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We are leaving for Long Island tomorrow to visit Bear's family until Monday. We come back Monday night, and then Tuesday morning my Mom will whisk Tanya and I away to their house, while Bear starts his work meeting season and will be away until Saturday. So a week of travel. We are going to try to leave early to beat the worst of the heat - New York is in the middle of another heatwave. This summer has been very hot and humid. I left the house for maybe ten minutes today at 9am to go to the post office and bank and the walk was a bit too much already.

This week has been pretty ordinary. My Mom came over on Monday morning and both my parents were over today (Papa was just working from my place) but otherwise it was just the usual schedule of breakfast, playground, lunch, nap, hanging out, cooking etc. Today we stayed home all day because of the heat, so it was nice to have parents around.

I've been watching Olympics in the evening. (I haven't had the TV just on for a long time. I usually watch just very specific shows and often on my laptop. Or a specific movie on DVD. It's a little weird to just have it on) I only have regular antenna, no cable, so I have to suffer the Primetime Coverage. It has mostly been gymnastics and swimming, which was fun to watch but I wish they showed other sports too. This afternoon, we actually turned the TV on and watched a little trampoline, which was fun, and led to Tanya jumping on the couch for bit. (I let her watch like 10 minutes occasionally. Her favorite was diving. I made a fake pool out of her box of shapes and a fake tower out of a zombie bowling game carton. She made her toys do some diving :) )

I also, kind of, accidentally got a tutoring job, I think. We'll see. These two little kids come to the playground with their nanny and their speech therapist. We've been friendly all spring/summer, but not really getting too personal. In June, after Tanya started stuttering a bit, I even sought the advice of the speech therapist (she said it is a totally normal phase and not to worry or correct her). Anyhow, last Thursday a week ago, my Mom was over and came to the playground with us. The next day, the speech therapist, Anya, randomly asked if my Mom was coming again and I explained that she comes occasionally but will be here more consistently once I start work again in September. Which led into her discovery that I teach college writing. She has a 5th grader and an 8th grader and she is looking for a new writing tutor for them as they don't click with their last one. So she immediately wanted to hire me. I thought about over the weekend, since I haven't taught kids that young in a while, but I think it should be fine. And it won't hurt to try. Anyway, we will see. If it doesn't work, no harm. It would be nice to have extra money though. And it is really good money.

Last weekend was nice. I didn't have to go anywhere. I did have a big list of things to do. I've done everything on it, so I felt pretty productive.

Weekend Task List )

Tanya made up laugh this week. It was close to bedtime and we were just done with the bath and she was making some monkey noises. Bear asked her in Russian, "Tanya, ty obez'yana?" (Tanya, are you a monkey?) and she said, in a very firm voice, "Nyet! Tanya ne obez'yana. Tanya Tanya." (No! Tanya is not a monkey. Tanya is Tanya). My little philosopher.
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I'm watching the Olympic Opening Ceremony right now. The parade of nations. I love the Parade of Nations. It's just fun seeing different uniforms and so many excited people. And a geography review! And I can blog while it's going on. I watched the first 20 minutes of Opening Ceremonies (NBC stared it an hour late to fit 8pm primetime, I missed the Olympic music theme on NBC), and then had to go put Tanya to bed. I had my phone with me so as she was settling down I downloaded the only app you can watch the Olympics on the the US: NBC Sports. Then I was generously given 30 minutes of Temporary Pass so I can watch the Ceremony that was airing free on TV. After that, one has to input their cable provider details to keep watching. We don't have cable. We have just internet and Netflix, which is more than enough. The last Olympics (Winter 2014) I watched online was with my parents' password but they cancelled cable this year too because it was getting too expensive. I couldn't sneak out of the room until 9:40 since Tanya had trouble falling asleep, so I missed Belarus walking. I did find a clip on YouTube though. I will watch letters C on live, which is great. I just really don't like NBC viewing policies. I wish they set up a way to pay for Olympic Access - I would pay $20 to watch, for example. Anyway, yay Olympics. I love Olympics. I was wearing my USA Olympic T-Shirt all day. I got it in 2008 and I usually just wear it on 4th of July and during Olympics.

This weekend is going to be nice and quiet and I'm looking forward to that. We have no plans, we won't have to go anywhere, unlike last weekend. Last Saturday we went to the playground in the morning, managed to have Tanya nap for a hour before waking her up to take a train to Long Island City. We went to a Thai restaurant, Tuk-Tuk, to celebrate Tanya's and Ida's 2nd birthdays with Marianna and her family, her Dad, sister and brother-in-law, Yeva and my friend Olya. (Tanya and Ida, Marianna's youngest daughter, were born two days apart). Tanya behaved well on an hour train ride and we had a really good time at the restaurant. (Well, she did get a little bored after eating her rice - she demanded her rice - and was saying 'domoi, domoi' or 'home, home' for a bit but then she went to play and color with Galya and Ida and was running around a little). The food was delicious, it was great to hang out and I haven't seen my friend Olya since the last year's birthday party, so it was really great to catch up. We were hoping to go to the playground with the views of Manhattan after, but it was pouring rain, so we just took the subway back.

