Canyon Matka – Part 5: Surfacing

After long silence, here is the next installment of my visit to Canyon Matka in Macedonia – now the Republic of North Macedonia! (It was a bit of a joke, you’ve been there several times already but you’re visiting an entirely new country for the first time!)

We’ve looked beneath the water, and we have looked into the mirror that is the water – but today we will look at the surface of the water itself.

The river is narrow but quite deep, and as our visit occurred during the evening, there was some beautiful play of light on water, abstract art and distorted reflections. For all the canyon’s twists and turns, it was poured full of sunlight for most of the trip. Anyway, that’s it for the fancy prose, so without further ado:

© rq, all rights reserved.

© rq, all rights reserved.

© rq, all rights reserved.

© rq, all rights reserved.

A Year Long Journey

Thanks for everyone’s kind thoughts, the antibiotics seem to be doing something, though everything I’ve read about pertussis includes the warning that the coughing fits can last up to 3 months (depending on the source – shortest I’ve heard is 10 weeks, in China apparently they call it the “100-day cough”). So I’m not looking forward to that, because in about 3 weeks I have a big conference (in Madrid!) where I have presenting responsibilities and I was hoping the “long cough” (as it is called in Latvian) wouldn’t be quite so long…

However, I am looking forward to discovering more art like A Year Long Journey by Ryo Takemasa. Only one example, you must visit the site to see more:

A Progression of Beautiful Mornings

It’s been a while and I’ve collected quite a few, so here, all at once, is a collection of mornings at the train station, from about mid-January to the very beginning of April. It all starts out quite dark, gloomy and melodramatic, as January ought to be – it is, after all, the depth of cruel winter, and the freezing grip of the season is unrelenting…

January. ©rq, all rights reserved.

February. ©rq, all rights reserved.

Beginning of March. ©rq, all rights reserved.

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Mystical Worlds

No, this will not be another black hole post, although if you haven’t seen it yet, quickly:

First ever direct image of a black hole! The supermassive black hole in the galaxy M87 — 6.5 billion times as massive as the Sun! The image is better than I expected!

As tweeted by Katie Mack (@AstroKatie).

Instead, I found some art! Some spooky art that speaks to me, because despite the darkness, they don’t leave me feeling sad – there’s a loneliness that I enjoy because it has strength and conviction. Anyway, may I introduce you to Dawid Planeta – Artist Illustrates His Battle With Depression as a Mystical World of Spirit Animals, via My Modern Met:

A small figure appears throughout the poignant series, perhaps representing Planeta himself. He’s seen wandering through the fog-filled labyrinth, bravely facing the ominous jungle animals who feature glowing eyes that illuminate the darkness. They seem to be guiding him through the deep jungle, “to find his inner strength, find the light and come back with it.” And, Planeta explains, “When he knows who he is, he goes there again, this time without fear. He goes there because it’s a part of who he is. It’s a part of human nature you can’t ignore. You need to know all parts of life, dark and bright.”

Despite the difficulty of dealing with depression, Planeta managed to channel his feelings into creativity. “Depression—it’s not easy to deal with, but when you try, you can stop thinking about it as a weakness and turn it into something brilliant,” he says. “That’s what I aim to accomplish with my art. Things I’m trying to depict are dark, mysterious and frightening, but if you look closely, you will find excitement, passion and joy. Just open your mind and see.”

One example before the cut, for more keep reading:

by Dawid Planeta

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Excuses, Excuses

There is a reason why I was hesitant in accepting the co-blogger post, and that is because I am notoriously inconsistent.

I do a lot of prioritizing of energy and time, and as much as I’d like to say this blog is higher on that list, the top 3 spots go to family, work and health – and sometimes, there is nothing left over. My friendships suffer neglect, my roses remain uncut, and I realize that, although I have the material, I don’t have the motivation to put together a post of any kind. For that, I apologize.

I am currently on antibiotics for a sinus infection and the early signs of strep throat, but alongside that I have some nasty bronchitis that seems to be enjoying April far more than I am. Doctor’s orders are to literally stay in bed and sleep until Saturday, but there is emails to answer and projects to sort out and my candidate-in-training is writing her thesis, which must be submitted on Monday (when I have to be in Sweden) – and of course, there’s the children and their shenanigans.

However, I have not forgotten: I still have photos from Canyon Matka, I still have photos from the coin museum (yes, it’s just lots of old, shiny coins!), I still have photos from the aqueduct, plus various random items that show signs of spring arriving. So as slow as I take it, please take it with the best of intentions.

April is for sure this year the cruellest month. And to think it’s only just begun…

Names and Faces

Let us begin with this:

Text in tweet: “I don’t know the terrorist’s name. Nor do I care to know it.

Im keen on knowing the names, remembering the stories and celebrating the lives of the victims.”

BBC has a list, as does the New Zealand Herald:

They are fathers, mothers, grandparents, daughters and sons.

They are refugees, immigrants and New-Zealand born.

They are Kiwis.

