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For the first time, I watched someone die right before my eyes. Take her last breath, and fade from existence. The past few months for me have been very difficult and draining, a whirlwind of complex emotions that I couldn't process so easily. You will recall that I once wrote a post about how I felt guilty for being apathetic toward the terminally ill relative staying in our home in a hospice bed.

Over the past month, her condition deteriorated rapidly, and it became necessary to be a caretaker for her while I worked from home. I'm not a trained doctor or nurse, and my role was simply to change diapers, help her drink and eat through a straw, and simply provide some level of companionship and human warmth. During this time, my attitude completely changed and I began to feel such grief and sadness for her suffering. She died last Saturday, with her son holding her hand, and all of us gathered around her.

It becomes necessary in such times to seek places of refuge - it can be people you gravitate toward, or a place. For me, it was a tulip farm I discovered only a few minutes from my house. I spent many evenings there simply roaming the gardens and taking photos. So today, I'll just share some pictures to brighten the mood. I call these tulips "lollipops for the soul" - yes, they are delicious, fragrant and sweet. :)Read more... )
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I often take pride in the fact I'm an independent woman, capable of caring for myself in most aspects of life, but there are many exceptions when it becomes necessary to rely on others. I'm human after all. :)

Driving to work a few weeks ago, there was a sudden shake, slight loss of control in steering, and immediately I knew the problem. A flat tire, making the journey onward to work impossible. In such cases, I immediately try to call my father to come rescue me. Secretly, I believe he wished for sons, but instead he was blessed with two lovely daughters. This didn't deter him from teaching us all kinds of useful things growing up. Many lessons in his garage about basic car maintenance - how to change the oil, drive a manual, and even get on the ground, use the jack and change our own tires. But thirty years later, I didn't feel like pulling out the instruction manual in my Audi, crawling on the wet, rocky ground and changing the flat myself. Perhaps I would not even remember how to do it honestly, because any time there's an issue with my car, my dad is equipped to fix the problem. In this way, I'm spoiled - a father who is a jack of all trades and can solve almost any problem or puzzle from plumbing, electrical to mechanics. Such men are very useful in life, but I think they are a dying breed.

There was one major obstacle on this day - I leave for work around 5 a.m., and it's difficult to reach other humans at this hour, as most are still nestled in their cozy beds, lost in dreamland. Here's how I solved the problem, and perhaps the post will give you some useful advice if you decide to visit the USA, and find yourself in a similar situation where roadside assistance is needed.Read more... )
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В течение шести лет я жила в высотном доме в Арлингтоне, Вирджиния, где-то в пяти минутах от Вашингтона. Люди часто меня просят побольше рассказать об обычной американской жизни, поэтому сегодня я покажу вам квартиру, где я прожила больше всего времени на четвертом десятке и расскажу про ее стоимость для одинокой работающей женщины, живущей в очень дорогом районе Северной Вирджинии. Мы можем начать отсюда, с гостиной в квартире, где я проводила многие вечера, отдыхая и расслабляясь. Вся мебель и украшения в квартире – мои собственные. В большинстве русских квартир, где я останавливалась, нет отдельной гостиной, и люди используют кухню как место сбора. Потому я не уверена, обычны ли такие места сбора в России, но вы можете сказать мне. Давайте посмотрим на остальную часть моей берлоги холостячки. :)
Read more... )
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Over the weekend, my local community experienced horror and shock after three police officers were gunned down when they responded to a domestic violence call. An active Army Sergeant named Ronald Hamilton decided to slap his wife around yet again, with their young son in the home. The boy fled when the violence started, and escaped the bloody scene that followed. As soon as the three police officers arrived at the scene, Sergeant Hamilton began spraying bullets at them. Two remain in the hospital and one was fatally wounded. It's a tragic tale, and every officers worst nightmare. The victim was one of several female officers who had just graduated from the Prince William County Police Academy on Friday. She was killed on her very first night on the job. Only 28 years old. No, this was not a response call to some ghetto area, but to a nice, suburban neighborhood, where the average house costs around $500,000. The wife was already dead on the floor when police officers arrived.Read more... )
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All the predictions came true, and the East Coast of the USA was hit by a major blizzard over the weekend. The snowfall totals were epic and historical. In my suburb in Virginia, we had over 80 centimeters and, with the high winds, snow drifts that towered over me and became quite dangerous for children. Because the snow was dry and light rather than wet, there was a probability of huge piles collapsing and burying children underneath. This happened momentarily with my nephew and it scared him to the point that he wanted to come inside and rest instead of continuing to play outside. Of course, I dream of such winter wonderlands and they are rare for my area. It's relaxing to sit for two days and watch the accumulations build, but then the hard work comes when it's time to dig yourself out and resume normal life again. So, let's take a look at how it all began...let it snow! )
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Here's a holiday repost for all of my new readers, but as a special thanks to everyone it is written in Russian. :) I changed the text a bit, there are some new photos because I made a different dessert for the feast this year (peanut butter pie!), and we started a new family tradition for this holiday (see photo 32). Thanks to my reader Alexander in Tbilisi, Georgia, for spending so much time translating the text in the middle of the night out of pure kindness. Cheers!