I've noticed that lately I've been getting more and more anxious if we have to go somewhere. I hate being late, always did, and I usually plan well, but I catch myself getting more snappy and stressed when we have to travel. I really need to relax. We got to the restaurant at 3:05 for 3pm meeting time, I planned well and there was a nap. Everything went really, really smoothly. At yet I was stressed up until we got on the first train. I really need to curb it and figure out why it is so much worse lately. (Marianna and I moved the time to 3pm from 2:30pm but didn't tell Yeva on purpose. She got in at reasonable time :) Some people really don't worry about it).

On Sunday, my parents came over in the morning, but it was raining so (Go, Team USA - they just walked in!) we just hung out at home. In the afternoon, Bear, Tanya and I went to visit my grandparents. So the weekend was very nice and it was great to see everyone but a quiet weekend would be really nice.

On Monday, I took Tanya to the pediatrician for her well-visit checkup. We've been practicing with her toy medical kit, so she would know what to expect (she probably forgot since last time). We took it with us too to the delight of Nurse Masha. The visit went very well. Just a little crying during one shot and some crying at the blood test, but soothed well with a lollipop. She's 35 inches (89cm) and almost 27 pounds. Of course, she still recounts getting that blood test five days later, pointing at her vein by the inner elbow and telling us how we went to Doctor Aibolit (a doctor from a children's poem) and Nurse Masha and another Nurse took blood and how Tanya 'plakala, plakala, plakala, plakala i potom uspokoilas' 'cried, cried, cried, cried and then calmed down." And then tells me how we took the bandaid off. She likes to recap her injuries. Like months later she still talks how she fell and scraped her knee, and all her toys fall and have to get pretend wiped with rubbing alcohol.

The rest of my week was pretty ordinary. I finished reading Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children , which was alright but I don't want to read sequels. (I will do a book post this weekend) I started Maurice Druon's She-Wolf . I really missed reading him. His prose is so easy and airy and just lovely to read. I still have 50 minutes of Jonathan Strange to watch. I did watch Minions movie as I did the exercise bike. It was cute but really not necessary. And I've been cross stitching the little owls.
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Soup Project 2014: Soup 6 - Borsch

I wanted to make borsch for the longest time. It is a classic Russian soup and a staple since my childhood, whether warm in a winter with beef or cold in the summer without beef with egg and fresh cucumbers (so good). But for some reason it was always intimidating to me. I started the soup project with an intention to finally master it. And it is actually pretty easy. I called my Mom and asked how she makes it - there are so many version but I always loved my grandmother's and my Mom's the best. (I didn't like my Aunt's). She doesn't like recipes and thinks I should have just absorbed by osmosis but I got her to tell me the basics. Lately, she's been doing borsch without meat, but I wanted a classic version with beef. (It's pretty the same, just beef has to boil for 1.5 hours first before veggies. It just veggie versions, just boil water and dump all veggies for 30 minutes. My Mom loves to add celery and whatever veggies are around, but I'm not a fan of celery. Vary the veggies and their number based on preference - beet is a must.


1 chunk of beef, still frozen (again I just have a bunch in the freezer)
1 large beet, peeled and shredded
1 onion, chopped
1 leak, cleaned and chopped
2 potatoes, peeled and chopped into 1 inch pieces
1 large carrot, sliced
some sauerkraut (I use the Russian version, from the local store, so it is not quite the same as the American one. I don't add a lot. I didn't measure it).
salt to taste
sour cream
a dash of dill


1. Take a small pot, put the chunk of frozen beef in cold water. Boil. Once the water has boiled, pour out the water and put the beef in a large pot (I use my biggest pot to make soup for the week). Cover with fresh cold water to 3/4 of the pot, bring to boil, and then lower the heat. The meat should boil by itself in a pot for about an hour and a half overall after you take it out of the freezer. Meanwhile, chop and prep all the veggies. Skip this step if just making vegetarian version and just boil water instead.

2. After beef was boiling for an hour and a half, add all the vegetables at once (the consistency of the soup is up to you. Add more veggies for thicker soups). Stir it a bit. Add salt to taste.

