Hettie’s Reflections – Blog Posts

Stress, Chocolate And Me

I hoped that this weekend would be a “return to normal,” but it ended up being anything like that. On Friday evening, after I already spent two days trying to resolve upgrade issues, I realized that I would have to work on Saturday. At that point, I thought it would be just a couple of hours (it ended up being eight).

I had a million things to do in the morning, so I told my co-worker that I want to start the next upgrade at one. That still put me on a tight schedule since I also planned to talk to Boris before work started.

I was trying to lay out all my morning moves in the best possible way, including the fact that I had to go shopping with mom.

The point is that I was trying very hard to keep my schedule and be home at noon to talk to Boris, and I had ten stops to make.

As a result, I forgot two things. One is that I forgot to apply my birthday coupon at IKEA (it was valid for the whole month of January, but I am not planning to go there one more time). And the second is that I forgot to pick up my Brazilian chocolates at the w=Winter market. They are only there for two hours every other Saturday, and they only deliver pre-orders. Not like I do not have enough chocolate at home, but I thought it would be nice to support them, and my birthday is a good reason to do so.

So I ordered a box of brigadeiros and two packages of alfajores and figure out that between mom, post office, and IKEA, I will be able to stop by the Winter market. And I forgot!
Moreover, it turned out they texted me fifteen minutes before the market was over, and I didn’t see this message because I was already late for my online date:).
I only saw this message two hours later, when I was already deep in work and texted then a million apologies.

Their reply was: we are glad you are OK! I realized that, knowing me for a while, they could not imagine anything stopping me from picking up chocolates! And then they texted me that they will deliver, and they did.

ANd it was so good to have all this chocolate at the end of exceptionally stressful day!

“After The Holidays” Recipes

In December, whenever I would come across some interesting recipes, I would say to myself: after the holidays! Now, after the holidays is already here, and also, I had a lot of leftovers of the things which I bought “just for that recipe.” Here are several of my “after the holidays” creations.

I had half a package of ricotta left from my ricotta and merengue buns, and I had half a bag of spinach, which was left from the quiche, and I had some frozen puff pastry – here is a result:

It was fast and easy, and I really liked it!

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Summer 1964: People Around Me

On Sunday, I was trying to talk to mom about that summer. She confirmed that she was returning to Sosnovaya Polyana every day after work, and thereby her commute was three hours every day. She said that my father “rarely” was there and that “she needs to tell me everything.”

Actually, she already gave me her letters to my father and his letters to her from that period, and she gave me her diary to read, so I know how it all looked like both from her and his perspective.
I do not doubt that I need to write about it, but I am still unsure whether to include their story in my or tell it separately.

For now, let’s say that my father came to Sosnovaya Polyana from time to time and that he took lots of pictures. I like the photos which are not focused on me because I can see the interior of this tiny apartment, and I can see Baba Ania, even if only in the background.
Also, when I look at these pictures, it is very visible to me that my father loved my mom, even if it was in the wrong way. I mean, even though he a completely messed up person, he loved her the way he could love.

Continue reading “Summer 1964: People Around Me”

Last Sunday

On Sunday, it was my mom’s birthday. Last year she turned eighty-five, and we had a big surprise party for her. This time, it was just me and her, although all her grandchildren sent her messages, and she received lots of birthday wishes from her friends and former colleagues.

I still tried to make it festive. As mom likes, I made tiny sandwiches, and we drank Vlad’s liquor and had coffee with tiny cheesecakes and other pastries. And I took the time to listen to her and let her talk. I gave her Kindle Paperwhite, and taught her how to operate it, and uploaded a dozen of her favorite books and some others that she might like. I also ordered a photo calendar for her.

I didn’t feel like I made too much of an effort, but when I dropped her off at her place and returned home, I felt exhausted to the degree I wanted to cry. I am not even sure why. She is not hostile anymore, and even when she is upset, she is not making scenes, which should be a relief. It is sad to see how her personality is changing. She is becoming more like a child in many aspects, and she is becoming dependent on me emotionally in an almost unhealthy way.

The same as when I was a child, and even a teen, developed this unhealthy psychological dependency, that I could feel good only when she was around, she is now developing towards me. I think she does not have any other models of relationships. Like a small child, she feels it when I am upset, so I need to watch my behavior when I am upset with something. Like when my water heater broke, and when she thought that Anna and her family left, while in reality, we had this COVID situation here.

