avrelia: (Default)
it's getting weirder and weirder to post here on LJ. I read my friends' list everyother day, and comment occasionally, but then I click on “post something new” and freeze. It's not helping that I cannot concentrate when I am at the computer – so many things to do – my mind frazzles. I mean, I don't post in any of my blogs, the only thing I am somewhat active is facebook, which I use as Twitter and Instagram, for snippets and pictures. Without posting in actual Twitter or Instagram.

My time is all taken with kids, and household, and worries about all kinds of stuff. I do read and occasionally watch something, but it always feels that I don't have anything particularly interesting to say.

Daniel is in the third grade now, reads a lot, in Russian and English, plays chess, just started being in a swim team (not a very good swimmer, really). He sweet and kind, and occasionally very anoying. Doing homework is torture for everyone involved, but I think that what most kids are with their homework.

George is 19 months, and he is extemely adorable.

Still, motherhood is the most terrifying occupation ever. I am like a sapper, leading kids through a minefield that never ends.

Best thing watched recently

Ant-Man. It was fun, and I was out with my husband alone first time since George was born. I read all the criticisms, and they are valid, but the movie was fun, it had Paul Rudd in it, and Evangeline Lilly was awesome, and I am easy that way.

Best things read:

Ann Leckie. Ancillary Justice and Ancillary Sword. Now on pins and needles for the Ancillary Mercy coming out just in time for my birthday.

Reading now:

A Shepherd's Crown. Last book ever by Terry Pratchett /sobs

Also found some cool new Russian writers, among them Alisa Ganieva. Her debut novel was recently translated into English http://www.amazon.com/Mountain-Wall-Alisa-Ganieva/dp/1941920152/, and I can wholeheartedly recommend her to you. She is from Dagestan, a small republic in the Causaian mountains, mostly Muslim, mostly traditional, very complicated in its ethnical and lingustic makeup, a place that comes alive in this distopian story.

cycling

Jul. 21st, 2014 01:16 pm
avrelia: (Default)
Cycling brings me the pleasure of freedom – I am alone – moving fast – wind swishes – and intense nostalgia for Toronto. I used to cycle in Russia, of course, and I cycle now, but only in Toronto I had this magical feeling of a big city disappearing as soon as I am in the saddle. All those hidden trail where it was always summer (well, try to cycle there in winter!), all the ups and down, vodka in my backpack (cycling was the fastest way to get to LCBO), or trip down to the lake and back...

an illustration: 10 years ago, after cycling all the way down from Eglinton

 photo 20040801-p8010025.jpg

I don't cycle much now, not with the baby, but I enjoy every little moment of it. Alas, yesterday nobody thought to make a picture ;)
avrelia: (ёжик)


the cicadas! Brood II have arrived after 17 years. wow.
avrelia: (Default)
The formatting looks weird, but I wanted to embed the Vermillion Lies' song "the Astronomer".



The good thing about age is that one realized which things one likes for nostalgic reasons, and which ones because she is that weird.

So now I listen t whatever I liked when I was 16, and also to Melnitsa, Katzenjammer, http://www.last.fm/music/The+Dresden+Dolls and Blackmore's Night stuff like that.
avrelia: (a girl)
The forecast and the emergency measures managed to scare us quite a bit. We are at home, waiting for the trees to start flying around...

Good thing we have a pile of Halloween candies and several cans of peas.

Best thing that it's happening now, and not a week after.
avrelia: (Default)
D. renamed our garden the "Misty Island". I tend to agree with him here.

There is a bunny in the picture. Yes, I assure you, it is there, in plain sight. I took it this morning, just before D. tried to catch it, with predictable results (we don't have a bunny).
cut, because the picture is huge )


Beside a bunny, we have pokeweed, lily-in-the-valley berries, black nightshade and poison ivy. I am destroying them on sight, but it is difficult for a city dweller to identify plants in a foreign country fast...

