Monday, November 30, 2009

Is It Happy Hour Yet? Somewhere?

Oy, such a day I've had of it. And I'm nowhere near done.

Got up at 6:30 after a very restless night's sleep (Baboo being sick and me fearing swine flu).

Took Skittles to school at 7:30.

Stopped by the grocery store on the way home.

Called doctor's office across the street to schedule Baboo a look-see. Got an appointment for 12:30.

Now 9:15. Ran over to see The Spouse and bring him clean clothes. Stayed until about 11:00, then came back home.

Checked email, called the insurance company, tracked down some needed documents before running out the door (late) for Baboo's appointment.

Thems some UGLY tonsils, girl!

Met the Fabulous Dr. M who first treated The Spouse. He checked out Baboo, diagnosed strep, not swine flu, and sent us home with horse pill antibiotics. So glad I didn't just go to the pharmacy and mime that I wanted anti-viral meds!

Largely because I couldn't remember "Tamiflu." All I could think of was "Theraflu."

Baboo is 43kg/94.6 lbs and 154cm/60.6 in/5ft.

In an attempt to nurture myself a little, I am now roasting a gorgeous big, fat chicken with clementines and butter and garlic and parsley under the skin. And I made a big pot of potato soup.

I'm sure the kids will shun both.

While at the hospital this morning, The Spouse reported that he was told that there was NO WAY he'd be sprung on Wednesday. He needs to be in for at least a total of ten days.

Further, no gym after for quite some time (I don't know what this means) and no walking to work (with dropping off the kids and then walking to and from work, he walks 7 km/day). Again, I don't know what this is going to mean. Obviously, I'll be taking the kids to and from school now.

The last I heard the doctors seem to think sitting at a desk and flying in planes are the culprits. Not sure how to get around either of these things either.

I guess all will be revealed.

Comic relief follows. Alternative captions encouraged.

Basement Cat Cat-O Is in the Box

Now Basement Cat Crooky Is in the Box.

I still get to run back to school in time to collect Skittles at 5:30. Then I can relax.

UPDATE: The Spouse reports the tentative release day is back to Wednesday. That's day-after-tomorrow Wednesday!!!

Sunday, November 29, 2009


When I arrived at the hospital this morning a little after 10:00 a.m., The Spouse was slightly more chipper.

They let him have coffee with his breakfast.

Ah, the simple pleasures.

While I was there the Doctor On Call stopped by to take a look-see and have a chat. Once he discovered The Spouse speaks French he switched from Russian to French, and then I was able to follow a bit better.

What I learned:
  • This is likely NOT hereditary.
  • It is likely NOT due to his height
  • Other than the fact that being so tall makes it difficult to sit comfortably in chairs and on airplanes.
  • He is, for whatever reason, prone to producing blood clots in his legs which have traveled to his lungs.
  • But only to his lungs.
  • And only to small veins/arteries/blood vessels in his lungs.
  • And only to the lowest part of the lungs (which is the best place if you are going to have clots in your lungs).
  • His blood pressure has been in the normal range, and his blood oxygen fine since yesterday (when it was actually better than when he checked in on Thursday night).
  • Christmas travel is NOT necessarily ruled out, especially now that he is being treated. But we will make the final decision the week we intend to travel to the US.
While I was there the babysitter called to say
  • The electricians are here to replace your electric meter (which has NEVER functioned in the TWO YEARS we have lived here)
  • Baboo is sick and won't leave our bed.
So I scurried home to find Baboo with a
  • Sore throat
  • Fever of 101F/38.3C
  • Aches
  • Irritability
Oh, spit.

That's all we need.

She responded well to Advil and while she's not feeling totally okay, her fever came down and her mood lifted. But if she's still poorly tomorrow morning I'm marching her across the street to the doctor and keeping Skittles home, too.

In the meantime, I have managed to find myself with little anyone wants to eat in the house.

Fennel anyone?

How about some beet salad?

Aw, c'mon! It's GOOD!

