December 27, 2011

"little duke" by Rokotov

I am reading a book in Russian about Russian Empress Ekaterina the Great by a historian Olga Chaikovskaya. Looking on the Internet for the portret of of Ekaterina's son by the artist Rokotov (this portret is described in the book) I found another beautiful one - of the "little duke" Bobrinsky. What a wonderful portret! I can't take my eyes off this art work.

December 25, 2011

coffee when everything is closed

Christmas Day - everything is closed today. Nadia said that it makes her claustrophobic when grocery stores are closed... The only place that we found open was... Starbucks! Thanks, guys!

In Starbucks we feel like at home. When I learned that they didn't have Nadia's favorite pastry on display, I asked them "please go check in the fridge". The guy went "behind the scene" and sure enough came back with our pastry and a bit surprised that we know where things are and what they have in the fridge :)

December 22, 2011

Nadia and the Tree

Warm, rainy day, we went for a walk.
I took this picture of Nadia.
I like the way it came out.

December 19, 2011

My Parents

My Parents. My Mom and my Father.
I brought this picture with me from St Petersburg.
I look at it, and look, and look...

December 14, 2011

people learning English

My friend Stan is teaching English as a Second Language in a community college. His class had a graduation this month. Look what a colorful and joyful group of people from everywhere! :)

December 04, 2011

recycle in St Petersburg

What surprised me the most is that there is no recycling in St Petersburg. At all. In 8 million city! Paper, glass, metal cans - all go to trash (and then where - to Siberia?). I think they don't run any recycling program in Moscow either.


Today is the election day in Russia. The Party will win. I have discovered that the best time to travel to Russia is right before the election. The party will do anything (using government money?) to get your voice. Here is what people were getting from The Party - warm blankets, canned fish, cakes, chocolate, olive oil, trips to historical and holy places, tickets to the circus... Look at this street poster from the opposition. Zhirinovsky ("Zhirik") says: "Everything was taken from you except for your right to vote!"

December 03, 2011

Tikhvin Miracle Icon of Theotokos

This 600 year old Russian Icon disappeared from Tikhvin monastery in 1941 during the war. The Miracle Icon came back home to the newly reopened monastery in 2004 from... Chicago! The venerated, priceless old icon was given back to Russia by a Chicago resident of Russian descent who was more than aware of it's significance. I am very fortunate that I could visit the monastery for the first time during my short stay in St Petersburg, and lit the candle.

Monastery in Tikhvin

I went to Tikhvinsky Ouspensky Monastery 120 miles from St Petersburg. The monastery was closed in 1924 and reopened in 1995, now under restoration. This church is the place where the oldest Russian icon - Tikhvin Icon of Theotokos - resided for 600 years (!) and then disappeared. I made this picture from the bells tower.


Typical playground in St Petersburg in the north part of town with buildings made out of blocks. Government was trying to move people out of the city center offering free housing with 1-2 room apartments called "kvartira" ("quar-tee-rah"). I think this word was born from the word "quarter".

Old Believers Church

This is Old Believers Church in the center of St Petersburg. The Old Believers separated after 1666 from the official Russian Orthodox Church as a protest against church reforms. My Grandma was an Old Believer, I kept her old metal cross. Most Old Believers moved to Siberia, some - to Alaska. I have visited their village in Alaska. These old arguments are still very important for Russians.

December 02, 2011

With my Mom. Piter, November 2011.

flight from Helsinki to New York

Here is our FinAir flight. Every seat has a screen with a lot of choices for TV shows, movies (about 25 titles I'd say), music and info. I watched two movies on my way back. The best feature is "Cabin view" when you can see on the screen what pilot can see from the cabin - sunset, night runway, airport from above - in real time (landing or taking off are especially cool!). Flight Information option is not for weak nerves with data like 'altitude 38000 feet', or 'temp outside - 65F', or 'head wind - 235 km/hr'.

December 01, 2011

back from Piter

I'm back from Piter.

