Clouds of this tree fuzz (balsam poplars) everywhere! Yesterday and today have been especially bad. It gets in my eyes, up my nose. It's stuck on the front of my shirt and on my bedroom rug.
This is what it looks like on the ground. I can't get a good picture of it floating around in the air, but it is really quite dense today. The Russians call this fuzz pukh, which means tuft.
So Saturday was Baboo's birthday. It was sort of low key this year. On Saturday we had lunch at the Starlite Diner, and then spent the evening at my friend's house as her parents are visiting. This is the same gang from New Year's Eve, so there were six children, all roughly the same age. Everyone brought things to share, and, as always, it was a nice crowd and a nice time.
Sunday we went to the circus.
Now, I do love a good circus. And this circus (near us on Tsventoi Bulvar) is excellent. It seems to have a variety of names including the Old Moscow Circus and Circus Nikulin (and not to be confused with the Great Moscow State Circus).
Did I mention I scored front row seats? There's not a bad seat in the house, but if you are in the first row, you get to touch some of the animals and the clown interacts with you. It's not vital, but once in your life, pony up for the front row.
The theme for this show seemed to be Russia. The costumes were gorgeous, colorful, traditional Russian garb. There were plenty of opportunities to play the patriotic card by waving the Russian flag or incorporating red, white, and blue in the costumes or props. And why not? Ringling Brothers would do it, US-style.
This circus is animal-light, in that there are not a lot of animal acts in it. There were jugglers and a trapeze act and a high wire and a very pleasant and not at all scary clown who worked the crowd between acts.
One of my favorite acts involved vaulting a guy by means of a see-saw. His compatriots would jump on one end, and he would be thrown up in the air and caught by his other compatriots who carried a large and very heavy sort of giant mattress to where they estimated he would land. Then he did it on stilts. Then he landed, blind, into a chair on top of a very tall pole. Then he did it on one stilt. Then he did the chair landing again, except this time his compatriots where holding the chair/pole while balanced on stilts and standing on two very flexible balance beams that still other compatriots held.
It was breath-taking.
There was a quick-change act that was very similar to this one, except the woman wore beautiful, traditional, Russian-y outfits.
Her finale gown was a bias-cut Russian flag. Big cheers from the crowd.
The animals included horses, cats (my personal favorite), ferrets (which we got to pet because we were in the FRONT ROW! The kids report they were "very, very greasy."), a dachshund (he was the surprise element in the ferret act), one cheerful bear (you could smell him . . . he smelled . . . bear-y), more horses with trick riders who unfurled a huge Russian flag in their finale.
And the monkey act.
I had heard about the monkey act. But for some reason I thought it was at the other Moscow circus.
The monkeys and the handlers were dressed for an Orthodox Jewish wedding. With yarmulkes. And sidelocks. There was even a chuppa. I mean, the lights came up for the act, and there was a chuppa in the middle of the ring, and I thought, "Oh. My. God." And sure enough, out came the chimps and orangutan in traditional dress.
The Russians all laughed and laughed. The Spouse and I were speechless.
In fairness, the monkeys were also quick change artists and mocked, I mean impersonated Mexicans, Chuck Berry, and Elvis, as well as some Russian serf-types.
It was profoundly offensive, which is a shame, because the rest of the show was so wonderful. I suspect I am not alone in this.
Today, I went with my friend and her parents to visit Lenin's Tomb. Except Lenin isn't open on Mondays. So we'll try again tomorrow.
We did go see the Cathedral of Christ the Savior. Completed in 2000, this is a relatively new church, although there was a church on this site from the 1880s until 1931 when Stalin had it demolished to build the Palace of the Soviets. Turned out that the ground was too soft to support such a large structure and funding was a problem, so Khrushchev had the world's largest outdoor swimming pool built on the site instead.
If you go, be sure to find the basement. It isn't finished yet, but is full of not only icons, but photos and relics of the original church, plans for the Palace of the Soviets, and photos of the swimming pool. Admission is free, and although devout Russian Orthodox women cover their heads, you are not obliged to.
Waiting... - *In October on Manezh Square, outside of the Kremlin* It's the final countdown until the Olympics... Here's a link to an article that was in the "Russia ...
3 years ago