this is helpful, btw http://njaes.rutgers.edu/harmfulplants/
avrelia: (Moomin mama)
Happened over last weekend. I wanted to go see one for some time, and here it was – only about 10 miles from us. So I decided to brave my driving and go with D.
It was a very small affair – all done in a small park of a small town, but we liked it a lot – and D. was, and still is quite ecstatic. It was inexpensive, and the atmosphere was very happy, friendly and relaxed - a group of friends were having fun and invited us to join in.
We were there for only two hours, but in that time D. managed to:
1) to defeat a knight
2) to get enchanted by fairies
3) to listen to minstrels and revelers (he missed the dancing while hanging with fairies)
4) to win a prize at the archery
5) watch King Arthur and Queen Guinevere playing a game of living chess. I had the most fun watching it myself – on a green park lawn there was a chess board drawn, and the chess figures were sitting or standing on their squares, and their moves were combined with the some action – sword-fight, musical duel, witty dialog. Overall, it was a smart and funny play, interesting for kids (sword-fights) and adults (jokes) alike. One funny moment that stuck was when in the course of verbal sparring the white figures sang the Empire theme from Star wars. It was well placed and well executed moment.
There were many more entertainments that we missed, since D got tired, but the experience left us with very happy feeling. Now D. wants to go there and fight the knights again. But now he wants to dress up, too.

Photo evidence )
avrelia: Tuutikki rules (Tuutikki)
I've been trying to post for a while now, and all I accomplished was several unfinished posts, that I totally plan to finish.

Spring is early and fierce around here, and I am enjoying it a lot - gardening with my son, or watching all kinds of animals come and eat what we planted.

I feel as if live in nature preserve - there are so many strange birds, mammals and such skittering around.

The most fun sightings are, without a doubt, of a groundhog. It comes every other day, strictly at dinner time (6-6:30 pm) and munches on clover, raspberry bushes and various flowers. I am way too amused by its habits and furriness to try to get rid of it.



My garden this time of year:





Beside gardening I amuse myself by studying through courses offered by www.coursera.org. They are free and awesome. I took Model Thinking, and it was a really amazing experience (even in the fact that I had to do more advanced math than ever - I've never had to deal with calculus and probabilities before).

Now it is Computer Science 101, and in June it's going to be Fantasy and Science Fiction. Lots of fun! (with very real quizzes, exercises and essays).

Anyone can join, by the way. Highly recommended!
avrelia: (Azure and Gold)
Fast and warm spring weather got my gardening fever started. I ordered some seeds from Annie's Heirloom Seeds, got them, and now looking forward to planting them and wonder which of them will get eaten by our friendly neighbourhood groundhog.

Gold Ball Turnip
Minnesota Midget Melon
Caspian Pink Tomato
Summer Squash Mix
Koralik Tomato
Chamomile - German
Poppy - LadyBird
avrelia: (bridge into autumn)
I love autumn. Not only the bright and sunny early days, not only only insanely colorful middle, but also grey and wet and quiet days of late autumn. Most of the leaves are on the ground, but there are splashes of dark red and golden brown, and the air is fresh and clear, even as the sky is low and cloudy.





avrelia: (bridge into autumn)
I promised to show pictures of my garden. Well, I need a gallery to accompany my sad tale of gardening. Or not, but here it is.

My childhood summers were spent at my grandparents' dacha, near St. Petersburg. My grandma's garden wasn't very elaborate, but neat and well cared for. There were rows upon rows of strawberry patches, potatoes, carrots, cucumbers, tomatoes (in a hot house), turnips, peas, zucchinis, parsley, dill, and whatnot. There were bushes of raspberry, gooseberry and currant, there were apple, pear and plum trees, and some stuff I don't even remember names of, but had to weed, water, pick up when ripe. There was a lot of flowers, blooming from snow to snow, and there was a nice green lawn around the house, with soft grass that was so pleasant to play on. My grandparents spent a lot of effort in their garden, but the only thing they did with the lawn was to cut the grass (with actual scythe).

So I imagined my own garden, would be like that lawn – growing all by itself, with me cutting the overgrown stuff, and a little bit of actually planting useful plants.

Well. It didn't, of course, go as planned.

