Tuesday, May 29, 2012

We're here

The 10-hour Moscow-Washington flight was uneventful, except for the puking incident on the way to the airport, and the two diaper blow-outs on the plane (the latter, apparently, being the beginning of a stomach bug that hit us all pretty hard for our first few days in the States - awesome). We were prepared for both scenarios, though, so it wasn't disastrous.

Checking in at Domodedovo:

Fun on the flight:

In America!

The culture shock has included three trips to Target in four days (yay!), and the somewhat disheartening revelation that a show called "Storage Wars" is popular enough to merit a marathon on cable (what??).

Tuesday, May 22, 2012


Is how many boxes the movers hauled out of here this afternoon.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Clean-Out-The-Fridge Cuisine

As I've discussed before, I hate wasting food.  I hate wasting it at any time of year, regardless of the circumstances, and pack-out time is no exception.  We're getting down to the dregs now, so for tonight's dinner, I came up with this (all I had to buy to complete this meal was the cheese):

I don't know why this looks kind of gross.  I blame my poor camera skills.  It's hard to photograph pizza.

Flatbread Roasted Pumpkin and Cauliflower Pizza with Sorrel-Mint Pesto and Caramelized Onions
(hint: if you use words like "roasted" and "caramelized" in your recipe titles, they always sound better).
Serves two adults and two toddlers

Three 12-inch flour tortillas (I had to pick through the bag to find a few that weren't stale)
8 oz cubed pumpkin (mine was frozen)
8 oz cauliflower florets (again, frozen)
1 onion, sliced
8 oz shredded mozzarella cheese

For pesto:
1 cup sorrel leaves
2 cup mint leaves
1/4 cup olive oil (or in my case, grapeseed, because that was what we had left)
2 cloves garlic
leftover salt from a package of Super Pretzels (or, you know, regular salt)

Preheat oven to 450F.  Put your veggies on a baking sheet with some salt and roast for 30 minutes.  Throw the onions into a pan with some olive oil and allow to cook on medium-low for 30 minutes.  Put first four pesto ingredients in a blender/food processor/Magic Bullet and process.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  When everything is done, spread pesto on tortillas.  Top with onions, pumpkin and cauliflower, then cheese.  Put back into the 450-degree oven for about 4 minutes, or until cheese is melted to your liking.  Enjoy.

(This actually was pretty tasty.  I might make it again).

Thursday, May 17, 2012


When I was 12 years old, my family moved to Tel Aviv from northern Virginia.  My friends and I wrote each other long letters in balloony handwriting where the "i"s were dotted with hearts or stars or bubbles, analyzing for pages whether that it meant anything that the crush of the week had dropped his pencil in front of our lockers.  Though the letters took at least a month to arrive, at first I had so many pen-pals that I was getting at least one per week.  I kept them in a cardboard box under the sink in my bathroom until the day the pipes burst.  My second box did not fill up as quickly.  By the end of the three-year tour, I only had one pen-pal left.


Today on the playground, when talking about the transfer season and my impending pack-out, someone commented "well, you're a professional."  She was referring to the fact that I've been doing this - moving - since I was a year old.  And she was assuming that I was "good" at it by now. 

This is my 18th move.  If I were going to get "good" at it, I would have done it by now.  And in some ways, maybe I have.  I know that I want the house to be somewhat organized when the movers arrive.  I know that I don't want them carefully wrapping empty CD cases in endless layers of packing paper - so I prepack the house, as much as I can, before packing day.  And I know that I am not the type of person who can just blow through the house in 24 hours and take care of everything.  So I start a month in advance, an hour or so a day.  It's manageable.

When it comes to maintaining friendships, though, I have learned that it is not entirely under my control.  I email.  I call.  I start out with five pen-pals.  I end up, if I'm lucky, with one.  I know that, in most cases, it is nothing personal.  It's just how things are.

But it never gets easier.  The week or two before a move, I find myself withdrawing.  Even right now, on this gorgeous 75-degree day, I am holed up in my sewing room which, as you saw in the last post, is piled high with boxes.  I think that's because it's easier to be here, among the things that I will have with me in the future, than outside with the things I am leaving behind.  I know, it's really weird.

I've enjoyed my time here so much that it almost feels easier to say goodbye to Moscow and my friends now, before I've even left, so that the actual leaving is less difficult.  Our nanny, who has become family, told me that she would come the morning of our flight to see us off.  I am not going to tell her no, but I am honestly dreading this.  Those types of goodbye are too stark, too final, too real.  I prefer to just see you one day, and not see you the next.  I don't want to cry on the plane.  I want to look forward, not backward.

So, no, I'm not good at it.  But I have built a coping mechanism.

What's yours?

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

12:33 a.m.

And I am awake.  Tossing and turning in bed because, well, we are moving our entire lives in days that you can count on less than two hands.

