February 26, 2011

Southern Ontario countryside

This is how I spend the weekends in the winter. Here's a selection of pictures from some of our recent trips (including today's) out of town.

My previous post was a little on the optimistic side. Now you will see what is really going on with the weather.

I came home from today's trip to find that Sarah from St Bloggie de Riviere has composed this lovely limerick on the subject that I (jokingly) suggested to her:

In old Europe Spring's nearly here
The daffs have poked through without fear
In Canada there's still snow
Not a bud is on show
That's the north for you, my choice is clear!

I'm delighted about it, and I would like to share it with you. Although the wind sometimes rips off the hood of your jacket, I find Canadian weather and nature very beautiful.

February 23, 2011

My Pet

My cat’s name is Denis. He is a six-year-old tabby, and he’s been with us for five years.

February 17, 2011

Winter Story

During the winter, some very distant memories about one story  can come to mind. Oftentimes, they are the ones you’d rather forget about, because they don’t bring up anything other than a feeling of slight bewilderment. You’re not even sure why this story keeps spinning around in your head, refusing to leave you in please.

I was 13 years old, it was the winter holidays, and I was going to indulge in my favourite cold-weather activity – sitting with a cup of tea, wrapped in a blanket, reading a book, and listening to my favourite music. However, my aunt, who was a paediatrician, decided to ruin my idyllic moment by asking me to deliver a prescription to a patient, who forgot it at her office. My aunt was doing a night shift that time, and couldn’t deliver it herself. Also, trying to argue with my aunt was sort of like taking part in bullfighting.

However, I thought I’d at least ask what seemed like a logical question – would it be possible to do it tomorrow instead? My aunt told me that the person needed the prescription to get some medicine for their sick child as soon as possible.

My dad was going to drive me to the address. It wasn’t so much that they didn’t trust me to find it; it was just located in a sketchy neighborhood.

When my dad and I reached the address, it was dark, though it wasn’t so late at night. Since it was freezing outside, my dad couldn’t turn off the car to come to the house with me. Russian cars of that era often couldn’t get started in really cold weather, so he stayed inside the car with the motor running.

The address that I had to make my delivery to was a two-storey apartment building. I found some mailboxes on the first floor. I had an idea to just slip the prescription into the mailbox. However, I was rather upset to find out that the doors of the appartments didn’t have numbers on them. What was even spookier was that the only source of light was a window at the end of the corridor. Through that window, you could see the moonlight breaking through the clouds outside. This was both beautiful and kind of terrifying.

The moon was out, my father was waiting for me, and I had no idea behind which door was the person I was looking for. I proceeded down the corridor. I figured that I had two options. The first one was to listen closely to the sounds behind the doors. Maybe I could figure out where the sick child was. The other option was to knock on the nearest door, and ask where those people lived. The noises I heard through the doors were so chaotic, and the smells that welled up in the corridor were so repulsive that I decided against knocking on most of them.

Finally, I found what seemed to be a quiet apartment. I knocked on the door. A woman wrapped in a shawl opened it for me. Behind her, I could see a tiny apartment, where there was only one bed and one chair. On the bed, I saw a small person. I explained the situation, and gave her the prescription. Without saying a word, she took it and closed the door.

My adventure didn’t end here. When I went back towards the exit, I noticed two guys standing there. One of them grabbed me by the sleeve, and said “What the hell are you doing here?”. I’m not sure why, but at that moment, instead of getting scared, I got really angry. I said “First of all, don’t pull on my sleeve. My coat is very expensive. Second of all, I just delivered a prescription for a sick child. And finally, why don’t you have numbers on your doors?”

The guys let go of me, and mumbled something like “Get out of here, with your expensive coat.”

I left the building, and hurried towards our warm car. My dad asked me “Did you do everything alright?” I said “Yep, I did.”

February 15, 2011

Ice Without Compromise

                   Frozen snow
                          adorns the naked tree
                   flowers bloom in winter.
                                        - John Daido Loori

In February, there comes a moment when you feel like winter has already give you all the gifts and impressions. It turns out that your impressions of winter can continue endlessly.

February 12, 2011

I have recently discovered that celebrating Valentine’s Day isn’t cool anymore. I think that most people are repelled by the immoderate commercialization of this holiday. For example, my husband was buying me flowers a week ago, and he was told at the flower shop that it’s a good thing he’s buying them now, because, right before the holiday, all flowers would cost 15% more. As if it would be possible to buy Valentine’s Day flowers in advance.

I have an idea – I think Valentine’s Day should be made illegal. Then it would be so much fun to celebrate it. Instead of meeting at a restaurant that is very conspicuously filled with couples, people would meet their dates in romantically secret places. The whole process of the date would be cloaked in adventure and mystery. The bittersweet taste of danger would only amplify the feelings that people have for each other.

