Category Archives: Life

Farewell Christmas Tree

By Vladimir Brezina
Photos by Daniel Kalman

A couple of days ago, we lit the candles on our Christmas tree for the last time before taking the tree down…

Farewell Christmas tree 1
Farewell Christmas tree 2
Farewell Christmas tree 3

These photos were taken by our friend Dan, who was visiting us for a few days.

Our 2015 Calendar

By Vladimir Brezina and Johna Till Johnson

Picking Vlad’s photos for our calendar is an annual ritual for us.  It’s harder than it sounds, because you’re looking both backwards and forwards at the same time: remembering the past while wondering about the future. And, like most artistic endeavors, you’re never sure how it will turn out.

This year the task was particularly challenging, for various reasons. So we were both pleased and surprised at the result. Our theme, as you can see, was “water”. But the selection of photos carried a greater-than-usual sense of whimsy. It also included some of our favorite photos (you’ll probably recognize at least one).

See what you think:

Cover

Cover(Story and more photos are here)

If I were called in
To construct a religion
I should make use of water.

Philip Larkin, Water

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Christmas, 2014

By Johna Till Johnson
Photos by Vladimir Brezina and Johna Till Johnson

Our 2014 Christmas treeMaybe it’s because we spent last Christmas on the waters of the Florida Everglades. Or maybe it’s because this year has held more than the usual vicissitudes. For whatever reason, this year we found ourselves focused intently on the traditional trappings and rituals: A live tree, with real candles. A wreath, with ribbons and a bell. Roast goose, mashed potatoes, and cabbage. Christmas carols.

And they were wonderful: As the sun set on Christmas Eve, the apartment filled with the scent of roasting goose (overpowering the fresh fragrance of pine). Dinner that night was magical, with light glittering everywhere, and the sound of Christmas carols on the air.

Johna's favorite ornamentChristmas Day, we slept late, then spent a splendid several hours opening gifts. Okay, more like a few minutes doing the actual opening—but since most of the gifts were books (and most of the remainder was food), we spent a lazy afternoon listening to music, reading, and nibbling cookies. On Boxing Day, we did the official tree-candle lighting (complete with obligatory stand-by bucket of water and fire extinguisher).

All the trappings were there, and the rituals were most satisfactorily observed.  But even more than the trappings and decorations, what resonated most with us was the meaning of Christmas: light in darkness, hope for better times to come.

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Merry Christmas!

By Vladimir Brezina and Johna Till Johnson

Merry Christmas!(Johna enjoying our traditional Christmas Eve dinner of roast goose, red cabbage, and mashed potatoes…)

Merry Christmas to all our readers!!

It’s All About the Ideas

By Johna Till Johnson

Haitian fishermen (photo Ruth Fremson/The New York Times)

“Ya gotta have ideas,” the cab driver said, followed by an uproarious belly-laugh. “Money’s not worth nothing unless you have ideas.”

I laughed along with him. It was impossible not to: the man had the most contagious laughter I’d ever heard. And he had ideas. Boy, did he have ideas.

He wasn’t what I expected when I got into the cab on that overcast, dreary December day a few days before Christmas. All I could see of him was a dark face, beard streaked with a bit of gray. He was eating a late lunch when I got in, and didn’t return my greeting.

So I figured I wasn’t going to hear much from him—and that was fine. I had errands to get done, and worries on my mind. After I told him the destination, I figured that was the last exchange we’d have. Wrong!

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Christmas Twinkle

By Vladimir Brezina

This week’s Photo Challenge is Twinkle.

And, at this time of the year, there’s no other possible response than this—

Christmas tree lit. 2011Christmas twinkle, 2012Christmas twinkle, 2012

More twinkling photos from Christmas 2011 and Christmas 2012 are here and here.

Christmas dinner 2013 in the Florida Everglades

And, so as not to get bored with twinkling lights year after year, this for a change was Christmas 2013—

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We are working on Christmas 2014. Stay tuned!

Guest Post: The Art of Art

A few days ago we posted “Thanksgiving Musings: We’re Grateful for that Still, Small Voice…,” in which we referred to a wonderful essay by writer and adventurer Willis Eschenbach. He generously gave us permission to reprint the essay in full on our blog. Here it is. We hope you enjoy it as much as we did!

Guest Post by Willis Eschenbach

With Thanksgiving coming up, I thought I’d write about something other than science. A few weekends ago, I went by kayak across Tomales Bay from Marshall to Lairds Landing, where I lived for nine months or so when I was about twenty-five with a wonderful friend and his lady and their son. It had been fifteen years since I was last there, I’d gone for the wake not long after my friend died. I went on this trip with a long-time shipmate of mine, a gifted artist, builder, and blacksmith.

Now, there are lots of words for the gradations of friendship—friends, acquaintances, work-mates, BFFs, room-mates, colleagues, and the like. “Shipmate” means more than any of those to me. It means someone who I’ve been through some storms with at sea.

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