September 22, 2016 by admin · 1 Comment
On the Moscow Subway. I got lost when I tried it all by myself.
They liked my new book….so I gave Edu an inscribed copy.
Victor and I “blew up the world” just as everyone expected the Russians and Americans to do. It’s my inflatable globe….the only way to pack!
I made lots of friends from Jakarta, Indonesia. That’s me in middle back row.
I couldn’t find Karina! Probably, because I stood at the wrong subway entrance!
At last! Reunited for lunch!
Can you believe that I met all of these dear people within a six-day period? Then, I came to Riga, Latvia, only to nurse a very bad cold. I’m heading to Rome, Italy next, simply to warm up!
September 22, 2016 by admin · 1 Comment
Twenty-six years ago, I flew into Moscow rather frequently, when I planned and led group Citizen Diplomacy Tours between 1990 and 1994. When the country opened to Americans at Glasnost/Perestroika, even before the collapse of the USSR, I began leading grassroots, peacekeeping trips to the Ukraine. We entered in Moscow and took the overnight train to Kiev. What exciting travel times those were! And my best memories centered around the people we met and the families we homestayed with. Americans and Soviets simply loved each other whenever they got together!
But, it had been a quarter-of-a-century! What changes might have occurred? Would the atmosphere be different in the capital city? I found it more swishily-commercial with all of the expensive name brands in very stylish shops; but the people were just as welcoming and friendly. The ambient atmosphere within this formerly undeclared-enemy country still makes me very happy.
The Moscow Hostel Netizen is brand-new and very welcoming.
So, I had a very lovely six days at the modern Hostel Netizen in Moscow. It’s almost a hotel, but it’s still as informal as a hostel, meaning it’s easy and natural to get acquainted with fellow guests.
The lobby, as seen from the cafe area. That’s a security guard at the doorway.
My six-bunk, female dorm room. Each bed is semi-enclosed and I carry sarongs to curtain the opening.
I met Eduardo, an official with the Olympic Committee, who has invited me to visit Sochi, Russia, (site of the 2014 Olympics) in November.
Lucas and Tatiana, behind the front desk.
A free walking tour of Red Square brought us to St. Basil’s Cathedral, which is actually nine chapels, hence the many domes.
and the famous and fancy GUM Department store…
That’s a gondola on the red carpet at GUM….
GUM is a mall, under a glass roof. Very fancy.
Gum’s central fountain
See what I mean? Swishy!
And, the military, on eternal vigilance….
These living soldiers stand, unflinchingly, in all weather….except that their duty period is only one hour long!
We danced a few steps……They requested a handsome tip and swooped away!
September 17, 2016 by admin · Leave a Comment
I like clothes and it was my birthday, after all; so when I saw a darling dress in a cute little store in Archangelsk, Russia, I snapped it up the afternoon before I flew to Moscow. Instead of taking it out of the shopping bag and figuring how in the world I was going to stuff it into my suitcase; I simply took a nap, and didn’t address my last-minute packing until after five in the afternoon.
OH. MY. GOD! The anti-theft device was still firmly attached! Well, the store clerk, Lee, and I had gotten to talking rapidly, even though we had no common language….. but now what? It was so late that I was sure her store was closed by then. Maybe, the nearby bridal store could get it off? Oh, this must be the receipt, which I had yanked off when removing it from the bag! Nope, they didn’t have the right equipment!
Look at this gorgeous place! They tried to help but don’t use anti-theft devices. Who’s going to slip one of these dresses out in their purse?
And anyway, my receipt was for boots, not a dress! Oh no! I did buy boots earlier in the week…. black beauties…..You see, I’m thinking ahead to my mid-October World Congress of the Hearing Voices Network Conference in Paris, at which I will be teaching a workshop. Gotta’ dress right for that city!
I ran back to my room and found the correct receipt in the wastebasket. How was I to know? I can’t read Russian. Any other day during my stay, I could have simply gone in the next day and had Lee remove the plastic warning device; but I needed to taxi to the airport early the next morning. I ran the three blocks from the Troika Hostel to the mall and found the store CLOSED! Yoiks, what now?
Roman Baranov, proprietor of the body-building store next door to the clothing shop, and speaker of English, became my new best friend. After calling his mall-manager about the closed shop, he shut his own store and we ran together an additional three blocks to another swishy mall. By now, it was getting so funny and desperate, that I began a photo story. Three stores in a row, heroically used their little machines to remove this strange anti-theft device and I soon learned that the buggers are specifically programmed for each store and theirs didn’t work. But they pounded and stabbed with sharp objects, hoping to break its lock. I worried about the dress fabric getting slashed, but couldn’t complain. They put heart and soul into trying.
Roman and the first store clerk, tackling my dress. Luckily, I had the proper receipt, or I couldn’t have proven that I didn’t steal it.
Such a beautiful little black dress. Form-fitting with metal decoration on the scoop neckline. Swish! But not with this alarm attached!
