Sunday, June 30, 2013


     How hard it is to accept the fact that we are the pawns in the fate's or destiny's hands. One minute we are on the top of the world, and the next one - brings horror.
     I took Hanah to school one day. I was very tired, hardly could get out of bed, in fact, but it had to be done. I took my husband's Suzuki, thinking that I'll come back long before he'll have to leave for work in it. We drove on our usual route. I asked Hanah to sing a Simon and Garfunkle's song, "I feel the drizzle of the rain", to make the time pass quicker. She sang so beautifully, touching my very soul. I couldn't help but look at her for a couple of seconds. Then she screamed and pointed forward. The cars in front of us stopped at the red light. There was no-where go go. I breaked as hard as I could, but we crushed into the car ahead of us anyway, The airbags deployed a few seconds later, spraying us with the powder that was inside them. Hanah moaned in pain, her wrist was broken. The airbag hit her in the nose and scratched it badly. 
     It took years for us to recover from this. Hanah had to have a surgery to repair her wrist tendon, even though the useless orthopedists at the Keiser Permanente insisted that she didn't have any side results from the accident. I don't think, Hanah ever trusted me again the same way. She still twitches, screeches and uses the imaginary break on the passenger side of the car, whenever she sits there and I drive. 
     Yesterday's events with Sonny suddenly feeling sick reminded me about this. I don't know, if I'll never be able to have a Zen attitude about the sudden turns in my and my family's life. 


     Life is a funny thing. It waits for you to relax and say to yourself: "Everything is fine." Then it serves you a surprise or two and you reel from them for a long time. Day before yesterday, Sonny went to meet his friends at the movies. They were going movie-hopping, to see The Man of Steel and This is the End. It took about 6 hours, and then he called to ask me to be picked up. Roberta decided to run away with me, so the two of us hopped in the car. We felt care-free and confident, why wouldn't we? Drove through the McDonald's and ordered some large Cafe Mochas. As we entered the street again, Sonny called. He said, he was sick and didn't know where he was. 
     I was so stunned, that I drove in the wrong direction. The landmarks that he described were so vague, I was wondering, how to find him. Fortunately, I know most of the restaurants in the area, so I was able to, finally, understand, where he was. Roberta was going at her Cafe Mocha with a gusto, but I lost all desire for mine. It was just wobbling and vibrating in the cup holder. Soon we found Sonny. He was pale, but felt better after throwing up a few times. The friends and he went to a Japanese restaurant in a seedy part of town. Its funny, - for years I wanted to take kids there, but they always talked me out of it, saying that the quality of the food could be unhealthy for us. They proved me wrong again!
     As I was talking to Sonny and trying to establish some degree of mental stability for myself, I was fidgeting with the things near me. I picked up my purse that was next to the cup holder and felt something heavy crush to the floor. At first, I thought, it was my wallet (there's no money in it, its heavy because of all the receipts that I collected). Roberta looked down and gasped: My large Cafe Mocha, with it's generous dollop of whipped cream and chocolate swirls, fell and ended up in her bag! Well, better hers than mine!

I feel very empty now

I feel very empty now. I wrote about everything important that was on my mind, and some things that were not so important. To tell the truth, a lot of times I feel the obligation to just write something, since so many people showed their interest in my scribbling. The substance of the blog, what is it suppose to be? I have  a million stories, but not all of them need to be told. 

