Another Long Day…

Once again, way too many things happened today. Some were good, some – very satisfying, some funny, and some sad.

And because I do not feel like writing about the sad things at the moment, I will put here several pictures from the forest preserve. First, the ones I took on Friday early morning, when I was biking.

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A Perfect Memorial Day Weekend (III)

When I was planning my long weekend, I planned for a long bike ride on Monday morning. Then, the forecast showed rain at 6 AM. I thought I will wait, but then I thought – what if it won’t rain at six, and instead will rain at eight? What a fool I would be then! I left at 5-40, and yes, the rain started at 6-05 :), so I had to come back. But after breakfast, it was beautiful outside, and I went for the longest bike ride of this season. Actually, I do not think I ever took such a long ride all by myself. I was not even sure how the paths are going where I was planning to go :). And I had a great time!

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A Perfect Memorial Day Weekend (II)

I love summer in Illinois. I am not talking about just summer in Chicago, filled with all these amazing events and activities: music festivals, parades, markets, Crown Fountain, icecream at the River Walk, and the fireworks on the Navy Pier. Chicago summer is fantastic, but I also love Illinois summer away from the city. 

I love that it is hot. Yes, I know that many people hate the Midwest summer for being hot and humid. But I love it. Maybe, that’s because, since my early childhood, hot weather was a luxury. Something we didn’t get at home. You had to travel to The South. The South was almost as appealing as “zagranitza” (see related post). 

In any case, I love it when the outside temperature is in the lower 80’s. My picture of the perfect summer is the following. It’s warm enough that I can wear shorts and a sleeveless top. I am on my deck, or rather on the wooden steps of my deck, I am barefoot, and my soles feel the warmth of the wood. The mourning doves are mourning; I hear their uuu! uuu! The sun is not setting down yet, but it starts to go down, My back is feeling the door of my kitchen. It’s never extremely hot on my deck because the sun never touches it directly. And it’s that moment when I sit there and do nothing. No audiobook in my ears. No looking at my phone. Nothing, but the sun which starts to descent, and the mourning of the doves … 

Every year, the first day I can sit like this marks the arrival of summer. This year, it was so cold for so long that I could not even believe that this day will come, even a week ago. 

And now, for the fourth day in a row, we have a perfect summer. Each day of the long weekend was a gift! 

Here are some pictures of want I was doing on Sunday.

Very foggy morning, meeting a number of deers
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A Perfect Memorial Day Weekend (I)

Every year we hope that the weather will be nice on Memorial Day weekend and that what is considered the official start of summer will bring the summer weather.

Unfortunately, more often than not, that’s not the case. Either it is raining, or it is below 70 F or both, but most often, the weather is not good for swimming on the day when pools are official open.
This time, it was the opposite. The pools are not open, but the weather exceeds expectations! I decided to take upon the advice of the health authorities and spend most of this weekend outdoors. And also, doing some good things for myself.

Biked to the Farmers Market: they asked me to leave my bike at the entrance and kept an eye on it.
Greens, bread and chocolate – all you need! (plus coffee!)
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Time in Deer Grove Forest Preserve

This weekend was nice and warm and sunny, and tomorrow it will become much colder. It does not look like we are going to have another summer-like day till Memorial Day weekend.

I tried to use this warm time as much as possible, doing tons of things outdoors.

I spent a total of at least four hours in the forest preserve, both biking and walking. On Saturday, I decided to take mom to the forest preserve again since she enjoyed it so much last weekend.
This time, in an attempt to minimize encounters with other people, I decided to take her to a different site, which worked great. Although there were still people, there were way fewer visitors there. Also, the roads are wider, so you can keep the distance. And last but not least, the change of scenery is a good thing.

A woodpecker
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“I Can Do It!”

I am always taking pride in “I can do it” kind of things. However, I vividly remember what happened when Anna and Vlad went away to college. And when I realized that when I see some unknown bug in the house, I can’t scream: Vlaaad!!! Get this thing out of here! And I can’t ask anybody to get into the attic to take the stuff out. That year, I had to learn to do lots of things by myself for the first time!
When Vlad came home for Thanksgiving that first year in college, he told me: Mom, I am so happy that there are still things you can’t do yourself! And I get it :). With both Boris and Vlad, there are things that I would always delegate to them.

So what happens when due to the quarantine, your family is in five different places? You have to learn to do even more things by yourself :).

