Ukrainian artist Nazar Bilyk created this stunning 6-foot tall sculpture called Rain using fiberglass and metal. A huge raindrop stands suspended on the figure’s face as he looks up toward the sky - making one wonder if he is being overtaken by nature or is reveling in its power and beauty. In either case, the work represents how man must interact with the outside forces that surround him.
This is one of the urban exploring images that I’ll always cherish. It was my first out-of-town explore–to Buffalo, of all places. I was excited and more than nervous, and grateful to have a digital camera with auto-focus and lens stabilization.
The things I discovered…they’re among the experiences I’ll never forget. To see portions of Central Terminal that had been closed off and mostly abandoned, firsthand–time-worn and abused, forgotten, in areas overtaken by nature. I wished I’d had my ex-partner in tow, because it’s the type of thing you just have to share with someone that enjoys your hobbies and your companionship.
The amusing part of the story is I somehow accidentally erased all the images of my daylong explore from my memory card as I was reviewing them in the shadow of the 17-story terminal tower. I was crushed. But thanks to a fellow photographer and explorer I retrieved the images.
The reason for this post is because of the news that the Central Terminal Restoration Corporation has named a designated developer–Harry Stinson–to begin the huge task of renovating, restoring, and remaking the historic train station into a mix of apartment/condos, offices, retail, restaurants, museum and events center. And while this image was taken in a portion of the complex that may never see development, it’s a part of the history of this long-forgotten treasure. Here’s to hoping that BCT will finally become something very grand again.
Twelve years ago, October 2004, I was given a Taekwon-Do white belt.
I was overweight, unfit, uncoordinated, but doing martial arts sounded really cool, so I gave it a go.
And now, October 2016, I was awarded a Taekwon-Do black belt.
I’m still overweight. I still vary randomly between 110 to 115 kg (242 to 253 lb for the Americans in the audience). But more of that is muscle than it used to be, and I’m a bit slimmer even if I’m still heavy.
I’ve still got a long way to go, fitness wise. I have some problems, like a bad back and bad knees, that get in the way, but they won’t stop me.
I’ve got some coordination now. When I started, I couldn’t stand on one leg, and couldn’t kick even as high as my hips. Last weekend, I did a reasonably complicated combination board break, starting with bringing my foot downwards through a board at my face height (and barely even noticed it was there).
Doing martial arts still sounds cool, but more than that, it’s now a part of me.
I’ve got a long way to go, and sometimes feel like I’m being overtaken by the naturally athletic. But I’ve come so far, and I’m not stopping here.
The crypto-Christians (also called cryphi, klosti, Stavriotes, Kromledes) were Christian Greeks who due to the Muslim persecution against Christians publicly declared themselves Muslims. However, in secret, they upheld their Greek language, customs and Christian religious practices.
Crypto-Christians were not polygamists and they were married in a Christian as well as a Muslim ceremony. The Christian marriage ceremony was often conducted in a rock-hewn house or one underground. When one of them died, a Christian funeral took place as well as the usual Muslim one. Up to the mid 19th century their Christian ceremonies were conducted with great care, but by the early 1900s as long as the men registered themselves as Muslims (thus available for military service), nobody asked whether they were Christian or Muslim at heart.
Greek authors gave some curious details of the secret Christian rites of Greeks in the Trabzon district. Crypto-Christians followed the Orthodox fasts. Their children were baptised, and bore both a Christian and Muslim name for secret and public use respectively. They never allowed their daughters to marry Muslims, but the men did take Muslim wives. In the latter case, the Christian marriage was conducted in secret, in one of the monasteries. If pressure was required, the bridegroom threatened to leave his bride.
During the century after 1461, Trabzon became a ‘Muslim’ town; partly by influx of Muslims, partly by deportation of Christians, but largely through conversion. (There were considerable financial benefits in converting to Islam.) According to Ottoman tax registers [tahrir defters] in 1520 (59 years after the fall of Trabzon to the Ottoman Turks), Trabzon was still 86% Christian. However, by 1583, it was 54% Muslim, with still 77% Greek speaking.
