Category Archives: Life

Happy Summer!

By Vladimir Brezina

On the first day of summer, the possibilities are endless. As far as the eye can see, even the North Sea is blue…

Cromer, Norfolk, England(Cromer, Norfolk, England)

Citizen of New York

By Johna Till Johnson

This year I became, officially, a citizen of New York City.

How’s that, you ask, given that I’ve lived in New York City for over 20 years?

Well yes, but living somewhere doesn’t automatically mean you’re a citizen of the place. Citizenship connotes something larger: a mix of rights and responsibilities. You’re not just passing through, you’ve put down roots. You take personal responsibility for how things are run, and feel that you’ve earned the right to enjoy (or criticize) the results.

And as of last year, New York City actually has a formal rite of passage for becoming a city citizen (in a sense): getting your New York City ID card.

New York City ID

Continue reading

Park Bench Sentiments

By Johna Till Johnson
Photos by Vladimir Brezina

Central Park benchesMany benches in NYC’s Central Park bear engraved metal plaques. For a donation, one can endow a bench as part of the Park’s “Adopt-a-Bench” program.

As you might imagine, the engravings are sometimes sentimental, and often heartbreaking. Too often, they memorialize a loved one who’s clearly still missed by grieving friends and relatives: “To my beloved…”, “In memory of my dear…”

.

And then there’s this one:

"So far so good"

It made us laugh. And agree that it’s something to be grateful for!

I Used to Hate Spring…

By Johna Till Johnson
Photos by Vladimir Brezina

April puddle

April is the cruelest month, breeding
lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
memory and desire, stirring
dull roots with spring rain.

—T.S. Eliot, The Waste Land

I’ll admit it: I used to hate Spring.

Why “admit”? Because from what I can tell, most people are thrilled by lengthening days, soft fragrant breezes, and the sight of new flowers pushing up through the fresh grass.

In New York, Springtime is especially noteworthy. Everyone takes to the parks. Lovers canoodle. Pets frolic. And we walk around with goofy smiles and say unexpected things to each other, like “Please,” and “Thank you” and “After you!”

So what’s not to love?

Continue reading

Future

By Vladimir Brezina

Future personified…

Future

This was some years ago. What was then in the future is now far in the past…

A contribution to this week’s Photo Challenge, Future.

More Fun with Easter Eggs

By Vladimir Brezina

The solid colors of the PAAS Easter-egg coloring kit, while very suitable for serious scientific investigation, were really just a little too plain by themselves. Fortunately the kit also included four paint-on colors and a couple of brushes. So I had a go.

Now, I can draw a stork carrying a baby as well as anyone… on a piece of dry, flat paper. But it wasn’t quite so easy on the wet, slippery egg. The paint was taking forever to dry, and guests were coming in an hour…

This is what I ended up with:

Painted Easter eggs 1 Painted Easter eggs 2 Painted Easter eggs 3

As you can see, I somehow gravitated toward fertility symbols—funny how that happens at Easter with the onset of Spring. I did think of including a few goats and maybe the great god Pan—or just naked female figures—but there wasn’t time. Maybe next year!

Our Easter Egg Science Project

By Johna Till Johnson and Vladimir Brezina

Easter egg science project 1It was bound to happen.

Take a scientist and an engineer, add a kit designed for children, and you’ll end up with a science project.

A few days ago (on the first day of spring, to be exact), we decided to color Easter eggs. We’re not sure whose idea it was (each of us says it originated with the other), but regardless: There we were with 14 hard-boiled eggs and the same PAAS egg-dyeing kit that Johna remembered from childhood. (In Czechoslovakia, too, a country nominally communist but where Easter traditions were hard to uproot, Vlad had something very similar.)

We set to work. The dye tablets fizzed in the vinegar, the appropriate amount of water was added, and the first six eggs were happily soaking in their colors. And then one of us noticed something:

“Hey, what are those lines?” As the dye deepened, several of the eggs were showing white lines, two per egg, circumscribing the eggs and trisecting them neatly. Why was this happening?

Continue reading