Russia and finland 2011


I sent Scott a text when I discovered there was a Pediatric Foot Deformity course in Helsinki informing him that I would instead be attending the course (without the actual certification, but I hope that will still be okay) there.  Since this wasn’t the first time he had heard me moan about going to Iowa when “last year the international Ponsetti association held its conference in Sevilla, Spain!”  To my surprise, he was agreeable to the idea. 

Since this was a tax-deductable expense now, I decided to take my mother with me, she’s very fun to travel with and a frequent companion.  She was delighted, and asked if we could please go to St. Petersburg, Russia since she had very long wanted to see that.  So, we were off for a very short week to St. Petersburg Russia, then to Helsinki where I also managed to catch up with my old friends (the internet is actually quite valuable on many occasions). 

Thursday, July 28th I woke up bleary eyed to the sound of the alarm at 3:30am to stuff my last few things into bags, throw on the clothes I had set out to travel in, brush my teeth and make it out just in time for the shuttle to arrive at 3:45am.

I drove in silence with two fellow travelers, one of whom was already in the van when I got in, to SFO.  Onto an on-time United flight through security without a glitch, and I got onto the full plane onto the very first row of coach.  This was calculated:  I had a 45 minute connection in Chicago that can be extremely dicey, so the plan was to be as close to the exit as possible so I could book it to the next flight.  This worked well.  The only glitch was that this 20 year old with horrible bottle bleach blonde hair and plastic breasts three sizes too large came to our row and immediately took my backback from my overhead compartment and moved it back three rows to an open one and tried to stuff her massive roll-on into the teeny overheard bin.  I said “Uh, no.  That’s my bag, and I want it in the compartment where I put it.”  She managed to give me her best exasperated, entitled air and said “But, it’s very important.”  Like mine wasn’t?  Instead of starting a feud, I said to our spatially challenged Canadian Hooter-of-the-Month “Go ahead and try,”  while I sanctimoniously put my headphones back on and proceeded to sneer while she tried and failed to get it in there, then moved my bag back to its rightful spot when she had to go in search of a stewardess.  Ha.

I got into Rochester a little early, having made the connection with time enough to spare for a restroom break.  Mom picked me up at 3:30 as I picked up my baggage (checked as soon as I got onto the plane and ascertained that it was far too large to even try stuffing it into the overheads) at the carousel downstairs. 

Having a smooth flight, we drove from the airport to Molly’s new house in Irondequoit where she was making an Indian chicken dinner for us.  The house, is, if you know my sister, like it’s straight out of Modern Home Design Magazine.  Amazing.  That woman has and eye for design and taste that she could sincerely charge for.  She’s amazing.  And she’s crafty with a tight budget. Her bathroom, for example, is gorgeous.  Small, but tastefully painted in dark tan Venetian Plaster with nickel accents down to the beveled-edge light switch covers and faucet.  She managed to pick up a vessel sink on eBay for $5 and a white old crappy vanity that she repainted to a sleek modern black, then refinish with chrome knobs and a black granite slab that she had cut down to size, and shared the other half with my parents.  It’s amazing. 

The diametric opposition between Mario’s more rustic design sensibilities may be quite the contrast, but somehow she manages to blend them both. 

She’s also an amazing chef, we had a terrific dinner of spring salad, delicious curried chicken with naan and rice, and nice wine.  Even a birthday cake at the end.  Mario came home from work on his new motorcycle to join us, and my dad came down too.  We washed up from the meal, chatted a while, then mom, dad and I went back to the Edwards Family Homestead on the beautiful little creek in Honeoye Falls for the night. 

In the morning, I woke up at 10:30 and came down to find dad sitting in the living room reading on the recliner.  It was overcast and a little drizzly.  The plan was to go to Buffalo, where they keep the boat, so we could have a ride, maybe a swim, and then dad and I would have dinner with Gabe before I drove back to Rochester.  We had no real timeframe, so I didn’t have to wake up really at any time, the the weather didn’t seem so good for boating.  Dad said that Gabe said it was sunny in Buffalo, so we did set off after chilling out on our computers for a couple of hours in the living room, watching the cardinals, downy woodpeckers, red-bellied woodpeckers and bluejays peck at the suet on the deck.  It’s really idyllic there. 

We took 2 cars to Buffalo, since dad was going to stay on the boat that night, and I was going to drive back to Rochester after dinner. 

When we got to the small boat harbor, dad had been waiting for me for an hour (I took the long way apparently) and it was super windy- way too windy to take the boat out even in the harbor.  As I came down the freeway to see the lake, the waves were breaking over the breakwall and there were white caps inside the breakwall:  not a boating day.  We walked to Loth, dropped dad’s stuff off there for the weekend, and decided to hang out there for the hour and a half before Gabe was going to be home.  I was trying not to fall asleep at the wheel on the drive, so a nap seemed like a terrific idea and I laid down in the 80 degree heat to the gusty winds on the deck of the boat with the canvass open in the back. 

Not even 10 minutes later, I had to get up as the occasional little teeny driplet turned into a steady drizzle and we put the canvas back up just in time to hear it come down in torrential pours.  I went down into the cabin and laid down on the amazingly comfortable bed in the hull while dad read with the dogs at his feet.  I got in a really nice nap for  45 minutes.  When I woke up, I heard no rain, no gusts of wind and the boat seemed nice and still.  The sun was shining.  Dad was still reading.  “It sounds quiet now”  I said.

“Yeah, the storm seems to have blown over.” 

I looked at my watch and it was 4:45.  I thought we had agreed to be at Gabe’s at 5:30, so I asked him “Do we have time for even a really short ride?”

“I think we do,” he said, as we both got up and started to head upstairs to the deck.  We opened the canvas, he got us out of the slip in minutes and we took a short ride down the harbor to see the new waterfront developments going on in the park beneath the skyway. 