Saturday, June 29, 2013


     I feel that I have to finish the story about our kittens. 
     They left us a gift. The fleas spread and took over the whole house. The cats suffered the most. They were sleeping and staying close to the floor, and there was no escape from the biting and the itching. We tried to treat them. The internet info suggested the eucalyptus oil. I purchased it, we rubbed ourselves with it and sprinkled on the floor and in the beds and the laundry. It smelled good, but helped just for a short while. We decided to brush the cats with it. Chickie was the first victim. As soon as he felt the oil in himself, he yowled, ran and rolled, like he was trying to get out of his own skin. He peed on the floor right then, I assume, from terrible pain and fear. We washed him immediately. 
     We washed and treated the carpet repeatedly. The professionals didn't really help. Taka got a little crazy, because he was more sensitive to the whole flea thing. He got up two hours earlier in the morning, washed the floor in our bedroom with a Bissel vacuum, sprayed everything with the latest panacea for the fleas, then took off the clothes and washed them, taking shower afterwords. He found the recipe of the boiled lemon peels, filled the spray bottles with it and started the campaign of spraying everything in sight. Sometimes at night, he would jump off the bed pull off the covers and spray the bed and me in it! Finally, after a few months of this, whether because the lemon peel spray worked or because the hot season, when the fleas are active, was over, the fleas disappeared, the cats stopped scratching and everything returned to normal. For a couple of years after that experience, I react with terror to every little crumb that reminds me of a flea and reach for the lemon peal bottle (that we still keep in the refrigerator) every time I feel an itch. 
     Despite all the trouble, I feel that we were very fortunate to come by the opportunity to take care of and watch  the small animals. They left something with us (except for the fleas), not a tangible thing, but the kind of a wonder before the infinite beauty and wisdom of life. Of course, when Hanah brought in the next kitten that she found (the animals in our area, I think, told each other that there are these dopes who are willing to take them in), I recoiled with horror at the possibility of the new flea infestation. In a few months, though, we had two more cat-tenants messing up the house. But that's another story!

Friday, June 28, 2013


     The kittens were very cute. We had tons of fun, watching their individual habits. Zuzu liked to crawl to a person who was near her when she was sleepy and fall asleep while sucking on their jaw! Hanah loved to have her in her room at night. Cuga, if you picked him up, laid him on his back and rubbed him tummy, would immediately doze off. One lady friend told me that, her husband did that too.
     We couldn't keep them any longer. I could tell that they had worms, and we had no money to bring them to the vet. Besides that, despite all my and the kids' denial, the fleas that arrived with the kittens began to let their presence be known. The day came, when we took our kittens to the SPCA. The man came out of a side building, grabbed Zuzu and Cuga by the napes, looked them over and took them in. That was it. I called many times to find out their fate, but the man never even picked up the phone. 


So, it seems that you all like stories about kittens better than some old memories. 'K!

     So, coming back to the story about the kitten plague. Giving the kittens back to their mother didn't work. We ended up with the little rascals back in Sonny's room, and the mother-cat started coming every night to our window to call her babies again. We felt sorry for her, and the lack of sleep was getting hard on my husband. 
     The new plan was, to try and give back just one kitten, with the logic that it will be easier for her to take care of just one, and, maybe, the cat will think that its enough and stop coming for the rest of her children. We chose Miss Whiny and saw her and her mother's reunion out of the bedroom window. The plan worked, the nightly mewling sessions stopped. Even now, two years later, we, sometimes, see Miss Whiny, small and thin for her age, slinking around the neighborhood, furtively looking at our house. I hope, she has some good memories of her time here.
     The kittens grew up a little. We brought them to the SPCA, but they only had room for three of them. Anyway, that was the official story. In fact, Hanah, who was still in the Art Camp, begged us to keep two kitties until she comes home. 
     It was an agonizing choice: which of the furry cuties to keep. Finally, we settled on a boy and a girl cats. He was tawny, with blue eyes, pretty as a picture. She was scrawnier, patchwork colored, with pink nose and paw-pads. We called a boy Cuga (like, Gangsta!), and the girl - Zuzu. Remember It's a Wonderful Life? James Stewart's daughter's name was Zuzu.
     Cuga and Zuzu were great! They were brave; Cuga, obviously, attempting to find a male role model,  always tried to get closer to Chickie. Our cat, like an grumpy old uncle, would tolerate Cuga's presense for a while, then he'd plop him on the head with a massive paw. We still have the video of the kittens roughhousing: Cuga stalking and then jumping on top of Zuzu, and them rolling around, chewing on each other. 
     Their appetite grew with them. I was scared to eat anything with them around. They would claw their way up my body, towards my head and take food out of my mouth, if I didn't give it up voluntarily. I called them 'piranhas'.