Maybe I can leave them long enough to run out for carry-out pizza.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Hospital Stay: Day Two

I couldn't sleep when I got home last night, so I stayed up until 3:00 a.m. drinking wine, playing Bejeweled on Facebook, and listening to two episodes of Criminal Intent.

Woke up at 7:45 a.m.

Probably wasn't a good idea. I tried to have a bit of a nap around 9:00 a.m., but just couldn't do it. Up is up.

So eventually, I dragged my sleep-deprived ass over to the hospital.

No Spouse.

But soon he returned, chagrined because they made him ride around in a wheelchair. He had just come from Ultrasound where they determined there was nothing wrong with his legs.

Then a neurologist came in and questioned him at length about his headaches (This guy thinks they are NOT migraines but, because they begin at night, have more to do with the position of his neck when he sleeps, and you know what? I think the dude is right. But that's another blog entry.) and did a full examination of his reflexes. Determined no brain damage (since there was/is this clot in his lung, and we are now starting to suspect it has been there since 2000, who knows where else clots may have landed?), but tomorrow will be What IS in His Head? Day with MRIs and other scans to make sure. After I left, they did some heart scans and plan to do more and different ones tomorrow.

Blood clots generally form in the legs, which was why they examined his legs. When they break off they land in either the lungs, the kidneys, the heart (causing a heart attack), or the brain (causing a stroke). And one of the tools/tests they use to evaluate if someone has inappropriately clotting blood is called D-dimer.

The doctor at the French clinic ran a D-dimer test on Wednesday night after The Spouse returned from his day in the Russian Hospital. If I understand correctly, a normal reading is below .5 and The Spouse's was .7. Last night the staff at EMC ran another D-dimer, and this time it was 1.3. This suggests to me, expert that I am, that, for whatever reason, there is more clot formation and disintegration going on, and that cannot be good. I mean, I'm guessing that maybe the clot in his lung is breaking down (good), but its residual rubbish is now floating merrily around and could land who knows where (bad).

Good thing he's on anticoagulants now.

I haven't been there for The Chats with the other doctors, but, from what The Spouse reports, they all suggest a strong tone of "Jeez-us! You Dodged THAT Bullet!"

They also believe, based on lengthy probing of The Spouse's medical history, that the chest pain incident in Miami in late 2000 was related to this, as was another chest-pain/trip-to-the-cardiologist event in Bratislava a few years back.

They cannot believe he flew to Paris last week in Cattle Class. Nor that he went to the gym several times this week (he usually goes 6 days/week) and did an hour of cardio each time.

Not that exercise is bad, mind you.

All of this makes me far more creeped out NOW that he is being treated than I was yesterday when he was wandering the streets of Moscow as volatile as Krakatoa in the summer of 1883.

Word today is three- to six-months of treatment. They will not release him until they figure out WHY he has these clots.

I spent the afternoon taking pictures.

The Ostankino Tower in the distance.

Lactated Ringer's Solution . . . yummy.

It's hard to play with your Blackberry with one hand. Here, he was responding to work emails with "I'm hooked up to my IV right now, so you'll have to figure it out without me."

There is a rocket in front of the Armed Forces Museum that you can see from his window.

Comic relief: this was on the way home. I thought the blue neon says "SUSHITERIA,"
but now I think it only says "SUSHITERRA." Not so funny.

This is funny. This is a Spicy Tuna Roll.

The Thing I Fear Most

I remember being in Argentina and The Spouse ended up in Miami for a project that was supposed to close but didn't for weeks.

It dragged on and on with me down there and him in Florida.

During all of this he called me one evening to say he was alone in the office and, oh, by the way, "I'm having chest pains."

I believe my response was, "Why the hell are you talking to ME?! Call Reception before the lady who vacuums finds you on the FLOOR UNDER YOUR DESK!"

Frankly, I was relieved he was in Florida, not so much for the healthcare delivery but because my big fear has always been that something would happen to him and I would have no one to deal with the children.

How do you even get someone to an Argentine hospital in the middle of the night when the kids and all your friends are sleeping?

