Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Beet . . . Beet . . . Beet

I don't have anything monumental to write about, especially when compared to yesterday's Fun With Fertility. Just some updates and little odds and ends.

Other than confirming that I am not 48 years old and expecting, yesterday I was extremely productive and took down the Christmas tree. I loathe that project, and The Spouse even waxed contrite later as he realized that in the 20+ years we have been married, I usually opt for tooth drilling or cat box cleaning or drain snaking . . . anything to avoid taking down the tree and putting the ornaments away.

But the advantage to having offspring (aside from their original purpose: picking up dog poops from the backyard), is that I can assign them tasks, and they do them with relative alacrity. I made them take the ornaments off the tree on Monday, so all I really had to do was take the tree apart and replace it in its box.

But oh, how I procrastinated. I kept trying to psyche myself up:

"It will take less than an hour."

"Oh, you will feel so good when this is done."

"Let me put on a movie for you." (I did actually start to watch Momma Mia, in Sing-Along Mode, but a power surge turned it off, and I viewed this as a sign from the Universe that we have, all of us, had about as much Momma Mia as any one generation needs.)

"C'mon . . . here . . . we . . . go!"

Eventually I did do it, and now the living room has completely returned to normal.

New Topic: Vodka Revisited
At the suggestion of another expatresse, I tried a Russian vodka called Green Mark (Зеленая марка). Waitrose (a UK grocery chain) calls it "a premium quality vodka at an every day price." I think I paid about 150 rubles ($5) for a half liter, this price putting it squarely in the Bargain Bin. It's okay. Certainly much better than the dreaded Smirnoff. But no competition for the Beluga (our preference) or Imperia.

In related vodka news, I noticed this discussion of a Slovak vodka. Seems a bit pricey, but might be fun to try when I'm in the US this summer.

New Topic: Dee Dum, Dee Dum, Delightful
It's a skating rink outside. The temperatures have been warm-ish, so the slush has melted. A nice sunny day yesterday, combined with lots of other pedestrians, has rendered the sidewalks, and even the walkways in the parks, as smooth as mirrors. It is impossible to get any momentum going, so add an additional five to ten minutes to your journey. Not only do you not want to slip and fall, neither does anyone else: so they will inevitably end up in front of you, inching forward at an even slower pace.

New Topic: Valenki
I saw this article in the New York Times about valenki (валенки), which are traditional Russian felt boots. Here is a link to some photos of valenki.

I sent an email to the designer and received a reply! I have the address and want to go next week and see what I can see. It doesn't seem that valenki are really designed for wear on city streets, although I have seen them combined with a rubber sole. What I don't get is the supposed health benefits. But I shall venture over there and report back. Maybe valenki are the answer to Moscow's icy streets.


Real Estate Feast--South Florida real estate blog said...

Aren't there thingies you can put on your shoes to keep from slipping on icy sidewalks? And as for the tree, this year we didn't have one. Bah, humbug!

valentina said...

My chore as a child was to polish the silver. My mom would pay me 5 cents a piece for something like a sugar bowl or creamer or platter. I can't remember what I got for doing her flatware. But we used the sterling all the time so she wanted it shiney and being the daughter that was my task.

Taking down the wash from the clothes line on a sunny day and folding towels brushed rough from the wind was a task I remember from when I was old enough to reach the spider clothes line.

I didn't mind it. I was quite domestic as a child. As a teen I had to do an hour of ironing or an hour of weeding on Saturdays. I always opted for the ironing indoors in the AC listening to my transistor. " I will Follow Him" was a big hit one summer... What a stupid song...I can remember standing there at the ironing board in the guest room pressing my Dad's linen handkerchiefs. My brother did yard work and took out the trash, gathered up the pop bottles and the newspapers and carried them downstairs. I had to wait on him at the table and I HATED this and he took full advantage of it. My parents did a lot to foster sibling rivalry...

But I also had chores I enjoyed like cutting tulips and daffodils in the spring, roses in the summer and chrysanthemums in the fall, to deliver to my grandparents, teachers, or to arrange and put around the house.

It never occurred to me that I was doing work my mom didn't want to do herself. The thought now amuses me. I remember being told when I complained about cleaning up a mess that I didn't make that "Your mother doesn't get all the clothes dirty but she does the laundry. We all have to help each other in this family." That seemed reasonable to me.

At the shore I would ride my bike to the market and buy bread at the bakery and a dozen gladiolas in jewel colors with the groceries. This really helped my mom who didn't have a car when we were there and was not the sort to ride a bike. I loved the freedom and importance I had standing in front of the butcher counter and asking for 6 center cut pork chops... Later as a teen I developed a crush on the butcher boy who was about 10 years older than I was and I'm sure just saw me as jail bait. But he was sweet to me nevertheless.

We grew up in a time when kids could develop independence by helping out in ways like this. Nowadays kids chores are more confined to home which is a shame. Whizziing along the sidewalk on my bike on a summer day to take home the blue berries and beans I would snap later or corn my brother would husk on the back porch was a pleasant task.

I am a big believer in kids having chores to build cooperation and self esteem. Extra hands around the house are always useful, albeit it may take a big of nagging to get them started...

Those boots seem like a Russian version of Uggs. We used to sell the afghan knitted socks with leather soles attached by the dozens in the winter when we had the store. Originally they were made with woolly yarn and were really cozy but then they started making them with cheap yarn. You could make yourself a pair of nice booties with an old sweater you washed and shrunk to make the wool tight but that's a project for sewers. I made a pair of slippers that way one time with a friend who is always making stuff. These boots would be right up her alley.

Does everyone have central heating in Moscow or is it cold in places indoors? I would think the boots would be warm on cold floors.

Anyhow be sure to give us the full report on them! But it seems weird that people actually wear them out doors on the street and that they don't just get soaked with slush!


peabody said...

Man I want those boots.

TRex said...

Back right after the collapse of the Soviet Union when anything was possible an Italian businessman of my acquaintance exported a bunch of Valenki to Italy and had designs sewn/embroidered on them. He made a killing.
I don’t think Russians will ever think of them as high fashion tho.

Tina in CT said...

How can those be worn outside with all the slop? Even here in the US where the streets and sidewalks are cleaned very well (where I live in New England), they would soon be a mess. I think they'd be great inside as warm slippers.

I agree with Valentina that kids need chores. Even though I had just one, she had to pull her weight. Growing up as a child, my mother was a career woman so I learned young how to cook and iron. I generally did the family ironing which included her white nurses' uniforms.

I was also the polisher of the silver before Thanksgiving.

Tina in CT said...

I also was free to roam the small town I grew up in. It's too bad that those days are forever gone.

Frédérique said...

There is an artisan at the Christchurch (New Zealand) Art Centre Market who makes very similar wool felt booties - clearly sold as indoor footwear though.

As for a better grip on icy streets, perhaps a US-based relative or friend could send you a pair of these? Apparently they work wonders.

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