Wednesday, March 31, 2010
Once again I don't feel like taking a picture, so here you go. Self-reflection in a desk lamp.
And it is a cop-out because I already did it last year, and I was bothered enough then to stage it properly:
Just like for Octopus, I'm posting all the stages, because I think it's fun.
This was just after midnight- he leapt up on my windowsill with a gift in his mouth. I buried it in the front yard next to all the others.
Monday, March 29, 2010
Palm Sunday is the last Sunday before Easter. It commemorates the day when Jesus rode into Jerusalem, and people greeted him by waving palm fronds and crying out 'Hosanna!'.
In Poland, we do not have palm trees. We do, however, have extremely rich folk traditions which date back to pre-Christian times, and which have largely survived in the Catholic custom. Such a tradition is weaving palms for Palm Sunday, and it is most alive in the colourful Northeastern region of Kurpie.
Only there will you find such elaborate palms made out of crepe paper and dried flowers, so tall that they cannot be carried upright. The village of Łyse, which I visited this year, is one of those that hold a contest for the tallest and most beautiful palm. People from all over the region work hard for the fourty days of Lent to make their entries.
The day begins with a mass and a procession (both of which I unfortunately missed as the bus left late) and is then occasion for a market where the locals sell their handmade wares- palms, painted eggs, lacework, pottery, carvings, as well as regional food such as honey, bread, meats and beer.
But be not mistaken. These palms are not only a testament to the rich folklore of Kurpie, but also a sign of religious devotion. Palm Sunday does not mark the beginning of a feast, nor is it a festival, but is the first day of the week in which the Christian God was killed by the very people who first greeted him with such joy. These amazing palms are first and foremost an offering to Jesus and a hope that we may be strong enough not to betray Him again and again as his first followers did, and we have no doubt done many times in our lives.
You can see more photos from my trip to Kurpie in this Flickr set.
Sunday, March 28, 2010
Across the river in Praga there used to be a football stadium. It was called the 10 Year Anniversary Stadium and had been built in 1955 to commemorate the 10th anniversary of Poland's post-WW2 rebirth as the People's Republic. It was built from the rubble of destroyed Warsaw, rubble brought from the Western bank as the Eastern city of Praga had not been razed to the ground by retreating Germans- the Soviets were already there.
The Stadium was used well for its times, but by 1983 the upkeep was impossible. In 1989 the city decided to rent the disused stadium to vendors, and thus was born the Jarmark Europa. For years it was the place where you could get anything- from pirated films to smuggled cigarettes, moonshine, weapons...and clothes, lots and lots of clothes. It was dirty, dodgy, creepy, and absolutely wonderful.
In 2008 it was decided that the Stadium would be torn down and a new one built in its place, this time as a true national center for sports and not a black market. We will need a proper football stadium to host the UEFA Euro 2012.
People are skeptical as to whether it will be as functional as promised, or whether it will even be finished on time, but in any case the cranes look impressive, looming over Praga like that.
Not the shot I really wanted this to be- you can't see how wrecked that house is. The roof is falling in. I'll try again another day. I should have plenty a chance, it looks like I got a job and will pass this on my way there for the next couple of months.
Thursday, March 25, 2010
Wednesday, March 24, 2010
Under some acer trees today. Walking with Guinness is most fun at this time of year, in early spring when the sun is out but not yet scorching, and the air is fresh without being chill. I always take my camera.
More photos from today:
Lots of sketching today but I keep forgetting to scan it, and I can't scan when people are asleep because the Epson sounds like a dot-matrix printer. Eeeek eeeeeek eeeeeee beep beep brrrrrrmmmm whoosssssssssh eek!
Poor Neil. He was signing for three hours non-stop. But that line...let me tell you about lines in Poland. They're like mosh pits in garbage compressors. If there's an inch of space, someone will fill it, so if you want to get the goodies, you have to hug the person in front of you. At one point I started pushing backwards just to protect the girl in front of me, she was small and I was afraid she'd get hurt. I was also trying to make the man behind me understand that it was not okay to prop his elbow on my shoulder while he took a phone call.
I wonder what Neil thought of such behaviour. He was a gentleman, and handed out cookies and smiles along with the signatures, though he was obviously exhausted. But my friend owes me, I spent two and a half hours being squashed like a sardine just to get an autograph for her. :P I wouldn't have bothered for myself!
And just before the signing, Amanda Palmer gave a ninja mini-concert on the ukulele. I taped it on my iPod, check it out here:
Monday, March 22, 2010
First day of spring, first bike ride. I went to Wilanów, but the weather wasn't very good for photos. I'll take another trip to the palace soon- for now these chickens I found at the edge of town were more interesting.
You find many things when you walk around the fields. Weeds, trash, abandoned shacks, discarded construction material... and stuff like this. I don't know what that's all about.
Friday, March 19, 2010
The only reason I went past those shacks was that my usual downhill shortcut was so slick with mud, I was afraid I'd slip and fall into a puddle. But I got a great photo out of it- the only regret I have is not having my gradient filter with me to darken that sky a little.
Thursday, March 18, 2010
Wednesday, March 17, 2010
I made it yesterday for my birthday. It's pretty basic, not at all like the one I meant to make, but that didn't work out as planned. It's good enough for now. And the cat likes it, because it allows him to make stealth attacks on my eraser.
And here's the doodle from the pad, a quick and rough selfportrait with yesterday's enormous sun:
Monday, March 15, 2010
On my birthday, the snow came back. It's fluffy and pretty. I'm sick of it.
Sunday, March 14, 2010
Didn't I say the snow would be back despite the lovely sunshine and spring weather? Didn't I?
It pulled this same trick on us last year:
and the year before:
so why wouldn't it do it again?
Ho hum is all I can say. Snow is nice but it is time for some green.
I say he sings, too, because Radesh has a dulcimer which he plays for food.
No, really. It's a toy I got when I was younger, and I brought it over to the new apartment hoping to find a tuning key. One day, Radesh started fiddling around with it.
Since then I've decided the best use of that instrument would be to give the dear cat an alternative to meowing desperately when he is hungry. I've tried to capture the results on camera many times, but my musician is elusive, and camera shy. I have not caught anything substantial until today.
And here, at last, is proof of Radesh's musical talent: