Clay, life

April 9, 2018


Pink Floyd plays, a fire roars in the big old fashioned stove, a single light bulb shines in the center of the room. Deep breath. I am alone tonight. My hosts went out, I took a bath, washed my clothes, now there is the night quiet in Tymakov, the Czech village where I am living right now.

One of the reasons for deciding to go on this journey was that I could not afford to pay rent. I am at this very moment down to ground zero. Right now I am a seed.

Looking back,  I see that in 1989 I was also a seed arriving in Vancouver, a blooming plant grew from that seed and produced many fruits. I became Danielle the singer songwriter, recording artist, a translator-producer, an entrepreneur, I married, I worked hard and made good money. Good fruits they were.

But fruits fall to the ground and become food and shelter for the seeds, All that grows eventually yellows, grays and collapses to the ground. Of this glorious plant was, left as the cycle demands,  the seed. The dandelion seed pushed by the winds made a likely metaphor for my life.


So in this little Czech village tonight I am having a moment to myself.  A few days ago Pavel showed me clay that he pulled out of a stack of big plastic bags. This “white” clay, as he called it, is a special vintage that was dug out of the Czech earth, where a sea existed many eons ago. I had this clay on my mind ever since he showed me. Saturday morning I asked about the plans for the day, he said: No plan, today off. I immediately decided to do something with this clay. I had no idea what I was going to do. I was too much in a hurry to put my hands in the stuff  and didn’t want to delay this moment in order to find material to build an armature, I just put my hands in the cool, damp stuff and started shaping it.

I sat outside on a blue stool, in front of a rough old table, the sun shining brilliantly on the land, the birds filling the air with their sounds and trills, there are so many song birds here, I love, love, love them… one pot with water a handful of wooden tools and this hunk of clay. It was the finest atelier one could ever dream of. What a freedom, what a quiet, profound joy. Around me, the many friends of my hosts are coming by, always bringing a small present of some homemade sort, a strudel, water from a mineral water well, or IT help. The men went to turn the earth in the back field, for a garden to come. Pavlina cooked lunch, Peter was fixing appliances, everyone contributing their skills at Living Whale.


So destitute as I am on paper, I am living this life of plenitude.

I’ve been here 2 weeks now, I’ve come to know some of the friends, the place, the poetry of these people. So quickly, I inserted myself into this life, and so quickly I will disappear from it. Since I’ve been here I have been given so many gifts, my host is so perceptive, first it was a guitar that appeared, then I had the chance to try a pottery wheel, visit some sculptures on a couple of outdoor sites, then after wasting my ink supply, a bottle of blue ink from the communist era appeared, they tell me it dates back from the 80’s and had been waiting for me ever since. ( I am practicing the calligraphy I learned in Oleron with it) Then it was this clay, the space, and this immense kindness.

I could be tempted to worry about leaving this place, tempted to feel sorry about letting go of this little paradise, but this is that lesson again: impermanence. Life is vast, abundant, magical.


I ended up making a horse, of course. The absence of armature meant that I had to devise something solid for the legs to support the form. I will make another one soon, this time I will experiment with sticks, Pavel who is a clay artist told me about this technique, using tiny sticks which will burn when put in the kiln. (yes after I leave and the pieces will have dried they will fire them)

I am here for now. Each day a new day. Each day like the last, each day like the first. Facing me, trying to love me, giving, helping as much as I can. I hope I can repay a bit what magnificent gifts they are bestowing upon me.




Czech Republic, hello!

April 5, 2018

d35my work inspired by l’Ile d’Oléron


After finishing my work I left Oléron.  My heart stays full of this place, it was absolutely magical and I have a longing for it in my heart.  I hope I can return one day.  I did indeed succeeded in making this big journey I talked about in the last post: going from Oléron to the Czech Republic. I crossed France hitchhiking via Bordeaux, Nérac, Carcassonne, Nice all hitchhiking except for one bit between Aix en Provence and Nice that I did via BlaBlaCar.  It was amazing.  I got to see friends all the way through and managed to make new friends on the road.