We tried a second shop….
She took to beating on it.
We ran to a third clothing shop…..no luck!
Roman gets a call from his Mall’s Manager…. “Hurry back to the original store! Natasha will be there in ten minutes!”
The owner of the shop where I bought it, had rushed in; but, she had lots of trouble too. The poor device was all beat-up, but the dress was okay.
By now, other shop owners, Svetlana and Andre, had gotten involved helping Roman help me.
Yay! Success, at last! I can fly to Moscow with a wearable new dress…. and lot’s of darling new friends in Archangelsk. Plus, I have such a great story to tell, that it was all worth it. The only frustrating thing, was when I returned to my hostel, I couldn’t find anybody to understand what I was babbling and giggling about in my English and total lack of Russian. Many, many Russians do speak English, and finally one of them came to translate, but just that moment, they were all male business men and very keen to hear the joke that I was so keen to share! However, everything works out in the long run, if only we will all TRUST THE PROCESS! Usually the worst things that happen, yield the Best Stories and the Best Friends.
And, here I am, wearing that very dress in Moscow with another hosteler who also likes little black dresses with gold at the neckline.
One of the shops was named Ga Ga, which is my own nickname used by my grandchildren. It seemed to be telling me something!
My Hostel Troika in Archangelsk, Russia.
I met Karina Simakova at that hostel. We met up again, twice, in Moscow.
September 17, 2016 by admin · Leave a Comment
This is me in my newest Hostel Netizen in Moscow. I was just gifted with watermelon to eat while I’m catching up on these Russian blogs.
I went to Archangelsk, near the Arctic Circle, to celebrate my 79th birthday on September 10. I especially wanted to visit ancient Solovki Island in the White Sea, which has a monastery thousands of years old. Valodia of Moscow, is on photo left, and Pavel, of Vladivostok is on the right. My scarf and overskirt was required to be properly dressed as a woman in a monk’s world.
We women were given black silk, wrap-around skirts to cover our blue jeans.
Our small tour group was served a delicious lunch in the local restaurant.
This ancient, ancient medieval Russian Orthodox Monastery on Solovki Island, is built in the Ark shape and has withstood attack over the centuries.
Our guides, a nun and a monk, describe a mountain chapel.
This is the “downtown” area of the small village on this remote island in the Russian White Sea.
This church at the very tip-top of a hard hill, has a light beacon on top, that was made in Paris. It guides the ships of the White Sea to safety.
After driving and then, hiking up a mountain, we found a pilgrimage path leading to a lighthouse chapel at the top of the hill. It felt like hiking in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado.
At last, our climb to the top was rewarded with 360 degrees of clear vision.
Thank goodness for very steep, downhill staircases! Whoosh! This was WORK for an old lady, turning 79! But, we count our blessings! I made it on my own two feet!
The Solovki Airport. We were soooo lucky with the weather! It’s often freezing and very windy here.
The runway in the background is made of bumpy metal sheets….probably for traction in the ice and snow. It does the trick!
Bye Bye, Beautiful Solovki!
This whole region is blessed by the Archangel Michael, (hence, the city of Archanglsk,) and it is considered to be the Spiritual Heart of Russia! This is why I chose it for my Birthday Trip.
Our wonderful, double-engine, propeller plane was made in the Czech Republic. What fun the half-hour flight was! I was so lucky to be included on a special, off-season trip as normal flights had stopped the week before.
September 9, 2016 by admin · Leave a Comment
by Ann Dickinson Sargent
My mean big sister told me,
“If you stood sideways and stuck out your tongue,
people would think you were a zipper!’
Well, this morning in my mirror, that too-tall,
crook-toothed kid with washboard chest,
looked in my eyes and vowed to be a spy;
my sister’s got a date tonight. I’m supposed to stay upstairs.
Later, hidden in the triangle of sofaback and wall….
dust, cobwebs, things that look like chocolate sprinkles
ornament my hair. I can only see
her saddle shoes, his loafers, in my narrow slot of view.
Light from the lamp glows on the scuffed wood floor;
scents of Shalimar and Old Spice
sift through stale old-couch miasma
as I wait for something interesting to happen.
They’re watching I Love Lucy on the tube.
Just as the laugh track soars,
The couch springs groan; maybe he’s going to kiss her….
Eeeeeeeeew! But instead, more dust rains down.
I sneeze! And Oh! Her screech and jumping-up and yelling-at
are worth the penalties. He sees the way she really is
and even though her chest is so unwashboardlike,
I think I’ve saved him.
Dear Linda, I wrote you a poem! Well, not exactly, but I was taking a month-long online poetry workshop in August, and one of the assignments was a family memory. This is fictionalized, but I do have a memory of having fantasized about doing such a thing. Last week, I taught a workshop to the Creative Writing Club at Polk State College. When I read this aloud (performed it), I got lots of laughs and big applause. So I hope you’re not too offended!
