Feb 132014
 

CameraZOOM-20140213103420984-picsay

 

My granny was a fanatical crocheter. She made curtains, tablecloths, shirts, cushions, doilies,   anything you could imagine. Some of these are still in the good shape,  some of her craftwork unfortunately is disintegrating – like the fragments of a net curtain I’ ve used to make this heart.  I did two, one is kept by my daughter in her room, this one is in my shop. I am glad I’ve found a way to keep her work alive…

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Dec 262013
 

It is nice to give and recieve presents in the darkest coldest time of the year. But why should this only happen once? I can easily imagine having a special day in every season when people exchange gifts. It would be good both for relationships and for the economy. I think we need to embrace some special seasonal occasions (solstices and equinoxes?) which would bring more cheer and expectations to our lives, and I am not talking just about kids. It feels wrong to have major celebrations only once a year.

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Jun 022013
 

Tribal Dancer Large Original Life Drawing Monoprint by Linandara  Local customs, costumes, crafts, foods… It’s all seems to melt gradually into some new globalised uniformity. In a way, this is a sad picture, a loss of our beautiful diversity. Western people often feel touched looking at tribal portraits, especially of children, in exotic attires.  But what these people from distant lands would prefer themselves, given choise? Modern living with its salaries, doctors, schools, pensions, benefits, equality and human rights or posing for tourists for a few coins? Is wearing those heavy earring painful? Did that beautiful bride choose her future husband herself? How old is she? How well is she educated? Do we have to stay in a fantasy land? Why so many people are migrating to cities and leaving traditional way of life behind?

 

The solution to the loss of traditional cultures seems to lay in our free will to explore them and carry their achievements into the future. Lets enjoy the color and sound, lets experiment without being afraid of onlookers. Lets celebrate free creative life. Nobody should ever try to force anybody into the past. Rather we should help to grow a free and equal for all future – firmly rooted in the best from our past.

 

 

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Dec 122008
 

I had a happy childhood. Of course I hated or laughed at all that communist staff but I was so lucky with teachers at school and plenty of friends. I hope my kids will remember their school years with happiness and warmth too.

I started school at eight and this didn’t stop me (or any of my friends in Russia) from getting to universities and colleges we liked. I’ve been shocked when at the time my kids were something like 3.5 or 4.5 a nearby school head teacher knocked on our door and said its time for my little ones to go to their Nursery (just for a couple of hours first). As I didn’t have any friends in this country, nobody for my kids to play with, and I wanted to do more art at home, I decided, OK, lets do it. It wasn’t easy for my son to fit in at first. Once when he didn’t want to get inside after a play time, a teacher grabbed and pulled him and he, scarred, baited her in the arm. Needless to say we received a very angry letter from school, got really terrified and had to apologise.

We and kids started to have colds continuously. And little ones started getting head lice. My husband and me we haven’t had them at schools – full stop. My mother-in-law didn’t had this problem in Britain, same my mother in Russia. Even in my grandmother times, during famine and incredible poverty of 1920s on the boundary of Russia, Ukraine and Belorussia, they didn’t had much of this head lice issue. So why its so bad in modern British and Welsh schools? Well it either 1) parents don’t care for the welfare of their kids so much now; or 2) headlice got more resistant to treatment; or 3) kids are starting school too early when they can’t understand that they shouldn’t touch each other heads; or 4) they encouraged to sit on the floor rather than at desks as we did, and that helps little insects spread; or combination of these.

In Russia kids haven’t been allowed to walk (almost everybody walked, of course) in school wearing outdoor shoes. You had to have a pair of clean ones to change. NOT HERE. All that dogs, birds, rabbits, cats droppings on the way end up in the classroom… Where everybody sits on the floor. Brrr…

There is a VERY STRANGE attitude to sweets in school. They are encouraged! Its your birthday – bring sweets for everybody, you have been good at studying – get a sweet. School parties of course only have sweets and cakes to eat. No surprise, the life expectancy is falling.

When we decided to move to Wales, people were saying how better the schools there are. We were delighted to here about it. What a disappointment! Our children had been doing joint writing for about a year, but here they have been FORBIDDEN to do this. Only typing (I can’t TYPE letters at all!). They had started a foreign language (French) but now have to forget about this because they are learning a little bit of Welsh (why not have both?). They also had to go back to reading very simple books again. At least now they have a free swimming lesson a week (but my daughter said they DON’T HAVE P.E. IN WINTER). My husband can’t forget his football at school in any weather, and I quite enjoyed skiing for 2 hours a week through winter wonderland in the park next to the school (the park is long gone under some apartment blocks in Moscow, but that’s another story). So they start early but they exercise less… Here is a good recipe for childhood obesity. Plus school meals. In England kids actually had some organic food for their dinners. Not here – and that’s for the same price. And some form of potatoes almost every day.