c87 The Atlantic shore, next stop: Québec…



In Italy I took the train, as opposed to France, the trains there are really affordable and easy, I would look forward in the future to traveling the country that way.  I was told that hitchhiking sucks in Italy so I did not even try.  Torino was great, I got to see my friend Antonio and met the Gypsy Marionettist, drank awesome coffee and really loved it until Milano where things kind of got sour between the train station and my seat to Berlin on a RyanAir jet.  Lets just say this:  if you go to a cafe in Milan 1. ask for the price before you sit or you may be charged for the air you breathe, 2. if the web site says it is a ticketless shuttle to the airport, print your ticket anyways.  3. if you fly Ryan Air PRINT YOUR BOARDING PASS.  4. If you are carrying art supplies… well, … don`t carry art supplies on RyanAir.  I`ll just add that for me RyanAir is now RyanNightmare.  Enough said.

the Gypsy Marionnetist



In Berlin it is the sweet Rebecca that I got to see again.  We knew each other from the Chillout days.  It was really cool, but it was very short, two nights and I was on my way to Poznan, Poland, then to Wroclaw for a very short overnight stop, then a quick stop in Prague where I just switched busses and was on my way.  I really wish to see this city in the future as it looks absolutely amazing. I arrived around 8 PM in Plzen (Pilsen) where my Workaway host picked me up.


Preparing for the Sweat Lodge on full moon night

Workaway.  I talked about it before: a website that connects travelers and hosts for work projects.  The travelers in exchange for their work get food and bed.  There is everything on the website, from labor camp to babysitting to bio-agriculture to language teaching, to art projects, etc, etc.  My beginning here were a bit tough, mainly because I have been a city girl for the last 5 years and have not done much exercise, let alone outdoor work so all the muscles involved in  things other than writing, talking, sleeping, sitting, playing guitar or drawing have been inactive… so piling wood and hauling bricks an building a wall felt like the Gulag to these hibernating muscles.
Thankfully the Easter weekend provided a much needed rest.  Also, we had a native indian inspired sweat lodge on the full moon (Saturday night) and that really helped in healing.

But don`t get me wrong, I am not complaining at all.  I realize that these Workaway experiences go beyond just showing up and meeting cool people.  As with most things in life, there are no accidents and I am now seeing that each experience helps me face an aspect of myself that needs facing.  So if something is very intense, I just reach in and try to confront it so that I can learn and heal.  It is a cliché but there are no accidents, especially if you do things mindfully, your choices will guide you to where you should be. Just traveling around superficially can be a sort of cool escape.  But being somewhere as a stranger with strangers, with all the challenges that come with not knowing a language, with the need to just surrender to whatever happens and trust the outcome, to be patient if you don`t understand, to be strong enough to overcome your fears and doubts.  It is really an amazing school if you allow it.  There is of course there is the bonus advantage like seeing new horizons, new cultures, be amazed by people and their visions and creations, make new friends and live unique, special moments on the other side of the globe.  It is totally inspiring.

And speaking of inspiration I feel it rise in me.  It had been a while since I have felt that kind of spark.


So there you go, I will not go into it too deep for now.  The images will have to do until next time.

All my love.


The Edge of the World

March 13, 2018



Standing on the edge of the Atlantic Ocean, the wind is hard and constant. On the horizon white crests of waves approach, they come crashing on the shore of golden sand. I am mesmerized. It shines, sparkles, the water. It growls and chews at the land, the water. It speaks to me, the water.

It was a surprise visit, my host was going to buy fish and took me to La Cotinière, on the West side of the Island. It’s another world altogether, the East side is a collaboration of man and sea, a long, long relationship, deep-seated roots of humans on this Island. You feel the partnership, the water is `human size’, the people work hard but the obstacles are surmountable with perseverance. The West side, speaks of the smallness of man in front of the magnitude of this life force that is the Ocean.  I imagine the brave souls who set out on wooden sail ships to find new worlds…

The air fills my very molecules with a shimmer, it’s hard to leave and it’s hard to stay. I am being told that in the summer here, it is resort town, beaches filled with vacationers, streets blocked with constant traffic of summer revellers, villas alive with their occupants. Now it’s not like this, now most of the homes are closed up. There are mostly the fishermen and the fishing business going on.