Thankfully, I never had to find out. And the diagnosis that time was muscle spasms probably due to job stress.

In the last week we've had a similar situation.

Patient presented with what was at first hard-to-define chest pain (I thought it was a rotator cuff injury initially), no fever, trouble inhaling at times, and occasionally coughed up blood.


Wednesday he finally went to the French place across the street where a VERY concerned GP sent him to a Big Russian Hospital out by Izmaylovsky for a chest scan.

Which ruled out lung cancer, but did confirm pleurisy and identified something in his lung right where the pain was.

He came home with pain killers and antibiotics and instructions to check in Thursday (yesterday) for word on all the blood work they did.

Seems all those symptoms are the classic, textbook definition of pulmonary thrombosis, otherwise known as blood clots in the lungs.

So The Spouse was instructed to

  1. Leave work immediately and
  2. Get over to the hospital. That very evening. Please.

So here is what I have learned so far:

  1. I have lots of friends who are willing and able to help out. Kids slept over with one family, and we even got a ride to the hospital (although it is very close, and I walked home).
  2. Blood clots can land in the lungs, the heart, or the brain. Seems we won that spin of the roulette wheel.
  3. Yes, it can be a fatal thing, but it is very treatable with blood thinners. That just requires a few days in the hospital usually at first because blood thinners are, essentially, rat poison, and monitoring is encouraged. But after that the patient can typically go home and take a prescription.
  4. The smell of freshly cut hay? That's produced by a natural anticoagulant.
  5. EMC has a LOVELY new facility near the Olympic Stadium.
  6. We're not sure what caused this (the broken ankle in 2001 is a possibility, as is job stress).

I went with him to the hospital last night where he was examined again, had a hep lock installed, and was assigned a room (on the website you can see the funny, pointy-end of the building that is all glass . . . that's what he has). They gave him some drugs (I'm guessing IV heparin, an oral warfarin/coumarin-type drug, and a sleeping pill), and I left at midnight as he started to doze off. I should be allowed back after 10:00 this monring. I want to run by his office and pick up some toys (MP3 player, etc) and hope I can hang out with him until school is over at 4:30. Not sure if kids can visit.

At the moment we think he'll have to stay until Sunday, but it all depends on how he responds to the drugs.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Let the Holidays Commence!

The question has been raised: what DO we Americans listen to at Christmas if we don't listen to those UK favorites?

What follows is a sample. I never said these were better. Just the devils we know.

And my personal favorite . . .sing along, with me!

Finally, I have to add this song. I had never even heard of this singer before Loyal Beetnik Katbat mentioned him in the Comments. Then I found a mention of him in The New Yorker on the same day. He's a friend of Lyle Lovett's. How have I never heard of him? The song epitomizes everything I miss about the US of A--the good, the bad, and the ugly.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009


You wouldn't think living in Slovakia and Russia would teach me about British culture.

Oh, the wonders of Sky.

Anyhoo . . . what I wanted to say is that I now know all sorts of interesting things about British culture.

Like how they use the word brilliant all the time, sometimes shortening it to, God help us all, brill.

Pants are not to be worn on the street. Well, not without something over them.

Just say the words fanny pack and watch the reaction.

Moreish has nothing to do with the Alhambra.

Fancy dress does not mean black tie optional. (I just learned this the other day.)

Christmas (or Crimbo . . . yes, they say that) brings a WHOLE 'NUTHER realm of cultural differences: the Brits have endless favorite Christmas songs THAT WE HAVE NEVER HEARD OF.

All of which receive endless hours of airplay on the video channels.

Yes, I know.

It isn't even Thanksgiving yet.

After you listen to these Classic Christmas Favorites (should that be Favourites?), you'll wish you hadn't. Because you won't be able to stop humming them. And some of them are JUST AWFUL. Or weird. Or both.

You have been warned.

I'll start with one you might know. It's even in HD for your viewing pleasure.

I kind of like this next song. Well, I did the first one hundred times I heard it.

