Wednesday, July 31, 2013


     OK, I know, I didn't write for two days. I've been doing something very important. I watched  Seventeen Instances of Spring (it should be Moments, not Instances; I don't know, who translates those things)! Its an old Russian mini-series from the seventies about a high placed Soviet spy in Hitler's command at the very end of the WWII. Its very good, because there are a lot of great historical references and exciting plot twists. One problem was, I have to remember that I am on the American side now, at least when it comes to the communist expansion to the West. One of the most important points in that movie was the negotiations between Himmler's emissary, Karl Wolf, and the U.S. They tried to exclude the Soviet Union form these meetings, even though they were allies, because they were interested in stopping it from taking a foothold in Europe. The Russian spy successfully interrupted the negotiations, and the Soviets took a large part of Europe for themselves. 
     I was also often wondering during the movie, what were the German people thinking at that time, at the end of the war? After all the hype of Nazi Germany starting it's bid for the world domination and the excitement of the first victories, now they came to the part when the Karma or history bounced back at them. Did they tremble in trepidation of the imminent payback for their monstrous treatment of the fellow humans? Did they just shrug their shoulders at the injustice of fate? What went through their minds, as, for the second time in half a century, they prepared for the starvation and other deprivation to take hold of their country? It took an awful lot of them to put Hitler and the Nazis in power. They did it. They couldn't blame someone else for what was coming. I feel a little akin to them right now.
     You, probably, didn't expect that. Really, what do I, a Jewish woman, have in common with the German people of nineteen forties, the majority of whom followed and cheered the Nazis? Exactly that: the following and cheering. Of course, I am not totally sure that I am right in thinking that the Unification Church used me and thousands more it's members for the enrichment and an ego-trip of a few individuals. I could be mistaken and weak in my faith. Or not. But, the point is, I can't help but ask a question: "Why did I chose to follow, when I already had my doubts?" How do I reconcile my and my family's future and the past? 

Monday, July 29, 2013


     I am waiting for 1 o'clock, to go for a driving lesson with Sonny. We did it yesterday too. I made Sonny drive to one store to buy kitty-litter and - to another to buy cat food. It started by Sonny being nervous and doubtful about his driving abilities and with me being optimistic and encouraging him. Sonny is getting better and better every day, but, I'm afraid, his dad and I are losing years off our life span teaching him to drive.
      Last night, I spent the time in the car with Sonny pumping the non-existent break on the passenger side and grabbing on to the ceiling and every other surface, when Sonny failed to start slowing down in time to avoid the collision with the cars in front of us. For some reason, I sing the Russian song about a crow hovering over a wounded soldier every time my kid drives: "Chorniy voron, chtozh ti vyoshsya..." Sonny says to me: "I think, I know, what you are singing. I resent  that!" But I can't help that! Anyway, the lesson ended with me being a nervous wreck and doubtful about Sonny's driving abilities and with him feeling optimistic and encouraging!

Sunday, July 28, 2013


     A friend, Mary, told me about her brush with the uncertainty of life.
     She works as a bookkeeper at a beer company's head office. Every day she and a co-worker close the place, and Mary drives her friend to the BART (the metro) in Oakland. After that, she is usually pointed exactly in the right direction to go and pick up her son, David, from Berkeley, where he takes a class.
    A day or so ago, she and a friend just prepared to leave the office at 5:03 pm. The phone rang. They looked at each other: "Do we really have to answer it?" They did, in any case. It turned out, one of the delivery trucks got broken into. The driver's wallet was stolen with the company's credit card in it. Now they couldn't leave until Mary could cancel the credit card. It's her responsibility, you see. When she was finished, it was 5:30. The friend already missed two trains. Mary decided to bring her home to San Francisco. As they drove onto the bridge, among the Friday evening throng of cars, Mary's phone rang.
- "Momma, are you coming to get me?" - her son, David, asked.
-  "Hi-hi", - Mary's friend giggled,
- "You forgot your first-born son!"
     For a brief moment Mary considered dumping the friend right there, on the bridge, but, first of all, she is not that mean, and second - she still was stuck on the bridge, waiting to pay toll, with no way to turn around or even move faster than the rest of the traffic around her.
     She told David to go to the BART (the metro) and promised him that his brother will pick him up. She then called Joseph, the only one of her brood who drives. That's when she found out that he broke a cup inside the sink, and now there was broken glass in the garbage disposal. I, for one, am terrified of breaking the garbage disposal. If it was I, we would just wait for the plumber, pay an exorbitant fee and hope to never do it again. Mary, on the other hand, is a cool cookie. By that I mean, she keeps her head on in the most puzzling circumstances. She told her son to use the tongs and a flashlight to get most of the pieces of glass out and then put something gooey in the disposal. That way, the rest of the glass will not get stuck, when the motor is on, but will get pulverized. At least, that's what Mary said would happen. She then got to the issue of Joseph picking up David.
 - "But, Mom, I don't want to go to BART!" - he whined.
- "Joseph, there is no other way, you must go! OK, I'll bribe you! What do you want?"
She, finally, was able to convince him to pick up his brother. It only cost her a promise to buy him all kinds of goodies. She dropped off her, still giggling, friend, and went home. On the way she had to stop at the store, and, while she was there anyway, shopped 'till she dropped. 
     When she arrived home very late in the evening, both boys were there already. The goodies were offered, Mary sat down and sighed tiredly. David came over to her and said: "It just takes twenty minutes to get here from the BART. I don't know, why you had to bribe Joseph. I could've walked home!"