I am on the verge of leaving Oléron. My artist residence has run its time. This has been way beyond anything I imagined; the kindness of my hosts, the passion that rose while doing the work, the wonders of discovering this place daily, the kind hearts I met while here. Every day showed me different colors, winds, air, from rainbows to snow storm, I felt energized by the oxygen itself.

I am soon to hit the road. This journey is different from anything else I have done, I don`t have a vehicle, or tickets,  I left Istanbul because I could not afford to pay rent and the Workaway was a way to go out and experience life, help, learn and get to into the world knowing I would have a roof over my head, it seemed like a logical choice. But right now there is a feeling that all is completely open, completely possible.  By chance, I happen to have many friends on this very road I wish to take; people I met at Chillout while working in the hostel, people I met in Istanbul, people I knew from before. Serendipitously, they are all on this road I wish to take. I will hitchhike, walk, I want to be free, I don`t want to be waiting for bus schedules and line up in terminals to be herded into a seat and spend hours just waiting to exit. I want to be breathing the air, on the land, just there every second of it without worrying about nailing things down.  They will appear.  Below is my tentative road.  I have friends in the highlighted cities, lets see what actually takes place as I go.


While doing my art residence here, I felt, saw, experienced profound inspiration. My mind filling with ideas, inspiration. I see that the well is full and that is very exciting. I was wondering what next?  I think that after this journey is done, I will look for a place to create : paint, sculpt, draw, take photos, write. When I lived in Richmond BC I had that. I had this studio and I did many things. There are so many things I want to develop, clay, plaster, drawings on big boards, I want to work with good people on projects like the dragon books; creative, challenging, mind expanding .  I have skills, abilities, I wish to team up, I do best that way I think.

Speaking of dragons, I wanted to share the work I did on the second book`s cover.  It will not be the actual cover, the team decided to go for something more in line with the first book for continuity`s sake but I wanted to share that… I am getting to figure out dragons.


Being here in France also made me realize that I have gradually closed myself off more and more, struggling. I don`t know how the finances will change, but they will (they have to!) After a magnificent start in Istanbul,  I slowly started to shut up, shut up my musical voice, shut up my social life, shut off from the noise and pollution and too harsh environment.  The political marasm affecting everyone’s spirits affected me too.  It is hard to resist the tide of a people overwhelmed by hardships.
You start internalizing this  helplessness and slow depression that stagnates in the air around you. Slowly but surely any idea besides survival seem impossible. Here, I am amazed at how vibrant the creative spririt is, no matter the age, the people make associations, events, create, build, of course it`s not all easy but there is normality in such things and that is not the case in Turkey.


But here I am … talking all these words… I don`t know what will happen. The way life goes these days, in 24 hours life could be turned inside out, or upside down, and I am open for it. What I am doing now is plunging blindfolded into possibilities. Into currents that I know not of. Hopefully I will be malleable enough to let them take me to a new shiny coast of life and discovery.

Much love.


Oh life.

March 2, 2018



Wind, wind and more win, the ocean is crashing itself on the shores in a green fury, the island just remains passive under the assault, there is this feeling that all is shifting at all times, as the tides ebb and flow giving and taking, sometimes leaving an immense wall of brown mud between itself and the land, sometimes licking its coast brazenly.  My mind feels like the moon has gotten into it, affecting my own waters, I can only surrender.


Snow, snow and snow, I was surprised by the white flurries dancing in that wind, it is also cold, cold, cold my nose hurts, my lungs protest, but my Québécois soul knows all this and rises to the surface to welcome the elements that are so much an intrinsic part of it, while my French friends are not so willing to be out to dance along with the snow flakes.