Two more things make me really sad: encouragement of football and pop / rock music culture. When I was at school we were told to strive for the best. If its music, it should be quality music. We don’t listen to much pop or rock at home. It’s not OUR culture. Now my kids are preparing for their Christmas concert and they have to pretend TO BE ROCK OR POP STARS. Something called X-factor? I have no slightest idea what it is (I only know X-files :). In England we had to choose if we want to send the kids to school discos or not. Here in Wales they are hold in SCHOOL TIME. And foolball. We don’t watch sport. All we see is drunken and swearing supporters we have to share trains with. Why our kids should be pushed towards that?

Sorry for some bitterness. Of course there are lots of positive things. Kids had interesting trips to farms and theaters. There are quite a lot of male teachers (unlike when I was at school), and most teachers looks like clever and friendly people. And there are affordable music lessons for everyone. I sort of admire home education enthusiasts but I wouldn’t be able to do this. At least not alone. Anyway, hopefully, everything will be for the best.

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 December 12, 2008  Posted by at 12:10 Britain, England, exercise, healthy life, kids, Russia, sport, time, traditions, Wales Tagged with: , , ,  4 Responses »
Dec 112008
 

If somebody deliberately tries to offend you, this person puts a burden on his or her conscience and has to live with it for the rest of the life or do something with it (eventually). Not YOU! You walk free. Just try to look at it as a page from a novel you read. And no hard feelings. Just another lesson.

It is obvious the body can’t function well without physical exercise or hard work. Same is the soul. It needs its lessons and exercises too, to grow stronger and better…

Violence will undermine any good course. Look at the rebellious Greeks. Maybe they have a bad government. It doesn’t matter now. People starting violence are always wrong, in my opinion. If you like democracy, you vote for somebody else. Or peacefully propose another solution… If you throw stones at police cars, don’t expect them throw chocolate bars back at you. And this (like protests in Thailand) will damage your country’s economy in bad times thous making everybody’s life even worse. So, it’s very strange to hear about people violently protesting against job cuts or low salaries in such times…

Speaking of so called democracy, its looks like the poor people of tiny car-free island of Sark don’t have any free choice to live their traditional way anymore: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/european-feudalism-finally-ends-as-sark-heads-for-democracy-1061281.html
Billionaire newspaper magnates got their way. Heaven is still the Kingdom, I hope…

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Dec 102008
 
That’s what my kids are busy doing now. Not just oranges, of course, but any citrus fruit I could find in town. I think its called “making pomanders”. Smells really great. Some of them actually dry for ever like this.
Also on the picture: crepe paper garlands similar to ones my mother taught me to make back in Russia: cut two long stripes of differently colored crepe papers, put slightly narrower one on top and sew them together (better using sewing machine). Then cut the edges carefully with scissors every centimeter or so making sure you won’t cut the thread. Fluff it a bit and its ready to be hang across the room. We used to do them from four corners to the lamp shade (making sure they won’t get too hot to catch fire) and I had a real jungle for the New Year celebration.
There also some last year’s paper chains kids made and the charity shop tinsel.
A great way to recycle numerous kids drawings (I do photographs of the good ones first) is to make paper snowflakes out of them and stick with blue tack on the windows. Its a double recycling, as the kids draw on the paper my husband used at work for printing on one side…
We bought a nice tall Noble Fir Tree form a local grower who kindly delivered it to our door. This kind of tree doesn’t drop needles EVER.
Speaking of citrus fruit, almost every time I peel one, I put the peel in a potpourri bowl. Also you can try putting some of it in the hot oven or working microwave oven just for few minutes (make sure it won’t burn) to release the aroma.
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 December 10, 2008  Posted by at 11:19 Britain, cooking, crafts, kids, music, Russia, traditions Tagged with: , , , , ,  No Responses »
Nov 302008
 

It bothers me, why on Earth people need to send or give greeting cards if they actually SEE the person they are sending them to at his or her Birthday? And why people BUY cards with somebodies else message printed in them? It’s difficult to find a blank card in shops here. Anyway, now so many people have computers, cameras and printers, why not to do something original, from a heart? Even if it’s just a citation form a favorite poet, etc. Its all totally above me. I guess you have to be born in this culture to understand. Mind you, it starts to catch up in Russia too, unfortunately.