It’s coming along really nicely, albeit decades overdue for all the discussion: they have created a cycling/walking/running pathway along the waterfront for some miles with this beautiful median complete with turn-of-the-century style street lamps that look very nice.  We headed into the inner harbor where there is an expanded park (the projects have a lovely view of it) where they were setting up for HarborFest.  They even dug out the entrance to the old Erie Canal, and next to it are set up all these brightly painted Adirondack chairs and a huge sand area for the kids to play in.  Hamburgers, ice cream or adult beverages can be had at the little shack adjacent and the whole area has definitely made some much needed progress. 

We got back into the slip at about 5:40 to find that Gabe had called mom to ask where the heck we were and why we were 40 minutes late.  Dad called him and we were there in 10 minutes, to find him grilling his bleu-cheese stuffed burgers (my request) on the grill in the heat. 

Gabe recently did a ton of work on his house, the deck on the outside and both doors to the backyard.  They were all rotted and he pulled everything out, down to the studs in the house and re-installed new steps, a stamped concrete patio with a nice canopy over it, new fencing and a little landscaping.  It looks great.  It was too hot to eat outside, so dad and I went in to find Kristie with a very unhappy Grace in the kitchen.  Grace was occasionally in the mood to smile at us, but has been miserable with ear infections for ages and had another one just before she’s due to get the myringotomy tubes put in on Wednesday.  Combined with the fact that this was “Monster Time” (the very tired 2 hours before bed for her) she was not a happy kid.  Kristie had to get up and deal with Grace frequently, and she finally managed to get her into bed at 7 and stay down for the night.  The adults went into the living room for a slice of apple pie for dessert, another sip of Gabe’s homemade summer ale, and then it was time to drive home.  At least the rain had stopped, and Grace had as well.

I dropped dad back at the boat where he was going to stay for the weekend, while I drove back to Rochester in the darkness.  That ride always freaks me out and I find myself having a total white-knuckle experience behind the wheel for the entire 90 minutes of it, paranoid that at any second a 300 pound deer is going to leap into my headlights as I’m driving 73 miles an hour, to end in the death of both of us.  Terrifying.

While I managed to make it all the way home without hitting a deer (and, in fact, only seeing a very newly dead one smashed on the side of 15A, legs up in the air for freakish effect) where mom was watching a little Househunters International before we both went to bed for the night around 11.  I didn’t have a very easy night in the guest room the night before, so mom let me sleep in her room (air conditioning, memory foam pillow and a Tempur-Pedic mattress) that night- I felt really bad displacing her from her own room, but she can be sincere when she insists that it’s not putting her out at all... so I slept pretty well that night.

Saturday, June 31st.  The day we are set to leave.  Mom and I got a few last-minute errands run (Ghirardelli chocolates for the Lamponens) and quickly averted the horrible crisis of her locking her keys inside her car at the store (she also left the window open just enough to get a hand in there to unlock the doors!)  and we were off to the completely dead airport well in time to check in for the international flight. 

Rochester to Dulles:  on time, no hitch.  Easy little flight. 


Saturday, July 30, 2011


Breakfast by Spork!

Dulles:  we sat down at a Wine bar in the terminal and had a flight of the “BBQ Reds along with a glass of the Torrontes to split, and had delicious small plates of turkey sandwich, salmon on baguette, and Grown-up Mac and Cheese.  It was a really nice meal- the wine was excellent, the food hit the spot perfectly, and we got right to our gate while they were boarding and practically sailed down the aisle into our seats at the very rear of the aircraft.  The plane, thankfully, is a 2 - 5 - 2 seat configuration, so we got a two-seater by the window for the 8 hour leg of the trip over to Frankfurt. 

We got out of the gate on time for the 8 hour flight, got on the runway and sat there for a few minutes, looking down at the woman at the opposite end of our aisle with the little Yorkshire Terrier she had on her lap now and then.  While the 6 year old boy sitting behind mom screaming and whacking his unlocked tray-table like it was a set of drums, the pilot came on the intercom to let us know that we needed to go back to the gate to get a breaker re-set or something.  We had waited about 40 minutes on the tarmac, so with only 1.5 hours in Frankfurt to make our St. Petersburg connection I looked at mom and said “We just missed our connection to Russia.” 

We took off from Dulles for Frankfurt after another 45 minute delay, our connection now completely blown (even in the slim, slim chance that we actually made time and DID make it, we’re at the very back of this huge 777 and there is *no* way we’re getting out of it on time.  I logged on and found that Lufthansa has 2 more flights out of Frankfurt to St. Petersburg at 2:30 and another at 7pm.  At best, we can make the 2:30 (IF we can get on it, of course) which will get us in at 7pm, too late to see the ballet with the tickets waiting for us as I write this 45,000 feet over the Atlantic right now. 

Well, that’s the trip so far.  I’m so upset that this vacation is *so* short already, now we have to shave an entire day off Russia, which mom was just so excited to see.  I guess it is what it is, and I’d rather actually get to Russia than have to use my underseat flotation device in the ‘unlikely event of a water landing,’ IE: a flaming, horrific overwater death. 

It is now 12:02 EST, United flight 913 Dulles to Frankfurt:  mom is trying to make herself less uncomfortable and read while I’m updating this journal, the asian community taking up the back 12 rows of this aircraft are proceeding to socialize and soak up all the space on my aisle (and stick his butt in my face) while the rest of the flight seem to be trying to sleep a little.  We have 3 hours to go, no chance of making our connection, and I’ll update you when we get to Frankfurt.  At least we can hope to get a little spot on a quiet floor somewhere we can take a nap in the airport as we wait another 8 hours to find out if we can even get on the next flight stand-by.  Fingers crossed...