Saturday, July 27, 2013


     I just remembered that I didn't tell you about Roberta's new adventure. It always happens at night with her. This time it was about 2 o'clock in the morning. I heard her room's door open and turned to look, expecting Dr. Park to come out and check up on me. Instead, Roberta's  ruffled, white head poked around the corner. 
- "Roberta, honey, what do you need?" - I asked. 
She fleeted down the ramp.
-  "I, I don't know.." - she replied. 
- "Roberta, you are asleep, go back to bed!" - I insisted". 
- "I am not asleep. I had a dream and tore my clothes!" 
She picked up the bottom of her pajamas shirt and looked at the buttons. They were intact.
-  "I tore my clothes, and they are coming!" - she kept saying.
 - "Who is coming?" 
She couldn't find an answer for that. I talked very softly, again trying to convince her:
- "Go to sleep, you are tired!"
- "Alright" - she said - "But you wake me up when they come!"
And I, not knowing, what to say, I answered:
- "OK, I will!"


     Today, at my church, we had a Community of Faith Breakfast. Anyone is welcome; the special guests are the local pastors and other religious clerics, as well as the lay people. There is a guest-speaker and some small entertainment. Before we start, the volunteers make a wonderful breakfast. Today, the guest speaker was Father Thomas Bonacci, the founder of the Interfaith Peace Project. He gave a beautiful talk about our family being the community, our education being all-inclusive and our love being the agape love.
     Father Bonacci has a speech impediment. He slurs some words quite noticeably. I think, his problem comes from the sinuses, because sometimes, during the speech, he shorts loudly. It would stop a more timid man, but Father Bonacci speaks with such conviction and passion, that the listeners are completely won over. 
     I was very moved by one small example that he brought of, how we should not close our hearts to others and consider them our family. He told us how once, in a toy store, he was looking at some Lego blocks. Suddenly he felt a small hand in his hand. A boy was standing next to him. Father Bonacci looked down and the boy looked up. "You are not my father" - he said calmly. The dad hurried up to Father Bonacci: "I'm sorry, is he bothering you?" "No" - said Father Bonacci. He was amazed, how natural it felt, that a strange boy put his hand in his. I could almost feel that boy's hand in mine, so striking was the example. Are we able to accept others as our own? Can we count others' problems as ours? Whether we think, we can or not, I think, we ought to, at least, try!

Friday, July 26, 2013


     Last night, Taka asked Sonny: "Do you want to go to the store to get some snacks? `You drive!" Sonny mimed the terror that he felt at the prospect of driving far and in the gathering dark. He went, though. In about fifteen minutes, I remembered something else for them to buy and called Taka's cell phone. He was parked by the store, waiting for Sonny to shop. But when I told him what I wanted, he replied: "I have to rest now!" There was something in his voice that made me just quietly hang up. 
     When he and Sonny came back, I asked, how the driving went. Taka said, visibly trembling: "Well, it was a good start..." I questioned Sonny later. He didn't seem to understand, what was the matter: "I swerved once, and then there was that thing about me forgetting to let the car going straight go first, and I turned in front of it. That's all!"


     The face in a mask looked into the glass door from the dark! I was alone, sitting in front of the TV, and I almost choked on a cookie. 
     Relax, it was not a burgler! It was a raccoon, a big and fluffy raccoon! He came to check out the food bowl that we leave out for Goldie. Then he came up the step and arrogantly looked into the room and right at me. The bandit, obviously, didn't like my appearance, because he immediately turned around and waddled off into the night. 
     Everybody is a critic!