And why relatives and friends have to give kids mountains of toys on Birthdays and Christmas? I’ve seen so many times poor children crying for hours because of over excitement! And a piece of advice for toy-buyers: if there are more thanfour jigsaw puzzles for kids at home – they will get mixed up. Complex games will have irreplaceable pieces lost or broken. Expensive electronic toys will get unintentionally broken too. If you kids have too much toys it will became impossible to tidy them up properly neither for you nor for kids themselves (we are learning all this hard way). By the way, the best birthday present my daughter had for her eight birthday was a big Yamaha keyboard just for 34 pounds. It really helps her to learn to play good music. And my son does wonders with his K’nex construction kits. Also at eight they still don’t mind if the toys are second hand – save your money and enviroment!

I like traditions, but only when they came from a heart and generally good for you…

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 November 30, 2008  Posted by at 09:37 about me, Britain, kids, Russia, traditions, USA Tagged with: , , , ,  1 Response »
Nov 182008
 

White Horse Village – changing China:

I watched a bit of this programme yesterday

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/programmes/newsnight/5103100.stm

and was somehow surprised by a female presenter attitude. She pointed at a lady and said something like that this unfortunate one has to abandon the idea about going away to work in a factory, instead she is doomed to stay with her kids and work on a farm, and that’s such a hard work. Well, we switched the TV off after that. I think almost any way to earn money is hard, one way or another. It may be the stress (separation from family and home) or unhealthy lifestyle instead of the hard physical work, but the hard bit is still here. Interestingly, I’ve heard there was some research showing that men’s health is worse if they stay at home all the time, women’s health is worse if they go away to work.

I haven’t been to China but I see how in the Russian countryside the city folk dreams to live close to the nature, not just stay here on holidays, but most of the village and small town dwellers wants to move to the city, to give up their land, to fill up yet another huge ugly apartment block. There used to be quite a lot of tension and hostility on the buses, but now the better off people unfortunately mostly use their cars.

Once I was walking through a village, seen a nice old house and decide to take picture of it (no, its not that one). Immediately a very angry elderly lady popped out and started shouting at me. I was surprised – I would count it for a compliment if people started to take pictures of my house or garden. Anyway, she disappeared next year – probably moved to a town…

So, I’m bothered with question: Why people who live close to nature, see the beauty every day, have fresh air to breath and birds to listen to, are often so unhappy, jealous and hostile? Are they already so deeply affected by modern consumer culture watching TV and doing their shopping in towns and cities? In that angry lady’s village, there are crowds of tourist and pilgrims passing by yet local folk don’t even try to organise any farmers market which would be of a great success and helped them to stay afloat, I think. Its just looks like they don’t want to be happy where they are. Even here, in Newtown (Wales) I recon my encounter with xenophobic hostile youngsters shows that there is a class of people why don’t feel any inspiration from marvelous countryside around them, instead they think themselves being on some unfortunate margin of modern society.

PS. And the size of local gardens doesn’t help either. All the fields around, but the ordinary person in Newtown is lucky to have enough land to hung the washing in the back garden! Not surprising there is not much connection to the land.

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Nov 152008
 

I’ve stumbled upon an interesting photo from 2 or 3 years ago in my archive. Its from a medieval Robin Hood Pageant in Nottingham where different times and cultures meet. Not at all that I am advocating for this but I think people often forget that there was a tradition in Europe for women to cover their heads with scarfs and hats.

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Nov 122008
 

Right, me and my children were… I think its called “verbally abused” for two days in the row by a couple of local high school teenage girls. I almost didn’t noticed them yesterday. As we were passing them by on the way home from school they were asking each others in unnatural loud voices “How to say f… in Polish”. Not actually being Polish I just thought “what a sad life the local girls have” (me and my family, we don’t swear and are trying to keep the kids away from this).

Today in the morning, when we just have leaved our entrance door, they unmistakably shouted at us something like “Polish scum” & f. word (a lot). As I started taking pictures of them, they got scarred and walked quickly away towards the Hope Church. I should admit it was the first time I actually almost went to report somebody to the police. As I citizen of this country I feel responsible. People shouldn’t be abused based on their nationality, Polish or not (they probably heard me speaking Russian to my kids & I guess Poland is the only Eastern European country they know at their age of about 15-17 years). And I think, nobody should swear in public, especially with kids around. But I stopped just before the police doors. Lets give them another chance, I thought. They looked frighten enough when I pulled my camera from the handbag! But any other incident like this, and I’ll do it. As an artist I’ve got a good visual memory (and my kids too), I know they live on Treowen and go to the Newtown High School. My children immediately told everything to their teachers & friends, so, its looks like incident will be known in town.

