Sunday, May 26, 2013

Retro Festival at Hermitage Garden

Stumbled upon this event today when meeting up with a friend at the Hermitage Garden to celebrate her son's graduation from high school in the US. They couldn't be there, so we fêted him here! 

There was a retro ('40s) festival wrapping up, complete with record vendors, music, art, dancing, and food. It looked like a lot of fun! Retro events are popular here; there's such nostalgia about the victory in World War II. Another neat event this spring was a a retro bike parade with all participants in costume. Even "retro"-style bikes are popular on a regular basis.

Everyone at this table was in costume... Even the guys in military attire... Love the handbag!

This little girl and her mom weren't there in costume (at least, I really don't think so). It's not uncommon to run into people here dressed as if there has been a sudden time warp, and you wouldn't be able to place them in the proper decade...

The Dante bust that was donated by the Italian government.

The dance floor, after the dance part had wrapped up... A few people were still dancing, though, to Ella Fitzgerald.

There was also a car exhibit. These are all vintage "GAZ" models. The crazy thing is that you can run into cars that don't look so different from the blue one on the left in everyday life! Those old Russian cars just go and go and go and go...

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Dream Come True!

I am beyond thrilled that I'm going to be a volunteer in Sochi! At first the people I interviewed with mentioned having me meet top diplomats from our country (the Obamas, or other top people who would come!!!!), helping them out... But I've ended up deciding that if I'm going to give up five weeks with my family to volunteer, I really want to help out the athletes there...

At first I thought my knowledge of five languages would be of most interest to those interviewing us— but I think it's mainly that I've lived here for so long, feel truly comfortable here (which then emanates to the athletes)... And... I'm used to Moscow driving in bad winter conditions! It also helps that I'm here to attend all the training sessions!

I'll be an assistant to a US team, helping them in whatever they may need—from menial tasks that actually make a difference to driving them to practice sessions and competitions...!!! I'll get to be a day-to-day part of their Olympic experience, and I hope that my efforts will somehow make their efforts as athletes even a teeny bit easier!

My husband and girls will also come for a week, and they'll gladly take athletes' families around Sochi, serving as interpreters and being friendly guides if any would be interested...

I cannot wait to begin our training, multiple full-weekend sessions designed to familiarize us with everything we need to know: general history of the Olympic Games; getting to know Sochi; getting to know the Olympic venues; protocol in all areas; what to expect; how to plan for various situations; what we'll specifically be doing...

EVER SINCE MY HUSBAND AND I FOUND OUT THAT THE 2014 OLYMPICS WOULD BE IN RUSSIA, WE THOUGHT THAT I SHOULD VOLUNTEER IF I COULD...  I was inspired to become both a skater and a linguist by Irina Rodnina and Alexander Zaitsev's performance at Innsbruck, so this will be an actual dream come true... 

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Not-So-Patriotic Parking...

(Found on Facebook)

"Thank you, Grandpa, for the Victory" w/a note saying, "Let Grandpa get by on the sidewalk." PERFECT. People in Moscow park literally ON the sidewalks (there's nowhere else), so the elderly & people with strollers have to swerve around them onto the street...

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Bursting with Glorious Color

These bikes make me drool. Literally. They're beautiful icing on Spring & Summer, decorating GUM (for sale and displayed cleverly all over the place) and also for rent at Gorky Park.

Color from our own home; the Easter Bunny brought Jelly Bellies! The girls have had fun blindfolding each other and seeing if it's possible to identify the 49 (!!) flavors. 

The shopping mall where I go to grocery shop used to have a Japanese restaurant on the bottom floor. It's now closed, and there's a sign up that an Italian one will be replacing it—but while they're switching them out, they have completely covered the area with plastic and balloons. How on earth anyone can do any renovations under this is beyond me, and I just keep thinking of the poor environment! The balloons get all flacid within days, and they somehow remove them all and put out new ones...

Gorky Park's Spring/Summer theme was unveiled on May 1st—Beaches all over the World. It's pretty great and I'll do a post on that separately once we get a chance to do it all. In the meantime, I love the colorful fish gracing the main entrance!

Colorful macaroons from the girls' favorite bakery, Volkonsky. YUM.

Gorgeous arial decorations at Tretyakovsky Passazh. So unexpected as I passed through there, and so beautiful!

A Victory Day (May 9th, the end of WW II—a MAJOR holiday in Russia) display at the grocery store in GUM. Deliciously retro and nostalgic...

So, yes, tomorrow is Victory Day! The city is covered in flags and its most beautiful! I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE the Victory Day decorations... Here's a preview of what I'll be posting after attending the celebrations tomorrow.