3. Let it boil on low heat for 30-40 minutes.

4. Take the beef out and cut it up in small pieces. It should be clearly fully cooked. Put back in the pot.

5. Pour into a bowl. Add a table spoon of sour cream and a little washed dill for taste. A piece of black bread will also go well.

I accidentally dumped more salt than I was planning on and I was afraid the soup was ruined. But it was a big pot so disaster was averted. In fact, it came out quite good and tasty so I consider my first venture into borsch a success. Yay!

It really feels like Sunday since it is a holiday and we were home. We even went grocery shopping today. I also finished re-reading Equiano's autobiography for class and graded a few papers. And we watched biathlon with dinner. Go, Belarus! While I do cheer for US quite often, I also root for the country of my birth and they are doing quite well.
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Soup Project 2014: Soup 5 - Split Pea Soup

This one is a little bit of a cheat since this is the soup I've made before - have been making it for a while now. It is my go to soup. The recipe is the one my Mom gave me and she doesn't really follow recipes - she watched how her mother cooked. (My Grandmother was the best cook ever, so that was a good strategy). Split pea soup has been my favorite since childhood and I really wanted some, so it is this week's soup project. The recipe is approximate, I guestimate ingredients and vary them depending on what is in my fridge. It takes 2 hours to cook it with beef and about an hour without beef.


1 chunk of beef, still frozen (I have no idea what cut it is. My Mom buys beef in Costco, cuts it up in soup chunks, about size of a palm and puts that in my freezer.)
1/4 pound green split peas (1/4 of a bag)
1/4 pound yellow split peas
1 onion, chopped
2 potatoes, peeled and chopped into cubes
2 carrots, one peeled and chopped, another peeled and grated
1 leek, cut to small pieces
salt to taste


1. Take a small pot, put the chunk of frozen beef in cold water. Boil. Once the water has boiled, pour out the water and put the beef in a large pot (I use my biggest pot to make soup for the week). Cover with fresh cold water to 3/4 of the pot, bring to boil, and then lower the heat. The meat should boil by itself in a pot for about an hour overall after you take it out of the freezer. Meanwhile, chop and prep all the veggies.

2. After the beef was in a pot for an hour, add yellow and green split peas (after washing them). Stir and cook for 20 minutes.

3. 20 minutes after adding peas, add all the other veggies (onion, carrot, potato, leak). Stir and leave on low/medium heat for about 40 minutes.

4. 40 minutes after adding the veggies, take the beef out and cut it up in small pieces. It should be clearly fully cooked. Put back in the pot. Turn off the gas after 5 more minutes.

It came out really tasty as usual. I add salt at the end just a little. Mostly I let Bear add salt to his own bowl, since he likes it much more saltier than me. Great with fresh black bread.

Mostly home today; we just went grocery shopping. My parents came over because our tax accountant works nearby and they were doing the taxes today. They went to the mall this morning to check out a maternity store there, and Mama got me three nice shirts that would be good for work. And she brought me some of her old cardigans and a dress that would work nicely too. I'm trying to work as much with what we have and not buy too much stuff. And I also got a Cupcake Magazine that the store was promoting.

We also watched Olympics on/off throughout the day. I love the biathlon and I caught the women's one, which was fun. Also I watched some ski jumping, luge and ice skating. Olympics are awesome.
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I think I watched too much TV/starred at Internet too much yesterday. I was catching up on my missed TV shows for the week like "Sherlock" and "Supernatural" and then I was watching Olympics Opening Ceremony for four hours and I still have a headache today. Not being able to take anything for it sucks. But I'm managing.

The reason I can't take medication (well, I can take Tylenol if I get really desperate) is because I have actual news that I can now talk about. Bear and I are expecting a Baby Bear in the summer, due August 2. We found out right before Thanksgiving and the timing worked out well because I was home in January during the miserable first trimester period. The second trimester feels better. Bear is a bit terrified about the whole thing, while I'm mostly excited (which is surprising to me because I thought I would be much more nervous about it).

I'm very glad Olympics have started. I probably won't get to watch them a lot, but I'll try to do as much as I can. I can log on online using my Dad's cable account - so some events I can watch online. I really enjoyed the Opening Ceremony. My favorite part, weirdly, was the "War and Peace" ballet. I'm not normally a ballet fan but that was fantastic. And I got a bit nostalgic for my childhood when they showed various Soviet era details to "Time Flies". I was born in Soviet Union, watched it fall apart when I was eleven and left for America at twelve, almost thirteen. So all those songs were my songs.

Today I went to the Met Opera with my Mom in the afternoon to see Dvorak's "Rusalka" with Renee Fleming in the main role, while my Dad went to see a movie. We met up at 11:30 in the Whole Foods in Columbus Circle and got some lunch. I liked the music but it was making me a little sleepy. I spent Act II with my eyes closed, listening to music/slightly napping, which helped me to stay awake later.