I was quite happy to know that our street doesn't have any stringent standards for the lawn maintenance – mow it regularly, and you are set. That is what we do, but we don't have much grass on our front lawn, anyway. With the back yard – well, it is a mess. And since our house is rented, I am not very interested in putting too much time and money into the place we will leave in a couple of years. (which also begs the question, in the time of super-mobility, what will become of gardens? They do require years of effort.) Besides, I didn't want to mess with something useful that might already be there. So I basically just let it grow and watched what was happening. I did plant some stuff in containers – but some was eaten, some died, some didn't grow at all. Of all that I only got peas and clematis, nasturtium and one strawberry plant (out of twenty I planted). The weed, however, did very well. They grew big and shiny, and I started to wonder what are they, exactly. Especially after I recognised one as a member of nightshade family (often poisonous; sometimes potatoes and tomatoes). I checked http://njaes.rutgers.edu/harmfulplants/ the Internet – yes, it was the black nightshade, mildly poisonous. The other pretty shiny plant turned out to be the pokeweed, also poisonous. I started to weed them out – and they immediately appeared to be everywhere. And impossible to root out. Then I spotted a poison ivy in the corner. And yesterday a large amanita mushroom grew up in the middle of my backyard.

What's up, North American plants in my backyard? How many of you are poisonous that I haven't recognised yet? I used to be firmly against herbicides in the garden. How I do wonder – which poison is worse. Suddenly I feel like an naïve hapless explorer in a dangerous country, where everything around me may turn out deadly.








avrelia: (Zenobia)
We were extremely lucky – both because we went on our long-planned trip to Canada before the hurricane, and that our (rented, but still) house was not damaged by winds or water. The electricity was out for some time, but it was back by the time were back (Monday morning). But the whole thing was pretty scary - how big, and how random the destruction (or disruption of regular life) was. Some households in our town didn't have the electricity until Friday next week, and in the neighbouring town – beyond Labor Day. The cleaning continues, and really the damage was pretty minor, comparing other natural disasters in other places. It is very... unsettling, how transient our world is. One certainly begins appreciate post-apocalyptic fiction like this - at least the can be nothing worse than an apocalypse, and after one the worst is supposed to be over. Was there ever good old times? When nothing changed and everyone lived quietly ever after? Maybe in the Neolithic era? (sure, not long, but quietly until being eaten by a sabre-toothed tiger). Or maybe we just don't know anything about it, and just suppose things didn't change as fast and randomly. They certainly didn't have electric power outages that would have left them without Internet for weeks... Or did they? See, we just don't really know.

Anyway. We are okay. Our stuff and the house is okay, and one always has to be prepared for a sabre-toothed tigers' attack.
avrelia: (Zenobia)
Three months ago I blew a tire on my bicycle. It was very annoying, especially since it was my first time after a year. Well, my first ride in US. (I never was comfortable to ride in Manhattan, even if I only had to cross several streets to got to the Central Park. But in the evening).

Anyways, the flat tire. There was no bicycle store in Metuchen and I couldn't get anywhere without a car. So I waited till I got driving license, then looked into fixing. A friend gave me his spare tire, and I was determined to use it. The problem was – I knew nothing of bicycle and their maintenance.

So I went online and read stuff.

First I figured out how to take the wheel off. I blew the front wheel tire, which made it easier somewhat. I figured what kind of brakes I had, disconnected it, then opened up one thing, unscrewed another and lifted the wheel. It took me a week. I was very unsure of what I am doing and was more afraid to kill my bicycle altogether. more with pictures )

For an actual explanation how to change a tire please go there:http://www.teamestrogen.com/content/asa_levers (English) or there: http://www.velootpusk.ru/velolife/repair/13/235/ (Russian)

I've fixed my bicycle!
avrelia: (Moomin mama)
not a TV thing, the ocean thing. :)

Last Saturday we went to Point Pleasant Beach, and had a lot of fun jumping in the waves there. The waves were pretty ferocious and lead to my "wardrobe malfunction", which was hidden in the same waves. Pretty awesome times!

Water #1

Photobucket

Water #2

Photobucket

A, going in

Photobucket

A. thrown out

Photobucket

D, being cautious

Photobucket
avrelia: (Cabaret)
we moved to NJ, and for a week lived without Internet connection. Just like in a good old times. Feeling very much cut-off from everything - no maps, no weather report, no nothing. Wasn't entirely bad, by the way. Did the cleaning, found a dead mouse, read books, slept a lot. Well, the dead mouse part was bad. I could hardly bring myself to touch to throw away. (and I am not afraid of the living ones).

Today the cable guy came and did some magic with cables and his tools, much to Daniel's excitement. Now I got the Internet, and the news started pouring in... oh, my.

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