Greek historians maintain that, like Of (a village 45 km east of Trabzon) and the Greek-speaking Muslim Oflus, the Greeks of Tonya (42 km south-west of Trabzon) converted to Islam in the late 17th century. However, in the case of Tonya there is no popular explanation of why this happened. The notion is plausible, for in the late 17th century, Christian Greeks in the Pontos experienced considerable pressure on their faith. In the case of Of, we now know there was no mass conversion and the Muslims may simply have overtaken the Christians by natural increase.
Even after conversion to Islam, some people around Trabzon, as reported in the 1890s, did not forget their Christian roots. There were whole villages on this seaboard whose inhabitants were Muslim, and would resent being called anything else; yet their Greek origin was believed both by history and by some of their traditions. For example, Surmene and Of, two considerable villages, hold to certain customs, which connect them with the Christian faith. Under the stress of illness, the image of Madonna is suspended above the sickbed; the sufferer sips the forbidden wine from the old cup of the Communion, which still remains a treasured object, much as they might be puzzled to tell you why.
A little earlier, in 1879, it was estimated that out of 10-12,000 families from Of, 8-10,000 families spoke Greek but only 192 families were Christian.
Crypto-Christians of the Trabzon Region of Pontos, Sam Topalidis
„Nobody Puts Baby in the Corner" - The Impala as a Metaphor and/or Symbol for Dean's Psyche
“The Impala isn’t just a car, it’s pretty much the most important object in the entire universe”
With this iconic line Chuck Shurley/Carver Edlund described and characterized the importance of the Impala for the Winchesters and with that the whole world (since baby played a very important part in averting the apocalypse and helping Sam to overcome Lucifer) in 5x22 “Swan Song”. An episode that focused on the Winchester’s journey by telling the audience the journey of the Impala. Two stories entwined into one illustrating how this big black car has been a symbol of home, family and safety for both brothers. A place they called their own, a place rich with memories and emotions. Still, even though the Impala has played an important part in both Sam’s and Dean’s lives, I personally think the Impala is much more connoted with Dean rather than Sam and that might be, because (to me) “baby” has always been some kind of metaphor/symbol/indicator for Dean’s state of mind/psyche. Let’s take a look at some important incidents over the past 9 seasons of SPN that feature the Impala.
In season 2 after John’s death, Dean tries to distract himself by trying to fix the Impala, so he doesn’t have to think about what happened and how he feels like he isn’t supposed to be alive. Dean’s broken. Just like the Impala fallen to pieces. Not much is left from the car. Bobby says so, but Sam convinces him that Dean would build her up once he’s better. And he’s right, Dean fixes the car. And by that also slowly mending the broken pieces of himself.
This happens quite often over the course of the show. If Dean is at the end of his rope (emotionally as well as physically) he turns to the Impala, because it means safety and comfort (Think of the ending scene of 5x14 “My Bloody Valentine” for example). The car’s his rock of strength. He “works on her until she’s mend”, “because that’s the only thing he can do” (Dean does it as well, when Sam’s in a coma after Cas breaks the wall in his head). And so we see Dean building baby back up in 2x02 “Everybody Loves a Clown”. She’s almost as good as new, like she looked before John died, the problem is nothing is the same. And just like the car carries scars from what happened (the accident), so does Dean. Nothing is the same and Dean’s self-loathing, desperation and anger about his father making a deal to resurrect him unloads in Dean taking a hammer to the Impala. Destroying what he built. But he isn’t just demolishing the car, with that action he really is hurting himself, because he thinks he shouldn’t be alive.
In season 3 Dean’s reckless and fast driving parallels his “live fast die young”-mentality. Why care and act responsible if you only got one year left to live anyway? Of course it’s just a façade, Dean is scared immensely about going to hell and leaving Sam alone.
When Dean comes back from hell in season 4, everything’s different. He’s different and not the same person he was before. He feels like parts of him might still be in hell. This feeling of unease and everything not feeling and being the way it was before gets highlighted when Dean learns that Sam (rightly so since it was his car) changed things in the Impala. It doesn’t provide quite the same safety that it used to.
In season 5 the episode 5x04 “The End” is particularly interesting to look at in terms of understanding the Impala as a sort of extension of Dean’s psyche. In 2014 Dean doesn’t drive the Impala anymore. Instead it sits abandoned somewhere on the outskirts of Camp Chitaqua. Hollow, overtaken by nature and perfectly paralleling how Dean in 2014 is just a shell of himself, just a shadow of who he used to be. The Impala holds no meaning any longer. He is alone. His family (Sam overtaken by Lucifer) is dead. The car is withering away just like Dean.
