Mom Is Back

Mom came back yesterday, and her journey back was way less stressful than the one in the opposite direction—less stress for her and me.
There were no issues with the wheelchair on the way back, and she was very pleased with the service. Moreover, the plane landed 40 min ahead of schedule, and there was almost no wait! I was late to pick her up because there were no trains on the Blue line for 25 minutes.
She said that she was “glad to be back alive,” but I have we didn’t talk much: it was 8 PM, she was tired and I needed to get home to finish my packing . Although my trip was going to be very short, I still needed to pack, and I didn’t have time to do it – none.

I am glad that mom is back safely, and I am immensely thankful for my friends Olga and Irina who helped mom with everything. One bad thing still happened – mom fall down on the street once, and almost fall down one more time. Irina blames herself for “not looking after her,” but honestly, it had happened many times already, and it does not matter whether she is alone or with somebody.

So far she is saying that she “has a lot to tell me” about her trip when I will come back. But knowing who she is these days, I won’t be surprised if she will end up not telling me any more details.

When we went out for dinner with Igor on the day after his birthday, I told him that I want to stop trying to explain anything to mom, and I should stop trying to explain things to her. It just makes her unhappy and she is not listening or rather she is not trying to understand what I am saying to her. I am going to try really hard just to listen – period.

Mom In Saint-Petersburg

Mom has four more days left in Saint Petersburg. In the past week, most things were sorted out. My friends Olga and Irina help her every day with pretty much everything: calling the cab, calling the plumber to fix the leaking pipes, taking her to her COVID test, and to the cemeteries to visit her relatives’ graves, making sure her test results are loaded to the government website and accompanying her to the bank, and I can’t even enumerate all the ways they helped! Nothing will be possible without them!

The last thing which was fixed was the heating in mom’s apartment, so now it’s not 45 degrees inside, but closer to 70.

It does not look like she will meet with any of her friends, although originally, she said that it was her goal. That’s why she didn’t want to go in July – she said everybody would be at dachas. Instead, she goes over her stuff, which is not a bad thing. Irina takes to the dumpster bags and bags of things that nobody needs. It is possible that when mom is back, she will be telling me that she could not meet with her friends because I didn’t allow her to use public transportation. I will do my best not to argue with her about that :). Most importantly, she got her new credit card, and she filed all the paperwork so that she wouldn’t need to come back when there would be time for a new credit card.

My Grandma’s Birthday.

As I already mentioned here, Baba Anya died on my father’s birthday. And one of the good things which come from my mom’s visit to Saint Petersburg is that she was able to visit her parent’s grave.

My friend went with her and helped her to get a cab, and to find a grave, and to clean up. And she also sent me a picture.

Pictures With My Father: Summer 1967

Yesterday was my father’s birthday. He would be ninety-three if he were alive.
I drafted this post two weeks ago but was putting it off. I thought that I would be finally able to write more about all the complexity of our relationships, but it looks like I am not ready yet. So let this post be yet another set of pictures from summer 1967.

I posted about that summer before. I spent it in Sosnovaya Polyana with my grandparents. My mom was going to work in the city every day and would return late in the evening. My father was showing up from time to time.

Looking at these pictures, I remember that he was trying to make it special. He called that pine at the edge of the forest “a magic pine.” I forgot how exactly he was trying to convince me of its magic powers, but it could supposedly grant some of my wishes. He referred to the “magic pine” long after, and I still remember how it looked and felt, and I remember visiting it years after.

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.

Mom Went To Saint Petersburg

Mom went to Saint-Petersburg. Her flight was on Thursday evening. I did not want her to go, but there were some things which she had to do in person, and I found too late that there were ways to avoid the trip. I think that I won’t be able to stop her in any case, and if she decided she needed to go, she would still insist on going there.

I already told all my friends why I worried so much about this trip. In Russia, the vaccination rate is very low (twenty-something percent), and we do not know how many vaccinations are fake. The transmission rate is high; people do not wear masks unless they are forced to do so. For example, they would put the mask on when they enter the subway but take it off immediately after they are in. Or they would be without a mask in the store and pull it on during checkout.


Mom does not wear a mask properly. When I am together with her, I fix it all the time. It is not so important here: she is vaccinated; our vaccination rate is close to 70%; the transmission rate is less than one, and the overwhelming majority of people wear masks and wear them properly. If she goes to Morse Market, I am not overly concerned with her not wearing the mask properly, but it is a different story in Russia.


In addition, there is a lot of paperwork associated with the trips to and from Russia these days. I had to sign her up for two COVID tests, on entrance and on exist, register her at the government website to fill in the form for returning citizens, and fill in several other paper forms, some in Russian, some in English.
I requested a wheelchair for her for the whole trip, but I only managed to get her in it in O’Hare. As she reported, she “didn’t find” it in Helsinki. Having that they wait right on exit from the plane, I agree with Boris that you have to try very hard not to find them… but what can I do?


