Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Ode to Kristina

My wife was awarded the Bulgarian Medal and Certificate of Honour!

On February 16, 2013, Kristina Kristova was officially recognised by the Bulgarian Government — the Agency for Bulgarians Abroad — with the national Paisii Hilendarski Memorable Medal and Certificate of Honour. The Certificate states: 'for her significant contribution to the preservation and promotion of the Bulgarian culture and traditions in Canada, for her dedicated work as the founder and leader of the Bulgarian Society in the Capital Region Ottawa-Gatineau, and to celebrate her 70th year jubilee'.  See 70 event photos.

Medal inscription: 'Bulgarians, know your roots and language.'

In 2000, the Bulgarian Government decreed to issue an annual state award to creators and performers whose works are connected with Bulgarian culture, history and traditions. The award was named for monk Saint Paisii Hilendarski (1722-1773), a national historic spiritual leader, peoples' revivalist and confessor, and founder of the Bulgarian Renaissance. While in monastery (1760-1762) he created the Slav-Bulgarian History — Istoriya Slavyanobolgarskaya — which stimulated the formation of Bulgarian national consciousness.

80 attended, with some from Montreal. Kristina's daughter Milena Krassi was honoured to be the event master of ceremonies at the Bulgarian Embassy, Ottawa, where the celebration took place. During the evening program of speeches, slide shows, and poetry, I added my poem (below). Delicious Bulgarian food was prepared by local volunteers. The first president of the Ottawa Bulgarian Community, Vasil Gatchev, called me an 'Honourary Bulgarian'. See 70 event photos.

My Ode to Kristina — a World Citizen

As friend, companion, husband of Kristina —
there is much to say about this interesting person.

Her Bulgarian experience as anchor person on
National TV for more than 20 years,
shows through in her personality.
In editing some of my draft writings, her comments are
appreciated for setting the logic straight,
for being concise, and for showing me
how creative words can impact the message on the public stage.
Her genius in grasping a thought, even in English,
often means rewriting what I considered to be a final draft.

As a pioneer in the local Bulgarian Community,
I have seen her selfless energy at work —
phoning, writing on the computer,
calling compatriots to preserve traditional language and culture,
and urging them to bring their best foot forward
in a multicultural Canada.

That same energy I have seen with other activities —
selling watches and jewelry to eBay customers,
working for a high-tech company,
selling designer clothes, and recently
working as Site Administrator of the International Languages Program on Saturdays.

In all of these works, quality has been her goal.
This often means a long day —
working into the early hours of the morning.
I would of course be called to help —
carry this, copy that, deliver this, take photos,
or help edit a letter in English. With her enthusiasm and good intent,
how could I not help?

Shopping for me with Kristina has been most frustrating.
Why? Because our styles differ.
I generally know what I am looking for, and I go for it;
while her approach is to look and look and look
for something ‘perfect’.
But as we all know, perfection is difficult or impossible to achieve.

In our 20-plus years together
I have seen how adaptable Kristina is.
Learning the English language from practically zero
has been a challenging task. And thanks to her she helped me with my Russian.
Unfortunately, I have not yet learned the Bulgarian language, but
have had to rely much on observation, listening, and instinct.
However, I very much appreciate and admire
the friendship of Kristina and members of the Bulgarian community in Ottawa.

Of course, I have noticed Kristina’s nostalgia for Bulgaria and Europe.
For her, Ottawa at times feels like a small village.
Periodically she reminds me that I came from Saskatchewan —
a country boy born on an isolated farm without any modern conveniences,
35 miles away from the nearest large city.

But for Kristina to be born in the centre of Sofia,
it is natural for her to see herself at the front of things.
Achieving great success in folk dancing,
Master of Ceremonies in thousands of concerts,
and as Anchor Person on TV,
this style has become her tempo in life.
Nostalgia for Kristina in an earlier active life style is normal.

Her Medal of Honour from the Bulgarian Government is long overdue.
Like the Order of Canada in this country, she deserves the respect of
her countrymen and women.
She deserves it —
because she has served well in giving generously to her mother land
just as she is contributing generously today to her adopted country.

My ode to Kristina —
a colourful person of our wonderful world community.
Obicham te!   (I love you!)

How we met

Kristina Kristova and I first met 21 years ago on Russian Christmas day in Ottawa, Canada, January 7, 1992 at a social gathering. We spoke in Russian. She was a news anchor for Bulgarian National TV who had come to Canada to sign a contract with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) in Toronto. Kristina was staying in Ottawa, Canada, where her daughter Milena was getting a Bachelor's Degree in Music at the University of Ottawa, and is now a flute and piano teacher.