We always thought this was just the Tesco theme music. Guess not.

I'm really sorry about this next one.I had never heard of this band until I read Touching the Void. One of the guys talks about how he has a Boney M song stuck in his head the whole time, and he can't believe he's going to FREAKING DIE with a Boney M song stuck in his head. I think having this song stuck in my head makes me want to kill myself. That's what I think.

But if you stick it out until the end, all FIVE minutes and THIRTY-NINE seconds, you get a surprise.

I love Paul McCartney. Really, I do. But honestly, I will hum this song for the next FOUR weeks and hate him the entire time. And now you will too. Heh heh.

This one isn't so bad.

This is pretty, but sort of melancholy.

They really do say Happy Christmas instead of Merry Christmas.

But our VERY favorite Weird British Christmas Classic here Chez Beet, is this little number. It is disturbing on so many levels.

Kind of makes that American tradition, the annual Day-After-Thanksgiving-Shopping-Hell known as Black Friday or, say, having your teeth drilled, pleasant in comparison now, doesn't it?

Friday, November 20, 2009

And Now for Something COMPLETELY Different

Here are photos of British Humour Night taken by the bar's photographer.

The Germans sketch


Neil's monologue

It's the Arts sketch




Wednesday, November 18, 2009

D.A.R.E. to . . . What?

I was all in a lather and ready to fire off some rapier-wit snipes to this columnist because this time she really has GONE TOO FAR.

But, in the end, I decided it is best to treat her like a misbehaving toddler and just ignore the behavior.

Instead, I bring you some good karma.

Do you know about Operation Beautiful? Go check it out.

Isn't that nice? Talk about your random acts of kindness.

I have a Facebook Friend who always posts lovely positive affirmations. And not in a Stuart Smalley way. Not that Stuart isn't wonderful, you understand. But FB Friend lacks Stuarts self-doubt.

Speaking of D.A.R.E., there seems to be something up at the French school. We got the following email from the PTA:

Subject: Information prévention des conduites à risque‏

Chers Adhérents,
Monsieur LXXXXX , Proviseur du lycée, nous charge de vous informer que l'intervention concernant la prévention des conduites à risque aura lieu dans les classes 4ème à Terminale pendant la semaine du 30 novembre, une séance plénière destinée aux parents sera programmée. Ces interventions seront conduites par deux experts français.

Bien Cordialement,
Le bureau de l’APENG

Even I understood this. It says something like

Dear Folks,
We're going to have an intervention regarding risky conduct for those students 8th grade and above.

So it doesn't apply to us. But it set The Spouse and me to puzzling: what kind of risky behavior?

"Doesn't say it's limited to flu," mused The Spouse. "Might be passing out condoms, for all I know."

But then we brainstormed a little and came up with this list:
  • Crossing the Garden Ring while not using the underpass.
  • Publishing an article about human rights abuses in Russia.
  • Being on the street late at night or at any time if you are from Tatarstan.
  • Not using the sidewalks in the winter.
  • Using sidewalks in the winter.
Guess we'll have to wait a few years until our kids are old enough for L'Intervention.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Um, I'm PRETTY Sure I Didn't Say It QUITE That Way

Oh, the Interwebz! It is a wonderful place.

Thanks to the miracle of blog statistic sites, I discovered another lovely American woman who blogs about her life in Moscow. And today she joined the original Fab Four Blogging Babes at lunch.

My blog stat info showed a reader coming from a site I didn't recognize, so I followed the link, and lo and behold! New friend!

My blog stat info also showed this link. Hmmm. Also mysterious. What the heck could that be?

Ah, yes! The cat scratching box people!

You may recall, if you are a regular here Chez Beet, that about a month ago I wrote and posted this entry about how happy I was I found these cardboard boxes for cats to scratch on since I had been bringing them back from the USSA in my suitcase.

Go click the link and read it again.

Go on.

I'll wait.

[drums fingers]

Didja read what I wrote?