And, here is my reply…..
Dear little sister, Ann,
OH MY GOSH! What a GREAT birthday present!! Thank you, you great poet, you! I’m in touch with some of my high school friends and I’m going to ask them to circulate this! it is so FUNNY and brings us all right back to 1955…… which I’m reveling in now because I’m trying to teach our rock and roll dance, the Jitterbug. over here in Estonia and Russia, so they can complete (and win) in the international Boogie-Woogie contests, nowadays. So, I’m right back in high school, mentally, anyhow. Now, that my 79th birthday is tomorrow!
I do believe that “Revenge” is mostly fictionalized but, it was surely a neato fantasy that you must have indulged in, over and over. through those years that you had to live with a mean big sister. You did get a reprieve during my sophomore year (your 8th grade) when they sent me to Massachusetts to live with Grandmother Elsie. But then, I was back for my Jr & Sr year again to share a bed & bedroom with you and tease you about being a zipper. I really did say that….. probably more than once! That memory is accurate.
But, I have a string of reasons that occur to me, that probably prove this was only a poetic dream and not a reality.
I don’t remember dating, at all, in high school. I was “popular” but I wasn’t in the Cheerleader/football player group – who were so pretty and handsome, and dated each other, and won Homecoming King & Queen titles . Our whole, large group of friends were the club & student leaders and we were really close buddies and saw a lot of each other, but we were “a crowd” that hung out before the bell rang; and the ones with cars picked the rest of us up for the Thursday night Teen Center, where we jitterbugged our little hearts out to the new Rock & Roll music. Then, driving home, three or four to the car; we would “park” somewhere and have “Unburdening Sessions” about the problems in our lives. We provided excellent counselling services, apparently; where we could be heard and understood by our peers.
I can picture that old sofa and catercorner across from it, the overstuffed (older-stuffed) chair. and an old-fashioned, wooden radio on a stand. We loved to listen to programs which said, “The Shadow Knows!” I sure did love radio drama! But, ours was not so modern a household as to have a TV set, though your allusion to I Love Lucy is perfect and maybe a television set showed up sometime after I left for university???.
How could I have dated like that, even if I had wanted to? You make it sound so easy to dispatch all my younger sisters to the upstairs by command…..BUT, what would I have done with Grandmother, Matilda, and Mother? Assign them to stay in the kitchen? Ha! It was Matilda’s house! One didn’t tell her what to do, in our family!! And then, how about noisy Kippy and little-kid, Lee? Me, count on all three of you kids to stay upstairs, while I necked on the sofa? Double Ha! I didn’t even know HOW to neck, till I got to college! The front porch swing would have been the only possibility if I’d had such a date as that……but then, you’d have had nowhere to hide and there was no TV or radio out there. And that thing squeaked, didn’t it?
Anyway, the poem is universal and will hit home with everyone and get that great rewarding laugh! Let’s circulate it far and wide and let it win you prizes! I adore it! I think I’ll make a blog post out of it for both my websites!
Lots of love,
Your Big Sis, Linda
September 7, 2016 by admin · Leave a Comment
Aboard the luxury bus between Tallinn, Estonia and St. Petersburg, Russia
Talk about modern malls and stores!!! Russia has them, in plenty!
Here’s that same bus from the outside. Absolutely, the best!
My Russian Visa started on August 20 and goes until September 18th, so, from Tallinn, Estonia, I came to The Soul Kitchen Hostel in Saint Petersburg. It was an easy six-hour journey aboard a wonderful, luxury bus. I was wowed by that city.
As well as very tasty fish! But can you imagine being the one on the right, staring at his brother on the left? I couldn’t resist this shot!
(These pictures are not laying themselves out in the proper order; but I trust you to figure things out.)
Yet another gourmet meal! Lots of great cooking at great prices!
ghastly-tronomic or would that be traumatic?
The distance between the Living and the Dead could be as thin as a plate of glass????
Aboard the overnight train between St. Petersburg and Arkhangelsk, on the White Sea, deep in the Russian countryside. Ready to sleep.
I took a 22-hour train ride deeper into Russia, to Archangelsk, on the White Sea, where very few people speak English. But, still many more speak our language, than we Americans speak Russian!!!
The countryside from the train window.
The Meridian Hotel, where I stayed for my first five days is on the outskirts of town. I decided to shift to a hostel in downtown Arkhangelsk for the next week, to be in walking distance of everything.
This beautiful hotel is named for the 30th Meridian and is very modern, indeed. It was a great place to rest and catch up with neglected writing.
The Meridian Hotel’s lobby. This non-hostel stay allowed me to catch up on my writing workload in quiet privacy. Everybody was so gracious and welcoming, too. By this time, I’ve fallen behind again because so many, many exciting things keep happening. LIFE ON THE ROAD IS SOOOO EXCITING!