Photos, Travel

Russian Roulette… you’ll never believe what happened next!


Blatant click bait. Sorry. Not really. You should know better.

Well, now that you’re here, you might as well have a gander at the wares. It’s all for Movember. A post everyday for the month. Consider a dollar per post! That’s a fair deal.  It’s more work than you think! Plus growing a super tash and working to raise awareness about important men’s health issues? Certainly worth a dollar a day. 

Anyway, I was recently back in Mother Rus as part of a Burlington Yaroslavl Sister City delegation. A lot of the photos and info from my recent trip that trip can be found on the our Facebook page.

As a short Sunday evening post, I thought I’d share with you a few favorites from my own amateur efforts.

The captions have a touch of info about each. Enjoy!

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Photos, Travel

Samara, Russia



Plane over the Volga

Plane over the Volga


Photos, Travel

Summer Orphans – 2014

Everyone needs a home. Everyone needs some love. These babies don’t classify easily, so together they will be – orphans of the 2014 road trip around the Easy East of America.

Photos, Travel, Writing

NYC – Day 2 – Creative Spaces

IMG_7302Twelve hours sleep will do wonders for spirit and mind – we were up and out the door for a run around Prospect Park park by 10am, soaking up the greenery. Creativity is supposedly boosted by a dose of green, and that’s exactly what was on for the day – a grand tour of some incredible creative spaces around NYC.

IMG_7304Back to the Smith’s by 11, and out the door again by 12 to meet up with an old friend, Moriah Cowles, in her Orchard Steel metalwork studio. Bursting with energy, she gave us a grand tour of her working space and walked us from tip to tail in process of making a knife – sourcing the right metal, tempering it, pounding it out, picking the wood for the handle, putting in the decorative pin, giving it a mild ‘patina’, and touching up the uber-solid edge.

It sounds so simple in a list like that (and I’m surely missing some of the key features), but I think Moriah just makes it sound easy.  The finished product is an elegant blade, built to last, but age with style and grace.

Moriah shares her space with very cool (very Brooklyn) start-up vodka outfit called Industry City Distillery.  It was mid-day so didn’t get into a tasting, but will surely follow up another day.

Over burritos on the fire escape we all mused about what we might do if we had such a space…  Dave was music and I was publishing/writing. We can all dream…


Next up, we dashed downtown to the Flatiron District to see some family history.  Legend has it that Oscar Lundberg, my great-grandfather from Sweden, worked on the famous Flatiron building for the Remington Construction Company. One day while out on a beam, he lost his balance and fell six stories into a pile of shrapnel.   The doctors said he was probably a goner, but sure enough he left the hospital later that week complaining of the food.

Check the New York Times article here:

Click the picture to see the PDF.

Click the picture to see the PDF.


Our next destination on this whistle-stop creative spaces tour was Neuehouse to see R. Littauer for ‘happy hour’ on his last day in the building.  A linguist by trade, but a front-end web designer by choice, Littauer does some great work for Ideapod – a Facebook/Twitter for ideas. Very cool office, if it can even be called that. Pictures give the vibe, but I’m sure it’s the people that make it.

The final stop was The Village Vanguard for some world-class jazz from the Billy Hart Quartet.  Nobody was snapping or howling, but just thinking about all the famous acts that had come through there from the Beat generation to now was pretty special.  IMG_7367

Quite the day in the life of a New York creative class citizen. It takes strength to wake up and do any of these things every day – music, art, writing, craft. Seeing the design specifics for each creative purpose really highlights the importance of where the craft is done, not just how.



Kungur Ice Cave – the journey there…

6:30am and I was up. Couldn’t even wait for the alarm at 7:00.

Blame in on being in a higher latitude. Or maybe the excitement of going to one of the largest cave systems in the world, but my body was not interested in sleep.  After checking email and engaging in a further debate about Ukraine on Facebook (the referendum was in the air), I loaded up on oatmeal, coffee, and yogurt from the hotel cafe and dashed out to find the Perm bus station a few blocks up the road.

Finding stuff in Russia used to be much harder, but as the language barrier lowers, it becomes miles easier.  Not always a ‘user-friendly’ place, Russia, especially the more remote areas.  But what it lacks in development, it makes up for in history and gruff charm. (Both taxi drivers on the way to and from the airport were very open and engaging people, inviting me to ask about their city.)

The journey to Kungur was painless.  A grubby old bus pulled up in Perm, a few folk got in, and after some birch-lined rough roads and a lot of snow, an hour and a half later we arrived. Ahead of schedule. Lovely. Rare.

The bus driver was happy to point me in the right direction of the caves. He said it was a few kilometres away, so on his advice I caught bus № 9 to keep my shoes a bit cleaner.  An important thing here in Russia.  I’m pretty terrible at it.

The next driver of the ‘marshrutka’ to the caves let me know when it was my stop and off I went in the direction of what seemed like nowhere. I saw the block print HOTEL СТАЛАГМИТИ (Stalagmite) nestled into some old brick and mildly scientific looking buildings in the distance.

Tomorrow, I’ll let George fill in this subterranean story with photos. Wait for it.

#3. Rolling with it.


Perm Version 1.1

I’ve unfortunately left my camera cable at home, otherwise I’d follow up the first post in this series with a pile of pictures showcasing Perm and some of its beauties, but alas… it will have to wait until I get back to Moscow.

It’ll suffice to say that it’s a quaint city with an interesting edge to it.  There are many more classic brick buildings here (and I’ve taken a slightly obsessive stance in photographing them) than in Moscow.  This is an art I really wish would be revived in Russia. The difference between the new brick buildings isn’t just in the way they are designed, but also in the way the bricks are laid.  They often seem like they need touching up almost immediately after being finished, whereas the older ones probably haven’t been touched for 50-odd years. I digress…wait for the photos.

It’s certainly not the cleanest city, but you can tell from the amount of festivals lined up, the street art, the coffee shops, and the graffiti that there’s a funky soul to this remote city.

I started the day with a 5k run from the hotel down to the embankment and along the bridge over the River Kama.  I loved being 70 ft over the water with ‘nothing but air and opportunity’ between (as my father would say).  Nearly a kilometre wide, it would be long, cold swim. All told, a lovely jaunt, but just after a wet snow, I was happy to get through the shower.

After work, I tried to check out the Perm Modern Art Museum, but was thwarted by an installation process.  In lieu of that, I spent a good few hours following the “green line” –  a painted green line on the sidewalks leading you to points of interest around the city with info boards in Russian and English. There was also the option of the “red line” or “gold line”. The red one had a more romantic tone to it, but I’m not sure what the gold line was promoting. Also a story better told with photos…

Tomorrow I’ll attempt a 2-hour bus ride 90k south to Kungur Ice Cave, one of the biggest in the world.




I think the featured image in the last post got me thinking about how interesting statues are…

They are pinnacles of achievement. They are tourist traps.  They are constant reminders.  They are controversial.  They call upon historical perspective and cultural heritage.  Most important, they make us think.

” If you had a statue, what would the plaque say?