Wednesday, June 19, 2013

paddling glass ducks

Written on June 10th.

Life is beginning to change drastically. Officially we have about 6 weeks left in Russia. This imminent moment is already bittersweet and feels as though it is truly here. Of course this feeling comes a lot from the fact that we have had to do a lot on this side in the preparation for some of my family to come visit in July. A couple minor things and then the large plan of getting an excursion around Karelia in order. I'm excited to see them after nearly a year (Daria did get to see them in December when she went for her interviews), but it also brings to mind the fact that soon we'll be leaving this wonderful place. Completely bittersweet.

Oh, and it also means getting plane tickets and things set up for the animals (I am extremely glad that we were able to bring them, but it does make it tricky to buy plane tickets, get their paperwork in order, and of course since we're flying into LAX, is it acceptable to fly with Karma in the cargo hold with the heat of LA at the end of July). Actually, this pet planning is just beginning.

Speaking of heat, wow it was scorching last week. Seriously, not fun. It cooled down some by the end of the week, but still. Daria's grandpa said that it was the hottest he's ever known the city to be in June. We started off with about 28 and 29C (keeping about 23 at night), but ended the week with highs of 20 and 21. We don't know if it set records, but from his memory it was a scorcher. And Europe had floods and the US has had crazy tornados. I accept the idea of climate change and I do think we can say what we're experiencing is part of it. We tried to keep the windows open, but then mosquitos got in. Karma went to hang out with grandpa one day with the fan in his room and Ella spent some time under the bed (I think it was cooler. Of course it also helped when I fixed our curtain rod and the curtain was able to keep some of the sunlight out.

Friday I went to the bar with my intermediate students and a guy at the table next to us bought me a scotch. While it was kind of him, adding that to my regular consumption with my students can be a dangerous idea. I felt alright on Saturday though so Daria and I went with her grandparents to ЦПКиО. We took the bus to an island near the park, walked across this island through another beautiful park, we passed by a few villas, saw a Roles Royce (actually I should mention that this RR was different than the one I saw parked outside of my company class a few weeks back - didn't write about it but planned to - that belongs to the boss of my students; his was beige, the one saturday was black), a few Bentleys, lots of BMWs and Mercedes including a classic one that had been rented out for one of the many weddings we saw. The entrance to the park was a new one I hadn't been to before, but I laughed when Daria's grandpa tried to get tickets for four (one of the few parks one must pay to enter) before grandma said "2 pensioners and 2 adults. We're free."

We went to the park because there is a glass exhibition that we wanted to see. Lots of glass art on the lawn around the park palace and other places. There was also some inside one of the buildings but we didn't make it to that in time. Daria's grandma was quite comical in her hunt for kvas to drink. We later split up since they wanted to go to another exhibit elsewhere in the city and Daria and I wanted to take the paddleboat around the pond and do other things still in the park. Not 5 minutes after splitting up we met them at the kvas stand (grandma found it), departed a second time, observed a Latvian festival happening there, and did our thing. While paddling we saw lots of ducklings (at least 4 or 5 different paddles -that is groups). We enjoyed the rest of the evening walking around the park before what happened to be a late departure home. It is quite distracting having the sunset at 11.17pm (tonight's time) because some things close at 11, but you don't realize closing time is coming close when it's 10.25 and there's still lots of sunlight left.

Alas. Today we had a nice T-storm which unfortunately scared the animals, but was beautiful to have. Cooler weather and some water. Cannot complain about either.

From the bridge as we entered the park. You can see some people observing glass art on the lawn.

Once we got into the park, glass art set out onto the law. I liked that this soldier's plume is glass (actually I think his helm is too).

Some funky yellow and blue submarines.

I believe this is a snail.

Something random, but I liked it.

A giant footprint made out of flattened soviet champaign bottles.

Daria modeling her new glass pear earrings. 

Yes, this door that looks like it comes off a medieval cathedral is actually made of glass. Some panels if not all are stages of Christ's life. At first I would have sworn it was metal, but upon closer inspection it is most definitely glass.

On the left we have a naked man resembling art from antiquity and on the right is a dragon or pegasus or eagle. Don't totally remember.

Some humaniod on the left and shadowy angelic being on the right.

A little birdhouse for your soul (glass birds included).

Some glass birds roosting on wooden posts.

Help! My stool is trying to fly away without me.

Don't go digging up your garden with this. A rock my shatter your spade.

Beautiful to behold, but this umbrella would be awfully heavy and would leak quite a bit. Best left as ornamentation.

A medieval city complete with a mirrored river and an aqueduct.

Not a presidential palace. Just one of the museums in the park and its expansive lawn.

There are two frames where one can have their portrait painted. Or rather taken in the photograph form and cut appropriately. This one has the lawn and tree backdrop while the other one is angled more toward the above palace as your backdrop.

This statue is not part of the exhibit, but rather a permanent feature in the park.

Just a few feet away is another permanent feature. If a romantic couple isn't your thing, some naked women dancing might suit you more. Not really a bacchanalia, just some joyful nude dancing.

But if nude dancing isn't for you, we have the temporary Latvian festival playing traditional music and you can dance in your jeans and t-shirt, but those who organized came dressed in traditional garb.

A few years ago we noticed a sign that said "Green Bitch" instead of "Green Beach." Another typo, but not with the same consequences reads "Pear" instead of "Pier."

One set of the ducklings we saw with mama being a fierce guard if you got too close.

A bridge that we went under and some of the other boats on the pond.

More little ones enjoying the beautiful day.

And finally, I mentioned a few weeks ago how Russians called the houses that were on tree-trunk stilts "on chicken legs." Well this is how fairy tales would represent them (except we have the live set).

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