Hettie’s Reflections – Blog Posts


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 🙂


It’s hard to be hopeful after what has happened in the past couple of days at the front. Both because of the fear for the Azovstal defendants and how the war vector might change now.  

And another thing I have been thinking about for the past several days. How so many Russian people still do not understand one simple thing: there is no “middle” in who started the war. There is no “middle” in who invaded another independent country.

All these people who dare to say that “the US started it,” “Ukraine provoked it,” and “otherwise, they would invade us”- all this is a classic victim-blaming! That’s the same as “she was raped because she wore a short skirt.” That’s if such accusations would be justified. 

And the last stanza. All these people who say “we lived in peace before” and “nobody hated anybody” how they won’t understand that the conquered nations just had to tolerate the conquerers. 

Season Two Of Balcony Gardening

Last year, I planted late in the season, because I just moved in in May, and I had a lot of urgent things to address. And also, I needed to purchase the hardware and to figure out the logistics of gardening on the third floor.

But this season, I was able to start on time! There were other little things that I learned between seasons – about the flower baskets lining and soil reuse, taking the baskets off the railing, and such. Next season will be a charm!

My neighbors helped me again with delivering plants from the nursery, and I spent four hours last Saturday planting.

They’ve already grown since Saturday!!! And there were already several very warm days, so I could work for several hours outside. When the flowers are there, it’s a different look and feel!


All this time, starting from February 24, I tried to talk to mom and explain to her what was going on. Sometimes I had the impression that she had started to understand. At least she looked at the alternative sources of information. Igor and Anna tried as well.

Yesterday, there Chicago Veterans Association had a gathering dedicated to the 30th anniversary of the organization. Igor and I worried about how it would go for mom because we knew that the veterans had a firm opinion of the war, and that opinion was not in favor of the Russian army.

According to Igor, everything went pretty civil there, but we were not sure whether mom was paying attention to what was going on. It turned out that she literally chose to ignore everything said there. I hoped yet another time that when she would see that everybody in the organization was against the war, that everybody would condemn Russia’s war crimes, she might realize that something was wrong with her reasoning. But unfortunately, she chose not to apply any logic.

I told Igor that I had given up.

It’s not that she does not have information or does not understand English; she has all the resources, and she chooses which ones to trust.
And when I am trying to talk to her, ai receive plain propaganda in response.

I Want To Skip These Days

I had a really exciting day on Saturday, I took tons of pictures, and I wanted to share all about it. But after the shooting, I can’t make myself write.

On Sunday, I made a huge effort to deliver the first segments of my educational video. I successfully submitted them, but now I am waiting for feedback, and I do not want to proceed with more segments until I receive it.

Today was way more productive. Not only a very good day at work, but I finally submitted one of the four talk proposals which I promised to submit. Also, I released some new code to NORM_GEN. Although I have an accepted talk for Swiss PG Day, I need to make sure I have enough of this new material to present.

And the weather was outstanding – just another gift from Nature.

Chicago. The Bean. Saturday Night.

I was in the Loop on Saturday. I was in the Millennium Park. I passed the Bean at about 3-30 PM.

I am reading more and more details, and the more I read, the less I can take it in. Out of all places, Millenium Park seemed to be the safest place in Chicago indeed, with constant presence of security. It felt exactly as this article says – the safe place in the city, open for those who can’t find a safe place in their communities.

This article from Sun-Times is heartbreaking. I am copying it here because, after a while, it will disappear from the online version of the newspaper. Here is it.

Continue reading “Chicago. The Bean. Saturday Night.”

Roe/Wade Protests And Rallies

While in Europe, I almost entirely missed the new development with the Roe/Wade overturn. Then, I felt guilty that I didn’t pay enough attention and didn’t participate in the protests. I was flying in on May 1, so I missed all May Day things. I got a little bit of the protest last Saturday after I took mom to the Joffrey Appreciation Day, but they were almost done with the rally by then and were preparing to march.

Today, I went escorting and thereby was unable to attend the event in Union Park.
Escorting was definitely more important because antis went wild. What surprises me is that antis are always using the same old tune. They didn’t come up with anything except for the same old “you are murdering the human beings.”Today, I was busy the whole shift, walking the patients to and from their cars, making the human corridors, and making noises so that antis could not be heard.

