Tuesday, June 30

Domestic Summer

Nat and I leave for Ireland in 2 (two!!) days. As such we're trying to finish the food in the house. I brought back some smoked salmon from St. P and made it into this absolutely wonderful Smoked Salmon Pasta with Scotch. Seriously it was money. Did I really just say that?

Of course I modified it. I added fresh mushrooms, crushed red pepper (as I can't imagine any pasta dish without it), used clam juice for fish stock, well, ok, I used that recipe as the guidelines for what I made. Regardless, it was delicious and we all (4 total) had seconds. Some had thirds.

Afterwards, it was dish carnage, especially as we also had dessert (A made apple pie!). However, for one to two weeks each summer the hot water is turned off across the city to repair the pipes. Spoiled life that I lead, I actually have a mini hot water heater that gets turned on in this occasion, however, it only feeds the bathroom. So, to wash all of tonight's dishes, rather than boiling a bunch of water, I just brought the dishes into the bath tub.

Sunday, June 28

Dear 60sih woman walking down the street,

Yes, you, with the sagging breasts (no criticism, I understand gravity) and multi-rolled belly (Russian food is not very healthy), I'm happy that you are so secure with your body that you feel that it's ok to where a see through black shirt with flowers. That's great, more power to you. However, for the love of all that is holy, please do not wear a see through white lace bra under it.

Thank you,

Traveling Em

St. Petersburg!

Oh, St. Petersburg, how I love thee. You torment me though as you are so much more appealing than Moscow. However, your school has only 120 students K-12. Could I handle that? Will the 1 math teacher ever leave? And your curriculum is AP based. I love the IB so...

Perhaps, I shall content myself with the knowledge that you are but a 5.5 hour train ride away. And try to remember that in the winter you are dark, grey, cold and rainy (much like Moscow) but also with a frigid wind off the shores!

We arrived on the evening of St. Petersburg's biggest party, Red Sails. It was like Mardi Gras without the great costumes, parades, floats or beads (so basically, really drunk people urinating everywhere and throwing beer bottles down, but in New Orleans they no longer allow glass on the streets). It was a zoo trying to get to where we were staying, but eventually we arrived unscathed. We set out to grab some food around 11 and enjoyed the day light.

The next day we headed off to Peterhof (also spelled Petergof). This is a 30 minute hydrofoil ride from St. Petersburg, a palace and series of gardens designed by Peter the Great. It was beautiful! So nice to be out in the country, surrounded by great fountains, all gravity fed! It was crowded, but the park is so big, it was easy to feel as though you were on your own. It was full of statues and fountains, two of my favorite things, especially as all the fountains are gravity fed!!

I love statues

More fountains

That evening we walked around endlessly trying to find a Korean restaurant that no longer exists (fuck you LP and Rick Steves) but ended up at another one right near where we were staying. No granted, at this point we'd been walking for 2 hours longer than anticipated and it's been almost 6 months since I last had Korean, but it was still really good.

One of the things to do in St.P is to go out and see the bridges raise so that the ships can pass under them in the twilight of white nights. However, the first bridge doesn't go up until 1:35, so you can guess who slept through that while EE went out. As such, the next day we had a leisurely morning (read, I worked on my summer course work and EE slept in), then we had a Greek lunch. We spent the afternoon strolling about. I met up with the drama teacher who also is head of Student Council with me and we did a little jig in front of the Church of the Resurrection of Christ, also known as Spilt Blood as Alexander the II was assassinated there. The best thing about this church are the mosaics inside.

We also went to the Mariinsky Theater to see ballet. It was incredible. Very minimal backgrounds and a focus on the dancers. At most 6 on stage. Such good ballet, such a nice theater. Though, should you ever go, don't get seats on the 3rd level. We had a great view, but we were on a narrow, painfully hard bench and it was difficult to enjoy sitting there as good as the show was.

Mariinsky Theater

Sunday, June 14

Summer Travel

I have planned a jam packed summer.

June 19 - school ends
June 20-23 St. Petersburg (finally) with Erin - staying with last year's principal
June 24 - June 30 in Moscow - ballet, business lunch, walks in the park
July 1 - 8 Ireland with Natasha - castles and B&B's for lodging
July 8-13 Scotland with Steve and Dianne - their place, pubs on the agenda
July 13-18 Peterborough, UK, I'm going to a "Technology for Secondary Mathematics" conference
July 18-21 Country side of NY - maybe more about this later
July 21-26 in Ohio with my parents
July 26 - Aug 4 on a cruise and then 2 nights in Miami with my sister
Aug 4 - 16 back in SF with friends
Aug 1-17 flying to London
Aug 18 flight back to Moscow
Aug 19 first day of work

Insanity, I know. But I'm so looking forward to it.


Thank you to my 5 readers for the patience you have shown in awaiting my random and rare posts.

Thank you especially to my friend Vero who encouraged me to continue watering my orchid even though the flowers I bought it with fell off in the first week. See I bought it the first weekend I moved to Moscow, back in August 2007. For a very long time it just had two pathetic leaves. But I continued to water it. Eventually it grew a few more leaves, so in fact I knew it was still alive, well now in June 2009, here it is:

4 Flowers!

That's right it has 4 flowers which are stunning. And I've watched them open one by one. The last one I literally got to see open as it did so on a weekend day. In the background you can see my jade which I repotted to give the other succulents more space. It seems to enjoy it's new house, but I don't know if they other succulents are as happy with out it.

The school year is wrapping up. Students were given teacher evaluations to fill out. Overwhelmingly my students think the pace in class is too fast for them and that I don't make it interesting. I'm not sure how to fix either one of those problems. A few students said I should be more patient. And that I can definitely work on. I think if they did their homework more consistently I'd have more patience though...

I was also under a bit of stress trying to finish up my first masters class, dynamic spreadsheets. I'm hoping to finish with an A, but it'll be an A- at the very least. I've signed up for 2 classes this summer, but I'm not sure how well that will go with my insane summer travel schedule (to be posted next).

My classes are all done now, finals taken and half graded. Report cards to write this week and preparations for the incoming teachers. I also want to get some more stuff prepared ahead of time for next year.

I have a few days in Moscow before I leave for summer vacation though, so plenty of time to do that.