Kristina was born in Sofia, Bulgaria during the height of World War II. She was folk dancer with the state folklore ensemble founded and led by Fillip Kutev. During the Cold War the group performed around the world; and, in 1963 toured 25 states in the USA, including Carnegie Hall in New York, and two cities in Canada (Montreal and Ottawa).

In 1968, at the age 26, Kristina won a competition out of about 1,000 candidates which led her to a career as the Anchor Person of the Bulgarian National Television. As a representative of Bulgarian TV abroad, she went to dozens of countries, including Greece, North Korea, and Afghanistan for which she received an Order of Bravery for her interviews on the streets of Kabul. Besides news, she was the Master of Ceremonies for over 7,000 concerts and festivals all over Bulgaria. In brief, Kristina was a very busy person in that small, historically rich and beautiful country called Bulgaria.

From 1995 (when the Ottawa Bulgarian organization was registered) to the present, Kristina was a member of the Board of Directors. From 2004 to 2007 and from 2011 to 2013 she has been President of the National Capital Region Bulgarian Community as well as the Ottawa Region Bulgarian Foundation.

More Views of Kristina

Anna Tzvetkova of Montreal, who was Kristina's colleague at the University of Sofia, Bulgaria, submitted this article with 4 photos to the Bulgarian language newspaper Trud [Labour]: Драги зрители, Христина Христова чукна 70! [Dear viewers, Kristina Kristova has reached 70!] (February 23, 2013). Two photos show her at work in Bulgaria.

Cartoonist Alexey Talimonov

In September 1991, I met Alexei Talimonov, an international renowned cartoonist and illustrator. He was in Canada heading a delegation of six men associated with the Museum-estate of Leo Tolstoy "Yasnaya Polyana."

We travelled to Durham, Ontario for a special meeting with the Tolstoy Society of Canada (dissolved in 1994). On September 21, I interpreted for a CBC documentary about the delegation and their view of 'the future of farming' for the program Andrienne Clarkson Presents. In Ottawa we met with the Art Director of the National Gallery of Canada.

I met him again in the fall of 1992, when I traveled to Tula, Russia, where Alexei was director of the publishing and printing company Lev Tolstoy. Alexei reprinted the 1900 edition of Vladimir Tchertkoff's Christian Martyrdom in Russia: Persecution of the Doukhobors. The Preface was written by myself and Larry A. Ewashen and published as a Spirit Wrestlers Associates publication (1993).

Alexei, his wife Nila, and two daughters (Lubov and Nina) migrated to England in 1994 and estblished careers. Daughter Lubov Talimonova (1971-2011) was an exceptionally talented painter, writer and illustrator of childrens' books. One of her paintings, 'Space. Aries Constellation', was taken onto the space station MIR, bearing the stamp of the station's astroauts' signatures on the back.

Ukrainian-born Alexei Talimonov is a successful and award-winning cartoonist and illustrator. He is a member of The Cartoonists’ Club of Great Britain and the FECO. Alexey has exhibited his works worldwide. His cartoons have been published in newspapers and magazines since 1978. Five books of his cartoons were published in Russia, Ukraine and UK. Also Alexey has illustrated several books.
The meat grinder

More then 5,000 of his drawings have been published in various newspapers and magazines in the UK, Russia, Ukraine, USA, Canada, Germany, Italy, Iran, China and other countries. Amongst the British periodicals publishing his works are The Lancet, New Statesman, The Oldie, The Spectator, Prospect, Ethical Consumer Magazine, Writers’ Forum, Music Teacher and others.

In Russia Alexei Talimonov’s cartoons have been published in the leading newspapers and magazines of the country, such as Izvestiia, Pravda, Trud, Literaturnaia Gazeta, Krokodil, Zdorov’e, Argumenty i Fakty and others. Alexei Talimonov regularly participates in international exhibitions and contests. He himself is well known for his support of artists in Russia and other countries of the CIS. In 1994 Alexey Talimonov was awarded the International Goncharov Award as "The Patron of Arts".

See more of Alexey Talimonov's extensive collection of cartoons at

Update 2014: Talimonovs in Tula video

Talimonovs are featured in a Tula repatriation promotional video: Путь домой. Тульская область (The Way Home. Tula oblast. Russian, 26 min. Jul. 30, 2014).

Video frame from daughter's memorial exhibit, Moscow, 17 Dec. 2013.

