Wednesday, February 17, 2010

The Beet Has Gone On

I've moved up in the world to my own domain at

Please follow me there and note the new address.


The Expatresse

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Out With the Old?

Thanks to Author Julia for suggesting the title of today's blog entry.

I swear, Moscow was handing out some heavy, angry energy on my last few days there.

I sliced the back of my heel on a friend's stairs. I slipped on some ice and wrenched my knee. I stepped in a small hole and twisted my ankle. Banged my leg under a restaurant table. Workers cleaning ice and snow off the roof dropped a load that just missed me and the girls.

It was as if Moscow really didn't want me to leave. Or was expressing some profound anger that I was.

Yesterday was Travel Day, and I woke with very unstable stomach.

I attributed it to stress.

You see, there was an issue with getting a Power of Attorney for the move, and I thought that it was very possible that The Spouse would have to stay behind in Moscow to deal with it.

Then there was the snow, which would have grounded any airline except Aeroflot.

Add to this all the headaches of getting the cats through the bureaucracy at the airport.

I ended up going to the airport in a taxi by myself, and the driver had the heat cranked. At one point I thought I was getting car sick.

My vet, Yuri, and his wife, Valeria, accompanied us to the airport, and Valeria worked her miracles both in the vet office there and at check-in (somehow she arranged for us to have a whole row to ourselves which meant an invaluable extra two seats as it turned out).

I was feeling worse and worse. I bought a Sprite, this is how bad I felt, thinking it would make me feel better. I was hot. I was cold. I could NOT get comfortable.

Long story short, about three hours into the flight to Paris, The Expatresse utilized TWO, count 'em, TWO "air sickness bags."

I had to hand the first one to The Spouse. That's love, you know. When you can hand someone your bag of vomit.

I went and sat in the loo for a bit, but by then the crisis had passed.

The rest of the journey was uneventful.

First impressions:
  • We arrived at the Luxembourg Airport about 7:00 p.m. Where did everybody go? Other than the nice lady at the car rental desk, and the nice man in baggage claim, no one was there.
  • Where was all the traffic? It was 8:00 p.m. on a Monday night when we drove to the temporary apartment. Where did everybody go?

The apartment is light and airy and spacious, although it is really only one bedroom, and The Spouse and I have the foldout couch in the living room, and it is on the third floor (fourth as Americans count it) with no elevator, but that won't kill any of us.

It has a dishwasher in the kitchen and a washing machine in the "keller." There is a bakery right next door, and a place to park our rental car in front. There's free WiFi, and plenty of channels in French (and God knows what else) for the kids. We watched an episode of America's Next Top Model last night, and I don't know what the subtitles were. Maybe Dutch?

It is going to have to be home for a while, too, as the moving company cannot release our shipment until we receive a "certificat de residence" which we cannot possibly have before our original delivery date of April 1.

Why do the moving companies ask you when you want to take delivery when it is rarely, if ever, anything you can control? Why do they even ask?

I expect we will be here until at least May 1, which helps justify the 27 kgs of excess baggage I paid a small fortune for yesterday. I just thought we might need something other than winter coats.

The other very fun thing is that I have already driven a car! I drove The Spouse to work this morning AND found my house again. This was my first big victory as I did not study the corner of our street for landmarks on my way to his office. It really is so terribly simple it is laughable: go to the corner, turn left, and continue until you get to the street his office is on. It is a 15-minute journey round-trip. The ease of it really did make me laugh: this is so NOT Moscow.

More evident to the un-Moscow-ness of it all:

Cats, happy to be done traveling, enjoy the view.

Behind our building is a park.

This is, apparently, a lot of snow for Luxembourg.

Skittles in the kitchen.

The view in front of our building.

What a nice, sunny day.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Parting Glances








Saturday, February 13, 2010

Time for Some Comic Relief

I have a statistics counting site that tells me where my readers come from. It has lead me to some interesting places.

An entry on my Bratislava blog became the subject of discussion on some political forum when they got to talking about how The Spouse and I were voting for each other on Hot or Not. What can I say? I think we were having simultaneous mid-life crises.