My continental divides, my two sides of the Atlantic, my East – West conundrum, my male-female shifts, my fears and desires, all restimulated every day, every moment while I travel and disengage with my habits so it makes me feel and see more of the life that rushed on this earth at every micro second.  Not only I am traveling physically, I am traveling via the words of  Pierre Loti right now,  I read Ayizade, so I travel to Istanbul, 130 years ago through his pages, I also travel between present and past with my genetic ancestors and what they have become, Samuel de Champlain, he dreamed of La Nouvelle France, created it, le Roi Soleil, Louis XIV who had this fortress built here on Oleron. I am visiting the land of my direct ancestors, they all come from the coasts of France, those ancestors who abandoned us to the cruel English who in turn tried to assimilate us.  What a tapestry.  Words, shapes, colors, the threads, maybe I am Penelope, weaving in the day, unraveling it at night the work, keeping my freedom in the undoing of it all.  Keeping the shackles of a too well coordinated life dictated by culture off from my limbs and mind.  Turn off your TV.


No matter where I am, what I do, it seems that I still, I remain the electron. Remember the electron from the motorcycle days?

At times I wonder what it is I should aim for, this question a perennial for me. I went to school then realized it was a joke so I left. I rode horses then realized it was indeed a strange thing to do to such animals so I stopped. I played music and then saw that there was so much ego and insecurity and just plain lack of music that I stopped. I married and thought I loved but realized it was in the end just the upholding of the idea of marriage, not love, so it ended. I tried to be spiritual then, as it seemed the only true aim but I realized that there is a tremendous amount of pride into “bettering oneself” and that the idea of bettering yourself is a basic denial of what you are and to go that road is basically asserting that “yourself” is not good enough. So I lived without anything more than food and a roof and a shower, I had love and then it seemed nothing else was needed. But life comes and makes love something that you have to let go, as new paths appear and there is no choice but to walk on, and after tearful goodbyes, walk we do.



I glide, on the air, like the seagull, like the electron. It is something quite special to allow yourself to glide, to be into it, to let the wind rage and batter you as you feel how the its forces and currents connect with your feathers, your pinions. Each day could change, can change, is changing, will change. Like the tides, the clouds, the winds, the seasons.


Sometimes it seems that I should have a space to create things, but maybe a higher purpose yet is not to have to create anything to hold on to, like the Buddhist’s sand mandala, painstakingly made, grain by grain to be then blown back to formlessness. Maybe deaming of having a place to work is like trying to pin yourself down, to behave in an acceptable manner to your fellow humans, so to settle into one static place, isn’t it like a butterfly with a pin in the heart. It looks good but it ain’t really living.


These vectors, connections, missions, the whole vibrational field of energies of all the beings and of the whole universe, this endless consciousness in which we course on our own trajectories, meeting, missing, colliding, paralleling and all the directional terms in existence and in usage, all of that which is life, that which we understand and that which we do not, oh what an incommensurate is-ness.

Oh life.

I feel gratefulness, for all of the beauty.  I know that I don’t know anything truly. I am just another expression, a pigment of paint on the whole canvas.  I am but a speck containing the whole of the Universe, nothing and everything.

My wish to be able to hear, tune in, feel the truth, as I don’t thing the truth can be known as science likes to think it knows, It’s all much more fluid than that, much more feminine and curvy and mysterious. Magical. Mythical. Sensed and guessed, grazed and roused, intimated and whispered. None of the big machines, bulldozers, explosive charges that flatten beauty, life.

Oh life.



Bon voyage

February 23, 2018


I have traveled. A ferry, a bus, a plane, many cars, my feet. There I am. On the edge of the Atlantic. It is a bit unreal still. Not so long ago I was like a salmon in a spring run on the streets of Istanbul. Now I am stunned by the quietness of a small fishermen’s village. A village with much history though. Louis XIV was here, as well as the Germans during the world wars.


I am on an Island called Oléron. L’Ile d’Oléron. It is close to La Rochelle and Rochefort. An interesting bit : Pierre Loti, the writer who spent so much time in Istanbul in the 19th Century, is from Rochefort. A strange thing to me. He went to Istanbul and came back here, I came here from Istanbul. I have seen where he lived near the Golden Horn. Now I am seeing where he came from and where he ultimately died.

France. Québec. Two more places linked together that are part of my very DNA. I am moved by words. Road signs. Masonry. I see invisible ties that originated here and link to the Nouveau Monde. There are words I have never seen, yet they touch something deeply rooted in my human experience. Is culture in the DNA? A sort of archeology of my genome.


