Red Eggs on Holy Thursday

April 17, 2014

Digging way down deep into my roots... 
It is Holy Thursday and I am thinking of how...
my grandma would wake up early in the morning before the sun is rising. She would light the fire in the fireplace and boil water in the pot. She would gather freshly laid eggs from the coop and bring them in the house in her apron. 
Today is the day for dyeing Easter eggs, so grandma would paint the first egg red using onion skins. When children wake up, she would touch their cheeks with the first red Easter egg hoping that they will grow healthy and strong. Then, she might tell them the story of how "Mary Magdalene, the first to have seen Jesus after he had risen from the dead, went around the world to spread the word. She reached Rome and the palace of emperor Tiberius. Anyone visiting the emperor was expected to bring a present and Mary Magdalene brought an egg. She handed it to the emperor and said "Christ has risen from the dead." In disbelief, the emperor replied "How could anyone rise from the dead? It is as impossible as that white egg to turn red right now." While Tiberius spoke those words, the egg changed colour until it became bright red." 
Children might not necessarily remember this story, but they will know that Easter eggs are dyed red because that is the colour of Jesus's blood, they are a symbol of the renewal of life and they taste best during Easter time... On Easter Sunday, children will bring the eggs to be blessed at the church and will be cracked against each other in a game called good luck crack.  
Next thing my granny would do is to place this first egg in front of an icon leaving it there to guard the home from bad luck and evil spirits from entering...  
It is Holy Thursday and today she would also knead the dough for the Easter breads. Later, her hands would knit a wreath from fresh spring flowers because in the evening, she would dress in her special clothes and with the handmade wreath around her wrist, she will go to the church (to participate in Divine Liturgy and Holy Communion)... where she might stay until the sun rises... 

Digging way down deep into my soul...
It is Holy Thursday and while I am holding the warm red egg in my hand, I am thinking...
are the doors of my heart, my mind, my conscience, my life open enough, so that the faith can easily enter and settle there;
am I truly able to live simply and love with humility by serving others...

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Here Comes The Sun and I Can Fly Again

April 4, 2014

Here comes the sun
Here comes the sun, and I say
It's all right
Little darling
It's been a long, cold lonely winter
Little darling
It feels like years since it's been here
Here comes the sun
Here comes the sun, and I say
It's all right
Little darling
The smiles returning to the faces
Little darling
It seems like years since it's been here
Here comes the sun
Here comes the sun, and I say
It's all right
Sun, sun, sun, here it comes
Little darling
I feel that ice is slowly melting
Little darling
It seems like years since it's been clear
Here comes the sun
Here comes the sun, and I say
It's all right

Harrison wrote this song in April, 1969 (the year I was born) in the midst of personal troubles, group's business and legal issues, overshadowing the band's creativity, and mostly the much colder winter in England that "goes on forever; by the time spring comes you really deserve it."(G. Harrison, Anthology).
At this very moment, I feel greatly connected to every single word in these simple lyrics...
It's been a long, cold, bone-chilling winter. The winter that drained my energy and almost assassinated my inspiration and passion for writing and photography. And, I love winter! The truth is, I love all seasons and feel blessed to be living my life following such an amazing rhythm of the earth. Yet, this winter was way too long and harsh. It put me in all kinds of bubbles. Bubbles that blurred the beauty of the season to me, sometimes even the entire world. Bubbles that made me doubt my photography and sharing it on the blog (who wants to see and read my prose anyway?). Bubbles that made me feel lost in comparing myself to others, or to my own high expectations...
Then, one morning, on my walk with Charlie, I found a tiny, little bird nest, in the middle of a sidewalk, in front of my boots. I held the perfect nest, the size of my palm, in my mitten. I looked up for a tree or some sort of sight where the nest dropped down from. I couldn't find anything. I looked at the nest, nested in my hand and felt as I was holding a bird, a tiny, little bird that was flapping its fragile wings to build muscles. Later on, he tried to lift them high above in the air, and fell on the ground; the mother put him back to the nest. He tried again the fly-hope things, and practised with his whole being day after day, rain or snow, cold or heat until gradually refined his innate ability into a finally tuned skill. He failed over and over again while one ordinary day, the parental bird pushed the little one off the nest and suspended in mid-air with no landing in sight, he forced his wing to unfold for one last time and begun his flight straight up to the sun.... and left this nest (for me to find it). 

          “Help me,” he said very quietly, speaking in the way that the dying speak. “I want to fly more than anything else in the world…” 
        ”Come along then,” said Jonathan. “Climb with me away from the ground, and we’ll begin.” 
          ”You don’t understand.  My wing. I can’t move my wing.” 
       ”Maynard Gull, you have the freedom to be yourself, your true self, here and now, and nothing can stand in your way..."
          ”Are you saying I can fly?” 
           ”I say you are free.” 
 As simply and as quickly as that, Kirk Maynard Gull spread his wings, effortlessly, and lifted into the dark night air. The Flock was roused from sleep by his cry, as loud as he could scream it, from five hundred feet up; " I can fly! Listen! I CAN FLY!"

