It’s really relaxing to me to make these drawings from time to time and just observe small scenes from our house. Also, I get to use my big collection of all sorts of colored pencils (I’m slightly obsessed with color pencils, I should make a post with all my sets, some found at the flea market and some bought new). The last set I bought have multiple colored leads, actually they have a few nuances of the same color in each pencil. I really like them and I use them a lot combined with other pencils I have.
I found this book on my grandparents’ bookshelf. I never read it as a child and I don’ t remember its cover, probably it used to be in the back rows of the shelves. It was written by Iuri Gagarin and Vladimir Lebedev (a medical doctor and a specialist in space psychology, as it is written on the back cover). A note from the translator tells us that Gagarin finished this book on the 25th of March 1968, a day before his death.
I read this book hoping it will contain all the wonder and hope that was associated with space travel in my childhood. The chapters go through all the things that used to make me daydream: the immensity and silence of the Cosmos, imponderability, time perception, the friendship and trust among the crew that goes out in space, the shining stars that seem closer from up there.
But also the book is a long stream of anecdotes, some historical, about explorers of other unknown and lonely territories like Antarctica, some contemporary about their friends and colleagues, other cosmonauts, these stories being by far more interesting. A long stream of these stories, scientific facts explained very simply, quotes from Kant and Lenin, speculations about the future of time travel, description of the soviet man written in empty propaganda language. A lot of talk about “manliness” that is necessary for conquering the outer space, for winning the ” duel with nature”. A lot of really disheartening and so so sad references to experiments on animals, but I didn’t’ read those passages and pages. One wildly rude mention of some unnamed tribes in Africa and one “Indian” ( was it someone from India? from America?) who irrationally believe in the reality of dreams.
Among all these, the smiling faces of the first cosmonauts, photos of the crafts they made in the isolated rooms where they were practicing the silence and loneliness of Cosmos, pages about imponderability that I used to obsess about as a child, being sure that I will experience it myself someday. And by far the most interesting thing in the book, accounts of cosmonauts who have first seen the blue and violet haze at the curb of the Earth, who have seen the sun in Cosmos with its blinding light, who traveled inside a burning knot while their space craft was entering the atmosphere. The reports the cosmonauts wrote in a clear and simple language shinning with an eerie beauty.
I searched for Tereshkova in the book. She is mentioned a few times. There is a story about her wedding. There is mentioned that, while male cosmonauts were chosen from among pilots, women who didn’t have any former flight experience had to train more. She appears once more towards the end of the book as a kind and motherly colleague, comforting the worried Lebedev before he jumps with a parachute for the first time. He calls her Valia. There is also a photo of her in space.
I read this book together with my child double, trying to imagine what she would have felt or thought reading it. She would have shivered the same way as me at the pages about animals and she would have rushed trough them. She wouldn’t have noticed that all the attributes necessary to be a cosmonaut are written in male form. She would have thought that in the distant future of her adult years space travel will be available to anyone (as a poem in the book titled “We will live to see it” promises). She would have nodded approvingly to the description of the beauty of life in communism.
I tried to read this book with her and remember her hopes now when the world is so bleak. Reading about space travel now is reading about the same issues: going to Mars, sending out long term manned missions to distant places of our star system and beyond, creating the ecosystems inside these ships, dealing with the psychological aspects of such travels, etc. But the hope and the wonder is completely gone now, when people compete to receive a one-way ticket to Mars in order to be in a reality show, when space exploration missions are private ventures based on the commons of knowledge acquired in the sixties and seventies and often funded by public money, when the colonization of space is in direct connection to the necessity of leaving behind our dying planet in order to go somewhere where even the air you breath would be a commodity.
I used to love looking at these kind of photos, at his smiling face while the water from his cup is floating in front of him.
This blouse is something I partially sew by myself as a school assignment, but also as something for myself to wear. My friend helped me with some of the sewing, but I made a lot of things by myself, too (I copied the pattern, I cut the fabric and I did some of the sewing). Also, I dyed the fabric (an old cotton sheet) with onion peels and turmeric and I embroidered the text. So, I can say I did a lot of it :).