This week I noticed a lot of traffic coming from a site called WEDINATOR. So I went over to have a look, and there in the COMMENTS is a link to my blog.

Thank you Kind Wedinator Reader!

Russian wedding pictures seem to be a hit on the site, because they also had this picture (see below, if you dare). I had seen it somewhere else before . . . anyone who knows Moscow will recognize the city immediately. That is, if they can see the city.

It is a bit over-the-top, if you'll pardon the pun.

I Dunno If You're Gonna Want to Read This

It's just more of me whining about My Bad Day.

You might want to navigate away from this page now.

Okay. But don't say I didn't warn you.

Moving is just stressful no matter how many times you do it. I will make a little plug for my current moving company, Crown, as they are, so far, creating a much more professional experience for me than when I moved to Moscow. I won't mention any names as your mileage may vary.

Let's just say I should have stuck with AGS. Worst mistake I ever made regarding a move.

I mean, I actually called the other company for a quote about moving us to Luxembourg and could not get their Expat Contact Lady to return my calls. In fact, the Estimate Gal who eventually came out to do the survey even said, "Oh, she never returns calls . . . she only emails."

All well and good, but how am I supposed to email you when you have my computer on your truck?

They didn't even follow up with a call to see who I had chosen.

Who doesn't call a potential client to ask for their business?

Meanwhile, Crown has not given me anything in exchange for the mention here. Unless you count letting me shout at their Documents Dude on the phone this morning.

It wasn't his fault. It was the Idiot Notary preparing the Power of Attorney documents. And Documents Dude, in his defense, actually went out of his way to be helpful.

And what was his thanks? Having to listen to me cry on the phone and make snarky remarks.

In my defense, why is it that people, especially professional movers, don't grasp that when you are in the middle of a move like this you really Do. Not. Have. Anything.

Dox Dude made the mistake of suggesting I print a document. That would be fine except your team very efficiently PACKED MY PRINTER. Yesterday.

[NB: Seriously, they went through our place like a dose of salts. They originally said they would need 2.5 days to pack and load us. And they did it in 1.5 days. They managed to take the piano out without me even hearing it. Unlike when The Clowns brought it in. Up. Every. Step. For. Seven. Flights. BAM. BAM. BAM.]

Okay, okay. Here's my whole day.

7:30 a.m. Left New (temporary) Apartment and dropped kids off at school.

[NB: The New Apartment is just fine. Really. But the toilet makes me laugh. It is a "water closet." As in my knees hit the wall making the whole process not unlike the stateroom scene out of A Night at the Opera.]

I mistakenly thought I could relax for a bit, enjoy a coffee and maybe a little breakfast, while I waited for HR Babe at The Spouse's old job to get to work. I thought I would breeze in and sort out a few details. Never occurred to me that she might have meetings until 11:00.

Sheesh. The nerve.

So I ate half a cheese omelet and then went to what we are now referring to as the "Old Apartment."

I cleaned the bathroom and started on the kitchen when The Vet called to say she had my travel documents. She came over and explained everything I will have to do at the airport on Monday.

She left at 10:45. I know because I had set the alarm on my phone to go off reminding me to go see HR Babe.

In the meantime, I had several snarky conversations with Crown's Document Dude. Including the one as I was leaving the building that frustrated me so that I started to cry.

The details aren't that important.

But the short version is what notary won't accept your actual passport when Russian Immigration will, but insists on a translated form that then has to be notarized? It's not like our names on our Russian visas aren't already in Cyrillic.

Got to HR Babe's office around noon and filled out some forms so The Spouse can have some life insurance until we buy him another plan in Luxembourg.

Because when you work for an American company, things like life insurance come with the job. But insurance is not a benefit with a European employer because they all have insurance through their country. And so will we once we have a residency permit. Health insurance anyhow.

The life insurance we will have to buy. In the meantime, since The Spouse had that little pulmonary thrombosis scare while the rest of you were eating turkey and cranberry sauce, I thought I might want to extend his current policy.


