Greetings from Kazan!
By hook, crook and passing truck I've made my way fairly commodiously to Kazan, a large city en route to Ekaterinburg. To note: Tolstoy and Lenin studied here as boys. Also to note: the savory yam and pumpkin pies one can buy on the street, brushed with a sugared, spiced butter. Mainly to note: photos of the lovely Ekaterina can be found here and there in the local periodicals, and I've clipped a fetching portrait of her as a bookmark. When I get nearer her home town I'll hide it in my wallet, but for now it's just the right fuel to keep a fellow slogging on through the gray morning sludge and icicle nights (not to mention the Turgenev). It shan't be long before we mark the meeting our grandchildren will look back upon as their receipt of origin. Until then it's another hot pot of tea, a plate of herring and potato, and a self-guided lesson in cyrillic across the back of a napkin.