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 🙂

What was Going On with Me

Not like the whole world needs to know, but for a benefit or my friends who are following my life events here. Now, that the worst crisis is over, let me describe what was happening in my life starting from last Wednesday.

Last Wednesday was a Thanksgiving Eve, and my daughter’s family and Boris were arriving almost at the same time, and I had to be at two different places simultaneously. It ended up being not so bad, the planning was close to perfect on my side, but it was an intense day, and the previous three weeks were pretty loaded.


As my friends may remember, I am going to have cataracts surgeries soon, and in preparation, I had to switch from hard lenses to soft lenses. I wore hard contacts for most of my life (since I was 19), and since my prescription is high, I can’t wear glasses without significant vision decrement. Because of that, I do not own a pair now, which would be up to my current prescription. When I switched to the soft contacts, the doctor told me that my vision would be changing, because the eyeball would be returning to its normal shape. Because of that, she didn’t want me to order a whole box, but rather have a pair and then come back to her and see whether the prescription needs to be changed.


Since the start of the process, I’ve already changed it twice; and I was supposed to come in on Saturday morning after Thanksgiving.


Wednesday night, when I took the lenses off, I did something really stupid – since I do not have all the soft lenses process in my fingertips, I accidentally washed the good pair off! I was scared for a moment, but then I thought – fine, I still have one good lense, and one of less strength and I can manage for these two days.
It was inconvenient, but OK, I could not drive, but my daughter and my son in law were here so that they could do all the driving. Then on Friday, when I put to lenses in, it started to hurt, We went to the city, as planned, but it was getting worse. While we were watching the Wreathing of the Lions ceremony, I got a call from my eye doctor’s office. They said: you know, the doctor ordered several lenses to try, but they didn’t come. Do you still want to come in? I was crushed! I told – of cause! Maybe, she had some of the previous prescriptions left, because now I can’t see a thing! My daughter insisted we go to the nearest Walgreens. I bought the solution and tried to switch the lenses. It was still hurting, so after another half an hour of struggle in the Museum I announced I am going home. I walked to the train station, and then in Palatine Boris walked to the station to meet me, and we headed home together.

Continue reading “What was Going On with Me”

A Thanksgiving Eve

Here is what I have on the eve of Thanksgiving. The training is completed in terms of it is written, but I still have several examples to rework because they bear too much of the company specifics. Also, it needs more proofreading, formatting, etc. And one rehearsing together :). Also, I still have to prepare my big talk on the second day of the conference, And also, there are several important tasks to complete at work, and if they aren’t done today, they will spill into the long weekend.

Other than that 🙂 … Both fridges are full and barely closing:). I took the turkey out of the freezer to defrost on the lower shelf of the fridge, but as of last night, it was still stone-frozen. Moreover, since two boxes of mixed greens were placed close to it, they were utterly ruined by being frozen!

It’s our family tradition, that no matter how hard we try, we need to run to the store at least twice on Thanksgiving morning because something got forgotten. This time, it started even before Thanksgiving: I already made two “forgotten stuff” trips to the Eurofresh store. We’ll see whether there will be more:)

I’ve ordered outrageously expensive but also outrageously good pies from Vanilla Chicago, and they are already in my fridge (yes, apparently, my fridge is elastic :)). We had a Thanksgiving lunch at work yesterday, Anna and her family, and Boris are coming tonight, so it’s all good except for (or because of:)) life is so busy.

Four Vanilla Chicago Pies in my trunk
I have an elastic fridge:)

Taking Selfies

Yesterday, I came across a question in one of the blogs I follow: why people are posting selfies and how you react to somebody posting lots of selfies. 

I can tell you how I reacted: I immediately remembered that I took several selfies in our office gym after I was done with my personal training. Now, why I made these selfies in the first place? 

I like to post my selfies in the gym not because I want people to admire me (eeem… for this as well :)) but mostly to demonstrate that even way after 50, you can be fit and active. I am fifty-six now, and I had very serious back surgery less than two years ago. I still have some limitations, and most likely, I will never be the same person as I used to be, but it does not mean that I should “accept my age.” Actually, thirty-five years ago, I was in the worse shape :).

This morning our office gym was empty; it looks like half of the people started their vacations earlier. So I was able to take these pictures without disturbing others.

Christmas Comes to Palatine

Everybody is posting pictures of beautifully decorated streets and houses, and it’s challenging to stand out in this crowd. I am still going to post the photos from the Holidays on the Town event in Palatine.


