Thursday, January 28, 2010

"A Thing in Life"

Our kids are teetering on the Cusp o' Adolescence these days. The Baboo One even has a few blackheads along the side of her nose.

The Baboo One has taken to spending more and more time in the bathroom examining herself in the mirror, and she tends to close the door now to do so. She was in just such a position the other night, examining her misbehaving pores, when she spied Skittles, peering at her through the opening left by the ever-so-slightly-ajar-door (no door in our place closes properly).

Skittles assessed the situation and declared, "Pimples. A thing in life."

We think it's "spot on," pardon the pun, and a great comment on so many of life's "things." We've starting substituting anything that vexes us for "pimples."

"Icy Sidewalks. A Thing in Life," for example.

You know, the last two winters were sort of ho-hum here, and I was actually a bit worried that we would never get to experience a Proper Russian Winter, and that, years from now, we would look back on our time in Moscow and remark, "You know it never got very cold," and feel cheated.

Well, I am getting my money's worth this winter. And I don't mind, really. I mean, if you're gonna be in Moscow, this is the weather you want!

Boy, oh, boy, has it been cold this week. So cold, in fact, that I've actually taken to SHUTTING the little windows in our apartment (fear not: I always open them in such a way that the cats cannot get out). Highs have been around -16C, and the lows have been in the mid -20sC.

The good part about this sort of Really Cold Weather, or, perhaps I should say the reason for this Really Cold Weather is the clear blue sky. No Clouds = Extra Cold. So we've had glorious sunshine sparkling off the golden onion domes. It is a lovely thing.

Honestly, today I was Out and About running various errands, and the air was full of tiny, twinkling snowflakes. Not a cloud in the sky. The sun was shining, but there was this glitter all around me. It's probably the result of condensation from car exhaust or something equally horrible. But at the moment, it was magical. Just magical.

What is NOT fun about this weather is the City of Moscow's insistence that Salt On Ice Is BAD! Oh, they "clean" the sidewalks. They shovel and sweep, removing any terrain on which your boots might find purchase until it's smoother than an NHL hockey rink after the Zamboni's been by.

I taught the kids to say "slick as snot," but, honestly, snot would provide better traction.

May I introduce Exhibit A:

The photo above was taken at 7:30 this morning on our trek to school. Long story, but we all had to go today. See the sidewalk? No? Neither can I because it is COVERED IN FREAKING ICE AND SNOW!

The one above is the entrance to our building, otherwise known as The Plaintiff's Steps.

It's about 11:30 in the a.m. See how clean our walkway is? And they've been working on it, too!

I stood by, at the ready, in case I had to help the woman in the hat go up the steps. I can barely do it, so I was worried I'd see her fall and break a hip before my very eyes.

Here's a guy working on a larger part of the sidewalk near our building. You think he's got the whole area clean with his twig broom (at least that creates SOME texture on the ice/snow). But click on the photo and blow it up: the sidewalk isn't clean. It's all BROWN AND ICY. Just in case you started to get all confident or something.

This has nothing to do with ice, snow, or treacherous surfaces. It's just funny. What cat lies like that?

Speaking of funny, you might get a chuckle out of this.

I've been wearing my "winter silk" long-johns the past few days. They aren't too, too heavy and really do help keep me warm when I'm outside. But today, when I got home from one of my many jaunts about town, I was too lazy to take them off. I only took off my pants ("trousers," to you Brits) since I was home alone and the long-johns are not too warm to wear in the house if they are all I have on.

Mine are black with a little bit of lace trim around the ankles. Very fetching.

So I'm typing away on email or something and the doorbell rings. The one to the door to my apartment, not the exterior door to the building. I go and look through the spy-hole, and there's a guy there, with a tool bag and a uniform. Like a Repair Dude.

"GAS!" he shouts cheerfully, and I remember: I saw him last year!

Against the advice of my Faithful Russian Girlfriend in Bratislava, I open the door and let him in, only then realizing that I am wearing these dumb, black, silk long-johns. They are opaque enough, but it isn't really the sort of thing one wears to receive guests.

I don't know what Gas Dude's goal is. Last year he puttered around my kitchen, smelling strongly of vodka, until he gave up looking for whatever it was he needed. He's sort of avuncular and not at all threatening.

This year was not so different: he looked at my stove (and in cabinets and around the fridge and under the sink), all the while chatting cheerfully in idiomatic Muscovite. He was not at all flapped by my attire. Instead, he politely ignored it, filled out a form, thanked me, and left.

Gas Dude (or maybe Black Long-Johns?): A Thing in Life.

Babble Update: 15??!! The blog is currently at Number 15??!! Oh, there's a lotta love in the room. Thank you all so very much.


Luna said...

+1 (428 likes).

I thought the gas man came later in the year. My gas man only checked the stove. (I still have the matches he left behind.)

The long johns were certainly a nice touch! :)

Just think . . . you won't be doing the Moscow shuffle that much longer.

valentina said...

Oh hell, a beautiful blonde babe in tight silk pants, you probably made his day! Ha! Aren't you glad you will be leaving the Moscow winters behind, despite the magical sparkling snow and glistening golden onion domes? Does sound lovely though... all except the actually having to go outdoors into it! Today the sun is really shining and most all of the snow has melted. It is only 30 but feels much warmer in the sunshine... I am preparing my students for their midterm exam on Tuesday so I have a pretty easy weekend ahead of me and then next week Le Deluge of papers to grade... But I like reading their essays to see how they have assimilated the material and what they can do with it... I just wish there were not quite so MANY of them!

Baboo takes most things in her stride with a certain amount of practical insight it seems. This will stand her in good stead as she grows. I think she gets this from you... You are quite pragmatic. I think Skittles is more abstract and dreamy don't you? She is the artistic one...

Oh and Crooky is indeed a peculiar girl... She is the Odalisque of Moscow or so SHE thinks... I wonder if she will like going outdoors when you move? And Cat-O, how he will like it... Of course this necessitates a cat friendly neighborhood!

OK. so now I am going off to the university to do my thing.xov

Tina in CT said...

What a weird position for the cat to relax in! I've never seen one do that before.

Just think - You're trading the trecherous sidewalks for the charm of Luxembourg and all the lace (or is it only Belgium that has lace).

I remarked (or cussed) several (probable more than several) times about the horrible sidewalks, steps and streets and the lack of snow and ice removal when I was there. I also know that I said it is impossible for anyone with a walking handicap to venture out in the winter or anyone who is pregnant.

What's new about your move?

You HAVE to drive or take a train to Holland in the spring to experience the fields of tulips everywhere you look. Nothing to compare to it.

Annie said...

I had a cat that did that - just love it.

I love the "a thing in life" nomenclature....reminds me a bit of the ugly little "sh*t happens" which I HATE....though I had to admit that the CONCEPT has its uses....but "a thing in life" - much better.

How are your kids about moving?

mepsipax said...

Maybe the cat's balls are cold... good thing you have that winter and not me. Fuck. that. shit.
Also...sorry for not commenting in a while... I have been checking in though.

mosaikmum said...

A great post! Love the pics!

That Kind of Girl said...

I'm sitting here at work, giggling inappropriately loudly over "The Plaintiff's Steps" -- LOVE IT!

valentina said...

WEll If you do decide to change the title, I think you should change it to " A Thing in Life!" or "Chez Lux". Or "The Beet Chez Lux" or "The Beet Goes on Chez Lux". Or any combination thereof...

Today is cold and grey, 19 degrees... It is truly a preview of February and more winter, alas. Of course to you 19 is a walk in the park...

Back to grading papers! xov