Category Archives: Life

Weekly Photo Challenge: Threshold, Take Two

By Vladimir Brezina

This week’s Photo Challenge is Threshold:

“A threshold is a point of entering; that point just before a new beginning — that split-second moment in time, full of anticipation. All the hard work is over; relief is palpable.”

But then, as often as not, an unanticipated trap springs shut and your life spins in quite a different direction…

Trapped mouse 1
Trapped mouse 2
Trapped mouse 3
Trapped mouse 4

This post was inspired by 2812 Photography’s “Threshold” post and the questions it asks.

The first, more benign, “Threshold” post was here.

Travel Theme: Romance

By Vladimir Brezina

Ailsa’s travel-themed photo challenge on this Valentine’s Day is, very appropriately, Romance.

The romance of watching the sunset together…

Watching the sunset together

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Fat, Wonderful Fat

By Vladimir Brezina

Looking around the kitchen and in the refrigerator and freezer, our collection of fats, many of them the residues of repasts past, seems to be remarkably varied just now…

DSC_0023 cropped small

From left to right—
Front row: lard (pig), bacon fat (pig), butter (cow)
Middle row: olive oil, beef marrow fat (cow), coconut oil, goose fat
Back: duck fat (and stock)

Each of them will be used, one day, in its own best way… Julia Child would approve!

Our 2014 Calendar

By Vladimir Brezina and Johna Till Johnson

It’s almost the end of January, and we’re still looking up at that blank space on the wall where our 2014 calendar should be. But we aren’t going to buy one. Rather, like last year, we are going to make our own, selecting from Vlad’s photos those that seem to us to best capture the feeling of each month.

Now, finally, it’s done, and we’ve sent the calendar off to Shutterfly to be printed.

Here are the photos that we’ve selected:

Cover

IMGP4507 cropped small(More photos are here)

Flow on, river! flow with the flood-tide, and ebb with the ebb-tide!
Frolic on, crested and scallop-edg’d waves!
Gorgeous clouds of the sun-set! drench with your splendor me, or the men and women generations after me

Walt Whitman, Crossing Brooklyn Ferry

Continue reading

Weekly Photo Challenge: Family

By Vladimir Brezina

This week’s Photo Challenge is Family.

And, for some reason, this picture just says “Family” to me… ;-)

Family

A good candidate for a caption contest. Anyone care to try?

Happy New Year!

By Vladimir Brezina and Johna Till Johnson

IMGP1143 cropped small

Now that the madness of the holidays is over and we are paddling out into calmer waters, we’d like to wish you, all our friends and faithful readers of Wind Against Current, a most happy and successful 2014, wherever your adventures may take you!

Weekly Photo Challenge: Joy

By Vladimir Brezina

This week’s Photo Challenge is Joy.

Kids have no trouble finding Joy.

IMGP3106 cropped smallIMGP3110 cropped smallIMGP3114 cropped small

Adults sometimes have to work at it…

IMGP3093 cropped small

Figment NYC 2011. A writeup with more photos is here.

North Versus South

By Vladimir Brezina

Different materials, but the same impulse. It’s a united country after all…

DSC_0368 cropped smallDSC_0203 cropped smallDSC_0471 cropped smallDSC_0864 cropped smallDSC_0373 cropped smallDSC_0493 cropped small

Lessons from the Life of Nelson Mandela

By Johna Till Johnson

Nelson Mandela

“We must use time wisely and forever realize that the time is always ripe to do right” — Nelson Mandela

Nelson Mandela is dead.

It’s hard to believe—not that he’s dead, but that it happened today.

His life was so epic, so mythic, that it’s hard to believe he was actually alive in our time. He has always seemed to me to be one of the heroes of yore, the kind that doesn’t live any more in these diminished times.

And although I know shamefully little about South African politics or history, I’ve always been captivated by one part of his story: that he spent 27 years in prison—a significant chunk of his life sentence—before not only being set free, but becoming President of South Africa.

I often try to imagine that: being sentenced to life in prison, and actually spending 27 years, a lifetime by itself, imprisoned under brutal conditions.

How do you keep believing in yourself, your cause, and in the possibility of having some kind of impact on the outside world? What keeps you from just giving up, as year after year goes by, with no hope, or reason to hope?

Only Nelson Mandela knew the true answer, and now he’s gone. But as I try to imagine it, here’s what I imagine:

–That after the first shock of the realization settles in, you recognize that although you can’t control your circumstances, you can control your response to them. (And really, that’s no less true in the outside world—we think we have control over circumstances, but how much of your day do you actually spend reacting to them, rather than creating them?)

–That you never give up hope that the dream itself will exist one day, whether or not you are there to see it. And you take faith and nourishment from that dream, and from your ability to believe in it.

–That you remind yourself constantly that your adversaries are humans, too, and seek a genuine connection with them. (Mandela learned Afrikaans in prison, and ultimately succeeded in making friends with the guards.)

–That you refuse to let your failures define you. By then, Mandela had failed many times in his life—he didn’t pass his law examinations, his first marriage ended because of his unfaithfulness, and the fact of being imprisoned (no matter how unjustly) had to have felt like a failure. But none of those defined him. What defined him was his belief in the dream.

These are all easy to write, and inspirational to think about.

But living them—day by day, hour by hour, moment my moment—must have been difficult.

Each moment he had to have made up his mind to resist hopelessness and embrace the dream, to work passionately towards his goals while detaching himself from the desire to be present when they were achieved.

And do all that not once, or twice, but over and over again—there are a lot of moments in 27 years. That takes not just inspiration, but persistence (stubbornness, if you will) and consistency.

There are many lessons here, but this is the lesson I take away from the life of Nelson Mandela: The way to survive, and triumph, is not just to believe in your dreams, but to work doggedly, persistently, with a strong heart, towards achieving them. Day by day. Moment by moment. And focus not on your failures, but upon your efforts.

RIP Nelson Mandela.

And thank you.

Travel Theme: Fragrant

By Vladimir Brezina

Ailsa’s travel-themed photo challenge this week is Fragrant.

It’s not even Thanksgiving, but the first Christmas decorations have already made their appearance in NYC store windows, so it’s not too early for this post…

No plastic Christmas trees for us. We always have a real tree. Plastic trees can look pretty, but lack an essential element of Christmas—the fragrance of a real tree, especially when that fragrance is released by the heat of real candles…

DSC_0018 cropped small

More photos from Christmas 2011 are here, and from Christmas 2012 here. Looking forward to Christmas 2013!