After the opera was over, we took the subway down to 34th street since I wanted to pick up some jeans and Mama wanted to come to see what maternity options were available in those stores. We went to Old Navy for jeans and H&M for some shirts. She actually bought then for me which was very nice of my parents. But now I have jeans I can actually wear.

On Thursday, I forgot to mention that I finished another book. Christopher and His Kind by Christopher Isherwood. It is his autobiography of his Berlin years and years before he came to the US. It was really interested to read, mainly for all the famous people he had as friends and colleagues. And a good perspective on that time period. The movie is on Netflix and I will probably watch it now.
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This has been a weird week. We had two snow storms in New York and because of them and because of the wake and the funeral for Bear's Grandma I only worked one day this week. And I spent three days and nights in Long Island at Bear's parents' house.

The wake was originally scheduled for Monday but Monday morning came with the gigantic snowstorm (a very pretty snowstorm after it all settled, but still). I was all ready to go to work and then take a train to Long Island, but my classes were cancelled for the day because of the storm. So I was just going to go with Bear straight to his parents. As we left around 9am, his Dad called to say that because of the snow they decided to postpone the wake to the next day and funeral for Wednesday. But we were already on the road, driving slowly and carefully and we decided to just keep going. That way we could be there for his parents and Bear could shovel their driveway and do anything snow related that needed to be done. I spent most of the day in their house commenting on rough drafts.

On Tuesday, I cancelled my classes at University so I could go to the wake. I worked on papers in the morning. Then we spend 2 to 4 and then 7 to 9 at a funeral home for the viewing and went to eat in between at an Italian place. Bear's godmother Mary drove all the way from Pennsylvania for three hours to be there and it was nice to see her despite the circumstances. She just came for the afternoon because of the Wednesday expected snow/ice storm and drove four hours back that day. Viewing are generally pretty strange.

On Wednesday, my school had a delayed opening because of the new snow storm and after some debate in the morning whether I should try to go teach my afternoon class (my morning one was cancelled) I decided to just cancel it so I could go to the funeral and also not travel in nasty ice rain. Bear's family is Catholic, so there was a funeral mass and then we drove in a family limo for an hour to a cemetery in Queens. There weren't a lot of people (a lot more came the night before) because of the storm but it was a very classy family goodbye. The cemetery service was very quick because of cold, freezing icy rain and then we went back to Long Island and went to lunch where we could reminisce about Carolina a little. In the late afternoon, Bear spend some time looking at his grandmother's photo albums and I was looking at the family tree book one of the relatives has made. Carolina was one of nine children. She was of a German descent and the family member traced the family back to 1680 in Germany. I do love geneology. Plus the book had various memories of Carolina too. Bear told me he felt like Harry Potter who discovers in Book 7 that he didn't know Dumbledore at all, since he only knew his grandmother as his grandmother and only at a certain point of her life. I think it is true of all people, though.

On Thursday, I needed to head back to work and it was long, long trip by two trains that took close to four hours. And it was still very icy, so I tried to walk slowly and carefully. I taught my classes and then my Dad picked me up and drove me home finally. And I caught up on the Internet. And watched a bit of Olympic Games too. I really love the Olympics so I'm looking forward to that. But, yes, a heavy weird week.
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Today was my wedding shower, so most of the day was about that. I got to wear my nice summer light green color dress and nice black shoes. Papa drove Mama and me to the restaurant in Brooklyn where the party was taking place and then he went to drop things off at my apartment and visit my grandparents. There were about ten of us in the restaurant, including Yeva (who was hosting), Marianna, Janna, Yeva’s Mom, my Mom, Bear’s Mom and sister, my cousin Anna and my friend Fran.

I’ve never been to a wedding shower before (it is not a Russian tradition) but it ended up being pretty nice. I got to wear silly pink bunny ears that said “bride to be” on them and Yeva brought balloons. I think I was just nervous about so many people having to interact and all the drama that Bear’s family can be. Also, Yeva, in her Russian perspective, expected all the people to pay for lunch themselves but I knew the American side expected the host to pay. So I gave Yeva 2/3 of the money to cover most people except my closest friends, who are also Russian and expected to pay. That actually made me feel more relaxed about the shower and enjoy it more. I used some of my birthday money but it was worth the peace of mind.

The food was very good – unlimited cocktails (although I just had one pina colada since I was taking Advil today), and a nice brunch menu with salad and desert. And I got to open lots of presents. I got a lot of tea stuff from Teavana – I just had a thermos on my list but Marianna got me a gift set with lots of teas and Anna got me a lot of nice tea too. There were also lots of other nice gifts.