Last Friday, the was an official ceremony of the Lighting of Chicago’s Christmas Tree, but I didn’t stay in the city. I returned to Palatine to take my Mom on the tour of our local businesses. Everybody stayed open till 9 PM; everybody had food and drinks for the visitors, and each shop was beautifully decorated.
I was really happy that with my new iPhone 11 Pro I could take the perfect shots in the dark!

Follow me 🙂

Continue reading “Christmas Comes to Palatine”

Home Movies from the 1970s, Part 3

That is the last of the three digitized movies. It covers the period from summer 1972 to winter 1973. I am nine years old at the beginning and ten at the end. In the beginning, you can see that my front teeth are broken. That was due to an accident at the carnivals when Mom and I were riding a tiny electric car and bumped into another one. At that time, there was no easy way to fix them, and they remained broken until I was nineteen or so.

That summer I was at the same place in Estonia, and I play with the same dog Neron as a year earlier. We went on a trip to see an Orthodox Convent. A cat named Dunia lived in the house where we were renting. Also, I think I’ve visited an exhibit of Rodin’s sculptures because I am trying to present them :).

In the last scenes of this movie, I am already wearing glasses. Mom and I are going cross-country skiing, and most likely, my Grandfather was filming us.

Enjoy 🙂

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.

Now Life is Getting Better and More Holiday-like

Last night I was finally done with preparation for my training, meaning I completed the presentations for the last two topics. I will do a dry tun of this last hour, the same as I did for the previous five hours for my coworkers. There will be still lots of edits, proof-reads, etc. but at least I have no more untouched parts. There is still work, more work than ever, and also lots of things to do for the conference and the holidays, but I feel tons better now!
Even during this crazy week, I still had some holiday fun. On Thursday, we had a Thanksgiving potluck at work. I decided that this is a good opportunity for me to expand people’s horizons and made borsch — tons of it. Two large containers went to the potluck, another two – to the Youth Shelter, one – to my neighbors, and one – to Mom.


The potluck itself was great, lots of food of all possible origins. As usual, desserts are my favorite part of the deal, and I made an effort to sample them all 🙂


Also, in short breaks between meetings, I managed to get to the post office and to B&N and get the holiday packaging and the Christmas cards.


I always order holiday stamps directly from the USPS website, because in the post offices, they often run out of some designs. This time I could not resist ordering a couple of USPS ornaments 🙂

More to come!

Do the Dates Matter?

Last week, when I was leaving the Youth Shelter, I told that next time I would come on December 11 for their Christmas party. I was very apologetic that I will be away for so long. I said that I wouldn’t be able to come because I will have my family coming for Thanksgiving and that I will be out of the country for Christmas. And one of the residents said: I do not think I ever had a real Christmas. He said it matter-of-factly and continued our conversation, and I was stunned.

I immediately remembered how my dear friend N. told me that she is going the spend her Thanksgiving and Christmas not with her family, but with those who need it most. At that moment, I felt more than before the rightness of what she is doing.

Our grown-up children are often the subjects of the parental wars over Christmas and Thanksgiving – everybody wants them in their homes. But how does it feel on the opposite side, when you do not have a place to go…

I remember that last year, I was talking to Vlad about bars being opened on Thanksgiving and Christmas (and him always having to work on these days). I told him: I can’t imagine anybody heading to the bar at Christmas! He replied: Mom, you will be surprised!
I guess I never realized how many. A girl from the nail spa told me today; I am going to have a Friendsgiving on Friday, I have nobody to get together with.

And here is another thought. In our family, since we all are scattered around the world, we learned not to stress out about the particular days, knowing quite well that it’s the thought that matters. Although I have to admit that there are some dates, we are trying very hard to make. But the reason we are so flexible with dates is that each of us knows we have our family. That we care about each other, and that we understand the difference between important and not so important things. We do not need any symbolic reassurance.

And for a person who lives in a world of uncertainty, the symbols are way more important. They make a world around more friendly and more accepting.

There is no moral for this story. I just learned something about the world and myself, and I will try hard to give my holiday time to those who need it most.

What Your Card Can Tell About You

Chicago has some public transport, which makes it better than many other US cities that don’t. Chicago Transit (CTA) has several different types of transit cards.
I have the one which perfectly fits my public transit usage pattern: it is linked to my credit card and automatically loads additional funds in a $25 increment when money is running low. One of the best things about it is that several people can use this card on one trip – I just need to tap it for each person who rides with me. It’s always the easiest way when it comes to giving tours to the out of town visitors.

I often think about my CTA card like a perfect sample of my life, if you look at where does this card go with me, and who uses it with me. Within just one week, it was used to get on the train the Great Magnus, my friend who was taking CTA for the first time in her life, and a homeless man, for whom I tapped one more time 🙂