Archive | August, 2007
August 18, 2007

I hope she hears her husband’s voice, Telling her she’s coming home

Three years ago my grandmother was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. Since I was living in either London or DC, I wasn’t able to see her much over the past few years. I always stopped by her house during my short visits to California, but each visit grew more painful. She had always been a very active woman, simultaneously involved in the community and maintaining a full social calendar, but she spent much of these past three years lying in bed.

I called her a few weeks ago. We talked about the weather, family, work, and my recent trip to Ukraine and Poland. She asked if I liked it out here in Washington. I told her no, not really, and that I was planning to move back to California next year.

She passed away on Thursday, August 9th. I was prepared to write a long post, but it’s still too hard. Perhaps another day. I did find this past article from the Rancho Mirage Chamber of Commerce newsletter, however. It’s how she would want to be remembered, anyways.

I flew back to California for a few days to attend the funeral. Afterwards, over 60 of our closest friends and family members gathered at Las Casuelas Nuevas, the site of numerous past family celebrations, for huge plates of Mexican food and free-flowing margaritas. She would have loved it.

August 1, 2007

Kiev: You’ve seen one Rodina Mat, you’ve seen ‘em all

Rodina Mat statue in Kiev

One thing the Soviet Union excelled at (besides sending dogs into space, building intercontinental ballistic missiles, and producing awesome holiday cards) was designing some rather impressive war memorials. Due to my interest in the Eastern front of World War II (or, as they say in the former USSR, The Great Patriotic War – Великая Отечественная война), I always feel obliged to visit these memorials, even if it means dragging myself and my friends up whatever hill the memorial is situated on. The Kiev memorial, Rodina Mat, more or less follows the standard Moscow decreed blueprint for war memorials (highest point of elevation, stern-looking woman holding sword, various military vehicles scattered about the grounds). At a height of over 200 feet, however, Kiev’s Rodina Mat does not disappoint.

Rodina Mat statue in Kiev
Rodina Mat statue in Kiev
If only I had a plastic sword, I could look even more foolish

Rodina Mat statue in Kiev
Close-up of the shield (thank you, 12x zoom)

tanks near Rodina Mat statue in Kiev
I’m positive this wasn’t the original paint job…

Rodina Mat statue in Kiev
Sculptures throughout the grounds

Rodina Mat statue in Kiev
Rodina Mat statue in Kiev
Rodina Mat statue in Kiev
Ryan and I

There is also a small outdoor exhibit containing a variety of Soviet aircraft, tanks, and artillery pieces. And you already know how much I love Soviet military pieces

Soviet plane in Kiev
Could use a new paint job
Katyusha in Kiev

missile in Kiev
tanks in Kiev
MiG in Kiev
tank in Kiev
This ain’t a scene, it’s a goddamn arms race