     Don't worry, this is not about the Armageddon, although, for me - its close. OK, I admit, I'm pretty self-absorbed. Everything is fine, some change for the worse is to be expected time to time in life. Taka found a new job, the one that will pay better, so - why should I complain? One thing only: the change of medical insurance. 
     Its not even about us getting back into the hands of the Kaiser Permanente. The Americans all will know about that medical insurance giant. Are the people outside the United States familiar with it? I met it some twenty two years ago, when, a few months after coming back from Africa, I began to have unexplained fever. Even though I told my greenhorn doctor that I was in Africa, he spent two months sending me for all kinds of tests, except the ones for the infectious diseases. Two months later, the fever stopped and never came back. I never found out, what it was.
     When I became pregnant with Hanah, I moved to New York. The Kaiser couldn't transfer my records from there to California when I moved back home, for a year and a half! They sent me to see a high risk pregnancy specialist, who took scans upon scans of my unborn child. He looked a little agitated while checking the results in front of me, so I asked, what he saw. "The baby is too small, with a big belly!" - he said. Hanah was born lo-o-ong and skinny. 
     The next encounter was a little more dramatic. Now I was pregnant with Sonny. I began to bleed and went to the Keiser Emergency Room. We spent many fruitless hours there, when I was taken to their Imaging department. I still remember the technician who did the test on me. His name was Kats (like cats) and he looked exactly like a cat: with popped out round eyes behind the round glasses with huge lenses. After subjecting me to a very humiliating procedure, he declared that I either lost a baby or was never pregnant. My husband changed medical insurances a couple of days later, and I was able to go to another doctor, who, upon examining me, found me three weeks pregnant. What was that about, I wondered. Did the blasted Kats look at the wrong picture? Did that other high pregnancy specialist?
     I went through many things with the Kaiser, from being forgotten in the waiting room to a doctor telling me that I depressed her by talking about my sicknesses, to being sent to a wrong part of the clinic while having an agonizing foot pain. I've been happy all these years, free from the Kaiser's arbitrary, mistakes ridden system. And now I'm back.These are the last few days before our insurance changes.
     Like I said, although you, who are reading these complaints, might not believe me, this isn't even about all the bad experiences that I've had with the Kaiser Permanente. 
     Its about having to leave the doctors that I'm used to, whom I trust and who invested years in trying to get me better. What will it be like from now on? I don't know. I just feel lousy about it!

Thursday, July 25, 2013


     Goldie is not showing up. She is a little wild cat that comes to feed on our porch. A while ago, she was injured: she kept her back leg painfully pulled up to her body and didn't put any weight on it. She stopped leaving our yard, just stayed behind a bush by the fence. Dr. Park, who said that he didn't like cats and wrinkled his nose every time Chickie or Sylvie came too close to him,  that Dr. Park started to feed Goldie. After a week or so, he didn't feel right if he didn't see her in the morning. Every time he spotted her, limping towards the food bawl, he would run to the glass door to the porch, yelling: "Goldie, Goldia!" Most of the time he scared her off, and she would dart off until she made sure that he stayed on the other side of the glass. He also calls his wife, Roberta, and she hobbles over just to watch a small animal eat and excitedly discuss her progress. Another cat, Dr. Park calls her Snow White, also comes to eat from the same bowl as Goldie. For some reason, Goldie doesn't mind her, even when she shows up at the same time as her. Perhaps, they are from the same mother.
     Now Goldie is OK. We see her running, hunting the moles and jumping over the fence. She ranges farther and farther away from our yard. I am happy for her, but Dr. Park feels a sense of loss. He started to branch off to my cats: by that I mean that he tries to befriend them. Of course, he doesn't understand that, you don't pick up a cat by the legs, or, when you hold one, its not a good idea to squeeze it too hard. Chickie runs from him, like heck, unless Dr. Park gives him some "people's food". Sylvie always stays wary of Dr. Park. He was the one who banished her from Roberta's room. When he make overtures to her, she looks at him, unblinking, and growls. He dislikes her eyes. They are really, really beautiful, clear and green, but its true: the looks that she gives him can put shivers in your timbers. In fact, those are just like the looks that my mom used to give us, when she was displeased! 

