Macedonia 9.2 – Skopje at Night v2

So, I did go out! I made new colleague-friends and took some time for quiet walking around the city, and yes, I took some photos!

Christmas isn’t as big a deal here as elsewhere in Europe (because most of the christian population is orthodox, and the muslim population obviously doesn’t celebrate as such), but the one thing that is a big deal here? Lights! Strings of lights! Everywhere, and in large amounts. To the point where walking down some of the pedestrian streets feels like walking through a galaxy though not like us, out on the edge of the Milky Way, but in a far more densely starred area. You’d think it would be garish, but it is quite lovely.

This is one of the lesser lit streets…
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Look up! Even the moon is overshadowed (overlit?).
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Soundtrack to your life: 4

Yesterday we talked about songs not actually suitable for weddings but played there.

When I got married, we carefully chose our song.

It’s one of the most wonderful tunes I know, soft, with lyrics that are evocative, holding the promise of a future. The information leaflet of the civil registration office said “you can bring music on a CD and hand it to the clerk”. It didn’t say “make sure there’s only that one song on the CD, because our clerk is completely unable to play a specific track, despite it being 2007.” So the lady who conducted the ceremony simply put in the CD and pressed play so instead of getting married to  “Fields of Gold” (track #5) I got married to track #1:


I almost fell of the chair trying to suppress laughter, because holy shit, I was getting married to the lines “I send an SOS to the world, I hope that someone finds my message in a bottle”.  “Fields of Gold” is forever the song I didn’t get married to, but not in the sense all other songs carry that label.


But, it could have been worse. Because I wanted to play Queen “Don’t stop me now” at the end.

Track #1 on that CD?

Mama, just killed a maaaaaaaan!

Bonsai Tree – Humble Beginning

Well, hopefully. This won’t be easy to pull off and it may fail at any time even before it really takes off. Plants sometimes fail to take root, and even when they do, they fail at becoming a bonsai tree, and even if they do, they sometimes just die after decades of work for causes unavoidable or unknown – like my most precious cypress tree did last fall and many others this spring.

But I hope this takes off. Last month I had encountered a very rare thing – a seed in a store-bought persimmon, fruit of Diospyros kaki. This was a first seed ever I have found and I have bitten into it and damaged it a bit because I did not se it originally. Luckily for years I am always cutting the fruit lengthwise in crescents and never across, because I have been actively looking for a seed. But the variety is mostly seedless and usually all that can be found are tiny under 5 mm unfertilized seeds, which are useless. This was clearly living one, it was over 20 mm in length, with the shape of a plum seed and consistency and hardness of an apple seed.

I have washed it carefully and thoroughly in luke warm water so it does not mould and my mother (because I had to work overtime and did not have time to do it myself and also I am a bit superstitious about my mom’s touch – she could make a broom blossom if she planted it) had planted it in a bit of heat-sterilized porous substrate immediately the next day.  The pot stood near a heat radiator for the last month and I splashed in a bit of water whenever I remembered to, which was about twice a week. I was actually just beginning to worry that I underwatered it, which is just as bad as overwatering when…

A seedling Diospyros kaki popping out.

…today I found out that the seed started to come out of the ground, which was a rare moment of joy for me (I try not to drag you down with me, but you know those are small and far between). I will keep you posted on its progress. I hope for many infrequent updates for years, but you will get the info even if it fails.

Jack’s Walk

Thin Ice, ©voyager, all rights reserved

The sun is trying to shine today, but it’s weak and can’t quite overcome the gloomy clouds that fill the sky. Nonetheless, we had a pleasant walk down by the river this morning. We saw a few ducks, heard a lot of crows, found some mud and even saw a few shards of blueish sky. Jack really wanted to go swimming, but I didn’t think it was a good idea so soon after surgery so I kept him on dry(ish) land with the help of a few liver treats. He’s a good boy and does what he’s told, but he really wanted to get wet. Oh well, I did let him hunt for mice (he won’t ever catch one) and get some mud between his toes (fun!) so he was happy enough.

Still Life?

Or, how to bring classic paintings to life. Or to stillness. Or something. Anyway, for a bit of fun:

It all started in 2006, when the Malatheatre company’s founder Ludovica Rambelli — passed away in April 2017 — gave a lecture at the University of Naples, on Caravaggio’s way of working. That’s when Ludovica realised that the best way to explain it was through a theatrical performance. “He used actors to build the scenes he painted, in fact we did not reproduce his work, but recreated what happened in his studio,” said current company director, Dora De Maio, referring to what for a few years has become a real play entitled La conversione di un cavallo. 23 Tableaux Vivants dalle opere di Caravaggio, or simply, Tableaux Vivants.

