big wigs // justin richel

america's big wig men have never looked so stunning.
some poignant work by justin richel.


just because i think this is ridiculous

this is the warning sign, again this sidewalk:

only in budapest.


library sales and late night banter.

sleepy eyes and no time to write so often.

its late and im supposed to be preparing a lesson for an 8am english class. that last thing i want to do after a 3 hour tibetan class. brain, slowly, fading.



i wanted to share just one thing: a libarary sale made my week.
i was passing by the library the other day and stopped in to take a look at the english grammar books, i found a great one and didnt take it out right away, now i think someone else took it out and i keep going back to see if its been returned, never with any luck..

but i happened to be there so i stopped in again an the library was having a book sale, everything on certain racks for 100 forint (50 cents?) and i found two great finds, or at least i think so.

first, a german travel guide for moscow, with original pull-out maps included! publishing date: 1960.
the pages smell old and the graphics are pretty amazing, as are b&w photographs in the back of it. so nice. maybe its just because i work in the travel industry now, but i think i would have picked it up otherwise. there is definite great collage material here.

second, a small pocket book in hungarian. the full biography of a scholar, hunfalvy pal.
im still not sure what he did in history, but david says it looks cool. i chose it for its simple cover design, the man's portrait inside and the nice pages, blocks of text. also had the idea of ripping it apart when i bought it.

i kind of feel a little shame buying books that i plan to take apart, defacing the sacredness that is book binding, undoing the work of another for the sake of art, or at least what i may call art, the personal pleasure i take in cutting and pasting, layering and drawing. upon each other, and on top of another. paper is one of the most inspiring art mediums for me. and for you?

sunken treasure.

surely im not talking about deep sea diving and finding treasure that pirates have over-looked. gosh. i would never be so lucky to happen upon something like that. but maybe i am.

i did happen upon sunken treasure jewellery the other day and their colourful necklaces and simple designs took me back to school days when i painted noodles, strung them and refused to take them off, claiming they matched everything, i mean everything.

so after a day at the office i headed to ulloi ut near calvin ter to hit up some bead shops. the plan? to recreate some fun, simple and super wearable summer necklaces out of embroidery threads and these colourful wooden beads. i managed to keep to my budget, less than 500 forint and now i just need to steal a few hours away from the night and start.

hah. i may be dreaming about finding a few spare hours, but we'll see how it goes.


i could never get tired of train rides.

we are riding the train. it is monday afternoon. there are mounds of dirt leftover from the railroad construction, now covered in hundreds of poppies, golden rod, innocent daisies and lilacs. i wish  i could reach my arm out and pick some.

it is a long weekend and smoke billows out of country house chimneys. there are vegetables already growing in the backyards that face the rails. i think its too early but spring here arrives on schedule with strong sunshine and heavy rains.

we sway back and forth as we speed past dirt roads, ravines, a lake and more houses. sometimes you can spot a vagabond's camp through the bushes. someone with no home and who likes to wander. this is what i see from my train window.


saturday night is date night

one thing that for sure diminishes when you live with your sweetheart are date nights. its easy to not plan them when we spend mostly all of our evenings together but we haven't really put in a special effort to spend quality time together, which is easy to forget when we both have busy lives. when i moved here i also brought a couple of bottles of wine with me, some that david and i had collected while we travelled through bc, tasting at wineries and some from the winery that i used to work at, frog pond farm in niagara on the lake. after more than half a year i still have a couple of them, unopened. i was waiting for a special occasion to drink them. but then i was thinking, why wait for a special occasion?

why not make the occasion?

so we decided saturday night is going to be date night. we cooked up some asian cuisine and chilled the bottle of iced chardonnay from vancouver island. a little fresh fruit from the market and some french camembert, candle-light and a beach house album playing from inside.. it was so nice. we're one of the only flats in our building with a balcony and a quite big one which makes it perfect for eating dinner/lunch/breakfast/midnight snacks out on it. at night it turns into a proper cave.

it was the perfect night, warm after some afternoon thunder storms, and the wine tasted as good as it had almost a year ago when we tasted it at the winery. what do you do for your date nights? any good ideas?


thousands of miles this maple syrup has travelled

mailing things to hungary from canada is expensive. so i try to avoid asking for care packages from home but an opportunity arose for a "cheaper"shipping solution and with a little luck and schedule coordinating some gifts from home arrived on thursday night.

i caught wind that a friend from the buddhist centre here in budapest was travelling through south america, up the west coast and heading to edmonton for a weekend. i also have a good friend in edmonton who was willing to pass on a package from my parents to this travelling guy on the weekend he was going to be in town. so my parents put together a few things, mailed it from niagara to edomonton. this friend met up with this guy during his weekend stay in canada, and then this travelling guy brought the package all the way back through the usa, down to guatemala and mexico then he flew to miami and then back to hungary. with the package.