There is also a sort of reckoning. The French dumped us and abandoned us to the hands of the English 400 years ago and much pain came to my ancestors, our licence plate in Quebec says : Je me souviens. I remember… Yes I do remember. But today`s French people are not at all concerned with these long gone histories. A boat sunk yesterday and that occupied much of the talk in the cafe.

So, yeah. I left Istanbul on Sunday. Flew into Orly, met a French speaking Turk at the airport who helped me get on my way to the A10. I am hitchhiking. I am dirt poor. Those who say you must be rich to travel are lying. But you must put out more efforts and be willing to not know what is next. It is a zero expectation, 100% in the moment kind of thing. I like it.

The sun shines, spring is looming, there is a greening spreading, tiny blooms appearing, birds singing. I am alive.


I made it to the freeway access ramp. I have a sign on which I wrote ‘Orléans’ that is the first big city on the way south. I took an A4 piece of paper and folded it, writing a different city on each segment. Orléans, Vierzon, Limoges. My destination is Limoges where I`ll meet a friend and stay a few nights. The first ride is with a young guy, we barely go 10 KM but at least I broke the bad spell I had 4 years ago when no one would pick us up in France… Then ride number two. Again, the driver says he`s not going far, but at least I am advancing I`m thinking. He stops in the middle of nowhere, then says to me :

« Ça te déranges si je me caresse pendant que je te regarde?

(do you mind if I caress myself while I look at you?)

– Oui. I answered as I took my bags

– T’es sûre?
(Are you sure?)

– Oui, absolument certaine.

I shut the door and shook my head. Really?? I had never been asked that question before. It seemed so stupid. His shy bespectacled face with the eyes slightly crossed. Young, maybe 25 at most. But the thing I then realized was that he dropped me off in the middle of nowhere. There was a ramp to the highway but the few cars were mostly heading north towards Paris not down this road south. I waited there with my ‘Orléans’ sign for maybe 20 minutes, I ate some of the hard-boiled eggs I had prepared, then understood that I would not get a ride like this. The sun was slightly edging down and it reminded me that I did not want to be on the highway in the dark. So I started to walk towards the highway, knowing full well that hitch-hiking on the speedways is not allowed in France.

I had been walking for about 10 minutes when I heard a horn behind me. I looked back. Cops. A big blue van with two cops in it. They first were a bit tough but I told them about the previous driver and they became immediately helpful.

“Vous avez une description de la voiture?  La marque? Le numéro d’imatriculation”


So within moments I was in a French police van riding down the highway. They dropped me off at  a rest area for truckers next to a highway toll station. They lectured me for a while about the do`s and don`ts of hitchhiking in France, letting me know that by law,  I was not allowed to go on the road and between the toll booths but since it was really hard, they tolerated it if you thumbed next to the road. They then left.

I didn`t take very long for me to realize that this rest area was deserted. No one came here.  In 30 minutes 2 cars went by. I was torn, Can`t go on the road where all these hundreds of cars were passing by, but I could sit in this rest area for the rest of the month without a hint of a chance to get a ride. I walked up the area.  Then I walked down the area asking myself « what am I gonna do!! What am I gonna do!» Finally I approached the toll booths. There was no other option and I understood clearly why the cops brought it up, it was the only way out.   I looked. The cars would come so fast and just accelerate madly out. It seemed crazy, but at the same time, I had to make something happen, so from the outside of the lane, behind the cement wall, I stuck out my ‘Orléans’ sign.  Almost immediately, a car stopped. I could not believe it. I climbed the parapet then ran to the minivan. It was a family. A boy of about 6 or 7 was sleeping in his child seat, there was a big acoustic guitar case in the back and in the front, the parents. I got in and down the road we went.

“Are you musicians? I asked

“No, just amateurs. and we were on our way.


I kept looking out. Not wanting to miss anything, but eventually I fell asleep. My 4 hour pre-flight night of sleep was catching up with me. We didn`t talk. I just relaxed. They told me they were going to do a small detour to leave me in a good spot for the next ride. A bit past Vierzon I got off. It was a gas station-restaurant road stop. I used the washroom and went out immediately. I walked close to the exit that was leading to the highway, ate a carrot and changed my sign which now read ‘Limoges’.