The warm blood in my veins was burning my entire body. The upper left side of my back under the rib cage was suddenly in pain. Undefined formation was trying to emerge through my flesh and... burst the bubbles. I folded my right hand and touched the spot on my back. 
It felt like a wing... was about to grow.

Then came the sun, and I said It's alright...

What do you do when you are feeling uninspired, dear friends?  How do you boost your creativity and get your creative Mojo back?

* quote by Richard Bach, Jonathan Livingston Seagull

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A Story for Valentine's Day... and Any Other Day

February 13, 2014

Larry and Jo Ann were an ordinary couple. They lived in an ordinary house on an ordinary street. Like other ordinary couples, they struggled to make ends meet and to do the right things for their children.
They were ordinary in yet another way – they had their squabbles. Much of their conversation concerned what was wrong in their marriage and who was to blame.
Until one day, when a most extraordinary event took place.
“You know, Jo Ann, I’ve got a magic chest of drawers. Every time I open them, they’re full of socks and underwear,” Larry said. “I want to thank you for filling them all these years.”
Jo Ann stared at her husband over the top of her glasses. “What do you want, Larry?”
“Nothing. I just want you to know I appreciate those magic drawers.”
This wasn’t the first time Larry had done something odd, so Jo Ann pushed the incident out of her mind until a few days later.
“Jo Ann, thank you for recording so many correct check numbers in the ledger this month. You put down the right number 15 out of 16 times. That’s a record.”
Disbelieving what she had heard, Jo Ann looked up from her mending: “Larry, you’re always complaining about my recording the wrong check numbers. Why stop now?”
“No reason. I just wanted you to know I appreciate the effort you’re making.”
Jo Ann shook her head and went back to her mending. “What’s gotten into him?” she mumbled to herself.
Nevertheless, the next day when Jo Ann wrote a check at the grocery store, she glanced at her check numbers to confirm that she had put down the right check number. “Why do I suddenly care about those dumb check numbers? She asked herself.
She tried to disregard the incident, but Larry’s strange behavior intensified.
“Jo Ann, that was a great dinner,” he said one evening. “I appreciate all your effort. Why, in the past 15 years I’ll bet you’ve fixed over 14,00 meals for me and the kids.”
Then “Gee, Jo Ann, the house looks spiffy. You’ve really worked hard to get it looking so good.” And even “Thanks, Jo Ann, for just being you. I really enjoy your company.”
Jo Ann was growing worried.  “Where’s the sarcasm, the criticism? she wondered.
Her fears that something peculiar was happening to her husband were confirmed by 16 year-old Shelly, who complained, “Dad’s gone bonkers, Mom. He just told me I looked nice. With all this makeup and these sloppy clothes, he still said it. That’s not Dad, Mom. What’s wrong with him?”
Whatever was wrong, Larry didn’t get over it. Day in and day out he continued focusing on the positive. Over the weeks, Jo Ann grew more used to her mate’s unusual behavior, and occasionally even gave him a grudging “Thank you.” She prided herself on taking it all in stride, until one day something so peculiar happened, she became completely discombobulated:
“I want you to take a break,” Larry said. “I am going to do the dishes. So please take your hands off that frying pan and leave the kitchen.”
(Long, long pause.) “Thank you, Larry. Thank you very much!”
Jo Ann’s step was now a little lighter, her self-confidence higher, and once in a while she hummed. She didn’t seem to have as many blue moods much anymore. “I rather like Larry’s new behavior,” she thought.
That would be the end of the story except one day another most extraordinary event took place. This time it was Jo Ann who spoke.
“Larry,” she said, “I want to thank you for going to work and providing for us all these years. I don’t think I’ve ever told you how much I appreciate it.”
Larry has never revealed the reason for his drastic change of behavior no matter how hard Jo Ann has pushed for an answer, and so it will likely remain one of life’s mysteries. But it’s one I’m thankful to live with.
You see, I am Jo Ann.

                                                                                                                                                                    by Jo Ann Larsen 
                                                                            Desert News (February 10, 1985)

Cheers to this ordinary, everyday love
The one that takes extraordinary work, compassion, vulnerability and appreciation. 

~ vanilla marshmallow by Butter
~ melted chocolate recipe here
~ almond cake by The Invisible Chef

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That Day...