Если спросить у американцев про их любимые праздники, то большинство выскажется за День Благодарения и Рождество. Это наиболее значимые для Штатов праздники, и их отмечают с размахом большими компаниями, включая дальних родственников. А сейчас посмотрите, как этот праздник отмечает моя семья в небольшом городе Манассас в штате Виргиния. Приятного вам просмотра, тем же моим читателям, кто отмечает этот праздник в США или за границей - приятного аппетита! :)
Read more... )
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For the past two days, I hosted [ profile] popados and his lovely friend Luba in Washington, DC. Yes, they visited the State Department for cookies, but it was necessary to feed them proper meals. I offered to slave away in the kitchen, to prove that American women CAN cook, but they wanted to eat in restaurants so I took them to two ordinary places where a lot of Americans dine - Chili's and Outback Steakhouse. These are not expensive restaurants, but you can get a good meal at a cheap price, and taste some typical American cuisine. You can find these chains in almost all States across the U.S. Plus, it's always fun to sit in a cafe or restaurant and observe the natives in a social environment. Most Americans eat out several times a week, when they're in a hurry or just too lazy to prepare a homemade dinner. The list of choices is endless, even small towns typically have several shopping centers and restaurants. In this photo, a Tex-Mex salad, covered with chicken, salsa, beans, corn, peppers and avocado. But, of course, you can't come to America and not eat steak. :)) So, on the first night we went to devour a bloody piece of meat...Read more... )
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How can you possibly dislike autumn? In the air, there are sweet and fragrant smells of pumpkin, cinnamon and the trees and foliage in Virginia are a complete feast for the eyes. Vibrant colors of gold, orange and red dancing with the cool breeze on hanging limbs. It's my favorite season, the most romantic and human of all. Autumn reminds me of the human spirit - constantly changing colors, shedding layers, and sometimes stripped completely bare, as the leaves and trees at the end of November, right before the winter season arrives.

I love the blogger [ profile] anton_petrus, who is one of the most amazing nature photographers on LiveJournal. Of course, his posts generate almost no comments. They never appear in the TOP, which is filled with nonsense and trash for the mindless. After all, what can you really say about beauty? However, sometimes it's necessary to respect it, to pay homage to the landscapes and peace that mother nature continually provides. I never grow bored of nature, it's there that you can truly reflect, be alone and silent, and understand and appreciate the depth of the world. One of my favorite movies is "American Beauty," and the disgruntled character Lester Burnham probably sums it up best:Read more... )
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Sometimes the simplest things bond strangers together. It can be a shared love for music, a song, immense passion for travel or, in my case, a fuzzy bear hat. I wear this hat during all of my winter travels and it never fails to attract attention from strangers. Immediately they are put at ease by the silly ears on top of my head, and on numerous occasions it has served as the starting point for conversations with random people on the street. However, I never imagined I would actually encounter bear hunters while wearing it. This exact thing happened on the final leg of a long road trip through the Mid-West, when I was routing back home to Virginia through the Blue Ridge Mountains. There I crossed paths with a group of rugged mountain men engaged in a high tech bear hunt. Luckily, they didn't shoot when they saw me. :)Read more... )
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Look who greeted me in the New Year! Weary eyed after traveling almost 5,000 kilometers in a week, I stopped at a local antique store in the rural Blue Ridge Mountain region to search for treasures. At first, I thought I was delusional due to lack of sleep during the journey. Was it really Boris, waving at me? Yes! :)) You can own this autographed poster for only $399 USD! My research indicates this is from the 1996 election, with the political slogan "Together We Will Win" written in Russian. Well, you all know the story of Yeltsin much better than me, but I vividly remember his close relationship with Bill Clinton. It was well-documented in the American media with legendary stories of Yeltsin being drunk, even roaming outside the White House in his underwear...Read more... )
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Hello! I just returned home from a beach holiday with my family. Three days lounging at the pool and on the cold, windy shores of Virginia Beach, located in Norfolk, Virginia. The city is home to a large naval base, and your ears are treated to the thunderous roar of military jets flying overhead most of the day. Generally it was very poor weather. Chilly, with a lot of rain. Yet we still managed to spend a nice few days together. Here's an au naturale shot from the beach. No make-up, wind-blown, frizzy hair, and the first sign of wrinkles. I think I've aged more this year than any others, though I'm not sure why. I always want readers to see the real me, so here I am. :)