I barely finished my carrot that a car stopped, a young couple in a powerful car. We sped down the road, the guy telling me about music and culture in France. They too made a detour, taking me directly to the Gare Monjovis. I had made it and there was still daylight. I was beaming. I read somewhere, sometime back that ‘Happiness the overcoming of not unknowable obstacles toward a known goal.’ Today definitely was that.

When I had first tried to plan my journey it had been impossible to find a bus or a blabla car at reasonable price or time. I would have had to wait 4 hours at the bus station and arrive at 11 PM for 35 Euro. I only had to pay 2 euros for the bus to Gare Massy.

Wednesday was time to hit the road again. We had a last most excellent espresso at the ‘Fabrique du Café’ in Limoges then my friend and I said goodbyes and we headed both in opposite directions. Somehow I could never quite get my bearings in Limoges, the circular and diagonal system of roads left me baffled, especially without sun to give a a sort of compass. I went slowly, making sure I was on the right path. The idea was to reach the N 141 going West by way of Arman Dutreix road. My pack is not too heavy but the bag with my laptop is a real burden. Electronics are always heavy, but I figured out a way to wear it on my chest so I was wrapped with bags front and back which was actually an advantage because the wind was fierce and the temperature quite low compared to Istanbul. I walked about 3 KM, despite the cold, it was sunny and the silent walk was good. As I neared the autoroute, I pulled out my new sign : Angoulême.

It took maybe 15 minutes, a car with a young couple stopped, they were not going far but I figured this was good start. I got out of their car 10km further I had just put my pack back on my back when a car immediately stopped. A man in his 30`s wearing a suit and looking all business like took me in. Florian just came from a job interview, he had been up at 3 am to get from Bordeaux to Limoges. He said he aced the interview. There were two baguettes on the car`s dashboard, he told me all sorts of stories, we talked for the whole ride. Then off I went, somewhere just outside Angoulême. I put my ‘Saintes’ sign up, this guy stopped and said : this is not the way! As I looked up the road signs I realized that I had to get off this road via the next exit 800 meters further. So he said : Come in! I`ll take you there. So I hopped in the car with the bags still on my back, he dropped me off safely and I was down on a new road heading to Cognac. Wanting to be sure I was heading in the right direction I walked in a bakery close by. The woman was so kind as to call the local bus company to see if there were busses to Cognac. There was 1 but I would have to wait for an hour, so I figured I`d try to get a ride and if I was not successful in an hour I could always take the bus.

This time, Dominic picked me up. A middle aged, motorcycle rider who was now coming back from work and telling me that he was not going to do more today. He said he has been riding motorcycles for 30 years, owns a BMW 1200 and was now getting his new girlfriend used to ride. They are planning a ride to Portugal in the summer. He too made a detour to put me in a safe place, a big one at that, people are so kind to me! Then I immediately caught another ride with a musician this time. He ended up taking me 50 km out of his way (which meant 100 as he had to get back home later) And there I was. On the Ile d’Oléron. I was a bit tired but mostly elated. People are amazing.

In Oléron I will be doing an art project.  I found this project on a web site offering volunteering opportunities to travelers in exchange for room and board.  There are all sorts of projects, from baby sitting, language help, farm work, hostel work, meditation retreats… everything.  My project here is about creating a work inspired by the place.  Today was my first day to discover this place and my eyes are full.

Goodbye Ayvalik <3

December 9, 2017



Ayavalik, you’ve been amazing. Yeah, I am leaving in two days. Mainly it’s a good thing, there is a tightening of the heart when I think that I will leave the sea, the trees, this clean, clean air and some amazing people.

Why you ask, the main reason is Love. One cannot live without.

At the same time, it feels like I’ve done what I had to do here. Again I had some expectations of what I was going to do, like making a bunch of sculptures but I didn’t. I have accomplished a lot of work on the translation of the Dragons of Nibiru, i am now editing my work. This place was perfect to do this, that’s kind of all I did… everyday at Yedi Cafe.

