US/Canada Border

Weird stuff in Russia 

Our Rusuk Blog writer Sergey

Any country has plenty of weird stuff, and Russia is no exception. However, I decided to choose one bizarre thing that is still very much alive. tIt is widespread in small towns all over the country. You can discover it in some traditional households in big cities, too. 

You have fewer chances to see it at fancy, contemporary houses. I suspect this is because their residents consider themselves more intelligent and, in a way, more advanced. 

It was more common in the Soviet time than now. Probably, because people travel the world, go online, and make conclusions. 

I won’t temp you anymore. 

I talk about carpets… on the wall. 

Home in Russia

In fact, it is not purely a weird Russian thing. You can see it in Ukrainian or Belorussian interiors, too. In the case of those wall hangers, the carpet’s design must be old-fashioned, Persian imitation, with some abstractions and distinctive colours: brown, black, and dark red, with some greenish nuances, too. 

I don’t know why carpets were placed on the walls in the tiny Soviet apartments. I guess that it came down from the Golden Horde traditions. The Mongols probably used it as decorations in their yurts and to make their portable houses warmer. 

Anyway, now people tend only to put carpets on the floor. But… sometimes you can still see on the walls. This is pretty weird. I know people from the West have always been amused by such fashion. Yet, when I was sixteen, I didn’t find it odd at all; in our Soviet apartment in Yasenevo district in Moscow, we had a couple of big carpets hanging on the walls…

A tiny part of England will always be American…….

Roger Bara

Runnymede is a town in the county of Surrey, England, lying alongside the River Thames, just over 20 miles (32 km) west of central London. It is best known for being the place where King John sealed the Magna Carta in 1215, the most important moment in the history of British Law.

What is much less well known is that a short, steep piece of land there is forever American, despite it being located in the heart of the British countryside. So how did this come about?

It all stems from the death of John F. Kennedy in 1963. Britain wanted a memorial to remind future generations of a popular American president whose life was tragically cut short by an assassin. The Memorial was the master mind of the famous British landscape artist Sir Geoffrey Jellicoe, who drew on Bunyan’s “The Pilgrim’s Progress”, as inspiration for the design of the site.

Location of Kennedy memorial

There is a 50-step pathway, one for each of the States of the U.S.A., made up of 60,000 granite setts, that winds up through woodland to bring the visitor to the glade where a seven-ton block of Portland stone stands on a plinth and is inscribed with words taken from President Kennedy’s inaugural address in 1961.

“Let every Nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend or oppose any foe, in order to assure the survival and success of liberty.”

A paved pathway then leads to the two Seats of Contemplation (the end of the journey) from where there is a superb view of Runnymede itself.

The Memorial was opened by Queen Elizabeth II on the 14th May 1965 in the presence of Jacqueline Kennedy, and many members of the Kennedy family. Later that month, this acre of Crown land was given to the American people in perpetuity –   it was literally gifted to the United States so that the memorial would be classed as U.S. soil.

As Michael Caine was once supposed to have said: “Not a lot of people know that.” (In fact it was Peter Sellers impersonating Michael Caine, but hey, who cares?)

A totally weird part of America

Photograph of Dean Lewis

It has come to my attention that many of you think us Americans are absolutely Dung Beetle ball crazy. Yeah OK, I can go for that. But before you get all superior, know that we have a long, storied history of crazy and prefer it to European solid sanity.

As evidence of this rich history, I put forward the US-Canada border. If you look at a map it’s perfectly sensible: a long, long straight line only broken by the Great Lakes and New England. But… ummm… no, not so much. 

Haskell Library
  • Weird American One: “At Haskell Free Library and Opera House, in Rock Island, Quebec, a black line diagonally runs across the center of the library to mark the international border. Ironically the line puts the seats in the U.S. and the opera stage in Canada.” Your supposed to exit by the same door you used to enter the building. If you use the other door, you’ll be in the wrong country.
  • Weird American Two: There’s a town in Minnesota that’s surrounded by Canada. See, “Americans in Angle Township don’t live overseas, but they do live overlake.” Of course, being Americans, they had to have a good war: the Great Walleye War took place in the late nineties. I think the Canadians offered them some Molson Lager not to secede to Canada. You would have to look that up. 
  • Weird American Three: Point Roberts, Washington. Except this time, crazy came home – and boy was he pissed. The LA Times says: “Then on March 21, 2020, in response to the pandemic, U.S. and Canadian officials abruptly closed the entire border to nonessential travel — squeezing the peninsula like a tourniquet.” So the border became an actual border and it was closed because of Covid. Folks on the American side couldn’t run down to the Pharmacy or take the kids to Ballet Lessons. The little town shrank; folks had to move. 

I believe there are five of these little isolated villages along the 49th Parallel and border. It makes sense that this border would be this way. If you’re not from here you may be surprised that we can’t even tell each other apart. Canadians and Americans have the same accent and dress alike. The only hint you may get is to ask one of us to say: “Out About in a Boat.” With the exception of Maine, Americans will make a different “O” sound. I’m told I talk through my nose.