Wednesday, July 24, 2013


     Sonny got a Learner's Permit to drive! He had it for a couple of years before, but couldn't make himself go for a Driver's Licence. For some reason, he feels so nervous driving that he avoids practicing as much as he can. Taka made him promise that, this time, he'll get a licence by the middle of August. Something tells me that I'll have a lot to write about during this month!
     How can two kids be so different? Since Hanah was fourteen, she begged me to let her drive around our apartment building's large parking lot. When we moved to the house and Hanah was seventeen, one day, she wanted me to bring her to her friend's home. I refused, because it was already too late in the day. She kept bugging me to take her there. Finally, she said: "Then I'll just take the car and go myself!" I replied: "If you want to do something stupid, then go ahead!" We went over the same entreaties and reasons for refusal a few times, and then Hanah went to her room. After a while, Taka came out, looked out of the window and asked: "Where is the Toyota?" 
The car was gone, and so was Hanah. 
     Now, I have good kids. They don't give me any trouble, they are well behaved and - not bad students. How many of their brat, evil friends took  their parents' cars and went driving without even a Learner's Permit?! I couldn't believe it. Taka and I jumped into the van and went to the friend's house. Sure enough, by the side of the road there stood our Toyota. At least, she got there safely. Taka didn't trust himself to talk with Hanah at that moment. He just took the Toyota back to our house. I was left to deal with Hanah. 
     When I suggest to Sonny: "Want to drive?", he, usually, replies: "Want to die?" I must admit, I felt proud of Hanah, just a little bit, when she took action to remedy her situation!



     The Little Red Headed Monster WAS here today. She seemed happy to see me, because she stuck the cake that they brought into Dr. Park's hands, eluded his attempts to hug her and fastened her pudgy hand on mine to drag me to her side. Her brother was also happy: he beamed at everyone with his mouth open, the little white teeth coming out in his upper gum making him look like a miniature hippo. Their mom looked tired. She is on her fourth month of pregnancy and looking after that pair!
     Dr. Park worked very hard on the lunch. Unfortunately, upon the guests' arrival, he immediately put popcorn and cookies in front of the kids. My outraged bellow scared only him. The kids outright refused to eat the non-entertainment food. 
     It left us. I was not hungry, and Roberta was just saying: "I hope, he doesn't try to feed me again!" To make Dr. Park feel better, though, the adults all ate his wonderful chicken and potatoes. He even managed to make the children's mom, Sveta, eat his soup. 
     Katya and Sasha (the Monster and her brother) went straight for the technology in the room. I managed to lock my laptop, before Katya took a hold of it, but she was happy to just type little stars in the password bar. Sasha tried his luck on the Nordic Track, standing in the corner of the room. I think, it was the first time in ages that someone used it! The pedals were too hard for him, so he went to see what Katya was doing. She is younger than him, but he is, definitely, under her leadership. Her bright eyes lit on the phones. We have a pair of them, on the same phone line. The children remembered the game they invented the last time they were here. One of them would push the intercom button, and the other's phone would ring. It would make sense to play like that while keeping distance.  Fortunately, the common sense doesn't bother these kids yet. They had a lot of fun standing right next to each other and talking into their respective receivers. Every time there was a ring, they would scream with laughter. Every time after that, they would come to me to make the intercom work again! 
     The adults gathered at the table. After picking at our food, we talked together for a bit. Then Roberta and Dr. Park retired to their room. Sveta and I kept talking. For some reason, its easier for us to speak in English, throwing in some Russian words and phrases, when we can't think of a good translation. I plied Sveta with tea and sweets. She brought a Tiramisu cake in a box. Do you know, what it is? O.K., I'll tell you.
     Actually, I, probably don't know all the details about that Italian cake. Usually, the Lady's Fingers crackers are soaked in the mixture of espresso and brandy. The cream is prepared with mascarpone cheese (smooth Italian cream cheese). Then the cake is constructed from the layers of soaked Lady's Fingers and cream. The cocoa powder is dusted on the top of the cake and then it goes into the freezer. It's very creamy and not as sweet as some American cakes. Even the one that Sveta brought, that was probably, made in the factory somewhere, was very good.
     Are you salivating yet? Sorry, we'll finish Tiramisu tonight!
     The Monster is barely five years old. Yesterday, she got her shots to go to the kindergarten this year. You should see that curly carrot-top dynamite! She lugged the heavy fan all over the carpet, tortured it to death (it's refusing to work anymore), stood on her head for a while and fought with her brother: we alternately had to wipe first his tears and nose, then - hers. The children, finally, settled to watch some TV. Thank God for Spongebob Squarepants!
     Dr. Park has no idea, how to deal with the kids. He gave them so much popcorn that they can open their own movie-theaters. The cats knew better than showing up, while the Little Red Headed Monster was here. Chicken Bone made a brief appearance, checking if there was some food he could snag for himself. He ran like crazy from the Monster.
     I had to take Sonny to the Department of Motor Vehicles, to get his Learner's Permit to drive. He tried to get it yesterday, took a written test and failed. Today's another day! Sveta overcame the Monster's objections: "I don't want to leave yet!" - and took her brood to the gymnastics' class. Good luck to that teacher after all the popcorn and sweets those kids inhaled at my house!     