There was one thing that surprised me, though. Sometime between Christmas and New Year, my friend, whom mom also knows well, told my mom and me separately that her son had COVID and that he didn’t tell her until it was all over and he was tested negative.

I knew the story from my friend, and when I came to visit mom, she told me the same story. After she shared it with me, to my surprise, she said: good boy! I thought she was joking, but she wasn’t. She repeated: he did it right! I was planning to tell her about Vlad’s infection, but when I heard that, I said to myself: great, thank you for letting me know!

I got mad at Igor when I learned that he told my mom about his positive test on her birthday. I expected a major crisis. But she was surprisingly OK with everything. Even before that, I saw that she was not even half upset with the news of John’s infection as of Nadia’s. I think she still does not realize that this virus is way more dangerous for adults than for kids. But it felt like she does not want to let additional worries into her head. And I am going to leave it as is for now.

Summer 1964, part 2

More pictures from the same summer. I poster the picture below in the previous post.

The building behind us is this three-story building where Baba Ania and Deda Fedia lived. Their studio apartment was on the third floor, one window was facing his scene, and the balcony and the kitchen window faced right (where the wooden huts are). If you look at the ground under the balcony (on the right of this picture), you will see some sand. You can’t tell that this is sand, but if I tell you that it is there, you can figure out where exactly it is.

Now, look at the next picture.

We are playing in this dirty grey sand and trying to build something:). And on the next picture, I turn my head up and yell towards the balcony for Baba Ania to drop my little shovel to me.

Continue reading “Summer 1964, part 2”

More Christmas Gifts

Because of predictable slowness of the mail around Christmas and New Year, I received a lot of presents in the days after Christmas. Which made it even more fun – I feel like I have a month worth of Christmas!

My older granddaughter Nadia made these ornaments with her palm print all by herself 🙂

The packager from New Zealand arrived as well. Each Christmas, I feel like this is the coolest thing to receive cookies from the opposite side of the globe! And it’s not just cookies, each year there is something else special!

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A Lonely Gym Goer

I thought it was a really funny picture. Since there is no mask mandate in our gym, and although some people wear masks, not everybody does, I only go there very early in the morning, wear a mask and leave when the first person after me arrives. I took this picture when I was leaving the gym last week, and this first person just came in.

About a Major Crisis

Today, on January 11, we finally have every chapter of our book submitted. Out of the total of eighteen chapters, including the introduction and conclusion, four are still being reviewed, but they are really small ones. Even if our technical reviewer would suggest some changes, there won’t be massive rewriting. I am doing a final walk-through with all examples, ensuring everything works as expected, and creating the source code files in the process.

I feel very good about this accomplishment, and if there weren’t a major crisis, everything would be in place a week ago. I know that I kept my friends uninformed, so here are some details about my family’s happened in the past two weeks.

For three weeks, we were going back and forth about Christmas and what is safe. Finally, we decided on a hybrid solution. 

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Summer 1964

The complete gallery is here, so that my children and grandchildren will know where to look for photos; I am not going to post all sixty :).

In the summer of 1964, I was one-and-a-half years old, and I spent the summer with my maternal grandparents. 

Deda Fedya (grandpa Fedya) “received” this one-room apartment from the Leningrad Commercial Port, where he worked after returning from his army service.

They lived in one of the houses built in the 1950s’, in Sosnovaya Polyana, the part of Leningrad only from an administrative perspective. I remember that in 1964, the peasant’s houses that surrounded it were freshly demolished. The wooded houses were gone, but the stone chimneys and the fireplaces stayed. Now that I recall this picture, it seems creepy, but I found it extremely funny back then. My grandfather would take me with him on expeditions to checked whether there was something worthy left in the abandoned gardens. He dug out some strawberries and planted them on his balcony, 

 I was there for the summer because of the firm belief, which I mentioned earlier, that children should have some “fresh air” during summer, and adults have to make sacrifices to make it happen. 

It was a one-room apartment, with only one normal bed for my grandparents. Mom slept on the camp bed in the tiny hallway. I slept on the small day bed. Mom walked to the train station every morning (almost 3 miles), and took a train and then a tram from the railway station to her work. My father was there only on the weekends, and I am not even sure whether their issues already started at that time.   

In any case, all these pictures were taken by my father during one of his visits. The most precious thing about these photos is that I can see parts of that apartment, and I can see Baba Ania passing by on some of them. 

The house was originally built with the woodstove only; the gas stove (on the right) was installed later) 

Mom sits on the balcony and tries to feed me some meat
Continue reading “Summer 1964”