relief-fund?utm_medium=email&utm_source=customer&utm_campaign=p_email%2B5102-48hr-donor-share

Both of those are relief funds, not to support the business itself, but to give directly to all these people who greeted you with a smile and sent to your tables “desserts on the house.”

And now about most vulnerable people.

I made an additional donation to the Night Ministry. Volunteers can’t help anymore, and you can (or can’t!) imagine what Chicago’s homeless population is experiencing these days.

And also to the Greater Chicago Food depository: https://www.chicagosfoodbank.org/

Their situation was far from perfect even before the current events, and now it is worse than ever.

Also, all of the museums where I am a member promise to extend the membership to the duration of time they are going to stay close. I am planning to renew at my regular time and donate the unused money. And I think I will do the same with my CSO subscription and with Whenever Goodman.

That might be a very egotistical list, but I wanted to share.

Other Things, Big and Small Happening Now

Let’s start with the big things. Our company had to cut business significantly. It’s all due to the nature of our business. It is quite understandable that none of our predictive models can work in the current economic situation, and we can’t operate. A significant percentage of our employees are sent home for two months. The rest got the pay cuts, with our CEO taking the biggest one. I understand all of these; those were survival measures. If they weren’t taken, we would lose our business entirely. That way, we should be able to survive. 

At the same time, all of us have to do more work because we need to rebuild our whole system, and this had to be done very fast. I work almost as I worked four years ago (and for almost the same pay :)), and this will last for a while. 

Another piece of news is that my eye doctor had to close her office. She arranged so that I could be seen for my last post-surgical appointment by my surgeon, but they do not do glasses or contacts. It is going to be interesting; I already called the Lenzcrafters, and they said they might be able to cut new lenses for me without me – if this doctor will fax them the new prescription. Hopefully, if not immediately, but within a week or two, this will be resolved. I am not sure when I will be able to get the contacts, because all the eye doctors strongly advise against wearing contacts during the pandemic. I know that that particular doctor was against me wearing contacts anyway, but if not, I will have to wear two pairs of glasses when I drive, and I do not like this idea. We will see on Tuesday. 

Continue reading “Other Things, Big and Small Happening Now”

And Another Positive Thing

I frequently visit Vanille Chicago French Market location (its under the tracks of Ogilvie transportation center). I also ordered from them several times, including my Mom’s 85th birthday cake. So there is no surprise I receive lots of promotional offers from them.

Last week, they sent an email: Monday is going to be a National Macaroon Day. Since we can’t celebrate it in the store, we offer a special – two dozen macaroons for a price of one, plus free delivery.

I ordered two sets: one went to Wisconsin, to Anna and family, and another – to my address. I sent one of my boxes to Vlad and Dylon, and the last one is mine :). I liked how they packaged the macaroons:

Continue reading “And Another Positive Thing”

About Better Things

I didn’t open this email from the Chicago History Museum at first, because I thought it would be another invite for a virtual tour – I want to cry each time I see these invites. But when I opened it a couple of days later, it turned out it was something different:

PPE Donation Chicago History Museum

To the Chicago History Museum community,

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to evolve, supporting our community in the fight to contain the virus is more important than ever. As the local medical community let it be known that PPE (personal protective equipment) was in short supply, we realized that getting the PPE that we use at the museum everyday was needed at area hospitals.

At the Chicago History Museum, we use nitrile gloves every day to protect museum artifacts from oils and other contaminates on hands – not to mention to protect our Collections and Exhibitions staff from any potential hazardous substances that may sit on the artifacts upon acquisition (think: lead, radium, asbestos)! N95 face masks, eye protection, and polyethylene aprons are also used to protect staff during conservation treatment of artifacts.

Museums around the globe purchase PPE for these very reasons. While we are closed to the public to help prevent the spread of COVID-19, our supplies are best utilized by the healthcare workers on the frontlines at the John H. Stroger, Jr. Hospital of Cook County.

Continuing to fight the spread of COVID-19 is a responsibility we all share. Yesterday, at 11:00 am, Britta Arendt Collection Manager at the Chicago History Museum, met with Daniel J. Ruiz, Senior Manager of Supply Chain Operations at the hospital to drop off a donation of the following supplies:

  • 63 boxes of nitrile gloves in all sizes, 6,300 pairs total
  • 9 boxes of N95 masks, 90 masks total
  • 100 polyethylene aprons
  • 20 pairs of shoe covers
  • 16 tyvek hoodies
  • 4 tyvek coverall suits 
  • 8 pairs protective eye wear 

On the same note: earlier this week, Metra sent an email informing that ” Medical personnel on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic can ride free.” Having that those individuals are probably the only ones who are taking Metra these days, it’s very generous.

Just as I Finished Writing

Just after I published the previous post I saw a massage from our Park District:

In accordance with the Governor’s Executive Order to Shelter in Place and recommendations made by the CDC regarding large gatherings, the Palatine Park District has announced that all playgrounds, hard surface courts, and facilities are closed.
While parks and trails remain open, it is still not acceptable to be in large groups. Many people chose to disregard the Governor’s order and in return, the Park District has received an extraordinary amount of messages from concerned patrons about the volume of gatherings.
As a result, the Park District is taking further action to highly discourage those people who are ignoring the order by the Governor. Closed signs have been posted near all playgrounds. Playgrounds will be roped off with caution tape. Basketball rims have been covered, tennis and pickleball courts have been locked as well as the skate park. Soccer and lacrosse goals have been disassembled and our drinking fountains have been shut off and will remain off until further notice.
In order to complete these efforts and regulations, we must ask staff to leave the safety of their homes and expose themselves to surfaces that have been touched by thousands of people. Any of whom could be infected.
We are also working cooperatively with the Village and Police Department, and they are ready to assist with enforcement by dispersing people who do not follow the Governor’s order.
All that being said, we implore any of you who took part in the discouraged activity to seriously reconsider your actions. Please do not make us take the next step of closing down the community parks entirely. We want people to be able to get outside to get fresh air and go for a walk, but if this type of blatant disregard for the safety of others continues, we will be forced to do so.
On behalf of the Board of Park Commissioners, the Park District Staff, and all of our loved ones, please take this seriously! Do your part to flatten the curve and save lives!

What can I say? Just one thing – I am glad that I was not the only person who was concerned! I hope that people will behave responsibly!