At our hotel, I discovered a group of young toddlers on their way to a beauty pageant. In general, I hate these types of contests, especially for young girls. I read an article recently where France attempted to ban toddler beauty contests on the ground they "hyper-sexualize" minors. This is the same country that banned burqas, but I don't know the outcome of the legislation. The girls had the standard pageant look - tons of make-up, big hair, and sparkly outfits like this:Read more... )
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Americans are preparing for a big holiday tomorrow with the arrival of the Fourth of July. Red, white and blue to the extreme. Stars and stripes hanging everywhere, a lot of colorful parades and small town festivals. Usually, I stay at home in the Washington, DC area and watch the fireworks explode over the Washington Monument and Capitol from the comfort of my apartment balcony. However, this year we're lucky because the holiday falls on Friday, my work closes today at 2 p.m., and we're treated to a long weekend. I'll travel to our wilderness home in Fredricksburg, Virginia and try to attend the festivities tomorrow in the Old Town area. We're having a crushing heatwave here in Virginia, temps today around +35 C, but I'll do my best to suffer in the heat and photograph the local festival to show you how Americans typically celebrate their nation's birthday. It involves a lot hamburgers and hot dogs, beer, family time and guess what? FLAGS!! :))

To define America in a few words is impossible for me. I can only say I love my country, its people and the principles upon which it was founded. Yes, this is a textbook quote and to try to explain American patriotism seems impossible to a foreign audience. I've tried here on LiveJournal and can never adequately express it, or my Russian audience can't relate to the sentiment. Many readers feel our patriotism is unauthentic or a product of indoctrination, but it's not the truth. I think you must live here, absorb the diverse beauty of the nation, from its landscapes to people, to fully appreciate the country and the spirit of its people. Politically, America sometimes feels like two nations, not one. Yet on the human front, I still believe "American" is a cohesive term. A feeling that people genuinely care about and respect others, that you can come from anywhere in the world, work hard, assimilate into our society and be considered "American" in the same manner as a person born here. There are not many nations on the globe where this is possible.

Happy Birthday America! I've traveled to over 30 countries, yet there's no other place I wish to call home. 
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What do you desire after a long day of travel? For many, especially those on long road journeys, a decent meal and comfortable bed are high on the priority list. With this in mind, a Tennessee man named Dan Evins decided to open a cozy restaurant in the small town of Lebanon, Tennessee. Although the town is tiny, it sits off of I-40, a large interstate that runs between the big cities of Nashville and Knoxville. The idea was to create an environment where people could eat a good, cheap meal and be reminded of home and childhood delights in the process. In 1969, his imaginary restaurant came to fruition and the first "Cracker Barrel" opened in America. Mr. Evins a living embodiment of the American dream - work hard, produce quality products and reap rewards. Today, the chain has over 600 locations in 42 States, mostly located off of main roads or highways. This is one of my favorite places for dinner, where you're always greeted with friendly Southern hospitality no matter where you are in the country. Let's take a closer look inside.Read more... )
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In America, summer has officially started! We celebrated Memorial Day yesterday, the day on which we honor fallen servicemen and women. The holiday also marks the transition from spring to summer for most Americans. For my family, the Memorial Day weekend is always spent at our American dacha. The same tradition every year, with a big parade, walks in the forest, fishing, barbecues and trying to survive with no Internet and limited mobile reception. I previously showed you my family's RV (recreational vehicle) in this post, which is parked in the wilderness in Fredricksburg, Virginia.


I don't think these types of portable trailers are so common in Russia, but in America we love them! Many people use them to drive across the country, parking the trailers at National Parks or campgrounds throughout the journey.Read more... )
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In today's culture, people are obsessed with everything shiny and new. Every six months when Apple announces a new version of the iPhone, people line up outside stores like crack addicts waiting for a fix, paying huge sums of money for the latest model. Why? I will never understand this phenomenon, but Apple is a master of branding and creating hysteria for its products. I'm a creature of habit and keep things until they completely wear out. Mostly because I'm too cheap to continually pay for superficial items. This includes all cars I've owned, clothes, purses, etc. I drove my Honda Prelude for 15 years before I sold it. I would rather spend money on travels.

