News, Updates, And Random Thoughts

My mortgage is approved, but unfortunately, the closing date was not moved forward. That means that I have only twelve days between closing and moving in, and all of the painting, appliance installation, repairs have to be done within this timeframe.

It’s a challenge, but it also means that I have some certainty. I finalized my decision on the moving company and put in the deposit. Also, my co-worker recommended the painter, and today, he came to my new place to estimate the painting quote. I hope it will be something reasonable!

The sellers’ agent shared some contractors’ contacts with me, and I am going to start calling to have all appliances serviced.

Now I feel less nervous and agitated than I was for the past two weeks because I am done with all mortgage paperwork, and I decided on the major vendors.

On another note, the situation with vaccines looks better and better. Not to mention that now all my close family members are fully vaccinated, I also received two calls about vaccination options. I do not need them anymore, but the fact that they are coming my way tells me that there is more availability now.
I won’t be able to do any volunteering until after my move, but I was delighted to receive two calls to volunteer at the vaccination sites. That also says that more and more options are open.

Now, I started to pay closer attention to the fact that some people do not want to be vaccinated, and these numbers worry me. I thought that this population is smaller and that it mostly consists of uneducated people. But in the last several days, I ran into several internet discussions, which left me horrified. I can’t comprehend how well-educated people can preach such stupid things! How they can seriously think that the vaccination is a plot of (all??) governments against (humanity??)

I am not sure what to do with the potential mom’s trip to Russia. The last time she was in Russia was in September 2019. Then she was planning to go in April 202, but then COVID happened. She wanted to go that September, but I urged her to go earlier because nobody knows whether the current shot’s protection will last longer than six months. If it weren’t for her credit card expiration, I would tell her not to go at all, but they do not reissue credit cards without an in-person visit in Russia. Her Visa expires in September, and without it, she won’t be able to use the money she receives as a pension.

When I told her about six months, she got scared, and now I am unsure whether she wants to go at all. I am fine with her not going, but she might lose access to her money entirely. In any case, nothing is going to happen until the end of June, and after that, we will see how the situation will change.

Junk Removal

Yesterday, I had my first experience with the junk removal service. Several very old pieces of furniture, which I could not even donate, had to be recycled. It is not cheap, but I had to do something fast because I needed these pieces to be out of the way. It took close to two hours for two people to remove this junk: two old beds, one big dresser, two desks, a table, an old vacuum cleaner, and an old steamer. 

Vlad and Dylon came midday to take some Vlad’s stuff and throw away lots of other things. They helped me a lot, but I am frightened to observe that the work volume decreased insignificantly. I still have o idea how I will finish all I need to finish in time!

Moving Progress: Mom’s New Apartment

Once again, not “too many things are happening at once,” but way too many! 

I was not posting anything for several days, and now that I carved ten minutes, I do not even know where to start.

On the positive side: we finally secured an apartment for mom. It was real teamwork; Vlad picked several places and went to see them. He asked the manager to send us videos, and we all watched them. All of us (Vlad, Igor, and I ) had the same favorite; the challenge was to explain to my mom that that would be the best location for her. It took us a while, and I am not sure whether we convinced her or she just gave up:) But honestly, if my house would be at the same location as her apartment, I would like it more :).

It took a lot of back and forths to finalize the process. My biggest accomplishment was that this time mom is a renter, not just a tenant. I still had to be her co-signer, but her name is on the lease.

One big hurdle was the fact that since I am in the process of getting my mortgage, I could not have my credit report pulled, and that would be required for the lease.

My loan officer emailed me a recent copy of my credit report. First, the leasing company didn’t even want to look at it, and Anna volunteered to co-sign with mom. But when they saw the actual report, they called me and said it was almost too much information :). 

And the last challenge was to have my mom sign the lease over the DocuSign. I had to come to her place and help her, but now we are all set!

That was one of the big items I crossed off my list. 

Move Progress

The painting of my current house is finally done! It took almost three days, and that was just one floor. Now I am scared to think how long my new house’s painting might take, mainly because the windows need to be sanded and painted, too.

The folks whom I hired did a great job, and they were also very careful with everything. I paid them a little over what they’ve asked because their bid was pretty low, yet they went above and beyond. I might hire them to paint my new house if they agree to travel that far and agree on the price.