I had a bit of a shake because all that – always happens to me in similar situations – part of being an INFJ, I suppose. I’m so easily deeply offended but after that I get to such heights of inspirations and revelations, so, thank you, girls, for that!

Well, I should admit, growing up in a major capital city, I’ve been a bit xenophobic myself. Sadly, its seems to be natural for human beings. Its more understandable, if immigrants misbehave or form some sort of mafia. As far as I know, its not the case here. Maybe the condition the two girls live in or a family situation are really bad and they just jealous, maybe they have been brought up with hatred, without a slightest idea about moral and legal norms. Maybe they have been offended by somebody from Poland and now think all foreign-born people are evil. If by any chance you, girls, read this, please came forward and explain your point of view!
When we lived in the USA one of our American friends told me: “Don’t move to Britain, they don’t like Russians there, but we do”… I have been wearing this Russian scarf for 4 years in Virginia and DC. Then, about five years ago, we moved to Long Eaton near Nottingham. I went to a charity shop as usual. It was winter and quite chilly, so I had my scarf on. Exiting the shop I’ve been asked by two boys about 12 years old “what’s the time”. I told them and went forwards. Suddenly they started shooting me from their DIY blow guns, passing by Christmas shoppers looking at this with empty eyes. I absolutely froze and couldn’t do anything. Well, I understood they had asked time to be absolutely sure that I had an accent. Maybe they even though I’m a Muslim, wearing scarf. Later at home my relatives instructed me that I had either get my telephone and (pretend) to call police, or take some photos of the offenders. So I am prepared now… 🙂 But I don’t risk wearing scarfs on the streets of Britain any more… I also probably should be much more careful speaking my native language (or speaking at all!) : -( Mind you, if people want to hate, they will find a reason for this anyway.
PS. Just can’t stop imagining. Years pass, times change, our rude girls are trying to earn some pennies in Poland and Polish teenagers mock them for not being local… Sorry. I’m just being taking myself too seriously. “Educated, sophisticated, but shouted at and hated by some absolute zeros just because I’ve got a wrong kind of an accent in this part of the word”. I really should learn to get ride of my pride… Sorry…
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Nov 082008
 

There was a nice firework display in town yesterday. A big official one with jolly Star Wars and Superman music and lots of DIYs. People gathered to watch at their favorite spots. Hilly landscape really helps with the viewing.
I know some people would like to ban fireworks completely because they dangerous and frighten animals. My opinion: people of all ages should be allowed to have fun. Especially kids. On the left a child is trying to reach the falling stars – they looked so close…
I think fireworks are banned in Israel but I’ve heard from friends, youngsters still do them. Illegally.
The best display I’ve seen was in 1990s in Geneva (below), over the lake, with music. Mind you, the DIY part went a bit crazy, with people (silly young me uncluded) blowing their fireworks in the crowd, scarring poor tourists… Moscovites too go mad with fireworks on the New Year night for the last few years. Regulations needed but please, don’t throw the baby with the water!
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Nov 072008
 

I made yet another beach sketch in Mundesley, Norfolk (I love the place!) when we were on holidays. But that’s about it. I haven’t had a chance to work much on my commissions or in fact any other serious job partly because of school holidays, partly because a strip of bad luck. First, my smartphone broke down and I lost quite a lot of data (look here if you want to avoid my mistake in Windows Outlook: http://www.microsoft.com/communities/newsgroups/en-us/default.aspx?dg=microsoft.public.outlook.contacts&mid=b4b0cc4a-e9ca-437c-a816-55e8a036f5f9 ). Second, my son got ill with a cold or something else. Third we had a pipe leak in the middle of kitchen celling. Plus a gloomy weather & economic situation. Plus my husband radio interview got cancelled. There probably was something else, I can’t remember right now.

Anyway, we had some fun on Firework night:

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Nov 012008
 

I’m actually not opposed to mobile phones & talking everywhere – I believe its good when people communicate & can understand very well that there maybe important, urgent matters to discuss or somebody can just feel lonely. But force strangers to listen to your music on transport or on the street! Its just violation of personal freedom! I want to listen to what I want and when I want.

They say there is a “Mozart effect”, but I think there is also a “trash music effect” – lowering ones IQ & eliminating kindness & empathy. So beware what you put on when your child is around! Amazingly, some people have headphones which work just like loudspeakers… Makes you wander what they do to owners hearing & brains.

Also i don’t trust drivers putting their music very loud – they mute one of their senses & their concentration probably suffer. Some people say “well you’ve got noisy children so we’ll have music on.” We can’t switch them off! I remember my baby crying hard all the way through overnight flight once… I’ve got plenty of “looks” that nigh…

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