The video explanations the process for ex-patriot Russians to move to Tula. Examples of 2 families: Talimonovs (from UK, Great Britian) and Dvornikovs (from Kazakhstan). Interview with Aleksey's Nila (min. 3 to 7:40). Meet their grand kids, a friend, see their new home and one next door under construction for their daughter. Meet the Dvornikovs. Back to Talimonovs (min 10:32 to 12:20) at late daughter Liubov's memorial gallery show at the Moscow N.K Roerich museum (Музей имени "Н.К. Рерихa"). (Gallery album) How Tula will reimburses travel expenses for people wishing to relocate. A Narrated tour of historical buildings, life in Tula, museums and the Tula samovar and pryaniki (gingerbread).

Tour the Lev Tolstoy Estate-museum grounds (min 20:06 to 21:00) named "Yasnaya Polyana." Meet Galina Alekseeva, Head of the Research Department, who also collaborated with the Doukhobor Discovery Centre, Castlegar, BC. View a dairy farm, modern factory, medical clinic, and job placement office. Wage and job opportunities explained, and cost of living and housing averages shown. Happy Talimonovs shown at end (min 24:58 to 25:19).

Video of art by Liubov Talimonova: "Светлая Берегиня" ("Light Keeper"). Update, April 10, 2016: A new Cultural Center Gallery was opened in the village of Freedom in Shchekino district Tula region, Russia, June 4, 2016 in honour of Liubov.


Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Artist Donates Paintings for Peace


Visual artist, teacher and counsellor Jennifer 'Lightwolf' Jones of Manotick, Ontario, donated these two paintings to the Canadian Department of Peace Initiative to be sold by Silent Auction in Ottawa by February 28, 2013.

The paintings were created as group Spiritpaintings during the 2011 and 2012 Annual Ottawa Peace Festivals. Eight workshop participants followed a kind of Rorschach inkblot method in which 'the painter lets go of the outcome while being in a meditative state and focuses on a Prayer of Intention for Healing'. The result is an unfolding mystery or a new adventure.

Jennifer Jones, visual artist and healer

For an elaboration of instruction, workshops and exhibitions, see Jones website Spiritpainting.com, especially the Podcast of her interview.

I met the artist at her Spiritpainting Show and Sale held in The Green Door Restaurant, Ottawa, on February 4th, 2013. Here I also met Bosnian filmmaker Vinko Totic who presented an 8-minute film on YouTube showing a demonstration of Jennifer Jones at work. See photos I took of the event.

In watching the YouTube, listening to the Podcast, speaking to the artist and viewing the exhibition, I was intrigued by the Spiritpainting technique in art and healing. Using paper or canvas and water-based paint such as acrylic, Jennifer Jones seeks the inner guide or energy spirit of the unconscious (in her case, it is the wolf, a symbol of power and teacher of enlightenment). Then she holds on to her Intention (prayer or request), as she relaxes and lets this mysterious process manifest itself while she places paint on paper, folds and refolds as needed.

'It's about letting go of your control, your thoughts, your ego, and allowing the Spirit to give you guidance,' she said. The emergent image, usually in bright colours, gives you mysterious beauty and even serves a healing function.

'I'm very glad to help the Canadian Department of Peace Initiative,' she said as she responded to Bill Bhaneja (co-chair of the Ottawa Branch CDPI) who publicly thanked Jennifer Jones for her generous gesture. 'I guess it will become an annual event,' said Jennifer.

Jennifer Jones works regularly 40 hours a week as a professional in a treatment centre in Ottawa. But from her home she has also helped heal clients across the country and even in Australia, for example, by speaking to them by phone. After getting proper rapport, she was able to pick up appropriate vibrations which she then used in producing a healing type of painting which she would sent to her clients. That's clairvoyance in action, as I see it.

Monday, 4 February 2013

'Tolstoy and Doukhobors' Exhibit Online

The 46-page bilingual exhibition Leo Tolstoy and the Doukhobors: Conscientious Objection (2010/2011) was posted on the Gandhi Information Center, Berlin, Germany, webstie on December 22, 2012. The title in German is Leo Tolstoi und die Duchoborzen - Kriegsdienstverweigerung aus Gewissensgründen.

This exhibition, created for the occasion of Leo Tolstoy's death centenary (November 20, 2010), was on display August 28, 2010 to January 29, 2011, at the Anti-War-Museum, at 21 Bruesseler Street, Berlin.  It is now archived in the Peace Gallery.

From many sources, the exhibit uses photos, maps, text, quotes, prose, a history timeline and list of Tolstoy's writting's about Doukhobors, to show '... the fundamental importance of activism against military and war as well as a plea for conscientious objection by the late Leo Tolstoy.'