Thursday, June 27, 2013

Home is where the heart is

    Home. Home is where the heart is, right? My home, where is it? 
    I remember working in the field of a collective farm, where our senior class was sent for the summer. After a few hours of weeding, walking bent over the line of plants, I was ready for a break. The ground was warm, it soothed the pain in my back, but what made me forget all the aches, were the endless sky and the smell of the drying grass. The sharp, heady scent was permeating everything, I was lost, floating into the waiting blue infinity over my head. The feeling of belonging was so strong, I was in love with this land, that gave me birth, with the earth that sustained me.
     We walked for so long that I stopped believing that we'll finally get there. It was the night of June 22nd, the day when the Nazi Germany invaded Russia. We decided to walk ten miles to the next village, to the obelisk for the unknown soldiers. The night was cool and wet, my shoulders hurt deeply from the weight of a backpack, but I forgot all about it when we arrived. 
     It was a simple monument in the middle of the village square, with the fire that always burned there. It took us a few minutes to calm down after the hike and get into the proper mood. The soldiers buried there fought against the overwhelming odds, some having no rifles or any other means to defend themselves and their position. That's how it was then: the Soviet Army was ill equipped for that war. A soldier who didn't get a rifle waited for his comrade to fall, to pick up his weapon. I thought of the young men, who were, probably, about my age, just graduated from the High School. What was it like, to know that you won't get to live and love and grow? We stood, speechless, breathing in the night and the past. Someone has cut the grass recently, and the intoxicating smell of it hung in the air.
     Years later, and thousands of miles away from Russia, in the downtown New York, I stopped dead in the milling throng off people. Amid the smells of the burning pretzels and the car fumes, some powerful and poignant memory called to me. The smell of the cut grass was in the air, and I was back in the Russian county-side, thinking of the fallen heroes and of my home. Yet now, my home, the promise of a better future and freedom, all of that was in the U.S. Home is where the heart is, right? Now, the question stands: is my heart big enough to embrace not only Russia, but also America, the place that gave me the real chance at life? Can I carry that gift and my memories to the others? 

its just gabbing!

You know, I've been writing about anything that came to my mind lately. To tell the truth, I feel, kind of, unfulfilled. What is on your mind? What matters to you? I'd like to hear it. I'll even post it on my blog. I like telling my stories, I've got a million of them, but its just gabbing!
Help me to be helpful to the community. Let me know, what you think!

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

What are those fat-cats in Texas thinking?

What are those fat-cats in Texas thinking? How can they disregard the laws of the country and the rules that they themselves set up, to further their agenda? I'm a conservative, but today, I am ashamed of that! Men, subjecting a woman to standing for hours, prohibiting her to even lean on the podium, while she is trying to defend her point of view? At one point, when someone tried to help her with her BACK BRACE, her majority colleagues protested it for an hour! What kind of men are they? The ones that fear everything, starting with the women, probably, and ending with the fear of change. Fear of kindness. Conservatives! Do they think, that the abortion is an issue that the government can settle? Like the homosexuality, which is not what I morally accept, can not be an issue that the authorities vote for. Of course, when it comes to the gay-partners having the same benefits as the straight ones, then the Uncle Sam, or Uncle Olaf (in Scandinavia), or Uncle Vladimir (OH, God!) can step in and decide things for the simple folk. We, in the United States, are not only the Christian nation, but also a progressive and humane society. Why the heck do we want the dinosaurs, like those in Texas, ruling our lives? Perhaps, we could simply try to live more according to the common sense and decency? Why don't we? Why?


     The mother-kitty began to come to our yard at night and cry for her babies. We would have given them back to her, but, first of all, she didn't want to come out in front of us, and, second, we were afraid to let the kittens out without supervision. There are raccoons, vultures and dogs patrolling the neighborhood. I sat outside, with the kittens in a secure place that they could leave, if they wanted to. From the corner of my eye I saw a Tortie cat lurking in a bush nearby. She was afraid to come out, so I left and went to watch from the bedroom window. Mama-cat showed up from the bush and meowed. The kittens heard her, and three of them, the biggest of the bunch, climbed out of the box and joined her. Not losing any time on licking or cuddling, she led them into the bushes. The experiment was successful, I thought that we can repeat it and let her have the rest of the kittens, but in a few hours we found the ones that she took, alone, dehydrated and miserable. Whether she left them to go find food or for good, we didn't know. We brought them home.