Inspired, among others, by Pier Paolo Pasolini’s short film La Ricotta, the intention of this show is to achieve “a great visual impact” with a minimalist scenography, baroque melodies — by composers such as Mozart, Bach and Vivaldi — and a focus located on one side, which emulates the suggestive light effect of the Italian master’s paintings.

Watch them at work here, too:

I think it would be fun to try at home (or with a dedicated group of amateurs), but I also think it would be incredibly difficult to pull off their wonderful level of ‘casual movements of (un)dress PERFECT POSE’. Excellent co-ordination and execution. And such perfect expressions.

Now, nobody beats the original, but k.d. lang does a pretty fine job, if you ask me.

Another must-listen version.

Jack’s Walk

Bottoms up. ©voyager, all rights reserved

I think this sad little group of mushrooms looks like Can Can dancers who’ve fallen and can’t get up. Or maybe ballerinas in tutus twirling on their heads. Or even quite possibly like the petticoats of fairies bent over to touch their toes. Whatever the case, Jack and I stopped to say a cheerful “hello” before continuing on our way.

The End of Australian Spring

These are the last of the Australian spring flowers sent in by DavidinOz and that makes me a bit sad. It’s been a treat for me to have so many bright, happy flowers to work with during the short gloomy days of late Canadian autumn. In 2 days time it will officially be another winter to endure Up Here, but that also means that it’s another summer to enjoy Down Under and I’m hoping that David will have a chance to share some of the flora that grows in Australia during their hottest season. Hint, hint.

Thanks for spreading so much joy, David. [Read more…]

Winter Drama

We saw them in sunlight, but after some of you mentioned a love of fog, I give you these same rooftops on that same day – this is reasonably early in the morning (it did get lighter, as the last picture shows), but the drama is only deepened by the looming darkness.

The fog lasted all through the day.

The wide view
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Where’s that shiny cupola disappeared?
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I don’t know what feels creepiest, the paired streetlights or the general sense of loomingness…
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Midday was considerably brighter, but visibility was still what it was.
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And here’s a creepy winter song, too.

Jack’s Walk

Hurry up, mum. ©voyager, all rights reserved

Ha! I found the battery charger for my camera and as I predicted it was in the last place I looked. Actually, it was found by an out-of-town friend who reminded me that I had the charger with me when I visited her a few weeks ago. She was certain that I hadn’t left it behind so I took the short walk to the cupboard and finally found the damned thing in the pocket of my suitcase. I am relieved. And embarrassed. But mostly relieved. The photo today is my sweet Bubba enjoying life without a grapefruit sized lump in his armpit. If you look closely you can just see the shave growing in on his right arm. He was prancing around the woods today like a puppy with his tail set at sail and obviously happy. I think that some of the slow down that I’ve been attributing to age might have just been Larry The Lump™ giving Jack the pip.  He’s a bit frustrated in this photo because I am taking too many pictures!


Airports and Timeskips

In TNET, we had a small conversation about omens and quests, but I think the answer is much simpler than that.

See, I got some cookies in the mail (more about that sometime next week). Because I was expecting a long day of travel, I packed some as snacks for the trip. My original first connection was to a large hub airport that is reasonably close to the cookies’ region of origin. Obviously, this was not acceptable to the cookies (they are not meant to go home!), so they sent out waves of distress into the spacetime ether, and destiny listened – not only was that first flight delayed for more than 2 hrs (in the end!), but I couldn’t even be placed on the same route without missing one or some other of my later connections. However, instead of the double-plus-best-good option of visiting two completely new airports this trip, I got one very nice one at Zagreb. Add to that an earlier (than original) arrival at my final destination, and this is a win no matter how I look at it. It is now snowing outside my hotel window, and I have a happy ending, and one full productive work day behind me.

(And the cookies ended up saving both my life and the lives of my passengers between Vienna and Zagreb, but that is a much more mundane story and requires no fantastic elements. Thank you, cookies.)

Let us retrace my steps, then (though the Skopje photo is from last trip, as by the time I got in I couldn’t be bothered):

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Vienna (it’s a bad photo, so what, the cookies were calling my name)
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Zagreb (not a complicated airport, but so much I love about that construction and its geometry)
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This is Peteris Vasks writing about everything that is the opposite of anything related to heights, it is here for the the quietness and stillness. The moment the choir happens is the one where time stops for me.

Oh, speaking of stopped time, my favourite part through my terrible ordeal with delays and undelays was watching luggage trains make pretty tracks in the snow:

Hearts and ribbons? Particle collisions?
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