Monday, March 11, 2013

Seriously, just an awesome weekend.

Where to even begin? I guess chronological order makes sense. At least from the past few days. This will be long however.

Thursday: Last fall I went to a rock show at a bar of cover bands covering 90s Russian rock. Last Thursday I went to the real deal, concert in an arena. It was off the hook to say the least (that is jargon for AMAZING!!!!!! for those of you who don't know what "off the hook" means).

Rock bands like ДДТ (DDT), (СПЛИН) Spleen, Король и Шут (КиШ - King and Fool), Ляпис Трубецкой (Lyapis Trubetskoi), and Lumen, played. All very different, all awesome. The main person from DDT looks like a middle-aged guy who works in the computer industry (polo, glasses, short beard, slightly portly, and doesn't have the energy one expects from the leader of one of the biggest - if not THE biggest rock groups of Russian history), yet he inspired such energy in the crowd. Phenomenal is all I can say. КиШ had more of a rock presence that was to be expected. I seriously cannot convey how awesome this concert was. But I will say that fans in the US need to learn to use road flares and sparkers at concerts instead of just lighters and cell-phones.

Russian rock is quite different and while some stuff had similar sounds to western rock, other aspects were quite different. I'd also like to say that while western rock has incorporated keyboards into rock (and even metal like Nightwish and Children of Bodom), and we incorporate brass instruments into ska music (which has a swing feel mixed with punk for those who don't know), there was some good brass usage in the metal portions of this show. Great use of the trumpet and trombone.

Friday was March 8th (otherwise known as International Women's Day). We had plans that turned into celebration by lying around the apartment. Actually quite a wonderful and needed day of rest.

Saturday, Daria and I went to Peter and Paul's Fortress (the original part of SPB). I've never been there in the winter. It also held a great exhibit about women through the Soviet era/Women's Day (although it goes until May). This was quite the fascinating exhibit about uplifting women and at the same time demonstrating the double burden of work and home that has been placed on women here. I had to laugh b/c a poster spoke about "earth and will" (volition type of will) and one of the songs from Lyapis had the chorus "bread, salt, earth, will." While I don't think the song was about women's things, it certainly retained the "this is what's necessary for everybody" basics of life. Or something like that. I don't know if I can really explain (or if I really understand). Great exhibit. Oh, and while we were taught that the USSR had the first person in space, we have the first person on the moon, etc, did you know they also had the first woman in space? That was not in my history textbook. What was also cool to see were photographs of women who helped rebuild SPB after the siege in WWII. There were more women doing work in the 40s and 50s than in the 70s/80s/etc, even in the USSR. Made one feel that women were more appreciated then, but who really knows.

Another exhibit found in a different part of the Fortress was of microscopic wonders done by a man known as the "Siberian Lefthander." Wonders like he put metal shoes on a flea, horseshoe style nails and all (Guinness book of world records). We saw "jewelry for insects" books written smaller than a grain of rice, portraits on walnut shells, but placed inside of a cherry pit, nanoscaled things poppy seeds, well ok, just look. Although, none of these were really as fascinating as what we saw in the museum exhibit.,29307,1831665_1748583_last,00.html

After that we went to an exhibit of medieval torture devices. Left one wondering how some of the items lasted until 1970s (like execution by sitting in a chair having a pole slowly drilled through your skull). I'll save you most of the other gruesome details. Although, not so torturous, good punishment for drunkards: wear a barrel around all day - punished through embarrassment. Forget revoking a driver's license for DUI, just make them wear a barrel. I promise, no one will drink and drive again. However, seriously, it's crazy that humanity can think up such horrendous ways to hurt each other. I'll refrain from offering any twisted things that have entered my brain. I really don't want to see those things practiced.

Following all the museums, Daria and I went out onto the Neva River (the main river that goes through SPB). I seriously cannot get enough of walking on frozen rivers, canals, lakes, the Gulf of Finland. Soon my time will have to stop though b/c it'll be too dangerous. Actually, yesterday pushed that. Some boat or another has clearly gone through the river and broken some of the ice to transport something. Its frozen back over, but you can see the chunks and in places flowing water still from the recent breakage. I walked onto a piece completely "separated" and re-frozen. We saw some people walk completely across the breakage. Later, a man came out with a bullhorn to tell people to not venture into that area. I was careful, but it was also dangerous.

Today, Daria and I heard an awesome sermon about how we all might possess small parts of each character from the parable of the Prodigal Son. Rather than some crazy exegesis of each character, you just have parts of each. I could elaborate, but really . . . you have parts of each.

After the service we used Daria's grandparents' old wooden cross-country skis and old leather boots (seriously awesome, and mom and dad, definitely thought of you with this stuff). Why didn't we dig these out earlier?????? We took the train out of the city and skied through the woods, total backcountry style. We then skied onto the Gulf (been my dream for way too long). We probably pushed about a mile out before we turned back (the wind was getting wicked, but more, it was the end of the day). I know Daria enjoyed it too, but I also want to thank her for appeasing my dream of doing that. Great day of skiing through sunlit filigree on the snow through the trees, and then into the vast open expanse of the Gulf of Finland. I hope we get to return. And seriously, those wooden skis were well made. I don't know the last time they were used, but they worked very well.

Just a great picture from within the building stairwell overlooking our snow-covered courtyard.

Poster about the Women's Exhibit at the Museum

Daria posing next to a poster about Women's roles in the defense of the country during WWII.

Me standing on the Neva with my back to the Hermitage and other historic buildings. And a snowflake in my eye.

Better picture of what the broken ice looks like and the flowing water you can see.

Me standing on an ice-flow. That large chunk that spans past the picture, but still in front of me is not connected to the main part we walked on.

My feet at the aforementioned ice-flow in the picture above. This would be at the bottom of the picture above if the camera spanned that far.

Daria's turn, but she stayed on the "connected part" not venturing onto the broken pieces.

Not our dacha, but what the dacha might look like in the winter.

And into the woods we go. Well, ok, we were already into the woods when this was taken, but it was better than the "starting point" picture.

Some obstacles you don't find in the city parks. Daria did well ducking under this fallen tree. She added some theatrics (intentional) that I appreciated unlike my lame, "let's get under this and get on the way" duck and ski.

Some beautiful forest around us. Can anyone say paradise?

And Daria leads the way onto the Gulf. Well, we were on it going parallel to shore here, but only about 20-30 yards out here.

But here I go off onto the horizon of the Gulf. You can see the curvature of the earth here, but also the sea of ice ahead. Daria posted on facebook that we're heading off into the Arctic here. Close enough I guess. Paradise number 2?

Thanks to batteries freezing I didn't get a picture off from the furthest point we were from shore, but I was able to snap this of Daria (that small dot in the middle), as she headed back toward shore while I fiddled with changing batteries. The wind was a brutal dry cold and while Daria could ski fine, there were issues standing still (not due to cold, but boot/ski issues), so she left. The winter child in me just loves that we're on the frozen sea.

At the end of the day, we are at the train station, and this was just a great picture of Daria. I'm posting it because I like it a lot.

And our train back to the city. I think it's neat that the sign tells you the current time (top) and the time of the train (bottom) and yes, the train got there at 18.28 and left exactly at 18.29. Very punctual.

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