Then along comes season 6 and we learn that Dean seemingly doesn’t drive the Impala anymore. At least as long as he lives with Ben and Lisa, we see him driving a pick-up truck. The Impala isn’t gone though, it is hidden under a tarp. Safely tucked away in the garage, buried, covered up, but there: a silent reminder. It shows how Dean tried to take the “out of sight out of mind”-approach, but never truly let go of the thought of getting Sam back, but buried his grief in alcohol. His life with the Braedens (who I think he truly deeply cared about) was kind of a ~façade. Just like the Impala was hidden under the tarp, he kind of hid his true self, his identity and desperately tried to be someone he didn’t know how to be. When Sam comes back as “Not!Sam” the car is the only thing he can hold onto.
But as we all know it doesn’t take long for Dean to lose his last bit of safety net, because in season 7, after Dean fixed her up again (“because it’s the only thing he can do” while he feels helpless when it comes to helping Sam), they have to give her up. Leviathans wearing their faces, stealing their identity and even their “safe place”: the car. Making the Winchesters even more vulnerable and sending Dean even further into depression and alcoholism without a safety net anywhere in sight.
Now in season 8 and 9 it is yet to be determined if the Impala - again - might play a role in reuniting the brothers. Who knows, maybe there’ll be another major accident, leaving the Impala in bits and pieces (just like the Winchesters are right now as well). Only this time it’s not going to be just Dean fixing and repairing the broken pieces, but Sam and Dean together and with that sort of symbolic act fixing their broken relationship as well… I sure as hell would love to see that.
More meta that deals with the Impala can be found here and here.
Summary: A community radio DJ and a shop girl, sharing a not so ordinary life. Every day, John leaves Rose a note with a “fun fact” written on it. Snuggling ensues.
Rose drags her fluffy slippers along the worn-out wooden floor, rubbing up and down her arms and examining her breath for clouds. It’s getting colder by the day. Yet, she can’t bring herself to turn up the heat in the flat, it would be too depressing. Instead, she picks up John’s cardigan from the couch— the one with elbow patches he bought because it makes him look like a professor— and she slips it over her nightie. She pulls the sleeves to cover her hands although he would no doubt complain that she stretched it. They’ve had that argument before, and she maintains that it was already stretched when he bought it at a charity shop. Anyway, he has no rights to complain: his arms are much longer than hers.
Falling Asleep, here at my laptop. So, I shall leave you with a little bit of #250: 'All About You, Baby'...
And finish it up when I wake up. Sorry about that, my loves. I’m really enjoying writing this one, so it’s turning out quite long and with lots of scenes, so I’ll need to finish it up when I get up. Lots of visuals and appearances (a couple new ones) in this one too! I think you’re really going to love it! I have lots set for this one! Very excited to get it all finished up!
So, the PLAN FOR TODAY (Tuesday) is: to finish this one up and post it, answer asks, and (hopefully) get all caught up with those, and I may have a bit of time to sneak in a Wish for you! I’ve been wanting to do one lately!
Anyway, I’m off to sleep, here’s a little sneaky peak for you and I will see you soon with the rest! Goodnight!
“You know what we need?” He pulled an eyebrow up.
“What?” you said warily, as he backed away, out of the bathroom, with a wicked smirk. You could hear him fumbling with something in the other room, grumbling under his breath, to get it to cooperate, before you heard the beginning the hollow, sharp sound of strings harmonizing together echoed in to the bathroom. You recognized it instantly. You giggled, hiding your face in your hands and peeking through the spaces between your fingers to see him poke his head back into the bathroom, with a grin, and he waved his hand back and forth in time with the opening section of music.
“A dance,” he murmured, taking your hand, and pushing a palm into the small of your back, bringing you forward, close to him, swaying you gently, as the strings faded into an acoustic guitar. “It’s all about you, baby,” he sang along with the track. “It’s about you.”
“Harry,” you laughed, hanging onto his bare hip. He wiggled his eyebrows.