Except, they want a check.

I haven't written a lot of checks since 1999 when I started living abroad. But I do still own a checkbook.

Which the movers very efficiently packed.

Because, I don't need it. Usually.

So I had to call American Blogging Girlfriend Katbat and ask her to write me a check.

"When you come back," said HR Babe, "just leave the check in an envelop at Reception."

"Um, HR Babe," I had to ask. "Can you give me an envelop?"

She was horrified, and did and even gave me a sleeve to carry the copies of the insurance forms. Because I am really without anything I normally have access to.

I'm about as prepared as the family pet. And it's extremely stressful.

Baboo finished school at 1:00 p.m. I stopped at the bank before and took a LOT of dollars out of the ATM to give to Sister Katbat and then ran around looking for one of those machines to feed money into for my phone. They are everywhere when you don't need one and curiously missing when you do. And boy, oh, boy, now that The Spouse has a Lux number and we aren't both with the same Russian service provider, is my phone ever costing me a mint!

Took Baboo to the New Apartment and then ran across the street to Hoover down a Big Mac Combo Meal.

[NB: There's a McDonald's across the street from us now. I can count on one hand the number of times I have been in a McDonald's since we moved to Moscow. Mostly I walk in and walk out because there is NO PLACE TO SIT. McDonald's just celebrated 20 years in Moscow, and it is as popular as ever.]

While I was sitting there inhaling French fries, my phone rings.

It's Natasha from the Luxembourg office. She's handling our travel details. She wants to know the measurements of my cats' travel cages.

Which would have been really easy to answer even yesterday when I had access to measuring devices, but now I. Do. Not. Have. Anything.

Quick: Tell me where to buy a measuring tape in Moscow! Metric or English, it doesn't matter.

I know of two hardware stores . . . and a few of those places in the perehods where you can get yarn and embroidery kits . . . but tick-tock, tick-tock . . . Natasha is two hours behind me, but she still needs the information today.

I admit to crying again while snarfling French fries, wasting an awful lot of my phone credit blubbering to Natasha about my helpless state, and wondering if I choked on the fries if anyone would try to rescue me or if they would just push my lifeless body under the counter where I was sitting, happy to have found a seat in McDonald's.

Realized I could ask Katbat, a confessed sewer, if she had a tape measure while I was over at her place utilizing her banking services.

Loyal Beetnik, Katbat truly is One-Stop Shopping. She lent me her measuring tape, which I must return this weekend.

I dropped the check off for HR Babe (thankfully Katbat lives across the street), picked up second child at 3:00 p.m. (who, like her sister, was weepy about her Last Day . . . heartbreaking to watch) and 5 liters of water (which is heavy!), and took both to the New Apartment before running back to the Old Apartment to measure the cat cages.

Got back to New Apartment around 5:00 p.m.

Now, as I type this, having the benefit of a very nice dinner out and a healthy portion of vodka, all of this seems so silly. But at the time I was just holding on until this moment.

Stay tuned.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

EU 998

Here's a tip for traveling with pets to the EU.

You need a form. EU 998.

The Veterinary Certificate for Domestic Dogs, Cats, and Ferrets Entering the European Community for Non-Commercial Movements.

If you google it, you will find lots of nice websites offering to sell it to you for $7.50 a copy.

Or you can just go here and get it for free.

Oh, and if you need it in other EU languages? Say, for example, you are going to Luxembourg, and they really want the bilingual (French/English) version? Then go here and scroll down until you find it.


And free.

Monday, February 8, 2010

One Week From Today . . .

. . . and what'll we do with Luxembourg?

Thursday, February 4, 2010

I'm So Tired, I Can't Even Come Up With a Funny Title for This Blog Entry

Oy, such a day I've had of it.

Yeah, I'm going to complain a little. But man, oh, man, it was TOUGH out there today.

Oh, it was deceptively pretty outside because the temperatures were, once again, rather mild. Only -7C, which, in the sun (of which there was plenty), was right nice. As long as the wind wasn't blowing. Which, unfortunately, it was.