That’s how everything looks now:

Also, look like we found an apartment for my mom. Vlad looked at three apartments on Friday and sent me the videos from the leasing agency. All of us, Vlad, Igor, and I, loved the one which seemed to be the furthest away from me. First, I thought that that’s a deal-breaker, but when I looked closely at the map, I realized that it is very close to the CTA, within walking distance to the local grocery store, and after all, not that far from my place.

Then I went to mom, showed her the videos, and spent almost two hours convincing her :). I explained that being closer to me (one of these apartments) will bring her further from the grocery store and further away from the CTA, and the surroundings will not be so nice. I am positive that we made the right choice for her, and I hope that she will realize it later. If my new place were at her new location, I would like it even more 🙂

One and a half items crossed off the list:)

A Week Ago

I can’t believe it was just a week ago! Eight days, to be exact, but still. Our real estate agent sent us a list of four potential properties. Vlad and I looked through them. First, I didn’t think I liked either of them too much but thought that a couple of them is worth looking at just for the sake of looking. 

When we went over the list with Vlad, I told him about the second property on the list: this one is not going to work, there are only two bedrooms. Vlad replied: Mom, you should look at that house! Remember my old house which you liked so much? I did remember. I liked the place which Vlad rented with two roommates so much that I thought about buying something like that. And I agreed with him that we should take a look. 

We decide to look at two listed properties: that house at Jarvis station and another close by. 

We entered a courtyard and saw outdoor furniture and balconies, which seemed to be a vital part of the community life. Then we entered the apartment. It was huge but in severe need of painting and cleaning. We walked through, looking at all the details and the condition of all appliances. 

Then, we walked to the next house, and o the way there, Vlad and I realized that we didn’t check the fitness center and the bike storage. So after seeing the second house (which we didn’t like), we asked our agent whether we can come back one more time to see all these facilities. He said – yes, and after we looked, he asked whether we want to come upstairs and see the apartment one more time.

So we went in one more time, and when we were walking down the stairs, we saw a lady unlocking the door one floor below. We asked her: how long do you live here? And she said – from the very beginning, from 2005. And then we asked her: how do you like here? And she replied: I will never move anywhere else! And she went on telling us what a wonderful community it is and how people are together and supporting each other. 

And the way she took time to tell us about the community and the people was that last decisive factor :). I thought that I am going to move to the right place 🙂


I told mom about the move and about everything I know so far about the house and the neighborhood. I told her that she would feel better there because there will be sidewalks and people on the streets and parks with benches. However, she kept saying: all that matters is that I will be close to you. It feels really sad. She is saying that she is my fourth child now, and that’s pretty close to reality. I was trying to tell her that all I want for her is to live a happy and peaceful life. But wherever the conversation goes, it comes to the point that she can’t be away from me, just like a small child. The only thing she worried about with our timeline was how long she would have to stay in Palatine after I move.

Nothing I can do about it, but it makes me think that there is a sad irony in this situation. When I was a child, she did everything she could to cultivate my unhealthy attachment to her so that I could not be happy when she was away. And now she feels the same way. And I know that I could even yell at her, and she won’t protest. It does not make me happy. I wish she won’t be such a controlling personality when I was a child and that she would be a happier person now. But it is what it is.

Starting A Big Move

Looks like this is the best way to let my friends know: the decision is made. I (or rather the whole family) initiated the project “Hettie’s Big Move.”

I am moving to the city, and moving mom to the city, and there are hundreds of moving parts in this process. The only thing i know for sure is that the move has to be completed by July, which is if you think about it, coming very soon. So, as I’ve said earlier today – this spring is going to be really exciting!

Spring/Early Summer 1965. Nanny Katia

No pictures from the first half of 1965, and once again, some pictures taken in the summer (from late spring to early fall). Once again, I am staying in Sosnovaya Polyana with Baba Ania and Deda Fedya. Mom is still commuting to work, 1.5 hours one way.

A new person is Nanny Katia. Katia was somebody’s relative “from a village.” The peasants’ slavery at collective farms was more or less over, and the peasants were not only allowed but were required to have passports. However, one could not move to another place on their own will, especially from a village to a city. Many of my relatives from my mom’s side still lived “in a village,” not because they wanted to be there. The kolhozniki (“collective farmer”) had neither enough food nor general merchandise available for them even in the mid-sixties, although they were no hunger deaths like in the 20s and 30s. Still, people lacked basics and were looking for opportunities to move to a city – any city.

