Monday, March 23, 2009

Busy Weekend, Boring Blog Entry

Usually I am so done by the end of the week that when Friday afternoon finally comes around, I get in pajamas and stay there until Monday morning unless I am driven from the apartment in search of food or alcohol.

This was an unusually busy weekend. Although I am not sure how blog-worthy most of it was.

Friday night Skittles had a sleep-over. It was the high-point of her week. I took her (carefully prepared by her) backpack to school Friday afternoon and swapped it for her school bag before sending her off with her friends.

Then Baboo and I went to The Spouse's office to help him celebrate his fifth anniversary with his current law firm. Since he knows the Bratislava office better and feels a certain affection for them (this is the office that hired him, after all), he had me procure a case of champagne while I was in Bratislava recently. With the help of his former secretary and some teleconferencing technology, he fixed a date and time for a toast.

They had Szigeti. We had some dreadful semi-sweet Russian champagne I got as a gift from the grocery store for spending 1500 rubles (note to self: next time, take the chocolates instead . . . they are better).

After pouring the rest of the bottle down the sink in the office kitchen (even I have my limits), the three of us went for dinner at a Tibetan place not far from Red Square.

Saturday morning The Spouse went off to collect Skittles. I went to a workshop on cultural differences. It was a fun group of people and an amusing way to spend three hours on a drizzly, gray Moscow Saturday.

Baboo had a haircut at 6 with the Slow Lady (but she sure does a nice job). The kid has Mia Farrow hair to begin with, and still it took an hour. After that we met my Canadian friend and her husband for dinner at Taras Bulba.

Skittles was subdued and anti-social and, being the brilliantly observant parent, it took me a while to figure out that she was simply exhausted from her slumber party the night before. (Actually, I didn't figure it out at all. The Spouse did.) This from the kid who claims to be "Night proof!"

Sunday we had a brunch date with the family of a classmate of Skittles. He's Russian. She's Scottish, I think. They have two boys. We all sat around their kitchen table and ate crepes with sour cream and homemade cranberry jam (yum), croissants (not sure where she got these), fruit salad, sliced sausage, and cup after cup of strong coffee.

Then we went for a walk in Park Iskusstv, otherwise known as the Graveyard of Fallen Monuments. As usual, I did not bring my camera and although our hosts lent me the use of theirs, they have not yet emailed me any of the pictures I took (assuming that I managed to take anything decent at all). So you will just have to look at these pictures. And these pictures.

As my virtual friend, MoscowMom, says in that blog, one of the highlights of Park Iskusstv is the statue of Iron Felix (Felix Dzerzhinsky, of CHEKA) that was torn down from the front of KGB headquarters in 1991.

The other particularly noteworthy piece is this, a memorial to those who perished in the Gulags.

In looking for information about Park Iskusstv, the information I came across on the Internet said it was free and open to the public. But, as is often the case in Russia, that was not really true. Our hosts told us that one child could enter with each adult, something I interpreted as meaning the park wanted parents around to keep children from climbing on the statues. Then I thought maybe I misunderstood and perhaps the truth was that adults enter free as long as they are with a child.

In any case, when the eight of us arrived, we all walked right on in past the Ticket Booth Lady who gave us the stink-eye, but said nothing. Later, after we had gone to the art museum and wanted to cut through the park on our way back to the Metro, the woman sitting in the Ticket Booth on that side of the park refused to let us in. "That's what the sidewalks are for," she barked.

I think we could have entered by paying a modest entrance fee (maybe 20 rubles). I do know that The Spouse used some rather savory English vocabulary before deciding that this was all part of what makes Moscow Moscow.

"Are you still looking for the logic in this stuff?" he asked me when I quizzed him this morning about my understanding of the park rules.

Um . . . no. I guess not.

The museum we saw is the modern art collection of the Tretyakov Gallery.

I've been to the main branch twice, which houses what I would call the "Old Masters of Russian Painting." This is the modern collection (20th century and beyond).

I don't know anything about Russian art. I didn't know any of the painters except for Chagall and Kandinsky. I found one Kandinsky piece and nothing by Chagall, although the meager pamphlet I picked up said they were both in Room 9.

I did find these two pieces however, which I like very much.