This, combined with the Zamboni-ed quality of our city sidewalks . . . well, to quote a favorite blogger of mine, JESUS FISHSTICK CHRIST! Somewhere, and I swear it was this week, I read that Russia or maybe just Moscow is having the worst winder since, oh, say the Siege of  Leningrad, but now, try as I might, I cannot find it. (I did stumble on this, however: "The big freeze of ’63: People fell ‘like skittles’" is a little too close for comfort.)

Long story short I had to TAKE CHILDREN TO SCHOOL this morning, which wasn't too horribly awful,except for the first part of the walk, right outside our building, which is also slightly downhill.

Then I had to GO TO THE AMERICAN EMBASSY (long, boring story involving FS-240 forms, the elusive DS-1350, and one notarized copy for $30; yes, thank you, my tax dollars hard at work), but my appointment was for 9:00 (earliest available) and, as we learned when we went on Monday, one will inevitably arrive at 8:30 and there's precious little to do in the neighborhood except to stroll around, and this is what I attempted to do (I did identify and then stand in front of the Chekhov House which I knew was nearby because Blogging Friend Dina mentioned it this week), but the wind was so strong and the sidewalks so slippery (and I had, foolishly, not worn my Yak Trax), that I was white-knuckled and drenched in sweat by the time 9:00 rolled around.

After I WENT HOME, but stopped to buy The Spouse nuts at the perehod between Mayakovskaya and our place. It was on THE WALK HOME FROM NUT SHOPPING, that I noticed, with a certain irony, that the parking lot/sidewalk in front of the GAI/Traffic Police Building was not only CLEAN and DRY, but had been SALTED.

Ah hem.

Not even the sidewalk in front of the US Embassy is SALTED! What is up with that anyhow? I have it on good authority that every stick of furniture in the embassy comes directly from the US of A and that the ambassador himself eats his breakfast off of a FIESTAWARE plate, for God's sake, that rests on a COLONIAL STYLE table. Well, the American ambassador in Bratislava did anyhow. As do I. The Fiestaware, I mean. Not the Colonial style furniture. But the point is: wasn't there any room for a little Morton's in the old diplomatic pouch? Can't anyone help a fellow American who is down on her luck?


But I digress.

I went home and barely sat down when The Spouse called and asked would I please GO BACK TO THE SCHOOL TO COLLECT SOME DOCUMENTS. Which I did.

Interesting thing happened here: I had exited the Metro and paused to put on my Yak Trax (I am a slow-learner, but I do eventually catch on), when a woman came up to me and begged me (in Russian) to PLEASE, PLEASE TELL HER WHERE I GOT THESE THINGS BECAUSE, HAVE YOU NOTICED? IT'S LIKE DEATH OUT HERE! When I told her I bought them v Amerike, she wept.

Then, before she even turned away, ANOTHER woman came up to me and started telling me that I needed a massage and that she was a professional and a doctor and her name is Galina and here is her number and lots of other details that I did not get because she was speaking in Russian. The funny thing here, other than the fact that I am almost completely sure that I fell asleep on the Metro twice today, was that seconds before I was accosted by the weeping woman, I was on the Metro escalator reminding myself to BREATHE and draw ENERGY from the Universe and all that other good granola stuff they tell you in yoga class. And I was even thinking, "I could use a spa when this move is over. Or at least a yoga class." And I tried not to fall asleep again on the escalator, but to BREATHE or at least remember to KEGEL and BAM! Whaddya know: the Universe does, indeed, provide. In the form of Dr. Galina, Massage Therapist. Who, other than the fact she was offering massages to total strangers on the street, seemed normal and even comforting, sort of like Sada Thompson in Family or Dianne Wiest in Law & Order.

I did escape and completed my errand at the school and then CONTINUED ON TO THE SPOUSE'S OFFICE where I delivered the documents I had collected that morning from both the embassy and the French school and even stayed to have a little lunch with him in one of the restaurants in the basement of his building.