     The Little Red Headed Monster is coming today with her Mom and brother. We went shopping, Dr. Park is making lunch (he pushed me out of the kitchen, saying: "Get out of here, you are bothering me!"). The snacks and the green salad are ready, I'll give you the report after they've been here!

Tuesday, July 23, 2013



     Did you ever have an experience, when you start talking with someone and, suddenly, feel that there is something wrong, that the other person is about to drop a bad news? It happened to me a few times. Right from the beginning of the telephone conversation with my aunt, Ella, I felt that something was wrong. She was angry and scared! She began to cry, suddenly, and accuse me of not contacting them until I wanted something for myself. She then told me that Pashka had a brain aneurysm and was dying in the hospital right at that time.
     She was right, of course. I was too busy building new life in the States to remember and care about them. On the other hand, she was older than me and could've taken the initiative and contacted me. All the time I lived near my parents, it was I who insisted, that they write the Christmas cards or in other ways contact our relatives. I, myself, never felt at ease with them. I always had a feeling that they look down at our family. But I couldn't say all this to my aunt at that moment. I don't even remember how I said goodbye. All that happened with my colleagues looking at me in confusion.
     I, of course, sent my condolences to her and Pashka's family, but that's how things were left between me and my aunt.
     So, - last night. 
     I had a dream that I was in Moscow, going to see my auntie. The impression was, that someone brought me there in a van, and we had a nice, light conversation before I got off. As a gift, I decided to purchase some eggs, which were sold on the side of the road. They were, kind of, fragile, with the shell either too soft or crinkled all over. I had to be really careful, how I held them. I crossed a huge expanse in front of the apartment building, with people milling all around. A young Russian lady opened the door of the flat. I knew, somehow, that my aunt shared an apartment with her. She brought me to the auntie's room. The auntie lay on a mattress on the floor. She looked younger than she should look right now, but very sick, with splotches all over her chest. On the other mattress was my Grandmother (she passed away in the nineteen eighties). I hesitated before approaching aunt Ella and said: "Its been so long since we saw each other!" She replied, in a rather sarcastic manner: "I never saw YOU!" She opened her arms to me, though, and we embraced. I also went and greeted my Grandmother. 
     At that point, I was almost awake. A thought came, that it was not my Grandmother, but my mother whom I greeted and who was trying to reach me in the dream. A lovely feeling came over me then, of joy and light. And that was it: I woke up to hear my husband bustle about, getting ready for work. 
     The dream worried me. Did it mean that auntie Ella is sick? I thought about it for a while and even looked up the meanings of dreams on the Internet (silly, huh?). The Internet, the-all-knowing, informed me that the eggs can mean being uncomfortable about some situation (like treading on eggshells), or feeling vulnerable and, perhaps, sick. An aunt could be just an aunt, or it could be me. Hmm, what should I make of it?