It was a long flight from Helsinki to New York due to very strong winds - 9 hours (instead of expected 7). It was very enjoyable flight (FinAir).

My luggage will arrive one day later (sometime today :) Can't wait fot it to arrive - my new camel blanket in it, my Mom's gift for winter :)

Great to see some sunshine again!

November 14, 2011

Lezginka - Everyone Dance!

Yesterday we went to IVERIA: Georgian National Dance and Song Company performance in Artistic Motion Dance Studio Greensboro, NC. This is their first first US Tour. Natasha Davidson (from Artistic Motion Dance Studio) snagged them on their way between Orlando and NY for a master class and a performance. Kids from Georgia (age 10-20) stay with American families while in USA. Great opportunity to learn about Georgian Dance and culture!

Grand finale of the Georgian Dance Group "IVERIA" concert in Greensboro, NC.
Everyone dance! :)


With the dancers of the Russian Georgian Dance Company "Iveria" after the concert in Greensboro, NC.

November 04, 2011

roads and lights

Going to work -

and from work

October 16, 2011

"Bark point Ramblers" concert on the library lawn

Book sale and "Bark Point Ramblers" concert on the library lawn!
More pics: (click here)

October 04, 2011

Tatyana Seamon from Kostroma: Artist's Reception

Very nice art exhibit!

Artist's reception November 11, 2011 
(11/11/11 what a date!) 
Friday, 3-5 p.m.
2969 Main St Walkertown NC 27051

Please come and meet the artist and learn her creative secrets. 
Talk to Tatyana and other Russian people in the are. 
Enjoy free refreshments and music!

September 15, 2011

Speaking the Love Language

Dr. Gary Chapman came to the Walkertown Library for a talk about his book "Five Love Languages". We had a great evening! He is such a busy man - a pastor, a NY Times bestselling Author... But he found time to came to Walkertown, to talk to local people about the meaning of love.

September 11, 2011

Tatyana from Kostroma

Went to Whole Foods and met dear friend Tatyana Seamon. Next time you are in Whole Foods, please stop by Cheese Dept and greet Tatyana (say Pree-Vet!). She will tell you all about the new line of cheeses and give samples of cheese, wine and chocolate. What I admire about Tatyana - she loves her job!

August 14, 2011


July 30, 2011

America through the Eyes of a Russian Woman

Two of my friends are expecting their Russian-speaking fiancees to arrive to USA this summer. Both men asked for an advice. Here is a good website that I can recommend - read America through the Eyes of a (newly arrived to USA) Russian Woman.

World Without Borders

I don't like that Borders bookstore is going out of business. It will lower the quality of my life. I just wanted to say how much I liked the store, and how much I appreciated great people working there - Sheila, Natasha Hagan, Ben (wish they would come to work in the library!)... and Mark March who occasionally would make a nice latte for me. I was regular in the coffee shop. Borders was our greatest source of loose leaf teas (Tazo brand). Now the slogan 'Library - World Without Borders' has another meaning for me.

June 15, 2011

'Svekolnik' - Russian Summer vegetable soup


Beet - 1 large or 2-3 small - peeled
potato - 1-2
eggs - half for each serving - boiled and halved
fresh herbs (green onion, parsley, dill, cilantro) - a large bunch of all together - chopped
cucumber - 1 medium
garlic - 4-5 cloves - finely chopped
salt, paper - to taste
sour-cream - 1 spoon for each serving
brown sugar - to taste (about 1 tbs)
lemon - 1 medium


Cook beets in boiling water till soft. Take beets out, but save the liquid. Squeeze lemon juice and add to the broth (save the rest of the lemon). Also add salt and sugar till the broth is tasty, but not too sweet or too salty. It has to be a little sour. Let beets cool down and shred them and add back to the liquid. Refrigerate. Cook potatoes in separate pot in boiling water till soft. When cooled, peel potatoes and shred them. Shred cucumber. Mince garlic.