“And I would answer all your wishes, if you asked me too. But if you deny me one of your kisses…” he sang along. He moved his face forward inches from your lips, like he was going to kiss you, before pulling away and throwing his head back dramatically as you danced around the bathroom together, Harry keeping his grip tight, so you didn’t slip. You laughed, a belly laugh that hung easily between you. You knew you’d married the right person, in moments like this. Someone you could laugh with, someone you could dance around the bathroom in your underwear with. In your early twenties now, and you made sure each other would stay that way at heart, forever.
“Don’t know what I’d do,” you sang, lurching forward and kissing him anyway.
“So, hold me close, and say three words, like you used to do,” you sang along together, his rocky tone mingling with your much softer one. “Dancing on the kitchen tiles…”
“It’s all about you,” Harry finished, pecking your nose.
“Ah, Tom Fletcher,” you giggled as Harry breathed a laugh against your lips. You dropped your forehead tight against his. “What romantics, those boys are.”
“We haven’t dance in awhile. I miss dancing with you, baby.” He dropped his hands to your hips, and you brought yours up, to overlap on the nape of his neck, brushing through the loose curls that hung down softly.
“It’s nice,” you agreed.
“Is Gem coming to get you?”
You nodded. “Around half ten.”
“Still no idea where it’s at?”
You shook your head. “Gemma doesn’t let any secrets slip. Everyone has apparently been sworn to secrecy. I know absolutely nothing. You excited to get on the green, mister?” You bopped your nose against the tip of his.
You watched Harry’s eyes light up. “Can’t wait. Little day out with the mates can’t be bad.” He massaged his palm on the small of your back.
“You’re still popping by afterwards, right? You boys will be a hit with all us ladies. My mom’s excited to see you.”
Harry chuckled. “Of course. Wouldn’t miss it for the world. And of course I need to say hello to your mum. She’s my soul mate.”
You smacked his chest lightly with your palm, curling your arm up between the two of you. “Harry!” you scolded playfully. “You cheeky thing.”
“I’ve been after the wrong lady on your side of the family, I guess,” he teased, and you rolled your eyes.
“She’d be pleased to hear that,” you offered.
Your mother had been absolutely smitten with Harry from the moment she’d properly met him. She’d been a blushing, giggling mess. Overtaken by his charm, gentle nature and humor, you weren’t sure you’d get him back. The same went for your dad. The moment Harry let it be known that he liked to partake in an occasional golf game, and had a soft spot in his heart for classic cars; your dad was just as head-over-heels for him, as you were. They loved him like a son. He’d found a comfortable place within your family, very quickly.
He smirked, with one corner of his lips, his eyes pooling translucent greens.
You leaned back a little. “I know that look, gorgeous. What are you up to?”
He quickly tucked an arm under your knees, and wrapped the other around your back, before bringing you into his arms, against his chest, and you squealed, your arms flailing for a moment, before hooking around his neck. He grunted as he adjusted your weight. “I’m going to make early morning love to my wife, before she goes.” He kissed you slowly. There was that husk in his voice that vibrated deep to your core.
“Well, your wife, doesn’t have time…” He kissed you, cutting you off, mid-breath. “Your wife has to get dressed for her baby shower.” Your eye caught on the dress hung on the door of the closet. Cream, bandeau style and multi-layered, with watercolor flowers in patches around the fabric, and scalloped edges around the back that grazed at your thighs***. A find, in a shop on a trip with Gemma to Hampstead. A girl’s day together, that you tried to take as frequently as you could. She’d insisted she squeeze you into it, and had you model it for her, amongst a few curious and concerned shoppers, when the zipper had stuck a bit. But with a little wiggling and a few colorful words from your sister-in-law as she tried to get the sticky zip to budge, and a bit of playing with sizes to accommodate your swelling bump, and you’d fallen in love.
“We won’t keep everyone waiting too long,” he promised, fingers already slipping under the straps of your bra.
“My lipstick’s going to end up all over you,” you warned, coming up for air from the kiss.
“Doesn’t matter,” he breathed. “I love it.” He kissed your lips with a little more force, making a show of tasting your lipstick, swirling the wax against his tongue. “It tastes nice.”
“Peaches,” you whispered, losing it, and melting into him. You needed this so bad, it ached,
“Peaches,” Harry breathed, lowering you down onto the foot of the bed, bringing you to the edge.