After I picked up Natalia from school, we stopped at wholesale florist to get flowers the girls will give to WW II veterans tomorrow at Victory Park and Red Square. This is one of my favorite, favorite Russian traditions... We'll meet up with many students and graduates from our school who will come to search out the war hero 90-year-old mother of one of our most beloved teachers of history...

So. Glad. It. Is. Finally. Spring!

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Egg Hunt 2013

We had our annual Easter Egg hunt today, complete with 36 riddles/clues. This year the Easter Bunny came on Russian Orthodox Easter instead of on Western Easter; he had understood that we were in transit back in March. This is by far Natalia's favorite family tradition of the year; she looks forward to it for months in advance and savors every minute of it. This year she loved seeing plastic eggs from years gone by—some Disney Princesses and even an old Dora appeared among the sparkly pastel plastic eggs and ducks containing clues and jelly beans.

Some of the clues were easy, but others left both girls guessing for a while... Most of you know that I started writing so many complex clues when Katya was five and reluctant about reading. If she couldn't help to read the clues, then she couldn't find the basket! From then on we've maintained the tradition.

Katya peeked at the Bunny's list of intended hiding spots in advance, so he scrambled to come up with many new ones—and riddles—at the last minute...!

Here are the 36 Clues. Yes, they're extremely eclectic and not works of rhyming excellence—but they accomplished the task at hand! I know that some of our relatives love seeing the annual list, so I'm including them all. 

I love that you found these 
While in Cambridge for a day
I’ll hide an egg here 
To enjoy the display!

(Inside the crêpe paper decorative eggs we brought back from England in March).

Oooohhh! Aaaaahh!
Your mother thinks this quite the treat!
Massaging and supporting
A chef who’s on her feet!

(Tucked under the Gel-Pro cooking mat behind the stove). 

These magical wands
Put your felines in a trance!
They’ll do anything to get one—
Maybe even dance?

(In the box where we keep cat treats).

If only your mom had used me.
When cleaning cabinets that day—
Then they wouldn’t have torn from the wall,
Crashing all away!

(Behind our ladder).

A memento of a great day
High above it all...
Slowly taking in the sunset
As London came to call!

(By Natalia's snow globe of the London Eye).

So super in theory
But your pipes never roar...
Taking up space
With your useless, broken door.

(Inside the girls' shower—which has never worked since we moved in).

Inherited from friends
Greeting all who arrived...
Once then beneath a bed,
Now with a door at its side.

(Inside the wooden chest our friends the Michaels gave us, kept in our entryway). 

Your new apartment is truly grand,
Even with the construction dirt mountain...
I mean, really, how many cats
Have their own drinking fountain?

(Inside the bidet in the bathroom).

He loves it here...
So calm, so dark...
Underneath where
Your bottom does park!

(Tucked into the cat hammock attached underneath our dining room chair). 

Their sweet, precious daughter...
You’ve always been their “Boo”...
Reminiscent of your big pal,
Once your sister got one, you did, too!

(Underneath the shaggy white pillow ordered for Katya after she fell in love with her sister's "Sully" pillow—it looks just like "Sully"  from Monsters, Inc). 

Such a luxury for Mom,
Sauce & ravioli galore...
Cooking in advance—
So there’s always plenty more!

(Inside the extra freezer that came with the apartment).

Such memories, such fun...
How you grew those four years...
A symbol of your achievement, 
The day of smiles and tears.

(Underneath the cap Katya got for 4th grade Graduation). 

How many days
Have been spent with this gang? 
Laughing and smiling
As one family they became?

(Inside the shaggy green box which houses our Brady Bunch DVD collection). 

Once you hear this noise
You know the day’s begun...
Soon perking up your parents
Enchanting one by one...

(Inside the bean reservoir in our espresso machine).

A dream come true!
Awaited for so long!
Have fun! Enjoy it!
Baby, like a love song!

(Behind the frame where Natalia is keeping our 9/25 Selena Gomez concert tickets). 

Such a view
For a sweet and tangy bunch...
Yellow and green
To enrich all you munch!

(Inside the bowl with lemons and limes on our windowsill). 

How regal! How gorgeous!
More stunning than you’ve ever been!
Wowing and enchanting
As you steal every scene!

(Among the folds of the gorgeous costume gown Natalia is wearing for the school production of "Cinderella").

Mesmerizing, inviting...
Warmed by the flickering glow...
Solely for decoration...
But you’ve grown to love this so!

(Inside our fake fireplace). 