[Note: We ran into The Spouse's Tall, Handsome, and Humorless German Former Big Boss today, and while the three of us were discussing what it is like to suddenly work for a company that isn't American and doesn't provide life insurance as a benefit and how you have to buy your own but you can keep the existing policy for a little while after leaving the American employer but only with coverage up to $125,000 which is better than a sharp stick in the eye but won't keep me and the girls forever without me heading back to the workplace after 11+ years away, I decided to blurt out that, "No, but it will keep me going long enough to find another husband  . . . maybe get a little work done first," and Tall, Handsome, Humorless German Former Big Boss just looked appalled. I blame the icy sidewalks for my inability to self-censor.]


Ah, sweet liquor eases the pain.

In other, totally unrelated news: There is a kid at the girls' school, let's call her "Heather," who has the dubious reputation for being the school's Self-Appointed Fashion Police. Famous in song and legend, I finally caught a glimpse of her as I walked the girls to school this morning. "Heather's" signature line this year is "You have to take action!" She also likes to make click-y noises while pointing with a finger-gun.

Today, she approached Baboo in the lunchline and said, in French of course, "Psst. C'mere." When Baboo responded, Heather pointed at Baboo's shirt and said, "Stripes are SO last year." Pointing then to another kid (who Baboo reports had "pants on the ground") she told Baboo, "Ça, c'est bien!" 

Baboo responded by raising an eyebrow.

The playground, or in this case the lunch room . . .  it is a cruel place.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

In Which I Pay It Forward

With temperatures soaring in Moscow this week (we are hovering right below freezing as I type) the hot debate among the expat crowd here is whether (geez, I can't stop the puns) we prefer last week's bitter cold (super cold = sun, blue skies, and relatively clean sidewalks, such as Moscow sidewalks are) to this week's tropical climes.

Warmer Weather = Sidewalk Hell

Honestly, I am sure there are plows in Moscow, but the streets I walk on sure haven't seen any. And this heavy, wet snow, while, um, heavy, is easy to shovel off the sidewalks.

Where are all our hardworking Tajiks?

And didn't our Mayor promise to divert all of Moscow's snow? What's up with that?

It is a mess out there. So much so that yesterday I finally put on my Yak Trax (again, no money changed hands here between me and the good people at Yak Trax except when I purchased four pairs of their product).

Mine look like this pair. Except I have lived in Moscow long enough not to be caught dead in shoes this boring. Even my Very Practical Winter Boots have some style. They just have day-glo green Yak Trax on them now.

The Verdict: Both The Spouse and I concur that our ability to navigate the city streets yesterday, while still difficult, was MUCH IMPROVED once we donned our Yak Trax. I did have to pop mine off to enter the Metro (they don't seem the thing to wear on a slipper, marble-esque floor), but it was easy enough to do.

I did not break out my pair until later in the day when I went to collect the children from school. Earlier in the day I went without, and let me tell you, it was rough going. Even the supposedly clean surfaces in the perehods/street underpasses were treacherously slippery.

Which is why when I passed an old woman, inching her way along the perehod, WITH A CANE, making weeping/whimpering noises, I had to turn around and go help her.

I cannot count the number of times total strangers here have helped us. Not just in my grocery store (where they refuse to sell me anything they deem is not fresh), but on the street, too. More than once we have had to ask for directions and when folks don't know they often go find out for us. It's quite sweet and very moving.

So I had to at least offer to help this woman.

She was old, but dressed well enough: good solid shoes, a fur hat, a thick sheep-skin coat. She had her wits about her. She just could not find any purchase on the floor surface. Since my Russian is virtually non-existent, I couldn't understand the outpouring of chatter when I first offered her my arm. I don't know if she had fallen (she didn't have any telltale wet and smudgy spots on her coat) or just went out to run an errand having misjudged the severity of the street surfaces.

She was happy to have me help her, however. I linked arms with her and held her hand and slowly, slowly we made our way through the perehod and up the stairs to street level. There is no way she could have done this on her own.