After the restaurant, everyone wanted to see the apartment so we all went. Anna came in our car and she texted my Uncle and Aunt to meet us there – there were hanging around in Brooklyn and visiting my grandparents too. So everyone came, saw our new place. Next up – wedding in two weeks. Everything turned out well today.

And in the evening to make it a perfect day, we watched the Olympic closing ceremony. I adore British music so it was a great giant music party that made me want to dance. My favorite part was definitely Eric Idle. Now comes Olympic TV crash with no more sports to watch.

My Highlander fanfic was also due today so I scrambled to finish writing it. I still need to proof it but I did at least post it. I’ll need to proofread it this week.
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Last night I had a giant migraine and went to sleep at 10 (or rather went to bed so it would be nice and dark and quiet and had to put up with assholes outside talking loudly until about midnight). Not much was going on yesterday – I did watch some Olympics like diving and read more.

This morning my head was better but what really helped was going rollerblading. Combination of fresh air and exercise always helps.

I’m getting back in the teaching mode. Work starts in two and three weeks (history is two weeks, writing in three weeks). So I spent some time setting up websites for my classes and looking up rosters and putting together all syllabi and first assignments. I decided I’m going to keep the readings for Basic Composition but tweak the assignments a little to make them understand concepts more. So they will still write their first paper about women and agency in the developing world but we will talk what agency means by getting them to think about their own lives too.

Since the NBC coverage spent like an hour on WWII and England tonight for their Olympic coverage, Mama and I went to the computer and watched rhythmic gymnastics instead. We mainly focused on the Russians and the Belarusian girl. Rhythmic gymnastics are so graceful – it is like dancing and incredible flexibility with props. Gorgeous. Also, the best part of watching it online was no commentators whatsoever. We could just watch the routine. Then I watched Men 10m platform diving. I can’t believe the Olympics are almost over.
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For the last few weeks I was not in the mood for books. I have at least two books sitting on my nightstand but I just have not been picking them up. (I’m starting Eco but I’m just not feeling it right now). I have been reading a little more Sandman “Endless Nights” and my National Geographic and fanfic but not actual books. So today I went to take a look at my shelf of books to read and I figured maybe picking up a non-fiction would work. And it did. I started “Infidel” by Ayaan Hirsi Ali, her memoir and I already read 50 pages. She recounts her childhood in Somalia, Saudi Arabia and other African and Middle Eastern counties and then her adulthood in the Western world. I do like autobiographies and especially about a complete different culture. This book is making me very grateful that I was born in the Western World (well, Eastern European World of Soviet Union and then USA when I was almost 13). Especially as a woman. Reading an account of her circumcision was very difficult. I’m looking forward to the rest of the book.

I like having the Olympics in the background and watching random events. I do wish they would show the full decathlon, not just the two Americans.
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It was hot again today so I didn’t leave the house much. I did go to the bank since I need to start preparing envelopes to pay people for the wedding. The rest of the day wasn’t really eventful.

My throat feels a bit scratchy. I hope it doesn’t develop into anything major although I’d rather be sick this week than in the end of the month.

The Mars landing of Curiosity is super awesome. I wish I followed it more last night.


I watched some synchronized swimming, some track and field like hurdles and pole vault, and gymnastics today. Grenada’s winning first gold was so emotional – Kirani James was crying. Damn you, NBC promotional segments meant to elicit tears and drama! For gymnastics, I watched men’s rings – one of my favorite apparatuses, men’s vault and women’s high bar. The rings do impress me most. And I really don’t know how those women do all that synchronized swimming – it is hard enough to hold yourself above water. I liked the Russian routine a lot – it was so much fun.

I did like the Longitude segment of NBC broadcast – one of my favorite memories of study abroad in London in 2000 was standing on the Prime Meridian line. I still have the picture of being both in the East and West Hemisphere at the same time. I wanted to do that since I was a kid and actually getting there was just amazing.
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Mama woke me at 7:20 today since she wanted an early start. We don’t have the air conditioner in the new apartment yet, just a fan, so she wanted to go start cleaning before it got too hot. We stopped by my grandmother’s to grab my copy of the keys that Bear made yesterday and dropped them off. Today, Mama and I tackled the kitchen. I watched the fridge. All the little nooks and crannies. We also lined some of the drawers and washed and put away half of kitchen things. We will finish it tomorrow. And I’m going to tackle the bathroom. The apartment is not a terrible mess or anything but I think it was empty for a while and it is dusty and wasn’t clean to my standards. There is a lot to do and I’m glad we have another three weeks to do it.