Last weekend, I had two activities of that kind. First, I needed to install a handlebar extension on my blue bike. Last year, I bought this bike “just for fun” because it was blue, and I didn’t plan to equip it fully with all the necessary details. But since my white and green bike will stay inside until the end of quarantine, the blue bike became my primary means of transportation. Usually, Boris installs all the new gadgets on my bike, or I would ask Anna or Vlad. But since none of them were available, I had to manage. Boris explained to me everything I needed to do over Facetime, and I marched to the garage well-equipped. Things didn’t go quite smoothly, but I did it!

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Biking in Helsinki

As I’ve mentioned, there was a lot of biking this time in Helsinki. The last two days were too cold for biking without gloves, and I did not have any biking gloves with me. But that’s the beauty of having your bike – when I could bike, I did.

I can’t even start to describe how everything in Helsinki as suited for bikers. The house has bike storage, where bikes can be stored not only standing, but also elevated.

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The First 24 Hours in Helsinki

Boris asked me to call him on facetime when the plane touches the ground so that he will get ready to go to the railway station. I am so happy that I have my internet with me for no extra cost! Yes, my Sprint plan is not cheap, but with my amount of travels, it’s great that I never have to think about it. The moment the plane lands, I can start using my phone.

I have not been here since May, and I forgot that I have a Helsinki transportation app on my iPhone. I could buy my ticket on the way from the baggage claim to the train, and hop on the first train that has arrived. It’s a minor delay, but it shows how we all are creatures of habit. I forgot the way I did it once but remembered how I did it for many years.

When we met at the Central Train Station, he took me to Robert’sCoffee for a cappuccino with a cinnamon bun. It has become symbolic for me – the first meal on the Finnish soil has to be a Finnish cinnamon bun 🙂

It’s the 50s here, compare to our upper 70s, but the fall colors are beautiful!

And I finally got a bike! We talked for a long time of me having my own bike in Helsinki so that I won’t have to rent each time. Boris was always saying that this goes not provide any economic advantage, but the difference is in time not wasted, and I believe it’s worth it.

Most of the stores were closed on Sunday afternoon, and I didn’t like the bikes we saw (they didn’t fit my small body :)), but this morning we finally got what I needed!

Me and my new Electra Bike

New Bikes!

When Boris was in town, I finally talked him into getting a new bike. Actually, I wanted really badly to give him a new bike for his birthday, which was in June. I already had two bike-related gifts for him, but this didn’t feel enough for me. Fortunately for me, the gear-switching mechanism on his old bike finally broke, and I told him that I do not like to listen to this noise when we are biking together.

He said he wanted a bike as traditional, as possible. Thank goodness, they do not manufacture bikes with foot brakes anymore; otherwise, he would get one! I’ve ruled out the more expensive models, and we ended up with this one, also pretty traditional.

While we were in Mike’s Bike Shop, a salesperson asked me whether I wanted a matching bike for women. And I am not going to lie – I was already looking at one of those!

The one which was on display was hopelessly pink, but the salesperson said, that there is a variety of colors, including (he said, looking at me) my favorite color! The bike also had a basket in front. Two years ago I rejected the idea of having a bike with the basket, but now I knew for sure that there are situations when I need exactly this! The advantage of having a wired basket as a part of the bike is that you do not need to unbuckle it each time you leave your bike at the bike rack. You just pull the actual basket out and go around shopping.

We took a time out till Sunday. And then on Sunday, we were busy, and the weather was not great. And I was not sure whether I want it. Then I got sick. And then the day he was leaving, I finally made my decision – I want a second bike.

We went to the shop, and it turned out that my favorite color has to be ordered, so I still had to wait for several days. It was only last Friday that I finally took my new bike home. Look at it! Isn’t it gorgeous?!

The Days Are Getting Shorter

The days are getting shorter, which means that by the end of next week I won’t be able to bike before work, also most likely I won’t be able to use our new outdoor gym in the morning – I do not like biking in the dark and wandering around in the dark :).

On Thursday, I was working from home, which allowed me to go to the casual bike ride with the Palatine bike club, and it was the last time this season. I can’t make it to Mike’s Bike shop by 6-30 if I am not working from home. And next week the rides will start 15 minutes earlier, and in another two weeks, they will be starting at 6 PM. But I was so glad I went. Also, that was the first time I took Boris there. I was hoping he will love riding with the group, for the same reason I do – it’s much safer, especially if you have vision issues. So he went with us, and he liked it. Even more, than I thought :). We also stopped at Dairy Queen at the end of the ride for some ice-cream, which added to the right impression, I guess.

But still, working from home these days feels more stressful than in the office, and I thought that I didn’t have time for anything. By now (Saturday night) I feel much better, but I need to figure out how to be not such a slave of schedule.