Once we reached street level, she seemed unsure exactly which way she wanted to go. She knew the address, however, and in typical Muscovite fashion, she asked several passersby until she got what she needed.

A young Russian man asked if we needed help. If I could have spoken to him, I would have said, "Yes! I have no idea how far this woman needs to go!" But my companion told him, "No, no, we're doing fine," much to my disappointment.

She had a small plastic bag that she held in the same hand with her cane. It seemed to contain one of those local newspapers and an open can of Coca Cola, among other things. She was very concerned that the Coke would spill out of the can and onto the contents of the bag. I was wondering why she didn't just discard the can (we passed several trash cans), but at one point she stopped, got the can out of her bag (with great difficulty), and had a swig.

I can't say I wasn't ever-so-slightly tickled to see her enjoying one of my favorite American products.

"Are you French?" she asked me.

Nope. American.

That seemed to please her. Oh, this was one of those times that I desperately wished I spoke better Russian. It would have been so interesting to have a real conversation with her.

Once up on the sidewalk, we began inching down the street. I know this section of sidewalk, and there is a point in front of an office building where the surface stone changes (for aesthetic purposes) to something I nearly killed myself on earlier that day. I was not about to let her navigate that by herself.

Thankfully, we stopped just as we reached that point.

"I don't know what number this is," she kept saying. "What number is this?"

I couldn't see an address, but while we were standing there, the Concierge Dude for the building saw us and came out. He was able to tell her that we had passed her destination, but only just.

So back we went while younger, speedier Moscow flowed like water all around us.

I got her to the door she declared was her destination, and held it for her so she could go inside.

"Beautiful! Beautiful!" she kept telling me, and gave me big kisses on my cheeks.

I don't know how she got home, but I hope she had a little help.

In Moving News: I guess we are T-12 Days since we leave Moscow February 15. Although the movers will handle all the packing, there are a million and one details left to sort out. Remember to have the water people come and take their cooler back. Sort out interim health/life insurance coverage until new kicks in. What on earth are the cats going to travel in? And what am I going to do with them (and the children) next Wednesday when the movers are here (short day at school that day, The Spouse will be out of town, and we won't have a temporary apartment in Moscow until the following day)?

In the Good News Column, we will have a rental car waiting for us in Luxembourg when we arrive, as well as temporary digs. We can go there directly from the airport. The question is, how long do we think it will take us to find a permanent place to rent? Two weeks? Four?


The mind reels.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Čizi Piži Redux

As those of us who travel all know, the best (that is funniest) stories involve embarrassing language snafus. Or horrible foreign toilets. Or both.

But I'm just going to talk about food this time.

Both The Spouse and I have had our disasters with misunderstanding a foreign menu and ending up with something we did not expect.

It happened to me on my First Ever Trip to France. We had been in Paris for several days, and I thought I had gotten the hang of the French dinner menus: you pick a price category or menu, and then you can usually select from several options in that price range. I wanted to branch out a little and try something new, so I ventured into Fish World and ordered something that sounded a bit more romantic, more poetic. What I thought was the French version of those menu items you find in a Chinese restaurant that give no clue as to the actual dish ingredients. You know like Happy Family or Three Delicacies Over Sun Moon Lake.

I ordered Aile de Raie, which I knew meant Wing of Ray.

What I did not expect was that it really meant WING OF RAY. As in skate. In a lemon caper sauce.

I was hungry, and this was not at all what I wanted, and The Spouse had ordered a really nice Merguez couscous, and he was hungry too and not into sharing.

I wept and, because we were in France, mimed a ray, hoping to garner pity, but to no avail.

His turn came years later in Bratislava at a restaurant called Voch. I don't think it is there anymore, but they used to serve this fantastic dessert called something like an Emperor Pancake or Kaiserschmarrn. Oh, God, it was good.

So we go one night, and we are sitting outside in the square there ordering our dinner, and The Spouse finds an item on the menu called Čizi Piži.

He quizzes the waiter in Slovak: "Is it good?"