Now, if you can read Russian, this is how what I wrote got translated into Russian:

Мы с мужем живем в Огайо.
Наш любимый кот использует картонную когтеточку Catoslav. Ветеринар посоветовал нам приобретать именно такие когтеточки в специализированной аптеке, где их можно купить по наиболее приемлемой цене в $ 43 (около 1300 руб.), в то время как в других местах Catoslav будет стоить дороже. Чтобы съездить в эту аптеку надо потратить несколько часов на дорогу, в общей сложности посвятить один из выходных дней.
Недавно я была в Москве.
Это было удивительно! Я обнаружила, что подобная картонная когтеточка, без которой американский кот не представляет себе счастливой жизни, производится в России, продается в московских магазинах и называется «Когтедралка Домашняя».
До зоомагазина добиралась недолго: пять остановок на метро с одной пересадкой, да пару кварталов пешком.
Купив когтеточку всего за 250 руб. ($8.4), я возвратилась домой.
Покрутив упаковку, я увидела сайт производителя картонных когтедралок. Зашла. Там очень интересные видеоролики. Рекомендую - посмотрите их все!
Особенно забавное видео про российскую леди Светлану и ее семь (СЕМЬ!) кошек Плюшку, Кабачка, Кису, Цыгана и их друзей, изодравшими мебель, стены и занавески.
Когда Светлана дает своим питомцам «Когтедралку Домашнюю», они буквально набрасываются на нее, мешают друг другу, выстраиваются в очередь. Все остальные когтеточки (веревочная и ковровая) остались пылиться в кладовке.
Теперь Светлана может потратить свои сбережения на новую обивку кресел, а свободное время посвятить себе (зайти в салон красоты).
Действительно, смотрите все видеофильмы.
Мне 64 года, и для меня они очень забавны.
Спасибо «Когтедралка Домашняя»!

I was very excited.

"What does it say? What does it say?" I asked The Spouse. I wanted to see how The Expatresse translated into Russian.

The Spouse dutifully took the Russian text and translated it back into English for me. Here is what the good people who visit the Kogtedralka web site think I wrote:

My husband and I live in Ohio.
Our beloved cat uses the cardboard cat scratcher “Catoslav.”  The veterinarian recommended us to acquire just this kind of cat scratcher in a special drugstore where you can buy them for a better price of $43 (about 1300 rubles), as the Catoslav is more expensive in other places.  In order to get to this drugstore, I had to spend hours on the road and the main problem was that I used up a whole weekend day.
Recently, I was in Moscow.
It was fantastic!!  I discovered that a similar cardboard cat scratcher that my American cat could not imagine living without is produced in Russia and is sold in Moscow stores under the name Kogtedralka Domashnyaya.
To get to the pet shop didn’t take long.  Five stops on the Metro and one transfer, and then a couple of blocks on foot.
I bought this cat scratcher for 250 rubles ($8.4) and returned home.
When I opened the package, I saw the website where these cardboard cat scratchers are made.  I went to that sight and saw some really interesting videos.  I recommend them – watch them all!
One video about a Russian lady was especially funny.  Her name is Svetlana and she has seven (SEVEN!!) cats:  Fluffy, Squash-shaped, Kissy, Gypsy, and their friends and it showed their furniture, walls and curtains.
When Svetlana gives her wards the Kogtedralka Domashnyaya cat scratcher, they literally throw themselves on her, tussle all over each other, and get in a line.  The other cat scratchers (rope ones and carpet ones) were left folded in the closet.
Now Svetlana can spend her savings on new upholstery for her chair and her free time for herself (going to the beauty parlor).
Really, look at the videos.
I am 64 years old, and this is really fun for me.
Thank you, Kogtedralka Domashnyaya cat scratcher!

Sheesh. I hope none of them ever run into Washer Repair Dude III.

In other news, It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like . . . CRAP DOGS!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The Apples Sure Don't Fall Far From the Tree

A million years ago, like, back in May, I agreed to join a book group here in Moscow, largely because my friend was part of the group.

