27 February 2010

car talk

Back from Finland. More later on that.

Coming back on the train, we arranged for a taxi to meet us and take us to pick up our car--now clad with license plates and equipped with a new battery.

The conductor came on and said we would be arriving 40 minutes late--at 14.00. Since we were scheduled to arrive at 14.25, I guessed that he meant we were arriving at 15.00--and hadn't bothered to change his watch.

So, we changed our taxi. And, since we'd learned that our car was not working, we changed the destination at the same time. (She says as if this were easy-peasy lemon squeezy. You, discerning reader, know by now that nothing here is easy.)

We arrived at 14. 27. Sigh. No point in changing it now, so we waited. I didn't help someone make a phone call (and felt really guilty that loaning him my phone didn't even occur to me) but did help a babushka down the snow-covered steps (and heard a horrible story about her being attacked by "gypsies" in a similar circumstance). By this time, we had heard that our car was working. So, when the taxi arrived, we went to the consulate and picked up our car.

After minimum three-stooging (they locked my keys in the car with the car running--and low on gas) Lexi and I drove home. It took us 50 minutes. It's a 20 minute WALK for me when I'm on my own.

The next day, we headed out to do some shopping--and it was a good thing. We had eaten through our stores in both 'fridge and pantry, had neither laundry detergent nor Fairy liquid for washing dishes, and were down to a roll and a bit of loo roll.

The car didn't start.

We walked to a nearby store and got some essentials. Then, a four-hour adventure of waiting for roadside assistance, jump-starting car, nail-biting will-we-run-out-of-gas-before-we-get-there drive on a motionless Nevsky Prospeckt, and walk/metro/walk home ensued. Lexi, who loves the metro was "so excited!".

The next day, yesterday, our principal took us shopping. That afternoon we heard that our car was fixed. (The problem was not, as we were originally told, the fact that my car still had "summer gas" in the tank. You can imagine how my confidence soared with that dx. There is something very disquieting about knowing more than the experts do--in a situation where you most certainly should NOT. The cracked battery had left some residue that needed to be cleaned. That was my guess,thank you very much. I'm under strict orders to drive it 30 minutes every day. Sigh. I continue to believe that if it were fine, as they say it is, this is unnecessary--and not a Russia-specific requirement.)

Today we reversed the walk/metro/walk and slow-drive-on-Nevsky and brought our car home. It's parked...but with recent snow and rain I don't know if we'll be able to get it out.

18 February 2010

go west

Headed to Finland (which may be north but is, to all intents and purposes, also WEST) for a mini-break. The weather won't be warmer, the days won't be longer, but there will be smiling people speaking English. (I've been there. It's true.)

We are going to swim in the hotel's pool, visit a water park, and...who knows? Order room service? Go to Toys 'r Us for puzzles and bath toys? The zoo? Science Museum? Children's exhibit about mammoths? Planetarium? Bowling? Shopping?

We're both recovering from a nasty bug, but I'm determined we'll recover elsewhere.

Attack cats and housekeeper installed in the flat, and upstairs neighbor is home and alerted, so don't bother with the grand-theft plans.

Be back at the end of next week.

To tide you over:

pix from before the baptism--her dress was for-church-only, so this new sweater helped make walking to church and lunch afterward special, too

14 February 2010

peace and love

The big news around here, bigger than cars and refrigerators and ANYTHING else, is that Lexi was baptized last Sunday.

It was a beautiful, special day shared with friends. She was gorgeous--and so, so happy.

She practically RAN to church so that she could put on her "pretty, white dress". She looked like an angel--and acted like one throughout the service!

Everyone--friends, the priest, the congregation, her Sunday school teacher--really went out of their way to make the day a special one.

*photos removed*

13 February 2010


The car. Let's just, for the sake of titles, call it a large appliance.

Last Monday, after a huge, exhausting, and very typical song and dance involving closed police stations, investigators who were reassigned to cleaning icicles, and a clandestine game of phone tag in which one party would not disclose his phone number so we had to relay all calls through his colleague, we left school for a couple hours and went to the militsia. (Now Lexi thinks we should do this every day. It was a nice break from kindergarten...)We filed a report and got our piece of paper. The report lists last Friday as the date they were stolen as helpful friend said it would be suspicious to have the real date on there. This concerns me a little.

The piece of paper went to the consulate on Friday. (No, the school's driver couldn't be bothered to go before then. Big surprise.) The consulate motorpool head filed the piece of paper that same day--new plates are in process. We might have them by the end of the week. That would be nice because we have the week after next OFF!

My refrigerator smells like bandaids. My friend laughed and thought Lexi had been putting things away. I was sure it was more.

It's more. The top shelf of my 'frige is now a toasty 14C. The bottom shelf is -1C. the produce trays, I'm sure, are even colder. I just haven't put the thermometer in there--but everything was frozen solid.

So I'm just using the middle shelf.

Same thing for the freezer (ice cube trays on the top shelf are all water) except I'm just using the bottom shelf there.

Someone supposedly came and looked at it this week. What they did beyond moving the thermometer I don't know.

10 February 2010

please excuse...

My friend Marina says that our friend Galina's father-in-law says that yesterday there was an explosion in the universe that caused everyone to be cranky.

I'll buy that.

(Just thought I'd share in case anyone else needed a ready excuse.)

09 February 2010

any ex-pats?

If there are any ex-pats (or travelers) still reading this (which I'm doubting since it's less and less ex-patty and more and more proud mama) you need this link:


It's free tv! They have all sorts of US tv shows--current and past. You have to play around to find the best player for you (I like wisevid and mega video--hulu doesn't work here.). But, it's a great resource for those days you're missing pop culture. I'm watching Project Runway, Castle and Heroes there this season. (Lost is already subscribed on iTunes.)

If it had Sesame Street, it would be perfect.

08 February 2010

car half-full

The good thing about not having a car all this time is that I haven't had anything to shovel out or scrape.

We went to the militsia today and got the paper we need to proceed to the next step of getting the new plates. It should go smoothly from here...Should.

02 February 2010


About five minutes of my winsome pixie--available for a limited time only. Act now!

01 February 2010

bad www mojo

What did I do?

Not only was my e-mail hacked and EVERYONE on there sent...questionable links

but now my blog has been inundated with comments on old posts that are actually links to Korean...escorts.

(I thought it was better to click on a link than to ask my students to translate. I didn't know. I thought I *might* have a new reader in Seoul.)

So no comments for now.