E-mail for comments:


We noticed that the kittens matured a little, when after being released into the kitchen, they went for the food in our own cats' bowls. Sylvie didn't like it at all, she made a few swipes at the most obnoxious interlopers, hissed, yowled and spat at them. She is fiercely territorial, - no motherly instinct at all! Chicie was displeased too, but he hissed at them half-heartedly once or twice and reconciled himself to their presence. I called the kittens "the food seeking missiles", for the immediacy of their response to an open door and the accuracy of their aim. We couldn't give them the adult cat foo yet, so we mixed some ground meat with milk for them. 

E-mail for comments:


We put a soft towel into the box, for the kittens to be comfy. After the meal, though, they didn't feel like sleeping. All of them, except one, started to wrestle and explore the new place. Most of them hissed at us, but they couldn't do any real damage with their tiny claws and fangs. The furry little beasties rolled on top of each other and tried to chew their brothers' and sisters' limbs off. One of them didn't participate in the onslaught: a patchwork colored girl would only peek cautiously at her siblings' horseplay from behind the corner of the box. 
Sonny had to move to Hanah's room, to avoid smelling the kittens' poops. He was also afraid to squash one of them in the dark. It was such a treat, to watch the animals, to see how each of them was different in some ways, how they seemed to respond to us. The hissing and the spitting stopped, they enjoyed the attention enormously. Some of the kittens were very brave. One black cutie was really small, but he always tried to climb out of the box, and was the first one to start the wrestling after the feeding. We called the girl-kitty, who watched others play from behind the corner, Miss Whiny, because she was the one with the most piercing meow, and liked to hear herself use it.     

Tuesday, June 25, 2013


We didn't know, how old the babies were and what we could feed them. We decided to just give them milk, at first. I had a couple of plastic syringes, and I used that to feed the kitties. One by one, Taka handed them to me and I squeezed milk into their mouths. When we tried to just put a saucer of milk in front of them, they would try to suck it, making a loud "Ptsa!" noise, and get wet all over by wading in the dish.   


Have I ever told you about the kitten plague? Well, here it goes!~ 
It was around 2010. Hanah was gone to an Art Camp in Oregon. Only 200 kids from all the states were invited, but it cost a pretty penny. Funny, she wanted to go to an Art Camp, and I was killing myself, trying to gather the money for it! She didn't move a muscle! Anyway, that was my ranting of the day, so, back to the story. 
I drove Sonny to meet his friends. As we were driving, my phone rang. I could hear Taka, my husband, talking excitedly with Sonny. Sonny didn't understand a word that Taka was saying. It happens when he is too riled up. Something about kittens and our yard. We turned back and came home. My father was watching TV, all was quiet. In the bathroom we came upon Taka washing a tiny kitten! it was so unexpected that I stood speechless for awhile, then found my voice and asked almost calmly: "Why are you washing this kitten?" "He fell into the milk!" - he said. "There are five more of them!"  
In the middle of Sonny's room stood a box, and out of it came piercing meows. The kittens were still very young, of all sorts of colors. Most of them huddled together, but one or two were trying to climb over the side of the box. Sonny and I couldn't believe our own eyes. 
 "Where did you get them?"  
Taka said something that I interpreted as him finding the little runts by the side of the road behind our fence. The mother, probably, just stepped away for a minute, and there was already a Good Samaritan, my hubby, who grabbed her children and took them away. He then proceeded to fill a large plate with milk and put it in the kittens' box. One kitten was unlucky: he ended up splattering inside the plate. Of course, Taka had to wash him! 


What if I was a horse? No, I wouldn't make anything bigger than a short, stout pony. That is sad, don't you think? I admire the horses so much. What can be lovelier than all that power in a sleek and graceful body? But even as a pony (maybe a white, cuddly one), I would enjoy running through the meadows and the hills, reveling in the sunshine and a bale of hay.
     I wonder, what do the horses think about carrying the humans on their backs? Are they glad of the company, or is the weight a bother? Maybe, being a pony is good, at least I wouldn't have to transport nothing heavier than a child! 


Hmm.. What else? A llama? A camel? A Hare?  
     I know, - a bird! Lets see: should I be an eagle or a hawk? Just kidding! I really like the budgies. Little birds look so cheerful and cute, with fat cheeks and all colors of the rainbow. But, I think, I would be the off-white one, with the rosy cheeks. I'd be very inquisitive, waddling around  with my head cocked to the side, plucking people's ears with my beak.  
    What could make me happy, as a bird? A nice, juicy worm? Ugh (like the Americans say)! Perhaps, I would choose climbing on my human's shoulder and peck on a piece of sugar? Or swinging on a tiny swing in my cage? Still, being out of the cage would be preferable. Until the cat shows up, that is!  