The fabric is really nice, the old cotton has a softness that only something that was used for a long time gets. Also, I like the color that turned out after dyeing it. I lose some of the color with each washing (even if I fixed it with vinegar and I wash it only by hand in cold water), but still it becomes paler and paler. But, at some point, I can dye it again, because the embroidery thread I used is synthetic, so it won’t be affected by the dye. But, for now, it’s fine.
I embroidered on it a text in my handwriting that you can see only if you come close enough and you make an effort to read. There are random thoughts that I had while working a lot at home during this spring, but if you don’t read them, they are just a vibrating color and texture. The text, roughly translated, says: ” …the small noise that the needle makes when it goes trough the fabric…I listen to the news and a sea of anxiety and despair overflows…sometimes, hope…when you get closer to reaching the age of forty, everything is the same, only you judge yourself a little less harshly…and getting legitimization from others is much less important…sometimes…this body that carries me through the world so well…maybe there is some more ice cream left in the fridge… ”
The school year is slowly coming to an end (there is only one month left) and even if these last weeks happen to be really busy (with some unpleasant aspects, too) still the thought of the long vacation days at the horizon make everything better.
I didn’t do so good this far on my goals for this year. I planned on reading more literature and on writing more often in my diary or just writing about my thoughts and feelings more. I do write a few lines everyday in my planner, but that is more an account of what I did that day, whom did I saw, what I managed to accomplish, etc with the occasional mention of some more private thoughts. This is quite good for me, to have this routine of writing down a few things about my day, but I miss very much that feeling that you get when you write endlessly in your journal. So freeing and comfortable. It’s not that I wouldn’t have the time to read and write more only for the mere pleasure of doing these things, it’s more that I don’t find anymore the mental space in which to be in order to do them. The interior space in which to quiet down the thoughts about all the stuff that I need to do, about the worries, about all the trivial things from my days, the space in which I’m not constantly refreshing my email, etc. Usually I can find this special state of mind in the train, when I’m traveling during the day and the scenery keeps changing outside my windows. But I don’t travel that often… Sometimes also the rain outside creates a good space for me.
Anyway, during my summer vacation I really hope to read and write more. Also I have the ambitious plan to finish 10 embroideries and 20 drawings. Not sure if this is possible, as both these things take a lot of time for me. But I’ll try.
Meanwhile, I made these two drawings in the last month. They are not big (I used A4 paper) but still they took, I think, around 4 hours each to finish. I used to be much quicker :). I plan on drawing more of these random aspects from our house, some self-portraits and maybe some images of my street and neighborhood, too, like another kind of diary.
We celebrated our dog’s Souris birthday a week ago. He turned 5. We don’t know of course the exact day of his birth, as he is a rescue, but our vet put in his papers 1st of May as his birthday. We made him a knot from old cotton shirts and he loves it :). His sisters got their knots too, for the party :). It was really funny to watch them enjoying so much such a simple thing.
I used another roll from some Kodak 400 films that I had picked up at the flea market two or three years ago. From time to time, I really feel like using a very unpredictable film and camera, even if I really enjoy our DSLR, too. I used my Diana mini camera with this film and the results are shaky and blury and underexposed, with some accidental double exposures, too, but they capture so well the quality of that day in the forest, as film usually does. One of the rare days when everything seems good and the future full of promises.
Among rainy days and days with things to do, we managed a trip to the forest again. We hoped to find mushrooms, but even with the rain, the soil was too dry and we didn’t find any. But my friend took some plants for our urban garden and we had a really nice walk. I really needed to go out and this forest that is so easy to reach by a bus from the city is a great cure for my anxiety.
The forest is so different each time we visit. This time there were less flowers, but it was so green and full of bird songs and mysterious sounds. It was very windy and the tall trees were moving far, far away in the sky.
This is one of my favorite plants, Geranium robertianum or Herb-Robert, so pretty and also a very efficient remedy for my migraines. My friend brought some of it from the forest some time ago and they thrive in our urban garden.
We looked for a while at the small pond that seems so different now compared to a month ago.
This is a different pond, full of small, white flowers.
Some other flowers and leafs.
And some shaky videos of flowers and windy trees.