     Dreams, dreams, dreams. I mean, the dreams at night and not the wishes to wish. I had a dream last night that is still bothering me.
     My mother had a step-sister and a step-brother. Her step-brother was a big cheese in Russian sports in 1970s, 1980s. He was a coach for the Soviet basketball team at the Moscow Olympics. Anyway, he passed away already. Mom's step-sister is an ordinary person who lives in Moscow. Her son, my cousin, Pavel, or Pashka, was four years younger. We always went together to Grandma's summer house. I have quite a few funny stories about him as a child. As we grew up, the age difference kept us apart. I remember the all-night party to see him off to the Army, and then, a year later, going to see him at his posting near Moscow. It was winter, the wet snow fell the whole week before that. When I arrived at the Army base, loaded up with the bags of food that his mother and we gathered to treat him, Pashka and I met at the mess hall. The general atmosphere was a mixture of steam rising from the drying uniforms and boots, and the desperation. The soldiers, who had to work outside cleaning the snow, now were enjoying  the warmth, their relatives' visit, and all the grub they brought with them. Everywhere you looked, the red ears and stubbly jaws moved non-stop, chewing the home made food.
     When we left for the United States, I didn't hear about Pashka for many, many years. He married, had a daughter. After the Perestroika, he became, what was known then, a New Russian. I am not sure, what it means, The impression that I got was, that it's when a person uses any available means to make money.
     In 2004, after my Mom passed away, I met and began to work with Amway. They were wonderful people, I wouldn't mind having them for friends with or without working for the same company. At that time, Amway decided to expand into Russia. All of us were pressed into service to find the first contacts there. I and my colleagues were sitting at the table at my father's apartment, and I plied my parents' address book to call everyone they and I have known in Russia. I was glad to have this advantage and excited to to my job. So, I couldn't anticipate, what would happened when I called my aunt.

To continue

Monday, July 22, 2013


     Have I ever told how the guys got their comeuppance and Chicken Bone got vacuumed?          Well, here it is... Once upon the time, we lived not in the house, but in an apartment. The kids were about ten-eleven then. On one occasion, the terrible thing happened: the TV died. The repairman was coming, so, when I heard the knock on the door, I thought that it was him. Two men walked in. They didn't have the TV repairmen uniforms on, nether did they have the usual array of tools strapped to their persons. I experienced another paradigm shift (in my life there's been a few... thousand). 
     - "Hi, Ma-am, how are you? We are working in the neighborhood today, offering free carpet cleaning!"
      O-K, they don't seem to want to murder us.. What? Free? Carpet cleaning?
      When we moved into the apartment, the brown carpet in there was already not of the first freshness... I am not an avid housekeeper, so it never got any better. In fact, things were getting a little desperate in that department. Seeing my obvious interest, the glib speaker went on with his spiel: "We are promoting the great Kirby Vacuums, so we will clean your carpet with your own vacuum cleaner and then do it with the Kirby. You will be able to see, how much dust your usual vacuum misses, but ours will pick it all up!" 
      It turned out that the second man was there as a trainee. If we bought the vacuum, he would get some prize or another. I didn't care about that. Despite the warning bells going off in my head, I agreed to let them do their thing, after explaining that I won't be buying anything without consulting with my husband first. The trainee ran downstairs to get the celebrated vacuum cleaner. As they started to vacuum, the TV repairman showed up. He was a little taken aback by all the activity in our place, but also went on with his job. 
      For a while, it was an insane scene in my apartment. The vacuum salesmen fanatically worried the rug, the TV repairman needed to go see the satellite dish. The kids sat on the couch and watched with their mouths open how I ran between all of them. 
      The TV repairman finished and left; he was smirking. I guess, in his whole life there wasn't so much entertainment as in our crazy place. The salesmen used my vacuum and now employed theirs to show me it's superiority. After some time passed, though, they were still cleaning the same square foot of the carpet. I could see the desperation growing in their faces, as they realized that here they needed a turbo jet engine to make any difference in the cleanliness of my rug. In about forty minutes of it, they stood panting from exhaustion, defeated but not yet giving up.
      Chicken Bone, who wisely avoided the noisy room with a lot of strangers in it, showed up now, to inspect the intruders in his kingdom. He was  in his prime then, just about two years old. The senior salesman's eyes lit up: "I see you have a kitty-cat. Do you know that the Kirby vacuum has a cat cleaning attachment?" Poor Chickie was captured and given to the trainee to hold, while his mentor fired up the machine. 
      The trainee was not very adept at handling cats. As Chickie realized that we were trying to use this roaring, stinky, sucking thing on him, he forgot to be polite and employed every weapon at his disposal to get away. And weapons he had. I saw the great claws come out and pierce the trainee's light sweatshirt. The cat managed to climb over the man's shoulder and onto his back. He still was using his claws to try and get out of the tight squeeze. The sweatshirt had blood on it now, and the trainee, who was wincing and writhing in pain, finally, gave up and let Chickie go. 
      That was it. They knew that they were beaten. They tried to get me to buy the vacuum, but the fight's gone out of them. Pale and deflated, they left our home, to go and find some cleaner people. You see, I always knew, that my slovenliness will one day pay off! As for the carpet, only that one square foot ever got any neater.

