I bought her in Leningrad in 1991, shortly before the collapse of the Soviet Union. I had gone back to the Dom Knigy bookstore (House of Books, I believe that means) where I had bought propaganda posters in 1986. This time I was hoping for posters of beefy Soviet workers, emerging from factories, carrying hammers. What could be better?
I had her framed in wood and plexiglass (real glass would have been far too heavy for my walls) and hung her over my couch. Toby didn't seem to mind.
When I moved to the Cities, I gave away a lot of things--furniture, typewriter, clothes, stereo--but not Mother Russia. Mother Russia came with me.
For a couple of years, she hung on the wall in our front hallway. Here she is on our wedding day. (And that's not Doug in the picture, obviously. That's our friend Jim.)
And then we bought tall bookcases for that space and suddenly had nowhere to put her.
For the last five or six or seven years, she has hung on the wall of his clean, heated garage in Minneapolis. But last night she reappeared on our back porch. I came home from a late interview, and there she was, glowing in the dark.