Sunday 25 September 2016

Moscow Metro

Sunday morning, roads closed, headed to church on the Metro.

All the big in-town events seem to happen on Sundays--marathons, parades and whatnot--so if the roads are going to close down, which they do, it will probably be on a Sunday. And it turns out Sundays are about the only days we drive our car here--due to a combination of the behemoth weekday traffic and the efficiency of public transport--so in fact it turns out we drive in Moscow very little.

The Moscow Metro has big, bold, LOUD, underground caverns, with each stop ornamented and individualized to a remarkable extent. They are embellished with not only marble and granite facades, but also scrolls, pillars, intricate mosaics, frescos, sculpture in bas relief, chandeliers, and even full sculpture in the round. The amount of sheer labor that it must have required to create them is staggering.

There is a distinctive odor, not unpleasant but it can be stifling, as you descend the extended escalators. At rush hour the press of the masses is something to behold. So many people. The trains run like clockwork. It's really impressive.

I borrowed the following images from the internet.

A new Russian friend told me they are the palaces of the people. Doesn't that sound apt? and Soviet? I like it.

It sounds ironic, but I love the feeling of independence one gets from using public transport--it gives a sense of complete anonymity that I never feel driving a car. With so many people coming and going, you're just another face in the crowd. Nothing to see here. Free to explore unhindered. It also helps that I blend in as a blond northerner. In Georgia, I clearly stood out in a "you're not from around here" sort of way. In many ways, coming here I can feel that I'm getting closer to my family's roots in Scandinavia. 

Wednesday 14 September 2016

Gorky Park

"I follow the Moskva, down to Gorky Park, listening to the wind of change. . .", I've had that Scorpion song in my head for weeks now. 

I've taken to exploring the city on my own during the school days. They are surprisingly short days, as the new school concludes at 1:30pm, a fact I wasn't entirely pleased to discover. We have had some disappointments with the Lycée, and I can only hope the year will improve from here. 

When I left Georgia, I promised myself that I would take time off from working for at least one semester. I am trying to make good on that promise, taking time to find a good balance and getting comfortable with our life here, but sometimes I panic and wonder what I'm doing. A good walk in the park usually helps.

The weather is holding for now, but the mornings can be quite chilly. Moscow's reputation for cold weather does not disappoint. I think I caught these blooms during their last hurrah.

Gorky Park has the most epically huge entrance I have ever seen, it literally took my breath away. I didn't even bother to take a pic because it couldn't have fit its grandeur in the frame. You have to experience it to believe it.

The flower gardens are lovely and varied. It's interesting how the style of gardening is different in every country. Perhaps it's because I'm seeing the overgrown end of summer, but it was wild, tangled, massive and unexpected. I liked it.

These prize-worthy dahlias really turned my head.

With fountains aplenty.

A spectrum of colors visible in the sun's rays.

Thursday 1 September 2016


First day of school. Not in Kansas anymore.

The scale of life in Moscow feels epic, larger than life. I have never lived in such a large metropolitan area and I find it overwhelming: massive monuments around every corner, streets extending 20 lanes wide packed with traffic, buildings the scale of which you have to see to believe, and an extensive never-ending metro system that somehow connects it all.

We arrived just in time to start up at the Lycée Française de Moscou. I am pleased to say that we slipped into a nice rhythm from our very first moments of life on what we lovingly refer to as "the compound", a little American enclave in the heart of Moscow. We are surrounded by kind and generous neighbors, the likes of which I have probably never known, and they all have children who immediately absorbed ours into their packs that roam the enclosed area with a sort of free-range ethic.  My parental heart is set at ease.

The skies are blue, the air is crisp and cool, school is in session, and we are getting settled.

We have started to explore the city.  I realize intuitively that this is a place where I could lose myself, a place I will not be able to know intimately, as I did Tbilisi. This is both exciting and terrifying. Luckily the language is nothing new. In Georgia they speak Russian as a secondary language and I took a beginner course there which gave me a boost of confidence to start out. I will be continuing with language instruction here and look forward with great excitement to developing that ability.

Wednesday 24 August 2016

Last stop in Maryland

We are no strangers to hotel life. Many weeks have stretched into months of hotel living during our summer transitions. This summer was no exception. The pictures, however, are typically less interesting. . .

We try to get out, explore and get our feet wet when possible.

After a few more weeks of tackling visa requirements, medical visits, housing arrangements, school applications and an endless list of hurdles at work, we finally set a date and head to the airport to start our next chapter in Moscow, Russia.

Thursday 28 July 2016

Scenic Byway

Heading from one place to another--a stop along the beautiful Minnesota River Valley Scenic Byway. We try not to miss any chances to soak up the Minnesota scenery or sunshine before we head off to our next post.

Wednesday 20 July 2016

Summer work

The girls wanted iPods this summer, so we provided them with the means of earning the necessary funds (the little guy just liked being out where the action was). They worked hard throughout the summer and both reached their goals: one iPod Shuffle and one Nano (and two very proud parents). 

Tuesday 19 July 2016

At the lake

Summer wouldn't be complete without our annual day trip to Lake Minnetonka with family.

Tuesday 12 July 2016

Taylors Falls

We have a long family history with Taylors Falls on the St. Croix River. My great great grandfather came to MN in 1878 to teach at settlements located along the river and settled himself nearby in Lindstrom, MN. His daughter, my great grandmother, tells a story that one night while walking from Taylors Falls to Lindstrom, her father was trailed by a large cougar. My grandfather recalls riding a sled to school in wintertime in Taylors Falls during the Depression, and walking it back uphill at the end of each day. My father camped, hiked, and motorcycled all through the area. 

As a child I remember visiting regularly to explore the huge potholes with my cousins. In high school I came with carloads of friends to go cliff jumping into the river, which is now illegal. This summer I took my own children to Taylors Falls to go rock climbing.

My brother is an experienced climber and he coached my girls, who were in the club d'escalade at school this year and chomping at the bit to climb.

Moscow Metro

Sunday morning, roads closed, headed to church on the Metro. All the big in-town events seem to happen on Sundays--marathons, parades a...

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