Bear called around noon to say that super was going to come around 3:30 to install one of the air conditioners. Mama and I were ready to go home after more than three hours of cleaning but we obviously hung around. We got sandwiches at the deli – very delicious – and ate them at DunkinDonuts. And we went around different discount stores were I was picking up little things like a mop, welcome mat, step-stool, bathroom mat, etc. Then we waited in a hot apartment with no air conditioner. The super only showed up at 4:30 and just took a look at the air conditioner. He and his son will install this one and the one Bear is bringing on Sunday and he will fix a small leak in the kitchen sink. But we basically hung around half a day for nothing. Bear will deal with it on Sunday.

Fun link: Facts about US foreigners don’t believe until they visit.

Olympics. NBC spend 30 minutes of primetime coverage to recap 1996 women’s gymnastics and only showed one long jump. Argh. I took a shower during volleyball coverage and then watched some swimming, running and throwing just waiting for the trampoline. Trampoline is amazing! They are jumping so high and all those twists look complex and beautiful. We only got to see three routines, though. I’m going to try to catch the replay for this, because that was awesome.
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After such a long day on my feet yesterday, and two days ahead of me with a lot to do, today was a bit of a rest day. At least I didn’t go for my usual walk. I did go to my second dress fitting – and they only need to fix the shoulder strap – and to the Russian store for bread. And I stopped by the salon there and arranged for wedding make-up person to come to the house. Yeva was going to do it – but there were just too many logistics involved as she wanted to do at her house, and that is just too much driving around.

Other than that I was pretty much home.

I did wake up at 7 to make a very cranky Bear’s breakfast (lack of sleep is not his friend) and then he went to the apartment. They fixed the windows and the IKEA guys came even earlier than scheduled. So that’s done. Now I need to really clean it and put the kitchen in order. Mama and I took out the gigantic box of kitchen stuff and put them in manageable bags – I did miss all my plates and glasses. I’m looking forward to this part.

Olympics – I caught that really close swim from yesterday online and some of men’s gymnastics. I’m going to try to catch up on the whole thing later. The online main feed shows so many varied performances that it is much better than live coverage, it seems. And I watched the women’s gymnastics and some swimming today. Gabby Douglas’ mom was so happy there.
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My Mom wanted to watch the equestrian jumps this morning so I set it up on her computer. I only caught a few jumping turns and the medal ceremony – I love ribbons on horses.

I also watched the swimming racing live – that was really awesome -such a close finish in the butterfly and a great relay. And in the evening I watched the diving and the gymnastics – I knew that US would win but seeing the looks of the faces of those girls that just makes you emotional. They were so happy. Well, not the Russian girls and I feel for them, but US team did earn it. That last vault was amazing in the first rotation.

We have guests tonight – my Mom’s friend Galya and her daughter Olya. So after dinner we all went to the beach where I could rollerblade. I cleaned the bathroom too since they will be using mine, which I normally don’t like. And for the first time in a very long time I will have to share a bathroom once I move in with Bear at the end of the month. But he is not a stranger, so that should be alright. I’ll adjust at least.

We are getting the keys to our apartment tomorrow. We then will have a month to set it up before we move at the end of August. Tomorrow we will also go buy all the furniture. (I sold all my furniture five years ago when I moved to my parents’ house).

We are also going to get the marriage license tomorrow and I have to decide if I’m going to change my last name. I don’t think I will. I’m 32. It’s my name. And it is a hassle to change all the documents. But there has to be some consideration because Bear’s last name is easier – what I mean is my name is very Russian and many Americans can’t just pronounce the name how it sounds and there are many syllables. Bear’s last name is a much easier name to pronounce – it is a name of English origin. So it would be easier to have his name. But a bigger part of me wants to keep my last name. It is a name my maternal grandfather made up when he got new paperwork after escaping the ghetto after WWII. He wanted to sound Russian, not Jewish. When my mother married my father, with his very Jewish (and easy for America) last name, she kept her last name because of Anti-Semitism and when I was born, my parents gave me my mother’s last name. (Which is unusual in the Western world and some people look very puzzled when they find out that my father and I have a different last names. It is seriously hard for some people to get – I had to deal with that at times). So my name, no matter how hard to pronounce here, has a history too.
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A few Olympic links:

1. Appreciation of US Men’s Gymnastics’ Team

2. Olympic tattoo gallery

Today I mainly watched the primetime broadcast with diving, swimming and gymnastics. I did catch the women’s diving from yesterday, a tiny bit of archery and the end of gymnastics online. I spoil myself with the results beforehand but that doesn’t take away from anything for me. Poor Ukrainian team – I watched those gymnastic results live and that was terrible. And poor American boys, they made all those mistakes and they were crying and I just wanted to hug them. China sticks everything tonight – they earned that medal.