Mix potatoes, cucumber, and herbs (save a small part for garnish). Add a pinch of the lemon zest finely minced. When serving: put the vegetable mix on the plates first, add the liquid part with beets, add garlic, garnish with herbs, add 1 or 2 egg halves on each plate, few very small pieces of lemon thinly sliced, and top with sour-cream.
Leftover vegetable mix and the beet liquid have to be refrigerated separately.

The taste depends on three ingredients (like in Indian kitchen :). The key ingredients are lemon, salt and sugar. They need to fix in that fine proportion that the result (the soup) should be sweet, sour and salty at the same time.

May 07, 2011

baby bird

We came home from a hike this afternoon and found this little bird sitting on the walkway by my door. He was looked funny :) Probably his mom went to get some seeds, and he decided to go explore. When he saw us he got worried and jumped up holding himself to the brick wall. I had a camera in my hands, so I made a picture.

We realize we have a bird's nest in the bush by the door.

picture © Natalia Tuchina 2011

May 06, 2011

Hafiz in the greenhouse

Very interesting event - we went to Virginia to a... concert in the greenhouse. One of Nadia's students - David Oliver - presented Three Songs of Hafiz. He put the poems to music. Cliff Dumais was playing his wonderful guitar. David was singing for a small group of his friends. It was his first official concert.

An exclusive and very appreciative group of people was there to listen to music at the sunset. A child and two dogs were there too. The concert 'At the Fields of Michael and Gabriel' took place in a greenhouse that was temporarily converted into a concert hall. David also grows grapes and makes wine. He served his wine to the guests. His winery has a very interesting name - The Fields of Michael and Gabriel. The winery has no website.

Tall large windows above the solar panels - is the greenhouse where the concert took place

In these Fields David build a church in Russian style of architecture. He traveled to Russia many times, and was fascinated by Russian architecture. He lived in the church for 35 years. The heating system was simple and very 'Russian' - wood and fire. The winds in the Virginia mountains can reach arctic temperatures. It was cold, especially in winter month. Then David moved to a greenhouse, that eventually grew into a larger house, part of which now is the winery. The house now has electricity but also uses solar energy for heating. The church is still up on the hill...

The event brought a surprise. I met a very interesting person - the daughter of the youngest member of the Russian Provisional Government (so called Kerensky's Government). In the mountains of Virginia... Who would have thought! Her name is Anna. Her father was born in Kiev, and mother - in Odessa. She said that Kerensky himself was serving her vodka (when she was 5... not a great idea, but Anna remembers it very well!). Kerensky called it 'fire water'. Anna is a great storyteller. I enjoyed talking to her very much. She does a lot of needlework and drapery. She was teaching Russian Literature in college for a long time. Her favorite Russian writers are Tolstoy and Zamiatin. Anna can recite "The Tale of Tzar Saltan" in Russian by heart...

Amazing evening in Virginia mountains!

All pictures are mine, all clickable, just don't forget to come back :))

April 30, 2011

Our trip to Hawaii

Nadia wrote her memoirs about our 2 weeks in Hawaii. Our friend Svetalana (from Nizhnii Novgorod) put the story and pictures on the web. All the pictures are clickable (took a lot of work - thank you, Svetlana!). It brings back a lot of pleasant summer memories. Hang loose to those who know how :)

Here is the story and pictures of our Hawaii trip (click here).

April 29, 2011

Waiting for sunrise

Waiting for sunrise. Easter morning. Writesville.

April 24, 2011

unbearable lightness

Unbearable Lightness: A Story of Loss and GainUnbearable Lightness: A Story of Loss and Gain by Portia de Rossi
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

"I highly recommended inviting the worse case scenario into your life"... (p 304)
I rarely read a book from cover to cover. This one I did. This is the way to achieve your goal: full focus and determination. Reading is safe (as a human document, not a trigger).


Easter service on the beach this morning right before the sunrise. Another group had close to 500 people who gather to pray for Easter on the beach. The sight looked almost unreal.