At some point, a clinic security guard came to stand with us and helped to hold the tarp to cover the anis posters. And he actually yelled at antis because he is not an escort :).

Then, I could not do the later protest today because of the bad planning (I had three other events, and I lined them up in a suboptimal way). I saw a lot of social media posts, and I caught a little bit of the Millennium park event at the very end of it.

The number of antis who appear at the pro-abortion rallies still bothers me. That’s Illinois, that’s Chicago, and I can’t believe it when I see huge groups of antis, so loud and talking the same nonsense. I am so allergic to propaganda after I had it all in the Soviet Union!

And one more thought, When I am asked what the abortion situation in the Soviet Union was, I usually reply that abortion was legal, it was just a very humiliating process, and no anesthetics were allowed unless you illegally paid for them. It was not until recently that I realized that the fact that you could not get an abortion after 12 weeks was an abortion limitation! It just never occurred to me that it could be different!

Last week’s protest – Igor’s photos

It Could Be A Perfect Day…

Yesterday was a perfect day. A perfect first-summer-day, a day when I know why I moved to Rogers Park and what I love here.

It started from the long bike ride, and the sun is now up early enough for me to start biking at 5-15. I entered the Lake Front Trail at 5-35, and it already looked busy with people walking their dogs and talking to each other, joggers, and biking groups.

I had breakfast on my balcony, and then I had a very productive workday. During my lunch break, I went to the beach, lay on the sand, listened to the waves, and walked in the crystal clear water.

And then, my neighbors messaged me that they could help me to pick up the plants, and I got on Uber and went to the nursery and picked the plants.

The evening was balm, and I worked until 9 PM and could plant everything and clean up almost everything. So now my summer life is going to be perfect.

It would be a perfect day, if not for one thing.

In the morning, when I stopped to wait for a green light at the corner of Broadway and Granville, I saw a neatly dressed older man picking in the garbage. When I started crossing, I saw that he had a bun in his hand, and he was hurriedly eating it while crossing.

Joffrey Ballet

Last week was also ballet week. On Thursday, I went to see two short ballets: Balanchine’s “Serenade” and a modern ballet “Of Mice and Men” based on Steinbeck’s book.
I was cautious and skeptical about the latter; I could not imagine this book converted into a ballet, but it was fantastic!!!Below is a long segment about this performance here, which tells it all – I agree with every word of it!

On Saturday, there was a subscriber appreciation day. Subscribers were invited to have a late breakfast at the foyer, and then everybody was invited into the auditorium to see a rehearsal. It lasted an hour and a half, but it didn’t feel boring at all!

I renewed my subscription for the next season, but I decided to get only one ticket. If I have a company for some of the performances, I can always get an extra one. And this season, I had trouble finding anybody who would go with me!

A Year of Living by the Lake

I moved to my new home a year ago. On the one hand, I am still telling people that I “recently moved.” On the other hand, it feels like O already lived here for half of my life.

This week, the weather finally became warmer, and I biked a lot. The sun rises early enough for me to go for long bike rides in the morning.

Today, the temperature suddenly rose up to 89F, and I rushed to the beach as soon as I could get off work. It was way colder by the water, but still, I could lay down on my tarp, not moving, not reading, not thinking, just feeling the lake nearby.

“Seagull” at Steppenwolf

Last Wednesday, I went to see the “Seagull” in the Steppenwolf theater. I had four tickets left on my Black card, and I decided to use them all for this show. I figured that Igor and mom would go, and I will figure out whom else to invite. My neighbor was interested (she even thought about getting tickets herself), and I gladly invited her.

It was not only an all-new “Seagull” but also the first show on the Steppenwolf’s New Stage, and the new stage was fantastic! And actually, everything about this show was great: the translation was nearly perfect, nothing was cut from the play, and the actors seemed to be born to play these roles!

I was also glad that mom liked it. She could not remember the play itself (although it’s a Russian classic taught at school), and she could not understand what was going on on stage, but still, she was captivated by the action.