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With his left hand he pushes the wheel forward, at the same time stepping hard with his left leg on the ground. The wheelchair tends to move not forward but slightly to the left, so he constantly needs to readjust the direction. I cannot see his face, but his hair is long and greyish white. Yellow sweater.

It’s taking a painfully long amount of time for him to cross the narrow street; it seemed the wheelchair almost went opposite direction to what he was trying to achieve.

At last, he reached the sidewalk. With the slight hill. As a passerby, you wouldn’t even notice the incline, but for him that must have been a challenge. I thought I should probably cross the street and help him. While I was contemplating – and no, it didn’t last longer then 10 seconds which seemed like few minutes to me – he managed to overcome the incline and continue crawl along the sidewalk.  I could see his right leg, or whatever was left of it, trembling (or did I imagine it?), I could sense the whole body going tense. I could almost hear that desperation and determination at the same time. I cannot really explain my vision of this, but mostly it was brought by memories of my tortures during walking (or trying to) when I had my own health issues. And not a single passerby offered help: not blaming, as I looked more like a drunkard or stoner rather than young woman struck by chronic horrific pain. Would I be grateful to a stranger offering me help on my way when I couldn’t stand up or was simply stuck? At first yes, of course, but at second thought I would feel really depressed thinking that I did not have ability to go on anymore, to do it on my own. And I think mainly why I survived those couple years was that I knew I could do it on my own, that I was strong enough. So looking at that man with his right side paralyzed, I kept thinking that he would manage it on his own. That he must and that he will. I almost started to send him vibes “go on, don’t stop, you can do it.” I was ready to run and help if something went wrong but I knew that he’d make it.

This was very emotional for me to watch – and not only because I could relate to this man in his helplessness and yet determination to go on. The wheelchair he used was a manual one, as you already could guess. The manual one with two handlers on the top. It is meant to be pushed by somebody else, helping him to go over this hill and many others, too. They just looked so empty. Too empty.

In a sense, we all have these handlers behind us, and sometimes (or most of the times) they might seem empty. Should we rush to take them and push each other? I believe we like when we do it on our own, but when we cannot we appreciate when somebody is nearby ready to help us..

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White Spring

Without knock,

Without warrant,

White Spring threw doors wide open,

Bursting into sudden silver flames..IMG_8356

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… of The Holy Land in America

Can you copy the heritage? I’d rephrase: for example, can you bring home replica of certain historical site and claim that this replica holds onto the same historical importance?

During my most recent stay in Washington, DC I visited its very own Franciscan monastery. I’m not a religious person, and Christianity is quite far from my spiritual journey, so to say. Yet I enjoy visiting temples and cathedrals, synagogues and mosques, as many of them capture that moment of unity with oneself and divine – whatever the divinity itself means to you. To my surprise, the fact of visiting the monastery, even the mere desire of doing so, left most people shrugging shoulders. “Why bother,” – They say, – “It is not a real Franciscan hermitage, it does not have the history.”

For me this is quite a surprising assumption. Even if it was built just a century ago and its beautiful shrines are mere replicas, even if it shines with clean, crisp golden paint, even it does not smell of mold and 800 centuries, this monastery has all the right to arouse interest not only among historians and religion scholars, but among simple tourists as well. At least that what I thought before my visit, and it proved me right. Mind you, this friary is not just a museum, it is a functioning monastery.

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Located in Brookland, relatively diverse neighbourhood, The Franciscan Monastery was built in late 1890’s, but the plans of “Holy Land in America” started way before. The monastery architecture is a beautiful design, in Byzantium style with slight Romanesque influences and inspired by basilicas in Jerusalem and two cloisters in Rome.

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The monastery is surrounded by Rosary portico, decorated with early Christian symbols. The whole landscape is exact replica of holy sites that were photographed meticulously for the construction.

All the details, small and tiny, on the entering the church, are worth attention.

This is the inside of the church, look at the colours of the dome!

Interestingly enough, the main altar is located right in the center of the church, just beneath the central dome.

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However, the main treat is not even the main hall but rather the “catacombs.” One has to descend just few stairs and enter miniature door (one of many in monastery, which is the height of child of 6 years old: sometimes I felt like Alice in Wonderland wishing for cookie that would make me tiny and fit comfortably into the door space) — and voila, one find themselves inside the shrine of Bethlehem, which is the replica of Grotto of Nativity form the 4th century Church of Nativity.

 

Through the long tunnels, dimly lit by electrical candles, you touch the rough walls while passing by the shrines and bones of different saints and for a moment you feel that heavy history of medieval ages.

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At the end of the tunnels and various hallways you enter the Catacombs, which are the copy of early Christian catacombs of Rome. The wall decorations are copies of original frescoes.

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As I strolled through the land, lost within infinite silent gardens and captured by various solemn statues of St. Francis, I was immersed in the whole replica of history. It was replica from outside, but to me it succeeded in preserving the whole period of history, its essence and meaning.

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One Secret Beach

I have a secret beach that is not known to everybody. Well, to put it clearly, people pass by it but a seldom passerby will actually sneak into the beach itself and walk it through.

This secret beach exists only during winter season — as soon as May, no, even April, hits, this beach disappears. All its calamity, its boldness and whiteness is gone. Its silence is swept away along with its unwelcoming winds. Another beach, sunny and noisy, takes its place filling up the whole air with laughter, cries, running-jumping-bathing children and rows of lazily spread naked bodies.

I don’t really know why, but I prefer the first beach. Even though it is unwelcoming, especially in the freezing evenings, it holds some mystery and calming solitude. And even though I do prefer sun and sunshines gently stroke my face, I feel more welcomed and in a way comfortable on my secret beach…

Just another evening I glanced in the window of my apartment and, after seeing a beautiful clear crispy sky and realizing soon-would-be-moment of the beautiful sunset, rushed over to the Woodbine beach. Would make way even further to Scarborough Bluffs, but time was clicking.