     Being a cat is fun, but I am more of a dog person. Dogs have been a part of my life for my whole childhood and youth, and even now, a thought strikes me a few times a day: we need a dog! 
     If I was a dog, what kind would I be? Obviously, not one of the sleek short-haired hunters: I am more of a fluffy, short legged mutt, happy to have a company and loving everybody willing to play with me.  
     As a dog, I'd, probably, live for the times shared with my humans. I hope, I'd be something of a mystery, though, like the Doberman Pinscher we had in our neighborhood when I was in my twenties. He had a name in English: the Beast. The brown, powerful animal, largely, "walked alone", in other words, the owners let him out by himself. One foggy morning, I was returning home from a run. Suddenly, I felt somebody behind me. I looked. The fog parted at that moment, and there he stood - the Beast! That was eerie enough for me to remember for the rest of my life. I also saw the Beast at the dog place in our woods. He was playing with another canine. The way he did it was remarkable: he would clamp his teeth on the furry opponent's shoulder, twist it 'til the dog fell over and, quick as a lightning, switch the teeth to the throat. That's exactly the way the wolves kill their bigger prey! 
     Wishful thinking! I can never be that much of a  predator! The need to belong and be liked is too strong in me. I would love, as a dog, of course,  to lay my head on someone's knee and sigh contentedly. Is that something to apologize about? I don't think so! Isn't that the way the dogs are made to be?

Monday, June 24, 2013


     Now, most of the time I enjoy being human. We have more control over our lives, our needs and urges. We are more in control of taking care of and keeping our loved ones safe and close. Last night I had a thought: what if I was a cat? 
     If I was a cat, would I be a long haired or short? Would I be a purebred or a mongrel-tabby? We--ll, I don't know about being a tabby, but I'd, probably, be tubby! Perhaps, I'd be a silky, long-haired fat Persian. I never saw a fat feral or street cat, which means that I'd, probably, have a home. I would laze all day in one place or another in the house, moseying to the food dish every time the fancy strikes me, my long fur and the fat rolling with every bouncy step. Or, maybe, I'd be one of those  rag-dolls, plushy and  pliant, adoring my humans and being a putty in their arms? 
     Would I miss the wild, the smells of the damp, secret places, the taste of my prey's blood in my mouth? While looking out to the backyard, would I long to go where I please, chew the grass and stick my claws into the soft flesh of a mouse or a bird?
     My cat, Sylvie, just jumped and ran from her place by the back window after seeing something there. She hopped on the back of the couch and crouched there, her fur standing on end, the tail twitching in agitation. She's been a house-cat for nine years, yet she still can't help her beasty instincts, when she sees something small move furtively outside.
     My habits take root in me for a good old time. If I was a cat, I would treasure the comforts of the home, but long for the freedom of being me. Or, more likely, I would keep my thoughts to myself and live in a moment, like a cat should!