April 22, 2011

Blockade Runner

We are on the beach this weekend.  Staying in "Blocade Runner".

April 20, 2011

From Russia to Walkertown

From Russia to Walkertown
Natalia Tuchina discusses her newfound home

(by Ryan Gay, Kernersville News,
April 19, 2011)

“My favorite question to be asked is, ‘How did you get here?’ I love that question! I always respond, ‘A plane brought me!’” exclaimed Walkertown Library Supervisor Natalia Tuchina.

Tuchina, who is originally from Russia, said she has traveled a long way from her native home.

“Flying here from Russia was not my first flight,” she laughed. “My first flight was from St. Petersburg to Siberia, which takes about the same amount of time as flying here!”

Born in St. Petersburg, Tuchina recalls her birthplace as the cultural capital of Russia. “It’s the rival to Moscow,” she explained. “Moscow is much more a center for finance and politics.”

While Tuchina has visited Siberia, she cautioned with a laugh that she had not been exiled. “I was traveling and writing stories about people. It was very good for me,” she explained.

Tuchina attended university in St. Petersburg where she majored in journalism. “When I started out we didn’t even have tape recorders. We just took notes, which  real, raw journalism! It was just talking to the people and listening to their voices and their hearts,” she said.

After graduating from university, Tuchina found herself tired of life ‘in civilization.’ “You get over the matters of the big city at a certain point,” she explained. “I wanted something new and different. So, I went to live on the small island of Valaam, which rests in the largest lake in Europe.”

Tuchina noted that the island, closer to Finnish borders than to St. Petersburg, was only accessible by boat. “The island is lovingly referred to as the Northern Venice because there are so many channels and rivers,” she said.

Tuchina worked on the island for six years as the head librarian in a museum. “The history of that place was fascinating,” she said. “The island’s history stretches back to the beginning of Christianity in Russia.”

Tuchina noted that the island was considered a biospheric reserve. “The land was very pure and the nature was beautiful. A long time ago, the lake was part

of a sea so it has lots of seawater life. There were only about 400 people on an island that was no larger than 8x10 kilometers,” she said.

Tuchina said life in Russia was much like life anywhere else. “You can go to museums and theaters and concerts,” she smiled. “Environmentally it is a

different story. The cities have lots of pollution, fumes and an overwhelming number of cars. There was so much pollution that I found it hard to breathe.”

Tuchina noted that despite reports to the contrary, information has begun to flow much more freely in Russia than traditionally believed. “Google isn’t forbidden anymore!” she laughed. “But, in the Ukraine, YouTube is still forbidden. Countries in that part of the world have peculiar ways of limiting access of the public to information. For instance, only about two percent of Russians not living in a metropolis have Internet connection.”

Tuchina said it wasn’t until 1980 that her family purchased their first color television. “We bought it for the Olympics,” she smiled. In fact, Tuchina has a special connection to the 1980 Olympics. “My father was a helicopter engineer. Russians trust their military engineers to do important political things, which was what they considered the Olympics,” Tuchina explained. “My father was trusted with building the big cauldron they light with the torch once it finally reaches the Olympics. He sweat bullets that night hoping it went off without a hitch. If it hadn’t, we might have ended up in Siberia!”

Tuchina decided to come to the U.S. due to the constantly changing political climate of Russia. “The government actually gave Valaam to the church, since it used to be a big monastery,” she said. “So, I was faced with a choice: convert completely to that religion or find another place to live.”

When Tuchina landed in New York City, her first culture shock was at McDonald’s. “I was so excited to go to McDonald’s!” she laughed. “The first thing I asked was for tea. For Russians, tea means hot tea. They got me tea, but it had ice in it! I said I wanted it hot. They made it hot for me after they heated it up in the microwave!”

Another culture shock came when she resided in New York City with a Russian bishop. “The bishop was of the Russian Orthodox Church and had left Russia in 1917 when the Bolsheviks came to power,” she said. “This man spoke a pure Russian language I never knew! The Old Russian language was destroyed after the Revolution. It was exciting because I actually learned to speak Russian when I came to New York City.”