Waiter, noncommittally: "Umm, yeah. I guess."

The Spouse sees the Slovak word for baked in the description: "So it's baked?"

Waiter: "In a cream sauce."

The dish arrives, and that was when we learned the Very Important Lesson in Slovak:

Pečeň does not mean baked.

It means LIVER.

Pečeny means baked.

Today, I met The Spouse for lunch. There is a restaurant in the building where his office is that features a daily Business Lunch. We had the same thing in Slovakia: the restaurant offers a fixed menu for a reasonable price. It's quick and, as long as you like the offering, it can be a good value. Order off the regular menu at lunch time and you will throw the kitchen into chaos as they are prepared to whip out the Business Lunch Menu.

So we have started getting the Business Lunch when we go there. The choices on the menu today are some sort of chicken dish with rice or a fish dish with mashed potatoes. I had a fish dish the last time I was there, so I opt for the chicken dish.

So does The Spouse.

It comes with a nice salad of salted tomatoes, cucumbers, and grated carrots and a bowl of meat solyanka . . . very delicious and typically Russian.

Then the main course comes.

Well, you can probably see where I'm going with this.

It's chicken, alright. In a cream sauce with sauteed onions over rice. But not chicken fingers or even chicken thighs.

It was CHICKEN GIZZARDS. куриные потрохи.

"I had NO idea it was going to be organ meat," The Spouse says as he and I pick around out gizzards and eat only the rice and onions.

"I thought that it would be a shape or cooking method," he sighs as we leave the restaurant. "Not a body part."

Burning Down the House?

I really should be focusing more on arrangements for the move. Or at least washing the breakfast dishes and running the vacuum. I could put a load of laundry in to run while I type.

All of which is a lot more useful, at the end of the day, than sitting around thinking about my sweaty elbows.

Maybe they are "sweating" elbows.

I dunno. All I know is I woke up in the wee hours of the morning and the crooks of my elbows were positively wet.


Who gets sweaty/ing elbows?

I don't suppose anyone really wants to read about my menopause symptoms. At one point I thought that perhaps the blog would be more of an Everywoman thing, with the emphasis on my age group. The location would just be an after-thought.

The (Peri)Menopausal Mom Who (As It Just Happens) Lives in Moscow.

But that angle never really got any traction, as the kids say. Rather than hitting those Comedic Female Moments We All Can Relate To, it seemed instead to generate a room full of readers who coughed nervously, crumbled their programs nosily, and stared at their shoes uncomfortably. Amidst microphone feedback.

But it seems like there should be SUCH good material to be mined there.

I've seen other blogs with a regular Too Much Information feature. TMI Monday or something like that.

Sweating elbows.

That probably qualifies as TMI.

Or maybe it's a DIY problem.

Maybe they are merely the product of an over-heated Moscow apartment (it is a balmy -3C outside this morning, yet the heating is still cranked for colder temperatures). Maybe the Humorless French Doctor Across the Street was right: maybe I have not yet had a proper hot flash.

The Spouse always said I was wrong not to explore a career in HVAC.

I have a friend from childhood who recently relayed the story of how she woke one night. She toddled off to the bathroom, as so many of us do, and while there, became convinced she was dying of a heart attack or worse.

"I was burning up," she told me. "Suddenly, just BURNING UP. I couldn't move. I started crawling back to the bedroom, calling for my husband to come help me because I was certainly dying!"

Husband was just as mystified, and, well and truly frightened for her well-being, offered to call 9-1-1, when it hit her. She wasn't suffering from a heart attack.

It was a hot flash.

Call me callous, but that's a funny story.

Speaking of heat, here is a Devil Cat shot for you.

Crooky is definitely in her Climbing Phase. This Being-On-The-China-Cabinet is a recent thing, and I don't care for it at all. I suppose if she were an outdoor cat, she would be getting stuck in trees. So in that case, I prefer the china cabinet. But I am not looking forward to her knocking the whole thing down.

Okay. Enough procrastination. Housework Waits for No Woman.