We all nominated titles we'd like to read during the 2009-2010 year. The Spouse had recently handed me a copy of The Death of Achilles by Boris Akunin. It takes place in 1882 Moscow, and I wanted to read it, so I nominated it. The group approved it at a meeting I did not attend.

Someone kindly created a schedule with a hostess, a book, and a presenter for each month. When they read your book, you are the presenter.

I have been in book groups before, but we never actually discussed the book.

These people seem to really talk about the book.

I mean, in my previous experiences we read the book, but no one ever discussed the book.

Book group usually went like this:

Someone: Didja read the book?
Someone Else: Yeah. I liked/didn't like it.
Someone: What do you wanna read for next time?
Someone Else: How about this? [holds up a book]
Someone: Okay. Is the waiter ever going to bring my glass of wine?
Someone Else: Gawd, I am so angry with my husband! This morning he had the nerve to . . .

So September rolls around, the group begins anew, and Friend gets a job and politely excuses herself from the group.

I skip the October meeting because they were reading The History of Love, which I read and adored, but I apparently gave away my copy and didn't feel like buying/hunting down another one.

Plus, it made me cry. I don't need to go there again.

Plus, with Friend gone, I'm not sure I will know anyone in this group.


This week I plowed through the rest of An Echo in the Bone, telling myself that I can then read The Death of Achilles over the weekend.

AEITB was 814 pages.  

TDOA is only 320.

Piece. Of. Cake.

Except on Tuesday the Anglo Russian Theatre guy sends me an email with a script for a hysterical version of Lysistrata attached and asks, "Fancy making a comeback?"

Now I am playing Lysistrata on Sunday.

Oh, and I got a pitiful SMS a few minutes ago asking if I would please, oh, please play "The Host" in another sketch.

And I'm probably "Third Bruce" in still another sketch.

So I should be cranking through The Death of Achilles now so I can get it out of the way before Friday.

Instead I am watching YouTube videos of the sketch in which I play "The Host," memorizing the lyrics to "The Philosopher's Song," trying to remember how to do an Australian accent (I did live there for two months once. . .  in 1977), and writing this blog entry.

Guess I shouldn't be so surprised when my kids do the same thing.

Oh, and did I mention that the Barefoot Contessa is on? She's making chicken bouillabaisse.


Now you definately have to come to Pivo Vodi Sunday night (their web site is here) because not only am I cast in our version of Lysistrata, I am cast as Lysistrata!

I suspect it is because I am the only one with a spare sheet. But whatever! I'll take it.

A little bird tells me there also might be some of this:

Don't mention the war.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Bad, Better, Best

Kid comes home from school today after TWO WEEKS of holiday and complains, "I have to write TWO essays by Thursday!"

Me/The Spouse: "Um, when did you get the assignment?"

Kid, wailing: "BEFORE THE VACATION!!!!!!!"

Me/The Spouse (in unison): "Oy!" [smacking foreheads]

Actually this was a Play in Two Acts with me (Act 1) explaining how this assignment would certainly require a five-paragraph essay with
  • an introduction, 
  • three points of support or examples (because we are a Christian culture) and 
  • a conclusion. 
Act 1 was followed by Act 2 or The Spouse explaining how this assignment would certainly require a five-paragraph essay with
  • an introduction, 
  • three points of support or examples (he left out the trinity references, but then again, he was a Poli Sci major and not an English major) and 
  • a conclusion. 


I'm sorry but I KICKED ASS tonight.

Pan-seared pork tenderloins seasoned with salt, pepper, cumin, and chili pepper.

Oven-roasted Brussels sprouts with olive oil and sea salt.

My latest version of beet salad. I roasted a beet. Yeah, just one. But it weighed a pound and a half. It came from Chernobyl. Peeled it and cut into chunks. Added one grapefruit, peeled and sectioned. Salt and pepper. Fresh, grated horseradish. Lemon zest. And a sauce made of sour cream and the juice of one lemon. Damn, but it was GOOD. It was also yummy on the pork.