Sunday, July 21, 2013


     An easy day.. I'm dealing with Sonny and Taka. And with my laptop! The thing decided that I don't need to use my e-mail function or do a crossword puzzle. The AOL and the L.A. Times (for the crossword) sites froze. Actually, I could do a puzzle until I answered about one third of the questions, and then - Bam! It would drop the crossword into some galactic wormhole. Finally, Sonny figured out how to fix the problem. By then, I did the first part of the puzzle about four times.
     Taka works at the company that makes medical equipment, that can show three-D images. Like, if you take an x-ray, that equipment will transform it so that a doctor can see all around the organs in question. For half a year we have known that that company will lay people off sometime soon. Taka found a new job, though. Actually, its an old-new job. He had it and left it two times. Once, he needed to finish his four-year degree, and the second time - they laid him off. Now they took him back! He'll start working there in August.         Tomorrow he still goes to the present job, and they will have a pot-luck lunch. Do you know what it means? OK, I'll explain!
     About ten people work in his unit. Tomorrow, everyone of them will bring a dish from home, for others to try. That's what the pot-luck means.
     I made a Shepherd's Pie for that occasion. Do you know, what THAT means? OK, I'll explain..
     You fry the ground meat (whatever you like). Add some small size vegetables, like peas or pieces of celery and onion and mushrooms (that is how I like it). You make mashed potatoes. The meat  goes on the bottom of a baking dish and you put in something to make that mixture thicker (the canned mushroom soup is perfect for that, or you might use flour and water to thicken it). Put the potatoes on top of meat, smooth them and spread some flavorful cheese on them (too much cheese is not good, the dish becomes too rich). Bake in the oven, or broil until the cheese melts and becomes a little brown. It takes time, but the result is very delicious. 


     It felt good yesterday to have friends over. After they left, I shuffled around the house for a while. Gradually, I became aware of some noise coming from the bedroom area. Voice? It was Taka, talking to Sonny. Not talking, yelling! From experience, I knew that Sonny doesn't like me to butt in when his dad is on the war-path. I stayed in the living room. It continued for a very long time, though! When I went to the bathroom. I'd see Taka popping into Sonny's room, giving a speech, popping out, going into our bedroom where he works on the computer(s) and repeating this sequence over and over again. I tried to tell him that it was enough, that talking too much about the same thing is detracting from the impact of what one wants to convey. Pfah! I said those things many-many times in the last twenty five years, to no avail. Besides the length of the talking-to that Sonny received, it was  also the content. "You are not doing anything, you achieve nothing, you will not succeed!" That was the gist of it. At one point, Sonny ran into the living room and sat on the couch next to me. He looked ready to cry. Perhaps thinking that at 18 he should not show such weakness, he ran back to his room. I still tried to tell Taka that Sonny does a lot at home, besides going to college during the year and practicing driving. Even the games that he plays, usually, have some educational value, and he always looks for new things to learn about science. Taka just grimaced at my words, either in an annoyed or patronizing fashion.
   I went to bed after one o'clock at night. Taka was still watching a movie.
- "Is Sonny asleep?" - he asked. 
- "I don' t know, his light is off" - I said. 
- "I, probably, depressed him.."
That was unexpected. He never before let his doubts about his treatment of Sonny show. I tried to be mild tempered and only repeated the good things that Sonny is doing. 
- "At his age I was doing so much more!" - Taka said.
- "Well, then you should do something together with him!"
     This morning, the two of my men have been walking and talking in the garden. When Sonny had a chance to come inside, he told be in a bewildered manner: "Today he wants to talk about plants!" At least, Taka is trying!

Saturday, July 20, 2013


     And so they came.. 
     The whole morning people worked. Sonny cleaned, I shopped, Dr. Park fought and won the right to cook everything alone in the kitchen. Mary was coming for lunch. I had an idea to also call Victoria and watch an old movie together. 
     Victoria mentioned that she never saw the end of the Charade. I recorded it on DVR.  This was the perfect opportunity to see it together..
     We had a Teriyaki pork-roast and boiled potatoes. Like they say in Russia: "Everyone respects a potato, when you mash it with some salt!" We also had some asparagus. Mary brought a cheesecake and I bought some other sweets. Victoria came late because she was at work and didn't bring anything. No surprise there. Mary brought some flowers for me and Victoria, as well. It was very nice of her!
     The movie was great. Audrey Hepburn and Cary Grant rarely disappoint. Before we started, Hanah called, and I had to tell her that I'll call back. Since I saw that movie many times, as the others started to watch it, I went into the bathroom with the phone and called Hanah. The old story: she already spent the money that we painstakingly gathered for her, and now needs some more. Unfortunately, we have no cash now. Asking us to send her money is like trying to squeeze blood from a stone. I told Hanah that we'll see if we can scrounge something up and went back to my friends.
     To tell you that I was too full after eating lunch and the cheesecake is not enough. I was stuffed! The only thing I could do with food is to put it on top of my head! After the movie ended, first Victoria and then Mary left. We decided to start a movie club: to meet every couple of weeks and see something good. I love it!