Of course, there would have to be a special Valentine’s Day police unit. Anyone who would get caught kissing or even gazing at each other longingly would have to be fined.

Meanwhile, since it’s still possible to celebrate Valentine’s Day without any potential legal repercussions, I would like to wish you a happy one!

February 11, 2011

Today is 11022011

             This date is like a mirror :)                        

February 10, 2011

Life is Good Award

Thank you to Formerly Known As The Enigmatic Masked Blogger for giving me the Life is Good award and for kindly instructing me on what to do with it. I appreciate it very much.

I'd like to pass on the award to these remarkable bloggers:

Happy Frog and I with Happy Frog and I
Joanny with  LIVE DREAM LOVE

Five facts about me.
#1. As much as I love Baudelaire I prefer to be in the company of Wodehouse.
#2. I adore the 50s-early60s style even after watching Mad Men.
#3. I've been collecting art, books and French red wines 2005. I know from experience that collecting wine is not an easy task.
#4. I am Russian but I have lived in Toronto for the past 10 years.
#5. I like egoists who live and let live.

February 6, 2011

Do you believe in superstition ?

 This photo has nothing to do with the post and it is not mine. Its purpose is simply to draw your attention.

Do you remember the scene from My Big Fat Greek Wedding when the relatives of the main character would spit at the newlyweds to wish them good luck? Well, I don’t believe in these kinds of superstitions. I found it funny when I learned that Pavarotti would look for a bent nail before going on stage. All these black cats and horseshoes and people who bring us good look, and people who take it away – I think it’s all in our heads. However, I do believe that these thoughts can make their way to your material reality once you start to believe them. It’s our faith that makes them real.

Still, I would prefer if somebody wished me good luck in some more pleasant manner. For example, with a simple and sincere smile. A diamond necklace wouldn’t be bad either.

I’m saying all this so that you wouldn’t think that I’m looking for patterns among coincidences when you read the following text. I just don’t know how to explain them sometimes.

Two years ago, a couple was supposed to visit me, in order to view, and possibly purchase a painting of mine that they saw on my website. I knew that they had a three-year-old daughter and a newborn baby. Naturally, I wanted to make sure that their visit would take place with as much comfort and consideration as possible. I baked some cookies. I bought a big bouquet of fresh peonies. The room was filled with the smell of freshly brewed tea.

My potential clients arrived right on time. They were with their children. As soon as they came in and rolled in the baby stroller, a painting fell off my wall right behind my back. My cat yelped and sought refuge under the bed. The baby started to cry, and the older sister looked at her mother uneasily.

A few minutes later, everyone was calm and relaxed once again, and we went on with our program of drinking tea, eating cookies, and viewing my paintings. Imagine my surprise when, instead of choosing the painting they were initially interested in, they walked away with the one that fell off the wall. We were joking about how the painting was impatient to be taken away to their place.

This summer, I had an exhibition at a well-known local gallery. I brought two paintings, which they hung beside one another. People were walking in and out during the reception. The door would open and close, bringing with it a certain gust of air. You would think that the air would affect all or most of the things it would reach. However, only one of the paintings started tilting on the wire. Guess which painting was bought the next day.

That’s all very well, but the most confusing and embarrassing thing happened yesterday. Once again, I was preparing for a visit from some art collectors. One of them was a young woman who had already bought a painting from me before, and the other was her dad. She had sent me an e-mail, telling me that she fell in love with a painting she saw on my website. There is a certain pattern that I’ve noticed throughout my life  - as soon as there is a person who would like to purchase one of my works, there appears somebody else who expresses interest in the exact same work. The young woman, of course, had the priority spot. First of all, she was initial contender. Second of all, she had expressed her feeling so strongly in her e-mail. What could be more important for an artist than knowing that somebody fell in love with your work?

Once we had set up our meeting, I decided to display the painting on the wall where it looked the most presentable. No matter how I tried to set it straight, it would always tilt on one side. When the collectors arrived, they saw that the painting wasn’t hanging straight. I tried to shift it once again, and, with a loud noise, down it tumbled. I thought I would die of laughter or embarrassment. My guests looked at me with slight suspicion. How could I explain that this painting no longer wanted to live with me?

There is an old superstition among Russian painters, that if a painting falls down on its own, it will definitely be bought. So, how can I still not believe in superstitions?

Have you had any stories like that?

February 3, 2011

The Google Art Project

I am very exited to share some wonderful news with you - although you might already know this. The Google Art Project offers gigapixel images of art classics - an indoor Street View of museums.

You can find it right here.

This is absolutely awesome! You can take a trip through some famous museums. I hope they add The State Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg, Russia and Tretyakov State Gallery soon.
What do you think?