But lately, the little world I made here is kind of disappearing before my eyes: Yedi cafe (that was where I worked on the book everyday for 2 months, it had become kind of my office) well, it closed yesterday. The sculptures: I made one. Today I cured it, 20 minutes in the over at 130 C. Well I calcinated it. It NEVER ever happened in all my horse making. There was a cloud of toxic fumes coming out of the oven.. the thing just bubbled and turned almost black (should be white). All sorts of little things give me signals that time’s up here. At the house I also feel some tensions. At times being a stranger in a house creates weird tensions and this is happening now. Nothing noxious but I see and feel it and I believe my presence makes this worse. I experienced this before a few times; with a “best friend” among others where it just killed my friendship with this girl. There is a thing about adding a third wheel to a household where a couple lives. It seems to bring to light the imbalances that exist. If the couple is solid, no problem, if there are issues, things blow up. So getting out is OK.

Life is moving so fast these days. The only comfort seems to be in keeping with the motion, movements, velocity, a sort of surfing. But if you try to hold on to something, to slow things down, you’re in trouble. It creates massive anxiety as there is no control to be had on what happens. My heart is aligned with this, I feel I’m on course with the Universal forces, but my logical mind is at times short circuiting with the physical, material realities that are, where to live, how to survive, eat, and take care of the basics when you are on a speeding train?

Here are images from this paradise where the Gods dwell.





Ayvalik evening walk

December 8, 2017



The two silhouettes black against the night blue sky. The smell of burning coal, wood and many other substances eaten by one of the many fires burning somewhere in the cold night, pervades the air. The dwellings are shoulder to shoulder, almost elbowing each other for space, laundry of all shades, hues, designs hang in the windless air. Sometimes they are like  gardens hung up high, filled with flowers of all types, sizes, and colours. The back of the buildings also hold piles of wood, plywood, press wood, anything that burns along ancient cars, a mid ‘90’s Volkswagen model looks massively attractive and shiny besides the four wheeled implements parked on these lots, trucks, tractors, cars and even a horse cart can be found. In a backyard, two goats tied by their necks with ropes bleat from time to time. In the daytime you can see chickens but now they are nowhere to be seen, hiding from predators and likely huddled together to ward off the cold.
A street separates triplexes on one side and a field of pine trees planted a hundred years ago on the other side, it is the concave apex between two hills. The street lights become rare. On a patio of a basement suite a flickering light comes from flames and is reflected on the partition wall. Soft spoken voices rise from there, the fire could be for a tea pot. The other homes around are in darkness, except for another type of flickering lights emanating from TVs. The light bulbs, if there are some, are of a cold white, the glaring white effervescence coming out of the swirling lead ‘eco’ bulbs. On the other side of that road, it is penumbra. Shacks put together with all sorts of woods from antique doors to plywood sheets, covered in blue tarps or various plastics. The whole area is impeccably clean despite the obvious poverty of the dwellings. No one to be seen either.

The city of Ayvalik is laid down on folds of land that originate at the sea coast of the Aegean. Within the first fold, close to shore, ancient stone houses, shops, cafes, cars, and these ubiquitous horrible sounding mini motos that the local teenagers race through the main drag with deafening noise.  An awful rattle of cheap exhausts pinned on 75 cc motors. The kids and their rides tumble down the streets and backstreets without helmets, sometimes solo, sometimes sitting 3 at a time, they are feeling the freedom that these micro machines offer them. Rising to the apex of this first fold, old houses that used to be Greek fill the ground and at the top the military facility has the biggest property and the biggest of flags.

Rolling onto the other fold, lower income du, tri, quadru-plexes fill the space. Every balcony holds a clothes line. No cafes, no shops, strong smell of coal, the air is thick with it. Love birds abound, a sort of out of place nicety in the obvious utilitarianism of every object around. It is maybe equivalent of what would be called “the projects” in America. The locals eye me wearily. My foreigner status impossible to dissimulate or hide. Even the way I walk makes me stick out.

Then at the bottom are the few shacks I described, and from there, one must hike a hill that rolls back up, it is covered in pine trees and blackness. When you arrive at the top, you face an immensity where mountains stretch as far as the eye can see, and to the left a huge beige rectangle of a building coiffed with a bright red sign to be seen from miles and miles around, the hospital, sits there, alone, quiet, indifferent.