My friend met her at the airport in Saint -Petersburg, and they went home. For three weeks prior to the trip, I tried to explain to mom that it is dangerous to take public transportation in Saint-Petersburg and that I wanted her to take a cab all the time. Boris gave us a number of a very reliable cab company and asked her to use their services. She resisted for a very long time. I asked my friends in Saint-Petersburg to make sure that she called the cab (she has been doing it for a day and a half now :))


When they came home, they found out that the heating in her apartment was still not turned on. Also, one of the water pipes was leaking (the plumber will only come on Monday), and she could not turn on her electric stove.


And she refused to stay with my friend for the next couple of days… Also, although she is supposed to wait for the test result in Saint -Petersburg, she is going everywhere because nobody is checking.
I want these two weeks to be over (and actually, there are only twelve days left)

At The Field Museum

Since Nadia is all about dinosaurs these days, we planned a visit to the Field Museum. Going there on Tuesday was a great idea – the first day of school was Monday, and the museum was almost empty. One thing neither Anna nor I could predict was how long our visit would last. We thought about 2- 2,5 hours, and we were even thinking about going to the Maggie Daley park afterward (since we didn’t go there on Saturday), but we ended up spending six hours in the museum! Nadia could not get enough of it! 

We started from watching a 3D movie about titanosaurus. Then, we saw the Pacific nations exhibit, then Evoving Earth, Jade, a gemstone exhibit, the Ancient China, Jane Goodall exhibit, the Underground adventure and I think I forgot something :). Nadia kept exploring

August 29, 2021

Everybody asks me about details of Vlad’s engagement, but I do not know what else I can say except for the pictures. Vlad told us a while ago that he will come back to Chicago at the end of August to celebrate his and Anna’s 30th birthday. The date for the party was set in July, and when I told Boris, he said that he would try to come to be here for that milestone birthday. Between the European conferences he had to attend and his dental work, he ended up having only three days. First, I told him it is not worth coming, especially because the girls will be here all the time. He said something to the effect: it’s important for the kids, and I thought: who am I to forbid him from attending his children’s birthday?!


So he flew in Friday evening, just a couple of hours before the girls arrived, and yes, it was a little bit chaotic but very happy. Vlad and Dylon stayed with their friends in Oak Park, so it was quite a journey to attend the party!


Now, about the engagement. Several days before the party, Vlad called me: Mom, I wanted to let you know that I am going to propose to Dylon before the party. And also, his family will be there, so you will get to meet everybody.


To say I was happy would be not enough. I was over the moon. And how awesome it was that Boris was going to be there! Their friends’ house is gorgeous, and they could not find a better place for both the party and the proposal:)

At The Art Institute

We’ve been to two museums with my granddaughters, and both museum visits went surprisingly well.
On Saturday afternoon, Anna suggested that Boris and I would take Nadia to the Art Institute. The Rayan Educational Center in the Art Institute is still closed, and I thought that that would be the biggest attraction, but Nadia said she wanted to go anyway. I asked whether she also wanted to splash in the Crown fountain, but she said no. Well, having the Maggie Daley Park as our backup plan, we headed to the Loop. It was a long way on the Red Line, but Nadia enjoyed peering out of the window, looking at the people, streets, and cars from the elevation of the L.

We entered the Art Institute from the Modern Wing Entrance, and I decided to take a shot at viewing the contemporary art. We ended up looking at one or two artworks in each room, and I answered Nadia’s questions about them and told her what I feel looking at these pieces, and she told me how they felt for her. I think we both enjoyed that experience, and just at the moment I thought that that was enough for one visit Nadia said that that was enough:)

Some pictures which caught our attention:

We talked about why the bodies are painted with different colors
We talked about two faces on one face
Nadia surprised me by asking why the woman in the picture looks so angry – I didn’t even notice it before she mentioned!
Nadia liked this Mardi Gras picture
And she really liked all the Buddhas!

On the way back, we took the Brown Line and later switched to the Red Line. I think, Boris enjoyed it more than Nadia:), but I agree it was a great idea – seen the Loop from above!

What Is Going On With My Life

The past six days were packed with events, and I do not even know where to start.  

It all started when Vlad mentioned that he would come to Chicago to celebrate his (and Anna’s) 30th birthday. Their birthday is on August 23, and Vlad told us that he would have a party on August 29. When I mentioned it to Boris, he said he would try to come, but he had two conferences right before that (ending August 26) and some dental work scheduled for September 1. When he told me he could only come for three days, I told him that it’s not worth it. He replied to the effect that it is important “for the kids,” and I backed up :). I told him, though, that it will be very hectic. And that’s how it was! 

And as if it was not enough, I had an “extra bonus” of an extremely long and tiring discussion with the Russian translator of our book. This story probably deserves a separate blog post, but for now, I will say that it took a lot of time which could be spent more joyfully. I was running on four hours of sleep again, and then the family weekend was here. I promised the translator that I will deliver a final review over the weekend, and since I had zero time during the day, I ran on four hours of sleep for several more days.

The time spent with my girls was such fun, though! The four days were packed with activities and kept everybody, including me, very busy.

And four days before the party Vlad called me and said that he is going to propose to Dylon before the party! And then, he planned a lunch with the family on Monday.

And we had another million activities with the girls, and I took two days off work while already having a backlog :). 

To summarize: I am very happy, very tired, and very sleep deprived 🙂