These are the names of those who have died or are missing after the horrific acts of terror in Christchurch.

You can probably find more lists elsewhere, as they are being updated. This man, Khaled Beydoun, is keeping a list on Twitter. The number of victims has now increased to 51.

My heart goes out to the New Zealand Muslim community so disproportionately affected by this violence, as one of your local athletes puts so well:

While as cities and a nation we are all devastated by what happened yesterday, let’s not lose sight of the fact that yesterday’s terrorist attacks were targeted at the Muslim community. While it may have felt like it, we were not all at risk. We were not all unsafe. But we are all responsible for joining the wider conversation about racism, about white supremacy, about who we are as a country, and what’s actually going on.
I walked through the airport this morning and saw Muslim people going about their day in fear, including one woman that I and a couple of others sat with while she cried. I thought about how they were in fear as their community has been attacked, and how they would also be in fear if the perpetrator had been Muslim and the victims random, afraid for themselves and their children due to potential backlash from others in the community.

At what point do they get to rest? Why is everyone else able to go about their day? Why does the responsibility for such devastating actions by individuals get placed on entire communities in some cases but not others?

The reality is I know why. If you don’t know why, once we have had time to grieve, it might be time for some uncomfortable conversations.

In the mean time I implore you to support our Muslim community through donating to one of the fundraisers currently happening.

To our Muslim brothers and sisters – kei te heke ngā roimata, kei te ngākau pōuri au, ka aroha ki a koutou. I am so sorry this happened to you here. You should have been safe here, you should be safe everywhere. My heart is so heavy.

Ringatoi/Artist: Adrien Tavite

(via his instagram)

And this time no music, but to close off, A poem by Warsan Shire: What They Did Yesterday Afternoon:

what they did yesterday afternoon

by warsan shire

grief-reactionthey set my aunts house on fire
i cried the way women on tv do
folding at the middle
like a five pound note.
i called the boy who use to love me
tried to ‘okay’ my voice
i said hello
he said warsan, what’s wrong, what’s happened?

i’ve been praying,
and these are what my prayers look like;
dear god
i come from two countries
one is thirsty
the other is on fire
both need water.

later that night
i held an atlas in my lap
ran my fingers across the whole world
and whispered
where does it hurt?

it answered
everywhere
everywhere
everywhere.

 

(More from warshan shire in the New Yorker and on her blog.)

Brexit Revisited v2

Because clicking on one thing inevitably leads to another, here’s a companion piece to Charly’s youtube video.

I understand that Brexit can be the source of all kinds of negative emotions – frustration, anger, betrayal, confusion, etc., and for this reason, a nice round of relaxation with yoga might be in order:

To be quite honest, it’s supposed to be funny, but at this point, I’m far more ready to cry. Or laugh-cry, at the very least. Deep breaths, I suppose.

Here’s some more meditative music:

Eyes

I will have more Canyon Matka and also posts from the aqueduct, but I am travelling tomorrow and Sunday so please have these ducks enjoying a sunlit evening by the Vardar in the meantime.

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Happy International Women’s Day.

Canyon Matka – Part 4: Botanicals!

Amongst all the rock and all the river, I found some rather delightful and charming botanical residents – it is the first day of March, so Spring is still making its slow entrance, but the first small spots of colour are appearing. If anyone would like to ID any of these plants, I’d be most grateful, because I seem to be short on time.

©rq, all rights reserved.

©rq, all rights reserved.

©rq, all rights reserved.

©rq, all rights reserved.

©rq, all rights reserved.

©rq, all rights reserved.

©rq, all rights reserved.

Today’s song doesn’t have much to do about plants but focuses on the wandering aspect of enjoying strange places, new countries, and magnificent natural locations.

Canyon Matka – Part 3: Underwater Worlds

I promised the colour of the water, so here we are: underwater worlds sunk between the mountains.

The water was a deep green colour and strangely clear, at least near the shoreline.

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But the shapes that one could see underneath – mermaid cities and submerged civilisations and much, much more. I think Nessie even shows up at one point… Please enjoy!

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Canyon Matka – Part 1v2: Pathways cont’d

Here are some more pictures of the walk back from the caves, I don’t think any particular commentary is necessary, just enjoy. Although these are more demonstrative of the treachery inherent to any wild and untamed place that feels the heavy hand of human civilisation: rebellion lies not far beneath the surface.

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In some places, the railing was completely absent. From the pale scratches on the rock below, it was deduced that this was relatively recent damage… So the walk continued with frequent glances upslope! ©rq, all rights reserved.

©rq, all rights reserved.

©rq, all rights reserved.

This, I think, was the most uncomfortable place of the entire hike. ©rq, all rights reserved.

©rq, all rights reserved.

©rq, all rights reserved.

Gateway to a magical world… ©rq, all rights reserved.

Is this the tomb of Amontillado? Or simply a bricked up cave? The words ‘Open Sesame’ didn’t seem to have any effect at all… ©rq, all rights reserved.