Facing the hospital, by the trees, is another shack. Maybe 12 x 10, the size of a horse stall. There they make food. The bit of land next to it has been transformed in an open air cafe, kebap, doner and that sort of meat things. I imagine the hospital workers and visitors stopping there for a bite. In the “garden” there are plants in pots for which the owner has fancied a water system out of empty water bottles and hospital plastic tubing with little roulettes to adjust the flow of fluid that you would use for patients receiving intravenous medication. Recycling at its most creative.

But it’s dark and no one is there. The restaurant is closed, the white plastic garden chairs empty, losing all colour to the appetite of the night who swallows it all.

Here, suddenly there is no more city, only rolling hills and mountains in the distance. As fast as Ayvalik rises from the sea coast, it disappears abruptly into the lap of the mountains laying ahead. If you sit there and don’t look back, you could think that you are in the middle of a steppe somewhere. One road, almost the same colour as the land, winds itself in this land and quickly vanishes between two hills. A dwelling lies in there, not a house, not a shack, just some walls where a human finds shelter, no electrical wires, no modern amenities. Some olive trees and the wind.
The modern world from here seems an illusion. Here is a human who lives from the hand outs of the earth, from his deal with farm animals; they give their milk, blood and flesh against some hay or grass. Women are stout, wide footed, their hands rough and strong. They wear all these coloured clothes, scarves on their heads to hold back their hair as they work. No religion visible there. Their bodies in trade for survival like those of the animals. On top of this pyramid, sits the man, there because of his muscle mass and easy violence to silence any challenge to his power.

Today I saw a group on a tractor, the patriarch drives the machine. In the trailer; massive bags of the harvest: olives in this case, olives that the men have beaten out of the trees and the women triaged sitting on the ground, then put into those sacks. On the road now men and women sit on the sacks, going back home after a long day of work. They have slaved so hard on this. I feel their eyes on me. I catch the face of one male. Staring at me with a strange expression.

This is something there I don’t know. They are a tribe. I am an individual. People like me buy the work this tribe accomplishes, the oil, the olives. People like me very far away have no idea of this life. No understanding whatsoever. You cannot know this. It does not exist in our countries. We are raised to be gloriously individual. We are raised to wish to achieve Bourgeois-hood. Succeed and climb some kind of ladder of achievement that will give us meaning and purpose. They work. Doing what must be done to survive.
We, the lucky ones, live on the back of those people to a higher or lesser degree. It gives me a kind of shame. I think of the work I am doing, drawing, translating, playing music, writing. Oh the luxury of my provenance. The luck of my birth. I must trust my Fate. I must trust that this is not just some grossly unfair luck of the draw. That each is on his road learning his personal lessons. Who would I be if I had been born here? What would I do. What would I believe?

The human clay, impressible into any shape. All the solidity of our convictions is but illusion adapted to the reality we dwell in. Nothing is true, nothing false. It just all is holding into a sort of equilibrium for the moment that is.



I keep walking. The wind is beautiful. Cleansing. It comes from the sea and rushes towards the mountains. The shape of the pine trees a black shadow of delicate contours in the early night sky. There are still some oranges and browns and gold whispers left in the wake of the sun that has set. There will be rain as big black clouds fill the horizon. I turn onto a road, back to the village. Dogs bark in the distance. I see them, three of them. They see me. Their shapes are black too against a contrejour. As I reach the inhabited area, I hear the voice of a man coming through the paper thin walls of a tiny home. “Allah, allah…” he says. The dogs bark again. This is a poor neighbourhood. I am stared at again. I look nowhere, at no one, putting my camera away not wanting to be rude. Smells of cooking, onions, smell of coal burning. Two children run across the street, coatless in this cold, one carrying a clear plastic bag with about a half dozen of white eggs, the other carries yogurt and something else I couldn’t see. They must be about 8 years old. Probably running from the market to their mother making dinner. Cats stand all over, under, beside and below and above.

I get back to the sea side. This water is special and so is the breeze coming from far away. It is dark now. I will head home, warm up. Have tea.