Friday, July 19, 2013


This is funny and, mostly, true. The thing is, the parts about the bathrooms and the arguments are opposite for the oriental men. My husband and Dr. Park take an enormous time to get ready in the bathroom. In the argument, if I have the last word, Taka starts another argument.

Men Are Just Happier People -- What do you expect from such simple creatures? Your last name stays put. The garage is all yours. Wedding plans take care of themselves. Chocolate is just another snack. You can be President. You can never be pregnant. You can wear a white T-shirt to a water park. You can wear NO shirt to a water park. Car mechanics tell you the truth. The world is your urinal. You never have to drive to another gas station restroom because this one is just too icky. You don't have to stop and think of which way to turn a nut on a bolt. Same work, more pay. Wrinkles add character. Wedding dress $5000. Tux rental-$100. People never stare at your chest when you're talking to them. New shoes don't cut, blister, or mangle your feet. One mood all the time. Phone conversations are over in 30 seconds flat. You know stuff about tanks. A five-day vacation requires only one suitcase. You can open all your own jars. You get extra credit for the slightest act of thoughtfulness. If someone forgets to invite you, He or she can still be your friend. Your underwear is $8.95 for a three-pack. Three pairs of shoes are more than enough.. You almost never have strap problems in public. You are unable to see wrinkles in your clothes.. Everything on your face stays its original color.. The same hairstyle lasts for years, maybe decades. You only have to shave your face and neck. You can play with toys all your life. One wallet and one pair of shoes -- one color for all seasons. You can wear shorts no matter how your legs look.. You can 'do' your nails with a pocket knife. You have freedom of choice concerning growing a mustache. You can do Christmas shopping for 25 relatives On December 24 in 25 minutes. No wonder men are happier.

· If Laura, Kate and Sarah go out for lunch, they will call each other Laura, Kate and Sarah. 
· If Mike, Dave and John go out, they will affectionately refer to each other as Fat Boy, Bubba and Wildman. 
· When the bill arrives, Mike, Dave and John will each throw in $20, even though it's only for $32.50. None of them will have anything smaller and none will actually admit they want change back. 
· When the girls get their bill, out come the pocket calculators. 
· A man will pay $2 for a $1 item he needs. 
· A woman will pay $1 for a $2 item that she doesn't need but it's on sale. 
· A man has six items in his bathroom: toothbrush and toothpaste, shaving cream, razor, a bar of soap, and a towel. 
· The average number of items in the typical woman's bathroom is 337. A man would not be able to identify more than 20 of these items. 
· A woman has the last word in any argument. 
· Anything a man says after that is the beginning of a new argument. 
· A woman worries about the future until she gets a husband. 
· A man never worries about the future until he gets a wife. 
· A woman marries a man expecting he will change, but he doesn't. 
· A man marries a woman expecting that she won't change, but she does. 
· A woman will dress up to go shopping, water the plants, empty the trash, answer the phone, read a book, and get the mail. 
· A man will dress up for weddings and funerals. 
· Men wake up as good-looking as they went to bed. 
· Women somehow deteriorate during the night. 
· Ah, children. A woman knows all about her children. She knows about dentist appointments and romances, best friends, favorite foods, secret fears and hopes and dreams. 
· A man is vaguely aware of some short people living in the house. 
A married man should forget his mistakes. There's no use in two people remembering the same thing! 
SO, send this to the women who have a sense of humor and who can handle it .... and to the men who will enjoy reading it..
Source: Deloise DeGoede

Thursday, July 18, 2013


"Momma". Hanah calls me that when she wants something really badly. Still, its good to hear it! Now, its the time to renew the lease on the moldy house where she and the other kids live. We are the only prents who co-signed the lease. If the rent is not paid, the management of the realty will come for us. And it will be up to us to pay the whole amount. Hanah doesn't understand or doesn't want to understand the danger it would put us in. I hope, she'll grow up soon to see the boundaries between her desires and our capabilities.