I just visited my mom, and I asked her when Nanny Katia started to live with us and whether she was there when my father was still around. She said – yes, and she added that Nanny Katia slept on a camp bed which she would set at the End of the Hallway. That would make sense because it would be difficult to set up a cot in our small room. And that means that she didn’t hear what was going on.

I still think that Nanny Katia came to live with us at the beginning of 1965 or the earliest possible – at the end of 1964. She stayed until I started preschool (detskiy sad) in fall 1967.

In Sosnovaya Polyana, and yes, the same jacket
Do not ask me, why a year ago I wore valenki, and a year later – sandals, both time with the same jacket and the same hat.
Here is Nanny Katia, I think she didn’t even turn 18 yet on that picture. I loved her.
Continue reading “Spring/Early Summer 1965. Nanny Katia”

Beginning of 1965

I finished my last “historical” post with the memories of me climbing on the kitchen stool to wash my hands and looking at the sun in the kitchen window. It’s January 1965, and I am two years old. That’s the moment in my life starting from which I remember not just the episodes, but I remember how my life was unfolding as a story. Even though I might not remember some particular details, I remember my life in pretty much the same manner as I remember my adult life. Pushing the stool to the sink and turning on the faucet was a part of the morning routine. Sitting by the large kitchen table covered with vinyl tablecloth was a routine. Nanny Katia appeared in my life later that year, and my previous nannies (Nanny Olya, Nanny Sveta) faded from my memories. Our walks on the English Embankment (which was called the Red Fleet Embankment at that time) were parts of the daily routine as well. 

My parents started to fight almost every night – that was the routine as well. 

I am trying to piece it all together, and I know I should make myself open the box with their letters to restore the chronology of events, but I do not feel like doing it, at least today. Maybe I will return to this post later and edit it. But these night fights should have to be happening before Nanny Katia started to live with us, which means it should have been in the very beginning of 1965. 

I have no idea why my parents thought it’s OK to fight when I was presumably sleeping. I knew better than make any noises and reveal the fact that I was not asleep. But I remember these heated arguments, maybe not every night but quite often. I do not remember whether my father stayed with us at night at that time. I know that it sounds contradictory because I just said that I remember everything from my childhood, but I know that my mom tried hard to erase all memories (at least, all positive memories) of my father. For example, she removed all pictures where my father and I are together from the photo album, except for those where I cry. I found the rest of the pictures when Boris and I scanned the original films. 

I can’t imagine they could think that I am asleep when they yelled at each other, but they pretended so. Also, I do not know why being just two years old I already knew that I should not let them know I am listening. 

I remember these scenes. I was in my crib; I remember peering through the rods, and I remember the night light on the desk and both of them screaming at each other. 

Also, by that time, I knew that mom wanted me to hate my father. And to be honest, I remember when I hated him for my own reasons, not because mom wanted so. I remember sometime in the fall of 1964, we were on a walk together, and I wet my pants. By cultural standards of that time, babies older than 12 months were expected to use the potty most of the time and have only occasional accidents. When a child started walking, they were not wearing diapers anymore, and the accidents were visible. 

I was 20 or 21 months old, and I wet my pants outside, and those were nice red pants. My father got angry and spanked me. I remember occasional accidents which happened in my mom’s presence. She never scolded me; she just laughed it off. Later, I read about these accidents in her diaries, and I know she didn’t think it was a big deal. Anyway, that’s the only instance I remember I was mad at my father. In all other cases, I just knew my mother wanted me to hate him and that when she asked me whether I wanted to have a father, I was supposed to say that I don’t.  

These questions would happen in the later years; in 1965, nobody asked me what I wanted.

I do not remember being particularly scared by these late-night fights, and I do not remember having any nightmares. And during the day, life was normal. 

Another frequent thing from the same time: climbing these stairs inside our apartment. Because of the ceilings’ height on each floor, I had to climb about 9.5 meters (30 feet) up, and the steps were stip. I only had a stroller for a very short time. Since I started walking, the expectations were that I could walk by myself almost everywhere. I remember being jealous when I saw other small children in the strollers on the streets because I was often very tired b=coming back from the walks with my mom or nanny. And then, I had to climb these stairs! That’s one of my worst memories of my early childhood. I would stay by the door and cry and won’t step on the stairs, and my mom would get mad and start to yell at me. 

I think it’s enough of the sad episodes from my early childhood, mainly because, once again, I didn’t think about them as making me a miserable child. That was just life like other children had…

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.