Tuchina finally arrived in the South after she grew tired of life in the North. “I wanted to experience a different version of America,” she smiled. “I love the weather here and I love being close to the ocean and the mountains.”

So far, Tuchina has used her experiences to educate the community about Russian culture. “I have loved being able to put together programming that educates others on the Russian culture,” she said. “I am open to ideas for what the community would like to see. I want to make the Walkertown library a community center. I see this as a place for people to get together for educational and recreational programs, concerts, authors and get people involved in the community through gardening programs or other ways to give back.”

Tuchina said she is most excited about an upcoming event called the Alpaca Adventure. “Kids of all ages will have the chance to meet and walk with alpacas,” she laughed. “I’ve never seen one of those before.” The Alpaca Adventure is scheduled for May 14 at the library from 10:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m.

As the supervisor for the Walkertown Library, Tuchina said she has felt very welcomed by the community. “Customer ask me where I’m from and then warmly welcome me,” she said. “I’ve gotten so much support from this community as I’ve become acclimated to the cultures.

People keep asking me if I’m going to stay here in America. I just say, ‘Well, if you don’t mind, I’d love to!’ And I truly mean that.”

March 08, 2011


Our dinner this evening was simple but very beautiful...

French Songs concert

Awesome performance of Edith Piaf song by Safiya High at the French Songs Concert last Saturday! Very expressive! I had goosebumps going down my spine...

February 20, 2011

Squrrel and his shadow

© copyright Natalia Tuchina :)

February 18, 2011

mirage of the city

This picture was taken by my friend Herb Burns through the airplane window when he was landing in Moscow. I love it. Salvador Dali is taking a brake!

This mirage I have pictured in the desert from the Pilot Mountain. You can see downtown Winston-Salem where I live :)

February 15, 2011

i am in love with my new library!

Today was my first day in Walkertown Branch Library. I am in love with my new library! It's beautiful, and people are wonderful over there. Look at this community quilt (second picture shows close up). What a great project!

February 14, 2011

Valentines Day dinner

We have celebrated Valentines Day - Nadia made festive dinner with tofu in shape of hearts. Here are out plates :) I need to give Nadia a gift subscription for 'Vegeterian Times'!

February 13, 2011

new job

I will be working as town library manager in Walkertown, NC starting tomorrow, Monday, February 14th. I am leaving Central Library after more than 10 years of work there. I am looking forward to new opportunities.

real sailors have no reason for melancholy :)

February 07, 2011

Captain boy, keep on smiling!

Harrison Goode is singing 'Captain's Song'.
"Captain boy, captain boy, keep on smiling!"
Student of 'Golden Key Music Studio', Nadia Bakhireva is the instructor.

I have recorded this video at the 'Music Boat' concert last weekend.

February 06, 2011

very tasty lavender piano

Yesterday we had a concert in Reynolda library. Here are some pictures from the event. After the concert all Nadia's students came up to the stage and sung 'Happy Birthday to you!' song and surprised Nadia with a... lavender piano! The piano was very tasty. We were eating one note at a time :)
Reynola Library Concert

January 27, 2011

'Golden Gates' from St Petersburg

Russian Golden Gates

We had a great concert in the library. "Golden Gates" came from St Petersburg, Russia, to give one show. They ended up giving two shows one after another! People came from everywhere to see them, and I hate that not everyone could get in and enjoy the concert. It was high energy folk performance, very entertaining and educational. I made a little speech before that show and announced the end of 'cold war' :) Everybody got relaxed.

Vitaliy Bezrodnov was so funny and skilfully engaged the audience. Kids had a blast! Click on the picture to view the slideshow.

It was the most attended indoor event in the library history. The door counter got broken (someone knocked it down) and we have no 'leg' numbers, but the numbers of books checked out skyrocketed that Sunday :))) Funny outcome of Russians being in town.