February 4, 2014

“I wonder if the snow loves the trees and fields, that it kisses them so gently? ..." wrote Lewis Carroll once...
It was that kind of day that gives an undoubted answer to such question... Snow brings the cold, but snow loves the trees... and warms the earth. Snow melts in the sunshine, but snow loves to play with the sun - the tiny sun rays filter through tree trunks, kiss the snow and make it glitter as a sea of mini delicate crystals... 
It was that kind of day that promises the bone-chilling cold is over; that day that whispers in your head "have no fear, you are not alone, the universe supports you"... and you are ready to chase the light that gives a dark silhouette to your being. You are willing to stop in your own shadow, unite with it, and hand in hand as old friends immerse in the white wetness of the snow. When you know your shadow side, you know yourself better... 
It was that kind of day that gives you clarity... and courage to bring what was hidden in dark to light.. while the snow was kissing the tress... 

“One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious.” 
                                                                                                                                     - Carl Jung 

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sun, sand & so much more...

January 24, 2014

We had enough of the brutal winter cold this time of year... We needed to escape far far away somewhere as south as possible on the globe... We chose a country we never visited and knew little about it; it has been one of the most attractive emerging tourist destination in the recent years; it is known as the "Crossroads of Americas" and the home of one of the most important shipping routes in the world... and many Canadians love to have a second home there. 
The sun, the sand, the lush tropical greenery, the bananas and the coconuts were enough for us, yet what we found was a lot more than we expected...
The ideal location of this small strip of land provides Panama with pleasant and inviting weather year round as well as some of the world’s most pristine and bio-diverse rain forests, protected National parks and varieties of white sandy beaches. The country is the only one in Central America free from earthquakes, hurricanes or tropical storms. They say only here you can see the sun rise over the Pacific Ocean and set on the Atlantic.
The indigenous name of this tiny land means "abundance of fish" so fishing takes place year-round and there is no surprise that Panama offers an incredible fishing experience for those who enjoy it and those who love to eat "the catch of the day" (us).
Apart from its natural beauties and abundance, the country features with rich cultural and historic heritage. One of my unforgettable moments of our trip is the exploration of Casco Viejo (Spanish for Old Town) in Panama City. While visitors often refer to this historic neighbourhood as a "colonial city", the locals call it "the French Quarter". Walking down cobblestone streets, an amazing blend of Spanish, French and American colonial, art nouveau and neoclassical architecture styles creates a unique vibe. I easily lost myself into those splashes of colours and textures, charming windows with shutters trying to catch the light behind vintage flowered balconies... churches, museums, plazas with sidewalk cafes with umbrellas over the table for shade where one can enjoy a cup of rich Panamanian coffee… perhaps with a drop of the finest flavourful Abuelo rum… just a luxury! The restoration work of Casco Viejo is still in progress, but no doubt, when that is complete, it will be a fantastic beautiful world-class area.
In fact, the entire country of Panama ( as much as we were able to see) seemed to me as a restoration work in progress, one big construction project. After Noriega's dictator years ended and especially when USA returned the canal land to the Panamanians on December 31, 1999, according to the locals, "things just took off". Panama City will surprise every unprepared tourist with its dazzling skyscrapers, high end sports cars, trendy boutiques, shopping malls and restaurants, vibrant night life… It's rising to become a leading metropolis and for travellers, the changes have been enormous.
However, I have to admit, I left Panama feeling in love with its colours and light and... quite confused. The more I think, the more I am convinced that part of my confusion arises from the fact that Panama represents the world of contrast. Extraordinary natural beauty, delightful historical architecture with clean narrow streets are not far away from littered highways, ugly residential apartment buildings and war-torn neighbourhoods. Even though the country is relatively safe, in fact, it's one of the safest in Central America, police presence is everywhere and police checkpoints are a common place on roads in between cities; document control is furious. Old and new, beautiful and ugly, normal and unusual live sight by sight creating an eclectic place with so much character…
Seven different indigenous tribes strive to preserve a traditional lifestyle with local festivals, artisan products and tourist visits.
And the pride in people’s eyes in this country is tangible...
Panama is one of the richest countries in Central America, a hub of international offshore banking and has around $2 billion revenue stream on its doorstep that is the Panama Canal, nevertheless four of every ten Panamanian lives in poverty. Signs of extreme wealth appear to be evenly interspersed with a lack therefore... Why is that so? Evidently, Panama has money and so much potential wealth to go round; has natural resources, the lowest crime rate in the region, and a population of just over 3 million people...
So after spending some time there, enjoying all the beauty that this sun-drenched country has to offer, I cannot help but wonder what is that in Panama that confuses me… And, I believe, I need at least a second visit in order to find any proper answers… 

I know, a visit to Panama just wouldn't be complete without seeing one of the world's greatest engineering marvels, the Panama Canal and it is worthy of it's own blogpost. 
Stay tuned, dear friends and thank you for reading!

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