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Yesterday was my first 4th of July in the US in four years. We started the day with blueberry pancakes at a nice little café with a slightly overbearing proprietor who, upon hearing that I had worked as an English teacher in Russia and Sweden, tried to persuade me that it would benefit the world much more if I worked at a for-profit American school in Gaza that he helped found. While I have sympathy for the plight of the Palestinians, I also have sympathy for the plight of the Israelis (not to mention the fact that Kostia’s brother lives in Israel), so I can’t say that Palestine is going to be my next big cause. I also can’t see how working in a for-profit school would contribute to the greater good. Oh well. It’s a nice café anyway.

We went to the Independence Day parade in Canandaigua, my dad’s hometown and the place where I’m spending most of this month. Here are some pictures. 

In the spirit of American democracy and bad fashion, I wore my new ill-fitting Obama t-shirt to the parade, hoping to irritate some Republicans. I think I achieved my goal.

Marching band. This was about the only one, surprisingly, though there were bagpipers…

There was all kinds of culture, including the South Bristol Cultural Center, which, according to their banner, celebrates culture. That sounds pretty vague to me…

Good old Uncle Sam on a Vespa

Patriotic fashion…

… which is not as cute on older people:

There were classic cars to make a Dalarna County redneck drool

And classic fire engines too.

 
After the parade we wound up on an impromptu wine tour, if two wineries can be called a tour. Those of you not from Upstate New York might be surprised to know that western New York state is a wine-producing region. Too bad for my grandpa, who has lived here for all of his 89 years, yet is a teetotaller. I wonder how many wine tours he’s been dragged on in his life.

It was decided we needed to pose in front of this barrel

 

View of Canandaigua Lake

And a vineyard

And a winery that I really liked – both the atmosphere and the wine

In the evening we went to the fireworks on Canandaigua Lake. It was a great fireworks show, but I’m not sure that arriving an hour and a half early to find parking and then taking an hour and a half to get out of the post-fireworks traffic jam was worth the 20 minutes of visual entertainment. Oh, the things we do in the name of tradition.

They had a carnival in our ghetto and the parade went past our door.

I baked some gourmet pizzas. The one has caramelized onion, spinach, and mushrooms, the other has this beet pasta sauce. I love the stuff but am bored of pasta, so that’s why I started investigating pizza dough.

We went to Uppsala for midsommar, the Scandinavian solstice festival. There was folk music and dancing around maypoles at Old Uppsala

I liked this fountain in Uppsala proper

The Linneaus botanical garden

On the night of the solstice I made Kostia and Dima go for a walk at 1:00 a.m. If you know me, you know that it took a supreme effort to stay awake and leave the house at that hour, but it was worth it. Here you can see the transition from dusk to dawn at 1:30 a.m.

That’s Dima

Finally, today was an historic day because Kostia cooked something from a recipe. We have several cookbooks in German that we inherited from Claudia when she moved away. Kostia wanted to keep the cookbooks, but since I don’t know German I told him he had to use them or else we had to give them away. So, he finally got around to it and made a very tasty zucchini frittata.

I’ve changed my summer plans several times now, but here’s how it looks at the moment:

Next Sunday-Thursday: Kostia and I are going to Budapest! Whoo! One great thing about living in Europe rather than the US is that when you find a last-minute package deal, it’s to a place like Budapest and not Cleveland.

June 25-July 26: The homeland. I decided while I had the time and the money, I should spend some time with my grandpa, who’s turning 89 this summer! That’s in Upstate New York. Also hope to go to Boston and DC. Just me, Kostia’s staying put until his Swedish residence permit gets renewed.

Early August: Someplace else? Would like to go to the Way Out West music festival in Gothenburg. Would like to go to Russia. Would like to rent a car and drive north and catch a bit more midnight sun since I’m wasting half my white nights in the US, which has only dark nights. Also, job hunting. Am doing a bit of that now, will start doing it in earnest when I get back from the US.

August 25: Starting third master’s degree program. Linguistics this time. Yes, I like studying. Also this degree may prove more useful than my other ones as I actually like teaching English and want to keep doing it.

Actually, most of these events are certain (barring catastrophes) except for the early August bit.

About This Blog

I'm an American who started blogging when I moved to Russia in 2004. Eventually I moved to Sweden, where life is pleasant but uneventful, and stopped blogging for lack of interesting things to say. And then I joined Facebook, which further destroyed any motivation for blogging. Maybe someday I'll start blogging again, but for now, this blog is dormant, an archive of The Russia Years: 2004-2008.

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