and it arrived in my arms on thursday night. receiving treats from home have never felt so good. to say the least i definitely owe this guy a pancake breakfast for hauling a couple bottles of maple syrup around north and south america!

my parents also send me a good supply of burt's bees lip balm, a package of my favourite new england maple coffee, my runners so i can get some exercise in this summer, and a small sleeping bag for camping this summer in greece and italy.

i think by far the nicest thing is that now, when we brew maple coffee the scent stays in our kitchen all day long. its the first scent that greets us when we come into the flat now, ahh that smell of what i know as canada.

also referred to as liquid gold.. or is that ice wine? hm. both.


anonymous post post modern modern artist

an excerpt from "cat's eye" by margaret atwood

context: narrator is an artist, walking into a gallery in toronto a few days before her retrospective will open. she is a landscape artists from the west coast.

"This gallery is not totally sterilized, there are touches of cutting edge: a heating pipe shows, one wall is black. I don't give a glance to what's still on the walls, I hate those neo-expressionist dirty greens and putrid oranges, post this, post that. Everything is post these days, as if we're all just a footnote to something earlier that was real enough to have a name of its own." (86)

just a footnote? at the end of another page? what is it called any more, post-post-modern-modern?

trying to cope with theories and materials, i dug my way through art and theory school, form and matter. text and images. too-long essays and dozens of books. paintings too expensive to ship from spain.

i have a paper just to prove i finished. but i can't help but think its just another tick on the to-do list of life. sometimes. i think my art and writing skills attest, even if its the slightest that i put four years to good use.

i want to do something with my brain sometimes. you know, creatively.

chelseabird mentioned a zine the other day, the artist of the office, and i think i could use a copy of it. coping.


a bit of my world in black and white

where i used to keep my treasures: an eiffel tower from paris, a couple of shells from england's east coast, a bolt from my dad's work bench and a clay figure i made in art class

a budapest post card i just couldn't send, i loved it too much. an old man and his newspaper.

my one souvenir from vienna a few years ago. 50 cents at an old antique shop. out of focus, this girl has stared back at me for 2 years and i wish i knew who she was.

im not sure who doesnt have a photograph of their mum from when she was twenty-something. this is mine, miss nancy byrnes.

a shot i made with my holga for a photography class, it's the only one my professor liked. i think the double/triple exposures and light spots were too much for his traditional soul.

a drive-by shot in brooklyn. what else are red lights for when theres graffiti and dumpsters around? the final shot of an excellent trip last spring.


dans la bibliotheque

how distracting is it at the library?

little girls running around with photography books in their hand, lair so long they could trip on it. a woman asks me something in hungarian. i sigh and say i dont speak hungarian. apparently though her english is perfect. trying to decipher the differences between prepositions, particles and what the heck a phrasal verb is. time warp to grade ten grammar classes and stuck in the same misunderstandings i had them. how am i supposed to teach this stuff if i didn't get it them. it just is how it is. apparently that's hardly an acceptable excuse for an english teacher. so i have to figure out why it is the way it is and decipher all of these words to make some meaning.

but ooh the distractions.

lets just play word games. how about that? everyone loves word games.

the library closes in twenty minutes. on a school night. either i have to get here earlier or they definitely need to stay open later. no space and no quiet in my corner of deak ter. distractions.

distractions everywhere.


breakfast on balconies

saturday and sunday.

pouring rain, so hard it wasn't worth going outside. i spent my afternoon yesterday sitting on the balcony reading and writing letters, yes with paper and pen. its amazing people still do it these days. seldom but i try to keep up. i hardly believed my hand was cramping after a page. like i've forgotten how to hold and pen and my cursive could use a little practise too.

i don't sit down enough with a pen and paper anymore. neither a pencil and a sketchbook.

avid and i did manage a run to the market before it started raining though. once it started it didn't stop until late at night. when we awoke this morning it had slowed down to a cold trickle. it's unusually cold out and i've welcomed back my long johns and wool socks for today. i packed them away for the warmer weather but it's nice to  wear them again. cosy clothes for a sunday afternoon of cut and paste and some cooking.

what's on the menu for today? asparagus and mushroom tartes.


packaging and royal mail

how cool is moo's packaging?

i ordered a pack of business cards during a promotional offer last month with etsy. only pay for shipping which i thought was a great deal since it was only four dollars and they came from england (hence the royal mail). the cards are lovely and printed on heavy card stock. business cards are a funny thing, for some reason and on a real whim i ordered them, i don't really need them since my etsy shop isn't entirely active right now, hardly since i moved to hungary but i thought i would invest a couple of dollars in good quality cards, you know, for the future. hah.

the thought now is preposterous but none the less i enjoy the bright colours and will keep a few close by, just in case. my mom, the business woman, says you should always have a business card in case you meet the right person who could get you somewhere.



oryx and crake

it started with a quote:

"i could perhaps like others have astonished you
with strange improbable tales' but I rather chose
to relate plain matter of fact in the simplest
manner and style; because my principle design
was to inform you, and not to amuse you."

jonathan swift, gulliver's travels

and then it continued with another one:

"was there no safety? no learning by heart of
the ways of the world? no guide, no shelter,
but all was miracle and leaping from the
pinnacle of a tower into the air?"

virginia woolf, to the lighthouse

its a story about a snowman and a pair of friends named after extinct animals. its a comment on society and where we're heading. its hilarious and scary at the same time. a humble but all too veritable depiction of the end of the modern world, the transformation of us entering another post-post-post-modernity.

snowman is alone now but he wasn't always that way. he tells the story from then until now and everything that happened in between. a little love and a lot of cell splicing. i think the seattle times says it best, "...her shuddering post-apocalyptic vision of the world... summons up echoes of george orwell, anthony burgess and aldous huxley..."

a book by margaret atwood


a poem and a sprig of sage

It struck me every day
   The lightning was as new
As if the cloud that instant slit
   And let the fire through.

It burned me in the night,
   It blistered in my dream;
It sickened fresh upon my sight
   With every morning's beam.

I thought that storm was brief,--
   The maddest, quickest by;
But Nature lost the date of this,
   And left it in the sky.
[emily dickinson, "it struck me"]


introducing andrea wan

i came a cross andrea's artwork in frankie mag this morning, yes while i was only momentarily distracted at work. only momentarily, i promise. her work is whisical (even if i dont like the word, because its overly used in describing art these days) and makes me feel like im dreaming, or at least her work comes from the dream word. nice illustrations, nice work. take a look at her site too. i think its the perfect work to leave you with this weekend.


unexpected expectedness

do you ever have those times when you think you've got it all figured out. you've made a plan, finally and you finally think things are cool and you're on the coastal highway of life and its a smooth ride and the sun is shining? i also recently thought i was cruising down that road, finally deciding to stay in budapest for a while and setting in, focus on meditation and getting some more job experience as a writer. perfect opportunities to travel and try my luck at a new language (or two, i had no idea i'd pick up tibetan while i was here) and be glad that finally david and i could live in the same country for a while.

cool, we thought. well, not so cool. my work permit applications were denied this week, meaning i have few options for staying in the country. we are trying, as a company, to rebuke the rejection, try again explaining why a canadian girl should be hired instead of a hungarian.

and so it seems the next week and a half decides if i stay or if i start to repack my backpack, odds and ends, shop for some souvenirs and take my blue suitcase out of here, or not. just another reminder of impermanence and that everything is changing, all the time. easy to say but when it turns upside down on you, i just can't help but feel a little sad and a little more sad. it would be boring if it all stayed the same or went exactly as planned right?


a cut and paste wedding card

one of my work colleagues is getting married this weekend and so i finally sat down and made her card. i bought two square, pale blue envelopes from the stationary store underneath our flat, each for 10 forint. i cut one up using just the front and flap for the card itself. i used a canadian quarter to draw out the pattern, cut it out, drew up a few doves on ivory card stock. cut / glue. the text i did in chinese ink with an old fashioned ink pen. i like how it stands above the paper surface when it dries. a little needle and thread and id already forgotten how much i loved to make cards by hand. ive been ignoring my craft corner too for a little while, but this card is the tip of the iceburg, im already on another paper craft! i will share later though, another day when its finished. i can feel a diy series starting, slowly slowly!

happy wedding reka! (actually i hope she doesn't see this before saturday, would ruin the surprise)


a message from avignon

a post card from a cypriot friend now living in avignon. what a surprise! i like when you think you've lost touch with someone and a card shows up in your mailbox. its one of the best feelings. a post card in return is on its way in her direction. getting me thinking, does any one also want to do a post card exchange? ive collected a few goodies since ive been here in budapest and id love to share them! let me know and we can swap addresses.

mayia's made hers by hand, she's a painter any ways, so i wouldn't expect anything less from her. earlier this morning i was also wondering what to love about mondays? well here's one good reason, although not necessarily a dependable reason to always love mondays but im on a quest to find something special to look forward to every single day of the week.

another note: do you remember those chain letters? where you'd have to print it out and mail it again to 5 other people? and send a postcard to the fifth address on the envelope? i always went through with them, but never got my postcard in return...


good morning cheerios

a bowl of wheated o's, a bowlful of letters staring back at me. ive stared back at these puffed wheat rings for years. but not since years. the cereal of my child years, plain, not honied. my mother would never agree to that. luck would have it there were on sale this week, so i scooped up a box of breakfast cereal i havent eaten in years. savouring every spoon of their familiar taste, it hasnt changed since i was in elementary school. 

sliced bananas and fresh strawberries, the first of the season (the strawberries that is), doused in soy milk. this cereal never gets old.

is it strange when little things like american breakfast cereals make me happy? oh dear. it sounds worse when i type that out loud.