A few more catch-ups from July:

It’s been a month for dentists for everyone in my favorite. I don’t like the dentist, I get a lot of anxiety. But my tooth has been bothering me in June so I was very brave and I went to make an appointment. I had to get a filling and a cleaning and I’m just glad to get it over with. I’m not sure if that solved the problem though, there is still an uncomfortable feeling but I hope I can wait until I get Bear’s health insurance with has dental before I go again.

My Mom, on the other hand, had a lot of trouble and pain and has to do a bit of surgery soon. That makes her extra cranky and she is not easy in the best of times. Hopefully, the surgery will help, though.

In more fond July memories, On July 7th Bear and I went to Roger Waters’ “The Wall” concert at Yankee Stadium. I got Bear tickets for his birthday. I never been to Yankee Stadium before, which really added to the excitement. We even stopped by the Yankee Museum there in the stadium. I’m not a big baseball fan but the Yankees are my home team and it is great to see all that tradition. The Concert itself was a lot of fun (except for people who kept chain smoking in front of us). I liked all the special effects and, of course, I know the album so well.

That day was the really busy day for us, as Bear took a train to Brooklyn so we could go start looking for apartments. We had three appointments that day and it was the day with 100F weather – really, really hot. We had to take a subway a few times. And then we had about four hours to kill so we decided to take the subway to the Met and hang around the museum for a bit. I love the Met because you could just pay a $1 to get in to the best museum in the world. And while there we saw the “Byzantium and Islam” exhibition which was in its last days. I’m very happy I got to see it too – it covered 6th to 9th centuries or so and it was just wonderful and detailed. I wish this exhibition lasted until December because then I could get my students for Global History do their extra credit there.
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Day 2 of the Olympics:

I watched the tiny bits of:

Judo – It looks very much like wrestling. I’m not sure what I thought it would be like. I just watched a little bit when I woke up.
Weightlifting – lifting more than double your weight is always impressive. I was watching the women to this.
Table tennis – just a few points to get the feel for it. I like playing table tennis but it is a little frantic to watch it.
Canoe/Kayak – kayak through rapids – slalom - that looks difficult. And fun. I liked this.
Women’s skeet shooting – target shooting – pretty fun – US won

The main focus of the day, though, was on archery, swimming and gymnastics.

Archery – Women’s team – some quarterfinals, etc. I’m really liking this – I can’t believe I never watched competition archery before. This is why online streaming is so worth it. I did catch the finals (parts of Russia/Japan and China/S. Korea) on TV – I don’t like the commentary though, I’d much rather just watch a straight feed.

NBC people who interview the athletes after they swim ask the stupidest questions. How does it feel to win? I don’t know, pretty good. How does it feel to lose? Not that great, I wager.

True Blood S5E8 )

July books and movies )
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On the first day of the Olympics I always watch the most. It is Saturday too, which makes it easier. I did try to sample a few sports – some on TV and some on the Internet.

I also went rollerblading today for 40 minutes and I could pretend it was the Olympics.

My favorite and unexpected sport of the day was archery with men’s team competition. That was a lot of fun to watch.

Sports I watched today: )
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This summer, I have been pretty terribly at blogging. Mostly because it is summer and I don’t have a regular schedule. Also Bear and I spent about two weeks in July looking for an apartment for us and it has been a bit hectic. I will write up a little July summary soon with highlights like apartment hunting and The Wall concert but for now I just wanted to write up my impressions of the Opening Ceremony of the London Olympic Games.

I have always loved Olympics. Apparently, I watched my very first Olympics when I was just a few months old (Moscow Olympics) and it was always a big event. And I love watching gymnastics (especially the guys with those arms), track and field, swimming and other Olympic sports. I’m excited that everything will be available online – every single sport and every team. And the fact that this year the Olympics are in London make it extra special.

I lived in London for about a year – first a Semester Abroad program in college in 2000 where I got to go live in Central London and go to the theater two or three times a week through the program and again in 2005, when I did my dissertation research in the National Archives in Kew. (I also lived in Norwich for a month). And I studied medieval England and I adore British literature (probably my favorite literature). And I was there in 2005 when London won the Games and joined the celebration (and the next day for the terrorist attacks). Bear just came to visit me so we were both in central London those days. And also I was able to really appreciate the Britishness of the ceremony. So parts my parents found boring, I found fun.

I’m wearing my London tank top too, to watch the ceremony properly (I was going to wear my official Olympic shirt but it was a little hot).

So here are some of my thoughts as I was watching:

thoughts on Opening Ceremony )

During my regular year, I almost never watch sports. Olympics are an exception. I’m looking forward to two weeks for sports and cheering. Go USA! (and Belarus too).
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Happy Purim!