As a child, my parents always took me to antique shops, which completely bored me. I could not understand the appeal of such things. However, recently I've learned to appreciate their value and can get lost in these shops for hours. I first experienced antique euphoria in the Amish community of Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Huge warehouses there filled with treasures and collectibles from all eras. Some reasonably priced, some very expensive. When I recently wrote about Syria, Virginia, I forgot to include photos from a local antique store.Take a look inside... )
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I can't say I've followed a traditional path in life. Getting married by a certain age, having children, living in a house with a white picket fence - none of these ideas ever took root in my mind or made the list of life goals. Instead, I've always been concerned with discovery. Visually, mentally and, most important, geographically. There's one exception where tradition has a firm hold on my life, and it relates to family. Since childhood, my family has celebrated certain holidays and events in the same manner. I've already shown you some examples like Thanksgiving and our annual Christmas tree cutting. Today, I'll tell you about Syria, Virginia, a place we visit each April to celebrate a remarkable human being.Read more... )
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Originally posted by [ profile] macos at Санта-Клаус из пожарной части

It's always amazing for me to see America through the eyes of a foreigner, especially a Russian given the huge differences in our cultures. On Saturday, we took a drive to my parent's house in my hometown of Manassas, Virginia. There we stumbled upon an American spectacle, something completely ordinary to me but fascinating to my holiday guest. Santa riding through my parent's neighborhood on a shiny, bright red fire truck. This tradition has existed always, and I fondly remember hearing the sirens and running outside in my pajamas as a child to wave to the bearded man and gather candy. What follows next is Alexander's thoughts and beautiful photos. Here you see average American citizens, ordinary working folks, some even rednecks, from my hometown. So many readers are always telling me American smiles are fake or some type of forced habit. "Robots" going through life. I suggest you take a look at these photos, taken from a distance. No posing, just simple frames from an ordinary middle-class American neighborhood. Adults and children alike experiencing immense joy from a simple act of kindness. I believe Alexander captures the true spirit of American Christmas perfectly. Enjoy....!

Рождество - время чудес. Самый светлый и добрый праздник наступает в Америке. То, чего ждут весь год, произойдёт меньше, чем через сутки.

Что самое важное в этом празднике, который здесь совсем не связан с религией? Не подарки и не обильный ужин. А то, как люди относятся друг к другу, какие добрые дела они совершают. И не только в рождественскую ночь.

Совершенно случайно я стал свидетелем настоящего чуда на улицах небольшого американского городка.

Read more... )

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The first snowflakes of the season are falling! My Russian friend arrived from Moscow on Sunday and since then cold, icy and snowy weather. It's great! Today I awoke to notification that my office and the Federal government are closed due to inclement weather. I looked out my window and saw some snowflakes but the roads are completely clear. This is Washington, DC! I'm a good girl and decided to go to the office anyway and captured this scene on the way with my iPhone. Plows on the road, but nothing to scrape. Danger - they might ruin our beautiful asphalt in the process!

The Russian is completely amazed at the closures. In my area, there's immediate panic in any type of snow because it's rare here and people don't know how to drive in such conditions. In order to avoid accidents and road back-ups, the Feds let us stay home. :) People from Minnesota and New England States like Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine, where large snowfalls are common, think we are crazy. How did I know work was closed?
Read more... )
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For the past week, Americans have been flooded with images of young children and adults foaming at the mouth. Eyes sealed shut from the effects of chemical weapons, people gasping for breath and dying as cameras filmed the atrocities. Lines of bodies wrapped in white sheets, the spectacle of death viewed by many as they sit on their comfortable couches or kitchen chairs and watch the news. Meanwhile, my country readies its arms and steps into its favorite role - world police. Tonight President Obama will make a speech to the nation to sell his military agenda for Syria. Obama - a master and persuasive orator. However, the majority of Americans don't support action in the region and I doubt anything our fearless leader says tonight will sway the polls or advance support for military intervention.

Today I'll show you scenes from a different Syria, a small town located about one hour from Washington, DC. Almost all of these photos were taken from my iPhone or from the window of the car while in motion, so quality isn't the best. The town is located in Madison County, Virginia and population statistics are hard to find. One site says the population of Syria is 238! It's small town America at its best, surrounded by views of the Blue Ridge Mountains and pastoral landscapes. A serene and completely different way of life.Read more... )
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It finally happened! Someone posted a video of my hometown on YouTube this week. :) The quality isn't great but maybe you'll enjoy it. Or at least like the REAL country music playing in the background. I don't know the name of the singer. Many fun memories flashing on the video, including the roller skating rink, bowling alley and water park I frequently visited as a child. And you will see a shot of "Emmanuel Baptist Church." This is the school I went to from 5th - 12th grade. The one that made me agnostic. The nice shots of the fields at the end are from the Manassas Battlefield. I'll have to do a post on it sometime.

And if you haven't done so, check out my post "Home is Where the Heart Is" where I write about my hometown.

One reader was kind enough to take the time to drive around and make a video of his hometown for me. Really interesting to see!

I wish everyone a pleasant weekend.


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