So, 10 minutes before the official sunset, I parked the car, grabbed the camera and made my way into the blueish snowy beach..

The cracked path between parking was lit by setting golden sun. Incredible views, especially with reflections in water and snow.

Well, didn’t think I would last long in such freezing cold that eats you inside out. But somehow, more out of amazement before the nature tricks, I made it:)

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As soon as you step on the crispy snow, the whole city moves away from your sight and — as if from your mind. It’s like pulling a blanket over the head, same perceptions. I hear nothing – except of furious waves and hight pitch of the tiny helicopter model making round after round in the air. Those two who had the remote control, were quite persistent in making it go round after round after round above their heads. And this persistent prrr-prrr-prrr.. This just added surreal touch to the otherwise empty beach.

Empty. I made my way all the way to the beach edge, to the splashing waves which, despite their heavy sound, did not appear accordingly large or in any way profound. The lake is coloured in this dark green cover, bringing vague nostalgia of the ocean.

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The striking contrast of the colours and the whole state of nature — just minutes earlier the sky was still bright and played with gentle light pink feathers…

I am sure you have your own secret beach. Secret park. Or small trail. When you pass it by next time, take a time and sneak in. Nature is beautiful no matter season, no matter winds and urban presence nearby. I recently stumbled upon narrow trail literally within a city, going for 5 km. In the beginning it did not seem at all pleasant or interesting — however, it brought me unforgettable moments and discoveries. So take a time and step inside — you never know what mysteries this place will hold up that particular moment.

Children’s Manifesto

I wanted to make post about kids. Children. 

Why always so serious? Let’s get bit childish, because as a matter of fact I’m only pretending to be an adult. I am the one, I might be — but, I think, emotionally (and, on special occasion, intellectually) I’m just a child. That being sad, I do not mean anything bad — many children are much smarter and wiser then most of us, spoiled “adults.” And I would like to toast this with my memories of one light-hearted demonstration.

I call it demonstration because of the nature of this event, which was sparkling with flags, signs (something against of, something in support of) and thousand(s) of people, I’m not exaggerating here. The official title was “Walk for Israel”, it was back in 2011, Toronto, and I still remember it vividly… I was amazed not only at the amount of people but rather at the whole participation: all 4 generations passed by me — parents brought their children, their babies, their toddlers, their own parents, their grandparents — yes, the entire families, sometimes with pets (dogs; no parrots on the shoulders spotted) decided to forgo the Sunday sleep and came out on the streets altogether.

Now, this is not a political blog (yaaay…), and I’m not a political commentator. While I was taking pictures of this event, I was mostly interested in a) practicing photo journalistic skills in capturing portraits in motion b) unusual faces and/or moments. And just a couple minutes later I realized who should be the number one subject in my photographs — kids. They do not try to hide their emotions, they are very natural with their feelings and face expressions, their wishes and desires. Sometimes curious and wild, sometimes sleepy and lazy, they definitely made my day back then.

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While adults are busy demonstrating, children are left with classic boredom, longing for the sleep and their comforting plush toys:)

The Walk is few kilometres, no wonder somebody gets tired and impatient while riding dad’s shoulders… ah, miss that time with my dad! Love the last two pictures– these girls are true princesses.

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Although here I managed to capture mostly the hat, I still like that smiling feel the photo gives.

…Seems like the most passion and fire happen in the lower levels of the Walk: the kids get serious with arguments, freeze with astonishment and sometimes become quite pugnacious..

Maybe for somebody this was a happy day, spent with friends and pride — for some it is yet another Sunday spent not exactly they way it was planned earlier…

Flags. They give the sense of pride, purpose, meaning.. and direction. maybe.

Maybe not. Maybe they mislead us. I took pictures of kids, trying to grasp their emotions and feelings during such event. They don’t care about politics, they have their own brother-sister conflicts over things like a toy, popsicle or seat in the rolling bin. Some do have fun, some are getting bored… They don’t understand why they have to carry on that blue and white piece of cloth; they would rather worry about not losing their mom’s hand out of the sight and enjoy their children’s world while adults keep fighting over it. And I’m talking in general, not in particular about the above mentioned event that actually appeared to be very joyful and cheerful in its essence.

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I love spotting perfect geometrical shapes and forms in the environment — lines, symmetrical and asymmetrical natural designs.

Once, sipping a wine in a Niagara vineyard under harsh sunlight — one of those that make every photograph look so sharp and clean, almost unreal — beautiful ornaments came out of shadows and patio table..

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Sometimes, even such ordinary environments like business centres, banks and government buildings offer interesting interior design concepts, which when recycled in photoshop can bring amazing abstracts.

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And, finally, I cannot omit one of my favourite filter ‘toys’, whose prism creates new, texturing worlds of four moons and floating traffic lights … 🙂

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Dispersed Imagery

I wanted to write about the work that is swallowing me like a vacuum cleaner sucking down tiny item forgotten on the surface. I wanted to write about not having any time (or strength) to nurture my artistic freestyle side which was heavily pressed down by newly acquired career path. I even wanted to challenge myself and write something complete opposite to the state of my mind (about Ballet, surprise-surprise). Probably I much needed light, delicate, feather-like feeling this dance form offers. Well, next time the light will get through the tunnel of consciousness.

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But instead I’m just dispersing in the air, and words fade away as soon as they touch a tongue. Thoughts are dissolving in the air, as if there was some chemical reaction between them and dusted reality.

So I’m just sharing my photographs, which, by the way, are expressing my Imagery Hiatus at their best this time.