And because I fully recognize how ridiculous it is that I spent three hours today sewing a blouse, when I should have been packing a suitcase.

And because I've started thinking about making plans with Stateside friends and have realized that the months of time that I thought I had, isn't, on second thought, exactly long enough to see everybody and do everything and buy everything that I need/want to see and do and buy.

And because I nursed a caffeinated frappe (thanks, Magic Bullet that also needs to go back into its box) until nearly 3 p.m.  Someday this caffeine hypersensitivity has to go away, right?

Anyway, I ended up getting out of bed with the intent of boxing up the sewing machine, seductive mechanical temptress that she is.

And I did.  She cried a little on the way in, but I held firm.  And kept going.  And now the sewing room/guest room/office/crap room looks like this:

And it occurs to me that my moves always seem to start and end like this: in a desperately-trying-to-be-organized-and-yet-still-vaguely-messy-and-pathetic stack of way more bins than I thought we needed full of the many things that we want/need to be happy.  And the lighting is always terrible.  And it's always the middle of the night.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

I should be packing ...

... but that is too stressful and also kind of sad, so instead ...

I made these ...

and these:

and this:

The movers come in a week.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Mama, we got you some macaroni!

So said my 2.5-year-old, bearing a box of macarons from Cafe Michel.  ("Macaroni" is actually the correct Russian plural of "macaron," but it was still funny to hear.)

Jeremy took the girls out on a mission to get me flowers and macarons after church today, and he came back with a load of free loot.  As we've mentioned before, Russians love kids and are always much nicer if you happen to have one with you.  But a man alone with not one, but two kids?


Although you do see men out with their kids in Moscow, I am told that the absent or alcoholic husband and father is still quite common. 

So, the flower lady was so taken with Jeremy and our girls that, after he purchased a bouquet, she asked how many years we had been married, and then presented him with a hyacinth plant for each year (and fraction thereof). 

At Cafe Michel, where Jeremy bought me 10 macarons, he received as a freebie three boxes of mini-macarons.  One each for the girls and one for him.  (We had already eaten one box by the time I took this photo).

Friday, May 11, 2012

Things that follow us around or, the Detritus of Life

Tonight Jeremy and I were organizing our CD and DVD collection in preparation for the move.  We don't have much time left here in Moscow and the giant stress-clock in my head is tick, tick, ticking away.  My stress dreams, which usually involve a college class I'm about to fail, now revolve around closets full of heirlooms that the movers forgot to pack and which can't be mailed or taken on the plane.

We got rid of a few items - movies that we will never watch and kids' CDs received as gifts that I can't stand to listen to. Most of the rest, even the 90 percent that we never watched or listened to during this tour, were carefully packed in a bin to ship to Georgia.

Among those are a number of CD-RWs with no labels on them.  Are they blank?  Did I record something on them and neglect to label them?  I don't have a clue.  It was just going to be too much work to figure out and I had other things to do.  But I couldn't throw them away, lest they have something important on them. So into the pack-out bin they went. 

And I'm pretty sure that is exactly what happened in the last pack-out.

Maybe in Georgia I'll finally figure out what's on them.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

May Day

Russians had Monday and Tuesday off for May 1.  As usual, the holiday was advertised on billboards and flyers all over the city.  We took advantage of Tuesday's Embassy holiday to take a long walk around the city and see some of the marches.

The communists gathered under a large statue of Lenin at a major intersection near Gorky Park.  The marchers wore designer jeans, and the father of the USSR Lenin was overshadowed by huge signs hawking Hitachi and Canon, yet I was reminded powerfully of snippets of memories from 25 years ago that still lurk in my brain. Though the government has tried to recast May 1 as a holiday both of workers AND spring planting, there were many indications that the Soviet Union isn't quite dead.

As many roads were closed to traffic, we wove the Phil and Ted in and out of lane markings, down a large thoroughfare somewhat eerily flanked by hundreds of Moscow's finest.  We learned later that Putin and Medvedev were both to walk that route alongside one of the marching groups.

There were other marches, too.  And while the communists' parade route was staffed by unarmed police, the balloon-carriers got armed militia.  Things that make you go hmmm.

Thursday, May 3, 2012


Russians love mayonnaise.  I mean, they really love it.  I have been meaning for two years to take a photo of the mayonnaise aisle (yes, mayonnaise gets its own aisle) at the hypermarket.  I finally got some photos (taken surreptitiously, having already learned that they don't like you taking photos at Auchan).

They have "classic" mayonnaise, mayonnaise "Provencal," olive oil mayonnaise, quail's egg mayonnaise, Lenten (vegan) mayonnaise, chili-flavored mayonnaise, horseradish-flavored mayonnaise, light versions of all of these, and other flavors.  I have never seen so much mayonnaise in one place.