Yeah, I shoulda taken pictures. But sour cream on beets just turns PINK. Believe me: it tasted incredible.

I intended to serve it on a bed of posh mixed greens. But I got lazy. So sue me.

The Spouse came home early to help Kid with homework. Brought samples of chocolates and cookies that the office had sampled in planning this year's Office Christmas Gifts for Clients. My favorite was some sort of caramel/brittle topped with a layer of bitter-sweet chocolate, chopped almonds, and dried fruits.

Perfect end to a really delicious meal.

Sunday, November 8, 2009


Today we went to Gorki Leninskiye. It is an estate, about 30 km south of Moscow. What is interesting about it is that this is where Lenin went to convalesce after an assassination attempt in 1918. The property had belonged to a wealthy widow, but was nationalized and turned into a sanitarium for the Bolshevik elite.

We went with a tour, so we went from the center of Moscow to the estate by van. That was interesting it itself because I go around by Metro normally. Which means I pop up at various points above ground and so don't often see how these places connect with one another. I found I knew most of the route, actually. I had just never seen it from that perspective.

A confession: I am not particularly well-versed in Russian history. Lennon is a lot more interesting to me than Lenin. I happen to live here, however, and, love him or hate him, to say that Lenin was an extremely important character in modern history in an understatement. It seemed foolish not to take the opportunity to learn a little something.

The estate at Gorki Leninskiye is a perfectly preserved snapshot of a place Lenin lived and, ultimately, died. In addition, his apartment/offices in the Kremlin have been meticulously recreated in a separate building on the grounds. While the layout and some of the room proportions are not the same as they were in the Kremlin, every item is just as it was. They even took the oak paneling from the conference rooms.

As usual, I have a lousy little camera that is profoundly limiting. Glass in front of many items made for reflections, glare and unusable pictures. But don't be discouraged: the estate is definately worth a visit.

The estate is comprised of three main houses. Lenin and his wife and sister lived in the more modest one at first.

We had to wear these slippers over our shoes whenever we went inside. MUCH better than the blue, plastic numbers you normally get. But they were big. I tripped over mine a lot.

Below is Lenin's first bedroom. He worked at the small desk. The wolf was a gift.

But eventually he had to move to the bigger, more elegant house because his strokes made climbing the stairs in this building difficult.

Here is the bigger house. It is definately posher, but not grotesquely over-the-top.

One of the attractive features about this place was that in the 1920s it had a telephone.

The letters on the desk are notes Lenin wrote to the phone company complaining about problems with the service.

Part of Lenin's personal library. If you can read the Cyrillic, you might see that this shelf holds his copies of works by Marx and Engels.

They had a movie projector and used to watch movies. The films were silent, so his sister would accompany on the piano.

The curtains were inspired by Napoleon's flags at the battle of Borodino. The bees symbolize work, power, and wealth. I think they, like almost everything in this house, were remnants of the previous owners and not personal possessions of Lenin.

In fact, Stalin thought this painting of a Russian cemetery was gloomy and inappropriate to have around a convalescent. But Lenin did not want money spent to change anything on his behalf. So the painting stayed put.

This mechanical wheelchair was a gift to Lenin by some factory workers. However, he never used it because it required two hands to steer, and his strokes profoundly impaired his use of his right hand.

He did use this wheelchair. There are many photos of him in this chair on the estate grounds.

He had to have the hand railing on the stairs modified to fit his crippled right hand. I'm not sure why the steps in the other house were a bigger problem (they did seem steeper, as I recall).

This was his bedroom in the big house. He died here in 1924 at 6:50 p.m. All of the clocks were stopped and still show that time.

You can see his walking stick leaning against the table.

The death mask was sort of macabre. You can see how his right hand was unnaturally clenched by the strokes.

Perhaps the best part was in the garage . . .

His specially customized, snow-ready Rolls Royce! How cool is that? The estate guide told us it is still in working order, although the hood ornament is a replacement after the original was stolen during a tour of school children during the 1990s.

P.S. The Spouse sent me this today.