Friday, January 16, 2009

Out of the Mouths of Babes

"Do you know why there are no stained glass windows in Russian Orthodox churches?" Skittles asked me as we walked home from school this afternoon.

I had never thought about it, actually. But now that she's mentioned it, I don't recall seeing much stained glass here.

She learned in school that the traditional Russian Orthodox churches felt it was inappropriate to create holy images on something breakable. This is partly why icons have so many layers of paints, says she.

Possibly. What do I know? But it sounds like I'm getting something for my tuition money. But I would love to hear from anyone who has any expertise on this.

Coat Update: It's warm and so incredibly light! I've never owned a down coat before. I can leap tall buildings in a single bound. It's a bird! It's a plane! NO! It's the Expatresse in something that doesn't weigh a ton.

Weather Underground: We were supposed to get a Big Snow yesterday. It did snow, but it hasn't been a big deal. The streets are clean. The sidewalks, however . . . Ugh.

I think the City of Moscow has a policy about not using salt and other chemicals on the streets and sidewalks. In fact, there was an article in the Moscow Times last winter about how the City vowed that they would not use anything that could ruin your shoes. "If your shoes get ruined, bring them to us for a full refund!" they even promised. Yeah. Right. Like I have a lifetime to wait around for that.

Instead there seems to be a policy of using sand, clay, cat litter, and clumps of mud to provide traction on the slick surfaces. This results in the muddy, buttery sea of slush that gets tracked into the farthest reaches of your house even if you remove your boots outside your front door.

Then there is Roof Cleaning/Icicle Hazard. People die every year from falling icicles, so building owners and management are right vigilant about removing snow and ice from roofs. I often hear the building crew tromping around on our roof after a snow. I can see the snow falling past my windows as they shovel it off.

To protect pedestrians while roofs get cleaned, many buildings have barricades made up of what looks like crime scene tape and odd ball fencing. Yes, this forces me to walk away from the building walls, but more often it forces me to walk in the street where I get to play Dodge 'Em with the drivers. Truthfully, the streets are always easier places to walk in terms of ice. But the risk of being sprayed with brown slush (at least) or flat out squished by a car makes it a real rock-and-a-hard-place dilemma.

Easy solution: take the metro! Bonus: today we saw a guy on the metro with a white ferret. The ferret was snuggling in the crook of his arm with far more affection than Cat-O ever shows us. The girls were enchanted.

That's Moscow: derelicts pooping in public one day, exotic pets on the metro the next.


Jen said...

So pleased you are loving your new coat! I bought the very last one in Germany in April (there must be a date in the northern hemisphere after which anything warm disappears, despite the snow).

I had never owned a down coat either though took to it as an old friend almost immediately. It became "The Puff". The Puff was almost lost forever in an airport lounge in Singapore (still makes me wince) but fortunately made it home where I'm still discovering all its secret compartments.

What I want to know though is if you have those fabulous boots yet. I do covet them so.

The Expatresse said...

No, I haven't gone on the Boot Pilgrimage yet. Next week, I hope.

Jen said...

Excellent! Looking forward to them vicariously!

valentina said...

Smart girl that Skittles! Who knows, maybe she will be an Art Historian or an Artist someday! I know she aspires to be a rock 'n roll star but an artist of any kind would be great! God knows she comes by her artistic talents honestly... And she is already bi-lingual! Baboo can invent some new kind of paint for her in her laboratory! Les Ms. Surbey!

And a ferret! Why that is so much better than poop! Things are getting better there in Moscow! It is certainly more exciting than here in Ohio and not nearly as cold!

We are all getting ready for the big inauguration. Tonight on PBS they were telling us that on the fields before the White House, where rows of chairs are waiting, once was the site of the campgrounds of the slaves who built the building, back when DC was a major slave trading center. How horrible a part of history that was. How wonderful for Obama to give his inaugural address before us all this Tuesday. You will watch it on tv. We will be together in spirit and all be proud to be Americans once again. xov

MoscowMom said...

I felt the same way when I made the switch to down three years ago!!! (I had to wait to get one until we had a dryer -- since I have to wash it often due to slush/accidentally brushing up against car stains).

Really cook factoid about the windows! Makes sense... My older daughter loves learning about Moscow, too. Right now she's writing a report about one of the towers within the Kremlin. I think I'll post her report when it's done :-)

As for the metro, no, you NEVER know what you'll see in it!!!!

valentina said...

PS. I misspoke. While both the White House and the Capitol were built with slave labor, the swearing in takes place on the Capitol grounds.

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

Your vivid descriptions of winter in Moscow make me ever more appreciative of life over here in easy-living South Miami/High Pines in South Florida. As I write this we're experiencing our version of a bitter cold wave--the thermometer has plunged to 53 degrees and we spent last night under two blankets and a down comforter. Always glad to read your posts, keep them coming.

Tina in CT said...

It's 9:00 Sat. morning and -5 in Southern New England but with a gorgeous blue sky, not a cloud in sight and bright sun. The downside is that when I put the dog out on her line for a moment when we got up, she went around the well pipe (of course) and was wrapped up. I gingerly picked my way in my slippers and jammies to free her up. She was down on the ground crying as the cold snow hurt her paws and she had been out all of about 2 minutes. The snow is crunchy. I can't complain as I LOVE winter and snow and hate heat/humidity.

Glad that you love your coat. I need to get a new one - a long black one - as mine is baby blue and above my knees.

MoscowMom said...

I referred to your feret and poo sightings in today's entry :-) Never a dull moment around here, is there?!

Annie said...

I just LOVED this post! Brought me right back to Russia! I have a big smile on my face.

Now, I am very happily coated, her in Lansing, MI, with my long, fur-trimmed, heavy Russian coat. I love it, love it, love it. Even in the down coat line, for some reason you cannot buy a warm coat in this country!!! At least in Michigan. (Actually, it may be different in NYC, I bought a warm coat there years ago.) But being in Russia made me understand the reason. Here, most people are not outside very long, so they'll get "too hot" in a really warm coat. Michigan is the "car capital of the world" so everyone is expected to be in one - or at least in their warm garage.) My husband's car is in the garage, and in any case, I am not one of these people. I can hardly imagine getting "too hot" in winter. SO, I LOVE my Russian coat.

The Expatresse said...

Annie: So true! I have been trying to explain the difference between Car Society and Non-Car Society. When I lived in places where I drove, I would take my coat off and throw it in the back, even. It was only there in case the car died. I never took my coat into stores/malls with me, even.

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