“Russia is for Russians”: quote of the day from @dsalex2 in Saint Petersburg.

With riverboat hustlers perched on every corner, a bright orange disc bumps my chest and I breath out, “No Thanks”. Equally imperceptibly comes, “so you don’t want to take a boat cruise” – in perfect, mid-Atlantic accented English. I turn to Alex – hard to miss – bright orange vest and cap. “You’re not from around here”, I say. Alex grins, winks, “Nigeria”, “and you speak Russian?” I ask, “Yes, 5 years in country. It’s a tough language to learn. I also speak French”.

We banter back and forth a while. I ask him why he’s hawking river-rides and he grins – “Russia is for Russians”. Alex articulated what’s sat in my subconscious during my brief stay in this vast land. Without apology – Russia is a closed society. The Russia I’ve observed hosts a homogenous population of overwhelmingly unilingual citizens content with a measure of prosperity. Perhaps that’s what the USA wants to become but it’s tough to unring the melting pot bell. Enough! So, we connected on Instagram and Alex bumped his disc to the next marks chest.

I walked the hell out of Saint Petersburg. I’m suffering from classic architecture overload and I’m not sure I can snap another gold steeple plus it’s cold, damn cold. I need the warm waters of the Mediterranean lapping against my sorry backside.

I have a daughter, Marnie. She’s the youngest of 3, the two older ones being brothers. Boys that become men are easy to capture in print. Marnie is not. For a while, I thought it’s just because her story isn’t really started yet – but that’s not it. Marnie isn’t alone in life yet because Marnie’s story isn’t complete without Vicki. As a toddler, Marnie would go with Vicki to work in Ottawa. The other lawyers called Marnie “mini-me”. Today Marnie is a practicing California lawyer- footsteps.

From being a toddler in Ottawa, then moving to California, our 3 kids are their own best friends. When they wanted to go tobogganing but Livermore lacked snow-covered hills, the boys packed Marnie into a suitcase and slid her down the stairs into the living room. You find these things out years later.

So strong was this early childhood bond that despite our Ottawa home boasting 4 bedrooms the kids insisted on all sleeping in the same room. Likely due in part to the boys convincing Marnie that her room was the “Kill Room” – being first at the top of the stairs. Brothers.

Recently, after visiting Marnie in the city, Vicki arrived home and simply said, “as we walked in the park Marnie took my arm”. Vicki doesn’t allow herself to be content often. That day she was.

And with that, it’s rainy here today and I have to debug an intermittent electrical starting issue. Better here than some point unknown.

Saint Petersburg Peter and Paul Fortress in the Background

Saint Petersburg Pano

Saint Petersburg Anchor

Saint Petersburg a Quiet Spot

Saint Petersburg A long Walk on a Cold Day

Sainit Petersburg Subway

Peter the Greats Kunstamera in the Distance

Eternal Flame on the Field of Mars

Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood

Saint Petersburg Winter Palace

Saint Petersburg Peter and Paul Fortress

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