Red & blue mixed together...
Such a cozy place to plop...
This present from Santa
Certainly wasn’t a flop!

(Underneath Natalia's purple beanbag chair). 

The center of domestic activity
Volunteers ready to stir...
So helpful & colorful
Assisting in a blur!

(Tucked into the crock of wooden spoons & whisks).

So loud! So annoying! 
What is the purpose of that?
But no longer blame your father—
It’s now the fault of the cat!

(Next to the extra alarm clock we have in the study. Chris is notorious for sleeping through ANY alarm clock, and whenever it goes off for a long period of time, they used to get annoyed with their dad. Now it's the cat's fault—they sometimes jump on it to get onto the loft bed in there). 

So hip! So trendy! 
This “mama” is cool...
From a friend at school...

(Inside the VERY cool black & white polka dot matryoshka that Katya's friend gave her). 

Goodness gracious!
Just how many—no one knows!
Shiny & sparkly—
For fingers and toes!

(In the box of nail polish). 

The utmost in chic,
Functional and cool...
Transporting your salad
For lunch at your school!

(Inside Katya's hip Japanese oilcloth lunch bag). 
Such a cute souvenir
From Disney for your hair
Near the gorgeous fashion ensemble
You were once thrilled to wear!

(On the shelf where Katya's Mouse ears from Disney and part of the dress that Natalia wore at a birthday party/fashion show). 

While you wait for the page
And the ink slowly dries
Look over here—
At your grandpa’s loving eyes.

(In the study, behind the printer and near my father-in-law's picture).

Better be patient
With nails to insert
Or you won’t get inside
This salty snack & dessert!

(In the bag of pistachios). 
If you follow these instructions
You’ll surely help your health...
This stays here to remind you, 
Perched upon your shelf!

(Inside Katya's "Keep Calm & Drink Tea" teapot). 

What lucky, lucky girls! 
I can’t believe my eyes! 
A waterfall of rich sweetness
For fruits of any size!

(In the cupboard where I keep the Chocolate Fountain my colleagues gave me for my birthday). 
Every morning
When leaving in a rush
Your mother always asks,
“Did you remember to brush?”

(Behind the girls' sink). 

A comfy spot
Peaceful—and all your own—
For reading or resting
When your dad works from home.

(Under the blanket on the loft bed in the study). 

Hurrying out the door...
Can you find them? 
Are they there? 
Checking again amongst all pairs; 
Chances are—
You’ll find them there!

(In the hanging shoe organizer in the entryway). 

Patriotic and traditional
Helping Mom to start her day...
Waking her up and making her smile
Since Olympic dreams are on her way...

(Inside my Sochi Olympic mug). 
What a place! Oh, such beauty!
Filled with fun, filled with hopes!
Taking it in as a family
As you whizzed down the slopes!

(Behind our family photo taken while skiing in Winter Park, CO). 

(Among Natalia's favorite books by Julia DeVillers and her sister,  Jennifer Roy). 

What a lucky girl!
Glamour’s choice! With stripes!
Better take good care of this—
It’s awfully nice!

(The whole Easter basket, hidden in Katya's closet near her cool new GAP sweatshirt blazer). 

Thursday, May 2, 2013

"Fill the World with Bubbles!"

"Fill the World with Bubbles..." So said the sign this girl above held today at "Dreamflash," an recent—and now annual—event that takes place over the May holidays in Moscow. Last year it was held on Old Arbat Street, with thousands of youths showing up in joyful costumes and blowing bubbles for a few hours. This year the event was held at VDNKh, the All-Russia Expo Center (Exhibition of Achievements of National Agriculture) at Prospect Mira. Katya and I went, armed with bubbles, scooters and my camera. 

There were LOTS of signs and smiling faces. The one above reads "Welcome, Spring!" 

Although this young woman's sign read "Live each moment like you were the last!" (Hey, at least she tried to get it right in English...), she certainly didn't match the mood of the crowd with her somber look... 

I've always loved this fountain representing friendship between all of the Soviet Republics, each female figure holding up what grows best in her republic. 

"The Way to Happiness and Smiles." Blowing bubbles, of course. 

This trio of friends was REALLY into it! 

There were teenagers and university students everywhere, and the costumes were so colorful and fun. This was the most youth I've seen gathered anywhere for an "impromptu" mob setting other than at a protest against Putin/corruption.

The main entrance to the exhibition center, sometimes referred to as "the wedding cake." 

"All You Need Is Love!"

All in all, this was definitely a celebration of Spring after a LONG winter. 

On our way out, we walked past all of the space sculptures.