     The little cat started to hang around our yard a few months ago. She was so scrawny that, I thought, that she was an adolescent. Only after looking at her carefully I saw the stiff back legs and  tail - the signs of an older cat, marred by the deprivations of living on the street. She was pretty, though: white on the chest, belly and the legs and bright orange on the back and the face. She also had orange on her shoulders, outlined with white, like some kind of epaulets from a bygone era. I often saw her on the same little mole mound in the garden: front paw in the air, the tail straight and vibrating in anticipation. I don't think, she ever caught that mole, but not for the lack of trying! 
     One day, I was at the computer and my cat, Chicken Bone (Chickie) was sunning himself by the glass door into the garden. I heard him meow, but didn't pay attention at first. He is a very vocal individual, who lets us know his moods and wants with an amazing variety of sounds. After a while, I noticed a very distinctive meowing from him. It sounded, for all the world, like he was conversing with somebody! I went to look, There, on the other side of glass, stood the orange-white kitty, talking with Chickie, but I only saw her mouth moving: the glass cut off the sound. When she saw me, she abruptly stepped back. I also stepped back, not wanting to interrupt such an interesting occurrence. She stepped back again and I stepped back too. The tension was too much for her, and she ran away.
Since that time, I began to put a small bowl of cat-food on the back porch, where the kitty could reach it, and we could see her pretty self, while she was eating. Since we already have a cat named Sylvie, I named that one Goldie. She came faithfully every day, as soon as I filled her bowl and yelled her name a couple of times. 
     A few weeks ago she stopped coming. We were disappointed and worried , but what can you do? Then she showed up again. One of her back legs was hurt, she either kept it pulled all the way up or let it hang uselessly, not putting any weight on it.
I had a sickening feeling that this will be the end of her. How can she survive, having to feed and constantly defend herself against the other cats and the murderous raccoons that once almost killed Chickie? I kept putting the food out for her, and she stopped going away, just stayed the whole time in a bush by the fence. Every day I expected her not to show up, but there she was, limping to the porch, gulping her food down and frequently lifting her head to watch out for danger. 
     My cats took it for an insult, to have to share their food with an interloper. Chikie just meowed and scratched the glass a few times, then took a philosophical view of the situation. Sylvie, on the other hand, stayed true to her demon-cat nature. Every time she heard me calling Goldie, she'd run, then crawl the last foot or so on her fat little belly to the door. She then would start yowling, spitting and hissing at the poor Goldie. God forbid, she was there when I called Goldie some cute names. She'd behave all betrayed and add a couple more decibels to her screeching. It unnerved Goldie a little, but then she realized that Sylvie can't get to her from behind the glass. Now Goldie just eats her food and gives Sylvie sarcastic looks, like: "what, do you think, you can do?" 
     She soon began to show the signs of improvement. She started to put some weight on her back paw, then we saw her limping, but walking on it. She also started to come and stretch on the concrete by the porch, incessantly grooming or just laying down before the next meal. Time to time, she would look into the room or even the kitchen window, now taking interest, what's going on in there. I can't take her in, my husband reached his limit the last time we tried to help a couple of kitties and were left with millions of fleas in the house. I also don't want her to stop hunting for food altogether, she needs to be able to fend for herself. 
     Last night it rained. We worried, where Goldie was going to go, to hide from the rain. This morning, she came as soon as she heard me call her. She is a little wet, but, I believe, she can survive much more than that!

Sunday, June 23, 2013


Today is a gray day. I don't mind the cool weather: its much better than the heat. I don't really mind feeling a little blue either. Sometimes, we need to come down from a constant excitement. Everything is fine. Writing that, I suddenly thought that I don't really know, if everything is fine. My daughter is away at college, son is a hermit, hiding in his room 'til he gets too hungry, or his dad yells for him to do something. What if there are things that I'm missing? There, probably, are! Ever feel like a balloon is about to get popped? Upon reflection, that's how I feel today.

Saturday, June 22, 2013


      It would be lovely, if we could all age gracefully. Who needs the aches and the ailments that come with growing old? The worst, by far, are the humiliations associated with aging: the body betraying us, the mind following the suit. My friend, Roberta who is eighty and her husband, who is seventy three, stay with us in a small room with their own bathroom. Roberta recently fell down and fractured her spine. It sounds terrible, and she is in a lot - a lot - of pain, but, it turns out, there is a way to mend from it. Anyway, she sleeps on a narrow bed and her husband - on a mattress on the floor.This morning the two of them came out of the room laughing. They continued to giggle until I pried the story out of them, and we all didn't stop being amused by it since then. At night Roberta can't, sometimes, tell the imagined from reality. Once I ran into her room when I heard her talking in the small hours of the morning (2-3 am). "Are you alright?" - I asked. "I'm alright, but I don't know where all these people are going to sleep!" - she answered. "What people?" - my knees became weak. "Those ones: she, and he, and he!" 
     That was awhile back. Last night Roberta's husband, Dr. Park,  from his place on the floor, saw her get up, again, at about two or three in the morning and start walking toward him. "Where are you going?" - he asked. She answered: "To the bathroom." "The bathroom is in the opposite direction!" - he insisted. "Hush" - she said, untying her pants. He began to panic in earnest, trying to get out of the tangled sheets. "Turn around!" - he yelled, covering his face with his arms - "Go back!" To his relief, Roberta turned and saw the bathroom. Otherwise, who knows, what she could've done!