Quarter of a Century in Russia

3 Jun



Metro Bunny

So here I am, finally in Russia. I have now been ‘on the road’ for an entire month, yet am just now into the first leg of my summer a half day around from all the things I know well.


Christine and I are currently staying with a wonderful young couple, Lilya and Serhei. They live about an hour train commute (which includes various transfers) from city center in a relatively secluded, beautiful area of Moscow proper. Their house is completely surrounded by a wild garden of flowers, trees, and everything green.




Lilya and Serhei's kitchen

First Breakfast in Lilya and Serhei's kitchen

My first morning started with this. You know life is really hard when you wake up to a delicious breakfast of cereal and fruit accompanied by this kitchen and view. I love my life. Thanks, Lilya and Serhei for being such great hosts.

This morning, as Christine, Lilya and I sat talking in the kitchen a May Beetle (looks like what I’ve always known as a June Bug) flew in the window and came to rest on my hand. When I approached the window and put my hand outside, the little shiny creature walked to the tip of my finger, opened its shell to reveal its wings in a very matter of fact way, and flew off in the other direction. That is a fairly pointless story other than being a reminder of how everything is different and yet the same here.



Ykhtomskaya Train Stop

photo by Christine Armbruster

Cowboy Tree - photo by Christine

Yesterday marked the 25th anniversary of my existence. Existence outside the womb anyhow. We spent the day running around downtown Moscow working on any shots we might need of the big city for the project. Later we met with our new friend Vladimir, whom we first met under a bridge by the Moscow river walk. He took us to his flat where we were treated with home-made pizza and beer.

Redemption Songs








We spent a good portion of the night playing each other songs on a simple guitar that was impossible to tune correctly for more than a single chord. Yet, coupled with a confident voice everything fell into place. Vladimir pulled out a book and played us countless, sometimes stuttering renditions of popular Russian classics. Most of the lyrics were lost on me, but the melodies were catchy and the feelings beyond any language barrier. It was the most genuine introduction to cultural music I think I will ever encounter.



Vladimir currently lives in a smaller district just outside of Moscow called Lubitsa. His mother passed away from liver cancer a few years ago and he has no contact with his father. He loves his home town and his country despite the many problems he told us about. Because of this love, he wants change and says that he will be a part of bringing that change about. Honesty and optimism make a powerful combination, I think. Thank you, Vladimir. You really are a wonderful person.


Soon we will be heading to Kazan, and from there to Kamskiya Polyany. This will be the first monogorod of the trip.

Tonight, we are going to see what Moscow is like between 10pm and 8am.



4 Responses to “Quarter of a Century in Russia”

  1. Garrett June 3, 2011 at 9:25 am #

    most moving line: “It was the most genuine introduction to cultural music I think I will ever encounter.” (hope the camera was rolling!)

    green with envy over here on the flip side. just look at that breakfast setting! good luck with the Moscow nightlife. glad you had a happy happy birthday!

  2. Ambrosia Olsen June 3, 2011 at 10:23 am #

    I am pleased to hear you ate both safe and in great hands at the moment. We are all living vicariously through you both right now. I am jealous of the May beetle as I am of you and Christine. To land wherever, let life take me, and jump to the next adventure. Enjoy some Russian beer for me and I love you both. Thank you for sharing whatever and whenever. I miss you Christine and Tree. You are both such beautiful people. Safe journeys!

  3. Savannah June 3, 2011 at 1:00 pm #

    I love the photo of Lilya and Serhei’s kitchen. It looks so warm and welcoming, like something from a fairytale cottage in a magical wood. Also, the Metro bunny is awesome. 🙂

    It’s so true about music transcending language barriers. I’ve found the same thing in Japanese. I may not understand all the lyrics, but the feelings and emotions are unmistakable. Music is a universal language, even if within each culture there are many dialects.

  4. TeAnna June 8, 2011 at 6:46 pm #

    Love Love it all. Keep it up. Live it. P.S. Happy late Birthday Tree.

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