I had a nice quiet morning today since my parents had to drive our guest to her violin audition and then to the airport. While tasks I did this morning – watching dishes, vacuuming, changing sheets, cooking rice, washing my hair – might seem mundane, I really liked the solitude and the just the routine of it.

Conquering French Knots today! I finished my lighthouse cross stitch today. And after the back stitching and putting my signature in, I just had to do French knots. This is one stitch that always eluded me, at least most of the time. In college, nine or so years ago, on a Santa project I made for Mama’s birthday, I actually figured them out but then I kind of forgot how to do them again. It is my cross stitching foil. So today, knowing I had lot of them to do, I decided to give them a good effort and not just do something else. I went back to the diagram and after a lot of trying, I figured it out! After doing a few, I even got really proficient. Here’s hoping I won’t forget again. But I can’t express enough just how excited I was to have perfect little knots that are seen as little flowers.

I discovered that it is much easier to watch exhibition gala online. The Russian pair couple did great and unusual lifts .

The Norwegian who won the 50K was fun to watch at the end of that race. I don’t know where he found the energy for that last sprint. Afterward, he had to lie in the snow a bit, just to recover.

USA vs Canada hockey game. I almost never watch hockey, but Olympics are its own special animal. So I started watching in the third period, once I got done with my cross stitch. USA’s goal with 24 seconds to go that send the game into overtime was just amazing. Bear just called as USA scored, and I let out a yell which I’m sure confused him. USA still lost in overtime, but the game was exciting. And hey, we still got silver.

Closing ceremony:

sweet for them to “fix” the cauldron arm and to bring back the torchbearer who didn’t get to do it in the Opening Ceremony.

You can show athletes from other countries than just USA, NBC.

It still amuses me to no end that the Russian hymn is set to the music of hymn of Soviet Union. I automatically start to sing Soviet lyrics when I hear it, since I learned that as a child and it is ingrained in my head still.

William Shatner! And tribute to Canada with a Star Trek reference! And standing ovation for Michael J. Fox. The whole celebration of Canada is just fun especially giant beavers and moose.

The games are done and I’m sad. I think Olympics last just a perfect time – I’m tired of watching them and at the same time tomorrow I will wish they were still on. Seeing the world come together at least in this is a bit inspiring. Plus, these athletes are insane in what they do.
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I watched Johnny Weir’s show “Be Good, Johnny Weir” on Sundance which includes his “Rock Star on Ice” documentary. Papa actually was watching it with me. I’m so happy that we have OnDemand and can watch the whole show whenever we want. I will definitely catch up – it is a great view into the ice staking world and Johnny Weir in general.

Belarus with GOLD in Men’s aerials! Yes! In these games, Belarus got one gold, one silver and one bronze – a very good showing. And these athletes will get great apartments from the government – which is a big deal in Belarus where you can’t just pick up and move easily.

Women’s freeskate:

One Japanese girl skating as Cleopatra to credit music of “Rome” – I think that was cool and I couldn’t quite believeit.

Great performance by Kim Yu-Na, she just floats across the ice.

Good job by American girls too.

I really liked myth 3 in my Norse Myth collection. It was the story of how Asgard’s wall was rebuilt. Loki had to change into a mare to lead the giant’s horse astray with some fun action so that the giant wouldn’t build the wall on time and couldn’t get sun and moon and Freya. A few months later, Loki came back with a little eight-legged calf he gave birth to as a present for Odin.

Another huge snow storm hit the northeast. This should last for a while. The weather is a little too winter.
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Belarus lost to Switzerland in a shootout in hockey today. Ugh. Well, they put up a great fight. And Switzerland will now have to play US on Wednesday and they have no chance. Still, a bit sad. Hopefully, Belarus will do better with aerials where they generally rock.

Women’s figure skating short:

I really enjoyed Kim’s James Bond performance. It was sassy. She is also very graceful.
I so like men’s figure skating much more. But it was nice to watch.

I finished “Superfreakonomics.” I could have read that book in one day but I just stalled a bit. Good chapter on global warming and moneys with money. It is definitely the most intelligent discussion on global warming I’ve read and that offers concrete solutions. The authors lean toward geo-engineering. And the experiment of when monkeys were trained to use money and were found to be no different than humans in their money use was just plain fun. And monkeys also used that money for prostitution. Overall, good book, but the first one was better. A lot of ideas in this book seem too obvious.

I tried “Middleman.” Some very cheesy fun moments in the pilot episode but I don’t know if that can sustain me for a whole season. I will give it another episode. That kind of style doesn’t usually work for me, though. I couldn’t watch “Pushing Daisies” or “Dead like Me” and this has a similar vibe.


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October 2017

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